The 6th North Carolina Infantry Regiment was first organized in May of 1861 in Alamance County, North Carolina. The men in the regiment were from the counties of Mecklenburg, Orange, Burke, Catawba, McDowell, Mitchell, Yancey, Alamance, Rowan, Wake, Caswell, and Chatham. Our ancestor, John Mason Houston joined the regiment sometime in 1864, at the age of 18. They were originally organized by Colonel Charles F. Fisher, Lieutenant Colonel W. T. Dorch, and Major C. E. Lightfoot, and moved to Raleigh on July 8, 1861.
Six companies of the regiment were moved to Richmond, Virginia by rail on July 12, and moved to Northern Virginia on July 14. They crossed the Shenandoah River on July 18, and arrived in Manassas the next day.
They first saw action at the Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861 and engaged northwest of Lewis Farm. Their commander, Colonel Charles F. Fisher, was killed in the attack. They had 73 casualties, 23 killed and 50 wounded.
On July 25, they were assigned to General W. H. C. Whiting, 2nd Corps, Army of North Virginia. They built winter quarters in December, but their camp was plagued with disease. In early April 1862, they marched to Yorktown, Virginia where they engaged federals at the Siege of Yorktown. At this point, they had a total of 715 men. Captain Isaac E. Avery was appointed their commander on April 10.
They fought at the many battles in the Peninsula Campaign in the summer of 1862, the first of which was Eltham’s Landing. At the Battle of Seven Pines, they took heavy casualties, and Colonel Avery was wounded for the first time. They were transferred to the Shenandoah Valley on June 12, but were transferred back to the Peninsula alongside Stonewall Jackson in July of 1862.
At the Battles of Gaines Mill, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill, the 6th N.C. took 115 casualties. At Gaines Mill, they crossed a deep, wooded ravine under heavy fire from Union soldiers, and captured Federal artillery at the top of a hill. Colonel Avery was wounded for a second time and would not see action again till December 1862. At Malvern Hill, they saw little action.
They engaged at the battle of Rappahannock Station in August of 1862, and took no casualties. On August 28, they moved north towards Manassas, and engaged at the Second Battle of Bull Run, where they took heavy casualties. They engaged a couple days later at Chantilly, where they took considerable casualties. At Second Bull Run and Chantilly, they took a total of 147 casualties.
Later that September, they marched north across the Potomac River into Maryland, where they took part in the Battle of South Mountain, but were not heavily engaged. They were heavily engaged at the Battle of Sharpsburg, where their commander Colonel Robert F. Webb, in the arm. They fixed bayonets and charged the Union line, where they took heavy casualties. That night, they retreated back to Virginia. They took a total of 125 casualties at Sharpsburg.
At Fredericksburg in December, they were hit by Union troops but did not take many casualties. They set up winter quarters until March of 1863. In May, they attacked Gen. Sedgwick’s men near Fredericksburg during the Battle of Chancellorsville. They had 8 killed and 21 wounded during the battle. Colonel Avery took temporary command of the 6th N.C. after General Hoke was wounded.
Before Gettysburg, they were involved in the Second Battle of Winchester, and they started marching towards Pennsylvania on June 16, 1863. Before Gettysburg, they had 509 men under the command of Samuel M. Tate. They reached the town of Gettysburg on July 1, and entered the line of battle. They took some casualties from Confederate artillery that accidentally hit them, then they attacked Culp’s Hill late in the afternoon.
They advanced across a open field, being hit by Union artillery fire and cross fire from their left. Colonel Avery fell mortally wounded, and was lost in the cannon smoke. We would die the next day of his wounds. They were able to take the base of Culp’s Hill after hand-to-hand fighting, but with extremely heavy casualties. On July 3, they saw no fighting and that night they left from Hagerstown road. They took a total of 183 casualties while assaulting Culp’s Hill.
The 6th N.C. fought in the Bristoe Campaign in October and November of 1863, and lost 20 men and had 317 captured at the disastrous Battle of Rappahannock Bridge on November 7. They participated in the Mine Run Campaign in December, and suffered no casualties. In January of 1864, they were transferred by rail to their home state of North Carolina, and assigned to the Department of North Carolina.
At the Battle of Plymouth in April of 1864, they stormed the Federal works to capture the city. They had 6 men killed and 25 wounded. In May they were assigned to Ransom’s Division, Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia, and fought at the Battle of New Bern, taking zero casualties. In May they returned to Virginia, and were assigned to the 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. They served at the Battles of North Anna and Bethesda Church in May. They served at the Battle of Cold Harbour in early June, but no casualties are recorded.
From June 12 – 17, they marched to Lynchburg, Virginia, and were assigned to the Army of the Valley. They pursued Union General David Hunter at the Battle of Lynchburg and took no casualties. They marched north into Maryland with General Jubal A. Early, and fought at the Battle of Monocacy. They followed the Federals all the way to Fort Stevens, before crossing back over the Potomac and across the Blue Ridge Mountains.
During the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, they fought at the Second Battle of Kernstown, Third Battle of Winchester, Battle of Fisher’s Hill and the Battle of Cedar Creek, atlought no casualties are recorded. In December of 1864, they left the valley under General Gordon and rejoined with Robert E. Lee’s army in Richmond.
The regiment served in the final two battles during the Siege of Petersburg: The Battle of Hatcher’s Run and Fort Steedman. In April of 1865, they engaged at Sailor’s Creek and High Bridge, before finally surrendering at Appomattox Courthouse. On April 9, 1865, low on food, guns and morale, they surrendered to General Grant’s Army. When they surrendered, they had 6 officers and 175 enlisted men, only 72 of whom were armed.
Our ancestor, John Mason Houston, who served in the 6th North Carolina Infantry, was born in 1846, and didn’t join the army until 1864. He probably first saw action at Cold Harbour or in the Valley Campaign of 1864. We do know that he surrendered with his regiment at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865. He died at the age of 70 in 1916.
The regiment had a total of 1,045 recorded casualties (728 killed or wounded, 317 captured) but probably had many more than weren’t recorded, and a number that died from disease.
Battle of Manassas (July 1861)
Siege of Yorktown (April-May 1862)
Battle of Eltham’s Landing (May 1862)
Battle of Seven Pines (May-June 1862)
Battle of Gaines Mill (June 1862)
Battle of White Oak Swamp (June 1862)
Battle of Malvern Hill (July 1862)
Battle of Rappahannock Station (August 1862)
Second Battle of Manassas (August 1862)
Battle of Chantilly (September 1862)
Battle of South Mountain (September 1862)
Battle of Sharpsburg (September 1862)
Battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862)
Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863)
Second Battle of Winchester (June 1863)
Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863)
Bristoe Campaign (October-November 1863)
Battle of Rappahannock Bridge (November 1863)
Mine Run Campaign (November-December 1863)
Battle of Plymouth (April 1864)
Battle of New Bern (May 1864)
Battle of North Anna (May 1864)
Battle of Bethesda Church (May 1864)
Battle of Cold Harbour (June 1864)
Battle of Lynchburg (June 1864)
Battle of Monocacy (July 1864)
Battle of Fort Stevens (July 1864)
Second Battle of Kernstown (July 1864)
Third Battle of Winchester (September 1864)
Battle of Fisher’s Hill (September 1864)
Battle of Cedar Creek (October 1864)
Battle of Hacther’s Run (February 1865)
Battle of Fort Steedman (March 1865)
Battle of Sailor’s Creek (April 1865)
Battle of High Bridge (April 1865)
Battle of Appomattox Courthouse (April 1865)