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Professional Genealogist and Living Historian

Living History at Gettysburg- 1997

(c) 1997 by Rick Walton

Lt. Col. Jeff Stepp, commanding the 26th Reg’t N.C.T. , invited members of the 6th N.C.S.T. to join them at Gettysburg on Aug 15-17 1997 for the second annual National Park Service invitational Living history, march and musket firing demonstation in conjunction with the 24th Michigan infantry. Wes Jones and myself were the only two members of the 6th NCST to make this memorable Journey. Here is my recollection as reported in the newsletter following the event: 

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If your idea of a living history event is sitting around in the shade while occasionally explaining the contents of your knapsack to curious spectators, then be glad you didn’t come with us on the weekend of August 15, 16 and 17. The weekend was an opportunity to truly “live” history, but it came at a sweaty, tiring cost. My thanks to the 26th for letting us fall in with them as “Volunteer Park Rangers”.

How many re-enactors can claim that they camped on the actual battlefield at Gettysburg?

How many re-enactors can claim that they camped on the actual battlefield at Gettysburg? Or recreate the Pickett-Pettigrew charge across the very terrain that Lee’s Confederates traversed on July 3, 1863? With our flags flying and under arms! Private Wes Jones, Rick Walton and the nearly 100 other North Carolinians who made the long trip to Gettysburg for this event can. The weekend was fun, hot, exciting, hot and busy. And hot. Walking in the shadow of our ancestors made it particularly special. I heard it described as an emotional roller coaster. We each have our own reasons for reenacting (which we had to reevaluate often when the 101 degree heat index zapped our energy and parched our throats) but when we stood on the same killing ground that our ancestors fought upon, we realized precisely why we do this. Dealing with emotions is tough business for manly men like us, so imagine how hard it was to keep your pards from seeing that tear in your eye. But dry eye’s were often the exception, not the rule this weekend. Each person faced their emotions in their own private way, but everyone who attended will forevermore remember the sacrifices that were made by our forefathers on this faraway battlefield.

We arrived at the camping grounds in Pitzer’s woods late Friday afternoon. We dropped off our gear and headed in to Gettysburg to walk the quiet streets, pausing to visit suttlers, bookstores and relic shops. We even squeezed in a little battlefield sightseeing. We bypassed the multitude of tourist shops selling T-shirts and plastic battle flags and began to concentrate on finding an eating establishment that would ease the hunger pains. We were anxious to quench our thirst and knowing that the National Park Service took a dim view of imbibing on park property, we knew that this would have to last us all weekend. We were pleased to find a place with pitchers of our favorite beverage on special. As we studied the menu, or waitress asked us if we were here for the “reenactment”, advertised on a poster in their front window. Wes quickly replied “Why, do we stink already?” As we raised the frosty beverage to our parched mouths we thought that we had never experienced such relief. Little did we know the test of endurance that awaited us during the next two days, when an single drop of water would become a priceless commodity.

After dinner we returned to camp to participate in an event called “moving 50 cars to a parking lot 2 miles away and getting everyone back to camp before daybreak”. We played follow the leader as a long caravan of North Carolina tags snaked it way thought the moonlit battlefield lanes. We got a lift back in a shuttle, but several of our comrades took a wrong turn and weren’t seen for hours.

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When we got back to camp, we strolled over to the artillery section where we were welcomed and offered a treat. A small barrel shaped container held something sloshing around in a liquid. Encouraged to try one, I cautiously withdrew a floating sphere and discovered that it was a Cherry that had been bathing in a solution, somewhat stronger than water, for several days. Wes immediately christened them “Canister”, because they look like grapeshot and if you eat enough of them they’ll kill you..

Saturday Morning

We awoke to the smells of sizzling bacon. Since there was no commissary, we were forced to rely on the cooking skills we had developed recently at Manassas. After Breakfast, the troops were mustered and the orders of the day were read. Any hope of a relaxing, low impact event were quickly abandoned. We started with drill, then had some drill followed by more drill. But this was the easy part, conducted in the coolness of the morning (barely reaching 90 degrees). It didn’t get hard until after lunch, in the heat of the day, when we went on the “death march”.

Joining the 26th for this event were representatives from the 6th NCST, 21st NCT, 25th NCT, and 38th NCT as well as the 1st NC Artillery and their horse drawn battery. The morning report showed 105 men present for duty. We were also joined by a rag tag collection of about 15 Marylanders portraying the 1st and 14th Tennessee Volunteers, but the heat “prevented them” from participating in anything but a firing demonstration on Saturday.

Coming down from the Detroit area, were the 24th Michigan, who historically clashed with the 26th in McPherson’s woods. This weekend, the 24th encamped near the Pennsylvania Monument to provide a living history from a Yankee perspective.

After lunch the North Carolinians galvanized and began the 2 mile “death march” to the Pennsylvania monument to join the 24th for a joint firing demonstration. We left camp with banners flying , to the beat of the brigade band. Rather than take the “long way” via the park roads, the rangers “allowed” us to go cross country through the fields. At first this made sense , until we got halfway across and ran into a cornfield. We went from column of four to column of two to single file and zig zagged our way through some poor farmers struggling corn crop. (It was rumored, by some of our comrades who also reenact WWII, that this was evasive maneuvers to prevent Nazi U-boats from stalking us).

Finally reaching the other side, we reformed and marched down the farmers driveway to the highway only to discover that stone walls and fences prevented us from crossing the road. The head of the column executed a “counter march by files right” and before the end of the column knew what was going on, we were passing them on the way back to where we just came from. We tramped across the farmers back yard to a farm lane, following it until a crossing point was found. We entered the welcome shade of another farm yard and took a few minutes rest. By now the canteens were starting to get dry and the Pennsylvania monument was still a shimmering point on the hazy horizon.

Forming up again we proceeded our march down park roads, farm lanes and across still more fields. Women from the 26th NC Soldiers Benevolent Society had driven over from the camp with cold water and ice cubes and were waiting for us under a huge shade tree a couple of hundred yards from the monument. These ladies were indeed angels of mercy. The men fell out to refill canteens and quench powerful thirsts. After a short and welcome rest, we resumed our march and finally joined the 24th Michigan. The large, waiting crowd appreciated the live firing demonstration. Dreading the long march back , we were relieved when air conditionedshuttle vans appeared. When I got to camp I collapsed in a tired, sweaty heat. Who say’s living histories aren’t as tiring as battle reenactments? I could have stayed there all night but the day was not yet over. We had to change back to gray and get ready for a monument ceremony at 6:00.

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Still exhausted from the death march, we were thankful to be loaded onto the artillery trailers for the trip up to McPherson’s ridge. Hidden just beyond busy Rt. 30, down a quite park lane, are two monuments, one to the 26th North Carolina and opposite that, another to the 24th Michigan. It is on this site that the two regiments met in battle and did their best to obliterate each other.

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We marched the short distance, under thegreen canopy of shady trees, to the monuments. A small group of spectators trailed at a respectful distance. Upon reaching the monuments, the brigade divided. The 24th Michigan fronted, backs to their monument, while the 26th NC did the same in front of the North Carolina monument. As the last echoes of the fife and drums dissolved into the still evening air, the two regiments stood facing each other, on opposite sides of the road, exactly as their ancestors had done in combat 134 years earlier. But this evening it was a mutual respect that brought the forces together.

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1st Sgt. Jim Taylor, of the 26th Regt N. C. T., stepped forward with his guitar to begin the program, singing a 19th century version of “Auld Lang Syne”. Next Colonel Stepp spoke eloquently about the sacrifices made by the 26th on this spot. He recalled the succession of brave flag bearers, including Colonel Henry K. Burgwyn, who died urging their comrades forward. As the bloody and tattered flag fell for the thirteenth time, Lt. Col. John Randolph Lane grabbed the splintered flag pole exclaiming “No man can take these colors and live! It is my turn to take them forward”. Determined to drive the enemy back, he shouted “26th North Carolina, Follow me!” The 24th Michigan momentarily ebbed from the onrushing Confederates, but stubbornly reformed. Lane fell horribly wounded, “the last to discharge his deadly duty that day.” Within 20 to 30 minutes, 679 Carolinians fell following the colors in the short and vicious fight. Colonel Stepp reminded us, as Colonel Lane reminded his surviving comrades many years earlier at this same spot, about the importance of the regiment as an extended family. How the loss of a comrade was felt as severely as the loss of any family member. He also talked about remembering and honoring those that came before us. As we stood in the dimming light, our thoughts turned to the sacrifices made on this ground and the human tragedy that awaited the families of the slain back in North Carolina, so far away. The Commander of the 24th Michigan delivered similar remarks, recounting the sacrifices made by the Iron brigade who had an equally high loss. At the conclusion of the remarks, soil from all 100 counties in North Carolina was spread around the base of the N. C. monument consecrating the ground

Portrait of three Cnofederate colonels: Harry K. Burgwyn, John R. Lane, and Zebulon Vance, by William George Randall, 1904. Item H. 1914.290.1. from the collections of the North Carolina Museum of History.  Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

THE THREE COLONELS OF THE 26TH N.C.T.Col. John R. Lane, Col. Henry K. Burgwyn, Col. Zebulon B. Vance. Painted in 1904 by William George Randall. Painting currently hangs in the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC

We marched back to the waiting trailers and piled on. Because of the one way streets, we had to shuttle through Gettysburg on the way back to camp. Can you imagine how many laws we broke? Nearly 100 dirty, sweaty men, dressed in Confederate uniform, no seat belts, Guns pointing every which way. What a site we must have been.

I was exhausted when I got back to camp! I stripped off my hot jacket and poured water over my head. The smells of supper cooking tempted my tired body, but it was no use. The corn, potatoes and canned meat stayed in my knapsack. I was too tired to attempt anything so dramatic and was content to open a cold can of beans for supper. Now I understand how solders could sleep on the march or on a pile of rocks, like we read about in their diaries.

 

As the shadows lengthened, I noticed groups of people drifting over to the nearby Amphitheater. The National Park service was about to put on a program about battle flags. Fortified by a tin cup of something thankfully stronger than water, Wes and I wandered over with some of our comrades and settled in for the evenings program.
Anticipating the Ranger would bow to the dictates of political correctness, our expectations were understandably low. We were pleasantly surprised when he went into a scholarly presentation which more than adequately explained the meaning and importance of the Confederate flag. References to North Carolina’s contributions were frequent. We were very impressed.

Sunday morning

Sunday morning came too quickly, as we rustled our weary bones. A brief shower during the early morning hours, accompanied by a stiff northerly breeze, served to cool things down considerably and I found myself wrapped tightly in my blanket to keep warm. The air was actually pleasant, a big change from the stifling heat of the day before. Shortly after breakfast the company streets reverberated with Sergeants echoing first call. We quickly coutered up and assembled on the parade ground. Roll call, size march, count off 1-2-1-2 and we were ready for another busy day. The regimental band struck up a stirring anthem and we began the mile long march toward the North Carolina Monument . The heel plates clicked on the pavement in loud synchronization with the down beat of the regimental drum causing every breast to swell with pride to be part of this grand spectacle. The cool morning air gave way to the approaching warmth as the stillness began erupting with the sound of peepers singing their peculiar tribute to the swelling heat. Faces glistened in the early morning sun, as streams of sweat began its journey from beneath 100 hat bands. The officers brought us from shoulder arms to right shoulder shift to support arms and back again at just the right moments to give our weary arms a rest. Tourists, taking an early morning drive down Confederate avenue, were surprised to see genuine Confederate soldiers on the march.

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As we approached a shade covered stretch of road, the music echoed from the trees. Looking into the shady glen, I could almost visualize a phantom army of our forefathers dropping their various camp duties to rush to the roadside and approvingly cheer us on. A loud and spontaneous Rebel yell reverberated through the surrounding forest in response to the band’s opening chords of Dixie. The battle flag snapped in the breeze as the men, heads held high, executed a sharp turn at the monument to the applause of the approving crowd gathered there. The pounding of my heart competed with the drum as I stood at attention waiting for the ceremony to begin. Colonel Stepp stood in front of the North Carolina monument facing the brigade. His inspiring remarks caused us to once again reflect on the men we were honoring and the pride we felt as North Carolinians. He called forward representatives to tell what each of their regiments did at Gettysburg.

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Colonel Stepp dismissed us to spend a private moment honoring our ancestors. I saw a soldier directly in front of the monument, on bended knee, hat over his heart and head bowed, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice by crossing the field behind us. Just then a gentle rain began falling from the overcast skies and lonely bugle call could be heard from a nearby boy scout camp. Someone later recalled that it seemed as if God himself shared our pride and grief while letting his tear drops fall gently to the earth. The brigade posed for a group photo and then formed up to returned to camp, but before departing we were treated to an interesting history lesson about the North Carolina monument. It was Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mount Rushmore, and unveiled in 1929. In 1982, while members of the 26th participated in programs at Gettysburg, it was resolved to restore the sadly deteriorated monument suffering from the ravages of man and time. After struggling with government red tape for three years, this grass roots effort caused our state legislature to delegate $9,800 for cleaning & preservation. Other states soon followed and today all the Statues along Confederate avenue stand proudly shining in the sun.

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We returned in time for church services, followed by a regimental meeting. Nearly 100 of us sat in a huge circle and over the course of more than an hour, each person had a chance to speak their minds. Themes about the regiment being like family, the camaraderie, brotherhood and shared devotion to a common cause were repeated by many. The pride of our heritage, association with the 26th and life long memories were also referred to. We discussed the assault on Southern heritage so popular in the politically correct climate of today. Emotions were stretched, racing from moments of tearful sadness and pride, to roaring laughter. Spectators wandering through the camp were drawn to the circle and couldn’t tear themselves away from the heartfelt stories. They stood a respectful distance behind us, occaisionaly dabbing their eyes or joining the laughter. They shared a unique look into the culture of American Civil war re-enacters.

After a quick Lunch, we assembled for the final time and marched across the street for a firing demonstration. Curiously, we fumbled through the motions we were so proficient at earlier in the weekend like raw recruits. Was the heat starting to get to us or were our minds on the long awaited event about to commence?

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We marched out of the field to the applause and appreciation of the spectators and began the march down the now familiar Confederate avenue toward our destination at the Virginia Monument. Waves of heat shimmered of f the surface of the road in the 95 degree heat. Looking down at the pavement, we could see the imprints of our horseshoe shaped heel plates marking our progress on the softening tar giving a new meaning to the term “tar-heel”. Our column turned into parking area of the monument and fell out in the cool shade to refill our canteens. We reformed and were positioned in a line of battle overlooking the field we were about to cross. Behind the stone walls, over a mile away, waited the blue coated 24th Michigan.

Jim Taylor stepped forward and sang a poignant song about two comrades about to go into battle. They each promised contact loved ones should either fall in the coming battle. When the smoke cleared, both lie slain on the field of honor with no one to tell their loved ones anything. As we gazed across the hazy field, we wondered how many times this scenario had been repeated on that tragic July day 134 years ago.

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Our wandering minds were abruptly snapped back to the present as the Colonels orders rang out. The dream of every reenacter was about to be realized as our 100 man brigade entered the field under arms, with flags flying. To our rear, General Lee’s calm and approving gaze watched our progress from his post atop the Virginia Monument. Our Sergeants implored us to dress the line as me marched forward in careful synchronization. Someone began calling out the landmarks, reminding us that it was here that artillery would begin disrupting the line and , latter, the point that musketry would find its deadly target. Crossing the Emmitsburg pike, we reformed for the final charge. The muzzles of cannon pointed menacingly toward our line. The huge Federal flag could be seen waving behind the silhouettes of the blue coated defenders as the sun glinted off the polished barrels of dozens of muskets secure behind the rugged stone wall.

Emotions were once again racing as the rebel yell exploded throughout our line. The brigade surged forward and was about to charge over the last few yards in a exuberant rush, but the officers and NCOs quickly restored order and we marched to the base of the bloody angle in a well dressed line. A friendly Michiganer gave me his hand to help me across and greeted me, but the lump in my throat prevented me from responding with anything more than a nod. I am confident that many of my comrades shared my plight. The surrounding crowd burst into cheers having just witnessed a stirring and emotional event. If I hadn’t been participating, I would have wanted to be a spectator that afternoon. We reformed on the road behind the angle and marched to the Pennsylvania monument for a final joint firing demonstration. On the open field, under the blazing mid-day sun, the excitement of the crossing began to wear off to be replaced by the effects of the heat. It was time to end a great weekend . Camera Crews shadowed us throughout the event and I understand a film will be available next year, but watching the video can not replace the experience of being part of a weekend like this. If the opportunity presents itself in the future, do yourself a favor and make the trip to Gettysburg to participate. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

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Meet Sergeant John Moore, Company B, 16th North Carolina.

By Frederick Walton, 6th NCST Historian

Meet Sergeant John Moore, Company B, 16th North Carolina. At least I think it’s John Moore, here’s why…

Sgt Willie Meadows- Co B

unidentified Early War Photo, mislabeled as Willie Meadows, Co. B., 6th NCST

 

When I first saw this photo last week it was identified as Sergeant Willie Meadows of Company B, 6th North Carolina State Troops.

(see Sergeant Willie Meadows ?? Company B- “Flat River Guards”)

This didn’t seem right to me for several reasons. First the uniform was unlike any I had seen in previous photos of 6th NCST soldiers. Secondly, although he has a “B” on his cap, the letters “MR” below it didn’t make sense to me. Company B was known as the “Flat River Guards”. The letters on his cap should be FRG rather than the “MR”.

Corp Joseph C. Allison Co B 6ncst copy

Flat River Guards- “FRG” Hat Brass (Corporal Joseph C. Allison, Co B, 6th NCST)

Most viewers were in agreement that the picture seemed to be an early war photo, but looking up Willie Meadows service record revealed that he didn’t make Sergeant until 1864, much too late to be considered an “early war” photo.

When expert Bob Williams identified the “MR” as the 6th North Carolina’s Madison Rangers, I was further confused because I didn’t think there was any company called the Madison Rangers in the 6TH N. C.

I was wrong!

A little more research revealed that the Madison Rangers was indeed the nickname of the 6th North Carolina’s company B… the 6th North Carolina VOLUNTEERS, that is. They became the 16th North Carolina Troops on November 14, 1861.

Now that I established that this was not Willie Meadows, I wondered if there was any way to find out who this young man was. I sought the answer by consulting the roster for Company B, 16th NCT and identifying the Sergeants listed. I reasoned that he had to be one of them. There were only 7 sergeants listed, and four of them were named John, so there is a better than 50 % chance that the guy in the photo is John somebody!

If we agree that this is an early war photo, we can eliminate three names that didn’t become Sergeant until Dec ‘62 or later.

  • John W. Randall, 20, Promoted Sgt- 1 May ’63 
  • John Callahan, 29, Promoted Sgt- 22 Mar ’64 
  • Zachariah Peek, 25, Promoted 1st Sgt- 12 Dec ’62 

The lad in the photo is clearly in his mid 20’s, so that eliminates Sergeant John Brown, age 51.

Our sergeant is missing the diamond of a 1st Sergeant, so that eliminates 1st Sergeant Ira J. Profit, age 27.

This leaves us with two remaining choices:

Moore, John A., 1st Lt.
Resided in Madison County and enlisted at age 25, April 29, 1861. Mustered in as Sergeant and was elected 1st Lt. on or about April 26, 1862. Present or accounted for until killed at Chancellorsville, Va. May 3, 1863.

OR

Dalton, William A., Sergeant
Resided in Madison County where he enlisted on April 29, 1861. Mustered in as Sergeant but was reduced to rank of Corporal in September 1861-Feb 1863. Present or accounted for until captured in unspecified battle. Exchanged at Aiken’s Landing, James River, Va., Sept. 7, 1862. Reported AWOL from Nov. 11, 1862 through Aug 31, 1863. Reduced to Ranks prior to Sept 1, 1863. Company records do not indicate whether he ever returned to duty, however he DESERTED to the Yankees prior to March 5, 1865 when he took the Oath of allegiance at Louisville, Kentucky.

Hero or Traitor

Does the sincere face ln the photo look like a hero or a traitor? No disrespect meant to Sergeant Dalton, but, gee whiz, he seems to have a very spotty service record. Who knows what demons he faced during his service, but….AWOL? Desertion?

Whereas Sergeant Moore’s record is exemplary, including the fact that he made the ultimate sacrifice. So wouldn’t it be nice to remember him! That’s one reason I choose him.

Another reason is simple statistics. When 4 out of 7 sergeants are named John…well you can’t go wrong picking John, can you?

But the final data has nothing to do with something as arbitrary as personal feelings or as cold as statistics. What if we had a description? William Dalton has one in his compiled service record from his Oath of Allegiance:

Fold3_Page_3_Compiled_Service_Records_of_Confederate_Soldiers_Who_Served_in_Organizations_from_the_State_of_North_Carolina

Complexion: Fair
Hair: Light
Eyes: Blue
Height: 6’ 3”” (Wow! a giant!)

This doesn’t match our photo at all:

Sgt Willie Meadows- Co B

Sergeant John Moore, Co. B, Madison Rangers, 6th North Carolina Volunteers (16th NCT)

Complexion: dark (albeit with rosy cheeks)
Hair: Dark
Eyes: dark
Height: guessing about 5’11’’ (based on my height when I hold my sword that way)

This, then, has to be our guy…we have run out of choices!

Meet Sergeant…later 1st Lieutenant John Moore…unless you have a better idea?

Sergeant Willie Meadows ?? Company B- “Flat River Guards”

Faces Logo

The following photographs and information are original members of the “Bloody Sixth”. I am honored to include their stories and images here. If you would like to share a story or photo about your 6th NCST ancestor, please leave a comment and I will be in touch.


Sergeant Willie Meadows ??
Company B- “Flat River Guards”

Image found on the internet at various sites.

Discussion of photograph- Is this REALLY Willie Meadows?

At the time of this writing, this photograph has appeared in several places on the internet, some describing it  as the photo of Sgt. Willie Meadows. To date I have been unable to uncover the provenance that positively links this photo to this soldier, through a family member for example. One on-line auction site simply listed it as “Great Silhouetted Ninth Plate Ambrotype Of A Confederate Sergeant In Thermoplastic Case.”

According to Uniform expert Bob Williams, this image was once in the collection of William Albaugh and was published in. “Even More Confederate Faces” back in 1983. He is ID’d as belonging to the Madison Rangers, Co. B, 6th NCST.

There are several puzzling things about this photo. First is his forage Cap. It has a metal “B” which would correctly indicate his company, but below that are what appear to be “M R”.

Company B of the 6th North Carolina State Toops was known as the “Flat River Guards” and there are several photographs of their members wearing Hardee hats with the letters “FRG”.

Company B of the 6th North Carolina Infantry Volunteers (16th North Carolina Troops) was known as the “Madison Rangers”.  “M R” probably stands for Madison Rangers.

There was indeed a Willie Meadows in Company “B” of the 6th North Carolina State Troops, (see below) but his compiled service records show him as a private and a corporal, through 1864. He is listed as a Sergeant only on the Appomattox Parole listing in April of 1865.

That fact that the Cap has “hat brass” would indicate an early war photo. Veterans learned to remove these “targets” fairly early on. So while this would seem to be an early war photo, Willie Meadows of Company “B”, 6th NCST, was not a Sergeant until the late part of the war, and at that late date, its doubtful he had the proper uniform, anyway.

The upside down Sgt. Chevrons are unusual. While the jacket is similar to an early war NC style sack coat (fatigue jacket) it is not the same pattern. There are too many buttons, too close together and the black shoulder patches are going the wrong way, almost like officers shoulder boards.

A quick Google image search of “Civil War Sgt Chevrons” or “Civil War Sgt stripes” shows pages of photos, but none like the Sergeant stripes in this photo, making this pattern a mystery to me. I also scanned through Greg Mast’s “State Troops and Volunteers” and did not find a similar uniform jacket or upside down stripes amongst his many photos.

None of the known photographs of 6th North Carolina State Troops soldiers, especially several of the Flat River Guards, resemble this particular uniform.

I reviewed the 6th North Carolina Volunteers, which became the 16th NCT and found no Willie Meadows  on their roster. Additional reseach will be required to find out who the Sergeants of the 16th NCT were.

The etched sword, enhanced in the photo with added gilt, looks more like an officers sword, or maybe even a ceremonial sword. It could possibly be a photo studio prop, but he is wearing what appears to be a metal scabbard on this hip. This may be a little overkill for a prop.

His belt buckle is hidden by the sword, so no clue there and the buttons are obscured by the added gilt. Sadly there is no way to identify this as a North Carolina uniform, Much less as Willie Meadows.

If anyone can provide further explanation or provenance, I would love to share it with my readers.


Sergeant Willie Meadows  
Company B- “Flat River Guards”

Resided in: Orange County
Prior Occupation: unknown
Enlisted: May 1, 1861, for the war
Where: Orange County
Age at enlistment: 23
Rank at enlistment: Private
Service Record:

  • Note: he is listed as W., Willie, Wilie, and Wiley on the Compiled service records
  • Wounded in the leg at Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862.
  • Appointed Corporal on April 1, 1863.
  • Captured at Fredericksburg, Vir­ginia, May 4, 1863, and confined at Fort Delaware, Delaware, until paroled and exchanged on May 23, 1863.
  • Captured at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, November 7, 1863, and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, until paroled and transferred to Aiken’s Landing, James River, Virginia, Sep­tember 18, 1864, for exchange.
  • Paroled at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865. Rank given on parole as Sergeant.

 


Source Notes:

1)  Jordon, “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865

2) The National Archives Publication Number: M270; Publication Title: Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina; National Archives Catalog ID: 586957; National Archives Catalog Title: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations , compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865; Record Group: 109;Roll: 0161; Military Unit: Sixth Infantry, North Carolina; Meadows, Willie

 

Additional information or photos would be welcomed to complete 
the record of this honorable soldier. 

Confederates could Whip Germans- The 6th NCST 100 years ago today-

(c) 2017 by Frederick Walton

I was perusing the newspaper this morning…the one for July 3, 1917 that is…100 years ago today. What better way to learn “first hand” the feeling of our country as we made our entry into World War one.

On Tuesday, July 3, 1917 I found the following article on the bottom of page 6, in the Raleigh News and Observer: 

LYON, WILLIAM HUDSON, Sergeant, Company I, 6th North Carolina State troops

William Hudson Lyon enlisted in Wake County at age 18, May 28, 1861, for the war. He mustered in as Private and was promoted to Sergeant on January 1, 1863. He was present or accounted for until captured at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, on November 7, 1863. He was confined at the infamous Federal prison,  Point Lookout, Maryland, until paroled and transferred to Boulware’s and Cox’s Wharf, James River, Virginia, where he was received February 20-21, 1865, for exchange. He was reported present with a detachment of paroled and exchanged prisoners at Camp Lee, near Richmond, Virginia, February 27, 1865.

 

The 6th Regiment did serve under Stonewall Jackson for a while in 1863, which would have been a matter of pride for those who served under him. The belt, mentioned would have been part of an NCO’s accoutrments, that is, used to hold his bayonette and cap pouch. Since Lyon enlisted at the very earliest, he would most likely have been issued a coveted 6th NCST belt buckle. These were ordered  by the founding colonel, Charles Frederick Fisher, at their training camp at Company Shops, North Carolina. (present day Burlington, N. C.) Colonel Fisher, the former president of the North Carolina Railroad, had these specially cast in the railroad shops for his men. They are the only known Confederate buckles that designate a specific regiment. There were a limited number produced. A weak point in the design were the prongs that secure the buckle to the belt. They were prone to break off making the buckle useless or worse, allowing it to fall off and be lost. Several have been found by metal detectors at campsites or on battlefields, but they are a rare and valuable find. It is no doubt that Lyon coveted and protected his throughout his life. I wonder what became of it? It it in some ancestors attic or proudly on display somewhere in Raleigh?

The army didn’t see fit to recruit Jackson’s aging veterans, but their spirit certainly ran in the blood of that present generation of volunteers and draftees who did go to France and whipped the Germans in 1918.

Chancellorsville Fight, the 6th N.C.S.T. at the Forgotten Battle of 2nd Fredericksburg

by Frederick E. Walton, 6th N. C. S.T. Historian (C) 2017

Setting the stage

Following the battle of Fredericksburg In December 1862, Law’s Brigade and the Sixth North Carolina State Troops went into camp near Hamilton’s crossing, south of Fredericksburg. On January 19, 1861, they were transferred along with the 54th and 57th Regiments N. C. Troops to General Robert F. Hoke’s brigade. Hoke’s new “North Carolina” brigade consisted of the 6th Regiment N.C. State Troops, 21st Regiment N.C. Troops (11th Regiment N. C. Volunteers), 54th Regiment N. C. Troops, 57th Regiment N. C. Troops, and the 1st Battalion N. C. Sharpshooters. The newcomers had to march 20 muddy miles to join Hoke’s Brigade, camped further south of Hamilton’s Crossing near Port Royal, Va., where they remained on picket duty for the remainder of the winter of 1862-1863.

On March 3, 1863 the regiment took another long march back to their old campground near Hamiltons Crossing where they continued picketing along the Rappahannock keeping an eye on the Federal troops on the other side.2

Battlefield around Chancellorsville composed by Stonewall Jackson. This shows the relative position of Hamilton’s Crossing, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. (See the following website for the interesting history of this map- https://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/stonewall-jacksons-last-map/)

The Battle of Chancellorsville
On April 28, 1863, word came that the enemy was finally on the move. Federal troops under General Hooker were advancing up the Rappahannock to get behind the Confederate position at Fredericksburg. Across the river from their position the Federals were preparing to cross in force. Sergeant B. Y. Malone recorded the excitement in his journal:

“ The morning of the 28 befour I got up I herd a horse come threw the camp in a full lope and it was not meney minutes untell the man come back and sais Boys you had better get up we will have a fight hear to reckly and I comenced geting up and befour I got my close on they comenced beating the long roal and and it was not but a minnet or too until I herd the Adgertent hollow fall in with armes the Reg. then was formed and marched to the Battel field the Yankies comenced crossing the river befour day and by day they had right smart force over the pickets fought sum on the 29 and a good deel of canonading was don and it raind sum in the eavning” 3

The Battle of Chancellorsville had begun, but instead of moving westward with the rest of Lee’s Confederates, the 6th N. C. State troops were posted at a critical junction, miles away, tasked with keeping the Federal’s in check. Lee had entrusted General Early with this important task. They were not part of Stonewall’s grand flank attack at Chancellorsville that swept the Yankees back across the Rappohannock, but that didn’t mean they weren’t engaged with the enemy. General Early’s Corps, including Hoke’s brigade, had their own fight, starting near the familiar battleground of Hamilton’s Crossing and Deep Run.

Sgt. Bartlett Yancey Malone, 6th N. C. S. T., Co. H
source- “Whipped ’em Every Time”

 

On a very foggy May 1st, the regiment was sent out on picket duty early in the morning and, according to private Malone, found themselves within 500 yards of “a very strong line of Scirmishers “ when the fog lifted “we cood see a great meney Yankees on the other side of the river but we couldent tell how meney was on this side”. Two divisions, from the I and VI corps, making up the Federal left wing, had crossed the Rappahannock river to threaten the Confederate picket line. They were sent to stage a demonstration in an attempt to deceive Lee about the real location of the attack. Lee quickly rearranged his troops to counter the threats on two fronts. That evening the Sixth N. C. “could hear very hevy canonading up the river” recorded Malone “It is repoted that our men and the Yankees was a fyting at Keleys Foad” What they were hearing was what we traditionally call the battle of Chancellorsville, far from the fighting they were about to commence in their section of the long Confederate line.4

The Sixth North Carolina and Hoke’s Brigade fell back to the safety of their breastworks the next morning May 2nd. Around 10 am two Confederate batteries opened on the Federals, drawing counter battery fire. They “ kept up about a hour but no damedge don as I have herd of”, eyewitness Malone reported. General Lee had suggested to General Early that he use his long range artillery to feel out the enemies strength. Further away, cannonading could still be heard near Kelly’s ford. Colonel R. H. Chilton of General Lee’s staff arrived with verbal orders directing General Early to Chancellorsville. Chilton had misunderstood Lee’s instructions. Lee wanted Early to come to Chancellorsville only if the Federals in his front appeared to be moving toward Chancellorsville. Chilton ordered them there immediately. Sergeant Malone describes the ensuing confusion as the Yankee’s feint continued:

“ about 5 o’clock in the eavning we could see the Yankees a marchen up on the other side of the river by regiments and most all went back from on this Side of the river and General Earley thought that they was all a going back and taken all of his men but a Louisiana Bregaid and started to reinforce General Lea And about the time we had gone 6 miles they come orders that the Yankees was atvancen again whar we had left And then we had to turn back and march all the way back about 10 o’clock in the nite. And the next morning which was the 3 day [May 3, 1863] our men comenced Buming [bombing] the Yankees and they returned the fyer and ther was right smart canonading and picketing don untell about 12 o’clock and then for sum cause we was all ordered to fall back about a half of a mile to our last breast works but as soon as dark come we marched about 2 miles up the River .”5

Early had ordered his division back to Fredericksburg to hold the line with two other brigades and a portion of the reserve artillery. Hoke’s brigade was placed in line at Deep run on the right of Early’s line, below Fredericksburg, near where the Sixth had fought the December before.

Map from “Jubal A. Early at Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church” by Garry W. Gallagher in “Chancellorsville, The Battle and Its Aftermath.”, UNC Press, 1996.

On the morning of May 3, while General Lee was engaging Hooker at Chancellorsville, General Early was informed that the Federals had crossed the river at Fredericksburg. General Sedgwick, commanding the Federal forces around Fredericksburg, advanced beyond the town, attacking and capturing Marye’s Hill in a desperate fight. Since Sedgwick’s force appeared to be poised to strike the right of Lee’s line near Chancellorsville Hoke’s Brigade was rushed forward to block this threat. Captain Neil W. Ray described the movement:

Captain Neil W. Ray

“Our brigade was commanded by General Hoke, and we were at once moved from our position below Deep Run, so as to attack the enemy, who was then on the hills south of the town. [Marye’s heights]  The conflict was sharp, but short., and the enemy was soon on the retreat. In this fight. General Hoke was wounded. By the next morning Hooker and his army were again on the north side of the Rappahannock.” 6

General Lee personally joined General Early near Hoke’s line to discuss the impending attack. Captain York, commanding Co. I of the 6th N. C. S. T. recalled that all the marching and countermarching of the previous two days had caused the men to become demoralized and lose confidence in their officers. The appearance of Lee in their midst helped them regain confidence and commence readiness for the upcoming attack. Word went down the line that “All is right, Uncle Robert is here. We will whip them.”7

Later that afternoon, General Early watched as Hoke’s and Hay’s brigades, on the Confederate right, pushed north, with vigor, across Hazel run, down into the little creek valley and up the other side to emerge on the Plank road, blocking the Federals from Fredericksburg and sweeping them back, a moment he later termed “a splendid sight”.8

Map from “Jubal A. Early at Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church” by Garry W. Gallagher in “Chancellorsville, The Battle and Its Aftermath.”, UNC Press, 1996.

Then, disaster struck as Colonel Hoke was shot from his horse when he reached the Plank road. A Minnie ball broke his shoulder bone causing him to be unseated from his horse, falling heavily to the ground.9

General Robert F. Hoke

Colonel Isaac Erwin Avery

Colonel Isaac E. Avery, as the senior commander, ascended to command of the brigade. Hoke had been instructed to wheel his brigade to the left, when he reached the Plank road, to straighten his line and maintain contact with Hays on his right. Avery, not having been informed, led his eager troops forward, entering a patch of woods and collided into Hays’ troops pouring forward,  entangling the two brigades. As the confused mass pushed ahead they were counter attacked by a concealed 6th Vermont, who was lying in wait beyond the crest of a hill and rose to fire a well timed volley into the surprised Confederates. As darkness fell, the Federal troops withdrew toward the river to regroup, eventually being ordered back across, frustrating Early’s hope of dispatching the enemy with their back to the river.10

Aftermath
The price was extremely high. Casualties for the 6th North Carolina State Troops were 29;  eight killed and twenty-one wounded11 including:

    • Cornelius Mebane, the regimental adjutant.
    • Captain Guess of Company C
    • Captain Vincent of Company K
    • Lieutenant John S. Lockhart of Company B was badly wounded in the foot.

(for complete casualty list see https://ncara.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/remembering-the-battle-of-chancellorsville-150-years-ago-today-2/)

Private John Henry Marcom of Company C (listed as Markham in the roster), was honored by a sad epitaph in the June 10th, 1863 Hillsborough Recorder:

“The deceased was not only endeared to his company, but also to the entire Regiment. He was a faithful soldier, and although he has been numbered with the gallant dead of the noted 6th, his comrades will ever remember him.”

 

Hillsboro Recorder, Hillsboro N. C., June 10, 1863

 

“The brigade lost a total of 35 killed and 195 wounded for a grand total of 230. Early’s division suffered a total of 136 killed, 838 wounded, and 500 missing; the total loss was 1,474 men who could not easily be replaced because most of them were veteran soldiers.”12

Sergeant B. Y. Malone described his own injuries as well as that of some of his comrades:

“I was slitley wounded above the eye with a peas of a Bumb non was kild in our company. Lieutenant Walker was slitley wounded in the side. I. R. Allred was wounded in the arm hat to have it cut off. I. E. Calmond was slitley wounded in the arm. I. L. Evins had his finger shot off”.13

North Carolina Surgeon General Edward Warren wrote:

“ A great number of our soldiers have been killed and wounded; for, as usual, North Carolina bore the brunt of the fight. You may rest assured that every attention shall be given them–that each one shall be visited and cared for to the extent of his necessities. I am resolved that they shall all feel that their state has a personal interest in them. I find it unnecessary to visit the army as all the wounded are being forwarded to this city.”

This was followed by a more solemn note:

“Dr. Grissom returned to day in charge of six hundred wounded men.”

The most serious loss to the Sixth North Carolina and Hoke’s brigade was General Hoke himself who was shot from his horse while leading a charge. A minie ball shattered his shoulder bone near the shoulder joint. Surgeons wanted to amputate but Hoke adamantly refused. His recuperation would take most of the summer.14

A far more devastating blow to the Confederate cause occurred by the accidental shooting of Stonewall Jackson. As the Confederates were sweeping the surprised Federals from the field in Chancellorsville, Jackson was cut down by his own troops in the shadowy darkness of the scrub forest between the two armies. Lee sadly wrote to Jackson, when hearing of this tragedy armies. Lee sadly wrote to Jackson, when hearing of this tragedy

“Could I have directed events, I should have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead”

Following the defeat of the Federals at Chancellorsville and Salem Church, the Army of Northern Virginia returned to the Fredericksburg line. After Jackson’s death, Lee reorganized his army into three corps. Hoke’s brigade, Now commanded by Colonel Avery remained in Early’s division, which was assigned to Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell’s corps.

Major Robert F. Webb

Colonel Avery, being senior colonel of the brigade, was automatically placed in the position of brigade commander, but without the corresponding rank of Brigadier General. Lt. Colonel Robert Webb, recently recovered from his Sharpsburg wound was given command of the Sixth. He was later promoted to full colonel on July 2, 1863.

Foot Notes:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (70 vols. in 128; Washington, 1880–1901), Ser. I, Vol. XXII, XXXIII Conf. Corr., etc, #4, Special Order No. 19, Jan 19, 1863.
  2. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina, record group 109, NARA 270, Roll 0158, Record of Events, Company I, 6th North Carolina State Troops, March 1  to May 11, 1863

  3. Malone, Bartlett Yancey. Whipt ‘em Everytime. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1991.
  4. ibid
  5. ibid
  6. Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1991; “Sixth Regiment” by Neill W. Ray.
  7. Gallagher, Garry.Chancellorsville,The Battle and its Aftermath. Chapel Hill, N. C., UNC Press, 1996, 51-52
  8. ibid
  9. ibid
  10. Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1999, 415.
  11. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (70 vols. in 128; Washington, 1880–1901), Ser. I, Vol. XXV, pg 808.
  12. Iobst, Robert W. The Bloody Sixth.Gaithersburg, Md: Olde Soldier Books (reprint), 1965, pg 120; Other Casualty records compiled from various sources including the O. R.’s, Iobst, N. C. Troops and various newspaper listings.
  13. ibid
  14. ibid

General Sources:

Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1991.
Iobst, Robert W. The Bloody Sixth.Gaithersburg, Md: Olde Soldier Books (reprint), 1965.
Jordon, Weymouth t. (Editor). North Carolina Troops, 1861-65, Raleigh, NC: NC Department of Archives and History, 1981.
Malone, Bartlett Yancey. Whipt ‘em Everytime. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1991.
Stackpole, Edward J. Chancellorsville, Lee’s Greatest Battle.Harrisburg, Pa: Stackpole Books,1988.

Faces of the Sixth- Sgt. Bartlett Yancey Malone Co. H

 

Faces LogoThe following photographs and information are original members of the “Bloody Sixth”. I am honored to include their stories and images here. If you would like to share a story or photo about your 6th NCST ancestor, please leave a comment and I will be in touch.


Sgt. Bartlett Yancey Malone, Co. H

Sgt. Bartlett Yancey Malone, Co. H
source- “Whippt ’em Every Time”


B. Y. Malone was borned in the year of our Lord 1838 rased and graduated in the Corn field & Tobacco And inlisted in the war June the 18th 1861 And was a member of the Caswell Boys which was comanded by Capt Mitchel And 25 was attatched to the 6th N. C. Regt. which was comd by Coln Fisher who got kiled at the first Manassas fight which was fought July the 21st 1861.” From his diary

Best known as the author of the diary that was later published as “Whipt ‘Em Every Time“, Malone served in Co. H, “The Caswell Boys” commanded by Captain Alfred A.Mitchell.

Enlisted: June 6,1861 for the war

Where: Caswell County

Age at enlistment: 22

Pre-War Occupation: Farmer

Appointed Corporal: May/June 1861

Promoted to Sergeant: February 1, 1863

“The first day of February which was the Sabath was a pritty spring day.”

from his Diary (He doesn’t mention his promotion)

Wounded: Malvern Hill, Va. July 1, 1862

“And the next morning whitch was the first day of July just twelve months from the time I left home we crost over and about 10 oclock we overtaken the scamps again And they comenced throwing bumbs amung us And we amung them And thar was a very heavey canonading cept up all day And a little befour night the pickets comenced fyring And from that time untell about a hour in the night thar was very hard fiting don indeed And a great meney kild and wounded on boath sids in our company M. Miles L. Smith, B. Murphey, I. Calmond, G. Lyons And my self was all hurt”

from his diary

Wounded: Chancellorsville, Va., May 4, 1863

 “And the next day which was the 4 we was marching about first from one plais to a nother a watching the Yankees untell about a hour by sun and the fight was opend our Bregaid went in and charged about a half of a mile and just befour we got to the Yankee Battery I was slitley wounded above the eye with a peas of a Bumb”

from his diary

Captured: Rappahannock Station, Va. November 7, 1863

“And about dark the yanks charged on the Louisianna Bregaid which was clost to the Bridg and broke thir lines and got to the Bridge we was then cutoff and had to Surender”

from his diary

Confined: at Point Lookout Maryland

“The first day of July 1861 I left home, and the first day of July 1862 I was in the fight of Malvern Hill, and the first day of July 1863 I was in the fight at Gettysburg, and today which is the first day of July, I am at Point Lookout Md.”

from his diary

Paroled & Exchanged: Aikens Landing Va. Feb. 25-Mar. 3, 1865- Admitted to hospital in Richmond after being exchanged.

“The 21st all Prisnor capturd at Rappahanoc Station was cauld we all went out and Signed the Parole and was put in the Parole Camp and staid there most all the 24th then we was put on the Steamer George Leary we got to Fortress Monroe about dark And then run as far as Hampton Roads and there we staid all night Started next morning at light which was the 25 got to Acorns Landing about 10 Oclock which was about 12 miles from Richmond on the James River we then marched from there to Camp Lea we got to Camp Lea about dark We then Staid at Camp Lea untell the 27 when we wen over to Camp Winder.”

from his diary

Married: Mary Frances Compton (1842 – 1892) on 15 Nov 1866

Post War Occupation: Farmer

Death Date:  4 May 1890

Cemetery: Lynches Creek Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Corbett, Caswell County, North Carolina, USA


Source Notes:

1) Jordon, “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865

2) Malone, Bartlett Yancey, and William Whatley Pierson. Whipt ’em everytime: the diary of Bartlett Yancey Malone. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot, 1987.

3) North Carolina, Index to Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868

4) North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011

5 )Find A Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgipage=gr&GRid=54151398&ref=acom

Additional information or photos would be welcomed to complete the record of this honorable soldier.

Faces of the Sixth- Private Rufus H. Beavers, Co. I

 

Faces LogoThe following photographs and information are original members of the “Bloody Sixth”. I am honored to include their stories and images here. If you would like to share a story or photo about your 6th NCST ancestor, please leave a comment and I will be in touch.


Private Rufus Henry Beavers
Company I- “Cedar Fork Rifles”

Private Rufus Henry Beavers Post war photo age about 35 Contributed by descendant Philip Snell

Private Rufus Henry Beavers
Post war photo age about 35
Contributed by descendant Philip Snell


Born: 3 Feb. 1830

Prior Occupation: Farmer

Enlisted: unknown

While fighting in the upper Shenandoah Valley under General Early, Beavers was captured at Halltown, West Virginia on August 22, 1864, and confined at Camp Chase, Ohio, until transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, March 18, 1865. Exchanged at Boulware’s Wharf, James River, Virginia, March 27, 1865. Descendants recall him saying he was imprisoned in Illinois before being sent to Pt. Lookout.

Note: Halltown, Va. (Now W.V.) is located just south of Harpers Ferry.
On August 10, 1864 the 6th North Carolina was at Bunker Hill Va. (Iobst- The Bloody Sixth, P. 225). The Confederates pursued Sheridan’s Federals beginning August 17, as General Early moved his army from Strasburg toward Winchester, where Ramseur’s division faced a “Considerable Skirmish”

The Confederates pursued Sheridan to his stronghold at Harpers Ferry before withdrawing back to Their own strong position at Bunker Hill.

It could be that Beavers was captured during skirmishing, while on Picket duty or on patrol. No records exist that give details about his capture.

Brother of 6th NCST members Sidney, Charlie and G.T. Beavers.

Married Louise Lewter (b. Dec. 29, 1834 – d. June 7, 1879)  on 2 Feb 1854. together they had fourteen children.

Died in 12 Mar 1909 and buried at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Chatham County, NC


Grave of R.H. Beavers in Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Chatham Co. N.C.


Source Notes:

1) Jordon, “North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865

2) Compiled Service records at North Carolinas State Archives, Sixth Infantry, Be-Ca F.6.21.4P (NA-MC270-159), 7/24/2004, Co. I, 6 NC Inf

3) Chatam County Marriages, 1772-1860, pg 46

4 )Find A Grave:  https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39537773

Additional information or photos would be welcomed to complete the record of this honorable soldier.