First Wednesdays – Henry Lawson Wyatt

The months following Lincoln’s presidential election were filled with political maneuverings by the United States government as well as by the nascent Confederate government. A political solution to the crises essentially ended when Confederate forces fired on the United States fortification in Charleston’s harbor. Governor Ellis called on North Carolinians to join the military in support of the state and the Confederacy rather than authorizing troops for the Lincoln administration. The first men to enlist did so for only six months, envisioning a quick end to the conflict.

By mid-May 1861 Governor Ellis was able to offer four regiments to the support of the Confederacy. The North Carolinians first reported to Richmond, but by the end of the month they had been positioned in eastern Virginia at Yorktown. In early June 1861 they were ordered to Bethel Church and subsequently entrenched. On June 10th United States forces appeared in front of the trench works beginning an engagement. It was during this action that Pvt. Henry Lawson Wyatt of the 1st NC Volunteers was killed, becoming the first Confederate casualty in a pitched battle between infantry forces.

The photograph and memorial biography (printed on the back) of Wyatt were likely part of the dedication of a monument to him on the State Capital grounds (Union Square) in 1910.

The image is part of the Alexander B. Andrews Private Manuscript Collection (PC125).

Henry Lawson Wyatt photograph and biography (North Carolina Digital Collections)

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