Civil War Guide to Military Organizations and Installations

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A Guide to Military Organizations and Installations
North Carolina 1861-1865

North Carolina's military contribution during the Civil War has been difficult to decipher from the mass of records. Researchers find it hard to trace units from the State because of numerous and confusing designations. As battalions and regiments were organized and mustered into service, they were given a line-number. These numbers ran consecutively. At the same time the battalion or regiment would receive a numerical designation according to its branch of service, or the nature and character of its organization. As usual, there were exceptions to this rule, and these are explained below. Add to the confusion created by double numerical designations, the Local Designations and names of commanding officers and the picture becomes more complex.

In 1903 the United States Government began to compile a service record for each Confederate soldier. Information pertaining to him was copied from Muster Rolls and other original records. In conjunction with the project three of the following tables were compiled. The fourth, "Union Regiments," was compiled from records on file at the National Archives. These tables are necessarily incomplete because the original compilers were limited to records on loan to and in possession of the Federal Government. Additions have been made.

The following calls for men were issued:

  • March 6, 1861: 100,000 volunteers and militia
  • January 23, 1862: 400,000 volunteers and militia
  • April 16, 1862: the First Conscription Act: conscripted white men ages 18 to 35 for the duration of hostilities; the first Confederate Conscription Act provided or allowed substitutions (repealed Dec. 1863) and exemptions 
  • September 27, 1862: the Second Conscription Act: expanded the age range from 18 to 45, with implementation beginning on July 15, 1863
  • February 17, 1864: the Third Conscription Act: ages 17 to 50
  • March 13, 1865: authorized up to 300,000 African American combat troops but was never implemented

When the war commenced, the only military organization in the State, aside from a few volunteer companies, was the Militia. This organization embraced all white males between 18 and 45. Because of a long period of peace, the Militia was only organized on paper and had no practical existence.

When the Legislature assembled on May 1, 1861, it authorized Governor Ellis to raise ten regiments of State Troops before the State Convention met. Under the act, an Adjutant General and other staff officers were provided for to carry out the organization. The regiments were numbered consecutively as they were mustered into State service regardless of branch of service; however, the cavalry and artillery regiments were also numbered consecutively according to their branch. For example, the Ninth Regiment State Troops was also designated the First Cavalry Regiment, and the Tenth Regiment State Troops was designated the First Artillery Regiment.

Under the pre-secession laws of the State, Colonel John F. Hoke was Adjutant General. It was through his office that the Volunteers were organized independent of the ten regiments of State Troops authorized by the Legislature. By July 18, 1861, fourteen Volunteer regiments had been organized and transferred to the Confederate State service. Colonel Hoke resigned his position as Adjutant General after he was elected Colonel of the Thirteenth Regiment Volunteers. General James G. Martin, who had been appointed Adjutant General under the act to organize ten regiments Of State Troops, was ordered by the Governor to take charge of both offices, that of Adjutant General State Troops and Adjutant General Volunteers, until the Legislature met. That body elected General Martin Adjutant General of the State, thus consolidating the two previously independent offices. When General Martin assumed his new office he found that there were ten regiments of State Troops designated First through Tenth, and fourteen regiments of Volunteers designated First through Fourteenth.

The duplicate set of numbers, First Regiment State Troops through the Tenth Regiment State Troops and the First Regiment Volunteers through the Tenth Regiment Volunteers created confusion in the field, at Richmond, and at Raleigh. The Confederate and State authorities decided that the State Troops should retain their designations of one through ten, while the Volunteer regiments should be redesignated starting with eleven. This was carried out on November 14, 1861, by Special Order, Number 222, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, Richmond. Thus, the fourteen volunteer regiments were redesignated the Eleventh through the Twenty-fourth Regiments North Carolina Troops. There was some irregularity about the election of field officers for the Ninth Regiment Volunteers, and their commissions were withheld. Into this vacancy was placed a regiment known as the Second Cavalry that had been organized under the act to organize ten regiments of State Troops. Since there was no Ninth Regiment Volunteers, the Second Cavalry became the Nineteenth Regiment North Carolina Troops. All regiments organized after the redesignation of the Volunteer regiments were numbered consecutively beginning with the Twenty-fifth Regiment. The first ten regiments were officially designated State Troops," while the old Volunteer regiments, redesignated Eleven through Twenty-four, were officially designated "North Carolina Troops." All other regiments were given both designations, (State Troops and North Carolina Troops), without official distinction.

The call for men depleted the ranks of the Militia organizations, leaving only the officers who were exempt to aid in enrolling conscripts. Except for the officers of the Militia, there were no State military organizations until the act to provide a "Guard for Home Defense" was ratified on July 7, 1863. This became known as the Home Guards. All able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 50, exempt from Confederate service, were enrolled and organized. The officers of the Militia were enrolled in the Home Guard, thus in effect, dissolving the Militia. The Home Guard was organized into a battalion in each county (except in four counties, which furnished only one company each). Regiments were formed in several large counties, and in some cases adjacent counties united to form a regiment. In all, eight regiments were formed. The Home Guard consisted of two classes, those who were drilled regularly and subject to immediate orders to move to any point of danger within the State, and those who were not required to be drilled and who were only mobilized when their county was invaded.

On February 17, 1864, an act to organize "Reserves" was adopted by the Confederate Congress. A large number of men in the Home Guard were enrolled in the Confederate service. This reduced the Home Guard to such an extent that when mobilized they were consolidated into temporary regiments and were divided into first, second and third class. Each class was to serve successive tours of duty of about, thirty days each. When each class, was mobilized it was organized into three regiments, thus making nine regiments of Home Guards. 

The law passed by the Confederate Congress on February 17, 1864, placed in the "Reserves" those men between the ages of 17 and 18 and between 45 and 50. The younger age group was called out in April and May 1864, and by the end of June eight battalions of Junior Reserves were organized. As these battalions were organized into regiments they were given line-numbers. The First and Sixth Battalions, with two other companies added, were organized into the First Regiment of Reserves (Seventieth North Carolina Regiment).

The Second and Fifth Battalions, with two additional companies, were organized into the Second Regiment of Reserves (Seventy-first North Carolina Regiment). The Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth Battalions were organized into the Third Regiment of Reserves (Seventy-second North Carolina Regiment).

The words "Junior" and Senior" were not officially used and the first three "Reserve" regiments were designated First, Second, and Third Regiment, or Seventieth, Seventy-first, and Seventy-second North Carolina. When the men between 45 and 50 were mobilized, they were organized into regiments designated as the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Regiments of Reserves, or Seventy-third, Seventy-fourth, Seventy-sixth, Seventy-seventh, and Seventy-eighth North Carolina. The Seventy-fifth was the Seventh Cavalry.

Until now, the only large group of men that had escaped military service were the detailed men. These men were under Confederate jurisdiction and could not be recruited into any State organization. In November 1864, the Confederate authorities directed that the detailed men in North Carolina be organized into regiments and battalions. Three regiments were organized and designated the First, Second, and Third Regiments Detailed Men. Their line-numbers were Eighty-first, Eighty-second, and Eighty-third North Carolina Regiments.

The first section, "Numerical Designations of Confederate Organizations," is a list of all units up to regimental level, by numerical designation. Each numerical segment is divided according to Cavalry, Artillery, and Infantry. Within these categories they are listed by battalion and regiment, in that order. In many instances the commanding officers are given along with specific information concerning the organization of the unit. The scarcity of information on State organizations, such as Militia and Home Guards, is because many of the records were poorly kept, and these that survived were not turned over to the Federal Government in quantity. To facilitate research, each designation which a unit received is entered in its numerical or alphabetical order with cross reference notes.

The second section, "Local Designations of Confederate Units," is a synonym file of companies, battalions, and regiments that served from the State. Most of the companies, enthused with a patriotic spirit, adopted a nick-name, which usually included the name of their town or county. These, however, were supplanted as the war progressed by the use of the commanding officer's name when referring to the unit. The method of numerically designating battalions and regiments was established by the State and Confederate authorities; however, the men in the ranks would generally refer to their company, battalion, or regiment by their commanding officer's name.

Consequently, units in the Southern army were more commonly known by their commanding officer rather than their numerical designation. It should be noted that often after a commanding officer was killed or otherwise unable to retain command, the unit would still be called his company, battalion, or regiment, even though he no longer commanded it. The table herein reproduced is alphabetically arranged, giving the local designation or commanding officer's name first, followed by the letter designation assigned the company within the regiment it was attached to, plus the numerical designation of the regiment. With regard to battalions and regiments, the local designation or commanding officer's name appears first, followed by the numerical designation. 

Brigades and Divisions were organized by the Confederate authorities. In some instances brigades were made up entirely of troops from one state, commanded an officer from that state. To trace the progress of each regiment throughout the war would go beyond the limits set for this work. Consequently, with the exception of Thomas' Legion, we have found it necessary to restrict this work to regimental organizations and below.

The third section, "Union Regiments," is a list of North Carolina regiments who fought for the Union. Loyal Union regiments were often organized before they had a full complement of companies and men. The Third Regiment North Carolina Mounted Infantry was organized in June 1864, even though only one company of the seven that were started was mustered in during that month; five in October 1864; two in February 1865 (one of which started enlisting men in June 1864); and two began recruiting and were mustered in March 1865. Most of these units were organized in occupied areas along the coast and in the mountains.

The fourth section, "Military Installations," is an index to camps, posts, and stations, both Union and Confederate, in North Carolina. This list is the most incomplete of the four. Wherever possible the location of the installation has been indicated, and reference made to its location in the Atlas to accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. In addition to the scarcity of information on some of the entries, it must be noted that some of the original cards in this file were lost when transferred to their present location at the National Archives.

To supplement the information herein recorded the researcher is referred to: Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865, edited by Walter Clark; Bethel to Sharpsburg, by Daniel Harvey Hill; and The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Louis H. Manarin (Edited by Matthew D. Parker)

Recommended ReadingConfederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865. Description: The author, Prof. D. H. Hill, Jr., was the son of Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill (North Carolina produced only two lieutenant generals and it was the second highest rank in the army) and his mother was the sister to General “Stonewall” Jackson’s wife. In Confederate Military History Of North Carolina, Hill discusses North Carolina’s massive task of preparing and mobilizing for the conflict; the many regiments and battalions recruited from the Old North State; as well as the state's numerous contributions during the war. Continued below.

During Hill's Tar Heel State study, the reader begins with interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "Old North State" soldiers that fought during the course of the war and the 40,000 that perished. Hill advances with the Tar Heels to the first battle at Bethel, through numerous bloody campaigns and battles--including North Carolina’s contributions at the "High Watermark" at Gettysburg--and concludes with Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
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Recommended ReadingThe Civil War in North Carolina. Description: Numerous battles and skirmishes were fought in North Carolina during the Civil War, and the campaigns and battles themselves were crucial in the grand strategy of the conflict and involved some of the most famous generals of the war. John Barrett presents the complete story of military engagements across the state, including the classical pitched battle of Bentonville--involving Generals Joe Johnston and William Sherman--the siege of Fort Fisher, the amphibious campaigns on the coast, and cavalry sweeps such as General George Stoneman's Raid.


Recommended Reading: Touring the Carolina's Civil War Sites (Touring the Backroads Series). Description: Touring the Carolina's Civil War Sites helps travelers find the Carolinas' famous Civil War battlefields, forts, and memorials, as well as the lesser skirmish sites, homes, and towns that also played a significant role in the war. The book's 19 tours, which cover the 'entire Carolinas,' combine riveting history with clear, concise directions and maps, creating a book that is as fascinating to the armchair reader as it is to the person interested in heritage travel. Below are some examples from this outstanding book:

1. Fort Fisher - the largest sea fort in the war that protected the vital town of Wilmington N.C., and the blockade runners so important for supplying Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
Charleston - where the whole shootin' match started.
Bentonville - the last large scale battle of the war.
Outer Banks - early Union victories here were vital to capturing many parts of Eastern North Carolina from which the Union could launch several offensives.
Sherman's March - the destruction of certain towns in both Carolinas (particularly South Carolina) further weakened the South's will to continue the struggle.
I also enjoyed reading about the locations of various gravesites of Confederate generals and their Civil War service. Indeed, if not for this book, this native North Carolinian and long-time Civil War buff may never have learned of, and visited, the locations of some of the lesser-known sites other than those mentioned above.
Johnson's writing style is smooth--without being overly simplistic--and contains several anecdotes (some humorous ones too) of the interesting events which took place during the Civil War years. Highly recommended!

Recommended Viewing: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."
Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below...
About Johnny Reb:
"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly
"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer
"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature
Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: Civil War Guide to Military Organizations and Installations, Command Structure, Commands, Bases Military Posts List, North Carolina Civil War Military Contributions to the Confederate Army and Navy and Confederacy

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