A Tar Heel’s Tale
SUBMITTED BY LONNIE R. SPEER OF SWANNANOA, NORTH CAROLINA
NAME Charles Dock Jenkins
DATES May 16, 1829, to January 20, 1915
HIGHEST RANK Sergeant
UNIT 29th North Carolina Infantry, Company F
SERVICE RECORD Enlisted on August 31, 1861. Participated in skirmishes throughout eastern Tennessee. Wounded in the September 19-20, 1863, Battle of Chickamauga. Also fought in the June 27 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the July 20 Battle of Peachtree Creek in 1864. Surrendered as part of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana on May 8, 1865.
North Carolina was a latecomer to the secessionist movement. Pro-Union feeling was strong in the state, and when the Confederate States government was organized in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1861, the Tar Heel state did not take part. But when President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 Union volunteers in April, North Carolina defiantly joined the Confederacy.
Later that summer in the mountain country of western North Carolina, 32-year-old farmer Charles Dock Jenkins chose sides too, joining a military company forming in Jackson County. Jenkins agonized over leaving his wife and three children behind. He took some comfort, though, in the fact that his brother, half-brother, and several other relatives would be marching alongside him.
Jenkins was mustered into company F of the 29th North Carolina Infantry on August 31. The regiment marched off to Asheville for a month of training, then moved on to Raleigh, where the men received their arms, equipment, and uniforms. Company F elected Jenkins sergeant, the rank he would hold for the rest of the war.
Stationed in Tennessee, Jenkins’ company began the war detached from the regiment, on garrison duty. In February 1862 Company F rejoined the 29th at Cumberland Gap, a strategically important pass in the Appalachian Mountains near the Kentucky border. The next few months were difficult for Jenkins. In May he watched helplessly as his cousin, Mitchell, died of typhoid fever. A month later, Union Brigadier General George W. Morgan pushed the Confederates out of Cumberland Gap.
The 29th marched north in October in support of General Braxton Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky. But Bragg was beaten at Perryville on October 8 and abandoned the offensive before the regiment saw any action. More garrison duty followed. At last, the 29th was sent to Mississippi, where it remained until the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.
That fall, after two years of skirmishing and marching back and forth between tedious garrison assignments, Jenkins finally fought in his first major engagement: the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, on September 19 and 20. In those two days of heavy fighting, the 29th sustained 110 casualties. Among the injured was Jenkins, who suffered a severe leg wound that left him with a permanent limp.
The injury earned Jenkins a trip home and a warm reunion with his wife and children. He returned to the front in time for the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, in which he saw limited action in the Battles of Kennesaw Mountain and Peachtree Creek.
When the war finally came to a close, Jenkins was one of the fortunate men who were left standing. And if surviving was not enough to cheer him, happy news awaited him at home: his young family had grown. Nine months after his post-Chickamauga convalescence, his wife had given birth to a baby girl.