Thanks for reading and commenting about my blog postings. My goal is to accurately document the genealogy of my family and allied families living in Chesterfield County, SC and Anson County, NC. If you have a Chesterfield County surname you are interested in please send me an e-mail.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Interview with a Confederate Veteran

Andrew Washington Sellers is my great grand uncle. He is the brother of my Great Grand Mother Louise Ellen Sellers.  Andrew was born 24 Nov 1844 and died 12 Jan 1935 in Florence, Florence County, SC. He married Catherine Pinkey Wallace on 27 December 1865.

Interview with Andrew Washington Sellers, Confederate Veteran (conducted by Nellie Bristow, Florence Morning News, reprinted Chesterfield Advertiser, April 7, 1932)

[Note: All spelling and punctuation left as printed]

The car stopped on the highway just below Bannockburn where a man sat on the plazza of a farm house set well back from the road.
"Can you tell me where Mr. Andrew Sellers lives?"
"Yes, ma'am," and the man rose and came down the steps, meeting the visitor about half way the long walk.
"I'm looking for Mr. Andrew Sellers, an old Confederate veteran."
"Yes, Ma'am, that's me."
You?  You're not Mr. Sellers?" incredulously.
"Yes ma'am, --won't you come in?"

And this old fellow, eighty-eight years young, walked briskly up the steps, went in the house and brought out a heavy, upholstered chair for his visitor to sit in while he talked reminiscently of old days.
Mr. Sellers was born in Chesterfield county in 1844, son of Bill Sellers and Elizabeth Parsons. His grandfather was known as "Old Frozen Bill" Sellers, whose wife was Gilly Edens. He says his parents, with several of his father's brothers and sisters, seven families in all, took a great notion to go west in the forties, and very shortly after he as born they made the trip and settled out there. But a few years later his father died and when an uncle from South Carolina came out to visit them in 1854, his mother and her children returned with him to Chesterfield.

"And when we got there, said he, "though I was just a little boy, my grandmother Sellers put me and my brother to work on the farm. She had lots of niggers, but we had to work."
He worked on the farm until the war broke out, and in 1862, as a boy of seventeen, he answered the call to arms, serving in "Company A, Fourth South Carolina Cavalry, Butler's Brigade, Hampton's Division, Army of Northern Virginia." He was in the Company of Capt. J. C. Craig all through the war.

"We lay right around Richmond and Petersburg, up and down from Alexandria almost to Weldon, just in front of Grant," he said, and with evident relish stated: 
Gen. Lee would whip ever general against him, --till Grant came. Continuing he said, "Grant didn't want to take charge there, but he said he would take the job if they would let him run it to suit himself. Then when he came he said there was no use killing the whole population off--- it would be better to just sit down and starve them out. So he did----or tried to. That began the siege of Richmond."

"You were there all during the war?"

"Yes, around Petersburg and Richmond all the time, except about seven months when I stayed in prison."
"Tell us about that."

"Well, they captured us at Stony Creek.  The soldiers got down almost to starvation---just the little they could give us and what we could steal and pilfer. Once Hampton took about 800 cows from Grant," and he laughed as he said, "We had a grand time as long, as the beef lasted." 
"But when Grant got the Confederate soldiers pinched down so close to starvation, the Confederate Army moved its supplies down to Stony Creek, about four or five miles from Petersburg.
and there were eighty-three men sent there to guard the supply station---in a big depot building right on the creek.
"When the Yankees found out about it they slipped in on us, above and below, and nabbed the whole business, and burned what supplies we did have---burned up everything that was there. That was along about the first day of December, 1864, and they carried me and all the balance--caught every one of us, and carried the whole bunch to Point Lookout, Md. There were 180 of us caught at Stony Creek at one time. And there they kept us until June 19, 1865."  
"But that was after Lee's surrender, wasn't it"?"        
"Yes, but I'll show you my release and he went in the house and brought out the old prison release, with the oath of allegiance he was required to sign, and sure enough it bore the date June 19, 1865."

Continuing his story, Mr. Sellers said:
"When they let us go they sent us to Richmond on a boat, and from there by train to Salisbury, but from there we had to foot it home."    "Why didn't they send you all the way home"?"
"They could have, but they wanted to treat us just as bad as they could. While we were in prison they tried to see if they could kill us without shooting us.  That was the hardest place I ever struck in my life," said he. "I'll take the battle field all the time."
So he tramped from Salisbury to his home near the village of Chesterfield.  It took three or four days and his feet became so sore he could scarcely stagger along.  He tried pulling off his shoes, but found that wouldn't do. He and some other South Carolina boys came along together, and they were "all in" when they reached Chesterfield.  They had sent his horse home some time before.

"When I got home I went to work on the farm again," said he. "My brother, James, had been wounded. He belonged to the same brigade I did, but not to the same company.  He had been sent home when he was wounded and he had him a farm all started. So I put in and went to work farming, and have been at it ever since. My oldest brother, William Riley Sellers, was also in the army, but he was killed at Trevillian Station, VA[1][2]. [See Footnotes]

Besides these two brothers, Mr. Sellers had two sisters, Mary Ann Abigail Sellers, who married John Brock, and Lou Ella Sellers, who married Benjamin Brock, all of Chesterfield County.

Mr. Sellers married Catherine P. Wallace, daughter of Jesse Wallace, of Chesterfield and North Carolina, and their children were Charles Riley, Aurilla Jane, Mary Ellen, Jesse C., Alonzo H., Andrew J., Fannie and Kitty Sellers.  All live in Chesterfield except Jesse C. Sellers, who lives near Bannockburn, Florence county, and it is with him and his family that the genial old confederate veteran has made his home since shortly after his wife died some twenty years ago. He had four grandsons in the World war, one of them having been captured by the Germans and held in Prison all through the war.

"You are wonderfully well-preserved, Mr. Sellers, for a man of eighty-eight."      
"Well, I never had much sickness. I take all the exercise I can---I think that is the thing to do. And I'm hearty all right."
Some of this "exercise" is bring in wood, and sometimes cutting it too. He says he has two "bad habits"---coffee and tobacco.  He went on to tell of the craving for coffee in the army.
"They'd make coffee out of burnt rice, burnt peas, corn---anything that would make it black. They'd make a big kettle full and then call the boys to come get some coffee.  And they'd come too, "he laughed, "every one with his tin cup. Sometimes we'd have good boxes from home, and when one of the boys got a box he would just kick it open and call the rest, and here they'd come. Took things in their hands, and ate long as there was anything in the box to eat."
"Did you have any Ku Klux Klan or Red Shirts up in your country after the war?" "Oh, yes. I was in all that. We had a lot of trouble with the Negroes at first, but we soon broke that up."
When asked to pose for a snap shot he went gaily after his coat with the Bronze Cross of Honor in the lapel, so prized by the "boys" who wore the gray," and sat jauntily in the beaming sun beside the well curb for the picture.
And as his visitors turned to go he urged them hospitably to come again, smiling as he said:
"Come and let's talk some more. I haven't got started good yet."


[1] Randolph W. Kirkland Jr., Broken Fortunes (Columbia, South Carolina: SC Historical Society, 1995), page 312. SELLERS, W. Riley, died 23 March 1865 at Elmira, NY, Died in Prison; buried at Woodlawn, NY #2438 Elmira

[2] Jim Tipton, Find A Grave, digital image,; Headstone for Pvt W R Sellers; (1842–23 March 1865); Memorial # 66214868; Record of the Woodlawn National Cemetery, Plot: CSA 2438; Elmira, Chemung County, New York, USA; Accessed on 2012.

[3] Also published in the Chesterfield District Chronicle, Chesterfield District Chapter, S.C.G.S.,  Volume III, No. 1, Winter 2000, pages 19-21

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