Men of the Shenandoah Valley… at the Crater and Ft. Fisher!?

Posted on November 30, 2011 by


Men of the Shenandoah Valley earned a number of battle honors over the course of the Civil War… from Manassas to the Mule Shoe… Falling Waters to Appomattox… but… sadly, the list is much shorter than it should be… and for what purpose?

Yes… men of the Valley were present in the ranks of the 1st, 4th and 22nd USCT, on June 15, 1864, as Confederate Batteries 8 and 9, were overrun at Petersburg.

It may be that Phillip Lewis Brent (born in Clarke County) was with the 4th USCT that day…

A month and a half later, men of the Valley were present at the Crater…

Though I’ll just name a couple for the moment… among the men of the Valley present that day were 26-year-old Eugene McRice (born in Rockingham County) and 20-year-old John P. Swain (born in Frederick County). McRice served as a fifer with Co. H, 27th USCT, and received a severe gunshot wound to the right arm and leg that day. The fracture of the right tibia was such that it justified a medical discharge the following summer.

Medical slip for McRice

Swain, on the other hand, appears to have come out of the fight unscathed… at least physically… and was promoted corporal in Co. G, within three days of the fight… no doubt to fill a void left in the wake of the action.

Just under six months later, men of the Valley were present off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina… in fact, some of the same men who were present at the Crater.

USCT units involved in attack on Fort Fisher, January 13-15, 1865

Though you can’t tell it by looking at the units, or commanders, men of the Valley were present in over half the USCT units present for the second attack on Fort Fisher.

Following the overrun of the main works of the fort, the Union commander sent in Col. Joseph C. Abbot’s Brigade, accompanied by the 27th USCT, toward Battery Buchanan…

Though now filled with coastal undergrowth, this was the mass of land over which the 27th advanced, with the 7th New Hampshire and 6th Connecticut on their left.

View from atop the remains of Battery Buchanan, looking to the left, toward the modern ferry, which is in the general vicinity in which the Civil War era wharf was located, and near where the 27th USCT formed prior to the official surrender of Fort Fisher.

The Battery Buchanan marker

So, when thinking of men of the Shenandoah Valley in the Civil War, especially during the Sesquicentennial… begin to think on a grander scale, and beyond those men and battles usually associated with Stonewall and the Army of Northern Virginia. The history of our people is larger and more dynamic than often realized.

*This post is part of a larger project of mine, already in motion