Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two Colonels

In the past few weeks, I've had a chance to reconnect with both colonels of the 37th NCT. The first colonel, Charles C. Lee, is buried in Charlotte, a place where I've been spending a lot of time of late. The second colonel, William Barber, is buried in Wilkesboro, a place where I spoke a couple of Saturdays ago. So, I thought I would share a little.

Had he lived longer, Charles C. Lee would have become a Confederate brigade commander. Charles was born in February 1834 in Charleston, South Carolina. His father was Stephen Lee, who had attended West Point, and then later taught at a military academy in South Carolina. Stephen Lee was the uncle of Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee. The family moved to Asheville at some point, where Stephen ran a boys school. Charles C. Lee also attended West Point, graduating in 1856. Charles served in the US Army until 1859, when he resigned and became a instructor at the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte, NC. On May 11, he became lieutenant colonel in the 1st North Carolina Volunteers, and upon D. H. Hill's promotion to brigadier general, colonel of the 1st NC Volunteers. That regiment was disbanded in early November 1861, and Lee was elected colonel of the 37th North Carolina Troops. He was a strict disciplinarian, and very pious, even preaching to the men. On two different occasions, he held command of demi-brigades, and given his background, would have gone far. Charles was killed by a cannon shot on June 30, 1862. His body was returned to Charlotte and interred in Elmwood Cemetery. The entire city closed for his funeral. Lee "was as brave as a lion and gentle as a lamb."

Lee was replaced by William M. Barber. Born in Rowan County, North Carolina, in January 1834, William was educated by Peter S. Ney before attending St. James College in Maryland. There has always been some debate as to who Ney was, some claiming that he was Marshall Michael Ney of Napoleon's Army. William continued to study law, gained admittance to the bar, and moved to Wilkesboro to open his practice. Once the War came, Barber was elected captain of the Western Carolina Stars, which became Company F, 37th North Carolina Troops on November 20, 1861.  That same day, William was elected to lieutenant colonel of the regiment. He was constantly in the thick of things, being wounded at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and captured at Spotsylvania Court House. He was a part of the Immortal 50, which predated the Immortal 600. William was released, and went back to his regiment, where he was wounded again at Deep Bottom. He had submitted his resignation, and before it could be acted upon, was mortally wounded at Jones Farm, September 30, 1864, dying on October 3, 1864, in a hospital in Petersburg, Virginia. Barber was buried in Petersburg, and then later reinterred at St. James Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro. His record in the North Carolina Troops book spells his last name as Barbour.  He spelled his name Barber until mid way through the War, when it changed to Barbour. His tombstone has Barber, and hence, that is the way I chose to refer to him in my book on the 37th NCT.

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