3rd NC Mounted Infantry, US
On February 13, 1864, Maj. Gen. Schofield authorized Major George W.
Kirk, Second North Carolina Mounted Infantry, to raise a regiment of troops
in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, to be known as the Third
Regiment of North Carolina Mounted Infantry. Although the regiment was
organized as infantry, Maj. Kirk was authorized to mount the regiment upon
private or captured horses. The first company was actually organized on June
By April of 1864, Kirk, now the colonel of the Third, was operating in
the Shelton Laurel area of Madison County, NC. On June 13, 1864 began the
Third’s best known exploit, the raid on Morganton.
On June 13, 1864, Col. Kirk with about 130 men left Morristown, TN for a
raid on Camp Vance, near Morganton, NC. The soldiers traveled on foot
through Bull’s Gap, Greeneville, and Crab Orchard, TN. They crossed into
North Carolina and forded the Toe River about six miles south of the
Cranberry Iron Works. The crossed the Linville River on the afternoon of
June 26 and crossed Upper Creek at nightfall on June 27. They marched all
night and reached Camp Vance at reveille on June 28. Camp Vance was a
training camp for conscripts; the reluctant soldiers had not yet been issued
rifles. The camp surrendered, and 40 of the conscripts promptly enlisted
under Col. Kirk. All except the sick and the medical officers were carried
off to Tennessee. The medical officers were paroled, but the sick
(approximately 70 men) were set free because the Federal soldiers had no
time to parole them. One Confederate report implies that the
“sick” weren’t really ill, but were put on the sick list and
admitted into the hospital in a successful effort by the medical officers to
prevent their capture. According to one of the Confederate medical officers,
“Col. Kirk claimed to be a regular U.S. Officer, carried a U.S. Flag,
and his men were all in Federal uniforms.” Another Confederate report
of this incident says that most of Kirk’s men were armed with Spencer
repeating rifles. Despite several small skirmishes on the way, Kirk and his
men and prisoners returned safely to Tennessee.
In late September of 1864, Col. Kirk and his command were left at Bull’s
Gap to hold that position while the rest of Gen. Gillem’s force drove
Confederate forces from Rheatown, Greenville, and Carter’s Station across
the Watauga River. By late October, 1864, Confederate scouts were reporting
that Kirk and his men had returned to Knoxville.
On December 9, 1864, the Third left Knoxville on a scout into upper East
Tennessee. On December 29th, they engaged a body of about 400 Confederate
infantry and cavalry under the command of Col. James Keith at Red Banks of
Chucky near the North Carolina line. (With Keith in command, no doubt a
portion of this body was the 64th North Carolina.) Col. Kirk reported 73
Rebels killed and 32 captured, with his own casualties limited to three
wounded. They returned to Knoxville on January 14, 1865.
Sometime around the end of February, 1865, the Third left Knoxville,
moved through Blowing Rock Gap, NC and sacked the town of Waynesville, NC,
burning the jail and one house.
On March 24, 1865 Maj. Gen. George H. Stoneman left Morristown, TN for a
raid through southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. The primary
purpose of this operation was to disrupt the railroads in Virginia and North
Carolina to obstruct Lee’s expected retreat from Virginia. As part of this
operation, the 2nd and 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry under Col. Kirk
were sent to Boone, NC to hold Deep and Watauga Gaps, thus keeping open the
roads over the mountains to Tennessee to permit the return of Stoneman’s
force when its mission was completed.
On May 14, 1865, Col. Kirk accepted the surrender of the 80th North
Carolina under Major Stephan Whitaker at the Macon County Court House in
Franklin, NC. This was the last formal surrender of Confederate forces east
of the Mississippi River, and is commemorated by a mural in the courthouse
at Franklin, NC.
|Barrett, John G. _The Civil War in North Carolina_|
Other Books of Interest:
|Trotter, William R. _Bushwhackers – The Civil War in North Carolina –
|Crofts, Daniel W. _Reluctant Confederates – Upper South Unionists in
the Secession Crisis_
|Current, Richard Nelson _Lincoln’s Loyalists – Union Soldiers from the
|Paludan, Phillip Shaw _Victims – A True Story of the Civil War_ _|
This historical information is here thanks to the research of Cheryl
Chasin, and any further information that you may have on the 2nd and 3rd
Regiments of North Carolina Mounted Infantry would be greatly appreciated if
directed to her at [email protected].