CLARK NC: 28th 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.
At the Second Cold Harbor [the 28th North Carolina] behaved as gallantly as it did at the first. It also behaved with its accustomed bravery at Riddle’s Shop, 13 June ; action three miles southeast of Petersburg, 22 June  [aka The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road]; action in front of Petersburg, 23 June [also Jerusalem Plank Road]; Gravel Hill, 28 July [aka First Battle of Deep Bottom]; Fussell’s Mills, 16 and 18 August [aka Second Battle of Deep Bottom], and Reams Station 25 August . In the last named battle it had to crawl through an almost impenetrable abatis under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. Captain [Gold G.] Holland, of Company H, was among the first to mount the works, and seeing that they were still manned and but a few of his own men were up, he yelled out, “Yanks, if you know what is best for you, you had better make a blue streak toward sunset.” They made the streak and the men often laughed and said Grant would have to send Hancock back North to recruit his command. General Lee, in speaking of this fight to General Lane, said that the three North Carolina brigades, Cooke’s, MacRae’s and Lane’s, which made the second assault, after the failure of the first by other troops, had by their gallantry not only placed North Carolina, but the whole Confederacy under a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid. In writing to Governor Vance about the same battle, he said: “They advanced through a thick abatis of felled trees under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery and carried the enemy’s works with a steady courage that elicited the warm commendation of the corps and division commanders and the admiration of the army.”
At Jones’ Farm [aka by many names, including the Battle of Peebles Farm and Poplar Spring Church], on the right of Petersburg, on 30 September, this regiment was second to none in bravery. In this fight both lines were advancing when they met. To the delight of all this battlefield was rich in oil cloths, blankets, knapsacks and the like. Some of the knapsacks, judging from the appearance of the straps, were cut from the shoulders of their owners in their hasty retreat under a murderous fire, accompanied with that well known “rebel yell.”
Next morning [October 1, 1864] the regiment advanced with the other troops and helped to drive the enemy from the works at the Pegram House, which were held in the rain, until dark, when it returned to the works near the Jones House. It soon after went into winter quarters in rear of these works.
During that winter the Twenty-eighth [North Carolina] constituted a part of the force sent against the Federal cavalry raiding on the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad [from December 7-12, 1864 during Warren’s Stony Creek Raid]. On that march it not only rained but it snowed and there was a high, bitter cold wind, and the men suffered intensely. The troops reached Jarratt’s Station to find that the enemy had retired.
This regiment lay all night in the streets of Petersburg as a part of the intended support for General Gordon in his attack on Fort Steadman [sic, Stedman] [on March 25, 1865]. After Gordon had retired the enemy swept the whole Confederate picket line from Hatcher’s Run to Lieutenant Run, and the Twenty-eighth performed its part in helping to keep him out of the main line of works in front of its winter quarters. He got possession, however, of a commanding hill to the left of the Jones House from which he could fire into the huts.1 Next day [March 26, 1865] General Lee ordered General Lane to dislodge him. General Lane, who was in command of the division at the time, did so at daylight the following morning [March 27, 1865], with all of the sharpshooters of the division under Major Wooten, of the Eighteenth North Carolina Regiment, supported by his own brigade, and the Twenty-eighth again had its part to perform.2
On the night of 1 April  when Grant made his final attack at Petersburg, Lane’s Brigade was cut in two by an overwhelming force. The Twenty-eighth [North Carolina] was forced to fall back, fighting, to the plank road and then to the Cox road; and it finally succeeded in rejoining the rest of the brigade in the inner line of works where it fought until night, when Petersburg was evacuated. On the afternoon of the 3d it crossed the Appomattox at Goode’s bridge, bivouacked at Amelia Court House on the 4th and formed line of battle between the Court House and Jetersville on the 5th and skirmished with the enemy. Next day while resting in Farmville, it, with the rest of the brigade, was ordered back to a hill to support the hard-pressed cavalry ; but before reaching the hill the order was countermanded. It moved back through Farmville and sustained some loss from the enemy’s artillery while crossing the river near that place. That afternoon it formed line of battle, faced to the rear, between one and two miles from Farmville, where there was more fighting, and the remnant of General Lee’s army seemed to be surrendered. During the night it resumed its march, and on the morning of 9 April, while moving to its position on the left of the road near Appomattox Court House, it was ordered back into a woods and directed to stack arms, as the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered.
The tattered and starving remnant of this glorious North Carolina Regiment surrendered at Appomattox, consisted of 17 officers and 213 men, some of the latter being detailed, non-arms-bearing, sent back to be surrendered with their command.
The aggregate in this regiment during the entire war was 1,826. After Colonel [Samuel D.] Lowe resigned [in July 1864] and Lieutenant-Colonel W[illiam]. H. A. Speer was killed at Reams Station, the regiment was frequently commanded by Captains E[dward]. F. Lovell, T. V. Apperson and T. J[ames]. Linebarger, the latter being in command at the surrender.
ADDENDUM TO THE SKETCH OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH NORTH CAROLINA TROOPS.
After the death of Colonel Speer, all of the officers present addressed the following communication to the Secretary of War:
Camp Twenty-eighth N. C. Regm’t, Lane’s Brigade,
Near Petersburg, Va., Sept. 26, 1864.
General Samuel Cooper, A. & I. G., Richmond Va.:
General: Our regiment, the Twenty-eight N[orth]. C[arolina]. T[roops]., is without a Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel, and its Major S[amuel]. N. Stowe, is physically disqualified for active field duty. The Major has been but little with his command, and when with it, has done but little duty. He admits himself that he has been unable to walk half a mile at any one time for the last six months.
It is the wish of the undersigned that we should be commanded by an officer of undoubted bravery, intelligence, education and general efficiency, and we therefore very respectfully ask that Captain E. J. Hale, Jr., the A. A. G. of this Brigade, be appointed Colonel and assigned to the command of our regiment. We have witnessed Captain Hale’s gallantry in action and know that he is an accomplished officer in every respect.
F. M. Nixon, Lieutenant Co. A.
H. A. Euker, Lieutenant Co. D.
J. G. Truelove, First Lieutenant Co. F.
J. M. Starling, Second Lieutenant Co. F.
D. F. Morrow, Lieutenant Co. G.
M. A. Thornburg, Lieutenant Co. C.
S. A. Yodel, Lieutenant Co. I.
R. D. Ormond Lieutenant Co. B.
J. W. Williams, Lieutenant Co. O.
D. B. Swink, Lieutenant Co. H.
S. T. Thompson, Lieutenant Co. I.
This petition was approved and recommended by Brigadier-General Lane, Major-General Wilcox and Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill.
The “legal impediment” that Captain Hale was “not of the regiment” prevented his being commissioned at the time Colonel under the law for promotion for “valor and skill.” The impending campaign ending at Appomattox prevented further action in the matter.
Captain Hale was subsequently appointed Major, A. A. & L General under the staff law that finally passed Congress, and received the President’s signature.
James H. Lane.
9 April, 1901.3
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The 28th North Carolina had to move quickly back to the right on the Boydton Plank Road line after serving as a reserve at the Battle of Fort Stedman in the Confederate center. Why? Grant and Meade, realizing the Confederates had probably stripped their lines for the Fort Stedman attack, decided to probe aggressively all along those lines looking for a breaking point. The resulting actions are known collectively as the “Battle Along the Skirmish Lines” on March 25, 1865. I need to do more research to determine which, if any, named fight in the Official Records the 28th North Carolina may have taken part in. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: I believe this is the March 27 “Action at McIlwaine’s Hill”, described in a history of Lane’s Brigade published in the Southern Historical Society Papers. I don’t have a lot of info on this particular fight, so if you have resources or knowledge you can share, please Contact Us. ↩
- Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, Volume 2 (Nash Brothers: 1901), pp. 480-484 ↩