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 57th Regiment
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 57th Regiment

History courtesy of Peggy Sue Wilson. Please see her website.

The 57th North Carolina Infantry, CSA was organized at Salisbury, NC in July
1862 with men from Rowan, Forsyth, Catawba, Cabarrus, Lincoln, and Alamance
counties. Sent to Virginia it was assigned to Gen. Law's, Hoke's, Godwin's,
and W.G. Lewis' brigade, where it fought with the Army of Northern Virginia
from Fredericksburg to Mine Run then returned to NC. After serving in the
Kingston area the 57th was ordered back to VA. It fought at Drewry's Bluff and
Cold Harbor, in Early's Shenandoah Valley campaign, and around Appomattox. The
57th reported 32 KIA and 192 wounded at Fredericksburg, 9 KIA and 61 wounded
at Chancellorsville, and 22% of the 297 engaged at Gettysburg were either KIA
or wounded. It surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 with 6 officers and
74 men present of which only 31 still had arms.

The field officers were Colonels Archibald Campbell Godwin and Hamilton C.
Jones, Jr., and Major James A. Craige.   Contributed by John B. Wells III, of
KY 11/96.
The 57th Regiment of North Carolina Troops by Colonel Hamilton C. Jones

Of the company officers, noncommissioned officers and privates, few, if any,
had seen any active service.  There were many Scotch-Irish from Rowan,
Iredell, Cabarrus, and Mecklenburg; there were Germans from Catawba, Lincoln,
Rowan, Forsyth and Alamance.  They had been reared in the ways of peace, but
they made magnificent soldiers, patient, enduring and fearless.

The Battle of Fredericksburg:
After the regiment was organized at Salisbury, in the summer of 1862, it was
ordered to Richmond, and was there attached to Davis'Brigade in the division
of General G. W. Smith, commanding the Department at Richmond.  The main army
at the time lay along the line of the Rapidan.  The Fifty-seventh Regiment
remained at Richmond until 6 November.  While there it had been carefully
drilled and admirably disciplined; it was well equipped, and when it was sent,
in November, to join the army upon the Rapidan, it numbered more than 800
rifles, and was a soldierly looking body of men.  It was attached to Law's
Brigade, Hood's Division, along with the Fourth Alabama, Sixth North Carolina
and Fifty-fourth North Carolina.  Within a few weeks after it joined the army
at the front, came the battle of Fredericksburg, on 18 Dec 1862.....  About 3
o'clock in the evening General Law was ordered by General Hood to make another
effort to clear the enemy from the railroad.  He ordered the Fifty-seventh
Regiment to make the addack, supported by the Fifty-fourth NC, also a new
regiment.  The regiment, when it received the order, was in the woods, and in
order to clear the woods, owing to swamps and thickets, was compelled to go
across a corduroy road out into the open.  It went by fours-left-in-front.  As
the first company cleared the woods, a battery opened on it from the Bowling
Green road, yet under this fire, company after company, as it cleared the
woods, went steadily into line without a falter or sign of confusion, and the
line was formed as accurately as if on parade;  then at "quick step" it
started for the enemy's line on the railroad.  It was in full view of almost
the entire Confederate army on the surrounding hills, and of a larger part of
the Federal along the Bowling Green road.  As it started there came a cheer
from the hills.  The line moved at "quick step," with arms at right-shoulder-
shift.  The enemy's artillery redoubled its fire, but the marksmanship was
bad, and the regiment was receiving little punishment, and moved as if on
parade.  At about 400 yards the enemy opened with their rifles from the
railroad, but the regiment had been ordered not to return the fire until the
enemy broke, and so they marched in silence.  Then the files began to fall
out, killed or wounded sometimes from shells and sometimes from the infantry
fire, but the gaps were closed up and the regiment marched steadily forward
still silent.  Then the bullets flew thick and the ground in the wake of the
regiment began to be strewn with those brave men, thicker and thicker.  Then
the fire became terrific, and at about 125 yards from the railroad the order
was given to "double-quick."

Then it was that those men who had never seen a battle before, had never seen
Confederate troops in action, raised that Confederate yell that seemed to be a
part of the nature of the Confederate troops.  There was a sudden dash forward
into the thunder and smoke of guns, and the Fifty-seventh Regiment was at the
railroad with their guns loaded, and those of the enemy who had not fled were
captured then and there.  The regiment had no orders to halt at the railroad,
so Colonel GODWIN, in obedience to what he considered his orders, planted his
colors upon the far bank of the railroad, and immediately the regiment was
again in line and making towards the Bowling Green Road.  It was now attacked
upon its flank, yet it never faltered nor hesitated until it had gone through
this ordeal, a distance of nearly 200 yards, and an order came from general
Law to retire to the railroad. 

THEN was seen what is rarely seen even with veteran troops.  The regiment
faced about under a murderous fire, marched back and took its position in the
railroad cut without confusion.  Just before this movement, Company F, from
Cabarrus, which occupied the left of the line, made a half turn to the left
and held the enemy in check upon Hazel Run while the regiment was retiring to
the railroad.  It was ONE company standing alone in the midst of a great
battle field, and yet when its task was done it went in good order to the
railroad.  The struggle had lasted in all perhaps twenty-five minutes, and in
that time 250 of the Fifty-seventh Regiment were stretched dead or wounded
upon the plain.  Of the officers, four of the Captains were either killed or
permanently disabled.  Captain Miller and his two Lieutenants - Frank Hall and
Lawson Brown - were killed;  Captain Cannon of the Cabarrus company, was
permanently disabled, and Captain Speck, of Lincoln County, lost a leg.
Captain E. J. Butner, of Campany D, from Forsyth, was also killed. 

This was the first experience of this regiment in battle, and the writer looks
back now in wonderment how these raw troops endured so manfully the shock of
such awful battle.  They were nearly all conscripts and nine-tenths of them
were farmers or farmers' sons from the counties mentioned above.  They fought
under the eye of their comrades on the hills, who cheered them with a mighty
cheer when they came back to the railroad.  They fought too, under the eye of
their great Commander-in-Chief (Godwin) and he repaid them with a flattering
notice in an order issued the next day. 

This regiment was engaged in many battles after this, and when it surrendered
at Appomattox its fame was still untarnished, but it had no such trial as
befell it upon the threshold of its experience.  The lesson that the writer
drew from this experience was that, the high-spirited Scotch-Irish and the
patient Germans of North Carolina are unsurpassed in the qualities that go to
make great soldiers.

Last battle at Appomattox:
Fought against General Grant and an army, infantry, artillery and calvary that
was armed, equipped and supplied with all that money poured out in lavish
abundance could supply.... its ranks were fully recruited, its horses fresh,
its caissons and ordnance wagons loaded down with tons of ammunition, its
commissary trains abundantly supplied -- all in readiness to receive the word
from its great commander that would launch it on its hapless foe.  AND THAT
FOE!  It was but the shadow of its former self, a remnant after the carnage of
a hundred battlefields and of four years of ceaseless marching and fighting.
Its ranks were thin, its guns were worn with use, its ordnance and commissary
stores but scant.  The men were but half clothed and were pinched from want
and constant exposure in the trenches.  BUT THERE THEY STOOD!  No bugle could
recall to their aid the thousands of their dead comrades whom they had buried
on the battlefield, but the spirit of their noble dead abided with them and
they feared nothing but God and the shame of fear; and so they waited.
.....Once the battle started the Fifty-seventh Regiment was in the midst of it
all, still patient, obedient and fearless.  Day by day they struggled on
without food and with incessant fighting.  Almost hourly they had to turn and
beat off the attacking Federals, but they struggled on with spirits still
undaunted as though they hoped that even at the last fate itself would relent
at the sight of their devotion to their last-falling cause.  This march from
Petersburg to Appomattox was not simply a retreat nor yet a conflict;  it was
the funeral procession of the Confederacy; it was an oblation of blood to the
Manes of a heroic nation that had been born and had died on the field of

The Fifty-seventh Regiment maintained its reputation on this last of its
battlefields and faced its foe with undaunted courage, but the end of it was
that the constantly increasing numbers of the enemy enable it to surround this
brigade and capture it almost to the last man.  This was the last of the many
battles in which the Fifty-seventh played its part so well, and here the
curtain falls upon its story. 

In conclusion, the writer has only to say that when in the course of time
history of this great civil struggle comes to be written by able and impartial
historians, it is not to be expected that any one regiment can be designated
among so many as specially distinguished for courage or efficiency;  but in
justice to the men and officers of the Fifty-seventh Regiment the writer can
conscientiously say that few, if any, contributed more to the imperishable
renown that surrounds the memory of the Confederate soldier.  They did their
duty well and valorously, and in fighting, in common with their comrades, they
have fixed a standard for the American soldier below which it is hoped he will
never fall.     Hamilton C. Jones   Charlotte, NC    9 Apr 1901

Names mentioned by Jones: Captain S. W. Gray, Richard VanEaton, Sergeant J.M.
Muse Company H, Sergeant J. F. Pace, John D. Barrier, Captain Wm. G. McNeely,
Lieutenant A. E. Semple, Lieutenant L. H. Roney, Lieutenant James F. Litaker,
Captain Joseph G. Morrison, Lieutenant Daniel W. Ringo. 



 Beth Bostian

©1997 Beth Bostian