This week we honor one of South Carolina’s Sons and brave citizens Maxcy Gregg for risking all to lead the way for South Carolina to be free and independant.
Gregg was born in Columbia, South Carolina, the grandson of Esek Hopkins, commodore of the Continental Navy. He was educated at South Carolina College (now called the University of South Carolina). He graduated first in his class in 1836. He studied law, and passed the bar in 1839. Gregg, slightly deaf, practiced law with his father, and fought in the Mexican-American War as a major in the 12th U.S. Infantry. Gregg had many scholarly pursuits, including astronomy, botany,ornithology, and languages, and owned his own private observatory.
Gregg was a major proponent of secession prior to the commencement of the Civil War. In 1858, he issued the secessionists’ manifesto in a pamphlet entitled, “An Appeal to the State Rights Party of South Carolina.” In it, Gregg argued that Carolinians had looked unfavorably upon and rejected incorporation into the Democratic Party since the tariff controversy. Andrew P. Calhoun, James Tradewell, A.C. Garlington, and W.E. Martin also contributed statements to the “Appeal.”
For 2 decades, interrupted only by duty in the Mexican War, he was extensively involved in state and regional politics. A member of the state secession convention, he jubilantly voted to leave the Union in December 1860. The convention authorized a 6 month regiment, giving the command to him, with the rank of Colonel. After he and his volunteers participated in the bombardment of Fort Sumter, in April 1861,they moved north to Virginia, where they spent the spring months drilling and picketing. With the newly formed 1st South Carolina, he was ordered to the Suffolk, Virginia, area in autumn 1861. When their term expired, many in the regiment returned to their homes, missing the First Bull Run Campaign.
He became a brigadier general and served in A. P. Hill’s Light Division. His brigade played a prominent role in Hill’s assault on the Union lines at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. Gregg gained prominence at the Second Battle of Bull Run when his men repulsed six Union assaults, and he served in Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign. On December 14 he received his commission making him a Brigadier General. He also received command of a brigade of 3 South Carolina regiments. His old regiment and another one joined the brigade in spring 1862, and he led this unit in the rest of the battles of that year. It should be noted the men in his brigade were men of privileged backgrounds, including doctors, and lawyers. In the Seven Days’ Campaign his South Carolinians suffered more casualties than any other brigade in Major General Ambrose P. Hill’s Light Division. Assigned a reserve role at Cedar Mountain, on August 9, the brigade fought tenaciously 3 weeks later at Second Bull Run. During this searing battle, he walked along the brigade’s line, fearlessly exposing himself and encouraging his men. His conduct moved Hill to say that “he is the man for me.” He became one of only 2 brigadiers, (Dorsey Pender was the other), who had free access to Hill. At Antietam on September 17 he was slightly wounded by the Federal volley that killed Brigadier General Lawrence O. Branch. Three months later, at Fredericksburg, his brigade held a reserve position behind a dangerous gap in the Confederate lines on the right. When the Federals stormed into the hole on December 13, 1862, he hurriedly rallied his unprepared command. Riding toward the front, the brave South Carolinian fell from a rifle ball that entered his side and passed through his spine. He lingered in agony for 2 days before dying. His loss weighed especially heavy on his commander, Major General Hill. “A more chivalrous gentleman and gallant soldier never adorned the service which he so loved,” Hill stated. According to the December 17, 1862, issue of the Richmond Daily Dispatch, his remains received a hero’s welcome in the Confederate capital.
We hope that you have learned a little about one of our Confederate heroes. If you have any extra information that would add in educating the public please leave a comment below. All contributions are appreciated.
Today the South Carolina Division Honors these great men and sons, of the great State of South Carolina and in their memory are erecting a monument for future generations to remember their commitment and sacrifice of risking all for the freedom of this State.[divider]
The Signers of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession Monument
The South Carolina Division will erect an impressive monument to the memory of these patriots in the Charleston area during the Sesquicentennial. Your help is needed, and you can be part of this major project. There are several ways for camps, individuals, and businesses to memorialize a signer, an ancestor, a camp namesake, a camp, a family or an individual.
Artist rendition of the South Carolina Secession Signers Monument to be placed in Charleston, SC.
If you would like to help honor the brave men that led the people of South Carolina to independence for a second time, you can see how here at http://www.scsignersmonument.com