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Private Samuel Hunter Scott

Private Samuel Hunter Scott
Company O, Infantry Battalion

Samuel Hunter Scott was born in Gwinnett County, Ga March 12th 1837 to Robert J Scott and his first wife. Sometime after 1840 Robert Scott moved his family to the southwest corner of Cass County, Ga. Young Sam's mother had died sometime prior to 1844 because his father, Robert, remarried during that year. The family farmed and continued to grow during the period before the war. Twenty two year old Samuel took a bride on January 24th 1860, marrying Isabella Jane McGregor, daughter of prominent judge and state legislator, Reese McGregor. Judge McGregor was a man of note in Georgia and his plantation northwest of Van Wert was often visited by other prominent figures such as Robert Toombs and Alexander Stephens.

The young married man did not "run off to the war" in 1861 and it was not until early 1862 when the south realized that this war would not be short or easily won that calls were issued for the mass of southern manhood to join her armies. Thus it was that Sam Scott enlisted on May 6th 1862 in newly formed Infantry Company O of the Phillips Legion and shipped out for Hardeeville, South Carolina leaving behind his wife and infant son, Robert, who had been born January 27, 1861. The next two months passed by without serious event as the new soldiers were trained by their more experienced comrades. Due to a shortage of new, modern rifles, the three new infantry companies of the Legion were equipped with the model 1842 .69 calibre smoothbore musket. These guns were not accurate beyond about 100 yards, but packed enormous hitting power within that range. The training routine was broken up by patrols along the vital Charleston & Savannah Railroad and an occasional alarm indicating activity by Federal raiders. This relatively quiet period came to an end on July 19th when the Legion was brigaded with two South Carolina units and two other Georgia regiments under command of Brigadier General Thomas F Drayton and ordered north to Richmond, Va. Arriving at Richmond near the end of July, the Legion was put to work digging earthworks east of the city. It shortly became apparent to General Robert E Lee, that Union General George B McClellan's army was leaving the peninsula southeast of Richmond and heading north on ships to join Federal General John Pope's army which was operating in north central Virginia. Lee reacted quickly, sending, first, Stonewall Jackson's, then, James Longstreet's wings of his army northward in an attempt to crush Pope before he could be joined by McClellan's massive army. The Legion laid aside their picks and shovels and entrained northwest to Gordonsville, arriving at that point on August 14th.

Sam Scott and his comrades saw hard marching over the following two weeks as Lee shifted his army behind Pope and then convincingly defeated him at Second Manassas on August 29th & 30th. The Legion took a few casualties in skirmishes leading up to this battle and then suffered relatively light casualties as they became engaged with the Federal rearguard on the evening of August 30th. Company O suffered only one casualty, Private James Newton Greene, who was killed in action. Pope's army fled to the Washington defenses and Lee's army paused only briefly at Leesburg before plunging across the Potomac River northwards into Maryland. After resting several days in Frederick, Md., the Legion marched west and was at Hagerstown, Md on September 14th when General Longstreet receieved a frantic call for assistance from General Daniel Harvey Hill, who was holding the South Mountain passes just east of Boonsboro, Md some ten miles south of Hagerstown. Hill relayed the incredible news that McClellan had brought the entire Army of the Potomac into Middletown Valley just east of South Mountain and was preparing to attack Hill's badly outnumbered force. Longstreet quickly got his brigades on the road early on the 14th. The Legion was near the head of the column when it reached the foot of the mountain where the National Road led up into Turners Gap. Generals Lee and Longstreet directed Generals G T Anderson and Drayton to take their 1900 troops up into Turners Gap and report to General Hill. Reaching the top, General Hill personally escorted Anderson and Drayton about 3/4 mile south to Fox's Gap where the Federals had attacked earlier, routing Samuel Garland's North Carolina brigade and threatening to break through the gap. Arriving at Fox's Gap around 3PM, the Legion went into line behind a stone wall and awaited orders. These were not long in coming. The Legion was moved into the Old Sharpsburg Road and then ordered to charge south into woods bordering the east side of a field at the crest of the mountain. Drayton's two SC units also charged with the Legion with an aggregate of about 800 men. What was not known was that the Federals had shifted two full divisions into the fields just beyond the woods. Thus it was that Sam Scott and his Legion comrades ran into thousands of blue clad troops and were slowly forced back out of the woods and across farmer Wise's field at the gap. The Legion lost 114 men in a period of about 20 minutes. Company O lost six killed, six wounded and two captured but Sam Scott managed to join the survivors streaming off the mountain to the west. Fortunately, the Federals did not press their advantage, losing momentum when their Corps commander, General Jesse Reno, was killed near nightfall. Sam Scott and his exhausted comrades joined the army as it headed west towards a small town called Sharpsburg.

They were dug in atop a high ridge southeast of Sharpsburg on September 17th when they were once more attacked by the same Federal IX Corps they had faced three days earlier on South Mountain. Outnumbered five to one, Drayton and Kemper's small brigades exacted heavy losses on the attacking Federals until finally being forced from their position back into the streets of Sharpsburg. The Legion took about 120 soldiers into this fight and lost another 35 men with Company O losing Private Alfred G Arwood, dead on the field. The losses were not in vain however as just enough time was purchased to allow General A P Hill's division to reach the field and counterattack, driving the Federals all the way back to Antietam Creek. After standing his ground on the 18th, Lee took his battered army back across the Potomac into Virginia. The Legion which had departed Richmond a month earlier with 600 men staggered back to Virginia with only 90 men in ranks, among them Sam Scott.

Both sides had been badly mauled in Maryland and were content to rest and recuperate on their respective sides of the Potomac. The Legion spent October and November in the area near Winchester, Va. at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley. Men who had been sick and wounded gradually returned to the unit and it's strength rose back up over 300 men. The bungling and unpopular General Drayton was sent west and the Legion was reassigned to the all-Georgia brigade of Athens aristocrat, General T R R Cobb.

Then, just as everyone began to believe that the army would go into winter quarters, the new Federal commander of the Army of the Potomac, Ambrose E Burnsides, launched his army southward towards Fredericksburg, Va. in an attempt to race around Lee's right flank and capture Richmond. Fortunately for Lee, an administrative foulup caused Burnside's pontoon bridges to be delayed ten days and he pulled up north of the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg. This critical delay enabled Lee to get his entire army to Fredericksburg and entrenched on a low range of hills south of and overlooking the town. Burnside, a solid but unimaginative general, decided that he would attack Lee's position frontally and on the morning of December 13th sent masses of blue infantry against Lee's lines. The main point of attack on the west end of the field was a hill called Marye's Heights. Entrenched at the foot of this hill behind a stone wall in a sunken lane was most of T R R Cobb's Georgia brigade with the Phillips Legion on the left end of the brigade line. Wave after wave of Union infantry assailed this position for hours on end and were relentlessly pounded until the field before the wall was literally covered with thousands of dead and wounded men. Sam Scott and his comrades probably had their best day of the war here, but the cost was not light. The Legion's popular commanding officer, Lt Colonel Robert T "Tom" Cook, was killed near the onset of action and many others were killed and wounded. Company O enjoyed luck in this fight, however, reporting only one man wounded. Sam had survived another fight unscathed.

The Federals recrossed the river and things settled down into the boring quiet of winter quarters. Letters from this period in early 1863 tell of men who are cold, hungry and often beset by disease. Even though the bullets and shells had stopped flying, the grim spectre of typhoid, measles, dysentery and other diseases continued their ravages. Sam's records show that he was again fortunate, as he managed to maintain his health. We also know that he must have received a furlough home in January or February as wife "Bell" would deliver the couple's second child in October 1863. His leave may have been granted due to the sad news that the couple's first son, Robert, had died on December 25th, 1862 just before his second birthday.

Spring finally rolled around, the roads began to dry out and a new Federal commander, "Fighting Joe" Hooker was ready to try his rejuvenated army against Lee's men. Hooker had done a good job of reorganizing his army during the winter. Morale was high and the soldiers were confident that they would finally beat Lee's troops. Indeed, Hooker had developed a well thought out plan to flank Lee's army out of Fredericksburg by circling around behind him to the west through an area called the Wilderness. To make matters worse for Lee, two divisions of Longstreet's Corps were absent in the vicinity of Suffolk, Va. Thus it was that on May 1st, Hooker, with several army Corps, had placed himself near the eastern edge of the Wilderness at a crossroads called Chancellorsville, well behind Lee's left flank. Only one southern division lay between Hooker and Fredericksburg but, inexplicably, Hooker chose to wait at Chancellorsville for the arrival of additional troops. Lee finally realized the great danger he was in and began shifting his troops west to meet the threat. The Legion and their brigade, now under command of General William T Wofford, was a part of this movement. These troops went into action and fought the Federals to a standstill where they remained just inside the eastern edge of the Wilderness at nightfall. In the meantime, the troops of Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson had been "feeling" the Federal position south of Chancellorsville while southern cavalry under JEB Stuart probed to the west. Stuart then made the startling discovery thet Hooker had left his western flank "in the air" to the west of Chancellorsville. Lee and Jackson then decided on a bold move. Jackson would take his entire Corps on a looping march to the south and west and unleash a surprise attack on Hooker's open flank the following afternoon. This would leave Lee with a relatively small force between Hookers huge army and Fredericksburg. Lee instructed his commanders to bluff the Federals, launching strong probing attacks all along the Federals front to keep them off balance and unaware of Jackson's move to their west. Sam Scott and his comrades spent a long and undoubtedly tense day as they sparred with the Federals, hoping that the weakness of their force would not be discovered. The plan worked! At 4PM Jackson's screaming troops poured out of the woods to the west and smashed the Union XI Corps driving it back towards Chancellorsville in full flight. Darkness was coming on fast and, as Jackson reconnoitered the dark woods in front of his lines, nervous North Carolina troops opened fire and critically wounded the great general. With this, fighting ground to a halt until the next day when the southerners resumed the attack gradually forcing Hooker's army back into a small pocket at Chancellorsville. Late in the day a final push was made and northern troops retreated into strong defensive positions north of Chancellorsville. As the pocket collapsed, the Legion soldiers were party to the capture of an entire regiment of troops from Connecticut. The Legion suffered relatively light casualties with only two men reported wounded in Sam's Company O. Once again, the Federals chose to retreat back across the Rappahannock River, leaving Lee's army victorious once again.

Having gained the initiative Lee did not wish to relinquish it to the Federals and began planning another invasion of the north. He hoped that one more convincing victory on northern soil would cause the war weary north to agree to let the south go in peace. The Army of Northern Virginia, now reorganized into three Corps, began marching north up the Shenandoah Valley with Major General Richard S Ewell's II Corps taking the lead followed by Major General Longstreet's I Corps (which contained the Legion). General Ambrose Powell Hill's III Corps temporarily remained at Fredericksburg to mislead the Federals into believing Lee was still in front of them. We know from the diary of Lt Marcus Green that Sam's Company O (and probably companies L & M as well) replaced their antiquated smoothbore muskets with rifles during this period. Thanks to Sam's photo, we can even identify the type of rifle as an English made Enfield, a deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled marksman.

Lee's deception worked. His army was well along to the north before the Federals realized that Lee had moved around them to the west and was on his way to Maryland and Pennsylvania. Lee's soldiers enjoyed high morale and were hopeful of ending the war. After smashing the Federal garrison at Winchester, Ewell rolled on into Maryland with Longstreet following. A P Hill's Corps left Fredericksburg and began moving north as well. The north went into a panic as Union General Hooker scrambled to get his army into position to defend Washington and/or Baltimore from capture. The hard marching southern troops made good progress and by the end of June, Ewell was closing in on Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with other of his units poised to cross the Susquehannah River to the south. Lee soon became aware that the Federal army, now under the command of Major General George Meade, had moved faster than anticipated and was closing in rapidly from the south. With his three Corps widely strung out across south central Pennsylvania and his cavalry temporarily out of touch, Lee issued orders to concentrate his army at Cashtown, a small village at the foot of South Mountain several miles west of the key road junction of Gettysburg. Lt Mark Green's diary tells of the progress of Company O in the advance. On June 27th he indicates their position as "resting at Greencastle, Penn, 9 miles from Hagerstown." He goes on to show them camped at Chambersburg, Pa. on the morning of June 29th. As Lee issued his orders for a concentration at Cashtown, Longstreet's Corps complied and headed east for the South Mountain passes on June 30th, but reaching the pass on July 1st ran into a roadblock in the form of Hill's Corps which had already commenced moving through Cashtown Gap. Green notes, "Steuart's (Hill's Corps) Division and wagon trains has been keeping us all day. We will take up line of march in a few moments. We are going to Gettisburg (sic). Hills Corps has been fighting the enemy at Gettisburg (sic) today." On July 1st, as Confederate units were still countermarching towards Cashtown from east north and west, A P Hill sent a division (Heth's) forward from Cashtown towards Gettysburg. Lead elements of the Federal army had also just reached Gettysburg and a rapidly escalating battle began to develop with Hill feeding in divisions from his Corps against units of the Federal I Corps. The fighting escalated even further in the afternoon as the Federal XI Corps arrived north of town and Ewell's Confederate II Corps came rolling in from the north and northeast. This, accidentally fortuitous, series of southern unit arrivals placed the Federals in a vise with southern troops to their west, north and east. By late afternoon, the Federal defense west and north of town collapsed and the northerners retreated in some confusion to the high hill and ridge south of Gettysburg known as Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge.Mark Green tells us that "Thursday 2nd (July) - we left camp last night at dark. Marched 20 miles through Cashtown and New Salem and is camped close to where they fought yesterday. Gen Hill whipped them and taken 1000 prisoners."

As the sun rose on July 2nd, Lee was still not decided on his next move. JEB Stuart's Cavalry was still missing and Lee wanted more information on the strength and location of his opponent before deciding what to do next. After consulting with his three Corps commanders, he finally decided to launch attacks on both Federal flanks with two of Longstreet's three divisions hitting the Union left and Ewell's troops the right. While Ewell's men were not far from their staging point, Longstreet had to shift his men several miles to the southeast to reach his. After a series of delays and countermarches, Longstreet finally launched his attack at 4PM. The gray wave swept forward across the fields into the areas with names now etched into history; Devils Den, Little Round Top, The Rose Woods, The Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield. The attack was formed in two waves and the Legion (as part of Wofford's brigade) was in the second. The first wave had met fierce resistance and the attack stalled at several points as the Federals poured in major parts of two Corps as reinforcements. The second wave went in and the battle roar rose to a frenzied pitch. The final brigade to attack in the second wave was Woffords. It charged through the Peach Orchard (already cleared by Barksdale's Mississippi brigade) and through a belt of trees into the Wheatfield. As they entered the western edge of this field they found that Federals in front of them had fallen back leaving Federals along the southern side of the field wide open to a flank attack. The Legion, on the left of Wofford's line, wheeled right and pounced on the 4th Michigan of Schweitzer's brigade. General Wofford would observe after the war that he saw more hand to hand combat in this fight than at any other battle of the war. Routing the Michigan men, Woffords troops again turned due east and charged across the Wheatfield and into the Plum Run Valley beyond and pulled up behind a stone wall just northwest of Little Round Top. In the process of this charge the Legion had captured two Federal flags and driven the opposition before it, but now darkness was quickly falling. Increasing Federal rifle and artillery fire from their front indicated the arrival of even more Federal troops and Longstreet ordered Wofford to pull his brigade back from it's exposed forward position. This angered General Wofford (whose "blood was up") but was probably a very wise move as the entire, fresh Union VI Corps had arrived in front of Wofford's tired troops. Orders were given and many of Wofford's men retreated back to safety to the west of the Wheatfield. All were not so fortunate however. Some men decided to wait behind the stone wall until darkness had fallen to avoid being shot but this proved to be a bad idea as Crawford's Pennsylvania Reserves charged forward at dusk and captured many of the exhausted Georgians. The Phillips Legion suffered eight men killed, forty two wounded and twenty captured but, once again, Sam Scott was fortunate enough to come through unscathed.

The third day of the battle found the Legion in defensive positions on the southern end of the Confederate line as the famous Pickett/Pettigrew charge went forward in the center and met a crushing defeat. That evening, heavy rain began to fall and on the evening of July 4th, Lee's army began the long retreat to Virginia. After narrowly escaping from Meade's pursuing army, Lee got his men safely back across the Potomac on July 14th. The battered armies now rested and refitted, each warily watching for movement on the part of the other.

Meanwhile, in the western theatre of operations, a serious situation had developed. Union General Rosecrans had executed a series of brilliant manuevers which had forced Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee back out of Tennessee without a fight. When the key southern city of Chattanooga fell, Bragg fell back into north Georgia. Rosecrans once more sought to flank Bragg to the west and began shifting elements of his army southeast across the Alabama border in an attempt to capture Rome Georgia and get behind Bragg's army. The crucial southern transport and manufacturing center of Atlanta was only 50 miles southeast of Rome and Bragg, realizing he was in desperate trouble, called upon President Jefferson Davis for reinforcements. Federal activity in the east had been relatively quiet so it was decided to transfer two divisions (McLaws and Hoods) of Longstreet's I Corps to Bragg's aid. Thus it was that the Legion (as part of McLaws division) entrained at Hanover Junction on September 11th and began the long rail journey to Atlanta.

We know that Sam Scott was with his company at least until September 1st since records show him being paid with Company O on this date. We surmise that he very likely went west with his company on September 11th. The next entry we have for Sam is a notation on a roll for September & October 1863 dated January 19th, 1864 that he was absent with leave. The next surviving roll is for March & April 1864 and it indicates Sam "absent without leave, has joined 1st Ga. Cavalry". An examination of the rolls of the 1st Ga Cavalry, a unit in the Army of Tennessee shows that Sam Scott did, in fact, join Company A of this regiment at Cedartown, Ga on October 6th, 1863. Lt Green's diary may provide some clue as to just what happened with Sam. His diary entry for September 20th at Atlanta notes, "Legion went up (the W&ARR north to Chickamauga) today. Nearly all the Legion jumped off the (railroad) cars and went (home)." Many of the soldiers of the Legion were from areas close to or north of Atlanta and had not been home for at least a year and a half. The temptation was just too great for many of the men and they jumped off the train and headed home for short visits with their families. In Sam's case, the records would indicate that he must have even gone so far as to have obtained formal approval for his leave. The pressures upon Sam to remain closer to home must have been great. His young wife, pregnant with their second child, had only recently suffered through the loss of their first son Robert. A massive Federal army was poised just to the north. There are also indications that Sam may have had relatives in Co A of the 1st Ga. cavalry as there are a number of Scotts present on it's rolls. At any rate, Sam would decide to leave the Legion at this point and he honorably and reliably served out the war with his new unit. By war's end Sam had risen from the ranks to become 2nd Lt. of Company A and surrendered in North Carolina in late April of 1865.

After being paroled at Charlotte May 3rd, 1865, Sam Scott made his way home to his family in Polk County. Like everyone in north Georgia, the family would have struggled to rebuild a life in a land that had been shattered by war. In 1870, Sam and Bell packed up their family, now grown to four children, and headed west to settle in Falls County, Texas. They farmed there, raising cotton, until Sam's death April 12th, 1910 at Travis, Texas. Bell would live on until her death at Travis October 7th, 1937. Sam and Bell were members of the First Baptist Church in Travis and are buried there at Phillips Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Mrs Mary Jo Moore, The Woodlands, Texas

Written by:Kurt Graham

Phillips Legion