.....This regiment was organized at Camp Mangum, about three miles west of Raleigh, in March, 1862, by electing Junius Daniel, Colonel; Thomas S. Kenan (Captain Company A, formerly Captain Company C, Second North Carolina Volunteers), Lieutenant-Colonel; and Walter J. Boggan (Captain Company H), Major, commissions bearing date 25 March, 1862. Daniel was at the time Colonel of the Fourteenth Regiment, and soon thereafter was also chosen Colonel of the Forty-fifth, and accepted. Upon his reporting for duty he was placed in command of a brigade, of which the Forty-third afterwards formed a part. Daniel was subsequently promoted to Brigadier-General. About 20 April, Kenan was notified that he had been chosen Colonel of the Thirty-eighth upon its reorganization at Goldsboro, the information being officially conveyed by the hands of Lieutenant D.M. Pearsall, of the Thirty-eighth; but he remained with the Forty-third and was elected its Colonel a few days thereafter, and William Gaston Lewis (Major of the Thirty-third) was elected Lieutenant-Colonel, commissions bearing date 24 April, 1862.
.....The staff and company officers, and their successors by promotion form time to time in the order named, as appears from the “Roster of North Carolina Troops,” pp. 196-225, and gathered from memoranda of participants in the operations of the regiment, were:
ADJUTANTS – Drury Lacy, W.R. Kenan
SURGEONS – Bedford Brown, Jr., William T. Brewer, Joel B. Lewis
QUARTERMASTERS – John W. Hinson, Joseph B. Stafford
COMMISSARY – W.B. Williams
CHAPLAINS – Joseph W. Murphy, Eugene W. Thompson
SERGEANT-MAJORS – W.T. Smith, Hezekiah Brown, Thos. H. Williams, Robert T. Burwell, W.R. Kenan.
COMPANY A – From Duplin – James G. Kenan (succeeded T.S. Kenan); number of enlisted men, 117. The company entered the service in April, 1861, and was Company C, Second North Carolina Volunteers (Colonel Sol. Williams), stationed near Norfolk. Upon the expiration of its six-months term of service it was reorganized and assigned to the Forty-third. Captain Kenan, of this company, was wounded and captured at Gettysburg, and was a prisoner when the war ended, and many of the officers, hereinafter named, met a similar fate, or were killed or disabled there or in subsequent engagements, but a correct list of casualties cannot now be had – and they were so numerous that during the latter part of the war the regiment was commanded by Captains, and companies by Lieutenants, Sergeats and Corporals.
COMPANY B – From Mecklenburg – Robert P. Waring, William E. Stitt. Enlisted men, 73.
COMPANY C – From Wilson – James S. Woodard, Ruffin Barnes. Enlisted men, 102.
COMPANY D - From Halifax – Cary Whitaker. Enlisted men, 93.
COMPANY E – From Edgecombe – John A. Vines, Jas. R. Thigpen, Wiley J. Cobb. Enlisted men, 96.
COMPANY F – From Halifax - William R. Williams, Wm. C. Ousby, Henry A. Macon. Enlisted men, 101
COMPANY G – From Warren – Wm. A. Dowtin, Levi P. Coleman, Alfred W. Bridgers. Enlisted men, 110.
COMPANY H – From Anson – John H. Coppedge (succeeded by W.J. Boggan), Hampton Bevery. Enlisted men, 112.
COMPANY I – From Anson – Robert T. Hall, John Ballard. Enlisted men, 139.
COMPANY K – From Anson – James Boggan, Caswell H. Sturdivant. Enlisted men, 120.
COMPANY A, James G. Kenan, Robert B. Carr
COMPANY B, Henry Ringstaff, William E. Stitt
COMPANY C, Henry King, Ruffin Barnes, L.D. Killett
COMPANY D, Thomas W. Baker, John S. Whitaker
COMPANY E, James R. Thigpen, Wiley J. Cobb, Charles Vines
COMPANY F, William C. Ousby, Henry A. Macon, J.H. Morris
COMPANY G, Levi P. Coleman, Alfred W. Bridgers
COMPANY H, John H. Coppedge, Hampton Beveryly, Benjamin F. Moore.
COMPANY I, Richard H. Battle, Jr., John H. Threadgill.
COMPANY K, Caswell H. Sturdivant, Henry E. shepherd.
COMPANY A, Robert B. Carr, John W. Hinson, Thomas J. Bostic, Stephen D. Farrior
COMPANY B, William E. Stitt, Julius Alexander, Robert T. Burwell.
COMPANY C, William T. Brewer, Ruffin Barnes, L.D. Killett, Bennett Barnes, Hezekiah Brown
COMPANY D, John S. Whitaker, William Beavans, George W. Wills.
COMPANY E, Wiley J. Cobb, Van B. Sharpe, John H. Leigh, Charles Vines, Willis R. Dupree, Thomas H. Williams.
COMPANY F, Henry A. Macon, William R. Bond, J.H. Morris, W.L.M. Perkins, Jesse A. Macon
COMPANY G, William B. Williams, Alexander L. Steed, John B. Powell, Luther R. Crocker.
COMPANY H, Hampton Beverly, Benjamin F. Moore, W.W. Boggan, Henry C. Beaman, Peter B. Lilly.
COMPANY I, John H. Threadgill, John Ballard, Stephen W. Ellerbee, Leonidas L. Polk.
COMPANY K, John A. Boggan, Stephen Huntley, Francis E. Flake.
.....The regiment was ordered to Wilmington and Fort Johnson at Smithville, on the Cape Fear river, where it remained about a month in General French’s command, and thence to Virginia. Daniel’s Brigade, composed of the Thirty-second, Forty-third, Forty-fifth, Fiftieth and Fifty-third Regiments, was placed in the command of Major-General Holmes, and on the last of the seven days’ operations around Richmond was ordered to occupy the road near the James river, where it was subjected to a fierce shelling form the gunboats on the right and the batteries on Malvern Hill in front, but was not in the regular engagement; was afterwards ordered to Drewry’s Bluff, and constituted part of the forces under Major-General G.W. Smith for the protection of Richmond and vicinity during the advance of the army under General Lee into Maryland in September, 1862; and about the same time a demonstration was made against Suffolk, Va., by troops under General French (this regiment being a portion of them), probably for the purpose of preventing the Federals from sending reinforcements from that territory to oppose the movement of the Confederates in Maryland. They returned in about ten days, and the regiment resumed its position at Drewry’s Bluff, where it was engaged in drilling and putting up breastworks under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, who, being a civil engineer by profession, was ordered by the brigade commander to supervise their construction. Shortly after quarters were prepared for the winter, the brigade was ordered to Goldsboro, in December, 1862, to reinforce the Confederates in opposing the advance of the Union troops from New Bern under General Foster; but on the day before its arrival they succeeded in burning the railroad bridge over the Neuse river, and, after a sharp engagement with the Confederates on the south side of the river, retreated to their base of operations at New Bern. The bridge was immediately rebuilt on trestles by a detail of men from the brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis superintending the work.
.....During the spring of 1863 it was stationed at Kinston and detachments sent out to prevent the approach of the enemy into the interior. Major-General D.H. Hill having assumed command of the department, directed demonstrations to be made in aid of military operations at other points and to compel the enemy to abandon their outposts. In the affair at Deep Gully, a small creek, upon the eastern bank of which the enemy were entrenched, the Forty-third was ordered to attack, and after a few rounds the enemy abandoned the works and retreated. The brigade was then ordered to Washington, N.C., and was there subjected to the artillery fire of the Union forces occupying that place, but, with the exception of some skirmishing, no engagement was brought on. It then returned to its former quarters at Kinston, and, later on, went to Fredericksburg, Va., and was assigned to Rodes’ Division of the Second Corps (Ewell’s), the Thirty-second, Forty-third, Forty-fifth and Fifty-third Regiments and the Second North Carolina Battalion then constituting the brigade – the Fiftieth Regiment having been assigned to another brigade. The Army of Northern Virginia was there reviewed by General Lee and ordered to commence the memorable Pennsylvania campaign in June, 1863.
ON THE MARCH
.....Upon arriving at Brandy Station the brigade was place din line of battle to meet any attempted advance of Union infantry to support its cavalry, but was not engaged – the main fighting in the terrific battle (9 June) being between the cavalry of the opposing armies. At Berryville the enemy was driven by the cavalry, supported by this brigade, and camp equipage, etc., captured. It then marched by way of Martinsburg, Williamsport, Hagerstown and Chambersburg to Carlisle, Pa., and occupied the barracks at that place, from which it was ordered to Gettysburg.
IN THE THREE DAYS’ FIGHT
.....Upon arriving at Gettysburg, on Wednesday, 1 July, 1863, about 1 o’clock p.m., a line of battle was formed near Forney’s house, northwest of the town and to the left of Pender’s Division of Hill’s Corps, which had repulsed the enemy in the forenoon, and the troops advanced to the attack. The fight was continued till late in the afternoon and the enemy driven back, the brigade being handled with consummate skill by the brave General Daniel. Seminary Ridge was gained and occupied – the right of the Forty-third resting on the railroad cut. The fight was terrific and the loss heavy on both sides. On Thursday morning, 2 July, the regiments were assigned to various positions upon the line. The Forty-third supported a battery, during the artillery duel which continued nearly the whole day, at a point on the Ridge just north of the Seminary building, and the shot and shell from the guns of the enemy on Cemetery Heights caused serious loss. it was during this cannonade that General Lee and staff passed to the front along the road near by, and the troops saluted him by raising their hats in silence, and were encouraged by his presence. From this point a movement was commenced at night in line of battle, in the direction of the enemy’s works, the skirmishers firing upon the Confederates and retreating, but inflicting no loss. The moon was shining brightly, and it seemed that a night attack upon Cemetery Heights was contemplated; but when the brigade crossed the valley in front, orders were given to march by the left flank noear the southern and eastern limits of the town, and about daybreak on Friday, 3 July, it reported to Major-General Johnson, who commanded the Division of Ewell’s Corps on the extreme left of the Confederate line. Daniel’s Brigade, with other troops, had been ordered to reinforce Johnson’s position on Culp’s Hill. It marched nearly all night, and formed a line of battle near Benner’s House, crossed Rock Creek, and, through the undergrowth, among large boulders and up the heavily timbered hill, the attack upon the enemy was made, the line of works (formed by felled trees) taken, but the charge upon the main line was repulsed. Colonel Kenan, of the Forty-third, was wounded in leading this charge, and taken from the field (captured on the retreat and imprisoned until the close of the war), and the command devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis.
.....The forces under Johnson held their positions until night, when they were withdrawn – the Forty-third occupying its first position on Seminary Ridge until the army moved to Hagerstown. On the retreat it was assigned the rear position, and in consequence was repeatedly engaged with the Union advance. After remaining at Hagerstown a few days Confederates crossed the swollen Potomac (carrying their guns and their ammunition on their heads, the water being up to their armpits), and fell back to the village of Darksville. Later, they were in front of the Federal army, on the south bank of the Rapidan river, guarding the fords, and engaged the enemy at Mine Run when an advance towards Richmond was made. After the retreat of the Federals to the north of the Rapidan, and active operations having comparatively ceased, winter quarters were built, but they were not long occupied by this regiment, for it was detached for duty with General Hoke’s Brigade in the winter campaign in 1863-’64 in Eastern North Carolina, Major-General Pickett being in command of all the forces.
.....In this campaign Hoke’s Brigade consisted of the Sixth, Twenty-first, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh North Carolina Regiments and the First North Carolina Battalion, and attached to it were the Forty-third North Carolina and Twenty-first Georgia. In approaching New Bern this regiment arrived at Bachelor’s creek, about seven miles from the city, and made a night attack upon the enemy’s works, but, discovering that the flooring of a bridge across the creek, about seventy-five feet long, had been removed Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis informed General Hoke that if he would send him plank from the pontoon train he would renew the attack as soon as practicable. Hoke complied, and the attack was made at daylight the next day – one of the companies laying the plank, under fire, and the others crossing over, also under fire driving the enemy and causing a retreat to New Bern.
.....There were also some Union troops at Clark’s brickyard, on the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad, nine miles above the city, and information was received that a train of cars had been sent from New Bern to bring them in. The regiment was ordered to capture this train, without wrecking it, if possible, and accordingly a three-mile march at quick and double-quick time was made to intercept it. When the regiment got within about twenty or thirty yards of the track the train was passing at its highest speed, and shots were exchanged between the opposing parties. If success had attended this movement, the purpose of General Hoke was to place his troops on the train, run into the town and surprise the garrison. Pickett’s expedition, however, was not successful, and the troops fell back to Kinston, remaining there a few weeks, and then marched on Plymouth.
THE BATTLE OF PLYMOUTH
.....April 18, 19, and 20, 1864: General Hoke, who succeeded to the command of all the forces in this department, directed the campaign, and was also authorized by the Navy Department to secure the co-operation of the Confederate ram, Albemarle, then near Hamilton on the Roanoke river, in an unfinished state and in charge of Commander Cooke. Colonel Mercer, of the Twenty-first Georgia, commanded Hoke’s Brigade. He was killed in a charge at night upon a fort about half a mile in advance of the enemy’s line of works at Plymouth, and Lewis, of the Forty-third, assumed command and was subsequently promoted to Brigadier-General. The fort was taken and the Albemarle simultaneously steamed down the river and engaged the enemy, sinking one of their gunboats and driving their flotilla a considerable distance below Plymouth, thus relieving the land forces in future movements of the apprehended attack from them. During the night the different commands were placed in position for the general assault upon the works around the town, and this necessitated the moving of the troops by circuitous routes to avoid being discovered by the enemy, and consumed all of the 19th. Accordingly, on the morning of the 20th General Matt. Ransom attacked on the east side of the town, Lewis on the west and Hoke, with the other brigades, moved upon the enemy’s center. The town was taken in a short while, the garrison and an immense amount of supplies being captured. The brilliancy and dash of this movement, which was planned and faithfully executed according to the directions of the commanding officer, received recognition in the following:
.....Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the thanks of Congress and the country are due and are tendered to Major-General Robert F. Hoke and Commander James W. Cooke, and the officers and men under their command, for the brilliant victory over the enemy at Plymouth, N.C.
.....Joint resolution, approved 17 May, 1864. Official Records Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 60, page, 305.
.....Washington, N.C., was next threatened, and after an artillery duel during the day the enemy evacuated it. The forces then moved upon New Bern again. The Forty-third engaged the enemy about nine miles from the city during the afternoon of 2 May, and again on the morning of the next day. The enemy were forced back in a running fight within sight of the town. At this juncture, when the capture of the town seemed probably, orders were received to march immediately back to Kinston and thence to Petersburg, which point General Butler, of the Union army, was threatening with a large force. The distance covered by the regiment on this day’s march, including the running fight towards New Bern and the return to Kinston, was thirty-seven miles in about twelve hours. Of the reinforcements ordered to Petersburg the Forty-third was the first regiment to arrive, and, there being but few other troops on the ground, orders were given to occupy the entrenchments in front of the city by deploying at twenty paces, and, in order to impress the enemy with the belief that they were confronted by a large force, instructions were given to make as much noise as possible and fire off guns at frequent intervals. From this time till 15 May the regiment was moved to different portions of the line, from the south of Petersburg to the north of Richmond, a distance of about thirty miles, seldom remaining more than one day at any point. These frequent movements were deemed necessary on account of the small force available to meet real or supposed movements of the Union army. In the meantime reinforcements were brought in, and General Beauregard commanded the Confederate forces in the engagement which took place the next day.
THE BATTLE OF DREWRY’S BLUFF, 16 MAY, 1864
.....The attack was made by the Confederates about daylight under cover of a dense fog. When within about forty paces of the enemy’s main line the Forty-third encountered (as did also the other troops of the division) a line of telegraph wires fastened to stumps about twelve inches above the ground, which caused most of the men to trip and fall. This checked the forward movement, but from this position a heavy fire was poured into the enemy until they were dislodged. Finding their ammunition nearly exhausted, as the enemy commenced retreating the regiment repaired to the rear to replenish it. This being done, it returned to the line near the right of General Robert Ransom’s Division, to which it was then temporarily attached, and occupied the right of the brigade in a charge upon the works when a battery of artillery was captured, the enemy driven across the turnpike and a position in rear of the Union forces secured. The position of the regiment was now near the turnpike, which constituted the dividing line of the divisions of Ransom and Hoke during most of the engagement. Hoke, being appointed Major-General after the battle of Plymouth, was assigned to the command of another division after his arrival at Drewry’s Bluff. About this time a council of war was held on the turnpike, which was participated in by a distinguished group, consisting of President Davis, Generals Beauregard, Ransom and Hoke, with their respective staff officers. Very soon after this incident, the enemy having given way at all points of the line, were driven into Bermuda Hundreds, the angle between the James and Appomattox rivers, under cover of their gunboats, this regiment taking part in the pursuit.
.....After remaining in line of battle in front of General Butler’s troops for about two days, orders were issued for the regiment to rejoin its old brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. In obedience thereto it marched to Drewry’s Bluff and was transported by boat to Richmond, thence by rail to Milford Station on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, reaching there about noon on 21 May, 1864. The march was at once resumed, and the regiment bivouacked that night near Spottsylvania Court House. The army having been withdrawn from its position in front on the night of the 21st to meet a movement of the enemy, who had retired towards the North Anna, the regiment was ordered to follow on the morning of the 22d. Late in the afternoon, information was received from General Ewell that the regiment was then in the rear and in danger of being captured. To avoid this risk an all-night march was made, the old brigade joined and the enemy again confronted near Hanover Junction on the morning of the 23d. It was then commanded by General Bryan Grimes. Daniel having been killed at Spottsylvania on 12 May, and General Lewis remained in charge of Hoke’s old Brigade. In this march more than 60 miles were traversed, and the troops were hungry and nearly exhausted. But not long after arriving upon the ground a line of battle was formed northwest of the Junction and earthworks thrown up. After dark this line was abandoned and the regiment withdrawn about a mile to the rear, and occupied the bank of a railroad cut, leaving the brigade sharpshooters in possession of the first line. Next day (24 May), about noon, the enemy in force attacked the sharpshooters and drove them from their position. Companies A and F, numbering about seventy men, under command of Lieutenants Bostic, Farrior and Morris, were detailed and sent to the front with instructions to retake the works. On reaching the works they found that both sides of them were occupied by a regiment of Union troops, supported by a brigade at a short distance tot the rear. On the sudden appearance of this small force from the thick woods which covered their approach, they were ordered by the enemy to surrender. To this they responded with a quick and destructive fire at close range, and, after a hand-to-hand fight of several minutes, forced them to the opposite side of the breastworks, and the assault was fiercely continued about two hours. Encouraged by the forward movement of the brigade and the firing of a field battery constituting their support, the Union forces attempted several times to retake the position, but were as often repulsed. A heavy rain having set in, the firing ceased and the enemy withdrew under cover of the rain and approaching darkness. After the rain ceased a survey of the field was made, showing a large number of dead and wounded of the enemy than the aggregate number of the two companies engaged in the fight. On receiving a detailed report of the affair and its results, General Grimes was heard to express himself to the effect that all things considered, he believed this to be one of the great fights of the war. These two companies rejoined the regiment after dark, and in a few hours the entire army retired towards Richmond to confront the Union army, then moving in the same direction.
.....Nothing of special note occurred, except frequent skirmishing, till the battle of Bethesda Church, which was fought on the afternoon of 30 May. Further skirmishing took place on 31 May and 1 June, and the battle of Gaines’ Mill was fought 2 June, and Cold Harbor 3 June, in all of which this regiment bore its part.
.....After the battle of Cold Harbor, the Second Corps, then commanded by General Early, was ordered into camp near Gaines’ Mill and held in reserve till 13 June. The Sharpshooters of Rodes’ Division had been previously organized into a separate corps under command of Captain W.E. Stitt (Company B), and numbered about one thousand men, made up of details from the different regiments, the Forty-third contributing about thirty-five from the right wing under command of Lieutenant Perkins (Company F), and thirty-five from the left wing under command of Sergeant-Major Kenan, who had been appointed by the brigade commander, 10 June, a Junior-Second Lieutenant. On 13 June the Second Corps was ordered to Lynchburg, Va., arriving there on the 18th, and in the afternoon the sharpshooters engaged those of the Union forces. The withdrawal of the enemy during the night was promptly discovered, and the sharpshooters marching at the head of the division in pursuit overtook their rear guard at Liberty, when another skirmish ensued, and again at Buford’s Gap on the afternoon of the 20th. The pursuit was continued on the 21st through Salem, Va., where another skirmish took place. On the 22d the troops rested at Salem, and resumed the march on the 23d in the direction of the Potomac river, reaching Staunton early on the morning of the 27th; remained there till the next morning, and then marched to Harper’s Ferry, which was reached on the morning of 4 July. Here the Corps of Division sharpshooters captured Bolivar Heights about 10 a.m., and about 8 p.m. drove the enemy from Harper’s Ferry across the river to Maryland Heights. On the 5th the Forty-third occupied Harper’s Ferry, relieving the sharpshooters. Skirmishing continued most of the day. On the 6th the corps crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown and engaged the enemy in the rear of Maryland Heights, the battle continuing nearly all day. On the 7th they moved through Crampton’s Gap towards Frederick, and after frequent skirmishing reached Frederick on the morning of the 9th, where General Lew Wallace’s Division of Union troops was strongly posted on the eastern bank of the Monocacy river. After a stubborn fight they were driven from the field, with the loss of a large number of killed, wounded and prisoners. On the 10th the Confederates moved in the direction of Washington City, and, after a hard march in extremely hot weather and over a dusty road, arrived in front of Fort Stevens about noon of the 11th, within sight of the dome of the Federal Capitol. The sharpshooters advanced within 200 yards of the fort, but retired to a position about 300 yards to the rear, where they halted and dug rifle-pits. In the afternoon the enemy threw forward a heavy line of skirmishers, who attacked vigorously, but were repulsed with some loss. Here, our sharpshooters remained, subjected to a severe shelling from the forts till the afternoon of the 12th, when the enemy, reinforced by two corps from the Army of the Potomac, advanced and drove them from their improvised works. Rodes’ Division then moved forward and retook the lost ground. The casualties on both sides were considerable. On account of the arrival of the above-mentioned reinforcements, a further advance of Early’s troops was not made, and they were withdrawn on the night of the 12th, and recrossed the Potomac on the 14th near Leesburg, Va. The movement into Maryland was probably made to create a diversion in favor of operations around Richmond.
.....Thus, within thirty days the army of which the Forty-third composed a part had marched about five hundred miles and taken part in not less than twelve battles and skirmishes, in most of which the enemy were deafeated with sever losses.
.....The troops then moved towards the Valley of Virginia, and crossed the Blue Ridge at Snicker’s Gap on 17 July, the Union troops slowly following and an additional force threatening the flank of the Confederate right. On the afternoon of that day Rodes’ Division attacked the enemy at Snicker’s Ford, driving them into the Shenandoah river, where the loss in killed and drowned was heavy. On the 19th the division moved towards Strasburg, and on the afternoon of the 20th went to the support of General Ramseur, who was resisting an attack near Winchester. But the engagement having ceased before the arrival of the division, it retired to Fisher’s Hill and there remained till the morning of the 24th, when an attack was made upon the enemy at Kernstown and they were driven across the Potomac and followed into Maryland. And then Rodes’ Division, sometimes in detachments and at others in a body, marched and countermarched between the Potomac river and Fisher’s Hill until September 22d. During this time the Forty-third Regiment was engaged in almost daily skirmishing, and took part in the battles of Winchester, 17 August; Charleston, 21 August; Smithfield, 29 August; Bunker’s Hill, 3 September; Winchester (No. 2), 19 September, and Fisher’s Hill, 22 September.
.....Having been defeated in the last engagement at Fisher’s Hill, the Confederates retreated up the valley, followed by the enemy to Waynesboro, where reinforcements were received, and then, on 1 October, returned down the valley, reaching Fisher’s Hill on 13 October. The Forty-third composed part of the body of troops which marched around the left and rear of the enemy’s camp at Cedar Creek on the night of 18 October, preparatory to the general attack made on the morning of the 19th, resulting in their defeat in the early part of the day. Reinforcements having been received by the enemy in the afternoon, the tide of battle was turned and the Confederates were driven up the valley to New Market, where they remained in camp without further incident till about 22 November, when a considerable body of Union cavalry under the command of Genreal Sheridan was attacked and routed by Rodes’ Division between New Market and Mount Jackson. This ended the noted Valley campaign of 1864.
.....About a week before Christmas, the Forty-third, with the other troops composing the old Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, returned to Petersburg and went into winter quarters on Swift creek, three miles north of the city. The next movement was to Southerland’s Depot, on the right wing of the army, south of Petersburg, on 15 February 1865. Here the regiment remained with the other troops of the division till about the middle of March, when they were ordered into the trenches in front of Petersburg to relieve General Bushrod Johnson’s Division, which was to occupy another position.
.....The increasing disproportion in the numbers of the opposing armies made it necessary for Rodes’ Division, now composed of only about 2,200 men, to cover a distance of about three and a half miles in the trenches, and to do this it required one-third on duty in the trenches, where the mud was frequently more than shoe-deep and sometimes knee-deep, while the remaining third caught a broken rest on their arms. No general engagement took place till 25 March, but at night there was almost constant firing between the pickets. At most points the main lines of the two armies were within easy rifle-range, and at some points less than one hundred yards apart. The monotony of the constant cracking of small arms was frequently relieved by the firing of mortars and the dropping of shells in the trenches, calling for constant watchfulness on the part of those who were in the trenches, and disturbing the broken rest of the small remnant who were off duty. On the night of 24 March, General Gordon’s Corps was massed opposite Hare’s Hill with a view to making an attack at that point, where the lines were within one hundred yards of each other. Entrance into the enemy’s works was effected just before daylight on the morning of the 25th by the Division Corps of sharpshooters, who, with unloaded muskets, surprised and captured the enemy’s pickets and entered their main lines. The Forty-third Regiment, with the other troops of the division immediately following, occupied the enemy’s works for some distance on either side of Hare’s Hill, and stubbornly held them, against great odds, for about five hours. During most of this time the enemy poured a deadly fire into the Confederates from several batteries on elevated positions, and, having massed large bodies of infantry at this point; forced the withdrawal of the Confederates with considerable loss in killed, wounded and prisoners. After this fruitless effort to dislodge the enemy the Forty-third resumed its position in the trenches and remained until Saturday, 1 April. About 11 o’clock on the night of this date the enemy opened a furious cannonading all along the line. Under cover of this firing they attacked the Confederates in heavy force at several points, effecting an entrance beyond the limits of the division on the right. At daylight on Sunday morning, the 2d, they made a breach in the line held by a brigade to the left center of the division, and occupied the Confederate works for some distance on either side of Fort Mahone, which stood on an elevation about fifty yards in front of the main line. The division, massing in this direction, attacked the enemy at close quarters, driving them from traverse to traverse, sometimes in a hand-to-hand fight, till the lost works were retaken up to a point opposite Fort Mahone, which was still occupied by the enemy. Its commanding position making its recapture of importance in the further movements of the Confederates, two details of about twelve men each, in charge of a Sergeant – one from the Forty-third (now commanded by Captain Cobb, Captain Whitaker having been mortally wounded just previously), and the other from the Forty-fifth Regiment of the brigade - were ordered, about noon, to enter the fort by the covered way (a large ditch) leading from the main line into the fort. This was promptly done, and the enemy occupying the fort – more than one hundred in number – perhaps in ignorance of the small force of Confederates, and surprised at the boldness of the movement, surrendered and were sent to the rear as prisoners. From this position the little squad of about twenty-five men poured a deadly fire into the left flank and rear of the enemy occupying the Confederate line beyond Fort Mahone, while the main body of the division pressed them in front till they were dislodged and retreated to their own lines, thus giving up the entire works taken from the division early in the morning. In this affair Sergeant B.F. Hall commanded the squad from the Forty-third. A brigade of Zouaves, however, promptly moved forward, meeting the retreating force, and recaptured both the Confederate line and Fort Mahone, leaving Rodes’ Division still in possession of that portion of the line retaken from the enemy in the early part of the day, and which was held until after dark, when the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg were abandoned. The army then commenced its retreat. marching day and night, with only short intervals of rest, Amelia Court House was reached about 4 April, where the well-nigh exhausted troops were permitted to rest several hours. The march was resumed that night, and, being closely pursued by the enemy, General Grimes (then Major-General commanding the division to which the Forty-third belonged) was assigned to the position of rear guard, Colonel D.G. Cowand, of the Thirty-second, being in command of Daniel’s Brigade. The enemy’s cavalry, emboldened by success, frequently rode recklessly into the Confederate lines, making it necessary to deploy alternately as a line of battle across the road one brigade after another, while the others continued the march. This running fight culminated in a general engagement on the afternoon of the 6th at Sailor’s creek, near Farmville, VA., where the Confederates, overwhelmed by superior numbers, retreated beyond the long bridge at Farmville.
.....On the morning of the 7th, beyond Farmville, the division charged the enemy and recaptured a battery of artillery which had previously fallen into their hands. Continuing the march from this point, there was no further fighting on this or the following day, the Union army having taken parallel roads for the purpose of intercepting the Confederates in their march towards Lynchburg.
.....The vicinity of Appomattox Court House was reached on the evening of Saturday, the 8th, and the exhausted troops bivouacked until midnight, when the division was ordered from the position of rear guard to the front, with a view of opening the road towards Lynchburg, now occupied by Union troops in large force. About sunrise on Sunday morning, the 9th of April, 1865,t he division engaged a large body of the enemy’s cavalry, supported by infantry, and drove them more than a mile, capturing a battery of artillery and several prisoners. While engaged in this pursuit they were ordered back to a valley in which the larger part of the Confederates was now massed, and on arriving there received the sad intelligence that the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered.
.....Manifesting under defeat the same spirit of fidelity and endurance which had characterized them in success, the remnant of about 120 men and officers composing this regiment accepted the fate of war and awaited the final arrangements for capitulation; and on the morning of 12 April, after laying down their arms, dispersed on foot, many in tattered garments and without shoes, and thus made their way to their distant and, in may instances, desolated homes.
.....And “the picture of the private soldier as he stood in the iron hail, loading and firing his rilfe, the bright eye glistening with excitement, and with powder-stained face, rent jacket, torn slouch hat and trousers, blanket in shreds, and the prints of his shoeless feet in the dust of the battle, should be framed in the hearts of all who love true courage wherever found.”
.....The preparation of this sketch, giving the organization and outlining the movements of the Forty-third Regiment, is largely due to the assistance rendered to me by W.G. Lewis, B.F. Hall, W.R. Kenan, John B. Powell, W.E. Stitt, W.R. Burwell, Thomas P. Devereux, John J. Dabbs and S.H. Threadgill, members of the regiment, and participants in its movements. The material employed was gathered form memoranda and such official documents as were accessible.
Thomas S. Kenan
9 April, 1895
(Source: Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65. Written by members of the Respective Commands. Edited by Walter Clark, Lieut. Colonel Seventieth Regiment, N.C.T. Vol. III. Published by the state. 1901. Pages 1-18)