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

The Turnips Were Not a Peace Offering

Gage’s Letter to McKethan Recently, I came across an interesting letter on UNC-Chapel Hill’s “The Civil War Day to Day” website. The letter was from Brigade Commissary R. S. Gage to Colonel Hector McKethan, commanding Clingman’s Brigade. Gage informs McKethan that the turnips and cabbage he recently issued to the brigade’s soldiers were not in… Continue reading The Turnips Were Not a Peace Offering

Katherine Theodosia Cantwell: One Name, Four Different Women

John Cantwell Colonel John Lucas Paul Cantwell, the first commander of the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops, was born in Charleston in 1828. He served with South Carolina’s Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican War. After the war, he lived for a while in New Orleans then relocated to Wilmington in 1851. In Wilmington, he worked… Continue reading Katherine Theodosia Cantwell: One Name, Four Different Women

War of Words: The Surgeon vs. the General

Background The 51st North Carolina arrived in Charleston on July 11, 1863. The next day, the regiment was ferried across the harbor to Morris Island, where the soldiers garrisoned Battery Wagner. Six days later, on the 18th of July, the Fifty-First fought off a furious Federal assault on the small fort. The Tar Heels left… Continue reading War of Words: The Surgeon vs. the General

Private Joel P. Atwood: A Brave Boy and a True Patriot

On June 23, 1864, the Wilmington Journal printed the following heartfelt tribute from “One Who Loved Him” to Private Joel P. Atwood, Company C, 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops: “Young and ardent, impelled by no motive but honor and zeal for the Southern cause, he has fallen, like many other noble spirits of the day,… Continue reading Private Joel P. Atwood: A Brave Boy and a True Patriot

Feuding in the Officers’ Ranks

Background When the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops organized on April 30, 1862, John L. Cantwell was elected as commander of the regiment. Along with Colonel Cantwell, the company officers elected William Allen as Lieutenant Colonel and Hector McKethan as Major. Colonel Cantwell only commanded the regiment a few months. On October 10, 1862, while… Continue reading Feuding in the Officers’ Ranks