By Mac Wyckoff
Young John, usually called Y.J., Pope was born on April 10, 1841 in Newberry, South Carolina. His parents were Thomas Herbert and Harriett Neville (Harrington) Pope. He attended Male Academy in Newberry and then graduated from Furman in August of 1860. He studied law under his uncle, the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. He stood 5-11 with a fair complexion, gray eyes and light colored hair. He was one of three brothers who joined Company E, 3rd South Carolina. Y.J. enlisted as a sergeant on April 14, 1861. He became very sick with fever and was hospitalized from August 31, 1861 until January 21, 1862. One of his brothers, Bert Harrington Pope, also became sick and died of typhoid fever on August 10, 1862. At the regiment's re-organization on May 13, 1862, Pope was elected adjutant, a position he held for the rest of the war. Pope fought in the battles of Savage Station, Malvern Hill, Maryland Heights, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. A few days before Fredericksburg, Lieutenant Colonel William Rutherford had just returned from furlough with boxes of food resulting in a festive party. When Pope returned from exhaustive picket duty along the snow covered banks of the Rappahannock River, he ate dinner and went to bed, but about midnight the merrymakers woke him and the men were having so much fun that he had to laugh, "whether I wished to do so or not." No one was laughing or having fun during the Battle of Fredericksburg when the 3rd South Carolina lost its seven highest ranking officers and 40% of it men. Soon the men's spirits rose and boys will be boys. Learning that a "fair maid" lived on an island in the Rappahannock just above Fredericksburg, Adjutant Pope and a Mississippi officer went to see her despite the risk of being captured or being charged with AWOL. "She was not only beautiful," wrote Pope, "but very interesting." Pope did not return, "as a fair lady in another state would have had a right to expect no such conduct on my part." Yet, he added, "I never regretted my visit to the island!" He did not marry until eleven years later. At Gettysburg, on July 2, 1863, he was struck with three bullets in the thigh, hip and arm. They must not have been severe wounds as he was able to travel to northern Georgia six weeks later. At Chickamauga he was again wounded this time severely in the left leg. He returned in February of 1864, but was admitted to a hospital in Richmond on June 14th when the old leg wound "reopened." A couple weeks later, he was furloughed for 40 days. He returned in he late summer only to be again wounded, this time in the mouth at Berryville on September 3rd. It must have been very minor, because he was present with the army at Cedar Creek on October 19th. In that battle, the Confederates overran the Union defenses and pushed the Northerners back several miles. However, the defense stiffened and in mid-afternoon counterattacked. The Confederates skirmish was quickly pushed back and General John Gordon's Division broke. The divisions of general Stephen Ramseur's and Joseph Kershaw formed a new line a half-mile to the rear. Then General George Custer unleashed his cavalry on the Confederate left and pandemonium broke out. Pope was "perfectly astonished" that the Southern left was unprotected and later referred to it "as one of the greatest errors" of the war. Adjutant Pope rallied part of Kershaw's Brigade. According to D. Augustus Dickert of the 3rd South Carolina, Pope made a "masterly effort" to stem the tide of retreat and formed a solid line. Pope had single handedly stabilized the situation at least long enough to give the wagons and artillery a chance to get back safely across Cedar Creek. However, a bullet struck Pope in the face destroying sight in the left eye and without any other officers present to take charge, this line collapsed and the rout was on. Pope had performed magnificently in his last battle, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Confederate disaster at Cedar Creek. Pope served as District Judge from 1865 until the job was abolished by the Radical Republicans in 1868. On August 3, 1874 he married Sallie H. (Fair) Rutherford, the widow of Colonel William D. Rutherford of the 3rd South Carolina. Pope served as mayor of Newberry from 1871-1876 and was elected to the state legislature in 1877. In 1888 he was elected to the State Senate and in 1890 as state attorney general. He was appointed State Supreme Court Justice in 1891 and re-appointed five years later. He assisted his friend D. Augustus Dickert in writing "A History of Kershaw's Brigade." Since Dickert was wounded at Wilderness and away from the army for some time, Pope wrote the section about Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. None of Pope's other writings such as letters, diary or memoir are known to exist. Y.J. Pope died on March 29, 1911 and is buried in Newberry's Rosemont Cemetery. His friend Dickert, write of him, "Of all the officers in the 3rd S.C. Adj. Pope, I believe, was the most loved."