Vol. 12


The Life of Morgan Elias Swails

1865; Mobile, Alabama, to Florence, South Carolina, USA

My great-great-great-great-grandfather was named Morgan Elias Swails. He was born on Valentine’s Day in 1847. Morgan Elias Swails is important to me because he had to walk home from the Civil War.

Morgan was a poor man with very little money to support his family. He had ten children, and his wife was named Amanda Swails. One of Morgan’s children was Anna Louise, and she was my great-great-great-grandmother who passed down this story.

Morgan Swails was a young private in the Confederate Army. Morgan was originally from Florence, South Carolina. He enlisted in 1862 and was assigned to Company C, Third Battalion, South Carolina Light Artillery (Palmetto Battalion). Morgan fought bravely in many battles, including Charleston, Jackson, and Chickamauga. The last battle he fought in was the Battle of Fort Blakely in Alabama, in April of 1865. Lieutenant J. L. Moses was killed in this battle, and the unit was forced to surrender in May.

Morgan Elias Swails was a strong Christian who believed that God would provide, but his faith had never been tested before, until May of 1865. When his unit was forced to surrender, the troops with the least amount of money had no choice but to walk home. Morgan Swails was sadly a member of those troops. Mobile, Alabama, is 615 miles away from Morgan’s hometown, which was Florence, South Carolina.

It took Morgan Swails a month to get back to his home. He walked most of the way, but sometimes he could catch a ride on a trader’s wagon. There was no money, so that meant no food. The only free food was the unripe corn in the husks. Morgan wasn’t alone when he walked back to South Carolina; some of the other troops were walking with him. But sadly, Morgan was the only one to survive the long trek back home. He survived, and the story is still being passed down to my family members.

This story is important to me because it shows how faith can get you through anything. It also shows that oral history is a big part of my family. It is really amazing that a story that was made more than 150 years ago is still told among my family members today. Morgan Elias never gave up faith, even though he was very close to death. I wouldn’t be alive right now if Morgan had given up hope. He wouldn’t have married Amanda, nor would he have had ten children. Morgan Elias Swails showed me to never give up hope, even in the roughest times.

Anna-Katherine Grubb; North Carolina, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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