Earlier this year, I wrote a piece entitled “How Rumors Get Started” on the discrepancies between versions of a story about who commanded the 58th North Carolina Troops during the battle of Bentonville. Writing about three decades after the war, Capt. Isaac Bailey, who was not at the battle, claimed that Lt. Col. Samuel Silver was in command of the regiment. The limited sources from the time period say differently, namely the official report of the battle by the 58th NCT’s brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Palmer.
Today, while hunting for something to answer another question, I found another piece of the puzzle that lends credence to the assertion that that Harper, not Silver, was in command. On April 5, 1865, a list of losses sustained by the 58th NCT during the battle of Bentonville appeared in the North Carolina Standard, published in Raleigh. The article reads:
Headquarters, 58th N. C. Regiment
March 23, 1865
List of casualties in the 58th N. C. regiment, commanded by Major G. W. F. Harper, in the battle of Bentonville, on Sunday, March 19, 1865.
Co. A – Wounded, Privates S. Gaddy slight in head, M. Miller, slight in arm.
Co. B – Wounded, Private J. B. Turbyfield slight in foot.
Co. D – Wounded, Lieut. D. F. Baird, dangerous in breast; corpl B. L. Presnell, mortal in abdomen; Private S. Green, mortal in head (since died); M Strickland slight in shoulder.
E – Killed, Pvt. A. F. Green. Wounded, Lieut. W. C. Coffey, slight in breast; Privates J. C. Shuffler, seriously in thigh; A. Pearce, slight in foot; I. Anderson, slight in knee; I. Coffey, slight in hand; N. Smith, slight in foot; Wm. Coffey, slight in hand. Missing – I. Sherill.
F – Wounded, Sgt. J. J. Marler, slight in arm.
H. – Wounded, Privates J. M. McCall, slight in breast; H. Stafford, slight in arm; E. C. Fox, slight in hand; J. Turnmire, slight in groin.
K – J. McKinney, slight in head.
L – Sergt. J. Spivey, mortal in knee (since died;) Privates M. M. Faircloth, serious in leg; T. Hurley, serious in knee; H. Hurley, slight in thigh.
Total – Killed or died of wounds 3.
B. L. Perry, Jr.
So what say ye? Harper or Silver?