Death of Governor John W. Ellis
“I am trying to do my duty — & be sure that I understand too well ever to make an unnecessary….risk of the life which belongs to my family as well as myself.”
[Colonel] Charles F. Fisher to his sister, July 17, 1861.
On July 3, 1861, the [Sixth North Carolina] regiment was officially transferred to the service of the Confederate States. This probably meant an early transfer to the seat of war in Virginia.  The men entrained without incident on July 8 for Raleigh, passing through Hillsboro to the cheers of “a large portion of the ladies and citizens of the town, and many from the country around,” who had assembled at the depot to see them pass.
Upon arrival at Raleigh, the men received the sad news.  Governor [John W.] Ellis had died “on the 7th inst, at the Red Sulphur Springs Va.” Fisher was directed to….”detail two companies of your Regt under Major [Charles E.] Lightfoot, for the purpose of proceeding to Petersburg to escort the body to this place.” 




The remainder of the regiment was ordered to remain in Raleigh to be held “in readiness “ to form the funeral escort.  These were sad beginnings for an illustrious career.  Lieutenant Colonel [William T.] Dortch was ordered to go to Tarboro to “accompany Mr. Clark here.”  The last honors to North Carolina’s deceased governor had to be carried out even though Confederate President Jefferson Davis had been informed that the regiment would be at Richmond “ten days ago.”
Henry T. Clark, North Carolina’s new governor, assured Confederate Secretary of War Leroy P. Walker that the regiment “will leave tomorrow and will be subject to your orders and is now formally tendered.”
At 9:30 A.M. on July 10 the remains of Governor Ellis, escorted by Company B and C of the Sixth Regiment, arrived at the depot of the North Carolina Railroad in Raleigh. The governor’s body was “removed from the cars and escorted to the Capitol by the military guard,” where the State flag was placed over the coffin.  The Raleigh Register described the funeral procession: “At 10 o’clock the procession moved from the south gate of the Capitol down Fayetteville Street to the Executive Mansion, in the following order:  Brigadier General Gwynn, State Troops commanding, aided by Captain A.D. Moore.  1st Music, 2nd,  Sixth Regiment of Infantry, Col. Fisher, 3rd. Ellis Light Artillery, Maj. Ramseur,  4th, Hearse with the body,  5th. Pall Bearers, 6th Reverend Clergy, 7th Surgeon General and Medical Staff, 8th, Family and relations of deceased, 9th, Governor of State, 10th Speaker of House of Commons, 11th, Officers of the Executive Departments….
On the morning of the 11th “about 8 o’clock”….the coffin was escorted from the mansion to the North Carolina Railroad….deposited on the train, and sent to the Ellis family burying ground near Holtsburg, Davidson County.  While these obsequies were in progress, the business places in Raleigh were closed and private homes were draped in mourning.
The public buildings in Raleigh “and the statue of Washington on the Capitol Square” were also draped. All flags were lowered to half-mast, bells tolled, and “half-hour guns fired during the day by a detachment of the Wilmington Light Artillery.”   Read more at
(The Bloody Sixth, The Sixth North Carolina Regiment, Confederate States of America, Richard Iobst, Butternut Press, 1987, pp. 15- 16)

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