The Civil War, Day by Day

Covered With Glory

The 26th North Carolina at Front Royal

Fresh from a decisive victory over Federal forces at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee’s army was now taking the war to the North. Lee hoped to resupply his troops with Yankee crops and livestock, threaten Harrisburg, Philadelphia or Washington and win the mighty victory that would earn a nationhood for the embattled South.

The residents of the Shenandoah Valley, who had been under constant threat by enemy forces for two years, welcomed Lee’s army with jubilation. By the time the 26th North Carolina infantry marched through Front Royal with the rest of General A.P. Hill’s corps, the town citizens were in a state of celebration. Led by their heralded band, the troops of the 26th passed by as if on review. Women waved their handkerchiefs, children marched along side the soldiers, and all cheered the gray-uniformed sons of the South. At Gettysburg, Lee’s army - including the 26th North Carolina - would find both glory and defeat. The army of Northern Virginia would be turned back, and hopes for Southern independence would be dashed on the slope of Cemetery Ridge. The 26th North Carolina would help break the Federal line on July 1, and would go the distance in the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge. But the cost to the regiment would be shocking: its casualty rate at Gettysburg would be a record 85% and the 26th would lose more men than any regiment in either army.

This day however, Gettysburg’s fields of fury lay ahead. As the soldiers of Lee’s army marched through Front Royal, the cheers were spirited, the hopes were high and the South seemed bound for glory.

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Friday July 1, 2022



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.