McRae's Battalion, N.C. Cavalry


This battalion was organized in September, 1863, by order of the Secretary of War for nine months service. It was composed of conscripts between the ages of 18 and 45 and organized for the purpose of arresting conscripts and deserters in western North Carolina. The officers were assigned from the Conscript Bureau .to serve as company officers, but none were commissioned as such. Major James C. McRae was detailed to command the battalion, and it was named for him.

The battalion was organized at Camp Vance, Morganton, Burke County, in November, 1863. In December, 1863, it was .at Asheville. By the end of that month over 140 men were reported in camp. Initially, only two companies of .the battalion were mounted, but eventually portions of all the companies were. In addition, a section of Company F, 13th Battalion N. C. Artillery served with the battalion from November, 1863, until the spring of 1864. In February, 1864, a portion of the battalion was at Camp Vance, Morganton, Burke County. Throughout the winter and spring of 1863-1864 the companies or detachments were sent into the area from Yancey to Clay counties. From the surviving records it appears that the companies of the battalion were used to defend mountain passes, fight off bushwackers, arrest and bring in deserters, round up conscripts, and escort those brought in to conscript camps at Morganton, Charlotte, or Raleigh. On June 1, 1864, the Secretary of War ordered the battalion disbanded and the men assigned to regiments in the field. The battalion was recalled to Raleigh where .the order was executed.

Due to the nature in which the companies of the battalion were organized, little was found on any one company. It appears that groups of conscripts already in conscript camps were detailed as a nucleus for each of the companies. An officer or officers were assigned and all new conscripts were added to the ranks as members of the company. Only Companies C and E left company muster rolls, and these covered the same period--enlistment to December 5, 1863. Rosters for the other companies had to be reconstructed from receipt and bounty rolls, prisoner of war and medical records, as well as vouchers and requisitions. In addition, some members of the battalion were picked up by a reference on the company muster roll of the company to which they were transferred which stated that the individual transferred from McRae's Battalion. Useful information was also obtained from state pension records, United Daughters of the Confederacy records, and postwar rosters and histories.

It should be noted that this battalion was erroneously referred to as the 15th Battalion N. C. Cavalry in correspondence and as .the 15th Regiment N. C. Cavalry on Federal prisoner of war records. Also, in Waiter Clark's Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865 (Goldsboro, 1901), the battalion is erroneously listed as the 18th Battalion in Volume IV, pages 379-382. It was never issued a line number because of its limited term of service, its composition, and the nature of its service.





Previously served in Company H, 1st Regiment N. C. Infantry (6 months, 1861) and in Company D and Field and Staff of the 5th Regiment N. C. State Troops. Appointed Captain and Assistant Adjutant General May 30, 1862 and ordered to report to the Conscript Bureau in North Carolina. Assigned as Major of this battalion while serving as Assistant Adjutant General to Colonel Peter Mallett. Present or accounted for with the battalion until it was disbanded in June 1864 and he returned to his original duties as Assistant Adjutant General.



Assigned as Assistant Quartermaster of this battalion while on duty as Captain, Assistant Quartermaster, at Camp Vance, Burke County. Present or accounted for until the battalion was disbanded and he returned to his original duties.



All of the above material is from North Carolina Troops-A Roster 1861-1865, a publication of the Historical Publications Section, Division of Archives and History, NC Department of Cultural Resources. All rights reserved.

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Derick S. Hartshorn - 2008
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