On Saturday, April 4, 1924, the angel of death called from earth to Heaven the soul of William Walker Russell
At the time of this death, he and his wife were residing in Minneapolis, Minn. with a married daughter. They moved there about one year ago from Anderson where they had been residing for a number of years.
In this article I wish to give a short sketch of his life as I, a kinsman, have known him for the past 60 or more years.
Walker Russell was born in reared in the Slabtown section of Anderson County. He was the third son of the late Major Thomas H. Russell and his wife Marth Jane (Hamilton) Russell. He was born in 1844.
In his youth he attended Thalian Academy, a noted school that was taught in the vicinity by the Rev. John L. Kennedy. Naturally bright, he was not very studious, but was considered an average pupil.
When about 16 years of age, the war between the States began and with his two older brothers, he joined one of the first companies of volunteers that was formed in the community and was soon en route to the front or near Charleston.
The command to which he belonged was soon transferred to Virginia, and soon young Russell was made a scout for the Hampton legion. In tis capacity he served faithfully and efficiently during the remainder of the war. He, and others, was in many daring escapades; at times for several days, he, sometimes alone, and at other times with one or two comrades, would be in the rear of the Union Army obtaining information as to the movements of troops, their numbers and other information that would be valuable to Generals Hampton and Stewart.
It was Walker Russell, I have been told, who discovered the place where the cattle that were meant to supply Grant’s Army were kept. He also found out that they were guarded by a small detachment of troops. He reported promptly to General Hampton, and in a very few hours, these cattle, some 2,500 or more, were being slaughtered in the rear of their army to feed confederate soldiers.
During one of these trips to the rear of the Yankee Army, he was surrounded and captured and was imprisoned in a Federal prison in West Virginia. After being confined for several weeks, he succeeded in bribing the keeper of the prison by giving him $50 in gold that a young lady, a southern sympathizer, had given him, and was allowed to escape. He soon made his way back to the Confederate lines and continued in the service until the surrender, then made his way home and joined his brothers.
After Johnson surrendered at Greensboro, N.C., April 25, 1865, the towns of and villages of South Carolina were soon filled with Union troops and parties of them would go out into the country and rob the citizens of their horses, mules, silver and gold, or anything of value they could find.
On May 8, 1865, a crowd of these boys who had just returned from the war were having a chicken supper at a neighbor’s home when an old gentleman from the city of Anderson came in and informed them that a small detachment of Federal soldiers had just left the city that afternoon, going in the direction of Greenville, and that they were robbing, plundering, and burning houses as they passed.
Six of those boys, headed by Walker Russell intercepted them at Turner’s Hill, a cross roads situated about 6 or 7 miles east of Easley on the Easley Bridge Road, on the morning of May 9, 1865, and shot into the crowd, stampeding them, killing one and wounding several others.
The recaptured a number of horses and mules and took them to a pine thicket on the old Carmel parsonage place where they kept them for several days when they were returned to their owners.
The Yankee soldier who was killed was buried in a graveyard near by and six or seven months later, his father from Michigan came and had the body exhumed and shipped to his home. The young man who appeared to be about 18 years of age was named Harry Morrison. The late T.C. Spencer helped in exhuming the body and the old gentleman on his return sent Mrs. Spencer a nice wool shawl.
This was probably the last blood shed in South Carolina and it was in defense of the homes and property of a people who had suffered enough during the war and were determined to protect the little they had left.
This same detachment of Federal troops accompanied by a few regulars had on May 1, while going from Greenville to Anderson, burned seveal houses in the vicinity and shot and killed Matthew Ellison because he objected in their taking his horse that he was ploughing. This Mr. Ellison was the father of our townsman, Mr. Augustus Ellison. In consequence of this skirmish a large detachment of Federal troops returned to the vicinity a few days later and buried Mr. Starling Turner’s residence and did other deprecations in that section.
Soon after the war, Walker Russell married Miss Janie Sitton of Pendleton and settled near Autum. After he moved to Oconee County and resided at Conneross Creek. After the death of his first wife, he married Miss Minnie Edwards of Orangeburg, and settled in Anderson. There was no braver man in the Confederate arm than Walker Russell. Like everyone, he had his faults, but was kindhearted and it is said was a good neighbor. Piece to his ashes.
In conversation with Mr. Russell about one and one-half years ago, he stated to the writer that he had never tasted any whisky or brandy in his life.