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Full text of "Unveiling of the Wyatt statue, Raleigh, June 10, 1912"

56 f 



\ 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 




UNVEILING 



OF THE 



WYATT STATUE 



Raleigh. June 10, 1912 



ADDRESS BY 

E. J. HALE 

I' 

Private Company H, M N. C. Volunteers 

(Bethel Regiment); afterwards Major, 

A. A. and I. General, C. S. A. 



JUD6E PRINTING COMPANY FAYETTEVILLE 






In 3xchange 
Univ. of North Carolina 
tfp 2i 1333 



UNVEILING OF THE WYATT STATUE. 

RALEIGH, JUNE 10, 1912. 



£ Address by E. J. Hale, Private Company H, 1st N. C. Volunteers 
i^ (Bethel Regiment); afterwards Major, A. A. and I. General, 



C. S. A. 



Mrs. President and Daughters of the Confederacy; Comrades; 
Ladies and Gentlemen: 

"First at Bethel; last at Appomattox!" is an epigram which 
embodies the spirit of all the serious acts of North Carolina. 

It will be useful to consider its application to the circumstance 
which brings us together to-day, and to recall some of the histori- 
cal facts that relate to the latter. 

The rapidity with which our race has subdued the wilderness 
and acquired the arts of civilization is apt to lead one of our 
generations to forgo*- the state of mind of its predeces- 
sor. We have a case in point here. I doubt if more than a small 
portion of this great audience is aware of the up-hill fight whicb 
North Carolina waged in thp struggle for recognition of her 
merits. Judge Gaston had that in toind, in our State Hymn, when 
he resented the efforts of "witlings who defame her." 

Notwithstanding her achievements in peace and war, North 
Carolina, before the great war, was called "a strip of land be- 
tween two States." That was a gibe which no doubt was suggested 
by our commercial inferiority and want of large cities; but it 
created an incorrect impression of our place among the original 
States. 

Responsive to the conservative disposition which led her to 
withhold her "accession" to the Union (as Washington termed 
it) longer than any of her sisters, except. Rhode Island, North 
Carolina was with exception of her daughter, Tennessee, the last to 
secede from it Her "slowness" in this respect, as her critics 
described it, supplied them with renewed occasion for expressions of 
disfavor, and many were the scornful suggestions of the ignominy of 
her "submission." 

Upon the election of Mr. Lincoln, Governor Gist, of South 
Carolina, wrote a letter to each of the governors of the Southern 
States, including the border States, asking their views on the sub- 
ject of secession, which he favored. He received replies from the 
governors of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississ- 
ippi and Louisiana. All but the Governor of North Carolina gave 
assurance of co-operation in secession. 



While Governor Ellis, in common with most of the people of 
North Carolina, believed in the right of secession (as taught at 
West Point and elsewhere), he correctly represented their views 
as to its inexpediency at the time he wrote. As it turned out, also, his 
own views of "the monstrous doctrine of coercion" were those of 
the people he represented. 

His admirable letter was as follows: 

"Political differences and party strife have run so high In this 
State for some years past, and particularly during the past nine 
months, that anything like unanimity upon any question of a 
public nature could scarcely be expected: and such is the case 
with the one under consideration. Our people are very far from 
being agreed as to what action the State should take in the event 
of Lincoln's election to the Presidency. Some favor submission, 
some resistance, and others still would await the course of events 
that might follow. Many argue that he would be powerless for 
evil with a minority party in the Senate, and perhaps in the House 
of Representatives also; while others say, and doubtless with en- 
tire sincerity, that the placing of the power of the Federal Gov- 
ernment into his hands would prove a fatal blow to the institution 
of negro slavery in this country. 

"None of our public speakers, I believe, have taken the ground 
before the people that the election of Lincoln would, of itself, be 
a cause of secession. Many have said it would not, while others 
have spoken equivocally. 

"Upon the whole, I am decidedly of the opinion that a majority 
of our people would not consider the occurrence of the event re- 
ferred to as sufficient ground for dissolving the Union of the 
States. For which reason I do not suppose that our Legislature, 
which will meet on the 19th prox., will take any steps in that direc- 
tion — such, for instance, as the calling of a convention. 

"Thus, sir, I have given you what I conceive to be the sentiment 
of our people upon the subject of your letter, and I give it as an 
existing fact, without comment as to whether the majority be in 
error or not. 

"My own opinions, as an individual, are of little moment. It 
will be sufficient to say, that as a State's rights man, believing in 
the sovereignty and reserved powers of the States, I will conform 
my actions to the action of North Carolina, whatever that may be. 
^o this general observation I will make but a single qualifiication — 
/t is this: I could not in any event assent to, or give my aid to a 
political enforcement of the monstrous doctrine of coercion. I do 
lot for a moment think that North Carolina would become a party 
to the enforcement of this doctrine, and will not therefore do her 



the injustice of placing her in that position, even though hypo- 
thetically." 

The General Assembly of North Carolina met on the 19th of 
November, 1860. South Carolina passed her ordinance of secession 
on the 20th of December. Mississippi followed on the 9th of Jan- 
uary, 1861; Florida, on the 10th; Alabama, on the 11th; Georgia, 
on the 19th; Louisiana, on the 26th; and Texas, on the 1st of Feb- 
ruary. Amid the profound agitation which these events produced, 
North Carolina preserved her equanimity as a State, though her 
people were divided. Those who favored joining the newly formed 
Confederacy advocated the calling of a convention. Those who 
opposed secession opposed the calling of a convention. There were, 
however, a large number who opposed secession as inexpedient, 
who nevertheless favored the calling of a convention. Such a body, 
it was thought, could observe the course of events, and be ready for 
action if circumstances required. 

On the 30th of January the General Assembly passed a bill for 
an election to determine the question of calling a convention, and 
at the same time for choosing members of the convention if called. 
The 27th of February was named as the day for the election. The 
call of the convention was rejected by a narrow majority, some 
seven hundred and fifty; but the number of delegates chosen who 
were known as "Unionists" — that is, who thought secession inex- 
pedient unless coercion of the seceded States was attempted — was 
eighty-two; while the number of those who were known as "seces- 
sionists" — that, is, those who favored immediate action — was thirty- 
eight. 

From Peace to War. 

On the 12th of April hostilities began in Charleston harbor. 
On the 15th Mr. Lincoln issued his proclamation for coercion. 
On the 17th, Governor Ellis issued his patriotic rejoinder, conven- 
ing the General Assembly in "special session" on the 1st of May, 
On the 18th of April, the leading organ of the majority contained an 
editorial* which voiced their sentiments, as these were affected by 
such a stupendous change in their affairs, and which it will be en- 
lightening to quote as follows: 

"It is needless to remind our readers how earnestly and hon- 
estly we have labored to preserve our once great and glorious and 
beneficent Union. In its existence we have believed were involved 
that inappreciable blessing, peace; that sound form of liberty and 
law inaugurated by the Constitution of the United States; and the 
security, nay, even the existence, of that domestic institution out 



♦Editorial in Fayetteville Observer, by Edward J. Hale (First). 



of which have arisen all of our national troubles. In the new as- 
pect of affairs, we see no reason to change any opinion that we 
have expressed, that the difficulty ought to have been peaceably 
settled, and would have been if good men had been influential. We 
believe now, as heretofore, that by the exercise of that patience 
which the immense issues at stake demanded, there would have 
been a peaceful settlement. We believe now, as heretofore, that a 
fratricidal war for such a cause is a wrong of which we would not 
be guilty for a thousand worlds. But with all these opinions un- 
changed, there is a change in the condition of affairs — a change 
with which neither we nor the people of North Carolina have had 
aught to do — over which they have had no control, but which of 
necessity will shape their action. The President's proclamation 
is 'the last feather that breaks the camel's back.' It shows that 
the professions of peace were a delusion and a cheat, or, if ever 
really entertained, that peaceful intentions have been abandoned. 
War is to be prosecuted against the South by means of the seventy- 
five thousand men called for; and North Carolina has been offi- 
cially required to furnish a quota of the seventy-five thousand. Will 
she do it? Ought she to do it? No, no! Not a man can leave her 
borders upon such an errand who has not made up his mind to 
war upon his own home and all that he holds dear in that home. 
For ourselves we are Southern men and North Carolinians, and at 
war with those who are at war with the South and North Carolina. 
With such feelings we attended the large and almost impromptu 
meeting of Tuesday last, and one of us was unexpectedly called 
upon to take a part in that meeting. Its calm and dignified deter- 
minations met with his full concurrence, though it was the saddest 
public duty he was ever called upon to perform. The future seems 
to us full only of evil A civil war, in which it will be hard to say 
whether victor or vanquished is the greater sufferer. A civil war, 
whose end no man can see, but full every day of its long and sad 
years of woe, woe, woe. The impoverished, the down-trodden, the 
widow and the orphan, will hereafter heap bitter imprecations upon 
the bad men who have brought these terrible evils of desolation 
and death upon a great and prosperous and happy people. Thank 
God! that we can say we have labored for peace, and have had no 
wish but to avert the dire calamities in a way honorable to both 
sections." 

History — history which the government is preserving in im- 
perishable records — has shown with what unequaled fidelity the 
people in whose behalf these words were written redeemed their 
obligations. 



Leaving these generalizations, I ask your attention to a brief 



recital of the particular events which led to the death of Wyatt. 
and, in the light of the circumstances recounted, distinguished it 
from that of all others who died for the Confederacy. 

Of the four lines by which General Scott had planned the in- 
vasion of Virginia-from Washington; from Fortress Monroe; by 
the Cumberland Valley; and from Ohio, by the Kanawha, into West 
Virginia— that from Fortress Monroe became the natural one, with 
the transfer of the Capital of the Confederacy from Montgomery 
to Richmond. Except that the first mentioned served the double 
purpose of protecting the Federal Capital, the line from Fortress 
Monroe would undoubtedly have claimed his chief attention. The 
splendid base which that great military work, one of the largest 
in the world, supplied, and the ideal route which the Yorktown Pen- 
insula presented for his marching troops, with the James and York 
rivers open to his naw on either flank, were considerations which 
otherwise must have fixed his choice. 

It is probable that the situation at the moment of the arriva 
of the First North Carolina Regiment in Richmond (May 18-21) 
would have destined it to Northern Virginia, but circumstances 
were rapidly shifting the theatre of operations. The leading feat 
ure of these circumstances, coupled with demonstrations by Fed- 
eral gun boats up the James and York rivers, is thus described 
(May 11) by Rev. Dr. W. N. Pendleton (afterwards Brigadier Gen- 
eral of Artillery) in a letter addressed by him to his West Point 
classmate, President Davis, at Montgomery: "As you value our 
great cause, hasten on to Richmond. Lincoln and Scott are, if I 
mistake not, covering by other demonstrations the great movement 
upon Richmond Suppose they should send suddenly up the York 
River, as they can. an army of thirty thousand or more; there are 
no means at hand to repel them, and if their policy shown in Mary- 
lajid gets footing here, it will be a severe, if not fatal, blow. Has- 
ten, I pray you, to avert it. The very fact of your presence will 
almost answer. Hasten, then, I entreat you; don't lose a day." 

On the 18th of May (the day after Virginia's secession) the 
United States Ship "Monticello" fired on a Virginia battery at 
Sewell's Point, and again on the 21st. On the 22nd Major General 
Benjamin F. Butler, United States Army, was transferred from the 
Department of Annapolis and assigned to the command of the De- 
partment of Virginia, with headquarters at Fortress Monroe; and 
nine additional infantry regiments were sent there. On the 23rd 
a Federal Regiment made a demonstration against Hampton, three 
miles from Fortress Monroe. 

It was under these circumstances that the destination of the 
First North Carolina Volunteers, Colonel D. H. Hill commanding, the 
crack regiment of the day, was decided. It was ordered to Yorktown, 



^^ 8 ^ 

the "post of danger and of honor," as the papers of the day described 
it. It broke camp at Richmond on May 24, and reached Yorktown 
the same evening. 

Colonel John B. Magruder, of the Provisional Army of Virginia, 
who had just been assigned (May 21st) to the command of the De- 
partment of the Peninsula, accompanied the First North Carolina 
to Yorktown. 

On June 6th, under orders from Colonel Magruder, Colonel 
Hill proceeded with the First North Carolina to Big Bethel Church, 
some thirteen miles distant from Yorktown, and eight or nine miles 
distant from Hampton and from Newport News. He was accom- 
panied by Major Randolph, of the Richmond Howitzer Batallion 
(afterwards Secretary of War), with four pieces of artillery. 

The march from Yorktown, which was made by dusk, was a 
trying one for these unseasoned troops, as it was made by the in- 
fantry in heavy marching order, with knapsacks, haversacks, can- 
teens, loaded cartridge-boxes, often a Bible in the knapsack, and 
with a tin cup and extra pair of shoes dangling from either corner 
of this rather hoxey affair. The light marching order of Jackson'g 
foot cavalry was as yet a sealed chapter of the regulations. A 
drizzling mist had set in before dark, and it was the regiment's 
first experience at cooking with ramrods and bivouacking without 
tents. 

Colonel Hill at once proceeded to fortify the position. There 
were but twenty-five spades, six axes and three picks in possession 
of the command, but these were applied so vigorously that by Sat- 
urday, the 8th, the work began to show the outlines of a fortified 
camp. On Sunday a fresh supply of intrenching tools arrived, and 
enabled the men to make further progress with the work. 

The First Regiment and Randolph's Artillery were aroused at 
3 o'clock Monday morning, the 10th, for a general advance upon the 
enemy, who had appeared in the roads leading from Fortress Mon- 
roe and Newport News. After marching three and a half miles, it 
was learned that the enemy was advancing in large force. Our 
troops fell back upon their entrenchments, and awaited his coming. 

At 9 o'clock the head of the enemy's column (Bendix's 7th New 
York) appeared in the road a half mile away. A shot from Ran- 
dolph's Parrot gun, aimed by himself, hit the earth in their front 
and ricocheted; they fell away from the road; their artillery (reg- 
ulars) at once replied; and the battle began. 

A body of skirmishers advanced against our right, but were 
driven back. Two small regiments of infantry made several at- 
tempts to charge our left. One of Randolph's guns having been dis- 
abled, was withdrawn. A regiment was then moved against our 
right, and a body of "Zouave" skirmishers occupied the abandoned 



battery. Under orders from Colonel Hill, Captain Bridgers, with 
Company A of the First North Carolina, drove out the Zouaves, and 
re-occupied the battery. 

The First Vermont and Fourth Massachusetts, led by Major 
Theodore Winthrop, of General Butler's staff, then attempted to 
enter the gorge at our left by a sudden rush. Companies B and C, 
and portions of Companies G and H, of Hill's Regiment, killed 
Winthrop and drove back his troops. 

When Bridgers recaptured the battery, he found in his front a 
house which was used as a shelter for the enemy's sharpshooteru. 
At Colonel Hill's suggestion. Captain Bridgers called for volunteers 
to burn it. Corporal George T. Williams and privates Thomas Fall- 
on, John H. Thorp*, Henry L. Wyatt, R. H. Ricks and R. H. Brad- 
ley leaped the works and went on this mission. At the first volley 
from the enemy Wyatt was killed. 

The troops engaged on our side were eight hundred men of the 
First North Carolina Regiment, and some four hundred Virginians. 
Upon the enemy's side some four thousand four hundred took part 
in the fight— the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th New York, the 1st Ver- 
mont, the 4th Massachusetts and Greble's detachment of the 2nd 
U. S. Artillery— all under command of Brigadier General Pierce. 

The battle lasted from 9 o'clock until half past one. The enemy 
lost heart upon the death of Winthrop, and shortly after retreated. 



The battle of Bethel was but a small affair in itself, if we com- 
pare it with the sanguinary conflicts between great bodies of men 
of which it was the precursor. The total number of troops engaged 
on our side, as we have seen, was but 1,200, and on the Federal 
side but 4,400. 

Our losses were but 10 — as follows: 

North Carolinians: 1 killed, 6 wounded. 

Virginians: 3 wounded. 

The Federal losses were officially reported by General B. F. 
Butler to Lieut. General Scott as follows: 18 killed, including 
Major Winthrop and Lieutenant Greble; 53 wounded; 5 missing. 
There were, however, numerous discrepancies in the reports of the 
subordinate officers, and there was apparently a desire to suppress 
the facts. Colonel Hill estimated the enemy's losses at 300. 

The troops on our side, though they were the flower of the uni- 
formed militia, had never seen service before; while those of the 
enemy were backed by the prestige of the Federal Government, 
and his artillery were regulars. 

The result was hailed as an augury of the early triumph of the 
Confederacy, which had thus demonstrated its ability to overcome 
four times its numerical strength on the battlefleld— a disproportion 



10 

almost exactly representing the relative populations of the two sec- 
tions. It made a profound impression upon the country, raising 
the enthusiasm of the South to the highest pitch, repressing disaf- 
fection there, and at the same time chilling the ardor of their ad- 
versaries at the North 

In the Virginia Convention then in session at Richmond, Mr. 
Tyler, ex-President of the United States, submitted a series of 
resolutions which were unanimously adopted, eulogizing Magru<'er, 
Hill and their otRcers and men for their brilliant victory; and, in a 
speech of great eloquence and force, he declared that there was but 
one instance in the whole page of history that could be cited as a 
parallel to this victory, and that was the battle of Buena Vista, 
where Mr. Davis, with his Mississippi regiment, and Bragg, with 
his battery, routed fivo times their number of Mexicans. 

The Richmond Dispatch said: "It is one of the most extraor- 
dinary victories in the annals af war. Four thousand thoroughly 
drilled and equipped troops routed and driven from the field by 
only eleven hundred men. . . . The courage and conduct of the 
noble sons of the South engaged in this battle are beyond all 
praise. They have crowned the name of their country with imper- 
ishable lustre and made their own names immortal." 

With common consent credit was given to North Carolina as the 
chief actor in the great achievement. 

The Petersburg Express said: "All hail to the brave sons of 
the Old North State, whom Providence seems to have thrust for- 
ward in the first pitched battle on Virginia soil in behalf of South- 
ern rights and independence." The Richmond Whig said: "The 
North Carolina regiment covered itself with glory at the battle of 
Bethel." The Richmond Examiner, the leading paper of the Con- 
federacy, said : "Honor those to whom honor is due. All our troops 
appear to have behaved nobly at Bethel, but the honors of the day 
are clearly due to the splendid regiment of North Carolina, whose 
charge of bayonets decided it, and presaged their conduct on many 
a more important field. Virginia's solemn sister is justly jealous of 
her glory; her simple honest, courageous population are weary of 
the great silence of their forests of pine; they have come out to fight 
with a deep determination to make their mark, which friends and 
foes have yet to fathom." 

The North Carolinian of the present day, content with the fame 
of his State now as the most valorous of them all, will learn some- 
thing of the debt which he owes to the men of '61 by pondering the 
words just quoted from the great Virginian newspaper. 

Governor Ellis promptly recommended to the Convcnt'on in 
session at Raleigh that Colonel Hill, commander of the North Car- 
olina troops, be promoted to the rank of brigadier, and that a bri- 



n 

gade be formed and placed under his command. Indeed, Hill was 
on all sides recognized as the real leader in the fight, though Col- 
onel Magruder, commander of the troops in the Peninsula, had ar- 
rived on the ground just before the battle began, and assumed com- 
mand. The fortifications, whch were essential to our success, were 
planned by Hill and constructed by his regiment. 

On the 15th of June, Mr. Venable offered a resolution in the 
convention at Raleigh, which was unanimously passed, as follows: 

"Resolved, That this convention, appreciating the valor and 
good conduct of the officers and men of the First Regiment, North 
Carolina Volunteers, do, as a testimony of the same, authorize the 
said regiment to inscribe the word 'Bethel' upon tbeir banner." 

The First North Carolina Volunteers — the first regiment organ- 
ized by North Carolina and sent to the front, as well as the first 
Confederate regiment to engage in battle — included in its ranks 
probably the highest average order of men ever mustered for war. 
They contributed to oiher commands in the Confederate service 
four general officers, seven officers of the general staff, fourteen 
colonels, ten lieutenant-colonels, eight majors, twelve adjutants, 
ten other staff officers, fifty-seven captains, thirty-seven first lieut- 
enants and forty-three second lieutenants — total 202, being more 
than the full complement required for four regiments. 



The Death of Wyatt. 

Private John H. Thorpe, one of the five companions of Wyatt, 
afterwards a captain in the 47th Regiment, gave me in 1900, the fol- 
lowing account of the death of Wyatt: 

"When we got there (the redoubt) I saw a Zouave regiment of 
the enemy in line of battle about three hundred yards away. Our 
boys popped away at tliem, but the fire was not returned. Then, in 
good order, they marched away down the New Market road. Prob- 
ably the order to retreat had been given the whole Federal army. 
A few minutes later Colonel Hill, passing from our right through 
the company, said: 'Captain Bridgers, can't you have that house 
burned?' and immediately went on. Captain Bridgers asked if five 
of the company would volunteer to burn it. suggesting that one of 
the number should be an officer. Corporal George T. Williams said 
that he would be the officer and four others said they would go. 
Matches and a hatchet were provided at once, and a minute later 
the little party scrambled over the breastworks in the following 
order: George T. Williams, Thomas Fallon, John H. Thorpe, Henry 
L. Wyatt [R. H. Ricksl and R. H. Bradley. A volley was fired at us as 
If by a company, not from the house, but from the road to our left. As 
we were well drilled in skirmishing, all of us instantly dropped to the 
ground, Wyatt mortally wounded. He never uttered a word or a 



__12 

groan, but lay limp on his back, his arms extended, one knee up 
and a clot of blood on bis forehead as large as a man's fist. He was 
lying wthin four feet of me, and this is the way I saw him. . . . 
To look at Wyatt one would take him to be tenacious of life; low, 
but robust in build, guileless, open, frank, aggressive." 

Wyatt's body was soon taken off the field by his comrades, who 
carried him to Yorktown the same night, where he died. He had 
apparently not recovered consciousness from the time he was struck. 
His body was carried to Richmond the next day, where he was buri- 
ed with military honors from the Reverend Mr. Duncan's Church. 

Henry Lawson Wyatt was a son of Isham and Lucinda Wyatt, of 
Tarboro. He was twenty years of age at his death. His parents 
had moved to Tarboro in 1856 from Pitt county, though he was born 
during their early residence in Richmond, Va. 

Camps were named for Wyatt during the war; his portrait has 
been placed in the State Library; and his memory, as 
well as that of the First Regiment, is perpetuated in the inscription: 
"First at Bethel; last at Appomattox!" cut upon the Confederate 
Monument in front of the Capitol. 



There is no dispute of the fact that Wyatt was the first Con- 
federate soldier killed in battle — that is, in a general action. In 
which all divisions of an army, infantry, cavalry and artillery, ar« 
engaged. There were several citizens killed in the "Baltimore 
riots," because of their action in behalf of the Confederacy. This 
was on April 19. On the 24th of May J. W. Jackson, proprietor of 
the Marshall House, Alexandria, Virginia, was killed by Ellsworth's 
Zouaves, because he killed Ellsworth for hauling down the Confed- 
erate flag which he had hoisted over his hotel. On the same day a 
member of the Bethel Regiment was thrown by a lurch of the carg 
from the train which was bearing it from Richmond to West Point 
on the way to Yorktown, and killed. On June 1st, Captain Marr, of 
the Warrenton (Virginia) Rifles, was killed in an accidental skir- 
mish at Fairfax. Virginia. 

Major Jed. Hotchkiss, the historian chosen by Virginia for the 
Virginia volume of the "Confederate Military History," the official 
history authorized by the United Confederate Veterans, says (Vol- 
ume III, page 140) "It is generally admitted that young Wyatt was 
the first Confederate soldier killed in action in Virginia during the 
civil war." 



It is a fact that the State of North Carolina, which had been re- 
proached by her sisters with "slowness," was called upon by the 
Confederate government to supply the chief portion of the troops en- 
gaged in the first pitched battle of the war. This was due to the 



SI 

preparedness and the celerity of the movements of the companies 
composing her 1st Regiment. A few years ago we witnessed the 
deplorable delay with which the volunteers in our war with Spain 
were equipped, notwithstanding the unlimited resources of the re- 
united Republic, with its more than doubled population and its con- 
centrated wealth. Contrast with this the record of the North Caro- 
lina of 186] : The companies of the 1st Regiment volunteered on 
April 17, 1861; they were formed into a regiment at the State capi- 
tal by successive orders from the Adjutant-General's office, issued 
on April 19, May 9, May 12 and May 16; three of them (the two Fay- 
etteville companies and the Lincoln company) were in Richmond 
on the 18th of May, the other seven arriving on the 21st; and they 
had fought and won the first battle of the war by the 10th of June! 

Military men know that this astonishing result could not have 
been accomplished if completeness of equipment and organization 
had been sacrificed to celerity of movement. It is believed that no 
other regiment, then or afterwards, was set out in the field in such 
style as the First North Carolina Volunteers when they were mus- 
tered on the plain of Yorktown in the last week of May. 

Such was the judgment, also, of impartial critics. The Virginia 
press of the day was filled with testimony to the same effect. 

Notwithstanding the circumstances related above, the quick 
sue ession of battles that followed in the huge conflict, the din of 
whose "clangor reached the remotest parts of the earth;" the enor- 
mous rolls of dead and wounded in each; and the widespread suf- 
fering of the people in the invaded section, threw the earlier inci- 
dents of the war so completely into oblivion that Moore's Roster, 
an oflacial publication of the State, placed the 1st Volunteers (which 
was also the let Regiment) after the 11th Regiment, which, with 
the preceding ten regiments, succeeded it. 

The State is indebted to her great Chief Justice, Judge Walter 
Clark, for the correction of this error as well as for causing the 
facts of history, so creditable to North Carolina, to be brought to 
the world's notice in his marvelous work "North Carolina Regi- 
ments, 1861-1865." 

The accuracy of the legend on the soldiers' monument at the 
West front of the capitol and of that on the cover of the "North Car- 
olina Regiments" having been challenged, a committee of soldiers 
of the war, headed by Chief Justice Clark, was appointed by the 
North Carolina Historical and Literary Society to make reply. This 
was made in the form of a report by the Committee on August 25, 
1904, and published by the Society under the title "Five Points in 
the Record of North Carolina." Its conclusions completely sustained 
the contentions which had been challenged. The part relating to 



14 . 

the present subject is thus summarized: 

"The word 'first,' then, used in connection with the victory at 
Bethel, the first pitched battle of the war, and descriptive of North 
Carolina's achievements and losses there, may be said to refer 
with truth to these facts, viz: 

"1. Her first Regiment of Volunteers was the first to arrive 
at Bethel. 

"2. Her troops were first in the work done there. 

"3. Her troops were first in numbers there, being as 2 to 1. 

"4. Her losses were first in number there, being as 2 1-2 to 1. 

"5. It was a member of her regiment there who was the first 
to fall in battle in the war." 



The General Assembly of 1905 appointed a commission to mark 
the place where Wyatt fell. In course of correspondence with the 
Virginia veterans in the neighborhood of Bethel with a view to se- 
suring a site there, it was learned that the people of that State, 
particularly those of the Peninsula country, had determined to erect 
a monument at Bethel on June 10th. The Virginians invited North 
Carolina to join them. Their invitation was accepted, and a hand- 
some monument was erected on the battlefield, by the "Virginia 
and North Carolina Monument Association." It was unveiled on 
June 10th, in presence of an immense concourse, headed by the Gov- 
ernor of Virginia, by Miss Kyle, of North Carolina, and Miss Tabb, 
of Virginia. 

At the same time the North Carolina Commission dedicated the 
Marker, which was placed where Wyatt fell. 

This is the inscription on the face of the monument: 

"To Commemorate the Battle of Bethel, June 10th, 1861,' first con- 
flict between the Confederate Land Forces, and in Memory of Henry 
Lawson Wyatt, private Co. A, First N. C. Volunteers, and the first 
Confederate soldier to fall in actual battle." 

And this on the reverse: 

"Erected by the Bethel Monument Association of Virginia and 
North Carolina, June 10th, 1905." 

The inscription on the marker is this: 

"On this spot, Junr 10th, 1861, fell Henry Lawson Wyatt, pri- 
vate, Co. A, First Regiment N. C. Volunteers. This stone, placed 
here by the courtesy of Virginia, is erected by authority of the 
State of North Carolina. 

E. J. HALE, 
W. E. KYLE, 
JOHN H. THORPE, 
W. B. TAYLOR, 
R. H. RICKS." 



15 

The Teaching of History by Monuments. 

I think it is due to Mr. J. A. Mitchener, of Selma, to record liere 
that he first (July 24, 1907) proposed the erection of the beautiful 
monument before us; and to the ladies of Henry Wyatt Chapter of 
the Daughters of the Confederacy of Selma to say that they started 
the collection of the fund which brought it into being. 

The teaching of history in this country by statues and other 
memorials has grown at an amazing pace in the past quarter of a 
century. The custom prevailed in all the old nations, but the 
breach of it in our own attracted little attention until the period 
mentioned. When the war broke out there were: an equestrian statue 
of Washington in Union Square, New York; the statue of Washing- 
ton as a Roman Senator, which faced the East front of the capitol 
in the federal city; the equestrian statue of Jackson in front of the 
White House; the equestrian statue of Washington at Richmond 
with the group of Virginia patriots about him; Houdon's statue 
of Washington in the Virginia capitol; the statue of Clay in the 
pavilion in the grounds of the same; the replica of the Houdon 
statue in this our own capitol square; a statue of Clay in Canal 
Street, New Orleans; and a replica of the equestrian Jackson statue 
In the same city. Besides these statues there were the Bunker Hill 
monument at Boston, the battle monument at Baltimore, and the 
Jasper and Pulaski monuments in Savannah. I do not recall any 
others. They were all fine works of art, except the Jackson statue, 
which was the subject of some ridicule at the time (about 1857). 

No doubt the paucity of our achievements in this respect was 
due to the reaction against king worship which followed the Revolu- 
tion and to the exactions of pioneer life. With the accumulation 
of wealth following the war has come the ancestral mania; and later 
— no doubt stimulated by stories of valor in that great conflict — 
came the hero worship era. The two have filled the land with 
many memorials of personal, community or national interest. The 
most of them are devoid of beauty, and many offensive to taste. Thia 
is notably true of the statues in the federal capital erected since the 
war. It is a matter of gratification that the effects of the mania 
ri)f erred to have come into our conservative commonwealth since 
travel and education have begun to correct the national post-bellum 
taste. 

In the light of these things, I conclude that the truth of history 
finds correct and artistic expression here. 



With these cursory observations upon the nature of pub.lc 
memorials and the history of them in our country, I come to .i.e 
question of the present moment: 




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. 16 . 

What is the meaning of the ceremonies which we are now en- 
gaged in? Are they justified by the facts? Do they conform to the 
true historic perspective? Are they separated in their object, as 
they should be, from those with which the vanity of mere wealth 
affronts us everywhere? 

I think you will agree with me that the facts recited answer all 
these questions in our favor. 



Of our State, as she appeared in the supreme crisis of her 
existence— truly, the times that tried men's souls— we may ex- 
claim, as the Duke of York said of Richard's noble father: 

"In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild; 

In war, was never lion raged more fierce." 



Of the regiment which was glorified by the death of Wyatt, it 
may be said: 

History shows that the character of the First North Carolina 
Regiment was the natural outgrowth of the conditions from which 
it sprung; that it expressed the peculiarities of the people whom it 
represented, their gentleness in manner, their resoluteness in deed; 
that the celerity and completeness with which it was organized 
and equipped have no parallel in history; that it spilled the first 
blood in battle in defense of the cause which the State was almost 
the last to embrace; that, while it had never before heard a hostile 
bullet, it exhibited the discipline and behaved with the steadiness 
of veterans at Bethel Church; that its victory there was won against 
odds which represented the numerical superiority of the North over 
the South; that in this, and in other respects, its triumph in that ini- 
tial battle produced consequences of the most far-reaching kind, 
possibly holding Virginia in the Confederacy, and certainly reshift- 
ing the theatre of war; that it raised the hopes of the South to the 
nighest pitch and correspondingly depressed those of the North; that 
its contributions of trained soldiers to the rest of the army consti- 
tute a unique feature of military history; and that in this, and in all 
other respects, it deserved the place assigned it by the authorities 
of the State as Fugleman of the regiments. 



Of Wyatt we may say: there stands the mute reply to our for- 
mer defamers; it is not a boast, but the symbol of our recasted 
reputation. 



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