Americans Versus Conscripts and Foreign Mercenaries
Vastly outnumbered throughout the war by bounty-enriched Northern substitutes, conscripts, and "Hessians" lured by bounties or government land, the Americans in the South fought bravely to defend the Declaration and Constitution of the Founders. History compares no Northern commander with Lee; Grant’s only strategy was to kill Americans in the Southern army as quickly as possible while replenishing his rapidly depleted ranks with more and more mercenaries from Europe.
At the battle of Burgess’ Mill below, General MacRae assaulted an entire enemy corps with 1,050 men; he lost all but 525 as casualties. See the bio of MacRae at www.cfhi.net.
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Americans Versus Conscripts and Foreign Mercenaries:
"(at Burgess’ Mill)….on the 27th of October 1864, General (William) MacRae was ordered to attack, with the understanding that he should be promptly reinforced by one or more brigades. Reconnoitering the enemy’s position, he pointed out at once the weak part of their line to several officers who were with him and ordered his brigade to the assault. It bore down everything in its front, capturing a battery of artillery and dividing the corps which it had assailed. The Federal commander, seeing that MacRae was not supported, closed in upon his ranks and attacked with great vigor. Undismayed by the large force which surrounded him, and unwilling to surrender the prize of victory already within his grasp, MacRae formed a portion of his command obliquely to his main line of battle, driving back the foe at every point…although every man (of his brigade) knew their situation to be critical, and their loss had already been great. Awaiting reinforcements, which long since ought to have been with him, he held his vantage ground at all hazards and against enormous odds. No help came whilst his men toiled, bled and died.
Approaching night told him that the safety of his brigade demanded that he return to his original position. Facing his men about, they cut their way through a new line of battle which had partially formed in their rear. In this encounter the 44th North Carolina bore a brilliant part; it drove the Federal line, everywhere in its front, steadily to the rear. Lt. R. W. Stedman of Company A, with less than fifty men, charged and captured a battery of artillery which was supported by a considerable force of infantry. The battery was disabled and left, as it was impossible to bring it off the field when the regiment was ordered to return to the position it occupied at the commencement of the fight.
From Burgess’ Mill the regiment again returned to its old position in the entrenchments at Petersburg. On the 2nd of April 1865, the Confederate lines having been pierced and broken through, the regiment under orders commenced its retreat toward Amelia Courthouse, which place it reached on the 4th of April. Its line of march was marked by constant and bloody engagements with the Federal troops, which followed in close pursuit but who were entirely unable to produce the slightest demoralization or panic.
The esprit de corps of the regiment was of the very highest order. Neither disease, famine nor scenes of horror well-calculated to freeze the hearts of the bravest ever conquered its iron spirit. The small remnant who survived the trials of the retreat from Petersburg, and who left a trail of blood along their weary march….were as eager and ready for the fray on that last memorable day as when with full ranks and abundant support they drove the Federals before them in headlong flight on other fields.
The new battle flag (the old had been shot away so badly it could not be distinctly seen) was carried by Color Sergeant George Barber of Company G, until the night of April 1st, 1865, when crossing the Appomattox, he wrapped a stone in it and dropped it in the river, saying to his comrades about him: "No enemy can ever have a flag of the 44th North Carolina Regiment."
(The Fotry-fourth NC Infantry, Southern Historical Papers, Vol. XXV, R.A. Brock, 1897, pp. 344-345)