Marlboro County, South Carolina



Found in a book in Gettyburg, Pa. in 2002.

Major Donald M. McLeod, 8th South Carolina Infantry, Kershaw's Brigade, McLaw's Division, Longstreet's Corps.

" It would have seemed most unlikely to a passing traveler, especially for anyone not expecting it, to come suddenly upon the grave of a Confederate officer all alone in the quiet countryside of rural Pennsylvania. But had the person stopped for water at the farm of Mr. Jeremiah W. George, on the road from Gettysburg to New Franklin, between July 4, 1863, and April 20, 1866, the grave would have been impossible to miss. For there, "buried close by the well in a beautiful grove...marked by a headboard bearing his initials," was the resting place of Major McLeod, formerly of Hunt's Bluff, on the Pee Dee River in eastern South Carolina.

A descendent of Scots ancestors who came to America in 1775, McLeod was 39 and married in 1861. In 1853 he had earned a degree from South Carolina College which enabled him to teach school; this he did until he began farming sometime before the war. When succession split the country, Donald McLeod was the first in the Marlboro District to raise troops for the state. The six foot, four inch tall officer was described as "of commanding presence...erect, active, and alert, beloved by his company, (who) when the test came proved himself worthy of their love and confidence". Within a very short time, due to the reorganization of the 8th, McLeod left Company K to accept the post of regimental major, a rank he held at Gettysburg. More than half a dozen battles had already tested McLeod, and on those past fields he had "exhibited undaunted courage," and was "faithful to every trust".

On July 2, Kershaw's Brigade took a prominent role in General John Hood's collision with the Union left flank, which stretched in a jagged line from Little Round Top to the Emmitsburg Road at Sherfty's peach orchard. More than an hour after the assaults began, Kershaw's and then Barksdale's regiments charged toward the Peach Orchard, with Major McLeod and the 8th South Carolina on the left of his brigade. Within minutes, even as this sudden movement dislodged the Federals, the major and over 100 of the 8th were hit by gunfire. Although several later writers reported McLeod as killed outright, he was in fact alive but severly wounded. His brigade commander remembered that McLeod acted that day as "a gallant and estimable oficer."

It is unclear where Major McLeod was taken for medical treatment, but it was probably to Francis Bream's "Black Horse Tavern" on the Fairfield Road. Since many of the ambulances were collected along this thoroughfare at the start of Lee's retreat, it seems certain that the major was put aboard one of these converyances to be carried to Virginia. It was not Donald McLeod's fortune, however, to make it very far. Once through Fairfield, the train of wounded crossed South Mountain and then turned off toward Greencastle. When not too distant from New Franklin, a halt was made at the aforementioned Mr. George's. There, several Confederates who had died along the torturous route were buried. Among those deceased was Major McLeod, who was interred by his servant at J.W. George's.

According to Jacob B. Snyder, a neighboring farmer, the death of the major caused his wife, Margaret C. Alford McLeod, to partially lose her mind. Therefore, in the spring of 1866, to ease her burden, Mrs. McLeod's brother and a friend, with McLeod's former servant as a guide, made the trip from South Carolina to recover the body. Mr. Snyder, telling the story in 1886, said:

" (They) followed up the way of the disastrous retreat until they came to Mr. George's, where the guide at once recognized the place and took them to the grave. The remains were taken up, carried to a place near my spring, and there prepared and enclosed in a box and taken along."

            I'se gwine back to Dixie,
      For I hear the children calling,
           I see the sad tears falling,
    My heart's turned back to Dixie, 
        And I must go."


Joanne notes: My youngest daughter went to Gettysburg, PA, found the book, and following the directions in it, visited the exact spot of his original interment. The grove of trees is now gone, and the well has dried up, but a stone marks the spot. He was later dug up and brought back to Marlboro, and now rests in the cemetery at Parnassus in Blenheim, SC..

Submitted by Joanne Harley, 2 May 2004.


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