North Carolina in the American Civil War

5th NC Regiment (Infantry)

Date Regiment Organized

Mustered In

 Date Regiment Ended

Mustered Out

Comments

May 16, 1861 (officers),
June 20, 1861 (regiment

Camp Winslow, near
Halifax, NC

April 9, 1865

Appomattox, VA

-

Field Officers

Colonel(s)

Lt. Colonel(s)

Major(s)

Adjutant(s)

Chaplain(s)

Duncan K. MacRae,
Thomas M. Garrett,
John Willis Lea

Joseph P. Jones,
John C. Badham,
Peter J. Sinclair,
John Willis Lea,
William J. Hill

John C. Badham,
Peter J. Sinclair,
William J. Hill

French Strange,
James Cameron MacRae,
Henry L. Watson,
Fabius J. Haywood, Jr.,
Thomas E. Badger

James Sinclair,
George W. Griffin,
Bennett Smedes

Commissary(ies)

Surgeon(s)

Assistant Surgeon(s)

Assistant Surgeon(s)

Assistant QM(s)

George W. Wightman,
Fred H. Sprague

James A. MacRae,
Thurmer H. Wingfield,
Benjamin M. Cromwell,
Isaac F. Pearson

Orran B. Savage,
John K. Ruffin

John M. Richmond,
Henry W. Williams

John Q. Kirkland, Jr.,
James Martin Jones

Companies / Captains

Company A - Cumberland County

Company B - Gates County

Company C - Johnston County

Company D - Craven County and Lenoir County

Company E - Rowan County

Capt. Peter J. Sinclair,
Capt. Benjamin Robinson

Capt. William J. Hill,
Capt. Isaac E. Pearce,
Capt. Roscoe T. Riddick

Capt. Edward D. Snead,
Capt. Henry M. Mullins,
Capt. Elijah C. Cuthbert,
Capt. Rayner Brookfield

Capt. Jacob Brookfield,
Capt. Edward Meadows Duguid

Capt. Samuel Reeves, Jr.,
Capt. Speight Brockhurst West

Companies / Captains (Continued)

Company F - Bertie County and Gates County

Company G - Wilson County

Company H - Gates County

Company I - Caswell County

Company K - Rowan County

Capt. Thomas M. Garrett,
Capt. Thomas N. Jordan

Capt. Norman A.H. Goddin,
Capt. Thomas P. Thompson,
Capt. James Matchett Taylor

Capt. Solomon B. Doudge,
Capt. Charles Richard King,
Capt. George T. Parker

Capt. John Willis Lea,
Capt. John E. Bailey,
Capt. E.L. Curtis

Capt. Hamilton C. Jones, Jr.
Capt. Luther Martin Davis

Brief History of Regiment*

 For the record, in early 1862, this regiment and the 4th NC Regiment served together for almost the entire war, assigned to the same brigades and fighting in all the same battles/skirmishes.


This was one of the ten regiments organized under the Act of the General Assembly of North Carolina, May 8th, 1861, entitled: "An Act to Raise Ten Thousand State Troops"; and it is to be distinguished from the 5th Volunteers, afterwards called the 15th NC Regiment. It was formed in camp of instruction at Halifax in July, 1861. While the companies identified above are stated to be from certain counties, they were enlisted in large numbers from other counties; for instance, about one hundred and fifty (150) men of this regiment were from Chatham County; and later, the depleted ranks were filled with conscripts from different parts of the State.

The regiment reached Manassas, VA on July 19th, 1861, and was attached to the brigade of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet (VA), and participated in the battle of the 21st, its position being on the extreme right; it was not engaged in the most serious conflict of that day, although being exposed to the enemy's fire, it lost several men. It was in the advance upon the retreat of the Federal army, which it assisted in driving into Washington.

During the winter of 1861-62, having been assigned to Brig. Gen. Jubal Early's (VA) Brigade, it was stationed at Union Mills on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, engaged in outpost and picket duty in front of the Confederate lines. At one time it held position on Mason Hill in sight of the Capitol at Washington, and was daily engaged with the enemy's skirmishers. In the intervals of its outpost duty it was thoroughly drilled in preparation for the arduous work in store for it in the near future. During this winter, Lt. Col. Joseph P. Jones, having been assigned to other duty, resigned his position in the regiment; Maj. John C. Badham was appointed Lt. Colonel and Capt. Peter J. Sinclair, of Company A, was promoted to Major; Lt. James C. MacRae, of Company D, was made Adjutant; Capt. Edward D. Snead and Capt. Norman A.H. Goddin resigned; and Lt. Henry Mullins and Lt. Thomas P. Thompson were made Captains in their stead of Companies C and G. Dr. James A. MacRae resigned and Dr. John K. Ruffin was transferred to another command, and Dr. Wingfield became Surgeon of the regiment.

On the change of front to meet the advance of Federal Maj. Gen. George McClellan upon Richmond, Brig. Gen. Jubal Early's (VA) Brigade was among the first to reach Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder (VA) on the Peninsula. It was immediately put in position in the defensive works near Yorktown, and remained in the trenches, constantly on duty, until the evacuation of Yorktown on May 3, 1862, being the last of the Confederate troops to leave the works. Passing from the rearguard, it marched up the Williamsburg Road, and on the night of May 4, 1862, bivouacked in the field near Fort Magruder, beyond Williamsburg, under orders to take up its line of march at daybreak in the direction of the Chickahominy River.

Its part in the affair at Fort Magruder, near Williamsburg, deserves more than casual mention. Owing to the determined pressure of the Federals upon the rearguard of the Confederates, Early's Brigade was counter-marched into Williamsburg, where it rested in the campus of old William and Mary College during the morning, awaiting orders. The battle on the right of the Confederates, below Williamsburg, was very severe during the day, and the enemy was not only held in check but driven back with great slaughter. In the afternoon it was found that the Federal troops had taken possession of an old abandoned redoubt on the extreme left, and somewhat in advance of the other works, which had been erected for the defense of Williamsburg, and was seriously annoying our troops by an enfilading fire from its batteries. Brig. Gen. Jubal Early's and Brig. Gen. Robert E. Rodes' Brigades, under command of Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill (NC), were sent to the left of the Confederate line with orders to retake this redoubt and silence its batteries.

Under the immediate direction of Maj. Gen. Hill, four regiments of Early's Brigade were marched to the left and disencumbered of all impedimenta in the open ground, which was separated from this redoubt by thick woods. Of the four regiments to compose the attacking party the 24th Virginia, Col. William R. Terry (VA), led by Brig. Gen. Jubal Early in person, was on the left and covered by woods, immediately opposite the redoubt. The 5th NC Regiment was on the right and opposite an open field about eight hundred yards from the redoubt to be attacked. At the word of command the brigade in line of battle passed into the intervening woods, from which this regiment soon emerged in a field of heavy plowed ground, in full view of the enemy, who immediately opened upon it with artillery. In the face of apparent destruction, but in obedience to direct orders from the Major-General commanding, this regiment began the advance. It was at once necessary to change front forward on the left company, and the movement was made with precision under a heavy artillery fire.

On account of the continued advance of the left company and the heavy condition of the soil the right of the line, though at a double-quick, was delayed in reaching its alignment; the left companies were halted to give time for the balance of the regiment to reach the line, when the whole command halted, dressed upon the left, and at the word of command pressed forward to the attack, marching as on dress-parade, without firing a gun. In front of the redoubt were five regiments of infantry, supporting a battery of ten pieces of artillery, with clouds of skirmishers in their advance. The charge of the 5th NC Regiment on this occasion has rarely been surpassed in the history of war for its heroism and gallantry. Pressing on from the first in the face of the battery, entering into the plunging fire of the infantry, wading into a storm of balls, which first struck the men in the feet and rose upon their nearer approach, it steadily pressed on.

The 24th Virginia had now emerged from the woods at a point on the left and nearer the enemy, driving the skirmishers before it. From the thickness of the woods in their front, the center regiments not having come up, the 5th NC Regiment obliqued to the left to touch its comrade, the 24th Virginia, when all pressed forward, driving the enemy before them. Not until within close range was the command "Commence firing" given, when it began to fire and load as it advanced. The enemy's skirmishers retired, the battery retreated into the redoubt, with the infantry behind it, and opened fire again from the entrenchments.

Instances of individual heroism would fill a volume. The members of the color-guard were shot down one by one, and as each man fell the battle flag was passed to the successor. When the last sergeant fell, Capt. Benjamin Robinson, of Company A, took it and bore it at the head of his company until the staff was shot to pieces. The officers and men were falling rapidly under the withering fire of grape and canister and musketry. Lt. Col. John C. Badham was shot in the forehead and fell dead; Maj. Peter J. Sinclair's horse was killed and he was disabled; Capt. Henry Mullins, of Company C, received his mortal wound and fell upon the field; Capt. Thomas M. Garrett, Capt. John W. Lea, and Capt. Hamilton C. Jones were all shot down, as were many of the subalterns, among them Lt. Thomas Snow, of Halifax (who was killed far in advance of his company, cheering on his men); Lt. William S. Boswell, of Company A; Lt. John P. Clark, of Company G; Lt. Joseph G. Hayes of Company F.

In fifty yards of the redoubt this regiment, or what was left of it, reached a small fence and ditch with a slight embankment next to the enemy. Here it took cover, continuing to fire, the 24th Virginia on its left. Victory was in its grasp, the enemy had been driven to his entrenchment; one fresh regiment was all that was needed to go over the works, but none ever came; instead thereof an order to retreat. Too few in number to continue the attack (at the beginning of the fight these two regiments did not number a thousand men), in obedience to orders, the regiment retired to the cover of the woods on its left, leaving a large majority of the officers and men dead and wounded on the field. It would extend this sketch too much to mention the gallant boys who here, at the threshold of the conflict, laid down their lives. Four hundred and fifteen (415) men were counted as they went into action; seventy-five (75) answered to the roll-call in the morning, and nearly all of the missing were either killed or wounded. Brig. Gen. William S. Hancock, who commanded the Federals in their front, said of the 5th NC Regiment and 24th Virginia: "They should have immortality inscribed on their banners."

Next morning the Confederate army resumed its march, without further opposition, to the Chickahominy River, where was witnessed an event never before known in war—the election of officers for all the volunteer regiments from North Carolina and a consequent reorganization, in face of the enemy. Brig. Gen. Jubal Early (VA) having been seriously wounded while leading this regiment, the command of the brigade devolved upon Col. Duncan K. MacRae, whose feeble physical frame soon succumbed to severe illness. Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland (VA) took command, Maj. Peter J. Sinclair, now promoted to Lt. Colonel, commanding the regiment. The depleted ranks soon began to fill up with convalescents returned from the hospitals, for there had been much sickness engendered by the exposure in the trenches at Yorktown.

By the battle at Seven Pines there were more than two hundred men for duty. Lt. James C. MacRae had then been promoted to Captain and Acting Adjutant-General, and Lt. Fabius J. Haywood became Adjutant. In this battle Col. Duncan K. MacRae endeavored to take command, but from sheer weakness was unable to do so. Under Lt. Col. Peter J. Sinclair the regiment, with others of Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland's (VA) Brigade and Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill's (NC) Division, drove the enemy from its position, but again at serious loss in officers and men. One of the killed was Lt. Isaac A. Jones, of Company H, who for a time acted as Adjutant. Young, enthusiastic, brave, he took his place among the immortals in the hour of victory.

Through all the series of battles around Richmond this regiment followed the fortunes of Garland's Brigade, with but a handful left at Malvern Hill [aka Poindexter's Farm]. During that very brilliant series of movements, ending in the utter defeat of Pope by Jackson at Second Manassas, the division of Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill (NC) remained near Richmond for its protection, in which time it again replenished its ranks with the return of those who had recovered from their wounds and sickness and the assignment of conscripts, many of whom, though late in joining the army, were first-rate material and made good soldiers. Lt. Fabius J. Haywood was made Ordnance Officer on Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland's staff.

In September of 1862, the regiment marched into Maryland, stood with Maj. Gen. Hill in that grand stand at Boonsboro Gap [aka South Mountain], which saved the army, divided as it was in the face of vastly superior forces, the other half assigned to capture Harper's Ferry, and recombined to beat double its number at Sharpsburg. In these magnificent battles it lost heavily again. Brave Brig. Gen. Garland fell. Col. MacRae taking command, was himself disabled and soon after compelled by feeble health to leave the army. Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson (NC) became brigade commander, and Maj. Thomas M. Garrett succeeded to the colonelcy of the 5th NC Regiment. The resignation of Lt. Col. Peter J. Sinclair soon followed; Maj. John W. Lea was made Lt. Colonel, and Captain William J. Hill Major; Lt. Fabius J. Haywood, who had served upon the staff of Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland, became again Adjutant of the regiment. It was now attached to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes's (VA) Division, Lt. General Richard S. Ewell's (VA) Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

Returning to Virginia, there was to this regiment and brigade a season of comparative rest in the vicinity of Winchester, and later on the Opequon Creek, but this period of inactivity was short, for in December, 1862, after rapid marching, it reached its place in front of Fredericksburg to meet the advance of Federal Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Though engaged in the battle of Fredericksburg, its losses were small, the regiment and brigade not being greatly exposed. But at Chancellorsville it bore a distinguished part, losing heavily again in officers and men. All of its field officers were wounded, and the command of the regiment devolved upon that brave and capable officer, Captain Speight B. West, under whom it served through the campaign which led to Gettysburg, where it suffered severely on the first day's fight, its four captains present—Capt. Speight B. West, Capt. Benjamin Robinson, Capt. James M. Taylor, and Capt. Thomas N. Jordan—all being wounded, though two of them, Robinson and Jordan, reported for duty again the next day.

It lay, unable to strike a blow, under a tremendous fire of artillery and sharpshooters, during the fatal battle of the third day at Gettysburg. Its loss at Gettysburg is reported in the "Records of the Rebellion" at thirty-one (31) killed and one hundred and twelve (112) wounded. The list of casualties sent with Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson's (NC) report cannot be found. A large majority of the officers were killed or wounded. Adjutant Fabius J. Haywood was left upon the field severely wounded. From Gettysburg, Brig. Gen. Iverson's Brigade proceeded by forced march to Hagerstown, where it had a brilliant encounter with the enemy's cavalry, driving them out of the town. On the return to Virginia it was engaged in all those maneuvers on the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers, which occupied the fall of 1863.

In October, during the Bristoe Campaign, under Lt. Col. John W. Lea, Col. Thomas M. Garrett commanding the brigade, it crossed Raccoon Ford and charged the enemy's battery near Stevensburg, driving him across the Rapidan River. In the report of this engagement, Captain Thomas N. Jordan, of Company F; Lt. Charles F. Riddick, commanding Company B, and Corporal A. Overton, of Company F, are mentioned as having exhibited great courage and daring. Col. Garrett's good conduct was especially mentioned by Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee (VA).

At Payne's Farm [aka Mine Run], in November, Capt. Benjamin Robinson of Company A, with two corps of sharpshooters, about seventy-five (75) strong, drove in the 115th Massachusetts Regiment, killing and capturing a number of them, including the lieutenant-colonel. Capt. Robinson was specially mentioned by Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson (VA) and Maj. Gen. Robert E. Rodes (VA), and recommended for promotion.

The regiment remained in winter quarters on the Rapidan Riverduring the winter, and in the early spring was sent to Taylorsville, a station on the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, about twenty miles from Richmond, to rest and recuperate; but it went to the front at the opening of the Wilderness Campaign in the early days of May, 1864, with full ranks, its field officers all present, and the spirits of the veteran soldiers good. By forced marches (going in one day thirty-three miles) it went from Taylorsville to the Wilderness, reaching the latter on the afternoon of the last day of the battle, and immediately went into action as a part of the force with which Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon (GA) turned the right flank of the Federal army. This engagement first brought Maj. Gen. Gordon before the public eye as a soldier of eminent capacity.

The regiment greatly distinguished itself in this fight and in the quickly following battle of Spotsylvania. On the 10th of May the brigade was sent out on a reconnaissance on the right of the army, where it became engaged with Federal Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's Corps, and after a stubborn fight was compelled to retire. In this engagement Capt. Benjamin Robinson and also Capt. Luther M. Davis were both seriously wounded. On the 11th, with Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel's (NC) Brigade, it recaptured a battery which had been taken by a division of Federals and drove back the Federal troops with great slaughter. In this fight there was a good deal of bayonet fighting, and Col. Thomas M. Garrett was conspicuous for his bravery. On the 12th came the great battle of Spotsylvania. In the early morning, before daylight, the brigade was awakened by sharp firing and, hurrying to the front, found that the entire division of Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson (VA) had been captured, and that the brigade was expected to fill the gap and arrest the onward assault of the enemy, which was in great force, being the corps of Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock. This was in the "bloody angle" or "horse-shoe," as it has been called from its shape, a place made memorable by the fierceness of the conflict which raged there all the day. Into the breach the brigade went, the morning fog being so thick that at ten paces one could not distinguish friend from foe, and was subjected to an enfilading fire from right and left.

In less than fifteen minutes after going into action, five (5) officers were killed, including Col. Thomas M. Garrett, shot through the head, and Lt. Edward Smedes, a gallant young officer from Raleigh. Colonel Garrett was a gallant soldier and had won for himself an enviable reputation for conspicuous personal courage and capacity for commanding troops. Many others were killed and many captured, among the latter being Lt. Anderson, of Fayetteville, and Sergeant-Major C.M. Busbee, of Raleigh. During the day's battle the regiment bore a conspicuous part and maintained its reputation as the "Bloody Fifth." It carried into the fight about four hundred and fifty (450), and at the evening roll-call only forty-two (42) answered. It is said that in this battle and in the "horse-shoe" the fiercest musketry fighting of the war occurred. In the War Department at Washington, among the relics, is a section of the trunk of a whiteoak tree which was cut down in this fight at the "bloody angle" by minie-balls alone.

Lt. Colonel John W. Lea now became Colonel of the 5th NC Regiment. Maj. William J. Hill was made Lt. Colonel, and Capt. James M. Taylor became Major. As part of Brig. Gen. Robert D. Johnston's (NC) Brigade, Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur's (NC) and then Maj. Gen. John Pegram's (VA) Division, Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's (VA) Corps, it went to the Valley to its old commander, Maj. Gen. Jubal Early (VA), made the brilliant advance movement across the Potomac River, was with Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon (GA) when he drove Federal Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace from Monocacy Junction into Baltimore, and for a second time stood in sight of the Capitol at Washington; but closer approach was not written in the book of Fate, and Maj. Gen. Early turned back into Virginia. Then began the series of reverses, culminating at Fisher's Hill, which called forth all the manhood of Brig. Gen. Johnston and his North Carolinians, whose "thin gray line," as the rearguard of Maj. Gen. Early's army, held Federal Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan in check.

In November of 1864, Col. John W. Lea was in command of the brigade and Capt. Edward M. Duguid (Company D) of the regiment. The winter of 1864-'65 was spent on the banks of the Staunton River, the regiment being scattered along that stream to guard the ferries in order to prevent the passage of deserters from General Robert E. Lee's army. Toward the last of March it was called back to its place at the front, and took position in the trenches at Petersburg, its officers and men living in holes in the ground just in rear of the trenches which they were guarding. There, in repelling attacks and in sorties from the works, it filled the full measure of its duty. In the battle of Hare's Hill [aka Fort Stedman], it bore a gallant part. When Petersburg was evacuated the regiment constituted part of the rearguard, and on that sad retreating march from Petersburg to Appomattox, when unceasing fighting by day and hurried marching by night fell to the lot of those brave men who constituted the shattered remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia, it bore its full share of the conflicts and held its honorable record to the bitter end.

Examples of sublime personal courage were of daily occurrence, notable among them being Lt. Walter R. Moore, Jr., commanding the sharpshooters, who was killed in a skirmish near the town of Farmville. At Appomattox it marched through the little town under the fire of a Federal battery and took its place in line of battle, formed beyond the town, to charge the Federal batteries which were opening the battle to the left and front. Awaiting the order to advance, the firing suddenly ceased and down the road came a white flag in charge of a Federal officer, soon known to be Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered.

The history of the 5th NC Regiment is the history of the Army of Northern Virginia. It joined this army at 1st Manassas and never left it until "bugles sang truce" and the last charge was arrested at Appomattox, April 9th, 1865. Its history is written in the blood of its officers and men, the greater part of whom sleep beneath the soil of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Among all the heroic commands forming the army under General Robert E. Lee, no regiment has a more honorable record, and at the end, amid the Appomattox hills, a few worn men, doing their duty to the last, were all that was left of the old 5th NC Regiment, the regiment which had so early earned and so long maintained a title to immortality.

Here are the names of the officers of the 5th NC Regiment who laid down their arms with General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox:

Col. John W. Lea
Maj. James M. Taylor
Capt. George T. Parker, Company H
1st Lt. M.T. Hunt, Company E
2nd Lt. James W. Lea, Company I
Surgeon J.N. Pearson
Assistant Surgeon H.W. Williams


* The above was written by former Captain James C. MacRae and Sergeant-Major C.M. Busbee on April 9, 1900, and provided as Pages 281-292, in the compilation known as "Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-'65 - Volume I," edited by Walter Clark, and published by E. M. Uzzell, Printer and Binder, in 1901. Minor edits and deletions were provided by this Author for clarity and consistency.

Known Battles / Skirmishes**

Date(s)

Battle / Skirmish

July 21, 1861

1st Manassas, VA

May 5, 1862

Fort Magruder, VA

May 31-June 1, 1862

Seven Pines, VA

June 25 - July 1, 1862

Seven Days Battles, VA

June 26, 1862

Mechanicsville, VA

June 27, 1862

Gaines's Mill, VA

September 12-15, 1862

Harper's Ferry, VA

September 14, 1862

Boonsboro Gap, MD

September 17, 1862

Sharpsburg, MD

December 11-15, 1862

Fredericksburg, VA

May 3, 1863

Chancellorsvile, VA

June 14, 1863

1st Martinsburg, VA

July 1-3, 1863

Gettysburg, PA

July 6-16, 1863

1st Hagerstown, MD

October 11, 1863

Raccoon Ford & Stevensburg, VA

October 13 - November 7, 1863

Bristoe Campaign, VA

November 7, 1863

2nd Kellysville, VA

November 27-December 2, 1863

Payne's Farm, VA

May 5-June 24, 1964

Wilderness Campaign, VA

May 8-21, 1864

Spotsylvania, VA

May 15-October 19, 1864

Valley Campaigns, VA

May 22-26, 1864

Hanover Junction, VA

May 28-31, 1864

Bethesda Church, VA

May 31 - June 12, 1864

Cold Harbor, VA

June 15, 1864 - April 2, 1865

Siege of Petersburg, VA

July 9, 1864

Monocacy Junction, VA

July 17-18, 1864

Snicker's Gap, VA

July 20, 1864

Stephenson's Depot, VA

July 24, 1864

2nd Kernstown, VA

September 3-4, 1864

Berryville, VA

September 19, 1864

3rd Winchester, VA

September 21-22, 1864

Fisher's Hill, VA

October 19, 1864

Belle Grove, VA

November 22, 1864

Mt. Jackson, VA

February 5-7, 1865

Dabney's Mill, VA

March 25, 1865

Hare's Hill, VA

April 2, 1865

3rd Petersburg, VA

April 6-7, 1865

Farmville, VA

April 9, 1865

Appomattox Court House, VA
** Not all battles/skirmishes above are described in Capt. MacRae's narrative earlier herein. Ten (10) of the engagements above are described in the book "North Carolina Troops: 1861-1865, A Roster, Volume IV - Infantry, on pages 116-127. Reminder, this website uses the Southern names for all battle/skirmishes.

 


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