Looking for some interesting insights into Kershaw County’s Confederate history?
The Sons of Confederate Veterans Joseph B. Kershaw Camp # 82 will give a Confederate Tour presentation of Camden and Kershaw County Saturday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the Camden Archives and Museum.
The presentation, to be given by local author and historian Guerry Felder, will touch on a number of people, places and events -- some well known, others less so -- in and around Camden and Kershaw County during the Civil War.
Felder, who currently serves as the historian for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Joseph B. Kershaw Camp # 82 as well as the president of the Kershaw County Genealogical Society, has been researching Camden and Kershaw County Civil War era history since 2004. He has authored two books, "Through Their Eyes," and "Soldiers from Kershaw County" and is working on a third.
"It’s very interesting what you find," Felder said. "This area has such a rich history -- and this is one period of that history we just don’t know much about."
He said he has found many interesting and valuable articles in old newspapers, as well as through personal interviews and research with families of Confederate veterans.
While Camden was not a site of major conflict, there were some incidents throughout the war years. Kershaw County was home to hundreds of soldiers and six Confederate generals -- Joseph Brevard, James Cantey, James Chesnut, Zack Cantey Deas, Joseph Kershaw, and John Bordenave Villepegue. The generals are all memorialized with a monument and fountain, "The Pantheon," currently located in Rectory Square.
One of them, James Chesnut, served on Jefferson Davis’ staff through much of the war. His wife, Mary Boykin Chesnut, wrote a diary, known as "A Diary from Dixie," which is an important and valuable source of historical insight and information into the Civil War and our nation’s overall history as well as Confederate history.
Another famous figure, of course, is Richard Kirkland, "The Angel of Mary’s Heights," who braved enemy fire to carry water to wounded soldiers on the battlefield at Mary’s Heights. Kirkland, a Confederate soldier, took water to wounded Union soldiers first; both sides saw what he was doing and stopped shooting so that he could tend to as many wounded as he could.
But there were many others, not as well known, who fought bravely and would later contribute to the country in other ways, he noted.
Felder acknowledges this is a time in our nation’s history some people would prefer to forget. However, he also maintains history -- whether you like or dislike, agree or disagree with it -- cannot and should not be forgotten.
"You can’t just put it in a bottle and hide it," he said. "It was a different time; people were living in different circumstances."
Felder is not only interested in area Confederate veterans both well known and obscure, he is interested in the stories of all people from all walks of life during that time.
"Everyone has a feeling for what soldiers did," he said. "Relatively few people really know what the women did, for example."
Whatever their reasons for fighting in the Civil War or supporting the Confederacy’s war effort, these are people who deserve to be remembered and who would in many cases contribute to the legacy of the nation, Felder said.
Felder has also found a number of interesting old photos of people and places, some from the war years, some later.
The program starts at 1 p.m. at the Camden Archives and Museum and is free and open to the public.