Richard Caswell Gatlin

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Name: Richard Caswell Gatlin 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Brig-Gen  
Birth Date: 1809 
Death Date: 1896 
Birth Place: Lenoir County, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  
Promotions: Promoted to Full Colonel
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen  

Biography: Brigadier-General Richard C. Gatlin was a native of North
Carolina, and was appointed from that State to the United
States military academy, where he was graduated in 1832, in
the same class with Generals Ewell, Archer and Humphrey

He received a lieutenancy in the Seventh infantry, and served
on frontier duty in Indian Territory, in the Florida war,
1839-42, and was subsequently stationed in Louisiana until
1845, when he joined the army of occupation in Texas, and was
promoted to captain.

He participated in the war with Mexico, being engaged in the
defense of Fort Brown in May, 1846; was wounded in storming
the enemy's works at Monterey, and received the brevet of
major. In 1847 he was tendered the commission of colonel,
First North Carolina volunteers, but declined it.

Subsequently he served in Missouri and Louisiana, took part in
the Seminole war of 1849-50, and was on frontier duty in
Kansas, Indian Territory, Arkansas and Dakota until he marched
with Johnston to Utah. In 1860 he shared the march to New
Mexico; was stationed at Fort Craig, and was promoted major of
Fifth infantry in February, 1861.

While on a visit to Fort Smith, Ark., on April 23, 1861, he
was captured by the forces of the State, and released on
parole, after which he resigned his commission and tendered
his services to his native State.

He was appointed adjutant-general of the State, with the rank
of major-general of militia, and received the commission of
colonel of infantry, in the regular army of the Confederate
States. Subsequently he was given command of the Southern
department, coast defense, with headquarters at Wilmington,
and being promoted brigadier-general in August, 1861, was
assigned to command of the department of North Carolina and
the coast defenses of the State.

Very soon afterward Fort Hatteras was taken by the Federals,
and he made energetic preparations for the defense of New
Bern. He located his headquarters at Goldsboro in September,
Gen. J. R. Anderson having charge under him of coast defenses,
and organized troops and prepared for resisting invasion.

Upon his suggestion an additional coast district was formed
and Gen. D. H. Hill put in command. The exigencies of the
service in other quarters prevented the sending of
reinforcements, which he repeatedly called for, and in March,
1862, New Bern fell into the hands of the enemy.

He was at this time suffering from a severe illness, and on
this account, on March 19, 1862, was relieved from duty. In
his final report he stated that "we failed to make timely
efforts to maintain the ascendancy on Pamlico sound, and thus
admitted Burnside's fleet without a contest; we failed to put
a proper force on Roanoke island, and thus lost the key to our
interior coast, and we failed to furnish General Branch with a
reasonable force, and thus lost the important town of New
Bern. What I claim is that these failures do not by right
rest with me."

Being advanced in years, he resigned in September, 1862, but
subsequently served as adjutant and inspector-general of the

After the close of hostilities he engaged in farming in
Sebastian county, Ark., until 1881, and then made his
residence at Fort Smith.

He died at Mount Nebo, September 8, 1896, at the age of
eighty-seven years and eight months.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p. 308

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