Disaster in Pennsylvania: Company E at Gettysburg

Posted on Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Capt. Frank Bird (Co. C) was the 11th North Carolina's senior officer to survive the Gettysburg campaign.



Disaster in Pennsylvania:

Company E at Gettysburg:

June 30 – July 15, 1863

Thomas Venner

On June 30, 1863 the 11th North Carolina’s soldiers bivouacked not far from Cashtown, PA, unaware of the disastrous events facing them in the coming week. The regiment, now an important component in Brig. Gen. James J. Pettigrew’s North Carolina brigade, numbered more than 600 rifles and officers. The men were tired but in good spirits; well led by Col. Collet Leventhorpe and ten seasoned company commanders, and they were confident in Robert E. Lee’s leadership. None of them had any inkling to how many comrades would soon be listed on casualty lists.


One of Col. Leventhorpe’s company commanders, Cpt. William J. Kerr, a 32-year-old coach maker from the west side of Charlotte, NC had been the Company E’s leader for almost a year. Kerr was a veteran, having served in the 1st N. C. regiment, as a rifleman in Charlotte’s, “Hornet’s Nest Rifles.” He now led, assisted by 32-year-old 1st Lt. John B. Clanton, 23-year-old 2nd Lt. William F. Rozzell, 23-year-old 3rd Lt. William S. Turner, and 22-year-old 1st Sgt. David D. McDonald. Together, these officers commanded five dozen Tar Heels.

The men in Company E were primarily from the west side of Charlotte, supplemented by a smattering of volunteers from Iredell and Catawba Counties. Most of these fellows had been with the company since its formation on March 31, 1862, when 72 Carolinians had rallied to the Southern cause. However, sixteen months of campaigns in eastern North Carolina and southern Virginia had taken its toll; many men had been lost due to sickness, disabilities, and Federal gunfire:

Rank Name DOB Remarks
Cpt. Nichols, John S. 1832 Died of disease, 7/12/62 at Wilmington NC.
Cpl. Means, John S. 1840 Died of disease (‘fever’), 8/22/62 at Wilmington, NC.
Pvt. Grier, Thomas H. 1840 Discharged (disability), 8/2/62.


Pvt. Griffin, George 1844 Died of disease, 5/18/62 at Wilmington, NC.
Pvt. Hartline, George H. 1835 Died of disease, 8/10/62 at Wilmington, NC.
Pvt. Hipp, Stephen 1815 Discharged (disability), 8/2/62.


Pvt. McLure, James D. 1837 Died of disease (“continued fever”), 8/6/62 at Wilmington NC.
Pvt. McQuay, Seaborn 1834 Died of disease, 7/30/62 at Wilmington, NC.
Pvt. Miller, John E. 1831 Deserted, 10/8/62.


Pvt. Nisbet, John G. 1816 Died of disease, 6/30/63 (‘at home’).


Pvt. Sherrill, Wilburn A. 1830 Discharged (disability), 10/25/62.


Pvt. Stinson, John B. 1823 Discharged, 6/20/62.


Pvt. Walker, Benjamin H. 1827 Killed, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.


Pvt. Walker, J. H.   — Died of disease, 3/6/62 at Camp Magnum, Raleigh NC.

Five more Company E Tar Heels had been wounded at the battle of White Hall, but returned to the unit, and ten new recruits had been mustered into the formation to strengthen its numbers.

Rank Name DOB Remarks
Pvt. Bird, William L. 1839 Wounded, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.
Pvt. Hartgrove, Richard D. 1844 Wounded, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.
Pvt. Hartgrove, William W. 1839 Wounded, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.
Pvt. Hartline, Paul 1825 Wounded, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.
Pvt. Jamison, Thomas J. 1827 Wounded, 12/16/62 at White Hall, NC.

The 11th North Carolina slammed into the 19th Indiana of the Iron Brigade in the afternoon of July 1st, 1863. In the furious battle which lasted for nearly 90 minutes, vast numbers of Hoosiers and Tar Heels were killed and wounded (the 11th lost 250). Company E, positioned as one of the units making up the regiment’s right wing, was part of the flanking force which broke the Hoosier line.  Captain Kerr’s riflemen, thus, escaped some of the most severe fire; but even so, his formation suffered four killed and 17 wounded.

Rank Name DOB Remarks
1st Lt. Clanton, John B. 1831 Wounded, 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63. Died of wounds, 7/27/63.
2nd Lt. Rozzell, William F. 1840 Wounded, 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63. Died of wounds, 7/10/63.
1st Sgt. McDonald, David W. 1841 Wounded, 7/1/63.


Sgt. Goodman, John E. 1829 Killed, 7/1/63 at Gettysburg.


Cpl. Cathey, William C. 1836 Wounded (left arm amputated), 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.
Cpl. Puckett, Julius J. 1838 Wounded (right leg), 7/1/63.


Pvt. Bass, James A. 1835 Wounded (left arm), 7/1/63.


Pvt. Bird, William L. 1839 Wounded (right leg), 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.
Pvt. Brimer, John 1836 Wounded (leg), 7/1/63.


Pvt. Christy, James F. 1842 Wounded (right leg), 7/1/63.


Pvt. Clark, James A. 1825 Killed, 7/1/63.


Pvt. Helms, Ezekiel T. 1839 Killed, 7/1/63.


Pvt. Hill, James W. 1827 Wounded (leg), 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.
Pvt. Lewis, Lindsay 1839 Wounded (right foot), 7/1/63


Pvt. McQuay, Wm. Henry 1842 Wounded, 7/1/63.

Died of wounds, 7/7/63.

Pvt. Neal, George A. 1847 Wounded (left arm amputated), 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.
Pvt. Puckett, William C. 1840 Wounded (left thigh), 7/1/63.


Pvt. Richey, William F. 1833 Wounded, 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.  Died of wounds, 7/9/63.
Pvt. Walker, Levi L. 1830 Wounded, 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.


Pvt. Wingate, James 1826 Wounded, 7/1/63 and captured, 7/4/63.


Pvt. Yaunts, Reubin C. 1834 Killed, 7/1/63.


That evening the battered Bethel regiment licked its wounds and reorganized. Captain William Kerr now had 39 men, with only 3rd Lt. William Turner and four NCO’s to assist him.

Two days later, on July 3rd, 1863 the 11th North Carolina formed onto the brigade’s battle line and crossed a thousand yards of open ground in Robert E. Lee’s gamble to break the Union center. Federal artillery and infantry fire slaughtered the Confederates, destroying every formation taking part in Pickett’s Charge. The stalwart men of the 11th North Carolina endured Yank cannon fire and reached the fences of Emmitsburg Road. Now, less than 90 yards from the stone wall protecting the blue-coated riflemen, most of the plucky Tar Heels climbed the fences and rushed forward. Federal volleys staggered the courageous Carolinians, killing and wounding many, and forcing the rest to seek shelter on the ground. The attack stalled barely 100 feet from the Union line. Once the assault collapsed and Northern forces flanked the Confederates pinned down, most of the survivors of Pettigrew’s brigade were captured. All the flags in the brigade were captured except one—the 11th North Carolinians’.

That evening, the shattered survivors huddled around Cpt. Frank Bird, the regiment’s senior officer. Remaining NCO’s counted up the casualty lists and the totals were devastating; the 11th North Carolina was missing over 120 more. In Company E, Cpt. William Kerr’s unit had lost 17.

Rank Name DOB Remarks
Cpl. Hartgrove, William W. 1839 Wounded (left thigh), 7/3/63.


Pvt. Bradley, John L. 1840 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Dixon, William W. 1820 Wounded, 7/3/63. Died of wounds, 9/1/63.


Pvt. Finger, John 1836 Wounded (neck), 7/3/63.


Pvt. Hartgrove, Richard D. 1844 Wounded (thigh), 7/3/63.


Pvt. Hartline, David L. 1838 Wounded (right foot), 7/3/63.


Pvt. Jamison, Thomas J. 1827 Wounded, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Martin, William 1842 Wounded, 7/3/63.


Pvt. McLellan, William 1839 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. McLure, Cyrus A. 1834 Wounded (left index finger amputated), 7/3/63 and captured.
Pvt. McQuay, James 1827 Killed, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Mitschka (Mitcha), John 1822 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Ostwalt, F. Henry 1824 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Rievs, William R. 1836 Wounded, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Stone, Alexander 1832 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Williamson, Edward Y. 1845 Captured, 7/3/63.


Pvt. Wingate, Thomas 1834 Wounded, 7/3/63.


Ten days later, on July 14, 1863, as the Confederates struggled to get their remaining troops and supplies across the river, the 11th N. C., along with the rest of the regiments in Pettigrew’s brigade were detailed the task of holding off the pursuing blue coats. This responsibility was demanding, as the terrain favored the attacker, and there were not enough Southerners to resist the Yank attackers. In the running fight which followed at Falling Waters, MD, the 11th North Carolina was stripped of over 75 veterans. Captain Kerr’s company lost two more:

Rank Name DOB Remarks
Pvt. Jamison, Jones W. 1843 Captured, 7/14/63 at Falling Waters, MD.
Pvt. McCorkle, Hugh P. 1827 Captured, 7/14/63 at Falling Waters, MD.

Once the Tar Heels were safely back in Virginia and the exhausted men given a chance to recover, Cpt. Kerr examined his survivors. A few Company E men rejoined the unit, having been detached because of sickness and other duties. Captain William Kerr’s company consisted of two dozen men.

Rank Name DOB Home town
Cpt. Kerr, William J. 1831 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
3rd Lt. Turner, William S. 1840 Morrisville, Wake Co.
Sgt. McCarmick, John 1825 Lumberton, Robeson Co.
Sgt. Rozzell, James T. 1843 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Sgt. Wilson, Robert L. 1836 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Cpl. McDonald, John H. 1835 Jackson Springs, Moore Co.
Pvt. Abernathy, Enoch R. 1806 Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Alexander, James F. 1834 Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Alexander, Peter 1803 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Auten, Samuel W. 1837 Farm Creek, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Bass, Burton 1839 Black Creek, Wilson Co.
Pvt. Beatty, John W. 1819 Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Belk, William A. 1843 Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Eller, Samuel W. 1845 Statesville, Iredell Co.
Pvt. Hartline, Paul 1825 Statesville, Iredell Co.
Pvt. Hollingsworth, John 1839 Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Jamison, Jones W. 1843 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. King, Arguile 1806 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Kyles, Fielding 1820 Iredell Co.
Pvt. Kyles, William 1824 Iredell Co.
Pvt. Lambert, Jonathan 1842 Goldston, Chatham Co.
Pvt. Pool, George S. 1829 Morganton, Burke Co.
Pvt. Smith, David J. 1839 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Walker, James H.   — Mecklenburg Co.
Pvt. Walker, John H. 1846 W. Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co.




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One Response to
“Disaster in Pennsylvania: Company E at Gettysburg”

  • Tom McAnear says: January 30th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Francis H. Ostwalt was my great great grandfather on my mother’s side. My grandfather always said that all the family knew about him was that he had “gone north to fight the Yankees and had never been heard from again.” According to the Veteran’s Administration (Dept. of Memorial Affairs) in a letter to my Mom dated Oct. 12, 1982, Francis Ostwalt, 11th Infantry, Co. E, enlisted Feb. 26, 1862 at Statesville, NC and captured at Gettysburg, PA on July 3, 1863. He later died from smallpox on Nov. 21, 1863 at the General Hospital in Point Lookout, MD. His name and unit is on the monument theer marking the collective burial place of the remains of 3,384 Confederates who died at Camp Lookout, MD.

    It was with great pleasure that in 1984 I was able to show my grandfather what had happened to his ancestor in the Civil War.

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