Private John W. McDaniel
Company E (the “Chatham Independent Guards”), 26th Regiment N.C. Troops
John W. McDaniel (born ca. 1833), a farmer from the Middle District of Chatham County, enlisted at Cartersville on May 28, 1861, in the “Chatham Independent Guards,” subsequently Company E, 26th Regiment N.C. Troops. McDaniel mustered into service as a corporal.
At the Battle of New Bern, March 14, 1862, the 26th North Carolina occupied the rightmost position of the Confederate line. Although the left wing was heavily engaged (the regiment suffered ninety casualties, including sixty-seven men captured), the men of Company E, posted on the regiment’s far right (“where they expected hardest fight would be,” McDaniel later opined) were more spectators than participants.
The collapse of the Confederate center had isolated the 26th North Carolina. It was cut off from New Bern by enemy forces and its retreat to the west was blocked by an unfordable creek. Four small boats, which could accommodate only eighteen men at a time, slowly ferried the regiment across the creek. After marching fifty miles in about thirty-six hours, the 26th, bereft of most of its equipment, arrived at Kinston at noon on March 16.
Within hours of his arrival at Kinston, McDaniel took “pencil in hand” to inform his mother and brother that “we are not all killed as you no Doubt have heard.” Nevertheless, McDaniel continued, “we are all in a Bad fix. We lost every thing we had . . . and we have Been marching Day and night ever since . . . and some of the time wading water waist Deep. . . . We have not a thing to Sleep upon and our feet is so sore that many of us cannot Walk to do any good.”
(Despite their downcast condition, the morale of many members of the 26th North Carolina rapidly improved: As they marched into Kinston, the regimental band joined them and, playing “Dixie,” paraded at the head of the column. Five days later a member of Company F wrote home that “we are ready for the blasted thing again. . . . Let them come out from the co[a]st and we will whip them. They may over pour us but they cant Scear us.”)
McDaniel was reduced to private sometime after May 1862 but was otherwise present or accounted for until wounded and captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. Initially confined at Fort Delaware, Delaware, McDaniel was transferred to the prison at Point Lookout, Maryland, in October 1863. He died of chronic diarrhea in the prison hospital there on November 13, 1863.
McDaniel is buried at Point Lookout.
Image: Copy print in author’s possession.
1860 U. S. Census, Middle Division, Chatham County, North Carolina, population schedule, page 58, dwelling 480, family 423, John W. McDaniel household; North Carolina Troops 7:527; Mast, “North Carolina Casualties”; Mast, State Troops and Volunteers, 1:237-283; service record files of John W. McDaniel, 26th Regiment N.C. Troops, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers from the State of North Carolina (M270), RG109, NA; http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=2601&GScid=81385&GRid=29089409&