Christopher Columbus Bland; 36th
Regiment NC (2nd Artillery), Co K; Recipient
of the Confederate Medal of Honor
CONFEDERATE MEDAL OF HONOR
The Eastern Reflector Newspaper of
Greenville, NC dated August 4, 1903 carried an article regarding a
reunion to be held August 12, 1903 of survivors of the fall of Fort
Fisher, NC. The article paid tribute to one of Pitt County's bravest of
the brave, Pvt. Christopher C. Bland. The article further went on to
say that history has taught every school boy the heroism of Sargeant
Jasper at Fort Moultrie, SC when its flagstaff was shot down by the
British fleet, but not a school boy has probably ever heard of the more
daring feat of Christopher C. Bland.
Christopher C. Bland was living and working
on his brother's (William Augustus Bland) farm in Shallotte, Brunswick
County, NC when he decided to join the confederate army. He enlisted at
Fort Campbell in Brunswick County, NC on July 15, 1864, and was 19
years of age at time of enlistment. He was a Private with Company K
(Brunswick Artillery), 36th Regiment, NC Troops (2nd Regiment NC
In his book "Sketches of Pitt County", Henry
T. King wrote that this
one "deed of daring" during the attack on Fort Fisher is worthy of
perpetuation in history." King wrote "During the assault on Fort
Fisher, NC the garrison flag was shot away from it's staff. The only
way to get it back was to climb the pole and replace it. Volunteers
were called for. Pvt. Christopher C. Bland, Company K, 36th Regiment
went forward, mounted the ramparts, seized the flag and began climbing
the pole amid a hail of shot and shell. Reaching the top, he tied the
flag to the pole and began descending. About half way down, he was
called to, that the flag did not float right. Looking up he saw it was
tied by one corner only. Climbing up again, he took off his cravat and
tied the other corner to the pole and descended. When some way down he
was called to, to "look out for that shell." Looking to sea he saw the
shell, seemingly coming directly at him. He clung as closely as
possible to the pole while the shell went by, its breeze fanning his
face. He was missed. He was safe. Taking his place in the ranks, he
forgot the incident in the excitement of the defense."
This daring deed is also written about in a
dispatch from Headquarters
Confederate Point, Fort Fisher, NC, December 27, 1864, Colonel William
Lamb, Commanding as follows: "The staff on the mound being unprovided
with halyards, the battle flag had not been raised when the garrison
flag was shot away. The order was immediately given to raise the flag,
when Private Christopher C. Bland, Company K, Thirty-Six North Carolina
Regiment, volunteered, and climbed the staff under a heavy fire,
fastened the flag to its top. At once a terrific fire was poured on the
mound, and one end of the flag requiring to be fastened, Bland repeated
the heroic deed, and unscathed by the fearful ordeal fastened the flag
firmly to the staff, where it now floats, although torn and rent by
fragments of shell."
A letter dated January 07, 1865 from Col.
William Lamb, CSA to Governor Z. B. Vance commends Pvt. Christopher C.
Bland, who climbed a flagpole twice under heavy fire to raise the
Confederate flag during a Northern Naval assault on Fort Fisher, NC
December 24, 1864. The Confederate forces turned back the Christmas Eve
attack on Fort Fisher.
On January 13th, the Northern Fleet began
the second bombardment of
Fort Fisher. On January 14th the fighting raged all day and night, and
the Northern forces captured the fort, at 10:00 p.m. on January 15th.
In the ensuing battle of January 13, 1865,
Pvt. Christopher C. Bland
received a wound from bombardment fragments that lacerated and broke
his ankle. He was evacuated across the Cape Fear River to a Confederate
hospital in Smithville, NC. After the fall of Fort Fisher, and while at
the hospital in Smithville, he was captured by Federal forces on
January 18, 1865. Despite the pain to his still un-treated leg, Pvt.
Bland was transported to the prisoner-of-war camp at Point Lookout,
Maryland, arriving there on February 4, 1865. He suffered terribly for
another week until February 11, 1865 when he was finally admitted to U.
S. A. Hammond General Hospital for treatment. After one look at his
badly infected, near-gangrenous leg, Union surgeons elected to
amputate, removing the " lower 3rd via the circular method." Hobbling
about on a makeshift crutch, the one-legged artillerist was returned to
Point Lookout on April 7, 1865 and placed on the Roll of Sick Prisoners
of War. He remained confined at Point Lookout, MD until release after
taking Oath of Allegiance June 3, 1865.
Shortly after his return from Point Lookout,
he married Elizabeth C.
Boyd. Through this union, they were the parents of 13 children. He was
a successful farmer. Christopher was a member of the Hancock's
Primitive Baptist Church . He later took up the ministry of Jesus
Christ as a circuit riding preacher. For over fifty years he served the
rural churches in and around Pitt County. Known throughout the region
as the "peg-leg" preacher, Elder C. C. Bland's wartime exploits at Fort
Fisher Surely captured the quite admiration of his neighbors as well as
the awe of wide-eyed young boys. Yet he was a modest man who lived by
the wisdom of Proverbs 27.2: "Let another praise you, and not your own
mouth." He lived the rest of his life in Pitt County, NC and was highly
regarded within the community.
Sadly to say, later in life, the "The Hero
of Fort Fisher" suffered
from bad health and never fully recovered. On October 17, 1917 he
decided to end his life. Christopher was 71 years old at time of death.
On January 15, 1995 a Presentation Ceremony
was held at the Fort Fisher
State Historic Site, NC to award posthumously the Confederate Medal of
Honor to Pvt. Christopher Columbus Bland for intrepid courage in the
face of the enemy, and service above and beyond the call of duty. The
Medal of Honor was sponsored by the George Davis Camp No. 5, Sons of
Confederate Veterans. The medal and citation is on permanent display at
the Fort Fisher State Historic Site. It should be noted that
Christopher is 1 of only 42 Confederate soldiers to have been awarded
this medal. The Citation reads as follows:
PRIVATE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS BLAND
2nd NORTH CAROLINA ARTILLERY
SIEGE OF FORT FISHER, NORTH CAROLINA
24 DECEMBER 1864
"When the garrison flag staff was destroyed
in the opening bombardment, orders were given to raise the battle flag
on the empty staff at the Mound battery. Private Bland grabbed the flag
and finding the halyards unreeved, personally climbed the flag staff
and despite a heavy fire of shot and shell from the enemy fleet,
fastened the flag. Determined to destroy this staff, the enemy
concentrated their guns on the Mound battery, eventually cutting loose
the lower end of the flag. Again, Private Bland climbed the staff and
at great personal peril, reattached the flag with his necktie where it
remained, although torn and rent by shell fragments, until the enemy
1. 1850 Federal Census, Swift Creek
Township, Pitt County, NC.
2. 1860 Federal Census, Coxville P.O., Pitt
3. 1870 Federal Census, Swift Creek
Township, Pitt County, NC
4. 1880 Federal Census, Swift Creek
Township, Pitt County, NC.
5. 1910 Federal Census, Contentnea Township,
Pitt County, NC.
6. Hancock's Primitive Baptist Church
records. Prepared by Jeannette
Cox St. Amand, 1962.
7. Sketches of Pitt County, A Brief History
of the County, 1704-1910,
by Henry T. King.
8. Bland Bible Records as reported Pitt
County Genealogical Quarterly,
Vol. III, No. 1, February 1996.
9. Pitt County Genealogical Quarterly,
Volume VII, No. 1, February 2000.
10. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation
of the Official Records of
the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 42 (Part I), Page
1006, Making of America Journals Collection, Cornell University.
11. North Carolina Troops 1861-1865, Volume
1 Artillery, Publication of
the North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1966.
12. Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume XL,
1932. Pages 248-251.
National Historical Society.
13. The Brooks Family of Pitt County, NC,
page 30, 1997, by Roger
14. The Confederate Goliath-The Battle of
Fort Fisher , page 70, by Rod
15. Date of Death: J. L. Jackson's
Gravestone Transcription. Pitt
County Family Researchers.
16. Histories of the Several Regiments and
Battalions from North
Carolina in the Great War 1861-65 Written by Members of the Respective
Commands, Vol. II, Published by the State of NC, 1982.
17. Valor in Gray-Recipients of the
Confederate Medal of Honor, pages
392-403, by Gregg S. Clemmer, 2nd printing 1998.