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History of Lane's North Carolina brigade.

By General James H. Lane.

General notes.

[General Lane has furnished us a roster of every officer and man of his brigade who surrendered at Appomattox C. H., but we reserve this to publish along with the roster of the whole army, which we have in course of preparation — a “bead roll of fame” worthy to be printed in letters of gold. Another number will complete this interesting sketch of a gallant brigade.]

Corps of sharp-shooters.

Our corps of sharp-shooters was organized in the fall of 1863, at Liberty Mills. It was composed of picked marksmen and brave men. Its officers, too, were all cool and brave. This fine body of men were not only thoroughly instructed in skirmish drill, but were frequently practiced in calculating and stepping off distances, firing at targets and similar exercises, which rendered them very efficient. The first commander was the intrepid Captain John G. Knox, of the Seventh regiment, who was captured in the Wilderness. Captain William T. Nicholson, of the Thirty-seventh, another brave young officer, temporarily commanded them until Major Thomas J. Wooten, of the Eighteenth, was assigned as their permanent commander. Major Wooten was exceedingly modest, but a cool, cautious and fearless young officer, and was universally beloved by his men.

This body, composed of men from the different regiments of the brigade, first distinguished themselves under Knox in the Wilderness, when they dashed into the enemy on the left of the road and captured a large number of prisoners. On the 12th May, at Spotsylvania Court-house, under Nicholson, they were kept out a long time in front of the salient to the left of the Fredericksburg road, where they behaved with [207] great gallantry in the presence of General Lee, and were complimented by him on the field. Under Wooten they established a still more glorious reputation — especially in their first dash at the enemy's picket line, which called forth a complimentary communication from superior Headquarters; in their double-quick deployments and advance and captures in the battle at Jones's farm; in their sudden rush into the enemy's disordered ranks and large captures at the Pegram house, and in the part they bore in the recapture of the hill taken from us the day of Gordon's attack on Fort Steadman. They also behaved with great gallantry when Grant broke our lines at Petersburg, and on the retreat to Appomattox Courthouse they were frequently thrown forward to fight the enemy when the brigade was not engaged.

Quartermaster Department.

Our first quartermaster was Major Joseph A. Engelhard, an efficient officer, who continued with the brigade until the promotion of General Pender, when he was transferred to his staff as the Assistant Adjutant-General of the “Light division.” General Branch states in his official report of the battles around Richmond that “my quartermaster, Joseph A. Engelhard, placed his train in charge of an assistant as soon as it was possible, and continued with me on the field throughout the expedition.”

Major George S. Thompson, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who succeeded Major Engelhard, was also an efficient officer, but his health forced him to seek a transfer to a more southern climate.

After Major Thompson left us, Captain A. D. Cazaux, of Wilmington, North Carolina, the quartermaster of the Eighteenth regiment, discharged the duties of brigade quartermaster until after we went into winter quarters at Petersburg. He was an energetic, efficient and popular officer. I made every effort to secure his promotion but without success.

While in winter quarters at Petersburg, Major E. W. Herndon, of North Carolina, was ordered to report to me as our brigade quarter-master. He remained with us until the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Our wagons were always kept in good order, and the oil used on the harness was made in the brigade from the hoofs of beeves furnished by the brigade commissary.

Our best animals were selected for the ordnance wagons, medical wagons and ambulances. All of them were kept in good condition, and in winter they were sheltered in comfortable log stables. [208]

Much of the efficiency in this department was due to Sergeant Lassiter, detailed from the Twenty-eighth regiment.

A great deal of the clothing furnished us was received from the quartermaster department of North Carolina.

Early in the winter, while camped at Moss Neck below Fredericksburg, we commenced making shoes, and continued it with great success until the close of the war. Good shoemakers were detailed and sent home for their tools. All of the lasts were made in camp, and the leather was furnished by the quartermaster department of North Carolina. The “big-footed” men were always provided for first; and to make our stock of leather go as far as possible, the quarters of the old worn-out shoes in camp were regularly gathered up and revamped.

Commissary Department.

Major D. T. Carraway, of Newberne, N. C., our first Brigade Commissary, was an excellent officer. He continued with us until after the battle of Chancellorsville, when he was transferred to General Pender's staff.

Major Thomas H. McKoy, who succeeded Major Carraway, volunteered as a private in the “Wilmington light infantry,” was appointed Second Lieutenant Co. C, Seventh North Carolina Troops, and after serving two years in the line was made Commissary of his regiment with the rank of Captain. He was a brave and gallant officer and gentleman in every sense of the word. Having been in the ranks, he knew how to sympathize with the soldiers at the front and on their long, weary marches. He would always take charge of our cooking details, and often sit up all night to prevent delay in preparing the rations.

At Liberty Mills he scoured the country, collected tax in kind, stored his provisions in a log house, built in camp for that purpose, and thereby prevented a great deal of suffering that winter.

At Moss Neck he purchased moulds and wicks in Richmond and commenced making tallow candles, which he issued regularly to the officers of the brigade.

The Major had a faithful, efficient and most valuable assistant in F. L. Alexander, Commissary Sergeant, detailed from Co. C, Thirty-Seventh regiment.

Our men made large quantities of turpentine and lye soap for their own use and for sale whenever they could find purchasers. That which I bought and sent to the rear was pronounced excellent by those who used it.


Ordnance Department.

The first and only ordnance officer of this brigade was Captain James A. Bryan, of Newberne, N. C., an educated gentleman and an efficient officer. He entered the service in 1861, with the rank of Second Lieutenant, Company G, Tenth regiment artillery, N. C. S. T., and was assigned to ordnance duty at Raleigh. He afterwards served at Newberne in the same capacity under Colonel John D. Whitford; was then appointed Second Lieutenant Artillery C. S. A., and served as ordnance officer, at the same place, on the staffs of Generals Gatlin, Holmes, D. H. Hill, and Branch. After the fall of Newberne he became ordnance officer of this brigade, and served in that capacity and aid-de-camp on General Branch's staff from Mechanicsville to Sharpsburg. Soon after the battles around Richmond he was promoted to First Lieutenant on the recommendation of General Branch. On my recommendation he was made Captain of Artillery.

In his report of the battles around Richmond, General Branch says: “My ordnance officer, Lieutenant James A. Bryan, though instructed to remain with his train in the rear, placed it in charge of an assistant and continued with me on the field throughout the expedition.” In his report of the battle of Cedar Run, he says: “Lieutenant Bryan, of my staff, was with me, and conducted himself gallantly.”

Captain Bryan also wished to go into action with me, but I would not allow him to do so.

Brigade Surgeons.

The Senior Regimental Surgeon was always required to act as Brigade Surgeon. The following served in that capacity: James A. Miller, Robert Gibbon, J. F. McRee, Ed. G. Higginbotham, Wesley M. Campbell, George E. Trescot.

Assistant Inspector General.

Captain E. T. Nicholson, of Halifax, N. C., was the only Assistant Inspector General this brigade ever had. He was a student in the University of North Carolina at the outbreak of hostilities, but left that institution from a sense of duty, and entered the North Carolina Cavalry as a private. He was subsequently elected Second Lieutenant Company E, Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops, and on my recommendation he was appointed our Brigade Inspector. When that office was abolished he was ordered to Johnson's North Carolina Brigade as [210] its Assistant Adjutant-General, and soon after lost his life in the attack on Fort Stedman, while gallantly bearing the colors of one of his regiments far in advance of the general line. When I was arrested, after the war, and taken to Fortress Monroe, the provost marshal of that place told me that he was in Fort Stedman at that time, that he witnessed Nicholson's great gallantry, and that when he fell it was generally remarked by the Federal officers that it was a pity to kill such a brave man. The Captain also behaved with conspicuous gallantry in the fight at Jones's farm. He was a most excellent officer, a noble-hearted, Christian gentleman, and was universally beloved.

Assistant Adjutants — General.

The first Assistant Adjutant-General of this brigade was Captain W. E. Cannady, of whom General Branch, in his report of the battles around Richmond, says: “He had been with me since my appointment to the command of a regiment, and in all situations had shown himself true and faithful. After leaving Mechanicsville he was obliged to return to the hospital, and before the close of the expedition died of typhoid fever.”

Captain Francis T. Hawks succeeded Captain Cannady, and continued with the brigade until after the battle of Fredericksburg. In his report of the battle of Newberne, General Branch says: “To Mr. Francis T. Hawks, who tendered his services for the occasion and was placed on my staff, I was greatly indebted for services in bearing orders and rallying troops. He remained with me throughout the battle and subsequent retreat.” General Branch also reports that at Cedar Run “he conducted himself gallantly.”

After we went into winter-quarters at Moss Neck, Captain George B. Johnston, on my recommendation, was appointed Assistant Adjutant-General of our brigade, but remained with us only a short time on account of ill health. He tendered his resignation July 6th, 1863, and died soon after of consumption. Captain Johnston was a highly cultivated, intelligent, kind-hearted, Christian gentleman, a thorough rebel, and a bold and most efficient officer. He entered the Confederate service as a private in Company D, First North Carolina Volunteers (Bethel regiment), was afterwards elected First Lieutenant of Company G, Twenty-eighth North Carolina Regiment, and was Captain of that company when I persuaded him to accept a position on my staff.

No one can read the following letter and not admire the noble character of its author: [211]

Raleigh, July 6th, 1863.
General James H. Lane, Commanding Brigade, Pender's Division, &c.:
My Dear General,--With this I send you a formal resignation of my position on your staff. Although it may seem uncalled for, I cannot resist the temptation to write you more fully on the subject.

After three months struggle with disease, in the vain hope of rejoining you and sharing with you the toils and dangers of this campaign, I am told by my physicians that I am utterly unfit for duty now, and that I cannot hope to return to my post while warm weather lasts. In accordance with the views expressed to you in a former letter, nothing is left me but to resign.

The principle of duty is the only one which has guided my action in this matter. Duty to the service demands my resignation; for in this her life and death struggle, our country needs that every one of her offices should be efficiently filled — that every officer should at least be at his post, ready to do his best; he then who holds one of these offices, and from sickness or any other cause is unable to discharge its duties, must give way to a better man. Such is my situation.

My duty to you, as my commanding officer and my personal friend requires it; for the last four months you have been without the services of an Adjutant-General and doubtless have been compelled to perform my duties for me; besides your enemies in the brigade will make my continued absence a handle against you, speaking of me with slanderous tongues and lying hearts that they may wound your feelings and lessen your influence.

Finally, my duty to my family and myself requires my resignation; if I should retain my position, and, after spending the whole active campaign in my sick room, should be able to resume my duties at its close--when the army had quit the field for the camp — this would afford a coincidence too unfortunate not to be immediately seized upon by the tooth of calumny; indeed, few men's reputations could stand such a test. Rather than do so, I would then resign and go again into the ranks.

I need not tell you, my dear General, with what reluctance I take this step — how, hoping against hope, I have put off the evil day, until (I fear) I have taxed too sorely even your friendly patience. Your military family was a happy one; such kindliness and genial courtesy and mutual confidence dwelt among us; and the ties of personal friendship, [212] binding me so strongly to yourself, were beginning to take in also and to draw very close to me all of my brother officers of your staff. It causes me no slight pain to sever those ties — to take to my heart the thought that I am no longer of you. My constant prayer will be may God protect and bless you all; and my heart will be with you in the future, rejoicing at every brave deed done and at every new laurel won, full of earnest sympathy with all your fortunes whether good or ill.

Please remember me most particularly to my brother officers of the staff, the officers of Company G, Colonels Lowe, Speer, and Major Stowe; Colonels Avery, Barbour, and Barry--in a word all of my personal friends.

If God should ever give me strength to take the field again, you may expect to see me somewhere in the old 4th, if it be in the ranks with a musket on my shoulder.

Yours most truly,

The next and last assistant Adjutant-General was Captain E. J. Hale, Jr., of Fayettville, N. C. He entered the service as a private in Company F, First North Carolina Volunteers ( “Bethel regiment” ), and was adjutant of the Fifty-Sixth North Carolina Troops when I secured his promotion. He, too, was a very intelligent, highly educated, noble-hearted, Christian gentleman. In the discharge of all office work, he was remarkably accurate, prompt and efficient; and on the field, quick, cool, bold and dashing — just the officer to inspire troops with confidence. In the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania Courthouse, he was conspicuously gallant; and at Petersburg, when our lines were broken, he mounted the works, and by his great bravery, won the outspoken admiration of all who saw him.

Aids — De — camp.

I think General Branch had only one aid, Lieutenant W. A Blount, “who was severely wounded at Mechanicsville,” as stated in General Branch's official report of the battles around Richmond.

First Lieutenant Oscar Lane, my first aid, was in all of the battles in which the brigade took part, from Sharpsburg to Spotsylvania Courthouse, where he was mortally wounded. He was a private in the “Chesapeake guards,” from Mathews county, Va., until the evacuation of Yorktown, but acted as adjutant of the regiment to which his company was attached. He next served as an “amateur” [213] in the Fifth Virginia Cavalry, accompanied General Stuart in his circuit around McClellan's rear, and took part in several other cavalry raids.

Lieutenant Lane was a handsome, brave, chivalrous, dashing young officer. His humor, fine manners and generous impulses made him universally popular. He was the life of our Headquarters, where he was beloved by everybody.

My boy brother, J. Rooker Lane, entered the service as a private in the “Chesapeake guards,” a volunteer infantry company from Mathews county, Va., and was wounded at Yorktown. After the evacuation of that place he served as a private in Company E, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, until the winter of 1863, when, at my request, and on account of his youth, General Lee ordered him to report to me for duty. As my “acting aid” he was always ready for any duty, and behaved very gallantly at Chancellorsville, where he was killed in the charge on the morning of the 3d of May.

He was a boy of fine disposition, and by his attractive manners soon made friends wherever he went. He was a great pet at our Headquarters, especially with my first Adjutant-General, Captain G. B. Johnston.

My last aid was Captain Everard B. Meade, of Richmond, Va., who first volunteered and afterwards enlisted for the war as a private in Company F, Twenty-first Virginia Regiment. At the time of his promotion he was a Second Lieutenant in the First Engineer Regiment of the Army of Northern Virginia.

He was an intelligent, high-toned gentleman, and a prompt, efficient, and very gallant officer. In the battle at Jones's farm he was conspicuously gallant; and from the time our lines were attacked at Petersburg to the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse he acted with great bravery, and was of great assistance.

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