North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865:
A Roster (Vol. XVII, Junior Reserves)
Compiled and edited by Mathew M. Brown and Michael W. Coffey
(May 2010 Civil War News)
Illustrated, maps, roster, footnotes, index, 509 pp., 2009. North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Order from Historical Publications Section, www.ncpublisationss.com, $50 plus shipping.
We come closer to the end of North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865 – A Roster with Volume XVII of this outstanding and highly acclaimed project. This volume covers the Junior Reserves. These eight battalions were made up of 17-year-old draftees from all over the state in 1864.
The existence of this unit may be a surprise to many, but due to a severe manpower shortage in the Confederate ranks, it was a dire necessity. These units, made up of teenagers, were also led by teenagers. A majority of officers and NCOs were not older than 18 or 19. But despite their age, the Junior Reserves seem to have performed rather well as noted by many veterans.
Their duties were originally consisted of guarding bridges, train depots and supply installations. But circumstances drew the reserves into combat. They saw action in a number of minor clashes in eastern North Carolina and southern Virginia, and in two major battles, Fort Fisher and Bentonville.
At the end of the war, 210 officers and men were paroled with Joe Johnston’s army on May 1, 1865, at Greensboro, N.C.
Sponsored by the North Carolina Centennial Commission, the North Carolina roster project began in 1961. It was accurately estimated that the project would consist of 20 volumes. Future volumes will include Federal North Carolina units along with Confederate navy and marines. The series will end with a massive comprehensive index.
The outstanding historian and researcher Weymouth T. Jordan Jr. edited earlier volumes. After his retirement, his duties were assigned to two editors, Matthew M. Brown and Michael W. Coffey.
As they note, there are numerous contributors to each volume, including mapmakers, researchers, and historians who are experts in weapons, accouterments, and photography.
The new editors have not missed a beat. The high quality of work in the past two volumes has been equal to the first 15 edited by Jordan.
Volume XVII is in two sections, unit history narrative and the roster. The narrative is extremely detailed and very well-written. The footnotes are nearly equal in content to the text and just as detailed. The maps are excellent and easy to read, and the photographs are very well reproduced.
It is, as usual, the roster that is so impressive. It is 348 pages of entries that run from a few sentences to substantial paragraphs. The entries contain ages, places of birth, enlistment dates, POWs, wounded or KIA, desertions, parole information, dates of death and burial sites.
Outside information comes from the usual federal and state records. Historical societies and libraries from all over the country contributed valuable information. It is the information from private individuals and descendants that are of high value. All of this is just a small portion of the sources used for information.
The series editors continue to seek information on all North Carolina soldiers. This material will be published as an addendum. There is a form inside the back of the dust jacket that can be used to contribute information on a North Carolina soldier.
North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster sets a high standard for other states to follow. Researchers and genealogists, of course, will welcome this series as a treasure trove.
Reviewer: Michael A. Cavanaugh
Michael A. Cavanaugh is the former editor and publisher of the Civil War Book Exchange, now Civil War News. He has authored and co-authored five books on the war and is writing a biography on Maj. Gen. William Mahone, CSA