FOUR NORTH CAROLINIAN WAR HEROES

James Pettigrew

James Johnston Pettigrew was born on the 4th of July, 1828. He entered the University of North Carolina at age 14 and graduated valedictorian of the class of 1847. After taking two trips to Europe he established a love for the peoples of Spain and Italy, even volunteering for the Italians in the 2nd Italian War of Independance in 1859 but he never saw action. In August of 1861 he became the Colonel of the 22nd North Carolina Regiment. During the Battle of Seven Pines he was shot in the throat. He believed he was to be dead due to the amount of blood and so he refused to let his men take him to the back but his wounds were bandaged, possibly saving his life. He was also shot in the arm and bayoneted in the leg later. He survived long enough to be captured and was soon exchanged back to the Confederates. He was soon given the command of brigade consisting of the 11th, 26th, 44th, 47th, and 52nd NC regiments. Between September 1862 and Spring of 1863 he fought with this brigade on the coast of North Carolina. In May 1863, Pettigrew joined the Army of Northern Virginia for the thrust into the north. On July 1, Pettigrew’s brigade managed to drive the Federals from Mcpherson’s Ridge during the first day of Gettysburg. After the wounding of Henry Heth he assumed command of Heth’s division. During Pickett’s charge he led the division and was wounded in the hand and his horse was killed. He was one of the few men to return after the charge. His brigade had the highest casualties among the units involved. During the retreat from Pennsylvania on July 14, he was shot in the stomach by a Michigan cavalryman and died 3 days later. A man of extreme intellect, he died at the young age of 35.

William Dorsey Pender-

Born on February 6, 1834, in a part of Edgecombe County that became part of Wilson County, William Dorsey Pender would go on to lead North Carolinian soldiers into battle under the Army of Northern Virginia as well as receiving a religous conversion and the honor of a county being named after him. His military career began when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at the age of 16. He graduated in 1854 and was commissioned into the artillery but later transfered to the 1st Dragoons. He served in New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington territory from 1856 to 1860 and saw action while fighting Indians as well as marrying Mary Francis Sheppard, another North Carolinian and devout Christian. From the Latin Library: “In the antebellum army, the dark-haired, strong Pender was known for his bravery as a lieutenant in the dragoons. Faced with an Indian chief at the battle of Spokane Plains in the Washington Territory, Pender turned the battle by galloping up to the chief, grabbing him by the arm and throat, and carrying him in that fashion away from his braves. Pender then took him back to his line and hurled the chief into the midst of his troopers.” His wife encouraged him to be saved and to explore the Bible. He soon began attending sunday services and reading the Bible. In a letter to his wife, Pender says: “I feel sincerely desirous of doing what is pleasing in the sight of God. His image is continually in my mind, and wrongdoing grieves and worries me, and I sincerely try to do better. I love our Savior—not as I should, however. I desire to put away all covetousness and sin and I believe in the Apostle’s Creed, and I feel that the connection with the church will be a great help to me.” Pender’s conversion later prompted him to encourage the faith in the soldiers under his command. Once the Civil War came and states began to secede, Pender rushed to the cause of the Confederacy, resigning his commission in March. On May 16, he received command of the 3rd NC but was transfered to the 6th NC in August of 1861. After destinguishing himself and his regiment Seven Pines he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a North Carolina brigade in A.P. Hill’s Division. His action there even garnered President Davis to say, “General Pender, I salute you.” On the sixth day of the Seven Days Battles, at the Battle of Glendale, he was wounded in the arm but recovered in time to fight at Ceder Mountain, Second Manassas, and Harper’s Ferry. At Second Manassas he was slightly wounded from exploding cannonfire. At Antietam, he and A.P. Hill’s division endured a grueling 17-mile march to save the Army of Northern Virginia. At Fredericksburg he was wounded again in the arm but was able to continue the fight. At Chancellorsville he was wounded yet again but not before receiving command of A.P. Hill’s division as Hill was wounded. He was the youngest Major General in the army. At Gettysburg he led his division on the attack against Seminary Ridge, succeeding to dislodge the Union forces and cause their retreat to Cemetery Hill. On the Second Day, while preparing his troops, he was wounded by an artillery fragment to the thigh and was sent back to Staunton. This wound would unfortunately prove to be his last as and artery ruptured on July 18, and began to bleed profusely while at Staunton. The artery was deemed unrepairable and his leg was amputated but he died a few hours later. His last words: “Tell my wife that I do not fear to die. I can confidently resign my soul to God, trusting in the atonement of Jesus Christ. My only regret is to leave her and our two children. I have always tried to do my duty in every sphere in which Providence has placed me.” He was buried in Tarboro, North Carolina and later had Pender County named after him. His third son, Stephen Lee Pender was born four months later.

Bryan Grimes-

Bryan Grimes, the respectable Confederate North Carolinian was born November 2, 1828 on his family’s plantation in Pitt County called “Grimesland”. His father was described as one of the “most upright, honest, and enterprising farmers in Pitt County”. His mother died when he was just four months old. At age 15 he attended the University of North Carolina and graduated four years later in 1848 when he returned to Grimesland to run the plantation. In 1851 he married Elizabeth Davis. The couple had four children before Elizabeth died six years after marrying Bryan Grimes. He then traveled to Europe, returning in 1860, just in time to witness the political turmoil that followed the presidential election that year. He won a position as a delegate to the North Carolina Secession Convention. After the convention he resigned and was given the rank of Major in the 4th NC Infantry. He fought at 1st Manassas and was given command of the 4th NC later in 1861. During the Seven Days Battles the 4th NC received its “baptism of fire” but fought gallantly. Grimes was not present at Antietam due to an injury but at Fredericksburg he briefly commanded a brigade in D.H. Hill’s division. Grimes and the 4th NC followed the Army of Northern Virginia to the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, fighting bravely and even becoming the first Confederate regiment to enter the town of Gettysburg. They did not see action later in the battle however. In September of 1863, Grimes married Charlotte Emily Bryan and would go on to have 10 children with her. During the Overland Campaign Grimes was promoted to Brigadier General. His brigade saw a great deal of action in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign where he took over command of Stephen D. Ramseur’s division after Ramseur died. He was again promoted to Major General in February of 1865, the last Confederate to be promoted to that rank in the Army of Northern Virginia. His division served as the rearguard during the Appomattox Campaign. He surrendered along with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia. He tended to his estate from 1867 to 1880 when he was assassinated so that he would not testify in a court case. The murderer was lynched after being arrested several years later.

Stephen Dodson Ramseur

Stephen Dodson Ramseur (preferring Dodson Ramseur) was born on May 13, 1837, in Lincolnton, NC. When he was 16 he applied to West Point but couldn’t get an appointment and went to Davidson College instead. He is said to have been a devout Presbyterian. He left for West Point when in April of 1856 after his math professor, D.H. Hill (yes, that D.H. Hill) secured an appointment for him. He graduated in 1860 and was comissioned into the 3rd Artillery but later resigned to fight for Alabama. Once North Carolina seceded he offered his services to his home state and was comissioned as an artillery captain in the Ellis Light Artillery and stationed with the Army of the Peninsula under John Magruder in the Virginia Peninsula at Yorktown in early 1862. In April he was elected to be the commander of the 49th NC Infantry. At the Battle of Malvern Hill he was shot in the arm and had to be sent back to North Carolina to recover. In late 1862 he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade in the 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia which Thomas Jackson commanded. His brigade did fight at Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville, Ramseur’s brigade in the flank attack. At Gettysburg, Ramseur and his brigade fought only on the 1st day, fighting the Union 1st Corps to Cemetery Hill. Ramseur and his brigade continued to fight bravely with the Army of Northern Virginia, fighting in the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse— where he was promoted to Major General and received command of Jubal Early’s division after Early was promoted. He was also shot in the right arm. He went on to fight with his new division at Cold Harper, Fisher’s Creek, 3rd Winchester, and Cedar Creek. Immediately prior to the Battle of Cedar Creek, Ramseur’s first and only child was born, a daughter, though he never found out the sex. At Cedar Creek, Ramseur took part in the morning assault on Union forces. The Union counterattacked later that day at which point Ramseur’s horse was shot from under him. Another horse was soon shot from under him a second time. As he mounted a third horse, he was shot in the right side and through his lungs. His ambulance was later captured and he died the next day in the hands of the Union. His last words were: “Bear this message to my precious wife—I die a Christian and hope to meet her in heaven.” On February 20, 1889, the town of Columbia, Randolph County, NC, was renamed to Ramseur to honor the Confederate general and clear up confusion between the small town and Columbia, SC.

-By Southern Revivalist

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