www.sandersweb.net  

48th North Carolina Infantry

BY W. H. H. LAWHON, CAPTAIN COMPANY D.

The great civil war began in 1861. Several companies made up in the summer of 1861, composed of volunteers for twelve months, in the Spring of 1862 reorganized for three years or the war. The battles of Big Bethel, First Manassas and others had been fought; the result of which had given the Southern troops courage, and some men in North Carolina, who had been opposed to secession, were now changing their minds, so that in the Winter of 1861 and 1862 preparations were being made on both sides for the next summer's campaign. The Federal army was recruiting so rapidly that the authorities of the Confederacy saw that they would have to meet a heavy force in the field the next summer, so a draft was ordered in North Carolina 25 February, 1862.

At this time volunteer companies were being raised in all parts of the State. Many of the patriotic sons of North Carolina voluteered, most of the men who were drafted joined some company then being raised. A few hired substitutes who joined and thns the companies were rapidly filled up and hurried off to the camp of instruction, near Raleigh, and as they arrived they were formed into regiments. The Forty-eighth was composed of the following companies:

COMPANY A-Union County-Francis L. Wiatt, Captain.
COMPANY B-Davidson County-Albert A. Hill, Captain
COMPANY C-Iredell County-Arthur M. Walker; Captain
COMPANY D-Moore County-Benjamin R. Huske, Captain
COMPANY F-Union County-John W. Walden, Captain
COMPANY F-Union County-Samuel H. Walkup, Captain
COMPANY G-Chatham County-William H. Jones, Captain
COMPANY H-Da.rid son Coun~ty- John Michael, Captain.
COMPANY I-Union Covnty-Elias C. Alexander, Captain.
COMPANY K-Forsyth County- Jesse W. Atwood, Captain.

It was organized on 11 April, 1862, choosing:

ROBERT C. HILL-Colonel, of Iredell County.
SAMUEL H. WALKUP, Lieutenant-Colonel, of Union County.
BENJAMIN R. HUSKE, Major, of Cumberland County.

As many drafted men had furnished substitutes, some being old men and some mere boys, the Forty-eighth Regiment was made up of men of all sizes, and the reader, if acquainted with military tactics, will at once see the difficulty in drilling such troops uniformly. In marching the old men would step too long and slow, the boys too short and fast.. But Colonel Hill, who was a military man, lost no time in drilling and disciplining his regiment. We were at Camp Mangum, but in a short while we moved to Goldsboro, where we were in camp until about the second week in June, when we went to Petersburg, Va., and camped on Dunn's Hill. Here we were attached to General Robert. Ransom's Brigade .

Under his orders we marched one evening to City Point, arriving about dark; threw out a sti'ong skirmish line, and a detail was made to load some wagons with ice from an ice house, which was near the bank of the James river. The Yankees were near by in gunboats. (The ice was to be carried to Petersburg.) The next morning General Ransom opened fire with two or three small pieces on the gunboats, which were down the river, a mile or more. The Yankees returned the fire very promptly and threw out among us what the men called "churns," cutting off tree tops, and digging holes in the ground. They fired the woods, and it looked like they would clear, burn and plow the ground all at the same time. Only a few rounds were fired. We fell back in order and disorder, but mostly in disorder. A horse was cut on the leg with a piece of shell. This was all the blood lost on our side, and I do not suppose there was much lost on the other side. One of our men claimed to be hit on his shoulder with a. piece of shell, but it is more like]y he tore his coat running through the briish; we went back to our camp having, as we thought, tasted a little of war and seen a little of its danger. And we all knew we had smelt gunpowder. Not a few of the men told of narrow escapes. Some of them were certain they felt the wind of the shells, while others felt the heat of them as they passed by, and still others were jarred by the explosions.

On 24 June, we marched to Richmond and camped that night in the capitol square. Next morning we marched to the front Tine and about 4 p. m., had our first battle, at French's Farm. General Robert Ransom ordered Colonel Hill to advance through an open field on a brigade of Yankees, who were behind a fence on the edge of the wood, and ordered a Virginia regiment to support us on the right, but from some cause the Virginia regiment never came up, and the Forty-eighth fought a brigade of Federals for some time. They were in woods behind a fence and we in an open field. However, a Georgia battalion flanked the enemy on our left, and thus we were enabled to hold the ground. We lost Major Huske, Captain Clegg, Company D, and Captain Atwood, Company K, killed; and Captain Michael, Company H, Captain Walker, Company C; Lieutenant Anderson, Company D; and Lieutenant Stilts, Company A, were wounded. We lost non-comirnssioned officers and men: Killed 21, wounded 46; and of the 46 wounded, 19 died, according the North Carolina Roster.

Some unpleasantness occurred between General Ransom and Colonel Hill, which resulted in the Forty-eighth Regiment being detached from Ransom's Brigade and on the next day, the 26th, we marched to Gaines' Mill, on the extreme left of our lines, where Stonewall Jackson had been fighting, and when we arrived Jackson had driven the enemy some two miles. So we camped on that battlefield that night and the next morning recrossed the Chickahominy river and went from place to place, until we joined General Walker at White Oak Swamp, on 1 July. We were a little too late to take part in the Malvern Hill battle, but were under a severe shelling from gunboats, which were then on the James river at or near Harrison's Landing. This was the cud of the seven days' battles around Richmond.

We then went back to Petersburg, where we were in camp until August. Some time in August while at this camp our regiment was recruited by conscripts and before we had time to drill them we were ordered to march and were now on the memorable Maryland campaigu. We took pallt in the capture of Harper's Ferry 15 September, 1862. General J. G. Walker with his own and Ransom's Brigade occupied the Loudon Heights between the Shenandoah and Potomac, and we were in full view of the town when it was surrendered. We then marched to Maryland, crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown, and on the night of the 16th were placed to guard a ford on the Antietam river, about two miles south of Sharpsburg. The battle on the left opened very early on the morning of the 17th, and about 9 o'c]ock a. m. Walker's Division, (Ransom's and Walker's Brigades), were ordered to the left to support Stonewall Jackson. We arrived at the Dunkard Church, one and a half miles north of Sharpsburg, at about 11 o'clock. Jackson's line had been broken at that point. Kershaw's and Hood's Brigades had been driven out of a piece of woods west of the church and the enemy was coming into the gap. Walker's Division drove them back and held the field. If we had been a few minutes later the Confederate army might have been destroyed. The Forty-eighth Regiment occupied that part of the line at the church. The church was about the eenter of the regiment We drove the enemy out of the woods, and charged their line east of the church, but were cut all to pieces. We lost about one-half of our men, killed and wounded. So closely were we pressed in this battle that brigades were divided. The Twenty-seventh North Carolina Regiment and Third Arkansas Regiment, a part of Walker's Brigade, were sent to the right, and the Forty-eighth North Carolina and Thirtieth Virginia Regiments to tbe left, leaving a gap between us that would have required several men to have filled, but fortunately for us the enemy did not see it- Then, about 4 o'clock p.m., Colonel Hill was ordered with his regiment, the Forty-eighth, to the extreme left of the line, where there was some hard fighting. We marched in quick time a little over a mile, but when we arrived, Jackson's men had driven the enemy back some distance. We then marched back, and arrived at the Dunkard Church about dark, where we remained until the night of the 18th, when we recrossed the Potomac.

After the Army of Northern Virginia had returned south of the Potomac, the army was more thoroughly organized into brigades, divisions and corps. Before, it seems, we had some regiments not permanently attached to any brigade. The Fifteenth, Twenty-seventh, Forty-sixth and Forty eighth Regiments formed General John R. Cooke's Brigade, belonging to General H. Heth's Division and A. P. Hill's Corps.

The next battle we were in was at Fredericksburg, Va., 13 December, 1862. Here the Forty-eighth suffered another heavy loss, being in the hottest of the battle. Major. A. A. Hill was wounded; Captain J. C. Stafford, Company K; Lieutenant Peter W. Plyler, Company E; Lieutenant M. S. Brem, Company C, and Lieutenant H. C. Banner, Company K, were killed. Captain J. D. Dowd, Company D; Captain John Moore, Company I; Captain J. F. Heitman, company H; Lieutenant J. K. Potts, Company C; Lieutenant H. A. Gray, Company F, and Lieutenant Edwin Tyson, Company G, were wounded. The loss of non-commissloned officers and men was very heavy.

From Fredericksburg Cooke's Brigade was sent, in January, 1863, to Pocataligo, S. C., where we remained until April, and were then ordered back to Eastern North Carolina until July. While here we did a good deal of marching, were in a little skirmish at Gum Swamp, and drove the Yankees as far as Red Banks, eight miles from New Bern. Then we went from place to place. We were at Little Washington, Tarboro, Weldon and other places until about 1 July, when we went to Richmond, and were around Richmond several days guarding the city. In August we went back to Fredericksburg, were there about a month; then to Gordonsville, where we joined the regular army and marched to Bristoe Station on 14 October, 1863. We had missed all the hard marching on the campaign to Pennsylvania and the great battle of Gettysburg, but at Bristee we suffered the heaviest loss of any battle we had yet been in, charging a heavy body of the enemy entrenched behind a railroad. From here we fell back to Orange Court House, where we went into winter quarters.

The next battle was at the Wilderness, 4 May, 1864. Heth's Division fought a heavy force of the enemy for two hours before we were relieved. At no time during the war did his division do better fighting. The writer heard General Lee tell General Cooke that night that he (Gen. Cooke), and Kirkland, with their brigades, had held 25,000 Yankees in cheek for more than two hours. Our loss was not heavy, but the enemy's was very great. There seemed to be as many dead men in our front as we had men engaged. The ground on which we fought was a dense thicket of small growth, which was cut down by minie balls before we were relieved, so that we could see the enemy's lines as they would come up to relieve one line after another, which they did about every fifteen or twenty minutes. And to show that the undergrowth was cut down principally by our balls, the tree tops in the rear of us were cut all to pieces, while but few balls struck trees near the ground, showing that the enemy shot over us. We were relieved a little before sunset by Wilcox's Division, and after dark were marched out and formed in line in an old straw field, where we lay until morning. At daylight the skirmish firing began. At sunrise the enemy advanced in several lines. In the meanwhile a battery of small guns was brought in and opened on the advancing lines of Federals which were between us and the rising sun. This was all the cannon used in the battle. The smoke from the cannon was so dense the Captain could not see what he was doing. The writer was ordered by General Cooke to go in front to see where the shells were falling. I soon saw that they were going over their lines and doing no execution at all. I informed the commander of the distance of the enemy. The next fire he began to cut lanes through the advancing lines, but the artillery had time only for a few rounds, when General Longstreet's Corps advanced and drove them back into and out of their breastworks and took possession of the same. This was a most gallant act. Longstreet with one line drove several lines of Federals back, leaving the ground strewn with Federal dead. That night when we were in the captured breastworks and all was perfectly still, Gen. Lee rode across the line on the extreine right. Some one cried out "Three cheers for General Lee," which was taken up on the right and went the rounds to the extreme left-the grandest rebel yell of the war. The rear guard of the retreating Federals fired and ran. Some of them, captured a few days afterward, reported that several corps were ordered back as they thought we were advancing.

The regiment had a heavy skirmish on Po river and was severely shelled. The Federals, in falling back at this place, fired the woods On us, but the fire, like their shells, did not stop us in our advance. This all amounted to but little.

At Spottaylvania Court House we were engaged on 12 May, but the loss of the Forty-eighth was not so great as that of some other regiments, as we were not in the hottest of the battle. However, we did some hard marching through the brush and some fighting.

From here we were on the memorable march to Richmond, and exposed to an awful heavy shelling on 25 May, near Hanover. The solid shot were falling and bouncing thick on the ground. The only casualties I remember were Sergeant C. Lawhon and Corporal M. C; Yon, Company D, Forty-eighth North Carolina, both killed with the same shot. Our next engagement was at a place called Turkey Bend, or Turkey Hill. Wilcox's Division was fighting in front of us, and a heavy body of Federals were moving on his left flank. We were preparing to meet them, throwing up some temporary breastworks under a sharp skirmish fire. Lieutenant W. C. Howard, of Company F, Forty-eighth, was killed. Some four or five men wounded, were, I think, all of those lost by the Forty-eighth in this engagement. The enemy was moving in-line of battle to our right. We were ordered to move in time and make no noise. While on this rapid march an amusing incident occurred, which I will relate: We were passing through a ravine where some Yankee prisoners were nnder guard. A very large, gruff looking Yankee was standing up slurring the rebels. He asked: "Why do you rebels wear such dirty, ragged clothes?" An Irishman by the name of Forrest, belonging to Company D, Forty-eighth Regiment, and as good a soldier as was in the regiment, answered: "Faith and be jabbers, we Southerners always put on our sorriest clothes when we kill hogs, and it is hog killing day with ns now," pointing to a dead Yankee near by. This wit of the Irishman caused a laugh, and forgetting the order to be quiet, some two or three men raised a yell, which was taken up along the line a regular rebel yell. The enemy's lines halted, broke and fell back, so we did not get into any further engagement. Whether it was this yell that caused them to fall back, I cannot say, but I don't suppose they knew we were near them until the yell betrayed our whereabouts.

Our next engagement was at Cold Harbor, on 3 June, 1864. Cooke's Brigade was on the extreme left of the Confederate lines, only some cavalry being on our left. This was, with us, probably the very hardest-fought battle of the war. Just as we got in position on an old road-and it was about sun up-the Federals, in heavy force, made a charge which we met and after a hard struggle, which lasted some time, repulsed. They soon made another charge. We were assisted in repulsing this one by a battery of artillery, which had just come up. The enemy would reinforce and come again, but we repulsed every charge and during the day, working between attacks, built a very good breastwork. The last of the several charges was made about 6 o'clock p. m. Several lines came forward.

One line would fire and fall down, another step over, fire and fall down, each line getting nearer us, until they got within sixty or seventy-five yards of some portions of our line, but finding themselves cut to pieces so badly, they fell back in a little disorder. Our men seemed to rise all at once, with a rebel yell, and poured lead into them, cutting down numbers of them. The old field in front of us was almost covered with their dead. At no time during the war did the Forty-eighth and Twenty-seventh do better fighting. Our position was a good one, and an important one to be held. We lost several good men in this battle. Lieutenant M. D. Clegg, of Company D, was wounded.

At 9 o'clock that night we took up the line of march, went from place to place for several days, spending about one week at Deep Bottom. At this place we had no battle, except with flies. I never saw so many flies in all my life. Then we went to the right of Petersburg. We were on the line about one half mile to the right of the "Blow-up," as it was called. The day before the springing of that mine we were ordered to the left of Petersburg and had crossed the Appomattox, and were marching toward Richmond, when we heard the explosion. We returned and on the next day took up our quarters in the trenches. The Forty-eighth occupied that position which had been blown up. Here we remained for several weeks, when we were moved to the extreme right and built our winter quarters on Hatcher's Run. General Heth was ordered to attack the enemy whenever he attempted to extend his lines. So we had several engagements, one at the Yellow House. This was in August, 1864, and on the 25th of the same month we were in the battle of Reams Station, where we charged a heavy force of Federals behind a breastwork, broke their line and captured several hundred prisoners and several pieces of artillery. This was a brave assault. Two attacks had been made by other troops (I forget which) that had failed to dislodge them. This had given the enemy courage, and was rather discouraging to us, who had to make the third attack. The timber for fifty or seventy-five yards in front of their works had been cut down, the limbs sharpened, making it very difficult to reach the works. The position of the Forty-eighth was near the centre of the line, the timber in our front being thinner than in other portions. We succeeded in gaining the works sooner than those on the or left, who had more brush to go through. The first part of the line broken was on the left wing of the Forty~eighth, but the whole line was surrendered in a very few minutes. We lost several in this charge. Lieutenant M. D. Clegg of Company D, was killed on the works about the time the line was broken. Lieutenant C. W. Shaw, of Company D, was wounded before he resched the works.

The next day we marched back to Petersburg to our position on the right of the lines. The next march we took, and I think it was in December, was to Beilfield, where we had a skirmish with Yankee cavalry. Sergeant H. B. Cox, of Company D, lost his foot by a shell. This was all the loss I remember. We remained on Hatcher's Run until the Confederate lines were broken, 2 April, 1865. We had several skirmishes while here. On 25 March the troops on our left had made a charge on the enemy's lines at Hare's Hill and had carried their front works near the Appomattox river, but had to abandon them the same day. We were ordered around there in the morning and returned in the evening to our quarters to find the Yankees in possession of our picket post. They had captured ail of our pickets and could have been in possesslon of our breastworks and winter quarters if they had known it, as we had left only a few men in camp, who were unfit for duty. Captain Henry R. McKinney, of the Forty-sixth Regiment, who was commander of the brigade sharpshooters, formed his line on the right, near the creek, and made a very brave and successful charge, recapturing our picket post in this charge. Lieutenant Austin, of the Forty-eighth Regiment, a very brave and good officer, was killed, and I do not remember that any other was killed or wounded. I believe that Lieutenant Austin was the last man killed in the Forty-eighth as I do not remember any other being killed afterwards.

We only held our picket post about two days, as our pickets were captured on 28 or 29 March, and on 2 April, the lines to our left were broken. We took up the line of march to the right, and crossing the creek, moved to Jarrett's Station, where in the evening we had a skirmish, but were about to be surrounded and made haste to get away and were on the memorable retreat to Appomattox Court House, losing more or less of our men every day.

The last skirmish we were in was on Thursday evening before the surrender on Sunday, 9 April, 1865. The Twenty-seventh and Forty-eighth Regiments were ordered out to the right to protect the wagon trains, but before we arrived the enemy had set fire to a part of the wagons, and a heavy force of infantry was marching up the road the wagons were on. Here we had a narrow escape. A squadron of cavalry got in our rear, cut us off and we were scattered on both sides of the road. Several of our men were captured. Every man was left to take care of himself. Company D, which had only thirty-seven men at Petersburg 2 April, had been reduced to eleven and in this affair lost ten, leaving only one man and the Captain to witness the surrender. On Sunday morning, and in the race through the woods on Thursday evening, the Captain lost his hat, running from a Yankee horseman, and would have been captured had it not been for a deep gully near by into which he went and got out of the horse's way.

At the surrender the Forty-eighth Regiment had been reduced in number until we did not have men enough to more than one full company.

Now a few words in regard to the officers of the regiment and I close.

Colonel R. C. Hill was a very fine military man, very strict and much beloved by his men, but being in bad health he was often absent. He only commanded the regiment in the campaign of 1862 and 1863. He died in December, 1863.

Lieutenant-Colonel S. H. Walkup was made Colonel. He was one of the bravest officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. He was often laughed at on dress parade and brigade drill for his awkwardness, but when in battle all that knew him were satisfied that Walkup was there and that his regiment would do its duty.

Lieutenant-Colonel A. A. Hill was a good and kind All his men liked him. He made a very fine appearance and was always with his men. I think he was one of the two or three officers of the regiment who missed no part of march or duty imposed on the regiment during the memorable campaign of 1864.

Major B. R. Huske was a very mild, gentle and kind-hearted man, a well posted and good officer. The whole regiment was grieved at his death, which occurred on 15 July 1862, from wounds received in the battle of French's Farm, 25 June.

Captain F. L. Wiatt, of Company A, was promoted to Major at the death of Huske. He was an old man, and won the respect of the whole regiment; was wounded at Harper's Ferry, 15 September, 1862, and resigned in October of the same year and was with us only a short while.

Captain W. H. Jones, of Company G, was made Major on the death of Colonel Hill, 4 December, 1863, but owing to bad health was not with us much. He was a very good man and kind hearted. He loved his men and was loved in return.

H. A. Gunter, of Wake, was our first Adjutaut. From some cause he was not with us in the battle of French's Farm. Lieutenant J. H. Anderson, of Company D, was acting Adjutant and was wounded in that battle. Adjutant Gunter was wounded in the battle of Sharpsburg, and died soon after from wounds.

Lieutenant John R. Winchester, of Company A, then became Adjutant and was with us all the while. He was a very good officer and soldier. He was a cheerful and lively man and was generally ready for any fun with officers or men. The men all liked Winchester.

Several of the company officers are worthy of special reference in this history, and the writer would be glad to give it, but failing to get any answer to his letters of inquiry and having to depend solely on his memory, can not recall the names and company to which they belonged. Each company had its brave men. Many of these are entitled to mention in this sketch, but for the reason stated above the writer will have to leave them out, but feels assured that he can say that the Forty-eighth Regiment did as much hard marching and fighting as any regiment from North Carolina. From first to last, it had about 1,300 men, many of them as brave and as obedient as any soldiers in the Confederate army.

W. H. H. LAWHON.
Moore Co., N. C., 9 APRIL, 1901.