Guerrilla warfare

The energy of the Federal Burnside Expedition was not yet spent, or even checked by Confederate efforts, when Governor Henry Toole Clark received a letter from J.J. Lawrence of Wilson, North Carolina, suggesting the need for guerrilla warfare in eastern North Carolina.  Lawrence cited a long list of other Confederate states that had implemented such a style of warfare to support his suggestion.  The capture of coastal North Carolina presented Governor Clark with another difficult choice to make: to authorize guerrilla warfare or not.  Arguments such as those made by Lawrence must have influenced Clark for he eventually opted to authorize Partisan Rangers; as early as May 1862 these units began operating in coastal North Carolina.  U.S. Major General Ambrose E. Burnside’s decision to parole rather than hold captive the Confederate forces captured at Roanoke Island released a large militant group of men into eastern North Carolina.  Burnside’s parolees could and did become guerrilla fighters.  Guerrilla warfare raged especially harsh in northeastern North Carolina often bringing retaliatory Federal actions against the area. The last Partisan Rangers units in eastern North Carolina did not surrender until late April 1865, well after Union forces captured Raleigh, the state capitol.

Letter: J.J. Lawrence to Henry Toole Clark, March 18, 1862

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