Isaac Byrum

(Chowan County)

Featured Character – 1863

Isaac Byrum

Isaac Byrum and Sons

Courtesy of the Museum of the Albemarle

Isaac Byrum was born on a farm in Chowan County on May 2, 1840. At the age of 21, Byrum enlisted as a Private in Company M, 1st Regiment North Carolina Infantry (known as the Chowan Dixie Boys). Though his enlistment was for a period of six months, Byrum’s company was out of service early on November 12th and 13th of 1861. On February 15, 1862, he re-enlisted as a private in Company F, 11th Regiment North Carolina Troops. As a part of George Pickett's Division, the regiment took part in the final momentous charge of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863.  Wounded in the left leg and left for dead, he later recalled:

“It was a hot day. I tried to drag myself to some shade, but couldn't for all the other wounded and dead lying around. Flies were beginning to blow it, so I tore a piece of my shirt off and wrapped the wound. It was about sundown when they, the Yanks, picked me up off the field. I thought they could have saved the leg if they had picked me up earlier.”

Byrum spent the next several months in various federal hospitals recovering from the amputation of his leg.  Interned at Point Lookout, Maryland, the disabled veteran spent nine months as a prisoner of war.  After his release in 1864, Byrum joined in the Confederate Invalid Corps in order to receive disability pay.  Despite his injury, Byrum lived a full and active life following the war.  He earned enough money as a farmer to send his oldest son, William J. Byrum, to college.  Issac Byrum died in 1916.  His descendents later donated Byrum’s self-made artificial leg to the Museum of the Albemarle.