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John Sydney McColl, born in the Marlboro District of South Carolina, was said to have served in the Confederate States Army and that he is buried somewhere in New South Wales. After searching all known international American Civil War databases it was discovered there were a lot of ‘McColl’s’ that served in the Confederate Armies, but only one John S. (Sydney) McColl.

There was a John McColl, in the 33rd. N.C. Militia, the 30th Arkansas Inf., a John A. McColl in the 18th N.C. Inf, a John D. in the 4th South Carolina State Troops and others, but there was only one John S. McColl in the entire Confederate service; John S. McColl of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry, also known as Rutledge’s Cavalry. He is also shown on records as ‘Jno’ S. McColl.

John enlisted as a Private in Co. “E”, 4th South Carolina, Rutledge’s Regiment South Carolina Cavalry, on January 12, 1862 at Bennettsville, Marlboro, South Carolina and was inducted by W.P. Emanual.

The 4th South Carolina Cavalry Regiment was a regiment  organized on December 16, 1862 in the State of South Carolina, by consolidating the 10th Battalion South Carolina Cavalry and the 12th Battalion South Carolina Cavalry; Captain Pinckney’s and Rutledge’s Independent Companies of South Carolina Cavalry. When originally formed, the 4th South Carolina Cavalry Regiment was commanded by Colonel B. Huger Rutledge and served in the 1st Military District of South Carolina, commanded by Brigadier General Roswell S. Ripley. The 1st Military District consisted of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, under the command of General P.G.T. Beauregard.

Company “E” of the 4th South Carolina Cavalry was organized in Marlboro County in the latter part of 1861. The Company left Marlboro for Georgetown, South Carolina on January 22, 1862, and in the spring of 1864 were transferred to Virginia and became a part of Butler's Brigade of Hampton's Division.

The 4th South Carolina Cavalry Regiment served in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, then in March, 1864, moved to Virginia with 1,350 officers and men. It was attached to General Butler's Brigade and participated in The Wilderness Campaign, the battles around Cold Harbour and in various conflicts south of the James River. Transferred later to Logan's command, it continued to fight in the campaign of the Carolinas and with less than 200 men left, finally surrendered with the Army of Tennessee.

John spent most of his first year doing picket duty. Then, for some reason, his Muster Card records that “he has horse”; suggesting he had been without one. From July through October 1863 John was reported sick in his quarters; and then from November 1863 through February 1864 he was reported to still be sick, but in the hospital. After his release in March he returned to duty, but was reported to be ‘without a horse from July 2nd until August 11th’. After reacquiring a horse and returning to the battlefield, John was wounded during the battles of Fair Oaks and Darbytown Road and Boydton Plank Road during the Siege of Petersburg, on October 27, 1864; and was admitted to the ‘C.S.A. General Hospital’ in Danville, Virginia on November 1st, being transferred that same day to the Pettigrew Hospital No. 13 in Raleigh, North Carolina where he is shown on the records of November 24th. Hospital records state his reason for admittance was “V.S. right arm flesh (core)”; being returned to duty on December 26, 1864. 

Things went pretty well for John until March 3, 1865, when he was taken prisoner by Union forces 1st Division, at Cheraw, South Carolina; and placed in the custody of Captain John C. Marvin, 17th Army Corps. Cheraw was known as a place of refuge and a storehouse for valuables and John was captured when General William T. Sherman brought his Union troops to Cheraw for several days. No private dwellings or public buildings in Cheraw were destroyed by Sherman and his troops on that occasion, but John was captured.

Private John Sydney McColl, Co. “E”, 4th South Carolina, Rutledge’s Regiment South Carolina Cavalry was then delivered as a prisoner of war to New Berne, North Carolina by Captain A. Burns, Co. “D”, Illinois 10th Infantry. On April 3, 1865, John was delivered on to the infamous Point Lookout, Maryland Union prison; documented as the worst of the entire war with a death rate of around 30%; far exceeding Andersonville’s. Luckily, John survived, as he was released on June 29, 1865 by G.O. No. 109, A.G.O.; after swearing and signing an ‘Oath of Allegiance’ to the Union States. He was described as being light complexioned, with grey hair, hazel eyes and was 5’ 9 1/2” tall. It is assumed he returned to his home in the Marlboro District of South Carolina, but at some point he left South Carolina and the United States, and migrated to Australia; where he turned up, in the Australian State of New South Wales.

It is believed by some that he died in New South Wales and is buried there.


A History of Marlboro County, John Alexander William Thomas & William Evans Thomas

Confederate Military History, Ellison Capers

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of South Carolina

Fourth South Carolina Cavalry, Vol. 4, Aaron Boggs

History of the Fourth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, Jesse Walton Reid

Historical Sketch and Roster of the SC 4th Cavalry Regiment, John C. Rigdon

Index to Compiled Confederate Military Service Records

National Archives, Washington, D.C.

South Carolina Troops in Confederate Service, A. S. Salley

4th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry History

4th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry Regimental Rosters


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