History of the 39th North Carolina Infantry Regiment

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39TH NORTH CAROLINA INFANTRY REGIMENT
NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS, 1861-1865

North Carolina Civil War History
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The 39th North Carolina Regiment returned to Knoxville shortly after it was mustered in; it went into camp at the old fairgrounds. During July and August 1862, the regiment was detailed by companies to guard bridges, stores, and the line of communication from Bristol to Chattanooga along the East Tennessee & Virginia and the East Tennessee & Georgia railroads. Officially, the regiment was reported to be in General Alexander W. Reynolds's brigade of General Carter I. Stevenson's division, Department of East Tennessee. In August 1862, General Kirby Smith, commander of the department, began moving against the Federal force at the Cumberland Gap. After finding the Federals too strong, General Smith, having left Stevenson's division to contain the enemy, moved north with the remainder of his command on August 24 to support General Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky. On August 30, Smith routed a force of green Federal troops at Richmond, Kentucky, and on September 1, he entered Lexington. The Federals evacuated the Cumberland Gap on September 17, and the 39th Regiment, which was near Baptist Gap, Tennessee, took part in the pursuit of the retreating enemy. On September 19, Stevenson's division marched to join Smith in Kentucky. And on October 2, Smith's reunited force encamped at Frankfort.

General Bragg's defeat by a greatly superior Federal army at Perryville on October 8, brought his and Smith's invasion of Kentucky to an abrupt end. Smith's corps retired to Harrodsburg. Kentucky, on October 1 and established a defensive line. The Federals did not offer battle, so Reynolds's brigade retreated with Stevenson's division through the Cumberland Gap and encamped at Beans Station. Tennessee, on October 25. By the end of the month, the 39th Regiment was reported in Reynolds's brigade of General Henry Heths division. After its return to east Tennessee, the regiment encamped in Lenior's Station on the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad.

In late December 1862, a Federal army under General William Rosecrans moved south from Nashville against Bragg's concentrated force at Murfreesboro. There, Bragg had taken a position astride the shallow waters of Stones River with William J. Hardee's corps on the east bank (the right of Bragg's line) and Leonidas Polk's corps on the west bank. Before the battle, Reynolds brigade was ordered to Vicksburg, but the 39th Regiment was diverted to Murfreesboro. After waiting in vain for an expected Federal advance on December 30, Bragg decided to attack the Federal right the next day and moved two divisions west of the river, Concurrently, Rosecrans was making plans for an assault on the Confederate right.

Bragg struck first on the morning of December 31 and, after hard fighting, forced the Federal right wing back to a position perpendicular to the Federal center and parallel to the river. Rosecrans then canceled his scheduled attack, called up reinforcements, and by early afternoon had fought the Confederates to a standstill. Two more determined Confederate assaults in the late afternoon were repulsed with heavy casualties. During the early stages of the battle, the 39th Regiment was engaged near the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad in General Daniel S. Donelson's brigade, which suffered "frightful losses" in its initial attack. After the first assault, the regiment attached itself to General J. Patton Anderson's brigade, which was also engaged in heavy fighting. Both Colonel Coleman and Lieutenant Colonel Hugh H. Davidson were wounded, and Captain Alfred W. Bell of Company B assumed command of the 39th.

Company I was detailed to load ammunition wagons at Murfreesboro during part of the day but later rejoined the regiment on the battlefield. The next day, January 1, 1863, Rosecrans pushed a force across the east bank of Stones River, and inconclusive fighting continued all along the line. On January 2, Bragg suffered heavy casualties in attacking the Federals on the east bank. The 39th Regiment was assigned to General Arthur M. Manigault's brigade that evening. Bragg abandoned the field on January 3 and withdrew in the direction of Shelbyville. During the Battle of Murfreesboro, also known as Stones River, the 39th Regiment lost 2 men killed, 36 wounded, and 6 missing. The regiment was complimented for "good service" by the colonel of the 16th Tennessee Infantry Regiment while fighting in support of that unit. The unit was allowed to imprint inverted cannon on its battle flag as a symbol of its part in the capture of enemy artillery during the fighting on December 31.

At Shelbyville, Bragg's army established a defensive position and began reorganizing. On January 21 the 39th Regiment was transferred to Robert B. Vance's brigade, John P. McCown's division, E. Kirby Smith's corps. In addition to the 39th Regiment, the brigade was composed of the 29th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Battalion Georgia Infantry, and the 9th Regiment Georgia Infantry. Vance's health prevented him from assuming active field command, and General William B. Bate was assigned to command the brigade. At the same time, General Alexander F. Stewart replaced McCown as division commander. Thus the 39th Regiment was in Bates brigade, Stewart's division, Smith's corps.

The 39th Regiment remained at Shelbyville until May 12, 1863, when it and the 29th North Carolina Infantry were ordered to Mississippi. The regiments arrived at Jackson on May 18, two days after the Federals evacuated the town, and were then marched thirty miles to Canton, where General Joseph E. Johnston was organizing an army so relieve the besieged Mississippi River town of Vicksburg.

The 39th Regiment was assigned to General Evander McNair's brigade of Samuel U. French's division, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. The regiment then relocated with McNair's brigade to Birdsong's Farm, near Vicksburg; however, the Vicksburg garrison surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on July 4 before Johnston could maneuver his army into position. The 39th Regiment was at the Big Black River when word arrived of the fall of Vicksburg. Johnston then retired to Jackson, Mississippi, where he occupied previously constructed field works. French's division held the left-center of the Confederate line, and the 39th Regiment occupied a position just west of the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad. Three corps of Grant's army, under General William T. Sherman, arrived before Johnston's position on July 9 and began siege operations. Active skirmishing and some cannonading continued until July 16, when Johnston withdrew his army over the Pearl River and fell back to Brandon.

While the 39th was encamped at Brandon, the Federal army in Tennessee under General Rosecrans pushed three widely separated columns into the mountains in pursuit of Bragg, causing the latter to retire from Chattanooga on September 7-8. McNair brigade, along with other Confederate troops in Mississippi, was sent to reinforce Bragg. Upon their arrival, McNair's men were placed in the division of General Bushrod R Johnson, which also contained brigades commanded by General John Gregg and Colonel John S. Fulton.

On the morning of September 19, by which time Rosecrans had succeeded in reuniting most of his divided command behind the west branch of Chickamauga Creek, heavy and extremely confused fighting broke out between the two armies and lasted the rest of the day. At noon the 39th North Carolina and the 25th Arkansas Regiments were ordered to the support of Gregg's brigade. Moving forward, the two regiments "charged impetuously with loud cheers, passing over the left of Gregg's brigade, and drove the enemy in rapid flight through the thick woods, across the Chattanooga road, pass the small house 100 yards on, and into the corn fields beyond, making a distance altogether of about three-quarters of a mile." (Official Records, Series I. Volume XXX, part 2, pages 499-500). Finding themselves in as exposed position with a dwindling supply of ammunition, the exhausted men of the 39th North Carolina and 25th Arkansas fell back to the woods to re-form. After a fresh line of advance, the units moved through the woods, marched to their original position, and rejoined McNairs brigade. The day ended without either side having gained a clear advantage. During the night, General James Longstreet, whose corps had been dispatched from the Army of Northern Virginia to reinforce Bragg, arrived and was given command of the Confederate left wing.

The next day a Confederate attack on the Federal left was stalemated with heavy casualties, but an attack by Longstreet on the Federal right struck a gap in the enemy line and precipitated a near-rout. Only the stubborn and courageous defense of General George H. Thomas's corps, aided by the timely arrival of two reserve brigades, prevented a Federal disaster. McNair's brigade, fighting on the Confederate left under Longstreet, repulsed an enemy attack at about 9:30 a.m. And, advancing with the rest of the left wing, "drove the enemy steadily and rapidly back, passing over two successive lines of temporary breastworks, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, reaching the corner of the field, at the opposite end of which were two batteries of the enemy on a hill commanding the whole advance." (Official Records, Series I, Volume XXX, part 2, page 500.)

About that time, General McNair was wounded and Colonel Coleman of the 39th Regiment assumed command of the brigade. Coleman reported that the brigade, which was "already in advance of the line, charged furiously upon the batteries diagonally on the right and captured them, taking ten pieces, eight of which were immediately sent with their remaining horses to the rear, and the remaining two, then in the woods, were carried to the rear afterward, the ground never having been reoccupied by the enemy." (Official Records, Source I, Volume XXX, pars 2, page 500.)

As a result of that charge, the brigade found itself in advance of the Confederate line and retired to procure ammunition before going back into line on the left of Jerome B. Robertson's brigade. After Advancing for about half a mile, McNair's (Coleman's) men went into position supporting the brigade of Colonel Fulton. The line was then ordered forward. McNair's (Coleman's) brigade "charged over the hill upon the enemy, and after a protracted and obstinate resistance . . . the enemy were driven from the position." (Official Records, Series I, Volume XXX, part 2, page 501.) During the two-day battle, of the 247 members of the 39th Regiment who went into action on September 19, 100 were killed or wounded and three were reported missing. For its part in the capture of the Federal artillery pieces, the regiment was authorized to imprint additional cannon on its battleflag. Rosecrans's defeated army escaped into the fortifications around Chattanooga.

Following the Battle of Chickamauga, the 39th Regiment, with McNair's brigade, rejoined Joseph E. Johnston's army in Mississippi. There it was assigned to French's division at Meridian, where it remained until the division moved to Brandon on December 5. On December 16, General Johnston was ordered to take command of the Army of Tennessee at Dalton, Georgia. And General Leonidas Polk replaced Johnston as commander of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana.

French's division remained at Brandon until it was ordered to Jackson to oppose a Federal force consisting of two corps under General Sherman. French occupied the town early on the morning of February 5, 1864, and received word that Sherman was approaching. Realizing that he was heavily outnumbered, French withdrew from Jackson, which was occupied by the Federals that evening. Fearing that Sherman would march next upon Mobile, where a Federal naval attack seemed imminent, Polk ordered elements of French's division to reinforce the garrison there. McNair's brigade and the other troops arrived in Mobile on February 9 and were placed under General D. H. Maury, the garrison commander; however, Sherman's objective quickly proved to be Meridian rather than Mobile and the anticipated naval attack also failed to materialize. Meridian was occupied by the Federals on February 14. The 39th Regiment was then ordered to the Yellow River, Pensacola Bay, Florida, where a Federal attack was expected. Again the expected attack failed to occur. The 39th camped adjacent the Yellow River and busied itself with guard duties, hunting, and fishing. For a brief time, the war was forgotten.

Early in May 1864, orders came for the 39th Regiment, along with other units of Polk's command, to join Johnston's Army of Tennessee near Dalton where a powerful Federal army under Sherman had started moving south. The 39th Regiment marched to Pollard, Alabama, and from there moved by rail to Resaca, Georgia, just south of Dalton. When it became evident that the main Federal thrust would be against Resaca, Johnston fell back and joined forces there with Polk. The 39th was placed on the extreme left of the Confederate line and began entrenching on a bluff overlooking the Oostanaula River. Heavy skirmishing, in which the 39th was involved, broke out at Resaca on May 13, and Sherman launched a major attack the next day. Late on the afternoon of May 14, Polk's corps, with General John B. Hood's corps, counterattacked. A "39th North Carolina Regimental Historian" stated: "We went as a double-quick across a field and just before we entered the timber, the command was given to lie down (in order to get our breath), and then forward we went. In a few moments we were in the thick of the fight, and in less than half an hour it was so dark we could not see, and the enemy's line could be traced by the flash of their guns. The roar of the artillery was deafening, the battle raging along the whole line, and continuing long after nightfall." (Clark's Regiments, Volume II, pages 739-740.) Orders were then received for the men to retire to their trenches, so the Confederates broke off the attack.

Dissatisfied with his position, which had been compromised by the loss of several key hills and was in danger of being turned, Johnston withdrew across the Oostanaula on the night of May 15. The 39th Regiment was the last unit to leave. When it reached the railroad bridge, over which it was to cross the river, it found the bridge ablaze in six places but still passable, and the men crossed safely. The regiment rejoined the army at Lay's Ferry and then moved to Calhoun. During the action at Resaca, the regiment lost 5 men killed, 8 wounded, and 3 missing.

At Calhoun, Johnston was reinforced by newly arrived units of Polk's army. Johnston then fell back to Adairsville, Kingston, Cassville (where the 39th Regiment was engaged on May 19), Cartersville, and Allatoona Pass. Declining to attack the strong Confederate position at Allatoona Pass, Sherman cut loose from the Western & Atlantic Railroad, the tracks of which he had been following, and marched south toward Dallas in an effort to turn Johnston's left flank.

On May 23, the 39th Regiment was transferred from the brigade that was formerly commanded by General McNair and Colonel Coleman, and most recently by General Daniel H. Reynolds. The 39th was then assigned to General Matthew D. Ector's brigade of French's division. Also assigned to Ector's command were the 29th North Carolina and four Texas regiments. The 39th Regiment remained in Ector's brigade for the remainder of the war.

In reaction to Sherman's latest maneuver, Johnston withdrew to New Hope Church and Dallas, where he established a new defensive line. Heavy fighting broke out on May 25 and continued intermittently, interspersed with sharp skirmishes, until June 4 when Johnston, to prevent his right flank from being turned, retreated eastward to a prepared position along Lost, Pine and Brush mountains. During the action at New Hope Church, the 39th Regiment loss three men wounded and one missing.

On June 8, Johnston fell back again to a strong position at Kennesaw Mountain, just north of Marietta. One division was left behind at Pine Mountain, several miles in advance of the Kennesaw Mountain line. On June 14, while observing the enemy from Pine Mountain, General Polk was killed. Two weeks of mostly small-scale fighting followed, during which both sides were handicapped by inclement weather. In fighting at Lattimer's Mills on June 18, the 39th Regiment lost 6 men killed, 8 wounded, and I missing.

On June 27, Sherman launched a frontal assault against the strongest part of the Confederate line and was repulsed with severe casualties. Some elements of Polk's corps, which was under the temporary command of General William W. Loring, were involved in heavy fighting; however, Ector's brigade was in position on little Kennesaw Mountain, some distance from the primary scene of conflict, and played little part in the battle.

Sherman then reversed to his previous tactic of extending his line beyond the flank of the outnumbered Confederates. And Johnston retired during the night of July 2 to a prepared Position along a ridge behind Knickknack Creek, which crossed the Western & Atlantic Railroad as Smyrna, about 6 miles south of Marietta. Loran's corps was on the right of the line near Smyrna and received the brunt of an attack launched by the Federals on July 4. Johnston withdrew to a position on the Chattahoochee River which he occupied on July 5. On July 7, the corps previously commanded by Polk and Loring was assigned to General Alexander P. Stewart. Thus the 39th Regiment was a part of Ector's brigade of French's division of Stewart's corps.

Sherman quickly moved his army up on the track of Johnston, and on July 8 he began fording the Chattahoochee upstream from the Confederate position. Johnston fell back to a defensive position on Peachtree Creek, about four miles north of Atlanta. By July 10, Johnston had established a line that began at the Western & Atlantic Railroad (about two miles south of the Chattahoochee River) on the left (west), and it extended six miles east to the confluence of Peachtree and Pea Vine creeks. It then turned south until it crossed the Georgia Railroad between Atlanta and Decatur.

Stewart's corps was on the left of the line on Peachtree Creek. Johnston's withdrawal through north Georgia during the summer of 1864, although skillful, was both unproductive and self-defeating in the view of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. And on July 17, Davis replaced Johnston with one of the latter's corps commanders, John B. Hood. Having little option other than to take the offensive, Hood launched a furious but poorly conducted, costly, and unsuccessful counterattack on July 20. Ector's brigade was moved from Peachtree Creek into the line on the Marietta road during the early morning hours of July 20, and at noon Ector's and Francis M. Cockrell's brigades were sent to the support of General Edward C. WaIthall's division. Ector's men fell back to the entrenchment's just west of the Pace's Ferry road during the night of July 20 and the next day moved farther west beyond the Marietta road.

The 39th Regiment's losses on July 20, with its previous heavy skirmishing on July 19, totaled fifteen men killed, wounded, and missing. Hood then fell back to the fortifications of Atlanta and prepared to defend the city. Heavy fighting broke out east of Atlanta, in the vicinity of the Georgia Railroad, on July 22. On July 27, Ector's brigade was moved to the left of the Confederate line to a position south of the Turner's Ferry road. The next day it was ordered to reinforce WaIthall's division at Ezra Church, about two miles west of Atlanta where severe fighting was in progress. There the brigade was placed on the extreme left flank; it returned to the Atlanta trenches at midnight. General Ector was wounded on July 27 and was replaced by Colonel William H. Young of the 9th Texas Infantry Regiment. Colonel Young was appointed brigadier general on August 15.

During August 1864, Sherman pursued a strategy of extending his lines west of Atlanta in order to cut Hood's railroad communications to the south. Hood sought to match the Federal extensions, and by August 25 the lines had reached the vicinity of the railroad junction at East Point about four miles southwest of Atlanta. During that time, the regiments' of Ector's brigade rotated on picket duty in front of the defensive works west of the city.

On August 26, Sherman made a new and powerful thrust to the south that quickly resulted in the severing of both the West Point and the Macon & Western railroads. While Stewart's corps remained behind to hold the Atlanta fortifications, Hood's other two corps, under Hardee and Stephen D. Lee, moved south in an attempt to dislodge the Federals from the Macon & Western Railroad at Jonesboro, about fifteen miles from Atlanta. An unsuccessful two-day battle followed during which two brigades of Hardee's corps were virtually destroyed. Hardee and Lee then retreated to Lovejoy's Station, just south of Jonesboro. There they were joined by Stewart's corps and by Hood, who evacuated Atlanta on September 1. French's division served as the rearguard during the retreat. The division went into line at Lovejoy's Station on the afternoon of September 3.

The two armies maintained their positions until September 21; when Hood shifted his forces to Palmetto, about twenty-two miles northwest of Lovejoy's Station. Convinced that Sherman had relinquished the initiative and intended to rest on his laurels in Atlanta, Hood moved his army northward on October 1, to strike the Federal supply line on the Western & Atlantic Railroad. On October 4, General Stewart's corps captured the Federal garrisons at Acworth and Big Shanty, on the railroad just north of Marietta, and tore up fifteen mites of track. The next day French's division was sent to capture the major Federal supply depot at Allatoona, about five miles north of Acworth. French's men succeeded in driving the determined Federal defenders from two of their three redoubts but broke off the attack when a false report was received that Federal reinforcements were at hand. French then ordered his men to withdraw. During that action, part of the 39th Regiment was sent to protect the artillery while the remainder, a detachment of about forty men, was detailed to support the assault. Two members of the regiment were wounded. General Young was also wounded and captured, and Colonel Coleman again assumed command of the brigade.

Following the Battle of Allatoona, Hood moved his army to the northwest and crossed the Coosa River west of Rome on October 10. Sherman, unable to come to grips with the elusive Hood, moved toward Rosse and ordered General George H. Thomas, who had been sent back to Tennessee with his corps in September, to guard against a Confederate crossing of the Tennessee River west of Chattanooga. Hood then turned back to the northeast, struck the Western & Atlantic Railroad again at Resaca, and advanced on Dalton, where he captured the garrison on October 13. After tearing up twenty miles of track between Resaca and Tunnel Hill, Hood marched west to Gadsden, Alabama. On October 22, he moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama, where he awaited the arrival of supplies before crossing the Tennessee River. Sherman, convinced that Thomas would be able to deal with Hood, returned with his army to Atlanta and made preparations for his march to the sea.

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Hood's men began crossing the Tennessee on November 2 but were delayed by bad weather and high water; it was not until three weeks later that the crossing was completed. Hood then advanced against Columbia, hoping to seize the Duck River bridges there and cut off a large Federal force under General John Schofield south of the Duck at Pulaski. After a difficult march during which they encountered rain, sleet, and snow, Hood's men arrived at Columbia to find Schofield's force awaiting them. Hood then attempted to flank the Federals by crossing the Duck east of Columbia, whereupon Schofield, narrowly escaping entrapment as Spring Hill, withdrew to Franklin.

Closely followed by Hood, who blamed the Federals escape on the lethargy of two of his corps commanders, Schofield arrived at Franklin on the morning of November 30; and finding his crossing of the Harpeth River would be delayed until bridge repairs could be completed, formed a defensive line. On the day of the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, the 39th Regiment was detailed to guard the army's pontoon train. Thus the regiment missed some of the bloodiest and most desperate fighting of the war. Hood ordered his men forward in a frontal assault which, after some initial gains, was driven back with murderous losses. Hood's army of approximately 24,000 men suffered about 6,000 casualties while Schofield, with about the same number of men, lost 2,000.

Schofield withdrew to Nashville and united his command with that of Thomas, while Hood, bloodied but still advancing, moved in behind Schofield and began entrenching in the hills south of Nashville Outnumbered by a margin of better than two to one, Hood hoped to entice Thomas into attacking him in a defensive position. General French having received a leave of absence, his division, which was small, was attached to that of General Ector's brigade and was ordered to the left to support the cavalry. But just before the battle, it was recalled and placed in reserve behind the left of Walthall's line,

On December 15, Thomas launched a massive attack against the Confederate left, which was held by Stewart's corps. Ector's brigade was sent to assist in the defense of the Hillsboro Pike but was forced to withdraw when the redoubts of Walthall's left fell to the Federals. Cut off from Walthall's division by the enemy's advance, Ector's men then took up a position on the left of the division. The brigade was relieved that night and moved to a point near the Granny White Pike as Hood fell back to a new defensive line.

The next day a new Federal assault smashed into the corps of General Benjamin F. Cheatham (which had been moved from the right to the left of the Confederate line during the previous night) and sent it fleeing in confusion. Ector's brigade was ordered to the left to help stem the attack and was later reinforced by Daniel H. Reynolds's brigade. Although strong enough to keep the enemy in check, the two brigades were unable to regain control of the Granny White Pike pass. Shortly thereafter the Confederate center, under Stewart, also began to fall back in great disarray. Only a gallant rear guard action by the corps of Stephen D. Lee and a heavy rain permitted the badly beaten Confederates to escape down the road to Franklin. General Stewart reported that the conduct of Ector's brigade during the battle was "characterized by the usual intrepidity of this small but firm and reliable body of men." (Official Records, Series I, Volume XLV, part I, page 710.) General Walthall stated in his report that Ector's men, along wish those of Reynolds, had for a time held open "the only passages through which many detachments of the army were afterward enabled to reach the Franklin pike" and make their escapes. (Official Records, Series I, Volume XLV, part I, page 723.)

Although Hood had managed to save a part of his army, the battles of Franklin and Nashville were an irredeemable catastrophe for the South. The men who were killed or captured could no longer be replaced, and the demoralized and decimated Army of Tennessee, although capable of defensive operations, would never again take the field with any real hope of victory. The casualties of the 39th Regiment during the Tennessee campaign were not reported.

Hood began recrossing the Tennessee River near Florence, Alabama, with what remained of his army on December 26. On that date the men of Ector's brigade took part, together with the cavalry of General Nathan B. Forrest, in a rearguard action as Sugar Creek, Tennessee. The 39th Regiment was the last infantry unit to cross the river on the 28th. Hood then moved his army through Tuscumbia, Alabama, to luka, Mississippi, and from there proceeded to Corinth and then Tupelo, where he went into camp on January 10, 1865. Soon after reaching Tupelo, French's division was sent to Mobile to reinforce the garrison commanded by General D. H. Maury. Ector's brigade was stationed at Spanish Fort on Mobile Bay, which came under siege by Federal forces under the command of General Edward Canby on March 27. Ector's men, supported by a small gunboat, were on the left of the Confederate line near the marshes of Bayou Minesse. Shortly after dark on April 8, the Federals broke through on the Confederate left and captured some of the defenders, including a number of soldiers from the 39th Regiment. The garrison evacuated the fort via a treadway over Bayou Minette later that night, some of the men retiring to nearby Fort Blakely and some to Mobile. When Fort Blakely fell on April 9, General Maury abandoned Mobile and retired with his command to Meridian, Mississippi, where he awaited word on the negotiations to surrender the troops of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. On May 8, 1865, General Richard Taylor (son of former President Zachary Taylor), commander of the department, surrendered all of the forces under his command, including the remnants of the 39th North Carolina Troops.

FIELD AND STAFF

COLONEL

COLEMAN, DAVID

Resided in Buncombe County and was by occupation an attorney prior to enlisting at age 37. Appointed Major on December 10. 1861. Promoted to lieutenant Colonel on February 16, 1862. Promoted to Colonel on May 19, 1862. Wounded in the leg as Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 31, 1862. Returned to duty prior to May 1, 1863. Reported present during May-October, 1863, and January-February, 1864. Paroled at Shreveport, Louisiana, June 15, 1865. He was a man of "surpassing gallantry in the field" who displayed "unsurpassed heroism" as Murfreesboro on December 31, 1862. At Chickamauga, Georgia, during the capture often enemy cannon, "he himself. . . rushed first of all into the enemy's battery."

LIEUTENANT COLONELS

DAVIDSON, HUGH HARVEY

Previously served as Captain of Company C of this regiment. Elected Lieutenant Colonel on May 19. 1862, and transferred to The Field and Staff. Resigned on December 4, 1862, by reason of "hernia" and "chronic diarrhea." Resignation accepted on December 29, 1862; however, he had not been notified of the acceptance of his resignation on December 31, 1862, when fighting broke out at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Consequently, he was wounded, resulting in the loss of his arm.

Captured at or near Murfreesboro on or about January 5, 1863. Confined at Louisville, Kentucky. Transferred to Camp Chase, Ohio, where he arrived on March 26. 1863. Transferred to Fort Delaware, Delaware, where he arrived on April 12, 1863. Paroled at Fort Delaware and transferred to City Point. Virginia, where he was received on May 4. 1863, for exchange. Went into retirement on an unspecified date.

Nominated for the Badge of Distinction for gallantry at Murfreesboro. "He was a man of great strength of mind and firmness of character and had the faculty of inspiring confidence and affection beyond that of most men."

REYNOLDS, FRANK A.

Resided in Virginia. Graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1861. [He graduated next-to-last in his class, just ahead of George A. Custer.] Previously served in the Confederate Army as a cavalry officer under General John B. Floyd and as Assistant Adjutant General under General Samuel U. French. Appointed Major of this regiment on May 19, 1862. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on December 29, 1862. Present or accounted for during March-October, 1863. Reported absent without leave in January-February 1864. Hospitalized at Meridian, Mississippi, January 25, 1865, with an unspecified disability. Paroled at Meridian on May 9, 1865. [He was the son of Confederate General Alexander W. Reynolds. After the war, both father and son served as officers in the Egyptian Army.]

MAJORS

PEIRCE, THOMAS W.

Appointed Major on February 15, 1862. Defeated for reelection when Coleman's Battalion was reorganized as the 39th Regiment N.C. Troops on May 19, 1862.

ADJUTANTS

McDOWELL, BYRON GIBBS

Appointed Adjutant [1st Lieutenant] on December 10, 1861. No further records. [McDowell, however, later served as a lieutenant colonel in the 62nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment]

HARDEN, JAMES D.

Previously served as Private in Company C of this regiment. Appointed Adjutant [1st lieutenant] on November 18, 1862, to rank from May 20, 1862, and transferred to the Field and Staff. "Shot through the neck" at Chickamauga, Georgia, September 20, 1863, and was "left for dead on the field as his comrades swept forward in the charge." Returned to duty on an unspecified date. Appointed Assistant Quartermaster (Captain) of this regiment on January 27, 1864, to rank from December 10, 1863. [See Assistant Quartermasters section below.]

COMPANY C

This company was raised in Cherokee County and was enlisted at Murphy on September 24, 1861; it was then ordered to Camp Patton, Asheville. It was designated Company C of Major David Coleman's North Carolina (Battalion) Troops when it organized on December 10, 1861. When the battalion was reorganized as a regiment on May 19, 1862, the company became Company C, 39th Regiment NC. Troops. After joining Coleman's Battalion and the 39th Regiment, the company functioned as a part of those units, and its history for the remainder of the war is reported as a part of the history of the 39th Regiment.

[Because the period of its existence was brief, no separate history and roster for Coleman's Battalion will be published in this series. The history and roster of Coleman's Battalion have been incorporated into the history and roster of the 39th Regiment.]

The information contained in the following roster of the company was compiled principally from company muster rolls for February 1 through April 30, 1862, and November 1862 through October 1863. No company muster rolls were found for May-October 1862, and for the period after October 1863. Valuable information was obtained from primary records such as the North Carolina adjutant general's Roll of Honor, discharge certificates, medical records, prisoner of war records, and pension applications. Secondary sources such as postwar rosters and histories, cemetery records, and records of the United Daughters of the Confederacy also provided useful information.

OFFICERS

CAPTAINS

DAVIDSON, HUGH HARVEY

Born in Haywood County and resided in Cherokee County where he was by occupation county sheriff prior to enlisting in Cherokee County at age 47. Elected Captain on September 24, 1861. Reported present during February - April 1862. Elected Lieutenant Colonel on May 9, 1862, and transferred to the Field and Staff of this regiment.

MOUNT, SAMUEL. C.

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 25. Elected 1st lieutenant on September 24, 1861. Reported present during February-April 1862. Elected Captain on May 19, 1862. Reported present or accounted for during November 1862 through April 1863. Left sick at or near Yazoo City, Mississippi, June 13, 1863. Reported present but under arrest in July-August of 1863. Reason he was arrested not reported. Released from arrest on October 14. 1863, and returned to duty. Killed at Spanish Fort, Mobile, Alabama. April 8, 1865.

LIEUTENANTS

DAVIDSON, JOHN Mitchell, 1st Lieutenant

Born in Haywood County resided in Rowan County or in Tennessee. Enlisted at Clinton, Tennessee, at age 32, 1862. Mustered in as Private. Elected 1st lieutenant on May 19, 1862. Reported present during November 1862 through August 1863. Reported on duty as acting Assistant Quartermaster of this regiment in September-October 1863. "Continued on active service until the close of the Atlanta campaign [on or about September 2, 1864, when, because of declining health, he was invalid and put on light duty]. By his exalted sense of duty and devotion, he attracted the attention and commanded the respect and confidence of his superiors.." [Clark's Regiments. Volume II. page 704.] Paroled at Salisbury on June 3, 1865. Took the Oath of Allegiance at Salisbury on June 3, 1865.

FARMER, SYLVESTER, BENJAMIN M., 3rd Lieutenant

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 22. Elected 3rd Lieutenant on September 24, 1861. Defeated for reelection when Coleman's Battalion was reorganized as the 39th Regiment N.C. Troops on May 19, 1862. Reenlisted in the company with the rank of Private on June 10, 1862.

HAIL, GEORGE, 3rd Lieutenant

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 31, September 24, 1861. Mustered in as Private. Reported present during February-April 1862. Promoted to Sergeant prior to May 1, 1862. Elected 3rd Lieutenant on May 19, 1862. Reported absent on detached service during November. 1862-October, 1863. Name appears on a letter dated November 14, 1863, and signed by the temporary commander of the 39th Regiment (Captain William Allen of Company I), which reads in part as follows:

"Application is hereby made to drop from the rolls of this Regiment . . . lieutenant George Hall of Company C. He was detached by order of Gen[eral] [Gideon J.] Pillow in the early part of this year on recruiting service. There is good evidence that for five or more months past he has been serving with the enemy. He has been acting with [Goldman] Bryson, a notorious Bushwhacker in Cherokee County North Carolina and in East Tennessee. Dropped from the rolls of the company on or about December 14, 1863."

HUGHES, PASCHAL C., 2nd Lieutenant

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 26. Appointed 2nd Lieutenant on September 24, 1861. Elected Captain on February 14, 1862, and transferred to Company G of this regiment.

MOSS, JEPTHA C., 2nd Lieutenant

Resided its Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 30, September 24, 1861. Mustered in as Private. Reported present during February-April 1862, Elected 2nd Lieutenant on May 19, 1862. Reported present during November-December 1862. Sent to hospital at Cleveland, Tennessee, February 11, 1863. Reported absent sick through April 1863. Returned to duty in May-June 1863. Reported absent without leave on October 11, 1863. Captured by the enemy in Cherokee County on February 18, 1864. Confined at Nashville, Tennessee. Transferred to Louisville, Kentucky, February 27, 1864. Transferred to Camp Chase, Ohio, February 29, 1864. Transferred to Foes Delaware, Delaware, March 25, 1864. Released at Fort Delaware on June 16, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

SUDDERTH, DAVID THEODORE, 2nd Lieutenant

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 20, September 24, 1861. Mustered in as Private. Elected 2nd Lieutenant on February 19, 1862. Defeated for reelection when the regiment was reorganized on May 19, 1862.

WHITAKER, HARRISON BENJAMIN, 2nd Lieutenant

Resided in Cherokee County where he enlisted at age 22, March 30, 1862. Mustered in as Private. Reported present during February-April 1862. Promoted to Sergeant on May 19, 1862. Sent to hospital at Atlanta, Georgia, January 22, 1863. Reported present during March-August 1863. Promoted to Sergeant on August 31, 1863. Elected 2nd Lieutenant in January 1864. Resigned on or about August 22, 1864; however, his resignation was apparently either withdrawn or rejected. Captured at Spanish Fort, Mobile, Alabama, April 8, 1865. Sent to Ship Island, Mississippi. where he was received on April 10, 1865, Transferred to Vicksburg, Mississippi, April 28, 1865. Confined at New Orleans, Louisiana, April 30, 1865. Paroled at Meridian, Mississippi, May 9, 1865.

General John Bell Hood
General John Bell Hood.jpg
General John Bell Hood

Source: Cherokee County: Rootsweb

Recommended Reading: Confederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865. Description: The author, Prof. D. H. Hill, Jr., was the son of Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill (North Carolina produced only two lieutenant generals and it was the second highest rank in the army) and his mother was the sister to General “Stonewall” Jackson’s wife. In Confederate Military History Of North Carolina, Hill discusses North Carolina’s massive task of preparing and mobilizing for the conflict; the many regiments and battalions recruited from the Old North State; as well as the state's numerous contributions during the war. Continued below...

During Hill's Tar Heel State study, the reader begins with interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "Old North State" soldiers that fought during the course of the war and the 40,000 that perished. Hill advances with the Tar Heels to the first battle at Bethel, through numerous bloody campaigns and battles--including North Carolina’s contributions at the "High Watermark" at Gettysburg--and concludes with Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

 
Recommended Reading: Advance And Retreat: Personal Experiences In The United States And Confederate States Armies, by General John Bell Hood. Description: When John Bell Hood entered into the services of the Confederate Army, he was 29 years old, a handsome man and courageous soldier, loyal to the ideal of Confederate Independence and eager to fight for it. He led his men bravely into the battles of Second Manassas, Gaines’s Mill, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. He rose fast, attaining the temporary rank of full general, only to fall faster. Hood emerged from the war with his left arm shattered and useless, his right leg missing, his face aged far beyond his 33 years, and with his military reputation in disgrace. Continued below...
Blamed by contemporaries for contributing to the defeat of his beloved Confederacy, Hood struggled to refute their accusations. His most vehement critic, General Johnston, charged Hood with insubordination while serving under him and, after succeeding him in command, of recklessly leading Confederate troops to their “slaughter” and “useless butchery.” Sherman, too, in his Memoirs took a harsh view of Hood. Born of controversy, Advance and Retreat is of course a highly controversial book. It is also full of invaluable information and insights into the retreat from Dalton in early 1864, the fighting around Atlanta, and the disastrous Tennessee Campaign in winter of that year. Far from being a careful, sober, objective account, this book is the passionate, bitter attempt of a soldier to rebut history’s judgment of himself as general and man.
 

Recommended Reading: Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns (Great Campaigns of the Civil War). Description: When Vicksburg fell to Union forces under General Grant in July 1863, the balance turned against the Confederacy in the trans-Appalachian theater. The Federal success along the river opened the way for advances into central and eastern Tennessee, which culminated in the bloody battle of Chickamauga and then a struggle for Chattanooga. Chickamauga is usually counted as a Confederate victory, albeit a costly one. Continued below...

That battle—indeed the entire campaign—is marked by muddle and blunders occasionally relieved by strokes of brilliant generalship and high courage. The campaign ended significant Confederate presence in Tennessee and left the Union poised to advance upon Atlanta and the Confederacy on the brink of defeat in the western theater.
 
Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."
 
Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below...
About Johnny Reb:
"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly
"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer
"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature

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