Sunday, November 13, 2011

One of the Immortal 600


William A. Dewar:

Born, May 4th 1830 (New York, USA), son of John Dewar (1802-80), who emigrated to Montreal, Canada, aged 16 years on the Brig ‘Curlew’ sailing from Greenock on 22 July 1818. John later relocated to New York and married (?).

William Ambrose Dewar moved to Charlotte, North Carolina between 1857 and 59 to work as a farmer. He volunteered for the 31st Infantry Regiment in September, 1861.

The 31st regiment was stationed at Roanoke Island until the unit was surrounded and captured in February, 1862. It is believed that William escaped with several others. Later, he was wounded, apparently whilst en route to Cedar Mountain in Culpepper County, Virginia. His injuries were as a result of an artillery accident (?) and serious enough to qualify him for discharge. William however, is listed as 'One of the immortal 600' so we assume he must have been recaptured at some point following his injury being sustained? His rank on discharge is recorded as Captain.

William Dewar returned to North Carolina where he married Elizabeth Louise Harrington (1833-1902) daughter of Col. Charles G. Harrington (1804-81) land owner and businessman. William retired to Buckhorn, Harnett, NC where he worked as a farmer until his death on 13 December 1902. He and Elizabeth are buried in Cokesbury United Methodist Church Cemetery, Harnett County, N.C.

Historical Note: The story of the Immortal 600 began on August 20, 1864, when a chosen group of 600 Confederate prisoners of war were transferred from the Fort Delaware Prison to Federally occupied Morris Island, South Carolina. The purpose of the move was to place these men into a cramped stockade in front of Union artillery positions, to literally use these prisoners as human shields. There they remained, in an open 1.5-acre pen, under the shelling of friendly Confederate artillery fire. Three men died on the starvation rations issued as retaliation for the conditions of the Union prisoners held at Andersonville, Georgia and Salisbury, North Carolina.

On October 21, after 45 days under fire, the weakened survivors were removed to Fort Pulaski and crowded into the fort’s cold, damp casemates. For 42 days, a "retaliation ration" of 10 ounces of moldy cornmeal and soured onion pickles was the only food issued to the prisoners. Thirteen men died at Fort Pulaski, and five later died at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The remaining prisoners were returned to Fort Delaware on March 12, 1865, where an additional twenty-five died. The Immortal 600 became famous throughout the South for their adherence to principles; and for refusing to take the Oath of Allegiance under extremely adverse circumstances.

One of the Immortal 600

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