Sergeant John A. Tuttle
Company F (the “Hibriten Guards”), 26th Regiment N.C. Troops
Company F (the “Hibriten Guards”), 26th Regiment N.C. Troops achieved a terrible fame at the Battle of Gettysburg. During the fight against the Iron Brigade on McPherson’s Ridge on July 1, every member of the company present was shot down: thirty-three men were killed or mortally wounded and fifty-eight were wounded. That “unparalleled loss” may be the only instance of an entire company’s being wiped out in one battle during the war. (A handful of members of Company F were not with their comrades on July 1, however, and may straggled, been sick, or been on detail. At least one, Private Thomas W. Setser, participated in Pettigrew-Pickett Charge on July 3 and was severely wounded.)
Despite their virtual annihilation at Gettysburg, the “Hibriten Guards” rebuilt their strength in the months following the Gettysburg campaign. Some of the wounded returned to duty; a handful of new recruits arrived; and one, the subject of this image, rejoined the company after spending the summer in a Lynchburg hospital, suffering from the mumps. Private John A. Tuttle, son of R. G. Tuttle, the sheriff of Caldwell County, was seventeen years old when reenlisted at Lenoir on July 15, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant on April 12, 1862.
At the Battle of Bristoe Station, October 14, 1863, the “Hibriten Guards,” thirty-six men strong, participated in the disastrous charge of two North Carolina brigades against a well-fortified Yankee position. The result was another near-obliteration of the company. Five men were killed or mortally wounded , ten were wounded, and seventeen were captured.
Thomas W. Setser, who had recovered from this Gettysburg wound, wrote a relative that “It was a purty hard little fite while it lasted. . . . J[ohn] A Tuttle was kill by a bayonet by char[g]ing over the yankees brest works. You can tell his folks that I borrid him the beste I could and cut his name on a pice of plank and put it to his grave.” (Setser, one of two surviving enlisted men of the “Hibriten Guards,” wrote: “It is a lonsom time in Company F now. When I look a round See nun of our boys and think what has becom of them I cante help but cry, and it looks like our time will come next.”)
Tuttle’s “triple-breasted” uniform coat is of the type seen in images of several young Caldwell County soldiers from various regiments. It is thought to be a cadet uniform used at a Lenoir academy that offered some military instruction:
Image: Sixth-plate ambrotype, Davis Forrest Tuttle, descendant.
Manarin et. al., North Carolina Troops, 7:547; Greg Mast, ed., “The Setser Letters, Part IV,” Company Front (August-September 1989), 13; Mast, mortality database, 26th N.C. Troops; Romulus M. Tuttle, “Unparalleled Loss” in Clark, Histories of the Several Regiments, 5:599-603.