CLARK NC: 16th North Carolina at the Siege of Petersburg
Editor’s Note: The following excerpt comes from Walter Clark’s five volume Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, published in 1901. The reference work provides mini regimental histories written mostly by men representing each unit, with gaps filled in by editor Clark. These histories often provide a surprising amount of detail on the Siege of Petersburg.
The Sixteenth [North Carolina] remained with the Army of Northern Virginia to the surrender—most of the time under fire and all the time marching, starving, but never despairing. The Sixteenth was brigaded with the Thirteenth [North Carolina], Twenty-second [North Carolina], Thirty-fourth [North Carolina] and Thirty-eighth North Carolina Regiments, and the incidents of its history are largely identical with those narrated in the sketches given of those regiments. Our first brigade commander was [Dorsey] Pender, who was succeeded by General [Alfred M.] Scales. She passed through the trying and unequal experiences at Petersburg and in its fall with our own heroic dead she numbered her trusted corps commander, A. P. Hill. Next to her own native commanders the Sixteenth learned to respect the person of A. P. Hill. He was one of the greatest military leaders that the civil war developed. I remember how he looked perfectly. He was one of the handsomest little men I have ever seen. I have seen his home (during the war) from which he was so rudely and suddenly torn—one of the most beautiful of the many beautiful Virginia places. General Hill was a fearless man and a brilliant commander, and his Light Division will go down side by side with the illustrious soldiers of history.
After Petersburg the Sixteenth, still undaunted, divided the corn of the horses to appease hunger and, stubbornly marching and fighting to the last, surrendered with General Lee at Appomattox. Their sacrifice was fully repaid when, the dread day having arrived and the momentous act performed, they listened to the words as they fell from the lips of Robert E. Lee himself: “God bless old North Carolina!” With this blessing resting upon their heads, they turned their faces in the direction of their broken homes, where, through all the years that have followed, they have cherished the parting benediction of their great chieftain as a priceless heritage.
The total casualties of the Sixteenth Regiment for the entire war were something more than eight hundred men, leaving about five hundred men, a large majority of which last were not at the surrender for legitimate reasons.
Benjamin H. Cathey.
Murphy, N. C.,
9 April, 1901.1
- Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, Volume 1 (Nash Brothers: 1901), pp. 765-766 ↩
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.