Snapshot: Condition of the 51st North Carolina on August 31, 1863

The Inspection

On August 31, 1863, the 51st North Carolina was camped on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston. Captain W. Gordon McCabe performed a “muster inspection” of the regiment on that date. His inspection measured the Fifty-First’s readiness as a combat unit.

Staff Officers

On the day of McCabe’s inspection, Colonel McKethan and Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson were absent, conducting muster inspections of the 7th South Carolina Battalion and the 61st Regiment North Carolina Troops, respectively. Major James McDonald was commanding the Fifty-First. Staff officers Henry Rockwell (assistant quartermaster) and Samuel Morrisey (surgeon) were present. Chaplain Colin Shaw was home on sick leave.

Company Officers

Sixteen company officers were absent during the inspection. Three of the absent officers were wounded, and one that was killed in action had yet to be replaced. The remaining absentees were on sick leave. Second Lieutenant Reuben Hawes was commanding Company A. None of Company G’s officers were present.

Ordnance and Ordnance Stores

The Fifty-First’s companies had a variety of firearms on hand: 367 Enfield rifles, 100 Springfield muskets, 20 Richmond rifles, three Harpers Ferry muskets, three Fayetteville rifles, and two Asheville rifles. The regiment had an additional 25 rifles and 75 muskets as spare weapons. Other ordnance consisted of 17,953 cartridges and 17,553 percussion caps. All of the ammunition, as well as the soldiers’ accoutrements, were in good condition.

Equipment, Camp and Rations

The 51st North Carolina had six wagons and two ambulances with teams. There was a limited supply of cooking utensils. The camp was clean and suitable sinks (toilets) were provided for the regiment. The rations were “entirely unsuited for the health of the Regt., too much rice and beef, the former frequently buggy and the latter not infrequently damaged.”

Aggregate Present and Absent

On August 31, 1863, the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops had 993 men on its rolls. Of the regiment’s complement, a total of 706 men were present and 286 were absent. Of the absent soldiers,160 were absent sick and 72 were absent without leave. Another 147 men were present but sick, leaving a total of 531 soldiers present for duty. However, the present for duty number includes men that were assigned to other duty (cooks, teamsters, detailed men, etc.), which at the time numbered 30 or 40 soldiers. Total fighting strength of the regiment was approximately 500 officers and men. (These numbers do not add up, but they are the figures included in the report.)

The original report, which is remarkably easy to read, is HERE.

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