Alfred Moore Scales

40th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1885 to 1889

Date Born: November 26, 1827

Date Died: February 9, 1892

Place Born: Rockingham County

Place Buried: Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro, NC

Residence: Rockingham County, NC, Greensboro, NC.

Occupation: Lawyer, Brigadier General in Confederate Army


Alfred Moore Scales was born on November 26, 1827 in Rockingham County, NC, the son of Dr. Robert H. Scales and Jane (Bethel) Scales, who were strong believers in education. After attending a Presbyterian school, the Caldwell Institute, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scales began teaching for a time. Later, he studied law with Judge William H. Battle and then opened a law office in Madison, Rockingham County, NC.

Alfred Moore Scales married twice, but little is known about his first wife, Margaret Smith of Louisiana, because she refused to move to North Carolina. They were married in 1846. The legislature finalized Scales’s request for divorce in 1858.

In 1852, he was elected as County Solicitor for Rockingham County.

Also in 1852, Alfred Moore Scales was first elected as one of two men to represent Rockingham County in the NC House of Commons, of the:
- 69th General Assembly that met in 1852
- 71st General Assembly that met from 1856-1857

In 1857, Alfred Moore Scales was elected to represent North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served one two-year term until 1859, when he lost his bid for re-election.

From 1858 until the spring of 1861, Alfred Moore Scales held the office of Clerk and Master of the Court of equity of Rockingham County. In 1860 he was an elector for the Breckinridge ticket and subsequently involved in the debate over North Carolina's secession.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Alfred Moore Scales volunteered as a Private, but was soon thereafter elected Captain of Company H in the 13th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. On November 14, 1862, he was elected to succeed William Dorsey Pender as Colonel He was engaged at Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg in the Peninsula Campaign, and in the Seven Days Battles near Richmond. After Malvern Hill, he collapsed from exhaustion and came near to death.

During the winter of 1862-1863, Alfred Moore Scales married a second time, to Katherine "Kate" Bullock Henderson, daughter of Archibald Henderson and Annie Eliza (Bullock) Henderson of Granville (now Vance) County, NC; although they had no biological children they raised his niece, Kate Lewis Scales, as their own daughter.

In December of 1862 at Fredericksburg, VA, Col. Scales temporarily took command of the brigade after General Pender fell wounded. Gen. Pender turned over the command during a federal assault, saying to Col. Scales, "Drive those scoundrels out." Col. Scales promptly ordered Major C. C. Cole of the 22nd North Carolina to dislodge the enemy, which A.P. Hill reported was "handsomely done."

Col. Scales again served with distinction during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, where he was wounded in the thigh, continuing on the field until loss of blood forced him to leave. It was to his regiment that Gen. Pender said, "I have nothing to say to you but to hold you all up as models in duty, courage and daring." In his official report Gen. Pender referred to Col. Scales as "a man as gallant as is to be found in the service."

While at home recovering from his wound, Alfred Moore Scales was promoted to Brigadier General on June 13, 1863, and upon his return to active duty, h was assigned to the command of Gen. Pender's old brigade when Gen. Pender was promoted to the command of A.P. Hill's Light Division. In the first day's fight at Gettysburg with Pender's Division, it was the attack of his brigade that helped pave the way for Abner M. Perrin's Brigade to break through the Union line on Seminary Ridge and force the enemy to retreat toward Cemetery Hill.

During this attack, Brig. Gen. Scales's Brigade suffered heavy casualties. He personally fought with great gallantry, and was severely wounded in the leg by a shell fragment on Seminary Ridge. Every field officer of his brigade was killed or wounded except two, and his brigade, already sadly reduced by its terrible sacrifices at Chancellorsville, lost nearly 550 men out of the 1,350 engaged.

On the second day at the Battle of Gettysburg, his brigade was only engaged in skirmishing, but in the third day's battle, it participated in the famous Pickett's Charge. Half of the General Pender's division, James Lane's and Scales's brigades, advanced in the charge with Pickett's and Pettigrew's Divisions. Since Pender had been wounded, two brigades in the charge were placed under the command of Major General Isaac R. Trimble. Due to Scales's wounding, his brigade was commanded during the charge by Col. William Lee J. Lowrance. Elements of this brigade were among the Confederates to advance farthest in the gallant but unsuccessful charge.

With General Pender at his side, Brig. Gen. Scales rode back to Virginia in an ambulance, and after being left at Winchester, VA, he recovered enough from his wounds to be returned to service. However, General Pender died from his wounds.

After returning to service upon the recovery from his wounds, Brig. Gen. Scales participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia during 1864 including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and the Siege of Petersburg. Due to his previous wounds being not completely healed, Brig. Gen. Scales took a leave of absence late in the war, and was at home in North Carolina when the Confederate army surrendered at Appomattox Court House. There is no record that the general was ever formally paroled, but he applied for amnesty at Raleigh on June 22, 1865, and was pardoned on June 18, 1866.

After the war, Alfred Moore Scales moved to Greensboro, NC and returned to the practice of law, a profession in which he gained great distinction. In 1874 he was elected to the 44th U.S. Congress, and was re-elected to the four succeeding congresses. He served from March 4, 1875, to December 30, 1884, when he resigned, having been elected Governor of North Carolina.

In the 1884 general election, Alfred Moore Scales was elected as the next Governor of North Carolina. He served on term from January 21, 1885 to January 17, 1889. Gov. Scales recommended improvements to already functioning facilities, such as repairs to railroads and highways, a greater quantity and quality of schools with a longer school year, and new directions for the Department of Agriculture to assist farmers. Gov. Scales persuaded the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey to study the North Carolina oyster beds with a view to improving that industry in the state.

In 1889, Alfred Moore Scales was elected President of the Piedmont Bank at Greensboro, and served as its president until he died. Alfred Moore Scales died of Bright's diesease on February 9, 1892 and he was buried in the Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro, NC.


Alfred Moore Scales (November 26, 1827 – February 9, 1892) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War and the Democratic governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1885 to 1889.

Alfred Moore Scales was at Reidsville, in Rockingham County, North Carolina. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Scales, were strong believers in education. After attending a Presbyterian school, the Caldwell institute and the University of North Carolina, Alfred entered teaching for a time. Later, he studied law with Judge William H. Battle and Judge Settle and then opened a law office in Madison, North Carolina.

Scales was elected county solicitor in 1852. He was elected four times to the North Carolina state legislature and served as chairman of the Finance Committee. In 1854 he ran a close but unsuccessful race as the Democratic candidate for United States Congress in a Whig district. In 1857 he was elected to Congress but was defeated for re-election two years later. From 1858 until the spring of 1861 he held the office of clerk and master of the court of equity of Rockingham County. In 1860 he was an elector for the Breckinridge ticket and subsequently involved in the debate over North Carolina’s secession.

All of Alfred Scales's Civil War service was with Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Soon after the call for troops from Washington he volunteered as a private in the North Carolina service, but was at once elected captain of his company, H of the 13th Infantry Regiment, and was elected to succeeded General William Dorsey Pender as colonel on November 14, 1861. He was engaged at Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg in the Peninsula Campaign, and in the Seven Days Battles near Richmond. After Malvern Hill, he collapsed from exhaustion and came near to death. His superior, Brigadier General Samuel Garland, Jr., said in his report that Scales was "conspicuous for his fine bearing. Seizing the colors of his regiment at a critical moment at Cold Harbor and advancing to the front, he called on the 13th to stand to them, thus restoring confidence and keeping his men in position." It took him until November to recuperate so he missed the battles of both Second Manassas and Antietam, but returned in time for the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

During the winter of 1862–63, the 35-year-old colonel married 18-year old Kate Henderson. She was the daughter of a prominent family from Gaston County, North Carolina.

At Fredericksburg, in December 1862, Scales temporarily took command of the brigade after General Pender fell wounded. Pender turned over the command during a Federal assault, saying to him, "Drive those scoundrels out". Scales promptly ordered Major C. C. Cole of the 22nd North Carolina to dislodge the enemy, which A.P. Hill reported was "handsomely done."

Scales again served with distinction during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, where he was wounded in the thigh, continuing on the field until loss of blood forced him to leave. It was to his regiment that General Pender said, "I have nothing to say to you but to hold you all up as models in duty, courage and daring." In his official report Pender referred to Colonel Scales as "a man as gallant as is to be found in the service."

While at home, recovering from his wound, he was promoted to brigadier general on June 13, 1863, and upon his return was assigned to the command of Pender's old brigade when Pender was promoted to the command of A.P. Hill’s Light Division. In the first day's fight at Gettysburg with Pender's Division, it was the attack of his brigade that helped pave the way for Abner M. Perrin's Brigade to break through the Union line on Seminary Ridge and force the enemy to retreat toward Cemetery Hill.

During this attack, Scales's Brigade suffered heavy casualties. He personally fought with great gallantry, and was severely wounded in the leg by a shell fragment on Seminary Ridge. Every field officer of his brigade was killed or wounded save two, and his brigade, already sadly reduced by its terrible sacrifices at Chancellorsville, lost in nearly 550 men out of the 1,350 engaged.

On the second day of Gettysburg, the brigade was only engaged in skirmishing, but in the third day's battle, it participated in the famous Pickett's Charge. Half of the General Pender's division, James Lane's and Scales's brigades, advanced in the charge with Pickett's and Pettigrew's Divisions. Since Pender had been wounded, his two brigades in the charge were placed under the command of Major General Isaac R. Trimble. Due to Scales's wounding, his brigade was commanded during the charge by Colonel William Lee J. Lowrance. Elements of this brigade were among the Confederates to advance farthest in the gallant but unsuccessful charge.

With General Pender at his side, Scales rode back to Virginia in an ambulance, and after being left at Winchester, he recovered enough from his wounds to be returned to service. Unfortunately, General Pender died from his wounds.

After returning to service upon the apparent recovery from his wound, Scales participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia during 1864 including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and the Siege of Petersburg. Due to his previous wounds being unhealed, Scales took a leave of absence late in the war, and was at home in North Carolina when the army surrendered at Appomattox Court House. There is no record that the general was ever formally paroled, but he applied for amnesty at Raleigh on June 22, 1865, and was pardoned on June 18, 1866.

After the war, Scales returned to the practice of law, a profession in which he gained great distinction. In 1874 he was elected to the Forty-fourth Congress, and was re-elected to the four succeeding congresses. In 1884, he was elected Governor of North Carolina by a majority of over twenty thousand votes. Upon the expiration of his term as governor in 1888 he retired permanently from political life, repeatedly refusing to run again for Congress. In 1888 Scales left the governorship and was elected president of the Piedmont Bank at Greensboro, and served as its president until he died.

Scales was never in good health after leaving the governorship in 1888. His condition was diagnosed as Bright's disease, causing his brain to become so affected that during the last months of his life, he was only conscious for short intervals. He died in Greensboro and was buried there at the Green Hill Cemetery.

Alfred Scales was greatly beloved and respected by all. Noted historian Douglas S. Freeman, in discussing eight promotions to brigadier general Lee needed to make after Chancellorsville said, "One promotion was a matter of course...." and then mentioned Scales first of the eight. At the time of his death all the businesses in Greensboro closed and the entire city turned out to attend his funeral. His family life was always pleasant. He was survived by his wife, Kate, and his daughter, Mrs. John Noble Wyllie.


Scales, Alfred Moore, a Representative from North Carolina; born in Reidsville, Rockingham County, N.C., November 26, 1827; pursued classical studies; attended the Caldwell Institute, Greensboro, N.C., and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1845 and 1846; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1851 and practiced in Madison, N.C.; solicitor of Rockingham County in 1853; member of the State house of commons in 1852, 1853, 1856, and 1857; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1857-March 3, 1859); presidential elector on the Democratic ticket of John C. Breckinridge in 1860; volunteered as a private in the Confederate Army and served throughout the Civil War, attaining the rank of brigadier general; resumed the practice of law in Greensboro, N.C.; member of the State house of representatives 1866-1869; elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth and to the four succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1875, to December 30, 1884, when he resigned, having been elected Governor; chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs (Forty-fourth through Forty-sixth Congresses); served as Governor of North Carolina 1884-1888; engaged in banking in Greensboro, N.C., and died there on February 9, 1892; interment in Green Hill Cemetery.
Alfred Moore Scales, governor of North Carolina, was born in Reidsville, NC on November 26, 1827. His education was attained at the Caldwell Institute, and at the University of North Carolina. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career, serving as the Rockingham County Solicitor in 1852. Scales first entered politics as a member of the NC House of Representatives, a position he held from 1852 to 1853, 1856 to 1857 and 1866 to 1869. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1857 to 1859 and 1875 to 1884; and was an 1860 presidential elector on the Breckenridge-Lane ticket. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Scales served as a private in the Confederate Army and later was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. After his military service, he returned to his political career. In 1884, he secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win the general election. During his tenure, road and railroad construction was advanced; and educational improvements were sanctioned. After completing his term, Scales retired from political life. He continued to stay active in his legal practice, as well as becoming involved in the banking industry. Alfred M. Scales passed away on February 9, 1892, and was buried in the Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro, NC.

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