A Palmetto Boy
Civil War-Era Diaries and Letters of James Adams Tillman
At nineteen James Tillman had completed secondary school and had intentions to pursue a teaching career when the outbreak of the Civil War changed his priorities. Tillman enlisted with the Twenty-fourth South Carolina Volunteer Infantry of Edgefield and attained the rank of captain during the war. He was initially stationed along the coastal defenses south of Charleston and fought in both battles of Secessionville in 1862. He was wounded at Chickamauga in 1863, and his mother and brother Ben brought him home to recover. Tillman returned to duty and spent much of 1864 under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston in Tennessee and North Carolina, retreating from General Sherman's advance. At the war's end, Tillman returned home crestfallen and witnessed the rough onset of Reconstruction, writing in his diaries about those he saw as descending on South Carolina to profit from the defeated South. In June 1866, a little more than a year after his discharge, he died of complications from his combat wounds.
Through the combination of Tillman's diaries and letters, the modern reader is invited to share in both the immediacy of his thoughts from the war front and his contemplative expressions of those experiences for his home-front audience of family members. Tillman's personal narrative adds another layer to our understanding of the historical significance of the Tillman family and offers a compelling firsthand account of the motivations and actions of a young South Carolinian at war as he struggled to find sense in the midst of unfathomable chaos.
About the Author
"Insightful and succinct, James Tillman chronicles his service, his ideas, and his ideals through war and early peace from the end of 1859 through May 1866. Meticulously annotated by Bobbie Swearingen Smith, this rich and vivid collection of diaries and letters deserves a worthy place among Civil War narratives."—Orville Vernon Burton, author The Age of Lincoln and In My Father's House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield County, South Carolina
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