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    Archive of Letters of Alfred B. Mulligan of the 5th Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry. An extensive and remarkable archive consisting of 147 letters, including 146 letters by Mulligan to family members, especially his mother and sisters, and 1 letter to Mulligan from General John Tobin. The letters are dated from January 1, 1861 to January 2, 1865.

    Virtually all of Mulligan's letters cover the period of his service in the Confederate cavalry forces. Soon after joining the Charleston militia in wake of South Carolina's secession from the Union, Mulligan, in a December 1, 1861 letter, informed his mother and sisters of his appointment as quartermaster with the rank of captain: "My office is one that embraces nearly all the business of the Regt." Mulligan's appointment letter from General John E. Tobin, dated the same day, is also in the archive. He hoped to join the Confederate army and, as he wrote his mother in a January 19, 1862 letter, he was "trying to get up a company for Confederate service....I have not yet commenced soliciting names...for I have to wait the disbanding of companies in the field in state service." In a letter written to his mother three days later, on January, 22, Mulligan referred to the "uncertainty as to what the enemy intend trying to do that everyone is at a loss to know what will be done. If there is not a prospect of active war soon I shall get at business of some sort." In a February 19 letter, Mulligan reported that he had "raised a large company of cavalry & I have been unanimously elected captain....The other officers will not be elected until we are ready to be mustered into Confederate service." In the same letter, referring to recent Confederate setbacks in Tennessee and Kentucky, Mulligan compared the South's fight with the American Revolution: "We have no cause to disband for in the first revolution our country was you know completely over run for several years & still we gained our independence." On February 26, he wrote his mother that his company's name was the "Dixie Rangers."

    Mulligan and his company mustered into service on March 20, 1862. He informed his mother and sisters of this in a letter dated two days later. "Well I can now say to you, that I have volunteered for the War. On day before yesterday my Company 89 men strong all volunteered" for a "war of extermination." He then added, "when the men of other states come to help us we feel bound to go wherever the confederate flanks & to stay in the field until the last enemy of our country have been driven from our soil." With much of the fighting occurring elsewhere in the South, Mulligan's letters from the spring and summer of 1862 describe daily routines of camp life, family news, his health, and the weather. One such letter, dated July 7, 1862, indicates Mulligan's fatigue and frustration over the lack of action. "I am quite well, only tired, for our trip was a very fatiguing one. We left camp on Saturday with 100 men & rode about sixty miles in 24 hours. We did not see a single Yankee & as usual had a tiresome trip of it." Not only inactivity but also the neglect of his own business concerned Mulligan. As he wrote on August 24, "I am making very great sacrifices....I am not only expose my self to climate, enemy, etc. but am losing much by the absolute neglect of my business which is suffering exceedingly by my absence. I could save five thousand dollars per year by leaving the service." He realized, however, that this was no time "for calculating cost or considering personal interest...when my Country requires & appreciates my service...I will live in the woods through all my life & last words or die by starvation if need be before I will give up our great cause." Occasionally, Mulligan conveyed military news. In a September 8, 1862 letter, he referred to the recent Battle of Antietam: "The reports from Va, as to the fact that our loss at the late battle at Manassas was very great. The government have not allowed the fact to be published but we lost an immense number of men & they nearly all South Carolinians."

    In a November 16, 1862 letter, Mulligan reports on the Confederate victory at the Battle of Pocotaligo on the previous October 22, in which Union forces attempted to sever the Charleston and Savannah Railroad and thus isolate Charleston. "No appearance whatever of the enemy attacking us", he wrote, "they were so very badly whipped at Pocotaligo that they dread us. They had at least two to our one during the whole of the fighting....& a part of the time they had fifteen or twenty to our one....I suppose that they will not make another attack soon, Charleston & Savannah are both considered impregnable now. We will be able to give the enemy one thousand rounds of Cannon to the minute, that is we can fire one thousand times per minute with our Cannon at Charleston."

    While waiting for the expected invasion of Charleston by Union forces, Mulligan spent his time in camp on picket duty, writing letters, and hunting. The monotony of camp life was exacerbated by the occasional lack of food. In a May 17, 1863 letter Mulligan wrote that the "army is now on...rations & have been for six months. The soldiers who are fighting & enduring so much for our dear Country are not half fed. The constant cry of nothing to eat is heard in every Camp & unless the army can get better fed they can't stand it long."

    After spending all of his time in campsites around Charleston, South Carolina, Mulligan and his company moved to camps in North Carolina in the fall of 1863. By the end of that year, Mulligan informed his family that he was looking for a change. He wrote in a December 20 letter that he was "not satisfied with my present situation in the army & would like to change it for some business department of the government when I could live more systematic & when I would not have so much exposure & so much to harass me." Yet Mulligan claimed that his "present situation however is by no means very disagreeable. I am getting along very well with my Co...but Camp life does not suit me & my health could not stand exposure." Nothing seems to have come of Mulligan's wish, since he remained with his company. While in North Carolina, Mulligan encountered several captured Union soldiers. He wrote of two who escaped from a Confederate prison in a March 6, 1864 letter. "One of my Lieutenants Captured two escaped yankee prisoners two nights ago," he claimed, "they were taken prisoners at Chickamauga & escaped from Danville Va & traveled on foot without being detected until they got among my boys who took them up. They are both intelligent young men well raised and from Ohio. Say they volunteered to save the 'Union, etc.'" In a March 29 letter, Mulligan proclaimed, wrongly it turned out, that everything "indicates a speedy termination of the War on terms favorable and satisfactorily to our Country."

    In early April 1864, Mulligan and his company was ordered to Virginia to join General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Departing in early May, he and his company arrived in Petersburg on May 13 and joined Butler's Brigade. The next day, May 14, Mulligan wrote home that his company joined "about one thousand other troops-all cavalry & artillery under Brig. Genl. Dearing. Having just arrived I cannot tell you much about the fighting which has occurred but from all that I can learn Lee has whipped the enemy badly beyond Richmond. There has been severe fighting north side of Petersburg & the enemy are within five miles of the city." Once in Virginia, Mulligan and his company participated in hard fighting. In a June 19 letter, he claimed that the 5th South Carolina Cavalry "have done much hard fighting & endured more hardships ...since we arrived in Va. than most troops undergo in a year."

    Mulligan reiterated his cavalry's importance to the Confederate cause in a July 6 letter, when he wrote that he did "not know what is said or published about our Brigade but one thing is Sertain [sic] & that is Butler's Brigade has saved the Country. We have done more hard fighting and accomplished more than any brigade ever has since the war began. The Virginians all say that we have saved Richmond & I understand that we are all of the talk in Richmond & Petersburg & other places and have all praise for what we have done so far." On August 24, Mulligan wrote that he "was in a very hot battle most of the day yesterday but through gods goodness & your prayers I came out unhurt. I had my horse shot under me." By October, things were beginning to look dire for Mulligan's brigade. In an October 6 letter, he reported, "the entire Brig of about 2500 even cant turn out 300 horses for duty. We are completely broke down men as well as horses. Our men are scattered from the yankee prisons to S.C in hospitals etc."

    Mulligan received a gunshot wound to his right hand at the Battle of Burgess' Mill on October 27, 1864. His last letter in the archive is dated January 2, 1865, and appears written with his left hand from a hospital in South Carolina. In the letter, he informs his mother and sister that "it will be a long time before I get well....The Surgeons say that they can do nothing for me, that it requires time to cure the wound."

    In addition to the letters, the archive contains photocopies of several documents relating to Mulligan's military career, including copies of a four-page manuscript autobiographical sketch by Mulligan; a June 1896 letter from Mulligan's wife seeking membership in the Daughters of the Confederacy Spartanburg, South Carolina, chapter, and a October 28, 1864 telegram from Mulligan to his family informing them that he was wounded in battle.

    Condition: Overall condition of letters is good; there are seven letters that are incomplete or with parts missing; seven are water stained, without affecting text; the ink on several letters has faded but the text is still legible; a couple of letters have been repaired with tape; and in a few the iron gall ink has bled through to the opposite page.


    More Information:

    Alfred Birmingham Mulligan (1825-1910) was born in Prince William's Parish, Beaufort District, South Carolina. At first, he tried his hand as a teacher and then moved to Savannah, Georgia in 1848-49, where he gained employment as a clerk in a dry goods store. Later Mulligan moved to Charleston where he began a career as a merchant. He also owned several slaves. In December 1860, Mulligan joined the Charleston Light Dragoons, under the command of B. H. Rutledge, as a private. He enlisted at Camp Gist, James Island, South Carolina, on March 20, 1862 and was mustered as a captain into Major Robert J. Jeffords' Squadron, South Carolina Cavalry, which became Company C, 6th Battalion, known as "the Dixie Rangers," South Carolina Cavalry, in April 1862. In January 1863, Jeffords' companies became B, C. D, and G of the 5th South Carolina Cavalry. Mulligan and his Company B were transferred to Virginia in the spring of 1864 and participated in the battles of Drury's Bluff, Chester Station, Atkins Farm, and Cold Harbor, among others. Severely wounded in action (gunshot in right hand) at Burgess' Mill, Virginia, on October 27, 1864, Mulligan was disabled for the remainder of war. After the war, Mulligan served as a commission merchant and insurance agent in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He died at Spartanburg, South Carolina. Mulligan married Florence Carroll Archer on October 3, 1869, with whom he had 3 daughters.

    The 5th South Carolina Cavalry was organized in January 1863, consolidating the 14th and 17th Battalions, South Carolina Cavalry. Although officially designated a regiment, the companies of the 5th South Carolina Cavalry continued to serve as detached commands assigned to coast defense duties at various locations in the Carolinas until March 1864. At that time, they were ordered to Virginia where the regiment assembled in April, and along with the 4th and 6th South Carolina Cavalry Regiments formed Brigadier General Mathew Butler's Brigade, General Wade Hampton's Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. For the remainder of that year, the regiment was actively engaged as mounted infantry in various actions associated with the defense of Richmond and Petersburg and the vital railroad lines supplying the Army of Northern Virginia. In January 1865, the 5th South Carolina Cavalry was reassigned to Wheeler's Cavalry Corps, Army of Tennessee, CSA, and returned to Columbia, South Carolina, under Lieutenant General Wade Hampton to check the advance of Major General William T. Sherman's troops from Georgia. Thereafter, it was involved in continuous skirmishing with numerically superior Union forces as they moved inexorably north from Columbia, then across northeastern South Carolina, and finally into central North Carolina. The 5th South Carolina Cavalry participated in the final battle of the Carolinas Campaign at Bentonville, and provided the escort to General Joseph Johnston when he met to discuss surrender terms with General Sherman at the William Bennett House near Durham Station, North Carolina, on 17 April 1865. The regiment was included in the surrender of cavalry troops at Hillsboro, North Carolina, on April 27, 1865, and its remnants were officially disbanded at Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 23, 1865.



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