Boyle and Gamble Foot Officer’s Sword Id’d – Captain R. S. Elam 22nd Bttn. Va. Infantry
Boyle and Gamble Foot Officer’s Sword Id’d – Captain R. S. Elam 22nd Bttn. Va. Infantry – This excellent example of a Boyle and Gamble Foot Officer’s sword came directly from the descendants of Capt. Robert Samuel Elam of Co. E, 22nd Battalion Virginia Infantry. Elam initially served, as an officer, in the Co. E, 2nd Va. Light Artillery, also known as “Elam’s Battery”. Elam was severely wounded on July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg and subsequently having had his leg amputated, and was left by the retreating Confederate Army and taken as a POW, by the Union Army, remaining in Gettysburg. After a lengthy stay in Union hospitals, Elam was transferred to Ft. McHenry and then to Ft. Delaware, in Maryland; ultimately, he was transferred to Charleston and became a “member” of the infamous Immortal 600. Elam’s sword is accompanied by his family Bible, printed in 1852, with the family lineage enumerated in the Bible, between the Old and New Testaments; the listing there of Elam’s ancestors and descendants, includes the family members from whom we obtained the grouping; also with the sword are several civilian images, some perhaps depicting Elam prior to the war as well as what appears to be an old Polaroid camera photograph of an original, war time period image of Elam, in his Confederate uniform, with this B & G sword. In addition, there are two period documents, one Elam’s father’s hand-written discharge from a pre-war, War of 1812, Virginia militia unit, and the other, a hand-written, brief description of his wounding at Gettysburg. This is a superior grouping, with unquestionable provenance; the buyer will receive a complete listing of provenance, through the ancestral line to the family from whom Perry Adams obtained the grouping. The sword is in overall excellent condition; the blade is plain and is not etched; the scabbard is also in very good condition, with the drag and throat somewhat loose; the sword grip and wire wrap are in fine condition. Measurements: Overall length – 36”; Blade length – 29.5”.
Robert S. Elam
|Residence was not listed; Enlisted as a Captain (date unknown). He also had service in: “E” Co. VA 22nd Battn Infantry 22nd VA Infantry Battalion
22nd Battalion, Virginia Infantry (Confederate)
22nd Infantry Battalion [also called 2nd Battalion] was organized with six companies of the 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery. On December 22,1864, the battalion was disbanded and its members distributed among other Virginia commands. The field officers were Lieutenant Colonels James C. Johnson and Edward P. Tayloe, and Major John S. Bowles.
Companies in this Regiment with the Counties of Origin
Men often enlisted in a company recruited in the counties where they lived though not always. After many battles, companies might be combined because so many men were killed or wounded. However if you are unsure which company your ancestor was in, try the company recruited in his county first.
Company A (Captain Thomas E. Burfoot’s Company) (formerly Company A, 2nd Regiment, Virginia Artillery) 39 former men of Company K, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery who re-enlisted in May 1862, were assigned to Company A when the 2nd Virginia Artillery was disbanded.
Company B (Charlotte and Lunenburg Artillery). Initially organized in December 1861 and reorganized in 1862. Reported to have formerly been Company B, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery. Captains were Armistead W. Baily, John T. Crymes, John A. Tucker and William C. Winn.
Company D (Captain William Green Jackson’s Company (formerly Company C, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery
Company E (Captain Robert Samuel Elam’s Company) (formerly Company E, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery)
Company G (Captain James C. Johnson’s Company) (formerly Co. G, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery) about 42 men of Company I, 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery who re-enlisted were assigned to Company G
Company H (Captain John S. Bowles’ Company) (formerly Company H 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery)
Suffolk News-Herald, March 2006; article by Fred D. Taylor:
The 22nd Virginia Battalion began its journey toward Gettysburg around 5 a.m. on the morning of July 1st, and were soon ordered to proceed at a double-quick march to the sound of the guns. By early afternoon, the 22nd Battalion arrived on the battlefield, and was immediately sent across Willoughby Run to engage the Union forces positioned near the McPherson Farm. The Union forces they faced were members of the “Iron” and “Bucktail” Brigades, thought to be two of the hardest fighting brigades in the Union army. According to reports, the men of the 22nd Battalion were forced to march across several hundred yards of open meadow in front of these Union infantry, “who unleashed a withering fire into the struggling Confederates.” The 22nd Battalion made at least two full-scale charges against the Union lines, both ending in little success for the Confederates. After being heavily repulsed by the Union troops, the 22nd Battalion received reinforcements and regrouped. As the afternoon wore on, the Confederates eventually flanked the Union troops at the McPherson farm, forcing them into a full retreat through the town of Gettysburg. However, the first day’s victory was a pyrrhic one for Robert, who was struck by a minié ball just above the knee during the battle.
As soon as Robert was hit, his men helped him away from the battlefield and carried him immediately to an impromptu hospital setup nearby. After being examined, it was determined that his wound was too severe, and that the only way to save his life was to amputate his leg just above his knee, where he was wounded. Some twenty years later, Robert still recalled the name of Dr. William R. Weisiger, the Brigade Surgeon who performed the operation.
The amputation was successful, but that was the least of Robert’s worries at the time. On July 3rd, he watched as the remnants of his unit marched off, without him, into what became known forever as Pickett’s Charge. Few would come back.
Yet, the long term results of the Battle of Gettysburg were even worse for Captain Robert Elam. The day after the failed attack, Lee decided to withdraw his army from Pennsylvania, and return to Virginia. Unable to transport or care for the nearly 5,000 severely wounded Confederate soldiers from three days of bloody fighting, they would be left in Gettysburg under the care of Confederate surgeons who stayed behind to treat them. Robert would be of this number, and according to military records, he was “officially” captured by the Union forces on July 5, 1863.
Union hospital records show that Robert slowly improved, but remained in a Union Cavalry Corps hospital for approximately four months. In September, Union doctors found it necessary to remove part of the bone in what was left of his femur that had been amputated. This seemed to correct whatever remaining problems had existed from his wound, and other than a case of “diarrhea” that was noted in his hospital records, Robert continued to improve. By October, Robert was well enough to be moved from the make-shift hospital at Gettysburg to a regular medical facility in Baltimore, Maryland. He remained at the Baltimore hospital until Union doctors considered him to be fully recovered in April of 1864. Robert’s status then became “prisoner of war” and he was confined to Fort McHenry prison, also in Baltimore.
In the last column, Captain Robert S. Elam had been transferred to Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor as a prisoner of war. This was only a temporary holding facility though, and Robert was moved again in June of 1864 to Fort Delaware, located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. Fort Delaware had been converted into a prison in 1862, and held a capacity of approximately 10,000 prisoners. But, for the prisoners who were sent there, Fort Delaware was no vacation spot. Fort Delaware was notorious for its inhumane conditions, which included severe prison overcrowding, and a poor sewage system that contaminated the drinking water. For Robert, this situation was only compounded by the fact he was highly susceptible to infections due to his amputation.
Robert was imprisoned in Fort Delaware for approximately a month when a rumor began to circulate around the prison that a large group of prisoners were to be sent south to be exchanged. This was a surprise for the prisoners, as the United States had ended its policy of exchange in hopes of depleting Southern resources from both the loss of men and the necessity to care for Union prisoners of war. However, a rumor of exchange was one thing – heading South was something totally different. Needless to say, it was quite a shock then, on August 20th of 1864, when six-hundred Confederate officers left Fort Delaware on board the ship the Crescent City destined for Charleston Harbor. With the hope that they would soon be in friendly territory, these six hundred men could never have realized their actual role was as bargaining chips of the Federal government.
During the summer of 1864, several key events had set in to motion what would develop in Charleston with the arrival of these six hundred Confederate prisoners. Just months before, six hundred Union prisoners had been transferred from the Andersonville prison to Charleston. The Confederate authorities did this for several reasons. First, overcrowding within the prison had deteriorated prison conditions, placing overall health of the prisoners in serious jeopardy. Second, the start of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s campaign against Atlanta threatened the viability of a Confederate prison within striking distance. With this in mind, Confederate authorities shifted the Union prisoners out of Andersonville for fear they would be freed by Sherman.
At first, Union authorities balked at this as a violation of the ethics of war, because it was common for Union artillery to shell Charleston, and thus their men would be subjected to such fire. (Note that nothing was said of the shelling of civilian women and children there in Charleston.) However, once it was clear that the Union prisoners were not in harms way, a plan to justify doing the same to Confederate prisoners sparked the interest of Union Major General John C. Foster, commanding the Union forces around Charleston. Selling this argument to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in Washington was easy for General Foster, who justified placing Confederate prisoners under fire as “retaliation.” The difference with these prisoners, though, was that they really would be placed under fire.
Thus, the dream of six hundred Confederate prisoners who assumed their trip south was for exchange, quickly vanished. The Crescent City arrived in Charleston Harbor on September 1st, and was immediately anchored within range and under fire of the Confederate heavy artillery at Battery Gregg, while a stockade for them was built within Union lines on Morris Island, south of Charleston. Upon their arrival, it was realized that at least forty of the prisoners were in such poor condition that even the Union officials could not justify keeping them in the name of retaliation. Among this number was Captain Robert Elam, whose condition had worsened since his arrival at Fort Delaware.
Robert was removed to the US General Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he remained until December. On December 15th, after nearly a year and half as a prisoner of war, he was paroled and released to the Confederate authorities in Charleston. As for Robert’s comrades who had been brought down from Fort Delaware, they were placed under fire for over forty-five days on Morris Island. Amazingly, none were killed in the exchange of fire, though many died from sheer dehydration, fatigue, and malnourishment. In subsequent years, these original six hundred men became poetically known as The Immortal 600.
|The Immortal Six-Hundred|
On August 20, 1864, a chosen group of 600 Confederate officers left Fort Delaware as prisoners of war, bound for the Union Army base at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Their purpose–to be placed in a stockade in front of the Union batteries at the siege of Charleston.
THE SIX HUNDRED CONFEDERATE OFFICERS
Placed under Fire of Confederate Cannon in Retaliation.
Capt. R. S. Elam, Twenty-Second Infantry; residence, Lynchburg; captured at Gettysburg July 3, 1863.
Capt Robert Samuel Elam