Brigadier-General Archibald C. Godwin

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Brigadier-General Archibald C. Godwin

Brigadier-General Archibald C. Godwin, though a native of Norfolk county, Va., 
was associated throughout the war with the troops of North Carolina. Being 
engaged in business in the latter State at the beginning of hostilities, he 
entered the Confederate service there and at first received a staff appointment. 
Afterward he was commissioned colonel of the Fifty-seventh infantry, with which 
he served in the vicinity of Richmond, Va., during the Maryland campaign. His 
first battle was at Fredericksburg, where his regiment formed a part of E. M. 
Law's brigade, Hood's division. On December 13th, during the fighting on Hood's 
right, a considerable force of the enemy defiled from the bank of Deep run, and 
advanced upon Latimer's battery, driving in the pickets and occupying the railroad 
cut. The Fifty-seventh, supported by the Fifty-fourth, was ordered forward, and the 
Federals were driven back and pursued some distance, after which the two 
regiments held the railroad until dark. General Hood reported that it was with 
much pleasure that he called attention to the gallant bearing of both officers and 
men of the Fifty-seventh, Colonel Godwin commanding, in their charge on a 
superior force of the enemy posted in a strong position. In the Gettysburg 
campaign his regiment was attached to Hoke's brigade, Early's division, Ewell's 
corps. He participated in the defeat of Milroy at Winchester, and the first day's 
battle at Gettysburg. Here Col. I. E. Avery, commanding the brigade, was mortally 
wounded, and was succeeded by Colonel Godwin, who retained command during 
the retreat. He was in command of three regiments of the brigade, the Sixth, 
Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh, during the disastrous affair at Rappahannock Station, 
November 7, 1863, and was sent across the river to occupy a tete-du-pont, in 
support of Hays' brigade. They were soon assailed by overwhelming numbers. 
Hays gave way, and Godwin soon found himse1f cut off from the bridge and 
completely surrounded. General Early reported that Colonel Godwin continued to 
struggle, forming successive lines as he was pushed back, and did not for a moment 
dream of surrender; but on the contrary, when his men had dwindled to sixty or 
seventy, the rest having been captured, killed or wounded, or lost in the darkness, 
and he was com- pletely surrounded by the enemy, who were in fact mixed up with 
his men, some one cried out that Colonel Godwin's order was for them to surrender, 
and he immediately called for the man who made the declaration, and threatened to 
blow his brains out if he could find him, declaring his purpose to fight to the last 
moment, and calling upon his men to stand by him. He was literally overpowered by 
force of numbers, and taken with his arms in his hands. These facts, said Early, 
were learned from Captain Adams, of Godwin's staff, who managed to make his 
escape after being captured, by swimming the river almost naked. They were in 
accordance with the character of Colonel Godwin, and General Early asked that a 
special effort be made to secure the exchange of the gallant officer. After returning 
to the army he was promoted brigadier-general in August, 1864, and assigned to 
the command of his old brigade, now mustering about 8oo men. He participated in 
the Shenandoah campaign under Early, until he fell, nobly doing his duty, in the 
fatal battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864.

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