H. G. Worsley's Civil War Experiences

(Two newspaper clippings from the Evening Telegram in Rocky Mount, NC)

Defending Eastern North Carolina

Among the Confederate soldiers who were engaged in the battle to defend Little Washington, at the time of its capture by the Yankees in the Civil War, was H. G. Worsley, who in a letter written after the close of the war, have some very interesting accounts of his part in the conflict. Mr. Worsley whose relatives still reside in Rocky Mount, was born on July the 5th, 1833 and joined the Confederate Army in July of 1861. His entry into the army took place at Old Sparta, in Edgecombe County where a company was organized under Captain Frank Pitt. The first lieutenant of the group was V. B. Thorp and Bennett Jenkins was second lieutenant. M. B. Pitt served the company as third lieutenant. The company, according to Mr. Worsley's letter, was organized as a sort of independent cavalry, and training was done at Old Sparta. From there they moved to Camp Hardy and began picket duty above Little Washington. According to Mr. Worsley "when the attack was made on Little Washington our company took part in the engagement by guarding the bridge across Tar River on the west end. The federal troops were driven out of the town, but the gun boats coming up, the town was evacuated." This, follows closely the account as given by Stephen F. Blanding, who was on the opposite side in the fray, and whose story tells of the Conderates evacuating Washington, in the general direction of "Kingston." The company was known as the Edgecombe Partisan Rangers and subsequently became Company I, 7th Regiment Confederate Cavalry. Much of the history of the Civil war would be more complete if other far-thinking soldiers had had the foresight of Mr. Worsley, and had written down for posterity, at least a part of their activities during the war. Much can be gained from records in Washington, but it is often the personal reminisces of such soldiers as Mr. Worsley that gives us the real insight into the lives of our forefathers, and much of the general life of the men who fought so bravely to defend what they thought was right. We have written before in this column of the account of the siege of Little Washington, after its capture by the Yankees, and were interested to find in Mr. Worsley's letter the following paragraph: "Then we were ordered on picket duty on the Ablemarle Sound and had a good many skirmishes with the Federal cavalry, and some with gun boats. I was on a scout to Little Washington while the Federal troops were in possession of that place. Under Captain Myers I was the sergeant in command to carry the prisoners to Goldsborough." Mr. Worsley's letter was closed with the following paragraph: "We fought for a lost cause, and ended the great career of our great general who surrendered his sword to the conqueror U. S. Grant at Appamattox Court House on the 9th day of April, 1865 and settled a question of long standing and great agitation that disturbed the nation."


The Surrender of Lee at Appamattox

We have written of a photostatic copy of a letter written after the Civil War by the late H. G. Worsley, whose relatives still reside in Rocky Mount. Much that was interesting was found in the letter, but one of the things that made the letter unique was the author's account of the close of the war, and his reaction to the surrender. According to Mr. Worsley he "was with the army (Confederate) on the retreat from Petersburg to Appammatox Court House. I took part in the last day's fight with General Lee at his surrender. I can at (to) the rear and told Capt. Pitt that General Lee had surrendered. He told me he did not intend to surrender. I told him I should follow him. He told me to stay and surrender, but I told him I volunteered to follow him and if he went out I would follow him. We forded the James River and by circuitous route went around the Federal Army and came into North Carolina in Granville County." He writes further that as he remembered it, it took him about nine days to reach home (Edgecombe County). We have read many instances of deserters from the Confederate ranks during the course of the Civil War, some leaving at the height of the conflict to come home and raise that year's crop, some just being fed up with the fighting, wanting to see home, etc., but this is one of the rare instances that we have ever heard, of a Confederate soldier A. W. O. L. because of his determination "not to surrender."

 <<<Return to Worsleys after 1800<<<