I believe that I have finished my search into the Widow Navy Pension records (on footnote.com) relating to men in the 58th NCT. There appear to be sixteen men who at one time served in the 58th NCT and later joined the United States Navy. Only three have files in the above source.
The last one that we will look at is Obadiah Sprinkle. Sprinkle’s file is huge – 349 pieces, and it has taken me about three days to get through it. The files of Felix Sluder and John W. Hilton contained some really good information. Both Sluder and Hilton had to give statements regarding their prior service in the Confederate army. There is no such document from Sprinkle. What we do have are statements from some of Sprinkle’s contemporaries.
Obadiah Sprinkle was from Wilkes County, North Carolina. It has been written that Wilkes was the strongest pro-Union county in all of North Carolina. That not to say that Wilkes did not have men in the Confederate army: it did, lots of them. Sprinkle was born in 1823. Prior to the war, Sprinkle was a store owner and postmaster.
In March or April 1861, as the story goes, Melton Sparks, Obadiah Sprinkle, and Obadiah’s son, had set fire to some of James Gwyn’s property. Sparks and the Sprinkles were captured by a “vigilant committee” formed by Gwyn. Sparks and Obadiah were “stripped… of their clothes and scourged…upon their naked backs…” Fletcher A. Harris, who was present, wrote that the men received twenty lashes. Barney, in his lackluster history of Walter W. Lenoir, writes that they received 39 lashes. Then, the two men had the half of their heads shaved, and were carted off to the Wilkes County jail. (The same jail that would later hold Tom Dula). The younger Sprinkle was released. Later, Sparks and Obadiah were sent to Wilmington, then to Fort Johnson, and finally Charleston, South Carolina, where Sprinkle was conscripted into Child’s Company of South Carolina Artillery. According to the compiled service records, Sprinkle was present in July 1861, but on November 5, 1861, had been discharged due to sickness.
We must assume that Sprinkle made his way back to Wilkes County. In 1863, Sprinkle would have been 40 years old and still liable for conscription. According to his wife, Sprinkle “was conscripted by the Confederate authorities[,] arrested and carried off in October or November 1863. [W]as carried to Raleigh, NC. There placed in what was called the Soldier Home. Then transferred to Gen. Braggs Division[ army,] the 58th or 60th NC Regiment….” Sprinkle was mustered into service at Camp Holmes on November 12, 1863. He was assigned to Company G, 58th North Carolina Troops, as a private. On November 25, 1863, during the battle of Missionary Ridge, Sprinkle was captured. He was taken to Louisville, Kentucky, where he arrived on December 11, 1863, and transferred to Rock Island, Illinois, where he arrived on December 14, 1863. On May 23, 1864, he took the Oath of Allegiance and joined the United States Navy. Sprinkle served as a landsman on the USS Ohio, Magnolia, and North Carolina, and was discharged from the service in May 1865, on account of disability.
Sprinkle, and his spouse and children, would claim that his treatment during the war led to his being permanently disabled. Sprinkle died on July 4, 1885, at his home in Rhonda, Wilkes County, North Carolina.
I am not sure how I am going to integrate the stories of Sluder, Hilton, and Sprinkle into the book. Much of the book is chronological in nature. Should they go right before the battle of Missionary Ridge, where all three men were captured? Or, I had thought about an essay in a special appendix that deals exclusively with the deserter problem in the 58th NCT. Heck, I could probably write an entire book just on the deserter problem in the 58th NCT.