On the chilly but beautiful morning of Nov. 3, several dozen people gathered on Highway 302 along the banks of Shaw's Creek to dedicate a historical marker that commemorates the history of Camp Butler.
Camp Butler was a camp of instruction and training for men who entered Confederate service from the Barnwell and Edgefield area.
Camp Butler's location has long been sought after, and it was discovered several years ago by Wheeler Camp member John Osteen, who is recognized by many as the foremost expert on the history of Camp Butler.
In 2009, Osteen headed up the camp's committee to start the planning and fund-raising efforts for the historical marker. For Osteen, what transpired on Nov. 3 was a dream come true. The following is one of the best accounts given about Camp Butler and is found in the Edgefield Advertiser as reported by one its field reps in 1861:
“The site of this encampment seems to be the admiration of every visitor. Contiguous to a number of gushing fountains which furnish an abundance of the purest water, it is high and dry, gently undulating, and far away from the malaria of the swamps. The parade grounds are nearly level, very smooth, and clear enough for a marble yard. The “streets” are well shaded by tree and brush arbors, and everything in every direction is kept in the nicest order. The tents have plank floors which contribute much to health and comfort. The 14th Regt. SCV, stationed here, has been fortunate. At one time, more than half of the men were absent on sick furlough. Measles was the only disease, as I was informed by an intelligent gentleman. (There may have been an occasional exception.)
This suggests an inquiry: why not permit children to have measles at home? So much sickness must of course result in mortality. About a dozen of the volunteers in the 14th have already died, Poor Fellows! Their career on glory's luminous track was brief, and yet it consoling to know that they had shown themselves to be noble, spirited and patriotic, capable of earning an immortality of Fame.
“But now the health of the Regt. is fast improving. The boys are daily returning by scores and by fifties, and soon they will be ready to meet the foe. Woe to the Yankee invader that comes in contact with this splendid corps of well trained and determined men.
“It is but slight praise to say that the Regt. under Col. Jones, can maneuver with ease, rapidly, and accuracy. Their drilling is something extraordinary. I am sustained in this opinion by one of our most promising young lawyers, who went to “the Island,” and to Va. in Col. Gregg's Regt. Camp life has its attractions, as well as its hardships and its privations. There is about it so much system, “lighthearted vivacity,” good humor, fun alive, and the very aroma of chivalry. And then there is the witchery of martial music, the pageant of military costume, the rattling of musketry and the booming of cannon. It would fill the hearts of the dear ones at home with joy unspeakable to know that real happiness, like a wave, rolls from breast to breast on 'the tented field.'
“There is often more sadness at home than with the absent. Such is human nature! The members of the 14th Regt. are not all in uniform, and I hope the friends at home will exert themselves to supply this want. I may be allowed to say that Capt. Doctor Tompkins and his Company, at dress parade, present a very handsome appearance. Their uniform is much finer than any I saw. The vicinity of Meeting Street, and of Dorn's Mills, deserve great credit for their liberality in equipping their representatives in the war.
“The musical talent of the Regt. has been organized into a band under the direction of Mr. H. J. Brissenden. And already to the grand old hills echo to the plaintive notes of “Dixie” and other favorable tunes. Col. Thomas G. Lamar, of the artillery, has a company of 100 men, every one of whom is a hero if we may judge from appearance. The Col. Is in fine spirits, and offers to bet that we will bring the Yankee nation to terms before next June. So may it be! And now I close by wishing to this noble Regiment. Long life and much renown. EK”
For those interested in Joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans and helping to preserve the South's history, visit generaljoewheeler1245.weebly.com.