Battle Incidents and Anecdotes 



One inch diameter lead balls found on the battlefield.

The balls were found in the mid 1970's behind the Confederate line. Their presence was a mystery until I found a reference to them in a history of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues. This company, part of the 46th Virginia, was stationed on the Confederate left. The historian of the unit stated "Soon they commenced throwing grape at us and our captain ordered us to fall back but finding that in doing so we came directly in range of their guns, he then ordered us to the front."

Epaulette taken from the body of O. Jennings Wise after his death on Roanoke Island.

A piece of Captain O.J. Wise's Coat. From a framed display that probably hung in a northern Grand Army of the Republic meeting room.

Captain O. Jennings Wise commanded the Richmond Light Infantry Blues of the 46th Virginia at the battle of Roanoke Island. He was the son of General Henry A. Wise who was in overall command. Captain Wise, wearing a conspicuous red blanket over his shoulders for a misplaced overcoat was shot in the wrist early in the battle. He wrapped a bandage around his wound and continued to lead his men. Late in the conflict he received a gunshot wound to the breast and was being carried to the rear when he was shot three more times. Mortally wounded, Wise was put in a boat to be taken to his father in Nags Head when soldiers of  the Hawkins Zouaves fired on the party and struck him again. He died in the hands of Union surgeons.

Carved stock of a model 1842 Harpers Ferry Musket.

Colonel Charles Russell commanded the 10th Connecticut at the battle of Roanoke Island.

Colonel Russell had ordered his men to lie down when their exposed position made them easy targets for the Confederates. The Colonel remained standing while his subordinates implored him to also lie down. Russell finally did and was almost immediately struck by a ball which passed through his right shoulder and pierced his lungs, killing him instantly. The battlefield earthwork was renamed Fort Russell in his honor.

Letter written by Captain William S. Chace Co. E 4th Rhode Island Infantry