September 24, 2013

Co. F., 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg and Bristow Station

Unparalleled Loss in War,

Company "F," 26th North Carolina.

For The Gazette

 Dear Editors: As kindly requested by you, I have with pleasure prepared the following article for publication in your excellent paper:

In my estimation, one of the greatest honors ever conferred upon me, in a civic or military sense was a Captain's commission from the Confederate Government, which put me in command of Company "F," of the 26th Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers; and then, the privilege of leading those gallant men into battle on the gory field in front of Gettysburg and its gunarowned [sic] "Cemetery Hill" - July 1st, 1863.

The Company went into action with 88 muskets and 8 commissioned officers - the captain and two lieutenants making in all 91 men. It was, indeed, a fateful field to Company "F," for, in the engagement that followed, every officer and every man of the rank and file was either killed or wounded. Thirty-one - more than a third - were killed and died from wounds received. There were in the Company three sets of twins, of whom five were killed and mortally wounded. There were, also, in the Company sixteen men of the same family connection by the name of Coffey.

There can be no doubt as to the credibility of the above statement, for soon after the battle, while in a hospital in Richmond, Va., 1 sent to one of the city papers - the Enquirer, or Examiner - a list of the Company's casualties, giving not only the names of the killed and wounded, but the nature of the wounds received by each. This report, very providentially, I pasted, during the war, in the back of my sister's album, where it was safely preserved.

The Orderly Sergeant, J. T. C. Hood, who is still living, years ago, March '05 and January '95, corroborated the facts and figures, as given by me, from memory and by documents in his possession. To this may be added the sworn statement of Mr. Jas. D. Moore, cashier of the First National Bank, Gastonia, N. C. It was published in the "Post" of Raleigh, N. C., Feb. 11th, 1900. And to make the claim more than doubly sure and certain, Col. Wm. H.S. Burgwyn, president of the Weldon National Bank, verified the whole matter by a thorough examination of the Company's muster and pay rolls, which are still extant.

Below are the casualties of the Company at Gettysburg as published, at the time, in the Richmond paper:

KILLED ON THE FIELD.

Lieut. John B. Holloway, Privates Robt. M. Braswell, Robt. H. Carswell, I. H. Coffey, Cleveland Coffey, T. J. Cozart, Thos. Crump, James Deal, Wm. Fleming, Jackson Gragg, Abram Hudson, John C. Lewis, J. B. Littlejohn, Jos. Phillips and W. E. Phillips (twins), J. P. Shook, John A. Taylor, W. L. Thompson, M. L. Townsell.

MORTALLY WOUNDFD.

Privates J. M. Clonts, J. G. Coffey, Thos. M. Coffey, W. S. Coffey, Rufus Ervine, H. H. Hays, G. W, Holloway, George Morgan. Joseph Setzer, W. E. Setzer, Hosea Stallings, William Underdown.

WOUNDED.

Capt. R. M. Tuttle, badly, right leg; Lieut. C. M. Sudderth, badly, hand; Sergeant J. T. C. Hood, badly, thigh and foot; Sergeant R. N. Hudupeth, by bursting of shell; Sergeant H. C. Coffey, badly, wrist; Corporal S. P. Philyaw, badly, thigh; Corporal A. H. Courtney, leg broken, amputated; Privates Hezekiah Annas, badly in thigh ; George Arney, leg broken, amputated; S. P. Badger, badly, foot; Joseph Baldwin, badly, thigh; Zero Beach, badly, hip; W. W. Bean, badly, foot; W. W. Bradford, slightly, arm; Nathan Bradshaw, slightly, knee; R. W. Braswell, slightly, breast; John Bowman, badly, thigh; Redmond Church, badly, foot; J. C. Clark, badly, arm; William Clark, badly, foot, leg and shoulder; A. J. Coffey, finger shot off; H. C. Courtney, badly, thigh: J. P. Coffey, by bursting shell; S W. Crisp, badly, thigh; H. C. Crump, slightly, arm; Nathaniel Culbreath, badly, side ; Thomas Curtis, arm amputated; J. M. Holloway, badly, breast; Paul Howell, badly, thigh; Ambrose Hudson, by bursting shell; A. M. Hudspeth, badly, face; G. W. Hudspeth, badly, leg; W. W. Kerby, slightly, shoulder; John Kincaid, badly, shoulder; Philip Largent, badly, thigh; Elkanah Mathis, slightly, arm: Jas. D. Moore, badly, thigh; Noah Page, badly, thigh; Wm. R. Payne, slightly, body; A. W. Perkins, slightly, side; Gideon Philyaw, slightly, hip; Geo. Porch, badly, back; Pinkney Powell, slightly, head; M.M. Rader, badly, shoulder; W. H. Rich, slightly, arm; W. R. Rich, slightly, head; T. W. Setser, badly, thigh; Wm. Stallings, leg broken; John M. Sudderth,  badly, thigh; Benjamin Taylor, slightly, heel; T. F. Sudderth, slightly, finger; L. A. Thomas, badly, arm; J. C. Thompson, badly, shoulder; C. A. Tuttle, slightly, arm; Richard Upchurch, slightly, hand; J. W. Underdown, badly, thigh; Joseph Winkler, badly, back, Israel Zimmerman, badly, leg.

RECAPITULATION.

Killed……………………………………………….19
Mortally wounded…………………………..…….12
Wounded, but recovered……………...…………60

Total………………………………………….……91

Again, and afterward, at the battle of "Bristow Station," the Company went into the engagement with 34 men and officers, whom, in a few brief moments, 32 were killed and wounded. Six or seven were left dead on that scene of carnage.

Moreover, the Company had some romance connected with it. In 1862 a young woman in man's attire, joined its ranks, received the bounty of $50, donned the gray uniform, buckled on the regulation accoutrements, and, with gun in hand, drilled and did the duties of a veteran soldier for some time. Finally she made herself known, to the great amusement of the whole army. Then, after having returned the bounty money, and replaced the suit of Dixie gray with a woman's gown, she went back, in happy mood, and an enlarged acquaintance, to her mountain home under the giant "Grandfather."*

The first Colonel of the 20th Regiment was the late, and lamented Senator, Zeb B. Vance, from Buncombe county, N. C. The gallant Col. Harry K. Burgwyn of Northampton county, N. C., and a graduate of the V. M. I., was killed, while in command of the Regiment at Gettysburg. The brigade commander at Gettysburg was the Hon. James J. Pettigrew, who surrendered his noble life for the Sunny South at Falling Waters on the retreat, His birthplace, I believe, was Tyrrell county, N. C.

I make the brief statements above, because justly merited by the Company, and, at this time, because of recent references of the press to its causalities at Gettysburg.

They were, indeed, a splendid band of chivalrous men, and with great powers of endurance. They were born and reared, for the most part, in Caldwell county, N. C., and right under the Blue Ridge and Grandfather mountains. Multiple honors would I bestow upon the many of them who sleep, and upon the remnant of them among the living.

On the first page of "Leopard Spots," Mr. Dixon, the author, refers to this Company as from Campbell, instead of Caldwell county, N. C.

Respectfully submitted, R. M. Tuttle, Captain, Co. "F," 26th Reg’t, N. C. Troops.

*This “young woman” was none other than Sarah Malinda Pritchard, wife of the Union terrorist William McKesson “Keith” Blalock who ran roughshod over Caldwell Co., NC following his discharge from the CSA and enlistment in the Union army.  The above tale is somewhat inaccurate:  she did not turn in her weapon and uniform until after she was discovered to be a female while being treated for wounds.


This letter appeared in the Lexington (Virginia) Gazette, Volume 99, No. 18, May 6, 1903, Page 1, Col. 7 and was transcribed from OCR by Jack Coffee, Sep. 24, 2013.  All Rights Reserved. The original can be found at the Library of Virginia.





Yesterday, Oct. 14 was the 150th anniversary of this battle.  It was an unmitigated disaster for the CSA who failed to properly scout the area before attacking what they thought were retreating Union forces.  The CSA forces, led by A. P. Hill were ambushed by forces from the Union's II Corps and lost two brigades and a battery of cannons.  Begin research of this battle here.

4 comments:

  1. Great find! H. C. Coffey, would be Henry Clay Coffey, my ggg grandfather. Jack, you might have already noticed, but you've got 20th in the title, and 26th in the article, probably just a type, but I wanted to make sure you knew. Thanks for taking the time to type this up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the heads up, Peter. My brain and my fingers often get tangled up.

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  3. Anonymous8:41 PM

    My name is Ramona Coffey Bumgarner Reid. I live in Phoenix, AZ. I just found the letter of Captain Tuttle you posted. I am proud to be a descendent of Silas and Margaret "Maggie" Coffey. My GGF, Maggie's father, Gideon is listed as one of the wounded. Furthermore, the letter confirms that many of the Coffey clan were raised in Caldwell County, NC where most of Silas's decendents have continued to live and die. I have many cousins I would love to share this letter with. How do I get your permission? I surmise that many of them are not technlogically educated and thus would not know how to register as Coffey decendants. My mother, Doris Coffey Bumgarner, daughter of Bealer Coffey recently passed away and I visted the cemetary where Silas and Maggie are buried. Beautiful and peaceful and has some other Coffeys resting there.

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  4. Hello Ramona and, thanks for writing!

    This issue of the newspaper can be downloaded in original form from the Library of Virginia using the following URL: http://virginiachronicle.com/cgi-bin/virginia?a=d&d=LG19030506.1.1&txq=Coffey#

    You can then save it in text format, edit it for mistakes in spelling, etc., and send it on to others. Or, you can save it in PDF format and distribute it that way.

    Otherwise, you may copy my translation and distribute it that way provided it is made clear that it is not to be published elsewhere without proper credit to both me and to the Library of Virginia.

    You can find my preferred way to cite anything from this blog by returning to the top of this page and selecting the tab "Citing this Blog."

    Regards - Jack



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