This regiment was organized at Camp Fisher, near High Point, where it was mustered into state service on October 25th, 1861, for twelve months' service. The regiment was ordered to Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, and was transferred to Confederate service on January 1st, 1862.
On January 14th the regiment arrived at Goldsboro, where it went into camp while awaiting the distribution of arms. It's strength was reported as thirty seven officers and seven hundred and nine men present out of an aggregate of nine hundred and ten. Arms were issued on January 22nd. At about the same time, the regiment was reported, without further elaboration, to be "becoming more and more unhealthy daily."
On February 8th, 1862, a Federal amphibious force under General Ambrose E. Burnside captured Roanoke Island, and a Federal fleet began moving up the nearby coastal rivers. The 34th Regiment was ordered to Halifax, where it arrived on February 13th; it was then sent, in succession, to Jamesville, Weldon and Tarboro. On March 1st the Regiment moved to Hamilton under orders to prevent the enemy from ascending the Roanoke River. The Regiment returned to Goldsboro on March 25th, and, on April 18th, it was reorganized to serve for three years or the duration of the war (rather than twelve months). The Regiment was then assigned to a brigade commanded by General Joseph R. Anderson; other units assigned to the brigade were the 45th Regiment Georgia Infantry, 49th Regiment Georgia Infantry, 3rd Battalion Louisiana Infantry, 1st Regiment South Carolina Infantry, and the 38th Regiment North Carolina Troops.
On April 23rd, 1862, the 34th Regiment NC Troops along with 38th Regiment NC Troops and the 45th Regiment Georgia Infantry, was issued three days rations and ordered to proceed by rail to Richmond, Virginia. The 34th Regiment left Goldsboro the same day, passed through Richmond and arrived at Guinea Station near Fredericksburg, on April 26th. There the Regiment as part of Andersons brigade, as assigned to General Charles W. Field's command, who's task was to defend the routes of advance from Fredericksburg to Richmond against a Federal Army under the command of General Irvin McDowell. Following the defeat by General Thomas J. Jackson of Federal forces operating in the Shenandoah Valley, McDowell withdrew; Anderson's brigade then moved to Ashland, on May 25th, and from there to Halfsink, about eight miles north of Richmond where it went into camp.
After the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31st, 1862, General Robert E. Lee was assigned to command the Army of Northern Virginia, and the army underwent many changes as an effort was made to brigade together troops from the same state. The 34th Regiment NC Troops was transferred out of General Anderson's Brigade and was assigned to General William D. Pender's brigade of General A. P. Hill's division. In addition to this Regiment, the brigade was composed of the 16th Regiment NC Troops (6th Regiment NC Volunteers), 22nd Regiment NC Troops (12th Regiment NC Volunteers), 38th Regiment NC Troops, 2nd Battalion Arkansas Infantry and the 22nd Battalion Virginia Infantry.
By June 25th, 1862, the Federal Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George B. McClellan, had inched it's way up the "Peninsula" between the York and James rivers to within less than seven miles of Richmond. Lee, who's army of approximately 85,000 men was opposed by a force of about 105,000 Federals, determined to take the offense and concentrated the bulk of his army against the Federal right wing in the vicinity of Mechanicsville. Generals D.H. Hill's and James Longstreet's Divisions were placed on the Mechanicsville Turnpike, and A.P. Hill's division was positioned to the northwest on the Meadow Bridge Road. General Thomas J. Jackson's three divisions, moving down from the Shenandoah Valley, would open the attack on the morning of June 26th. A.P. Hill, on Jackson's right, would advance as soon as he heard the sound of Jackson's guns. Once A.P. Hill's troops had cleared the Meadow Bridge and the Mechanicsville Turnpike, D.H. Hill and Longstreet would cross the bridge to support Jackson and A.P. Hill respectively. Lee's plan to roll up the right wing of the Federal army failed on June 26th because Jackson did not reach his assigned position on time. A.P. Hill, after waiting till mid afternoon, attacked without Jackson's support and cleared the bridge on the Mechanicsville Turnpike. That allowed D.H. Hill's and Longstreet's divisions to cross the river to support A.P. Hill's attack. The Federal rightwing, under pressure, held until nightfall and then fell back to a defensive position at Cold Harbor, near Gaines' Mill. The 34th Regiment lost it's way during a critical moment and missed some of the severest fighting; it's casualties were therefore relatively light.
Early on the morning of June 27th, the divisions of A.P. Hill and Longstreet moved against the center of the new enemy position while Jackson and D.H. Hill advanced against the Federal right. A.P. Hill's division was in the vanguard, and Penders brigade, including the 34th Regiment, appears to have suffered heavily in severe fighting during which it was enfiladed on the left by musket and cannon fire. After belated help was received from Jackson and Longstreet, the Federal line was broken; however, darkness and fatigue prevented a Confederate pursuit. The next day was spent in bivouac on the battlefield.
After recrossing the Chickahominy River, Lee launched an attack on June 30th against the retreating Federals, who were protected in part by the "desolate mire" of White Oak Swamp. The Conferderate assault, in which A.P. Hill's Division again played the leading role, achieved a measure of success after hard fighting,but Lee again was unable to exploit his advantage. The 34th Regiment sustained "terrible" losses while "charging and capturing a battery of artillery, which was pouring a fearful fire into us". (Clark's Regiments, Vol II, PP 583 - 584). Exact casualty figures for the Regiment were not reported. The Federals retired to a strong position at Malvern Hill, which was attacked unsuccessfully by Confederate forces on July 1st. During the battle A.P. Hill's and Longstreet's divisions were held in reserve. Pender's brigade was ordered forward late in the day but did not get into action because of the lateness of the hour, the density of the woods, and Pender's lack of information as to the relative positions of the forces involved. Darkness brought an end to the fighting and the Federals retired to Harrison's Landing. Lee ordered his troops to follow but did not attack the strong Federal position. On July 8th he withdrew his army to the vicinity of Richmond. During the Battles of the Seven Days, the 34th Regiment lost fifty three men killed and a hundred and fifty eight wounded.
While at Richmond, Lee reorganized his army into two "commands" under Longstreet and Jackson, and A.P. Hill's division, of which Pender's brigade was still a part, was assigned to Jackson. The 2nd Battalion Arkansas Infantry and the 22nd Battalion Virginia Infantry were transferred out of Pender's brigade; the brigade was thus composed of the 16th Regiment NC Troops (6th Regiment NC Volunteers), 22nd Regiment NC Troops and the 38th Regiment NC Troops [The 13th Regiment NC Troops (3rd Regiment NC volunteers) was transferred to Pender's brigade on October 17th, 1862.]
On July 13th Jackson was ordered to move with two of his divisions, under Charles S. Winder and Richard S. Ewell, to Gordonsville to intercept an advancing Federal army commanded by General John Pope. A.P. Hill's division was ordered to join Jackson on July 27th. While the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia continued to keep watch on McLellan at Harrison's Landing, Jackson took the offensive against Pope. At Cedar Mountain, on August 9th, Jackson attempted to destroy an isolated corps of Pope's army and was on the verge of a defeat when Hill's division arrived to deliver a devastating counterattack. Pender's brigade was only periphally involved in the severe fighting but lost two men killed, eleven wounded, and two missing.
Jackson's men remained on the battlefield until the night of August 11th, when they were withdrawn to the vicinity of Gordonsville. The Federals began to reinforce Pope, and Lee countered by sending more troops from Richmond to the support of Jackson after McLellan began withdrawing from Harrison's Landing. On August 25th Jackson began maneuver to flank Pope's army- which was in position on the northside of the Rappahannock River- and get astride it's line of communications, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. On August 26th Jackson succeeded in reaching Manassas Junction, a major Federal supply depot. After destroying the supplies and facilities at Manassas Junction, Jackson withdrew his command five miles northwest to Groveton and assumed a defensive position along an unfinished branch of the Manassas Gap railroad. Hill's division was on Jackson's left with three brigades on the line, one brigade on the right, and three brigades, including Pender's, in reserve. Pope, the recipient of a continual stream of reinforcements, then launched a piecemeal attack against Jackson, who was outnumbered by a margin of better than three to one. While Pope attempted to come to grips with the elusive Jackson, Lee hurried Longstreet's command to Jackson's support.
Fierce fighting, during which Jackson's men managed to hold their own, broke out on the Confederate right at Groveton in the late afternoon on August 28th,1862. Pender's brigade, after a day of relative quiet, got into the fight the next day when Pope, concentrating on the Confederate left, launched a series of uncoordinated frontal attacks that failed to dislodge the stubborn Jackson. At about 11 am Longstreet's corps arrived on the field and went into position on Jackson's right. The Confederate line, although sometimes hard-pressed, held in the face of piecemeal Federal assaults until sunset, when the fighting ceased. The next day, August 30th a new attack on Jackson was contained with the help of Longstreet's massed artillery; Longstreet then took the offensive and succeeded in enveloping the left flank of Pope's army. Fierce fighting continued until nightfall as Pope's army retreated toward the Washington defenses. Pender's brigade was involved in fighting along the railroad cut on August 29th; it was subjected to enemy shelling on August 30th and took part in the successful assualt of that day. During the three day battle the 34th Regiment lost two men killed and twenty three wounded.
As the Federal army retired toward Washington, Lee ordered Jackson to attempt to turn the Federal right flank. Advance elements of Jackson's column encountered the enemy at Ox Hill late on the afternoon of September 1st, and the brigade of General Lawrence O'B. Branch, supported by the 16th Regiment NC Troops (6th Regiment NC Volunteers) and the 34th Regiment NC Troops of Pender's brigade, was ordered forward to attack during a blinding rainstorm. A general battle developed between Jackson's column and the Federal rear guard, but the latter held its position until nightfall and then retired under cover of darkness. The combined losses of the 16th and 34th Regiments NC Troops were twelve men killed and forty six wounded. Lee abandoned any further attempts to cut off the retreating Federals and turned his army north to cross into Maryland. After moving through Leesburg, Pender's brigade crossed the Potomac River on or about September 5th. On September 9th Lee issued orders for the movements of the army during the campaign and for the capture of Harpers Ferry, whose garrison posed a threat to the Confederate rear. Jackson's command, of which Pender's brigade of A.P. Hill's division was still a part, was ordered to incest Harpers Ferry from the west; General Lafayette McLaw's division, reinforced by General Richard H. Anderson's division, was instructed to occupy Maryland Heights across the Potomac from Harpers Ferry; and General John G. Walker's division was ordered to occupy Loudoun Heights southeast of the town. The Harpers Ferry strike force was to rejoin Lee as soon as the town and its garrison had been secured; in the meantime, Longstreet's command was to advance in the direction of Hagerstown.
Jackson moved forward on September 10th, crossed the Potomac near Williamsport the next day, and sent A.P. Hill's division against a Federal force at Martinsburg. The enemy retired as Hill entered Martinsburg on September 12th. On September 13th Hill's men came in sight of Bolivar Heights, west of Harpers Ferry, where the badly outnumbered Federals were strongly entrenched. By September 14th McLaw's and Walker's divisions were in position, and the investment of Harpers Ferry was completed. On September 15th, following a Confederate bombardment, the Federal garrison surrendered.
While Jackson was occupied at Harpers Ferry, Longstreet had been forced to withdraw from Hagerstown to defend the South Mountain gaps-where some of his units took a severe pounding on September 14th-against the advancing army of McClellan. Lee then issued orders for his divided and outnumbered army to concentrate at Sharpsburg; and Jackson, after leaving A.P. Hill's division to accept the surrender of the Harpers Ferry garrison, rejoined Lee and Longstreet at Sharpsburg about noon on September 16th. In the meantime, McClellan was ponderously maneuvering his army into position to attack Lee at Sharpsburg, where fighting broke out about sunrise on September 17th. Hill's division left Harpers Ferry at 7.30 am on September 17th and was on the march to Sharpsburg while the battle there was raging. A powerful attack on the right of Lee's position that afternoon was blunted by the timely arrival of Hill's men, and the Confederate line, although severely crippled, held during the terrible day-long fight. The 34th Regiment, having been assigned the task of counting and discharging the prisoners captured at Harpers Ferry, arrived late on the battlefield and, with the rest of Pender's brigade, played only a small part in the fighting. On September 18th the Army of Northern Virginia rested on the field until nightfall, when it retired across the Potomac.
On the morning of September 20th Pender's brigade, with the rest of Hill's division, marched to a ford of the Potomac near Shepherdstown and assisted in driving two Federal divisions back across the river. During the battle Hill's division was subjected to heavy artillery fire, and Pender's brigade lost eight men killed and fifty five wounded. After taking part int the destruction of a portion of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the division encamped near Bunker Hill with the rest of the army.
The Army of Northern Virginia remained in the Shenandoah Valley until the Army of Potomac began crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains on October 26th, 1862. On October 28th Lee ordered Longstreet's command to move east of the mountains and Jackson's command, of which Pender's brigade of Hill's division was still a part, to move closer to Winchester. When it became apparent that the Federal army, under General Ambrose E. Burnside, was concentrating on the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg, Lee ordered Longstreet to occupy the heights overlooking the town while Jackson's men went into position on Longstreet's right and downstream at Skinker's Neck and Port Royal. About 2.00 am on December 11th the Federals began constructing bridges across the river at Fredericksburg, and Lee ordered Jackson to concentrate his divided command on Longstreet's right. On the night of December 12th the enemy began crossing the river. Pender's brigade was on the extreme left of Jackson's line near a creek and was in contact with Longstreet's right. When Burnside attacked on December 13th the most severe fighting occurred on Longstreet's front. Some of Jackson's units were hotly engaged during the early stages of the battle, but, with the exception of the 16th Regiment NC Troops (6th Regiment NC Volunteers), Pender's men were not heavily involved. The 34th Regiment lost two men killed and seventeen wounded, mainly as a result of Federal artillery fire. After a day of quiet during which both sides strengthened their positions and collected their dead, the Federals withdrew across the river on the night of December 14th. The 34th Regiment then went into winter quarters at Camp Gregg, eight miles below Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. During the winter of 1862-1863 the regiment served on picket duty along the river.
Early on the morning of April 28th, 1863 the Army of the Potomac, under its latest commander, General Joseph Hooker, began crossing the Rappahannock in the Wilderness area upstream from Fredericksburg; at the same time, a large Federal force at Fredericksburg under General John Sedgwick began to make preparations for an apparent crossing. Lee, concluding that the Federal activity at Fredericksburg was a feint, began moving the bulk of his army to oppose Hooker. A small force under General Jubal Early was left behind at Fredericksburg to prevent a crossing by Sedgewick. Jackson's corps, with A.P. Hill's division in the rear, moved down the Orange Plank Road in the direction of Chancellorsville on May 1st and, at a point about three miles from that place, found the enemy. Advancing in two columns, the Confederates drove the Federals back to their defensive positions around Chancellorsville.
Early on the morning of May 2nd Jackson's corps was dispatched by Lee to turn the exposed right flank of the Federal army; and, after hard marching, Jackson succeeded in reaching a point about four miles west of Chancellorsville on Hooker's flank. As his troops came up, Jackson deployed them in three lines for the attack. Pender's brigade was placed in the third line with its right on the Orange Turnpike.
The attack began about 5.15 pm on May 2nd and the Federal troops, caught by surprise, fell back in disorder towards Chancellorsville. The first two Confederate lines merged and drove the enemy until strong resistance forced a halt for the night. The third line was exposed to artillery fire as it advanced and, after the attack stalled, it moved to the front and became the first line. Early on the morning of May 3rd the Confederate advance resumed. General Pender reported the brigade's part in the ensuing battle as follows (Official Records, Series I, Vol. XXV, pt 1, p 935):
My line had not advanced more than 150 yards before the firing became very heavy, but my men continued to advance, and soon it became apparent that the enemy were posted behind a breastwork of logs and brush. This was carried out without hesitating. Beyond the breastworks the resistance again became very obstinate, as if we had come in contact with a fresh line...and this, in its turn, was driven back after a short contest; but farther on the resistance became so great from their infantry force, and the tremendous fire from artillery on my right regiments, as they were forced to fall back, but rallied at the breastworks about 150 yards in our rear. My left regiment (Thirteenth North Carolina) not being subjected to the artillery fire, did not fall back, but continued to advance....
After the other four regiments fell back to the breastworks and were reformed, I advanced again, the men going forward with alacrity; but, after penetrating the woods about the same distance as before, had to fall back again....When my line was forced back a second time, supports came up and took the advance. My men were about of ammunition, broken down and badly cut up, having lost about 700 officers and men in the short time we had been engaged.... As soon as reinforcements reached Pender's position after the failure of his second attack, a general advance of the entire Confederate line took place. Aided by the fire of their artillery, the Confederates converged on and occupied Chancellorsville. Pender's brigade was then ordered to entrench. After inconclusive fighting on May 4th, Hooker withdrew across the Rappahannock. Lee then moved his army back to Fredericksburg, and the 34th Regiment returned to Camp Gregg. During the Battle of Chancellorsville the 34th Regiment lost eighteen men killed and one hundred and ten wounded.
Following the Chancellorsville campaign and the death of Jackson, the Army of Northern Virginia was reorganized into three corps under Generals James Longstreet (1st Corps), Richard S. Ewell (2nd Corps), and A.P. Hill (3rd Corps). General Pender was promoted to the command of Hill's former division. Colonel Alfred M. Scales of the 13th Regiment NC Troops (3rd Regiment NC Volunteers) was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of Pender's former brigade. Thus the 34th Regiment NC Troops was in Scale's brigade of Pender's division of Hill's corps. On June 3rd, 1863 General Lee put his army in motion toward the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North and a campaign that would end at Gettysburg. General Ewell's corps moved first and was followed by Longstreet's corps; Hill's corps remained temporarily at Fredericksburg to watch the Federal forces opposite the town. On June 13th Ewell's corps defeated an enemy force at Winchester, and Longstreet's corps occupied Culpeper Court House.
The Federals evacuated their Fredericksburg position the same day, and Hill's corps was ordered to move north. Ewell's corps crossed the Potomac Riveer into Maryland on June 16th and was followed by Hill's corps, which began fording the river at Shepherdstown, West Virginia, on June 24th. On the afternoon of June 27th Hill's corps arrived at Fayettville, Pennsylvania. Longstreet's corps was at Chamberburg, just west of Fayetteville, that day, and Ewell's corps was advancing on Carlisle, about thirty miles to the northeast. Hill's corps was ordered to Cashtown, about twelve miles southeast of Fayetteville, on June 29th, and Longstreet was directed to follow on June 30th. Ewell's corps was directed to rejoin the army at Cashtown or at Gettysburg, as developments the next day dictated.
General Henry Heth's division of Hill's corps reached Cashtown on June 29th, and the next morning James J. Pettigrew's brigade of Heth's division was sent to Gettysburg to procure supplies. Finding the town occupied by the enemy, Pettigrew retired to Cashtown. During the evening of June 30th General Hill arrived at Cashtown with Pender's division and decided to advance with Heth's and Pender's men the next morning. At daylight on July 1st the two divisions, with Heth's men in the lead, moved towards Gettysburg. Federal cavalry delayed the advance, and when Federal infantry were encountered in strength near Gettysburg, a general battle developed. An initial atttack by Heth on the Federal position on McPhersons Ridge was smashed with heavy casualties to two of Heth's brigades. Pender's men then joined the fighting and, when Ewell's corps began arriving, the Federals, their right flank endangered, grudgingly began to yield. After hard fighting, the enemy was driven by Ewell's men through the streets of Gettysburg to Cemetery Ridge south of the town. Hill's men occupied the northern end of Seminary Ridge, and Longstreet's corps, coming up on Hill's right, took up position along the remainder of the three-mile-long ridge.General Scales, whose brigade was all but wrecked in the fighting of July 1st, reported his brigade's part in the battle of that day as follows (Official Records, Series I, Vol XXVII, pt 2, pp. 669-670):
We pressed on [to the assistance of Heth's division] until coming up with the line in our front...I received orders to halt, and wait for this line to advance. This they soon did, and pressed forward in quick time...I again ordered an advance, and after marching one fourth of a mile or more, again came upon the front line, halted and lying down. The officer's on this part of the line informed me that they were without ammunition, and would not advance farther. I immediately ordered my brigade to advance. We passed over them, up the ascent, crossed the ridge, and commenced the descent just opposite the theological seminary. Here the brigade encountered a most terrific fire of grape and shell on our flank, and grape and musketry in our front. Every discharge made sad havoc in our line, but we still pressed on at a double-quick until we reached the bottom...here I received a painful wound from a piece of shell, and was disabled. Our line had been broken up, and now only a squad here and there marked the place where regiments had rested. Every field officer of the brigade except one was disabled during the attack, and the brigade lost nine officers killed, forty five wounded and one missing. The ranks were thinned by the loss of thirty nine men killed, three hundred and thirty six wounded, and one hundred and fifteen missing.
Some of the missing and slightly wounded returned during the night, and Colonel William L.J. Lowrance of the 34th Regiment, who assumed command of the brigade after Scales, was wounded reported that it numbered about five hundred men when he took command.
On July 2nd Longstreet's corps assaulted the Federal left in the vicinity of the Devils Den and Little Round Top while Ewell's corps attacked the Federal right at Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. Each of these poorly coordinated and costly attacks failed, after initial success, to dislodge the enemy. Scale's (Lowrance's) brigade, after being sent to guard the extreme right flank of the army on the previous evening, returned to the center of the Confederate line that afternoon. Although they were involved in skirmishing, the day was relatively quiet for Pender's men. Among the casualties was General Pender, who was mortally wounded. He was temporarily replaced by General James H. Lane, who was in turn succeeded the next day by General Isaac Trimble.
On July 3rd Lee launched an attack against the Federal center on Cemetery Ridge. The assault force consisted of Heth's division (commanded by General James J. Pettigrew after Heth was wounded on July 1st) on the left, supported by two brigades-Scale's (Lowrance's) and James H. Lane's-of Pender's (Trimble's) division in a second line, George E. Pickett's division, supported by Cadmus M. Wilcox's brigade, comprised the right wing of the attack force. Colonel Lowrance reported his brigades part in the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge as follows: (Official Records, Series I, Vol. XXVII, pt.2, pp 671-672):
Then we were ordered forward over a wide, hot and already crimson plain.
We advanced upon the enemy's line, which was in full view, at a distance of one mile. Now their whole line of artillery was playing upon us, which was on an eminence in our front, strongly fortified and supported by infantry. While we were thus advancing, many fell, but I saw few in that most hazardous hour who even tried to shirk duty. All went forward with a cool and steady step, but ere we had advanced two-thirds of the way, troops from the front came tearing through our ranks, which caused many of our men to break, but with the remaining few we went forward until the right of the brigade touched the enemy's line of breastworks...Now the pieces in our front were all silenced. Here many were shot down, being exposed to a heavy fire of grape and musketry upon our right flank. Now all apparently had forsaken us. The two brigades [Lowrance's and Lane's] (now reduced to mere squads, not numbering in all eight hundred guns) were the only line to be seen upon that vast field, and no support in view. The natural inquiry was, What shall we do? and none to answer. The men answered for themselves, and, without orders, the brigade retreated, leaving many on the field unable to get off, and some, I fear, unwilling to undertake the hazardous retreat. The brigade was then rallied on the same line where it was first formed.
Following the failure of the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge, Lee held his army in position on July 4th to receive an expected but unforthcoming attack from the Federals. On the night of July 4th, in a driving rainstorm, the weary and bloodied Army of Northern Virginia began its retreat. Pender's (Trimble's) division, once more under the command of Lane after Trimble had been wounded and captured on July 3rd, fell back towards Hagerstown by way of Fairfield. When the army began crossing the Potomac near Falling Waters, Maryland, which, along with the rest of Pender's division, had been consolidated into division of General Heth, became part of the rear guard. Lowrance reported ensuing disaster as follows (Official Records, Series I, Vol. XXVII, pt 2, p. 672):
[We} arrived there [Falling Waters] at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 14th; and, while resting for a few hours ere we crossed,...were attacked by a squad of cavalry, which caused some detention. Then, all being quiet, I moved off, as directed, toward the river, but ere I had gone more than 300 yards, I was ordered by General Heth to take the brigade back to the support of those who were acting as rear guard....[T]he men were quite exhausted from pressure of heat, want of sleep, want of food, and the fatigue of marching; and at this very moment I found the troops on our right giving way....Then I was ordered to join on their right, and, while making a move to do this effect, ere we had come to the top of the hill on which they were, I rode forward, and saw the whole line in full retreat some 200 or 300 yards to my rear; the enemy was pursuing, and directly between me and the bridge. The move, I understand since, was made by order, but I received no such orders, in consequence of which I was cut off. But I filed directly to the rear, and struck the river some three-quarters of a mile above the bridge, and so cut off many of our men who were unwilling to try to pass, and captured many more who failed from mere exhaustion; so in this unfortunate circumstance we lost nearly 200 men.
The army retreated to the vicinity of Bunker Hill and Darkesville, where it halted. During the Gettysburg campaign, including the Battle of Falling Waters, the 34th Regiment lost sixteen men killed and forty eight wounded. The number of men captured, which may have been substantial, was not reported.
When the Federal army crossed into Virginia in mid-July, Lee moved his army east of the Bue Ridge Mountains to interpose it between the enemy and Richmond. By August 4th, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia occupied the Rapidan River line and the Army of the Potomac had taken position on the Rappahannock. At about that time General Cadmus M. Wilcox was promoted and placed in command of the division of General Pender, who died on July 18th of wounds received at Gettysburg. General Scales returned to duty after his wound healed and resumed command of his brigade. Thus the 34th Regiment was in Scale's brigade of Wilcox's division of A.P. Hill's corps.
In October, 1863, Lee learned that sizable reinforcements had been sent from the Army of the Potomac to strengthen the forces of General William S. Rosecrans near Chattanooga; he therefore took the offensive against the weakened Army of the Potomac, which began to retreat. Elements of Hill's corps suffered severe casualties in heavy fighting at Bristoe Station on October 14th; however, Scale's brigade had been detailed a few days earlier to guard the corps wagontrain at Buckland and so took no part in the battle. The Federals completed their withdrawl unmolested.
Lee retired to the Rappahannock River and, after the battles at Rappahannock Bridge and Kelly's Ford on Novemeber 7th, fell back to the Rapidan. On November 26th the Federal commander, General George G. Meade, began moving his army to cross the Rapidan below Lee's position, and Lee shifted his forces eastward to intercept the Federals. By November 29th Lee's men were strongly entrenched at Mine Run, and Meade, unable to locate a vulnerable point against which to launch an attack, also began entrenching. On the morning of December 2nd Lee sent an attack force composed of Wilcox's and Richard H. Anderson's divisions against what he believed to be an exposed Federal flank, however, when the Confederates moved out they discovered that the Federal army had retreated. A pursuit was undertaken, but Meade recrossed the Rapidan safely. Both armies went into winter quarters. The 34th Regiment spent the winter of 1863-1864 in camp with the brigade near Orange Court House. During that time the decimated ranks of the regiment were partially refilled, mostly with recruits in their early forties.
The brigade was still in camp near Orange Court House on the morning of May 4th, 1864, when the Army of the Potomac, under the strategic direction of General U.S. Grant, began crossing the lower Rapidan and entered a thicket- and vine-choked woods of dense scrub oak and pine known as the Wilderness. When news of Grant's crossing was received, Lee ordered Hill's corps to move eastward from Orange Court House by the Orange Plank Road while Ewell's corps, south of Moreton's Ford, moved in a parallel direction on Hill's left on the Orange Turnpike. Longstreet's corps, near Gordonsville, was instructed to move up on Hill's right on the Carthapin road.
On the morning of May 5th Hill's column, with Heth's division in the lead, came upon Federal cavalry near Parker's Store and succeeded in forcing the enemy back. Immediately north of Hill, on the Orange Turnpike, Ewell encountered the enemy in corps strength. Hill ordered Heth's division to deploy in line of battle across the Orange Plank Road and directed Wilcox to lead his division off to the left to make contact with Ewell's right. Wilcox posted Scale's and Samuel McGowan's brigades on a low eminence known as Chewning Plateau and moved his other two brigades, under James H. Lane and Edward L. Thomas, further to the left to link up with Ewell.
At 4.00 pm on May 5th elements of the Federal II Corps assaulted Heth's line in such strength the Heth was forced to commit his reserve brigade and call for reinforcements. Scale's and McGowan's brigades were ordered to Heth's assistance and were followed by the brigades of Lane and Thomas. After severe fighting during which Scale's and Lane's brigades thwarted a Federal effort to turn the Confederate flank, the outnumbered defenders were able to stabilize their precarious position. Darkness brought an end to the fighting, and during the night Hill's line was reformed.
Scale's brigade was in the right-center of the first line with its left on the Orange Plank Road; Thomas's and Davis's Brigades were to Scale's left and McGowen's Brigade to his right. Three additional brigades were in position behind the first line, and a Cooke's Brigade was in reserve.
At 5.00 am the next morning, May 6th, Federal columns struck Hill's line in the center and left flank. Thirteen Federal brigades fell upon Hill's eight brigades with such abruptness and violence that there was scarcely time for resistance. Scale's and McGowen's brigades broke, and the entire Confederate line fell back in disorder. The second line was unable to hold also, and a general rout followed. Only the timely arrival of Longstreet's corps, moving up at the double-quick to reinforce Hill, prevented the collapse of the right wing of Lee's army. The Federal assault was blunted and driven back, and Hill's men, after re-forming behind Longstreet, were dispatched to the vicinity of Chewning Plateau to close a gap between Longstreet and Ewell. The battle continued on Longstreet's front until darkness brought an end to the fighting.
Grant moved his Army away from the Wilderness and tried to get between Lee's Army and his bases at Richmond. Lee anticipated the move and sent two of his corps to block the move. The two armies came together once again at Spotsylvania Court House.
Late on the evening of May 7th the Federals launched a sudden, violent attack against Ewell's "Mule Shoe" position, overran the apex of the line, and began driving the survivors back. Lane's brigade then counterattacked along the right side of the salient and, reinforced by Scale's and Thomas's brigades and further assisted by a counter-attack on the left and center of the salient, forced the enemy to retire; however, the Federals were able to entrench on the opposite of the Confederate breastworks, and hand-to-hand fighting raged throughout the day. After a new line was completed at the base of the "Mule Shoe", the Confederates fell back to that position. Scale's brigade, along with the other brigades of Wilcox's division, the returned to its original works. After several unsuccessful attempts against the Confederate line at Spotsylvania Court House, Grant began moving his army quietly eastward. On May 21st a probing attack by the brigades of Scales and Thomas revealed, after a sharp skirmish, that the Federals had abandoned their works. Lee then began shifting his army eastward to the North Anna River at a point just north of Hanover Junction, where he blocked the Federal route of advance. General Hill, who had returned to the command of his corps on May 21st, positioned his troops on the left of the North Anna line on May 22nd. Grant then moved his army up to the North Anna opposite Lee's defenses, and on May 23rd a Federal corps, under General G.K. Warren, crossed the river at Jericho Mills. Hill ordered Wilcox's division forward to oppose the Federal advance, and Wilcox, deploying his division with three brigades on the front line and Scale's brigade behind the left brigade, attacked. As the division moved forward, the left brigade gave way. Scale's brigade then moved into the front line but did not advance further. After heavy fighting, during which his division sustained six hundred and forty two casualties, Wilcox failed in his effort to drive Warren back into the river. At nightfall Wilcox's men retired to their works. Casualties in the 34th Regiment NC Troops were not reported. Just as he had done at Bristoe Station, Hill had implusively rushed his men into a fight without determining the strength of the enemy.
The center of Lee's line was then anchored on the North Anna with the flanks drawn back in an inverted V. Grant crossed additinal forces on May 24th and moved against both wings of the Confederate army; however he was unable to push back the Confederate center. With his army dangerously divided into three parts, and separated by the river, Grant found it expedient to withdraw, and during the night of May 26-27 the Federals recrossed the North Anna and moved southward to the Pamunkey.
Lee began shifting his army southward as soon as it was learned that Grant was again on the march, and on May 27th Ewell's corps, temporarily commanded by General Jubal Early, marched some twenty-four miles and camped between Beaver Dam Creek and Pole Green Church. Longstreet's (Anderson's) corps came up on Early's right, and Hill's corps extended the left of Early's line. On May 30th, under orders from Lee, Early moved to attack the Federal left at Bethesda Church. The attack failed to turn the Federal left but revealed that the army was moving once again to the Confederate right.
The two armies then began concentrating at Cold Harbor, where new fighting broke out on June 1st. The next day, two of Hill's divisions, commanded by Wilcox and General William Mahone, were ordered to leave their positions on the left of the Confederate line and go to the support of Anderson, on the right.
Wilcox's men arrived on the right of the line at 3.00 pm, and two brigades of the division joined in General John C. Breckinridge's successful attack on Turkey Hill. Wilcox's division was then placed on the right of Breckinridge's command and entered the line to within a half mile of the Chickahominy River. Scale's brigade, which had to drive the enemy force from its assigned position, was second from the right in Wilcox's line.
At 4,30 am, on June 3rd, 1864, the Federals launched a general assault against the six-mile-long Confederate line. Only Wilcox's division escaped the furious attack, which was bloodily repulsed by the entrenched Confederates. The attacks ceased about 11.00 am, but infantry and artillery firing continued from defensive positions until about 1.00 pm. The 34th Regiment was subjected to enemy fire during the battle but was not actively engaged. Its casualties were not reported. The two armies remained in their positions until Grant began to move south towards the James River on June 12th. Lee followed and made contact on June 13th at Riddell's Shop, where the 34th Regiment was engaged in a brief skirmish. A defensive line was established, but no general engagement followed. Grant then crossed the James and moved against Petersburg. Hill's corps remained north of the river until ordered to move to Petersburg, where it arrived on June 18th and went into position on the extreme right of the Confederate defensive line near Globe Tavern, on the vital Petersburg & Weldon Railroad. Scale's brigade occupied the works south of Sycamore Street. On June 22nd the 34th Regiment took part in a successful engagement on the Jerusalem Plank Road that drove the Federals back in confusion and prevented them from gaining a lodgment on the railroad.
In mid-August Grant ordered an extension of his lines to the west, and on August 18th a Federal force occupied Globe Tavern. The Confederates made an unsuccessful effort, in which Hill's entire corps took part, to eject the enemy on August 21st; however, Scale's brigade was not included in the assault force, and its activities were not reported.
South of Globe Tavern another Federal force occupied the railroad at Reams' Station. After moving his corps around the enemy position at Globe Tavern, Hill ordered Scale's brigade and six other brigades, together with two divisions of cavalry, to attack on the new Federal position. The men moved out on the afternoon of August 24th and arrived before Reams' Station the next morning. About 2.00 pm Scale's and Lane's brigades launched their assault. Two attempts to carry the works failed with considerable loss to the attackers from a "frightful enfilading fire of artillery and musketry." (Clark's Regiments, Volume II, p. 588) A Combined attack by the entire Confederate force later in the afternoon forced the Federals to retire, and that night Hill's men returned to their original position in the Petersburg trenches. Wilcox's division did not see action again until September 30th, when Grant's effort to extend his line westward from Globe Tavern was unsuccessfully opposed by the Confederates at Jones' Farm. During that action Scale's brigade narrowly escaped capture as Wilcox's division was hit on the left flank and forced to retire.
On December 8th, 1864, Scale's brigade with the remainder of Hill's corps, was ordered to Belfield to oppose a Federal effort to cut the Petersburg & Wedlon Railroad well to the south of Richmond. The Confederates, marching through sleet and snow, arrived at a point a few miles from Belfield before learning that the Federals had retired. Hill then attempted to cut off the enemys retreat and intercepted the Federal cavalry at Jarratt's Station. After a brief skirmish the Confederates pushed on, only to find that the Federal infantry was three hours ahead of them and could not be overtaken. Hill then called off the pursuit. After bivouacking for the night, Hill started back to his camp at Hatcher's Run, which he reached on the afternoon of December 13th. The 34th Regiment saw no further action for the remainder of the year.
Early in February, 1865, Grant ordered a move on the left of his line to secure a position on the Boydton Plank Road at Hatcher's Run. Hill's troops were engaged on February 5th but were unsuccessful in preventing a Federal advance. Wilcox's division was then moved further to the west as the already overextended Confederates lengthened thier lines to cover the latest Federal extension.
On March 29th Grant launched a new attack that culminated in the routing of a Confederate force at Five Forks on April 1st and opened the way for an advance on the Petersburg defenses in the flank and rear. On April 2nd the Federals launched a general attack against the entire Confederate line. Scale's brigade was forced back to the second line of entrenchments, and to the left of the brigade the Federals broke through and threatened to carry the main works.
That night Lee decided to evacuate the Richmond-Petersburg defenses, and his army pulled out of the trenches and marched toward Amelia Court House. General Scales was at home on sick furlough, and his brigade was under the command of Colonel Joseph H. Hyman of the 13th Regiment NC Troops (3rd Regiment NC Volunteers).
Lee's army regrouped at Amelia Court House on April 4th-5th and continued its retreat on April 6th. At Saylors Creek, on April 6th, the Confederates failed to hold the advancing Federals and sustained heavy casualties. On April 7th the Confederate army moved through Farmville and Scale's brigade, still commanded by Colonel Hyman, drove off a body of Federal cavalry that was preparing to attack the retreating column. On the morning of April 9th, as Wilcox's division was moving to support an attack by General John B. Gordon on the Federals just west of Appomattox Court House, word came to cease fire.
Lee surrended the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House that day. When the army was paroled on April 12th, 1865 one hundred and sixty eight members of the 34th Regiment NC Troops were present to receive their paroles. The Thirty-fourth Regiment of North Carolina Troops was composed of the following companies:
Company A--Ashe County--Captain, S. N. Wilson.
Company B--Rutherford and Cleveland Counties--Captain, John Edwards."The Sandy Run Yellow Jackets"
Company C--Rutherford County--Captain M. O. Dickerson."The Rutherford Rebels"
Company D--Rowan County--Captain, William A. Houk.
Company E--Lincoln County--Captain, John F. Hill.
Company F--Cleveland County--Captain Abram G. Walters."The Floyd Rifles"
Company G--Mecklenburg County--Captain, William R. Myers.
Company H--Cleveland County--Captain, Samuel A. Hoey."The Rough and Readys"
Company I--Rutherford County--Captain, James O. Simmons."The Rutherford Band"
Company K--Montgomery County--Captain, David R. Cochran.
Other Pages on the 34th
Local Company Names
Return to the Pender/Scales Brigade Home Page
County Information and Troop lists
Rosters of Allegheny and Ashe Counties
Company G, MECKLENBURG COUNTY
Company H, Mecklenburg County
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