North Carolina in the War With Mexico
January 5, 1888
(Taken from the Raleigh News and Observer)
The roster of N. Carolina troops in the War with Mexico, prepared by the
Adjutant General of this state under the authority of the legislature, has
been printed and will be distributed as the law directs. The work makes a
pamphlet of fifty pages, and contains the complete muster out rolls of the
First Regiment of North Carolina Foot Volunteers and Companies “G” and
“I” of the 12th United States Infantry.
The regiment of volunteers was commanded by Col. Robert Treat Payne,
who was appointed by Gov. Graham as commander of the regiment from
the first to last. He was a native of Chowan and then in his 36th year.
He was a lawyer by profession, and at the time of his appointment,
represented Chowan Co. in the House of Commons. He was an energetic,
efficient officer, conscientious and a rigid disciplinarian. While in Mexico,
he drilled his regiment thoroughly and brought it to a high state of
discipline and efficiency.
The next officer in rank was Lt. Col. John A. Fagg of Buncombe. He
also at the time of his appointment had achieved some distinction in
the politics of the state, having served as a member of the House of
Commons in the years 1844 and 1846. Third in rank was Major Montfort
S. Stokes of Wilkes, son of Governor Stokes, and grandson of Col.
Henry Irwin, of Edgecombe, who was killed at Germantown in 1777.
His conduct in the service, was so acceptable to his regiment that on
their return they presented him a splendid sword as a mark of their
high esteem. His prominence as an experienced soldier secured for
him the colonelcy of the First N. C. State Troops in the late war, a
position which he filled with distinguished gallantry until his death in
one of the battles around Richmond.
Among the staff officers were Junius B. Whitaker and O.A. Buck,
adjutants; Gaston D. Cobb, surgeon; William P. Graves, commissary;
Rush J. Mitchell, quartermaster; Robert F. Webb, Q.M. Sergeant; and
Samuel F. Williams, Sgt. Major—all names of more or less public
The field officers were enlisted into the service of the U.S. at Smithville,
N.C., on the 10th April, 1847 and were honorably discharged on the 7th
Aug., 1848—a period of on year, three months and eighteen days,
which measures the duration of the service of the regiment.
The regiment was composed of ten companies.
Company A was organized at Tarboro in December, 1846 by Louis D.
Wilson, and was mustered into service at Wilmington on Jan. 8, 1847.
This company was the first to volunteer in N. Carolina. It was the
largest company in the regiment, having 103 men. Their first captain
was the venerable and gallant patriot, Louis D. Wilson, one of the most
admirable and beloved men that Edgecombe ever produced. Soon after
entering the service, he was appointed by the President colonel of the
12th Regiment in Infantry in the regular army, in which capacity he
served with conspicuous zeal and bravery until his death on the 12th
Aug., 1847 on the march from Vera Cruz to the capitol. He was
succeeded in the captaincy of Company A by Oel Alfred Buck, who
commanded the company throughout the war.
The other nine companies were organized during the winter of 1846-47,
and mustered into service at Smithville and Wilmington, except
Company C, from Concord, which was mustered at Charlotte. The
companies were organized at the following places:
Company B at Goldsboro
Company C at Concord
Company D at Yancey
Company E at Tarboro
Company F at Yanceyville
Company G at Double Springs
Company H at Raleigh
Company I at Fayetteville
Company K at Murphy
These companies were selected from a great number that had
volunteered in this state—perhaps as many as ninety or one
hundred in all.
The following is a list of captains of the several companies:
Company A, Oel Alfred Buck
Company B, Spyers Singleton
Company C Martin Shine and Henry A. Area
Company D Tilman Black and Jacob H. Constable
Company E, William S. Duggan
Company F, George Williamson
Company G, Patrick M. Henry
Company H, Wm. J. Price and George E.B. Singletary
Company I, Wm. E. Kilpatrick
Company K, Samuel P. Tipton
The regiment was quite strong, numbering 957 men; distributed
among the companies as follows:
Company A, 103
Company B, 95
Company C, 83
Company D, 75
Company E, 79
Company F, 80
Company G, 87
Company H, 88
Company I, 91
Company K, 98
A Detachment of 39
The regiment assembled at Smithville and sailed thence to Mexico;
the last company, Captain Tipton’s known as the Buncombe company,
being the last to sail. This company sailed on the 29th April, 1847 on
the schooner Savory, Captain Weldon and landed at Brazos near the
mouth of the Rio Grande on the 27th May.
The regiment served under General Taylor in the north of Mexico. They
were camped most of the time in the vicinity of Monterey and near the
battlefield of Buena Vista. The war had been going on about a year
when Payne’s Regiment arrived. The battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de
la Palma, Monterey, Buena Vista, Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo had all
been fought; and General Scott was preparing for the onward march to
the capitol of Mexico, which city he entered triumphantly and put an
end to the war on the 13th September, 1847.
The North Carolinians were brigaded with the Virginia regiment and 2nd
Mississippi and were under the command of General Wool part of the
time and General Caleb Cushing. General Taylor’s little army was kept
in northern Mexico to protect the frontier while Scott marched on the city
of Mexico. They did not encounter the Mexicans; so that Col. Payne’s
Regiment was in no engagement. But the regiment lost heavily from
sickness. 180 men died or about 18% of the entire force. The
Edgecombe Company lost most heavily—31%. The Buncombe Company’s
death rate was the lowest in the regiment—12%.
The companies of the 12th Infantry—G & I—saw hard service and made
a fine record fro efficiency and gallantry. They won distinction at the
Battle of National Bridge, Aug. 12, 1847. Company G was commanded
successively by Captains Walter P. Richards and John F. Hoke. Among
its officers were Lts. Charles R. Jones and Edward Cantwell.
Company I was commanded by Wm. J. Clarke. Among his lieutenants
were Charles Manly, Jr., John F. Hoke and James P. Waddell.
Junius B. Wheeler was a private in this company. While in Mexico, he
was appointed 2nd Lt. in the 11th U.S. Infantry. After the war, he was
appointed a cadet at West Point. He served in the regular army, was at
one time a professor in the Military Academy and resigned with pay of
colonel on September 29, 1864. He died at Lenoir on July 15, 1880.
His daughter married Thomas Vance, son of the senator.
The conduct of the North Carolina Regiment was excellent in every respect
and its greatest misfortune was that it had no opportunity of displaying its
valor on the battlefield. This roster will be read with special interest by the
survivors of that regiment, many of whom are now among our distinguished
and most useful citizens.
The regiment returned and was honorably discharged from the service, part at
Smithville, N.C., part at Fortress Monroe Va., and part at Fort Moultrie, S.C.
Transcribed by Christine Spencer July 2008
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