The Sharpshooter's Harvest, Lt. David Logan, 17th South Carolina Infantry
by Gordon Thorsby
Lt. David Jackson Logan, 17th South Carolina (Pre-War)
On December 28, 1860, David Jackson wrote home mentioning the Union Commander of Fort Sumter, Major Robert Anderson. Anderson realized Ft. Moultrie was indefensible and abandoned it to strengthen Fort Sumter. In 1860, nobody could foresee the massive conflict that David Logan became a part of and how it would change the world.
When David Jackson enlisted in the 17th South Carolina Infantry, he did not know when he would return home. He had been a grocer in McConnellsburg (now McConnells), near Yorkville (now York), South Carolina. His grandfather fought at King’s mountain in the Revolutionary War with one brother. Two other brothers fought for the British. Logan family. He married Miss Sarah “Sallie" Catherine Rowell of Yorkville in 1858 they had a daughter when he left to fight in March 1861. Tensions for going to war were high and South Carolina was the first state to secede. David Logan was also amongst the first to volunteer.
He was originally commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, in the "Carolina Rifles.," now company F, from York County near the State line. His five brothers all served in the Confederate army in North or South Carolina. The regiment’s first major action was at Second Manassas where it
lost 62% of its 304 men. The 17th was in the second line behind Hood’s advancing division. In the midst of the fighting, the Union 55th Ohio volleyed into the flank of the 17th dropping many and causing the 17th to crumple and retreat. When the regiment recovered, they continued up the ridge where they were ordered to take the guns of Wiederich’s battery. As it moved to the guns, the 25th Ohio added its support to the weight of the battery's canister into the ranks of the 17th. At this point of the fighting, it is believed Logan was hit twice.
From the Official Records:
“The regiment … marched forward in line of battle up a hill in direction of the Chinn house in face of a terrific fire of the enemy, which was concentrated from two batteries, one on each side, and a regiment of infantry a short distance in front.
The regiment charged over the hill, driving the enemy before us. When about 300 yards beyond the Chinn house. I discovered for the first time that there were very few of the regiment around me, and not a field or commissioned officer of the brigade…”
Logan was wounded by minie balls in the chest and shoulder, yet managed to survive his severe wounds. He was furloughed home to recuperate (see furlough papers.)
While out recovering from wounds, the regiment incurred another 43% casualty rate at South Mountain, and though a reduced brigade, another 32% at Sharpsburg. The regiment was sent to the Carolinas where it garrisoned Ft. Sumter and reconstituted itself. Logan returned to the regiment where It was placed in Bushrod Johnson’s Division as the Petersburg Campaign began. On June 2nd, 1864, Logan’s letter described, "In the Rifle Pits on James River.". It went on to explain that he was "alive and well." He described “a severe engagement with Union forces" then gave “thanks to God for his preservation.” Logan’s regiment was in the Bermuda One Hundred area at the time.
On June 8, 1864, David wrote the last letter home. He ended the letter with: "Kiss our babies for me. Pray for my safe return & give my love to all the friends."
It was at Petersburg, that conflicting sources place his date of death as on June 18 or July 2. On June 18th, came one of the first major assaults of the Campaign. The Union II Corps advanced en mass by column determined to break the Confederate trench line.
Alonzo Elliott’s Palmetto fusillade that the 17th was a part, “Fire came the word and our whole line was a sheet of flame.” Testified one soldier in the 17th. A soldier in the 18th SC, recalled, The shallow water of Poor Creek ran red with the blood of the wounded.” "They charged our works and the 17th and 18th “just slayed them “, said Lt. J. William Pursley of the 18th. (If Logan was killed on the 18th, it would likely have been just prior to the assault.)
”Soldiers serving in the front lines faced a ceaseless ordeal of sharpshooting and mortar bombardments that visited inglorious mayhem and death on countless Confederates, leaving a ‘chill of murder’ among the survivors.” Reportedly, Logan warned his soldiers to keep heads down as sharpshooting was taking a toll on both sides. Unfortunately, he forgot to follow his own advice and did not keep low enough. Minutes later, a sharpshooter ended David Logan.
Years later, an old trunk belonging to Logan’s father was discovered by David Logan's grandson. There were several curious things that referred to David Logan’s time on Earth. One item was a copy of the Shelby NC “Mountain Eagle” newspaper of 7/28/1864 announcing the death of David, some of David’s poems, and old receipts. Reading the paper, young Logan read articles of the day including “Glorious News from Atlanta, “Deserter Caught,” and “Captured Spy.” There was also a handbill from Gov. Vance, then Governor of South Carolina dated 11/26/62 that an embargo clamping down on exportation from the State of various articles of prime necessity such as including salt, bacon, pork, beef, corn and others. Food speculation had inflated prices. The reason was to prevent a “blighting on the land and to prevent famine in the midst of plenty.” No longer of this earth, the Logans had not forgotten.
After the war, David Jackson Logan’s remains were shipped home to McConnellsburg and reburied at Bethesda Presbyterian Church. Sixteen other soldiers from the 17th are buried in the cemetery and they keep David company. David and Sallie rest beside each other in that old cemetery in McConnells, SC.
His obituary’s final words were “Peace be to his ashes.”
Note: Logan wrote a diary along with his letters that has been published titled, A Rising Star of Promise by Thomas, Samuel N., Silverman, James H., Logan, David Jackson, 8/21/98, Savas Publishing.
A Campaign of Giants, by A. Wilson Greene,, University of North Carolina Press, 2018. Pp 206-208, 333.
Second Manassas, Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge, by Patchan, Scott C., Potomac Books, Washington, DC, 2011.
Historical Data Systems, Inc., P.O. Box 35, Duxbury, MA 02331, 1997.