The 23rd North Carolina Infantry.
[from the Raleigh, N. C., news and observer, April 11, 1897.]
Organized in 1861, as the 13th regiment of Volunteers.
Upon the secession of North Carolina
, May 20, 1861, the convention passed an ordinance authorizing the raising and equipping of ten regiments of infantry, to be designated ‘State Troops,’ the said regiments to be numbered from one to ten, inclusive, in the order of their organization, the enlistment in the same to be made for and during the war. Subsequently the raising of other regiments, as volunteers for the term of twelve months, was authorized, these to be, in like manner, numbered from one up, in the order of their organization.
This distinction between ‘State Troops’ and volunteers
was kept up until the re-organization under the general Conscript Act, which went into effect on the 17th of May, 1862, when the order of numbering the regiment was changed by adding the volunteer regiment, as originally numbered, to the number of ‘State Troops,’ by which the 1st regiment of volunteers became the 11th, and the others, in like manner, ten numbers beyond those they first bore.
The re-arrangement, therefore, changed the old 13th into the 23rd.
Under the ordinance referred to, ten companies from the following counties, viz: one from each, Richmond
, Anson, Montgomery
and three from Granville
, were entered in the official records of the adjutant-general
, as the 13th Regiment Volunteers.
The several companies were ordered to rendezvous at Garysburg, Northampton county
, and the line officers thereof directed to hold an election for field officers on Wednesday, the 10th of July, 1861.
At the election so held John F. Hoke
, of Lincoln
, at the time being Adjutant-General
of the State
, was elected Colonel
; John W. Leak
, of Richmond
, and Daniel H. Christie
, at that time of Granville county
, but originally from Virginia
, was elected major.
Isaac J. Young
, of Granville
, was the first adjutant of the regiment.
During the war the office of colonel of the regiment was succeeded to respectively by D. H. Christie
, commissioned May 10, 1862; Charles C. Blacknall
, August 15, 1863; William S. Davis
, of Warren
, a transfer from the 12th North Carolina, who was commissioned in October, 1864.
That of lieutenant-colonel was succeeded to by Robert D. Johnston
, of Lincoln
, commissioned May, 1862, who was promoted to a brigadier generalship in July, 1863.
That of major by Ed. J. Christian
, of Montgomery
, May, 1862, and by Charles C. Blacknall
, May, 1862—more than a year before he became colonel of the regiment.
The office of adjutant, subsequent to original organization, was held respectively by Vines E. Turner
, of Granville
, commissioned May, 1862; Junius French
, of Yadkin, June, 1863; Thomas F. Powell
, of Richmond
, July, 1863, and by Lawrence T. Everett
, of Richmond
, May, 1864.
The first quartermaster
of the regiment was Edwin G. Cheatham
, of Granville
, commissioned July, 1861; succeeded by W. I. Everett
, of Richmond
, in the spring of 1862; by Vines E. Turner
, June, 1863.
The first commissary was James F. Johnston
, of Lincoln
The first chaplain, Theophilus W. Moore
, a Methodist, of Person, who later in the war was succeeded by Rev. Berry
, a Baptist, of Lincoln
The names of Robert J. Hicks
, of Granville
, surgeon; Dr. Caldwell
, of Mecklenburg
surgeon, and William F. Gill
, of Granville
, complete, as far as we know accurately, the field and staff of the regiment.
The companies of the regiment and their commanding chiefs were as follows:
Company A-Captain William F. Marllee
Company B—Captain George W. Seagle
Company C—Captain C. J. Cochran
Company D—Captain Louis H. Webb
Company E—Captain James H. Horner
Company F—Captain M. F. McCorkle
Company G—Captain Charles C. Blacknall
Company H—Captain E. M. Fairis
Company I—Captain Rufus Amis
Company K—Captain Robert D. Johnston
On Wednesday, July 17, 1861, Colonel Hoke
, with seven companies of the regiment, left the ‘Camp of Instruction’ at Garysburg, N. C.
, for Virginia
, leaving three companies, viz: ‘C,’ ‘D’ and ‘H’ behind, because of the much sickness (measles) among the men. These seven companies reached Manassas Junction
on the 21st of July, while the battle was raging, but took no part therein as they were not ordered to the field.
On August 5th, the three remaining companies, under command of Major Christie
, broke camp at Garysburg
After several days of delay at Richmond, Va.
, for want of transportation facilities, the three companies were enabled to reach their destination and join the regiment which was then in quarters at Camp Wigfall, near the late battle-field.
For several weeks encamped at this place, the regiment suffered exceedingly from sickness.
By the surgeon's statement the sick-call at one time numbered 240, while fifty-seven of the cases were typhoid fever.
The mortality was large.
From camp to camp the command was moved until it went into winter-quarters on Bull Run
in December, where it remained, with only such changes in position as the exigencies of the situation in outpost and picket duty required, until the 8th day of March, 1862.
Meantime the regiment had been incorporated into a brigade with the 5th N. C. ‘State Troops,’ Colonel Duncan K. McRae
; the 20th Georgia, Colonel Smith
; the 24th Virginia, Colonel Jubal A. Early
, and the 38th Virginia, of which brigade Colonel Early
being the ranking officer, he was placed in command, subsequently being commissioned as brigadier-general.
In the fall
of 1861 numerous changes in the officers of
the line of the regiment had taken place, which perhaps it is not material to note in detail.
The winter was a severe one, and great was the mortality among the troops from pneumonia, typhoid fever, and other diseases.
The old camps were abandoned on the 8th of March, 1862, and at daylight the regiment moved out, throwing away tents and camp equippage; sum total of first days' march, one and a half miles from starting point, progress being checked by confusion of orders.
Early was now acting as major-general, in command of the fourth division.
Not until sunset of the 9th did the grand column move again, reaching Manassas Junction
An immense amount of property was destroyed, as the army commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston
was to change base to the peninsula.
A very carnival, restrained to some extent by the power of military discipline, reigned that night at the junction.
The soldiers got rich with plunder; depots of supplies and the express office were fired and barrels of whiskey opened at the head, poured their contents in streams upon the ground.
A rough soldier was observed with six canteens of whiskey around his neck, and, as if he ‘wept such waste to see,’ actually wading in a puddle of the stuff while in a ditty, tuneless but gay, he whistled his regrets over departed spirits.
Our army at Manassas
, numbering less than 50,000, was confronted by a host of more than 100,000. General McClellan
, styled through the favoring pride of his friends, ‘the Little Napoleon,’ fell upon the expedient of transferring his troops by the way of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay
, anticipating an easy victory over the small army of Magruder
, and then ‘on to Richmond
’ by the Peninsular route.
This move on the part of Mc-Clellan, though conducted in great secrecy, was not long hidden from the eagle eye of Johnston
; hence the retreat from Manassas
, and his resolve to reinforce Magruder
and take command of the entire force at Yorktown
With the other commands the regiment reached Yorktown
on the 8th of April, ‘62, a stop having been made on the south side of the Rappahannock
of several weeks duration, to await the full development of McClellan
, the trying duty of service in the trenches began.
On the 17th, after nine days behind the breastworks, the boys had their first experience with cannon balls and bombshells.
The picket line was situated between opposing batteries, three-fourths of a mile apart, and more than one shell exploded in uncomfortable proximity to them.
When the first shot was fired directly at the position occupied
by the 23d regiment, the writer was on duty in the rifle pits as sergeant in command, some 200 yards in front of our breastworks.
Well is remembered the ‘sensation’ produced by the first shell that fanned the cheeks of ye innocent braves who occupied those rifle-pits, and particularly the moving effect wrought upon a certain tongue-tied individual whose deportment now, as contrasted with previous pretensions, presented a striking consistency with the spirit of the ancient ballad:
Naught to him possesses greater charms
Upon a Sunday or a holiday,
Than a snug chat of war and war's alarms,
While people fight in Turkey, far away,
for, with a precipitate bound, the tongue-tied warrior made tracks for the breastworks, exclaiming, in answer to remonstrances and threats of court-martial: ‘Dam 'fi come 'ere to be hulled out this way when I can't see who's a shootina at me’—using the term hulled instead of shelled as synonomous, though he hardly thought of it at the time.
At a period a little later in the service such conduct would have been most severely punished, but it is not remembered if ‘Dam 'fi’ got more than a sharp reprimand and orders for an immediate return to his post.
If he ever afterwards flinched, we were not informed of it. He was killed at Gettysburg
The term of service at Yorktown
was not at all irksome, nor was it unmarked by occasional diversion from the tread-mill routine of duty.
About the quaint old town were many points of interest that awakened patriotic contemplation.
Soldiers would, as relaxation from duty permitted, repair to the spot, marked by a marble slab and a half mile from the town, where Cornwallis gave up his sword to Washington
; and, standing on the consecrated ground, they would breathe the prayer that here may America
's second revolution, as did the first, have an ending.
even then, as if in derision of prophecy and hope, there hung upon the horizon a cloud—not yet comparatively bigger than a man's hand, but which was destined to increase in proportions and intensity, and ere long to burst and scatter destruction and death over all the land.
On the night of the 3d of May Yorktown
Twelve miles out in the suburbs of the ancient town of Williamsburg
the battle of the 5th of May occurred, rendered necessary by the too eager pursuit of the enemy.
From a point on the road several miles beyond the town towards Richmond
's Brigade—now composed
of the 5th and 23d North Carolina, the 24th Virginia and the 2d Florida Battalion—was ordered back to aid Longstreet
in resisting the furious attack.
At the moment of our reaching the field the bloody drama was going on in full view of the town.
Much was said at the time and afterwards of the part the 23d Regiment took in that battle.
The writer can only give facts from a personal standpoint, as recalled by him, a private then in ranks, conscious too of a liability to error in an understanding of the existing facts.
The design was a charge by Early
's Brigade against a strong position manned by Hancock
's Brigade, on the enemy's right.
When drawn up in line for the forward movement, General Early
rode the length of the brigade, using, in that fine-toned voice of his, something like the words: ‘Boys, you must do your duty.’
The line had steadily advanced a 100 yards or more when a body of thick forest of trees and undergrowth confronted the 22d, into which the regiment marched, the line at once becoming irregular and more or less jumbled by reason of the natural obstacles to its progress.
At this moment General D. H. Hill
appeared, mounted, in our front, and saying sharply to the men, now confused in ranks and each one commanding his comrades: ‘Hush your infernal noise.’
In an instant more the right wing of the brigade, having greatly the advantage of ground in marching, as we believe, and thus coming first in view of the enemy's battery, received their galling fire, and was hurled back by a fury of shot and shell irresistible by mortal force.
The 5th North Carolina made a gallant but fruitless charge, losing many valuable lives, and the 23d did not support it at the critical moment.
That moment was of the briefest possible span; like a sea wave against the sea wall, the charge bounded back instantly.
Colonel D. K. McRae
, of the 5th North Carolina, alleged that the 23d was inexcusably derelict in duty, and that its colonel halted the regiment in those woods without authority.
, on the contrary, maintained that General Early
gave the order to halt.
Whether the command of ‘halt’ and ‘lie down’ was given to the 23d a second sooner than the batteries opened on the assaulting columns, would be hard to tell, for the action of the 23d in halting and lying down appeared to be about the same moment a portion of the assaulting force was rushing pell-mell back upon its line in the woods.
It was all the work of a few minutes, and the brigade, chagrined at defeat and mourning the loss of many gallant spirits, fell back in order.
Only four or five men in the 23d were wounded, and this by random bullets.
General Joseph E. Johnston
, in a conversation with the writer several years after the war, placed the responsibility for this charge upon General D. H. Hill
He said he did not order it made, but permitted it only, however, after repeated requests from General Hill
The enemy seemed content to hold his own, without much further effort to advance his line as the shades of night came on. During the night and early dawn of the 6th the grand retreat was resumed.
The 6th of May found the army on the march without a mouthful to eat, as the wagons had gone far ahead towards Richmond
On the evening of the 9th the Chickahominy
was reached, and here the wagons were overtaken, much to the delight of drooping hearts and hungry stomachs.
On this day, while bivouacked on the banks of the river, the reorganization of companies in the 23d Regiment took place, and new regimental officers were elected, as follows: Daniel H. Christie
; Robert D. Johnston
, former captain of Company K, Lieutenant-Colonel
; Ed. J. Christian
, former lieutenant of Company C, Major
; Vines E. Turner
, former lieutenant of Company G, Adjutant.
The battle of Seven Pines
was fought on the 31st of May, 1862.
Here the 23d received the first real ‘baptism of fire.’
The attack was made by General Johnston
with a view of capturing or destroying two divisions of the enemy which had been thrown forward to the southern side of the Chickahominy
The brunt of the fight was borne by D. H. Hill
's Division, to which the 23d belonged.
Samuel Garland, Jr.
, a Virginian, now commanded the brigade.
The four brigades of Garland
stormed the enemy's camp and captured everything as it stood, with twelve pieces of artillery, while General Casey
's headquarters and official papers fell into the hands of the brave Confederates.
At this point of attack the victory was certainly complete; and if equal progress had been made to the right and left of the centre, then might General Johnston
's anticipations have been fully realized in the capture or destruction of the two divisions, with which purpose in view, as already indicated, the attack had been made.
It is not our intention to attempt a studied description of any battles, nor, indeed, is it essential to the purpose and limited province of this sketch.
Besides, it is a difficult matter, even from the testimony of eye-witnesses and participants and with complete data in hand, to describe the position of any one regiment relative to that of another in battle.
And again, with reference to true Confederate
soldiers, what is said of the fighting qualities and achievements of one command may, with proper exception and qualification, be said of another—for indeed were they ‘Romans-all.’
We would, to compass our wishes, recall the scenes of each battle and impart to them a descriptive glow that might, in some degree at least, measure with the grave reality at the time they were enacted.
Time inevitably casts a dimness over any event, however dear to the heart its memories may be; and we cannot hope at the best to give to those scenes more than a feeble semblance of what they really were.
We would, were it practicable, give experiences in ‘words that burn’ to the high-born purposes and resolves that stirred the hearts of those gallant spirits who fell in the discharge of duty, and around the critical hour of their fall would we throw a halo of glory that, reaching forward, might consecrate their names for all time to come.
But the task is above our skill, and we must be content in the hope that we shall be able to place on record a simple and true statement of some of their deeds, with regrets that the whole thrilling story can never be told.
At Seven Pines
the natural conditions were anything but favorable to an attack on the enemy.
Heavy rains had fallen, and the earth everywhere was sloppy and boggy.
On the firing of three big guns as a signal, the line of attack moved out and across a field of wheat towards the enemy.
After crossing the field, the 23d found in its front, a swamp thick with undergrowth and tangled vines, and about waist deep in water.
At this point was met the fire from the opposing batteries supported by musketry, and many of our boys fell in the water.
Some, doubtless, were drowned, whose wounds were not necessarily fatal.
Beyond this swamp was encountered a net work of abatis—hundred of tree laps with the ends of limbs pointed and sharpened.
Here many a brave boy met his fate without flinching.
The right under Huger
, the centre under Longstreet
and D. H. Hill
, and the left under G. W. Smith
, were pressing steadily forward.
A Northern writer, from this point of view, describes the scene thus:
Our shot tore their ranks wide open, and shattered them asunder in a manner frightful to witness, but they closed up and came on as steadily as English veterans.
When they got within 400 yards, we closed our case shot and opened on them with canister.
Such destruction I never witnessed.
At each discharge great gaps were
made in their ranks. * * * But they at once closed and came steadily on never halting, never wavering, right through the woods, over the fence, through the field, right up to our guns, and sweeping everything before them, captured our artillery and cut our whole division to pieces.
At every other point than the centre the attack seems to have been barren of any material results.
Starting in well, yet the assault on the enemy's left flank failed, because, by reason of the swollen condition of the water, General Huger
was unable to move his division to the proper place.
At the same time the difficulties that impeded the advance of General G. W. Smith
, was scarcely less formidable, and he failed to break the enemy's right flank, though desperate and bloody efforts were made.
According to the plan of attack, Generals D. H. Hill
assailed the centre of the enemy's line of entrenchment; and it was at this point-notwithstanding the boggy condition of the ground and the great impediment of tangled undergrowth — that the attack was successful, and the flight of the enemy continuous from one line of works upon another for a distance of two miles, when night put an end to the conflict.
Among the killed at Seven Pines
was Major Edwin J. Christian
, elected at the reorganization about two weeks before; Captain C. C. Blacknall
, of of Company G, then became Major
of the regiment, Isaac J. Young
, succeeding to the Captaincy of Company G. Major Christian
was a native of Montgomery county
—a gallant soldier, while in all relations of his life he had borne a high and honorable name.
Captain Ambrose Scarborough
, of Company C, though written as among the killed in the battle, fell on the afternoon preceding while leading a reconnoitering party.
A native also of Montgomery county
, his career had been alike honorable in peace and war. The officers wounded in the battle were, Lieutenant-Colonel R. D. Johnston
, Captain William Johnston
, Captain I. J. Young
, Lieutenant McDonald
. Lieutenants Luria
, both of Granville
, were killed.
The killed of privates and non-commissioned officers numbered thirty-five, while seventy-eight was the number of the same ranks wounded.
These figures are taken from Moore
's Roster, and we believe, are about the actual casualties.
, was wounded in the arm, face and neck, had his horse killed under him, and was shot down within fifty feet of where the breastworks and artillery were.
From divers causes, sickness mainly, the regiment was able to go into action at Seven Pines
, with only about two hundred and twenty-five men, according to the statement of Captain
A. T. Cole
, who commanded Company D after the reorganization.
having been badly wounded at Seven Pines
, General Robert E. Lee
was now in command.
After Seven Pines
, the boys went into camp near Richmond
, and here several weeks were passed in drilling.
The Federal line of battle stretched along the Chickahominy
a distance of nine miles, the right wing resting upon the northern bank of the stream, and extending a short distance above the village of Mechanicsville
, six miles from Richmond
The fighting at Mechanicsville
, on the evening of the 26th of June, opened the ball that resulted in the demoralization of McClellan
's forces, and his rapid retreat to the shelter of his gun boats in James river
According to General Lee
's plan of attack, Jackson
threw his force upon the right flank of the enemy, whilst A. P. and D. H. Hill
pressed them vigorously at other points.
Their breastworks were soon carried, and the enemy fell back one mile to a stronger line of works, from which position A. P. Hill
failed to dislodge them.
Night came on, but an artillery contest was still maintained until a late hour.
Next day at dawn the Confederates
renewed the attack, after a bloody conflict of two hours, the enemy, realizing that the mighty ‘Stonewall
’ had got in their rear, abandoned their position, destroying ammunition, &c., and fell back to a yet stronger line of works.
In fact they had three lines of battle here, each protected by breastworks extending from a point on the left near Gaines' Mill
, to a point on the right beyond Cold Harbor.
In the attack on this position, the division of D. H. Hill
—to which the 23d belonged—was the first to become engaged.
When the battle became general, and the whole of Jackson
's and Longstreet
's corps had come into action, a charge was ordered and the first line of works carried—then the second line, then the third; and now McClellan
's army was on the wing and running for dear life.
It has been a disputed point between Confederate commands as to which was entitled to the glory of first mounting the enemy's works at Cold Harbor. General Lee
officially paid high compliment to D. H. Hill
and his division in this battle.
Northern writers admit that their right wing gave way first, and it was at this point that D. H. Hill
's charge was directed.
's defeated army fell back upon Malvern Hill
, a strongly entrenched position, where he managed to concentrate his forces and park his three hundred pieces of artillery.
Here again the division of D. H. Hill
opened the fight by a vigorous attack upon the enemy's right.
Through some misunderstanding, the attack upon the left, was not promptly made, and from the fact the
enemy drew reinforcements from their left and threw them over to the right to oppose General Hill
's advance—the fire from the gunboats in the river at the same time being directed so as to guard against probable approach upon their left.
The first line was broken and gave way before the daring troops of Hill
's division, but not being properly supported to meet the accumulating odds against them, the position gained had to be abandoned.
's attack upon the enemy's left was not made until near the close of the day, and, though desperate efforts were made at this point to break the Federal
line, no material advantage had been gained when darkness closed the struggle.
The brave Confederates had been baffled, but not beaten.
Resting upon their arms that night, they intended to renew the attack next morning, but during the night the enemy had stolen away, leaving the dead and wounded on the field.
They had sought and found protection under a powerful fleet of gun-boats at Harrison's Landing
, and this closed the series of ‘Seven Days Battles Around Richmond
The greatest loss sustained by the 23rd in the seven days of fighting was at Malvern Hill
According to Captain Cole
, of Co. D, the number of killed in this battle was about thirty; the ‘Roster’ records the loss not so large, the number of wounded, by Captain Cole
, was estimated at about seventy-five.
The number of the regiment engaged in this closing fight was between 150 and 175, officers and privates.
Sergeant-Major W. F. Gill
, of Granville
, was killed at Malvern Hill
; Captain Cole
, of Co. D, and Lieutenant Munday
, of ‘K,’ were wounded.
, of Granville
, was wounded in the fight at Gaines' Mill
, and Captain Young
of the same county wounded at Malvern Hill
After Malvern Hill
several weeks of quiet were passed near Richmond
No further movement was attempted by McClellan
on the Peninsula
The next movement of the Washington
government was to appoint John Pope
, the man who had ‘always seen only the backs of his enemies,’ to take command of the army.
With a ‘flourish of trumpets’ he began his preparations of threatening Richmond
from the north, which change of tactics was promptly apprehended by General Lee
's flank movement, by which he managed to strike Pope
at a point where he least expected, and after a sanguinary conflict at Cedar Run
put him to flight, winning large trophies and capturing many prisoners, it is unnecessary to speak.
This initiatory victory over Pope
led to active measures in Washington
to concentrate all the available Federal force on the
with which to reinforce Pope
Meanwhile, General Lee
, leaving D. H. Hill
's division behind to watch the movements of McClellan
, marched on the 13th of August with the main body of his army for Gordonsville
, north of Richmond
's command followed in the latter part of August, consequently reaching Manassas
in time only to view the green plains strewn with the blue and gray dead, the living Federals having fled in confusion towards Washington
Such was the situation which marked the result of the three days fighting known as ‘Second Manassas
, my Maryland
With what bounding hearts did our boys climb up the opposite shores of the Potomac
, looking confidently for the support and encouragement of the Maryland
people, but alas, such hopes were doomed to disappointment!
The army rested at Frederick City, Md., from the 6th until the 10th of September.
The first engagement on Maryland
soil was at South Mountain Gap, on the main road from Frederick City to Boonsborough
, along which the Federal
army was directing its march.
Here D. H. Hill
's divison, on the 14th, successfully held in check the main body of McClellan
's army thus enabling Jackson
to march to the Virginia
side and capture Harper's Ferry
, while Lee
was conducting his troops preparatory to the coming struggle at Sharpsburg
In the action at South Mountain
, known in Southern history as the battle of Boonsborough
, the 23rd Regiment bore a prominent part, and it was in this fight that General Garland
, the brigade commander, was killed.
It is well to recur to the report of this battle, as furnished by General D. H. Hill
to the Century
Magazine of May, 1886, for facts and observations, we quote:
In the retirement of Lee's army from Frederick to Hagerstown and Boonsborough, my division constituted the rear-guard.
It consisted of five brigades (Wise's brigade being left behind), and after the arrival at Boonsborough, was intrusted with guarding the wagon-trains and packs of artillery belonging to the whole army.
It was to save Lee
's trains and artillery that the battle was fought, and not to prevent the advance of McClellan
, as was believed in the North
from an exaggerated idea about the number of Confederates engaged.
My division was very small and was embarrassed with the wagon-trains and artillery of the whole army, save such as Jackson
had taken with him.
It must be remembered that the army now before McClellan
had been constantly marching and fighting since the 25th of June.
had fought McClellan
's army from Richmond
to the James
, and then turned round and fought Pope
's army, reinforced by McClellan
's, from the Rapidan
to the Potomac
The order excusing barefooted men from marching into Maryland
had sent thousands to the rear.
Divisions that had become smaller than brigades were when the fighting first began; brigades had become smaller than regiments, and regiments had become smaller than companies.
On the morning of the 14th, having fixed his lines of battle, General Hill
relates that, accompanied by Major Ratchford
of his staff, he was talking with a mountaineer who stood near his cabin, surrounded by his children.
The mountaineer supposing that the General
and the Major
were Federal officers, was giving information about roads and ‘rebels.’
‘Just then a shell came hurling through the woods, and a little girl began crying.
Having a little one at home of about the same size, I could not forbear from stopping a moment to say a few soothing words to the frightened child. * * The firing had aroused that prompt and gallant soldier, General Garland
, and his men were under arms when I reached the pike.
I explained the situation briefly to him, directed him to sweep through the woods, reach the road and hold it at all hazards, as the safety of Lee
's large train depended upon its being held.
He went off in high spirits, and I never saw him again.
I never knew a truer, braver, better man.’
's force was five regiments of infantry and Bondurant
's battery of artillery, his infantry force being a little less than a thousand men, all North Carolinians.
The five regiments were: The 5th, placed on the right; the 12th, placed as a support; the 23d, posted behind a low stone wall on the left of the 5th; then came the 20th and 30th.
From the nature of the ground and the duty to be performed, the regiments were not in contact with each other, and the 30th was 250 yards to the left of the 20th. Fifty skirmishers of the 5th North Carolina soon encountered the 23d Ohio, deployed as skirmishers under Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Hayes
, afterward President
of the United States
, and the action began at nine A. M. between Cox
's division and Garland
then gives the forces, respectively, engaged, and concludes that Cox
's infantry, artillery and cavalry, reached 3,000, while Garland
's opposing brigade numbered ‘scarce a thousand.’
, of the 13th North Carolina, later judge on the Supreme Court bench of this State, was with General Garland
when the latter received his fatal wound.
The effort of the enemy seemed to be to
turn the 13th, and Colonel Ruffin
in vain urged Gen. Garland
to go to the other part of his line.
With him ‘the post of danger was the post of honor.’
, in a letter to General Hill
, stated that he had just told General Garland
to get to a safer position from which to superintend his brigade when he received the mortal wound.
Says General Hill
: ‘Upon the fall of Garland
, Colonel McRae
, of the 5th North Carolina Regiment, assumed command, and ordered the two regiments on the left to close in to the right.’
This order was not received, or found impossible of execution.
The main attack was on the 23d North Carolina behind the stone-wall (Colonel Blacknall
, its commander, was then on sick furlough). General Hill
continues: ‘The Federals had a plunging fire upon this regiment (the 23d North Carolina), from the crest of the hill, higher than the wall, and only about fifty yards from it.’
The 12th Ohio made a charge upon Bondurant
's battery, and drew it off, failing, however, to capture it. The 30th Ohio advanced directly upon the stone-wall in their front, while a regiment moved upon the 23d North Carolina on each flank (a hot position for the 23d.) The result was, ‘some of the 30th Ohio forced through a break in the wall, and bayonets and clubbed muskets were used freely for a few minutes.
's brigade, demoralized by his death and by the furious assault on its centre, broke now in confusion and retreated behind the mountain, leaving some 200 prisoners of the 5th, 23d and 20th North Carolina in the hands of the enemy.
The brigade was too roughly handled to be of any further use that day.’
A half hour afterwards, according to General Hill
, General G. B. Anderson
, of North Carolina
, arrived with ‘a small but fine body of men,’ and made an effort to rescue the ground lost by Garland
's brigade, ‘but failed and met a serious repulse.’
The loss in Garland
's brigade is put by General Hill
at, killed and wounded 100; missing 200—and in concluding the account, he says:
If the battle of South Mountain was fought to prevent the advance of McClellan, it was a failure on the part of the Confederates; if it was fought to save Lee's trains and artillery, and to re-unite his scattered forces, it was a Confederate success.
The latter view was the true one.
On the 17th of September, the battle of Sharpsburg
, as known in Southern History, was fought.
Colonel D. K. McRae
, of the 5th North Carolina, was in command of the brigade.
The divisions of D. H. Hill
bravely held the centre and right in this action.
The 23d regiment here was able to muster but few men, comparatively, many members of the
regiment being bare-footed and absolutely unable to keep up with the rapid march over the rough and rocky roads.
For several days the ration-supply for the boys had been roasting-ears, hard-grained at that.
At one point in this fight the brigade wavered, and it occured through a mistake, or an order from some one not authorized to give it. While the line was advancing and driving the enemy before it a voice was heard: Cease firing—you are shooting your own men, at the same moment several hands being seen along the line waving as if to indicate a sign for retreat.
At this critical juncture the fire of the enemy in front increased, and a ‘run back’ by the brigade was the consequence.
No explanation was ever known for the mistake, ‘ruse’ or whatever it was. The loss of the regiment in the two battles of South Mountain
was about 45 privates and non-commissioned officers wounded and 15 or 20 killed; and of commissioned officers from 3 to 6 wounded; none killed.
Assistant Surgeon Jordan
was killed at South Mountain
awaited a revival of the attack next day, but the enemy declined to advance, and learning that reinforcements were coming forward to McClellan
, who had been put in command again after Pope
's defeat at Manassas
, General Lee
withdrew his forces and recrossed the Potomac
on the night of the 18th of September, 1862.
After returning to Virginia
, the army of Lee
remained for some time spread out in encampment from the vicinity of Martinsburg
, in a country noted for productive farms, rich in choicest fruits of the pasture and watered by never-failing streams.
The work of recruiting now commenced, and the effective force of the army was soon increased, the 23d getting its share by enlistment of conscripts and return of men who had been sick and wounded.
After resting for a period of weeks along the banks of the Opequan, we find the regiment being moved by rapid marches to meet the enemy at Fredericksburg
The part it took at Fredericksburg
was not very prominent.
After the death of Garland
, the brigade was commanded by General Alfred Iverson
, a Georgian.
After the battle of Sharpsburg
, and while around Fredericksburg
, General Rodes
commanded the division.
the regiment was on the extreme left, and was conspicuous in turning the enemy's right and accomplishing Hooker
Its loss was heavy at Chancellorsville
, C. C. Blacknall
, was wounded here, and fell into the hands of the enemy, was confined in the old Capitol prison at Washington
, at the time the Confederate
spy, Miss Belle Boyd
, was there; but was exchanged in time to return to the army before Gettysburg
in the 23d at Chancellorsville
was officially reported by General Rodes
, as 173 killed, wounded and missing. Among the killed was Captain James S. Knight
, of Rockingham, Richmond county
In the Gettysburg campaign
no part of the army acted a more important part than did the 23d North Carolina.
It was engaged in the fight of the first day at Gettysburg
, in which the brigade lost fifty-five per cent. in killed and wounded.
The loss in this regiment was so great the first day, that it could not be taken into action, as a regiment, the succeeding days.
The regiment was left without a commissioned officer, all being among the killed and wounded, and there remained but one non-commissioned officer and sixteen privates.
, D. H. Christie
, was mortally wounded.
Lieutenant-Colonel R. D. Jordan
was badly wounded through the lower jaw and neck.
, of Company G, killed on the field.
, first day at Gettysburg
, was disabled by a ball that entered his mouth, knocking out several teeth and passing back through the neck.
On the retreat to Virginia
, he was captured, his terrible wound having forced him to stop for rest at a farm house.
were also captured in an ambulance, but were rescued by Confederate cavalry and taken to Williamsport
The former died on the way to Winchester
managed to escape from his captors, but was taken again next morning, then taken to Fort McHenry
, where, with other officers, he was forced to draw lots for the fate of being shot in retaliation for a Federal Major
shot in Richmond
drew the unlucky number, and was condemned to execution, but for some reason his life was spared, then transferred to the horrors of Johnson Island
, where he spent the winter, returning to his home in March, 1864.
Against remonstrances of family and friends—although a wreck now of his former self, by reason of wounds and hardships—he scorned to accept a ‘bomb—proof’ position, but rejoined his regiment in time to go with Early
on his truly great march on Washington
By the way, it is said that Melville Holman
, of Colonel Blacknall
's old company in the 23d, was killed at a point nearer to Washington
than any other Confederate who fell in the war.
Now, some words as to the careers, respectively, of Christie
, the latter having succeeded the former as colonel of the regiment.
Daniel Harvey Christie
was born in Frederick county, Va.
, March 28, 1833.
In early life he displayed a fondness for military studies, and was educated at a military school.
He became a citizen of Henderson
Granville county, N. C.
, some time in 1857, taking charge of both the male and female schools of the town.
Of the former he established the Henderson Military Institute.
The breaking out of the war found him in this position.
He was quick to bound into the ring of military life, upon which he was destined to reflect so much honor and glory.
His first wound was received at Seven Pines
Again, at Cold Harbor, just after Seven Pines
, he was severely wounded and carried from the field.
Within sixty days he returned to the command, and devoted himself diligently to the work of recruiting and disciplining his regiment.
At South Mountain
his management of the regiment, under exceptionally trying circumstances, was such as to elicit from General Garland
words of highest praise for his regiment and himself, a few minutes before the general received his mortal wound.
, and when the army had recrossed the Potomac
, Colonel Christie
was ordered by General D. H. Hill
to take command of Brigadier-General Anderson
's Brigade, the latter having been terribly wounded.
He commanded this brigade until Colonel
, afterwards Major
, Bryan Grimes
reported for duty, when Christie
returned to his own regiment
the fight was opened by Iverson
's Brigade, of which the 23d was a part, and Christie
held his men for hours under the most terrific and galling fires, until the whole regiment was either killed, wounded or captured, with the exception of one noncommissioned officer (some say lieutenant) and sixteen men. He was in the act of leading a charge when he fell mortally wounded, and many other brave men and officers of his command fell immediately near him. Some years ago a writer in the magazine called ‘Our Living and Dead,’ in noting Colonel Christie
's death, wrote:
This not only closes the military but the early career of a truly noble patriot, over whom memory will ever linger pleasantly among his friends and with those with whom he served, and who ought to have the gratitude of all who love the South.
A touching piece of poetry, appearing in that magazine, commemorates his pathetic allusions to his darling wife whom he so much desired to see ere his spirit should take its everlasting flight.
says the writer, ‘she came too late—she saw him no more.’
She, noble woman, survives, and is residing near Franklin, Virginia
, and having had her gallant husband's remains bought home, she doubtless is solaced, in some degree commensurate with her sorrow,
by the blessed privilege of spreading ever living flowers upon his grave.
Charles Christopher Blacknall
was born in Granville county, North Carolina
, December 4th, 1831.
He was a brother of Dr. George W. Blacknall
T. H., and father of Mr. Oscar Blacknall
—a man of letters and well known from his productions in the Atlantic
Monthly and the newspapers.
He married Miss Virginia Spencer
, of Oxford
, who still lives to mourn the death of her true and manly husband.
These facts we get from Captain Capehart
's recently delivered memorial on Colonel Blacknall
, and from the Henderson Gold Leaf
, whose editor, commenting on the truth and beauty of that address, adds his own eulogy of the dead:
Colonel Blacknall had ardent patriotism, high conviction of right and principle, and an engaging manhood.
His presence was attractive, his gifts were many, his heroism of a lofty type.
Such a man must needs have made an ideal Southern soldier.
He received his death wound at the battle of Winchester
, September 19, 1864.
Having his foot shattered by a ball from a cavalryman's carbine, amputation failed to arrest the gangrene that subsequently set in, and he died on March 4th, being administered to by the good ladies of Winchester
He was buried by Christie
's side—both Colonels
of the 23rd North Carolina and par nobile fratrum
. While the remains of Christie
have been transferred to his home, Blacknall
sleeps in the Stonewall cemetery
— a fact, which, whether of deliberate choice on the part of friends or not, seems fitting to meet the idea of the patriot bard: ‘Where should a soldier rest but where he fell.’
To return to the regiment.
We would be only too glad to have given a more detailed, as well as extended, account of battles already referred to, which friends have furnished us, particularly of Chancellorsville
; but it is probably well to have left that to the more general historian, since the action of one command, in any given fight, may be taken, as a rule, to be the action of all under the guiding hand and genius of their respective leaders.
For the purposes of this sketch, an extensive account of any battle is not called for; hence, for the remaining report to be given, we propose to condense as much as possible.
the remainder of the brigade, which was then almost without a field officer, refused longer to serve under Iverson
, and Lieutenant-Colonel R. D. Johnston
was made Brigadier-General
was removed and Lieutenant-Colonel Robert D. Johnston
of Lincoln county, N. C.
, was placed in command of the brigade, the division being commanded by Rodes
had proved to be the ‘lion in the path’ of General Lee
's march into the enemy's country, and he soon fell back into Virginia
In operations at Vidiersville, and near Brandy Station
in the fall of 1863, the regiment sustained loss, but not heavy.
In barracks, at Hanover
, during the winter of 1863 and 1864, the regiment may be said to have had a really good time, as did the entire brigade.
So at the opening of the campaign in 1864, the regiment and entire brigade appeared well recruited for duty, well equipped and in good fighting trim generally.
, in a speech to the army, said the boys looked like they had ‘corn to sell.’
This remark of Governor Vance
's suggested most strikingly the contrast as between the appearance of the troops then and their woebegone plight on the return from the fatal field of Gettysburg
It was somewhat now like it was when the fight first opened at Chancellorsville
, barring the fact that the regiment did not number so many men. It entered the fight at Chancellorsville
in first-rate trim, numbering somewhere between 300 and 400 men, rank and file.
It lost good officers there in the death of Captains Knight
, of Co. D, and Hedspeth, of Co. K, besides from fifty to sixty privates and two commissioned officers killed and from 125 to 150 wounded, as estimated by Captain Cole
, formerly of Co. ‘D,’ although the roster's report does not exceed fifty killed and seventy wounded. It was with a force much reduced that the regiment entered the first day's fight at Gettysburg
It must have been a small command at that battle, although it exhibited the nerve and endurance of a host.
Its Adjutant, Junius French
, was killed there, and among the killed also was Wm. H. Johnston
of Co. K, while the roster places the killed of privates and non-commissioned officers at about fifty-five, and eighty-nine wounded, and fifty-three among the captured and missing.
Among the wounded and captured of the 23rd was Captain H. G. Turner
, of Co. H, since the war a distinguished member of Congress from Georgia
He is a native of Granville
, and brother of Adjutant Vines E. Turner
It is well authenticated that only one officer and not exceeding twenty men of the regiment escaped death, wounding or capture.
It was about the 7th of May, 1864, that the brigade, after a season of recreation in the vicinity of Hanover
, received orders to rejoin the army at the Wilderness
, near Spotsylvania Court
was now in command on the other side.
The regiment had a part in the battle of the Wilderness
joined his command on the Rappahannock
just before the battle of Mine Run
, and participated in that fight, although the brigade was not actively engaged, as it was a mere skirmish.
The brigade reached the army, from Hanover
, just before the battle of the Wilderness
It participated in the engagement with Gordon
's Brigade, turning the right flank of the Federal
The brigade, in making the flank attack, penetrated to the rear of the enemy with some 300 or 400 men, but was recalled, and escaped through the line and took part in the exceedingly bloody action of next day.
At Spotsylvania C. H. the brigade was held in reserve to support any point of attack along the line.
In the morning the line occupied by Daniel
's and Doles
' Brigades was assailed, and they were driven from their breastworks.
's Brigade re-carried the works and re-established the line.
This was done in the presence of General Robert E. Lee
The troops refused to make the charge until General Lee
withdrew from the field, he then being at a very exposed point.
In making this charge a contest arose between two of the brigade officers, which proved that the race, (if not always) is sometimes to the swift.
, of the 20th North Carolina, and Captain James F. Johnston
, aid-de-camp to General R. D. Johnston
, were the participants.
A flag of the enemy had been planted on the breastworks occupied by Doles
' Brigade, now held by three lines of battle.
In the charge made to retake the works, each of these two officers made a dash for the flag.
reached out his hand just in front of Johnston
and seized the flag, carried it back to the rear, and presented it to General Lee
with the request that it be sent to North Carolina
as one of the trophies of the brigade.
It was sent to North Carolina
, with a letter from General Lee
very complimentary to North Carolina
After the recapture of the line of breastworks the brigade was again withdrawn, occupying its position in reserve until the line held by Major-General Edward Johnson
was carried by the enemy.
's Brigade was ordered to re-take that line of works.
The enemy had crossed over where the Stonewall brigade had been located, and after penetrating 200 yards inside the Confederate
line with three lines of battle, were occupying a thin piece of woods just in rear of
the Stonewall brigade line, and the angle from which Edward Johnson
's division had been driven.
The brigade made a charge in the woods and was confronted with three lines of battle not more than fifty yards apart, and there could not have been less than 5,000 men in the three lines.
The insufficient number of men to meet such a force was so apparent that when the brigade struck the enemy's first line, an officer from a New York regiment dashed out and demanded the surrender of the brigade; he was immediately shot down, and another came up to the brigade with like command, only to share the same fate.
Instead of surrendering, an officer of the command seized the colors of the 23d Regiment and the brigade was ordered to charge.
They charged, driving back the left of the enemy's line, and passed on, entering the angle of the breastworks, out of which they drove the enemy, and re-captured that part of the line.
The whole Confederate line was then restored by the aid of other troops.
, while making observations from the top of the breastworks in the angle, was shot in the head and carried from the field.
In the charge to re-establish General Lee
's line at a point known as the Salient, Colonel Garrett
, of the 23d, was killed.
Colonel W. S. Davis
, of the 12th North Carolina, was placed temporarily in command of the 23d regiment, about this time.
Individual incidents are not lacking, only the facts and circumstances are not in hand, to give prominent place to certain persons in these critical attacks.
We would mention that Corporal E. S. Hart
, of Company D, was flag-bearer of the 23rd at Spotsylvania
, as he had been in previous engagements.
In the hands of Hart
, while he was able to be ‘on his pegs,’ that flag was never lowered except once, and that was when he was knocked down with the breech of a gun by a Federal.
The second Cold Harbor battle was not participated in by the 23d, but about this time it, with the brigade, was detached from Lee
's army and sent into the valley under Early
to meet Hunter
Captain Frank Bennett
, of Anson county
, was acting colonel of the regiment, and in that celebrated campaign the command was spoken of as ‘Bennett
and his invincibles.’
It has been impossible, and will be, to report accurately the losses of the regiment in the campaign just closed, or in that now just opening before our command.
The career of General Robert D. Johnston
's Brigade, in the brilliant campaign with Early
, is but a history of the 23d Regiment, which constantly
shared its fortunes through it all—thence again to the lines at Petersburg
, and down to the end.
The next fighting done by the brigade was as a part of Early
's command in that truly great march on Washington city
The brigade was in all the battles of that command, and made the flank movement with Gordon
's Division at Bell Grove
and Cedar Creek
In this battle it had a hand-to-hand conflict with the 6th Army Corps.
It captured, with the aid of Battle
's Brigade, of Alabama
, six pieces of artillery, which were gallantly defended by the artillerymen, who died at their posts rather than surrender.
The brigade was ordered to take position in front of Middleburg
, where it remained during the day, having skirmished with cavalry in front.
That evening General Sheridan
, having taken command of the Federal
troops, made his attack on the left flank of the Confederate
The brigade was in position where it could see the line as it broke, first at the point held by Gordon
's Brigade, and then at that held by Ramseur
These brigades retired from the field in great confusion.
's Brigade was the only organized body that retired from the presence of the enemy with its line unbroken, halting and firing repeatedly as they were pressed upon, being the only organized force then of the Confederate army.
After falling back near Cedar Creek
, General Pegram
sent an order to Johnston
‘to cross the bridge’ and follow the road towards Strasburg
sent a message to him that it would be impossible to cross the bridge, as the breastworks built by the enemy commanded the bridge completely, and that the enemy would occupy them before he (Johnston
) could cross; but that he could cross below, and preserve his brigade intact.
A second staff officer from General Pegram
to bring his brigade across the bridge just under the command of those breastworks, which, in the meantime, had become occupied by the enemy, and thus, while the brigade was attempting to cross the bridge, a hot fire was poured into their line from the breastworks.
Being totaly unprotected and at the mercy of the enemy, the brigade fell into confusion, and retreated under cover of the darkness.
On the retreat up the valley, the brigade was covering the rear, followed by Sheridan
's cavalry, in the flush of victory and determined to put the Confederates
to rout, if possible.
Thus was the command, from morning until night, followed and harried by a persistent foe; when the retreating column, attenuated as it was, had reached a point near Mount Jackson
was ordered to face about and hold the enemy in check.
He formed a line of battle, threw out his skirmishers, and had one of the hottest fights in which the brigade was engaged on the skirmish line.
The enemy was defeated and driven back.
It was on the 19th day of September, 1864, when Colonel Blacknall
, of the 23rd, got his death wound, that Johnston
's brigade won distinguished notice.
General Bradley T. Johnson
, a brilliant soldier and writer of Maryland
, gave a graphic account of that day's battle through the newspapers.
We give an extract from his report of Sheridan
's advance on that day:
By daylight, the 19th of September, a scared cavalryman of my own command, nearly rode over me as I lay asleep on the grass, and reported that the Yankees were advancing with a heavy force of infantry, artillery and cavalry up the Berryville road. * * * Johnston and I were responsible for keeping Sheridan out of Winchester, and protecting the Confederate line of retreat, and communication up the valley.
In two minutes the command was mounted and moving at a trot across the open fields to the Berryville road and to Johnston's assistance.
There was not a fence nor a tree nor a bush to obscure the view.
We could see the crest of a hill, covered with a cloud of cavalry, and in front of them—500 yards in front—was a thin grey line moving off in retreat solidly and in perfect coolness and self-possession. * * * A regiment of cavalry would deploy into line and their bugles would sound the “charge” and they'd swoop down on the “thin grey line of North Carolina.”
The instant the Yankee bugles sounded, North Carolina (Johnston's Brigade) would halt, face by the rear rank, wait until the horse got within 100 yards and then fire as deliberately and coolly as if firing volleys on brigade drill.
The cavalry would break and scamper back, and North Carolina would “about face” and continue her march in retreat as solemnly and with as much dignity as marching in review.
But we got there just in time, that is to engage cavalry with cavalry, and hold Sheridan in check until Johnston had got back to the rest of the infantry and formed line at right angles to the pike west of Winchester.
Being an entirely open country, everything that was going on could be seen for miles around; and Bradley Johnston
says, in conclusion:
There were 45,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry in the open fields
against 8,500 infantry and 3,000 mounted gun-men.
The thing began at daylight and kept on until dark, when flanked and worn out, Early retreated, to escape being surrounded.
This is the story (given only in part here) of the thin grey line of North Carolina and the cavalry charge, a feat of arms before which that of Sir Colin Campbell fades into insignificance.
The brigade had a severe fight at the Monocacy river
, near Frederick City, in entering Maryland
. Captain W. C. Wall
, commanding Company F, was severely wounded in this fight.
While General Gordon
's Division crossed the river and attacked the line of battle in the flank, Johnston
's Brigade was ordered to capture a blockhouse on the other side of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
A considerable number of the enemy were in the railroad cut and perfectly protected.
The brigade charged across the railroad on the bridge, under a raking fire from a heavy battery on the other side of the river.
Seeing it could not carry the block-house in that way, a company of soldiers passed under the culvert and opened fire on the enemy in the railroad cut from the flank, drew them out of the cut, and captured the block-house.
When the first attempt to take the block-house, made by Colonel Blacknall
with the 23d Regiment, had failed, by reason of an enfilade fire from a line of battle behind the railroad, which caused the regiment to fall back, General Johnston
sent a message to Colonel Davis
to take the 12th Regiment and capture it. Colonel Davis
General J. was not in a very good humor and I was suffering (sick) so that I could hardly walk.
However, I went forward to the ravine (not knowing the cause of the falling back of the 23d), and here halted and had picked men as videttes to reconnoitre and see all they could.
Finding out about the line of battle behind the railroad, I sent General J. a message that if I advanced I would expose my men to an enfilade fire, and that if he would dislodge the line of battle behind the railroad I could take the house without loss of men. I never heard from General J. In the meantime, the fight was going on on the other side between Wallace (of Ben Hur fame) and Gordon.
Three lines of battle engaged Gordon's one, and now Wallace begins to retreat.
His men on our side then had to cross over quickly or be taken.
I moved forward, and as we struck the bridge on our side the enemy was clearing it on the other side.
The retreat and pursuit began, which continued for about two miles. We
then advanced as far as Blair's farm, in full view of Washington city, but soon deemed it wise to come back into Virginia.
Of course the operations in the valley under Early
, already given, were subsequent to the action and events recorded immediately above.
In the valley campaign, the brigade was transferred to Ramseur
At his death, General John Pegram
succeeded to the command of the division.
Almost simultaneous with the transfer of Sheridan
from the valley to Grant
's line near Petersburg
's command returned to the aid of Lee
, at least the greater part of it.
Picket duty on Hatcher's Run
, during the greater part of the winter, was onerous and severe.
The 23rd took an active part in the fight at Hatcher's Run
, Captain Peace
, of Granville
, being its commander.
It was in this action that General John Pegram
was killed, and Captain Frank Bennett
, of Anson, formerly commander of the 23rd, lost an arm, at the time being in command of the brigade skirmishers.
The division was afterwards commanded by General Walker
's was one of the attacking brigades that carried the enemy's line of breastworks at the battle of Hare's Hill, in which action General Johnston
was so injured by a fall from the breastworks, a sprain of the ankle, that he was carried from the field.
On the withdrawal of the army from Petersburg
, he followed in an ambulance.
To the last, was he true to the high, soldierly instincts of his nature.
Finding that the Federal
cavalry were about to capture the whole line of wagons and ambulances, he got hold of a few stragglers, stopped an ammunition wagon, made every man get down and take a gun, and with this force he prevented the capture of the wagon and ambulance train.
Further on in the great retreat the cavalry broke into the line, captured General Johnston
's ambulance, and the rest including a portion of the wagon train.
cut off the insignia of his rank from his coat, and seizing a mule, the driver having fled, he mounted the warlike animal bareback, rode back behind where the outfit had been captured, organized a force of stragglers and recaptured the whole line.
A cause that had such grit as that in its defence, deserved success.
But we hasten to a conclusion, regretting the incompleteness of a task which has been both pleasing and sad.
At dawn on the 9th of April, the scene of a bloody midnight skirmish is passed.
's command, of which the 23rd Regiment is a part, moves with spirit against a body of infantry which after a volley falls back precipitately, and once more the ‘rebel yell’ of
victory cheers on our brave boys.
But suddenly and strangely a halt is ordered, and the command marched from vigorous pursuit in the direction of the town.
The whole army is massing in the vicinity of the courthouse—and see, there are Federal officers riding in the midst of Confederates, while on the neighboring hills and passing swiftly to the right, go hundreds of Federal cavalry, frantic with huzzas.
Can it be?
Ah, yes, the stacked arms, broken ranks, furled banners and weeping soldiers, proclaim the surrender of Lee
's proud army.
Dr. R. J. Hicks
, now of Warrenton, Virginia
, who was a faithful surgeon to the 23rd, all through the war, says of the regiment:
“It did as much hard service, fought in as many battles, was as constant in the performance of duty as any other regiment in the army.
And at Appomattox
,” says Dr. Hicks
, ‘it surrendered about as many men as any other regiment in the army.’
By the Appomattox
‘parole lists,’ taken from the last volume of the ‘Rebellion Records
,’ it is shown that Johnston
's brigade, at the surrender, numbered 463 men, rank and file.
At that time, the brigade was commanded by Colonel J. W. Lea
We close this paper with the addition of the following statistics, taken from the source above indicated, with reference to North Carolina
soldiers surrendered at Appomattox
: Total, forty-two regiments and one battalion infantry; five regiments and one battalion cavalry, and five battalions artillery.
That all these should have numbered only 5,022 rank and file, at the surrender, says the Wilmington Messenger
, shows the wear and tear North Carolina
troops had sustained.
First and last, by the muster rolls, these commands had contained over 100,000 men.