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AUTHOR:  James Utley

My great-grandmother, Almena McCormick Jernigan, had three brothers–John, Murphy, and Duncan McCormick–who fought in the Civil War. John McCormick, the eldest brother, enlisted in Uvalde, Texas where he was a school teacher (according to 1860 US Census, and he survived his war experience. After the war, John inherited his father’s land in what was Richmond County but is now Scotland County, North Carolina. However, my two other great-uncles—Murphy and Duncan—died during the Civil War. Murphy McCormick died May 10, 1863 at Hamilton’s Crossing, Virginia; we haven’t yet been able to find his grave. It was believed that he perished at Fredericksburg at the age of 26. He was never married. Duncan McCormick was captured by the Union Army and confined at the prison at Elmira, New York. Duncan died there on July 21, 1865, about three months after the surrender at Appomattox. He was buried there in Elmira, where poor conditions and unsanitary water likely caused the twenty-three-year-old man’s death. He also never married.

Both Murphy and Duncan appear on North Carolina Troop Rosters, which were revised and published in 1993: Murphy McCormick enlisted on June 1, 1861 to Company F of the 18th North Carolina Infantry at the age of 24. His record revealed that he was captured and listed as a POW on May 27, 1862 at Hanover Court House, VA. He was confined at Fort Columbus, New York, days later, and was exchanged on August 5, 1862 at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia, before returning to his company on January 30, 1863. He was wounded on May 3, 1863 at Chancellorsville, Virginia. As mentioned above, Murphy died on May 10, 1863 at the age of 26. There is a point of discrepancy: His last name was transcribed as McCormack with an ‘a’ instead of an “i,” but misspellings are common.

According to the rosters, Duncan McCormick resided in neighboring Robeson County when he enlisted as a private on September 17, 1861 at the age of 19. He served in Company E, 3rd Light Artillery North Carolina, for nearly four years before he was taken as a prisoner on January 15, 1865, after being captured at Fort Fisher, North Carolina. A few days later, he was sent north to Elmira. As mentioned above, on July 21, 1865, Duncan died while imprisoned at Elmira.

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