Charles Smallwood

(Bertie County)

Featured Character – Divided Allegiances

General Map of the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, Showing the Theatre of Operations of the Burnside Expedition, Harper's Weekly, March 1, 1862

Courtesy of the Museum of the Albemarle

Charles Smallwood was a prominent citizen of Bertie County. On April 15, 1861 Smallwood travelled to Windsor, where he heard news of the firing on Fort Sumter three days before. Though talk of war buzzed with excitement around that town, Smallwood was distraught with the prospect that he could be called to fight. After North Carolina seceded, on a similar trip to Woodville on September 1st of that year, he learned of the capture of Hatteras Island. This was especially difficult for Smallwood, as men from Martin County had suffered casualties at that fight. Smallwood wrote in his diary,

“I should hate badly to go into battle under such Captains as I see mustering rather play soldiers.”

On January 23, 1862 a meeting was held for the Bertie County militia in Windsor, where some men were drafted into active military service in the war. At this meeting Smallwood paid Richard Owens, who had previously served in the "Bertie Volunteers," to take his place in the draft. However, this did not keep Smallwood, and every Bertie County citizen, safe from the starvation and destruction reaped on the county during the war. Smallwood continued to keep a diary throughout the war, giving insight on the general feeling of the people of eastern North Carolina.