The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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prepared to take part in the bloody arbitrament presented. The feeling of the South was well expressed by Colonel Pettigrew, who in July, 1861, received a stand of colors for his regiment, (to which he had been appointed,) and on receiving them said: "The flag of the Republic is ours no more. That noble standard which so often has waved over victorious fields now threatens us with destruction. In all its former renowns we participated; Southern valor bore it in its proudest triumphs, and oceans of Southern blood have watered the ground beneath it. Let us lower it with honor and lay it reverently upon the earth." Colonel Pettigrew was offered the position of Adjutant-General under the belief that his administrative ability could accomplish more good in organizing the forces of the State than by restricting him to a single regiment. But he preferred the active duties of the field, and declined. At the request of General Beauregard, and with the approbation of the Executive, he proceeded to organize a rifle regiment. Companies were rapidly raised and tendered to him, and his selection of field and staff officers agreed on. The regiment was tendered to the Secretary of War, at Montgomery, then the seat of the Confederate Government. The views of the War Department were not to receive organized regiments, but only companies, reserving to itself the selection of field officers. This was not agreeable, and the several companies composing the regiment, unwilling to accept officers unknown to them, sought and obtained admission into other regiments. This left Colonel Pettigrew without a command, but his ardent temperament would not allow him to be an idle spectator in the fearful strife then imminent. He went to Richmond, to which place the Confederate Government had been removed, and tendered his services. He was only in Richmond a few days when he received a letter from the Governor of North Carolina, informing him he had been appointed and commissioned Colonel of the Twelfth Regiment of North Carolina troops. On the next day he started to his command at Raleigh. He was soon ready for the fray, and marched with his troops to the front only a few days too late to participate in the first battle of Manassas. During the winter of 1861-62 he was encamped at Evansport, on the Potomac, and then at Charleston, where his high military attainments, his untiring devotion to duty, so won the admiration and esteem of all associated with him that without his knowledge he was appointed Brigadier. He called on the President, and to his surprise he declined the appointment on the ground that he had never been under fire, never handled troops in action, and that no man who had never been seriously tried in battle should be appointed to be a Brigadier-General. The President replied that he "was fully satisfied with General Pettigrew's qualifications; that he had been besieged by applications for brigadiership upon every conceivable ground--this was the first instance of an officer refusing promotion." Neither yielded, and Colonel Pettigrew returned to Fredericksburg and remained there a few days. At the expiration of that time General French, his brigade commander, was ordered to Wilmington. Major-General Holmes, commanding at Fredericksburg, sent for Colonel Pettigrew and urged his acceptance, and said: "Colonel Pettigrew, it is important to this command and to the country that you take this office. I regard it as your duty to do so." Pettigrew yielded his own convictions, and wrote a letter of acceptance.

        Soon after this General Pettigrew was ordered to Yorktown, and with Whiting's Division was engaged in the battle of Seven Pines; while the battle was raging he was instructed to drive the enemy from a position in the woods, where they were strongly posted. The position had been before attempted by a regiment, which had failed. In making the attack the regiment was exposed to a fire of a battery of artillery on the flank. Pettigrew, leading one of his regiments, was attempting to carry the position by assault when he was wounded. An attempt was made to remove him from the field; exhausted from the loss of blood, he enquired how the day had gone, and when told that it was against us, he insisted that the men should leave him and go to the front to join their company. It was reported that he was killed, and his friends mourned for him as if dead; he had been taken prisoner and was sent to Fort Delaware. When exchanged, still suffering from his wounds, he repaired to his command, near Petersburg, and joined his brigade in the army of Northern Virginia, under General Lee. He took part in the battle of Gettysburg. In the first day's fight, Pettigrew and his brigade were in the thickest of the battle, and proudly bore his banner against the retreating foe. His bravery was conspicuous; his cool and heroic conduct was magnetic; it inspired his decimated command to action and daring.

        "I never realized before," said Capt. Jos. Davis, "the worth of one man. His presence
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