Joseph Hughes, my 2nd great grandfather, was born and raised on a small farm in Camden County, North Carolina. On May 30, 1861, Joseph enlisted to fight for the Confederacy at the age of 24. He signed up for a 12-month period as a Private in Capt G G Luke’s Independent Confederate Company. Joseph was married to Mary “Polly” Gibson, and possibly they had married just prior to his enlistment. The marriage could have been escalated by the war that had just begun. Only weeks earlier on April 12th, the Confederates had bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
Family history notes written in the 1970’s by my mother’s cousin, Esther Rippard Bradshaw, stated that Joseph Hughes “was captured by the Yanks at Hatteras and returned home a year later” – a comment I was able to verify only in recent years as a great many Civil War records have been added to online digital collections.
By late August of 1861, just three months after enlisting, Joseph Hughes found himself close to home fighting as an infantry soldier in the Battle at Fort Hatteras, North Carolina which was less than 100 miles from Camden. On August 29th, after an intense battle, the Confederate troops surrendered and the Union experienced its first victory of the Civil War. There were 691 Confederate soldiers captured at Hatteras and taken as Union prisoners.
Union records document Joseph Hughes as a prisoner with the rank of Private belonging to the Confederate regiment known as the North Carolina Defenders. He is recorded as having been captured on August 29, 1861 at Hatteras, North Carolina. He was indeed “captured by the Yanks.”
Confederate records show that on September 15th, and while still a Union prisoner, Joseph Hughes had been officially transferred out of Capt Luke's Independent Company and into Capt Luke's 1st Company H of the 32nd Regiment, also known as the North Carolina Defenders. This transfer appears to have been simply a re-organization of the Confederate troops.
By November, and still a Union prisoner, Joseph was taken to Fort Warren located on Georges Island in the Boston Harbor in Massachusetts. Union records reveal that Joseph was paroled at Fort Warren, near Boston, and then transferred for exchange to Fort Monroe, Virginia in December 1861.
Prisoner exchanges between Union and Confederate forces were common early in the Civil War but had mostly ceased by 1863. I have no information on Joseph’s treatment or conditions of confinement, though times were hard and the northern winter was surely cold and difficult for the southern soldiers.
After the exchange, Joseph returned to his unit, the 1st Company H, 32nd Regiment of North Carolina, for the remainder of his enlistment term. Joseph Hughes was included as present and accounted for on the muster roll when the company disbanded on April 2, 1862 at which time he was officially discharged from the Confederate Army.
Joseph’s wife, Mary “Polly” Gibson Hughes was pregnant during the time he was captured and held as a Union prisoner. On April 7, 1862, my great grandfather, Luke G Hughes was born and named in honor of Joseph’s former commanding officer.
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Joseph Hughes (1836 - 1915)
Mary “Polly” Gibson Hughes (~1837 – ~1870)
Luke G Hughes (1862 – 1959)
Esther Lucille Rippard Bradshaw (1915 – 1999)
John Hughes (~1802-1866)
Aunt Esther’s family history notes also indicate that John Hughes (Joseph’s father) “had a peg leg”. Joseph’s death certificate confirms John Hughes as his father, as well as census and probate documents all of which indicate that John was a farmer. However, I have never found anything about John having lost a leg.
I would love to hear from anyone who might have more information on this Hughes family.