A Deserter’s Story
George Deans (1831-1839), a Wayne County farmer, was a loyal Union man and bitterly opposed to the war between the states. In May 1862 he was conscripted by the Confederate army and taken from his home by about 15 armed men and sent to Richmond, Virginia. He was assigned to a regiment in the rebel army and served about eight months during which, according to him, he never fired at a Union soldier. Deserting at his earliest opportunity he made his way home, where he was concealed and lived in a cave until December 1863. While a deserter he was caught by the militia guard and turned over to rebel soldiers who put him aboard a train, sending him back to his regiment in Virginia. He got an opportunity and jumped off the train, made for the woods, was fired after but escaped, eventually making his way back home with much difficulty and suffering. In early 1864 he crossed into the Federal lines at Washington in Beaufort County, North Carolina. From there he moved into New Bern in Craven County and Morehead City in Carteret County, where he worked as day laborer. Except for a five-month period in which he returned home to see his mother, he remained there until June 1865. And when going back through the Union lines he took two deserters from the Confederate army with him.