Mr. Murphy’s Boy
Battery Buchanan, named for Admiral Franklin Buchanan, CSN, is located about one mile south of Fort Fisher and provided a citadel for the fort’s garrison in case of being overwhelmed by enemy forces. The fort finally fell in mid-January 1865. The following was an incident told in Capt. Claudius B. Denson’s “Memorial Address on General Whiting,” delivered in Raleigh on Memorial Day, 1895. It was written to Capt. Denson by Sergeant Glennan.
Denson was a Virginian who in 1858 founded the first military school in North Carolina, located at Faison in Duplin County and known as the Franklin Military Institute. With the approach of war in 1861, the cadets were among the first to offer their services to the Governor.
Mr. Murphy’s Boy
“During the bombardment of Fort Fisher, there was at headquarters a detail of couriers, consisting of youths fifteen to eighteen years of age – the bravest boys I had ever seen; their courage was magnificent.
They were on the go all the time, carrying orders and messages to every part of the fort. Among them was a boy named Murphy, a delicate stripling. He was from Duplin County, the son of Mr. Patrick Murphy. He had been called upon a number of times to carry orders, and had just returned from one of his trips to Battery Buchanan.
The [enemy] bombardment had been terrific, and he seemed exhausted and agitated. After reporting, he said ‘Sergeant, I have no fear personally; morally, I have, because I not think I am the Christian I ought to be. This is my only fear of death.”
And then he was called to carry another order. He slightly wavered and General [W.H.C.] Whiting saw his emotion. ‘Come on, my boy,’ he said, ‘don’t fear, I will go with you,’ and he went off with the courier and accompanied him to and from the point where he had to deliver the order. It was one of the most dangerous positions and over almost unprotected ground.
The boy and the general returned safely. There was no agitation after that, and that evening he shouldered his gun when every man was ordered on duty to protect the fort from [an enemy charge]. The boy met death soon after and his spirit wafted onward to a heavenly home. The General received his mortal wound in the same contest, in the thickest of the fight.
I tried to find the remains of my boy friend, but in vain. He rests in a nameless grave, but his memory will ever be treasured.”
(Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916, James Sprunt, Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1916, excerpt pp. 274-275)