Robert Frederick Hoke

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Name: Robert Frederick Hoke 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Major-Gen  
Birth Date: 1837 
Death Date: 1912 
Birth Place: Lincolnton, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  

Promotions: Promoted to Full 2nd Lieut (1st NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Major
Promoted to Full Lt Colonel (33rd NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Colonel (21st NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Promoted to Full Major-Gen  

Biography: HOKE, ROBERT F.

Colonel, Twenty-first North Carolina Infantry.
Major, lieutenant colonel and colonel of the Thirty-third
North Carolina Infantry.

Major, First North Carolina Infantry (six months men).
Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., January 17, 1863.
Major general, P. A. C. S., April 20, 1864.


Brigade composed of the Sixth, Twenty-first, Fifty-fourth,
and Fifty-seventh North Carolina Regiments, and First North
Carolina Battalion Infantry, Early's Division, Jackson's
(afterward Ewell's) Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

Commanding District of North Carolina.

Division composed of the brigades of Martin, Hagood,
Clingman and Colquitt, Army of Northern Virginia.

Source: General Officers of the Confederate States of America

Major-General Robert F. Hoke was born at Lincolnton, N. C.,
May 27, 1837, and was educated at the Kentucky military
institute. He entered the military service of the State in
April, 1861, as a member of Company K, of the First regiment,
was immediately commissioned second lieutenant, and as captain
was commended for "coolness, judgment and efficiency" in D. H.
Hill's report of the battle of Big Bethel.

In September he became major of this regiment. At the
reorganization he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the
Thirty-third regiment, Col. C. M. Avery. He had command of
five companies at the battle of New Bern, March 14, 1862, and
was distinguished for gallantry.

The colonel being captured here, he subsequently had command
of the regiment, and in that capacity participated with
Branch's brigade in the Virginia battles of Hanover Court
House, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Frayser's Farm and
Malvern Hill.

With promotion to colonel he took part in the campaigns of
Second Manassas and Sharpsburg. On the return of Colonel
Avery to his regiment, Colonel Hoke was assigned to the
command of the Twenty-first regiment of Trimble's brigade,
Early's division.

This brigade he commanded in the battle of Fredericksburg, and
won the unstinted praises of Early and Jackson by the prompt
and vigorous manner in which he drove back Meade's troops
after they had broken the Confederate right. He pursued the
enemy, capturing 300 prisoners, until he found himself exposed
to a flank attack, when he retired in good order, leaving part
of his command to hold the railroad cut from which the
Federals had been ousted.

In January following he was promoted brigadier-general and
assigned to the command of Trimble's brigade, including the
Sixth, Twenty-first, Fifty-fourth, Fifty-seventh North
Carolina regiments and the First battalion. During the battle
of Chancellorsville he fought at Fredericksburg, where he was
wounded May 4th, so seriously as to prevent his participation
in the Pennsylvania and Rappahannock campaigns.

In January, 1864, he reported to General Pickett at
Petersburg, where his brigade was sent, and forwarded to North
Carolina. In the latter part of the month he organized the
movement against New Bern from Kinston.

At the head of one column he successfully surprised and
captured the enemy's outposts, and defeated the troops which
were thrown against him, but on account of the delay of the
other column, was unable to reduce the post.

On April 17th, in command of the Confederate forces, he
attacked the Federal forts at Plymouth, and vigorously pushed
the assaults, aided by the ram Albemarle against the enemy's
gunboats, until the garrison of 3,000 men was surrendered
April 20th

For this brilliant achievement, which was of great value in
moral effect at this critical period in the war, Congress
voted him a resolution of thanks, and he was promoted major-
general, the commission bearing the date of his victory.

General Lee wrote to President Davis: "I am very glad of
General Hoke's promotion, though sorry to lose him, unless he
can be sent to me with a division."

Now, Petersburg and Richmond being threatened by Butler, he
was called to that field, and joining Beauregard May 10th, was
put in command of the six brigades sent forward to Drewry's
bluff. Upon the further organization of the hastily-collected
army he had charge of one of the three divisions, the front
line being composed of his division and Ransom's.

In the battle of May 16th he handled his command with
resolution and judgment, one of his brigades, Hagood's,
capturing five pieces of artillery. At Cold Harbor he held
one of the most important parts of the Confederate line with
his division, repelling repeated furious assaults, and again
before Petersburg fought in the battles of June.

From the Petersburg trenches he moved in December with his
division to Wilmington to confront Butler, who was frightened
away from Fort Fisher by part of his command. After the
landing of the second expedition under Terry, he advanced his
two brigades and drove in the enemy's pickets, and according
to the accounts of the Federal officers, might have relieved
Fort Fisher had he not been ordered back by General Bragg.

He subsequently opposed the advance of Cox from New Bern. On
March 8th, while wading a swamp, his column was suddenly met
by a fire from the enemy, when he displayed his presence of
mind by ordering his officers to "make all the men cheer. "
By his coolness, what might have been a disaster to his own
division was converted into a defeat of the enemy.

Moving on Bragg's right flank he vigorously assailed the enemy
on the 10th, and on the 19th, in the battle of Bentonville,
his division sustained gallantly and hurled back the heaviest
attack of the Federals. On the 20th, Sherman's whole army
being up, the attacks were renewed, mainly on Hoke's division,
but were repulsed on every occasion.

His services and those of his men at this famous battle are
among the most illustrious examples of Confederate generalship
and valor in the whole course of the war. As General Hampton
has said: "Bragg, by reason of his rank, was in command of
this division, but it was really Hoke's division, and Hoke
directed the fighting."

On May 1st General Hoke issued a farewell address to his
division, in the course of which he said:
"You are paroled prisoners, not slaves. The love of liberty
which led you into the contest burns as brightly in your
hearts as ever. Cherish it. Associate it with the history of
your past. Transmit it to your children. Teach them the
rights of freemen and teach them to maintain them. Teach them
the proudest day in all your proud career was that on which
you enlisted as Southern soldiers."

Upon the return of peace he devoted himself to the development
of the material resources of the State, becoming the principal
owner of the Chapel Hill iron mine, and obtaining a large
interest in the Cranberry iron mine, in Mitchell county.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p. 317

Back to North Carolina Veterans of the Civil War

Back to NC in the Civil War Home Page

© 2005-2011  Diane Siniard