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Chronicles of the Cape Fear river, 1660-1916 online

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and always after that commanded the regiment in the absence of
Colonel Parsley. He was unfortunately captured at Spottsyl-
vania and sent to Fort Delaware, and was among those taken to
Charleston Harbor on the prison ship Dragon, suffering the
hardships of imprisonment with the rest. Major Ennet was by
profession a physician and highly accomplished. He was also
a brave soldier and a warm friend.

Col. Robert H. Cowan was first chosen lieutenant colonel of
the Third Regiment, but in the spring of 1862 was elected
colonel of the eighteenth. The Third Regiment parted with
sincere regret from Colonel Cowan. The whole command, both
rank and file^ loved him and recognized him as one of those by
whom the regiment had been brought to its fine efficiency. The
esteem in which he was held was manifested on his departure
by the presentation to him by the regiment of a very fine horse.



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300 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River

Colonel Cowan was a native of Wilmington and was prominent
in the politics of the State. No man was more loved and
admired than he. His gallantry was unequaled, while his
charming personality and graceful manners are well remem-
bered by all who knew him. He was woimded severely at the
last of the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, and being dis-
abled from service, resigned in November, 1862.

Col. John L. Cantwell saw active service in the Mexican
War, in the War between the States, and subsequently in the
Spanish- American War. The records say "that seldom has the
flag of a country waved over a braver soldier." His service
as colonel of the Thirtieth Regiment, North Carolina Militia,
in taking possession of Forts Caswell and Johnston on April 16,
1861, is told elsewhere. On its organization, April 13, 1862,
Colonel Cantwell was elected colonel of the Fifty-first Regi-
ment, but resigned and enlisted as a private in Company F,
Third Regiment, North Carolina Infantry, Capt. William M.
Parsley, on whose promotion after the Battle of Sharpsburg, he
became captain of the company, and was a most efficient and
gallant officer in that famous regiment. Unfortunately, he was
captured in the "Bloody Angle" at Spottsylvania Courthouse on
May 12, 1864, along with nearly the entire regiment, during the
course of the most terrible engagement of the war. His military
training was manifest throughout his civil life, in which, as
agent of the Adams Express Company, as a produce broker, as
secretary of the Wilmington Produce Exchange, and for many
years secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, he maintained a
careful and sometimes exaggerated regard for official detaiL

During the War between the States he kept a diary of im-
portant events in which he, with other Wilmingtonians, was
engaged, and this precious little book, which he carefully
guarded for nearly fifty years and always carried in his pocket,
was a veritable vade mecum, or last resort, on any disputed
point of military history. It contained particularly a careful
record of the names and incidents connected with the Federal
retaliation upon six hundred Confederate officers, including
Colonel Cantwell and Capt. John Cowan, of the Third Infan-
try, Capt. Walter G. MacRae, of the Seventh Infantry, Capt.
T. C. Lewis, of the Eighteenth Infantry, Capt. J. D. McMillan,
of the First Infantry, Capt. F. F. Floyd, of the Fifty-first In-
fantry, Capt. J. W. Moon, of the Third Cavalry, and Capt. J.



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The War Between the States 301

H. Bloodworth, of the Fourth Cavalry, from Wilmington, as
well as Capt. G. M. Crapon, of the Third Infantry, and Capt.
H. Earp, of the Twenty-fourth Infantry, from Southport, who,
by Secretary Stanton's order, were removed from their quarters
in the Nordi as prisoners of war and placed under double cross
fire on Morris Island, exposed to almost certain death.

When Chief Justice Clark was completing the fifth volume
of his most valuable Regimental Histories^ he requested me to
persuade Capt. Walter G. MacRae, then mayor of Wilmington,
to write an account of that expedition for his history. This
Captain MacRae consented to do, and when the narrative was
completed, he wisely asked Colonel Cantwell to listen to its
recital in order that its accuracy might be clearly established.
The colonel, who was afflicted witii deafness, nodded his approval
until, in describing the incident of the separation of the trans-
port from its armed convoy while off Wrightsville Beach, and
a hurried discussion by the prisoners of a proposed attempt to
escape through the surf and its final rejection because of the
great risk of life involved. Captain MacKae fell into a habit
he has of quoting obscure Bible characters and said that the
counsel of Ahithophel prevailed. Instantly the colonel held up
a restraining hand, and, with the other cupped to his ear, de-
manded to know the name of that man. "Ahithophel" repeated
Captain MacRae. "No, no," said the colonel, "there was no
such person abroad." ^^ut let me explain," said MacRae.
"No explanation can falsify this book," said the colonel, as he
ran his fingers down the list of the six hundred. "Ahithophel,
Ahithophel! No such person aboard, sir, he was doubtless a
rank impostor" ; and failing to make his meaning clear, Captain
MacRae was obliged to delete his quotation from the sacred book
of Samuel.

Colonel Cantwell's old-time affability and gentle courtesy
won him many friends, but while he was patient and responsive
to polite advances, he was quick to resent a fancied or real
affront. A few years before his death he attended with his
accustomed regularity a prominent church service in a neigh-
boring city. As no usher approached him, he quietly walked
up the centre aisle, looking smilingly from right to left, expect-
ing an invitation to be seated, but, no man regarding him, he
turned back at the chancel rail and walked quietly out. Pres-
ently he reappeared in the vestibtde with a short piece of scant-
ling, which he had found near by^ and with this improvised seat



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302 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River

under his arm, marched solemnly up to the chancel rail and
deliberately sat in the aisle on the wooden block throughout the
sermon. Then, as he entertained a strong objection to the offer-
tory formality in the service as an idolatrous innovation, he
walked quietly out again, to the evident relief of the congr^a-
tion, who feared he might brain the parson with the piece of
timber. He bore himself bravely throughout his long and hon-
ored life and met the infirmities of old age with a smiling coun-
tenance.

Besides these, a host of others whose services should not be
forgotten crowd the memory. Brave Maj. Alexander MacEae,
of age far too advanced for service in the field in Virginia,
accepted command of the First Battalion of Heavy Artillery in
General Hebert's brigade, and did duty at the mouth of the
Cape Fear until the fall of Fort Fisher. The gallant old father
was worthily followed by his brave sons, whose record appears
elsewhere.

John J. Hedrick was major of engineers. He was a brave
and skillful artillery commander, and had been in active ser-
vice since the beginning of the war. In the early days of the
conflict he had charge of the erection of batteries at Confederate
Point and in the vicinity, one small fort on Bald Head being
named Fort Hedrick in his honor. When the Fortieth Regi-
ment (Third Artillery) was organized in December, 1863,
Major Hedrick was appointed its colonel. This regiment took
part in the defense of Fort Fisher, December 24 and 25, 1864,
and January 13, 1865, and on January 17 it was ordered to
Fort Anderson, about ten miles up the river, where the garrison
of about 900 men was under the immediate command of Colonel
Hedrick. On February 17, the enemy attacked the fort in the
rear with about 10,000 infantry, while Porter, with a fleet of
sixteen gunboats and ironclads, lying within a few hundred
yards of the fort, quickly demolished the guns. In this fight,
under Colonel Hedrick's leadership, great bravery and heroism
were shown; but, finding the command in danger of being cut
off by a heavy column of infantry in the rear. Colonel Hedrick
determined to evacuate the fort. Carrying all the light guns,
including the Whitworth cannon, they fell back towards Wil-
mington. Later, while on the way to meet the enemy advancing
from New Bern, there was a battle at Jackson's Mills, in which



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2'he War Between the States 303

about 2,000 Federal prisoners were captured; but the Confed-
erate loss was heavy. Here, while gallantly leading his regi-
ment in a charge upon the enemy, Colonel Hedrick was seri-
ously wounded.

John D. Barry enlisted as a private in Company I, Eighth
Eegiment, and on the reorganization was elected captain of the
company. On the fall of the gallant Colonel Purdie, of Bladen
County, in June, 1863, he became colonel of the r^ment. He
was a valiant and dashing officer, and nobly upheld the tradi-
tions of his family, one of the best of the Cape Fear section, his
grandfather being Gen. Thomas Owen and his great uncle.
Gov. James Owen. The companies composing the Eighth Regi-
ment of Volunteers (afterwards the Eighteenth North Carolina
State Troops) were:

The Wilmington Light Infantry, Capt. Henry Savage; the
Wilmington Rifle Guards, Capt. Robert Williams; the Scotch
Boys, Capt. Charles Malloy; the German Volunteers, Capt. C.
Comehlson ; and the companies of Capt. George Tait, of Bladen
County; Capt. Robert Tait, of Bladen County; Captain Nor-
ment, of Robeson County ; Captain Gore, of Whiteville, Colum-
bus County; Capt. J. R. Hawes, of Long Creek, New Hanover
County.

About the first of August, 1864, General Lane being wounded.
Colonel Barry was appointed temporary brigadier general and
commanded tie brigade, skirmishing almost daily till the 28th.
Subsequently, while on a reconnoitering tour, Colonel Barry
was wounded by a sharpshooter. Some time in the latter part
of 1864, when General Lane returned to the brigade. Colonel
Barry, on account of his wounds and impaired health, was as-
signed to departmental duty with his regular grade of colonel.

After the close of the war, he returned to Wilmington and, in
partnership with William H. Bernard, began the publication of
the Dispatch, Only a few years of broken health remained to
him, and nearly fifty years ago he died in the old house he had
left in vigorous youth and with high hopes in 1861.

A few years ago. Col. John D. Taylor passed from our midst,
leaving a great name as a soldier and a Christian gentleman,
with an affectionate memory of his manly figure, his gentle,
sympathetic smile, and the empty sleeve he wore. He was cap-
tain in the Thirty-sixth Regiment (Second Artillery), was



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304 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River

promoted to lieutenant colonel, and served at different points
in defense of the Cape Fear. After the fall of Fort Fisher, Col-
onel Taylor fought at Fort Anderson and Town Creek, on the
retreat to Wilmington, and at Kinston ; and he and a part of his
regiment made their way to the field of Bentonville and took
part in that battle, covering themselves with glory as part of the
"Red Infantry," Colonel Taylor there losing his left arm.

Upon the death of Colonel Taylor, the following tribute of a
devoted friend was published in the Star, May 22, 1912:

"A fellow-townsman recently said to the writer: TE never
passed Colonel Taylor upon the street without exercising the
privilege of shaking his hand, because I believed that he exem-
plified in his daily life, to a remarkable degree, those virtues
which adorn the character of the Southern Christian gentleman.'

"His old-time urbanity, his winsome smile, his almost wom-
anly tenderness, his gentle patience, his childlike faith, drew
him to our hearts and we loved him. Probably no citizen of
our community was more generally respected. There waia a
quiet dignity in this serene, devout Christian, which told of con-
flicts won while learning to endure hardness as a good soldier,
and of a peace which passes the understanding of this world,
which enabled him to look o'er heights of toil and sacrifice and
find his chief meed in thoughts of duty done.

"During his long and honored life he inspired the hearts and
guided the steps of worthy sons and daughters in the way of life,
to the end that they might ^glorify God and enjoy Him forever.'
His children rise up and call him blessed.

"In public life he discharged his official duties with diligence,
ability, impartiality, and uprightness. Party lines vanished in
the pure light of his moral excellence, and his return to office
at the expiration of each term, without a dissenting vote, attest
the abiding confidence of his fellow-citizens.

"Eminent among the local leaders of the Lost Cause, he be-
lieved, with his great chieftain, that Duty is the sublimest word
in our language, *and by it as a pilot star, he ever steered his
steadfast course.' He went into his last battle at Bentonville
with Company A, Captain Rankin, Company B, Captain Tay-
lor, Company C, Captain Brown, and Captain McDougal's com-
pany, and a renmant of the Thirty-sixth Regiment, in all 350
men ; and he emerged with nineteen other survivors, an honor-
able record, and an empty sleeve. Rankin, Taylor, McDougal
and Brown were desperately woimded, and Colonel Taylor was



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The War Between the States 305

the only officer who survived the desperate and bloody charge of
the Tied Infantry/

"He sheathed his sword when the cause for which he fought
was lost, but he put on the invisible armor of the soldier of the
Cross, and has fought a good fight and laid hold on eternal
life. The greater number of his devoted comrades have crossed
over the river and rest with their conmiander imder the shade
of the trees.

**We read that at the roll call of the flower of Napoleon's
army, the Imperial Guard, as silence fell upon the utterance of
a name which death had claimed from the arms of victory, a
comrade would step forward from the ranks, and, raising his
hand in grave salute, would answer, 'Died on the field of honor !'
The thin gray line of Appomattox, diminishing day by day as it
yields to the call of the great Conqueror, still closes up its broken
ranks of hoary heads and feeble knees. Soon it will vanish
away and there will be no reverent comrade's voice to answer
the roll call of the dead. But 'Death's truer name is Onward.
No discordance in the roll of that eternal harmony whereto the
worlds beat time !'

'The glory bom of goodness never dies,
Its flag is not half-masted in the skies!'

"In the sessions of his beloved church, our friend will be
greatly missed — in no circle beyond his beautiful home life was
he more welcome than in that of the church of his fathers.

"David Worth, DuBrutz Cutlar, Kenneth Murchison, Wil-
liam DeKosset, Alfred Waddell, John D. Taylor, classmates all
at Chapel Hill, were of the flower of Wilmington, and they are
gone; but to live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.
^By the light of their lofty deeds and kindly virtues, memory
gazes back into the past and is content ; by the light of Revela-
tion, hope looks beyond the grave into Ae bri^t day of immor-
tality and is happy.' "

Edward D. Hall organized at Wilmington, in the spring of
1861, a company composed principally of Irishmen; and no
better or more loyal men or braver soldiers could be found.
When work or fighting was to be done they were always ready.
This company was first stationed at Fort Caswell; was later
sent to Weldon and attached to the Second Regiment, North
Carolina Infantry, and ordered to Richmond, and from there
to various points in Virginia until the spring of 1862, when it

20



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306 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River

was returned to North Carolina with (General Holmes's division,
and was afterwards detached and sent to the Cape Fear and
stationed at fortifications on the river.

In March, 1862, Captain Hall was made colonel of the Forty-
sixth Regiment, organized at Camp Mangum near Raleigh.
Ordered to Virginia, this regiment bore a conspicuous part in
the Battle of Sharpsburg, calling forth from the division com-
mander especial mention of its gallant colonel and staff for
distinguished bravery and coolness imder fire. During that day
the regiment occupied several positions of importance and great
danger, and on every occasion it exhibited that steadiness and
coolness which characterized its record. In October, at Bristow
Station, General Cooke fell, and the command of the brigade
devolved on Colonel Hall. An imequal struggle was waged,
and disaster was averted only by Colonel Hall's skiUf ul manage-
ment of his command. Late in 1863, Colonel Hall resigned to
accept a civil office in North Carolina, and the regiment lost its
brilliant commander, a brave man, a good disciplinarian, a most
valuable and efficient officer. It was with much regret that his
regiment bade him farewell.

Alexander Duncan Moore, who at first commanded a battery
of light artillery from Wilmington, was made colonel of the
Sixty-sixth Regiment, organized in August, 1863. Colonel
Moore had been at West Point and was a brilliant young officer
of remarkable appearance and soldierly bearing. The Sixty-
sixth was ordered to Virginia in May, 1864, where, in "its first
baptism of fire on the 15th of May, its gallantry was conspicu-
ous and favorably commented upon by commanding officers." A
series of battles followed, and on the 3d of June, 1864, Colonel
Moore was mortally wounded, a ball striking him in the necL
The memory of his heroic courage was ever after present with
the officers and men of his command, and comments were made
upon his gallantry and the soldierly qualities he always ex-
hibited.

In the attack on Petersburg Colonel Moore was told that his
regiment was advancing too rapidly ahead of the right and left,
and he was directed to preserve the alignment. On receiving
this order. Colonel Moore seized his colors, planted the staff
upon the ground, and lifted his sword in the air above his head,
the well known signal ; his oonmiand halted and dressed on the
colors, until the regiments on the right and left came upon the



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The War Between the States 307

same line — ^then, with a yell, all three sprang forward and
rushed upon the enemy. The movement was successful and the
foe retreated.

George Tait, of Bladen County, who was elected major of
the Eighth Eegiment in July, 1861, resigned his commission,
and was, with Company K, of the Fortieth Eegiment, stationed
at a battery near Federal Point Lighthouse. On the 1st of
December, 1863, when the Fortieth Regiment was organized as
Third Artillery, Captain Tait was appointed lieutenant coloneL
In January, 1865, he resigned this commission to take one as
colonel of the Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment. Colonel
Tait was a fine disciplinarian. He remained detached from the
Fortieth Regiment after it had been formed in order to train,
drill, and discipline the officers and men of the Thirty-sixth;
and then he drilled and disciplined the Fortieth, which was
afterwards pronounced by the inspector general. Colonel Tan-
sill, "the best drilled regiment of Confederate soldiers" that he
had ever seen.

Colonel Tait was a good and brave officer and in his rank had
no superior.

Maj. James Dillard Radcliffe, then connected with the Engi-
neer Department of the Cape Fear defenses, was elected colonel
of the Eighth Regiment of Volunteers, on its first oi^anization
in 1861. Colonel Radcliffe, who had been principal of a mili-
tary school in Wilmington for several years previous to the war,
was an excellent drillmaster and disciplinarian, and soon had
the regiment well drilled. On the reorganization in 1862, the
regiment then being the Eighteenth State Troops, he was not re-
elected ; but he became colonel of the Sixty-first Regiment when
it was organized, in August, 1862.

Alfred M. Waddell, lieutenant colonel of the Forty-first Regi-
ment (Third Cavalry) was a scion of one of the old and vener-
ated families of the Cape Fear. He was commissioned lieu-
tenant colonel in August, 1863, having previously served as
adjutant. His regiment was scattered over an extended field of
operations, and operated as detached cavalry, or partisan ran-
gers. In August, 1864, Colonel Waddell resigned. After the
war, as long as he lived, he always used his brilliant talent and
eloquence in behalf of his comrades and his fellow-citizens of
the Cape Fear.



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308 Chronicles of the Cape Pear River

In August, 1863, Roger Moore, a descendant of "King"
Roger Moore, was appointed major of the Third Cavalry. He
was a brave soldier, maintaining the honor of his ancestors upon
the field. In August, 1864, when Colonel Waddell resigned,
Major Moore became commanding officer of the r^ment, which
was looked upon as a bulwark of protection for the railroad
from Weldon to Wilmington and of all that portion of thirty
counties east of it which was not in the hands of the enemy.
Protecting the villages and settlements from forays, guarding the
cross-roads and bridges, and checking the approach of the enemy
whenever he advanced beyond his gunboats, this regiment daily
and hourly did service of vital importance. In 1864 the regi-
ment was ordered to Virginia and took part in the brilliant
attack on Reams Station, August 25, 1864, following which
General Lee wrote to Governor Vance: "If those men who
remain in North Carolina have the spirit of those sent to the
field, as I doubt not they have, her defense may be securely
entrusted to their hands.''

John Grange Ashe entered the Confederate service in April,
1861, as lieutenant under Gen. Braxton Bragg, at Pensacola.
He was appointed acting adjutant general to Gen. Robert Ran-
som in June, 1862, and later in the same year was made major
of sharpshooters. He also participated in the Red River cam-
paign with Gen. Dick Taylor, in 1864. He died in Texas in
1867.

William S. Ashe was appointed major quartermaster July 17,
1861, and colonel quartermaster, September 25, 1861. He had
in charge all Confederate transportation east of the Mississippi
River. Desiring more active service, in the summer of 1862
he was authorized by President Davis to raise a legion of artil-
lery, cavalry, and infantry, but before he had been able to do so,
he was killed in a railroad accident in September, 1862.

Dr. Alexander Ashe served as assistant surgeon in the Con-
federate Navy. He died in Texas, 1866.

Samuel A. Ashe was appointed lieutenant of artillery on
April 17, 1861, by Major Wbiting, who had assumed command
of the Cape Fear defenses, and in May was commissioned by the
State. Although all North Carolina staff appointments ceased
on the transfer of our troops to the Confederacy on August 20,
1861, he and Capt. John C. Winder continued at their work
until November, when he was relieved. Captain Ashe then
joined, as a volunteer. Company I, Eighth Regiment, at the



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The War Between the States 309

front at Coosawhatchie, S. C. ; and later enlisted regularly as a
private in that company. But in December, the President ap-
pointed him in the K^gular Army, and in March, 1862, the
commission came to him through Gen. R. E. Lee, then command-
ing at the South. He was assigned to duty at the Charleston
arsenal, where he remained until the middle of July, when he
was appointed acting adjutant general to General Pender, and
joined Pender's brigade in Virginia. The night following the
Battle of Second Manassas, he fell into the enemy's hands and
was confined in the Old Capitol Prison until October, when he
was exchanged. In November he was assigned to duty with
General Clingman's brigade, and in July, 1863, became ord-
nance ofiicer of Battery Wagner, and continued so imtil the fall
of that fort in September, when he was ordered to the arsenal at
Fayetteville, where he served as assistant to the conmianding
officer until the end of the war. On the day General Johnston
surrendered. Captain Ashe's chief. General Gorgas, at Char-
lotte, in the most appreciative terms gave him orders to join him
across the Mississippi, but later told him he could go home and
govern himself according to circumstances.

At the election in 1870, he was elected a representative from
New Hanover and became a very active member of the Legisla-
ture, chairman of the Finance Committee, and leading member



Online LibraryJames SpruntChronicles of the Cape Fear river, 1660-1916 → online text (page 31 of 74)