Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Having finished life’s duties, they rest.”

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on January 16, 2012

About a year ago, I put up a post about Thomas Tobe, a free African American man from South Carolina who was conscripted to work at General Hospital No. 1 in Columbia, South Carolina during the summer of 1864. Tobe later received a state pension based on service he claimed with Company G of the 7th South Carolina Cavalry, Holcombe’s Legion. This latter claim is problematic, as there are no contemporary records verifying his attachment to that unit. Critical details are missing from the pension application, such as Tobe’s attested rank, and the men who swore as witnesses to his service were from different regiments. Tobe may well have been attached to that unit, perhaps as a cook, a personal servant or in a similar capacity, but there’s no direct evidence that he served as a trooper.

At the time of the post, I understood that Thomas and his wife Elizabeth were buried in the cemetery at Fairview Baptist Church, near Newberry, South Carolina. Recently I received confirmation of this from Kevin Dietrich, a member of the area SCV camp. Dietrich was out visiting cemeteries recently, looking for graves of persons from the Civil War era, and made a note of Tobe’s gravesite, not knowing anything else about him, just based on the dates on the stone. A Google search on Tobe’s name led Dietrich to this blog and my post on Thomas Tobe. Mr. Dietrich has generously consented to having his recent photos of the site posted here. The marble stone Thomas and Elizabeth share carries the inscription, “having finished life’s duties, they rest.”

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  1. BorderRuffian said, on January 17, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Found another record for Thomas Tobe (indexed as “Thobe, Thobe” in Miscellaneous/Unfiled Papers and Slips). Same hospital. Muster roll for May and June, 1864. Same info except for date of attachment to hospital- June 24. Tobe was probably conscripted under the law passed by the Confederate Congress, February 17, 1864.

    • Andy Hall said, on January 17, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Thanks, that seems right to me. It would be interesting to know what, if anything, his descendants know about that period in his life.

  2. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on January 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Interesting that the above record states he was “Never paid,” and that he was a “‘Conscript’ Negro.” I would have thought that as a free person of color, he would have been entitled to some compensation, even if he’d been conscripted.

    • Andy Hall said, on January 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Yes, he would have been eligible for pay. The notation in this case, I believe, only means that he had never been paid to date. A subsequent card, covering the months of July and August, states that he’d been paid by J. J. P. Smith, but does not list the period for which he was remunerated. Bell Wiley’s book, Southern Negroes, says that during this period of the war (1864), conscripted men like Tobe (or if enslaved, their masters) were to be paid at the rate of $400 per year.

      Captain J. J. P. Smith was Assistant Quartermaster and Paymaster at Columbia, with an office over Miot’s Drug Store, 196 Richardson Street.

  3. Reed said, on January 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Just wondering… does anyone know how Mr. Tobe/Thobe would have pronounced his last name?

    Silent “e,” rhyming with the Bible’s long-suffering Job? Or “Toe-bee”?

    Or something else?

    • Andy Hall said, on January 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      No idea. Worth noting, though, that “Tobe” was a common nickname in the 19th century, short for Thomas.


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