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Chapter 12:

On the 16th of July, Clingman's brigade, consisting of the following North Carolina regiments, the Eighth, Colonel Shaw; the Thirty-first, Lieut.-Col. C. W. Knight; the Fifty-first, Colonel McKethan; the Sixty-first, Colonel Radcliffe, Lieutenant-Colonel Devane and Major Harding, was ordered to South Carolina to assist in the defense of Charleston harbor. The brigade arrived on the 13th, and was at once assigned to duty. The Fifty-first and Thirty-first became members of the garrison at Fort Wagner. The Eighth and Sixty-first went to James island. At Battery Wagner the garrison endured many hardships, suffering a constant cannonade from land batteries and ironclads, and being exposed to an alert sharpshooter force at all hours. In addition, the water was bad, food insufficient, and the heat in the pits and bombproofs almost intolerable.

‘Battery Wagner was,’ says Lieutenant McKethan, ‘a field work of sand, turf and palmetto logs, built across Morris island. From north to south it varied from twenty to seventy-five yards. Its bombproofs were capable of holding from 800 to 1,000 men.’ Its armament was far inferior in range to the guns of the Federals, and ‘so we had to submit to the hail of iron sent upon us by the superior and larger range guns, from sunrise to sunset.’ [201]

At length came the 18th day of July, made memorable by a land and naval bombardment of unusual severity, lasting eleven hours, and followed by a well sustained land assault. The garrison, under command that day of Gen. W. B. Taliaferro, consisted of the Charleston battalion, assigned to the right of the defenses; the Fifty-first North Carolina, posted at the center; the Thirty-first North Carolina, commanded to hold the left of the work. The artillery, four companies, was commanded by Lieut.-Col. J. C. Simkins.

The Federal land batteries numbered about forty guns and the ships added twenty more, making probably sixty-four guns of all sorts turned against the fort and its little garrison. General Seymour, of the Union army, says: ‘From about noon until nightfall the fort was subjected to such a weight of artillery as has probably never before been turned upon a single point’ Lieutenant McKethan of the Fifty-first North Carolina gives the experience of his regiment inside the fort:

During the bombardment we had concentrated upon our little band forty-four guns and mortars from the land batteries, distant about 1,200 or 2,000 yards, and the heavy guns from the Ironsides, five monitors and five gunboats. . .. The sand was our only protection, but fortunately one shot would fill up the hole made by another, or we should soon have been annihilated. Regimental History.

Near dusk the artillery fire slackened and the land troops made ready for the assault. General Seymour commanded the Federal division, made up of Strong's, Putnam's and Stevenson's brigades. General Strong's brigade was in advance. His leading regiment was the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, a negro regiment commanded by white officers. During the bombardment, the Confederate troops had been partly protected in the bombproofs. They now, although the shelling was still murderous, sprang to their posts. Many of the guns of light weight [202] had been withdrawn from the walls and covered with sandbags. They were, at sight of the infantry, run into the embrasures, and cleared for action.

Shaw's negro regiment of 600 men advanced at a double-quick, but broke at the ditch of Wagner under the withering fire of the Charleston battalion and the Fifty-first North Carolina, and, says Major Johnson,

rushed like a crowd of maniacs back to the rear. The Defense of Charleston Harbor, p. 104.

Colonel Shaw was killed; and as his men, with a few brave exceptions, rushed back, they, General Seymour reported, ‘fell harshly upon those in their rear.’ The other regiments of Strong's brigade continued their forward movement, but fell in heaps before the riflemen of the two Carolinas. Two of General Strong's regiments had been affected by the panic of the negro regiment, and soon the whole First brigade was routed. General Strong was mortally wounded.

Meantime Putnam's brigade, after some delay, was daringly led by him against the left of the fort. This part of Wagner had been assigned to the Thirty-first North Carolina. That regiment, however, General Taliaferro states in his report, could not be induced to occupy its position, and hence Putnam, though exposed to a flank fire from the other troops, met no severe fire in his front. He and about a hundred or more of his most determined followers effected a lodgment, and for more than an hour held their place inside the fort, although their comrades had been repulsed. General Taliaferro called for volunteers to dislodge Putnam. Maj. J. R. McDonald of the Fifty-first North Carolina, and Captain Ryan of the Charleston battalion, both offered their services. Ryan's company was accepted, but failed. Whenever, however, any of Putnam's men showed themselves, the Fifty-first North Carolina opened upon them. Colonel Putnam was killed, and his force—approached in rear by some Georgians who, with General Hagood, had crossed over during [203] the battle—was captured. General Taliaferro makes this favorable report of the Fifty-first regiment: ‘Colonel McKethan's regiment, the Fifty-first North Carolina troops, redeemed the reputation of the Thirty-first. They gallantly sought their position, under a heavy shelling, and maintained it during the action. Colonel McKethan, Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson and Major McDonald are the field officers of this regiment and deserve special mention.’ The Confederate loss in this battle was only 18; the Federal, 1,515.1

The two direct assaults upon Wagner having failed, the Federals determined to besiege it by regular approaches. Heavy Parrott guns and mortars were called into service, and from the 18th of July to the 6th of September, when it was evacuated, the troops serving in the fort had arduous duties. Ludgwig, in his Regimental History of the Eighth regiment describes the routine of duty there: ‘The nature of the service on Morris island was such as to render it necessary for the regiments composing the army on that side of Charleston to perform duty there alternately. While on the island the men were exposed at all times to the enemy's fire, both from land and sea. An attack had to be prepared for at any instant, day or night. It was no place for rest. The battery, frequently shelled, had to be repaired. The enemy's ever active sharpshooters had to be watched. To expose one's self to view meant to be shot at with attending consequences. The men had to keep under cover of the battery or in sandpits near by. Under such circumstances it was necessary to relieve the men once about every seven or eight days. . . There was no place for cooking. All the rations had to be prepared and carried there. . . It was a veritable target practice between the sharpshooters every day, and any careless or reckless exposure meant work for the ambulance corps.’ All of General Clingman's regiments took their regular tours of duty at Wagner. [204]

On the 28th of August, an infantry assault on the rifle-pits in front of Wagner was bravely met and repulsed by the two Confederate regiments there. General Taliaferro reports: ‘Soon after dark he advanced upon the rifle-pits in front of Wagner, but General Hagood's forces were, fortunately, prepared to receive him. His mortar practice ceased and his infantry assaulted fiercely, but the position was held with courage and spirit, and success crowned the efforts of the brave men of the Sixty-first North Carolina and Fifty-fourth Georgia regiments, who constituted the advance pickets and reserve.’ Circumstances in North Carolina were such that, in November, Clingman's men gladly received orders to leave tire island and return to their native State. The brigade loss during its service in South Carolina was: killed, 76; wounded, 336.

Three North Carolina regiments served under J. E. Johnston in Mississippi. These were the Twenty-ninth, Lieut.-Col. W. B. Creasman, the Thirty-ninth and the Sixtieth. On the Yazoo river, near Yazoo City, the Twenty-ninth had, on the 13th of July, an all-day skirmish with gunboats. In the same month, the Sixtieth regiment was engaged in actions of some severity before Jackson. These regiments were greater sufferers from the hardships of campaigning than they were from battle casualties, as it was their lot not to be engaged during this time in serious battle.

The ‘Great Battle of the West’ was fought near Chickamauga. There the Confederate army, under General Bragg, gained, on the 19th and 20th of September, a great, but entirely barren victory. North Carolina was not largely represented in this bitterly-contested field. One corps commander, D. H. Hill, who had recently been appointed lieutenant-general and assigned to the command of the divisions of Breckinridge and Cleburne, and five regiments—four of infantry and one of cavalry —were the North Carolina participants in the two days of bloodshed. These five regiments were as follows: The [205] Twenty-ninth, Col. W. B. Creasman; the Thirty-ninth, Col. David Coleman; the Fifty-eighth, Col. J. B. Palmer; the Sixtieth, Lieut.-Col. J. M. Ray and Capt. J. T. Weaver, and the Sixth cavalry, Col. G. N. Folk.

How nobly these five regiments upheld the, honor of their State is so clearly set forth in a personal letter to the author from Col. C. A. Cilley, a Federal staff officer of the Second Minnesota regiment, that no further memorial to their valor is needed. The testimony has the added value of coming from a generous foe who stoutly fought these regiments, and whose official position has since put him in possession of all the facts bearing upon the successes attained by the troops from different States. This position was that of member of the State commission appointed to examine and decide, conjointly with and under direction of the National Park commission, upon the achievements of all the troops engaged, and to direct the erection of tablets to commemorate valiant exploits. Colonel Cilley's letter is as follows:

There were present at that battle the Sixth cavalry, the Twenty-ninth, Thirty-ninth, Fifty-eighth, and Sixtieth infantry. The fortunes of the day so ordered it that I was personally aware of the conduct of all save the Thirty-ninth regiment. As to that, the published reports, aided by the decision of the United States Park Commission in a contest between the troops who claimed to have captured a number of cannon also claimed by the Thirty-ninth, must be the authority for whatsoever I say.

On the meeting of our State commission at the battlefield, October 25, 1893, we went over all available maps and reports of the action and the territory with the two members of the National commission then present, viz: Lieutenant-General Stewart, late of the Confederate States army, and Brevet Brigadier-General Boynton, late Thirty-fifth Ohio. In marking, the next day, the location occupied by the North Carolina troops, we had their full concurrence and approval.

As soon as General Bragg discovered that Rosecrans had gained the main road from Lafayette to Chattanooga, [206] and was marching up the same toward the town he had just been maneuvered out of, he sent Forrest, followed up by infantry under Ector, to dislodge us. To meet this attack, General Thomas detached Vanderveer's brigade of his old division, in which General Boynton commanded a brigade, and on the staff of which I was serving—my regiment, the Second Minnesota, being in the command. So two of the party which traversed the field and marked the points reached by the North Carolina troops had met them in actual conflict. It was agreed that the Sixth cavalry gained an honorable position on the right of the Confederate line, closely followed by the Twenty-ninth infantry, who fought over substantially the same ground.

Col. David Coleman, of the Thirty-ninth infantry, who assumed command of McNair's brigade after that officer was wounded on Sunday evening, reported that his regiment charged and captured a massed collection of nine cannon in Dyer's field, during what was known as the ‘great break’ through the Federal lines, late on Sunday. Other commanders, after the battle, put in a claim to this capture, and asked the National commission to so credit them on the memorial to be erected. We carefully collated all evidence on both sides, and at last General Stewart directed us to put up a tablet setting forth the exploit as Colonel Coleman reported it. This was the only case in which both General Boynton and myself were not personally cognizant of each achievement of North Carolina troops as set forth in the tablet erected.

Next in order of time was the attack by Breckinridge (of Hill's corps) upon the right. Brannan's division of Thomas' corps had made a lodgment on the road to Chattanooga at Kelly's field, when Breckinridge, who had attained a position on the road between Brannan and Chattanooga, charged with Stovall's brigade, in which was the Sixtieth North Carolina infantry. Two of our number were in the brigade which received that attack, and had good reason for remembering it. Again reports and maps were brought out, and one of the party paced the distance. General Stewart collated the evidence and announced the decision. By his direction, an oaken tablet, suitably inscribed, was put up on the side of the State road, marking the spot where at noon on Sunday, September 20, 1863, the Sixtieth regiment reached the [207] farthest point within the Federal lines attained by any Southern troops in that famous charge.

Fourth and last. It remained only to ascertain the facts as to the conduct of the Fifty-eighth North Carolina infantry, a regiment until that battle never under fire. We followed its course from where it entered the field to the scene of its splendid achievement on Snodgrass hill. Three of our State commissioners were survivors of that regiment, and, under their guidance, we easily traced the path from its first service, supporting batteries, across the field just traversed by the Thirty-ninth, to the place where, about the middle of the afternoon, this command, hitherto unused to hostile shot, plunged into the bloodiest struggle of the battle, and one of the deadliest conflicts of the war. There it was, at the base and up the slopes to the crest of the wooded hill, up which Longstreet had hurled six divisions in an attempt to drive Thomas to retreat, and so secure the coveted State road.

The slopes up which it toiled, the ravines in which it fought, were again trodden by some of its old officers, while General Boynton and myself identified the place on the crest where the lines met. After the fullest examination, a tablet, stating that that was the point where the topmost wave of Southern battle broke nearer than any other to the lines of Thomas' defense, was erected in honor and in the name of the Fifty-eighth North Carolina. Singularly enough, this was close to the place selected by the Second Minnesota volunteers for its monument. Both of these regiments lost one-half of their number in killed and wounded, a percentage reached, so far as I am aware, by no other body of troops in that engagement.

The affair of Snodgrass hill presents one of the most desperate attacks and one of the most stubborn defenses of the entire war. Other States which had soldiers there have spent money in the erection of suitable monuments to the valor of their sons. As I personally took word to General Thomas on two or three occasions that the men who held our line were out of cartridges, and took back orders from him for them to repel assaults with the bayonet, I know that the men of the Fifty-eighth had this most dreaded of weapons to confront, and I am sure no troops made a more distinguished record for heroism than they.


In this battle, the Fifty-eighth lost nearly one-half of its effective strength. The Thirty-ninth lost 14 killed and 86 wounded; the Sixtieth, 8 killed and 36 wounded.

In the East Tennessee campaign, the Sixty-second, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-ninth (Thomas' legion) were engaged in the mountain fights in the summer and fall of 1863. Part of the time, Gen. Robert Ransom operated in some of the same territory. Gen. A. E. Jackson with Walker's battalion, portions of the Sixty-ninth North Carolina, and other troops, including artillery, routed and captured a Federal force, commanded by Colonel Hayes of the One Hundredth Ohio regiment, at Limestone bridge. After a reconnoissance made by Maj. W. W. Stringfield, General Jackson ordered an assault upon the blockhouse and brick buildings occupied by the Federals. Lieut.-Col. M. A. Haynes says in his official report: ‘With a shout and a hurrah for the “Bonnie Blue Flag,” the North Carolina boys made the charge, and the enemy fled before them, as you and the general well know.’ The artillery and the infantry joining in a general attack, 314 prisoners surrendered and many were killed and wounded. The North Carolina loss was 6 killed and 15 wounded. Shortly afterward the Sixty-ninth regiment encountered a large cavalry force under Foster. This cavalry had been sent to intercept the Confederate retreat toward Virginia. Colonel Love gallantly charged this force, and General Williams coming to his aid, drove it from his front.

North Carolina cavalry were active in many of the engagements during the fall campaign in Virginia. At Jack's shop, near Liberty mills, Orange county, Va., on September 22, 1863, Hampton's division of cavalry joined battle with Davies' and Custer's brigades of Kilpatrick's cavalry division. Custer's brigade was commanded by Colonel Stagg. Hampton's division was composed of three brigades: Butler's, commanded by Col. J. B. Gordon of the First North Carolina; Jones' [209] brigade, and Baker's North Carolina brigade (afterward Gordon's), commanded by Colonel Ferebee of the Fourth North Carolina. This brigade included these regiments: The First, Second, Fourth and Fifth.

As the Confederates moved up the Madison pike toward Gordonsville, the First North Carolina regiment in advance encountered Davies' dismounted skirmishers posted in some pines. Lieutenant Foard, of the advance guard, bravely charged in to ascertain the forces of the enemy, and, on his report, the First regiment was soon dismounted, and sharpshooters from every company engaged, Major Cheek commanding in front. The fire from the Federal sharpshooters was very accurate, and Capt. A. B. Andrews, while gallantly performing his duty, was shot through the body, and many others were shot down. The action then became more general. Colonel Ferebee, with a mixed force, charged through the line of Federals moving to the Confederate rear, and the Federals began to draw off. Soon, however, their lines were re-established and their artillery opened. General Stuart then ordered a general charge, and the Federal force was driven off the field, and Colonel Stagg's rear cut off and captured.

Gordon's cavalry brigade attacked, near James City, on the 10th, the front of a cavalry force while General Stuart led Young's brigade to make a flank attack. The Federals were driven into James City, but Stuart found the cavalry and infantry there too strong for his force, and he made no attack.

On the 11th of October, the Fourth North Carolina cavalry dispersed a cavalry force at Culpeper Court House. In this charge, Colonel Ferebee and Adjutant Morehead of the Fifth were wounded, and Lieutenants Baker of the Second and Benton of the Fourth were killed. On the same day, Gen. W. H. F. Lee with his cavalry force and Johnston's North Carolina brigade commanded by Colonel Garrett of the Fifth regiment, [210] opposed the crossing of Buford's cavalry division at Morton's and Raccoon fords. The brigades of Buford that had crossed over were driven back. The Fifth, Twenty-third and five companies of the Twelfth regiment, under Colonel Garrett, crossed at Raccoon ford, and the Twentieth and five companies of the Twelfth crossed at Morton's ford, and followed the Federals to Stevensburg. These regiments succeeded in forcing the enemy to retire. The loss in the brigade was 4 killed and 38 wounded.

At Brandy Station, General Gordon reports: ‘Near Bradford's house I sent the First North Carolina cavalry to attack the enemy in rear while we were moving on his flank. That command captured and killed 60 of the enemy. Near Mr. Bott's house, the Fourth and Fifth were charged in flank by the Eighteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, and broke in considerable confusion. The brigade took no further active [part in the] operations during the day.’

While making a reconnaissance toward Catlett's Station on the night of the 13th, General Stuart suddenly found himself and command enveloped by a marching corps of Federal infantry. His situation was extremely critical, and a less resourceful commander would most probably have been captured. He, however, concealed his men in a body of woods so near the Federals that he could hear their conversation. His troops having

unbounded confidence in the resources of the major-general commanding, remained quiet and determined during the night. Gordon's Report.

A few bold men ran the gauntlet of the Federal lines to take word to General Lee of the perilous situation of his cavalry. At dawn a dense, fog prevented a disclosure of Stuart's presence. ‘An army corps,’ reports that officer, ‘halted on a hill just opposite to us, stacked arms, and went to making coffee. This operation had considerably progressed when a sharp [211] volley of musketry was heard on the Warrenton road. I waited until it appeared more general, when, believing that it was our attack in earnest, I opened seven guns upon the enemy and rained a storm of canister and shell upon the masses of men, muskets and coffee-pots. Strange to say, the fire of our infantry ceased as soon as I opened, and I soon found myself maintaining an unequal contest with an army corps.’ The Federal batteries on the hill were turned on Stuart, and he ordered Gordon's brigade to cover his left flank. Unflinchingly the North Carolinians carried out the order. During this action, Gordon saw that a Federal regiment was about to reach the road of the retreating line, and ordered the First North Carolina cavalry to charge it. Though the First was small in number, Col. Thomas Ruffin, commanding it, led a dashing charge on the Federal bayonets and held the regiment back from the road. Colonel Ruffin, whom General Stuart described as a ‘model of worth, devotion and heroism,’ lost his life in the attack. General Gordon and Major Barringer were both wounded, but continued on duty. Sheer hard fighting alone extricated Stuart.

General Lee crossed the Rapidan early in October and moved toward Culpeper Court House,

with a view of bringing on an engagement with the Federal army. Lee's Report.

General Meade, however, retreated before Lee, and the Confederate army moved on toward Bristoe Station. Gen. A. P. Hill's corps reached that point first, and, on the 14th, brought on an engagement with Warren's Second corps. This was almost entirely, on the Confederate side, a North Carolina battle; for the two brigades that did nearly all the fighting were both from that State.

Just before reaching Bristoe, General Heth, commanding the advance division, was ordered to form line of battle on the road from Greenwich. Accordingly Cooke's North Carolina brigade was formed on the right of the road; [212] Kirkland's brigade, also North Carolinians, was formed to Cooke's left, and Walker's brigade was directed to move to Kirkland's left; but Cooke and Kirkland, having formed, were ordered forward before Walker could reach his post. Davis was held in reserve. A Federal force was soon discovered in Kirkland's front, but one of Poague's batteries caused it to retire, and General Heth was ordered to cross Broad run to follow up Poague's success. It was not known to the Confederate commander that the Federals were in force across the run; for their lines were marching parallel to a railroad that concealed them from sight. Cooke and Kirkland advanced, and no opportunity offered Walker to form on line with them. They encountered General Warren's Second corps drawn up along a line of railroad.

The Federal forces that these two brigades were ordered to attack were posted in a low cut almost perfectly sheltering the men, and behind an embankment forming equally good protection. Hays' division, consisting of the brigades of Smyth, Carroll and Owen, held the center. On his right was Webb's division, made up of Heath's and Mallon's brigades—Baxter not being present. Caldwell's division was on Hays' left, but the Confederate front was not long enough to reach his position, and only his skirmishers were engaged. Miles' brigade of Caldwell's division was supporting the artillery. The Federal brigades most severely engaged were those of Heath, Mallon and Owen.

Against these two divisions the two North Carolina brigades, under the protest of General Cooke, gallantly advanced. General Heth says of the Federal position: ‘On seeing our advance, the enemy formed his line in rear of the railroad embankment, his right resting on Broad run and hidden by a railroad cut. In his rear, a line of hills ascended to some 30 or 40 feet in height, giving him an admirable position for his artillery. The railroad cut and embankment gave him perfect protection [213] for his infantry.’ Two batteries of Ricketts—Brown and Arnold—occupied these advantageous positions and swept the slope down which the Confederates had to advance.

As General Cooke marched to the attack, his Carolina regiments were drawn up as follows: The Forty-sixth, Colonel Hall, on the right; the Fifteenth, Col. William MacRae, next; the Twenty-seventh, Colonel Gilmer, next, and on the left, the Forty-eighth, Colonel Walkup. General Kirkland's North Carolinians were on Cooke's left in this order: The Eleventh, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, and the Fifty-second, Lieut.-Col. B. F. Little, were on the left; the Twenty-sixth, Colonel Lane, the Forty-fourth, Colonel Singeltary, and the Forty-seventh, Colonel Faribault, on the right

Cooke's men, on the right, stepped to the front with boldness and began the descent of the slope. Then for the first time they saw the enemy's real line of battle; but their orders were to break it if possible. The batteries speedily got their range and the infantry fire was incessant. ‘As they fired up the hill,’ says Capt. J. A. Graham, ‘every one of their shots told.’ Almost at the first volley, General Cooke and Colonel Gilmer were seriously wounded. Col. E. D. Hall succeeded to the command of the brigade. Colonel Hall, seeing how rapidly his command was falling, rushed to the center and ordered the firing to cease and a charge to be made. The Twenty-seventh led off, followed by the other regiments. ‘The point from which we started the charge,’ says Graham,

was distinctly marked; in some cases ten men from each company lying dead or wounded on that line. Regimental History.

When these determined men reached within forty yards of the railroad, the Federals rose and delivered a volley that so thinned the shattered ranks that an order to fall back was given. In their exposed condition, to fall back was almost as dangerous as to [214] proceed. Col. William MacRae's thoughtful bravery, however, prevented much loss of life. He ordered his regiment to fall back by companies, and so poured a continuous return fire upon the hottest of the Federal front fire. Cooke lost 526 men2 in this action, which lasted only about forty minutes. The Twenty-seventh regiment, which, says Colonel Hall, went further than any other of his regiments, lost 204 out of 426 taken into action.

Kirkland's brigade was not called upon to endure so heavy a loss as Cooke's, for a pine field protected in part his advance, but his officers and men behaved with equal gallantry. His men fought their way into the railroad cut on the left of his line. The Eleventh and Fifty-second drove the Federals out of the cut and occupied it themselves. But they were exposed to a flank fire from infantry and an enfilade fire from artillery, and reluctantly gave up their advantage. General Kirkland was wounded, Colonel Martin was several times wounded, and a loss of 270 inflicted upon the brigade.

General Warren in his official report bears testimony to the fearlessness of the North Carolina men in their attacks. He reports, ‘the-enemy's line of battle boldly moving forward, one part of our own steadily awaiting it and another moving against it at double-quick. . . . The enemy was gallantly led, as the wounding of three [two] of his general officers in this attack shows, and even in retiring many retired but sullenly.’

Why these two brigades were left to fight an entirely unsupported battle against such odds seems never to have been explained. The total Confederate loss around Bristoe was 1,381. The total North Carolina loss, as shown by the official reports, was 912. This was divided as follows: killed, 133; wounded, 779.

A cavalry engagement, jocularly denominated by the Confederate troopers, ‘the Buckland Races,’ occurred on [215] the 18th. General Stuart, who was in front of Kilpatrick's division, received a note from General Fitzhugh Lee stating that he was moving to join his commander, and suggesting that Stuart with Hampton's division should retire in the direction of Warrenton, drawing the enemy after him. This being done, Lee was to come in from Auburn and attack in flank and rear while Stuart attacked in front. General Stuart's report tells the sequel: ‘This plan proved highly successful. Kilpatrick followed me cautiously until I reached the point in question, when the sound of artillery toward Buckland indicating that Major-General Lee had arrived and commenced the attack, I pressed upon them suddenly and vigorously in front, with Gordon [North Carolina brigade] in the center and Young and Rosser on his flanks. The enemy at first offered a stubborn resistance, but the charge was made with such impetuosity, the First North Carolina gallantly leading, that the enemy broke and the rout was soon complete. I pursued them from within three miles of Warrenton to Buckland, the horses going at full speed the whole distance.’ General Stuart quotes from a Northern writer, who speaks of Kilpatrick's retreat as ‘the deplorable spectacle of the cavalry dashing hatless and panic-stricken through the ranks of the infantry.’

In the operations around Rappahannock Station, Hays' brigade occupied a tete-de-pont on the enemy's side of the Rappahannock. Hoke's brigade, now commanded during General Hoke's absence, from a severe wound, by Col. A. C. Godwin, was ordered to cross the river to reinforce Hays. There, on the 7th of November, these two brigades were completely surrounded by the Federal First and Second corps, and a large part of them forced to surrender in spite of the efforts of Hays and of Godwin, a splendid officer, to extricate them. General Early thus speaks of this unfortunate affair: ‘Hoke's brigade had not at this time been captured, but they were hopelessly cut off from the bridge without any [216] means of escape and with no chance of being reinforced; and while making preparations to defend the bridge and prevent an increase of the disaster, I had the mortification to hear the final struggle of these devoted men, and to be made painfully aware of their capture without the possibility of being able to go to their relief.’ Eight hundred and forty-seven men of this brigade were thus made prisoners. Capt. Joseph Graham's North Carolina battery, posted on the Confederate side of the river, made continuous efforts to direct a successful fire upon the assailants of its comrades across the river.

On this same date, the Federals succeeded in crossing the Rappahannock at Kelly's ford notwithstanding the efforts of Rodes' division, which was guarding several fords along the river, to prevent it. The troops most actively engaged at Kelly's ford were the Second North Carolina, commanded at the opening of the affair by Colonel Cox, then, upon that officer's being wounded, by Lieutenant-Colonel Stallings, and the Thirtieth North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel Sillers commanding. Colonel Sillers also received a terrible wound. The North Carolina losses in these engagements were: killed, 6; wounded, 109.

The most serious infantry engagement during the November movements was at Payne's farm, or Bartlett's mill, on the 27th. The Federals unexpectedly attacked Johnson's division. The main attack fell on Steuart's and Walker's brigades. Here again, as at Bristoe, the heaviest losses fell on North Carolina troops. The Third North Carolina, Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, sustained the heaviest loss in the division—72 men. The First North Carolina, Colonel Thruston, suffered next in casualties. His regiment and the Fourth Virginia each lost 55 men. The brigades of Hoke, Daniel and Ramseur were several times under fire, but not seriously engaged. The total North Carolina casualties in the infantry were: killed, 17; wounded, 138. [217]

Gordon's cavalry brigade had a skirmish at New Hope church, and took part in a sharp action at Parker's store. The Second North Carolina and a portion of the Fifth, all under command of Captain Reese, made a successful dismounted attack on the Federal skirmishers. In this affair, Captain Reese and Lieutenant Copeland were killed. [218]

1 Official Reports, Rebellion Records.

2 Official Returns, Army of Northern Virginia.

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