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..
Catawba Wateree Genealogical Society