Oliver Johnston Youmans
Private, 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry
Oliver Johnston Youmans was born December 31, 1838 at Mexico Plantation, Saint Peters Parish, Beaufort District, South Carolina. Mexico Plantation was owned by his maternal grandfather Captain Nathan Johnston. His father was William Youmans, Jr., and his mother was Salina Maria Johnston. William owned at least two plantations, one of which is shown to have owned ninety-eight slaves in 1860. Oliver’s paternal grandfather was William Youmans, Sr.
William Youmans, Jr. and his wife Salina had seven sons, 6 of which grew up to serve the Confederacy. Oliver and his family were members of the Cooswhatchie Baptist Church; Oliver became a member there in 1854. He soon thereafter entered the South Carolina Military Academy (later becoming The Citadel) where he appears to have done well; he was honored as the 4th of July Orator and valedictory Orator at his graduation in April, 1859. He prepared himself reading law and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in November, 1860.
With the country and his state anticipating the possible commencement of hostilities, Oliver entered into the service of South Carolina. Enlisting as a Corporal in Captain William Wallace’s Company, South Carolina Volunteers, the ”Columbia Grays”, Oliver began his service at Morris Island, SC on April 24, 1861. Within weeks this unit became Company C of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry, mustering into the Confederate States service on May 22, 1861. For the brief time the Regiment served in its home state it was known as the Second Palmetto Regiment.
The 2nd (Palmetto) Regiment was present in Charleston at the time of the Yankee Garrison’s capitulation. Shortly after the surrender, four companies of the Regiment agreed to be transferred to Virginia pending muster into Confederate service and Company C was ordered to Camp Davis near Richmond. Combined with six other Companies, the Regiment’s ranks filled to strength and as the 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry they trained and prepared for the impending struggle.
The Regiment was well bloodied at First Manassas in July, 1861 and Oliver was promoted to Sergeant by the end of October 1861. While the Regiment was in winter quarters, he developed pneumonia and moved home to recover. He rejoined the 2nd in the spring of 1862, and in muster records of the period was listed as 4th Sergeant. The 2nd had moved to Yorktown, VA earlier that year then evacuated to Richmond where they constructed fortifications. Oliver received his first wound during the Seven Days Battles, an arm wound, which he disregarded through the actions at Malvern Hill. He was then sent to the hospital, and did not report back to the 2nd until the eve of the battle of Sharpsburg.
Oliver was promoted to 1st Sergeant following a recommendation of his commanding officer in advance of the military actions at Fredericksburg, and again promoted in May, 1863 to 2nd Lieutenant. When his Captain (Wallace) was promoted to Major in June, Oliver became acting Captain of Company C. The Regiment traveled to Gettysburg where it suffered a 40% reduction in manning; it witnessed Pickett’s Charge.
Kershaw’s Brigade, to which the 2nd SC Infantry was attached, was ordered to the west with Longstreet’s Corps. Oliver was with the troops that crashed through the gap in the Union lines at Chickamauga; he survived the Knoxville Campaign and Siege and the East Tennessee operations. The following spring, he suffered a crisis in command when many in his company indicated that they would not renew their enlistments if he continued in command. Apparently, his military training had made him a strict disciplinarian making him unpopular in the unit. Oliver chose to resign his rank, in spite of his pending promotion to Captain, clearing the way for his SC soldiers to re-up in the 2nd SC Infantry. His resignation was accepted March 16, 1864; he himself re-enlisted in the same unit as a private.
Longstreet’s troops returned to Virginia and with the spring 1864 campaigns commencing, Oliver took his place in the ranks. It was during the battle of The Wilderness on the second day, May 6, 1964, that Oliver Johnston Youmans was killed in combat. He was buried on the right of the Plank Road, near Pulliam and Corbins saw mill. He was later reinterred and buried at the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg, Virginia.