War Between the States
Nathan George "Shanks" Evans
Birth: February 3, 1824 Death: November 23, 1868 Brigadier General, CSA
Born in Marion, South Carolina. Son of Hon. Thomas Evans and Jane Beverly Daniel, grandson of General Nathan Evans II and Edith Godbold, great-grandson of Nathan Evans I and Ruth James of Marion South Carolina.
Married Anne Victoria Gary in Cokesbury, South Carolina, sister of General Martin W. Gary, CSA
Graduated Randolph-Macon College in 1842 at the age of 18. Graduated USMA at West Point in 1848. Served in United States Army until 1861.
Fought at First Bull Run (Manassas), promoted to Brigadier General on October 21, 1861 after Ball's Bluff. Evans was at Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Vicksburg, and Kingston.
Died in 1868 from lingering effects of head wound received in battle
Brig. Gen. Nathan George "Shanks" Evans
Brigadier General Nathan George Evans was born in Marion County, South Carolina, February 6, 1824, the third son of Thomas Evans, who married Jane Beverly Daniel, of Granville, North Carolina. He was graduated at Randolph-Macon College before he was eighteen, and at the United States Military Academy, which he entered by appointment of John C. Calhoun, in 1848. With a lieutenancy in the Second Dragoons, he was the first on duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, whence he marched to the Rocky Mountains in 1849. In 1850 to 1853 he served in New Mexico, and began a famous career as an Indian fighter, which was continued in Texas and Indian Territory after his promotion to Captain in 1856, in various combats with the hostile Comanches. At the battle of Wachita Village, October 1, 1858, his command defeated a large body of the Comanches, and he killed two of their noted chieftains in a hand-to-hand fight. For this he was voted a handsome sword by the legislature of South Carolina.
In 1860 he was married to a sister of Gen. M. W. Gary, of Abbeville County. He resigned from the old army in February, 1861, being then stationed in Texas, and taking farewell of his Colonel, Robert E. Lee, proceeded to Montgomery, and was commissioned major of the cavalry, C. S. A. Being assigned to duty as Adjutant-General of the South Carolina Army, he was present at the bombardment of Fort Sumter and was soon afterward promoted Colonel. Joining the army under General Beauregard at Manassas Junction, Virginia, he had a command on the field during the first encounter at Blackburn’s ford, and again in the great battle of July 21, 1861. At the opening of the latter engagement, his forces, consisting of the Fourth South Carolina regiment, a battalion of Louisiana volunteers, Terry’s squadron of cavalry, and a section of Latham’s battery, were stationed at the stone bridge, where he held the enemy in check in front, until he perceived in operation the flank movement which was the Federal plan of battle. Instantly, without waiting for orders, he threw his little command in a new line, facing the enemy, and alone held him in check until reinforced by General Bee. With great intrepidity he and his men held their ground against great odds until the Confederate army could adapt itself to this unexpected attack. As remarked by a Northern historian: "Evans’ action was probably one of the best pieces of soldiership on either side during the campaign, but it seems to have received no special commendation from his superiors." General Beauregard commended his "dauntless conduct and imperturbable coolness," but it was not until after the fight at Leesburg that he was promoted. This latter engagement, known also as Ball’s Bluff, was fought in October, near the Potomac River, by his brigade mainly Mississippians, and a splendid victory was gained over largely superior numbers, with great loss to the enemy. His promotion to brigadier-general was made to date from this memorable affair, and South Carolina again, through her general assembly, gave him a vote of thanks and presented him with a gold medal. In 1862 he commanded a brigade consisting of the 17th, 18th, 22nd, and 23rd regiments, and Holcombe’s Legion, South Carolina troops, and was mentioned by General Longstreet among the officers most prominently distinguished in the battles of Second Manassas and Sharpsburg. In the latter fight he commanded his division. Thereafter his service was mainly rendered in South Carolina. In 1863 he moved to the support of Johnston against Grant.
After the fall of Richmond, he accompanied President Davis as far as Cokesbury, South Carolina. A year later he engaged in business at Charleston, but was mainly occupied as a teacher at Midway, Alabama, until his death at that place, November 30, 1868. General Fitzhugh Lee has written of him: "’Shanks’ Evans, as he was called, was a graduate of the military academy, a native South Carolinian, served in the celebrated old Second Dragoons, and was a good type of the rip-roaring, scorn all-care element which so largely abounded in that regiment. Evans had the honor of opening the fight (First Manassas), we might say fired the first gun of the war."
Reference: Confederate Military History, Vol. 5, pg. 392.
Biography and photographs graciously contributed by William Coxe, 22 Dec 2003
See also obituary
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