North Carolina in the American Civil War

Capt. Joseph J. Lawrence's Company (Partisan Rangers)

Date Company Organized

Mustered In

 Date Company Ended

Mustered Out


May 14, 1862

Wilson, NC
(Wilson County)

September 10, 1862

Merged into >>

7th Confederate Cavalry



1st Lieutenant


2nd Lieutenant

3rd Lieutenant

Joseph Joshua Lawrence

Moses Tyson Moye


Roderick P. Edwards

Joseph B. Davis

Brief History of Company*

Joseph Joshua Lawrence was a newspaper editor from Edgecombe County but he organized his first Independent Company on September 4, 1861 at the Fair Grounds in New Bern, NC. He resigned on November 30, 1861 due to ill health.

He organized his second Independent Company on May 14, 1862 at Wilson, NC. Locally, it was known as the "Wilson Partisan Rangers," and was organized under the auspices of recent legislation entitled, "An Act to Organize Bands of Partisan Rangers," which was enacted on April 21, 1862. These units would fall under CSA army regulations and would receive the same pay, rations, and quarters as other units. They could also receive payment for captured enemy weapons turned in to official quartermasters.

Lawrence first proposed his idea on March 18, 1862 in a letter to then Governor Henry T. Clark, to establish a "Guerilla Cavalry Company" of 110 men to serve only in Eastern North Carolina, and only reporting to the State, not to the Confederate Army. Lawrence soon learned the difference between Guerrilla and Partisan units, and after his company was sanctioned, on May 26th, he wrote to Secretary of War, George W. Randolph, "I have command of a fine company of 'Partizan Rangers' and wish to know if I can get four other Companies of Partizan Rangers to join me, if you will allow me the priviledge of raising and commanding them (with the rank of Major). In other words I wish to get the power to raise a 'Battalion of Rangers,' either as cavalry or Infantry or part both as you may direct." It is not known if Randolph responded or not.

Very little is documented about the activities of Lawrence's Company, other than that it operated in the eastern part of the state, as he had recommended. In an October letter to the new Governor Zebulon B. Vance, 1st Lt. Moses T. Moye indicated that the company had been assigned as pickets and they performed this until September of 1862. A special requisition for tents, signed by Capt. Lawrence on June 22nd suggests that the company was operating in and around Tarborough at that time. A letter from Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Clingman (NC) to Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill (NC), commander of the Department of North Carolina, reports that Lawrence's Company was stationed in Pitt County in early August of 1862. Capt. Lawrence had informed Brig. Gen. Clingman that Federal forces in the area had access to Richmond newspapers and other sources of information about Confederate activities.

In the meantime, before he was defeated in the upcoming election, Gov. Henry T. Clark began criticizing the effect that Partisan units had on conscription. Gov. Clark was well aware that raising Cavalry units for the State took a lot of time, effort, and money to properly equip and train mounted soldiers, and were thus, in his opinion, more wasteful of resources. Gov. Clark also challenged whether or not Partisan units were required to the same bounty pay and the same quality of equipment, clothing, and quartering as other troops. He continued to press that these units should be dismounted or eliminated completely.

Capt. Lawrence moved forward with his plans to increase his command into a battalion. We advertised in newspapers and suggested that he was close to his goal, as he asserted that "only one or two more companies were wanted." However, the generals had other ideas. Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hill (NC) ordered Lawrence's Company and nine (9) other Partisan units to rendezvous at Garysburg on August 20, 1862. Some of these Partisan units were merged into the 59th NC Regiment (4th Cavalry), but Lawrence's Company was not among them.

On Sepember 10, 1862, his unit was pulled into Col. William C. Claiborne's Regiment of Partisan Rangers, which would soon be rechristened as the 7th Regiment Confederate Cavalry. This new Cavalry unit consisted of companies from North Carolina and Georgia. Col. Claiborne incorrectly promised that this new regiment would only serve in North Carolina, and that Capt. Joseph J. Lawrence would be soon promoted to Major. Then, the new regiment was re-assigned to serve in Virginia. Capt. Lawrence went on sick leave soon after arriving in Virginia, then learned from several sources that Col. Claiborne denied knowing anything about his promotion to major.

Capt. Lawrence "recovered from his illness" and returned to the regiment and attempted to have his old company removed and returned to North Carolina. His lieutenants and men were very unhappy. 1st Lt. Moses T. Moye soon wrote to Governor Vance and described Col. Claiborne as "utterly incapacitated for the position which he now occupies," and went on to describe a litany of leadership failures, including splitting this Company into two units. 1st Lt. Moye soon asked Col. Claiborne for a transfer, but was refused. Capt. Lawrence then arrived and showed his correspondence regarding the promotion to major, and Col. Claiborne stated that this was new information to him. Col. Claiborne went on to inform Lawrence that there would be no election for major and that he had promised that position to another individual. Col. Claiborne informed Capt. Lawrence that he was still captain of his company, but he now refused to accept command under these circumstances.

Capt. Lawrence and 1st Lt. Moye visited Brig. Gen. Samuel G. French (GA) at Petersburg, who noted that Col. Claiborne had no right to split the company, but he would not transfer the company to another regiment or battalion just because Lawrence wanted it. Lawrence and Moye both handed Brig. Gen. French their resignations, and both returned home. Then they sought Gov. Vance's help, but he could do nothing since the unit had already gone into official Confederate service. Both resignations were soon approved, but most of the company remained in the 7th Regiment Confederate Cavalry as Company H until it was disbanded and subsequently folded into the 16th NC Battalion - Cavalry.

* Summarized from "North Carolina Troops: 1861-1865, A Roster, Volume XIX, Miscellaneous Battalions and Companies," Pages 387-393.

Known Battles / Skirmishes


Battle / Skirmish



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