Time to honor Federal troops

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

To the Editor:

During the American Civil War, Federal forces occupied the Albemarle/Pamlico region of North Carolina during the spring of 1862. Finding a level of pro-Union sediment in the local populace, on the 1st of May 1862, they launched a recruitment drive to form an Infantry Regiment of local men to help garrison the cities and towns. The Regiment was called the 1st North Carolina Infantry (Union Volunteers) and it was headquartered in Washington, N.C. Many Beaufort County men answered the Federal call to arms and Companies A and B were quickly formed in Washington. These two Companies along with Company C which was formed in Plymouth, N.C., were mustered into the Federal Army on the 27th of June 1862. Over the remainder of 1862, Companies D, E, F, G and L were mustered into the Regiment and in 1863, Companies H and I were added. With these final two Companies, the 1st North Carolina became a full strength Federal Infantry Regiment made up of 10 Companies of southern volunteers.

Companies A and B along with the Regimental Headquarters remained in Washington and assisted in the defense of the town in September 1862 and April 1863 when Confederate forces attempted to liberate Washington from Federal control. Following the siege of Washington in April 1863, Companies C, D, E, F, G and L were moved to Washington to assist in its defense. The eight Companies and the Headquarters of the 1st North Carolina remained in Washington until April 1864 when they were moved to Fort Macon as Federal Forces retreated from Washington. The Regiment remained at Fort Macon until the Civil War ended in April 1865 and it was mustered out of the Federal Army on the 27th of June 1865, three years to the day after the first Companies were formed in Washington and Plymouth. Sadly, no regimental history was ever written for the 1st North Carolina Infantry (Union Volunteers) and even its existence seems to have been quietly swept under the rug of history.

Over the course of the Civil War, 175 Beaufort County men volunteered to serve in the 1st North Carolina Infantry and 15 of them died as a consequence of their service. Sadly, no marker exists in Washington to honor the service of these local men or the fact that the town was the location for the first Federal Regiment recruited from southern volunteers in North Carolina during the Civil War. When the majority of these local men joined the Federal Army, the outcome of the war was far from certain so they were making a deliberate decision to cast their lot with the Federal cause and to defend their nation against what they saw as a Confederate insurrection. As we are now at the 150th anniversary of the event, it seems like the City of Washington would see fit to erect a marker to commemorate the service of these men and their Regiment.