Camden County Troops

A most uncivil war





















Camden County endured a most uncivil war from 1861-1865. Residents of all races fought for either the Union or the Confederacy in artillery, cavalry, infantry, navy, and partisan ranger units. Buffaloes and guerillas roamed the area. Both sides foraged the area heavily. Deprecations on both sides reached such a fevered pitch in 1863 that local leaders petitioned both the Governor of North Carolina and the Union military commander in Norfolk to remove all their troops from the area. The State of North Carolina passed a law in 1863 that granted the governor the authority to have records boxed and removed from potential harm, especially from the occupied region, because the state had insufficient forces to keep the Union forces from raiding into the interior






795 white males between the ages of 15 and 45 were listed on the 1860 Census for Camden County. Within 3 months of North Carolina’s secession, over 200 of them were enlisted in Confederate or State forces.  By the end of the war, over half of them had served either the Confederacy or the Union.


The earliest company to join, the 12th NC State Troops Company M, enlisted on 30 May 1861. Captain W.A. Duke’s Independent Company enlisted at Camden Courthouse on 30-31 May 1861. Captain G.G. Luke’s Independent Company enlisted afterwards. Smaller numbers joined the 8th and 56th NC during 1861. Others joined the 32nd NC or the 59th NC (4th Cavalry) in early 1862. The final major military force, the 68th NC, formed in mid-1863. Many of its members had served previously in other area regiments.


A significant number of black men enlisted in navy and USCT units.  Forty-five white men from the lower end of the county joined the Union forces as well. By the end of the war, over 100 men from Camden had fought for the Union. Numerous others were involved in irregular “buffalo” groups. The “buffaloes” and the “guerillas” matched each other atrocity for atrocity in a very personal civil war.