07 May 2013

Civil War Profile: Nathan W Hyler

     The following is a profile of one of my Civil War ancestors. What was their life like before, during and after the war? Where did their sympathies lie? How did they feel about the war?


     In 1860
my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Nathan Washington Hyler, was living Dutch Fork, Lexington County, South Carolina.  He had married Elizabeth Meetze some five years prior and they had two sons: Rufus Barnett and Henry D.  In the 1860 Census, the family's surname was enumerated as "Hoyler."

     Nathan was a farmer, like his father before him.  According to the 1860 Agricultural Census, he had 90 acres of land valued at $1,000.  He had one horse and five pigs, valued at $100; he produced wheat, corn, cotton, peas, beans, potatoes and hay.  Nathan is enumerated directly before his father, Gabriel, whose farm was three times larger.  Gabriel had more livestock and grew more crops.  He was also a slave owner, as shown in the 1860 Slave Census, while Nathan did not appear to have owned slaves.  Gabriel owned five slaves: a female, aged 70; males aged 67, 48, 35 and 35.

       On 7 Apr 1862, Nathan enlisted as a private in Company C of South Carolina's 15th Infantry Regiment, shortly before that regiment was transferred into the Army of Northern Virginia.  Nathan was 26 years old and was joining the war almost a year after it had begun.  I imagine that he initially delayed joining because he had a family to support (which now included my Great-Great Grandfather, John Willis).  Once it became evident that the war wasn't going to be a quick skirmish, he probably joined due to a feeling of patriotic duty, societal pressure or for the money. 

     Nathan quickly felt the true impact of war: he was shot in the leg at Sharpsburg (aka Antietam), only five months after joining the army.  Due to his injury, he was placed in the Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond Virginia, then able to spend time at home with his family.  Nathan returned to his regiment in time to fight as part of Kershaw's Brigade at Gettysburg in July of 1863.  The Brigade soon found themselves in Georgia, fighting at Chickamauga, where Nathan was once again wounded.  This time his wounds must have been more severe.  He was initially sent home on wounded furlough, but "overstayed" his leave and, by February of 1864, he was in the hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.  He didn't leave the hospital until April. After leaving the hospital, he was "detached as a guard" to Greenville, South Carolina.  It's likely that he wasn't fit to rejoin the war - did he lose his leg?


     In 1870, Nathan was again enumerated in Dutch Fork, SC, with his family.  He then owned 50 acres, apparently having lost or sold 40 acres since the 1860 Census.  His land had also dropped dramatically in value and was worth only $175.  The farm was home to one mule, one cow, one "other cattle," and seven pigs.  The farm was producing wheat, corn,  cotton, wool, peas, potatoes, butter, hay, and molasses.   

     It doesn't seem that Nathan had been dramatically impacted after the war, until we see the 1880 Census.  The southern economy had gone through a downturn which apparently hurt the Hyler family.  From the 1880 Agricultural Census, we see that Nathan "rents for shares of products" on 22 acres.  He was no longer a land owner.  Nathan's farm was home to one cow and 11 pigs and he is growing corn, oats and wheat.  With less land, Nathan's farm was much less productive.

     In 1896 an article in The State gives a list of Civil War pension seekers.  Among them is Nathan Hyler.  In order to seek a pension, Nathan would have been indigent or disabled.  He was 61 years old.   Unfortunately, copies of these pension records are not available, so I don't have details on his situation.  

     Nathan died in 1903 and it does not appear that he ever owned land again.

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