"Thomas' Legion fired the 'last shot' of the American Civil War east of the Mississippi River"
On May 6, 1865, Lieutenant Robert T. Conley and a small company from Thomas' Legion clashed with Union Lt. Col. William C. Bartlett's 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment in White Sulphur Springs. When Conley was passing through the woods, he was unaware of Bartlett's presence and
actually stumbled into Bartlett's regiment. Conley rapidly formed a skirmish line and commenced firing causing the Yankees
to run in confusion. In the Civil War the last man killed east
of the Mississippi River was Union soldier James Arwood at White Sulphur Springs, North Carolina. After the Civil War, Mr.
Conley often stated, "I still have James Arwood's gun as a relic."
The Last Shot should also be defined as
the last Union and Confederate forces in combat east of the Mississippi and should not be viewed or confused with the
United States Army fighting bushwhackers and outlaws.
2) The Final Formal Surrender of the Civil War
|"Final Surrender" Memorial: Franklin, N.C.
|Final Surrender of the Civil War
|Final Civil War Surrender Memorial: Franklin, NC
|The Final Surrender of the Civil War
"East of the Mississippi River, Thomas' Legion
surrenders the last soldiers of the American Civil War"
May 12, 1865, was the "The Final Surrender" for Thomas' Legion. The First Battalion's Company E soldiers signed the parole papers beginning on May 12, with the last signature recorded on May 14, 1865 (Thomas had surrendered on May 9, 1865). Captain Stephen Whitaker and Company E, First Battalion of Thomas' Legion were stationed at nearby Franklin, North Carolina. Whitaker and Company E had recently "Skirmished at Hanging Dog," Cherokee County, and were advancing toward White Sulphur Springs
to reinforce Thomas when they were intercepted. General Tillson had ordered Colonel George W. Kirk and the Union's 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment to Franklin (O.R., 1, Vol. 49, part II, p. 689), and, when they approached
the battalion, Whitaker formed a skirmish line. He soon received word of Thomas and Martin surrendering at Waynesville, and then Whitaker and
his company also surrendered. On May 14, 1865, the Legion's soldiers finished signing the paroles
and they viewed Whitaker roll them up, tie them, place them in a Haversack, and give them to Col. Kirk's Courier.
"And thus at 10 o'clock in the morning of May 14, 1865, our Civil War Soldier Life ended and our Every Day Working Life began,"
said John H. Stewart of the Thomas Legion. The confederates surrendered to Kirk understanding that additional fighting was futile and senseless, and, finally, the aftermath embraced the region.
Letter regarding Captain Stephen Whitaker's parole:
Head Quarters 3rd Regt. N.C. Mtd. Infty.
Franklin, N.C. May 12th, 1865
The bearer here of Stephen Whitaker Captain* Co. E 1st Batt. Thomas Legion C.S.A. having given his word of honor not
to take up arms against the United States Government, nor give aid or assistance to its enemies until duly exchanged as a
prisoner of war is paroled and has permission to go to his home and there remain unmolested.
W.W. Rollins Maj
By order of Col. George W. Kirk
3rd N.C. Mtd Infty
Cmg 3rd N.C. Mtd Infty
the fact that when Stephen Whitaker was paroled he was recognized as a captain and not a major. However, William Stringfield,
Robert A. Akin, and others referred to the aforementioned as MAJOR Stephen Whitaker. In reconciling the disparity, this writer
concludes: Captain or Major? A captain was the assigned rank for company commander, and major or lieutenant colonel was the
assigned rank for a battalion commander. The disparity in Whitaker's rank may be due to the fact that for a portion of the
war, Whitaker commanded the entire First Battalion, Thomas' Legion. Again, typically, a major or lieutenant colonel commanded
a "battalion" and therefore, unofficially and respectfully, many referred to Stephen Whitaker as MAJOR. It is also the writer's
view that Stephen Whitaker should have been officially promoted to at least major due to "rank versus responsibility."
The Union Army recruited two mounted Infantry regiments within North Carolina, and both mounted regiments were raised
from Western North Carolina counties:
William C. Bartlett, Union's 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment; and George W. Kirk, Union's 3rd North Carolina
Mounted Infantry Regiment. Recruitment of these regiments epitomized the "Brother's War" and the men serving in the two Union
mounted infantry regiments were commonly referred to as "Home Yankees." Approximately 10,000 white North Carolinians
served the United States during the war, while more than 5,000 North Carolina African Americans
joined the Union Army. These free blacks and escaped slaves served in segregated regiments led by white officers.
Union Major General George
Stoneman's command as it concerns Western North Carolina in 1865: Second North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment, Lieut.
Colonel William C. Bartlett; Third North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment,
Colonel George W. Kirk; First Brigade, Commanding Colonel Chauncey G. Hawley; Fourth Division,
Department of the Cumberland, Brig. General Davis Tillson; District of East Tennessee, Major General George Stoneman (To view entire Union District of East Tennessee, including 1st and
2nd Brigades, and Brig. Gen. A. C. Gillem's Cavalry Division, please see Stoneman's Cavalry Raid and O.R., 1, 49, Part II, pp. 538-539)
3) Order of Surrendering Confederate Forces
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean in the town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. On
April 26, 1865, General Joseph Johnston surrendered to Major General William T. Sherman near Durham, North Carolina (Bennett Place State Historical Park). On
May 4, 1865, General Richard Taylor (son of Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States) surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama. On May 12, 1865, Captain
Stephen Whitaker surrendered Walker's Battalion to Colonel Kirk. On May 26, 1865, General Edmund
Kirby Smith surrendered the Confederate Department of the Trans Mississippi to Major General Canby. On June
23, 1865, General and Cherokee Chief Stand Watie surrendered Cherokee forces in Oklahoma. Continued below...
Recommended Reading: Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War, by Edwin
C. Bearss (Author), James McPherson (Introduction). Description: Bearss, a former chief historian of the National Parks Service and internationally
recognized American Civil War historian, chronicles 14 crucial battles, including Fort Sumter, Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg,
Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and Appomattox--the battles ranging between 1861 and 1865;
included is an introductory chapter describing John Brown's raid in October 1859. Bearss describes the terrain, tactics, strategies, personalities, the soldiers and the
commanders. (He personalizes the generals and politicians, sergeants and privates.) Continued below...
The text is augmented by 80 black-and-white photographs and 19 maps. It is like touring the battlefields without leaving
home. A must for every one of America
's countless Civil War buffs, this major work will
stand as an important reference and enduring legacy of a great historian for generations to come. Also available in hardcover:
Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War.
(Final surrender of Confederate forces "West of the Mississippi")
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
Recommended Reading: The Civil War Battlefield
Guide: The Definitive Guide, Completely Revised, with New Maps and More Than 300 Additional Battles (Second Edition)
(Hardcover). Description: This new edition of the definitive guide to Civil War battlefields
is really a completely new book. While the first edition covered 60 major battlefields, from Fort Sumter to Appomattox, the
second covers all of the 384 designated as the "principal battlefields" in the
American Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report. Continued below...
As in the first edition, the essays are authoritative and concise, written by such leading Civil War historians
as James M. McPherson, Stephen W. Sears, Edwin C. Bearss, James I. Robinson, Jr., and Gary W. Gallager. The second edition
also features 83 new four-color maps covering the most important battles. The Civil War Battlefield Guide is an essential
reference for anyone interested in the Civil War. "Reading this book is like being at the bloodiest battles of the
Recommended Reading: Storm in
the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description:
Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, spent 10 years conducting extensive
Thomas Legion's research. Crow was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, and privately held diaries
which add great depth to this rarely discussed Civil War legion. He explores and discusses the unit's formation, fighting
history, and life of the legion's commander--Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel--William Holland Thomas. Continued below...
and photographs allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects discussed. It also contains rosters
which is an added bonus for researchers and genealogists. From the first shot of the Civil War to the last battle east of
the Mississippi River, it allows the reader to experience the life and death of the Confederate foot soldier. Crow,
furthermore, left no stone unturned while examining the many facets of the Thomas Legion and his research is conveyed on a
level that scores with Civil War students and scholars alike.
Viewing: Indian Warriors - The Untold Story of the Civil
War (History Channel) (2007). Description: Though
largely forgotten, 20 to 30 thousand Native Americans fought in the Civil War. Ely Parker was a Seneca leader who found himself
in the thick of battle under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant. Stand Watie--a Confederate general and a Cherokee--was known for his brilliant guerrilla tactics. Continued
is Henry Berry Lowery, an Eastern North Carolina Indian, who became known as the Robin Hood of North Carolina. Respected Civil
War authors, Thom Hatch and Lawrence Hauptman, help reconstruct these most captivating stories, along with descendants like
Cherokee Nation member Jay Hanna, whose great-grandfathers fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. Together, they reveal a new, fresh perspective and the very
personal reasons that drew these Native Americans into the fray.
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
study, the reader begins with
interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "Old
" 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
contributions at the "High Watermark" at Gettysburg
--and concludes with Lee's surrender at
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...
John 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 Fort Fisher
the amphibious campaigns on the coast, and cavalry sweeps such as General George Stoneman's