Civil War Days and The Folks at Home in Hertford County
This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!
Wars are always costly, especially when fought on your land by your finest young men.
Hertford and Bertie had few pitched battles – those fighting in them on the South’s side were mostly young boys and old men — the most capable men being in Virginia on the front lines.
Although well behind the battle lines, the area was open to attack from the water as the Chowan River, early on, fell into the hands of the North. Some of these inexperienced men for excitement did some rash incendiaries including the burning of Winton including our Court House and all its records and later the burning of Clara Barton’s brother’s factory for plow shafts, which he had shuttered for the duration [the Barton’s were pacifists – and this fire ruined him financially and he soon died].
Many of the young men who went so eagerly into battle never came home alive. Many more came home maimed for life.
On the 8th of Feb. 1862 the Confederates lost control of Roanoke Island and the Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River! fell to the Feds. under Gen. Burnside. From that time until the end of the war Federal gunboats roamed the Chowan and raided at will the plantations, fisheries, and villages located along the river — seizing cotton and food stores and burning all the buildings nearby if any resistance was offered by the owners or the local military (which consisted almost entirely of older men and boys as all able bodied local men were with the CSA Army either in Virginia or at some other battle field).
from John W. Moore’s Historical Sketches of Hertford County : (page 124 David Powell’s reprint.) “It is impossible to convey an idea of the alarm and distress pervading the Albemarle region on the reception of the news from the coast. The Federal gun boats were momentarily expected by every one living near the water courses. Lieut. Col. W. T. Williams of Nash with a battalion of six companies of Infantry with Nichols light battery from Petersburg, VA, occupied Winton. On Feb 20th 1862 three Federal steamers passed up the river and were fired upon by Col. Williams command. They fell back to Barfields, and having shelled Winton to their hearts content, landed a party, who upon approaching the village, found that every man, infantry and artillery, who were sent for its protection, had most ingloriously fled in the direction of Murfreesboro. The ruthless invaders after burning the Court House of the place that it was used as quarters for the troops, proceeded to apply the torch to the Hotel and almost every private house in the village. Winton aflame 20 Feb 1862 drawn by Pvt. Charles Johnston of the Hawkins Zouaves July 1862 This state of affairs produced a change in our condition in eastern North Carolina. There was a speedy exodus of the free Negroes to Roanoke Island accompanied by a few obscure white men who were either deserters from the Confederate army or fugitives from conscription. Many of these known as Buffaloes, became agents and spies of the enemy, and made frequent midnight visits to the slaves and disaffected whites to procure recruits for the Federal army. By degrees these people became infamous and intolerable. They ran off slaves and plundered smoke houses until summary vengeance made their visits too full of peril to be often indulged in. These miscreants were never numerous in Hertford, and their misdeeds were confined generally to the neighborhood of the Chowan river.”
Confederates Troops Burn Cotton! June 1862 To prevent the Yankees from going off with the cotton; the governor of North Carolina forbade the keeping of any cotton within 10 miles of the river and ordered Confederate troops to burn any cotton they found within that area. In June, 40 bales of cotton were burned at Colerain by the troops, and then they burned the bales of cotton at Starkey Sharp’s plantation near Harrellsville. Sharpe was incensed.
He wrote the governor on June 19, 1862: “I was not aware that notice had been given to remove the cotton by the 6th of June…… My cotton was well secured in a thick pine thicket well sheltered with planks. I disliked much having it burnt. I appealed to him [Capt. Cowles] not to burn my cotton — I would take it the next day from the water at any reasonable distance he might say …… .this in Loyalty [is] worst than Yankees….. I scorn such contemptible treatment.” [Gov. Clarke’s papers at the State Archives in Raleigh; letter included in Gerald W Thomas “Divided Allegiances”]
Only Defence offered by Edward Cooper at his Ct. martial for desertion 1863 from John W. Moore’s Historical Sketches of Hertford County : (page 141 David Powell’s reprint.) He offered this letter from his wife as his only defense. ” My Dear Edward – I have been always proud of you, and since your connection with the Confederate army, I have been prouder of you than ever before. I would not have you do anything wrong for the world; but before God, Edward, unless you come home, we must die. Last night I was aroused by little Eddie’s crying. I called and said, “What is the matter, Eddie?” And he said, ‘O mama I am so hungry.’ And Lucy, Edward, your darling Lucy, she never complains, but she is growing thinner every day. And before God, Edward, unless you come home, we must die. Your, Mary.”
Asked what he did on reception of the letter, Cooper replied he had made three separate and ineffectual applications for a furlough and then resolved to visit his home at whatever cost. There his wife was broken-hearted at learning he was absent without leave and “I am here gentlemen, not brought by military power, but in obedience to the command of Mary, to abide the sentence of your court.” As it was the plain duty of the court, Edward Cooper was found guilty of desertion and sentenced to death.
But General Lee upon reviewing the case, approved the finding, but pardoned the prisoner and ordered him to report for duty to his battery.
Harrellsville 21 Jan 1864 from John W. Moore’s Historical Sketches of Hertford County : (page 145 David Powell’s reprint.) ” a regiment of the enemy effected a landing at Longfield and possessed themselves of the village of Harrellsville. The two new Hertford companies belonging to the 68th Regt. Upon hearing of their arrival, marched in the darkness of the night to confront the invaders. Capt. Hillary Taylor was in command. Reaching the vicinity of the village he divided his forces. Capt. Langley Tayloe with 41 of his men reached the Tar Landing road by crossing the fields. He was ordered to approach the village and attack the enemy in the obscurity of the earliest dawn. The other company passing around lay in ambush near James K. Parker’s place. By the light of burning houses, Capt. Tayloe saw fully five hundred of the marauders within pistol range of their dangerous position. At the appointed moment, though so fearfully outnumbered, the Confederates advanced and fired upon the enemy. Some disorderly shots were returned and private Drew Beale dangerously wounded. Consternation filled the hearts of the yankees and they fled with the utmost precipitation to their gunboats. Had the force in ambush carried out the original plan the whole party might easily have been captured. But the road full of fugitives appeared too formidable for the thirty-one men with Capt. Taylor and they were allowed to pass unmolested, and thus ended the battle of Harrellsville.”
From Gerald W Thomas “Divided Allegiances” On the John H Garrett’s farm, the troops set fire to Garrett’s buildings, which held “a large quantity of meat salted for the Confederate Govt. The Union troops successfully destroyed between 150,000 and 200,000 pounds of pork, 270 barrels of salt, 10,000 pounds of tobacco, 32 barrels of beef, and other stores. They also captured a number of prisoners (including Garrett, who was sent to New Bern and jailed for several months), horses, and mules.
the clerk for the 103rd Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry “On the 20 of January 1864 an expedition was sent out to Harrellsville, NC under Lt. Col. W. C. Maxwell to destroy stores which had been collected by the enemy; a great quanity of pork was destroyed, about 125,000 pounds, a number of wagons, carts, horse, mules, and oxen captured also eleven bales of cotton, the enemy was driven off.”
Mars Hill 26 Jan 1864 from an unidentified Bertie County citizens’ account to the Petersburg Express contained in the Bower papers; included in Gerald W Thomas “Divided Allegiances” “About 9 p.m. several Yankee gunboats came unexpectedly up the Chowan River, and landed 500 men at Mr. Etheridge’s near Colerain. They marched at once to Mars Hill.”
Buffaloes led Maxwell’s soldiers marching on back roads. 200,000 pounds of pork had been accumulated at Mars Hill. A twenty-one man detachment from Capt, Jesse G Holliday’s company of the 15th Battalion North Carolina Cavalry guarded the pork. Maxwell’s troops totally surprised and routed Holliday’s troopers.
The Federals burned the pork. The Union soldiers marched back to Colerain, confiscating livestock, rescuing slaves and capturing a number of citizens along the way. One citizen reports the Yankees also vandalized homes, destroyed personal property, treated females insultingly, and attempted to “produce a state of starvation” by destroying a gristmill and the grain stored in it as they marched back toward the Chowan River and the waiting gunboats.
This expedition proved to be the most destructive of the Yankee raids in Bertie County during the war. At Colerain a small band of Confederate soldiers from Bethlehem, Hertford Co having been alerted to the raid attacked Maxwell’s force before it could reboard the gunboats.
the clerk for the 103rd Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry “On the 26th an expedition for a simular purpose was sent out under the same officers, the enemy rates the loss this time at about 200,000 pounds, many horses with cavalry equipments, mules, wagons, carts, etc were taken and considerable property of the enemy destroyed. This in Bertie County; both expeditions immensely successful with no loss on our side, but one man wounded and one man missing.”
from letter from Col. James W. Hinton, commander of the 68th Regt. NC Troops, who was responsible for protection and monitoring Fed activity in Hertford and Bertie Counties to Gov. Vance; Gov. Vance’s papers at the State Archives in Raleigh; letter included in Gerald W Thomas “Divided Allegiances”] written from Murfreesboro, NC 4 Feb, 1864, Col. Hinton wrote: “At the time the meat was burned I had two companies of infantry stationed about four miles from where the meat was stored. The balance of my infantry command which consisted of detachments of companies then being brought across the Chowan & numbering less than 200 men were encamped about two miles from this place. Wynn’s Cavalry Battalion was also stationed here doing picket & courier service in conjunction with Griffen’s Cavalry as low as Harrellsville. I had also three pieces of artillery stationed here. I received a dispatch from Edenton Monday night [Jan. 25] stating that the enemy would in the course of four or five days attempt to burn Mizzell’s meat. As soon as I received the dispatch I sent Captain Holliday’s company of cavalry below with orders to prep all the team that could possibly be obtained and have Mizell’s meat moved at once.
The next morning I started below with all the force I had– Artillery, Cavalry & Infantry. Before I had gotten four miles from Murfreesboro I received a dispatch that the meat had already been burned. When I arrived at Bethlehem about four miles from the place where Mizell’s meat was stored I learned these facts: Holliday and his Cavalry company reached the place where the meat was stored 9 o’clock at night. At three o’clock of the same night the enemy 600 strong came upon him by superior force drove him back & burned the meat. Having Buffaloes with them familiar with the whole county they were enabled to march the entire distance from their gunboats without touching the main road. I knew not until the day before the burning that there was any considerable amount of meat there. If I had, knowing my inability to protect it I should have….. had it removed. It is as much as I can do, with the small force at my command, to protect the meat interest at this point & if I divide the force neither will be protected. It is fifty-two miles from this place to the mouth of the Chowan & the enemy can land at almost any point they may want to land at. You will readily see that it is actually impossible for me to protect so long a line with so small a force.”
Yankees Raid Pitch Landing! 4 Dec 1864 from John W. Moore’s Historical Sketches of Hertford County : (page 154 David Powell’s reprint.) “The Federal troops were much given at this time to raiding parties. On Dec. 4th (1864) a considerable force came upon gunboats to Pitch Landing, where they seized the cotton and negroes of John O. Askew, a wealthy farmer and merchant residing there. An assistant quarter master, one Capt. George had collected a considerable store of provisions. These and thirty thousand dollars of Government money were carried off and the [ware] houses burned.”
from the Official Records of the Navies: Expedition to Pitch Landing, December 2-6, 1864. Report of Commander Macomb, U.S. Navy, transmitting papers. U.S.S. SHAMROCK, Dist. Sounds North Carolina, off Plymouth, N. C., December 9, 1864. ADMIRAL: I have the satisfaction to report that on the 2d instant I sent the Chicopee up the Chowan River to bring off some cotton, provisions, and supplies held by the rebels, which I had been informed were stored near Pitch Landing. You will perceive by Commander Harrell’s report, which I enclose, that the expedition was a very successful one. My orders to Commander Harrell are herewith forwarded. Since the return of the above expedition I have ordered the Chicopee to Edenton, N. C., and Sandy Point, in Albemarle Sound, [North Carolina, to seize another amount of cotton, which, from information (from Captain Harrell), I find to be about 30 bales, and which is in his possession. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. H. MACOMB, Commander District of the Sounds, North Carolina. Rear-Admiral D. D. PORTER, U.S.S. Malvern, Flagship, Hampton? Roads, Virginia. [Enclosure.] U.S. S. SHAMROCK, Dist. Sounds North Carolina, off Plymouth, N. C., December 1, 1864. SIR: You will proceed up the Chowan River as far as you deem necessary, capturing cotton, cattle, and anything belonging to the enemy. If you are fired upon, burn houses in the immediate vicinity, and, in short, do all you can to annoy the enemy. After having accomplished this you will return as soon as possible. Very respectfully, W.H. MACOMB, Commanding Sounds of North Carolina. A. DAVID HARRELL, Commanding U.S.S. Chicopee. I will expect the Chicopee to return by the 6th, and Commander Harrell will report to me. —
— Report of Commander Harrell, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S.S. Chicopee. U.S.S. CHICOPEE, Chowan River, [North Carolina], December 5, 1864. SIR: I have the gratification to report that, availing myself of the permission granted me by yourself (after having received your written orders), I left Plymouth on Friday, December 2, and proceeded to Roanoke Island, where Colonel Wardrap very promptly placed a detachment of soldiers on board under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. W. Clarke [85th NY] for the accomplishment of the duty proposed. I landed a detachment of sailors under the command of Lieutenant [E. A.] Walker for the purpose of cooperation. The party landed a little above the mouth of the Wickacon Creek, with orders to march to Pitch Landing, that place being 9 miles distant by land and 25 miles by water, where the rebel Government, as I was informed, had a depository for cotton and army supplies. At the same time I ordered the steam picket boat No. 5 to proceed up that stream, it being impossible for the Chicopee to do so, it being narrow and tortuous. Both parties arrived without accident, and captured the place, bringing off about 85 bales of cotton, a quantity of cotton yarn, together with 7 prisoners and 52 contrabands, and burning and destroying the following list of property, viz, say, 75 barrels beef, 7,000 pounds of tobacco, 5 barrels of molasses, 100 boxes adamantine candles (40 pounds each), 75 sacks of salt, 1,000 pounds of coffee, 10 barrels crushed sugar, 300 pairs of cotton cards, 2,000 blocks of cotton yarn, 45 sets army harness, 31 mules, 6 horses, 10 army wagons, 250 grain sacks, 4,000 pounds of bacon; also a quantity of peas, beans, leather, shoes, boots, clothing, etc., belonging to the Confederate Army. I was compelled to have the horses and mules killed because I had no transportation. You will perceive that a very large amount of valuable property was destroyed for the same reason. I am happy to state that the whole affair was well managed and a perfect success. One soldier was (I fear) mortally wounded. I feel greatly indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke for the energetic cooperation which he afforded. Lieutenant Walker, the executive officer of this vessel, commanded the sailors and performed his duty with his usual promptness and gallantry. Acting Ensign James A. Crossman, Acting Master’s Mates [J. A.] Belcher and [C. C.] Johnson accompanied the command and performed their duty well, as I am informed. I placed Mr. Johnson in command of a detachment of marines on board the picket boat. His duty was particularly arduous and hazardous; he performed it to the admiration of all hands. I am informed that the commander of the picket boat, Acting Ensign [J. J.] Chapman, performed his duty well and gave entire satisfaction. It only remains to add, which gives me great pleasure, that Acting Assistant Surgeon G. L. Simpson volunteered and accompanied the party, rendering timely service to the wounded. I have omitted to state, which I now do, with great pleasure, that I was accompanied by Colonel Wardrop, who gave me the assistance of his long experience. I enclose Lieutenant Walker’s report.(*) Very respectfully, your obedient servant, A.D. HARRELL, Commander, U. S. Navy. Commander WM. H. MACOMB, U.S. Navy, Commanding Division of the Sounds of North Carolina. —
— Additional report of Commander Harrell, U.S. Navy, commanding U.S.S. Chieopee. U.S.S. CHICOPEE, Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, December 7, 1864. SIR: Subsequent to my hasty report of the 5th, I have ascertained that there were destroyed at Pitch Landing, beside what has already been mentioned, 875 sacks of salt. In the safe of the rebel commissary was found a quantity of Confederate money and bonds. The following amount was turned over to me: Confederate bills, representing about $1,400; Confederate bonds, representing$8,000, which I forward to you. I also omitted to state that a valuable bridge was burned. Our force was fired upon during their return, but the rebels were soon driven off. I herewith forward a quantity of official and private papers captured at Pitch Landing, which will throw a good deal of light upon the manner in which the rebels receive their supplies. Beef, pork, candles, etc., were marked with the United States brand, all of which it is said were received from Norfolk, Va. It affords me pleasure to state that perfect harmony existed between the two branches of the service during the whole expedition. Several rebels were killed and wounded; the exact number could not be ascertained. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, A.D. HARRELL, Commander, U.S. Navy. Commander WILLIAM H. MACOMB, Commanding Division Sounds of North Carolina. —– Report of Commander Harrell, transmitting Confederate bills captured. U.S.S. CHICOPEE, Norfolk Navy Yard, February 24, 1865. SIR: I have the honor to enclose ($17,360) Confederate bills and bonds captured by this vessel at Pitch Landing, N. C. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, A.D. HARRELL, Commander, U.S. Navy. Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary U. S. Navy, Washington, D.C. —– [Endorsement.] Have been distributed as curiosities. W[ELLES]. —
— Abstract log of the U.S.S. Chicopee, Commander A.D. Harrell. December 3, 1864. –Off Roanoke Island. At 4 p.m., having the colonel, lieutenant colonel, a number of lieutenants, with two companies of men, numbering 63 men each, from Roanoke Island, on board, hoisted all boats and started up the sound. At 5:45 passed out of Croatan Sound. Underway until 11:25 p.m., when we anchored in the mouth of Chowan River. December 4.–At 7 a.m. got underway with a flatboat and a picket boat (No. 5) in tow and proceeded up the Chowan River. At 10:30 a.m. picked up 2 men in a boat trying to cross the river. At 11:20 sent the picket launch No. 5, with the marine guard on board, up the Wickacon Creek. At 11:30 came to anchor abreast of Eure’s Landing and landed all the soldiers and officers in charge of them; also 70 of our men and 3 officers, Acting Ensign James A. Crossman, Dr. Simpson, and Acting Master’s Mate J. A. Belcher, Lieutenant E. A. Walker in charge. At 2:30 p.m. came to off Longfield Landing. From 4 to 6 p.m. lying at anchor off Fisher’s [Fishery] Landing. From 6 to 8 had the battery all ready for action. At 11:45 p.m. heard musketry firing on shore bearing W.N.W. Lookouts stationed as usual. December 5.–At 9:15 a.m. got underway and steamed up the river as far as Eure’s Landing; turned around and came back to Fishery Landing. Sent the dinghy ashore to bring off a contraband. From meridian to 4 p.m.: At 12 got underway and steamed up to Eure’s Landing; came to anchor and transported all of our men and troops on board, they having captured 7 prisoners, [ 85] bales of cotton, which were taken on board, and a number of horses and wagons, which were destroyed on the bank, not being able to carry them away. We also received on board 43 contrabands. Having everything on board, we started down the river with torpedo boat No. 5 in tow. At 5:30 p.m. passed Fishery Landing. At 9 stopped off the mouth of Roanoke River; sent picket boat No. 5with dispatches to Plymouth. At 9:30 steamed down the sound. List of stores captured at Pitch Landing, December 4, 1864:85 bales of cotton, 1 bale of sheeting, 150 bundles twist (5 pounds each), 24 bundles twist (6 pounds each), 22 stand arms, 8 sabers, 1 holster pistol, 11 cavalry saddles, 8 sets complete mule harness, 6 horse collars, 252 pounds manufactured tobacco, 2 blankets. December 6.–At 12: 30 p.m. came to anchor off Roanoke Island and landed all the troops and contrabands. At 2:30 p.m. three gentlemen came on board with submarine diving apparatus and a calcium light to go to Plymouth. At 5:30 p.m. got underway and steamed up Croatan Sound. December 7.–At 3: 30 p.m. anchored off Plymouth, and made fast to the wharf and commenced to discharge cotton. –
—- Thanks!!! to fellow researcher, Chuck Veit for the Navy reports.
Map of the area 1863, a segment from “Map of Hertford and part of Northampton and Bertie Counties, NC Surveyed under the direction of A H Campell, Capt of Engineers & Chf Topogl Dept N D Ba by Chas. E Cassell, Civil Assistant Engineer April 1863 scale of 1/80,000 ” NC Archives, Raleigh
The Buffalo Menace from a letter of Dr. Godwin Cotten Moore of Mulberry Grove to his brother in law Turner Westray of Rocky Mount dated 8 Feb 1865. “We are kept constantly in a state of apprehension, either by a Yankee advance or a night visit of the Buffaloes. The provisions laid up for a years supply of the family are in constant jeopardy. The visits of robbery to those having provisions and other valuables in this country are almost a nightly occurrence. They came to one of my nearest neighbors on Friday night last and took off a cart load of bacon, clothing, and other valuables. How soon they may rouse me from my chamber & demand my keys, God only knows, but every morning when I awake and find everything safe, I feel that I am under new and special obligations to my divine protector. . . .When my neighbors wife (for he is in the army) was despoiled of at least half of her living, the State had 1000 men between her and the Yankee line (the Chowan River). But these robbers are living in our midst, they know where the troops are stationed, and easily avoid their pickets. They are deserters or fugitive conscripts, outlying in our swamps or pocoson. Dr. Weaver (his son in law) has been robbed of about 400 pounds of his meat, which was probably carried off by a band of these fellows. They did not arouse him from his sleep, but made forcible entrance to his smoke house & helped themselves. Are we to be subjected to this condition of things for much longer? Those in the Yankee lines beyond the river are much better off at present than we are. They are not, robbed, nor are they in constant apprehension of disturbances but I hope as Gov. Vance has at last sent down a force sufficient to drive the Yankees from Colerain, he will keep a part of it at least here until he has also driven beyond the river these robbers. Our people are dispirited and not animated by the same determined spirit of resistance as they have ever been before. And these peace men among the politicians, poisoning mind of the Confederacy and unlettered masses by their violations and harangues, have done much to bring about the present condition of things. They have taught the masses to believe that the Confed. Gov’t. is a despotism, having no sympathy with the people, regardless of every other feeling save its own promotion and attainment of its own desires, absorbing gradually the liberties now enjoyed by the people and establishing a military despotism. I think myself if one half of these liberty shriekers were thrown into prison at Salisbury with their dear friends the Yankees, our chances of ultimate success would be greatly increased. I feel confident, we had better stand by our army, and prepare to make effectual resistance if need be than trust the peaceful intentions of the Yankees. They will subjugate us if possible, and will only relax their efforts when compelled under the force of our resistance or outside pressure.”
at UNC in Memorial Hall there were four long plaques high up on the wall on either side of the stage listing all of the University alumni killed in the Civil War. I really had never paid very much attention to them. Over the weekend, I was looking through William S. Powell’s “The First State University” published in the Seventies. These four panels were reproduced in the book, and it was possible to read all of the names. There are a number of family connections. The soldiers are listed by class. The very first one is Gen. Leonidas Polk, whose sister married Kenneth Rayner. Shortly after is Gen. Isham W. Garrott, who married the Major’s first cousin Margaret Fletcher. Then there is the second cousin George B. Johnston, Greek tutor at UNC and son of the rector in Edenton. From Bertie County are Thomas M. Garrett, Stark A. Sutton and Thomas Watson Cooper. Cooper was the brother of Joseph W. Cooper, who married Dr. Wheeler’s daughter Kate. In the class of 1860, he was at Harvard Law School when the war started. He was killed at Gettysburg. James E Moore’s note 18 Feb 2003
Pine Tree Store Community 21 October 2009