The 26th North Carolina Regiment
started the first day of the Battle of
Gettysburg with 800 men. By sunset, 588
of them were either dead or wounded.
Yelling like demons, they had courageously
charged and taken a formidable federal
position on Seminary Ridge. Fourteen colorbearers in the 26th were shot down in
succession. One of them was 21 year-old-
Henry King Burgwyn, the youngest
colonel in the Confederate army, who
stained the flag with his blood as he fell
wrapped in its folds. All 90 soldiers in the
26th's Company F had fallen.
Mustered into Confederate service on August 27, 1861, the 26th Regiment
served its first 10 months in eastern North
Carolina in an undistinguished effort to
contest the foothold made by the Union
forces. On June 21, 1862, the regiment
arrived in Petersburg, Va., and became a
part of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of
Northern Virginia. Then began an association that lasted until the regiment's flag was
finally and forever furled at Appomattox.
They participated in some of the hardest-fought battles of the war, including
Malvern Hill, Bristoe, and Spotsylvania;
but it was Gettysburg that earned them a
place in the Civil War record books.
After their disastrous first day at Gettysburg, the 26th was not utilized in the
actions fought on the second day. But the
third day of the battle found the regiment
charging under its battle flag across the
fields to the federal position behind the
stone wall on Cemetery Ridge. Members of
the 26th North Carolina advanced as far
as any other of the Confederate troops that
took part in Pickett's charge, and like the
rest, they paid a terrible price for their
bravery and determination. Only 90 soldiers from the 26th North Carolina were
able to make their way back to the Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge. The Battle
of Gettysburg claimed as casualties 88 percent of the regiment, the highest percentage
of casualties for any regiment, North or
South, in any battle.
Fascinating Fact: Approximately 2,000 men
served in the 26th North Carolina Regiment during
the course of the war. Just 131 of them were left to
receive their paroles at Appomattox.
Photo courtesy Library of Congress
Written by Stephen T. Foster
8 MCMXCIII Atlas Editions, USA Printed in USA
D3 602 02.16