Charles Cole

Charles A. Cole was in the Massachusetts 45th Regiment, in company C.  There is not a great deal of information on Charles’s family or his life after the war, but there is a great deal known about his regiment.  Charles was a private when he went into the regiment and private when he left the regiment.  He was a volunteer solider, as all the soldiers in this regiment were when they joined in the fall of 1862.  The Massachusetts 45th Regiment then went south to Morehead, North Carolina, by way of the “Mississippi” Steamer.  For the first month or two of their service, the volunteer soldiers relaxed on the banks of the Trent River near Newberne, North Carolina.  Then in early December the soldiers were sent into action in Fosters Expedition to Goldsboro, North Carolina.  The soldier were lead by General Foster, Colonel Thomas J. C. Amory, and Colonel Charles R. Codman who instructed the soldiers to tear up railroad tracks, and destroy certain railroad bridges and other forms of transportation.  The purpose of this expedition was to keep the Confederate Troops as far away from Virginia as possible.   The expedition lasted about ten to eight days; many battles then aroused because of the expedition.

The Massachusetts 45th Regiment did not take a break at that point, many of the soldier went and fought in Kinston which was a result of Fosters Expedition.  The battle was fought December 14, 1862 when the Confederate troops, part of Evan Brigade, contested Fosters troops.  The South was outnumbering by a long shot, and the Union won the battle when the Confederate withdrew.  The Confederates reason for battle was to stop the Union from tearing apart the railroad system.  There were about 700 casualties total in this scuffle; a Union Victory was the result of the Confederate withdrawal.

Around the same time the White Hall conflict arouse.  It was just like the Kinston clash, where the South was waiting for the Union, and trying to prevent the Union from further damaging their railroad tracks and transportation.  The railroad system was important for the South, because the North had far more railroads, and if the Union destroyed the railroad that they already had, it would put the Confederacy in a tough position when they needed to transport soldiers and supplies. The results of this clash are unknown and there were about 150 casualties between the Union and Confederacy.  The Union was lead by General John Foster, and the Confederacy was lead by General Beverley Robertson.  Robertson had his troops ready and waiting for Foster, but the South at that point was no match for the Union.

Another small skirmish between the Confederacy and the Union that the Massachusetts 45th Regiment was a part of was at Goldsboro.  This battle took place on December 17, 1862.  The Union was again lead by General John Foster, and the Confederacy was lead by Thomas Clingman.  As part of Fosters plan in his expedition, he wanted to destroy The Goldsborough Bridge (a locomotive bridge).  Clingsman knew of the Unions advances toward the bridge and took his brigade to try and delay the Union from destroying the bridge till reinforcements came in, but he was unsuccessful and Fosters troops cruised right by the Confederates.  This was a Union Victory in which about 220 soldiers died between the North and the South.

After a lot of action in the month of December, for the most part the regiment was away from battle for a while.  The soldier’s service now consisted of marching around the Trenton River and the South Carolina area for the next few months.  Some soldiers were called to assist in other battles but the regiment as a whole stayed put in the North Carolina area for the next few months before they were either able to leave or reassigned to a new regiment.  In the regiment a record fifty-one soldiers died.  Nineteen of the fifty-one were killed in battle and the rest died from disease.  The conditions the regiment had to deal with were not the worst but not the best.  The soldiers had running water and for the most part supplies, but even though they had running water and the supplies some soldiers still neglected to shower or eat healthy making the inevitable diseases spread more rapidly.

Many lists of prisoners and unfortunate soldiers who died in the battles above have been published.  Charles A. Cole has not been on any of them.  It is known he did join the Massachusetts 45th Regiment and took part in the battles, but other than that everything else about his life is assumed.  He most likely though did not reenlist in the army, and he went home to the Wrentham/Franklin/Norfolk area in which he married and started a family.  There was not enough information about Charles Cole to look at the 1880 Federal Census because Charles and Cole are pretty common names, but most of the Charles Cole’s that appeared on the census were married and had children.  The Massachusetts 45th Regiment many not seem very important to the Unions Victory in the Civil War, but without the this regiment the southern railroad system would be intact and working well like the northern railroad.  The Massachusetts 45th Regiment may not have fought in Gettysburg or been in the deciding battle, but everything counts in a war, everyman lost, every prisoner, and every little victory, which this regiment was part of many.