Civilians Involved with the Battle of Plymouth, NC

The civilian population of Plymouth, NC had gradually faded from 660 to 250 under the Union Occupation from 1863 to 1864. Many Union officer's and a few enlisted men's wives were in town when the battle began on April 17, 1864. The civilians were quickly ordered to be taken to the USS MASSASOIT  and transported to Roanoke Island for safety. With better than two hundred civilians safely aboard, the ship cast off her lines and headed down the Roanoke River and arrived to the safety of the Albemarle Sound. Some civilians did stay behind.

BASNIGHT, Mary Elizabeth (Bateman) - Born 20 May 1825 in NC, daughter of Solomon & Elizabeth (Cooper) Bateman. Elizabeth married 16 Aug 1848 to Mordecai Basnight, who later served as a Private, Co. B, 2nd NC Union Volunteers and was killed 20 April 1864 at Plymouth, NC. It is unknown if she was at Plymouth during the battle, but interestingly, Elizabeth has a Civil War Military Headstone! Died 18 Jan 1867 in Washington Co., NC.

BASNIGHT, Hezekiah - Discharged Private, Co. L, 1st NC Union Volunteers. Born about 1817 in Tyrell Co., NC, the son of Jacob & Polly (Messer) Basnight. Married Brittania Bateman about 1845. Enlisted 20 April 1863 at Plymouth, NC at age 44 from Tyrrell Co., NC. As per 1st Sgt Nehemiah Ambrose, on 22 July 1863 Hezekiah was thrown from his mount causing a double hernia and a head wound while making a charge at Tarboro, NC (Potter's Raid). Discharged 26 Feb 1864 due to disability at Washington, NC. Hezekiah went to Plymouth, NC and was operating a store as a civilian. During the Battle of Plymouth, Hezekiah was given a gun and told to guard the jail. He was seen fighting in the area of the courthouse alongside John Patrick & Hezekiah Jackson, both of whom had recently been discharged from Co. L, 1st NC Union Volunteers. All three were captured 20 April 1864 at Plymouth and held captive at Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond, VA. Admitted 11 Nov 1864 to General Hospital #13 due to Congestio Cerebrew and died 15 Nov 1864.

BROWN, Emily A. J. (Adkins) - Born 24 May 1850 in Tyrrell Co., NC, daughter of James & Maria (Merritt) Atkins. James was a Shingle Maker. Married 12 April 1864 at Plymouth, NC by Chaplain Dixon, of the 16th CT to Musician John W. Brown, 101st PA Infantry. Left on the Massasoit for Roanoke Island. John was captured on 20 April 64 and survived his prison stay and was paroled 27 Feb 65 at N.E. Ferry, Wilmington, NC. Discharged 20 June 65. They moved to Sandusky Co., OH by 1880. John died 5 Dec 1903 in Gibsonburg, Sandusky Co., OH. Emily re-married 6 Oct 1904 to Henry Friar. She died 4 Jan 1924 of Myocardosis and is buried in West Union Cemetery. Headstone

FREEMAN, Mrs. Sarah (Pearl) and daughter Kate - "A school for the contrabands had been established at Plymouth and the teachers included Mrs. Freeman of Massachusetts, and her daughter Miss Kate Freeman, both ladies of accomplishment." During the Battle of Plymouth, both left on the Massasoit for Roanoke Island. Mrs. Freeman also started Freedman schools on Roanoke Island and in New Bern, NC.

Sarah Pearl was born about 1813 in Vernon, Tolland Co., CT and at some point moved to Maine. Her brother was Rev. Cyril Pearl, an outspoken member of the Congregational Church and also a Mason. Cyril served with the Christian Commission during the Civil War and took a great interest in the Freedmen before dying of Pneumonia in 1865. Sarah married Smith Freeman, a Teacher from Orrington, ME and founding member of the East Orrington Congregational Church. They had two daughters, Henrietta & Katherine both born in Maine. Smith Freeman died 3 Jan 1855 in Maine. Widow Sarah, a School Teacher, and her daughter Kate, are next located in Milford, Worcestor Co., MA in 1860. A good number of the 2nd MA Heavy Artillery soldiers were from Milford.

After the war, Sarah & Kate settled in Indianapolis, IN. Sarah died there 28 May 1893. Kate married to Attorney Robert P. Parker who died in 1879. Kate became a Registrar and very involved with the Charity Organization Society of Indianapolis. Kate died 23 Aug 1924. All are buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

HUNT, Herbert & Francis "Janie" Jane - Janie Hunt holds the distinction of being the only POW to give birth to a baby at Andersonville! Their complete story is a mystery. There are a couple of different stories as to how Herbert & Janie Hunt ended up being captured at Plymouth and one other account states that they were actually captured 1 June 1863 at Fairfield, NC.

Herbert Hunt was born about Dec 1838 in Belfast, Waldo Co., Maine. Enrolled 21 Dec 1861 in Co. I, 61st Illinois Infantry, a 23 year old Sailor from Chicago. Mustered in as a Private. Promoted to Sergeant. Discharged for Disability 22 May 1862. Herbert then became a Government Employee hauling wood or corn for the Union. Herbert has been verified as a Government Employee but an unverified story states that "Harry" Hunt, a sea captain from Buffalo, NY and his wife Janie of Chicago set out from New York with their wedding party on a honeymoon voyage but were stopped by a federal revenue cutter who diverted them to Plymouth. Herbert was married prior to his enlistment in the 61st IL, but it is possible they had a late honeymoon voyage.

After being captured at Plymouth, Janie accompanied Herbert to Andersonville where Wirz gave her a private tent outside of the stockade where she gave birth to a child who died and Herbert became Ward Master of the hospital. Herbert & Janie were exchanged 19 April 1865 at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Their entire story is still a mystery, and it can't be verified that they were captured at Plymouth, NC.

The best compiled research into the Hunts can be found in Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville by Robert Scott Davis.

JACKSON, Hezekiah - Discharged Private, Co. L, 1st NC Union Volunteers. Born about 1844 in Tyrrell Co., NC, the son of Shadrack & Lavina Jackson. Enrolled 24 April 1863 at Plymouth, NC at the age of 18. Discharged. During the Battle of Plymouth, he was seen fighting in the area of the Courthouse. Captured 20 April 1864 at Plymouth, NC. Paroled 13 Dec 1864. Widow Elizabeth living in Scuppernog, Washington Co., NC in 1890.

LEONARD, Margaret (Larney)- Born about 1834 in Ireland. Married 26 Aug 1862 to Isaac Newton Leonard. In Warren Lee Goss’ book, The Soldier’s Story of his Captivity at Andersonville, Belle Isle, and other Rebel Prisons, we learn that “The conduct of one woman deserves to be mentioned, - Margaret Leonard - the wife of a private [Isaac Newton Leonard] of Company H, second Massachusetts heavy artillery. During the battle, she was engaged in making coffee for the men in a building exposed to heavy fire. At one time a solid shot passed through the building, taking with it one of her dresses, which hung on a nail by the wall. Another carried away the front legs of her cooking stove. Yet when the fight was over, on the evening of the 19th, she had coffee for the men and supper for the officers. She was in Fort Williams during the remainder of the fight and subsequently went through with a long and severe imprisonment at Andersonville, Macon, and Castle Thunder, Richmond.” She accompanied the sick & wounded from Plymouth to a hospital in Raleigh, NC. From there she was sent to Andersonville and later held captive at Macon, GA and Castle Thunder, Richmond, VA. After Newton's death, she moved to Kernville, Kern Co., California, with her son George. She died there around 1900.

Margaret is just one of two documented women who were held captive at Andersonville. The second is Janie Hunt also possibly captured at Plymouth!

PATRICK, John - Discharged Private, Co. L, 1st NC Union Volunteers. Born in Washington Co., NC. Enrolled 20 March 1863 at Plymouth, NC, a 30 year old Carpenter. Mustered in 30 June 63 at Plymouth, NC. Discharged for Disability 26 Feb 1864. During the Battle of Plymouth, he was seen fighting in the area of the Courthouse. Captured 20 April 1864 at Plymouth, NC. Held captive at Castle Thunder, Richmond, VA. Transferred 31 Dec 1864 to Richmond Hospital #21 where he died 7 Feb 1865 from Pneumonia as a POW.

SPRUILL, Mr. - 2nd Lieut. Bernard F. Blakeslee, 16th CT, boarded with this man while at Plymouth. After the fall of Plymouth, "Mr. Spruell, 'a secessionist' objected to the plundering of a trunk which he had packed and was killed with the butt end of a musket by a Confederate."

TAYLOR, Joseph W. - Joseph was the brother of Colonel Alexander W. Taylor of the 101st PA. He was serving in a civilian capacity as a sutler’s clerk. Captured 20 April 64 at Plymouth, NC. He died 10 July 1864 as a POW in Salisbury, NC.

WASHINGTON, Amanda (Speller) - Wife of Private George Washington of the 24th NY Independent Battery and serving as a colored cook. They were married at Plymouth during June 1863. She was killed during the Battle of Plymouth. George was captured, but escaped three days later.

WHITTAKER, Mrs. - Owner of the Laundry. Survived the battle.