Monday, December 07, 2009

General Sherman Meets the Reed Family


Roger Ganis is a great-great-great-great-grandson of Samuel and Mary Clark Reed. The fourth of five children born to Woodrow Ganis and Annie Mae (Fogle) Ganis, he was born in 1944 in Horry County, SC. At age six, he moved to Orangeburg and then to Charleston in 1954.

He has been married for 38 years to Mary Florence Riols, to whom he refers as “the love of my life and best friend.” They have two children: a daughter (35) and a son (32). Roger retired from Charleston County in April of 1994 where he worked as a patrol officer, detective, and pilot in the Aviation Division. He started working on his family history when he retired.

Roger’s line to Samuel and Mary: Samuel Reed and Mary Clark; Hugh Reed and Jane McSpeddon; James William Reed and Anna Rebecca Tyler; Michael Joshua Reed and Mary Alice Fanning; Lula Emma Reed and James Sumter Fogle; Annie Mae Fogle and Woodrow Ganis; Roger Ganis.

Recently Roger shared a special story with me. It could be considered a “legend,” but, I agree with our cousin Henry Singer who says, “I believe that most family stories have a lot of truth to them. However, as oral traditions they are subject to forgotten and/or embellished details.”

In this case, consider the fact that the Roger’s primary source was his grandmother Lula Emma Reed (1898-1973), a daughter of Michael Joshua Reed (1851-1924). Michael Joshua was 13 years old when he witnessed these events and actually met General Sherman. That’s a pretty direct route, in my opinion, with less time and telling to forget details and/or embellish.

So, without further ado, here is Roger’s story in his own words. He hopes other members of our Reed family would like it and may be able to confirm or correct it. Many thanks, Roger, for sharing this story with us!

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Gen. William T. Sherman Meets Anna Rebecca Reed
As told by Roger Ganis

In December 1864, Anna Rebecca Reed received the news that Union Army troops under the command of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman had marched from Tennessee to Savannah, GA, during the summer and fall of 1864.

During January & February 1865, Anna Rebecca was at home on the Reed Plantation with her nine children while her husband, Capt. James William Reed, was off serving with the Confederate Army. The children were: William Hugh, age 19, George Sylvester, 16, Michael Joshua, 13, Henrietta, 11, Adella Ellen, 9, Ann Rebecca, 8, James Alexander, 5, Stanmore Judson, 2, and Mary Salina, 1.

Around the last week of January 1865, she learned that Sherman's troops had left Savannah, GA, and were marching through South Carolina. It was thought he was headed to Charleston, SC. The first week in February 1865 she learned that Sherman's Army had been involved in a battle on February 2 & 3, 1865, at "Rivers Bridge" on the Salkehatchie River, near Ulmer & Ehrhardt, SC. She also learned that most of his army was headed toward Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. The Reed Plantation lay directly in Sherman's path between Rivers Bridge and Columbia.

After hearing of the battle at Rivers Bridge, Anna Rebecca learned that Sherman's Army was near The Reed place. She had her children and what slaves were left take all of the valuables from the plantation house and hide them by burying them in the ground and hiding things around the plantation. She also had most of the food that had been canned or preserved removed and hidden along with the livestock in the swamp area away from the house so Sherman's Army could not find them.

She had the slaves and her children start preparing food and setting up tables out in front of the plantation house. When the army scouts from Sherman's Army arrived at the Reed place, she advised them the food was being prepared for Gen. Sherman and his officers. Some of the scouts returned to Gen. Sherman and told him about the dinner that was being held at the Reed Home for him.

Gen. Sherman returned to the Reed home along with the scouts and found a large dinner had been prepared. Anna Rebecca Reed, on meeting Gen. Sherman, invited him and his officers to eat. Gen. Sherman accepted her offer, left, and returned to his camp to wash up and put on a clean uniform. A short time later, Gen. Sherman returned along with some of his officers and ate the dinner with the Reed family. Anna Rebecca Reed offered Gen. Sherman the use of her cotton fields for his army to camp on. Gen. Sherman and some of his army set up camp in the cotton fields for the night.

The next day before his army continued their march northward, Gen. Sherman gave orders to his army that no one was to take anything or burn anything belonging to the Reed Family. Before leaving, Gen. Sherman went to Anna Rebecca Reed and thanked her for her hospitality.

A few weeks later, Anna Rebecca learned that Columbia, SC, had surrendered to Sherman's Army on February 17, 1865, and the city had been burned.


While Sherman was at the Reed House, a soldier was discovered inside the house on the stairs going up to the bedrooms. One of the Reed daughters was upstairs at the head of stairs, and asked him what he was doing there. He replied that he just wanted to talk with her. Some of her brothers saw what was going on and grabbed him and during a scuffle someone hit the soldier on the head with a shovel. The blow killed the soldier, and they decided to hide his body in a closet under the stairs until the other soldiers left.

The next day, after Gen. Sherman left with his Army, they carried the soldier’s body out back behind the house and buried him in an unmarked grave. No one ever came back to check on a missing soldier. Soldiers were deserting from both the Union and Confederate Armies all the time during this part of the Civil War.

5 comments:

  1. This is a great story. Sorta reminds me of the movie, THE PATRIOT.

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  2. What a difference a year makes. A year ago, I would have no idea who Anna Rebecca Reed was. Today, thanks to the help of so many others, I know that she was my great great grandmother.

    My very amateur opinion of this tale is that it is probably true. As you point out, Marilyn, the story has a pretty short and direct route in its retelling. Furthermore, I can't see why anyone would make up a story such as this. After all, at its most basic, it is a story of consorting with the enemy for personal gain (saving the Reed home). To me, however, it sounds like a very prompt and intelligent response to a dire threat, and not one that I can imagine making up.

    Historically, we know that Sherman's army passed through the area and we know that the Reed home (a wooden structure) survived. From my perspective that gives some factual merit to the tale.

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  3. Thank you, Ellen and Henry, for your comments!

    According to Chet Matthews' records, his farmhouse went from Samuel to Hugh to Hugh's son Samuel, so the Reed home in this story was most likely another site.

    I'm currently working on another article to be posted soon about our families and their neighbors during this particular time. I have found also, Henry, that all I've read lends credence to Roger's story (or vice versa!).

    If anyone has any other stories to share, please let me know.

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  4. Thanks for the clarification on the Reed home. I really didn't think that one out did I? The James William Reed home, which I assume is the one mentioned here, was somewhere in the vicinity of Willow Swamp Baptist Church. From the church history, we know that the Willow Swamp church was burned by Union troops, so they were definitely in the area.

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  5. You're absolutely right, Henry. James and Anna were indeed in the Willow Swamp area on the 1860 census. I haven't found them on the 1870. Have you?

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