North Carolina Motto:
"First at Bethel,
Farthest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga,
Last at Appomattox"
North Carolina, even though Pro-Union for the most part during the great secession movement of 1860-61 but dedicated to the last once she cast her fate with the Confederacy, can be proud of the role she played in "Mr. Lincoln's War". The materials brought in through Blockade Running, textiles that not only clothed her own but those of other southern states as well, and the hard working women and children at home whose life styles were changed drastically would be enough to say she was among the most dedicated of the states. But, that is only compounded by the fact that she furnished over 125,000 sons to the Confederacy (more than any other southern state or about one-fifth of the Confederate forces). Those sons; Henry Wyatt, the first soldier killed in battle at Big Bethel, the boys of the 55th NC and the 39th NC who were farthest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga respectively, and the Tarheels of Cox's NC Brigade, of Grimes' Division, who fired the last volley at Appomattox paid a dear price to give us the proud motto that no other state can boast; "First at Bethel, Farthest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, Last at Appomattox". A dear price indeed, over 40,000 Tarheels lost their lives in the struggle for Southern Independence with the next closest southern state losing 18,000. For her contributions, North Carolina got little recognition (all the more reason to be proud of our motto). The men and women form the Old North State did their duty not for glory or headlines but for love of home and state. North Carolina was considered by her people as "The valley of humility between the two pinnacles of conceit" (The two pinnacles referring to the hot-tempered South Carolinians and the illustrious pedigree lineage of the Virginians).
To show how one part of our motto, "Farthest at Gettysburg", ties into the The General Armistead Camp #1302 let us look at the chain-of-command and statistics for that great battle which occurred July 1 through 3rd, 1863.
Let's start at the top with General Robert Edward Lee and his famed Army of Northern Virginia. Following Chancellorsville in May 1863, due to the loss of Jackson, Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV). He changed it from its old two-corps structure (under Jackson and Longstreet), to a three-corps organization with the promotion of division commanders Ewell and A.P. Hill, keeping Longstreet in command of his I Corps. Although both Ewell and Hill had proven themselves capable division commanders, their performance at Gettysburg left something to be desired. Stuart commanded a division of cavalry that did not rejoin the army until July 3, leaving Lee without much needed intelligence as of the dispositions of Meade's Army of the Potomac. The artillery organization was somewhat less flexible than the Federals, assigning each division a battalion of several batteries and retaining additional artillery as a corps "reserve". At Gettysburg, Lee's ANV had a total strength of 70,136 men and 280 cannons; 57,825 Infantry, 6215 Cavalry, and 6096 Artillery. ANV casualties (figures are on the low side due to the incomplete nature of the returns filed by many of the units); 4559 killed, 12,355 wounded, and 5643 captured or missing for a total of 22,557.
Next we go to Lee's III Corps commanded by Lt. General Ambrose Powell Hill. Hill's Corps consisted of the divisions of Heth, Pender, and Anderson. Elements of Hill's III Corps were the first on the field at Gettysburg, unfortunately Hill was suffering from his mysterious malady and was not present to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. By the time Ewell's men had arrived north of town to rout Howard's IX Corps, Lee decided to go ahead and commit his army to battle. Hill's III Corps had a total strength of 22,083 men and 84 cannons; 20,231 Infantry and 1852 Artillery. III Corps casualties; 1662 killed, 4471 wounded, and 1874 captured or missing for a total of 8007.
Under Hill we go to Major General Henry Heth's Division consisting of the brigades of Pettigrew, Davis, Archer, Brockenbrough, and Garnett's artillery. This division is usually given the credit for starting the battle of Gettysburg. As the story goes, Heth wanted to procure some shoes for his barefoot troops and had heard there was a shoe factory in the town. Initially thinking Buford's Federal cavalry was only Pennsylvania militia, he continued to push towards town. More and more troops from both sides were drawn to the sounds of fighting, and the rest is history. Upon the wounding of Heth the division command was transferred to Brigadier General J. Johnson Pettigrew. The division, with supports from Pender's Division, joined Pickett's in his attack on July 3rd. Heth's Division had a total strength of 7461 men and 15 cannons; 7065 Infantry and 396 Artillery. Heth's Division casualties; 779 killed, 1935 wounded, and 644 captured or missing for a total of 3358.
Following the chain-of-command next we come to the brigade of Brigadier General Joseph Davis, nephew of Jefferson Davis. Davis' Brigade consisted of the 2nd, 11th, and 42nd Mississippi regiments, along with the 55th North Carolina Regiment. This brigade, along with Archer's, engaged the leading Federal elements on July 1. After driving Cutler's Brigade, Davis' units took shelter in an unfinished railroad cut to regroup. The "shelter" turned out to be a trap because along much of its length, the walls of the cut were too deep for men to fire out of. Just then the 6th Wisconsin and the Iron Brigade Guard (about 450 men altogether) charged the cut and took 232 of the brigade prisoner, including Major Blair, the colors, and 87 men of the 2nd Mississippi. The balance of the prisoners came from the 42nd Miss. and the 55th NC. The 11th Miss., also part of the brigade was not present on July 1, being assigned to guard the divisional trains. On July 3, the brigade participated in Pickett's Charge. After Brockenbrough's Brigade was routed, the brigade formed the left flank of the attacking column. It counted about 1200 effectives in the ranks prior to the attack. Davis' Brigade had a total strength of 2305 Infantry. Brigade causalities; 289 killed, 677 wounded, 64 captured or missing for a total of 1030.
As our chain-of-command continues we arrive at the 55th NC Infantry Regiment. The 55th was comprised of ten companies from eleven different counties from North Carolina. At Gettysburg the 55th along with the 42nd and 2nd Mississippi regiments lost many members in the charge of the 6th Wisconsin on the unfinished railroad cut on July 1. Colonel J. K. Connally of the 55th was wounded. The 55th also participated in Pickett's Charge on the 3rd of July. At Gettysburg, the 55th NC had a total strength of 640 men. Total casualties for the regiment; 55 killed, 143 wounded, 22 captured or missing for a total of 220 casualties.
Finally, we end up at the company level of the 55th NC, Company H in particular. Company H was made up of men mostly from Alexander and Onslow counties and were known as the "Alexander Boys". Company H had approximately 65 men present for battle at Gettysburg, which would be a safe number if you figure approximately 65 men per company with the regiment fielding ten companies. Company numbers and casualties were figured from the roster taken from Jordan's, North Carolina Troops; 1861-1865. Of the approximate 65 present, 4 were killed, 6 were wounded, 5 were wounded and captured, 14 were captured for a total of 29 casualties. The number of men captured when researched by company would prove the regimental number of 22 captured as a extremely low figure, again due to conflicting reports. On July 3rd, 1863, our claim to fame as Tarheels, "Farthest at Gettysburg", comes from Captain Edward F. Satterfield of Company H, who along with Lt. Thomas D. Falls, Co. C, and Sgt. J.A. Whitley of Company E advanced farther than any Confederate soldiers and helped create the "Highwater Mark of the Confederacy". Captain Satterfield was killed nine yards from the Union stonewall, Lt. Falls was wounded and he and Sgt. Whitley were captured there.
The General Lewis A. Armistead Camp #1302 has the proud honor of having had a "Real Son" as a camp member. That son being, the late Walter Caden Simpson. His father, Pvt. Curtis Simpson, and his uncle, Pvt. Thomas Simpson Jr., were members of Company H, 55th NC Regiment. Curtis was furloughed home sick during Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania, however, Thomas was present and captured in the railroad cut on July 1st, and confined at Fort Delaware, Delaware, July 6, 1863. He was then transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland, October 20, 1863 and paroled February 18, 1865. He was received at Boulware's Wharf, James River, Virginia, February 21, 1865, for exchange. He and his brother, Curtis, survived the war.
from the bottom to the top
9. Privates and Brothers
Curtis Simpson and
Thomas Simpson, Jr.,
Company H, 55th NC
8. Captain Edward F. Satterfield
Company H, 55th NC Regiment.
7. Colonel John Kerr Connally
55th NC Regiment, Davis' Brigade.
6. Brig. General Joseph R. Davis
Davis' Brigade, Heth's Division.
5. Major General Henry Heth
Heth's Division, III Corps.
4. Lt. General A. P. Hill
III Corps, ANV.
3. General Robert E. Lee
Army of Northern Virginia, CSA.
2. James A. Seddon
Secretary of War, CSA.
1. Jefferson Davis, President,
Confederate States of America.
Article by B.V. Rosage, Jr.
CIVIL WAR REGIMENTAL INFORMATION SYSTEM - Computer Software
Jordan's, North Carolina Troops: 1861-1865.
5 Points in the Record of NC in the Great War of 1861-65, NC Literary & Historical Society, 1904
Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants