Sergeant Sidney Cloninger
Company B (the “Gaston Invincibles”), 28th Regiment N.C. Troops
The lopsidedness of the Confederate victory at Fredericksburg, and the massive casualties inflicted upon the Army of the Potomac, might lead to the presumption that the Confederate side emerged relatively unscathed. Such was not the case, however, especially among the North Carolina units that fought. Thirty-two Tar Heel regiments, one battalion, and two batteries participated in the battle and sustained a loss of 408 men killed or mortally wounded, 1226 wounded, and 201 captured (of whom 20 were also wounded). In contrast, North Carolina’s loss in dead at the Battle of Sharpsburg (well-known as the bloodiest day of the war), was 647 men killed and mortally wounded.
Many of the Fredericksburg deaths were lingering ones, as some of the wounded struggled unsuccessfully for recovery during the winter months. Sidney Cloninger (born February 9, 1828) of Gaston County was a prosperous farmer, married with three children. He also owned two slaves. Nevertheless, Cloninger volunteered at Dallas on March 29, 1862, in Company B (the “Gaston Invincibles”), 28th Regiment N.C. Troops. He was one of 267 members of the 28th North Carolina captured at the Battle of Hanover Court House, Virginia, on the following May 27. Incarceration followed at Fort Monroe and at Fort Columbus, New York Harbor, but Cloninger was exchanged in July and returned to duty between August 5 and November 1, 1862.
He received a promotion to sergeant on November 5 and served until he was wounded in action at Fredericksburg on December 13. Cloninger died in a Richmond hospital on January 9, 1863. His remains were returned to North Carolina and he is buried Christ’s Lutheran Church Cemetery, Stanley, Gaston County.
Image: Copy print in author’s possession.
Source Note: 1860 U. S. Census, Gaston County, North Carolina, population schedule, page 145, dwelling 1111, family 1118, Sidney Cloninger household; U.S. Census, Gaston County, North Carolina slave schedule, page 20, Sidney Cloninger, slave owner; Manarin et al., North Carolina Troops, 8:128-129; Mast, “North Carolina Casualties”; service record files of William T. Blanton, 28th 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&GRid=45129025