Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/71

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65
First Confederate Martyr.

year longer, and the first soldier who fell in battle for the Lost Cause was to come from North Carolina.[1]

This soldier was Henry Lawson Wyatt. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, February 12, 1842. His parents were Isham Belcher and Lucinda N. L. Wyatt. He was apprenticed to the carpenter trade at an early age, and in October, 1856, accompanied his father to North Carolina, and ultimately settled in Tarboro, Edgecombe county. Here he followed his trade and by faithful work and upright deportment made friends in the community. This is the brief narrative of the first nineteen year's of Wyatt' s life. From this time his career is a part of the history of a great struggle.

It became evident in April, 1861, that North Carolina must secede or fight the Southern States. Private parties, anticipating the action of the State, were organizing and drilling troops for service. One of the first of these companies was the "Edgecombe Guards" of Edgecombe county. It was organized April 18, 1861, and on that day Henry Lawson Wyatt enlisted in it as a private soldier. It consisted of eighty-eight privates, nine non and four commissioned officers. Its captain was John Luther Bridgers, of Edgecombe county. Its commanding colonel was Daniel Harvey Hill, of Mecklenburg, who became later a lieutenant-general in the Confederate service. The company became known as A, of what was then the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers. This regiment was the first of all the North Carolina troops to organize and take the field. Its term of enlistment was for six months and it was disbanded in the fall of 1861. After the enlistment of ten regiments of State troops, this became known as the Bethel regiment from its first battle, and by this name it has passed into history.

The battle, from which it took its name, was fought Monday, the tenth of June, 1861, at Bethel, or Big Bethel, or Bethel church, situated on the Yorktown road, nine miles from Hampton, Virginia. It had been occupied on the night of the 6th of June by the Confederates from Yorktown. These troops consisted of the First North Carolina regiment, Colonel D. H. Hill commanding, with Lieutenant-Colonel Charles C. Lee as second in command, and four pieces of Randolph's battery. Colonel Hill found a branch of Back river in his front and encircling his right flank. On his left was a dense and

  1. It is not claimed that Wyatt was the first Confederate soldier killed. Captain John Q. Marr of the Warrenton (Virginia) Volunteers had been shot by pickets on June 1.