The Sixty-second North Carolina Infantry Regiment was
formed at Waynesville, North Carolina, on July 11, 1862, and was composed almost entirely of men from Western North Carolina. Its members were recruited in the counties of Jackson, Haywood, Clay, Macon, Rutherford,
Henderson, and Transylvania. The field officers were Colonels George W. Clayton and Robert G. A. Love, and Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Gibbs McDowell, and they were descendants
of Revolutionary War soldiers. Colonel Robert Gustavus Adolphus Love, aka R. G. A. Love, initially served as a Captain
in the 16th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia. When Captain Robert G. A. Love received his promotion to Colonel, he transferred
to the 62nd North Carolina. (The city of Waynesville, N.C., was founded by Robert Love, an ancestor of R. G. A. Love.) Major, later Lieutenant Colonel, Bryan Gibbs McDowell was a native of Macon County, and, in early 1861, he enlisted in the 39th North Carolina Regiment under the command of Col. David Coleman and was transferred to the 62nd by promotion to Major of the Regiment
on July 11, 1862.
Prisoners of War at Camp Douglas, 1863
Library of Congress
The unit served in North Carolina and East Tennessee, and its service proved invaluable in
the defense of the vital and strategic Saltworks and railroads. In July 1863 the unit was assigned to General
Gracie's Brigade and was stationed in the Cumberland Gap.
the 58th, 62nd,64th, and 69th (Thomas' Legion) North Carolina Regiments fought the enemy in East Tennessee and in western North Carolina.
In late December 1862, while guarding bridges and railroads
in East Tennessee, three poorly armed companies (295 soldiers) of the 62nd Regiment were captured by a Union cavalry
force of 3,000. Subsequently, General John Wesley Frazer
surrendered the regiment in the Cumberland Gap on September 9, 1863; however, an estimated 600 from various units evaded capture. The 62nd Regiment returned
to the Asheville area and in April 1864 recorded 178 men. The records reflect at least 442 men of the 62nd were prisoners
at Camp Douglas. And in O.R., i, 30, ii, pp. 636-637*, Major McDowell discusses the Cumberland Gap's surrender, with Jefferson Davis writing that Frazier's surrender "presents
a shameful abandonment of duty." *Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies; hereinafter cited as O.R.
General Ulysses S. Grant, while traveling
through the Cumberland Gap in 1864, noted: "With two brigades of the Army of the Cumberland I could hold that pass against
the army which Napoleon led to Moscow."
Rock Island, Illinois, and Camp Morton, Indiana. When the Cumberland Gap
capitulated, nearly all the officers of the 62nd were captured; estimated at 24 officers. The officers, however,
were segregated and imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland, and
Johnson's Island, Ohio. Consequently, while the 62nd was interned at Camp Douglas an estimated forty-four percent of
its soldiers died. On Union soil their bodies were placed in a mass grave known as "The Confederate Mound." The
regiment's death toll at Camp Morton, Rock Island, Point Lookout and Johnson's Island is unknown. (See map and location of American Civil War Prisoner of War Camps.)
Major McDowell was the only 62nd field officer present during the "surrender of the Cumberland Gap." Furthermore, during the surrender, Colonel Love was ill and not present
(North Carolina Standard, October 7, 1863), and Lt. Col. Clayton had contracted typhoid fever and was in a
hospital in Greeneville, TN.
January 1865, according to O.R., Series 3, Volume 4, p. 1037, imprisoned 62nd North Carolina soldiers were even offered pardons
if they joined the Union Army. According to McDowell not one soldier from the 62nd accepted the offer.
It continued the "fight" under Generals
Breckinridge (14th Vice President of the United States and cousin to Mary Todd Lincoln), Vaughn, and Williams in East Tennessee. In March 1865 the regiment was attached to Colonel J. B. Palmer's
command at Asheville. Subsequently, the unit disbanded near the French Broad River.
A Confederate Victory at
the "Battle of Asheville"
Civil War Battle of Asheville, NC
The Sixty-second North Carolina Infantry Regiment was one of North Carolina's
last regiments to surrender. The fragment of the regiment composed part of Palmer's Brigade at Asheville on March 10, 1865, and, with General Martin, it engaged and repelled Kirby's Brigade near Asheville on April 6, 1865.
On April 3, 1865, Colonel Kirby of the 101st Ohio Infantry was ordered to "scout in the direction of Asheville." The Union solders were aided by a "number of deserters familiar with the terrain." Kirby advanced the French BroadRiver with
a force of 900 infantrymen and an estimated 200 partisans (which included
Rebel deserters who had pledged an oath of allegiance to the United States), two cannon, and a train of wagons. Kirby
and the Union army approached Asheville on April 6 and planned
to occupy it, but the vigilant Col. Clayton (a West Point graduate) and the 62nd North Carolina had other ideas about the Yankees' invasion. To the west, 600 men of
Thomas' Legion were stationed between Waynesville and Warm Springs (O.R., 49, i, 31). Col. Clayton was also assisted by a company of the Silver Greys and
some Confederate soldiers at home on leave. The Silver Greys was comprised of senior and junior reserves, which served as home
guard, and totaled 44 men; it included a 14 year old boy and a 60 year old Baptist
Clayton gathered the Confederates and two small
brass Napoleon cannons and marched them to rough earthworks that overlooked the French Broad route being used by Kirby’s
men. When the two forces met at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, they simply lined up and began firing. There was no maneuvering,
but gunfire, peppered with a few cannon blasts, continued for about five hours.
Battle of Asheville & Vicinity Map
(Click to Enlarge)
Battle of Asheville
Civil War History
(Right) View of the Asheville
battlefield. Confederate artillery was placed on the hills across the road. The battle's historical marker is also in the
At approximately , "the full Yankee brigade
deployed." The Confederates commanded positions on the ridge, or high ground, and the Federals hastily confronted them
at short range (the location is currently known as Broadway Street). The battle commenced and the armies exchanged countless
volleys until that night. Although the Union army greatly outnumbered the Confederates, the
Yankees were compelled to retreat. Union and Confederate casualties were reported as "few."
After General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, the Confederates serving
with Col. Clayton in Asheville withdrew and returned to their homes. They never swore the oath of allegiance as required
by Federal authorities. Lt. Col. Bryan Gibbs McDowell wrote that "No braver or nobler hearted men ever lived than those
composing the Sixty-second North Carolina Infantry Regiment."
Asheville had averted capitulation, it was soon captured, April 26, 1865, during Stoneman's Cavalry Raid. The city's fall, however, occurred almost two weeks after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox on April
9, 1865, but coincided with Gen. Joe Johnston's surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman at Bentonville, North Carolina.
(See Official Order of Surrendering Confederate Forces.) Continued below...
(Sources listed at bottom of page.)
Recommended Reading: To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas 1862-65
(Hardcover) (446 pages). Description:
The author’s research is exacting, methodical, and painstaking. He brought zero bias to the enterprise and the
result is a stunning achievement that is both scholarly and readable. Douglas, the "accidental" prison camp, began as a training
camp for Illinois volunteers. Donalson and Island #10 changed that.
The long war that no one expected… combined with inclement weather – freezing temperatures - primitive medical
care and the barbarity of the captors created in the author’s own words "a death camp." Stanton's and Grant's policy
of halting the prisoner exchange behind the pretense of FortPillow accelerated the suffering. Continued below...
In the latest
edition, Levy found the long lost hospital records at the National Archives which prove conclusively that casualties were
deliberately “under reported.” Prisoners were tortured, brutality was tolerated and corruption was widespread.
The handling of the dead rivals stories of Nazi Germany. The largest mass grave in the Western Hemisphere is filled with....the
bodies of CampDouglas dead, 4200 known and 1800 unknown.
No one should be allowed to speak of Andersonville until they have absorbed the horror of Douglas, also known as “To
Die in Chicago.”
Reading:The Civil War in North Carolina.Description: Numerous battles and skirmishes were fought
in North Carolina during the Civil War, and the campaigns
and battles themselves were crucial in the grand strategy of the conflict and involved some of the most famous generals of
the war. Continued below...
Barrett presents the complete story of military engagements across the state, including the classical pitched battle of Bentonville--involving
Generals Joe Johnston and William Sherman--the siege of FortFisher,
the amphibious campaigns on the coast, and cavalry sweeps such as General George Stoneman's
Raid. Also available in hardcover: The Civil War in North Carolina.
Recommended Reading:East Tennessee and the Civil War (Hardcover) (588 pages). Description: A solid social, political, and military history, this work gives
light to the rise of the pro-Union and pro-Confederacy factions. It explores the political developments and recounts in fine
detail the military maneuvering and conflicts that occurred. Beginning with a history of the state's first settlers, the author
lays a strong foundation for understanding the values and beliefs of East Tennesseans. He
examines the rise of abolition and secession, and then advances into the Civil War. Continued below...
Early in the
conflict, Union sympathizers burned a number of railroad bridges, resulting in occupation by Confederate troops and abuses
upon the Unionists and their families. The author also documents in detail the ‘siege and relief’ of Knoxville.
Although authored by a Unionist, the work is objective in nature and fair in its treatment of the South and the Confederate
cause, and, complete with a comprehensive index, this work should be in every Civil War library.
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 OldNorthState; as well as the state's numerous contributions during the
war. Continued below...
TarHeelState study, the reader begins with
interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "OldNorthState" 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
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-hourCivil 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
Reading:Mountain Rebels: East Tennessee Confederates and the Civil
War, 1860-1870 (240 pages) (University of Tennessee Press). Description:
In this fine study, Groce points out that the Confederates in East Tennessee suffered more for the ‘Southern Cause’
than did most other southerners. From the first rumblings of secession to the redemption of Tennessee
in 1870, Groce introduces his readers to numerous men and women from this region who gave their all for Southern
Independence. Continued below...
He also points out that East Tennesseans were divided in their loyalties and that slavery played only a small role. Groce goes
to great lengths to expose the vile treatment of the Region’s defeated Confederates during the Reconstruction. Numerous
maps, pictures, and tables underscore the research.
Sources: Official Records of
the Union and Confederate Armies (OR); National Archives (NARA); Library of Congress (LOC); National Park Service: American
Civil War (NPS); State Library of North Carolina; North Carolina Office of Archives and History; North Carolina Museum
of History; Walter Clark's Regiments: Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the
Great War 1861-65; Weymouth T. Jordan and Louis H. Manarin,
North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865; Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army; D. H. Hill, Confederate
Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865; Forster
A. Sondley, A History of Buncombe County (North Carolina), 2 vols. (1930).