Civil War Wiki
Thomas Fenwick Drayton
Personal Information
Born: August 24, 1809(1809-08-24)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: February 18, 1891 (aged 81)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Confederate States Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
- Battle of Port Royal
- Battle of Thoroughfare Gap
- Second Battle of Bull Run
- Battle of South Mountain
- Battle of Antietam
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Thomas Fenwick Drayton (August 24, 1809 – February 18, 1891) was a plantation owner, politician, railroad president, and military officer, serving in the United States Army and then as a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Drayton was a native of South Carolina, most likely born in Charleston. He was the son of a prominent lawyer, soldier, and politician William Drayton, who eventually relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His grandfather, William Drayton, Sr., was a prominent state and Federal judge.[1]

Drayton was an 1828 graduate of the United States Military Academy, where he was a classmate of Jefferson Davis, who became his lifelong friend. Drayton was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 6th U.S. Infantry. He married Emma Catherine Pope in 1832.

Four years later, Drayton resigned from the army and became a civil engineer for railroad construction in Charleston, Louisville, and Cincinnati for two years before returned to plantation life. He was a captain in the state militia for five years. Drayton was elected to the South Carolina state legislature and was an outspoken supporter of states rights and slavery. While a state senator, he also was President of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad from 1853 until 1856.[2]

Civil War[]

With the coming of war, Jefferson Davis, the new President of the Confederate States of America, appointed Drayton as a brigadier general in September 1861 and placed him in command of the military district at Port Royal, South Carolina.[3] Drayton subsequently used his wife's family's plantation, "Fish Hall," as headquarters in the defense of Hilton Head Island until 1861.[4][5]

At the Battle of Port Royal later that year, troops under his command at Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker came under attack by ships of the Union Navy, including the USS Pocahontas, commanded by his brother, Percival Drayton. Thomas Drayton's son, Lieutenant William Drayton, also fought in defense of the forts. After a lengthy bombardment, both forts fell to the Union attackers, who subsequently occupied much of the region, giving the North its first deepwater port in coastal Carolina.[6]

In 1862, Drayton was assigned command of an infantry brigade composed of the 15th South Carolina Infantry, the 3d Battalion S.C. Inf. and three Georgia infantry regiments, the 50th and 51st and Phillips' Georgia Legion [7], which became part of the Right Wing of the Army of Northern Virginia under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Drayton's Brigade fought at the Second Battle of Manassas. Defending Fox's Gap at the Battle of South Mountain, Drayton suffered high casualties. His much depleted brigade also saw considerable action at Sharpsburg. His tactical abilities were at times questioned by his superiors, and he was finally removed from command. He was transferred to the Western Theater to command a brigade in Sterling Price's army in August 1863. During the final two years of the war, he mainly performed administrative duties in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, although he did briefly command a division in early 1864.[1]

Postbellum activities[]

Following the surrender of Confederate forces in the spring of 1865, Drayton moved to Dooly County, Georgia, and resumed farming. In 1871, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and sold insurance for a living. Drayton was president of the South Carolina Immigrant Society until shortly before his death in Florence, South Carolina, at the age of 81.[8] He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte.[9]

Drayton is commemorated by a historical marker erected in 1985 by the state of South Carolina near Hilton Head in Beaufort County.[10]

The Drayton family property, Magnolia Plantation, is a modern tourist attraction near Charleston, South Carolina, and is still owned by the family after 15 generations.[11]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Evans, p. 387.
  2. Warner, p. 75.
  3. The modern town of Port Royal was not established until after the Civil War, but the term was in usage for the general region around Port Royal Sound.
  4. Fish Hall Plantation marker
  5. Reverse of Fish Hall Plantation marker
  6. Site about the Drayton brothers and the Civil War
  7. [1]
  8. Warner, p. 76.
  9. Find-a-Grave bio and photos of Drayton's gravesite
  10. Drayton marker
  11. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens website


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