When you finish writing a book, you are always worried that upon its publication, some fabulous pieces of information will come forth. No matter how much time you put into telling the community what you are working on, someone will call, or write, “I wish I knew that you were working on that. I have [insert here 100 letters, ten photographs, etc.]” Until this past Tuesday, I was fairly happy with my first book, the one on the 37th North Carolina. Sure, I have, since its release in 2003, come across a couple of photographs that I wish I had had, and I now have copies of the Horton Diary, but this past Tuesday, while doing some research in Lenoir at the library, I came across a piece I truly wish I could have found earlier and gotten into the book.
There is no date on this article, probably from the Lenoir Topic. Since one of the authors died in 1917, it must have been written before that time. The authors of the article are Peter W. Turnmire and George W. Triplett. In 1861, Triplett was living in Wilkes County, and Turnmire was living in Watauga County. Triplett joined Company B of the Thirty-seventh on September 14, 1861, and Triplett four days later.
If you have read my history of the regiment, or know anything about the regiment, you know that the Thirty-seventh was involved in several of the Seven Days battles in June and July 1862. During the battle of Gaines Mill, around 3:30 in the afternoon, Branch was ordered to send his brigade to the support of Gregg’s brigade. I’ll let Triplett and Turnmire pick up the story.
“We threw our pickets along the Chickihominy and crossed and marched up a hill in files of four. About one third of the regiment reached the top of the hill, when the enemy poured a volley into the end of our regiment and we fell back to the foot of the hill. There we formed again and marched up in file of fours; and again they poured a volley into us and again we fell back to the foot of the hill and formed in a line of battle and advanced to the top and dropped on our knees and began firing at the enemy and pretty soon it looked like the Minnie balls had trimmed all the bushes around me.
“I [Turnmire], during the engagement, was standing between Thos. Hodge on the right, and Vincent Greer on the left, a Minnie ball struck Hodge about the heart and I eased him down on the right and Vincent Greer was struck in the temple and I eased him down on my left. When the order was given for us to fall back for reinforcements, I did not hear the orders and Captain Horton came and slapped me on my back with a sword and said we were ordered to fall back. As we went down the hill where we formed in the morning, Riley Triplett’s son Calvin, went down the hill with us and a stray ball struck him in the heart and he pulled his shirt open and said, “’Look here! Capt. Horton, I’m killed,’ and fell back dead.”
More to come….