58th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army
© Jeffrey Craig Weaver, 1995, 1997, Arlington, Virginia
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Foreward
Background of the 58th North Carolina State Troops
Regimental Organization March - July 1862
First Assignments August 1862 - August 1863-
Chickamauga and Chattanooga September - November 1863
December 1863 - September 1864 The Atlanta Cam- paign
November 1864 - January 1865 - Playing Hell in Tennes- see
February - April 1865 Capitulation in Carolina
Please Note: This is a draft manuscript of a book I hope to publish one day. There may be errors, although it is sincerely hoped that the information is accurate. If you have corrections, additions, or more information, please contact - Jeff Weaver. Acknowledgements and Foreword
It takes much time to gather information on the soldiers and activities of a regiment, all dead for at least 50 years. I am in fortunate in that I live in the vicinity of Washington, DC, and have all the sources available to one in the capital region. A special thanks to the staffs at the Lloyd House, 220 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and to Bryan Spencer, of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, my kinsman, who has collected memorabilia of his family as well as oral tradition to make the lives of some of the men come alive for me and hopefully for you.
Thanks also to my wife, Patti for her patience and assistance in copying information at the National Archives and during the preparation of the manuscript and to Lieutenant Colonel George Sherwood, United States Army Reserve for his comments on the manuscript. A special thanks to my grandmother, the late Fannie Blevins Weaver of Grassy Creek, NC, who related many stories about this regiment to me when a child. Ms. Sanna Gaffney of the Watauga County Historical Society provided some valuable information. The staff of the Lloyd House, Alexandria City Library, Alexandria, Virginia patiently tolerated my terrorization of their fine Civil War collection as well.
It will be noted that a large number of quotes from those involved in their official reports have been used in the preparation of this work. This seems to be appropriate in determining what the opinions of the principals were. Please note some of the official reports were fiction, designed to protect the career of the writer and are unreliable. It is the job of the historian to document and decipher this information.
History is an amalgam of information, who, what, where, when, why and how. Added to this properly should be an interpretation of the events. Objectivity about events which become an obsession is difficult, however, every effort has been made to remain objective. I am not sure it is possible for an American, Northerner or Southerner to be objective about events which have become so much of our culture.
A note to be considered when reading this history. Many battles of the American Civil War have two names, the one given by Northern soldiers and press, the other by the Southern soldiers and press. Southern names for battles have been used throughout this work. Your comments and addi- tional information are solicited and this information will be considered for subsequent editions of this work.
Background of the 58th North Carolina State Troops
It may seem inappropriate to begin the chronicle of the 58th North Carolina in 1861, since it was not formed until July 1862. However, some key incidents occurred in 1861 which influenced the regiment after it mustered into service.
In 1861 North Carolina called on her sons to defend what she per- ceived to be her inalienable rights--states rights. Leaving the Union was not an easy decision for Tar Heels, and the dye was not cast until Lincoln called for volunteers to suppress the rebellion in the deep South. Young mountain farm boys left the nest for the first time, left to put on a gray uniform. Many families supplied more than one son to a company or regiment, some families gave all their sons to the cause. The 58th North Carolina was no different, and soon became a family itself, bound together by a common heritage, experience, philosophy, and blood. Despite the commonalities, their were some significant differences in the recruitment region. Caldwell and McDowell counties, for example, were considered foothills, and not mountains, and were perhaps more cosmopolitan than their comrades across the Blue Ridge.
The 58th North Carolina Infantry was recruited on the eastern rim of the Appalachian Mountains in early 1862. The area was largely in the Mississippi River drainage basin, and the men were more akin to their brethren in Tennessee and Kentucky than other Carolinians in the Piedmont or Coastal Plain. The geography of their mountains made small farms, of 200 acres, the norm rather than the exception. Small farmers had few if any slaves and little or no need for them. The mountaineers had little vested interest in the economic reasons for the War for Southern Indepen- dence. Most of the men who enlisted in the 58th North Carolina shared General Robert E. Lee's feelings that they did not want a civil war, but they also could not, in good faith, shed the blood of their fellow Tar Heels. Despite the litany of reasons these mountaineers had for remaining Unionist or neutral, they were not and in 1861 embraced secession.
In 1861, the Southern Army was made up of volunteers, by men who wanted to be there. When the ordinance of secession passed in May 1861, there was a flood of volunteers from the Tar Heel State into the new Southern Armies. The prevailing mood at the time was that these volun- teers would be enough to secure independence. The idea that one South- erner could whip three to ten Yankees was common in early 1861 as well. The fact that the war was not over in 90 days dispelled this myth, and other Southern boys knew what they had to do in the early 1862--join the Army! Many North Carolinians were so anxious they joined the Confederate Army before North Carolina seceded. This enthusiasm was even found in Appalachian Carolina!
Another contingent of men who eventually made up the 58th North Carolina, were Union men and had no intention of ever joining a rebel army. In 1862 however, a draft law was passed and many felt it was inevitable that they would have to join, and did so voluntarily rather than stuck with the stigma conscripts would suffer. Some joined the 58th in hopes of getting close enough to Federal lines to desert and go north. The Confeder- ate Congress also extended the terms of enlistment from 12 months to 3 years. It had also enacted the first draft in North America, and required all men aged 18 to 35 to register, and by default, almost all would be called. Many of these men did wait and were conscripted in 1863 and sent to join the 58th North Carolina. Many of these late joiners had served in local militia and had some, if limited and ineffectual military training, and could be sent to join the unit, without further instruction.
It would appear that this unit had desertions at about the same rate as other Appalachian units. Many captured soldiers claimed to have been loyal and deserted to avail themselves of the amnesty proclamation. Some were stragglers and wanted to make their rendezvous with the Yankees as simple as possible. Some were believed by the Federal military and were released North of the Ohio. Some were not believed and sent to prisoner of war camps in the North.
Some of the Churches would deal with deserters after the War was over. Many of the churches divided over the issue of slavery prior to the outbreak of the war into Northern and Southern Factions. The Primitive Baptist Church did not so divide, but in the period 1866 - 1868, excommu- nicated their members who deserted from the Confederate Army or who joined the Union League also called the "Red Stringers," which was synonymous with the Heroes of America. The result was the formation of Northern or "Mountain Union" Baptist Churches after the war, at Fox Creek Church in Grayson County, Virginia in 1867. Calvinists had a inclination to be bold in battle. They did not and do not think it possible to die before it is one's time to die, and when that time arrived, it matters not what the person is doing, he will die. This theological viewpoint is evidenced in articles of faith adopted by sects in the South, and were derived from the 1683 London Confession of Faith.
Edward Pollard, author of The Lost Cause wrote:
"In armies thus recruited [by conscription], desertions were the events of every day. There were other causes of desertion. Owing to the gross mismanagement of the commissariat, and a proper effort to mobilize the subsis- tence of the Confederacy, the armies were almost constant- ly on short rations, sometimes without a scrap of meat, and frequently in a condition bordering on absolute starvation. The Confederate soldier, almost starving himself, heard constantly of destitution at home, and was distressed with the suffering of his family, and was constantly plied with temptation to go to their protection and relief. "
In the case of the 58th North Carolina's butternuts many felt compelled to go home to escape being "cannon fodder" for the Gallant Hood of Texas.
A burning desire to aid helpless families from the likes of George Kirk caused others to return to the Carolina mountains, without permission. Bushwhackers, known as outliers in the mountains, were rampant in Western North Carolina during and immediately following the war. Any able bodied horse was stolen from 1863 onward by Union partisans or Confeder- ate quartermaster agents. These men came through the region and took produce at prices much below the market value. The Confederate tithe law also burdened farmers in the hills. Despite this, the women of the area increased production the best they could and in some cases, increased production over prewar levels. What food there was had to be buried to be saved from these bushwhackers and Confederate agents.
Regimental Organization March - July 1862
In late 1861 John B. Palmer conceived a notion to recruit a legion of cavalry, infantry and artillery from the North Carolina mountains near his Mitchell County home. This effort was partially successful and by the next summer Palmer had recruited 10 companies of infantry and three of cavalry, but no known artillery unit. The legion concept, however, had fallen into disfavor with Confederate Officials and most of those already formed were broken down into smaller units. Palmer's was no exception. The three cavalry companies Palmer recruited became the core of the 5th North Caro- lina Cavalry Battalion, which was later consolidated with the 7th North Carolina Cavalry Battalion to form the 65th North Carolina State Troops or 6th North Carolina Cavalry. The 10 infantry companies were joined by an 11th company, which became Company H of the 58th, was recruited for another Legion beginning raised by Zebulon Vance of the 26th North Caro- lina. Vance was later elected governor of the Tar Heel State. Company H joined the 58th at Johnson City, Tennessee in August 1862. The 58th North Carolina was originally known as the 58th North Carolina Partisan Rangers and was redesignated 58th North Carolina State Troops after the unit assumed a more regular role in the war.
The 58th was mustered into the service of the State of North Carolina on July 24, 1862, with a complement of 10 companies, and began active service. Company M, formed in September, 1862 joined and brought the total to an even dozen companies.
Subelements were organized as follows:
Field and Staff
John B. Palmer, Colonel
Thomas J. Dula, Major, Lieutenant Colonel
John C. Keener, Major, Lieutenant Colonel
Edmund Kirby, Lieutenant Colonel
William W. Proffitt, Lieutenant Colonel
Samuel M. Silver, Lieutenant Colonel
Alfred T. Stewart, Major
B. T. Perry, Adjutant
Edmund Kreley, Adjutant
E. J. Bearden, AQM
W. H. Harris, Surgeon
W. A. Collett, Surgeon
T. J. Mitchell, Assistant Surgeon
Q. M. Lewis, Assistant Surgeon
Alonzo White, Assistant Surgeon
John W. Robey, Chaplain
Harrison Herndon, Sergeant Major
L. D. Cuffey, Sergeant Major
James Conley, QM Sergeant
John W. Meadows, QM Sergeant
John A. Hensley, Ordnance Sergeant
H. Esleg, Drum-Major
John C. Blair, Chief Musician
James M. Riddle, Hospital Steward
Company A, Captain Martin Wiseman's Company, was organized on June 10, 1862 in Mitchell County, North Carolina. After Wiseman's 1862 resignation, the captaincy of Company A passed to F. A. Tobey.
Company B, Captain Jacob W. Bowman's Company, was organized on May 17, 1862 in Yancey County, North Carolina. Bowman's resignation of 1862 passed the company command to Isaac H. Bailey, who was severely wounded at Chickamauga on September 20, 1863.
Company C, Captain J. P. Horton's Company, was organized on May 29, 1862 in Yancey County, North Carolina. Horton resigned in 1862 and was followed by S. B. Briggs.
Company D, Captain D. C. Harmon's Company, was organized on June 27, 1862 in Watauga County, North Carolina. Harmon, like his previous four peers, resigned in 1862 and was succeeded by Benjamin Franklin Baird.
Company E, Captain Alfred T. Stewart's Company, was organized on July 29, 1862 in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Stewart was promoted to Major opening the command of the company. Thomas J. Coffey was chosen for the vacancy.
Company F, Captain W. Conley's Company, was organized on July 14, 1863 in McDowell County, North Carolina. Conley died in November 1862 and was followed by C. O. Conley, who served until he was killed in action at New Hope Church, Georgia in June 1864. C. O. Conley was succeeded by H. C. Long.
Company G, Captain Jonathan L. Phillips' Company, was organized on July 11, 1862 in Yancey County, North Carolina. When Phillips was wounded and permanently disabled at Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, John R. Norris was promoted to fill the vacancy.
Company H, Captain Thomas Dula's Company, was organized on March 15, 1862 in Caldwell County, North Carolina. Dula was promoted to Major and was succeeded by George Washington Finley Harper, regimental historian. Harper was promoted to Major in November 1864 and was succeeded by L. W. Gilbert.
Company I, Captain John A. Miller's Company, was organized on July 15, 1862 in Watauga County, North Carolina. Miller was followed by William R. Hodges and J. C. McGhee in the captaincy of Company I.
Company K, Captain S. M. Silver's Company, was organized on May 17, 1862 in Mitchell County, North Carolina. When S. M. Silver was promoted to Major he was succeeded by D. R. Silver in command of the company.
Company L, Captain W. Gentry's Company, was organized on July 20, 1862 in Ashe County, North Carolina. Gentry was succeeded by Calvin Eller and L. Hurley.
Company M, Captain J. L. Phillips' Company was organized on September 26, 1862 in Watauga and Ashe County, North Carolina. This company merged with Company G in 1863.
First Assignments August 1862 - August 1863
In late July and in early August 1862 the 58th North Carolina State Troops moved out of their mountain homes to their first post at Johnson City, (then Johnson's Depot) Tennessee. At Johnson City the command drilled briefly before being sent out to man various posts in Upper East Tennessee. J. W. Dugger recorded that the first camp near Johnson Depot was called Camp Stokes.
On August 23, 1862, J. F. Belton, Assistant Adjutant-General at Knoxville, Tennessee, wrote to General Caarter Littlepage Stevenson, that the 58th North Carolina was divided up, with one company at Carter's Depot, two companies at Zollicoffer and some at Johnson's Depot. On August 25th, Palmer was ordered:
Your regiment having been ordered to report to Brig. Gen. C. L. Stevenson, you will see that it is not encumbered with any superfluous or unnecessary baggage, the soldier taking only his proper kit. But 5 wagons will be allowed to a regiment and not more than one tent to each company. All other property, including the trunks of the officers, must be left at the railroad or turned over to the proper department for storage. The men were supplied with three days' rations and 40 rounds of cartridges. Twenty rounds extra per man should be carried with the baggage.
On August 26, 1862, Belton noted in a dispatch to Stevenson that the 58th had been ordered up as reinforcements. The 58th left Camp Stokes on the 27th and reached Camp Reynolds, near Cumberland Gap on the 30th. The regiment was assigned to General Stevenson's division of E. Kirby Smith's Army of East Tennessee. Smith was coordinating with Braxton Bragg for a full-scale invasion of Kentucky--the untested 58th North Carolina would soon get their chance. Stevenson's command, which was investing Cumberland Gap, held by Federal forces under the command of General George Washington Morgan of Pennsylvania. Morgan's position, made untenable by Confederate pressure all over Kentucky, and to the banks of the Ohio opposite Cincinnati, forced him to withdraw, leaving the Confederates in control of the vital communication link at Cumberland Gap. The 58th North Carolina was assigned duties paroling captured prisoners and repairing damage the fleeing Yankees had done for a few days.
J. W. Dugger recorded that the 58th moved up to Cumberland Gap on September 16 and remained there until October 25, 1862. Communi- cations between H. S. Bradford, Assistant Adjutant-General and Brigadier General Stevenson on September 18, 1862, gave the order for the 58th North Carolina, which had been left at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee to clear the road, removing all obstructions.
On September 19, 1862 the was 58th mentioned in the dispatch from Major General J. P. McCown to General Stevenson. McCown ordered Stevenson to pursue the Federals under General George Washington Morgan if he should retreat toward Lexington, Kentucky. Stevenson was ordered to leave one regiment of Palmer's Command in place in order to guard the salt-works at Saltville, Smyth County, Virginia. Major George Washington Finley Harper in his history of the regiment noted:
On the retreat of the Federal Garrison, Colonel Palmer was placed in command of the "Gap" with his regiment, Caper's Georgia Battalion and a battery of artillery until the prisoners could be paroled and the captured stores secured, after which it moved into Kentucky, but unexpectedly met Bragg's army on its retreat.
Captain Isaac H. Bailey wrote in 1901:
"we followed the Federals to near Perryville, where we joined General Bragg. Shortly after we returned to Tennessee with the army. After this we were stationed for a short time in the winter of 1862 at Big Creek Gap, Clinton, London and still later at Chattanooga, Tenn."
This scenario is not corroborated by J. W. Dugger's diary. Dugger noted that the 58th North Carolina remained in camp at Cumberland Gap until October 25. On that date the regiment marched 11 miles, 16 more on the 26th in the snow and finally camped in "a nice grove." On the 27th, Palmer's men marched five miles and pitched their tents at Big Creek Gap.
An organizational table for the Army of East Tennessee troops under Kirby Smith, placed the 58th in the Second Brigade under command of Brig- adier General Archibald Gracie, Jr. The brigade consisted of:
Second Brigade - Brigadier General Archibald Gracie, Jr.
43d Alabama - Colonel Y. M. Moody
55th Georgia - Colonel C. B. Harkie
58th North Carolina - Colonel John B. Palmer
62d North Carolina - Colonel Robert G. A. Love
64th North Carolina - Colonel Lawrence M. Allen
Newman Georgia Artillery - Capt. G. M. Hanvey
An organizational table for troops in the Department of East Tennes- see, commanded by Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith on November 20, 1862 the 58th North Carolina was in the Second Brigade of Third Division under the Command of General Henry Heth. Heth's Division, located on the line of the Virginia-Tennessee railroad was constituted as follows:
First Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General W. G. M. Davis
1st Florida Cavalry - Colonel George Troup Maxwell
6th Florida - Colonel Jesse Johnson Finley
7th Florida - Colonel Madison Starke Perry
63rd Tennessee - Colonel Richard Gammon Fain
Marion (Florida) Artillery - Captain J. M. Martin
Second Brigade - Brigadier General Archibald Gracie, Jr.
43rd Alabama - Colonel Y. M. Moody
55th Georgia - Colonel C. B. Harkie
58th North Carolina - Colonel John B. Palmer
62nd North Carolina - Colonel Robert G. A. Love
64th North Carolina - Colonel Lawrence M. Allen
Newman Georgia Artillery - Captain G. M. Hanvey
Third Brigade - Colonel Sumner J. Smith
Georgia Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel John S. Fain
Georgia Cavalry Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel John R. Hart
Fourth Brigade - Colonel Alexander Welch Reynolds
39th North Carolina - Colonel David Coleman
3rd Tennessee - Colonel Newton Jackson Lillard
31st Tennessee - Colonel William M. Bradford
43rd Tennessee - Colonel James Wendell Gillespie
59th Tennessee - Colonel James Burch Cooke
3rd Maryland Battery - Captain H. B. Latrobe
Fifth Brigade - Colonel Alsey H. Bradford
1st Alabama Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel Jack Thorington
2nd Alabama Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel Bolling Hall, Jr.
3rd Alabama Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel John William Augustine Sanford
4th Alabama Artillery Battalion - Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Reeves
Barbour Alabama Artillery - Captain R. F. Kolb.
A brief glimpse of life in camp was found in a letter from George McGuire to McCajah and Nancy Tugman. This letter was written in the camp of the 58th North Carolina at Big Creek Gap in Campbell County, Tennessee on December 18, 1862, a week before Christmas. The letter reads in part:
"Dear brother and sister it is with pleasur that i seat myself this morning to write a few lines to you in token of my best respects to you i can say to you that i am in tollerable helth at this time hoping these few lines will find you all well and doping well i can in form you that i receid a very fond[?] leter from you yester day which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you and to hear that you was all well i have bin vey bad of with a cough and cold and stopt up in my head and lungs but i am a getting beter there's a head of sickness here in camp is not half of our compny that is able for duty. Moses Greer and Solomon Greer is both dead and six others in our company we dont no how long we will stay hear now how soon we will be atacked by the Yanks but if tha come we will give them the best we have got in our shop i am in a bad fix to write to day for i expected to get to go home a bout this time and have got noked out of it and it hert me a sit bad i receid a letter from home a few days a go and tha is was all well....
Part of the 58th was apparently detached just before Christmas 1862. J. W. Dugger noted that his company marched to Jacksborough on December 22 and remained there until January 16, when they returned to Big Creek Gap. A December 27, 1862 organizational table for troops in the Department of East Tennessee, commanded by Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, headquartered at Knoxville made the following change in the Brigade of which the 58th North Carolina was part. Palmer's Brigade, under command of Colonel J. B. Palmer, was stationed at Big Creek Gap.
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 4th Battalion, Major W. N. Reeves
Smith's Georgia Legion, Cavalry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel John R. Hart
5th North Carolina Cavalry Battalion, Captain S. W. English
58th North Carolina Regiment, Colonel John B. Palmer
A February 20, 1863 field return for the Department of East Tennes- see gives Palmer's Command's Strength, located at Big Creek Gap, as 125 officers and 1526 enlisted men. Palmer's Brigade continued the following units:
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 4th Battalion, Major William N. Reeves
Smith's Georgia Legion, Cavalry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel John R. Hart
5th North Carolina Cavalry Battalion, Captain S. W. English
58th North Carolina Regiment, Colonel John B. Palmer
64th North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Lawrence M. Allen
5th Tennessee Regiment, Colonel George Washington McKenzie-
Kolb's Alabama Battery, Captain R. F. Kolb
A March 19, 1863 Organization Order for the Department of East Tennessee constituted Palmer's Brigade as found below. The brigade was still stationed at Big Creek Gap.
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel
Hilliard's Alabama Legion, 4th Battalion, Major William N. Reeves
Smith's Georgia Legion, Cavalry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel John R. Hart
5th North Carolina Cavalry Battalion, Captain S. W. English
58th North Carolina Regiment, Colonel John B. Palmer
64th North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Lawrence M. Allen
5th Tennessee Regiment Colonel George Washington McKenzie-
Barbour Alabama Artillery - Captain R. F. Kolb
The 58th North Carolina finally left Big Creek Gap on March 29, with instructions to proceed to Clinton, in Anderson County, Tennessee. The regiment reached their new positions on the Clinch River on the 30th. An organizational table dated April 25, 1863, showed that Palmer's com- mand was considerably reduced in size and was headquartered at Clinton, Anderson County, Tennessee.
55th Georgia - Major Daniel S. Printup
58th North Carolina - Major John C. Keener
64th North Carolina - Lieutenant Colonel James A. Keith
Barbour Alabama Artillery - Captain R. F. Kolb
J. W. Dugger noted that the 58th left Clinton on May 6 and march- ed two miles. The next day the regiment marched 23 miles, and on the 8th they continued on to Wartburg, Tennessee where they stopped. On the 14th Palmer's men moved to Montgomery, Tennessee, 15 miles away. The next day the 58th's men cooked rations all night and then marched 20 mil- es. On the 16th, the men marched 20 more miles and reached Wolf River in Kentucky where they camped. The following morning at 4 a.m. the regi- ment moved toward Monticello, Kentucky which was reached on the 18th. After remaining at Monticello for a week, the 58th returned to Wolf River on May 25 and then on the 27th started out for Clinton, Tennessee once more, where the men made camp on May 30.
On May 22, 1863 Federal Major General J. G. Foster reported from New Berne, North Carolina that in the demonstrations against Kingston, North Carolina that his forces had surrounded the 58th North Carolina on four sides and captured 200-300 of that regiment. This report was in error, as the 58th did not leave the mountains during this period.
The 58th remained at Clinton for three weeks, when they fell back 10 miles. On the 21st, they fell back another 10 miles and lay in a line of battle all night. There was considerable marching and countermarching during late June and early July 1863. Federals were putting considerable pressure on middle Tennessee and emergencies were cropping in many places. Southern commanders rushed troops from place to place to meet the possible contingencies. The 58th North Carolina reached Louden, Tennessee on June 28 to meet an expected Federal push on Knoxville from the South. Confederates had moved the garrison at Knoxville to Tullahoma, and the 58th was moved South to replace the troops who moved out. The 58th remained at Louden for two weeks.
Palmer's regiment marched for Bell's Bridge on July 11 and reached it on the 12th. The regiment remained there until August 4. On July 31, 1863 the organization of the Army of Tennessee, commanded by Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner placed the 58th in Frazer's Brigade head- quartered at Bell's Bridge. The brigade was organized as follows:
Fifth Brigade - Brigadier General John W. Frazer
55th Georgia - Lieutenant Colonel Alexander W. Persons
58th North Carolina - Colonel John B. Palmer
64th North Carolina - Major Thomas P. Jones
Kolb's Battery - Captain R. F. Kolb.
On August 3, 1863, Bucker ordered Frazer's command to move to various locations from Bell's Bridge. Frazer's headquarters was to be located at Cumberland Gap:
...the 58th North Carolina was ordered to Big Creek Gap to relieve the infantry garrison there; the 65th Georgia, now at Knoxville, will march to Jacksborough as soon as relieved by the 6th Florida; The 55th Georgia to be relieved by the 58th North Carolina, to move to Cumberland Gap; The 64th North Carolina ordered from Strawberry Plains to Cumber- land Gap via Bell's Bridge.
This rearrangement of assignments was in some ways was a fortun- ate turn of events for the men of the 58th - Cumberland Gap fell on September 9, 1863 and the men captured there were sent to Camp Douglas where more died than they would likely take in battle deaths in battle. The 58th North Carolina's place was assumed by the 64th Virginia Mounted In- fantry which lost 425 men captured at the Gap, 150 of whom died in Yan- kee prisons.
The 58th North Carolina left Bell's Bridge on August 4 and returned to Big Creek Gap, which was reached on the 6th. After two weeks at Big Creek Gap, the regiment began a retrograde movement on the 22nd and arrived in Jacksborough that evening. About 4 a.m. on the 23rd, Palmer moved his men to Campbell Station, which was reached about 10 p.m., and during the night rations were cooked for the anticipated movements over the next few days. On the morning of the 24th Dugger noted that "took up their line of march for Lenoir's Station arriving the same day." Dugger continued:
Stayed at Lenoir's 4 days lay in line of battle 2 days. Retired from Lenoir's Station the 29th of Aug. at 4 o'clock in the after-noon and arrived at Louden that night at 11 o'clock. Started next morning at 5 o'clock and marched 12 miles and took up camp near Sweet Water, Tenn. About 8 o'clock, were ordered to fall in line in ten minutes. Marched 4 miles and took up camp in a field. Starting next morning at 4 o'clock marched 11 miles to Riceville, Tenn., and camped about 5 o'clock. Before day next morning started and marched past Charlestown 6 miles and camped at a large spring about 2 o'clock. Remained there and went on picket that night. Next day, Sept. the 3rd, started at 12 and marched until 1 that night and camped at Georgetown, Tennessee.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga September - November 1863
The 58th and Buckner's forces reached Bragg's Army of Tennessee at Ringgold Gap, Georgia on September 9, 1863 as reinforcements. Buck- ner's men had burned the bridge across the Tennessee River at Loudon, and all other bridges as they retreated to Chattanooga from Knoxville. Colonel John Frazer was surrounded at Cumberland Gap, Major General Sam Jones at Abingdon was attempting to gather enough men to relieve the Cumber- land Gap, but was unsuccessful. It was too late, the Gap under, Frazer unconditionally surrendered on the 9th. Confederates, busy blaming each other for the disaster, overlooked the key problem for Cumberland Gap and the Army of Tennessee. This problem was the fall of Vicksburg which freed up thousands of Union soldiers for other campaigns in Tennessee and other points deeper in the heart of Dixie.
The 58th North Carolina, under Colonel John B. Palmer was hastily assigned to an impromptu brigade which consisted of the 5th Kentucky, un- der Colonel Hiram Hawkins, the 65th Georgia under Colonel Robert Hughes Moore; and 63rd Virginia Infantry under the command of Colonel John J. McMahon of the 63rd Virginia. McMahon was selected for this duty because he was the senior colonel of the group, but Palmer had brigade command experience and Colonel Hiram Hawkins of the 5th Kentucky was a better commander. McMahon's tenure as brigade commander was very brief. Colonel McMahon was relieved of command his brigade and of the 63rd Virginia on September 13, 1863 by Major General Buckner. McMahon was replaced by the youthful John Herbert Kelly of the 8th Arkansas, and had been in command of the brigade only seven days when he led them into their first major battle. McMahon refused to enforce military discipline on his command, according to his superiors. What McMahon had to say about his relief is unknown.
After McMahon was relieved, the brigade continued to serve in Brigadier General William Preston's division, Buckner's corps, Army of Tennessee, despite the change in brigade commander. The 58th's comrades were not completely settled but the 58th would serve the rest of the war with the 63rd Virginia. This organization suited some men in both units. They were friends, neighbors and relatives back home, despite the separating state line.
Colonel John Herbert Kelly was born in 1840 in Pineapple, Alabama and was orphaned in childhood. He was a cadet at West Point when South Carolina withdrew from the Union and Kelly withdrew from the Military Academy on December 29, 1860. He was selected to be Second Lieuten- ant in artillery, and rapidly rose through the ranks to lead a brigade, which included the 58th North Carolina, at Chickamauga. Kelly was promoted to brigadier general on November 16, 1863, over Colonel Robert Craig Trigg of the 54th Virginia. He was promoted on the strong recommendation of General Bragg making him the youngest general in the Confederacy. Kelly was reassigned to command a brigade in Wheeler's Cavalry Division on November 12, 1863. Mortally wounded on a raid near Franklin, Tennessee, on September 2, 1864, Kelly died two days later at 24.
The field of battle extended from Chickamauga Creek to Missionary Ridge. Bragg had moved his men out of Lafayette to that line on the morning of September 18, to meet Rosecran's Federals. The events of the Battle were found in a September 25, 1863, report of Colonel John H. Kelly, of the 8th Arkansas Infantry. Chickamauga means "the River of Death" according to Civil War historians, Cherokee scholars however, claim the name means "dwelling place of the war chief."
Captain Isaac H. Bailey of the 58th North Carolina wrote of the events leading up to the Battle of Chickamauga at Bakersfield, North Carolina in 1901. At that time he recounted:
"As we approached the creek from LaFayette, the enemy was discovered in a large corn field on the opposite side. Our regiment, the 58th North Carolina, together with the balance of the brigade, was put in line of battle to the left. A brisk skirmish was kept up until after dark, in which a portion of General Gracie's Brigade was engaged. We, the 58th North Carolina, bivouacked that night in front on the battlefield (corn field) and without fire. "
Early light on Saturday, September 19, 1863 found the two vast armies staring at each other. Kelly's Brigade was formed, according to Harper, "at the upper side of a what field, forty yards below the fence and woods that ran parallel with our division." Bailey's account continued:
"After remaining in line about 45 minutes the command was given: 'Unfurl your banners.' At this moment the sun broke forth, dispelling the fog, and as our banners floated out on the breeze the Federals, our enemy, General Boynton's command commenced playing "Yankee Doodle" and to move out eastward on an almost parallel line with outs. Almost immediately we were ordered to marked in a parallel direction, the enemy inclining to the right and to the left...[T]here was soon a terrible cannonading around us, but with little damage--none to the Fifty-eighth North Carolina. Very soon after this we captured a battery of artillery on a round eminence in a corn field, and greatly hoped to get to guard them, but by the time we had exchanged a few chews of tobacco, we were ordered away. For the balance of the day, with the rest of the brigade, we were held in re- serve."
Kentucky Brigadier William Preston, in his after-action reported this situation on September 19:
"...My troops remained in ranks without further reply, patiently enduring the fire. About 12 o'clock, in compliance with an order received from Major-General Buckner, I moved my command by the right flank, from about six or eight hundred yards, to a position somewhat west of north from Hunt's field. Trigg's brigade occupied the front, in a woodland near a small cabin. Gracie was formed near Trigg, and Kelly was posted in the rear, supporting Leyden's battalion of artillery. "
No further event of importance occurred during the day to Gracie's or Kelly's brigades.... Night coming on, Trigg bivouacked in the woodland and near the edge of the cornfield, while Gracie and Kelly occupied a position in front of a little hut, near which Major-General Buckner had established his headquarters.
On September 25, 1863 Major James M. French commander 63rd Virginia Infantry reported on the events of September 19-20, 1863 at Chickamaugua. French reported that on the 19th his troops were detached as guard for the ordnance train. On the evening of the 19th, they were ordered to rejoin Kelly's Brigade, but left two companies of the 63rd Virginia and the 65th Georgia to guard General Braxton Bragg's ordnance train. On the morning of the 20th, the 58th was moved with the remainder of the brigade in supporting distance of a battery.
William Preston's after-action report continued by noting that Gracie's and Kelly's brigades were "vigorously engaged in constructing defenses to strengthen the left" during the night. This allowed Preston's artillery, Williams's and Leyden's battalions, the "cover of good field entrenchments." Captain Isaac H. Bailey, of the 58th's Company B continued his narrative of events:
"At about 7 o'clock Sunday morning, the 20th, the two flanking companies, A and B, commanded by Captains Bailey and Toby, of the Fifty-eighth North Carolina Volunteers, together with five companies from the other regiments, were put under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kirby, of the Fifty-eighth, and ordered in the direction of Alexander's bridge across the west prong of Chicamauga river as skirmishers to feel the strength of the enemy in that direction.
We proceeded about one and a fourth miles when we came to an open field lying along the Chicamauga river some three fourths of a mile in length and about the same in breadth. When we had gone nearly half way down through the field, we could see fortifications all up and down the river the full length of the field and about twenty-five yards from the river bank.
Notwithstanding we knew that the enemy was behind the breastworks, we had to advance to feel his strength. So we slowly advanced until we came to the fortifications of fence rails leaning from our advance in the direction of the river to where the enemy had fallen back to and under tha bank of the river to draw us over, then to fire on us as we would have to retreat over the fortifications just passed. As soon as the line of skirmishers had passed over the fortifications, the enemy fired from their ranks, three or four men deep, a most galling and enfilading fire into our ranks. We had now ascertained by sad and painful experience what we had been sent out to do.
We were then obliged to retreat through the rail fortification upon the woods and across the old fields of broom straw waving in the melancholy wind, and over a number of our most loved comrades left dead on the field. One of them, Thos. G. Tipton, had just saved the writer's life."
William Preston's report filled in information about mid-day on September 20, 1863:
"On Sunday, about midday, the battle became quite fierce along the right towards Chattanooga, and there was a general advance of the left wing under Lieutenant General Longstreet. Stewart's division and Trigg's brigade were moved forward northwestwardly, in the direction of Brother- ton's house, on the Chattanooga road. Under an order from Major-General Buckner, I advances with Gracie's and Kelly's brigades, with the exception of the 65th Georgia, Colonel Moore, which was left to protect Jeffries's battery, near Hunt's field, on the left. Gracie's and Kelly's brigades were formed in line of battle across the Chattanooga road in front of Brotherton's house, and Trigg a short distance in the rear. The enemy, in some fields on the north, maintained an active fire of shot and shell on my troops until about half- past three o'clock, when I received an order to move towards Dyer's house and field to support Brigadier General Kershaw. Guided by Captain Terrill, I advanced with Gracie's and Kelly's brigades. Trigg's having been retained near Brotherton's by Major-General Buckner to resist an apprehended attack of cavalry on our left and rear. After moving through the woodland between the Chattanooga road and Dyer's farm house, I reached a large field extend- ing northward to some wooded ravines and heights. "
The 58th North Carolina, moved with the brigade about 3:00 p.m. in the direction of Chattanooga. The 58th was on the right, 5th Kentucky on the left and eight companies of the 63rd Virginia in the center. How- ever, the brigade was soon moved to the left to relieve General Anderson's Brigade. The 58th moved from a thicket toward the enemy's lines under heavy fire, to within 15 paces of the Federals. The Federals called out as friends and the attack was broken off. This gave the Yankees time to recover, and take up positions on the ridge. The 58th North Carolina fell back, according to French, exposing his left flank. The 63rd was then subjected to "enfilading fire from the enemy." Several of the officers and men were killed and wounded, and the battle raged until sundown, when the Federals broke off the engagement according to James Milton French's official report.
About 3:30 p.m. Longstreet ordered Prestons' division to go through Kershaw's ranks and attack the southern slope, Horseshoe Ridge, of Snod- grass Hill. Kelly and the 58th was on the left, Archibald Gracie and his Alabama brigade were on the right. When these brigades reached the front lines, they were intermingled. They marched forward, "as on parade," without firing until on the terrace in front of Federal General Brannan's Division, less than 40 paces away in the open. The Federals were protected by fieldworks, fallen trees, and other debris, and yet they traded shot for shot for over an hour.
Captain Isaac Bailey later wrote that the 58th North Carolina on the right, the 63rd Virginia in the center and the 5th Kentucky on the left, in that order, moved up in line of battle. The left of their line rested on the Chattanooga road. The Federals they faced had already repelled at least seven Confederate assaults. Bailey continued:
"The approach to these ridges was along spurs and were ridges intersected ridges and through intervening depres- sions or hollows, all more or less wooded, but more open and exposed opposite the right of the brigade. One of the assaults had been male by General Anderson's brigade. Before we could reach him in such a way as to successfully relive, he had been repulsed.
The line being again formed, the Fifty-eighth North Carolina, which was on the right, moved with steadiness through this comparatively open space till the extreme right arrived within ten or twelve feet of the enemy. The line of the brigade formed with the line of the enemy an angle of perhaps 83 to 24 degrees, the right of the Fifty-eighth being at the angle.
After exchanging fire with the enemy for about one and three-fourths of an hour, we attempted to dislodge him by assault, and for this purpose the Fifty-eighth North Carolina was transferred from the right to the left of the line, and moved forward, swinging somewhat to the right. When we arrived at the base of the hill, the enemy was hear to cry: "We surrender! We surrender!"
Colonel John H. Kelly... immediately stepped to the front, two horses having been shot from under him within the past few minutes, and called upon the officer who seemed to be in command and demanded that if he pro- posed to surrender he should lay down his arms."
When told to lay down their guns, the Yankees began firing on the Rebs. Kelly's Brigade was within 40 yards. In a postwar letter to the Confederate Veteran, a Federal soldier, who was there reported that the Federals thought the Southerners were surrendering. The brigade fell back in the confusion, but was soon reinforced by Trigg's Brigade, and the combined force captured 249 Federals, which were sent to the rear.
Preston gave credit to Trigg's and Kelly's brigades for capturing the 22nd Michigan, the 89th Ohio and part of the 21st Ohio during the battle. Colonel Hiram Hawkins of the 5th Kentucky was credited with capturing "two colonels, one lieutenant colonel, a number of company officers" and 249 prisoners. This crediting Trigg with captures made by the valiant actions of Kelly's and Gracies' Brigades seems to have caused a great deal of resentment in the 58th North Carolina and 63rd Virginia toward their future comrades of the 54th Virginia, as well as the 5th Kentucky. William Preston's report continued:
"...I then directed Colonel Kelly to form his brigade on the left of Gracie, and to change direction to the right as he advanced. The owner of the farm, John Dyer, one of my gunners, gave me a most accurate and valuable description of the local topography, and I directed Kelly to cover and protect Gracie's right. Whilst bringing Kelly into position, Gracie's brigade disappeared in the wood, advancing against the battery hill. I ordered Captain Blackburn, my volunteer Aid-de-Camp, to follow and ascertain from General Gracie by what authority he had moved.... Gracie replied that he had been ordered to advance by ...Kershaw, who was in the ravine just beyond the field. The movement was slightly premature, as Kelly was not formed, but I at once ordered his brigade to oblique to the right again, so as to press toward the slope of the hill in the rear, while Gracie was attacking in front....
Gracie's brigade advanced between four and five o'clock, and Kelly moved about ten minutes afterwards to assail the second hill on the ridge, 300 or 400 hundred yards west of the battery hill. I ordered him to change direction obliquely to the right, which was promptly done, in a few minutes, the brigade passed beyond the troops halted on the left of Kershaw's brigade, in the ravine, and engaged the enemy on the ridge, [300-400] yards beyond. Then a desperate combat ensued, the hostile forces being not more than thirty or forty yards apart. Kelly gained the hill after a bloody struggle, and the enemy vainly sought to dislodge him from it.
Just as I first formed and moved Kelly into action, I met Major-General Hindman and staff, on the summit of the hill, near Dyer's field. The General, though suffering from a contusion in the neck, from a fragment of shell, remained in the saddle.... I instructed him [Capt. Harvey Jones] to inform Gracie that the hill must be held at all hazards, and that I would send Colonel Trigg to his support in a few minutes. Soon after Colonel Kelly sent me word, by Lieutenant McDaniel, that he could not hold the hill without succor, and I gave him a similar response. This was about the period of the heaviest fire, and I rode forward to where Colonel Kelly was engaged on the hill, and Lieuten- ant McDaniel brought him to me. I reiterated the order, and the assurance of Trigg's speedy arrival, passed on to the right, where I met General Gracie. He reported his ammuni- tion was almost exhausted, and was withdrawing his men to replenish his cartridge-boxes.
In the meantime General Buckner had sent me Colonel Trigg's brigade, which, advancing in double quick time, arrived at a critical moment, while the battle was raging fiercely. One of Trigg's regiments went to the support of General Gracie, while the remainder of the brigade was ordered to form on the left of Kelly, and to attack the enemy on the ridge. This fresh brigade, moving over the troops halted in the valley below, assaulted with great ardor the enemy on the left of Kelly, and quickly carried the ridge. The fresh and strengthened line of fire from this fine com- mand reanimated our men, and disheartened the enemy, who relinquished their first position, and fell back to a second ridge, occupied by a strong force behind fieldworks. A momentary lull ensued.... I sent, at this time for Colonel Kelly, who reported in person, and informed me that the enemy in his front seemed in confusion. I directed him to use his discretion and press the advantage by advancing as far as practicable, with Trigg wheeling to the right toward the declivity of the battery hill, stretching towards Chatta- nooga. It was now moonlight, and Kelly, returning to his command, after a few minutes absence from it, the fire reopened, and continuing for a short time, ceased. It was the last fire of the day, and closed the battle."
Isaac Bailey of the 58th continued:
"After a desperately contested fight from 3:30 p.m. to nearly nightfall, we succeeded in gaining the hill from which the enemy made three or four unsuccessful attempts to dislodge us by assault. However, owing to the conformation of the ground, the 58th North Carolina was exposed to a galling fire from the front and on both flanks, the left flanking company being within ten or twelve feet of the enemy. In this action the regiment lost about half of its numbers by official report of Colonel Kelly, commanding the brigade. Company A, Captain Toby, started on the charge with 34 muskets and reached the top of the hill with only 12, losing 22. In conjunction with Colonel R. C. Trigg, 54th Virginia, commanding another brigade, we captured two regiments of the enemy, which surrendered to Colonel Trigg during the temporary absence of Colonel Kelly, commanding our brig- ade. As the column commenced moving with the prisoners a volley was fired into our ranks causing a good deal of confusion, it then being dark...."
The gallantry shown at Chickamauga would earn Kelly a general's commission. "Nothing in this battle, marked with gallantry so frequently that it became commonplace, surpassed the courage of these two brigades [Kelly's and Gracie's] as they watched their ranks thin minute by minute and still doggedly refused to yield an inch of ground. Glenn Tucker related, that Turchin thought "only new troops could accomplish such a wonderful feat." Thomas, a Federal division commander, was not beaten but was surrounded and could not attack and could only hope to retreat in darkness. The assault at Horseshoe Ridge of Snodgrass Hill was comparable to Pickett's and Pettigrew's Charges on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.
Captain Isaac Bailey recounted some of the casualties of the 58th thusly:
"Early in the action Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Kirby, while gallantly cheering his men, fell pierced by four bullets. Major Dula was wounded early in the engagement. Colonel Palmer, the only field officer with the regiment, was here wounded, but sill continued in command, with his senior Captain, Isaac H. Bailey, to aid him as Major and Lieutenant Colonel, after which Captain Bailey fell almost mortally wounded, left leg broken, shot through the right side and one ear almost severed from his head. Thirteen commis- sioned officers, including the Adjutant, had been killed and wounded, two-thirds of the right flanking company, Captain Toby's, having been killed and wounded, and about seven- tenths of the left flanking company, Captain Bailey's.- "
The Confederate victory at the Battle of Chickamauga was complete by about 7 p.m. on September 20, 1863. Kelly's Brigade's strength enter- ing the battle was 876. Its reported casualties were: killed 62; wounded 238, missing and presumed captured 29, total 329 for a 37.55% loss ac- cording to the official report. The 58th lost 46 killed, 114 wounded and one missing, for 161 casualties, over 50% of the regiment's pre-battle strength, and sustained 49% of the total casualties for the brigade. The 63rd Virginia lost at least 19 killed, 28 wounded and one missing, while the 5th Kentucky suffered 14 killed, 75 wounded, one captured and one miss- ing according to Colonel Hawkins' report. Despite the official report, totals on muster rolls of the regiments involved indicate the brigade lost at least 79 killed, 217 wounded, and three captured or missing for a total of 319, ten fewer than initial reports indicate, but higher levels of killed in ac- tions.
The 58th North Carolina camped on the battlefield the nights of September 20-22, perhaps surrounded by their dead. Fatigue details were assigned to dig graves, others were on picket, while others had the odious duty of carrying the dead to their graves.
William Preston was not oblivious to the aftermath of the battle in his October 31, 1863 battle report. On September 21, Preston order the burial of the dead. The hill Gracie's men had assaulted was afire from the musketry which had sparked the dry brush along that ridge. Many bodies were burned beyond recognition.
As a result of the battle of Chickamagua, those units engaged were asked, by the Confederate authorities, to select those who had been most gallant in the battle. Those selected for the 58th's roll of honor for the Battle of Chickamauga were:
Company A, Sergeant William A. Vance
Company B, Private William F. Bradshaw
Company C, Sergeant John Hughes
Company D, Private Braxton Cox
Company E, Private W. N. Pender, (Killed)
Company G, Private C. Gentry
Company H, Private W. P. Bumgarner
Company I, Sergeant John Eggers (Killed)
Company K, Sergeant, P. H. Duncan
Company L, Private M. Harrel.
Brigadier General Preston remarked in his official report about the Battle of Chickamauga:
"The troops of my division had never been engaged in any important battle, having been stationed during the war chiefly in Southwestern Virginia and East Tennessee, to defend their mountain passes from invasion. Held in reserve while the conflict raged around them for a day and a half, they manifested a noble ardor to share in its dangers and it glories. Though long in service and not aspiring to the title of veterans, I felt strong confidence in their patriotism, courage and discipline. The hour for the trial of all these great qualities arrived; every hope was justified, and I feel assured that both officers and men, won honorable and enduring renown upon the memorable field of Chickamauga."
Colonel John B. Palmer went back to Western North Carolina to re- cover from his wounds, and while there, received orders to assume com- mand of the Department of Western North Carolina. Palmer's headquarters was at Asheville and he remained in Western North Carolina until the end of the war. Palmer was relieved by General James Green Martin in mid- August, 1864. Despite this relief, Palmer did not return to the 58th.-
President Davis called on the Army of Tennessee quartered on the summit above Chattanooga on October 9, 1863 and inspected the soldiers. Davis rode along the entire line, in range of Union cannon at Chattanooga, below. Glenn Tucker, author of Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West, wrote in his chapter on Horseshoe Ridge that the 58th North Carolina, recruited from Northwest North Carolina and led by Colonel Palmer was reviewed by the generals. North Carolina Governor Vance had supplied Longstreet's corps with new gray uniforms, while the 58th was in rags and barefoot. The 58th had passed out of state and were orphaned and not given new uniforms. Kelly's Brigade was ordered not to cheer as Governor Vance and the dignitaries passed in review, so they took off their ragged caps and waved them to the generals, who were touched by the ges- ture.
James Clark, of the 63rd Virginia, wrote his wife Martha on February 15, 1864 from Dalton, Georgia: "We have had more reviews in the past month than I ever saw. I can't see what good they do, have us every trotting round for them to look at. Every Gen. that has a wife & she come to see him must have us paraded round for her to look at."
After Chickamauga Colonel Kelly was transferred to a command a cavalry division in Wheeler's cavalry corps. The 58th and 60th North Carolina, 54th and 63rd Virginia regiments were permanently made a brigade under Brigadier General Alexander Welch Reynolds, "Old Gauley" of Clark County, Virginia, in Buckner's division, Hardee's corps on November 12, 1863. The 5th Kentucky Infantry was transferred to Lewis' (The Orphan) Brigade, Breckinridge's division. The 65th Georgia was transferred to Jackson's Brigade, in Cheatham's division, Hardee's Corps. Colonel Robert C. Trigg of the 54th Virginia lost his brigade command on November 12, 1863. Trigg's Florida regiments were reorganized into a Florida Brigade and the 54th Virginia was freed for reassignment. The 60th North Carolina was transferred from Stovall's Brigade, Breckinridge's division.
Alexander Welch Reynolds a native of Clarke County, Virginia had been promoted to brigadier general in September. Trigg felt he should have been advanced, and this caused friction in the administration of the brigade. Trigg had been endorsed for promotion by every general officer in his chain of command from Preston to Buckner to Longstreet, but General Bragg championed Kelly's elevation. Bragg believed Kelly's brigade performed better than Trigg's at Chickamauga, and merited recognition for the pris- oners Trigg claimed. Bragg realized Preston and Buckner were not enamor- ed with him and Longstreet coveted his command. Any ally of the opposition he could keep from general officer rank would be one less he would have to contend with later. Trigg graduated from the Virginia Military Institute last in his class, and was not a professional soldier prewar.
Reynolds was a graduate of West Point, in the same class as William Hardee, Pierre Beauregard, and Carter Stevenson, his more esteemed classmates. It seems likely that Stevenson and Reynolds were personal friends considering their long association with each other. Reynolds served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps after his 1838 graduation from West Point. Reynolds was discharged from the Army for inconsistencies in his accounts in 1855. He requested and was permitted to rejoin the Army in 1857. He was stationed in Texas when the secession imbroglio arose, and simply deserted the Union army, and has been castigated for not formally resigning before joining the Confederacy. Reynolds' raised the 50th Virginia Infantry from the southwestern mountains of the Old Dominion, and was known to the Virginians of his new command. Further, Reynolds served as a brigade commander under his old friend Carter Stevenson for several months, led a brigade under Kirby Smith during Bragg's Kentucky campaign, and a brigade during the Vicksburg siege under John Pemberton.
Reynolds was assigned to Buckner's Division, Hardee's corps on November 12, 1863. Despite the brigade's official assignment, it is hard to track their duties for the next month. Buckner's division was detached on November 22, 1863 from the Army of Tennessee, and operated with Longstreet in his 1863 East Tennessee campaign. Reynolds' Brigade, detached from Buckner's division, served with Anderson's division during the Chattanooga siege.
The 58th spent most of October and November 1863 on the heights above Chattanooga. Speculation about the command's duties include construction of breastworks and supporting artillery units bombarding Chattanooga below. Reynolds' Brigade was recalled from Buckner's division shortly after it departed Missionary Ridge for Knoxville and was somewhat in limbo when the Battle of Missionary Ridge began.
Reynolds' Brigade was deployed in a thin line on Missionary Ridge, with no reserve according to Captain George W. F. Harper. Major General U. S. Grant, commanding the Federal Army of the Cumberland, ordered his men to attack. It was an unlikely assault, the Confederates dug in on the heights made it seem like Pickett's charge with roles reversed. Reynolds' Brigade, assigned to Stevenson's division had been on the Southern left on the 21st, was sent to reinforce General Patrick Cleburne's division. The brigade held that place for three days, and repulsed attacks from blue coats under General Phil Sheridan.
James Lee McDonough in his excellent work, Chattanooga - A Death Grip on the Confederacy noted that early on November 23, Bragg ordered Cleburne to reinforce Longstreet at Knoxville. By noon most of Johnson's division, except Reynolds' Brigade, was moving to Loudon on the Western and Atlantic rail road. However, when General George "Pap" Thomas' Army of the Cumberland moved to occupy Orchard Knob, Bragg felt the Yankees were about to give all out battle. Bragg then sent a dispatch to Cleburne, stating that his front had been attacked and ordered them to return.
The Confederate general staff developed a plan, a bad plan according McDonough. Some Confederates were deployed in rifle pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge, the rest on the crest of the ridge. Reynolds' boys in the rifle pits were, according to Captain Harper, "annoyed by the premature explosion of the shells from our batteries on the ridge in the rear, firing upon the enemy in front. A veteran of Company H, with a grim sense of humor, suggested to his Captain that the command occupy the other side of the breastwork--a brisk musketry fire then coming from the enemy. The suggestion was not adopted. Heavy lines of Federal infantrymen approached the Confederate entrenchments and confusion reigned in the Southern ranks. Reynolds' brigade, posted between Deas' and Bate's Brigades were ordered to the top of the mountain as the Federals began their approach. Reynolds' men were intended to fill a gap at the crest of the ridge between Bate's and Anderson's brigades. The reason for with- drawal, however, was unknown to the men through whom they passed, adding confusion to the situation. Some of Reynolds soldiers passed through Colonel Jesse J. Finley's Florida Brigade and recent comrades of the 54th, while scaling the heights, which caused confusion just as the battle began.
Reynolds' mixed brigade, did not fix themselves in the 150-yard wide breach in the Confederate line on the top of Missionary Ridge. Captain James Garrity's Alabama Artillery Battery filled the gap alone, and they had no support. Reynolds' regiments were deployed across the Crutchfield road behind Bate's Division, over a quarter mile from the breach in the line they were supposed to fill.
The Confederate line was breached in Anderson's Brigade, not in the unplugged position Reynolds should have been in. Had Reynolds' been closer to Anderson than Bates perhaps their reputation would have been less bloodied. General Bate sent Major James Thomas Weaver of the 60th North Carolina to try to reinforce Anderson's Brigade and to counter attack. Reynolds' boys ran more than a quarter mile and reached Bate's right flank, but they were too late, Federals were pouring through. Bate reported "Union troops turned our guns upon us and opened a fire of musketry from our right and rear. This...caused my right to give back." Blue coated soldiers took Bate's position and were "rapidly enveloping [his] division." George Washington Harper wrote, "General John C. Breckinridge, in com- mand at this point, when the troops were withdrawn about midnight enquir- ed for the regiment then filing into the road, and being told, raised his hat and complimented the 'Tar Heels' very highly on their part in the fight."
About midnight, November 25-26, Reynolds' withdrew toward Dal- ton, Georgia. Reynolds' men were accused by Braxton Bragg for the Con- federate rout at Missionary Ridge. Their mistake, however, was in not informing their comrades of their orders. Another problem seems to have been the inability to communicate orders to the men responsible for their implementation. James Clark, Company F, 63rd Virginia wrote: "The yankees did not follow us but a short distance. We drove them back & took a good many prisoners." In Clark's estimation Reynolds' Brigade quickly regained their composure, and reorganized into an effective force again.
The Confederate line was breached in Anderson's Brigade defense zone, not in the unplugged position Reynolds should have been in. Had Reynolds' position been closer to Anderson than Bate perhaps their reputation would have been less bloodied. General Bate sent Major Weaver with Reynolds' Brigade to try to reinforce Anderson's Brigade--to counter attack. When Reynolds' men realized the error they ran 500 yards north to Bate's right flank. They were too late, Sheridan's Federals poured through. Instead of facing tired Federal lines, they found Yanks on an adrenaline high, renewing the attack. Reynolds' Brigade, led by Major James Thomas Weaver of the 60th North Carolina, fell apart, with the troops running to the rear in bewilderment. Bate wrote, "Union troops turned our guns upon us and opened a fire of musketry from our right and rear. This... caused my right to give back." Federals seized the summit on Bate's left and rapidly enveloped the division.
Reynolds' report written on December 15, 1863 at Dalton, Georgia, noted that he had moved under orders from Anderson. He described the brigade's action:
"At 7 o'clock on the morning of the 25th, I joined my Brigade posted in the riflepits at the foot of Missionary Ridge & covering a space of some fourteen-hundred yards on the left of Gen Patton Anderson's Division.
At 10. o'clock A'M the enemy attacked my line. Permitting them to approach to within 200 yards of the riflepits, I ordered fire to be opened on them, and after an action of about one hour, they were driven back with considerable loss & did not again attempt to force my position. In this short action, the officers & men of my Command, without exception, conducted them-selves with coolness & gallantry.
At 2 o'clock P.M. I received orders to fall back from the rifle pits to the crest of Missionary Ridge, which I did by alternate Companies, deployed as skirmishers, and formed my line of battle on the ground designated. I will here state, that some of the Companies of the 60th N.C. Regt. which were on the extreme left of the line, in moveing up the ridge, were obliged, on account of peculiar topography of the ground, to oblique somewhat too far to the right and on reaching the top of the Ridge, found themselves separated from their command, & owing to the difficulty of joining their own Regt. they remained in line with Gen. Bate's Brigade. A short time after I had taken my position on the crest of the Ridge, I observed the Enemy advancing to the attack in three lines of battle. There being two pieces of artillery posted on the left of my line, I directed them to open fire on the enemy, which was done with excellent effect.
The enemy having reached our abandoned rifle pits, I was directed by Gen Anderson Comd'g the Division, who was then present with my Brigade, to cause the guns to be depressed, & open on them with canister. This was instant- ly done, & so terrible was the effect of this fire on the dense lines of the Enemy, that it caused them to falter for an instant, but closing up their ranks, they again advanced to the charge. In a short time the enemy came within range of musketry, & my Brigade opened on them in fine Style and as they advanced rapidly up the face of the ridge my fire & that of the troops on my right, was so severe that for a time the enemy were checked.
Unfortunately at this juncture, when every heart beat high with hope, & victory was almost within our grasp, the troops posted in the rifle pits on the right of my Brigade broke & fled in... disorder. The enemy seeing the advantage that must result from this disgraceful & inexplicable panic on the part of hitherto invincible troops, at once crossed the hill on my right on opened a heavy fire on my lines, com- pletely enfilading my position; This of course rendered necessary an immediate change of position. I therefore changed front to rear on the left Battalion. My troops performing this delicate & dangerous manoeuver under the fire of the enemy in admirable style & without the least confusion or irregularity.
As soon as my new line was formed I opened fire by Company, and continued to engage the enemy until I found that the troops on my left had also given way, and the enemy occupied the Ridge on my left & now rear. Having now no supports whatever, I considered it more prudent to withdraw my small, but gallant Brigade than to remain, with the almost certainty of capture. I therefore retired (it was now dusk) by the right flank down the ridge, sheltering my troops as much as possible from the fire of the enemy who by this time had opened our own captured guns upon me from two different & commanding points on the ridge.
Learning that Genl. Bates & the troops on my left were proceeding towards the Pontoon bridge at Birds Mill, I move in the direction of our extreme right, where I yet heard firing. I did this on principle, that in the absence of orders, it was my duty to go to the support of those yet engaged. On reaching the road leading to Shallow Ford Chickamauga River, I received orders to conduct my com- mand to Shallow Ford Bridge & report to Genl Mannigault, who would place my Command in position. I reached this point about 10 o'clock & after remaining some two hours, took up the line of march for Chickamauga.
It is with no little pleasure & pride that I am enabled to say that both in the riflepits at the foot of the Ridge & during the engagement on the ridge, all the officers & men of my Brigade acted with the gallantry & coolness of vet- erans. Throughout all the movements none left the ranks, but obeyed every order promptly & without the slightest confusion or disorder. I am indebted to my Regt. Comd'rs Col Hardy 58 & 60 N.C. Regts. Lt. Col. Wade Comd'g 54 Va Regt. & Maj French Comd'g 63rd Va Regt, for a hearty cooperation & much assistance in all my movements during the day. Maj. French was struck by a fragment of a shell, but though painfully wounded, refused to leave the field until the action was over. Maj. Weaver of the 60. N.C. Regt. & who was in command of my extreme left, also de- serve honorable mention for conspicuous gallantry in con- ducting the retreat of his command from the Riflepits to the top of the Ridge. He was the last man to leave the trenches & displayed an intrepidity & in different to danger seldom surpassed. Capt. A. T. Stewart 58th N.C. & Lieut. Jacob Anderson Comd'g Co. "F" 54th Va Regt. acted with great gallantry, encouraging & Setting examples of heroism to their men. Richard B. Ally, Color bearer, Srgt. Wm. McKin- non & Private A. M. Chumbly Co. "F." all of 54 Va Regt, & Sergt Dr. W. H. Estes 58 N.C. were conspicuous for bravery. Co. "F" 54th Va. Regt. particularly distinguished itself as sharp shooters, performing most effective service."
Casualties for the 58th North Carolina were heavy in the loss at Missionary Ridge. Many men were taken prisoner, some deliberately. The 58th appears on return of casualties of General Stevenson's Division, for the period November 24-25, 1863, but no number was given by Reynolds. The compiled service records of the 58th North Carolina show ___ men were killed, __ were wounded and __ were captured. An organizational table for Buckner's Division, Army of Tennessee, made in just before Missionary Ridge, for the Chattanooga-Ringgold campaign, shows that Reynolds' Brigade was composed of the 58th North Carolina nominally under Colonel John B. Palmer, the 60th North Carolina under Major James T. Weaver, the 54th Virginia under Lieutenant Colonel John J. Wade and the 63rd Virginia was led by Major James Milton French.
December 1863 - September 1864 The Atlanta Cam- paign
General Joseph Eggleston Johnston took the helm of the despon- dent Army of Tennessee on December 27, 1863. The despised Braxton Bragg was gone and the Army of Tennessee quickly adopted Johnston as their own "Uncle Joe." Johnston understood the Army of Tennessee need- ed time to recover, to resupply, to train for the unavoidable battles to come. The Mobile Register reported the Army of Tennessee had no "barefooted soldiers" for the first time in its existence. Johnston was also busy gathering supplied to sustain his soldiers in the spring campaign. He was, in fact, gathering all the Confederate soldiers that could be spared outside Virginia.
The winter quarters for the Army of Tennessee were near Dalton, about 100 miles north of Atlanta. Reynolds' Virginians called their side of the brigade area "Camp Extra Billy Smith" for the recently elected governor of the Virginia, the Tar Heels called their side Camp Zeb Vance after their state's popular wartime governor. It was a time to heal the wounds and live down the embarrassment of Missionary Ridge. Reynolds' men remained relatively sedate until February 1864.
Disease was the worst enemy of the 58th North Carolina this win- ter--several died of disease in the first quarter of 1864. Disease had been a major factor in the regiment's readiness when it was stationed in East Tennessee and was again effecting the 58th. It had a depressing effect on morale. Age would play an important factor in the battles to come in the hot Southern summer. After all, these were mountain men, used to a colder climate than the Georgia boys who were about them.
Dalton, about 100 miles north of Atlanta, was on the rail line and in direct line from Chattanooga. Johnston remained in Dalton despite its military disadvantages, because he did not want to give up the people to Federal occupation. There were conflicting reports on the morale of the troops at Dalton in the winter of 1863-4. Some newspaper men comment- ed that the Army of Tennessee was completely demoralized and another countered the charge with the idea that they were "hungry for revenge." Many of these reports were no doubt propaganda issued by editors and were intended to prevent panic in the civilian populace.
On February 25, 1864, dateline Dalton, Georgia, Brigadier General Reynolds reported on a skirmish with Federal forces at Rocky Face Ridge or Stoney Side, about eight miles from Dalton. Reynolds reported that his engagements had been entirely successful, and reported casualties as fol- lows: The 58th and 60th North Carolina regiments took 24 wounded three mortally, the 54th Virginia had twelve wounded and the 63rd Virginia sus- tained only five wounded. The muster report of Company G, reports that the Federals were making advances on Tunnel Hill, near the rail line in mid-February 1864. Stevenson's Division was ordered for their camp site, just west of Dalton into action. The command marched on the night of Feb- ruary 23, and arrived near the "demonstration" on the 24th. The brigade was not put into the line of battle until the 25th, and according to members of the regiment, "whooped the Yankees". James Clark of the 63rd Virginia, wrote on February 28, 1864, "Our Brigade has been in front all the time. We lost about 40 killed & wounded out of the Brigade."
General Alexander Reynolds, in a letter to his sister from Dalton, Georgia on February 29, 1864, wrote:
The Battle of 'Stone Side' was my own fight, I was in sup- reme command. I selected the field and my troops alone gained the victory. My command consisted of my Brigade, and 3 Regt. of Gen Clayton's Alabama troops, in all 2500 men and opposed by Granger's Army Corps, Yanks, about 7000 men. The fight began about 9 o'c. a.m. our skirmish- ers having engaged them about 6 o'c. a.m. The enemy advanced in 3 lines of battle with great confidence expected to overwhelm me at 10 o'c. the battle raged furiously all along my line. The thunder of cannon & clatter of musketry was...deafening, yet our boys stood fast and pounded in their volleys with terrible effect.... I ordered an advance. Shouts went up which rent the air and the Yankees broke. They soon reformed and again came to the charge. We met them again and drove them, being reinforced they made their third and heaviest attack. The lines swayed to and fro for some time. I rode forward and ordered a charge and this line entirely routed them. I never felt so glorious in my life. It was a complete victory and thank God. I won it, even my fair horse, "Gauley" seemed to feel and enjoy it. I am proud of my brave boys....
We are all (my brigade) are very anxious to get to Western Va. My veterans would show you all in that country how to whip Yankees. I think that I could clean out the coun- try.... I hope we will succeed if I could get there....
Most of Reynolds' soldiers were pleased with their brigadier. Dis- content still pervaded the 54th Virginia, but for the time being this dissatisfaction was dormant. The Virginians of the brigade also yearned to return to the Old Dominion, but such was not to be. Most of the Tar Heels seem to have been content to be in Georgia. It was all a matter or percep- tion, all of Reynolds' mountaineers were closer to home in Georgia than they would have been in the Army of Northern Virginia.
During the fight at Rocky Face Ridge, Reynolds was in overall com- mand of his own brigade, Edmund Winston Pettus' Brigade, Hotchkiss' Ar- tillery battalion and Company B, Hawkins' battalion of sharpshooters. Pettus would later command the Virginia remnant of Reynolds' Brigade in the last days of the war in North Carolina.
George Washington Harper was relatively quite in his memoir about Rocky Face Ridge, only noting, "A number of casualties occurred in the Fifty-eighth. Among the killed was James Inglis, Sergeant-Major, a Scotch- man by birth, whose death was deeply regretted by his comrades."
Frank Moore's Rebellion Record yields a Federal account of the battle of Rocky Face Ridge. In this account, the Yankees claimed there were attacked by Cleburne's, Stevenson's, Stuart's and Loring's Division - a whole Army Corps, along with Wheeler's Cavalry. Further, this report claims the Federal loss amounted to less than 200 killed, wounded, and missing. The Yankees also claimed that the Confederate loss in the battle, "will not fall below five hundred." They were severely mistaken.
By March 21, 1864 Private Linville Sheets of Company L, from Ashe County deserted to the Yankees. Sheets told all he knew to A. P. Campbell, a division command in the Army of the Cumberland. Sheets was not well informed about military affairs and the information he gave the Federals was probably not anything they did not already know. Sheets, a poor 43 year old mountaineer probably appreciated the attention the Yankees seem to have lavished on him.
Lieutenant Poindexter "Pine" Blevins of Ashe County, North Carolina wrote his family from "Camp of the 58th and 60th V.I. Regts, Near Dalton, Ga." on March 27, 1864. Most of his letter was devoted to religious dis- cussions, but did give his opinion of the military situation. Blevins wrote:
"...our great army is appearently still at this time, owing to the bad condition of the Roads has prevented any ground movement of these western armys, but the weather is very pleasant at this time, and no doubt but a few days will soon Begin or renew the Bloody strife. My opinion is that the Yankees is laying in large suplies at Chattanooga to support their vast army in their attempt to drive Gen Johnston's army back and if successfull to feed them as they advance toward Atlanta. I trust and pray that disappointment and defeat, my over shadow Gen Grants paths, plans and under- takings, and demoralls his army in their attmept to trample and subjugate the people of the confederate states. Barbar- ity and cruelty continues to follow their whole line of march as the helpless women and children is witness against them, that is caught inside of the Enemys lines in his advance, his last attact on Dalton did not leave him guiltless of unhumine cruelty, and such I fear will follow his whole line of March if peradventure he should be successfull in his plans and undertaking. May the Blest Lord in his infinite Merceis cause us as a nation to humble our selves in the very dust of humility so that such may not be our fate - May His cau- se prosper and true Christian faith grow stronger and stronger and true and genuine religion may cover the whole land of America as the waters cover the chanels of the great deep.
If this was the case them you could have the plea- sure of meeting with long absent friends, to wit, Brother, and Husbands, poor unthankfull Beings as I am, I truly desire if it is the Lords will to live to see such a day come, that I can have the great pleasure of meeting with good Christians at the Baptist Chapel, on such Beutiful Sabbath as to day is insted of being called out in the field for inspection of arms and accoutrements the deathly weapons of war. which has allways been mortifying to me to have such duties to perform on the Holy Sabbath day but it is a rule and a custom of war and we have to obey all orders of our Gen'z...."
One of Reynolds' Virginia soldiers commented about the winter of 1863-4:
"Our fare here was of the poorest kind; viz: stale bread and fat bacon and sometimes not much of that." Another wrote his parents in Grayson County, Virginia on April 1, 1864. In this letter he noted that his daily ration was « pound of bacon or a pound of beef and 1« pounds of corn meal. He also noted that they had "draud one days rations of stuff tha called it flour but tha was mistakin it was chaf or wheat ground and was not bolted. It was nuff to take the worms out of a gaspin chickens throat."
Those present were reported to be in good spirits, had good training, good clothing. The only category not categorized as "good" was arms. It was noted on the muster rolls that many muskets were damaged. It would appear that most of the regiment was supplied with .69 caliber muskets this late in the war. Muskets were supplemented with captured Federal rifles, shotguns, and with some weapons manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina. Armaments were irreplaceable and this regiment debited a soldiers pay for careless loss of ordnance.
The 63rd Virginia's Captain Clark noted on May 1, 1864, that none "of our boys was sick." It was noted on postwar rosters for subelements of the brigade that they were in skirmishes and "partial engagements almost daily in the early part of May 1864." This was true of the entire Georgia Campaign, the fighting did not cease at any time for more than a week.
During the first days of May, 1864, the last days the regiment would spent in Dalton, Georgia, an event occurred which made a lasting im- pression on the men of the Army of Tennessee and the 58th. On this sunny spring day, 14 men were executed for desertion, eight of these men were from the 58th North Carolina. One of these men, Jacob Austin of Union County, North Carolina was a conscript assigned to Company E. He was forced into the 58th on Christmas Eve 1863 and deserted 28 days later. He was captured, court-martialed and sentenced to death.
Many soldiers did not feel these sentences were fair, as many others were pardoned for similar offenses, but some officers felt that a show of this kind of necessary to stem the tide of unauthorized absences. Other soldiers were sentenced to extra duty, some humiliation, or loss of pay. These executions had the desired effect, at least in the 58th North Carolina--desertion virtually ended in the regiment. Of course, by May 1864, most of those who remained were hard core supporters of the Southern cause or those with an over developed sense of duty.
In fairness to those who had been pardoned or received light sen- tences, the eight men of the 58th who were executed were reported to be strong Union men and had engaged in partisan warfare against the Confederate Government when they were not in ranks. Those pardoned or who received light sentences were considered men who would return to duty, but just needed some time at home. Perception was everything at the court-martials held in Reynolds' Brigade.
On May 7, 1864 the Army of Tennessee again focused on the business at hand - war! Sherman again advanced on the Army of Tennessee at Dalton, Georgia, and the Army of Tennessee engaged Federal Forces at Resaca, with Reynolds' Brigade in the thick of the battle suffering many killed, wounded and completely disabled for the duration of the war, many disabled for the duration of their lives. Major George Washington Finley Harper wrote in the history of the 58th North Carolina that the Brigade suffered terrible losses in the battles around Atlanta, but cannot give com- plete details as he was wounded in early May. He goes further and says that Reynolds' Brigade was consolidated with Brown's Tennessee Brigade under General Joseph P. Palmer of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
On May 9, 1864 the 58th participated in the battle of Rocky Face Ridge. Rocky Face Ridge, a 500 foot rock cliff, was defended by General Stevenson's Division which included Reynolds' Brigade and the 58th. Fed- eral Brigadier General Charles G. Harker's Brigade assaulted the summit, and reached the top, in single file progression. Harker's men got to the gap between Stevenson and Cheatham. Stevenson reported that the fight was obstinate and bloody, but the Federals could not capture the crest of the Ridge. Union losses in the engagement were 837, with Confederate losses estimated at 600. It has been reported that Sherman decided that the Ridge could not be taken without severe loss of life. He returned to his plan of flanking maneuvers and forced the Southern Boys off the mountain by tactics.
In 1913 Calvin Livesay wrote "Early in the spring of '64 we began to move toward Atlanta fighting more or less all the way. We had quite a battle at Resaca. Breast works were thrown up and we had a lively time. Here Johnston was driven back....and General Reynolds wounded. We were now put in Brown's Brigade of Tennesseans. We never saw General Reynolds any more." [Livesay was mistaken, Reynolds was wounded at New Hope Church].
Resaca was a depot town on the Western and Atlantic Railway. As prelude to the engagement of May 13-14, Federal General Thomas advanc- ed on Johnston's center at Dalton. He was joined by General Schoffield from Cleveland, Tennessee, and attempted to flank Johnston and take his vital supply and communications center at Resaca. This maneuver forced the Southern boys from Dalton back to Resaca on May 14. Confederates under Johnston had been busy over the winter preparing a network of en- trenchments from Dalton to Atlanta. Johnston was painfully aware that Sherman would have to make a serious mistake for a Confederate military victory to occur in Georgia. He saw his and The Army of Tennessee's mission was to hold the Federals in check until the Northern election in November.
Reynolds' Brigade in Stevenson's Division was in the fore of the assault led by Federal Brigadier General A. S. Williams' and his XX Corps, and secured positions that were their objectives. Stevenson, to the left of Lieutenant General A. P. Stewart, informed Stewart that he would attack precisely at 4 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., Johnston counter attacked on the Right with Hoods' troops, supported by one of Hardee's Divisions, of which Stev- enson's Division and Reynolds' Brigade were one, and General William H. T. Walker's division. Hood advanced about 2 miles and was in position to do damage to the Federal flank, when General Williams was sent, just in time, to repel Hood. There was some confusion in passing orders, Hood issuing some, and having Johnston countermand them. It appears that the confusion in communications through the thick brush may have led to the Southern defeat at Resaca. This was Johnston's only true defeat in the Atlanta Campaign.
Stevenson's divisions bore the brunt of the Federal assault columns. Federal soldiers advanced to within 30 paces, but Stevenson's line held. Sherman flanked to Lay's ferry, about 3 miles below Resaca, and crossed the Oostanaula River on two pontoon bridges. Confederate losses at Rocky Face Ridge and Resaca were about 2,800 of their 67,000 man force. Federal losses have been reported to have been 2,997 of their 104,000 men. Johnston's Army fell back to pre-determined positions at Cassville, Georgia, setting up the next engagement.
Bromfield Ridley, chronicler of the Army of Tennessee wrote:
...There was one place, though, where Sherman, had he been the able general many supposed, would have taken some of Johnston's glory from him. The only time he ever got Johnston apparently in a 'nine hole' was at Resaca on May 15, 1864."
Johnston had taken up positions on high ground at Cassville on May 18. His Corps commanders, Hood and Polk, thought it folly. He gave up the ground, "a step which I have regretted ever since." His men fell back through Allatoona Pass on May 19. The 58th North Carolina participated in the battle, as is evidenced by casualties reported in the muster rolls. Since the regiment was assigned to Hardee's Corps, it may safely assumed that they were on the Southern left, near Wheeler's Cavalry. Sherman had ordered his army to attempt another flanking movement. As with so many battles in the "Western Theatre", there is no contemporary information as to the regiment's specific participation. The Army of Tennessee crossed the Etowah River during the night of May 19-20.
On May 25, 1864, the pursuing Sherman had crossed the Etowah River and was travelling cross country toward Marietta, Georgia via Dallas, Georgia, with 100,000 soldiers and 20 days worth of supplies. The South- erners were entrenched, in a heavy thicket, with General Hood's main line centered at New Hope Church a few miles northeast of Dallas. Polk's Corps was closer to Dallas.
The Federals advanced toward the Confederate lines, that were so well concealed that they may not have known were there. Federals were allowed to reach within 25 to 30 paces before they were cut down with a thunderstorm of fire from the concealed Confederates. Johnston had or- dered Stewarts Division to form a line of battle about 5 p.m. This line was one man deep, and held their position against a three man deep federal advance. If the line had broken, then Stevenson's Division would have been completely lost. Stevenson was to the rear of Stewart on another road, facing another Federal assault. Federal General Hooker reported 1665 killed or wounded, and was unable to recover many of them between the lines and in the brush. Stevenson's Division was saved again, and the Army of Tennessee was happy. During these engagements Reynolds' Brigade lost their beloved leader at New Hope. General Reynolds was severely wound- ed. After New Hope that one Federal officer supposedly remarked that the "Rebels carried their breastworks with them."
Carter Stevenson wrote of the Battle of New Hope Church:
Upon my arrival at New Hope church, I put my command in position on the right of General Stewart, and very soon thereafter the enemy assaulted him in force.... While in position near New Hope church, I regret to state that I lost the services of Brigadier-General Reynolds, who there received a painful, but I hope not a dangerous wound.
Stevenson also listed his division's losses during May, 1864:
Brigade KIA WIA MIA Brown's Brigade 39 173 10 Cumming's Brigade 19 89 270 Reynolds' Brigade 33 126 190 Pettus' Brigade 30 177 61 Total 121 565 531
On May 27, Federal General Howard led 14,000 Union troops a- gainst Hood, initiating the battle of Pickett's Mill. Hood's line held firm. Ridley recorded in 1898, that this battled was "another heartrending scene of death and destruction." Broomfield Ridley wrote of the affair, that the men saw the Atlanta Campaign as a chess game between Sherman and Johnston, with Johnston making the key moves and Sherman responding in bewilderment. Johnston was a master of the game, he had half the pieces of Sherman, was able to avoid a Federal checkmate for months.
In a May 26, 1864 dispatch from E. M. McCook to Brigadier General W. L. Elliott, Chief of Cavalry, Department of the Cumberland [Federals], McCook notes that he took 13 prisoners, from the 58th North Carolina, 36th Georgia and 54th Virginia, Hood's corps, Reynolds and Cummings brig- ades. McCook said in his battle report "I don't think they want to fight this side [west side] of the Chattahoochee."
Despite McCook's observation, skirmishing was constant for two days. On the May 27th Southern General Cleburne's division attacked Federal General McPherson at Dallas, Georgia. The 58th North Carolina was not involved in this heavy skirmish--it was recovering from the effects of New Hope Church.
In the early days of June 1864, Sherman was busy with his drive to the Chattahoochee River. Johnston was busy trying to stop him with much skirmishing, again almost every day according to post war recol- lections. There was constant skirmishing, from Mid-May until Atlanta fell. A heavy toll was taken in the Army of Tennessee.
The 63rd Virginia's James Clark's June 16 letter to Martha noted:
"The enemy has been trying to flank us but we have foiled him in all his efforts. We have some fighting everyday. Yesterday had some strong shelling, not much damage done. The enemy don't seem disposed to fight but gain territory by strategy. Old Joe seems to have stopped him at least for a while as we are only a few miles nearer Marietta now than weeks ago... two of the regiment has been branded as deserters and received that punishment.... A few days before we left Dalton I saw 14 deserters shot. They were from the N.C. regiment that belongs to out Brigade. It was the worst sight I ever saw, too horible to think about. Yet some of them was not killed the first time & some of them not touched. Their cries was horrible in the extreme. Men were ordered up one at a time to put their guns close to their hearts or heads & fired. One poor fellow told them if they were going to kill him for God sake to do it & not shoot his flesh to pieces. They all seemed to be very much effected about their future; except one who be- lieved there was no God & died firm in his belief.... I am afraid what Virginians is here will not hold the fair name of which Virginians has in the eastern army. One company of the 54 regt. went to the yankees a few nights ago, officers & all. They were from Floyd County... all but 3. They would not go.... The lice grows pretty large down here in the hot country.... Grass grows fine, good many ticks, lizzards, scorpions & green snakes."
On June 18 Johnston pulled back into a new line from the crest of Kennesaw Mountain to Olley's Creek. Hood's corps was to the right in the direction of Marietta, Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk's corps, (he was killed June 14), now commanded by General William W. Loring, was along the crest of Kennesaw Mountain and Hardee's Corps was blocking the road from the west to Marietta. The whole area settled into a siege.
On June 22, 1864, Stevenson's division was ordered to charge the Federal positions near Mt. Zion Church. Captain Clark wrote on June 28 from Camp Hear Baptist, "We drove them back to their fortifications found them strongly fortified & could not drive them any further." Reynolds' brigade reached a point about 100 yards from the Federal breast works and could go no further, nor go back. One soldier wrote, "We were protected by a ravine & lay there until it got dark & came away. If the yankees had come on us we would have been compelled to surrender but they were too cowardly to come." One of Reynolds' soldiers grumbled in a letter home, "I think our Gen. ought to be sure what they are doing before they attempt to charge. We lost a good many men & gained nothing." Stevenson reported said it was the "hottest place he ever saw." Stevenson served in many of the major battles of the western theater.
The Battle of Mt. Zion Church, also called Kolb's Farm in Federal reports, began on the morning of June 22. Hooker and Schofield's Yankees were emplaced along the Powder Spring Road toward Marietta. Hood's skirmishers probing the lines discovered this and reported back that the Union men had not had time to dig in. Hood ordered Stevenson's Division to attack, which they did along the Powder Springs Road. The Southerners nearly succeeded, but the Federals counterattacked with 10,000 or so men. Stevenson's men were routed. Johnston was angry with Hood for a poorly planned, disastrous attack which cost Reynolds' Brigade dearly. Federal losses were under 250, while Confederate casualties approached 1100.
Sherman was determined to break the stalemate and destroy the Confederates. He attacked on June 27, 1864, and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain began. The 58th, still in Hood's Corps, found itself this time in the Confederate Center, faced off against Thomas' Federals. Federal losses were about 3,000, while the Confederates only lost about 1,000 men killed and wounded. Reynolds' Brigade recovering from Mt. Zion Church, played only a very limited active roll in the battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The 58th North Carolina suffered only __ killed and __ taken prisoner during assaults on that stronghold. Wounds were slight, if any, as none of regiment have any notation of wounds received at Kennesaw Mountain. On July 2, 1864, Johnston fell back to near Smyrna, into predetermined positions.
The brigade became severely demoralized after the debacle at Mount Zion Church. Most picked up by Federal patrols were jailed at the dreaded Camp Douglas, Illinois. Many of these men had the same story, that they were loyal, were conscripted, and deserted to avail themselves of the amnesty proclamation. It appears, from postwar recollections, that these men were actually cut off from the main body of the regiment on the march to Marietta. Some probably suffered from heat prostration in the hot Georgia summer sun. They appear not to have been able to keep up on the march and "straggled into the hand of the enemy" per some muster rolls.
Those men, who were taken prisoner, must have been able to get their story together on the trip to Federal prison, because all of those captured in the first days of July had the same story. Federals had been allowing those who deserted to take the oath and released them North of the Ohio. None of these men were freed. Perhaps the consistency of their stories was their undoing? Some of the men were indeed Union sympathizers and died in Federal prison. One soldier reported, "I have several behind but most of them would as soon be with the yankees as us but I be- lieve most of them aimed to be home as they were under the impression that the yankees had position of that country." Some may have been in the position of Private Buchannan of Company F, "Buchanan had been unwell for several days & perhaps stopped to rest & over slept himself but the rest has either gone home or the yankees has got them." Others may have been "very suspect men in number but some of them was union before they joined the army & it never got out of them."
One of Reynolds' Virginians noted on July 15, 1864 they had not been out of the sound of artillery fire since May 7. He also felt the food had improved, writing, "We have been the best fed army I ever saw. It is not of the nicest king but plentie corn bread & bacon but we are lacking vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, etc."
In this same letter to his father, Clark noted, "The enemy seems to be resting on the other side which I suppose he is in great need. Johnson has contested every inch of ground from here to Dalton. The enemy has payed dearly for all territory he has gained."
In the early Summer of 1864, the beloved "Uncle Joe" Johnston was supplanted by Lieutenant General John Bell Hood. The news spread through the Army of Tennessee on the night of July 17 like wildfire. Johnston had been the object of partisan scheming in Richmond by Presid- ent Davis, Hood, and Braxton Bragg. Bragg resented Johnston who had succeeded him as commander of the Army of Tennessee, and who Bragg felt did everything he could to make his tenure in the Army of Tennessee as difficult as possible. The rank and file felt Hood was reckless and esprit de corps suffered. Desertions which plagued much of the Army of Tennessee were not a major concern in the 58th, due in large part to the executions carried out on malefactors. But the men dreaded what was to come. President Davis was angry with Johnston, a cautious planner, because he would not give Sherman an all out fight. Hood would, thus both Davis and Sherman got what they wanted. Hood was a fine Corps commander for General Lee, gallant and fearless, but he would bleed the Army of Tennes- see white.
A member of the brigade wrote, "The army was very much out of fire about Gen. Johnston being released from his command of the army. There nevere was a General that was more confident in his men more than Gen. Johnston. I thought for a few days the army would be tore up but Providence gave us a victory which accredited the army to Hood but he does not at this time hold the confidence that Gen. Johnston did but I hope he will in time face himself to hold here."
On July 20, 1864, Hood's Army of Tennessee disastrously attacked Sherman's Army. Casualties were high in the Confederate ranks. By July 22, the Army of Tennessee had been fully reorganized, General Hood then commanding. On the 22nd Hood ordered a second reckless attack on the Federals and was again repulsed. The Confederates fell back into Atlanta. The 58th was among the defenders, in the center of the defensive works. Several of the 58th's soldiers were reported in their service records as having been wounded, killed or captured "near Atlanta" in June, July and August 1864. Specific regimental duties were not recorded, as with so many of the activities of the 58th. Some of the soldiers have items recorded in their records which give the modern reader some clues. Some were shot by snipers while on picket duty. Others were the unwilling recipients of Federal grape shot. A few just disappeared.
The siege of Atlanta lasted until the end of August. Sherman's Army made a flanking march to the south of Atlanta toward Macon and threatened to cut Hood's Army off from the rest of the South. Memories of Vicksburg were clear to many in the Army of Tennessee. To meet the new challenge and avoid total disaster he abandoned Atlanta. The Federals occupied and burned the city on September 2, 1864. The fall of Atlanta was probably the single most disastrous event of the war for the Confedera- cy. It killed the peace movement in the North and gave Lincoln's reelection campaign the boost it needed.
During September 2-3, 1864 the Battle of Jonesboro, last of the Atlanta campaign, occurred and the 58th North Carolina was involved in the fight. Jonesboro, on the Macon Railway, was the last defense of Macon. The battle caused the Confederate to fall back to Lovejoy's Station. There appears to be no Confederate report on this battle which mentions the regiment. However, Federal Brigadier General Absalom Baird, commander of the Third Division, XIV Corps, (Federals) in his battle report, reports capturing 426 prisoners, including 55 officers from rank of Colonel down, none of which were members of the 58th. Federal General Absalom Baird reported a third of his soldiers, en- gaged at Jonesboro were killed or wounded, "thus attesting to the severity of the fight." The Reynolds Brigade were among his opponents and there is no reason to believe that the Southerners had it any easier. The Southern dead and wounded are unknown for the battle of Jonesboro, but appear to have been fewer than Federals have reported, but the number taken prisoner more than made up for the bloody casualties, except in the mind of those who might live to tell the terrible tale.
After the evacuation of Atlanta Hood devised a scheme, with the blessing of President Davis, to recover the city. The President met with Hood and addressed his Army at Macon. The men of the 58th North Caro- lina were present for Davis' speech. Davis and Hood devised new tactics. The Army of Tennessee would go behind Sherman. But even Hood realized his Army was tired. To accomplish the feat Hood needed more men. On September 8, 1864 Hood proposed an exchange of prisoners to Sherman. This exchange, man for man, was accepted by Sherman, who responded on September 9:
"General - As I answered yesterday, I consent to an actual exchange of prisoners, man for man, and equal for equal, differences and balances to be made up according to the cartel of 1862.... We have here 28 officers, 782 enlisted men, and en route for Chattanooga 93 officers and 907 men, making 1810 on hand, that I will exchange for a like number of my own men, captured by you in this campaign, who belong to regiments with me, and who can resume their places at once, as I take it for granted you will do the same with yours. "
By this time, civilians realized what the Army of Tennessee's men had known all along, Hood was out-generalled by Sherman. The Richmond Whig's editorial of September 19 read:
"There had certainly been negligence displayed, and gross negligence at that, by some one. Who the scape goat is to be, remains to be seen.
The retreat from Atlanta was conducted successfully, although in rather a straggling manner, and in a short time the army will be in as good condition as ever.
There is less discontent manifested in the army than one would apt to imagine. A large number of the troops were inclined to believe at first that Hood had been out- generalled; but a better feeling, I learn, prevails upon sober, sound thought, and most of them are willing to admit that he did all that could be done with the force at his command. All argue, however, that Johnston would have been the ab- solute necessity of falling back without the sacrifice of so many good and true men as fell in battle upon the right and left wings of the army around Atlanta."
The Army of Tennessee put the Davis-Hood strategy into effect, and on September 24, 1864 found itself at Lovejoy Station. It is certain that the 54th and Reynolds' brigade was with Hood's Army at Lovejoy Station. From Lovejoy's, the Army of Tennessee moved to the town of Palmetto on the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad. The troops moved towards Chatta- hoochee River on September 27, crossing on October 1, 1864. On October 5, Hood ordered his 40,000 men to undertake an assault on Allatoona Pass. Hood's assault on Federal opponents was only partially successful. The Army of Tennessee and the Army of the Cumberland had exchanged roles, but Hood had no realistic hope of matching Sherman's success. On Oc- tober 12, 1864 Hood's troops attacked and captured Dalton, which had been their 1863-4 winter quarters. Major Harper's account of the 58th North Carolina is unclear about the time Reynolds' Brigade broke camp at Dalton the second time. The regiment was involved in futile Confederate actions to cut Sherman's supply and communication lines, though no specific records for their activities exist.
November 1864 - January 1865 - Playing Hell in Tennessee
General Sherman did not want to play with Hood, he took his bum- mers rampaged through Georgia. He had decided to abandon his supply and communication lines and live off the Georgia countryside. After breaking camp the regiment was on the march with Hood to defeat. Reynolds' Brig- ade crossed the Tennessee River at Florence, Alabama on November 2, 1864, and was held there inactive until November 20, 1864 aFrom Florence, Alabama on November 18, 1864 an organizational table for Major General Carter Stevenson's Division, Brown's and Reynolds' Brigades, consolidated was issued and the brigade was organized:
58th North Carolina, Captain Samuel M. Silver
60th North Carolina, Lieutenant Colonel James T. Weaver
3rd & 18th Tennessee, Lieutenant Colonel William R. Butler
23nd, 26th and 45th Tennessee, Colonel Anderson Searcy
32nd Tennessee, Colonel John P. McGuire
54th Virginia, Captain William G. Anderson
63rd Virginia, Colonel James M. French
The Army of Tennessee invaded Tennessee and was involved in heavy skirmishing in front of Columbia, Tennessee on November 24-27, 1864. Records do not survive to indicate the participation of the 58th North Carolina.
On November 28, 1864, the 58th North Carolina and Palmer's Brig- ade led the advance of Stephen Dill Lee's Corps on the Mount Pleasant Pike, pushing a dozen regiments and six batteries of retiring Federals, entering the town of Columbia, Tennessee, on the Duck River, which had been under Federal occupation for two years. At this point the brigade was able to rescue some stores from a burning Federal blockhouse.
The 58th North Carolina was left at Columbia to guard 1,700 Fed- eral Prisoners sent to the unit, and to garrison the town. This detail enabled the regiment to miss Hood's twin disasters at Franklin and Nashville, Ten- nessee. At this time the regiment was reported to have an effective strength of 246 men, total present of 311, with an aggregate present total of 338. On December 14, 1864, the 58th North Carolina was ordered to Corinth, Mississippi with the prisoners. Here they were relieved of the guard, and on December 26, 1864, was ordered to Okalona, Mississippi to drive off a cavalry raid which had cut the rail line there. The remainder of the Brigade were not lucky, and traveled on with Hood to his great defeat. The 58th North Carolina rejoined Palmer's now very small brigade on the return of Hood's Army to Tupelo, Mississippi in January 1865.
Palmer's Brigade missed the disastrous battle at Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864. To their good fortune, Hood had them detached for other duty, guarding the ordnance train. Hood's carelessness resulted in about 7,000 rebel dead. Lieutenant Colonel James M. Ray of the 60th North Carolina wrote that after the encounter at Columbia, Tennessee, the Confederates delayed instead of pursuing the retreating Federals, giving them time to regroup and entrench at Franklin. The Confederates intended to push the Yankees into the Big Harpeth River according to Edward Pollard. Hood's men advanced across open plains to slaughter and carnage. Twelve Southern generals were killed or wounded, 13 regimental commanders were killed and 32 wounded.
The rest of Palmer's brigade was with General Nathan Bedford Forr- est's command in the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, fought on Decem- ber 7, 1864. James Clark penned his last wartime epistle to Martha in January 1865 from the Clayton Hospital Mess at Columbus, Georgia. He noted that he had been wounded at the battle of Murfressboro, a slight wound in the wrist. He wrote, "I was so exposed coming out of Tenn. that it became very sore.... Many men have lost their toes & some their entire feet."
Reynolds's Brigade officially made the transition to become Palmer's brigade during this time. Joseph Benjamin Palmer, 1825-1890, having a name very similar to the organizer of the 58th North Carolina has caused some confusion in records relating to the regiment. Palmer, a prewar Unionist, attorney, and politician entered the Confederate Army upon Tennessee's secession. He led a consolidated brigade in the Franklin- Nashville Campaign, but was detached during both big fights. His com- mand, attached to Edward Walthall's Division did take part in covering the retreat. In the final reorganization of the Army of Tennessee he was placed in command of a brigade composed of the remnants of 38 Tennessee regi- ments and two battalions. His brief association with the men of Reynolds' Brigade went well, but he lost them in the April 9, 1865 reorganiza- tion.
The retreat began at Nashville. The retreat ended in surrender at Greensboro 5 months later. Palmer's brigade fell back to Murfreesboro, Tennessee where the popular Lieutenant Colonel James T. Weaver of the 60th North Carolina was killed by a sniper in General Forest's command and was listed as an accident.
On the retreat from Nashville, it has been told from oral tradition and contemporary accounts that the Army of Tennessee sang this little song for their Texan General Hood. It was to the tune of the "Yellow Rose of Texas."
And now I'm going southward
For my heart is full of woe,
I'm going back to Georgia
To find my "Uncle Joe"
You may talk about your Beauregard
And sing of General Lee
But that gallant Hood of Texas
Played Hell in Tennessee.
Contemporary records show Hood's 33 day Tennessee campaign be- gan with 26,000 "of all arms". When the Army of Tennessee crossed back across the Tennessee River had "less than 18,000." The army crossed the river at Brainbridge, Tennessee "was moved via Tuscumbia and Iuka to Tupelo, Mississippi, where they could rest and re-organize." The 58th North Carolina rejoined Palmer's command at that point. The strength of the Army on January 20, 1865 was 16,913, nearly 2,000 fewer than had crossed the Tennessee less than a month before. The Franklin-Nashville Campaign cost Hood 50 cannon, leaving him with only 59. The Federal's lost 16 block-houses, 4 locomotives and 100 rail cars, 10 miles of rail track and several hundred horses and mules, as well as several thousand Northern boys killed or wounded.
A January 19, 1865 abstract from the return of Major General Stevenson's division, Lee's corps showed that Palmer's Brigade had the strength, presented in the following table. Brigadier General Edmund W. Pettus was temporarily commanding the division. The 58th North Carolina alone made up a quarter of the nine regiment strong brigade effective strength.
4 58th NC 263 310 334
60th NC & 63rd VA
275 340 379
3rd, 18th, 26th, 32d, 45th TN
306 471 571
181 212 235
1025 1333 1523
An organizational table dated January 20, 1865, shows that Colonel Palmer's Brigade had not changed from November 18, 1864, except in name. On January 20, 1865, Stephen Lee's Corps, of which Palmer's Brig- ade was a part, had a "present for duty" strength of 698 officers and 5,573 soldiers, and was the strongest subelement of the Army of Tennes- see.
Hood was resigned his command on January 25, 1865 at Tupelo, Mississippi. His transient replacement was Lieutenant General Richard Tay- lor, son of President Zachary Taylor. Taylor led until President Davis restored Johnston to command on February 22, 1865. Davis, who person- ally disliked Johnston, belatedly realized that Johnston was loved as much in the western army as General Lee was in the Army of Northern Virginia. Personal attachment of men to their leader had a excellent effect on the effectiveness of the Southern soldier. Broomfield Ridley wrote:
Soon after Taylor's appointment, the Corps of Lee, Stewart and Cheatham, in the order named, were sent via Mobile, Montgomery, Macon, Augusta and through South Carolina to intercept Sher- man.... Cheatham united with Johnston's army on the 21st at Bentonville, North Carolina and all troops composing the infantry of the army of Tennessee were put in one corps under command of General A. P. Stewart and numbered 8,731 effective men, which said force and some North Carolina troops under Bragg and a force under Lieutenant General Hardee, numbering in all 15,000 men, was all that General Johnston fought the battle of Bentonville with.
February - April 1865 Capitulation in Carolina
Palmer's Brigade rode the rails to Branchville, South Carolina. On February 4, 1865 they challenged Sherman again and took an active part in several actions at several crossings of the North and South Edisto, repulsing the Federals "in all cases." The 58th was involved in the skirmish at Orangeburg, South Carolina, where some were captured and others wounded. No records survive to indicate the number killed. The Wytheville Dispatch after the war ran a story about Jackson Grubb and Joseph Headrick of Company H, 63rd Virginia and their encounter in South Carolina, near Orangeburg, with Federal Soldiers. From the Grubb and Headrick version of events, an Union soldier was found dead in the swamps. Retribution, part of Sherman's total war philosophy was taken seriously by his bummers. Grubb and Headrick of Company H, who had been captured near Orangeburg, were included in a party of prisoners forced to draw lots, to see who would die in revenge for the dead Yankee. A South Carolinian lost and was executed.
G. D. Gouge took a few minutes out of the hectic army schedule at Branchville, South Carolina on Feburary 8 to drop a few lines to his sister in Yancey County:
We are still near Branchville, S.C., where Colonel Silver left us and are expecting a fight every day. The Yankees are so near that we can hear their drums every morning and some of them came up in sight yesterday but went back without firing guns.
I can say to you that we have been seeing hard times this fall and winter, but we are very well pleased with getting so near home. We think if we can't come home, we can hear from you oftener.
I have been in hopes that they would make peace sometime this spring, but we have just heard this morning that would not receive our commissioners at Washington unless they would come back to the union and free the negro in our country, and if this be so, I see no chance for the war to stop soon.
Palmer's Brigade reached Columbia, South Carolina by February 14, burning bridges behind them. Calvin Livesay told of seeing "a sea of blue on the south bank." General Johnston was disappointed to find no reinfor- cements at Charleston, and was distressed to give up another state capi- tal.
Palmer's Brigade had the "honor" of acting as a rear guard to hold the south bank of the Congaree River until February 16. Palmer's command then withdrew and burned the bridge behind it. Johnston was operating a delaying action so that Columbia could be evacuated. The Army of Tennes- see began its march north on February 17.
Palmer's Brigade reached Charlotte, North Carolina on February 23 after wading across the shallow, frigid, Catawba River. After a few days in Charlotte the 58th moved to Salisbury and stopped there a few days. The Army of Tennessee was shifted on March 2, 1865 by train to Smith- field Station, now Selma, North Carolina, where General Joseph E. Johnston had been reinstated in command. Johnston was trying to consolidate his shrinking army.
The men of the 58th North Carolina and of Palmer's Brigade were by now nearly naked--each soldier only a single blanket--or less. Rations were very scarce. The Army of Tennessee passed the severe winter of 1864-65 in active field service. Despite severe exposure of the men and officers, there were no complaints. The men knew complaints would do no good and if they did complain, they did it with their feet and desert- ed.
Palmer's Brigade did not take part in the hard fought battle of Averasboro, North Carolina on March 16, 1865. Other events were await- ing them, and the battle-worn soldiers of the regiment were no doubt glad they were not called into action.
On March 19, 1865, Lee's Corps was given to Major General Daniel Harvey Hill. Hill's March 31, 1865 report shows Stevenson's division, with Palmer's Brigade, had an effective strength of 1,181, and was the strongest division in the corps. The division had about the same strength of a full regiment in 1861. The effect strength of the three divisions composing the corps' effective strength was 2,687.
Hill wrote of the events of March 19: "At 3:15 p.m. the whole corps advanced in two lines, Deas' brigade and Palmer's, Stovall's and Jackson's constituting the front line; Manigault's Pettus' and Baker's the rear line, 300 yards retired." Palmer's troops passed through the first Federal line in under 15 minutes. The Yankees retired to breastworks 300 yards in the rear of their first line. Palmer's Brigade led the efforts that pushed them from there as well. Hill received a map made by the engineers of the Federal position, and found them to be parallel to the Goldsborough and Fayetteville Road, and a second set of trenches perpendicular to the first fronting on the swamp. At this point Hill was ordered to halt and reform. At this point in the battle General Palmer's Brigade assaulted the field works perpendicular to the road. Other events required the withdrawal of the small reserves, which the Federals discovered. The Yankees counterattacked, flanking Palmer, Baker and Carter. Hill realized this, but not before 200-300 of his Tennessee troops under Colonel Anderson Searcy of the 45th Tennessee were cut off. They made their way completely through Sherman's bummers and rejoined Hill's command 9 days later. Hill stated, in his battle report, that there would have been a disaster but that General Walthall arrived "to fill the gap and check the Yankee advance." General Palmer's troops disengaged to join General Pettus' Brigade by Hill's order. They rested until about sundown. At dusk the Federals advanced on Pettus, but he "drove them back without difficulty."
General Hill reported that his captured men were due to incorrect intelligence and an incorrect decision on his part, based on incorrect information. Further, Hill reported that the Yankees fought the worst that he had ever seen them at the Battle of Bentonville, and that his men seemed to have "renewed vigour." His corps claimed to have captured 339 pris- oners and a Napoleon gun. Hill thought the number of prisoners were ex- aggerated but extended commendations to Brigadier General Palmer for his soldierly bearing. Stevenson's division lost nine officers and 22 soldiers killed, 19 officers and 176 men wounded in the battle.
Stevenson's Bentonville report does not substantially differ from Hill's on the performance of Palmer's Brigade. Stevenson highly praised Palmer and his men. Captain G. H. Lowe of Palmer's staff was severely wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Boggess of the 26th Tennessee and Captain Thomas Hampton of Company G, 63rd Virginia lost their lives on March 19, 1865. He reported that Palmer's Brigade lost 5 officers and 8 men killed, 13 officers and 108 men wounded on March 19th, none on the 20th, and 1 officer killed on March 21. Stevenson claimed 57 prisoners had been taken by his division. Stevenson wrote of Palmer's brigade's perfor- mance at Bentonville, "Never was more dash and gallantry displayed than was exhibited by Palmer's Brigade in their successful assaults upon the breastworks of the enemy."
General Palmer's report dated March 29, 1865, claims a loss of 13 killed, 113 wounded and 55 prisoners at Bentonville. Palmer commended Lieutenant Colonel A. F. Boggess of the 26th Tennessee who, "fell in the gallant discharge of his duties, a noble specimen of the man, officer, and soldier." Palmer also commented on Colonel R. M. Saffell, 26th Tennessee, writing, "being a super-numerary officer, volunteered with Colonel Ashby's calvary, to resist the enemy attempting to turn our left flank on the 21st, and was killed while gallantly leading a charge and repulsing them".
General Palmer's report also noted that Captain George W. F. Harper commanding the 58th North Carolina, Captain Eli Spangler commanding the 54th Virginia and Lieutenant Colonel Connally H. Lynch, commanding the 63rd Virginia and 60th North Carolina, "each handled their commands with ability and bore themselves handsomely through the day, as did Colonel Searcy and the officers under him, commanding the Tennessee consolida- tion.'" At Bentonville, Palmer's command consisted of the 58th and 60th North Carolina, the 54th and 63rd Virginia and a detachment of several consolidated Tennessee regiments under Colonel Anderson Searcy.
The 58th North Carolina numbered less than 300 effective troops, but was in both better and stronger condition than Palmer's other regi- ments. Joseph B. Palmer, now promoted to brigadier general, in command of the brigade, was chosen to lead the assault. Palmer's attack, initially successful, but bogged down, was relieved by Pettus' Brigade, which took the lead. The Federals regrouped in a reinforced position, and Palmer's Brigade again joined the front lines with the 58th North Carolina on the left of the battle line, the 63rd Virginia toward the center. The fight got thicker as evening progressed, and the lines thinner and the Brigade found itself nearly encircled, but held position until 8 p.m. when firing ceased. About midnight of March 19, the brigade withdrew, and reformed for battle in the morning of the 20th.
On March 22, 1865 the Army of Tennessee withdrew by rail to Smithfield, North Carolina. While there, the Army of Tennessee was reorganized. Brigades, Regiments and Companies, by this time all very small, were consolidated. The 63rd was reorganized with the 54th into the 54th Battalion Virginia Infantry (The Consolidation order was dated April 9, 1865). The 54th Virginia battalion was reported as serving in Pettus' Brigade, Stevenson's Division, Lee's Corps Army of Tennessee. The 58th and 60th North Carolina Regiments were consolidated into the 58th & 60th North Carolina Infantry Regiment Consolidated and reassigned to Brantley's Brigade, D. H. Hill's Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Tennessee, ending their association with old comrades of Reynolds Brigade formed 18 months before. These units were involved in some minor skirmishing until April 25th when an armistice was announced. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee on April 27, 1865. The army was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina, May 1-2, 1865.
There is no reason to believe that men of other companies did not do the same, that is, just go home in mid-April 1865. Most, therefore, missed the final payment for their services. General Johnston ordered that the Confederate treasury be divided amongst his men. It amounted to one and one seventh Mexican silver dollar per man. Every man received one silver dollar and every seventh man received an extra one. The one silver dollar was certainly worth more than the $154.00 worth of Confederate currency that each private was due for the last 14 months of the war.
From postwar recollections of members of the 58th North Carolina and 63rd Virginia, these western troops were taken by rail to Statesville, where they began the march, not walk, home, at least 100 miles away for most of these men, who began arriving at their homes in mid-May, 1865, most whom hadn't seem them in at least 2 years, many surprising relatives who had presumed them dead.
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