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[489]

History of Lane's North Carolina brigade

by General James H. Lane.

Campaign 1865.

March to Jarratt's Station and back.

During the winter of 1864-5, about the time General Early returned from his Valley campaign, the Federal cavalry made a raid on the Petersburg and Weldon railroad, and our brigade formed a part of the force sent to Jarratt's Station. On our march to that point we suffered intensely from the hail and the snow, and a high and bitter cold wind. When we reached the station the enemy had retired, and we had to return to our winter quarters over the hard frozen ground.

On our return one of our brigade, seeing a barefooted Floridian slowly picking his way over the frozen ground, left ranks, and approaching him, said: “Look here, mister, I don't know who you are, but I can't stand that.” Taking off his knapsack, he took out a pair of new shoes, put them on, and handed his old ones, a very good pair, to the poor fellow, with the remark: “Here, take these, and I will wear my new ones which I drew just before leaving camp.” The bare-footed and sore-footed rebel from the “Land of flowers” soon had them on, and the kind-hearted “Tar heel” was cheered by his gallant comrades as he returned to ranks.

I was sitting by a fire on the roadside, to see that my command was properly closed as it marched by, when two thinly-clad and sickly-looking soldiers came up to warm their feet. Their toes were all exposed, the uppers of their shoes being ripped from the soles. I soon found out that one of them was from East Florida and the other from Middle, and that both were disgusted with Virginia on account of the cold. When I informed them that I had once lived in West Florida, one of them said: “Mister, ain't Florida a great place? There the trees stay green all the time, and we have oranges and lemons, and figs and bananas, and it is the greatest country for taters you ever did see.”

The following will speak for themselves:

Headquarters Twenty-Eighth N. C. T., Feb. 5, 1864.
Captain,--Complying with the request of the officers and men of the Twenty-eighth regiment, it gives me pleasure to report to General Lane [490] that his gallant old regiment, knowing that the term of service for which it reorganized under his command would expire in September next, and believing that the cause in which it then enlisted so cheerfully is just and righteous, and that it still demands the undivided efforts of all, has resolved to reenlistfor the war, adopting the resolutions of Company C, which are enclosed herewith.

I only embody the universal sentiment of the Twenty-eighth North Carolina regiment when I express the hope that the kindly relations which have heretofore existed between it and its original Colonel may be perpetuated, and that he may be spared to command us to the close of the war.

I am, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. H. A. Speer, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding. Captain E. J. Hale, Jr., A. A. G.


Resolutions of Company C, Twenty-Eighth North Carolina troops.

At a meeting held in Company C, Twenty-eighth North Carolina Troops, January 30th, 1864, Capt. T. J. Linebarger was called to the chair and Corporal G. A. Abernathy appointed secretary.

The object of the meeting having been explained by the president, Lieutenant M. A. Throneburg and privates J. M. Grice and J. P. Little were appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the meeting.

Lieutenant Throneburg, from the Committee on Resolutions, reported and read the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, the term of service for which we enlisted will expire in August next, and whereas the exigencies of the service demand of every soldier to remain at his post and to do battle for his country's rights;

Therefore, be it resolved by the officers and men of Company C, Tweneighth North Carolina Troops, That we, believing our cause to be a holy and just one, do hereby pledge ourselves to reenlist for the war, and do further declare our intention never to lay down our arms nor abandon the struggle till our Government shall be recognized, our soil freed from the invader, our liberties secured, and peace restored to our bleeding country.

Resolved, That we earnestly request a general convention of the regiment to meet on Monday, February 1st, 1864.

Resolved, That the Secretary communicate a copy of these resolutions [491] to Brigadier-General Lane; also a copy to Colonel Speer, with the request that they be published on parade this afternoon.

On motion, the meeting adjourned.

T. J. Linebarger, President. G. A. Abernathy, Secretary.

camp of the Eighteenth regiment, N. C. T., February 6th, 1864.
At a meeting of the Eighteenth North Carolina Troops, held this day, the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, It has been brought to our attention that our brothers in arms, actuated by the justice of the existing struggle for independence, a firm determination of true patriotism in its vindication, and an honest desire to assist our young nation in its establishment, have voluntarily tendered their services, with the solemn pledge of their lives, by a reenlistment for the period of the war; and whereas, animated by a like spirit of devotion to our sacred cause, we are determined that no regiment shall surpass us in rendering our arms effective to our country, or in evincing a true desire to uphold our leaders in our struggle; be it

Resolved by the Officers and Soldiers of the Eighteenth Regiment, N. C. T., That we do cheerfully tender to the government our services for the period of the war, pledging our lives and our sacred honor, all that we possess, that we will never lay down our arms until the last enemy upon our soil shall be destroyed or driven from it.

Resolved, That the spirit of submission, which, we regret to say, seems to have seized the hearts of many bad men in North Carolina, will, if persisted in, prove ruinous to our cause, dangerous to our liberty, and disgraceful to the fair name of our State; we, therefore, express our entire disapprobation of the course of these traitors, and earnestly appeal to them to desist from their ruinous policy, and sustain our government and leaders.

Resolved, That in President Davis and Governor Vance we recognize the able statesmen, virtuous rulers, and true patriots, and pledge ourselves to sustain them throughout these trying times.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded to our Brigadier-General; also to the Fayetteville Observer and Wilmington Journal, with a request that they be published.


Headquarters Lane's brigade, February 6th, 1864.
To the Officers and Soldiers Of the Eighteenth Regiment, N. C. T.:
Comrades,--It were not possible to read the eloquently patriotic [492] resolutions, which were unanimously adopted by you to-day, without emotions of pride and gratitude — of just pride that I have the honor to command such men — of well merited gratitude in the nation's behalf and mine, for this exhibition of high resolve and patriotic action at the time of the nation's greatest need.

Permit me to thank you for sending me a copy of the resolutions, and to pray God-speed to you and your great cause.

Believe me your friend,

James H. Lane, Brigadier General.


Re-enlistment of the Thirty-Seventh regiment.

Thirty-Seventh regiment of North Carolina troops, February 10, 1864.
Governor,--At a meeting of the Thirty-seventh regiment of North Carolina troops, held this day, the following committee having been appointed to propose resolutions for the consideration of the meeting--Captain W. T. Nicholson, Company E; Captain D. L. Hudson, Company G; Captain A. J. Critcher, Company B; Sergeant J. M. Black, Company A; Private Rufus Holdaway, Company A; Sergeant H. D. Hagaman, Company B; Private P. W. Turnmire, Company B; Sergeant J. W. Alexander, Company C; Private J. W. Barnett, Company C; Private K. M. Hasty, Company D; Private K. M. Dees, Company D; Sergeant Alfred Green, Company E; Private James C. Coffy, Company E; Sergeant R. M. Staley, Company F; Corporal J. C. Duncan, Company F; Corporal C. C. Pool, Company G; Private A. Campbell, Company G; Sergeant J. J. Ormand, Company H; Sergeant R. B. Tucker, Company H; Sergeant J. C. Flow, Company I; Private D. L. McCord, Company I; Private D. H. Douglas, Company K; Private S. V. Box, Company K.

Captain W. T. Nicholson, chairman of the committee, reported the following resolutions, as recommended by all of the committee except Sergeant J. W. Alexander, of Company C. He recommended none in lieu of them:

Resolved, That we are still determined that our country shall be a free and independent nation, notwithstanding the absurd proclamation of Abraham Lincoln; and we do hereby pledge anew our property, our lives and our honor, and our all, never to submit to Abolition tyranny nor Yankee rule. [493]

Resolved, That we originally enlisted as a regiment for twelve months because we believed that our country needed us in the field and that we afterwards reenlisted for two additional years or the war before the conscript bill had been introduced in Congress, because we thought she still needed us; and that now, actuated by the same belief, we tender to the government of our country our services in the field for the war, unconditionally and without reserve.

Resolved, That we are perfectly satisfied with the present organization of our army, and have unlimited confidence in the skill, bravery and patriotism of our Generals.

Resolved, That while we endeavor to do our duty we shall expect the authorities to do theirs; we shall expect them to see all deserters and skulkers from our ranks shot at the stake in disgrace. We shall expect them to allow us to visit our homes once every twelve months, at such times as the exigencies of the service will permit; and shall expect them to feed, clothe and shoe us, and not to allow worthless subordinates to make us suffer by their indolence.

Resolved, That we are ready to endure, without a murmur, all necessary hardships and privations which the good of the cause may demand.

Resolved, That we call confidently upon all good people at home to give us their sympathy and support, to send us food to sustain life, and recruits to fill our wasted ranks.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the Congress of the Confederate States, to the Secretary of War, through the regular official channels; to his Excellency Governor Vance of North Carolina, and to the newspapers for publication.

The above resolutions were then submitted to the regiment, and opportunity was allowed for a fair and full expression of opinion, when it was found that out of nearly 500 who were present only about twenty were opposed to the resolutions.

The resolutions were accordingly declared adopted, and the meeting adjourned.

Wm . M. Barbour, Colonel Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops, President of Meeting.

The other two regiments of our brigade — the Seventh and Thirty-third--were “State” troops, or original war regiments.


Our sharp-shooters attack the enemy's skirmish line.

Late in the winter, about the opening of spring, I received a note [494] from General Wilcox, asking, “can't you catch a Yankee to-night for General Lee? Some of the enemy are moving, and he wants to know what command it is.” I at once sent for Major Wooten. When he had read the note, I asked if he thought it could be done without loss, and added, I wouldn't have one of your brave fellows hurt for half a dozen Yankees. “Nor I,” was his prompt reply, “I love those fellows as much as you do.” A long silence followed, as the Major sat, looking upon the tent flow, with his head between his hands. But his face finally brightened, and as he looked up, he said, “I can get him.” He took only a part of his corps of Sharp-shooters with him, though all wished to accompany him. The moon was shining brightly, and when he reached the skirt of woods in front of my headquarters, he found it was too far from the enemy's rifle pits to make the dash. In whispers the men were directed to crawl, and when they had gone some distance on all fours, the Major, who was in the lead, sprang to his feet and cried out, “Boys, we have got them.” Away they went, at a run, in double ranks, and when the left had reached the line of pits, the two ranks faced outward, and wheeling right and left, just as you would open the lids of a book, they came back, bringing their prisoners with them. This mode of attacking the enemy's skirmish line, adopted by the Major, was known in our brigade as “Wooten's seine-hauling.” The enemy fired, but no one was hurt. About day Wooten reported to me that he had not been able to catch a Yankee, but that he had seven Dutchmen. Whether General Lee was able to get any information from them, I never heard. I only know that no one at our headquarters could understand their “foreign gibberish.”


After Gordon's attack, the enemy sweep our skirmish line.

When General Gordon attacked Fort Steadman, General Wilcox was sick, and I commanded his division. I was ordered about dark to report to General Gordon, in Petersburg, with my own and another brigade. General Gordon ordered us to Lieutenant Run, on the road leading to the Jerusalem Plank-road, not far from the ruins of the Ragland House, (I think that was the name,) and there await further orders. We were not taken into action; but, some time after the repulse, were ordered back to our winter quarters.

Just as we reached our camp, the enemy threw forward a very strong force, and swept the entire Confederate picket line from Hatcher's Run to Lieutenant Run, and it was feared they would attack our weak line of battle. Our artillery opened, and the fighting continued throughout [495] the day. About dark we succeeded in reestablishing the picket line in our front, excepting the hill in front of our left, from which the enemy could fire into our winter quarters. This hill was on the left of the road leading to the Jones House, and not far from it.


We retake the Hill in front of our left.

Next morning General Lee sent for me, and wished to know if I could dislodge the enemy from the hill mentioned above. When I told him I thought I could, but that I would like to have reinforcements near in the event of a failure, he turned to the troops in his rear and said, “Here are two brigades, but I cannot let you have them longer than to-morrow morning, as they are needed elsewhere, so you must go to work at once, reconnoitre the position, determine where to attack, and take that hill to-night.” Major Wooten was directed to make the attack with the Sharp-shooters from the four brigades of the division, and his gallant fellows carried the hill about day without a single loss. As soon as their yell was heard, my brigade was thrown forward to their support, as I was afraid the enemy might attempt to retake this commanding position. We afterwards suffered some loss from the sharp-shooting, which was kept up all day.

When the enemy were seen dragging something in the ravine in front of our left, one of our men yelled out: “Hello, Yanks, what are you doing there?” To which he received the reply: “Your Major Hooten is so fond of running up these hollows to break our line, we are putting a howitzer here to give him a warmer welcome the next time he comes.” Major Wooten, of course, was the party referred to, as he had already, by his frequent “seine-haulings,” established a reputation in the enemy's line along our front.

Lieutenant O. A. Wiggins, of the Thirty-seventh regiment, who was captured at Petersburg, informs me that when Grant made his last attack at that city our front was assailed by two Yankee corps, and that a third was leaving the works to join them just as he was taken into the enemy's line.

Lieutenant Wiggins was confined a short time in the Old Capitol prison, where he spent his twenty-first birthday, and was laughed at by his comrades for being twenty-one and yet not being free. When he and others were being taken to Harrisburg he jumped from the car window just after the train had crossed a bridge, and as the night was very dark and rainy, he made his escape. He had on at the time a uniform made of an old shawl, but next morning he prevailed on a [496] Radical near by to give him a working suit and a valise as a disguise. He afterwards worked until he made money enough to buy him a fashionable suit, in Baltimore, and pay his passage from that city to Richmond. His escape was exciting and full of adventure. When he reached Richmond Lieutenant Meade and I dressed him up in our soiled military clothes, and a lady friend escorted him to the Provost Marshal's office, in the Baptist Female Institute. He there surrendered as a “straggler,” was paroled and given transportation to his home in North Carolina.

Lieutenant Wiggins was considered one of our bravest young officers. He specially distinguished himself at Spotsylvania Courthouse, on the 12th May, when our brigade, in its flank movement in front of our works, struck Burnside's corps, and his regiment got in its rear. I there saw him unarmed, in the woods, dare two armed Yankeesto fire upon him. He not only made his escape on that occasion by his boldness, but immediately afterwards captured the Fifty-first Pennsylvania flag, as stated in my official report of that engagement.

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