The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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than double his numbers, inflicting heavy loss on them, and retiring in good order with his command. This was far from impairing his military reputation; for, with his brigade, he was ordered to the battle fields of Virginia. The battles of Hanover Court-house, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Fraser's Farm, Malvern Hill, Cedar Run, Manassas, Fairfax Courthouse, Harper's Ferry and Sharpsburg, attest the valor of the brigade and the chivalricchivalric bearing of its chief. More than fifteen battle fields have been stained by their blood--their force reduced more than a third in killed and wounded. For its bravery at the battle of Hanover Court-house, it received the approbation of the general Commanding-general, Robert E. Lee, and the gallant bearing of General Branch was particularly alluded to. It was the first body of troops that crossed the Chickahominy, and engaged the heavy forces of the enemy, drove them back and took the first battle flag from them. Of its five colonels, two fell on the field of battle, two wounded, the other taken prisoner; and its gallant general was killed--for at Sharpsburg, on September 19, 1862, after the heat of this severe battle was nearly over, General Branch was struck by a minie ball in the head, and instantly died, falling into the arms of his aid.

        The ferocity and bloodthirsty disposition displayed by the commanders of various detachments in the southern campaigns of the revolutionary war, has been often remarked; this has been accounted for in many ways, more or less rational. The population was small and widely scattered, and whilst the British commanders seemed to be determined to crush resistance by every means available, yet they seemed also desirous to terrify by the atrocity of those means. And yet, on the other hand, some movements and engagements of Marion, Sumter, and others, might fairly be offset against the terrible massacre, of Tarleton and Ferguson.

        These terrible scenes were only added to by the fact that the population itself was more equally divided in their adherence to the crown, or to the cause of colonial independence, than in any of the other provinces, and this brought about a mutual animosity and deadly hate terrific to contemplate; such scenes are always supposed to accompany civil wars, but on this occasion, owing to the protracted struggle, they became a systematic series of assassination, rapine, and extermination. Neighbors were arraigned against neighbors, brothers against brothers, and even fathers against sons. When a distinguished man was slain, it was proven by the size of the missile and the direction in which it sped, exactly who slew him, and the boast was made accordingly.

        But if the war of the south was blackened in its aspect, and the conduct thereof carried on with an ardor and urged by a force incident to a southern passion, yet there were not wanting many instances of individual prowess, of partisan valor and of heroic enterprise. To present an accurate sketch of Marion's and Sumter's plots and counter-plots; frequently passing into those deep and dreary solitudes, where it was as useless as it was dangerous for an enemy to pursue; but where the opportunity presented itself, flashing upon the enemy like a meteor from the skies, with a suddenness in their movements which astonished and confounded; and with a desperation in the valor displayed which could seldom be resisted. A combination of rare and valiant qualities that repeatedly gained a victory over forces tenfold the number under this command. The daring exploits of these twin "gods of war," would make a picture that the pencil of fiction itself could not surpass.

        If we place opposite the names of Marion and Sumter for skill and bloody deeds, the names of Tarleton and Ferguson, we must add and make heavy and exceedingly dark the
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