The John J. Wilson Letters: A Summary

The Letters Private John James Wilson enlisted in Company B of the Fifty-First North Carolina on April 19, 1862. The 19-year-old Duplin County native listed his occupation as a farmer when he signed up for the war. Over the next year, Private Wilson regularly wrote to his mother, Amanda. Twenty of his letters survived; they… Continue reading The John J. Wilson Letters: A Summary

Walter Bell: Farmer, Merchant, Teacher, and Soldier

While perusing the John J. Wilson letters last week at UNCW, I came across a list of students who attended the “school taught by W. R. Bell from July 13th 1857 to March 17th 1858.” This list was the first time I had seen any indication that Walter Raleigh Bell had been a schoolteacher. Intrigued,… Continue reading Walter Bell: Farmer, Merchant, Teacher, and Soldier

Boys in Battle: The 51st North Carolina’s Youngest Soldiers

Before reading this post, think of a 14-year-old boy you know. Then imagine him as a Confederate soldier, facing the Union onslaught at Battery Wagner or fighting for his life at Cold Harbor. Confederate Army regulations established the minimum age for soldiers as eighteen years old. However, regiments often ignored this rule and enlisted any… Continue reading Boys in Battle: The 51st North Carolina’s Youngest Soldiers

Family Ties: John Kelly’s Many Siblings

Background Reverend John R. Kelly, a recent graduate of Wake Forest, was living in Columbus County when the war began. On March 7, 1862, the 24-year-old minister joined the Columbus Light Infantry, which was forming in response to Raleigh’s call for more troops. Ten days after enlisting, Kelly was elected captain of the company. A… Continue reading Family Ties: John Kelly’s Many Siblings

Dr. James Wellons, Soldier and Doctor

James David Thomas Wellons grew up on his father’s farm in Johnston County. As a young man, he left the family farm and moved to faraway Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in medicine. On July 5, 1862, Doctor Wellons enlisted as a private in Company K of… Continue reading Dr. James Wellons, Soldier and Doctor

Lt. Colonel William Anderson Allen

William Anderson Allen was born on April 29, 1825 in Wake County. His family were long-time farmers in Wake County. Allen grew up on his father’s farm and attended Wake Forest as a young man. He earned a law degree and was elected to the House of Commons shortly after his graduation. After serving one… Continue reading Lt. Colonel William Anderson Allen

What Really Happened at Swift Creek?

NOTE: I am reposting this article. For reference material supporting this post, see Analysis: Swift Creek, May 9, 1864. The Problem with Sources While researching The Honor of the State, I came across an interesting article in the May 17, 1864 Daily Confederate. The article, copied from the Petersburg Express, describes the rout of a… Continue reading What Really Happened at Swift Creek?

Beast Butler’s Big Fizzle

The Situation By the autumn of 1864, an estimated half of the Army of Northern Virginia’s supplies were coming through Wilmington.  General Robert E. Lee felt that without Wilmington, he would not be able to defend Richmond.  He considered the defense of Wilmington to be critical to the survival of his army. The war planners… Continue reading Beast Butler’s Big Fizzle

Locating Wilmington’s Civil War Hospitals

Where Was Confederate Hospital #4? According to Robert Cooke’s wonderful transcription of Confederate Hospital #4’s records, 376 of the 51st North Carolina’s soldiers were treated at the facility. While I was transferring information from Mr. Cooke’s file to the regiment’s service records, I began to wonder where Hospital #4 was located. I knew it was… Continue reading Locating Wilmington’s Civil War Hospitals

Private William Brewer: Killed Twice but Survived the War

After major engagements, North Carolina Regiments submitted casualty lists to their hometown newspapers. Private William Brewer’s name appeared twice in casualty lists, once as killed and again as mortally wounded. Despite being killed twice, Brewer maaged to survive the war. William Brewer enlisted as a private in Company F, 51st Regiment NC Troops on March… Continue reading Private William Brewer: Killed Twice but Survived the War