Sergeants Jechonias P. Willis and Thomas Lindsay, Company H (the “Topsail Rifles”), 10th Regiment N.C. State Troops (1st Regiment N.C. Artillery)
Jechonias P. Willis (left), a twenty-two-year-old clerk, and Thomas Lindsay (right), residents of Carteret County, enlisted on May 25 and July 15, respectively, in a three-years company known as the “Topsail Rifles.” The “Rifles” mustered into service as infantry and on July 25, 1861, were assigned to the 2nd Regiment N.C. State Troops as Company C. The “Rifles” moved to Virginia in late July but less than a month later were ordered to return to Fort Macon. There the company was converted to heavy artillery and designated Company H, 10th Regiment N.C. State Troops.
Willis was promoted to sergeant in January or February 1862, and both he and Lindsay served during the siege of Fort Macon in April 1862. During the bombardment of April 25, a bolt from a Federal Parrott rifle struck the carriage of an 8-inch Columbiad in Willis’s battery, breaking the elevating screw and ricocheting into a 10-inch Columbiad, where it killed Willis. The bolt then struck a brick revetment and caromed into a 32-pound rifle, disabling that piece as well. One lucky shot had knocked out an entire battery. Jechonias Willis was one of only seven Confederates killed during the Battle of Fort Macon.
Thomas Lindsay surrendered at Fort Macon and rejoined the company when it was exchanged in August 1862. Subsequent to that exchange, the “Rifles” became part of “Pool’s Battalion,” a field organization of three companies of pontoniers and engineers from the 10th North Carolina commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen D. Pool. Lindsay rose to corporal in October 1862 and to sergeant in April 1863. He was present or accounted through February 1865, the date of his company’s last surviving muster roll. He received a parole at Stantonsburg, Wilson County, following the surrender of Pool’s Battalion at that place on April 25, 1865.
Jechonias Willis (July 25, 1835-April 25, 1862) is buried at the Old Burying Ground, Beaufort, Carteret County. A tradition recounts that the victor at Fort Macon, General Ambrose Burnside, wept as he watched Willis’s grieving family retrieve the pine coffin with his remains. Thomas Lindsay (born 1843), whose death date is unknown, is buried at Oceanview Cemetery, Carteret County.
Image: Ninth-plate ambrotype in the possession of Fort Macon State Park, reproduced by permission.
Paul Branch, The Siege of Fort Macon (Morehead City: Herald Printing Co., ca 1982), 77-78; Confederate Military History (Extended Edition), 5:605-606; Manarin et al., North Carolina Troops, 1:132, 137; Mast, State Troops and Volunteers, 1:238-239; http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82425436; http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14862366