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Pickadat Corner in Chesterfield County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Battle of Swift Creek
"Brave to Madness"
 
Battle of Swift Creek Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
1. Battle of Swift Creek Marker
 
Inscription. You are standing in the middle of the Union line that faced the Confederate route of attack up the Richmond Turnpike on May 9, 1864, during Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Here, along Swift Creek, elements of Butler's Army of the James clashed with part of Confederate Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson's command. The Federals were attempting to disrupt supply lines - especially the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad - to Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, which was fighting north of Richmond.

Johnson's force was dug in from Brander's Bridge almost to Fort Clifton, behind you on the Appomattox River. The massive Federal "demonstration" met resistance here, where the Union troops encountered the 11th South Carolina Infantry, a part of Gen. Johnson Hagood's command that was forward of the main Confederate position. Union Gen. Charles A. Heckman's brigade had formed its line here when another South Carolina regiment, the 21st, charged across the Swift Creek bridge and up the turnpike to support the 11th. When the Confederates were but fifty yards away, Heckman's brigade began firing volleys that cut the South Carolinians down. A post-battle Confederate report termed them "brave to madness." The survivors withdrew across the creek.

Skirmishing and artillery fire continued through the night. The 8th Connecticut
 
Close up of the Map Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
2. Close up of the Map
 
Infantry, a unit partially armed with Sharps "revolving rifles," repulsed a Confederate advance across the railroad bridge east of the turnpike. The 63rd Tennessee Infantry turned back some Union gunners who got a cannon down to the creek bank. In the morning, Butler ordered a withdrawal. The Confederates had the railroad repaired by the next day.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 37° 17.02′ N, 77° 24.722′ W. Marker is in Pickadat Corner, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker is on Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1 / 301), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Located in the parking lot for the Swift Creek Mill. Marker is in this post office area: Colonial Heights VA 23834, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. "Brave to Madness" (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Army Checked (approx. 0.2 miles away); Swift Creek Battlefield: A Landscape of Change (approx. 0.2 miles away); Electric Railway (approx. 0.3 miles away); Redwater Creek Engagement (approx. 0.9 miles away); Union Army Railroad Raids (approx. 0.9 miles away); Advance on Petersburg (approx. one mile away); Ellerslie (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Pickadat Corner.
 
Battle of Swift Creek Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
3. Battle of Swift Creek Marker
 

 
More about this marker. In the lower left of the marker is a map showing the tactical situation described in the text. In the upper center are portraits of Generals Benjamin F. Butler and Bushrod R. Johnson. In the lower right is a photograph showing railroad ties and rails stacked for demolition. Federals and Confederates alike disrupted the other side's rail communications by dismantling tracks and placing them across ties, which were then set afire to bend the tracks.
 
Also see . . .
1. Swift Creek Mill. (PDF) National Register documentation for the Swift Creek Mill. (Submitted on December 23, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Swift Creek Mill Theatre. History of the mill from the theatre web site. (Submitted on December 23, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1.
Veterans of the S.C 25th Regiment of Hagood's Brigade, said in an obituary of Captain James M Carson, Commander Company A, that he "led the disastrous charge" at Swift Creek. In Gen. Hagood's "Memoirs of the War of Secession", pages 227-231, he says that Captain Carson commanded a detachment of the 25th Reigment that was with Gantt's 11th Regiment in this battle. He also says Captain Carson was wounded severely and out of action for the rest of the campaign. Hagood states there were
 
Swift Creek Mill Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
4. Swift Creek Mill
The mill was the center of the battle area. Today it is a theater and playhouse.
 
"31 killed,82 wounded and 24 missing, making an aggregate of 137 men thrown away because too many generals, and too far away from the field of battle."P. 230. Probably meaning Pickett and Bragg. The 25th Regiment also was committed during the battle to provide cover for the withdrawal, p.230. But, this stopped General Butler's advance and ended that threat to Richmond and Petersburg. Butler became "bottled up" in the Bermuda One Hundred and the 25th Regiment, as a part of Hagood's Brigade, was later freed to race north to the Battle of Cold harbor to take up positions at the southern most part of Lee's line....in time to receive Grant's final attacks ordered there, see discussions around P. 255-260, Memoirs.

When I was a small boy, my grand father told me of being able to put his finger in a deep groove above the left ear of his father, Captain James M Carson, from a wound he received in Virginia.

Capt. Carson later commanded the 25th Regiment as it was ordered out of the defenses at Petersburg, and left o/a the 20th of December, by train to the west, and Lynchburg, then south and went on to join the fight underway as they arrived at Ft. Fisher, N.C. Accounts say it was so cold on departure from Petersburg, that one soldier froze to death in a rail car at night as they traveled, P. 315..

Ft. Fisher guarded Wilmington, the last open port the South had.
 
Swift Creek Mill Pond Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2008
5. Swift Creek Mill Pond
Looking from the parking area to the south across Swift Creek. Hagood's Brigade initially occupied defensive positions on the south side of the creek. The area is now heavily developed.
 
About 65 ships including five Ironclads surrounded Ft. Fisher off the coast in an arc and fired on the fort aiming in a coordinated way, from one parapet to the next gun parapet, in the second and successful attack there. There Captain Carson was wounded again, early in the day's hand to hand fighting This time in the left shoulder. Family lore is that his arm and life were saved by a Union Surgeon. He was sent by ship to Ft. Monroe as a P.W. And was afterwards transferred to a P.W. prison on an island in New York harbor. At the end of the war, he was sent by ship to Virginia and had to walk home to South Carolina.

My own father, James M Carson II, named for and grand son of Captain James M Carson mentioned above, commanded an Anti Aircraft Battery at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, and later served on Gen. MacArthur's staff in Tokyo after WWII. He was later first President of Richard Bland College at Petersburg, VA.

I am great grand son and a two tour Infantry veteran of the Vietnam War.

I have an original hard bound copy of the obituary of my great grand father, with various first hand witness statements of his and their service in the South Carolina 25th Regiment, (AKA, Washington Light Infantry, of Charleston, S.C.)

Col. James M Carson III
U.S.M.A, '64
Ashland, Va
July 13, 2013 Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted July 13, 2013, by James M Carson, Jr of Ashland, Virginia.

 
Credits. This page originally submitted on December 23, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,466 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 23, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
 
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