“Last Cavalry Charge in North Carolina”
In late April 1865, Ordnance Sgt. William Hezekiah Mitchell (Company F., 1st Tennessee Cavalry, “Maury Braves”) was detailed to take a scouting party of three men to ascertain the movements of Sherman’s advancing army. The command had not learned of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s capitulation to Sherman and went as ordered. They had reached a creek about 3 miles from Chapel Hill and headed off in the direction it was supposed that Northern troops were marching.
A company of enemy cavalry approached and using a bluffing strategy, the four Tennesseans raised a rebel yell and made a furious charge that sent them in retreat. In chasing the bluecoats, the four came upon a home they had just plundered and the owners provided them with the direction of Sherman’s movements.
Returning to their command to report this intelligence, they were ordered with their entire squadron to ride to the creek and hold it against the Northern advance. Upon arrival at the ford, they found Northern infantry already in force and a barrier erected across the creek. A volley from the enemy knocked down Col. Baxter Smith’s horse, and the command fell back to Sugar Creek Church near Charlotte. There they stacked arms on 2 May, and left for Tennessee after being paroled on 3May 1865 – thus ending nearly four years of war which began with their enlistments at Ashford Hall in Maury County, Tennessee on 5 July, 1861.”
Mitchell and his unit were paid in Mexican 8 Reales from the Confederate Treasury by General Johnston, an image of which appears below.
(Compiled from veterans recollections by Jill Garret, historian of Maury County, TN; courtesy Baker A. Mitchell)
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