20th South Carolina
Militia of State Troops
Sumter District, South Carolina
The Battle of Dingle's Mill
April 9, 1865
(Information from the Sumter Watchman June 6, 13, & 20, 1866.)
On Thursday, April 6, 1865, Captain D.R. McCallum, Post-Commander at Sumter received information that a large body of Federal Troops was at Kingstree in Williamsburg District. The Union Troops were traveling through the countryside, coming inland from the port of Georgetown. Their apparant intention was to reach the interior of the state. At that time, the object of the expedition was unknown. Preparation began to be made to impede their progress and if possible to turn them back. Prior to learning of the Union forces approaching Sumter on April 4th Colonel G.W. Lee, commander of the 20th Regiment South Carolina Militia, had issued orders for his command to rendezvous on April 11th prepared to go to camp. Upon hearing of the approach of the Union army, the colonel immediately issued orders for the 20th to assemble as quickly as possible. Colonel Lee was able to muster only about 80 men on such short notice. They "were posted in the edge of the woods, skirting the field on the right, and extending down the swamp about two hundred yards." The men in the militia were mostly those who had exempted from the draft or they were men fifty years of age or older. The militia was supported by men who had volunteered from the confederate hospital in Sumter, soldiers home on furlough, and a force of local boys, all under the age of seventeen. They had were three pieces of artillary: 2 brass howitizers and one iron six-pounder.
About 2:30 in the afternoon of April 9th, scouts announced that the enemy was approaching Dingle's Mill. (The site of Dingle's Mill is on present day 521 South a few miles outside of the town of Sumter where the highway crosses Turkey Creek.) Colonel Lee's men "resisted their progress, until, unable to hold out no longer against the overwhelming number which pressed them in front and flank and threatened to hem them in, they were compelled to fall back towards the mill, leaving two of their number dead upon the field and two others mortally wounded." Overcome by the overwhelming odds, the retreat became general.
Upon the retreat, so great was the all around confusion that the organization of the Sumter District militia was for the time being, destroyed. Most of the men from the 20th Regiment returned to their homes to look after their families and there was no occasion where they again engaged the enemy. A few days after the battle, all learned that their struggle had been a swansong of the war. On the same day as the Battle of Dingle's Mill, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army at Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia.
Colonel Lee in his official report said, "I take pleasure in being able to say, that in the judgement of several officers, the conduct of all the troops at the mill was as good as could be expected of any troops, and the militia, especially, fought with the determination of men who fight for their home and families."
The following is the list of casualties:
Killed: Lieut. W.A. McQueen, Palmetto Battery; Lieut. R. Pampere, Lousiana Battery; John Thompson, 20th Regiment, S.C Militia; J.H. Long *, 20th Regiment, S.C. Militia
Wounded: W. Reeder, Company A, S.C. Siege Train (died later); C.N. Harbin, Company H, 2nd S.C. Reserves (died later); Adville Davis, 20th Regiment, S.C. Militia; Charles McKay, 20th S.C. Militia; William Wingate, 20th S.C. Militia; William Harrell, 20th Regiment, S.C. Militia (captured); William Baker, Company D, 1st S.C. Infantry; G.C. Fahin, Company E, 22nd Georgia Bat.
Regiment S.C. Militia; William Wotton, 20th S.C.
* Charlie Howle's great-grandfather, Joseph Hill Long was one of those killed at the Battle of Dingle's Mill. It is interesting that he was originally from Northborough, Massachusetts. Born in 1815, he arrived in Charleston about 1838 and eventually married a local lady. She died while he was in Sumter designing and constructing the first structure for the Church of the Holy Comforter. It was in that completed structure that he later married Susan Elizabeth Darr in 1859. They had one child, Horatio Darr Long. Although opposed to the war, Joseph Long did his duty when Potter's troops approached the town. He was wounded and then bayoneted in that skirmish, possibly by Union troops from Massachusetts. Joseph Hill Long's name appears on the Confederate Dead Monument as "J. H. Long, Sr." It is assumed that "Sr." was added because someone thought that the name of his older son, Joseph Henry Long (killed in 1864 at Petersburg), listed as J. H. Long, Jr. had the same name as his father.
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