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18th North Carolina Infantry Regiment

Confederate Army

by Ralph Clark

A dozen pages of the history of this regiment, along with rosters of every company, can be found in North Carolina Troops.(1)

The regiment was initially raised for twelve months of service and called the 8th Infantry Regiment Volunteers. It was mustered into service August 20, 1861, at Camp Wyatt, near Wilmington, North Carolina, and assigned to the Department of North Carolina. Renamed the 18th Infantry November 14, 1861, it was reassigned to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and stationed at Camp Stephens, midway between Charleston and Savannah.

Ordered to join the defense against Union General Burnside's attack on New Bern, North Carolina, the regiment marched north, and arriving too late, was assigned in March 1862 to General L. O'B. Branch's Brigade in the Department of North Carolina. In April, the regiment was reorganized for three years of service or until the end of the war. The original commander, Colonel James D. Radcliffe, was defeated for reelection, and was replaced by Colonel Robert H. Cowan.

On May 27, 1862, Branch's Brigade participated in the Battle of Hanover Court House.(2) After the battle, the brigade was assigned to General A. P. Hill's Division in the Army of Northern Virginia.

In June, Hill's Division was assigned to 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. During the Seven Days Battles at the end of June, the regiment was involved in the attack on Mechanicsville on June 26(3), and the Battles of Gaines' Mill June 27(4) and Frayser's Farm June 30.(5) The regiment was held in reserve for most of the time at the Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, and when eventually it was ordered to advance, received heavy enemy fire but was not engaged. Beginning the campaign with about 400 men, the regiment lost 14 killed and 82 wounded during the week.

From July 1862 to May 1863, General Hill's Division, with Branch's, later Lane's Brigade, was assigned to General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson's 2nd Corps, Army of N. V. On August 9, 1862, the regiment was engaged in the Battle of Cedar Mountain.(6) The 18th was involved in the 2nd Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 28-30,(7) and at Ox Hill (Chantilly) September 1, 1862.(8)

September 12-15 the regiment participated in the capture of Harper's Ferry, Virginia. On September 17, A. P. Hill's Division marched rapidly to reinforce General Lee in Maryland at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam). Although the 18th was not engaged, the other regiments were heavily involved, and the brigade commander, General Branch, was killed. The brigade withstood heavy artillery fire at Sheperdstown Ford September 20.

November 1, 1862, Colonel Lane was promoted to Brigadier General, and thenceforth the brigade bore his name. December 13, 1862, Lane's Brigade was in the Battle of Fredericksburg,(9) after which they went into winter quarters near Moss Neck, Virginia.

The brigade was not engaged on the first day of the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1, 1863. On May 2 they marched with Stonewall Jackson's Corps to flank the Federal position, but the brigade did not directly engage enemy troops until the night, when they twice repelled Federal advances. On the morning of May 3rd, the brigade mounted an unsuccessful attack on the Union artillery position, and the 18th lost it's commander, Colonel T. J. Purdie, to a minie ball through the forehead.(10) During that attack, the 18th's regimental colors were captured by the 7th New Jersey Infantry.

Following the death of General Jackson at Chancellorsville, the Army of Norther Virginia was reorganized into three corps. General Lane's Brigade was assigned to Pender's Division of A. P. Hill's 3rd Corps.

After Chancellorsville, A. P. Hill's Corps remained in a defensive position at Fredericksburg while the other two corps advanced into Pennsylvania. After the Federals withdrew to pursue General Lee, General Hill's Corps marched to join him, arriving in time to initiate the Battle of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863.(11) During the second day of the battle, Hill's Corps, occupying the center of the Confederate line, was relatively quiet. On July 3, Lane's Brigade participated in Generals Pettigrew and Trimble's famous charge, sometimes referred to by the name of a Virginia officer, advancing to within a few yards of the stone wall.(12)

After the battle, the remains of the division were merged into General Heth's Division. On July 13, during the withdrawal from Pennsylvania, the regiment was engaged during rear guard action while the army crossed the Potomac.(13)

The regiment was involved in the Battle of Bristoe Station October 14, 1863, and during the Mine Run Campaign of November and December.

The 18th was with the Army of Northern Virginia in all of the campaigns that began in the summer of 1864 with the Battle of the Wilderness May 5th and 6th, continued through Spottsylvania May 8-21, North Anna May 22-26, and Cold Harbor June 1-3, to the Siege of Petersburg, and ended with surrender at Appomattox Court House April 9, 1865, at which time 94 men of the 18th Regiment were present to receive parole.

Notes and References

1. Jordan, Weymouth T. Jr., comp., unit histories by Louis H. Manarin, North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 A Roster, Vol. VI Infantry 16th - 18th and 20th-21st Regiments (Raleigh, NC: Division of Archives and History, 1977), pp. 295ff (hereafter referred to as N C Troops).

2. Report of General Branch, Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (hereafter referred to as O. R.), Series I, Vol. 11, part 1, pp. 741-742. (Note: the citations of O. R. are taken from N C Troops, and have not been examined directly by the present author.)

3. Report of Colonel Cowan to General Branch, O. R., Series I, Vol. 11, part 2, pp. 890-891.

4. Report of Colonel Cowan to General Branch, O. R., Series I, Vol. 11, part 2, p. 891.

5. Ibid.

6. Report of Colonel Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 12, part 2, p. 220.

7. Report of Colonel Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 12, part 2, pp. 675-677.

8. Report of Colonel Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 12, part 2, p. 677.

9. Report of General Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 21, pp. 653-655.

10. Report of Lt. Col. Forney George, O. R., Series I, Vol. 25, part 1, pp. 919-920.

11. Report of General Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 27, part 2, pp. 664-665.

12. Report of General Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 27, part 2, pp. 666-667.

13. Report of General Lane, O. R., Series I, Vol. 27, part 2, p. 667.