Thursday, April 18, 2013

6 Influential Confederates: The Evans Brothers from Marion, South Carolina My 3rd cousins 5x removed

Brigadier General Nathan George "Shanks" Evans

Nathan George "Shanks" Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on February 3, 1824.  He is my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  Nathan received his primary education at Marion Academy before briefly enrolling at Randolph-Macon College.  While attending Randolph-Macon, Nathan received an appointment from John C. Calhoun to attend the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, where he graduated with high honors in 1848.  At Westpoint, his distinctive, spindly, knock-kneed legs caused his classmates to nickname him “Shanks”.  Upon his graduation, he entered the Cavalry, attaining the rank of Lieutenant in the Second Dragoons.  From 1850-1853, Nathan served in the frontier of New Mexico, where he began a famous career as an Indian fighter.  In 1856, he was promoted to the rank of Captain.  His Second Dragoons saw much action against the hostile Comanches in the region.  In a battle with hostile Comanches on October 1, 1858, he killed two of their chieftains in bloody hand-to-hand combat.  For this action he was voted a "handsome sword" by the South Carolina Legislature. 

Nathan George Evans early in his military career

Nathan resigned his commission in the United States Army in February of 1861.  He bid farewell to his Colonel, Robert E. Lee and headed for Montgomery, Alabama, where he was commissioned as a Major in the Confederate States Cavalry.  Evans was then commissioned as Adjutant-General of the South Carolina Army.  He was present during the siege on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 where he commanded the Confederate forces on James Island. 

Following the Battle of Fort Sumter, Evans was promoted to the rank of Colonel.  He followed General Beauregard to Virginia where he had a small field command in the first encounter at Blackburn's Ford.  Evans commanded the Seventh Brigade in Beauregard's Army during the First Battle of Bull Run a/k/a First Manassas, which included the 4th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat's "Louisiana Tigers" Infantry Battalion, Terry's Squadron of Cavalry and section of Latham's Artillery Battery.  His Brigade was posted on the Confederate left, guarding the Stone Bridge over the Bull Run stream.

First Battle of Bull Run, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison

From his position, Evans quickly detected that his men were the target of a large Federal outflanking maneuver.  Evans made a bold decision to move most of his men away from the spot they were originally tasked to defend without waiting for orders from the Confederate Command.  Evans' Brigade moved North approximately one mile and took position on high ground north of Young’s Branch of the Bull Run.  This position allowed the Brigade to repel the Federal attack. 

Evans bold move allowed his men not only to repel the Federal attack, but to also make a brief pursuit of the Federal invaders.  His position was eventually reinforced by Confederate General Bernard Bee.  With the aid of Bee's troops, Evans' Brigade moved back across the Bull Run toward the Henry House where Stonewall Jackson's troops provided protection.  He was said to have been everywhere during the battle, followed by aide who carried a small barrel of Evans' favorite whiskey on his back. 

His quick action without waiting for orders helped secure a Confederate victory.  Following First Bull Run, General Beauregard commended Evans' "dauntless conduct and imperturbable coolness".   He was given command of a brigade of Mississippi and Virginia troops and assigned to guard the upper fords of the Potomac River above Washington, D.C. 

Death of Col. Edward D. Baker at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, by Currier and Ives

In October of 1861, a Federal force commanded by Colonel Edward D. Baker crossed the river near Leesburg, Virginia.  On October 21, 1861, Baker's Federals clashed with Evans' troops at the Battle of Ball's Bluff.  During the Battle, Colonel Baker was shot and killed.  Evans' Brigade succeeded in inflicting great loss and driving the Federals into the Potomac.  For his actions during the battle, Evans was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. 

In 1862, Evans was given command of a Brigade that consisted of the 17th, 18th, 22nd, and 23rd  South Carolina Infantry Regiments, and Holcombe’s Legion of South Carolina Troops.  His brigade was originally tasked with defending the seacoasts of the Carolinas, but due to the endless shortage of Southern manpower, the Brigade was ordered to remain in Virginia.   Evans' Brigade participated in Second Manassas, South Mountain and Sharpsburg.  During the Battles of South Mountain and Sharpsburg, Evans temporarily commanded the Division.   Following the Battle of Sharpsburg, Evans was assigned to Eastern North Carolina where he was tasked with opposing a major Federal raid on Kinston and Goldsboro. 

It is known that General Evans fancied a drink every now and then.  Reports of his aide following him into battle with a small barrel of whiskey are widely known.  Evans was tried for drunkenness during the Battle of Kinston and was subsequently acquitted. 

In the Summer of 1863, Evans' Brigade was assigned to General Joseph E. Johnston's Army during the Vicksburg Campaign.  Following the Confederate evacuation of Vicksburg, Evans returned to Charleston, South Carolina, where he began a feud with his superior officer, General Roswell S. Ripley.  Ripley had Evans tried for disobedience of orders, of which he was acquitted.  Despite his acquittal, Beauregard still viewed Evans as a liability.  His reputation for being fond of alcohol now preceded him.  Beauregard decided not to return Evans to his command.  Evans complained that the efficiency of his Brigade was being ruined, to which Beauregard replied "I am sorry to have to add that no distribution or dispersion of the regiments of this brigade, as commanded by General Evans, would diminish its efficiency."  Beauregard's report of the Brigade was found to be far from satisfactory. 

Evans was finally given back command of his Brigade in April of 1864. As he was preparing to take his Brigade North to participate in the Petersburg Campaign, Evans was seriously injured in a carriage accident in Charleston.  The command of Evans' Brigade was passed to Brigadier General Stephen Elliott.  Although Evans eventually recovered from his injuries, he was never returned to his command. 

General Elliott gallantly led a group of Confederates during the Battle of The Crater on July 30, 1864.  During this battle, Evans' younger brother Asa Louis Evans led a group of Georgians during a charge.  Evans' former Brigade suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of the Crater. 

General Evans now held a lesser position in the Confederate War Department in Richmond, Virginia.   He accompanied Jefferson Davis during the Confederate evacuation of Richmond in April of 1865, travelling with the president as far as Cokesbury, South Carolina. 

Evans lived an additional 3 years following the end of the Civil War.  He became a High School Principal in Cokesbury and then in Midway, Alabama, where he died on November 30, 1868, probably from the effects of the carriage accident.  He was 44 years old at the time of his death.  Evans body was returned to Cokesbury, South Carolina where he was buried in the Tabernacle Cemetery.  

Robert E. Lee's son, General William Henry Fitzhugh Lee once wrote of Evans:

"Shanks" Evans, as he was so called, was a graduate of the military academy, a native South Carolinian, served in the respected old Second Dragoons, and was a good example 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."

Historical Marker at Tabernacle Cemetery

Grave of Brigadier General Nathan George "Shanks" Evans

**An interesting side note, Nathan Evans' son, John Gary Evans was the youngest Governor in South Carolina State history.

Governor John Gary Evans

John Gary Evans was born in Cokesbury, South Carolina on October 15, 1863.  He is my 4th cousin 4x removed.  After the death of his father in 1868, John lived with his maternal uncle, Martin Witherspoon Gary, who was also a Brigadier General for the Confederacy during the Civil War.  He was educated in the secondary school in Cokesbury before enrolling in Union College in Schenectady, New York.  His uncle's death in 1881 forced him to withdraw from College due to financial constraints.  John eventually graduated in 1883.  He was admitted to the Bar in Aiken, South Carolina in 1887.  In 1888, John was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 25.  Four years later, in 1892, he was elected to the South Carolina Senate.  In 1894, at the age of 31, he was elected as the 85th Governor of South Carolina.  John served only one term as Governor.  Following his Governorship, he made several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the United States Senate.  He served as three time delegate to the  Democratic National Conventions in 1900, 1912 and 1916.  In 1914, he became the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic State Executive Committee and from 1918 to 1928 was the National Democratic Committeeman from South Carolina.  Evans won a term to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1922 from Spartanburg and served on the judiciary and rules committees.  On June 27, 1942, Evans died and was buried at Willowbrook Cemetery in Edgefield.

Grave of Governor John Gary Evans

William Edwin Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on December 17, 1835.  He is also my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  William graduated high in his class at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.  As a Midshipman in the Navy he visited Japan shortly after its Ports were opened to the world.  He also visited many of the Ports and Capitals of Europe.

Following his graduation, he was commissioned as Master in the United States Navy, serving a short time prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.  William did as most Southern men in the United States Army did, resigning his commission on February 2, 1861,  following the secession of his native State of South Carolina.  He was then commissioned in the Navy of the newly-formed Confederate States on March 26, 1861, as 1st Lieutenant and assigned to duty on board C. S. Cruiser Sumter.

The first Man-of-War to get to sea under the Confederate flag was the CSS Sumter.   She was a steamer of 500 tons, and had formerly been the Spanish steamer Marquis de Habana.  To get ready for the war, she was strengthened, a berth deck was put in, the spar deck cabins removed, and she was armed with an 8-inch shell gun, pivoted amidships, and four light 32-pounders on her broadside.  On April 18, 1861, Commander Raphael Semmes was given command, with the following officers: Lieutenants. John M. Kell, Robert T. Chapman, John M. Stribling, and William E. Evans;  Paymaster Henry Myers; Surgeon. Francis L. Galt; Midshipmen William A. Hicks, Richard F. Armstrong, Albert G. Hudgins, John F. Holden, and Joseph D. Wilson; Lieutenant of Marines B. K. Howell;  Engineers Miles J. Freeman, William P. Brooks, Matthew O'Brien, and Simeon W. Cummings;  Boatswain Benjamin P. Mc-Caskey;  Gunner J. O. Cuddy; Sailmaker W. P. Beaufort, Carpenter William Robinson, and Captain's Clerk W. Breedlove Smith.
On June 30, 1861, the Sumter sailed from the mouth of the Mississippi River, and was chased by the United States steamer Brooklyn before safely making it to sea.  Captain Semmes cruised along the south side of the island of Cuba, taking eight prizes, before embarking to Cienfuegos.  From there he cruised down the Spanish mainland, and on the 13th of November anchored at St. Pierre, Martinique.  There he was blockaded by the United States ship Iroquois for nine days.  On the night of November 23rd he swiftly made his escape and crossed the Atlantic to Cadiz, where he arrived on January 4, 1862, again taking several prizes on the way.  Not being permitted to coal, he proceeded to Gibraltar, which port he reached on the 19th of January. Here he was blockaded by the United States vessels Tuscarora, Kearsarge and Chippewa, and it was decided to lay the ship up.  In her brief career, the Sumter captured 7 vessels, of which 2 were ransomed, 7 were released in Cuban ports, 2 were recaptured, and 6 were burned.

William was then ordered to embark with Admiral Semmes on the C. S. Cruiser Alabama, but was detained in England by a severe illness until she had cleared port; subsequently he served as 1st Lieutenant on the C. S. Cruiser Georgia, and in 1864 was elevated to the rank of commander of that vessel.

The Georgia was bought at Dumbarton, Scotland, for the Confederate government. She was commissioned off Ushant in April, 1863, by Commodore William Maury, with the following list of Officers: Lieutenants. R. T. Chapman, Evans, Smith, and J. H. Ingraham;  Passed Midshipman Walker;  Midshipman Morgan;  Paymaster Curtis, Surgeon Wheeden, and Chief Engineer Pearson.  She cruised in the Atlantic, ran over to the coast of Brazil, and then to the Cape of Good Hope.  On the 28th of October she anchored at Cherbourg, having taken 9 prizes. There Commodore Maury turned over the command to Lieutenant Evans.

Upon her sale by the Confederate Government, Captain Evans, was given one of the fleet little craft which did such valuable service as blockade runners of Southern ports and made many cruises, successfully eluding the watchful squadrons of the United States.  His last voyage was through the blockade of Wilmington harbor, North Carolina, which port he succeeded in reaching during a heavy gale by running between the Federal cruisers lying almost abreast within the harbor, evading the consequences of his daring by the fact that in firing upon him, his enemies would have sunk their sister ships.

After the end of the war, Captain Evans went to Charleston, South Carolina and later to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was engaged in business, but suffering a severe injury, which caused concussion of the brain, he returned to South Carolina much impaired in health.

The following account, written by his distinguished friend and commander, giving some idea of Captain Evans' attractive personality, is taken from "Service Afloat," by Admiral Raphael Semmes, C. S. N., 125:

"Lieut. William E. Evans, the fourth and Junior Lieutenant of the ship (Sumter), is not more than twenty-four years of age, slim in person, of medium height, and rather delicate looking, though not from ill health. His complexion is dark, and he has black hair and eyes. He has a very agreeable, riante expression about his face, and is somewhat given to casuistry, being fond of an argument, when occasion presents itself. He is but recently out of the Naval Academy, at Annapolis, and like all new graduates, feels the freshness of academic honors. He is a native of South Carolina, and a brother of Gen. Evans, of that State, who so distinguished himself, afterwards, at the battle of Manassas, and on other bloody fields."

Biographical Sketch of William Edwin Evans

William Edwin Evans lived an additional 28 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died in Marion, South Carolina in 1893 at the age of 58.  He is buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Marion, South Carolina

Grave of William Edwin Evans

Asa Louis Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on April 10, 1834.  He is also my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  Asa practiced law in Marion, South Carolina until the outbreak of the Civil War.  He originally enlisted as First Sergeant in Company E, South Carolina 1st Infantry Regiment on January 5, 1861 for a six month period. 

1st Muster for Asa

Asa fulfilled his six month obligation and was mustered out of Company E on July 9, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia. 

Muster-out Roll for Asa

Following his brief stint in the 1st South Carolina Infantry Regiment, Asa again volunteered his services to the Confederacy and received an appointment as Adjutant on the staff of his older brother Brigadier General Nathan George Evans.  Asa now held the rank of Captain.  He was actively engaged in all of the campaigns of the latter and retained his commission after the retirement of General Evans, serving on the staff of General Stephen D. Elliott, who succeeded the command of Evans' Brigade.  Asa served with conspicuous gallantry at the battle of "The Crater", at Petersburg, Virginia on July 30, 1864,  leading the attack at the head of a Company of Georgians, whose commanding officers had been killed.  For his performance he received the highest commendation in General Elliot's after battle report.  After the conclusion of the war he returned to Marion and resumed his law practice until the Radicals Reconstructionists came into power.  Asa retired to his plantation on the western side of the Pee Dee River, where he resided for many years.  He returned to Marion to become the Deputy Clerk of Court.  A position that he held until suffering almost total blindness.  Asa was also Clerk of the Senate of the State of South Carolina for many years.  He lived an additional 40 years following the end of the Civil War.  Asa Louis Evans died in Marion, South Carolina on March 11, 1905 at the age of 70.  He is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Marion, South Carolina

Biographical Sketch of Asa Louis Evans

Grave of  Captain Asa Louis Evans

Chesley Daniel Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on January 10, 1817.  He is also my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  Chesley was educated at Marion Academy and the University of South Carolina, where he graduated in 1840.  He read law and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1843, practicing in his home County of Marion.  In 1860, Chesley was chosen by his County as a delegate to the Convention which framed the Ordinance of Secession, and his name is subscribed to that famous document.

Signature of Chesley Daniel Evans

During the Civil War, Chesley was an Officer of the Reserve Guard of Marion, and saw duty in the latter years along the coast. 

Biographical Sketch of Chesley Daniel Evans

Chesley Daniel lived an additional 32 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died in Marion, South Carolina on May 29, 1897 at the age of 80.  He is buried in the Old Town Cemetery in Marion South Carolina.

Grave of Chesley Daniel Evans

Dr. James Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on September 12, 1831.  He is also my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  James was also educated at Marion Academy.  He entered the South Carolina Military Academy in the class of 1853 at the age of seventeen.  Due to friction between his class and the Academy, James and other members of his class were expelled.  James returned home and began working as an engineer on the Cheraw & Darlington Railroad Company.  James also worked on the Charleston & Savannah Railroad before moving to Carroll County, Mississippi to teach school.  Following a brief stint in teaching he joined a corps of engineers who were building the Little Rock & Napoleon Railway.  In 1857 The Governor of Arkansas appointed James as State Civil Engineer and tasked him with building the great levees along the Mississippi, Arkansas, and Red River fronts. 

Dr. James Evans

In the Spring of 1859, James entered the University of Pennsylvania to pursue the study of medicine.  He graduated with a degree in medicine in the Spring of 1861.  James intended to set sail for Europe by way of New York, but after learning of the events in Charleston Harbor, he returned South to volunteer his services for the Confederacy.  James learned of the military build up in Virginia and made his way to Manassas in time to offer his medical expertise on the field of battle.  Following the battle, James was placed in charge of the Division Hospital at Leesburg, Virginia.  In Leesburg, James would meet his future wife.  James was soon detailed from his service at Leesburg and made and assistant at a Confederate Hospital in Adams Run, South Carolina.  There he assisted Dr. Fred Giddings.  During his service at Adams Run, he suffered a severe attack of hemorrhagic fever.  Following his recovery, he was promoted to the rank of Major of the South Carolina 3rd Regiment of Volunteers.  The 3rd South Carolina was attached to Kershaw's Brigade, McClaw's Division, Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia for the duration of the war. 

Following the war, James returned to Marion County where he purchased a modest plantation where he resided until moving to Florence, South Carolina in 1877.  In 1887, James was elected President of the South Carolina Medical Association and at the expiration of his term was appointed by the Governor as a member of the State Board of Health.  James wrote numerous articles which were published in various medical journals.  He was also a member of the United Confederate Veterans, United Confederate Surgeons and South Carolina Chapter of Sons of the Revolution.

James lived an additional 44 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died while on vacation in Clifton Springs, Ontario County, New York on July 15, 1909 at the age of 77.  His body was returned to Florence, South Carolina and was laid to rest in Mount Hope Cemetery.

Grave of Dr. James Evans

Beverly Daniel Evans was born in Marion, South Carolina on February 6, 1826.  He is also my 3rd cousin 5x removed.  Like his brothers, Beverly was also educated at the Marion Academy, where he gained an appreciation for the Classics.  Following his graduation, he studied law and was a school teacher.  Beverly was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in Charleston in January of 1847.   In 1852, Beverly left South Carolina and relocated to Sandersville, Georgia.  In Georgia, he resumed his law practice.  

Colonel Beverly Daniel Evans

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Beverly joined the "Washington Rifles" as a 2nd Lieutenant and became Captain of the Company.  He eventually attained the rank of Brevet Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Georgia State Troops, the Regiment he served with through out the war.  Following the war, Beverly returned home to Sandersville, Georgia and again took up his law practice.  He survived and additional 32 years following the end of the Civil War.  He died in Sandersville, Georgia on March, 21, 1897 at the age of 71.  He is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Sandersville, Washington County, Georgia.

Grave of Colonel Beverly Daniel Evans

Due to the fact that all of these men were brothers, I am only listing one relationship chart.

Here's my relation to Brigadier General Nathan George "Shanks" Evans:

Nathan George "Shanks" Evans (1824 - 1868)
is your 3rd cousin 5x removed
Jane Beverly Daniel (1795 - 1861)
mother of Nathan George "Shanks" Evans
Martha Julia Daniel (1763 - 1839)
mother of Jane Beverly Daniel
Chesley Daniel (1730 - 1814)
father of Martha Julia Daniel
James Daniel (1707 - 1760)
father of Chesley Daniel
Josiah Daniel (1744 - 1811)
son of James Daniel
William Ford Daniel (1774 - 1848)
son of Josiah Daniel
L. Chesley Daniel (1806 - 1882)
son of William Ford Daniel
William Henry "Buck" Daniel (1827 - 1896)
son of L. Chesley Daniel
Phebe Lucy Daniel (1862 - 1946)
daughter of William Henry "Buck" Daniel
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
daughter of Phebe Lucy Daniel
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
daughter of Valeria Lee Moss
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
daughter of Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce


  1. Chip: What a great page with great research on the Evans brothers (Beverly Daniel is my GGGrandfather). I was surfing the net for info on the brothers and found this already done. Pictures of William E Evans at

  2. Curious where you got the info about Dr. James Evans and the hospital at Adams Run. My ancestor Dr. Charles B. Addison ran that hospital according to "History of South Carolina," 1920. Have always wanted to learn more but don't know where to look.