The Mexican War
Raleigh News and Observer
Sunday, May 1, 1881
On the 4th Jan., 1847, the bill appropriating $10,000 for equipping the
volunteers from North Carolina and paying their expenses to their
rendezvous passed. A few days later the work of securing the
volunteers here began, Col. John H. Manly then commencing a
vigorous effort to raise a company of volunteers for Mexico.
The two regiments of militia in Wake had met on the 28th December,
1846, but only some twenty of the large number of men made a tender
of their services. But after this action of the Assembly the volunteer
regiment began to fill up rapidly, as companies from Wayne,
Mecklenburg, Rowan, Edgecombe, Orange, etc., tendered their
services to Gov. Graham. By the 12th January, fifty volunteers
had been enrolled here.
The troops, as fast as accepted, were ordered to Wilmington and
Charlotte. A bill passed the Assembly appropriating $300 for a
state flag. On the 19th Jan., the governor appointed the following
field officers of the North Carolina Regiment of Mexican Volunteers:
Colonel, Robert Treat Paine; Lt. Col. John A. Fagg; Major, Montford
S. Stokes. The regiment on that day was completed by the addition
of a tenth company.
But Wake had no company of her own in the regiment. This did not
suit the tastes of many of the patriotic people of the capitol, so on the
19th Jan., thirty volunteers left Raleigh for the rendezvous at Wilmington,
to join some other company, fearing that if they waited longer for the
formation of a company here, they would stand no chance of winning
distinction. The city of Raleigh actually voted them $100, as a mark
of appreciation of the step. As a contrast to the slowness in Wake, it
should be mentioned that so fearful were the “Orange Guards” of
Hillsboro, of being left out of this regiment, that they knocked at Governor
Graham’s door at 2:00 in the morning to get their commissions.
On Saturday, Jan. 22, Capt. John Cameron’s company, the Orange
Guards, reached Raleigh, on their route to Wilmington. They were just
beyond St. Mary’s, by the “Ringold Artillerists” and “Cossacks” (the last
named being a cavalry company) and escorted to the palace. Thence
they went to the residence of Mr. John Hutchins (who afterward gained
the name of the “soldiers’ friend” as he entertained every company that
entered Raleigh). The Register, in speaking of the Orange Guards’
departure, says everybody in Raleigh went to the depot to see them
depart. “This company carries with it a sacred relic which we know will
never dishonor. We allude to their stand of colors, which is the identical
flag borne by the Americans at the battle of Guilford Court House.”
On the 28th Jan., 1848, the Register announced the gratifying news that
“George E.B. Singletary and Edward Yarboro have been elected lieutenants
and Junius B. Whitaker and Joseph D. Gorman sergeants, in the New
Hanover Company of the Mexican War Regiment”. These gentlemen were
of the thirty volunteers who had left Raleigh some time before.
Great disorganization began among the troops rendezvoused at Charlotte.
Many men of the Rowan company, tired of the delay, deserted and left
camp in defiance of authority. The Charlotte company’s officers refused
to accept their commissions. Another company was instantly given its
position in the regiment, however. This new company, commanded by
Captain Henry, of Rockingham, marched to Raleigh at once, was received
on the 3rd of February, was given a grand reception, and after a few day’s
stay, went on to Wilmington. In a few days, the governor dismissed from
service and disbanded the Charlotte and Salisbury companies, says the
On the 29th Feb., six companies of the regiment embarked on a schooner
and a brig. The Wake and New Hanover company was of the number. As
there were, owing to the loss of the Rowan and Mecklenburg companies,
only nine companies in the regiment, Lt. Col. Fagg organized one in
Buncombe, which marched over 300 miles and reached Raleigh on the 2nd
April, and was received with great hospitality, wined, dined and lodged at
the “Washington Hotel”, here. They were the guests of the Ringgold
Artillerists and the Cossacks, and were also escorted by the cadets of the
Raleigh Military Academy.
The ladies of Raleigh, ever patriotic, aided in all ways to push on the
movement. Early in 1846, they had raised money to buy a flag for the
Raleigh Guards, a company found to be ready for the war, but which was
never tendered. They waited on the troops with tender and loving hands,
just as they ad done in 1813, as they did again in 1861, and as they always
will do. There was disaffection on all sides during the Mexican War, but
never among the women.
Two other companies were raised in North Carolina and both mustered
into the 12th Regular Infantry. On the 13th of April, 1847, Capt. Tipton’s
company of “Cherokee Warriors” were entertained in Raleigh and this
was the last company.
Soon the paper began to be crowded with news from Mexico, and from
the Raleigh boys there. When the tidings came of General Taylor’s
victory at Buena Vista, there was a called meeting of the “Intendant
and Board of Commissioners of Raleigh”, which ordered the ringing of
every bell in the city, with a parade, salute, etc. So at daybreak on the
morning of the 11th April, 1847, all these things were done, and in the
evening there was a grand illumination, the whole city going wild over
The joy was increased by the news of the bravery of Francis T. Bryan,
of Raleigh, who was so conspicuous at Buena Vista. He was temporarily
placed in charge of three pieces of artillery and so hot was the fight that
every man and horse was killed or wounded save him. It was this officer
whom the Indiana Regiment so ingloriously deserted. But he repulsed
all of the successive charges of the Mexicans. The people of Raleigh
did not permit his bravery to pass unappreciated, for the Indendant of
Police, W. Dallas Haywood, Esq., called a public meeting at the court
house, which was truly a grand affair. George W. Mordecai presided,
and Charles L. Hinton and Dr. Charles E. Johnson were vice presidents.
Lt. Bryan was voted a sword for his gallantry, in the name of the city
It may not be amiss to state that Daniel Webster and Mrs. Webster
arrived in Raleigh on the Saturday on which this public meeting was
held. They were the guests of Governor Graham. On Sunday they
attended services at the Episcopal Church; on Monday they received the
public at the palace, and in the evening a soiree was held in their honor
by the wife of Hon. Wm. H.H. Haywood. A public dinner was tendered
Mr. Webster, but was declined.
But, to get back to the Mexican War. On Monday, May 24, Capt. Wm.
J. Clarke’s Company I of regular United States infantry, Raleigh, where it
had been principally billed, on its march to Charleston. The troops were
given farewells at the capitol square, everybody in the city being present.
Hon. Duncan Cameron, Rev. Drury Lacy and T. H. Solby, Esq., presented
each officer with a beautiful copy of the Bible, while each private was also
given one. Then Edmund B. Freeman, Esq., on behalf of the ladies of
Raleigh, presented Capt. Clarke with a splendid sword. Everybody wept
at the parting. The Register tells us that the officers of the company were:
Capt. Clarke, Raleigh; Lts. John F. Hoke of Lincolnton and James F.
Waddell of Hillsboro and John J. Wheeden of Raleigh.
On Saturday, May 29, 1847, President Polk and suite visited Raleigh and
were received with all the honors, the whole city turning out to meet the
loved son of North Carolina. The reception was a grand one. There were
coaches and four, a salute of thirty guns, and the “Wake Cavalry”, the
“Cossacks” and the “Artillerists” formed an escort. The city was illuminated,
Fayetteville Street, all its length, being lined with lanterns. The party stopped
at the Eagle Hotel. Professor green, of the University, gave the president a
welcome to the capitol of his native state. Next day, a levee was held by
the president in the senate chamber and in the evening, says the Register,
“there was an immense concourse on the capitol green to witness the
magnificent fire work display gotten up under the efficient management of
our spirited young townsman Wm. H.H. Tucker”.
We had hoped to be able to state in this article on the Mexican War to
publish the names of the soldiers who went out from Raleigh and became
members of the Wilmington and Raleigh Company as it was called and
also of those who went with Capt. W.J. Clarke. But there is no list of
names, neither in the adjutant general’s office or in the state library. The
records of the Mexican War are disgracefully meager.
Transcribed by Christine Spencer July 2008
Back to North Carolina in the Mexican War Veterans Pages