Civil War Research Notes:
Although there was much division in the state concerning secession, North Carolina did secede on May 20, 1861. North Carolina was not considered awealthy state, but during the Civil War North Carolina supplied more men andmaterials to the Confederate cause than any other state. The state also suffered the largest number of losses than any other Confederate state duringthe war. General Joseph Johnston surrendered the last major Confederate Army to General William Sherman near Durham on April 26, 1865.
NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS, 1861-65 Forty-Second Regiment: The Forty-second was a
splendid aggregation of men, composed of many of the best men of Mecklenburg, Catawba, Iredell, Rowan, Davie, Davidson and Stanly counties. The personnel was excellent and the troops were well equipped.
Immediately upon organization, the men entered upon military life and great stress was laid upon thorough drilling in company, regimental and brigade tactics. Right readily did the men respond for they had enlisted to do yeoman's service for their invaded land.
The camp was located on the Crawford Farm south of Salisbury, and here part of the regiment saw its first active duty in guarding the Federal prisoners.
About 1 June, 1862, the regiment was ordered to Petersburg, VA. Thence it wassent to Lynchburg, VA, to guard several thousand Federal prisoners -- the fruits of General T.J. Jackson's Valley campaign. These were enclosed in the fair grounds.
At Lynchburg the regiment continued its daily, systematic drilling underLieutenant- Colonel Jno. E. Brown, and its efficiency was largely owing to his untiring efforts. It was a common saying among the troops that "Colonel Brown would rather drill than eat."......
In Richmond it remained but two days, when it advanced to Drewry's Bluff. Here, being without rations for thirty-six hours, tested the endurance of the men.
[Despite this accounting of the 42nd, they must have been involved in many battles. Reading the records of the soldiers indicates many wounded and dead. Its total loses showed 68 men killed or died of wounds and disease, 70 wounded, and 95 captured and missing, most of the latter in the defense of Fort Fisher.]
Notes re Wise's Fords capture: Prior to Hoke's joining, however, the division participated in an
engagement near Kinston, North Carolina. A Federal column, under Cox marching from New Berne with the mission of opening the railroad from that place to Goldsboro, was encountered near Wise's Fords. Kirkland's Brigade deployed on the left of the Confederate line, and delivered a desperate charge about 11:00 A.M. on March 8. In fighting which lasted until 12:30 P.M., and in conjunction with the 17th North Carolina, the 42nd struck the Federal flank, driving them to the rear, and capturing 1800 prisoners and four pieces of artillery. On the 10th the Confederates renewed the attack, but this time were unsuccessful, and Hoke retired on Goldsboro. From thence he marched joined Johston, by way of Smithfield.
HISTORY OF THE 42nd NORTH CAROLINA INFANTRY C.S.A.
CAPTAIN DONALD A. STROH
INFANTRY, UNITED STATES ARMY
(Major General in WWII and on retirement)
JAMES MONROE FINGER
ENLISTED AT AGE 17, Co. B, 42nd North Carolina Infantry.
Captain Donald S. Stroh, (Major General during World War II) who married Monroe
Finger's youngest child, Imogene, was interested in history. So he and Imogene followed
the route of her father's Co. and made a number of snapshots.
The compilation of a history of a single regiment of either the Union or Confederate Armies during the civil War is attended with considerable difficulty, and can be accomplished with some degree of accuracy only by extended research through many records, many of them the sketchiest
character. The stories of eye witnesses, participants and members of the unit are usually unreliable, unless supported by other sources. They are likely to be exaggerated and highly colored. The average regiment was so small, so insignificant in comparison with the great forces involved, that few accurate records remain available. Only by utilizing a scrap here, a reference there, and a comparison elsewhere is it possible to follow the activities of the organization through the intricacies of the various campaigns. The account which follows has been prepared in that same manner. An effort has been made to make it accurate and impartial. The official records have been largely utilized, supplemented by accounts of survivors, carefully scrutinized and compared before acceptance.
The 42nd North Carolina Infantry was organized at Salisbury in April, 1862. The commissioned and enlisted personnel assigned are described as being excellent and well equipped, the majority of the men coming from Rowan, Stanly, Davie and Davidson counties.
Field and staff officers included the following :
Colonel George C. Gibbs, of Florida
Lt. Col. John E. Brown , of Davie County
Major Charles W. Bradshaw, of Davidson County
Major Thomas J. Brown, of Davie County
Adjutant William H. Gregory
Ensign Joseph J. Prather, of Lincoln County
Surgeon William E. Kemble, of Virginia
Asst. Surgeon Joseph W. Wiseman , of Davie County
Chaplain Samuel J. Hill, of Iredell County
A.Q.M. Rasom P. Bessant
The ten companies were commanded by the following:
Company "A"-Capt. Jacob H. Koontz, Rowan Co.
"B"-Capt. James R. Crawford, Rowan Co.
Capt. William H. Crawford, Rowan Co.
"C"-Capt. D.A. Underwood, Stanly Co.
Capt. Jas. A. Howell, Stanly Co.
"D"-Capt. Joseph M. Roark, Rowan Co.
Capt. Robert R. Crawford, Rowan Co.
"E"-Capt. Thomas A. Brown
Capt. Spencer J. Hanes, Davie Co.
"F"-Capt. Wiley A. Clement, Davie Co.
"G"-Capt. Jas. A. Blackwelder, Rowan Co.
"H"-Capt. Jackson M. Hartsell, Stanly Co.
"I"- Capt. T.M. Redwine
"K"- Capt. Sydeham B. Alexander, Mecklenburg Co.
An effort was apparently made to assign men to companies by counties, and we find the various units to be composed of personnel from the following:
Company "A"- Rowan Co.
"B"- Rowan Co.
"C"- Stanly Co.
"E"- Davie Co.
"F"- Davie Co.
"G"- Rowan Co.
"H"- Stanly Co.
"I"- Davidson Co.
This plan doubtless resulted in increased contentment of the personnel involved. Companies varied widely on the basis of strength of the various units, from four officers and sixty-seven men in Company "I" to eight officers and one hundred fifty-two men in Company "C". The average was five officers and one hundred ten men per company. These figures , it is probable, represent the total number borne on the rolls during the three years of the regiment's existence. This total was never at any one time during active service, The strength of the entire regiment probably varying from five hundred to eight hundred officers and men.
The regiment was first quartered at the Crawford Farm south of Salisbury, where, following muster, it performed its first duty guarding Federal prisoners confined in that city. Much time, during those early months, was devoted to the perfection of close order drill, and throughout its service the regiment had the enviable reputation of being one of the best drilled units in the Confederate Army.
On June 1, 1862 the 42nd was ordered to Petersburg, Virginia. Lee, at the time, was engaged in hurling back McClellan from the very gates of Richmond, and every man was needed to aid in the defense of the southern capital.
Hopes were high that the regiment would be brigaded in the Army of Northern Virginia, but it was again assigned the duty of guarding prisoners, this time in the fair grounds of Lynchburg, Virginia. The unit was still unattached to a brigade, and late in July Major General E. Kirby Smith,
commanding in the west, asked that the regiment be assigned to him at Knoxville, Tennessee. This request was apparently not favorably considered, for on August 14 the regiment was ordered to Drewry's Bluff, on the James River, north of Petersburg. After a delay of two days in Richmond, the 42nd arrived at its destination, where it experienced its first mild form of the hardships of war, Being without rations for a period of thirty-six hours.
Shortly thereafter Colonel Gibbs moved his command to Petersburg, where it was inspected by and received high praise from Brigadier General Pettigrew, a Brigade commander in Lee's army. The regiment continued to perform outpost duty at City Point and Blackwater, on the outskirts of Petersburg, until the late fall of 1862.
The last few months of the year saw the regiment moved successively to Tarboro, North Carolina, where it engaged in its first skirmish with Federal troops, and then back to Franklin, Virginia, where its headquarters were established at Blackwater Church. For the remainder of the year the organization was engaged on outpost duty along the Blackwater from Ivor Station to Franklin, engaged in frequent minor skirmishing.
January 1863, saw the Regiment, now consisting of 30 officers and 603 enlisted men, moved by rail to Garysburg, Virginia, where it remained until spring Companies "B", "E" and "F", however were selected for a detached mission. Under Lt. Col. Brown they were sent to the vicinity of the Chowan River in North Carolina, for the purpose of dispersing an irregular force of desperadoes operating in that locality, officially known as the 1st (Union) North Carolina Volunteers, unofficially, by Confederate leaders as the Buffaloes.
Outpost from Colonel Brown's force were stationed at Harrellsville and Coleraine, Headquarters being established at Merry Hill, with patrolling extended to almost Plymouth, then held by Union forces. On March 23 a night attack was delivered on the camp of irregulars at Winfield, which was repulsed. Three weeks later a second assault was delivered during daylight hours. This was successful, the camp was burned and the enemy dispersed. he detachment was then withdrawn to its regimental rendezvous.
During the remainder of the year 1863, except for a short period, the 42nd remained on duty in eastern North Carolina, watching the Union forces which had gained a foothold in several of the seacoast towns. On March 27 it was ordered to Hamilton from its headquarters at Weldon. Here the men had received some training as artillermen, drilling with 32-pounder cannon. Early in May it received its first brigade assignment, which was to last for the remainder of the war.
Brigadier General James G Martin a former officer of the regular army, and more recently the Adjutant General of North Carolina, was given command of the newly formed brigade, and assigned the mission of watching the Federals occupying Plymouth and Washington, between the Tar and Roanoke Rivers. On June 2 we find the regiment at Greenville and reported to be "large and strong" by Major General D. H. Hill, in general charge of the coast defenses south of the James. The returns of July 31 show the regiment as a part of Martins Brigade, District of North Carolina, Department of North Carolina, which was commanded by Major General W.H.C. Whiting.
The duty of the regiment during these months was rigorous, difficult and unrelieved by the exciting combat experiences of there comrades in arms in Virginia and along the Mississippi. Almost continual marching was required, usually over poor roads, and threw swamps of the low coastal region. The constant shifting of regimental is indicative of the frequent moves required. During August and early September they were located at Kinston, where the Brigade was reported to be "full and well instructed". On August 31 we find two companies had been mounted, probably for faster and more efficient reconnaissance duties. By September 30 two companies had been moved into the defense of Wilmington, while the remainder of the regiment had again been sent to Petersburg, engaging in several small skirmishes until on October 6 the 42nd, as a part of Martin's Brigade became a unit in the Military District of Cape Fear, Defenses of Wilmington, in anticipation of a Federal attack on that important port. Here the regiment remained for the rest of 1863 and the first month of 1864.
Colonel Gibbs resigned from command of the regiment on January 1864, and was succeeded by Lt. Col. Brown, promoted to full Caloric on that date. This officer retained command until the end of the war.
Early in February 1864, the regiment participated in its major operation. Federal forces held New Bern, North Carolina in force, and the Confederate authorites decided to capture it, utilizing for this purpose a force of several thousand men under Major General Picckett. The latter's plan contemplated a simultaneous attack on the town by three converging columns, one of which was part of Martin's Brigade, consisting of the 17th and 42nd North Carolina regiments. In accordance with this plan, Martin moved out of Wilmington and on January 29 had reached a point 34 miles from that city. On the 30th he marched to Jacksonville, and on February I was at Smith's Mill on White Oak Creek, 40 miles from Sheppardsville.
From an account of the attack which subsequently developed and resulted in the capture of Newport Barracks, there are quoted below extracts from General Martin's official report dated at Wilmington February 12, 1864.
"I left this city (Wilmington) ...with parts of the 17th and 42nd Regiments North Carolina troops. the next day the command was increased by a company of cavalry...and a battery of six guns...two companies of the 17th and the remainder of the 42nd, which had been at work on the fortifications at Virginia Creek...
"Early next morning (February 2), still raining the command moved in the following order...all the cavalry...two companies of the 17th...the 42nd under Colonel Brown...
"About 12 o'clock the advance came on the enemy's pickets and immediately charged them over a most dreadful piece of road, killing and capturing, I believe, the whole picket...Moved steadily and quickly forward and soon came to the first block house, which was hurriedly left by the enemy after a few discharges from our artillery. About four miles farther came to the second blockhouses at the junction of the main sound road to Morehead City and the road to Newport Barracks (Sheppardsville) (distant about four miles). In this blockhouse was a piece of artillery and the enemy indicated an intention to hold it. The artillery of the advance had already opened fire when I came up. A company of the 17th...charged the work...and the enemy fled in disorder. After a short delay moved off on the road to Newport Barracks. Advancing about two miles, as we emerged from the thick woods to a prairie and swamp the enemy opened on us with artillery. He had formed line on rising ground, his front without trees, then a swamp, and then another unwooded field. In this second opening the 17th and 42nd formed line on the right and left of the road. . Two companies from each regiment were thrown forward as skirmishers. The artillery was
ordered to move forward on the road and use their guns as best they could. The whole command advanced and a little later the order was given to charge the enemy. He broke and fled in disorder..It was now too dark to follow the enemy.
"About 8 o'clock the troops were ordered into camp, and to be ready to move at daylight in the morning... It was decided to hold the railroad where the command was, at the junction of the county roads from Beaufort and Morehead City."
"I cannot close this report without expressing my gratification at the gallant behavior of the troops during the night, and their patient endurance on the march of nearly 240 miles over very heavy roads." Although the main expedition failed, Martin's Brigade fully accomplished its mission, cutting the railroad, and capturing or destroying large quantities of stores and ammunition, as well as burning Newport Barracks. The report of the opposing Federal commander states that "Martin performed well". The 42nd marched with its brigade from Newport Barracks on February 4, and reached Wilmington on the 12th.
In mid-April, 1964, began a year of constant marching, hard fighting and bitter experiences for the regiment, which was to last until the final shot of the war was fired prior to Johnston's surrender. During this period the 42nd was destined to take an active and heroic part in some of the major engagements of the war, and to participate in what virtually was the final battle of that struggle.
With the opening of Spring, Grant began his hammering campaign against the defenses of Richmond. With his main army, from positions north of the James, he delivered blows from the east, while Butler was to cooperate with a large force from south of the James. Butler's new threat necessitated the assembly of scattered Confederate troops from the east and south, who were rushed to Petersburg for concentration. On April 14 Martin's Brigade now consisting of the 17th, 42nd and 66th North Carolina regiments was ordered to the defenses of Petersburg, which were reached about two weeks later.
The troops thus hastily collected were formed into a division command of which was given to General Whiting. The division formed part of a provisional force commanded by Major General Beauregard, which was given the mission of defeating Butler, then concentrated near Bermuda Hundred and Drewy's Bluff, or at least, of preventing the latter's cooperation with Grant. Beauregard decided to attach Butler from the north with the bulk of his force, while Whiting, advancing north from Petersburg, would strike him in the rear. Butler's force consisted of some 36,000 men. Beauregard had available some 25,000, organized into four divisions, three of them commanded by native North Carolinians, and including nineteen regiments and two batteries from that state.
On the evening of May 15 Whiting prepared to move to participate in the attack, scheduled for the following day. The 42nd North Carolina, as a part of Martin's Brigade, drew five days' rations and 60 rounds of ammunition per man, and prepared to march at daylight on the 16th.
The advance began as ordered, Martin's Brigade marching in the rear of the column. Whiting's advance was unnecessarily slow, and was marked by indecision and vacillation on the part of that General. Despite the advice and recommendations of his brigadiers, Whiting permitted himself to be delayed all day by inferior forces of Butler's rear guard. Although Beauregard's attack from the north was successful, Whiting's failure to cooperate aggressively saved Butler from defeat, although the latter was effectively bottled up and prevented from cooperating with Grant. On May 17th the 42nd, in the vicinity of Whitehall Junction, was engaged in skirmishing on Swift Creek. On the 18th Whiting was relieved from command of the division, and General D. H. Hill assumed command. On position before Bermuda Hundred, with a loss of six officers and men killed and forty-eight wounded, or about 15% of those engaged. The regimental commander, Col. Brown, was severely wounded, and relinquished the command temporarily to Lt. Col. Bradshaw.
The following day Martin's Brigade was assigned to a newly organized division commanded by Major General Hoke, in which it continued to serve until the end of the war. By this date, May 21, the men of the regiment were completely worn out with six days of incessant marching and fighting, but no relief was in sight, and on the 26th we find the unit still facing Butler and fortifying their lines.
Grant, during this period, had been thrusting desperately at Lee in the Wilderness. Butler, seemingly safely immobilized at Drewry's Bluff and Bermuda Hundred, was no longer threatening and it seemed safe to detach Hoke's Division from Beauregard and to rush it to Lee's support at Cold Harbor.
The 42nd reached this hard-fought field on June 1, and went into action under fire on Lee's extreme right, just in time to participate in the repulse of the Union VI Corps. Lee expressed concern in trusting the defense of his flank to Martin's comparatively inexperienced brigade, but events of the succeeding fortnight justified his decision to leave the North Carolinians there. The regiment remained firmly in its fortified position, helping to defeat additional Union assaults of June 3 by the VI and XVIII Corps., although the left of Hoke's line was driven back slightly. At dark on this date Companies "E" and "D" were ordered to the advanced picket line, and skirmished with the opposing Union pickets.
From the 3rd to the 12th of June the opposing armies faced each other in the swamps of Cold Harbor. Conditions were terrible. "During the whole interval a terrible fire of sharpshooters was maintained upon both sides, which made life in our cramped and insufficient trenches almost unsupportable. Scarcely anywhere in them could one stand erect without being exposed to a sharpshooter...To shield themselves from the midsummer sun, our men were accustomed to invert their muskets, sticking the bayonets in the ground, and letting the hammers of four guns pinch the four corners of a blanket, under which the four men might crowd and get some shelter from the direct midday blaze...the men...in the summer of 1864, were far from being free of insect pests...
no water, except a little to drink and that of the worst kind, being from surface drainage; they were exposed to great heat during the day; they had but little sleep at night, when they were subjected to the attacks of mosquitoes and other pests; their cooking was of the redest character.. Dead horses and mules were scattered all over the country, and between the lines were dead bodies of both parties lying unburied in a burning sun."
Such is the description of an eyewitness of conditions which have seldom fallen to the lot of soldiers.
On June 12 Grant suddenly withdrew from in front of Cold Harbor, for a thrust at Richmond through Petersburg. Hoke's division was hastily withdrawn and started by a forced march to that city, 18 miles distant. The 42nd North Carolina, marching with Martin's Brigade, arrived at 2:00 a.m. June 16.
The opportune arrival of Hoke's Division raised Beauregard's available forces for the defense of Petersburg to 11,000. With this force he achieved on one of the most brilliant defensive actions of the war. Between June 15 and 18 Beauregard held in, check some 67,000 Federals, the advance elements of Grant's large army. Lee could not be made to believe, during this period, that Grant had crossed the James, and was already engaged in an advance on Richmond from the south. Accordingly Beauregard, with the exception of Hoke's Division, received no assistance, and bore the brunt alone.
The 42nd North Carolina, when it arrived from Cold Harbor as a part of Martin's Brigade, was at once put into the lines on Beauregard's left, near the Appomattox River. Here the regiment assisted in driving back repeated heavy Federal attacks on June 16-17. On the latter date Beauregard decided on a withdrawal to a shorter prepared position in the rear. The regiment was given the important assignment of covering this retirement by holding a wide outpost position. At 12:30 A.M. June 18 the line was successfully pulled back to the defenses which were subsequently occupied without essential change for the next ten months. On this date Lee, at last convinced of Grant's intentions, began moving his army into Petersburg lines, and the immediate danger was over.
For the greater part of the next four months the regiment participated actively and courageously in the seige of Petersburg enduring all the hardships of trench warfare, exemplified to such a degree during the World War. The unit, with the remainder of Martin's Brigade, occupied Colquitt's Salient, near the left of the line of fortifications, which rested on the Appomattox. The troops defended the breast-work every night, and were without shelter during the day except for bits of oilcloth stretched over four vertical sticks. Food was either cooked in the rear and brought forward by carrying patties eaten raw. Each alternate week Martin's Brigade was relieved by Colquitt's Brigade, the intervening period being spent in rest and recuperation. Late in July the 42nd missed by but forty-eight hours being destroyed in the explosion of the famous crater, which took place on July 30. Just two days previous to the explosion, the regiment was occupying the exact portion of the line over the mine, but was relieved on the 28th. It was to have been returned to the position on the 30th, but the order fortunately was countermanded. The regiment, however, participated in the defense of the crater by covering it with musketry fire from the north flank.
A vivid account of the grueling condition at Petersburg is given by one of Martin's staff officers.
"At the beginning of the siege, June 20, the report of
Martin's Brigade showed 2200 men for duty. In September,
when they were relieved, the total force was 700 living
skeletons. Occupying the sharp salient the work was infil- ,
trated on both flanks by direct fire, and the mortar shells
came incessantly down from above. Every man was detailed
4 every night, either on guard duty, or to labor with pick and
spade repairing work knocked down during the day. There was
no shelter that summer from sun or rain. No food could be
cooked there, but the scanty provisions were brought in bags
on the shoulder of men from the cook yards some miles dis-
tant. The rations consisted of one pound of pork and three
pounds of meal for three days-no coffee, no sugar, no vege-
tables, no tobacco, no grog-nothing but the bread and meat.
No wonder that the list of officers was reduced to three
Captains and a few Lieutenants, with but one staff officer
to this brigade. But every feeble body contained an unbro-
ken spirit, and after the fall months came those who had not
fallen into their graves or been disabled, returned to
their colors, and saw them wave in victory in their last
fight at Bentonville."
On June 28, General Martin was relieved from command of his brigade and for the next two months it was under the temporary command of Colonel Charles T. Zachary. Lt. Col. Bradshaw remained in command of the 42nd, Colonel Brown not having yet recovered from his wound. On August 19, Brig. Gen. William W. Kirkland was assigned command of the brigade, which then consisted of the 17th and 66th North Carolina regiments in addition to the 42nd. On September 27, we find the brigade in reserve behind the left center of the Confederate lines at Petersburg.
This is the last reference to be found specifically connecting the 42nd North Carolina with the siege of Petersburg. In October, the regiment was sent north of the James to participate in an attack on Fort Harrison, but saw no action. It went into winter quarter along the Darbytown Road, where it was rested and recruited to partial strength. Colonel Brown returned to command prior to November 30. The unit still retained its early reputation for excellent drill, and was selected by Longstreet, at about, as the best drilled regiment in his Corps, and it was sent to Richmond to march in the funeral procession of a general officer.
In December 1864, a Federal threat developed against the defenses of Wilmington, North Carolina, one of the few remaining seaports still in Confederate hands. A combined sea and land attack against Fort Fisher, the principal defensive work at the mouth of the river, was planed. Hoke's Division including Kirkland's Brigade, was accordingly detached from Lee's command and started for Wilmington by rail on December 20 to aid in the defenses.
The men of the 42d North Carolina started in box cars on December 23. The temperature was below zero, and the troops suffered severely from the cold. They built fires in the center of each car, closing the doors to conserve heat, and incidentally also conserving the smoke. .
Wilmington was reached on the 24th, where loyal women of the town fed and cheered the cold and hungry troops. Kirkland's Brigade, variously reported to number at this time between 1300 and 2000 men, was at once hurried to Sugar Loaf, a sandy hill on the peninsula north of Fort Fisher, reaching there at 4:30 p.m., with Company "A," 42nd North Carolina, at Battery Anderson nearer the fort. Here the regiment spent Christmas Day, 1864, exposed to the fire of the Federal ships attacking the fort. Kirkland arrived in time to cause the withdrawal of the Federal landing party, and the abandonment of this initial attack on Fort Fisher. Battery Anderson, however, with its garrison, was captured, the regiment losing in the action two officers and eighty enlisted men captured, one man killed and two wounded. Portion of General Kirkland's official report, dated at Sugar Loaf, December 30, 1864, are quoted:
"I reached Wilmington about midnight of the 23rd with the 17th
and 42nd and 100 men of the 66th North Carolina Regiments, of my
brigade, in all, 1300 effectives . . .I bivouacked the remainder of
the night at Dam No. 2, and shortly after sunrise on the 24th took
up the line of march for Sugar Loaf . . .My brigade, much jaded,
arrived at 4:30 p.m. . . .Shortly after the enemy opened heavily
upon Fisher and commenced shelling the beach and woods along
their front. When the troops of my brigade came up, I made the
following despostions . . .I put the 42nd North Carolina Regiment in
positions on a prolonation of the sea front of the Sugar Loaf works
and directed Colonel Brown to intrench himself...Captain Koontz,
with Company "A," 42nd North Carolina (about eighty men), I sent
to Battery Anderson with orders to repel the enemy if they
attempted to land there...the night passed quietly".
"Early on the morning of the 25th...a furious bombardment
against Fisher...was commenced...Several hours (later)...I heard a
deafening cheer from the fleet and in a moment was a courier
dashed up and informed me the enemy had suddenly dropped their
launches opposite Anderson, pulled to the sea shore, firing shrapnel
from their boat howitzers as they came, Landed, and captured
Captain Koontz and his company. This occurred about 1:00 P.M. .
There was an interval of at least a mile between the 17th
and the 42nd regiments...I considered the force on the beach at
least three brigades, and others landing all the while...Night
appeared and the enemy not advancing, I deemed it prudent to
reconnect my lines....At daylight of the 26th I had my line of battle
extending from the river to the neighborhood of Gatlin...and I felt
confident I could repulse the enemy should he come in my front...
"In conclusion, I take pleasure in stating that my command
behaved well...To Colonel John E. Brown, 42nd North Carolina
Regiment, I am greatly indebted for assistance in every particular."
On December 31 Kirland's Brigade was withdrawn from Sugar Loaf to Camp Whiting, on Town Creek, two miles from Wilmington, and some sixteen miles from Fort Fisher. General Bragg was now in general command of the forces sent to defend Fort Fisher, exclusive of the garrison itself. His total force numbered close to 7000 men, but although Federal troops made a second and this time successful attack on Fort Fisher early in January, 1865, Bragg made no effort to oppose it, remaining in close defense of Wilmington.
On February 22 Wilmington was evacuated, the 42nd forming the rear guard for the retiring Confederate column, repulsing frequent attacks by the pursing Federal cavalry.
Sherman, meanwhile, was advancing north from Savannah and desperate measures were taken by the Confederate authorities to collect a sufficient force to oppose him. By heroic measures a force of some 36,000 men were assembled in North Carolina under Johnston's command. Hoke's Division, including three small brigades in addition to Kirkland's, described as a "fine division," was directed to join Johnston. Kirkland's Brigade included, in addition to the 42nd, the 17th, 50th and 66th North Carolina Regiments. Prior to Hoke's joining, however, the division participated in an engagement near Kinston, North Carolina. A Federal column, under Cox marching from New Berne with the mission of opening the railroad from that place to Goldsboro, was encountered near Wise's Fords. Kirkland's Brigade deployed on the left of the Confederate line, and delivered a desperate charge about 11:00 A.M. on March 8. In fighting which lasted until 12:30 P.M., and in conjunction with the 17th North Carolina, the 42nd struck the Federal flank, driving them to the rear, and capturing 1800 prisoners and four pieces of artillery. On the 10th the Confederates renewed the attack, but this time were unsuccessful, and Hoke retired on Goldsboro. From thence he marched to joined Johston, by way of Smithfield.
On March 19 Johnston struck one of Sherman's advancing columns at Bentonville, hoping to fdear (sic) his superior opponent in detail. Early in the day the 42nd, with the remainder of Kirkland's Brigade, covered the deployment of Johnston's army. Later, it rejoined Hoke's Division, and participated in the repulse of the initial Union assaults, occupying a position in the center of the southern line. Still later the regiment charged with the remainder of its division against the Union XIV Corps, bivouacking that night on the battle-field. Sherman renewed his attack on March 20, utilizing his XV Corps. The 42nd participated in the successful parrying (sic) of numerous blows throughout the day, the last of which was delivered about sunset.
Johnston's forces, however, which numbered some 14,000 at Bentonvilled were far too weak to cope with Sherman's overwhelming numbers, and he withdrew to the north on March 22. Passing through Raleigh on April 11, he reached Durham on the 13th. On the 26th of April Johnston surrendered to Sherman. The 42nd North Carolina, on this date, was at Center Church, Randolph County, about three miles from High Point, having marched via Chapel Hill. It was fitting that the regiment reached the end of its trail within a few miles of the scene of its muster, - in its native state where it had seen two-thirds of its service.
So ended the three-year life of this gallant command. Its total losses showed 68 men killed or died of wounds and disease, 70 wounded, and 95 captured and missing, most of the latter in the defense of Fort Fisher.
This letter written to James Monroe Finger that lived on what is now Finger Bridge Road from a
A .S. Shuford..
Catawba Co. N.C.
Aug 2, 1887
J M. Finger
Hickory, N. C.
Dear Old Friend
Enclosed find copy four roll book that I promised to send to you soon, I think I send you a
tolerably correct list - I made it from three old list - It may be that some of the causiality were not
entered - I think I have about all, I would have made you a nicer list but I had no other kind of
paper, hope it will be satisfactory - with many wishes for your prosperity - both in this and the
world to come - I am your old Army friend -
signed A. S. Shuford
Con soldier Co B 42nd Regt - N.C. S
3 died from wounds
8 died from deasese
from all roll book -
23 from Catawba Co. ballance from Rowan. Iredell, and several other counties.
Note: J. M. Finger was wounded 20 May 1864.