The 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops organized in Wilmington on April 30, 1862. Before the war was over, 1,430 men would serve in the regiment. When the regiment surrendered on May 1, 1865, only 36 soldiers were on hand to receive their paroles.
The average age of the soldiers at enlistment was 27 years. The youngest soldier was 14 years old when he enlisted; the oldest was 62.
Eight-five percent of the regiment resided in six counties: Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, New Hanover, Robeson, and Sampson.
Three-quarters of the men who served with the 51st North Carolina were farmers. The remaining soldiers classified themselves into 39 other professions. Sixty percent of the officers were professionals (physician, attorney, merchant); only 40% of the officers were farmers.
The 51st North Carolina fought in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The regiment was engaged in several major battles and numerous skirmishes. Major engagements included Goldsboro Bridge, Battery Wagner, Batchelder’s Creek, Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Fort Harrison, Kinston, and Bentonville.
The regiment suffered 65% combat casualties during the war. The unit lost 169 men killed or died of wounds, 484 wounded, and 281 captured.
Twenty-eight percent of the regiment’s men died during the war. Disease was the biggest killer, claiming 202 lives. Another 169 soldiers died as a result of combat. Accidents killed 22 more men.
The Union captured 281 of the 51st Regiment’s soldiers. Eighty-eight of the prisoners died while in confinement. Six of the regiment’s officers were part of the infamous Immortal Six Hundred.
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