Compiled by Frances H. Casstevens, 9/19/2007
The shifting of troops makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the 28th Regiment in some of the battles. However, the 28th took part, or was present, at the following places and battle sites:
September 21, 1861 – Camp Fisher, near High Point, NC
28th Regiment organized - ordered to Wilmington on September 30, where they remain throughout the Winter of 1861 and into the Spring of 1862.
February 13, 1861 – Wilmington, NC
The 28th Regiment, with a strength of 933 men; assigned to Branch’s Brigade, along with the 7th, 18th, 33rd, and 37th Regiments.
May 1862 – Branch’s Brigade ordered to Gordonsville, VA
May 27, 1862 – Battle of Hanover Court House, VA
The 28th Regiment ordered to go to Taliaferro’s Mill where they are cut off from the rest of the brigade. Colonel James H. Lane, commander of the 28th, reported an encounter with the 25th NY. They then found themselves facing an entire brigade. The 28th engaged the enemy and held their ground for 4 hours, expecting reinforcements. None ever came, and they had to retire. Casualties not reported, but were substantial.
Colonel W. H. A. Speer and others captured. (See Allen Speer’s book, Voices from Cemetery Hill).
June 28, 1862 – 28th Regiment down to 480 men
June 25-July 1, 1862 – Seven Days; Battle: Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Frazier’s Farm
These battles were successful and the Confederates drove the Federal troops back. Richmond was saved once again. The 28th lost 19 men killed, 130 wounded, out of 4809 men. General Lane was wounded at Frazier’s Farm.
August 9, 1862 – Battle of Cedar Mountain
General Branch wounded, and Lane assumes command of brigade. Stonewall’s division was flanked and retreated in disorder. North Carolina Troops of A. P. Hill’s division advanced and delivered a counterattack, routing the enemy from the field. Colonel Lane reported: “The 28th, 33rd, 18th, and 37th moved cheerfully and irresistibly forward in perfect order.” Many prisoners were captured, and many Federal soldiers voluntarily surrendered.
August 28, 1862 – Second Manassas
Pope’s Federal forces outnumbered Confederates 3:1. Branch’s Brigade (including the 28th) was placed along the unfinished railroad cut where they were engaged in heavy fighting. The Confederates held for a day and a half until reinforced by Longstreet’s Corp the next day. Confederates then went on offensive and droved Union troops from the field. Lane reported that the 28th “...advanced boldly into the woods, driving the enemy before it, although exposed to a left enfilade and direct fire, but fell back when it found itself unsupported. The men rallied and reformed in the center of an open field and advanced a second time, when the enemy was not only driven beyond the cut, but entirely out of the woods. Never have I witnessed greater bravery and desperation than was that day displayed by this brigade.”
September 1, 1862 – Ox Hill (Chantilly, VA)
The day after 2nd Manassas, in the advance of Jackson’s column, the 28th encountered the enemy at Ox Hill. Branch’s Brigade was ordered to advance in a blinding rainstorm, and when ammunition ran low, they were ordered to hold their position with bayonets.
Lane reported this engagement was one of the most severe held to date. Casualties among the 28th: 14 killed, 92 wounded, 2 missing. Afterwards, the cold, hungry, and wet men of the 28th were ordered back to the field for picket duty during the night, without fires for warmth and comfort.
September 17, 1862 – Harper’s Ferry and Sharpsburg, Maryland
The 28th left Harper’s Ferry on the morning of September 17 and marched on the double to Sharpsburg. They arrived in time to save Gen. Lee’s right. During the battle, General Branch was mortally wounded. Colonel Lane was given permanent command of the brigade. After the battle, the Branch-Lane Brigade was one of three formed as the rear guard for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia as it crossed the Potomac River.
November 1, 1862- Colonel James H. Lane promoted
Lane was officially promoted to brigadier general in charge of the former Branch’s Brigade. Colonel Samuel D. Lowe was placed in command of the 28th Regiment.
December 13, 1862 – Fredericksburg, VA
The 28th was involved in the heavy fighting at Fredericksburg on the plain south of the town. Casualties were 16 killed and 49 wounded.
May 1-4, 1863 – Chancellorsville, VA
The 28th was part of Stonewall Jackson’s famous flank march around Chancellorsville, which took the enemy by surprise. A night attach on May 3 was repulsed by the 28th, together the help of the 18th and 33rd Regiments. During this attack, Company E of the 28th (the Montgomery Grays) captured the flag of the 3rd Main Volunteers.
On May 3, the 28th was involved in 3 charges against the Federal breastworks, which were supported by heavy enemy artillery. Each time the Confederates charged, both the regiment and the brigade suffered heavy losses.
Eventually, the Federals were forced to retire and the retreated back across the Rappahannock River, ending the 3-day battle.
Chancellorsville was considered Lee’s greatest victory. However, that victory was tempered with the loss of Lee’s greatest general, Stonewall Jackson. Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men (the 18th Regiment of the Branch-Lane Brigade reportedly fired upon Jackson while he was riding through the lines during the night).
The loss of Jackson forced a reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia. The following campaign would end with the battle of Gettysburg.
July 1-3, 1863 – Gettysburg, PA
The 28th Regiment was one of the first two divisions to enter the little town of Gettysburg. The regiment saw action on the first day west of the town. On the second day, July 2nd, their position was a relatively quiet, but their division commander, General William Dorsey Pender, was mortally wounded. The third day was a disaster for the entire Army of Northern Virginia, which culminated in the now famous assault known as “Pickett’s Charge”.
The 28th was a part of this assault, which was to be known as the “high tide of the Confederacy.” After this battle, because of the heavy casualties, the Confederate Army was never able to garner enough manpower to gain the advantage in a major battle.
Against the advice of Longstreet and other generals, Lee sent 12,000 of his best troops against the enemy’s center. The Federal forces of General Meade were on an elevated position nearly a mile from the Confederate lines. An open field, two fences, and a road lay between the opposing forces. The Federals were sheltered by a low stonewall, and behind them their heavy artillery were massed.
General Lane reported on part of his Brigade in the assault: “I moved forward to the support of Pettigrew’s right, through the woods in which our batteries were planted, and through an open field about a mile in full view of the enemy’s fortified position, and under a murderous artillery and infantry fire. My command never moved forward more handsomely. The men reserved their fire in accordance with orders and then opened with telling effect, repeatedly driving the cannoneers from their pieces, completely silencing the guns in our immediate front, and breaking the line of infantry which was formed on the crest of the hill. We advanced to within a few yards of the stonewall, exposed all the while to heavy ranking artillery fire from the right. My left was very much exposed, and a column of the enemy’s infantry was thrown forward in that direction, which enfiladed my whole line. This forced me to withdraw my brigade, the troops on my right having already done so.
Captain Lovell of Company A, 28th Regiment, reported: “Some of my men were wounded and captured inside the works.” It has been established that the North Carolina troops advanced the furtherest in this assault.
It is also known that the North Carolinians held their ground the longest before falling back.
Rev. George Sanderlin, Captain, Company E, 33rd Regiment, stated: “I am absolutely confident that Lane’s Brigade held its position at the enemy’s works longer than any other command, and that we did not move towards the rear until the rest of the line was in full retreat…”.
After this disastrous battle, the Army of Northern Virginia retreated back across the Potomac.
The flag of the 28th Regiment was captured. It was one of 33 Confederate flags taken.
During Pickett’s Charger, the 28th Regiment lost 104 men out of 349 men involved.
Winter 1863-1864 – Liberty Mills, near Fredericksburg, VA
The winter months and until May 4, the Branch-Lane Brigade and the 28th Regiment were in camp on the Rapidan River, above Fredericksburg.
May 5, 1864 – The Wilderness
On May 4, 1864, General U. S. Grant began moving his Army of the Potomac across the lower Rapidan River and continued until he entered the dense woods known as the Wilderness, southeast of Fredericksburg. Lee moved his troops to stop Grant. The Confederates were outnumbered 2:1.
The battle began on the morning of May 5 with heavy fighting. Lane’s and Scales’ brigades stopped the Federal effort to turn the Confederate flank. The Confederates stabilized their position.
On May 6, 134 Federal brigades attacked Hill’s 8 brigades with such suddenness they hardly had tome to resist. Hill’s men were driven back in disorder. Longstreet arrived to reinforce Hill and to prevent the collapse of Lee’s right wing. The Federal assault came to a halt, and they were driven back. Lee managed to defeat Grant in their first encounter. However, the Wilderness was the scene of many terrible deaths when the woods caught fire and some of the wounded were burned alive.
May 8-12, 1864 – Spotsylvania Court House
The Confederate Army reached Spotsylvania, a strategic junction, before the Federals. Lee’s men set up a strong defensive line. Lane’s Brigade was on the left of Hill’s line, and connected to Ewell’s line at a U-shaped salient known as “The Mule Shoe” (later called the “Bloody Angle). The 18th and the 28th regiments were on the left of Lane’s Brigade and they came under a sudden and violent attack early on the morning of May 12. Confederate troops, including the 28th, were driven back. The 28th lost many men and its flag. The 28th and 28th fell back to a parallel line with the rest of Lane’s Brigade, and they managed to stop the Federal advance. Further to their left, Ramseur’s Brigade was holding the enemy back in hand-to-hand combat. The men bravely held until a second line of defense was being completed across the base of the salient. Once it was completed, the original line was abandoned, which ended the Federal attack.
The fight was not over for Lane’s Brigade. As they moved south to Heth’s salient, they were sent to attack the Federals on that part of the field. The brigade drove the Federals back, and captured many prisoners, as well as the flag of the 17th Michigan, and a battery of artillery.
At Spotsylvania, the 28th Regiment lost its colors and 126 men were either killed or wounded.
May 23, 1864 – Jericho Mills, VA
As Grant withdrew, Lee’s army moved southeastward. The 28th Regiment was involved in a battle at Jericho Mills. Lane reported that the 28th advanced as far as any of the troops engaged, held its ground until relieved that night, and removed all its dead and wounded.”
June 18, 1864 – Petersburg, VA
The 28th was positioned on the extreme right of the Confederate line at Petersburg.
June 22, 1864 – Jerusalem Plank Road
Lane’s Brigade stopped the Federals from gaining a position on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad.
June 18, 1864 – Gravel Hill
The 28th was involved in a battle here.
August 16, 1864 – Fussell’s Mill
The entire Branch-Lane Brigade was involved in a battle at Fussell’s Mill, where the Federals tried to breach the Confederate defenses.
August 25, 1864 – Reams’ Station
Along with Hill’s Corps, the 28th took part in a victory over the Federals at Reams’ Station. General Lee said to General Lane: “The three North Carolina brigades of Cooke’s, MacRae’s and Lane’s which made the assault, after the failure of the first by other troops, had by their gallantry not only placed North Carolina, but the whole Confederacy, under a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid.” In a letter to Governor Vance of North Carolina, General Lee said: “They advanced through a thick abates of felled trees under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery and carried the enemy’s works with a steady courage that elicited the warm commendations of the corps and division commanders and the admiration of the army.
It was during a conversation about the battle at Reams’ Station that North Carolina received its nickname: It is said that after this battle, when the North Carolina troops were marching by the troops from another state, one of the soldiers called out to the North Carolina boys and asked them what they were gong to do with all that tar back home. “Jeff Davis is going to bring it up here and put it on your heels so you’ll stick better in the next fight,’ was the reply from a North Carolina boy. Upon hearing of the incident, General Lee reportedly said, “God Bless the Tar heel boys!” The name has stuck to the boys form North Carolina ever since.
September 9, 1864 – Jones' Farm
February 5, 1865 – Hatcher’s Run
April 2, 1865 – Petersburg Lines
The Federal attack finally broke the thin Confederate lines at Petersburg, General Lane reported on the night of April 1 that his men were spaced 6 to 10 paces (18 to 30 feet) apart. Normally if enough men were available, they would have been stationed shoulder-to-shoulder. Lee did not have enough men by now to do that.
The enemy penetrated the line on the right of the 37th North Carolina. The 28th was enfiladed on the left and on the right. They found themselves surrounded and were forced to fall back. The same was true all along the line and the order was given to evacuate Petersburg. Lee sent word to President Davis to leave Richmond.
April 3, 1865 – Appomattox River and Farmville, VA
The 28th was engaged in skirmished between the Appomattox River and Farmville until they received orders to return to Appomattox Court House and stack their arms. Their arms were actually stacked on April 12, 1865; 3 days after Lee surrendered.
Of the entire 28th Regiment, which normally consisted of about 1,000 men, only 230 members were present at Appomattox.