Civil War Deserters

Thanks to Cindy Casey!

PEOPLE'S PRESS - Salem, NC (Vol XIV No. 22)

Sept 8 1864 - Deserters (pg 1)

...A number of deserters are surrendering themselves to the troops, and it is expected that many more will do so during this and next week....The proclamation of the Governor offering a pardon to those who will return is having a beneficial effect already. It is said that nearly fifty have surrendered themselves at Troy, and they are coming in daily.

...We appeal to the friends and relatives of all such as have been guilty of the crime of desertion, to do everything in their power to return them to duty at once. Delay will be fatal to these unfortunate men. We hope these misguided men who are yet lurking in this county will come forward and report at Winston before the days of grace expire.

Sept. 29, 1864 - The Forsyth Home Guard (pg 1)

The Home Guard of this county, which has been on duty hunting deserters for some weeks, was disbanded on Wednesday until further orders. We learn that about 57 deserters, recusant conscripts, and men whose furlough had recently expired, were returned to duty– some coming in voluntarily and others were arrested.

Sept. 29, 1864 - Military Arrests of Women (pg 1)

.....During this past week, the Courthouse of this county was made a prison for several women who were arrested by the Home Guard, and held as hostages for some of their relatives whom it was said had deserted the army– These women, I suppose, were victualized at the expense of the State or county, and guarded by male sentinels at the same expense. I have not heard whether they were court-martialed or whether they were exchanged according to the cartel of exchange or not; they have been released, however.

Oct. 27, 1864 - Disloyalty in Forsyth

(The following article, entitled Way of the World, published in a Greensboro newspaper incited the editors of the People's Press.....)

“We learn from a gentleman just from Forsyth county, that it is estimated there that about 400 of the officers and men belonging to the Home Guards of that county have gone, with the intention of going into the lines of the enemy, since the recent call. May all disloyal men follow them is our sincere wish”

The response of PP:

Ever since the commencement of the war, Forsyth County has been misrepresented and slandered, her good deeds generally being overlooked by her defamers. We have repeatedly stated that the citizens of this county always quietly submitted to every call for men made, fully as much so as any county in the State, until her population, composed mostly of small farmers, is very much depleted. The soldiers' families, too, under the management of our worthy County Agent, have been as well, if not better, provided for than in most counties in the State. That we have men among us upon whom the burdens of the war have fallen extremely heavy, causing some dissatisfaction, and that we have our share of deserters, as every county in every State has, we do not deny. But false charges and wholesale misrepresentations should not go unrebuked. Forsyth may have sins enough to atone for, without being charged with those of others.

We have been informed that the stampede referred to , in the article above from the Greensboro' “World” consisted of about 190 to 200 men, from Randolph, Davidson, Guilford and Forsyth. We have not ascertained the exact number from Forsyth, but learn there were some 25 or 30, the balance from the other counties mostly from Guilford, the whole expedition being headed by a magistrate from Guilford, an original accessionist and rampant war man, so long as he could keep his carcase out of danger, which is the case with many others who do not practice what they preach. The above are the facts, as we have been informed. We did not allude to the matter last week, because there were many conflicting rumors, and we believed, at that time, very much exaggerated.

Another stampeding party, all mounted on horseback, numbering twenty-three persons, were arrested at Love's Meeting House, in this county, on Monday night last, and brought to Winston– all from Guilford county, save two from this county, we are creditably informed.

November 3, 1864 - Arrested-

We learn from the Richmond Dispatch of the 28th ult., that a portion of the stampeders, alluded to last week, from this and adjacent counties, who are attempting to make their way into the Yankee lines, were arrested and forwarded to Richmond, by the Provost Marshal at Wytheville, and committed to Castle Thunder, to await court martial. The following are the names of the prisoners:

J.Q. A. Conner
David Shields
J.H. Reid
J.C. Armfield
W. Watson
J.J. Browing
Jas. R. Stevens
John W. Russel
James Peebles
Jas. Crews
George Pretty
Wm. Spach
J.P. Reed
J. Mandar
J.F. Pegram
R.F. Hyatt
A.J. Mustin
J.H. Idol
J.D. Holder
B.F. Bundy
J.F. Ledbetter
W.H. Campbell
Frank Mickey
L. Smith
A.A. Stafford
J. Smith
John Stafford
Elwood Smith
Smith Frazier

Dec. 15, 1864 - Accidentally Shot

Capt. Fries, of this place, was shot through the wrist while engage in apprehending a notorious deserter named Dial, near this place. The pistol was in the hands of a friend and accidentally exploded. Injury not serious.

Mar. 2, 1865 - Shot

On Sunday, the 26th, two deserters were shot in the northern portion of this county, one named Dial, of this county, severely, and the other named Fann or Fant, hailing from Raleigh, mortally wounded.

Mar. 2, 1865 - Murder

We learn that, a few days since, at the house of Mr. Kallum, in Stokes County, a murder was committed under the following circumstances:

A Capt. Williams and Lieut. Moore, hailing from Kentucky as recruiting officers, were lodging at Mr. Kallum's. Late at night the report of a pistol was heard, which aroused Mr. K's family, when Lieut. Moore was discovered shot dead in his bed, Capt. Williams stating that the deed was committed by some person unknown, who came to the door of the apartment in which they lodged and fired a pistol, killing the Lieutenant.

There are various rumore and conjectures in regard to the matter.

Mar 23, 1865 - 1st Battalion N.C. Sharpshooters.

We inadvertently neglected to notice the arrival of this Battalion, cammanded by Captain R.E. Wilson, last week. The officers and privates are looking remarkably well and appear to be in fine spirits. The object of the visit is generally understood, and a number of deserters have been arrested and sent on to their commands, from this county and Yadkin. Capt. Carmichael's well known band of music accompanies the Battalion.

Some five men, we learn, have been shot in this county (two of them from Yadkin) by the military. We know nothing of the circumstances in connection with the shooting, except that some of them were executed for desertion.

A portion of the 23d Regt. NCT have also been on a visit to this county for a week past.

We learn that his is not the only county where the presence of troops was deemed necessary to arrest deserters.

The deserters in Randolph and other counties are committing numerous and aggravating outrages. And we learn that a squad of Senior Reserves, in the upper part of Davidson county, have trespassed on the premises of defenseless women and old men, taking possession of horses, wagons, and other property. Where is the civil law?

Concert— On Friday night, inst, Capt. Carmichael's Brass Band, of the 1st N.C. Battaltion accompanied by a select choir of Salem ladies, entertained a very large audience in the town hall, with instrumental and vocal music.....The concert was given for the benefit of the “Soldiers Relief Association”.....

Dec. 9, 1865 - Capt. Wilson, of Yadkin County

Commander of the 1st Battalion N.C. Sharpshooters, of the Confederate Army, was brought to this place, on Tuesday last by order of U.S. military authorities, and delivered to civil authorities of this county, under an indictment for shooting or causing to be shot several citizens of this county in the months of March last. He was committed to the county jail for trial at our next Superior Court.

Capt. Wilson was severely wounded in engagement just previous to Gen. Lee's surrender, causing his foot to be amputated. He fell into the hands of the Federals, and has been under arrest ever since.

(On Thursday, [Apr. 12, 1866], Wilson was arraigned for murder on three bills of indictment. Trial was removed to Rockingham county. Bail required in the sum of $10,000 I each case. People's Press Apr. 14 1866)

Apr. 21, 1866 - Forsyth Superior Court

At the session of this court, last week, true bills were also found against the following persons, charged with being implicated in the shooting of several persons of this county– all members of the last 1st N.C. Battalion, commanded by Capt. R.E. Wilson:

Henry Hester
Moses Woodhouse
James Jones
John Sapp
Nathaniel Crowder
Thomas Close
William Henshaw

Henshaw alone, so far, has been arrested and bound over for his appearance at the next term of this court.