Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Grandpapa, John Adams Lang
by Connor Eagles

"John Adams Lang, seventh child of Robert and Mariah Rogers Lang, was born 3/29/1843 near Fountain in Pitt Co., N.C. On Dec. 26, 1872, he married Zilphia Elizabeth 'Dippie' Baker, who was born Dec. 24, 1852, the oldest child of John Thomas and Nancy Horton Baker. John Adams Lang died Sept. 17, 1930 and was buried beside his wife in Queen Ann Cemetery, Fountain, N.C. Dippie Lang died Dec. 13, 1922."

John Adams Lang was the grandfather of Connor Eagles who wrote the following stories about John.

"Grandpapa John Adams Lang enlisted in 'The Marlboro Guards' on April 20, 1861 at Marlboro, Pitt County, N.C. He was just 18 and weighed only 111 pounds. The 'Marlboro Guards' soon made up Co. E of the 27th Regiment of Cooke's Brigade of A.P. Hill's Corps.

"Grandpapa said as a boy the nearest he ever got to any 'store bought' candy was to stand and look at a glass chewing gum jar filled with red streaked candy on the top shelf in a store, far out of a boy's reach. He resolved that if he ever had the money he would buy all the candy he could eat at one time!
"After enlisting he soon found his way down to Wilmington where he was paid $11.00 in Confederate paper money for one month's services in the Army. This was his first chance to satisfy the craving for candy. He went to a candy kitchen and spent the $11.00 for extra large sticks of lemon candy. He said he had an armful. Back to camp he went, and he and his comrades had all the 'store bought' candy they could eat.

"Grandpapa soon found himself going down in South Carolina below Charleston. They were 'foraging' for supplies—that is, gathering up all available feed, food, etc., that could be spared. They soon came to Pocatalico. I thought this quite a name and wanted to know about it. It seems the Indians had turtle races; and in order to hurry the turtles, with a sharp stick they said, 'Poke his tail he go,' from which came Pocataligo. Then farther down was Coosahatchie. …

"Grandpapa spent one winter on the Blue Ridge and along the Shenandoah Valley. He told about the warm camp fires from the hickory and oak wood, the wonderful pastures and fat cattle. He never tired of talking of the loveliness and beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. …

"Then there was the time the soldiers, for a change, were enjoying the 'luxury' of a ride on a freight train in the mountains. They wee loaded in box cars. Fortunately the train was slow. All of a sudden there was a weakness in the track, and car after car tumbled off the track Andover on the mountainside. Luckily all escaped with a good scare and a few bruises. It was quite a thrilling ride to the more daring.

"Captain Graham of Co. G., 27th Regiment, said he had often wondered about the reported bloody tracks made by some of Washington's barefooted troops at Valley Forge during that awful winter.

"But in a forced march on frozen ground, in snow and sleet, he saw troops in the 27th Regiment with worn out shoes and virtually bare feet leave blood prints behind. At this particular time General Cooke rode ahead to the camp and had camp fires built so the cold and suffering troops could warm. It was a most cheerful and welcome sight to the foot-weary soldiers. I could understand something of why Grandpapa and his comrades loved General Cooke so.

"Grandpapa was wounded twice, but never captured. One wound was minor, just a 'scratch' as he put it. I believe the other, and more serious wound, took place at the 'Battle of the Wilderness." A Yankee bullet passed almost through his hip. The doctor said it barely missed the ball and socket joint, that if it had struck the joint it would have meant death. But as it was, the bullet was stayed just before passing through the skin and out. Grandpapa said he could see it just under the pushed up skin. The doctor only had to split the skin with his scalpel, and the bullet fell to the floor. …

"Company E had suffered heavily during the four years of war. There were only 17 men including officers left to be paroled. Among them was Uncle Bob Lang, who was a corporal. The 27th Regiment had only 117 men and officers left, a pitiful skeleton of four years ago. The men wee tired, hungry, ragged, but their spirits were not broken. …

"Grandpapa was not present at the surrender, and so was not among the parolees. He was not too far away guarding meager supplies. When he heard of the surrender, he said 'I threw my musket down and started the long walk home.' He had to sleep in the open, but for four years he had become hardened to that. He had to beg food when so often there was no food. For instance, he was in Nash County going to Wilson. It was 10:00, and he had had no breakfast. He saw a girl beside the road at a spring house, washing clothes.

"'Is there any chance to get something to eat?' he asked.

"She replied, 'We have nothing but some cool buttermilk. You may have all of that you want and be welcome.'

"Grandpapa always said he could not drink milk, but he was so hungry that he said he'd try a glass. She poured it, and he closed his eyes and drank it down. She offered more, but he said, 'I think I can make it to Wilson on that,' and he did.

"At last he arrived home. The slaves were free, but most were loyal and stayed on to help restore the ravages of war. Grandpapa found his sister Jane, whose husband lost his life in the war, with four little boys. He said, 'They could hardly make it,' so he lived with them and helped them until they were large enough to get along."

[From The May, Lang, Joyner, Williams Families of N. C., by Laura Foster Renard, 1974. The story was also published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Winter 20085 issue.]

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