Tarheels During the Civil War

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oakwood Cemetery

This Halloween I will be at Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, participating in the annual lantern tour/ ghostwalk. Oakwood Cemetery is the home of almost 1,500 North Carolina Confederate dead, including 103 of North Carolina Gettysburg dead. Brigadier Generals G.B. Anderson, Robert F. Hoke, William R. Cox, and Thomas F. Toon are buried here. Also, Colonel Henry K. Burgwyn Jr. of the 26th N.C.T. More information here: http://www.historicoakwoodcemetery.com/

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, I returned in one warm piece from Cedar Creek Sunday. It was definitely cold throughout the weekend and wet Saturday. Finished accumulating sources for the 2nd North Carolina State Troops at the State Archives in Raleigh today, and started taking photos and transcribing some for the 4th Regiment. Once the 4th is done, then onto the 14th and the 30th. All for what I hope will be a history of the Anderson/Ramseur/Cox brigade. That is still a long way off though. Much more research to do, many more primary sources to peruse, photograph, and transcribe, and then the writing process. Who knows when that will actually start. It is assuredly a work in progress.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Private's View of Cedar Creek

This is from acting adjutant Samuel P. Collier of the 2nd North Carolina State Troops, of Cox' Brigade. Collier was away on regimental business and missed the battle of Cedar Creek, but his views of the condition of the valley army, and his disgust at the "stampede" of Cedar Creek, were universally held. (This is from the Collier Papers, North Carolina State Archives).

Camp near New Market
Oct 22nd 1864

My Dear Parents

I arrived here safely yesterday and found every thing in perfect confusion. Our Regt numbered about 60 men but they are coming in hourly from the mountains whither they took refuge when the stampede occurred at Middletown. I will give you the particulars of it or as far as I have heard. It seems that the morning after I left or rather the same evening they started forward and by marching all night succeeded in getting completely on the enemys flank at Cedar Creek. The flanking party consisted of Ramseurs, Gordons, and Pegrams while Whartons and Kershaws were to attack in front. At daylight the attack was made simultaneous upon the enemys camp, who were sound asleep, they immediately ran, leaving every thing just as they were standing, wagons, artillery, sutlers and medical stores and Quarter Masters goods. We immediately charged them, they ran but were soon rallied but only to run again. We drove them as far down as Middletown when we halted. The enemy were reinforced by the 6th Corps which had been stationed at Winchester. They now had Three Corps and greatly outnumbered us but we would have easily repulsed them had the men been at their post but they were off plundering the enemys camps. They charged our line and succeeded in breaking through Gordons line (who occupied the left) who immediately broke and ran in every direction. We captured 18 pieces of artillery but lost it all and 12 more in the stampede. Lost also a good many ambulances and wagons. Maj Genl Ramseur was wounded (mortally I am afraid) and captured Gen Battle was also wounded. Cousin Bryan Cobb was struck on the head but did not enter the skull. He will be home I expect before this reaches you. I do not know who was to blame in the affair. This army will certainly have to undergo at least two months of the most rigid discipline before they will fight and this army will certainly have to change commanders before it can be done for Genl Early is no disciplinarian. He is one of the best military men of the present time. Take Genl Lee out and I don’t think he has his equal.
That movement was the most excellent planned affair that was ever known and I am sure we would have been successful but for the men plundering. I must soon close. Best love to all. Write soon.
Affectionate Son
Sam. P. Collier
I am acting adjutant of the Regt. Adjutant Dillingham being either killed or captured or he may be in the mountains and will come in.
Sam P.C.

Cedar Creek In Their Own Words

This is the official report of Colonel John R. Winston commanding the 43rd and 45th regiments.

LIEUTENANT: In obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part the two regiments under my command took in the battle of Cedar Creek on the 19th instant: We had crossed the pike, when we came in closer range of the enemy. It is useless to mention what happened before, more than the fact that the men went through a camp just as it was deserted, with hats, boots, blankets, tents, and such things as tempt our soldiers, scattered over it, and after diligent inquiry I heard of but one man who even stooped to pick up a thing. He got a hat, and has charges preferred against him. Under orders, I deployed the Forty-fifth Regiment as skirmishers in front of the brigade after we had crossed the pike. It moved forward some 200 or 300 yards, when it was halted and ordered to lie down under a heavy artillery fire, several having been struck with shell. I was ordered back to take command of the Forty-third Regiment, having left Captain Wharton in command of the Forty-fifth. The whole line then moved forward. Instead of striking the enemy's line squarely face to face, our brigade, being on the right, would have struck their line in an angling direction but this would expose our right flank to too distressing a fire, as the left of the Sixth Corps was strongly posted on the pike on the woody eminence near which our right would have crossed. Colonel Cowand having been detached with the Thirty-second as skirmishers on the pike, the balance of his command (Fifty-third and Second Battalion) had no commander. When they (composing the right of our brigade) began to be much annoyed from the fire above mentioned, in obedience to orders, I assumed command of them, and they moved squarely to the right and gallantly ran the enemy from the woods, and for some time held their ground against great odds, firing both from flank and front and in close range. I take pleasure in mentioning this splendid conduct of these troops because their brave commander was in another part of the field and had not the opportunity of observing them as I did. My own regiments moved straight forward with the rest of the army. As above mentioned, I did not have the pleasure of going with them; but their conduct was such as usually characterizes sons of our dear old State. The colors at one time were in twenty or thirty steps of the enemy. Here we lost Lieutenant Vines, Company E, Forty-third. I unhesitatingly pronounce him one of the most efficient officers of his grade in our service; no one was braver. After the Sixth Corps had been repulsed nothing notable occurred till late in the evening, when the enemy made his final charge. Our brigade was ordered forward to meet him; so all moved off together, and after a few rounds the enemy retreated in confusion. Soon our own army began to fall back in confusion on the left and then to stampede. My command, with the brigade, fell back according to orders, to a first and then to a second line; but the stampede soon became so mixed no officer whose men had fallen back far, and particularly on the left of the pike, could find his men. My flag was for some time in rear of our army. I had to hurry up the color bearer for fear the colors would be captured, and the enemy reaching Strasburg first, my colors accompanied me, with many others, around the left of Fishers Hill. Until the stampede began the conduct of officers and men, with very few exceptions, was very commendable. Even then the color bearer, Sergeant Barnes, Company 0, Forty-third, deported himself (I use the strongest term) as well as it was possible for man to do. My command acted well till the stampede began. With the co-operation of officers and men, should our army be disgraced with another stampede, under the direction of God, my command will not.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
John R. Winston,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Battle of Cedar Creek

This weekend is the 145th anniversary of the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864. There were several regiments of North Carolina infantry that participated in the battle. They are as follows:
Ramseur's Division:
Grimes' Brigade:
32nd North Carolina
53rd North Carolina
43rd North Carolina
45th North Carolina
2nd North Carolina Battalion

Cox' Brigade:
1st North Carolina
2nd North Carolina
3rd North Carolina
4th North Carolina
14th North Carolina
30th North Carolina

Pegram's Division:
Johnston's Brigade:
5th North Carolina
12th North Carolina
20th North Carolina
23rd North Carolina
1st North Carolina Battalion Sharpshooters

Godwin's Brigade:
6th North Carolina
21st North Carolina
54th North Carolina
57th North Carolina

I will be at the Cedar Creek battlefield this weekend participating in the annual reenactment. Tomorrow I will share some thoughts on the battle written by North Carolina participants.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is This Col. C.C. Tew 2nd NCST?

I know this is hard to see in this picture. Here is a link to a higher quality one. http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/cwp/4a39000/4a39500/4a39531r.jpg
Colonel Charles Courtenay Tew of the 2nd NC State Troops was killed at the Bloody Lane at Antietam while standing next to Colonel John B. Gordon of the 6th Alabama, while they were observing the advance of Weber's Brigade of French's Union Second Corps division. According to Col. Gordon,

" The first volley from the Union lines in my front sent a ball through the brain of the chivalric Colonel Tew, of North Carolina, to whom I was talking, and another ball through the calf of my right leg."

Colonel Tew's body was never recovered. When the Federals broke through the sunken road position, a soldier in the 8th Ohio of Kimball's brigade found Colonel Tew in a propped up position on the (in this picture) right bank of the road, still gripping his sword laying across his lap. Now, in Time Life's Voices of the Civil War: Antietam, this photo, taken by Alexander Gardner, claims that the body on the bottom right of the frame is probably Col. Tew. I have never seen this referenced before in describing this picture. In William Frassanito's excellent work on the photos of Antietam, he describes this picture thus,

"The portion of Bloody Lane visible in the foreground was occupied during the battle by the left-flank unit of G.B. Anderson's brigade, the Second North Carolina, and it is probable that most of the Confederate dead pictured in this photograph were members of that regiment. It was here, at the bend in Bloody Lane (where the left of Anderson's brigade connected with the right of Rodes' Alabama brigade), that Barlow's Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth New York regiments first overran the Confederate line."

Frassanito does not mention Tew. I viewed this image in a high quality TIFF format, and compared it to images of Col. Tew like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cctew.jpg. The face had blood on it, possibly from the temple, the man had a mustache, as did the Colonel, but the man in the photo had more hair on his head, than Col. Tew who appears decidedly balding. Again, the photo of the bodies is from the side, so it is hard to tell if that is him. The face is swollen so it is hard to compare the two images. I did notice close by him a cartridge box, and what looks like the accompanying strap, which could indicate that this man was a common soldier, or this could just be detritus from the battle. Maybe this is one of those many photos of soldiers dead and alive that we will never know who they were.