North Carolina Patriots of ’61 – Lt. Henry Clay Koonce of Jones County
Lt. Henry Clay Koonce of Jones County:
Born 29 August 1842 at Cypress Creek in Jones County, Koonce was the son of John Speight and Harriet Caroline Parsons Koonce. Henry Clay Koonce’s occupation prior to the war was farming, at age 19 he enlisted in “Koonce’s State Guerillas” organized in late April 1862 by Captain Francis Duval Koonce, a law professor [and perhaps kin] from Onslow County. The company included men from Jones and Onslow Counties and was mustered into State service at Jones County on 22 July 1862, with orders to “operate east of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road between the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers” to protect the rail line from enemy marauders.
In late September 1862 the company was assigned to the 59th North Carolina Regiment, which shortly thereafter became Company K, 61st North Carolina. The 61st saw much action around Richmond and Petersburg, and ended the war in North Carolina at the defenses of Wilmington and Bentonville.
Henry Clay Koonce served North Carolina with several others of the same name in Company K: Lt. Simon Everett Koonce and Private Edward B. Koonce from Onslow; and Gabriel F. Koonce, Isaac Koonce, and William Koonce, all three of Jones County and holding the rank of private.
Koonce was appointed First Lieutenant of his company on 29 April 1862 and was reported to be in command of the unit from late November-December 1862 through at least late June 1864. He suffered a wound in his left leg at the battle of Fort Harrison, Virginia on 30 September, 1864, and lost this limb to amputation at Richmond. He was furloughed for 60 days in late November and probably ended the war as an injured reserve, and the State issued a prosthesis to replace his lost leg after the war.
Koonce married Susan Thompson on 13 March 1865, a union which produced Fanny, Lola, Arthur, Henry Clay, Jr., and J.B. Living in Cypress Creek most of his life, records indicate that by 1880 he had relocated his family to Kenansville in Duplin County.
Source: Genealogy online; North Carolina Troops 161-1865, A Roster.
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