An impoverished farm laborer from the northern Piedmont of North Carolina, Ezekiel Wilmoth held $50.00 to his name in 1860. At twenty-seven years old he was the father to a young family, including his wife Martha aged twenty-five, his son Bird (5), and his daughters Tallitha (3) and Elizabeth (6 months). As a farm laborer, he held little status in the hierarchy of the Old South. Nonetheless, he was still a white man, free from chattel slavery, able to sell his labor as he pleased, move as he wished, own property, and vote. In 1861 he likely voted for secession, as he enlisted May 20, 1861, the first day of the state’s new found ‘independence’ within the Southern Confederacy. Fighting with the 21st North Carolina Volunteer Infantry from First Manassas to Gettysburg, he was a veteran by the time he arrived on the field July 1, 1863. However, he fought not with rifle, but with a fife, a martial instrument utilized by militaries on both sides of the war for communication, command and control, and comradery. He likely perished in the fighting around the Brickyard and through the streets just northeast of town on July 1st.
An Irish immigrant who fled the Irish Potato Famine, John Carroll settled in New Orleans, where he began to construct a new life. He established strong cultural ties with the Irish American community while working as a laborer for eleven years. In 1860, Carroll became a dance professor, which connected him with the middle and upper classes of New Orleanians, whose daughters he instructed. He enlisted at Camp Moore in order to protect this fragile new life that he built for himself in Louisiana and to prove that he was an American. Carroll fought in every major engagement in the eastern theatre of the war through the Battle of Gettysburg, before tragically losing his life in the second day of the fighting.
Mitchell A. Anderson was 24 years old in 1863, meaning he was born around 1839 in Lebanon, Tennessee. He was born into a family of great influence, largely due to the status of his father, Reverend Thomas Constantine Anderson. More often known as T.C. Anderson, Thomas served as a circuit minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian […]
Minion F. Knott grew up in the sharply-divided state of Maryland on the eve of the Civil War. He served in a Union unit in 1861 before joining the 2nd Maryland Battalion, C.S.A. in 1863. Mortally wounded in the Confederate attack on Culp’s Hill, Knott died at Camp Letterman, within 15 miles of his home state, and through administrative error was buried in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. His final resting place symbolizes the complex contradictions and themes that characterized his life and his home state.
A young, single farmer from Opelousas, Louisiana, Horthere Fountenot served in Company F of the Eighth Louisiana Infantry, participating in the night-time assault on Cemetery Hill on July 2 prior to his mortal wounding on July 3 in the streets of Gettysburg. His story is at once contrasted with an agonizing, anti-climactic death in a military hospital near Gettysburg and the romantic, martyr’s death depicted on the Louisiana State Monument.
William H. P. Ivey, a poor Alabama farmer from Radfordsville, joined the 8th Alabama with his brother in the spring of 1861. Like many southern soldiers, Ivey and his brother owned no slaves but fought to preserve their stake in the “peculiar” institution as well as to protect their home and family. Ivey spent time in Union hospitals after being wounded in the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5th, 1862, but returned to the 8th Alabama in time to fight at the Battle of Antietam. Ivey would not be fortunate enough to survive his second wounding at Gettysburg. Although his brother, who was also wounded at Gettysburg, would ultimately survive. In many ways, William’s story is that of the common southern soldier.
Major Benjamin Watkins Leigh came to Gettysburg as the Adjutant in “Allegany” Johnson’s Division of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. A wealthy slaveowner who used his status to become an officer, Leigh’s administrative skill had pulled him away from field command. Famous for assisting “Stonewall” Jackson following his wounding at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Leigh also gained renown for dying as he tried to rally men of the Stonewall Brigade atop Culp’s Hill on July 3rd, 1863. For decades, Leigh’s final resting place remained uncertain, but now his complicated story can be told in its entirety.