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The 3rd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment:
Kershaw's Brigade:
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DAVID AUGUSTUS DICKERT: By Mac Wyckoff

                                

David Augustus Dickert usually identified himself in writing as D. Augustus
Dickert although the family just called him "Gus."  He was born on August 2,
1844, on a farm near the Broad River in the Dutch Fork section of what is
now Lexington County, South Carolina.  He was the son of A.G. and Margaret
(Dickinson) Dickert.  He had an older brother, James, a physician, who
served with Gus in the 3rd South Carolina and two other brothers and one
sister.  

Dickert received very little formal education.  He once described
his schooling as only lasting a few months and ended at age 12.  

There is a discrepancy as to when he enlisted.  Dickert wrote that he went
to Charleston to prepare defenses and implies that he participated in the
bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861.  Yet his compiled service
record at The National Archives shows that he enlisted the following day in
Dutch Fork over 100 miles away as 2ns sergeant of Company H, 3rd South
Carolina.  A friend wrote that Dickert didn't join until June, 1861.

The regiment's first serious engagement occurred at Savage Station near
Richmond on June 29, 1862.  A bullet ripped into his left lung creating a
"great gaping wound," the blood gushing and splattering out."  Lying
semi-conscious on the ground, another bullet which he believed came from one
of his men by mistake struck him in the thigh.  His brother, James, helped
him to the rear.  Reaching a fallen tree, they stopped to examine the woods.
With his medical background, James determined the wound to be fatal, "a bit
of unpleasant information" for the patient.  Later in the day, the fighting
physician examined the wounds again and assured his brother that his chances
of survival were good.  He would survive this and three other serious wounds.

After a lengthy recovery period that caused him to miss Malvern Hill,
Maryland Heights and Antietam, Dickert returned by October 16th when he was
promoted to 2nd lieutenant.    He was one of 166 members of the regiment to
be shot on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg.  The losses resulted in his
promotion to 1st lieutenant and several times in the spring and summer of
1863 he was acting company commander.

On the morning of September 20, 1863, he and his 22-year-old
brother, B. Fletcher Dickert, watched a beautiful sunrise.  Gus thought it
rose "in unusual splendor, and cast its rays and shadows  in sparkling
brilliancy over the mountains and plains of North Georgia."  Getting ready
for combat, Fletcher wondered if they would see the sunrise again.  It was
Fletcher's turn to cook rations, which would keep him out of the day's
battle.  However, he asked Gus, his commanding officer, for permission to
exchange duties so he could take part in the fight.  Contrary to
regulations, Dickert granted the request.  As they went into battle,
Fletcher "faced the leaden storm with unparalleled indifference.  Fletcher
was killed and Gus never forgave himself for allowing Fletcher to
participate that day.

The captain of Company H was so severely wounded at Chickamauga that he
never returned to active duty and Dickert acted as the company commander
although the promotion did not occur until April 4, 1864.  Dickert was
wounded again near Knoxville, probably on November 18, 1863.  By April, he
and returned and the command had re-joined General Robert E. Lee's army in
Central Virginia.  While, at least one member of the 3rd South Carolina
found the natives of Lynchburg to be quite friendly, Dickert did not.
Dickert and Lieutenant John Watts picked a fight.  A few weeks later,
Dickert was wounded at The Wilderness and sent to a hospital in Lynchburg.
One night when he was feeling better, Dickert went out to dinner with a
captain from Tennessee.  While waiting for service, Dickert noticed the man
that he and Watts had attacked standing with a group of rowdies.  The
stranger recognized Dickert about the same instant.  The rowdy group moved
toward Dickert seeking revenge.  The Tennessee captain threw the first punch
and then proceeded to take on the whole group before the fight was broken up.

Dickert returned from his Wilderness wound to participate in the important
fight at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.  Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford
Todd was shot early in the battle and in the absence of the other field
officers Dickert commanded the regiment during that Confederate disaster.
After returning to Richmond, the regiment was sent to their native state to
stop general Sherman.  While in Charleston, Dickert and Watts picked another
fight.  The two small officers had previously agreed to "whip the first man
they ever met that they thought small enough to tackle."  Finding such a man
in a saloon, they told him of their agreement and to take his medicine like
a man.  The stranger said he didn't want to fight, but when the officers
persisted he agreed to their offer.  A quick right to the jaw took care of
Watts, and a left to Dickert's stomach lifted him off the floor and set him
down among some barrels.  The two officers got up, and said in unison, "We
are only in fun, don't strike anymore."  The stranger agreed, "If you are
satisfied, I am.  Come let's have a drink."  As they left, they decided that
next time they would have to find a much smaller man.  They later learned
that the stranger was a professional boxer.

After Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox, morale in the other
Confederate armies sunk.  Dickert organized and led a group of about twenty
soldiers.  He returned to his farm near Newberry.  He took an active role in
helping his state recover from the war and joined the Ku Klux Klan.  

Dickert married twice. His first wife, Katie Cromer, bore him two
sons and two daughters.  A second marriage to Mary Alice Martin Coleman
produced a daughter.  Despite his lack of formal education, he attained an
education through life experiences and substantial reading.  He was a writer
and his knowledge of world military history is evident in his book, A
History of Kershaw's Brigade.  Although this book contains numerous factual
errors (dates and places, etc.) and typo's, it is well written with abundant
interesting stories.  By the time the book was written in the late 1890's,
the memories of Dickert and his comrades did not always prove reliable.
Without access to the information we have today, it is amazing that he was
able to compile as many facts as he did and write such a comprehensive book.
He also wrote stories for the newspaper and other publications.  His best
known story is A Dance With Death.  Dickert also studied the heavenly bodies
and was considered an expert at identifying stars.

On October 2, 1917, Dickert visited a friend.  Although his health
had been failing for several years he was in good spirits and bragged about
being able to shoot straight. About 5:00 a.m. on October 5th, he had a heart
attack and died an hour later in his home.  He is buried in Newberry's
Rosemont Cemetery..






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