“The Carolina Boys,” Company K, 38th NCT,  September, 1862

Compiled by Dave Hunter

The NSR will portray Company K, 38th Regiment, North Carolina Troops for the  Antietam 140th event.  We looked at several different units and could not develop much in the way of uniform/clothing information for them.  We have yet to do a Tar Heel regiment of A.P. Hill’s “Light Division” and this will give us a chance to do that and do a little different impression.

“The Carolina Boys”

Captain Murdock McLauchlin’s Company of North Carolina Volunteers was raised in the Longstreet Church community of Cumberland County, NC, now part of the Fort Bragg military reservation.  Adopting the nickname “The Carolina Boys” the company  enlisted on 9 Nov 1861, and later mustered into state service in Raleigh on 7 Feb 62 as Company K, 38th Regiment of North Carolina Troops.  The 38th NCT was transferred to Confederate service on 1 Feb 62 and was sent to guard railroad bridges in Goldsboro area.  The regiment moved to Virginia in late April and was assigned to Gregg’s Brigade.  On 14 June, the regiment was assigned to William Dorsey Pender’s Brigade of A.P. Hill’s “Light Division” and would remain part of this organization until the Lee’s surrender in 1865.  (After Pender’s promotion, Alfred Scales would assume command of the Brigade.)  As an element of the 38th NCT, Company K would remain with the Army of Northern Virginia and fight in every campaign from the Seven Days to Appomattox. 

June – September 1862

The Seven Days’ battles had been hard on the regiment, especially the costly assault at Ellerson's Mill.  After resting in camps around the Peninsula and Richmond, the 38th NCT moved by rail to Gordonsville with the rest of Pender’s Brigade on 29 July.  The regiment fought at Cedar Run (Cedar Mountain) on 9 August, then returned to Orange Court House. 
On 16 August, the regiment marched out again towards Manassas Junction, then fought in the battles at Second Manassas ( 29-30 Aug) and Ox Hill (1 Sep). The brigade crossed the Potomac into Maryland on 5 September, helped destroy a section of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad near Frederick City, then recrossed the river at Williamsport on 11 September.  Pender’s Brigade participated in the capture of  Harper’s Ferry, attacking Bolivar Heights on 14 September.  The brigade remained in Harper’s Ferry with the division to parole prisoners and collect the supplies captured in the town. 

The Light Division, less Thomas’ Georgia brigade, departed Harper’s Ferry at 7:00 am on 17 September on their epic forced march to join the remainder of the army then locked in combat with the Federals at Sharpsburg.   In one of the great moments of Confederate military history, the Light Division arrived on the field around 3:40 in the afternoon  - just in time to crash into the left flank of Burnside’s IX Corps and halt the last major Federal attack on the Confederates that day.  The division had covered seventeen miles in a little more than seven hours. The lead brigades- Archer, Gregg and Branch -  were committed to the fight piecemeal as they toiled up the ridge south of Sharpsburg.  Pender’s Brigade, farther back in the division march column, was deployed to screen the far right flank of the Army, and was not directly engaged in the final attacks on the IX Corps.

The division began its withdrawal to Virginia the morning of 19 September and crossed the Potomac. Four regiments of Federals from V Corps, protected by nearly 70 guns, launched a “belated pursuit” across Boteler’s Ford on 20 September and overran some Confederate artillery covering the ford. The Light Division was called out of its bivouac south of Shepherdstown to meet this threat.  They advanced under heavy fire from the Federal artillery, but drove the Federal infantry back to the ford, killing many as the broken Federal units retreated back across the Potomac.  Pender’s brigade, supported by Archer’s, halted a Federal counterattack and participated in the destruction of the Federal force caught in the river.  The Light Division continued its withdrawal into the Army’s camps around Winchester.

The leadership of the regiment was constantly changing between June and September.  Col. William F. Hoke, the first regimental commander, was wounded at Mechanicsville and did not return to the unit until December. Lt. Col  Armfield was evacuated in July, sick with a “severe fever”. The command of the Regiment fell to Maj. L.D. Andrews who was also evacuated sick after Cedar Mountain.  Capt. John Ashford commanded the regiment at Second Manassas, but was wounded in leg.  Capt. McLauchlin, commanding Company K, assumed command of the regiment until Lt.Col. Armfield rejoined the unit on 19 September. Armfield’s stay was short, as he was seriously wounded at Shepherdstown the following day. McLauchlin once more took command of the regiment.

“The Carolina Boys” during the Maryland Campaign

Like most of Lee’s army at that time, the overall condition of the regiment was poor.  By 17 September, the 38th NCT had been on the march since the end of July and fought in four battles before their arrival at Sharpsburg.  Clothing, equipment and the general condition of the men was showing the effects of this hard campaigning.  
The company arrived in Virginia wearing a combination of commutation uniforms and state issue clothing.  Capt McLauchlin was paid commutation money on 18 February 1862 for the clothing worn/brought by the company to the camp of instruction in Raleigh.

Commutation Paid to Company K, 38th NCT 18 Feb 1862
Source: Form 40 in CSR, Capt. Murdock M. McLauchlin
Quantity Item Allowance Total
42 coats 8.00 336.00
82 pair pants 4.40 369.00
35 pair shoes 3.00 105.00
82 shirts 1.80 147.00
82 pair drawers 1.50 123.00
42 caps 2.00 84.00
42 pair gloves .30 12.60
126 pairs socks .40 50.40
18 blankets 5.00 90.00
7 overcoats 10.00 70.00


(The entry for “gloves” was struck through on the form, but the state QM paid for them)

Obviously, when the company marched away from Longstreet Church in Cumberland County, most of the men had a coat, 2 pair of pants, 2 shirts, 2 pair of drawers, a cap, a pair of gloves, and 3 pairs of socks.  35 of the 42 were paid for shoes, but no indication what the other 7 men were wearing.  Apparently, only 18 men had blankets and only 7 men had overcoats. (This is February in Raleigh, so you would expect that the men came with some sort of bedding. Did the State not pay commutation for quilts, coverlets, etc?)

Since they were short of the required minimum of 64 privates, the company continued to recruit in Cumberland County, and later obtained the additional men to complete the company organization. These soldiers were not supplied with clothing and equipment until 21 April 1862. McLauchlin stated that these items were “for recruits to my company who have not been supplied”

Clothing and Equipment Issued to Company K, 21 April 1862
Source: Form 40 in CSR, Capt. Murdock M. McLauchlin
Quantity Item
30 coats
60 pair pants
31 pair shoes
60 shirts
60 pair drawers
30 caps
60 [?] pairs socks
30 blankets
30 overcoats
27 haversacks
28 canteens & straps
[?] knapsacks

Other than an issue of 15 pairs of shoes signed for by 1st Lt Angus Shaw on 5 June 1862 (“They are necessary for the comfort of the men”)  there are no more records of clothing issues until the October-December timeframe. 

There are a few surviving Company K muster rolls that gives some idea of the condition of the company.  The muster roll dated 21 March 1862 at “Camp Mason” rates clothing as “good”, arms as “not very good” and accouterments as “good.”  Another return for an inspection conducted on 2 July 1862 for the period 30 April – 1 July  in “Camp near Richmond” lists the clothing of the company as “very bad” while the arms and accouterments were rated as “good”.  There are no other returns until the October- December period.  It is worth noting that the company strength on 2 July was 2 officers and 16 men present for duty out of an aggregate strength of 4 officers and 69 men.  Those “present for duty”  included 1 Captain, 1 2nd Lt., 1 Sergeant and 15 Privates.  1 Sergeant and 2 Privates were KIA, one 1st Lt. and four Privates died of wounds.  2 Corporals and 10 Privates were absent - wounded.  The rest were sick, on detached duty or, in the case of one man, had deserted.

As we can see from the brief overview of operations, the 38th  NCT was in a position to obtain captured Federal uniforms, weapons and equipment prior to their arrival at Sharpsburg.  The regiment was present at the capture and “sack” of the Federal supply trains at Manassas Junction, fought at Second Manassas, and was part of the force left at Harper’s Ferry after the surrender of the town.  All of these events would have provided “The Carolina Boys” the opportunity to resupply at Federal expense. 
On 29 September 1862, the Adjutant, David M. McIntire, wrote Colonel Hoke a long letter describing the regiment’s actions during the Maryland campaign.  He describes the march to Manassas Junction:

“The next morning [25 August] we were ordered to leave all Knapsacks and everything except Haversacks, Canteens & one Blanket. We here commenced a long & fatiguing march…and soon found ourselves near Manassas Junction. here we captured three trains of Cars and some considerable amount of property, which we consumed by fire…We pressed on and reached the Junction on the 27th where we captured some four long trains of cars loaded with commissary [,] Q.master and Sutlers Stores…We made use of as much of the captured property as we could and set fire to the remainder.”

He gives a brief comment on the captures at Harper’s Ferry on 14 September: “…our forces marched in and took possession [of the town]…with about …Several thousand small arms and a considerable amount of commissary [,]Quarter Master and Sutlers Stores.”

Impression Guidance for Sharpsburg

Based on all this information, we can assume the appearance of The Carolina Boys at Sharpsburg would be a mix of well-worn commutation and state-issue uniforms, probably with a significant amount of captured Federal clothing and equipment.  The pattern of commutation clothing is not known, but images of soldiers of the 38th NCT prior to Sharpsburg show each of them in a different type of uniform.  These uniforms would have been up to 10 months old by 17 September and probably very ragged.  Some individuals may have obtained newer clothing from home prior to the movement to Virginia on 27 April.   Based on the Form 40, if would appear that the later recruits were issued the 1861 Regulation “sack” coat, which would be five months old by the time of the battle.  Add to this mix the captured items available to the soldiers. The result would appear to be motley array of clothing, well used and in many cases ragged...which matches the usual description of Lee’s army during the campaign.  Arms and accouterments would show the same amount of wear and the availability of captured items.  Also, remember that the regiment has just completed a forced march to the battlefield. The enthusiasm for that full Yankee knapsack may have waned as the pace quickened on 17 September.

We know that we are unlikely to match the raggedness of the original Carolina Boys, unless you care to use a belt sander on your current clothing…so we will try to follow the common types, if not the actual condition of their appearance.   A typical look might be a state issue coat, CS or captured Federal trousers ( preferably unissued), the usual caps or hats, CS or Federal shoes, a mix of CS and captured accouterments, canteens, haversacks, knapsacks, blankets.  Rifle muskets, either 1861 Springfield, P-53s or Richmonds.

This is a good opportunity to use some of those Federal items you still have laying around.  It would be better if the Federal items were new/relatively clean, to represent recent captures, but used items are acceptable…just no ragged/patched/faded Federal trousers, etc. 1st Lt. Benjamin Cathey, 16th NCT, described the Federals he saw at Harper’s Ferry: “ the enemy was spotlessly dressed in brand-new uniforms, shoes and buttons, and gold and silver trappings glistening in the morning sun, while we were almost naked…”  ( NC Regts, I, p. 760).  Please limit the amount of Federal stuff you use…we don’t want to be mistaken for Yanks or howlers on the economy plan.

1.  N.C. 1861 Regulation Coat. Nearly half of the company went to Virginia in a state issued coat.
2. Frock Coat-  the usual items some of us have already, but the state issue coat is a better choice.
3. Jackets – one or two people could use an RD type I or II…obtained by theft, trade, or purchase. If you have nothing else, use your NC issue jacket. 
4. Commutation uniform coats -  sack coat similar to that seen in image of  38th NCT soldier…again, very limited.
5. Civilian coats – same as a RD jacket…only one or two people and be prepared to take it off if we have too many people trying this stunt. 
6. Federal Fatigue coat.  I suppose that someone could wear one, as some needy Confederates prior to Sharpsburg apparently pressed these into service, but there is no indication that the 38th NCT used any blue coats.

Trousers:  The usual NC/CS issue items, including Federal trousers. Limited civilian types permitted, but leave that plaid crap at home.

Shirts: The usual CS and civilian items we use; Federal issue shirts.  No English imports.

Drawers: Any period types in cotton or flannel.

Socks: (if worn) Any period types in wool or cotton. 

Shoes: NC/ CS types issued in 1862, Federal issue shoes, civilian brogans.  Avoid English imports if you have other CS or US issue shoes and, of course, none of those damn boots.

Hats/Caps: The usual kepis and felt hats we normally wear, one or two captured Federal forage caps or Hardee hats are acceptable. 

Weapons:   Rifle Muskets – M1861 Springfield, P1853 Enfield, Richmond ( with “high hump” lockplate).  Company K went to war with “flint and steel muskets” from the state, but we can safely assume that they had acquired better weapons by Sharpsburg.  Col. Hoke made a comment that on 27 May near “Hanover Junction” in Virginia the regiment “…distributed guns ammunition & co. camped in a Pine grove.”  He did not specify the type of guns issued.  After the Seven Days’ battles the 38th NCT could have been reissued rifle muskets.  Col. William DeRosset, 3rd NCST, wrote that “…with the ample supply of the Springfield rifled musket gathered from the field and captured, there was enough to supply our whole army with the improved gun. Orders came from headquarters that all muskets should be turned in and the troops armed with rifles.”  (NC Regts, I, p.222)  The other opportunities would be at Second Manassas or Harper’s Ferry. There were around 12,000 small arms captured from the Harper’s Ferry garrison, and the 38th could have obtained some of these, if needed.  The majority of the captured Federal regiments in the garrison were equipped with Springfield or Enfield rifle muskets.  Capt. J.S. Harris stated that the 7th NCST was armed with the “smoothbore Springfield musket” but exchanged them for the “Springfield rifle” after the surrender of the town. (NC Regts, I, p.372)  Bayonets and “gun slings” appropriate to the weapon carried. It is also acceptable not to carry a bayonet. Ammunition packages and boxes should show markings for the Richmond Arsenal.

Accouterments: These items should be NC/CS issue appropriate to the ANV in 1862; captured US boxes ( patterns of 1857, 1861); No CS painted canvas accouterments, belts, or slings, as this scenario is too early to permit their use. No white webbing or white buff leather items of any sort.  While English accouterments were available in 1862, we have no record of the 38th NCT receiving any, so do not use them for this event.

1. Cartridge Box: NC/CS issue types appropriate to the ANV in 1862. If a cartridge box shoulder belt is used: black leather NC/CS issue. US pattern of 1839, captured US boxes - patterns of 1857, 1861 boxes with shoulder belts appropriate to the types of boxes
2. Cap Box: NC/CS issue types appropriate to the ANV in 1862; Captured US pattern of 1850. 
3. Waist Belt: NC issue black leather belt with an iron roller buckle, CS issue frames or forked-tongue types permitted.  Limit use of  Federal issue belts. No English imports, canvas webbing, white buff or painted canvas.
4.  Bayonet Scabbard: NC/CS issue types appropriate to the ANV in 1862.  Captured Federal scabbards (two-rivet type). English import scabbards and frogs of the correct pattern are allowed but discouraged.  As usual, no bowie, side, or fighting knives, pistols of any sort, pikes, or any other types of military or civilian weapons. 

Blanket: Early NC or CS issue military blankets.  No “NC” marked blankets permitted, as this event is too early for their use;  Federal issue blankets, civilian bed blankets, coverlets, quilts, carpet blankets.  

Oilcloth: NC/CS types of oilcloths.  Federal rubber blanket/poncho.

Haversack:  NC/CS issue unpainted cotton haversack. Captured Federal haversack.  No other types of haversacks or carpetbags.  

Canteen: NC/CS issue tin drum canteens common to ANV in 1862. Use the NSR leather sling this time.  Captured Federal pattern of 1858 canteen of a style common to summer 1862. No pattern of 1862  (“bullseye” type) Federal canteens;  No CS wooden or Gardner types, or any filter types.

Knapsack: We know that the 38th NCT laid aside their knapsacks on the march to Manassas Junction, but we do not know if these items were brought forward later.  NC/CS issue types appropriate to the ANV in 1862; captured Federal issue knapsacks. While some English knapsacks were available in 1862, we have no record of the 38th NCT receiving any, so please do not use them for this event. 

Mess Equipment: Tin cups, small boilers, small tin plates or bowls and the usual types of flatware.

Miscellaneous Clothing and Equipment:
Shelter Half: Limited use…not all Federals had them yet. Early types only…no metal buttons.
Overcoat: None
Pioneer Tools: None
As always, the oddball crap is prohibited -  Rubber talmas/raincoats, canvas “sport’ shoes, zouave officer kepis, gaiters or any other one-of-a-kind humbug that is inappropriate or just plain wrong for North Carolinians in Lee’s army at Sharpsburg.

Personal Items: wallets, watches, pocketknives, cased images, etc.  These should be items common to a North Carolinian in the ANV in 1862.  Fancy camp/smoking/sleeping caps, writing kits, toilet articles, sewing kits, chess sets, books, etc. were probably discarded to lighten the load on 17 September or packed away earlier with the baggage in Richmond.

Rations: As we all know, food was notoriously short during this campaign. The Confederates did not get much from the Maryland farmers and the staples of the diet were “green corn and fruit”. The bounty from the Manassas Junction captures would have been eaten up by Sharpsburg, but the supplies taken at Harper’s Ferry would have been in the haversacks of the Light Division at Sharpsburg…so break out those hard crackers, if you desire.  Limit the rations to ears of corn, cornmeal, captured flour, salt pork or bacon, some fresh beef, apples, and captured Federal coffee.

Personal Appearance: The personal appearance of Lee’s troops in this campaign shocked the Maryland citizens.  All accounts describe them as dirty (“filthy”), and unkempt, one Maryland farm boy claiming that nothing about them shined except their guns and their teeth (take note - the well-maintained weapons were often commented upon). Try to be as close to this your modern life will permit.

Notes on Sources:  The information on the 38th NCT in this article was taken from the “usual” sources: Clark’s NC Regts, Vols I and  II, and NC Troops: a Roster, Vol X. The compiled service records for the officers in the Company K provided the information from the Form 40s, especially that of Capt. McLauchlin.  The muster roll data for the company is from surviving documents at NARA in DC. 
The letters to Col Hoke are from Organization and Movements of the Thirty-Eighth Regiment North Carolina Troops January 17 1862-June 28, 1864, Hoke’s postwar history of the regiment while he commanded it  (from Southern Historical Collection, UNC-CH).  Images of 38th NCT soldiers are found in State Troops and Volunteers.  Weapons data from AG 22-23, NC Ordnance Dept, Record of Issues, May 1861-July 1862.  The discussion of the type of weapons captured at Harper’s Ferry is based on a comparison of the Federal order of battle shown in Battles and Leaders, Vol II,  to the weapons issue information listed in Todd, American Military Equipage, Vol II.

On the road to Sharpsburg…

Captain Edward Ripley, captured at Harper’s Ferry with the 9th Vermont, watched Jackson’s Division depart the evening of 15 September…

“That night I lay beside the Charlestown Pike and watched until morning the grimy columns come pouring down from the pontoons. It was a weird, uncanny sight, and drove sleep from my eyes. It was something demon-like, a scene from an Inferno. They were silent as ghosts; ruthless and rushing in their speed; ragged, earth-colored, disheveled, and devilish, as though they were keen on the scent of the hot blood that was already steaming up from the opening struggle at Antietam, and thirsting for it; their sliding dog-trot was as though on snow-shoes. The shuffle of their badly shod feet on the hard surface of the Pike was so rapid as to be continuous like the hiss of a great serpent, broken only by the roar of the batteries, as they came rushing by on the trot, or the jingling of the sabres of the cavalry. The spectral, ghostly picture will never be effaced from my memory.”

From Edward H. Ripley, “Memories of the Ninth Vermont at the Tragedy of Harper's Ferry, Sept. 15, 1862.”


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