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Private James Hillary Masters
7th South Carolina Regiment CSA


by William Roy "Pete" Masters


Private James Hillary Masters served in the Seventh South Carolina Regiment, Kershaw's Brigade, McLean's Division of Longstreet's Corps. They saw action at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Ashley's Gap, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Knoxville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania marking them as battlewise as any outfit.

Masters served four years in the brigade with but one furlough. Upon his return to Anderson County after after Appomattox, he resumed his vocation as a master mason and farmer.

Masters Family

The Civil War Letter of James Hillary Masters gives an eyewitness account of one of the last fights in the final big offensive waged by the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1863.

As Lee's army moved up the Shenandoah Valley, there were many sharp skirmishes between Union and Confederate cavalry units assigned to guard the mountain passes on the Confederate right flank.

The letter, a transcription of which is shown below, reveals eyewitness accounts of one of these fights and provides the interesting viewpoint of a Confederate private soldier towards the cavalry as well as his poignant ingnorance of the fierce and decisive battle ahead.

           Camp on Shanadoah River                               June 23  63
                                            7th S. C. Regt.
       My Deare family  I take the pleasure to write you a few lines to let you no that I
       am well hoping these lines may find you all well.  Mary, we got up heare at this
       point the twentieth.  We crossed through the Blue Ridge mountains.  The yankees got
       in our reare which caused us to stay a little longer than we woulde of stayed.  Our
       cavelry had a fight with them on Sunday.  They fought pretty much all day, but the
       yankees was too strong for our cavelry caused our division to have to go aboute four 
       miles backe.  We crost the river on Saturday.  We had it to waide with our clothes
       all on.  It was aboute waiste deepe and deeper.  We all crost over safe.  Well, on
       Sunday eavening there came news that the yankees were in heavy force a comin on to
       the river a fighting as they came.  We had to cross back and the river was still 
       deeper for it had been raining.  We got back and they releived the cavelry aboute
       darke.  We was all wet and colde.  We formed our line of battle on a mountain and
       remained theare until yesterday evening.  The yankees left that night when they found 
       out that had our division theare.  So we crost back without firing a gun, but our
       cavelry had a fairly hard fight getting some wounded and a few killed.  The cavelry
       never fights neare like infantry does.  They never lost many in a fight.
       We are over the river again.  We crost it the thirde time.  We are a goinge to leave
       today for Union town neare where we crost over the Potomac in to Maryland.  There is 
       a good many of our troops over in Maryland.  I suppose we will go there.  Mary, I
       will rite again to you as soon as I can.  I can't rite with much sattisfaction for the
       maile is going out this morning.  you must look over these hasty lines and excuse my
       bad ritinge and spellinge for I must close.
       Remain your affectioned husband until death.
                                                J. H. MASTERS to M. C. MASTERS

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