General [Thomas L.] Clingman
“After the battle of Bentonville, General [Joseph E.] Johnston retired his army to Smithfield, where he remained confronting [the enemy] for three weeks. While here General Johnston held a review 6 April, at which many ladies and civilians of Raleigh, including Governor Vance and officers of the State and Confederate Government were present. The army presented a fine appearance and the men were in excellent spirits.
There were in this army remnants of commands who under Albert Sidney Johnston won the first day’s battle of Shiloh, and nearly annihilated Grant’s army. Men who under Bragg, had won the battles of Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, and under Johnston had confronted Sherman from Dalton to Atlanta; the men who under Hood, had been in the disastrous battle of Franklin; who had followed [Generals Nathan Bedford] Forrest and [Joe] Wheeler and [Wade] Hampton and had successfully defended Fort Sumter for four years against the combined land and sea forces of the United States, and the brigades of [General Robert F.] Hoke’s Division, who had won endearing renown in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Here also were assembled those regiments of Junior Reserves, who under Colonels Hinsdale, Anderson, Broadfoot and Walter Clark emulated the heroism of their veteran comrades, and who on the battlefields of Kinston and Bentonville had shown they were of the same [mettle] as their sires and deserving of imperishable record in the history of their country.
It was a splendid body of American soldiers; survivors of a hundred battlefields; and as they marched proudly in review before their General, they were conscious of duty nobly done and nerved for any future service that might be required of them in defence of their country.
General [Thomas L.] Clingman visited his brigade while in camp at Smithfield, and though on crutches, asked of General Johnston the honor of commanding the rear guard. This was denied him, as he was physically unable to perform such duty, and he addressed the Southern commander as follows:
“Sir, much has been said about dying in the last ditch. You have left with you here thirty thousand of as brave men as the sun ever shone upon. Let us take our stand here and fight the two armies of Grant and Sherman to the end, and thus show to the world how far we can surpass the Thermopylae of the Greeks.”
The North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission“Smithfield Review of Splendid American Soldiers”