Name: Jesse B. Vick
Highest Rank: Private
Unit: Company H, 61st North Carolina Infantry Regiment
Service Record: Enlisted on October 1, 1862. Fought at Drewry’s Bluff and in other Virginia battles, and helped defend Charleston during the siege of that city. Killed in action on September 30, 1864, near Petersburg, Va.
At 34, Jesse B. Vick, a farmer from Martin County, North Carolina, enlisted in that state’s 61st Infantry Regiment in Tarboro on October 1, 1862. The 61st, organized two months earlier, was part of Brigadier General Thomas Clingman’s Brigade, which also included the 8th, 31st and 51st regiments of North Carolina infantry.
Vick was married to Caroline Grimes Howell, a widow 13 years his senior. In addition to her three daughters from a previous marriage, Jesse and Caroline had a son and a daughter. They owned no slaves.
The 61st, plagued with recurring outbreaks of yellow fever, was frequently on the move. It marched from Wilmington to Goldsboro on October 4, 1862, then to Tarboro, Plymouth, Spring Green, Cross Roads, back to Tarboro and on to Greenville, where it bivouacked. It then moved to Kinston, crossed the Neuse River and destroyed the bridge. Many of the poorly clothed men did not survive the constant marching and countermarching—some of it in deep snow—and died from pneumonia and other illnesses. With the aid of reinforcements, the 61st stopped Union Maj. Gen. John G. Foster’s raid on Goldsboro in mid-December.
The unit went into winter quarters on January 2, 1863, near Wilmington, where it remained until early February. It then marched to Masonboro Sound, returning to Wilmington on February 16. After moving to Charleston, S.C., the 61st was ordered to Savannah, Ga. It returned to Charleston on July 13 and went into camp on James Island, then moved to Morris Island, where the unit helped defend Battery Wagner during the bombardment of late July. The men of the 61st continued in their defense of Charleston for several difficult months. They were not relieved until just before Christmas, when they returned to the Wilmington area.
The 61st’s next engagement came at Drewry’s Bluff, just south of Richmond, Va. On May 30, the unit marched toward Cold Harbor, where the next day it went into action helping Confederate cavalry defend the crossroads. On June 19, the 61st was near the Appomattox River, sniping at Union troops. On July 30 east of Petersburg, the 61st helped repulse Union forces during the Battle of the Crater.
On September 30, 1864, the 61st, supported by a Georgia brigade, was selected to lead an assault on Fort Harrison, which had been captured by Federals late in September. The unit lost one-third of its strength to casualties and capture during that hard-fought offensive. Among those killed that day was Jesse Vick, felled by a Yankee sniper’s bullet.
Originally published in the April 2007 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.