Thomasville, North Carolina began as a small community originally named Thomas Depot. The location was once a well-known camping spot called Whitehart Hog Crossing. A saw mill was built near Cramer Springs and the lumber from this mill was used to construct the plank road from Salisbury through Davidson County. John Warwick Thomas set out to capitalize on the expected growth of the area. He purchased nearly 400 acres from Jonathon Winston and became the owner of the mill and the surrounding area known today as Thomasville. Thomas became a state senator in 1848 and pushed for the railroad to travel through Davidson County. Thomas invested money with the idea and contracted the six miles needed to bring the rails to Thomas Depot. The railroad arrived on November 9, 1855. One of the early businesses in the area was a mortuary, arriving in 1852 and the Thomas Store quickly followed. Within the next few years, Lines Shoe Factory established business in 1855 and Shelly Boot Company followed in 1858. By 1860, a tobacco warehouse was established and the area contained over 300 citizens.
The Thomasville Rifles were volunteers comprised of men living in and near the new founded community. The soldiers were recruited in the 4th North Carolina Volunteers and later into Company B, 14th Regiment N.C. Troops. The above soldier is unknown but we can learn details about him through the photo. He is carrying a long rifle with an octagon barrel. The shape of the tang highly suggests that the manufacturer of this weapon was located in Salem, Forsyth County, NC. During the early years of the war, local sheriffs were required to gather suitable firearms and deliver them to Raleigh. These weapons were distributed to the soldiers after alterations were made for military use. Documents also prove that shipments of “Salem Rifles” were used and distributed all throughout the war years. The other details of the photo showing the battle shirt and the homemade waist band suggest this photo was taken very early into the war. This particular photocopy has been altered as you change your focus on the bowie knife. The colorized version and the knife appear to be added for reasons unknown. Look closer at the knife details and you can see how this item was digitally added to the copy. The original photo was located in the Thomasville area and the rifle caught my eye as I was researching these soldiers of Davidson County. Having a keen eye when researching photos is critical for any project. Photos can reveal just as much data as paper documents if you look closely.
The Lambeth Tobacco Warehouse was turned into a hospital at the close of the war as well as the yard of the Thomasville Methodist Church. Nearly 2,000 men received medical attention. Over 40 men died while being treated and were buried in the Thomasville City Cemetery. These men buried in the cemetery are both union and confederate soldiers.
The volunteers of the Thomasville Rifles are mentioned below in alphabetical order. These men were exposed to several major battles throughout the war and the below data will give you a brief description of each soldier and his family.
ROSTER A thru E
Allred, Clemmons M (1838-1918)
Born in 1838 and resided with Sam Craven, a master carpenter in Thomasville, during 1860. Volunteered April 23, 1861 and mustered in as a corporal. Promoted to sergeant when the regiment was reorganized on April 27, 1862. On March 1, 1863, he was demoted to the rank of private. Wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863. November of 1863, served as a division guard and was absent until August of 1864. Paroled at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Father of eleven children and married twice, last wife known as Etta T. Hardee. Died in 1918 in Jackson, Tennessee.
William was known as a carpenter in Thomasville prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. He was mustered as a private until he was wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He recovered from his wounds and was counted present in January of 1863. He was reported absent without leave from July 30 until November 6, 1863. He was with the regiment from November 7, 1863 until August of 1864 when he was once again counted absent.
Anderson, Jesse A. (1838-1863)
Parents are John and Cynthia Pope Anderson. Jesse was the only son of this couple and was living with Sam Craven in Thomasville as an apprentice. He volunteered on April 23, 1861. Wounded on September 17, 1862 at Sharpsburg, Maryland. Wounded again with a gunshot wound in Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 22, 1863. Captured at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between July 1 and July 3rd, 1863. He died in Federal custody on July 10, 1863 in Gettysburg. Cause of death was not reported.
Ayer, Henry W.
Henry was known to work as a clerk at the Conrad Mill Mining Company prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. He was mustered as first sergeant and on May 26, 1861, he was appointed to the post of second lieutenant.
Babcock, Edward Warren
Born in the state of Maine in 1837, Edward arrived in Thomasville and was an employee of the Lines Shoe Factory as a “bootmaker”. He volunteered on April 27, 1861 and was mustered in as a private. Promoted to sergeant in April of 1863. Wounded in the thigh at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. Promoted to first sergeant in April of 1864. He was reduced in rank to private on August 1, 1864 for unknown reasons.
David worked as a carpenter in Thomasville and volunteered on April 23, 1861. He served at Williamsburg and the Seven Days campaign before he became ill and was sent home on furlough. He died in November of 1862.
Volunteered on April 27, 1861. Wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He was a confined at Fort McHenry, Maryland until paroled and transferred to Aiken’s Landing, Virginia for exchange on October 19, 1862. He was placed on light duty and retired to the invalid corps on April 27, 1864.
Rufus worked as a farmer prior to volunteering on April 27, 1861. He was paroled in Lynchburg, Virginia in April of 1865.
William was a known farmer in 1861 when his three brothers volunteered on April 27th. Several months later, he traveled to Camp Bee, Virginia and volunteered for service on September 10, 1861. Wounded at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia on May 12, 1864. Captured as prisoner and released at Washington D.C. on April 10, 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance.
Beck, Jacob H.R.
Jacob is the son of Ambrose and Elizabeth Beck. Volunteered on July 29, 1861. He deserted on July 1, 1862 and married Martha Shuler on December 28,1862. He returned to service on February 23, 1863 and was killed by a bayonet at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia on May 15, 1864.
Berrier, Henry Jackson (1836-1907)
Jackson is the son of Jacob and Christina Grimes. Volunteered on August 15, 1861. Promoted to sergeant, captured at Farmville, Virginia on April 6, 1865. Confined at Point Lookout, Maryland until June 24, 1865.
Amos is the son of Solomon and Catharine Black. Conscripted into service on July 16, 1862 in Wake County. Reported present until he died in “the valley of Virginia” on November 22, 1962 of disease.
Britt, Frank J. (1841-1862)
Frank was born in Maine and worked in the Lines Shoe Factory before he volunteered on April 23, 1861. He was mustered in as a sergeant. Killed in action at Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862.
Bryant, Thomas (1832-1862)
Thomas is the son of John and Sarah Bryant. He volunteered on April 27, 1861. Wounded and captured at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He died of his wounds while in Federal custody at Frederick, Maryland on October 19, 1862.
Collett, William J.
William is the son of James and Margaret Collett. Volunteered on April 27, 1861. Mortally wounded during a battle in Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.
Cross, Moses H. (1843-1913)
Son of Charles and Delia Huffman Cross. Apprenticed to William B Hamner as a saddler and tanner. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Promoted to first sergeant on October 5, 1862. Appointed to third lieutenant on November 4, 1863. Promoted to second lieutenant on May 18, 1864. Paroled at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
Davis, Henry Jackson (1840-1872)
Henry was born to John and Barbara Weaver Davis. He volunteered on May 20, 1861 and was mustered as corporal and promoted to sergeant on April 1, 1864. Captured at Winchester, Virginia and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland until February 18, 1865. He was sent to Boulware’s Wharf, Virginia for exchange.
Dorsett, William Henry
Son of Samuel and Athalia Dorsett working as a carpenter in the Thomasville area. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Wounded in the head during the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1863. He returned to duty on September 1, 1863. Reported as present until he deserted on February 15, 1864.
Ellington, George B. (1837-1911)
George is the son of Henry and Elizabeth Ellington. He was working as a carpenter prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. Wounded in the mouth while attending fallen comrades during the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He recovered and was promoted to corporal on March 1, 1863. Wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Admitted to a hospital on August 7, 1864. Paroled on June 17, 1865 in Gordonsville, Virginia. Below is a personal account of George’s actions while at a field hospital in Gettysburg.
George was placed next to a wounded Federal soldier whose eyes had been shot out. The Yankee, who wore several gold rings, offered them all to George, if George would shoot him. George refused to kill the man and administered help to him the best he could.Mast
Ellington, James F.
James is the son of Henry and Elizabeth Ellington. He was working as a coachmaker in Wake County prior to volunteering on May 9, 1861. He was discharged for unrecorded reasons on August 30, 1861.
Epps, Beverly R.
Beverly is the son of William and Mary Ann Epps. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Promoted to corporal on August 1, 1864. Wounded and captured at Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864. Confined in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Point Lookout, Maryland. Paroled and sent to Venus Point, Georgia for exchange on November 15, 1864. Rejoined his regiment and captured at Petersburg, Virginia and confined at Hart’s Island, New York. Released on June 17, 1865.
Epps, James W. (1838-1862)
James is the brother of Beverly Epps and they volunteered together on April 23, 1861. Promoted to corporal on April 28, 1862. He died of typhoid fever in a Richmond, Virginia hospital on June 29, 1862.
Epps. Thomas G. (1842-1862)
Thomas, a brother to James and Beverly, volunteered with his brothers on April 23, 1861. He died of typhoid fever at Farmville, Virginia on July 1, 1862.
Be sure to join our next segment as we revisit the Thomasville Rifles of the Civil War. The next segment will cover surnames F thru M and more details on the battles these soldiers faced. Piedmont Trails is growing daily as we have planned new adventures for this coming winter season. Our Footstep Tracking method will be released by end of October and we are branching out into the world of broadcasting as we move forward. Stay tuned on the arrival of these new chapters. Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. We greatly appreciate each and every one of you. Wishing you great success on your research.
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Sources for this article are as follows: Chairtown News of January of 1921, Thomasville History Museum, Davidson County Register of Deeds, North Carolina State Archives, United States National Archives, Civil War National Historical Organization and personal correspondence. The featured photo is of the Thomasville Depot taken circa 1890.