Eastern Soldiers are Left Behind

From the beginning, men on both sides had hopefully predicted the end of the war from time to time, but the new year made such predictions seem more plausible. Sherman had just completed his march to the sea and was about to start through the Carolinas. On January 15, a combined land and sea force under General Alfred H. Terry and Rear Admiral David D. Porter took Fort Fisher. 1 Soon after, General John A. Schofield arrived with 20,000 veterans from the Western Army of General George H. Thomas. Schofield stopped at Wilmington to help Terry take that city, then assumed command of all troops in the department. 2

In the reorganizational shake-up that followed Schofield's arrival and the orders and counter orders as he moved toward Goldsboro, it is hard to keep track of the First North Carolina, which in January absorbed the Second Regiment. 3

Being unable to move on Goldsboro from Wilmington, Schofield reinforced Palmer at New Bern and ordered him to move toward Kinston with his entire command. 4 But Palmer did not prepare to take his entire command. His Special Orders Number 51 left one company of the Seventeenth Massachusetts Volunteers at Beaufort and the First North Carolina at Fort Macon. 5 Palmer also committed another sin. He was still at New Bern when Schofield thought he should have been in Kinston. Consequently, on February 25, the commanding general sent General Jacob D. Cox to replace Palmer and get the army moving. 6

On his arrival, Cox created the Provisional Corps from Palmer's troops. He then separated the Provisional Corps into two divisions, one commanded by Palmer and the other by Brigadier General S. P. Carter. Company L of the First North Carolina was assigned to Carter's division, 7 but reports in the following weeks show it connected with Palmer.

Special Orders Number 59, issued by Palmer on February 28, after Cox assumed command, stated that all of the First North Carolina would be located at Morehead City except one company which would garrison Beaufort. 8 From this order and from subsequent reports which mention only Company L, it may be inferred that only the cavalry company was allowed to participate in the coming adventures.

Schofield began his advance in early March. He met his first resistance at Wise's Forks where Confederate Generals Bragg and Hoke waited. A battle ensued which ended on March 10 with the Confederates in retreat. 9 This battle, referred to as the Battle of Kinston, merely slowed Schofield down. He had to repair "the railroad bridge over the Nuese River at Kinston and bring up pontoons for a wagon crossing.'' 10

A part of Schofield's army under Couch, was stranded at Trenton on the wrong side of the Trent River. On the tenth the commanding General sent for a detachment of the First North Carolina, which had been left behind. The detachment, commanded by Captain J. J. McLane was ordered up the Trent, aboard the steamer General Shepley, where the North Carolinians would provide means for Couch to cross the river. The detachment got underway but did not reach Trenton before being ordered to return to New Bern, Couch having somehow gotten himself across. 11

Because Joe Johnston scraped the bottom of the Confederate personnel barrel for the Battle of Bentonville, Schofield marched on to Goldsboro with little difficulty. On March 21, the Confederate commander there marched away allowing Schofield to march in. On the twenty-third Terry and Sherman also arrived. 12 Schofield's army was then incorporated into Sherman's and moved out with him from Goldsboro in pursuit of Johnston on April 6. 13 Since there is no information to the contrary and the last news of Company L had them with Schofield, it is assumed that they were still with Sherman's army when Johnston surrendered.

On June 27 all companies of the First North Carolina Infantry were mustered out at New Bern. 14 When General George Stoneman started on his raid Of March, 1865, the First and Second North Carolina Mounted Infantry were part of his command. Stoneman had previously ordered Brigadier General Davis Tillson to use his division in protecting the raider's rear. In accordance with these orders Tillson directed Colonel Kirk to take his regiment and the Second Mounted to Boone "to hold Deep and Watauga Gaps." 15 Kirk was to barricade the Meat Camp road which provided passage through State Gap and also block an unnamed road through Sampson Gap located between Deep and Watauga Gaps. 16

Stoneman passed through Boone on March 28 and on April 5, Kirk left Tennessee, arriving in Boone on April 6. From there he sent Major Bahney with the Second Mounted Infantry to Deep Gap and Major Rollins with two hundred men from the Third Mounted to Watauga Gap. The remaining four hundred and six men of Kirk's Regiment stayed with him in Boone. 17 Kirk established his headquarters in the home of J. D. Councill and was soon very unpopular with his chosen hosts. Mrs. Councill was not allowed to leave her room while the men of the Third Mounted trampled and littered the grounds. 18

All three points occupied by Kirk's men were fortified. In Boone the Courthouse was turned into a fort, complete with stockade and "loopholes in tho walls " of Watauga County's seat of justice. At Deep Gap Major Bahney's men dug entrenchments, and at Watauga Gap Rollins' detachment constructed a fort from timber taken from one of the summer houses which enveloped Blowing Rock. 19

On April 19, 1865, Stoneman returned to Jonesborough, Tennessee, having left portions of his command at various places. Stoneman was impressed with the conditions existing in the mountains which he termed "truly deplorable." Because "the country is overrun by bands of disbanded Confederate soldiers, who rob and plunder indiscriminately while making their way south," Stoneman ordered the North Carolinians to remain in the mountains to curb the pillage. Kirk and the Third North Carolina were to patrol north of Asheville while the Second Mounted, under Colonel Bartlett, cleaned up the area to the south of the town. 20 The Second Mounted Infantry arrived in Wayne on the fourth of May. The day before an event occurred which must have seemed to the North Carolinians a vindication of their acts and efforts. General J. G. Martin, "commanding Confederate forces in Western North Carolina, surrendered with his command to Lieutenant Colonel Bartlett." 21

On May 6 the Second and Third Mounted were ordered to Asheville. Arriving first, the Second was to remain until Kirk's regiment galloped into town, at which time Bartlett was to depart for Tennessee. Kirk was directed to remain in Asheville, allowing stragglers to catch up, before returning to Greenville. 22

After this order was carried out, the war was over for the Western North Carolinians. At Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 8, 1865, the men of the Third Mounted Infantry were discharged. Eight days later, also at Knoxville, the veterans of the Second Regiment were mustered out. 23

The Colored Troops

The Fourteenth United States Heavy Artillery were mustered out of service on December 11, 1865, at Fort Macon. Some of them were in the army tor twenty-two months, but there is no indication that any member ever fired a gun at the enemy. 24

The Thirty-fifth United States Colored Troops finished up their war at Charleston, South Carolina, and remained there for a year after it was over. It was there that they were mustered out on June 1, 1866. 25

The Thirty-sixth remained a part of General Godfrey Weitzel's Colored Corps. As such, they were probably among the Union troops who marched into conquered and burning Richmond on April 3, 1865. 26 They too remained in the Army for some time after the end of the war, being finally discharged October 28, 1866, at Brazos [Santiago], Texas. 27

In January 1865, the Thirty-seventh was part of Major General Alfred H. Terry's expedition to Fort Fisher. 28 After the Fort was taken, they remained in North Carolina 29 and became the last North Carolina Regiment discharged. On February 11, 1867, they were mustered out at Raleigh. 30



It cannot be claimed that North Carolina Union soldiers made any practical difference in the outcome of the war. They participated in no tideturning battles and Robert E. Lee would still have surrendered on April 9, 1865, had not one North Carolinian ever donned a United States Army uniform. They did, however, make a contribution. Each time a Tar Heel in blue stood in a battle line, rode on a cavalry raid, or scouted some territory a Northern soldier was freed to be elsewhere. Probably their greatest contribution was indirect. The existence of North Carolina troops on either end of the state helped to undermine morale at home, as did the knowledge that former slaves were suddenly Yankee soldiers.

Those who followed their consciences and those who were bought, as some were, have been charged, both then and since, with treason. It should be remembered that Northern statesmen and soldiers called adherents to the Confederacy traitors. In the eyes of justice the problem of who betrayed whom must be left open to question at best.

It has been said of them that they were murderers and thieves, and they were. But they did nothing to others which was not done to them. War is a state which turns men into killing machines, legalizing murder, robbery and pillage.

They have also been called cowardly both dy their fellow North Carolinians then, and those of a later day. The author contends that they were merely human. Like all members of the species they would sometimes run in the face of death, and on other occasions stand and be claimed by it. Their character and their courage were no better or worse than their Confederate counterparts and it is time for historians to recognize the fact.


1 Bruce Catton, Never Call Retreat (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1965), p. 417.

2 Ibid., p. 432

3 Manarin, Guide, sec. 3, p. 1.

4 Barrett, Civil War , p. 285.

5 OR, I, 47, pt. 2, p. 511.

6 OR, I, 47, pt. 1, p. 911.

7 Ibid., p. 973

8 OR, I, 47, pt. 2, p. 621.

9 Barrett, Civil War, pp. 287-290.

10 Ibid.

11 OR, I, 47, pt. 2, p. 768.

12 Barrett, Civil War, p. 344.

13 Ibid., p. 370.

14 Manarin, Guide, sec. 3, p. 1.

15 OR, I, 49, pt. 1, pp. 25-27.

16 Ibid., p. 338.

17 Ibid., p. 337.

18 Van Noppen, Stoneman's Last Raid, p. 21.

19 Ibid., p. 22, 23.

20 OR, I, 49, pt. 2, pp. 407, 408.

21 OR, I, 49, pt. 1, p. 339.

22 Ibid.

23 Manarin, Guide, Sec. 3, p. 1.

24 Ibid., p. 2.

25 Ibid., p. 3.

26 Bruce Catton, Never Call Retreat (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1965), p. 446.

27 Manarin, Guide, sec. 3, p. 3.

28 OR, I, 46, pt. 1, p. 604.

29 OR, I, 47, pt. 3, p. 253

30 Manarin, Guide, sec. 3, p. 3.



Primary Sources

Dugger, Shepherd M., War Trails of the Blue Ridge. Banner Elk: Shepherd M. Dugger, 1932.

Fayetteville Observer, 1864-1865.

Hawkins, Rush C. "Early Coastal Operations in North Carolina." Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, eds. R. U. Johnson and C. C. Buel. New York: Century Co., 1887.

Kellogg, Robert H., Life and Death in Rebel Prisons: Giving a Complete Historv of the Inhuman and Barbarous Treatment of our Brave Soldiers by Rebel Authorities, Inflicting Terrible Suffering and Frightful Mortality, Principally at Andersonville, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina, Describing Plans of Escape, Arrival of Prisoners, with Numerous and Various Incidents and Accidents of Prison Life. Hartford: L. Stebbins Co., 1865.

New Bern Times, 1864-1865.

U. S. Navy Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1927. Series I: V. 6 Vs 7.

U. S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901. Series I: V. 4; V. 9; V. 18; V. 27, pts. 1, 2, 3; V. 28, pts. 1, 2; V. 29, pts. 1, 2; V. 31, pts. 1, 3; V. 32, pts. 1, 2, 3; V. 33; V. 35, pts, 1, 2; V. 36, pts. 2, 3; V. 37, pt. 1; V. 39, pt. 1; V. 40, pts. 1, 2; V. 42, pts. 1, 2, 3; V. 44; V. 46, pt. 1; V. 47, pts. 1, 2, 3; V. 49, pts. 1, 2; V. 52, pt. 1. Series II: V. 6; V. 8. Series III: V. 4; V. 3. .1

Secondary Sources

Arthur, John Preston. A History of Watauga County. Richmond: Everette Waddey Co., 1915.

Arthur, John Preston. Western North Carolina: A History. Asheville: Edwards and Broughton Printing Co., 1914.

Barrett, John. The Civil War in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University Of North Carolina Press, 1963.

Blassingame, John W. "The Freedom Fighters." Negro History Bulletin, February, 1965.

Catton, Bruce, Never Call Retreat. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1965.

Cotton, W. D. "Appalachian North Carolina." Ph. D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, 1954.

Dupuy, Ernest and Trevor N., The Compact History of the Civil War. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1960.

Manarin, Louis H., Guide to Military Organizations and Installations in North Carolina: 1861-1865. Raleigh: North Carolina Confederate Centennial Commission, 1961.

Stick, David, The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: The University Of North Carolina Press, 1958.

Van Noppen, Ina Woestemeyer, Stoneman's Last Raid. Raleigh: North Carolina State College Print Shop, 1961.

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