Sergeant Edward Gale Butler
B (the “Townsville Guards”), 12th Regiment N.C. Troops (2nd Regiment N.C. Volunteers)
Edward Gale Butler was born in Virginia and resided at Oxford, Granville County, where he was “a student of divinity.” On April 26, 1861, nearly a month before North Carolina seceded, Edward enlisted as a private in the “Townsville Guards,” subsequently designated Company B, 12th Regiment North Carolina Troops. With the exception of a brief illness in autumn 1861, Butler served without incident until captured at the Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862, the only member of the 12th North Carolina taken prisoner. Brief incarceration followed at Old Capitol and Fort Delaware Prisons, and he was exchanged August 5, 1862.
Edward was promoted to second sergeant in late 1862. Soon thereafter, he was diagnosed with “debilitas” and issued a forty-day furlough beginning January 8, 1863. On March 20, 1863, Edward was detailed to the “Ordnance Department” of Brigadier General Alfred Iverson’s Brigade where he served until October 6, 1863, and received 25 cents extra pay per day. During the retreat from Gettysburg he captured an officer and two men from an Illinois regiment. From November 12, 1863, through 1864, Sergeant Butler was engaged in extra duty as a “brigade foragemaster.”
During a counterattack in the fighting at Fort Mahone, near Petersburg, on April 1-2, 1865, Edward and a handful of other soldiers captured ninety-five prisoners, including four officers. At the Battle of Little Sayler’s Creek, Virginia, on April 6, Edward himself was captured. Federal prisoner-of-war records state that he was a third lieutenant, although there is no other evidence of a promotion to that rank. Edward was, however, sent to the prison for Confederate officers at Johnson’s Island, Ohio, from which place he was released on June 18, 1865, after taking the Oath of Allegiance.
A slouch hat with cord is just visible on Edward’s left knee.
Image: N.C. Office of Archives and History.
Confederate Military History, 5:416; Manarin et. al., North Carolina Troops 5:132; Mast, “North Carolina Casualties; service record files of Edward G. Butler 12th Regiment N.C. Troops, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers from the State of North Carolina (M270), RG109, NA.