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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

Five Brothers of South Carolina, One Remains in the Trenches of Petersburg

by Gordon Thorsby

Brigadier Gen. Mathew C. Butler, of the South Carolina Brigade

James Madison Hough wrote what may have been an epitaph or it was a warning to Civil War veterans if they go to Petersburg:

A noble brother lost somewhere there around the trenches

but no trace could I find of him."

O' Solitude, where are the charms, Sages have seen in thy face?

Better to dwell in the midst of alarms,

Than stay in that horrible place."

He cautions other veterans:

"Do not go there alone,

you will regret it."

“He” referred to is James' brother, Amos who is there still, in Petersburg; buried “somewhere in the trenches.”

James Madison Hough expressed to us: 1) veterans had difficulty forgetting the worst about the Civil War and yet, 2) they sought to remember the men they fought alongside.

James Madison “Matt” Hough (7/10/1840- 2/5/1916) was one of five brothers who fought for South Carolina and the Confederacy in the Civil War. He began his fighting by enlisting in the 8th SC Infantry at private on April 1, 1861. His oldest brother, Minor Jackson (1/30/33-12/20/94), was already a practicing attorney. He enlisted with Matt the same day and regiment but he was instantly commissioned 2nd Lt. William Thomas (1841-1862) enlisted in the 1st SC Regulars, departed immediately for Charleston and into fighting at Ft. Sumter. William remained with the regiment where it fought with Union forces in the spring of 1862. Unfortunately, disease claimed William when he died while stationed at Ft. Moultrie on July 2, 1862. Second oldest, Joseph Charles, 1/19/35-5/8/13 enlisted in the 1st Regulars as well, and fought at James Island in 1862. Amos, in 1861, was still too young of the 5ive.

Matt and Minor went to Virginia with the 8th SC where it fought in the first major action at Bull Run. The 8th later went on to the Peninsula and to the Antietam Campaigns. The following description testifies to their fighting at Sharpsburg:

James Madison "Matt" Hough

About 9:45 A.M., the 2d, 7th and 8th South Carolina of Kershaw’s Brigade charged out of the woods and across this road on Tompkins’ Rhode Island Battery on the ridge about 220 yards east of this. The charge was repulsed by the Battery and Greene’s Division of Infantry, and the Brigade fell back beyond the western limits of the West Woods. Nearly one half of the officers and men of the Brigade were killed and wounded in less than fifteen minutes.

After Sharpsburg, the 8th that started with 1000 men was below 100 men and needed to be combined with another South Carolina regiment or dissolved. In November, 1862, Matt and Minor joined up with the 6th SC Cavalry. Minor was named Captain, Matt, his 2nd Lt. And Joe signed up as well in the same company. Almost all of the brothers were then together. Amos was only sixteen and was with the 4th Battalion SC Reserves.

The 6th SC Cavalry was originally the South Carolina Partisan Rangers and it mustered in January, 1863 and remained in the State until the Spring of 1864. In March, it went to Virginia and joined Brigadier General Mathew C. Butler’s Brigade, where commanders of divisions and Corps considered the 6th to be inexperienced and not dependable. Heavy use of troopers wore down cavalry regiments quickly and the 6th became necessary.

While the three Hough’s were riding through the Southern Virginia countryside, Amos who had turned seventeen (received a $50 bounty) decided to join up with the 22nd SC infantry on Sept. 15, 1864. He joined the regiment in the trenches of Petersburg. Just four months after his arrival, Amos Hough (1847-1865) was killed by a sharpshooter on February 2, 1865, just prior to the fight at Hatcher’s Run. He was buried quickly in the trenches and unmarked. His brothers only found out later and was told he was buried “somewhere in the trenches.”.

Matt, Minor Joe and the Sixth Cavalry were sent to the Carolinas where they fought until the surrender at Bennett Place, NC. They surrendered April 26, 1865.

Family members described Matt as one “known for a sense of humor and, although not an orator such as his half Uncle Nathaniel or his brother Minor Jackson, he had a pleasing pen evidenced by several surviving articles. He also liked drawing.”

Matt like many Northern and Southern veterans saw war friends and attended reunions. He served as representative of Chesterfield county in the South Carolina State Legislature. He was most concerned about the welfare of the forgotten veteran. Hough was quoted:

"I must add one more word. If the Great State of South Carolina can’t give the dependent

Confederate boys a pension commensurate with their deeds and sufferings, just abolish what you have done—call it a shame and throw the boys on the magnanimity of the women, and I will risk them being taken care of."

Matt wrote two pieces for "Stories of the Confederacy" by U. R. Brooks and supported his other works.

As to Matt's note of Amos, his brother was a great loss to him.


The Siege of Petersburg, The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, by Horn, John, Savas Beatie, 20165, pp78-81.

Lancaster History Society, Lancaster SC. Ms. Anne Christie.

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