The 2nd Virginia Infantry at the 1st Battle of Kernstown


Editorial note from your blog host: This article was originally prepared several years ago as pre-reading for a campaigner-style event in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It was first published in “Rebel Boast.” Rather than consign this research to oblivion I have chosen to preserve it for posterity here in the hope that readers might find this information useful at some point.

By Spring of 1862,  the men of the 2nd Virginia Infantry had experienced as much real war as any unit in Confederate service at that time. Composed of Scotch-Irish stock from the northern Shenandoah counties of Berkeley, Clarke, Frederick, and Jefferson, the 2nd was built around the nucleus of a pre-war Virginia Militia regiment. It was ably led by Colonel James W. Allen. In late April 1861, the 2nd was brigaded at Harper’s Ferry with other Virginia units under an eccentric ex-professor from VMI named Thomas J. Jackson.

Samuel T. Cowley, a representative member of the 2nd Virginia Infantry. Note small size pre-war "US" belt plate. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Samuel T. Cowley, a representative member of the 2nd Virginia Infantry. Note small size pre-war “US” belt plate. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Under Jackson’s stern eye, the Valley men received much needed military instruction. They also soon earn the sobriquet “Innocent Second” because of their discipline and comely deportment in camp. First engaged at Falling Waters in July, the 2nd would gain eternal fame at Manassas for the brigade’s (and its commander’s) gallant performance in this signal Southern victory. Henceforth, Allen’s regiment along with the 4th, 5th, 27th and 33rd Virginia would be members of the “Stonewall Brigade.”

When Jackson was given command of all Confederate forces in the Shenandoah in November, leadership of his old brigade was given to Richard B Garnett. A series of ill-considered winter campaigns conducted by Jackson in freezing weather reduced his new army more severely than several major battles might have done. The 2nd VA and all of “Jackson’s Pet Lambs” suffered as severely as any but their devotion to their leader remained constant.

In early March 1862 Union General Nathaniel P. Banks advanced from Harper’s Ferry against Jackson’s base of operations at Winchester. Grudgingly, “Stonewall” withdrew his vastly outnumbered army southward, ever vigilant to a chance to strike the slowly pursuing Federals. Sensing hesitation on the part of Banks, he found his opportunity on May 23rd. After a grueling 20-mile march, Jackson attacked the Federals near Kernstown, just south of Winchester.

Three companies of the 2nd Virginia infantry were deployed as skirmishers and assisted Confederate cavalry in developing the Federal position along the Valley Pike. Finding this sector strongly defended, Jackson ordered the balance of Garnett’s brigade to support an advance ½ mile farther to the left. Fighting grew intense as Garnett moved to the assistance of another Confederate brigade. Nowrejoined by its skirmish companies, Colonel Allen described the actions of the 2nd VA: “ [A staff officer] ordered us forward and after crossing [a] ridge the fire of musketry began on our left and front . . . I brought my regiment into line by the right flank . . . Seeing a wall in front in possession of the enemy, my object was to get possession of it; but owing to the rapid firing of the enemy and the thick undergrowth only the right succeeded in reaching it, which they held until the order to retire was given at 6 p.m. Thus the men were exposed to a severe fire for nearly an hour, during which time they did not lose an inch of ground.”

Federal forces drive Garnett's brigade from their position behind the stone fence. Painting courtesy Keith Rocco.

Federal forces drive Garnett’s brigade from their position behind the stone fence. Painting courtesy Keith Rocco.

They did, however, begin to run out of ammunition. The arrival of large contingent of Federal reinforcements rendered the Stonewall Brigade’s position further untenable. Garnett wisely ordered his men to fall back before they were completely engulfed. Yet Jackson was furious and vainly sought to rally the fugitives. He not only berated Garnett but later placed the brigadier under arrest. It was with tremendous regret that Jackson ceded the field, and the victory, to the Federals, but not before every wounded man had been retrieved.

Map by Hal Jesperson showing movements of 2nd Virginia during the battle.

Map by Hal Jesperson showing movements of 2nd Virginia during the battle.

Truthfully, at Kernstown, Jackson had bitten off more than he could chew. His impetuosity combined with a lack of proper reconnaissance cost him more than one-fourth of his little army. The 2nd Virginia’s losses alone totaled 6 killed, 33 wounded, and 51 missing. Yet for “Mighty Stonewall” and the 2nd Virginia there would be other days, other battles, and other victories. Several were just weeks away.

by Bob Williams


“Inspired by Noble Patriotism (Part II)”


Posted below are additional entries related to the deaths of soldiers in the 26th North Carolina Regiment as gleaned by author Brenda McKean from the pages of the Fayetteville Observer. These notices do not chronologically follow those as posted in Part I of this blog since Brenda uncovered some earlier entries published while the unit was stationed along the Carolina coast. The heavy hand of illness surely took its toll among these early volunteers. Thanks again, Brenda,  for sharing your research.

November 11, ’61: “Died at Carolina City, on the 23rd of October, Robert W. Goldston, Esq., Postmaster at Prosperity, Moore County, in the 30th year of life.  He was a volunteer in Capt. Martin’s Company—a lieutenant—and on joining the Regiment was appointed commissary of the 26th Regiment of N.C. Volunteers.  He was acting in discharge of those duties when attacked with fever, and being of a frail and delicate constitution, fell a victim to its ravages.  He has left a devoted wife, an aged father two brothers and four sisters, and a numerous train of relatives to mourn his loss.  He was a consistent member of the Methodist Church, and died in full faith of a blissful immortality beyond the grave.  His remains were sent home to the family burial ground, accompanied by Lt. C. Dowd, E.S. Cagle, and A.B. Marsh .”

“Died on the 3rd inst., in the hospital at Carolina City, after a protracted illness, Sergeant J.F. Waters, of Co. C, 26th Reg’t N.C. Volunteers, aged 24 years.”

December 09, 1861: “Died at the private residence  of Mr. Grainger, in Morehead City, Nov. 22nd, after an illness of three weeks, Oliver Newton Hadley, of Co. E., 26th Reg’t, N.C. Volunteers. He was in the bloom of life, having just entered his 22 year.  For more than two years he has been a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pleasant Hill, Chatham County, his native place, and during his last illness he repeatedly expressed his entire resignation and willingness to depart to be with Christ.”

January 06, ’62: “Died at Carolina City, on the 7th ult., of typhoid fever, Private Orren H. Smith, of Co. E., 26th Reg’t N.C. Troops, in the 19th year of age.”

January 27, ’62: “Died at Carolina City, on the 23rd Dec. 1861, of pneumonia, John F. Turner, son of Wm. D. Turner, Esq., a member of the Wake Guards, Co. D., 26th Reg’t N.C. Volunteers, in the 23rd year of his age.”

April 21, ’62: “Died at the hospital in Kinston, on the 14th, of typhoid fever, Orderly Serg’t Benjamin McLauchlin, son of Duncan McLauchlin of Cumberland Co. in the 18th year of his age.  He was a member of Capt. Caraway’s Anson County, Company K, 26th Reg’t; his remains were brought to this county for internment in the family burial place.”

May 05, ’62:“Died a the hospital in Goldsboro, on the 23rd March, Private G.F. Ellington, of Co. E., 26th Reg’t N.C.T.”

“Died at the hospital at Kinston, on the 18th ult., Private W.M. Smith, and on the 23rd, ult., Private H.H. Bray, both of Company E., 26th Reg’t N.C.T.”

June 02, ’62: “Died at his father’s in Wake County, on the 11th ult., Paschal Segraves, aged about 23 years, a private in Capt. O. R. Rand’s Company, 26th Reg’t. N.C. Volunteers.  He was in the battle below Newbern and fought to the last.”

June 23, ’62: “Died at Kinston, of pneumonia, 2nd, inst., in  his 48th year, Private John Hardy, of Company A., 26th Reg’t N.C.T.”

October 12, ’63: “Died on David’s Island, N.Y. on the 7th Sept., 1863, 2nd Lieut Marion J. Woodall, of Wake County, N.C., belonging to Company D, 26th N.C. Troops.  He was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg, in the left knee, and taken prisoner and carried to David’s Island.  The ball lodged near the bond and had to be cut out.  Afterwards mortification ensued, and the leg was amputated; but the system had been so weakened that he could not survive, and he expired afterwards of two months of intense suffering.  But his sorrowing widow and suffering little ones have the consolation to know that he died as he had lived for years before the war, a faithful Christian.  Let this blessed consolation bind up their bleeding hearts and cause them to resolve to meet him in the Christian home.” *

Nov. 2, ’63: “Messrs Editors: Permit me to announce the death of Corp’l Neill McDonald, of Company H, 26th N.C.T., he having fallen in the battle of Bristow Station, Va., on the 14th of October 1863.  He was a dutiful and brave soldier, beloved by all his comrades.  He was a native of Moore County, and enlisted at Carthage on the 3rd of June 1861 for twelve months.  About the first of March 1862 he re-enlisted for two years or during the war.  He fell while charging the enemy’s lines behind the railroad.  We feel that we have lost one of our best comrades.  He was a pious and Christian-hearted soldier, and I hope it at rest where the sound of cannon and the rattle of musketry will be heard no more.  A Friend.”

Nov. 9, ’63: “Among the many noble sons of the South that have given their lives to be sacrificed on the altar of their country, none are perhaps more worthy of their names being immortalized than Privates James M. Sheriden and Alson G. McCoy, Company G, 26th N.C.T., who fell in the destructive charge at Bristow Station, October 14, 1863.  Sheridan leaves a tender wife and four little daughters to mourn their great loss; to them they are almost sole [solely in need of] human help.  We commit them to the care of Him who has promised to be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless.  McCoy, more fortunate leaves an affectionate father to sorrow for the early death of his cherished son, but knowing his devotion to the cause of the South, we feel assured that he will give him up without a murmur.”

“Killed in the battle of Gettysburg, Jul. 1st 1863, Private Lemrie Wicker, Company G, 26th N.C.T. in the 34th year of his age.  He was a native of Chatham County, N.C., son of the late Benjamin Wicker.  He was among the first to volunteer after Lincoln’s proclamation.  Thus has fallen one of the South’s best soldiers—fighting enemies of his country and  home. In him his parents have lost an excellent son, his wife and children a true and loving husband and father, and North Carolina, one of her best sons.”

“Killed in hospital at Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863, Sgt. W. P.(Preston) Kirkman of Company G, 26th N.C.T., aged 23 years.  He was a native of Chatham County, N.C., son of Dr. George Kirkman.  He fell mortally wounded July 1st, and died the 3rd.  the writer of this had been a playmate of his in their boyhood days.  He was kind and affectionate to all his playmates, and especially to his fellow soldiers.  No one who knew him could say aught against him, for none could know him but to love him. If there ever was a man more blessed with the meekness and patience of that good of patriarch Job, it was Sgt. William P. Kirkman.  Never was he heard to murmur, no matter what his trials were.  On our march to Pennsylvania he was our Orderly; thus he was up nearly all night dividing the rations and attending to other duties of his office, and I have known him to walk over the camp carrying a  small piece of meat and bread that was left to see that each man had his share.  He leaves a kind father, mother, sisters and brothers to mourn his loss, but blessed be God, they need not mourn as those that have no hope.  W.A.L. [perhaps William A. Lineberry}”

November 23, ’63: “Died in Hospital No. 9, Richmond, the following N.C. soldiers: Private K. Williams, Company D, 26thRegiment, on November 13th.”

December 21, ’63: “Died in hospital at Chester, Pa., 29th July, of wounds received at Gettysburg 1st July. Allen Shields, ages 26, of the 26th Regiment.”

“Killed at Gettysburg on the first day, Auley M. McAuley, of Montgomery County, Company H, 26th Reg’t, in his 20th year.  He volunteered in Martin’s Company from Moore County of which he was sergeant.”

“Died in camp at Wilmington H.W. McAuley, of Montgomery County, brother of Auley of the 25th Reg’t.”

“I am much pained to announce the death of my brother, Neill T. Smith, who died of wounds received at Bristow Station on the 15th ult.  He was born in Moore County, July 25th, 1836.  He survived only one day after the battle.  He was a member of Company H, 26th Reg’t N.C.T..  he volunteered when first his country called, and has ever been found at his post.  He leaves an aged father, doting mother, loving wife (Jennet), fond sister, and one sweet little daughter to mourn their loss.  We were looking for him home when the news came that he was no more.  Oh! How happily we would have welcomed him to the home he left in ’61, to which he never again returned.  His name must be added to the catalogue of heroes who have lain down their lives for the country.  ‘Though nations may combat, and wars thunders rattle, he hears not, he fears not, he’s free from all pain.’  He has gone home to Jesus, where joy and peace forever reign, where sorrow never comes.”

January 25, ’64: “N.L. Page volunteered in Co. E, 26th N.C.T., the 2nd Company that left Chatham Co., and there remained until he got an honorable discharge from an affection of the lungs and died at home Aug., 4th, 1863, aged 23 years.”

February 15, ’64: “E.C. Page, Company E, 26th Regiment N.C.V. received a mortal wound in the battle of Gettysburg, Pa.  he was removed to Winchester, Va. Where he lived and bore his wound with much fortitude until the 29th of July, 1863, when he ceased to be a member of our band.  He volunteered in May, 1861, was a true and patriotic soldier, always at his post, and shared his part of danger in many terrific battles.  Our company has lost one of its brightest stars, and we deeply sympathize with the bereaved wife, child and kind father, who since the war has lost three sons and in the last few years has buried the seventh child.”

“Killed instantly at Gettysburg, Penn., July 1st, 1863, William A. Garrett and Henry B. Garrett, aged 18 of Company G. 26th Reg’t, N.C.T., and sons of Rev. Jacob and Anna Garrett, of Chatham County, N. C..  They both fill an honored soldier’s grave in the grove fronting Gettysburg.”

March 14, ’64: “With profound regret we announce the deaths of Sgt. J.N. Ellis, J.W. McDaniel, and W.J. Crutchfield, Company E, 26th N.C.T.  Serg’t Ellis escaped uninjured, and after the battle of Gettysburg he was detailed by the Dr. to wait on the wounded soldiers who fell into the yankees’ hands.  He was good and kind to them and his anme will ever be fresh in their memory.  He was taken to Point Lookout, Md. Where he died.  McDaniel and Crutchfield were taken at Gettysburg and died at Point Lookout, Md.  So have three of our brightest stars passed away.  They died in glorious cause.”

April 04, ’64: “Willis Philips died in the 29th year of his age, at his residence in Chatham County, March 1st, ’64.  His disease was chronic diarrhea, from which he suffered severely for several months before his death.  He left an aged mother, an affectionate wife, and three little sons to mourn his loss.  When this war was inaugurated, with the courage of the true Southern man, he left his home, with all its endearments, and gave his service to his country’s call.  He volunteered under Capt. Webster, at the commencement of the war, and was a member of Company F, 26th Reg’t. N.C.T.  he participated in the battle of Newbern, also in the seven days’ fight around Richmond.  He was ever ready to discharge every duty that devolved upon him as a soldier.  His company has lost one of its best members, and his country a true patriot.”

May 16, ’64: “Died in General Hospital Richmond, November 26th, G.W. Hood, in the 24th year of his age.  He was wounded at Bristow, was from Caldwell County, a member of Company F., 26th regiment.”

May 30, ’64: “The reported death of Lt. Col. John T. Jones, of the 26th Reg’t, N.C. T., (formerly Vance’s) has been confirmed.  He was well known to the writer as a young man of more than ordinary promise, and among the first of those choice spirits who left the University of North Carolina and entered the ranks as privates in a Company from Chapel Hill in April, 1861; was in the battle of bethel; after serving out the period for which they had volunteered, youn Jones immediately entered the army again, and has closed his brief but honorable career; by a sacrifice of his life for his country.  He was a young man of high moral character, was a candidate for confirmation in the Episcopal Church; yielded to the decree of God not only willingly, but,  as a by-stander remarked, cheerfully saying, ‘It’s all right.’”

August 8, ’64: “Died at Gordonsville, Va., on the 23rd April 1864, of pneumonia, William Henry Patterson of Company H., 26th N.C. Reg’t, in the 21st year of his age, and only son of J.D. and M.J. Patterson of Moore County.  A few days before he died he said to Chaplain Owen of a Mississippi regiment, ‘I am not afraid to die; I can trust Jesus for my salvation.’  He often quoted from the scriptures many of the sweet promices [sic] therein contained, during his short but painful illness and repeated verses of several hymns.”

August 15, ’64: “Killed in the battle at Gettysburg, Pa., July 1st, 1863, Marshal Brown, aged 25 years 8 months and I day.  He was a member of  Company G., 26th Reg’t N.C. Troops.  He was killed while nobly doing his duty on the battlefield.”

“Serg’t Nathaniel Foster, Company E, 26th N.C. Reg’t, died at Chimborazo Hospital Richmond, VA., on the 7th of June 1864, of typhoid fever.  Enlisting in May, 1861, he was ever since found at his post, none doing their duty more cheerfully then he.  He participated in some of the most severe battles of war, was wounded at Gettysburg, but as soon as able for the field was at his post again, ready to assist in driving the invader from our soil.  He passed through the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania unhurt, when he was seized with disease which terminated fatally. He has left a father, mother, brothers, and sisters and a large circle of friends and relations to mourn their loss.”

August 22, ’64: “Died on 22nd September 1863, from wounds received in the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., William Henry Clay Reaves, Company G., 26th N.C.T., in his 21st year.  He has left an affectionate father and mother, kind brothers, loving sisters, and numerous friends to mourn their irreparable loss.”

August 29, ’64: “Fell mortally wounded in the bloody battle of the Wilderness, Va., on the 5th of May 1864, Private W. P. Blue of Company H,  26th N.C. Troops, in the 23rd year of his age.  He was a native of Moore County; volunteered into the Confederate service on the 18th of  May 1862; and since that time has ever responded to the call of duty, until he received the fatal blow.  He had passed through many hard struggles, receiving a slight wound in the left hand on the bloody fields of Gettysburg, Pa.  He was an obedient son and most kind and affectionate brother.  He has made a sacrifice of his dear body upon the altar of liberty.”

November 28, ’64: “Died at General Hospital No. 4, Wilmington, on the 27th ult., of typhoid fever, Private Aaron Lockamy, of Company D., 26th Reg’t N.C. T.  A few short weeks ago he was in our midst in the full enjoyment of health; but alas, he has gone.  Never more shall we see his kind face upon earth nor listen to the soft secrets of his gently voice; but he is not forgotten. His modest, retiring manners and courteous deportment will be remembered long after his form shall have mingled with its mother earth.”





“Inspired by Noble Patriotism”


While conducting some of her usual diligent research SBS member and author Brenda McKean has come across the names and incidences of the deaths by wounds or illness of miscellaneous members of the 26th North Carolina Troops. These death notices are from the pages of the “Fayetteville Observer “ and are listed chronologically . Brenda has generously transcribed and shared this information in the hope it may shed light on some of your ancestors in the gallant 26th NCT. Because of the length of these notices they will be published in two separate blog posts. These entries make sad reading and serve to personalize the true extent of North Carolina’s terrible sacrifice during the war. Brenda is author of the two volume collection Blood and War at My Doorstep: North Carolina Civilians in the War Between the States. http://bloodandwaratmydoorstep.com/ Thank you, buy viagra doctor Brenda.

“List of wounded/died from the Fayetteville Observer”

July 21, 1862: “Died in the hospital at Richmond, unhealthy on the 9th, inst., after a brief illness of fever, William A. McLauchlin, son of Duncan McLauchlin of this county, aged about 20, of co. K, 26th N.C. Volunteers. This is the second son of Mr. McLauchlin , who has perished by fever in the army, whilst another, Capt. J.C. McLauchlin, to whose company they belonged, had a narrow escape in the late battle at Richmond, being slightly wounded in the head by a fragment of a shell.”

July 28, 1862: “Green D. Cox, died at Kinston on the 30th of May, ’62, after having served his country faithfully as a soldier, nearly twelve months in Capt. Martin’s Co. 26th Reg’t North Carolina Volunteers.”

“Drury’s Bluff, July 12, ’62 Mr. Duncan Kelly, a member of Co. H, 26th Regiment N.C. Troops, died in the N.C. Hospital at Petersburg, 20th June, ’62 in the 21 year of his age. He left College, gave up home and all its scared endearments, to participate in the great contest for liberty and independence. He acted the part of a brave man during the battle of Newbern. He came to Virginia to aid in driving back the invading foe, but fell a victim to disease and died in a few days after he left his native State. He will no longer be aroused by the sound of the drum, but he will live long in the hearts of his fellow comrades, and all who knew him.”

August 4th, ’62: “Died at Drury’s Bluff, S.W.C. Siler of Chatham County, of Co. G, 26th Reg’t.” Sept.15, ’62: “Died in the hospital at Petersburg, August 22nd, Aaron C. Downs, Co. I, 26th N.C.T.”

Sept. 22, ’62: “Died in Petersburg, August 9th, Martin A. McKinnon, of the ‘Moore County Independents,’ Company H, 26th Reg’t., aged about 25. He was unhurt in the battles of Newbern and Richmond, and died of typhoid fever.”

November 10, ’62: “Died at Petersburg 2nd October, of typhoid fever, Sergeant Daniel G. Beckwith, of Wake County, in the 22nd year of his age, of Company D., 26th regiment.”

November 24, ’62: “James M. Dorsett departed this life at the Hospital in Petersburg, Va., on the 8th inst., in the 21st year of his age. He was a member of Co. E., 26th Reg’t. N.C.T.. He left a father, mother, and sisters some eight months since, to enlist in his country’s service; but alas! He has been called hence to meet God.”

December 15, ’62: “Died of typhoid fever at the residence of Mrs. Griffins, in Petersburg, Va., on the 28th October, after an illness of 2 months and 22 days, Capt. T.L. Ferguson, of Co. C., 26th Reg’t. N.C. Troops. He had for a long time previous to his death, been a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and his godly walk and conversation proved to all who knew him that his treasure was not of this earth, but he sought ‘a city not built with hands eternal in the Heavens.’”

January 19, ’63: “Died at the 1st N.C. Hospital, Petersburg, 10th inst. Isaac N. Johnson, of Chatham County, and a private in Company E., 26th Regiment N.C. Troops. The deceased had just attained his 18th year, and without waiting to be enrolled he went at once to camp to join with his friends and associates in beating back the invaders of our soil. After a very fatiguing march in Eastern N.C., he was taken with measles. The exposure to which he was subjected brought on typhoid fever, which proved fatal.”

April 27, ’63: “Died in Petersburg, of measles, William T. Triplett, of the 26th regiment.” [note: there are two WT Tripletts; the other listed as dying in Weldon in the 37th Reg’t.]

July 27, ’63: “Killed in the battle of Gettysburg, Hamand H. Wilcox, a private in Co. H., 26th Reg’t. thus has fallen another one of our brave and noble comrades while fighting gallantly for the freedom and rights of his country. Scarcely 17 years had passed over his youthful head when he, being inspired by noble patriotism, seized his musket and went forth to share the fate of his fellow soldiers. Although he sleeps upon the far distant plains of Gettysburg, far away from his home and friends, he is not forgotten, but will ever live fresh and bright in our memory. In his death we all feel that we have not only lost a true son of Carolina but also a true friend, for he was loved and esteemed by all who knew him.”

August 31, ’63: “Died the 2nd of July, from a wound received the 1st of July, in the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., A.F. Muse, of Moore County, a private in Company H, 26th Reg’t N.C.T., son of Jesse Muse, Esq., aged 21 years 6 months and 4 days. He was a moral character; he was a dutiful son and a kind brother. He embraced religion in the 17th year of his age and was baptized in the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Bethlehem; he was of uncommon zeal to the cause of Christ; he spent his whole time while out of school, warning sinners to repent and flee the wrath to come. He was a student in the Academy at Jackson Springs. He was in feeble health, but notwithstanding, he returned home and laid aside his books and volunteered April, 1862, in defense of his country. He fought through the battles around Richmond and in Eastern N.C.; he endured many fatiguing marches; he would often be seen after a battle on his knees prating for the wounded, and pointing them to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world; he would always remark in his letters to his parents that if he fell in the midst of the enemy not to grieve for him for he put his hope and trust in God; when He sees fit to call I am ready to go, yes, I am ready. In the first day of the charge at Gettysburg, Pa., he received his death wound on the second day in the evening. He called a friend to sit down by him; he said, ‘I am going to die, and I want you to promise to write my father, and tell him I was wounded, mortally, in the battle of Gettysburg, while fighting for the independence of my home and country, and I died near the battlefield; tell him I am not afraid to die, for all is well with me…’” [note: there is a 4 stanza poem printed with this obit by his sister M.J. Muse]

Sept. 21, ’63: “William M. Person, a member of Company H, 26th Reg’t N.C.T., was wounded the first day of July at Gettysburg and died at Winchester, Va., the 3rd of August…He did his duty like a true man and patriot. Long and nobly did he battle for his country on the bloody field of Gettysburg. After the hottest of the fighting was over, he turned round to me with the blood streaming from his breast and said, ‘I am killed, tell my wife and children good bye for me.’ I saw him the next day and had hopes that he would recover, but the fatal bullet had done its work too well.” [note: the author of that sentence was not mentioned in the newspaper.]

“John B Martin, a member of Company H, 26th Reg’t N.C.T. , died at Winchester, Va., the 1st day of August of wounds received at Gettysburg. He was an honor to his Company and Regiment, an honor to his country, a model soldier and a most worthy man.” [later note says he was 30 yrs. old]

“James A.N. McLeod, a member of Company H, 26th Reg’t N.C.T., died near Gettysburg, the 3rd day of July, of wounds received on the 1st. to those who knew him well nothing need be said. Father, mother, sister, friend, yours was a great sacrifice upon the altar of your country. The brave, gentle, and unassuming soldier is gone, but you know where you may meet the true Christian again. I loved him almost as my own gentle youthful brother , who fell and sleeps near him. The thunder of 300 cannon was their lullaby. They sleep in a strange land, but they will sleep sweetly there as if in their own land and church yard. A Friend.”

“Lieut. John R. Emerson of Chatham Co., N.C. member of Company E, 26th Reg’t, received a wound that proved to be mortal, at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa., on the 3rd day of July.”

To be continued . . .


The 21st North Carolina Infantry at First Winchester


The 21st North Carolina Infantry was organized at Danville, VA in June of 1861. Its twelve companies were composed primarily of recruits from Davidson,  Forsyth, Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes, and Surry Counties. Commanded by Col. W. W. Kirkland, the unit left Danville on July 15th to join General Joseph Johnston’s army around Manassas Junction. They were positioned along Bull Run Creek but were not actively engaged in the subsequent Confederate victory there.

Kirkland’s Tar Heels remained in Northern Virginia throughout the balance of 1861 and in October were assigned to General Isaac Trimble’s brigade, which also included the 21st Georgia. The winter was spent doing routine camp chores and “arduous picket duty.” It was a relief to the regiment when orders were received in early March of 1862 to break camp and join the command of “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley.

Jackson wasted no time in committing his force against an invading Federal army under the command of General Nathaniel P. Banks. Stationed near Strasburg, VA, Banks was fearful of the legendary Southern general. On May 23 the Union commander decided to retreat northward towards Winchester. Ever audacious, Jackson determined to cut off Bank’s withdrawal before the protective defenses of Winchester might be reached.

As part of General “Dick” Ewell’s division, Trimble’s brigade and the 21st North Carolina marched relentlessly in pursuit. Bank’s immense supply train was overtaken near Middletown by portions of Jackson’s force on May 24th. However, delay occasioned by the plundering of this rich prize enabled most of Banks’ army to reach Winchester safely. Jackson was furious but urged his infantry onward. The Confederates gamely marched all night and around 4 a.m., lay down in the cold dew to rest.

Battle-of-First-Winchester-ed_jpgDawn of May 25th found Banks’ forces defensively positioned on a range of protective hills just south of the town. Jackson launched assaults on both Federal flanks and immediately encountered fierce resistance. On the Confederate right, near the Front Royal road, Trimble ordered his “two Twenty Firsts” to charge a strongly positioned Union regiment. A member of the 21st North Carolina described the ensuing charge: “With a wild cheer the regiment moved swiftly towards the enemy’s line behind stone walls, and was met by a most terrific fire of infantry and grape shot. The regiment moved right on to the stone wall, from which the enemywere pouring forth a perfect storm of canister and minie balls from right and left–cross-firing upon us.” Despite initially wavering in the intense fire, the Carolinians regrouped and joined their brothers in the 21st Georgia in driving the Federals from the field.

Across the battlefield, Confederate forces were equally successful. The surrounding hills resounded with the Rebel Yell as retreating bluecoats fled through Winchester in what became a general stampede. They would not halt until safely crossing the Potomac, more than 30 miles distant. Despite Jackson’s most strenuous efforts, the exhausted and equally disorganized victors could only mount a half-hearted pursuit. The citizens of Winchester were overjoyed at the Union withdrawal and wildly greeted Jackson’s troops as “liberators.” For the time being at least, the Shenandoah Valley was safe.

The carnage on the field at Winchester was shocking despite the battle’s short duration.. “The sight which there presented itself can never be forgotten,” recalled a participant. “Around stood several pieces of artillery deserted by the enemy. Many Federals and Confederates lay dead, wounded and dying around me. Colonel Kirkland, while waving his sword and cheering on his men, was shot through the thigh but did not leave . . . Never were men more mangled or pierced with so many balls.” Indeed, its baptismal engagement cost the 21st North Carolina Regiment roughly 21 killed and 60 wounded.

For these gallant volunteers from the Piedmont, First Winchester was just the beginning of a long and bloody war.

By Bob Williams


The Edenton (N.C.) Bell Battery

In her 2/26/13 blog entitled “Soldiers’ Aid Societies” Brenda McKean mentioned the famous Edenton Bell battery, whose cannon tubes were cast from bells donated by the local community. Readers may be interested to know that two of these surviving guns, named Saint Paul and Edenton, pharm now grace the waterfront of the historic and picturesque eastern North Carolina colonial town. They are readily accessible to visitors. Below are two fairly recent photographs that show both the guns and a supporting historical marker giving a concise history of the Edenton Bell Battery. Kindly left click on photos for enlarged versions and to enhance readability of  marker.



 by Bob Williams


“Red Infantry”

A number of key Southern cities, including Wilmington, Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, and Richmond, were guarded throughout the war by regular garrisons stationed in earthen or permanent masonry fortifications. These works bristled with guns of heavy caliber, and were manned by units specifically raised and designated as Heavy Artillery. Such service was attractive to many soldiers, since it avoided the onerous rigors of active campaigning.hat_front Their duties were primarily “parade ground” in nature, although the “heavies” were often called on to fulfill provost responsibilities or act as prison guards. These units were generally well drilled both as artillery and infantry. Being close to bases of supply, they were also usually well uniformed, and their distinctive red trimmed gray jackets or red kepis set them apart from front line troops. They were frequently chided as “bandbox soldiers” by front line troops.

Yet, in 1865 many of these heavy artillerymen had the opportunity to prove their metal in combat, fighting alongside their veteran infantry brethren. When Richmond fell that April the heavy artillery garrison units were formed into a combined command under Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield. This unit was well known for its excellent military bearing and proficiency of drill. Armed in most cases with obsolete .69 caliber smoothbore muskets, these “Red Infantrymen” joined in the retreat from the burning Confederate capital. At Sayler’s Creek on April 6th, they fought valiantly until overwhelmed, losing heavily. Particularly distinguished were the 10th and 19th Virginia Heavy Artillery Battalions and the elite Savannah Volunteer Guards unit of the 18th Georgia Heavy Artillery Battalion. Crutchfield himself was killed, but the garrison troops courageous stand earned the respect of friend and foe alike.

In the Carolina’s Campaign, a goodly portion of the retreating Confederate forces were heavy artillery units from various seacoast garrisons in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Also armed and equipped as infantry, these artillerymen saw considerable action in a number of heated engagements. At Averasboro, North Carolina in March, 1865 such units as the 1st and 2nd South Carolina Heavy Artillery, the Gist Guard Artillery, and Bonaud’s 28th Georgia Battalion bore a key role in both days of fighting. Bonaud’s battalion had earlier distinguished itself in the bitter Battle of Olustee, Florida in February 1864.

victoryAt Bentonville in March 1865 a number of North Carolina Heavy Artillery units from the Wilmington shore defense garrison fought manfully. Particularly conspicuous, not just for their bright uniforms, was a command of mixed artillery and infantry under Lt. Colonel John D. Taylor. Included were elements of the 1st NC Heavy Artillery, the 36th NC, Adam’s NC battery, and portions of the 40th NC Infantry. The impetuosity of Taylor’s hodge-podge force in a frontal assault against earthworks manned by Sherman’s seasoned troops nearly led them to disaster. Almost 60% of the erstwhile garrison soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured by battle’s end. Lt. Col. Taylor was among the seriously injured.

All in all, the brief fighting history of the Confederacy’s “Red Infantrymen” provides a unique but little known chapter of the war’s dying days.

 by Bob Williams