Battle of South Mills”










The ballast stone marks one of the five graves of 3rd Georgians killed during the battle of South Mills. Located in the Old Baptist Burying Grounds in South Mills, the other four graves are to the right of this one. The one to the immediate right of this one also has a ballast stone for a marker. The others are unmarked. They were buried there the day after the battle. The remains of Milton Deese were dug up and carried back to Georgia by his father.









Possible remnants of the entrenchments at Joyce Creek dug by the 3rd Georgians in February of 1862.









The Nosay House was standing at the time of the battle. It may have been used as a temporary hospital during the battle. The wounded were taken to the school house in South Mills after the battle and were transported to Portsmouth via the canal the following day, so if it was used as a hospital, it was as a field hospital used just for the duration of the battle. Pickets from the 21st Massachusetts were posted here after the battle.









The 3rd Georgians occupied this ditch during the battle of South Mills. The entrenchment was described as being a ditch two feet wide and two feet deep, with the dirt piled up on the south embankment of the ditch. Fence rails were added on top of this pile of dirt, creating a strong defensive position.









The “roasted ditch” was located here. The ditch no longer exists. Wright’s 3rd Georgians piled fence rails in the ditch and set them on fire to discourage any Union forces from trying to use the ditch as an entrenchment. The smoke obscured the Confederate position from the approaching Union forces. Col. Hawkin’s 9th New York Zouaves had to jump this burning ditch during their famous charge.









Hawkin’s Charge crossed these fields on the east side of NC 343. Three of the Giles Artillery cannons were placed about 50 yards in front of the ditch that served as the 3rd Georgians’ entrenchment. Two were located in the roadbed of Sawyer’s Lane, now NC 343. Wright originally placed three companies on this side of the road and two on the west side. One was moved from the west side to the east and one of the reserve companies was called up when the Union troops began outflanking the Confederate position on the east side of the road.









Earl Meiggs’ house was used as Union headquarters during the battle. A cannonball was recovered from inside one of the interior walls after the battle. After the battle, the house may have been used as a hospital for the Union soldiers that were too seriously wounded to be evacuated when the Union forces, fearing a Confederate attack, retreated to their boats at Chantilly under the cover of darkness. The wounded were captured and sent on parole to the hospital at Fort Monroe.









Union forces approached South Mills in two brigades. Col. Hawkins led the 4th Brigade, made up of forces from Roanoke Island. General Reno was to follow with his brigade from New Bern, but he was delayed when his transports went aground. 

Hawkins was supposed to secure the bridge over the Pasquotank River, trapping 7 of Wright’s companies on the Pasquotank side of the river. In the darkness, Hawkins’ column took the wrong road at Camden. The two Union columns met up at Lamb’s Corner. Reno had his column draw up in battle lines facing the approaching Hawkins brigade, thinking Hawkins’ brigade was ahead of him and that Confederate forces were approaching from the east down Lamb’s Road.