Brunswick County NC Genweb

Christopher Columbus Bland
Contributed by Bill Bland
August 2005

Brunswick County, North Carolina

Christopher Columbus Bland; 36th Regiment NC (2nd Artillery), Co K; Recipient of the 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 Artillery), CSA.

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:

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 withdrew."

Source Notes:
1. 1850 Federal Census, Swift Creek Township, Pitt County, NC.
2. 1860 Federal Census, Coxville P.O., Pitt County, NC.
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 Kammerer.
14. The Confederate Goliath-The Battle of Fort Fisher , page 70, by Rod Gragg, 1991.
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.