Thursday, October 24, 2013

Patriots of '61 -- Onslow County Men Off to War

"Following Lincoln's call for volunteers to be used against the Southern States, North Carolina seceded from the Union on May 20, 1861.  In Onslow, as elsewhere in the South, excitement was high and passions were at white heat.

Musters, as the countrywide meetings of the militia were called, were utilized as recruiting days.  On muster day the young men of the county volunteered for duty at once.  Their names were recorded on the Minutes, signed by Sheriff W.D. Humphrey [and certified] This September 3, 1861.

The County Court lost no time in backing to the limits, its volunteer soldiers. Bonds for $10,000 were ordered sold and a military tax levied.  Volunteers were offered a bonus of $150 and given $5 in pocket change. Volunteers brought whatever guns they had, one being listed as having a pistol and Bowie knife.  Several citizens were appointed to a committee to look after the families of soldiers absent from home."

Two companies of the Third North Carolina Regiment were from Onslow: the "Onslow Greys" (Company E), and Company G.

Company E was recruited early in 1861 with Marquis L.F. Redd, Captain. He was succeeded by W.T. Ennett, who distinguished himself and was later promoted to major [and commanded] the regiment in early April, 1865.  About the same time Company G was organized under Edward H. Rhodes, Captain, who was killed while leading his men in the battle of Sharpsburg.

The Fourteenth Volunteers was organized at Weldon on July 18, 1861 and included Company B from Onslow under the command of George T. Duffy.  They marched at once to the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia to reinforce Gen. John B. Floyd's army, then returned to Murphreysboro where they were reorganized as the Twenty-fourth North Carolina regiment.  With this unit the Onslow men saw action at Seven Days', White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Drewry's Bluff, City Point, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Plymouth, and Petersburg.

The "Onslow Rough and Ready's" mustered at Jacksonville on September 6, 1861 and moved at once to Camp Mangum, Raleigh under Onslow merchant, Captain Claude Barry.  The unit was organized as Company A, Thirty-fifth North Carolina Regiment  commanded by Captain Simon B. Taylor.  Taylor was born in Lenoir county but resided in Onslow as a merchant. The Thirty-fifth saw action in the Virginia campaigns as well as in eastern North Carolina.

The Forty-first Regiment, Third North Carolina Cavalry, contained two companies of Onslow County soldiers.  Company B organized in 1861 under Captain E.W. Ward and assumed the name "Gatling's Dragoons" with a full strength of 139 men.  After the capture of New Bern, the duty of Company B was to picket the streams of Onslow County but had skirmishes with the enemy at New Bern and Washington.  Company H, Humphrey Troops was organized in 1862 under Captain J.W. Moore and numbered 99 men.  This unit participated in routing the enemy at Reams Station in 1864.

Company K of the Sixty-first North Carolina Regiment was known as "Koonce's State Guerrillas" with men from Onslow, Jones, Lenoir and Duplin counties. It was led by Onslow law professor, Captain Francis Duval Koonce, and Captain Stephen W. Noble.  The Sixty-first saw action in eastern North Carolina as well as South Carolina, Petersburg, Drewry's Bluff, Bermuda Hundreds, Cold Harbor, Wilmington, and Bentonville.

Sources:  The Commonwealth of Onslow, A History, J.P. Brown, 1960; North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865, A Roster

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