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SHS Papers: Volume 9: History of Lane’s North Carolina Brigade at Petersburg, Part 1 by James H. Lane

History of Lane’s North Carolina Brigade [at Petersburg, Part 1].1


[SOPO Editor’s Note: This series of articles written by James H. Lane about his brigade spans the entire war.  The articles you’ll read here focus, naturally enough, on the Siege of Petersburg and Appomattox only.  This first of five articles picks up just after the Battle of Cold Harbor, with the first portion omitted due to its non-Petersburg subject matter.]

Other Official Reports Destroyed.

The other official reports for this campaign were copied into the letter-book at brigade head-quarters. This book was destroyed at Appomattox Courthouse, and there are no copies of them in existence that I am aware of.

During the time that I was absent [approximately late May to late August 1864], wounded-less than three months-the brigade, commanded successively by Colonels [John D.] Barry [of the 18th North Carolina] and [William H. A.] Speer [of the 28th North Carolina], and Brigadier-General [James] Conner, took an active part in the following engagements:

Riddle’s shop, June 13; action three miles south-east of Petersburg, June 22; action in front of Petersburg, June 232; Gravel Hill, July 283; Fussell’s Mills, on Darbytown road, August 16-184; Reames’s [sic, Ream’s] Station, August 25.5

When I returned to my brigade, I was informed by Captain E. J. Hale, Jr., who was my Adjutant-General, and many other officers, that it behaved in all of these fights with its usual gallantry.

General Lee compliments Cook[e]’s, McRae’s and Lane’s Brigades for their gallantry at Reames’s [sic, Ream’s] Station.

As General Lee, in person, put General Conner in command of my brigade during my absence, I was required on my returned to report to him in person to have General Conner relieved. It was during this visit to army head-quarters that General Lee told me North Carolina had cause to be proud of Cooke’s, McRae’s and Lane’s brigades, for, by their gallantry at Reames’s Station, they had not only put her but the whole Confederacy under a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid. He also told me, at the same time, that he had written to Governor [Zebulon B.] Vance, expressing his high appreciation of their services. I suppose the following is an extract from the letter referred to:

[From the Wilmington Journal, 1864.]

Tribute to North Carolina.-Letter from General Lee.

We have been permitted to make the following extract of a letter from General Lee to Governor Vance, complimenting the North Carolina troops for their glorious victory achieved at Reames’s Station. This tribute from the great hero of this revolution is the highest honor that could be paid to North Carolina. Let every soldier treasure it up as a memento of inestimable value:

August 29th, 1864.

His Excellency Z. B. Vance, Governor of North Carolina:

*      *     *      *     *      *     *      *      *

I have been frequently called upon to mention the services of North Carolina soldiers in this army, but their gallantry and conduct were never more deserving the admiration than in the engagement at Reames’s Station on the 25th instant.

The brigades of Generals Cook, McRae and Lane, the last under the temporary command of General Conner, 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 their corps and division commanders and the admiration of the army. *      *      *      *      *

I am with great respect your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General.

What President Davis said.

At Charlotte, during the year 1864, in a brief address to the people, President Davis said, among other complimentary things of North Carolina, that “her sons were foremost in the first battle of the war, Great Bethel, and they were foremost in the last fight near Petersburg, Reames’s [sic, Ream’s] Station.”


Lane’s North Carolina Brigade History, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 9-10:


  1. Lane, James H. “History of Lane’s North Carolina Brigade.” Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 9, pp. 244-246
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road was fought from June 21-24, 1864.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: The First Battle of Deep Bottom, including the July 28, 1864 action at Gravel Hill, was fought from July 27-29, 1864.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Second Battle of Deep Bottom, including the Battle of Fussell’s Mill, was fought from August 14-20, 1864.
  5. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Second Battle of Ream’s Station was fought on August 25, 1864, and Lane’s North Carolinians (minus Lane himself) joined other brigades from the Tarheel State to help rout the Federal Second Corps under Winfield Scott Hancock.
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