Copyright (C) 2016 by Frederick E. Walton
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could ask some of the long gone veterans of the 6th North Carolina State troops what they did during specific battles? Sure their memories may be a little off, years after the fact. Certainly each soldier’s personal experience would be slightly different. But, if you could ask them, they could tell you exactly what they saw, what they did and where they went, especially if they were ducking Yankee Lead!
There is one place that this information is captured. Directly from the soldiers themselves. In their own words.
At the start of the “Compiled Service records of Confederate soldiers who served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina” (more generally known simply as the CSR’s or Compiled Service records) there is a a section labeled “Unit information”. In the records of the 6th NCST can be found, among other things, a company by company record of their movements during the war. Sometimes it includes casualty figures, but the intention is to show where the Company was when the company muster roll was taken. Sadly the rolls themselves are not readily available, but much if the information has been transcribed to the CSR’s.
The following is an extract of the companies whereabouts during the “engagement” (as they call it) of Bachelor’s Creek between Kinston and New Berne.
You will see that Company by Company recorded almost exactly the same experience, with some minor changes to the wording, but for the sake of completeness they are all included. I noticed several things of note. First, in most cases the Captains are absent, many of them having been gobbled up at Rappahannock Station in November, 1863. We see that in some companies, Lieutenants, and even 2nd Lieutenants are in command. In others it may be down to NCO’s. The men of the Sixth had lost their leadership.
Secondly there is little information about the engagement itself except that they “participated”, although looking at previous muster roll/station CSR cards, this is typical of how they reported. Even at big battles like Gettysburg or Fredericksburg they simply say- “engaged the enemy” or “part of the operations…” Wouldn’t it be nice if they were more specific like saying, “We were the left flank company and came under heavy fire as we attacked the Yankee line” or “As rear Guard, we sat out most of the fight”. It sure would clear up what they actually did during the engagement at Bachelor’s creek.
The Third thing I noticed is there are no casualties mentioned…at all…by any of the 10 companies… Again this is not really the place to report casualties, but looking back at previous cards, they’d often include this information. For Batchelor’s creek, does that mean there were no casualties? In “The Bloody Sixth”, author Iobst mentions that 2 members of the Regiment were mortally wounded. He got this from a letter. Who where they? I manually searched the roster and was unable to find ANY members of the 6th that were mortally wounded at Kinston, Batchelor’s Creek or New Berne.
transcribed from the compiled service records by Frederick Walton, Feb 18, 2016
CO. ____, 6 Regiment North Carolina Infantry.
Company Muster Roll
Of the organization named above,
For Jan & Feb, 1864,
Shows station of company,
Camp near Kinston
Record of events.
Co. A: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia January 21, 1864. Took the cars at that place. January 22 arrived at Garysburg, N. C. January 24 remain there about six days. Took the cars at that point for Kinston;
Marched to Newbern. Participated in the engagement of Bachlors creek 1st February 1864. returned to Kinston February 4, 1864. Whole distance traveled about 300 miles.
J. A. McPherson, Captain
Co B: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia January 21, 1864. Took the train at that place. Jan. 22 arrived at Garysburg, N. C. the 24th and remained there about six days. Took the cars at that point for Kinston, N. C.;
Marched from there to Newbern. Took part in the engagement of Bachelors Creek Feb.1,1864 and returned to Kinston February 4, ’64. Whole distance marched about 300 miles.
Geo. R Maynard, Lt. Commanding Co B. 6 N.C.
Co. C: Marched from Raccoon ford Va. to Gordonsville Jany 21-64. Took the cars at that place. Jany 22 arrived at Garysburg 24 remain there six days. and took the trains for Kinston.
Marched from there to the vicinity of Newbern. Took part in the engagement of Bachlors creek Feb1 and returned to this [place] Feb 4/64. Whole distance marched about 300 miles.
W. S. Clinton, Lt. Commanding Co [C]
Co. D: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia January 21. Took the cars at the above place. January 22 arrived at Garysburg, N. C. Jany 24th remained there about six days. Took the cars at that point for Kinston. Marched to Newburn. Took part in the engagement Bachlors creek Febry 1st,1864. returned to Kinston February 4, 1864. Whole distance traveled about 300 miles.
J. S. McPherson, Captain
Co. E: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville January 21 1864. Took the cars at that place. January 22 arrived at Garysburg January 24 remained there about six days. Took the cars at that place for Kinston. Marched to Newburn. Took part in the engagement of Bachlors creek February 1. returned to Kinston February 4. Whole distance traveled about 300 miles.
J. A. McPherson, Captain
Co. F: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia January 21-64. Took the cars at that place. Jan 22 arrived at Garysburg 24 remained there six days and took the train for Kinston. Marched from there to the vicinity of Newburn. Took part in the engagement at Bachlors creek Febry 1 and returned to this place Feb 4-64. Whole distance marched about 300 miles.
B. Y. Mebane, Lt. comdg Co.
Co. G: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia Januy 21 1864. Took the Train at Gordonsville Jan 22nd arrived at Garysburg, N. C. Jan 24th1864 remained there about six days and took the train from there to Kinston. Marched from Kinston to Newburn. Took part in the engagement at Bachlors creek Febry 1,1864. returned to Kinston Feby 4th 1864. Whole distance traveled about 300 miles.
S. P . Brown, Lt. Comdg Co. G 6 N. C. Troops
Co. H: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Jany 21 1864. Took the cars at place Jan 22 arrived at Garysburg 24 remained there about 6 days. Took the train for Kinston, N. C. Marched from thence to Newburn. Took part in the engagement Bachlors creek Febry 1st,1864. return to Kinston, N. C. February 4, 1864. Whole distance Marched about 300 miles.
L. H. Walker Lt. Co. H. 6 N. C.
Co. I: Marched from Raccoon ford to Gordonsville Virginia Jany 21st 1864. Took the cars at that place on the 22 and arrived at Garysburg, N. C. on 24th remained there about six days. Took the cars at that place for Kinston. Marched from Kinston to Newburn. Participated in the engagement Bachlors creek Feby 1/64.Returned to Kinston February 4/64. Whole distance traveled about 300 miles.
D. C. Gunter, Lt. Co. “I” 6 N. C. Troops
Co. K: Marched from Raccoon ford, Va. to Gordonsville Jan 21-64. Took the cars at that place. Jan 22 arrived at Garysburg, N. C. 24 remained there six days. Took the cars at that placefor Kinston, N. C. Marched from there to Newbern. Took part in the engagement Bachelors creek Feb 1,1864. returned to Kinston Feb 4. Whole distance march about 300 miles.
J. S. Vincent Capt, Co. K 6 N. C. T
Since the regimental officers where very general in their description of the part played during the Engagement at Bachelor’s creek, I turned to the Official records and reviewed the reports of General Pickett and General Hoke. Neither mentioned the 6th NCST, but Hoke does mention other regiments in this brigade as taking leading role during the battle. Looking at the following returns and remembering that the 6th NCST was severely impacted during the Gettysburg campaign and the disaster at Rappahannock station in November of 1863, it is not hard to imagine that the understrength regiment would be used in a rear guard or support position, although I can find no records describing their precise role.
Lee Sherrill, Jr. In his book on the 21st North Carolina Infantry devotes and entire, very well documented, chapter on the battle of Batchelor’s Creek. He describes the long standing relationship of the 21st NCT and the 21st Ga. as well as the confidence and longstanding relationship that General Hoke had in these veteran troops. He selected them to cross the creek and flank the enemy blocking his path. He describes Hoke deploying his Brigade on both side of the Dove road in the marshy, Stubby fields that can still be seen today. The 1st Battalion and 43rd NCT were deployed as skirmishers. The 6th NCST is not even given an honorable mention. They were indisputably there, they may have even witnessed the brisk struggle, but their position was not a critical one and their role goes unreported.
The following table, from the CSR shows their strength on the roll as of Decmber 20, 1863, right before this engagement. This would not account for troops that where detailed for other duties or those that fell out during the long March from Virginia or those that were sick from the winter weather or still suffering from injuries from the previous battles. The number clearly demonstrate a regiment below half strength, even when you account for the companies not reporting.
6th North Carolina State Troops Returns as of 20 December 1863
Extract from General R. F. Hoke’s report filed February 8, 1864 from Camp at Kinston, N. C.
“On Sunday morning, at 6 o’clock, I, with my brigade at the head of the column, proceeded on the Dover road, arresting all persons who saw us, and directed the march, so as to arrive at Stevens’ Ford, a point (10) ten miles from Newbern, and two miles from the outpost of the enemy, after dark, where we encamped without fires until one o’clock Monday morning, the 1st instant, at which time I moved forward, and captured all the outposts, but not without being hailed and fired upon.
I moved down the road with all possible speed, in order to reach Batchelor’s Creek before the bridge could be taken up, but upon reaching the point, found they had been alarmed by the firing of the pickets, and had taken up the bridge.
Here I lost a number of men killed and wounded. The enemy at this point were strongly entrenched, and also had a block-house erected. To avoid the loss of men by storming, I threw some trees across the creek, and crossed two regiments over under command of Colonel Mercer of the Twenty-first Georgia regiment, with orders to move upon their flank and rear, while I would repair the bridge and cross over the remainder of the command. This was soon done, arid we were not long delayed. The enemy, in the meantime, had telegraphed for reinforcements, who were about two miles distant, and arrived in time to form in the field in rear of the creek, artillery and infantry, but we soon drove them before us, and completely routed them. They made my anticipated move, which was to throw troops by cars across the creek on the railroad, and came in our rear. This was what we wanted, and I moved with all possible speed, a distance of six miles, to strike the railroad and capture the train, but the enemy by telegraphic communications were apprised of our move, and returned the train loaded with troops, just five minutes before I reached the road. It was my intention, had I gotten the train, to place my men upon it and go into Newbern.
At this point my brigade was halted to meet any advance of the enemy from the town, while General Clingman was ordered across to the Trent road to prevent the return of the enemy from Deep Gully, and also to take all stragglers, but not knowing the country, he failed to reach the road, which was extremely unfortunate, as during the evening, at different times (500) five hundred infantry and (400) four hundred cavalry, passed into the town panic-stricken, leaving their camps in wild confusion.
After General Corse came up to the railroad, I moved my brigade within a mile to the front of the town, to await the sound of Barton’s guns from the opposite side of Trent river, when, much to my surprise, I saw two trains come into town from Morehead City, which proved clearly that Barton had not reached the point of destination. We remained in front of Newbern all day Tuesday, waiting Barton’s move, when, much to my disappointment, a dispatch was received from him, stating that it was impossible for him to cross the creek. Being junior officer, it does not become me to speak my thoughts of this move. “
Bachelor’s Creek Bibliography:
Barefoot, Daniel W. General Robert F. Hoke, Lee’s Modest Warrior. Winston-Salem, NC: J.F. Blair, 1996. Chapter 6.
Iobst, Richard W. The Bloody Sixth, The Sixth North Carolina Regiment Confederate States of America., Gaithersburg, Md., Olde Soldier Books, Chapter 11, pp 177-180
Sherrill, Lee W. The 21st North Carolina Infantry: A Civil War History, with a Roster of Officers. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015. Chapter 32, “Batchelor’s Creek,” PP 289-303.
Note: Includes drawing of Blockhouse and map of battlefield with some troop positions.
Trotter, William R. Ironclads and Columbiads: The Civil War in North Carolina: The Coast. Winston-Salem, NC: J.F. Blair, 1989. Chapter19, “Pickett does not Charge,” PP 223-231.
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