North Carolina Voices

Confederate Soldiers

1861

"The body of the Carolinian whom Major [George W.] Randolph saw lying thirty yards in front of the recovered battery was that of private [Henry Lawson] Wyatt, of Captain [John L.] Bridgers' Company A (Edgecombe Guards) . . . . When Bridgers recaptured the battery he found in his front the house . . . used as a shelter for the enemy's sharp-shooters . . . . Captain Bridgers called for five volunteers to burn it. Corporal George Williams and privates Henry L. Wyatt, Thomas Fallon, John H. Thorpe and R. H. Bradley responded. At once they leaped the works and went on their dangerous mission. 'They behaved with great gallantry,' says Colonel [D. H.] Hill in his report. On the way Wyatt was killed [mortally wounded], and the others were recalled. Of Wyatt, Colonel [John B.] Magruder's report says . . . 'he fell midway, pierced in the forehead by a musket ball' . . . . In the Virginia volume of 'Confederate Military History,' Major Jed Hotchkiss, its author, says: 'It is generally admitted that young Wyatt was the first Confederate soldier killed in action in Virginia during the civil war' . . . . He was twenty years of age."
  Maj. Edward J. Hale, 1st North Carolina Regiment, Magruder's (Hampton) Division, describing the Battle of Big Bethel, Virginia, Blockade of Chesapeake Bay, June 10, 1861 the first land battle of the war in Virginia. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 87 total).

"Colonel [D. H.] Hill, passing from our right through the company, said: 'Captain Bridgers, can't you have that house burned?' . . . . Matches and a hatchet were provided at once, and a minute later the little party scrambled over the breastworks . . . . A volley was fired at us as if by a company, not from the house, but from the road to our left. As we were well drilled in skirmishing, all of us instantly dropped to the ground, Wyatt mortally wounded. He never uttered a word or a groan, but lay limp on his back, his arms extended, one knee up and a clot of blood on his forehead as large as a man's fist . . . . To look at Wyatt one would take him to be tenacious of life; low, but robust in build, guileless, open, frank, aggressive."
  Pvt. John H. Thorpe, 1st North Carolina Regiment, Magruder's (Hampton) Division, describing the death of Pvt. Henry Lawson Wyatt at Big Bethel, Virginia, June 10, 1861. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 87 total)

"The regiment reached Manassas [Virginia] on July 19th, 1861 . . . and participated in the battle of the 21st, its position being on the extreme right; it was not engaged in the most serious conflict of that day, although being exposed to the enemy's fire, it lost several men. It was in the advance upon the retreat of the Federal army, which it assisted in driving into Washington [City, D.C.]"
  Maj. James C. McRae, and Sgt.-Maj. C. M. Busbee, 5th North Carolina Regiment, Lonstreet's Brigade, Army of the Potomac (Confederate), describing the Battle of First Bull Run (First Manassas), Virginia, Manassas Campaign, July 21, 1861. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 4,700 total).

1862

"A fearful storm of shot, shell, grape and canister tore through the trees, plowing up the ground on every side and cutting down the branches and saplings around us. Soon the order was passed along the line to move forward . . . . Our line moved on to within fifty or sixty yards of the enemy's works. The men were falling rapidly. We halted near a zigzag fence . . . . The enemy's fire continued with unabated fury, and it was evident that the regiment could not remain there without being utterly destroyed . . . . Major [Bryan] Grimes was near, sitting calmly on his iron-gray horse, with one leg thrown over the saddle bow, as afterwards so often seen on the battlefield. I seized his leg to attract his attention . . . . 'Major,' I shouted, 'we can't stand this. Let us charge the works.' 'All right,' said the Major. "Charge them! Charge them! . . . . On we rushed with such impetuosity and determination that the enemy abandoned everything and retired . . . . [I] was wounded at this point within a few rods of the breastworks . . . . Every officer [of the 4th] except Major Grimes was killed, wounded, or disabled . . . . Major Grimes had a horse killed under him in the charge. His foot was caught under the horse . . . . While on the ground and unable to rise, he waved his sword and shouted: 'Go on, boys! Go on!'"
  Col. E. A. Osborne, 4th North Carolina Regiment, Anderson's Brigade, Hill's Division, Jackson's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Virginia, Peninsula Campaign, May 31-June 1, 1862. Gen. Robert E. Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was wounded during this battle. (Battle Result: Inconclusive Estimated Casualties: 13,736 total).

"It was the most formidable position the enemy had yet held. It was only about a mile long, and behind this short front, in many lines and columns, nearly the whole of [Gen. George B.] McClellan's army was posted . . . . It is difficult to give any intelligible account of this battle, for it was an accident and had no plan. There was entire ignorance of the topography on the part of the Confederate generals, and there was absolutely no concert of action, and consequently no two divisions fought at the same time, and the successive and disjointed assaults of the Confederates resulted in their great and useless slaughter."
  Lt. Walter A. Montgomery, Company F, 12th North Carolina Regiment, Garland's Brigade, Hill's Division, Jackson's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, Seven Days Battles, Peninsula Campaign, July 1, 1862. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 8,500 total).

"We were placed on the left near Sudley Ford, behind the unfinished Alexandria and Manassas Gap Railroad and . . . had ample action in different places without any protection. [Brig. Gen. Lawrence O'Bryan] Branch's brigade fought that day in sections, and like foot-cavalry, was at all parts of the line. The [18th] was sent across the railroad to check a flank movement, then to the assistance of [Brig. Gen. Maxcy] Gregg's brigade, that occupied the key to ['Stonewall'] Jackson's position, where desperate fighting had to be done to hold it against the hosts that were hurled upon it, in a vain effort to turn Jackson's left . . . . The attacks of the enemy were repulsed, and in the afternoon [of the 30th] an advance along the line drove them back on Bull Run. The Confederates were victors on almost the identical ground from which the Federals were driven pell-mell in 1861."
  William H. McLaurin, Adjutant, 18th North Carolina Regiment, Branch's Brigade, Hill's Light Division, Jackson's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Second Bull Run (Second Manassas), Northern Virginia Campaign, August 28-30, 1862. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 22,180 total).

"The part the Second Regiment took is this battle is told best in few words on medallions of metal near the crest of the hill at the end of 'Bloody Lane' . . . . [In 1897] a party of veterans of the United States army were looking over the field, when one said: 'I was standing near this spot when [Brig. Gen. Thomas F.] Meagher's Brigade [the Irish Brigade] charged over that hill. There was never anything finer. The troops that could stand against that brigade were good ones. Let us go and see.' They went over to the 'Bloody Lane,' and along it until they came to the inscription: 'Here Meagher's New York Brigade charged, and, after a bloody and desperate encounter at thirty paces, were obliged to retire,' etc. Within a few feet stood the opposing inscription: 'Here Anderson's North Carolina Brigade stood and checked the advance of the enemy, driving him back with great slaughter' . . . . During the battle in this bloody lane Colonel Charles Courtenay Tew was killed, his body falling into the hands of the enemy . . . . He was shot through the head and placed in the sunken road . . . Here he was found, apparently unconscious, the blood streaming from a wound in the head, with his sword held in both hands across his knees. A Federal soldier attempted to take the sword from him, but he drew it toward his body with his last remaining strength, and then his grasp relaxed and he fell forward, dead."
  Capt. Matt. Manly, Company D, 2nd North Carolina Regiment, Anderson's Brigade, Hill's Division, Jackson's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland Campaign, September 17, 1862. (Battle Result: Inconclusive, Union Strategic Victory Estimated Casualties: 23,100 total).

"[Col. John A.] Wharton charged the enemy's extreme left with great fury, passing over stone walls and ravines and driving back the enemy's infantry several hundred yards. This movement placed in our possession a skirt of woods and an eminence of great importance to our success on our right. It was quickly followed by the brigades of General [Benjamin F.] Cheatham, under Brigadier-Generals [Daniel S.] Donelson, [Alexander P.] Stewart, and [George] Maney. These mounted the steep and difficult cliffs of Chaplin River in gallant style and moved forward upon the enemy's position with a most determined courage. Their approach was met by a storm of shot, shell, and musketry from several batteries strongly posted and supported by heavy masses of infantry. Their progress was nevertheless steadily onward, and although mowed down by well-directed volleys of musketry and well-served artillery the gaps thus produced in our lines were promptly filled and our troops pressed forward with resistless energy, driving the enemy before them and capturing three of his batteries . . . . This charge of these brigades was one of the most heroic and brilliant movements of the war."
  Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk, native North Carolinian, commanding Army of the Mississippi, Department No. 2 (Gen. Braxton Bragg), reporting on the Battle of Perryville (Chaplin Hills), Kentucky, Heartland Offensive, October 8, 1862. (Battle Result: Union Strategic Victory Estimated Casualties: 7,407 total).

"[T]he regiment remained two or three miles from Fredericksburg, when it took position at the foot of the heights fronting the little city, and immediately behind the stone wall on Marye's Heights. Here it waited the attack of [Gen. Ambrose E.] Burnside, and bore a full share in that historic slaughter. In comparative security, protected by the wall about breast high, all day long it shot down the brave men who charged again and again across the level plain in front, vainly yet most gallantly striving to accomplish an impossibility . . . . Among [our] wounded was Colonel W. L. Saunders, shot by a minie ball through the mouth. It was related by those near the Colonel, that during a lull in the firing, he was enjoying a hearty laugh at some remark when the minie entered the wide open mouth, making its exit through the cheek. It was said to have been the most abruptly ended laugh heard during the war."
  Lt. J. M. Waddill, Company B, 46th North Carolina Regiment, Cooke's Brigade, Ransom's Division, Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fredericksburg Campaign, December 11-15, 1862. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 17,929 total).

"The fire was . . . opened by the Twenty-ninth and by the next until the firing extended four miles to our right, and the hiss of the minies was incessant, while presently boom, boom rang the big guns on our right. Ere long we sighted a section of artillery, and the regiment charged. The guns were shotted, but the gunners did not have time to fire, and the officer in charge broke to run. Captain Jno. A. Teague, however, soon overhauled him, put his hand on his shoulder and stopped him. The Federal Captain said, 'You've got me.' 'Yes,' replied Teague, 'but you gave us a mannerly race' . . . . Then, without any skirmish line, General [James E. Rains] started us down through the open woods. He had just said 'I will bet my black horse on the Twenty-ninth,' when a line of blue coats arose almost in our faces and fired, when alas, the gallant and impetuous soldier, General Raines [sic], was killed, the ball cutting the gauntlet of his right hand and passing into his heroic breast. The black horse galloped forward into the ranks of fire and I saw him no more . . . . The regiment charged, and the Federals fell back through a dense cedar thicket . . . [We] were confronted by three lines of battle with Napoleon guns between the regiments. The fire was terrific, the tree tops falling all around. [My] horse was killed in this fire, the shell going into his body near the left stirrup leather. Sixty of the [29th] were killed and wounded in a few minutes."
  Col. Robert B. Vance, 29th North Carolina Regiment, Rains's Brigade, McCown's Division, Hardee's Corps, Army of Tennessee, describing the Battle of Stone's River (Murfreesboro), Tennessee, Heartland Offensive, December 30, 1862 - January 2, 1863. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 23,515 total).

1863

"On the 2nd of May, Saturday morning, was commenced that grand strategic movement which has since been the wonder and admiration of the world . . . . Jackson's Corps had been detached from the main body of the army to make this attack . . . . Rushing on toward the enemy's camp, the first scene that can be recalled is the abundant supply of beef and slaughtered rations cooking. The Federal General [Alexander] Schimmelfennig's Brigade suffered heavily as prisoners. The whole affair was a wild scene of triumph on our part. Thus we continued the pursuit until night, when the enemy made a stand within a mile of the Chancellor house. Here great confusion ensued . . . . [On May 3rd] The enemy's earth-works in front were carried by storm, and many pieces of artillery . . . were captured. We were now in full view of the Chancellor house, and the captured guns were turned on the fleeing enemy. Soon the Chancellor house was in flames, and a glorious victory perched upon our banners."
  Capt. John Cowan, Company D, and Capt. James I. Metts, Company G, 3rd North Carolina Regiment, Colston's Brigade, Trimble's Division, Jackson's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, Chancellorsville Campaign, April 30-May 6, 1863. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 24,000 total).

"We had to climb over these [Confederates] now lying down behind [the trench] for protection, and over the breast-works and again form in line of battle . . . [and] were entirely disgusted at their cowardly conduct. I put my foot on the back and head of an officer of high rank, in mounting the work, and, through very spite, ground his face in the earth."
  Col. Bryan Grimes, 4th North Carolina Regiment, Ramseur's Brigade, Hill's Division, Jackson's Corps, describing an incident in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, Chancellorsville Campaign, April 30-May 6, 1863. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 24,000 total).

"The Twenty-Sixth was the extreme left regiment of Pettigrew's Brigade. It directly faced McPherson's woods . . . On this hill the enemy placed what we were afterwards informed was their famous 'Iron Brigade.' They wore tall, bell-crowned black hats, which made them conspicuous in the line . . . . The roar of artillery, the crack of musketry and the shouts of the combatants, added grandeur and solemnity to the scene . . . At the command 'Forward, march!' all to a man stepped off . . . The enemy at once opened fire, killing and wounding some . . . . our loss was frightful; but our men crossed [Willoughby Run] in good order . . . and up the hill we went, firing now with better execution. The engagement was becoming desperate. It seemed that the bullets were as thick as hail stones in a storm . . . . the colors have been cut down ten times, the color guard all killed or wounded . . . Colonel Burgywn is hit . . . . Volleys of musketry are fast thinning out those left and only a skeleton line now remains . . . the battle smoke has settled down over the combatants making it almost as dark as night . . . With a cheer the men . . . rush on and upward to the summit of the hill . . . . a ball . . . strikes [Colonel Lane] in the back of the neck just below the brain, which crashes through his jaw and mouth, and for the fourteenth and last time the colors are down."
  George C. Underwood, Assistant Surgeon, 26th North Carolina Regiment, Pettigrew's Brigade, Heth's Division, Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Gettysburg Campaign, July 1-3, 1863. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 51,000 total).

"I received information, through a citizen living 25 miles below the city, that there were three gunboats coming up the [Mississippi] river, and immediately gave orders for the command to be in readiness for action . . . . By a little after dark [July 12] the gunners were at their guns and the infantry in the redoubts and rifle-pits . . . . [On the 13th, a scout] reported four gunboats [the Baron De Kalb, New National, Kenwood, and Signal] and six [troop] transports passing Liverpool up the river . . . . About 12 m. [14th] another picket came in and reported the enemy landing 3 miles below the city . . . . About 3 p.m. one gunboat appeared in sight of our battery of heavy guns, which promptly opened fire on her from a distance of 1 ½ miles. She halted, replied, and a brisk cannonade ensued . . . [T]he Saint Mary, a small packet-boat [of ours was] captured . . . . [Our] boats which were wooded [the E. J. Gay, Hennet, Arcadia, and Mary Keane] moved up the river, and those not wooded [the Magenta, Prince of Wales, Magnolia, Peutonia, and J. F. Fargo] were burned . . . . One hundred beef-cattle near Benton I ordered out by way of Lexington. About 5 p.m. I determined to evacuate the place, finding I was entirely overpowered and almost surrounded."
  Lt. Col. William B. Creasman, 29th North Carolina Regiment, commanding defensive works at Yazoo City, reporting to Col. B. S. Ewell, Assistant Adjutant General, Department of the West (Gen. Joseph E. Johnston), Mississippi, Expedition from Vicksburg to Yazoo City, July 12-21, 1863 (Jackson Campaign, July 5-25, 1863). During the engagement at Yazoo City, the 13-gun ironclad warship Baron De Kalb flagship of the Union expedition was sunk by a torpedo placed in the river by Capt. Isaac N. Brown, C.S. Navy. (Engagement Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 300 Confederate prisoners).

"My line extended from near the sally-port on the right. My left rested near the bomb-proof immediately in front of the commisary building . . . . This line was unbroken during the entire fight, and was successfully defended from three separate assaults made on it by the enemy, and their wounded and dead are the surest evidence of the precision with which we fired. The first assault [led by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (colored)] was made about 8 p.m. . . . The enemy was three times repulsed from the front of my line, but in the meantime had effected a lodgment on our works near the burst rifled gun, 40 yards to my left. I then directed my fire to rake the ditch and the outer portion of the work at that point, and am convince that our fire must have been very destructive . . . The action continued until 11.30 p.m., when the firing ceased. Considering the extent of my line (more than half of the front attacked by the enemy), I am of the opinion that my officers and men acted well, and my heavy loss is an evidence of the readiness with which the men exposed themselves."
  Col. Hector McKethan, 51st North Carolina Regiment, reporting on the defense of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, Charleston harbor, South Carolina, July 18-September 7, 1863. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 1,689 total).

"On reaching Chickamauga (the Indian name "Chickamauga" means river of death) the two armies were found in battle array . . . . The ominous clouds of war hung like a pall over the army; the atmosphere was full of it; the warrior, as well as the war horse, could 'smell it from afar' . . . . The Federal line of battle was an unheard of shape, running east and west through Kelley's field, then bending round to due north and extending probably 500 yards, bending around again in a westward direction, some distance parallel to the line through Kelley's field, but stopping short before reaching Lafayette pike, or touching the line west of said pike, thus leaving an opening or gap in their line . . . . By forcing their way into this gap the gallant men of the Sixtieth enabled the State and United States commissioners, in reviewing the battlefield in order to locate the exact position of the various commands, to say: 'This point [marked by a tablet] reached by the Sixtieth North Carolina Regiment of Infantry, at noon, on 20 September, 1863, was the farthest obtained by any Confederate troops in this famous charge' . . . . Of the color guard, every man save one, George Lindsey, was killed or wounded. The bearer of the flag, Sergeant Baily, though mortally wounded, called Sergeant Lindsey to him, told him he was shot, showed him the wound and said: 'I turn over to your keeping the colors' . . . . Here again is another instance of great victory, at an expense of almost a deluge of the best blood of the country and apparently nothing achieved."
  Lt. Col. James M. Ray, 60th North Carolina Regiment, Stovall's Brigade, Breckinridge's Division, Hill's Corps, Army of Tennessee, describing the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, Chickamauga Campaign, September 19-20, 1863. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 34,624 total).

"A panic which I had never before witnessed seemed to have seized upon officers and men, and each seemed to be struggling for his personal safety, regardless of his duty or his character . . . . No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops on the left in allowing their line to be penetrated . . . . Those [Federals] who reached the ridge did so in a condition of exhaustion from the great physical exertion of climbing, which rendered them powerless, and the slightest effort would have destroyed them. Having secured much of our artillery, they soon availed themselves of our panic, and, turning our guns upon us, enfiladed the lines, both right and left, rendering them entirely untenable . . . . My first estimate of our disaster was not too large, and time only can restore order and morale . . . . I deem it due to the cause and to myself to ask for relief from command and an investigation into the causes of the defeat."
  Gen. Braxton Bragg, North Carolinian, commanding Army of Tennessee, reporting on the Battle of Chattanooga (Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge), Tennessee, Chattanooga-Ringold Campaign, November 23-25, 1863. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 12,485 total).

1864

"I met Tom Hayden with a canteen, and . . . asked him for a drink. Handing his canteen he said, 'Here is some pond water,' and without thought I took a big swallow before I found it was the meanest whiskey I ever tasted, and of course I was worse off than before I took it. In a few minutes we heard [Lt. Gen. James] Longstreet's men open fire and in a very short time we heard the old rebel yell . . . then the yell became general all along the line, and I don't think I ever listened to a sweeter sound. It would start on the left and like a wave roll down the line and back again, and our line took up the refrain, and . . . they began to jump and yell and cut up shines, as much to say, 'Ar[e]n't we horses' . . . . The battle pretty much raged all day in our front, and it is claimed by some that but for the wounding of General Longstreet [Gen. Ulysses S.] Grant's army would have been driven across the Rapidan [River]."
  Lt. George H. Mills, Company G, 16th North Carolina Regiment, Scales's Brigade, Wilcox's Division, Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, Overland Campaign, May 5-7, 1864. (Battle Result: Inconclusive Estimated Casualties: 29,800 total).

"[A]s the Thirty-seventh emerged from the oak woods through which we had advanced, a battery planted in an open field not more than one hundred yards off, opened upon us with grape and canister . . . . Lieutenant Charles T. Haigh, of Company B, rushed twenty odd yards in front, with hat in one hand and sword in the other, shouting to his men to come on. Other officers, inspired by his noble example, rushed forward with him and led the regiment to the battery, not a gun [of ours] being fired until we reached it, when halting, it poured in one volley, killing every man at the battery . . . . Wheeling to the left from the battery and fighting with desperation, poor Charley Haigh fell dead . . . . Wheeling still farther to our left we strike [Gen. Ambrose E.] Burnside's troops, who had charged our works and been defeated. Then and there in those oak woods a scene with clubbed musket and bayonet took place which was too horrible to describe. Every one was trying to fight his way back to our works. Our brigade captured three stands of colors, two of them by the Thirty-seventh."
  Lt. Octavius A. Wiggins, Company E, 37th North Carolina Regiment, Lane's Brigade, Wilcox's Division, Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, Overland Campaign, May 8-21, 1864. (Battle Result: Inconclusive Estimated Casualties: 30,000 total).

"On 7 May, [Gen William T.] Sherman again appeared before Dalton [Georgia], and after several ineffectual assaults on [Gen. Joseph E.] Johnston's line moved by his right flank, and threatened Resaca, to which place the Army of Tennessee was withdrawn. On the 14th and 15th, in the general engagements at Resaca, the regiment bore its full part and sustained serious loss in killed and wounded. [I] being here wounded, and disabled for service until the latter pat of the summer, cannot give details of the [remainder of the] Atlanta campaign, in all the battles of which the Regiment . . . participated. The loss in the numerous battles was considerable."
  Maj. G. W. F. Harper, 58th North Carolina Regiment, Reynolds's Brigade, Stevenson's Division, Hood's Corps, Army of Tennessee, describing the Battle of Resaca, Georgia, Atlanta Campaign, May-September, 1864. (Battle Result: Inconclusive Estimated Casualties: 5,547 total).

"Here we were charged by line after line of the enemy, each line coming within a few yards of us, but our fire was so murderous they could not live under it; but notwithstanding we killed thousands of them, fresh lines were thrown at us until finally a lodgment was secured in a branch supposed to be impassable, and we were flanked and compelled to retire. Having driven the enemy from our front, the order to retire was not understood by part of our men and they were cut off, but not willing to give up, they . . . continued the fight until entirely surrounded, not only with live, but also dead yankees. Our losses during the two days were 194 (11 officers and 183 men)."
  2nd Lt. A. A. McKethan, Company B, 51st North Carolina Regiment, Clingman's Brigade, Hoke's Division, Unassigned, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, Overland Campaign, May 31-June 12, 1864. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 15,500 total).

"The line of this command ran along the summit and down the eastern slope of the mountain two miles, and extended a mile farther to the right on a ridge running due east . . . . Three corps [of Union troops] moved rapidly toward my position . . . exposed to a heavy and destructive fire from all our artillery posted on the mountain. They soon came within range of our musketry . . . . The attack upon the two slopes of the mountain was made with great vigor and was met with determined and deadly resistance. The batteries . . . opened furiously on the enemy at close range, which, in conjunction with the galling fire kept up by the sharpshooters, caused him to reel and fall back in confusion, leaving many of his dead on the field. In less than two hours the enemy was repulsed with great slaughter along our entire front, and retreated in confusion, leaving a number of prisoners and many dead and wounded on the field."
  Maj. Gen. William W. Loring, native North Carolinian, commanding Army of Mississippi (3rd Corps, Army of Tennessee), reporting on the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, Atlanta Campaign, June 27, 1864. (Battle Result: Confederate Victory Estimated Casualties: 4,000 total).

"The moon was full and our long line of bayonets glittered in its beams. Just at daybreak we waded the stream [Cedar Creek] . . . . [O]ur division had a hand-to-hand engagement with and drove back a larger part of the Sixth and aided by [Brig. Gen. Cullen A.] Battle's Alabamians, captured six pieces of artillery, which were most bravely defended, the artillerymen dying at their guns rather than surrender . . . . Meanwhile the tide of battle, so strongly in our favor in the morning, finally turned. The Confederate commands had been greatly weakened by men who left the ranks to loot the captured camps, so tempting to ill-fed, ill-equipped soldiers. The routed Federals were halted and reformed . . . and assailed [Lt. Gen. Jubal] Early in flank. Then came disaster quick on the heels of disaster."
  Capt. V. E. Turner, and Sgt. H. C. Wall, 23rd North Carolina Regiment, Johnston's Brigade, Pegram's Division, Army of the Valley (Lt. Gen. Jubal Early), describing the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, October 19, 1864. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 8,575 total).

"On [November 30] was the dreadful battle of Franklin. The battle which there occurred . . . was at such terrible cost of life as to completely cripple the army, and to put a stop to further prosecution of the intended invasion of Tennessee . . . . The carnage was awful, and literally, I thought and still think, that I could have crossed the field with each step treading on the dead body of a soldier."
  Capt. Thomas W. Patton, Company C, 60th North Carolina Regiment, Brown's/Reynolds's Brigades (Palmer), Stevenson's Division, Lee's Corps, Army of Tennessee, on witnessing the aftermath of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, Franklin-Nashville Campaign, November 30, 1864. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 8,587 total).

"Following the fall of Atlanta [Georgia] came General [John B.] Hood's ill-starred campaign to Nashville [Tennessee] . . . But it was too late . . . . At the battle of Nashville the Thirty-ninth was on the extreme left of the line, where Lieutenant-General [A. P.] Stewart in his report refers to its work as exhibiting the 'usual intrepidity of this small, but firm and reliable body of men.' The disastrous results of that campaign are known, but in all probability the privations, and hunger, cold, and apparently hopeless condition of that brave remnant of the gallant army on that retreat in mid-winter will never be fully known or appreciated except by those who participated in it. Until Nashville, the Thirty-ninth had never met defeat."
  Lt. Theo F. Davidson, 39th North Carolina Regiment, Ector's Brigade, French's Division, Stewart's Corps, Army of Tennessee, describing the Battle of Nashville, Tennessee, Franklin-Nashville Campaign, December 15-16, 1864. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 6,602 total).

1865

"I remained in the middle of the road . . . . While sitting here on my horse two horsemen, from the direction of the enemy, came up the road at a full gallop. They rode right up to me and halted, one on either side. It was now quite dark, yet I saw that they were Yankees, and I further saw that they had their carbines unslung . . . . They covered me with their guns, the muzzles not more than a foot from my breast. I thought my time had come, yet I put on a bold front . . . . So, says I, to the one on my right: 'What command do you belong to?' He replied: 'The First Vermont.' I turned to the other with the same question and received a like answer. I said: 'I too belong to that regiment. Hold on here awhile, there are some rebels just down the road there a little, and soon we will have some fun.' To allay their suspicions I continued to talk, and during all the time was attempting to draw my pistol. As it often happens on critical occasions something gets wrong, so at this time my pistol got hung in the holster. Expecting every moment for a bullet to go crashing through my body, I had to continue talking . . . . This talking not only deceived them, but so misled [my] Adjutant and my friends nearby, that they did not come to my relief. At last I goy my pistol drawn, and at the click of the lock, instead of firing, they both turned to run. I fired on them and emptied one saddle; the shot at the other one missed."
  Col. W. H. Cheek, 9th North Carolina Regiment (1st N.C. Cavalry), Barrington's Brigade, W.H.F. Lee's Division, Fitzhugh Lee's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing an incident during the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia, Appomattox Campaign, April 1, 1865. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 3,780 total).

"It was then an insignificant court-house village. It is now an historic place, for there . . . the Army of Northern Virginia ceased to contend with the armies of the United States, and General Lee on that day accepted the terms of surrender offered by General Grant . . . . The emotions of that scene a great general and his brave, faithful soldiers weeping farewell to each other cannot be described. The soldier-victors were generous and gave rations to the half-starving Confederates without any insulting taunts. Would that the same could be said of the political victors who controlled affairs at Washington."
  Capt. Neill W. Ray, 6th North Carolina Regiment, Lewis's Brigade, Early's Division, Gordon's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, describing the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Appomattox Campaign, April 9, 1865. (Battle Result: Union Victory Estimated Casualties: 700 total; 27,805 Confederate Soldiers Paroled).


Return to North Carolina Voices

In Their Own Words ...

R. H. Bacot Letter - CSS Neuse