Edward Ralph Outlaw describes the fatal assault on Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg: "...in a perfect hail-storm of musketry, grape and canister, which made it a slaughter-pen, [we] succeeded in penetrating the Federal line, only to be promptly repulsed, leaving a large number of wounded and unwounded prisoners in the enemy's hands."
The photo of Ed Outlaw is probably an early war image (circa 1861) when he was a member of the 1st North Carolina Volunteers "Bethel Regiment." Outlaw certainly must have had luck on his side. He served through the war without a scratch. Perhaps it was his lucky shirt?
The subject of this sketch, Edward R. Outlaw was born November 30, 1840 in Bertie County North Carolina. His mother died in 1847 and his father, Edward Cherry Outlaw, died in 1853. Upon his father's death, his uncle, David Standley Outlaw, a member of the state legislature and United States Congressman from 1848-1850, became the guardian of 13 year old Ed Outlaw.
Young Ed entered the University of North Carolina as part of the freshman class in 1859/60, but he would not remain long enough to graduate. On May 1, 1861, Ed Outlaw, enlisted as a 20 year old Corporal in Company L, Capt. Jesse C. Jacock's Company "Bertie Volunteers," 1st Regt. North Carolina Volunteers. The 1st NC Vols, also known as the "Bethel Regiment," was commanded by Daniel Harvey Hill. The regiment was mustered into service June 6, 1861 at Garysburg, NC for 6 month's service and played a significant role in the first land battle of the Civil War at Bethel, Va., on June 10, 1861.
Upon the disbandment of the 1st NC Vols, the regiment was reorganized as the 11th North Carolina Infantry "for the war" at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, on March 31, 1862. Prior to the official reorganization, Edward R Outlaw was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Company C, 11th North Carolina.
A recapitulation of carded records indicates that Outlaw was present with the 11th NC in all its battles - including the Battle of Gettysburg as part of Pettigrew's brigade.
On July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pettigrew's brigade, including the 11th NC, occupying the center of Heth's division, encountered the enemy in heavy force. Colonel Leventhorpe, commanding the 11th, was wounded and subsequently captured, and Major Egbert A. Ross was killed.
Major Egbert A. Ross, killed July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg.
On July 3rd at Gettysburg, things would get much worse for the 11th North Carolina. Pettigrew's brigade would become part of the ill-fated assault upon Cemetery Hill that would become known as "Pickett's Charge."
In the third day's battle the entire new color-guard of eight men being killed or wounded, Captain [Major] Bird, Commanding Company C and the color-guard, took the flag when the last guard fell with it, and carried it on until the charge was a failure and the line retired, bringing off the flag and stub of the staff which had been twice shot off in his hands. It was the only flag brought back from that sanguinary hill. [Outlaw, "Eleventh Regiment," p. 590]
Company A of the 11th NC had crossed the Potomac with 100 men, and came out of the charge on Cemetery Hill with only a Lieutenant and 8 men. Company C entered the battle on July 3rd with 3 officers and 34 men. Thirty men of Company C were casualties and Lieutenants Thomas Watson Cooper and Edward A. Rhodes (C/11NC) were killed. As a result, Company C retained 4 men and 1 officer who had not been killed or wounded during the Battle of Gettysburg. The subject of this sketch, 2nd Lieut. Edward R Outlaw, was the sole remaining officer of Company C.
1st Lieut. Thomas Watson Cooper, killed at Gettysburg July 3, 1863. 2nd Lieut. Edward A. Rhodes, killed at Gettysburg July 3, 1863
Initially, Company C was commanded by Captain Francis W Bird. Bird was promoted to Major to fill the vacancy resulting from the death of Major Ross, killed on July 1st. First Lieut. Thomas Watson Cooper [pictured above; UNC class of 1860] was promoted to Captain in Bird's stead, but he was killed in the fatal assault July 3rd.
Edward R. Outlaw [Image from "Eleventh Regiment," p. 582.]
Finally, 2nd Lieut. Ed R Outlaw was promoted to Captain to fill the spot. Although Outlaw was reportedly very brave and "would charge the enemy at a moment's notice," he came through the war without a scratch and was surrendered at Appomattox on April 9. 1865. He was even allowed to retain his sidearm - noted as "One (1) Pistol."
When General Lee rode to the front and through the lines to meet General Grant, everyone knew that the hour of surrender had come. The officers present with the regiment at once retired to a secluded thicket, and raking up a pile of twigs and leaves, and committed the flag to the flames. Before burning it, Captains Outlaw and J. M. Young tore out pieces of each color. Sincere tears have often been shed around funeral pyres, but never more bitter and sorrowful tears bedewed any ashes than were shed over their dead flag. It had been given by the Legislature of North Carolina to the Bethel Regiment, and then committed to the keeping of the Eleventh. It had waived over it in triumph on many a bloody field. It had never been dishonored and they could not bear to see it the trophy of an enemy. [Outlaw, "Eleventh Regiment," p. 603.]
After the war, Ed Outlaw returned to Bertie County where he served as a commissioner, a state representative, and a sheriff. He died in 1921 at Nags Head, NC and was buried in his Confederate uniform.
* The 11th North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster, William Thomas Venner, McFarland, Aug 5, 2015, p. 96.
"University of North Carolina in the Civil War," Southern Historical Society Papers, Volumes XXIV, p. 17.
"Eleventh Regiment," Martin and Outlaw, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions From North Carolina: In The Great War, Volume 1, Clark, Walter, 1901, pp. 583- 604.
Fold 3, Civil War Soldiers - Confederate - NC, First Infantry (Six Months, 1861), Edward R. Outlaw.
Fold 3, Civil War Soldiers - Confederate - NC, 11th (Bethel Regiment) Infantry, Edward R. Outlaw.
The "Outlaw House" - "Liberty Hall" in Indian Woods - Windsor, Bertie County - David Outlaw - Edward Outlaw http://www.mygen.com/users/outlaw/Outlaws_Liberty_Hall_Windsor.htm
Find-A-Grave memorial Edward Cherry Outlaw https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6538754/edward-cherry-outlaw
Find-A-Grave memorial Amanda Mary Miller Outlaw https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6538761/amanda-mary-outlaw
Find-A-Grave memorial Edward Ralph Outlaw https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/73583883/edward-ralph-outlaw