As was suggested to me recently, in honor of the Sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years) of the War of Secession (Civil War if you insist) I will begin tracking what the Boyd brothers of “The Boys of Diamond Hill” were doing 150 years ago on the given date. I will try to stay on schedule, but as with today, I missed a few days and will include them here. Hope you enjoy…
On May 3, 1861, Pressley Boyd wrote a letter from Camp Pickens in Barnwell District to his sister Mary Jane Hall. His brother Daniel had been sick in the camp, but was improving. Their best friend James H. Alewine was also with them. Their company had been assigned as Company D of Col. Thomas Bacon’s 7th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. Pressley talks of Gov. Francis Pickens intentions to send them to Virginia, but the S.C. boys are against it. They want to stay and defend South Carolina’s coast from invasion.
May 7, 1861, their father, Robert Boyd writes from home in Abbeville County, asking after the welfare of his sons. It is interesting how much better of a writer Mr. Boyd was than his sons were. He was born in Ireland in 1804 and it is uncertain at what age he came to South Carolina. Perhaps his young life had afforded him more opportunity for education than the farm life of S.C. had for his sons. Also, one can never underrate the degrading effect of dashing off a note quickly before lights out or between drills, guard duty or other deployments in primitive camp conditions have on a person’s writing skills versus writing a more leisurely thought out letter from the comforts of home by your own hearth.
May 14, 1861, Pressley Boyd writes a letter from Camp Butler which is also in Barnwell District to his brother John Thomas Boyd. Thomas — as he was known to the family — was then about 17 years old. He celebrates receiving what today would be called a “Care package” from home. Governor Pickens is still pushing for them to volunteer for service in Virginia, but Pressley confidently expresses that they won’t go. Their camp is in fine shape, in fact Pressley says they have built arbor roofs over their tents and it looks like they intend to stay there for a year. Some of the companies in the camps around Columbia — according to rumors in Camp Butler — have had major falling outs and are fighting among themselves. Pressley Boyd was then about 21 years old and someone who was most likely a delight to be around. He seemed to be a favorite of the family who was close to everyone. His letters brim with a folksy fun loving optimism that make them a joy to read.
I will try to remember to put the next entry out on the appointed day of May 21. Hope you enjoyed this long entry.
To learn more click on the “Diamond Hill” link at the top. To buy the book you may go to any major online retailer such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or you may buy it directly from McFarland Publishers. “The Boys of Diamond Hill” is also available for the Kindle.