I meant to comment on this earlier, but time just got away from me. Last week, the Topsail Advertiser, as a part of its North Carolina Minute series, ran a little blurb about Maj. G. W. F. Harper of the 58th NCT. Here is what the reporter wrote
George Washington Finley Harper
(A North Carolinian who made a Difference)
George Washington Finley Harper was born on July 7, 1834 at Fairfield Plantation in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He received a Classical education in the area schools and entered Davidson College in 1855, graduating in 1859. Following college he returned home to help his father who was in the merchandise business.
Harper was serving as County Register and Justice of the Peace when the Civil War started. He waited until 1862to join the Confederate Army and was promoted to first lieutenant of Company H, Fifty-eighth North Carolina Regiment. He first saw action fighting Union forces near Cumberland Gap, Tennessee and also participated action in Kentucky. He later became Captain of his unit.
During 1863 the Fifty-eighth Regiment joined the Army of Tennessee and in September of that year he lead his troops in the Battle of Chickamauga, where one-half of his regiment was killed or wounded.
In the spring of 1864, Harper was wounded in the Battle of Resaca. He was sent home for his wounds to heal. He rejoined his regiment in the fall 1864 and upon returning to duty found that he had been promoted to the rank of major. He fought in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee and after that battle he was put in charge of transporting 1,700 prisoners to Corinth, Mississippi.
In the spring of 1865, Harper witnessed the Union forces making their big push through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. He was at Bentonville, North Carolina for the last major battle of the war. Harper was with General Joseph E. Johnston when Johnston surrendered to General Sherman on April 26, 1865.
Following the war, Harper returned to Lenoir, a town his father had established. Here he entered public service to help mankind. His political activities included a term as County Commissioner, member of the North Carolina General Assembly and Mayor of Lenoir. Harper died on March 16, 1921 and is buried in the Bellview Cemetery in Lenoir.
This article is misleading in so many different ways. It totally leaves out that Harper was a member of Vance’s Legion, before joining the 58th NCT. The 58th NCT was not really involved in fighting at Cumberland Gap. The regiment was garrisoning the Gap after the Federals pulled out. Any fighting was a bushwhacker here or there taking pot shots at passing troops. The 50 percent loses at Chickamauga is not right, and Harper did not lead the regiment. When he returned from his leave regarding his wounding in the fall of 1864, he did not find out he had been promoted to major. The promotion did not happen until April 1865. Neither Harper nor the 58th NCT was at the battle of Franklin. They did help transport prisoners from Tennessee, through north Alabama, and into Mississippi, but Harper was not in command of the expedition. And, Federal troops did not push through Georgia in the spring of 1865. That would be the fall of 1864. In all of Harper’s post war contributions, they left off his most important – he helped start the furniture industry in western North Carolina, not to mention that he started a bank, worked on getting a railroad into Caldwell County, and was a trustee at the hospital in Morganton, and Davidson College.
Geez, makes me wonder what else is wrong with some of their articles.