Hyde County Raid (III) - March 7 - 14, 1863

(From: Civil War Plymouth Pilgrims Descendants Society.  Thanks to Ed Boots)

About the 1st of January, 1863 the 101st PA went into camp south of the Trent River, about a mile from New Bern, NC. Colonel David B. Morris returned at that time, having recovered from his wounds at the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA and was placed in charge of the regiment.

During this time, a company of home guards was organized in Hyde County, NC. These men had evaded the Confederate conscription, but instead of offering protection to the people of Hyde County, they were a menace to both supporters of the Union and the Confederacy. Frequent raids were being made into this fertile county by the Union Cavalry to forage for supplies. During one such raid, the company of guerrillas ambushed Co. F of the 3d NY Cavalry and Co. G, 1st NC Volunteers. They killed three men and six horses, as well as wounding two Lieutenants and twelve men of the 3d NY Cavalry and one of the First NC Volunteers.

Colonel Morris, with the 101st & 103d PA were dispatched to the county, accompanied by Co. F of the 3d NY Calvary and one piece of artillery and its caisson of the 3d NY Artillery. They boarded the Northerner and Escort on the afternoon of the 7th of March and proceeded to Swan Quarter, Hyde County, accompanied by the North State and two scows. The troops arrived on the morning of the 8th with part debarking later that afternoon and the remainder the following morning. They set up camp on the 9th eight miles from Swan Quarter. During the night, one man, Thomas Voliva, was captured for firing on the pickets.

The 10th was spent marching 25 miles around Lake Mattimuskeet, from north to east, ending up at Spencer's farm. An additional 30 miles were marched around the lake on the 11th. In all, 11 men supposedly belonging to the band of guerrillas were captured as well as about 60 citizens. The citizens were released at Swan Quarter after taking the oath of allegiance. The 11 prisoners were sent to the provost-marshall in New Bern, NC.

On the morning of the 12th, Captain Richardson of Co.F, 3d NY Cavalry and 300 men were sent out 7 miles to the farm of Judge Donald to bring in a quantity of cotton, corn & bacon for the troops at New Bern. A large amount of supplies were acquired during the Hyde County Raid:

17 horses, 13 buggies, 1 yoke oxen, 1 schooner (Snow Squall), 8 cart-loads of cotton, about 1500 pounds of bacon, about 400 bushels of corn, and approximately 40 slaves who followed the troops to the boat landing.

Colonel Morris' official report reads in part, "The only buildings burned by my order were the outbuildings of a farmhouse near Fairfield, in which we found a rebel officer's coat, ammunition, &c. I regret to state that a small mill at Swan Quarter was fired and burned, and also a barn filled with corn adjoining Spencer's farm was burned by an unknown party; also a number of stacks of fodder on the farm of Judge Donald was burned without my order."

The actions of the Union forces did not go unnoticed by the provisional Union Governor of NC, who sent a message to General Foster deploring the excesses committed on this raid.

The following diary entry is from a unknown soldier from the 101st or 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry:

March 7th [1863]
An expedition (consisting of the 101st and 103 Penna. Vols and a Company of the 3d N.Y. Cavalry) was sent into Hyde county, to break up a band of guerrillas. We landed on the 9th at Swan Quarter, a small village near the coast, march 14 miles on the north side of Mattimuskeet Lake, burnt up the guerrilla captain's house, and took all the horses that were of any value to serve in our cavalry instead of in that of the rebels. The county was the richest we had yet seen in the southern states, and, considering that most of the work was done by slaves, was very well cultivated. We encamped at night opposite some deserted breastworks of the rebels, and having captured large quantities of hams, chickens, etc., during the day, began cooking them. All the pots, pans and kettles of the neighborhood were pressed into service, and many who lost their chickens were obliged to lend their utensils to cook them in, which must have been very pleasant to the feelings of "Chivalry."

We were aroused about midnight by firing at the picket line, but it turned out to be caused by an old one-eyed man [Thomas Voliva] whom we took prisoner and carried to Newbern.

His story was that he and his son had been out to shoot bears, that they knew nothing of our being there, until they were fired into by our pickets, and that his son had got "right smart of scared" and had "skiddaddled," leaving his gun behind; this might all be true, but it is most likely that the "bear" they were after was one of Uncle Sam's "two-legged ones."

10th. Early in the morning we cooked and eat the remainder of our chickens and then continued our onward march. Every man and horse we found was taken along -- the horse for his usefulness, and the man to keep him out of mischief. We captured about 50 prisoners today, and a more boney, lank, lantern-jawed, set could scarcely be found, and we took so many horses, mules, oxen, carts, carriages, etc., that we were almost all mounted Infantry. Negroes, with all the goods they could collect, left "ole massa" to come with us; sometimes in whole families, with the "picaninnies" strapped to their backs, and most of the captured ox-carts were given to the women and children to ride in. It rained all day and the roads were very muddy, but this was a slight annoyance for we were wet through and muddy as possible, so we splashed along without any regard to either, knowing we were as bad off as we could be -- a kind of philosophy soldiers are often brought to believe in. Distance marched today was 15 miles.

11th. Onward still, and a better country than this for forage could not be found, and certainly none of the "starvation of the South" was known here, for this was a "land of milk and honey, " though there was no way for us to get the latter but by lifting the hive and taking it out with the bayonet, and the way the bees came out and stung made the "darkies" turn up the whites of their eyes, for they were often put to the work.

We passed the plantation of Judge Donald, one of the largest slave owners in that section. He formerly owned 600, and had 400 at this time but a large number followed us, and many carts and oxen were pressed into service from this place. At night we reached Swan Quarter, with about 80 prisoners and 150 horses and oxen which we had taken, having marched 26 miles, and remained until the 13th.

13th. Our prisoners had to either take the oath to Uncle Sam or go to Newbern as prisoners; most of them took it and were turned loose, but the most suspicious were taken to Newbern, with the one-eyed man already mentioned. We now embarked on the boat, and took along the most valuable of our captured property.

History of the 101st PA Veteran Volunteer Infantry; John A. Reed; 1910 pages 68-69.

For further details pertaining to this raid, read the following reports from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion:
    O.R. Series I, Volume XVIII, pages 157-158 - Captain Richardson's report.
    O.R. Series I, Volume XVIII, page 181 - Colonel Morris' report.
    O.R. Series I, Volume XVIII, Page 182 - Gov. Stanley's correspondence to Maj. Gen. Foster

Anyone having information on the actions described above, or any letters, diaries, etc., on this or any other events occurring in Hyde County during the Civil War, please email me.

Copyright 1998

Return to Hyde County Home Page