" CAROLINA BOYS" BEGAN AT LONGSTREET CHURCH
Source: The Fayetteville Observer, Military section, Thursday, May 6, 2004
By Roy Parker, Jr..
Transcribed by Darryl Black
Posted July 15, 2005 by Myrtle Bridges
A rich chapter in Cumberland County military history was brought to mind recently when the
Sandhills Land Trust held its annual meeting at Longstreet Presbyterian Church on the Fort Bragg
The U.S. Army at Fort Bragg throughout the post's existence has nurtured "a nest of rebels"
in its stewardship of the 150-year-old sanctuary of Longstreet Presbyterian Church.
The post has owned the church building since 1918. And lovingly maintained it.
The history of Longstreet goes back to the 1750s. By 1861, it was the center of a scattered
rural settlement known as Argyll.
This year, it was a beautiful spring day at Longstreet.
It must have been something like that in 1861.
At this same place 143 years ago, this staunch Scottish neighborhood of what was in those days
western Cumberland County was the scene of one of the most ardent gatherings of volunteer soldiers
for the Confederate army in the Civil War.
Scores of young men from the farms of the Sandhills mustered in the autumn of 1861 as a Confederate
infantry company known as "The Carolina Boys."
The company was raised through the appeals of 28-year-old Murdock McRae McLaughlin, who was the native-
son teacher at the typical country school attached to the church, known locally as Longstreet Academy.
Many of his students would be in his company, and others would join as they came of age.
McLaughlin was elected Captain McLaughlin of his unit, which was designated as Company K, 38th North
Carolina Infantry Regiment.
Company K had the distinction of containing more men with Scottish names, the "Macs," than practically
any unit in Confederate service.
The regiment fought in nearly every battle of the war as part of the Army of Northern Virginia.
It suffered scores of battle causalities, as well as deaths from disease. Bill Kern, Fort Bragg's
expert on history, pointed out that the war practically destroyed the manhood of Argyll. Sixteen years
would pass after the war before Longstreet church recorded a baptism, as the depleted congregation of women
and children waited for youngsters to grow up and produce another generation.
The sad death toll is terrible reflected in the example of the 10 young men in the company whose family
name was Ray. Eight of them were killed or died of sickness.
The 38th N.C> Regiment received its baptism of death at Mechanicsville, Va., on June 26, 1862, when
152 soldiers of the regiment were killed or wounded while attacking the Union army lines.
Among these early causalities were Lt. Angus Shaw, who had been an officer in the LaFayette Light
Infantry of Fayetteville before joining the Carolina Boys. He died of his wounds.
Sgt. Angus McInnis, 25, a farmer in peacetime, died on the battlefield. So did Pvt. Neill J.
McLaughlin, 22, a farm boy. Pvt. Gabriel Geddie, 21, died of a wound "in the left breast." Archibald
Ray, 22, and David Ray, 30, died on the same battlefield. James Snead was the youngest of the
Mechanicsville dead. He was 18.
Subsequently, other men of the company were killed at Second Manassas a few weeks later; at
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and Falling Waters in 1863; and in the Wilderness and near Petersburg in 1864.
- Wounded -
Capt. McLaughlin left the company in early 1863 when he was promoted to major of the regiment. He
was wounded in the face at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, "while behaving most gallantly."
His frightful wound was described when he resigned Feb. 16, 1864, as a "gunshot wound with fracture of
left side of jaw, the bone not uniting."
When the 38th N.C. surrendered with Gen. Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865,
seven men of Company K were left to lay down their muskets. The company was then commanded by 24-year-old
John F. McArthur, a Sandhills farmer who had risen through the ranks from private to lieutenant. He had
been the company's surviving officer after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.
How do I know so much about Company K?
North Carolina Civil War freaks and family-tree researchers have been blessed for more than 30 years
with the country's most comprehensive listing of individual soldiers whop wore the Confederate uniform.
"North Carolina Regiments" is a 15-volume compendium organized by regiments and companies.
For 34 years, Weymouth T. "Hank" Jordan Jr. edited the series.
Embellishing the rosters, Jordan wrote elegant regimental histories that constitute an authoritative
day-by-day timeline of the bloody years from 1861 to 1865.
Hank Jordan retired March 1 just as Volume XV hit the bookshelves, his 11th volume. His assistant
Matthew Brown, working on the 16th volume, becomes his successor as editor.
Anything I know about the Civil War in North Carolina is pretty well taken from "North Carolina
Regiments," which started with Louis Manarin, the first editor. Company K of the 38th is there, man
after name, in all the sad detail of its wartime agony.
Thanks to Volume XV, I have been able to flesh out the biographies of my great-grandfather and two
great-uncles, all three of whom wear the distinction of having deserted from the Confederate army, from
three different units!
If you are into the Civil War, you should throw a salute in the direction of Hank Jordan's lineup
of blue-backed books.
And if you get to tour the peaceful, silent precinct around today's old Longstreet church, you might
listen for the ghostly echoes of that gathering in 1861 when the men and boys of Argyll mustered for war.
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