Jefferson Davis Trail Stop #7
City Directories and History: The Giles Plantation, about seven miles South of Union, S.C. became a point of historic interest, when on April 29, 1865, CSA President Jefferson Davis and his party stopped for the evening.
April 29, 1865: The Davis group ate dinner at the home of General William H. Wallace, East Main Street, Unionville, passed Rose Hill and a little further on spent the night at the home of Mrs. John Giles (her husband was a captain in Confederacy).
Following the meal, Davis departed in the afternoon and continued to the home of Captain J. R. R. Giles, a few miles southwest of Unionville, where he spent the night of April 29.
Here too, a portion of his escort parted with plans to rejoin him later.
Here we were disbanded with eight days written permit, at the expiration of which we were to meet him at Cokesbury, S. C., and proceed to the trans Mississippi department. When the time expired things had so changed we did not deem it necessary or prudent to obey, and so far have not been court martialed as yet. Under no other consideration would we have failed the gallant and beloved General. I will here state that the permits were executed in the palatial residence of the honorable and greatly beloved T. B. Jeter of Union.
The President was pressed to keep on the move, he continued to stay in touch with his wife’s party, primarily through correspondence with Burton Harrison who was entrusted with their care. Abbeville, S. C., April 29, 1865—-7.30 a. m.
Mr. President: We had intended starting yesterday afternoon, but were detained by the rain. Are just about getting off now. The ladies and children are very well, and in good spirits. They move in a good ambulance and carriage, and will reach Washington in a two days’ drive from this place. From Washington we shall go toward Atlanta; there to halt, until we see or hear from you. This movement was determined by your telegrams, and by the belief that you would move westward, along a line running north of this place. Colonel Leovy has been kind enough to set out from here to meet you, to explain our plans, &c. He will tell you everything.
With sincere prayers and hopes for your health and safety, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Burton N. Harrison
Jefferson Davis’s party moved on later that morning and arrived in Cross Keys for lunch….
1850 CENSUS – John Giles, age 17 (would have been born about 1833), living in his parents household.
Household of William Giles 51 Planter Real Estate value $20,000 – Catherine Giles age 42 – Thompson Giles age 21 – John Giles age 17 – Sarah Jane Giles age 12 Franklin Giles age 9 – Charles Giles age 7 – Joseph Giles age 5 – James Colt age 23 Carpenter born NC and Wm. Dickson age 21 Carpenter born NC. All the Giles family members were born in SC.
1860 CENSUS – John Giles is head of household at Goshen Hill Post Office, Union County – John R. Giles age 27 Farmer Real Estate value $3,000. – Personal Estate value $40,000 – M.E. Giles 30, wife – Thomas Giles 40, tradesman and Washington Sarter 40, farm manager. Marriage in Georgia of John Giles and Margaret B. Evans on September 1, 1857 in Floyd County, GA.
CIVIL WAR SERVICE INFORMATION FOR: JOHN “JACK” RUSSELL ROBERT GILES – by Paul M. Gettys – 2019
He is usually referred to as J. R. R. Giles. He began service in Co. K of the 5th Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers as a First Lieutenant. He is credited by one source as helping to organize the unit. This unit was made up of men from the Santuc and Goshen Hill sections of Union County. They were known as the Tyger Volunteers, Tyger River Volunteers, and Goshen Hill Volunteers. This unit was formed on April 13, 1861 for an enlistment period of one year. The unit was commanded by Jacob W. Sarter. On the same day that J. R. R. Giles enlisted, the following also enlisted at Santuc: Joseph G. Giles, Thomas W. Giles, and Benjamin F. Giles.
The unit was reorganized in late May 1860 and J. R. R. Giles was made a Captain on May 25. The unit was mustered into Confederate service by Colonel Bee on June 4, 1861 in Orangeburg and became known as Company D of the 5th Regiment. The next day, the unit started for Virginia. As Captain, Giles made monthly activity reports. His June report recounted the trip to Virginia, where they arrived at Camp Davis on June 20. They arrived at Manassas Junction the next day, camping at Camp Walker. Nothing else happened for a couple of weeks. Before the First Battle of Manassas, he recounts a number of maneuvers crossing Bull Run Creek several times. On July 17, the unit came into contact with the enemy and charged the lines. They had three men wounded. The Charleston Mercury reported that Captain Giles lost his left hand at First Manassas. However, this was evidently an error, as there is no mention in the official reports. It was reported that he was wounded on a reconnaissance mission at Raccoon Mountain. He is reported present through the fall on the company roster, except for the period of August 5 through September 2 when he is reported suffering from measles.
In the spring of 1862, the initial enrollment for the 5th Regiment expired. A new 5th Regiment was formed out of many members from the 5th , 6th and 9th Regiments. At the reorganization, Giles was elected Colonel of the new 5th Regiment on April 23, 1862. The new Regiment was often called the “Pacolet Guards” and was composed mostly of men from Laurens, Lancaster, Spartanburg and Union counties. It had about 650 men and was assigned to Jenkins’ Brigade of Anderson’s Division. When Giles was elected Colonel, Capt. Andrew Jackson was elected Lt. Colonel and William M. Foster was elected Major. On May 31, the unit participated in the Battle of Seven Pines (also called Fair Oaks). The Regiment was led by Giles into this battle under Anderson’s Brigade, Longstreet’s Division, McGruder’s Command. During this battle, Giles was shot through the heart and killed on May 31, 1862. Lt. Col. Jackson took command of the Regiment.
The three other Giles men who enlisted on the same day had less important roles. Joseph G. Giles was appointed 2nd Corporal on June 1, 1861, then was reduced in rank April 23, 1862. He was not present for the muster in June and was discharged on July 16, 1862. Thomas W. Giles was appointed 5 th Sgt. On May 25, 1861, was reduced in rank on June 1 and then re-appointed to the same rank in August. Benjamin F. Giles was company musician. On July 25, 1862, he supplied a substitute (Peter Byers) and evidently was no longer serving. Were these men the brothers of J. R. R. Giles? If the Census record for the Giles family in 1850 is correct, there are three brothers who could be these three men, who would be aged between 16 and 32 in 1861. These are Joseph, Thompson (perhaps actually Thomas), and Franklin (perhaps Benjamin
Robert S. Seigler, South Carolina Military Organizations During the War Between the States, 2008.
A. S. Salley, South Carolina Troops in Confederate Service, Volume III.
Steve Batson, “Fifth South Carolina Infantry Regiment” on “The Civil War in the East.”
Family Search website, Eastern Digital Resources, “5th Regiment South Carolina Infantry.”
The Civil War in the East website, “South Carolina 5th Infantry.”
National Park Service website, “South Carolina Fifth Regiment.”
Yorkville Enquirer, May 8, 1862, June 5, 1862 and June 12, 1862.
QUERIES FOR MEMBERSHIP INPUT:
- Does anyone have a complete history of the Giles family in Union County, S.C.?
- Did the quarried foundation rock come from the Hill’s quarry at Carlisle?
- Just how old is the Giles house – appears to be a log cabin?
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