Saturday, 7 May 2011

Col. James McCullough

Of all my Civil War ancestors, the one to which I feel most closely connected is my great-great- great-grandfather James McCullough, who spent most of the war leading the 16th South Carolina Volunteer Regiment.  Not only did he pass his family name along to me, but when I was a boy, my family spent many summer days down in South Carolina on the same McCullough farm that he had worked both before and after the war. I remember seeing the Colonel’s portrait hanging in my great-grandmother’s house, and his monument continues to dominate the small family graveyard.
James McCullough was born in 1824 on the family farm, 25 miles south of Greenville, S.C. His father was a major landowner, slave owner, farmer and horse-breeder. His father died in 1853 and James inherited the farm.
In the fall of 1861, C. J. Elford was granted authority from the Governor of S.C. to raise a regiment for state service, and James McCullough did his part by organizing one company.  The regiment would eventually be labelled the 16th South Carolina Volunteers and James McCullough was elected Lieutenant Colonel under Col. Elford. In early 1862, the regiment was sent to Adams Run on the Charleston Savannah Railroad where they participated in the small battles of Pocotaligo and Johns Island. In April, the regiment was changed from state to Confederate States service, and James McCullough was elected Colonel of the regiment.
In March of 1863 the regiment journeyed to Wilmington, N.C., but soon returned to the Charleston area. Then, on May 4, 1863, the regiment was ordered west to join General Joseph E. Johnston’s army attempting to relieve Vicksburg. Now part of States Rights Gist’s brigade, the 16th missed the battle of Chickamauga while on detached duty. However, they returned in time to take up a position on Missionary Ridge for the defeat at Chattanooga. From then on the regiment stayed with the army through all of the battles in the Atlanta campaign.
From there, the 16th joined in Hood’s disastrous campaign. At the battle of Franklin, States Rights Gist’s brigade was one of the first to hit the Federal lines. When Gist was killed during the battle, Col. James took command of the brigade. Sometime after this battle, possibly after the battle of Nashville, the depleted 16th regiment was combined with another regiment. With no real command left, Col. McCullough resigned his commission and returned home.
He lived on until 1892 and was very involved in veteran’s affairs.
That is most of what I know about the Colonel’s war record. As you can see, there are many gaps in my knowledge. With the help of this blog, I hope to start filling in some of those gaps and gathering as much information as I can about my great-great-great-grandfather and his four years as a citizen of the Confederate States of America.


  1. I've noticed that all your relatives that you've posted so far were officers. Kind of an interesting trend.

  2. I’ve never really given it much though, but I suppose there is a logical connection. All three of the ancestors I’ve mentioned came from well-to-do families, as most of the officer class of the south did. These families were also more likely to intermarry. Thus, officers probably travelled in ‘family packs’.

    For the moment, I’m sticking to direct ancestors, but John Stewart Walker had two brothers who were both CSA officers. The 16th S.C. also included a Lt. McCullough who, I believe, was the cousin of James.

    All of that said, I’ve got two (or maybe three) more ancestors who fought for the Confederacy and one of them did so as a Private in an elite cavalry unit. (details coming soon!).

  3. got a ton of history in your family, must be exciting researching all of that.

  4. I do believe that your assessment is correct. I look forward to reading more!