Luke Freet

Nov 8, 2018
An interesting Confederate general I feel.
Born 28th July, 1833 in Virginia. Graduated from VMI in 1854, plus a masters degree from the University of Virginia. Served as a professor of mathematics at VMI, and then natural philosophy at North Carolina Military I until the war broke out.
Though he was a native of Virginia, he joined the 1st North Carolina (The Big Bethel Regiment) as its major. He fought at the Regiment's engagement at Big Bethel, where he was promoted to Lt. Colonel. When the Bethel Regiment mustered out, he joined the 28th North Carolina as its Colonel.
His regiment joined the brigade of Lawrence Branch in A. P. Hill's Light Division. He would serve in the Seven Days Campaign, where he was wounded twice, and at Antietam, where he succeeded to brigade command when Branch was killed. He would be promoted to Brigadier on 1st November, 1862 (Note: Edward Thomas, commanding the Georgia Brigade in the Light Division, was also promoted on this date; however, later events will show Lane was considered the senior of the 2).
He led the brigade at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. In the latter engagement, men from the 18th North Carolina, part of his brigade, were responsible for the friendly fire incident that mortally wounded Stonewall Jackson, though it does not appear Lane was invovled in this incident.
When the army was reorganized, Dorsey Pender (the senior brigadier commanding the other Tarheel brigade) was promoted to command the division, while Archer and Heth (also Lane's seniors) were transferred to Heth's new division. This would make Lane the ranking brigade commander in the Light Division.
He fought at Gettysburg, where he took command of the division as the senior brigadier after Pender was killed, reverted back to brigade command when Isaac Trimble was assigned to command the division for Pickett's Charge, and then when Trimble was wounded and captured, again took command of the division.
After Gettysburg, Cadmus Wilcox was promoted and transferred to command the Light Division. Lane would fight with the army for the rest of the war, recieving a groin wound at Cold Harbor, and commanding the division temporarily from February to March of '65. He would surrender with Lee at Appomattox.
(Photo of Lane in 1865)
After the war, Lane went back to his profession of professing, most prominently becoming the first commandant of the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech. Lane Hall, then the Barracks for the Corps of Cadets, is listed as a Virginian Landmark.
After resigning over disagreements with the president of the university over military restrictions, he went on to Auburn University, where he worked until his death. He was buried in Pine Hill Cemetery.

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Luke Freet

Nov 8, 2018
I find it odd he was promoted to Major General and given the division after Pender, given his many times at the divisional seat. I guess it's because they needed to give Wilcox something, and he had more "battlefield prestige" than Lane seems to have.

Luke Freet

Nov 8, 2018
On Branch's/Lane's Brigade:
Formed in 1862, initially to oppose Federal forces invading along the North Carolina coast, it initially consisted of the 7th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 33rd, 35th, and 37th North Carolina Infantry (1). On the 14th March, 1862, the quite green brigade was routed at the Battle of New Bern. Between this disaster and it's transfer to Northern Virginia, the 26th, 27th, and 35th Regiments were transferred out to other commands, and the 18th Regiment joined to replace them.
They would join A. P. Hill's over-sized "Light" Division, and would distinguish themselves in the Seven Days campaign. They then took part in the Second Battle of Manassas, where the men helped hold the railroad cut. They were part of Hill's relief force at Antietam. It was soon after they arrived on the field, General Branch, their commander, was killed by a federal sharpshooter. Replacing Branch was Colonel James Henry Lane of the 28th North Carolina.
The brigade took part in Fredericksburg, and more notably at Chancellorsville. It was here the brigade's reputation would be tainted, for it was the men of the 18th North Carolina, then under Colonel Thomas J. Purdie or Major John D. Barry, who accidently opened fire on General Stonewall Jackson, inflicting his mortal wound.
The brigade then took part in the Gettysburg Campaign. When General Pender was killed on day 2, Lane became the temporary commander of the Light Division (before being replaced by Isaac Trimble). The brigade took part in Pickett's Charge on the third day. Lane became the acting Division commander again after Trimble was wounded and captured (2). By the end of the battle, the brigade suffered 705 casaulties out of 1735 men*, a ratio of 41% (3).
After the Gettysburg Campaign, the division was given to Cadmus Wilcox. Lane reverted back to to his brigade and fought with them from then until he was wounded at Cold Harbor. Col. John D. Barry, temporarily assigned a brigadier, led the brigade until he too was wounded in an action around Petersburg on the 27th July (9). Lane would return to command the brigade until they surrendered at Appomattox, with a strength of around 559 officers and men. The 7th North Carolina was at this time on detached service with General Hoke in the Carolinas; they would surrender here with about 152 men.

For the most part of it's history, the brigade would consist of the following 5 Regiments:
-7th North Carolina (In 1865, went with Robert Hoke's division to the Carolinas)
-18th North Carolina, the one responsible for shooting Jackson at Chancellorsville. Notable members include:
--John D. Barry: Major of the Regiment at the Chancellorsville incident; in 1864 was Colonel of the regiment and breifly given brigade command with temporary generalship after Lane was incapacitated after Cold Harbor; was himself wounded on 27th July, losing 2 fingers on his right hand; was relieved by Lane; died 2 years after the war, aged only 27, many saying he died of a broken heart for being in part responsible for the death of Jackson.
-28th North Carolina, Lane's regiment
-33rd North Carolina, Branch's regiment. Notable members include:
--BG Lawrence Branch (First Colonel of the regiment)
--Later MG Robert Hoke (was Lt. Colonel of the regiment)
--Later BG William G. Lewis (Major of the regiment)
-37th North Carolina
At Gettysburg, the unit strengths (% losses in parenthesis) were as such:
-7th NC: 291 (31%) (4)
-18th NC: 346 (25%) (5)
-28th NC: 346 (40%) (6)
-33rd NC: 480 (42%) (7)
-37th NC: 379 (>30%) (8)
*Total: 1842

When the Brigade surrendered, the strength by unit were:

-**7th NC: 171 (14 officers; 157 men) (4)
-18th NC: 93 (12 o; 81 m) (5)
-28th NC: 230 (17 o; 213 m) (6)
-33rd NC: 109 (11 o; 108 m) (7)
-37th NC: 108 (10 o; 98 m) (8)
Total: 711 (64 o; 647 m)

*Minor discrepancy in Numbers: According to Source 3, the brigade strength was 1735 men; But adding together the 5 Regiment's individual strengths from sources 4-8 totals to 1842.
**Most of 7th North Carolina was assigned to Hoke's Division, which was with Joe Johnston's Army of the South in the Carolinas at the time of Appomattox. They surrendered with them with 13 officers and 139 men. A small detachment of 1 officer and 18 men remained with Lane's brigade.


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