The Hibriten Guards of Caldwell County
“Company F of the 26th North Carolina Regiment achieved a terrible fame at the Gettysburg battle in early July 1863. During the fight at McPherson’s Farm on the first day every member of the company was shot down: thirty-three men were killed or mortally wounded, and fifty-eight suffered wounds and recovered. That “unparalleled loss” is the only instance of an entire company being wiped out in one battle during the war. A handful of Company F were perhaps stragglers and absent; at least one participated in the Pettigrew-Pickett Charge of July 3rd, Pvt. Thomas W. Setser who suffered a severe wound.
Despite their virtual annihilation at Gettysburg, the “Hibriten Guards” rebuilt their strength in the months following the Pennsylvania campaign. Some of the wounded returned to duty; some recruits arrived. At the Battle of Bristoe Station in mid-October 1864, the company then comprised of 36 men, participated in the disastrous charge of two Tarheel brigades against a well-fortified enemy position. The result was another near-obliteration of the company with five men killed or mortally-wounded, ten wounded and seventeen captured.
Pvt. Thomas Setser, who had recovered from his earlier wound, wrote a relative: “It was a pretty hard little fight while it lasted . . . John Tuttle was killed by a bayonet as he charged over the enemy breastworks . . . you can tell his folks I buried him best I could and cut his name on a piece of plank and put it on his grave.”
Setser, one of two surviving enlisted men of Company F later wrote: “When I look around and see none of our boys and think what has become of them I cannot help but cry, and it looks like our time will come next.”
(State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina’s Civil War Soldiers. Vol. One. Greg Mast. Raleigh Department of Cultural Resources, Archives and History. 1995. Page 100.)