7th Regiment NC Volunteers

The organization of the 7th NC Volunteers was highly irregular. The regiment did not rendezvous to muster in its various companies. Due to the urgent need to fortify the inlets on the northern coastline as quickly as possible, companies were sent individually to Hatteras or Ocracoke and mustered in as they arrived on station rather than holding a rendezvous at a camp of instruction as was the norm.

This irregular organization has been the cause of much confusion over the past 150 years. Rather than follow the letter designations originally assigned by Adjutant General Hoke, companies received their letters based on when they were received into service. These letters do not match the ones assigned on 14 November 1861 when the 7th NC Volunteer Troops were renamed the 17th NC State Troops.

The Washington Greys became dissatisfied with not being able to serve outside of the state. News of the battle at Bull Run had arrived, exciting their imaginations. An election was held and all but twelve voted to form a State Troops company instead of a volunteer one. The company was accepted and were transferred to the 10th NC State Troops (1st NC Artillery) as Company K on 20 August 1861. The Confederate Guards of Beaufort County,under Capt. Swindell, became Co. A in the 7th NC Volunteers following the transfer of the Washington Grays

Brigadier General Walter Gwynn, commander of the Northern Coastal Defenses of North Carolina, ordered an election of field officers. His order was received on or about 18 July 1861. Elections were held and Capt. William F. Martin of the State Guards was elected colonel to rank from 27 July 1861. Other officers elected included Capt. George W. Johnston (Tar River Boys) as lieutenant colonel and Capt. Henry A. Gilliam (Morris Guards) as major. Martin was replaced as captain of the State Guards by Lt. John B. Fearing, elected captain on 12 August 1861. Lt. Stuart L. Johnston was promoted to captain of the Morris Guards to replace Gilliam on 20 August 1861. The Tar River Boys were captured by Union forces at the battle of Hatteras Inlet before they could hold elections to replace Johnston. (Their elections were delayed by a mutiny that occurred in their company while on Portsmouth Island.)

WFMartinCol. William F. Martin

The companies were distributed among Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Oregon Inlets when they arrived on the Outer Banks. The Washington Greys arrived at Ocracoke Inlet first, followed by the Hyde County Rifles, Morris Guards, Tar River Boys, Hertford Light Infantry, and Confederate Guards. The Independent Greys were first to arrive at Hatteras Inlet, followed by the Roanoke Guards and the Hamilton Guards. Three independent companies were also stationed at Hatteras Inlet. Oregon Inlet was manned by the Currituck Atlantic Rifles, John Harvey Guards, and State Guards.

When the Butler Expedition appeared at Hatteras Inlet on 27 August 1862, the Washington Greys, Tar River Boys, Hertford Light Infantry, and Morris Guards were hurriedly transported to Hatteras Inlet from Ocracoke Inlet. They arrived late in the afternoon of the 28th, too late to participate in that day’s fighting. They provided a welcome relief for the battle-weary troops in Fort Hatteras.

The Federals resumed their bombardment of Fort Hatteras on the 29th. The ships of the Union flotilla stayed outside the range of the fort’s 32-pounders and poured an accurate, incessant fire into the helpless fort. The Confederates surrendered before noon on the 29th. Most of the 7th NC Volunteers at Hatteras were captured.

Following the fall of Hatteras, the Hyde County Rifles and the Confederate Guards hurriedly abandoned the fort at Ocracoke Inlet on 30 August 1861. A council of war was held by the commanders at Oregon Inlet on the 31st. It was decided to abandon that position as it could be cut off from its supply lines now that the Federals had control of Hatteras Inlet.

The two Martin County companies, the Roanoke Guards and the Hamilton Guards, were stationed outside of Fort Hatteras when the surrender occurred. A number of these men (12 from the Roanoke Guards and 37 from the Hamilton Guards) managed to slip away and boarded a schooner, making good their escape. They were transferred to Co. F of the new 31st NC regiment where they served until their enlistments were up in September of 1862. A number of men from the Hertford Light Infantry escaped in a similar manner and enlisted in Co. G of that same regiment.

The John Harney Guards and the State Guards moved to Roanoke Island and were stationed at Fort Bartow. Federal forces captured them on 8 February 1862 during the battle of Roanoke Island; they were paroled at Elizabeth City on the 21st of that same month. The Currituck Atlantic Rifles also served on Roanoke Island, participating in the Chicamacomico Races during October 1861. They were stationed across Croatan Sound from Fort Bartow at Fort Forrest during the battle of Roanoke Island. Escaping capture, they worked their way to South Mills and joined forces with the 3rd Georgia Volunteer Infantry. They mustered out 2 April 1862.near Elizabeth City.

The soldiers captured at Hatteras Inlet were transported to New York harbor aboard the USS Minnesota. On arrival, the officers were imprisoned at Fort Columbus and the enlisted men at Castle Williams on Governor’s Island. Crowded, unhealthy conditions led to their being transferred to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor in early November of 1861. All of the captives from Hatteras had been paroled by early February 1862 and the enlisted men were officially exchanged on 20 February 1862. Five of these six companies were mustered out of service in March and April of 1862 as their enlistments expired.

The sixth, the Independent Greys, had 61 officers and enlisted men transferred to the 32nd NC, 1st Co. B, on the same day that they were exchanged. They were the members of their company that had been captured at Hatteras. Most of those that escaped at Hatteras had already transferred to Cos. E and I of the 7th NC or to companies in the 8th NC. They mustered out of the 32nd NC on 1 April 1862.

Following their retreat from Fort Ocracoke, the Hyde County Rifles and the Confederate Guards were stationed in Hyde County until ordered to Washington, NC, in February 1862. On March 5, they were ordered to Suffolk, Virginia and mustered out of service at Suffolk on 26 March 1862.

The John Harvey Guards and State Guards were left in limbo. All of the other companies had disbanded, but they couldn’t because they were still on parole following their capture at Roanoke Island. They were finally exchanged in August of 1862. Both companies continued to operate as independent commands. The State Guards disbanded on 4 March 1863 and mustered out of service. The John Harvey Guards finally disbanded on 1 May 1863; some were discharged while the rest transferred to the 17th NC Troops, Co. L (2nd organization).

The regiment was officially disbanded by Special Order No. 55, Adjutant and Inspector General’s office, on 10 March 1862.


14 thoughts on “7th Regiment NC Volunteers

  1. Hello,

    I am trying to find more information on a Lt. W. Taylor who was taken prisoner following the Hatteras battle of 8-29-61 and sent to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. I found a man by that name listed as “to be exchanged” on 2-3-62 in the Fort Warren Commissary records. He was listed as being with the North Carolina Volunteers, which I take to mean the 7th/17th. I am trying to see if he’s the same Taylor who was a prisoner in or around New Bern in February 1863, when a “Capt. Taylor” spoke with my great-grandmother, whose husband was the Union medical purveyor in New Bern at the time. Any information on this man would be greatly appreciated.


    Allen Breed

      • The only Lieutenant with a surname of Taylor among the Hatteras prisoners was Lt. Nathaniel Taylor of the Jonesboro Guards. There was a private named William Taylor of the Roanoke Guards, discharged when the company disbanded in 1862. He later served in Co. A of the 17th NC (2nd organization), but I do not know his rank. I will check in NC Troops to see if he became a lieutenant in that organization.

      • Thanks very much for the reply. I didn’t see an officer by that name on any of your lists. But the commissary’s logs definitely had a Lt. W. Taylor listed as having been captured in that battle.

        Appreciate the help.


    • Confederate prisoners from New Bern in early 1863 would have been forwarded to City Point on the James River for exchange. The exchange cartel wasn’t disrupted until late May – early June of 1863.

    • Hi Allen , I had seen the name William F Martin in my paper and in searching came upon your article searching Lt W. Taylor. and remembered in my Lancaster-Martin-King-Ward family tree a Wes Taylor Beaufort North Carolina. Was wondering if this might be the W Taylor you are searching. Unknown if he had been in the service or of him being a Lt. West Hellen taylor 23 aug 1887 died 2 June 1941 married to Lillian Martin in 1906 children Wes Taylor, Thomas Taylor and William Taylor. Not sure when typing this at this time who is the father of West H. Taylor, but I do hve it in my tree.

      • Sir,

        Thanks for the reply. I think I’ve found the right guy. But I appreciate the help.


  2. I looked at the page you referenced. It looks like an “N” to me. Nathaniel Taylor was a 3rd lieutenant and was from North Carolina, but he was not part of the 7th (later 17th) NC. He belonged to the Jonesboro Guards, an independent company from Camden County also know as Capt. W.A. Duke’s Independent Company. The company was placed in the 32nd NC Regt. while they were in prison. The company was disbanded 2 April 1862.

    The 7th NC was not the only NC Volunteers unit at Hatteras. The Washington Greys were part of the 10th NC, having transferred out of the 7th NC earlier in the summer of 1861. The Lenoir Braves were later part of the 40th NC (artillery). The Jonesboro Guards and NC Defenders were independent companies from Camden County. They are covered in Volume XIX in NC Troops.

    I would suggest looking in the NC Troops index for Nathaniel Taylor. He may have enlisted in another regiment after the Jonesboro Guards disbanded. The 56th NC and 4th NC Cavalry (59th NCST) were actively recruiting in Camden County at the time the company disbanded, as was the 2nd Organization of the 17th NC. The 4th NC Cavalry did not serve in the New Bern area while the 56th and 17th were in eastern NC in 1863, so they are the most likely regiments to check. I checked the 4th NC Cavalry rosters and found no Lt. Taylor.

    • I could have sworn that was a W. Glad I sent you that page. I’ll dig deeper, now that I have a better idea of a name to search for. Will let you know what I found. Oh, and here’s the letter in which my great-grandmother describes her encounter with Taylor:

      New Berne Feb. 15th (1863)
      My dear Sister A._
      … Yesterday I visited with Dr. W. (to) the rebel prison and talked with the prisoners._ one of whom was quite bitter. he also was decidedly the most intelligent. Expressed himself very respectfully._ One doctor with whom I talked murdered the King’s English as poor old Murray in cold blood. (NOTE: Apparent reference to Lindley Murray, prosecutor in “A Veritable Ghost,” a story which appeared in the September 1857 edition of The Knickerbocker, or New York Monthly Magazine) Another Capt. Taylor was in Fort Warren (NOTE: On Georges Island at the mouth of Boston Harbor) a year Since _ he had been taken prisoner the Second time._ He Said that he Should get to be a good boy after a while if they continued to punish him in this way. Whereupon I told him that that depended Entirely upon his convictions of the justice or injustice of the punishment _ that if a mother punished a child who felt that it was merited the affection of that child for its parent wd be increased. but on the other hand if the child felt that there was injustice in the matter the tendency was to harden._ But Either he did not take or was too wily to let me know it. for he Simply Said that he cd remember that his mother punished him Several times when he did not deserve it _ and that he cd never forget it._ (NOTE: A Lt. Taylor of the N.C. Vols. Was captured at Hatteras on Aug. 29, 1861, and sent to Fort Warren. Records indicate that he was “to be exchanged” on Feb. 3, 1862. SOURCE: Register of Prisoners, 1861-62; Roll of Prisoners of War at Fort Warren Boston Harbor, Mass.; Vol. 410; p. 44))
      On our way back from prison we passed a garden in wh there was great abundance of the English violets in blossom._ I was wishing that I might have Some when the old doctor Said Let’s call and ask for Some I declined knowing that Secesh lived there and I had heard were quite violent in their demonstrations. _ but the old gentleman wd not give it up but insisted upon Storming the fortress. A colored Servant came to the door then he asked meekly if we might have a few of those violets. She went into the parlor _ Soon returned and Showing us the way through the hall into the garden Sd “pick as many as you please”. _ We had taken quite a bunch and were returning when we met the lady of the house who Sd why did you not pick some of those hyacinths? I answered that I did not feel at liberty. I felt that She was very kind to allow me to get the violets._ “Oh She Sd come back and let me get you Some.” and insisted upon it. _ gathered me a piece of Holly _ will Send you a piece of mistletoe next time.
      A splendid bunch _ then invited us into the parlor _ where we Sat and had a nice long chat. She confessed herself `rebel’ in Sentiment, but felt that the “South must be crushed.” She has two brothers in the Confederate Army _ one of whom was Educated at Princeton, the other at Cambridge. _ She was a very charming lovely woman. a true `Southern lady.’ She had none of that bitterness wh is So common with the Southern women, but was Saddened by these dreadful troubles _ She told us that NewBerne before its fall was one of the most delightful places of residence in the world _ that it occupied that happy medium between the city and country village. _ it Escaped the gossiping of a village and the Selfishness of a lard city. I asked as She had Spoken of the Emancipation proclamation what proportion of the negroes wd take their freedom. _ She answered “Every one of them.” It has been a Sad revelation to me. I had Supposed that our Servants were So attached to us that they wd never leave us. All of ours are Still with us with the Exception of the gardener but I have no confidence that they will remain. Their hatred of the Slave holder is intense. They Seem to feel that they have in Some way been defrauded of their rights. My father has owned between one and two hundred Slaves. he never wd have one of them whipped or Sold _ never Spoke harshly to them _ They were while children, just like the children of one father and mother _ Eat from the Same plate c c _ that they wd leave them was a Sad and new revelation”. These as nearly as I can remember are her words _ She Expressed herself admirably _ I must confess that I was charmed with the woman _ and hope that I Shall have many long talks with her yet._
      Feb. 17th …
      We received the boxes Safe and Sound. no hardly Sound the jar of huckleberries was broken and Spoiled the newspapers. You Shd have heard B. mourn. _ for my part I thought more of the huckleberries and pies wh’ had moulded in consequence. but Still the pies were nice after Scalding _ Splendid tasted almost as if I was in E’s dining room _ the cake was Superb. _ B. gobbled most of that.
      The box of apples arrived but I think it wd hardly pay to Send a barrel _ they decay So rapidly. More than one half although So nicely packed were rotten. They were Splendid apples and it made my Eyes water to See how they had decayed but we Enjoy hugely what remain. I baked some of them immediately and carried them to the hospital where one of our acquaintances is Sick. Many many thanks _ And much love to all the dear ones at home. from Bowman and Your loving Sister

      • Sorry to impose, but I don’t suppose you have access to pension records for NC troops. There appears to be one for Nathaniel Taylor, but I can’t access it without signing up for a service. I’m really just interested in providing enough information on him for a footnote and was hoping a pension record might confirm that he was the prisoner my g-grandmother lectured in New Bern. Just trying to save myself a trip to the state archives. Thanks again.

  3. I believe the state archives have the pension records online now. I’d contact them to find out. I checked the 17th NC (2nd Org.) and 56th NC records and found nothing on a Captain Taylor. February 1863 was too early for him to have been involved at Gum Swamp so he might have been captured in the fight at Trantor’s Creek or some other action near New Bern.

    • I went to the Archives. They had a little bit more on Nathaniel Taylor. He enlisted at Camden Courthouse in May 1861 for a term of 12 months. And he mustered out of Co. I of the 32nd on April 2, 1862, when the unit was disbanded. That’s where the trail goes cold. He doesn’t appear to have applied for a pension, and there’s nothing else in his military file about subsequent service. If I found the right guy in the Census, he was born around 1825 in Virginia. He was in Camden County in 1850 but was in Chowan by 1860, working as a ship carpenter. In 1870, a Virginia-born carpenter by that name is living in Norfolk, Va., with a North Carolina-born wife named Lucinda.

      At any rate, thanks again for all the help. Hope you enjoyed Hannah’s letter.


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