“Acts of Treason Against North Carolina”
Many of General Robert F. Hoke’s 2400 prisoners after the battle at Plymouth were sent to Andersonville in Georgia, the North Carolinians among them desperately claimed to be members of Northern units – to avoid being hanged as deserters and traitors to their State and families.
Abandoning Every Principle of Patriotism:
“During [Hoke’s] unhappy retreat from New Bern, [General George] Pickett had happened to be near a group of the Union soldiers captured during the campaign.
An officer of the Sixth North Carolina remarked, “They belong to my company.” Overhearing the comment, Pickett was enraged. He screamed, “You damned rascals, I’ll have you shot, and all the damned rascals who desert.”
As the prisoners were led away, Pickett told those around him, “We’ll have a court martial on these fellows pretty soon, and after some are shot, the rest will stop deserting.” Almost as soon as the retreat was over, Pickett ordered a court-martial, composed of Virginia officers, to convene at Kinston. Twenty-two of the prisoners, all members of the First and Second Regiments, North Carolina [Northern] Volunteers, were hurried before the tribunal.
Charged with desertion, the men were convicted and sentenced to die by hanging. Pickett summarily approved the death warrants, and Hoke was ordered to execute the sentences. While awaiting their execution…..On February 5, Hoke requested that Chaplain Paris visit two deserters who were destined to be the first hanged. Paris found the captives to be the “most hardened and unfeeling men I ever encountered.” These two men, known as William Haddock and William Jones, were hanged publicly in the presence of Confederate soldiers and civilians.
Over the course of the month, the other twenty condemned men were taken to the gallows. After all the death sentences had been carried out, the chaplain deemed it appropriate to deliver a sermon about the executions to Hoke’s brigade. In his discourse on Sunday, February 28, Paris asked Hoke’s soldiers: “But who were those twenty-two men whom you hanged upon the gallows? They were your fellow beings. They were citizens of our own Carolina. They once marched under the same beautiful flag that waves over our heads, but in an evil hour, they yielded to mischievous influences, and from motives or feelings base and sordid, unmanly and vile, resolved to abandon every principle of patriotism, and sacrificed ever impulse of honor, this sealed their ruin and enstamped their lasting disgrace.”
Hoke’s personal sentiments about the executions were manifested when Bryon McCullom called on the general to seek an order for the body of his brother-in-law, in order to bury it. When Hoke asked if he wanted to bury the executed man in a Yankee uniform, McCullom responded in the affirmative. Hoke then expressed surprise that “so respectable a man would bury his brother-in-law in a Yankee uniform.”
(General Robert F. Hoke, Lee’s Modest General, Daniel W. Barefoot, John F. Blair, 1996, pp. 120-122)
Read more at: http://www.ncwbts150.com/ActsofTreasonAgainstNorthCarolina.php
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial
The Official Website of the North Carolina War Between the States Commission