OUR PURPOSE AND COMMITMENT…
This regiment was part of the Pender/Scales Brigade which served for three plus years in the Army of Northern Virginia under such famous Generals as Dorsey Pender, A. P. Hill, and Stonewall Jackson.
Organized on January 17, 1862 at Camp Mangum (near Raleigh) for twelve months service, two days later theregiment was transferred to Confederate Service. on February 10th, 1862 they were ordered to Washington, NC, and then on to Weldon to defend some railways. The following April the unit was reorganized to serve three years (or for the duration of the war) in Joseph R. Anderson’s brigade.
Colonel William J. Hoke was the original commanding officer of the 38th, he too was wounded at Gettysburg on July 1st, evidently he was not left behind as Lenas was, as he returned to duty January 1864. The 38th was involved in the initial confrontation at about daylight against Union General Buford’s Cavalry at McPherson’s Ridge, assisting General Penders’ Division, and General Scales Brigade. During the ensuing battle the Federal Troops were pushed through the town of Gettysburg, pausing to occupy a position along Cemetery Ridge south of town. During this engagement every field officer in General Scales’ Brigade were killed or disabled. Colonel William Lowrance (of the 34th North Carolina) was put in command of the brigade, at that time it numbered some 500 men. NOTE: Assuming a normal brigade was 2000 men (100 men to a company, 10 companies to a regiment, 2 or more regiments to a brigade) it appears Scales’ Brigade loss was as high as 70%. However, it must be noted that the reported loss of 535 indicates the brigade was under strength, a not uncommon occurrence as regiments of only several hundred men was the rule not the exception.
If the regiment did indeed only have a thousand men the loss would be in excess of 50%, of that the 38th suffered 20% of the total. In the confrontation General Pender was fatally wounded and later died. General Isaac H. Lane assumed command temporarily, he was then replaced by General Isaac Thimble who, unfortunately, was killed on July 3rd. General Lane once again assumed command. July 3rd was the date of the famous charge at Picketts which was reported as follows: “The regiment was then ordered forward over a crimson plain. The Federal lines, as the regiment emerged from the woods were about a mile in front. The troops were compelled to cross a fence, and were by this time losing heavily from grape and canister. The line was somewhat deranged… about 150 yards from the enemy’s line another fence retarded the advance, but the troops rushed on and reached a third fence on the side of the road. There was by this time only a skirmish line. The 38th was then only a few feet in front of the enemy’s infantry. The enemy rushed out to meet the advancing line, and a flanking party, concealed in ditches, captured about thirty men besides killed a large number inside the Federal lines. Some tried to escape but were shot down … after the third day’s fight the regiment had only about 40 men, commanded by a First Lieutenant.” The battle at Gettysburg saw the highest casualties of a single battle: the 26th North Carolina went to battle with 803 men, left with only 95 men, a loss of almost 90%. It also appears that the 38th had a casualty rate of 90%. As the 38th were “inside Federal lines” (previous paragraph).
Major Engagements of the 38th Infantry, NCTS
SEVEN DAY BATTLES – JUNE 25- JULY 1, 1862
GAINES MILL- JUNE 27 1862
WHITE OAK SWAMP -JUNE 30 1862
MALVERN HILL -JULY 1 1862
SOUTH MOUNTAIN -SEPT. 14 1862
ANTIETAM- SEPT. 17 1862
FREDRICKSBURG -DEC.13 1862
CHANCELLORSVILLE- MAY 1- 4 1863
GETTYSBURG- JULY 1-3 1863
FALLING WATERS- JULY 10 1863
BRISTOE CAMPAIGN- OCT-DEC 1863
MINE RUN CAMPAIGN- NOV.- DEC. 1863
THE WILDERNESS – MAY 5-6 1864
SPOTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE – MAY 8-21 1864
NORTH ANNA- MAY 22-26 1864
COLD HARBOR- JUNE 1-3 1864
PETERSBURG SEIGE- JUNE 1864- APRIL 1865
GLOBE TAVERN- AUGUST 18- 21 1864
REAM’S STATION AUG. 25 1864
FORT HARRISON SEPT 29-30 1864
JONES FARM SEPT.30 1864
HATCHERS RUN FEB. 5 – 7 1865
APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE APRIL 9 1865