History of the 23rd Regiment Co. C "Montgomery Volunteers"

(March 8, 1862 to March 4, 1863)

Fayetteville Observer, March 16, 1863

Camp 23rd N.C. Regiment, March 4
Messrs. Editors:

For the gratification of the friends of the Montgomery Volunteers, I give you a sketch of its history 
from the time we evacuated Manassas, 8th March, 1862.  We left our camp on bull Run on that 
day, on a march, we knew not where, and arriving about one and a half miles from Manassas, 
halted for the day.  In the evening we were drawn up in line of battle awaiting the approach of the 
enemy.  In about an hour a courier came and I suppose brought the intelligence that we might 
plod on our weary march, as the enemy were not close upon us.  It was now nearly sunset when 
we started again southward.  

Having arrived at Manassas, we halted, stacked arms and proceeded to treat ourselves to a new 
suit of clothes and a new blanket; however, we were hurried away before all of us fitted, and tramp, 
tramp, our columns, four deep, filled the muddy roads that night till nearly daybreak, when we 
halted to take a nap of one hour, and then refresh ourselves with a cup of warm coffee and a 
cracker, preparatory to a long day’s march.

It soon commenced raining and continued at intervals until we reached the Rapidan.  Here we 
stayed for three or four weeks—and two days in succession it sleeted, snowed and rained—and 
we were without tents.  How well do I remember how we all suffered—with nothing but our blankets 
to protect us from the piercing cold; it was suffering beyond expression.  

Our time expired here and we marched to the Orange Court House to take the cars, but the orders 
being countermanded we marched back with sad disappointment—rumors being afloat that we 
were going to North Carolina.  Some four or five days elapsed and we again folded our blankets 
with joyous hearts, almost sure we would go to our native state, defend her soil, having been 
without her limits for nearly twelve months.

We mount the iron horse and off for Richmond, the boys yelling and shouting at the ladies on the 
road side as they waved their handkerchiefs and bid us God speed to meet the invading enemy.  
We arrived at Richmond about 9:00 at night, wet and cold, having rained in the evening.  All having 
got off safe, we were informed that a nice supper awaited us at the Market House, which was 
indeed gratifying to our ravenous appetites, having so long subsisted on nothing but beef and bread. 

We marched down and participated in a sumptuous supper of everything nice and good and filled 
our haversacks with three days rations.  We again formed to be marched to the depot and, to our 
disappointment, too the York River Railroad instead of the R. & P.R.R. and went to West Point 
where we sailed for Yorktown.  

Having sent our wagons by land, we had no cooking utensils and had to cook our bread in the 
ashes and broil our beef on the coals.  Nothing of particular interest occurred here of which you 
have not heard.  We evacuated Yorktown on the night of the 3rd May, marched all night and the 
next day, passed Williamsburg four miles and camped for the night.  Next morning, about 9:00 or 
10:00 we heard heavy guns in the direction of Williamsburg, indicating an attack on our forces.  
To save our wagon train, we were compelled to hold the enemy in check at least for a day.

About 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, we were ordered back to reinforce our comrades, which we 
did with cheerfulness.  Having reached the suburbs of the battle field, we formed to charge a 
battery which was playing on our forces from the left.  Just before sundown we moved forward 
on the battery, but owing to some misfortune which has long since been made manifest we came 
off the field only partially engaging in the fight, and remained in line of battle all night.  

Early in the morning we commenced retreating.  The mud was knee deep for ten miles and for three 
days from there to the Chickahominy River we subsisted on parched corn that we could take from 
the horses feeding on the road side or anything else we could get as it was impossible to draw 
rations because of the transportation.

Having arrived on the Chickahominy we were ordered to hold an election at the reorganization of 
the regiment, which resulted as follows:
A.F. Scarbrough, Captain
John R. Nicholson, 1st Lt.
A.F. Saunders, 2nd Lt.
Jere Coggin, 3rd Lt.
E.J. Christian, our former first lieutenant was elected major of the regiment.

We marched from the Chickahominy to Richmond and picketed and skirmished occasionally with 
the enemy.  In the skirmish of the 30th May the gallant Captain Scarborough (transcriber’s note, 
his name is spelled two ways in the newspaper, Scarborough and Scarbrough) laid down his life, 
gallantly performing his duties to his country.  We were thoroughly drenched that night as there 
was quite a heavy rain and a thunderstorm.

All was clear and bright the next morning, orders were issued to clean up the guns, as there 
certainly would be a pitched battle that day.  Everything ready, we were in line of battle with 34 
men, good and true.  The last signal gun having fired, the clear, firm voice of our Brigadier rang 
out “forward, march!”  The time was certainly come now to try the bravery of these boys.  

Onward we moved with a firm, steady tramp till the pickets commenced firing upon each other, 
and then some faltered, but a few cheering words moved them up again, and we moved along 
with good spirit.  (some few words follow which are illegible.)  The killed, wounded and prisoners 
were as follows:

Killed:  F.W. Dumas, a brave and noble boy.
Mortally Wounded:  Sgt. G.T. Bledsoe, Privates John Hutchins, J.R. Haywood, R.K. Hunt, J.M. 
Severely Wounded:  Lt. J.R. Nicholson, Privates A.A. Hunsucker and J.L. Hall
Slightly Wounded:  Lt. Jere Coggin, Corp. Thomas Pemberton, Corp. E.S. Brewer, Privates E. 
Green and A. Green.
Taken Prisoner:  R. Saunders

We did not fight on the following day, as the line was not attacked at our point.  After the battle, 
we camped near Richmond.  Here we drew some tents, the first since the evacuation of Manassas; 
a period of four months, without anything to shelter us from the weather.  We drilled and threw 
up breast works while we stayed here.  We were not engaged in the Battle of Mechanicsville, 
but eye witnesses, having been held in reserve but were present at the battle of Coal Harbor.  
That, too, was a hard fought battle, but we had not the misfortune to meet with as many 
casualties as at Seven Pines.  They were as follows:

Mortally Wounded:  Private Alex Campbell
Severely Wounded:  Privates W.A. Nall and Samuel H. Maner
Slightly Wounded:  Lt. A.F. Saunders, Privates Lewis Parker and T.J. Candle

We rested the next day, preparing ourselves for that wild, terrific battle of Malvern Hill, the 
fierceness of which is not equaled in the annals of the world. The casualties were as follows:

Killed:  Private T.J. Bright, Jr.
Severely Wounded:  Sgt. Alex Epps
Slightly Wounded:  Privates W.P. Hillard and James Coggin.

The fury of that long to be remembered day having subsided, we came back to Richmond to camp.

We commended our March to “Maryland, my Maryland” on the 17th August, stopped at Hanover 
Court House four days, when we renewed the march, varying from fifteen to twenty miles per day, 
through the long, hot and dusty roads, and at evening when halted for the night, the boys were 
wearied and worn out, like a flower withered and drooping.  Many names I could mention, from 
this company, who marched from Richmond to Maryland a distance of 200 miles without a shoe 
on their feet.  We crossed the Potomac into Maryland.  We laid on the opposite bank all day and 
continued the march at night and the next day until we reached Frederick City, where we rested
for nearly a week.

Our columns moving on in the state, we of course had to follow, while the enemy was close 
behind us; and having halted for a day between Boonsboro and Sharpsburg, we were ordered 
to go back, the enemy evidently showing themselves to attack us.  Having reached the summit 
of South Mountain, we marched by the flank down the side of the mountain on the right of the 
turnpike road, and having formed our line of battle behind a rock fence, we waited for the enemy.  

About twenty or thirty minutes expired and here they came, charging through a corn field, by 
divisions, against our single brigade.  We stood the charge with coolness two successive times, 
but the third was too strong for us, and we were compelled to give way to their odds.  We lost 
no men while behind the wall, but in the charge the brave Edward F. Howell, a private, lost his 
life; Private A.C. Morrison was wounded; and prisoners—Sgt. A. Epps, W.S. Robinson, and 
A.C. Morrison, privates.  

We scampered over the rough and rugged mountain the best we could and formed but did not 
again during the day engage in the fight, having lost some of our field officers.  We passed off 
the time the best we could being very much fatigued and worn out for grub, until the furious 
battle of Sharpsburg, of which I cannot say anything more than you already know, except the 
casualties, which were as follows:

Killed:  Privates A. Coggin and Jas. Coggin
Mortally Wounded:  Privates S.W. Harris, and Alsey Russell
Severely Wounded:  Lt. A.F. Saunders and Lt. Jere Coggin, Privates William Harris, J.F Lewis, 
and J.L. Saunders. 
Slightly Wounded:  Jacob Jordan

The fury of this battle having subsided it was thought best by our generals to withdraw our troops 
from Maryland, crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown.  We halted at Bunker’s Hill, Winchester 
and Strasburg and other little towns till November, when we commenced evacuating that part of 
the Valley, about the 20th of the month.

A long and tedious march we had, crossing the Blue Ridge, but quite a picturesque view.  It 
was, indeed, “grand, gloomy and peculiar”, to stand upon a pinnacle of the mountain and look 
down upon the plains of that lovely Valley and see the Grand Army, as it wended its way up 
the long and meandering road that crossed the mountain.  Then turn for a moment and see the 
gay young soldier boy break ranks and spring from the road to fill his canteen with the aquatic 
fluid that so freely flowed from the mountain side, “a moment seen and then gone forever”, far 
from the eye, down, down the steep rugged rocks.  

We passed on to Gordonsville where we stopped for a week.  We set out from here after a good 
long rest and arrived at Port Royal, where we suffered from exposure from a snow, not having any 
tents.   We did not long remain idle, but went to work and built winter quarters, which were 
constructed after the collier huts if any of you have seen one.  We did not long enjoy our quarters, 
before we were ordered to the Battle of Fredericksburg, but did not get into that fight, being held 
in reserve.

That over, we retired from the field and went into camp, where we are not in comfortable winter 
quarters enjoying ourselves the best we can.

When we first left Montgomery County, we had 97 enlisted men and of the original number only 
46 remain with us.  There have been six killed, eight died of wounds, twenty one died of disease, 
nine were discharged and one promoted and three deserted.  Having been recruited with 
conscripts, we muster 78 aggregate.

Company C

Transcribed by Christine Spencer August 2007

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