Letters to Lane (May--July 1867) - re: Fort Gregg

FF 95



 

Geo. [C.] Grow to Lane, May 13, 1867


Raleigh May 13th 67
Genl Jas. H Lane

Dear Gen

Your letter I received some time ago, and would have answered earlier, but was prevented by unforeseen circumstances. You desire to know (in order to refute the biased statements of McCabe) the details of the fight at Fort Gregg. I think it due to the men of that noble old Brigade which has ever stood the Contest from New Berne to the Surrender, that some true lover of patriotism and valor should espouse their Cause and place second to none the true Defenders of that memorable Fort. History does not reveal names more deserving of honor and praise than those of that Detachment, which I had
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the honor to command and my mind painfully reverts to the agonizing adieu of each hero as he closed his eyes in death, no more a proud soldier of Lanes Brigade. To see the manner in which McCabe draws upon his (or his authors) imagination for the establishment of a record, which totally excludes the part taken by the Troops of NC and feasts his unsatiated mind with eulogies of his own native State, calls loudly for some North Carolinian to sink into utter oblivin his prejudiced record, which will [cause] act.

I cannot speak positively when I attempt to give the number of men belonging to your Brigade or the miscellaneous Commands in the Fort, but I speak Confidently when I say that at least 3/4 were of your Brigade. I think I had between 75 or 80 men all told, with Lieuts Craig, Howard, and 2 or 3 other officers whose names I do not recollect.

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I saw only two Officers of Harris's Brig. in the Fort, fighting bravely, but the number of their Command I could not exactly give, but think that 10 will cover.

The Artillerist fought bravely having resorted to small arms after being unable to use their cannon, and appeared to me as if Commanding themselves. They were of Capt Chews Battery. Our stubborn resistance is due to you for your foresight in supplying the Fort with Cartridges. I do not remember the name of the Fort you spoke of. I suppose we had about 100 men in all, but in the confusion it was impossible to make a correct estimate, "as there was no time to swap Knives." The enemy Charged us 3 times, and after having expended all our ammunition, rocks were used successfully for over 1/2 hour in resisting their repeated attempts to rush over us. While I would most willingly accord to each man within the Fort his just and proper

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credit, yet I do not think that Harris' Brigade should be mentioned when you ascribe the honor to its defenders in connection with the defense. I cannot point out a single instance where one of Lanes Brigade failed to perform his duty on that day. The position we occupied (the right wing and centre) were the only parts attacked without one moments interval of peace, and we repulsed with great loss an attack in the rear which would have necessitated our surrender. The credit of that bloody fight is due to your men, and I sincerely hope that you may Correct so foul a statement as that which appears as history. With my best wishes for your welfare and success.
I remain as ever,

Yours most sincerely

Geo. [C.] Grow



 

E.J. Hale, Jr., to Lane, May 20, 1867

Fayetteville, N.C.
May 20th, 1867

My dear General:

[Yours of April 19th reached me in New York while I was busy in my preparations for leaving for my usual business tour. I had no time to answer it before leaving there, and my constant locomotion since has likewise left me no time to scratch even a line to you.]

I find that the two years of horrible peace which have passed since the enactment of the less horrible tragedy of war, have served very greatly to dim my recollection of particulars (viz: of names, numbers, & the like minutiae, which are the most important facts

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of all) This realisation only adds to my regret, (a thousand times felt,) that I did not put down in black & white, while those grand events were filling every thought, such particulars as would be useful for future reference.

Nevertheless, I will give you all I yet remember - premising, however, that you will be able to get much fuller information in all respects, (particularly with regard to the different composition of the defenders of the Fort,) from Lieut. Howard, Statesville, N.C., and Lieut. Craig, (son of Hon Burton Craig,) Salisbury. Both these officers you doubtless remember as belonging to the 33d. I have seen them both & chatted with them on the subject. They were captured. Do write to them & get them to give all the particulars in their

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recollection.

Well, as to my own story: You remember that, by your order, I ordered all "men & officers belonging to Lane's Brigade" shortly after we reached the fort, "to form just outside the sally-port," for the purpose of enumerating them. My recollection is that I counted twenty-seven (27) men and five (5) officers. This did not include yourself, Lt. Meade & me, nor our couriers. (if we had any I believe Joyce was with us). Now, as the fire of the enemy had already been concentrated upon us, the roar of the battle was far too great for any order to be heard by all at once, even in that little enclosure (10 to 20 yds in diametre) So the order was carried around to the different squads - some lying fast asleep from exhaustion, some in that listless stupor produced by

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over-heat, over-work and the deafening noise of battle; others too busy loading & firing to heed anything, or jostling each other for eligible situations for sharp-shooting. As I assisted in carrying the order myself, I remember the great difficulty I experienced in commanding attention - those firing from the parapet having their blood up from the growing excitement. I think, therefore, that there must have been a number of our men who did not attend at the enumeration - how many, of course, I cannot with accuracy estimate; (but I should say your estimate of "30 or 40 with 9 or 10 officers" is, to say the least, not an over estimate.) Besides our men, there were a number of artillerists - some at their guns, some armed as infantry; a few of Thomas's men, I think; and, (disagreeing with you)
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my impression is that there were some of Harris's Brigade. Now, I do not know that any of Harris's men were in the fort, my impression that there were arising from the remark of some one, just as I was entering the fort for the first time, that "some of Harris's men were already in the Fort notwithstanding the fact that we understood that particular fort (Gregg) to have been set apart for us" to fall back upon when we could no longer hold our advanced position. But it strikes me that but few of Harris's men could have gotten in before us, for this reason: Before Harris arrived upon the ground, we had been holding the lines in front of the 7th Regt. quarters - our line facing
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South. The enemy, advancing from the West (i.e. from about the junction of our & McGowan's quarters) began to enfilade us by our right flank, whereupon we were ordered to fall back (not by our left flank, but) to the North, & form upon Harris's left, who was then forming behind a little rising ground in the field between our house quarters (Newman's house) and the red-clay road which led by, & in rear of, our Hd. Qr. tents as they had been pitched during the winter, (i.e. Harris's newly formed line faced Westwardly, towards the advancing enemy.) We had scarcely begun to form on Harris's left, when we received orders (from Wilcox; I think,) to wait no longer, but to fall back at once to Fort Gregg. I gave the
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order to our men and they obeyed it, as far as I could see, though some of them were a little slow - doubtless being too tired for quicker motion. As there was no necessity for hurry - the enemy advancing slowly, and the fire not being very severe - I then had not only food for reflection, but reflection for food, (it being about 1 o'clock,) so I went over to the yard of our late quarters with the hope of finding one of my old hams which I had seen lying on the ground when we recaptured the place. While thus occupied, our men had had time to reach or nearly reach the Fort, and as I started off myself, Harris was just preparing, apparently, to withdraw, and it was probably some little time before he got "under weigh". I am almost certain that none of his men entered Gregg after I reached it. So I
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conclude that the number of Harris's men, if any, in the Fort must have been insignificant.

Lieut. Craig showed me, last Summer at Salisbury, an English magazine with an account of the defence of Fort Gregg, giving the credit to Mississippians, and I intended replying to it; but did not find time. I have also read, in some newspaper, an extract from an English publication, giving a very correct & graphic description of the fight, very correct & graphic in most particulars, but incorrect with regard to the troops who defended on our side.

I think with you that the bulk, at least, of Harris's Brigade fell back to one or more of the forts further to the North; &, with the artillery, left them for the old line of works, before Gregg was assaulted in force.

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There were three (3) pieces of artillery in the fort - one of them, with a range to the South East, I do not think was used at all; another, with its embrasure directly to West, was used at first; but my impression is that it was abandoned as the enemy massed to the South West, or, probably, its touch hole was (vent I believe is the technical term) was stopped up, for I remember seeing three men knocked over, in as many successive minutes, who were endeavering in turn to prime it; while the third faced just in the direction of the enemy, and was continuously used. I do not remember to what command the artillery belonged. I had a vague impression that they were from Louisiana. I think there were from one
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hundred (100) to one hundred fifty (150) altogether in the Fort.

I have written very hastily, and, on reviewing what I have written, I find it so shockingly mixed up, both in chirography and in its ideas, that I would, of course, use it for the foundation, only, of a more thorough and intelligible account, if by any possibility, I could make the time; but I have stolen already too much from my business. Bad as it is, this scratch may furnish some information, and I send it for fear of a still longer delay.

I will probably be in Concord by three weeks from now.

Yours, most affectionately,

E.J. Hale, Jr.


A.B. Howard to Lane, June 3, 1867

Statesville NC
June 3rd 1867

Gen'l Lane
Concord N.C.

Dear Sir.

Yours of the 27th inst is at hand and the contents duly noticed.

I take pleasure in giving you all the information I can in reference to the gallant defence of Fort Gregg. I am fully confident that three fourths of the men in the Fort if not more were from your Brigade.

I am much surprised and think it very unjust that the Mississippians should want to claim all the honor of such a gallant

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fight, which was fought mainly by the troops from your Brigade. I am glad indeed to know that you will give a full and true statement of the affair to Gen'l Lee, and that the gallant men of the Old North State and especially those of Lanes Brigade may have all the honor and credit that they so nobly won.

I fully concur with Lieut Snow in his statement concerning the number of men from Harris's Brigade. I am pretty certain that there was only one Officer instead of two from that Brigade. His name was Duncan. He said he was Lt Col. but there was no stars or bars about him

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to designate his rank.

The three pieces of Artillery belonged to Chews Battery. He was captured and taken with us to Johnsons Island. I am sorry that I am not able to recall the names of the Officers from your command. I dont remember the names of any except those mentioned by yourself. I know there was others besides from our Brigade in the 37th Regt NC but as I was not well acquainted with them, their names have escaped my recollection. We kept the enemy back for sometime after our ammunition was exhausted with bayonets and brick bats, tis true that when they rushed into

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the Fort upon us they were yelling cursing and shouting with all the frenzy and rage of a herd of merciless Barbarians.

I could give you a full account of the whole engagement from beginning to end but I suppose you have all the particulars from Capt Hale and Lieut Snow,

I remain yours very

Truly

A.B. Howard



 

F.B. Craige to Lane, June 4, 1867

Williamsport Tenn
June 4th 1867

Gen Jas. H. Lane
Concord N.C.

Dear Sir,

Yours of the 27th ultima was remailed to me at Salisbury, & rec'd today. I am happy to know that you intend making an effort to give our old Brigade some of the honor due her, which has more than once been given others to whom it does not belong. I will give you as correct an account of the defence of Ft Gregg, as my recollection will permit. There was but two six pound guns in the Ft conducted by a few Marylanders or Virginians, under command of Capt
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Chew, and a few Louisians from the Washington Artillery, under Lt Mackelroy. The whole number of Artillery did not exceed twenty five. Lt Col Duncan or his Adjutant of Harris' Brig. both of whom were wounded in the head, and acted with conspicuous gallantry, had with them not more than twenty men. The remainder of the troops in the Ft belonged to your Brigade, numbering between one hundred and fifty to one seventy five. The only other officer present, of our Brigade, whose name you did not mention in your letter, was Lt Rigler of the 37th Regt. I do not know whether there was any of Gen Thomas' command with us or not. Capt Norwood of Thomas' Staff was captured the same morning that I was,
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but don't remember whether on the skirmish line or in the Ft. We repulsed the enemy three times in front & once from the rear. After our amunition was exhausted, the men used their bayonets & clubed their guns until the whole wall was covered with blue coats, who continued a heavy fire upon us for several moments after they had entered. This statement will differ somewhat from the one to be found in the "Lost Cause."
Very respectuflly

Your obd't sv't

F.B. Craige

P.S. Gen'l, Send me your photograph if you have one. My post office is as above
written, in (Maury Co.)
F.B.C.


 

John J [Poisson or Toisson] to Lane, June 12, 1867

Wilmington No. Carolina
June 21st 1867.

Dear General.

Your favor of the 11th instant came to hand, contents carefully noted. I am truly sorry that it is out of my power to furnish the information needed, every thing "passed up" in such a hurry, that I did not charge my mind particularly with it; I know that Lt W. O. Roberson Co. B. of my regiment was in Gregg with some of the men, report says four or five of the men from our regiment were killed in that Fort, but I cannot vouch for this statement, I have written to Lt. R. on the subject, also to Adjutant McLaurin, and have sent messages to Major Wooten and others asking them to furnish me with any information in their power, have had a reply from McLaurin who says it seems as a dreadful dream, that Capt Hale brought his desk and papers to Pittsboro, and that he Capt. H. has the casualties of the regiment up to the 1st of April.

If I hear from the other officers, shall furnish you with what information I can gather.

I am trying very hard to make a living and to become reconstructed, but it is very hard to do.

Hoping that you have a full school and will soon make a large fortune.

I am most respectfully

Your friend

John J [Poisson or Toisson]

What has become of the Doctor please remember me to him.


 

D.M. Rigler to Lane, June 17, 1867

Charlotte N.C.
June 17th 67

Gen'l J.H. Lane
Concord N.C.

Dear Genl

Yours of the 14th is received and I hasten to reply. You wish me to give all the information I can In regard to the defence of Fort Gregg. As it has been so long since it occured I do not know that I can give all the particulars but as far as I can I will give.

After the Enemy drove us from the works a portion of the brigade fell back in rear of Genl Mahones quaters and was there until you ordered us to the Fort. Was in rear of Mahones quaters where genl A.P. Hill was killed. When we came to the fort you was there with some of the brigade & you then ordered all of them to charge the Enemy who then occupied the Jones road by the 37th Regt quaters. We started but when we reached the road they was not more than thirty men and five officers namely Lieuts Snow Craige & Howard of the 33rd Regt and myself and Lieut Orman of the 37th. The most of them came as far as the 33rd quaters and remained there - we held the Jones road about fifteen minutes - Harris Miss brigade came up the Enemy fired on them and they retreated. Capt Hale then ordered us up to the Fort - Genl Wilcox and some of his staff was there. He remained there untill they opened on the

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Fort with artilery and then he left--Capt Hale called myself Snow and Craig out in rear of the Fort and ask how many men we had of the brigade and how much amminition. He then told us to send some reliable man after ammuntion but afterwards countermanded the order. By this time the yanks had got the range of the Fort and was doing some damage. Capt Hale then ask who was the senior officer. And as Snow was he put him in Command of the brigade and told us to hold the fort - We formed the men around and had about fifty or sixty men. Harris men came in with a Lt. Col & about fifteen men more of our brigade came in and made in all about Seventy five men of our Brigade. About ten o'clock they Enemy commence charging with four or five lines we did not fire until they came in fourty yards and then we gave them one deadly volley, they then wavered and the first line gave way, the second came forward and came in thirty yards of the fort. We yelled and fired they stood a few seconds and then broke the 3rd retrated also But the forth and fifth came to the ditch around the Fort. While this fighting was in the front one line came in the rear and almost got inside the fort through the door about twenty men charge them and drove them back about Eleven oclock they scaled the walls of the fort and for several minutes
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we had a hand to hand fight We used the bayonet and killed almost al of them that came over the top - About half past Eleven they attempted to scale the walls again we met them with the bayonet and for several minutes it was of the most desperate struggle I ever witnessed but it did not last long soon they was all killed or knocked back and then a deafing shout arose from our boys Near twelve they tried to force their way through the door in rear of the fort and succeeded in getting almost in but we met them with the bayonet and drove them back by this time the amunition was almost out and our men threw bats and rock at them in the ditch. no aminnition could we get and about tweleve they scaled the walls and after a short struggle they took the fort and some few did fire on after they got posession but their officers tried to stop them.

I think they was twenty five men of Harris Miss Brigade with a Lt. Col. do not think they was any more he was wounded.

They was only two peices of Artilery and I think they was 6 lbs Rifle pieces and did not have more than twenty five rounds of aminition and most of the men was wounded and killed while they Enemy was charging. They fought bravely--I do not know whose battery it was

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They was about Seventy five or Eighty men of our brigade and five officers namely Lieuts. Snow Craige & Howard of the 33rd Regt Myself and Orman of the 37th Regt.

They was about twenty of Thomas's Geo Brigade with Thomas's Adj Gen or a Capt act as such and two Lieuts

I think they was in the Fort including al about one hundred and Seventy five men--about Seventy five or Eighty of our brigade about twenty five of Harris and about twenty of Thomas--and 25 or 30 of the artilery out of that number at least one half was killed and wounded. They was not enough men to form a line of battle around the Fort.

This Adj genl or Capt of Thomas brigade was near me when the fighting comenced and he said it was ten oclock and said it was twelve when they got the fort.

The above Genl I think is near correct it is certain our Brigade did the most of the fighting. aAd think they deserve the praise an I am glad that you are going to defend it

Wishing you success

I am very Respectfully yours

D.M.Rigler



 

R. [V.] Howard to Lane, June 22, 1867

Statesville N.C.
June 22d 1867

Dear General.

I am very sorry that I am unable to give you the information you desire concerning the casualties in my Regt. See my papers were lost, however, and most of the particulars have escaped my memory. Lt. S.A. Joslin Co (I) was wounded. (lost a leg) and captured on the 2d of April, when our lines were broken in the morning. Later in the day Capt John. D. Fain Co (C) was killed. The officers in Gregg were; Capt James A. Summers Co (A), 1st Lt. Frank B. Craige & 2d Lt A B Howard Co (C), 1st Lt. John Anderson Co (I) and 1st Lt George Snow Co (K). Lt Howard has, doubtless, given you all the particulars more fully than I can - as most of my information was obtained from him.

ColorBearer James Atkinson made his escape from the Fort after the enemy had entered it, and brought the Colours away safely.

Capt Linebarger who commanded the 28th Regt is living in Iredell now. Should you wish to write to him direct to Statesville to the care of W.F. Cowan. He told me that he had preserved a record of his company for the whole time, and

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he may be able to give you some information concerning the officers, at least. We saw your letter, concerning the part your Brigade took in the fight at Gettysburg, and were pleased with it

I spent last winter in Richmond and saw many of our old friends - Lt Meade and Maj Brandi[er] I saw frequently. Wishing you much happiness & prosperity in this glorious union I remain

With much respect Your friend

R. [V.] Howard



 

J. L. Bost to Lane, July 31, 1867

Olive Branch N.C.
July 31st 1867,

Dear General:

Your note of 11 ult. came to hand in due time, and would have been answered by now, but for the lack of a mail. I regret that I am not able to give you a correct and full account of the casualties of the 37th Regt. from 1st Oct '64 to 9th April '65. A day or two after Gen. Gordon charged the enemy's works and was repulsed, time not recollected. Major Wooten charged the skirmish line on the Jone's Farm. & the 37th regt. was called out to support him, nearly all of which was taken to aid him; none killed that I know, but some wounded about five Privates. The only engagement, proper, that we had was at Petersburg. I occupied apart of the works, which were built by Gen McGowan and on the 2nd of April, '65 Sunday morning about day break after being shelled from 11 o'clock at night. I was driven from the works. The lines on the right and left of me in the regt was broken, and the enemy was filing down in the rear of our works towards Petersberg so that I had to fall back directly to the rear, and formed a skirmish line, as best I could to keep the enemy from advancing too fast in our rear in order to give our wagons time to get out some few of the enemy pushed
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on after us, and owing to the dimness of the twilight of it was very difficult at first to distingquish friend from foe. I with a part of the regt colors lost for the first time fell back obliquely towards Peterburg to a publick road, (name not known) on which Gen. Lee's [ ] were and South of the latter place where I found some artillery and Col. Cowan of 33d regt with a small number of his men. This artillery was firing, when Gen. Longstreet came up, who ordered it to cease firing and to advance to the top of a hill which was some distance in front where they could do more good. Col. Cowan and myself with our little miles, by Gen. Longstreet's orders as well as I recollect, advanced to about where Gen. Mahone built winter Quarters without however getting in an engagement there. immediately after which we went to about where the 7th N.C. built Winter Quarters, and immediately got into the fight again and were being driven back with orders to go into Fort Gregg but just before entering that place I was ordered to occupy the works just opposite Fort Gregg and fought there until driven back towards the dam, not far from which I remained. Skirmishing with the enemy as they would crawl up the bank of Gregg until it fell, after which I retired to the city fortifications to the right of [Battery 45], and remained there until that night when it fell back. On the retreat there were several lines of fight formed at different
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places but no actual engagement occured to the best of my knowledge. We had a little shelling and some demoralization at Farmville Va. but no one hurt in the regt. that I know of.

Killed at Petersburg 2nd April '65

Officers Capts W. F. Nicholson; Hudson; J. B. Petty
Privates
Wounded Officers Lt F. Tankurly mortally I suppose
I am not able to give a full and correct account of the casualties in the Regt. and the 4 men were all in my old "D" two of whom were killed in "Fort Gregg." There was one 3rd Lieut. in Co "H" of 37 regt in Gregg, name not recollected who was captured.

If I could get a report of my old Company Officers, I could come much nearer a correct account, none of whom have I seen since the war.

With tolerable success myself I hope you are succeeding well in your undertaking.

 
I am respectfully

J. L. Bost