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Fayetteville Arsenal. [from the Wilmington (N. C.) Messenger, March, 1896.] history of the Sixth (N. C.) Battalion Armory Guards.

Dear Sir—In obedience to your request, I beg leave respectfully to write a sketch of the ‘6th Battalion Armory Guard,’ stationed at the Fayetteville Arsenal and Armory during the war between the States.

It may be well to give a brief sketch of the Fayetteville Arsenal and Armory as a matter of historical record, touching the construction of the various buildings (as there is not a vestage of it left), having been totally destroyed by General Sherman on his famous march through the Carolinas. The Fayetteville Arsenal and Armory was located on what is known as ‘Hay Mount,’ which overlooks the historic old city of Fayetteville, and was constructed by the United States Government previous to the war, under the immediate supervision of Mr. William Bell, as architect; but in charge of various army officers of high distinction as commandants of the post. It was one of the loveliest spots anywhere in the South, and was very often visited by strangers from various States, and greatly admired. Conspicuous octagonal high brick and stone towers were located at the four corners of the enclosure, while symmetrical walls and massive iron railing and heavy iron gates surrounded the premises. Handsome, two-story brick and stone buildings for officers' quarters and the accommodation of the troops adorned the front and sides, while in the centre, rear and both sides were large commodious buildings, used for the storing of small arms, fixed ammunition, commissary and quartermaster supplies. In the centre of the enclosure were the gun-carriage and machine-shops, the former with Mr. [232] T. S. Barratt as superintendent, who had served the United States Government formerly at Old Point Comfort for a number of years before the war, while in the rear part of this enclosure was a large rifle-factory, containing all of the rifle-works brought from Harper's Ferry, Va., and handsome frame dwellings for various officers' quarters. With the exception of these last, all the other buildings were constructed of brick, trimmed with stone. Mr. Bell continued during the entire war as architect of all buildings, and was a Scotchman of national reputation.

Some 100 yards from the rifle-factory were two large brick magazines for storage of powder and fixed ammunition.

Old officers.

The commanding officers of this post, previous to the war, were in order as follows: Major Laidley, United States Army; Captain Dwyer, United States Army; Captain J. A. J. Bradford, United States Army, the latter being in command at the opening of hostilities as United States Army officer. Captain Bradford resigned from the United States Army, and was made colonel in the Confederate service. In 1863, I think it was, he was taken desperately ill, and died, and was buried with military honors by the battalion in the rear of the arsenal building, at his particular request. I had the honor of commanding the escort. There was stationed at the post, under command of Lieutenant J. A. DeLagnel, a company of United States Artillery, who held the post up to the day, when, by order of Governor John W. Ellis, General Walter Draughon, in command of the State militia, was ordered to take possession of the arsenal. General Draughon gathered his forces, consisting of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Company, under command of Major Wright Huske; the Lafayette Light Infantry, under command of Captain Joseph B. Starr, and organized other companies from ‘Cross Creek,’ ‘Flea Hill,’ ‘Rock Fish,’ and .‘Que Whiffle’ districts, representing branches of the artillery, cavalry and infantry service, numbering in all about 500 men. General Draughon ascended the hill and halted his command just outside of the arsenal enclosure, and made a formal demand of the surrender of this property in the name of his Excellency, John W. Ellis, Governor of the State.

Lieutenant DeLagnel accompanied General Draughon where he could make an inspection of his command, when the following conversation took place between himself and the famous old ‘Captain Bulla’: Lieutenant DeLagnel halted in front of Captain Bulla's [233] command, and remarked to the captain that he had seemed to have arms but no ammunition, whereupon Captain Bulla ran his hands in both pockets of his pants, pulling out buckshot and powder-horns, and extending them to him, said: ‘Lieutenant DeLagnel, are these all the men you have to capture my battery and the arsenal?’ ‘No,’ said Captain B., ‘the woods is full of them.’

Lieutenant DeLagnel having satisfied himself that any effort on his part to resistance would be fruitless, not only on account of the number of Confederates opposing him, compared with his handful of men, coupled with Captain Bulla's announcement, that ‘the woods was full of them,’ the surrender was accomplished without the firing of a gun, except the salute by Lieutenant DeLagnel's battery on hauling down the United States Flag. Lieutenant DeLagnel, with his command, marched out of the enclosure with their small arms and equipments, and the State troops marched in and took possession. The State troops were kept on guard until the Confederate States' forces took charge.

Returned South.

Lieutenant DeLagnel took the steamer for Wilmington, and shipped by vessel for New York, where he gave up his command, and resigned his United States commission, and returned South and joined the Confederate army, and was one of the most distinguished and gallant officers in the service. He was severely wounded, I think, at the battle of Rich Mountain, in Virginia, and for two days and nights remained in the woods within the enemy's lines for fear of being taken a prisoner, and without any attention of a surgeon to look after his wound, and it was in mid-winter, which caused him great suffering.

Captain John C. Booth was placed in command of the arsenal, and was also an old United States Army man, and thoroughly versed in ordnance duties, and selected for the position on that account. The task of organizing, enlarging the buildings, and adding an armory of construction was a gigantic undertaking. Captain Booth worked incessantly, never considering that every day his bodily strength was growing weaker, until he was forced to take to his bed, and in a few short months he died. He was buried with military honors by his battalion, and I had the honor of commanding the escort. He was an officer of marked ability, a splendid executive officer, and was universally loved by the entire army force. He was promoted to the [234] rank of major during his illness. On the death of Major Booth, Captain Charles P. Bolles assumed command, until LieutenantColo-nel J. A. DeLagnel was placed in command, which was, I think, about three weeks. Colonel DeLagnel only remained at the post about six months, when he returned to the field again in Virginia. He was relieved at the arsenal by Lieutenant-Colonel F. L. Childs, who continued in command until the close of the war.

Sixth Battalion Armory guard.

The companies composing this command were the Ordnance Corps, of fifty men and three artificers—Joseph D. Gurley, Neill L. Monroe, and Alexander McDonald. Thomas Stevens, an old United States army sergeant, was appointed by Major Booth as ordnance sergeant and commissary and quartermaster-sergeant of the post.

The special duty of the Ordnance Corps was to perform guard duty. It was Company A, of the battalion.

Company B.

CaptainArmand L. DeRosset.

First Lieutenant—Ray.

Second Lieutenant—Monroe.

Third Lieutenant—Ritter.

This command was organized and drilled at this post, and constituted a part of this battalion until they were ordered to report at Wilmington to Major-General Whiting. Captain DeRosset left Fayetteville with 118 rank and file. On reaching the city of Wilmington, Company G of this battalion was thrown with Company B, as a battalion, with Captain DeRosset in command.

Captain DeRosset had been severely wounded twice in the battles in Virginia, and was again wounded at Averasboro, N. C., in 1865, a few days days before the surrender at Appomattox.

Company C-10 men, rank and file.

CaptainGeorge W. Decker.

First Lieutenant—Charles R, Banks.

Second LieutenantCharles E. Roberts.

Third LieutenantAlonzo Garrison.


Company D—73 men, rank and file.

CaptainWilliam P. Wemyes.

First LieutenantJames F. Woodward.

Second LieutenantSamuel J. Walton.

Third LieutenantMalcolm McInnis.

Company E—61 men, rank and file.

CaptainMartin VanBuren Talley.

First LieutenantRobert F. Epps.

Second LieutenantWilliam T. Battley.

Third LieutenantJames A. Ahern.

Company F—69 men, rank and File—Cavalry.

CaptainJames W. Strange.

First LieutenantR. H. Holliday.

Second LieutenantC. McMurray.

This command only remained for few months, and was transferred to the army in Virginia.

Company G—Sixty-one men, rank and file.

CaptainJames D. Buie.

First LieutenantLauchlin W. Currie.

Second LieutenantGeorge W. Gates.

The total rank and file of this battalion was 509 men.

The battalion was as well drilled and as thoroughly disciplined as any command in the Confederate service.

When General Butler made his famous attack on Fort Fisher and attempted to land his troops, all work at the arsenal and armory was suspended, and this entire command were sent to report to Major-General Whiting. The command remained several days near Fort Fisher, and finding General Butler had abandoned his purpose, this command was ordered back to Fayetteville, and work again resumed in the various departments. The large majority of this battalion had been in many a hard-fought battle with Lee and Jackson, but, being skilled artisans and mechanics of a high order, they were detailed from their commands for this most important duty at the arsenal and armory, but they were always ready to obey the summons to the field. [236]

The Confederate Government moved the Harper's Ferry machinery from the rifle factory there to the Fayetteville arsenal and armory, together with thirty-five men, with their families, with Mr. Phillips Burkhart as master-armorer. The service of these skilled workmen was highly appreciated, as the work turned out by them was greatly needed by the troops in the field. About 500 splendid rifles were turned out monthly, with any amount of small-arm ammunition, and numbers of heavy-size gun-carriages for sea-coast defences, and many light artillery gun-carriages and caissons.

As this is a matter of history, as I understand it, it will not be amiss to give the names of these pioneers from Harper's Ferry, who left their homes and followed the Southern flag, and cast their lot with the Southern cause. They were patriots worthy of their names, and a roll of them should be preserved. There were six Englishmen, whose names I have been unable to get, who also deserve especial mention at my hands for similar service.

Harpers Ferry men.

James Merrick, John Hewett, Otho Hewett, William Martin, William Copeland, Philip Schavman, William Nicholson, Tollect Duke, Louis Keyser, Joe Keyser, John Schilling, John Price, Timothy Harrington, Philip Burkhart, Joe Burkhart, McCloud Lewis, Jessie Graham, John Cord, Levi Decker, Thomas Boswell, Joe Boswell, V. Talley, J. E. P. Daingerfield, Jacob Sponcellor, Richard Clowe, Hamson Clowe, John Claspy, William Hewitt, and George W. Decker.

Sergeant Stephens deserves special mention at my hands. He was an old United States sergeant, and joined the Southern army at great peril. He was one of the most methodical and accurate accountants I ever knew—wrote a beautiful hand-writing, was never sick, or lost a day during the four years he was in our service.

When Lieutenant-Colonel DeLagnel was returned to the field the command of the arsenal and armory devolved upon me for about two months—until the arrival of Major F. L. Childs.

The following is a roll of the various officers who were at this post at various times during the war:

Major John C. Booth, Captain Charles P. Bolles (Captain Bolles had been employed on the coast survey by the United States Government for many years previous to the war, and was a man of marked ability. Since the close of hostilities he has been employed [237] by the United States Government in the Bureau of Hydrography at Washington, D. C. Captain Samuel A. Ashe was the assistant to Captain Bolles in the laboratory and was a most valuable officer in that department.) Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. DeLagnel, Lieutenant-Colonel F. L. Childs, Captain Samuel A. Ashe, Captain John L. Holmes, Captain J. E. P. Dangerfield, Dr. Benjamin Robinson, as surgeon of post; T. J. Robinson, as superintendent of laboratory, from his long experience in that branch of business in Washington, D. C., Captain J. E. P. Dangerfield was made military storekeeper and paymaster by Major Booth from long experience at the arsenal and armory at Harper's Ferry.

Thomas C. DeRosset acted as Secretary in Colonel Child's office, Mr. Robert Johnson was chief clerk, and E. P. Powers assistant to Johnson. In the military storekeeper's office was William J. Woodward, who was placed in the ordnance department by Major Booth and General J. Gorgas, Chief of the Ordnance Bureau at Richmond, and he was one of the most efficient officers at the post. On the approach of General Sherman's army all work, of course, was suspended, and the entire command, after removing all the machinery possible, together with the large amount of supplies, were ordered in camp, and remained there until the surrender of Greensboro.

Matthew P. Taylor, Major 6th Battalion, Armory Guard.

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J. A. Delagnel (12)
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Joe Burkhart (1)
James D. Buie (1)
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