Fort Ellis, NC, near New Bern: 1862 [January 31]. Oblong folio broadsheet, uniformly tanned. 12-3/4" x 18-1/2." Printed, with manuscript additions. Signed in ink by J.M. Mayo, Commanding Company. Contemporary "Duplicate." A few pinholes at fold intersections, not affecting text, Very Good.
Most spaces available for the requested detailed information are left blank. Numbers of enlisted and commissioned officers present and absent are listed with notations of "alterations since last monthly return." 122 men were present for duty at the post. George L. Medlin was "furloughed for sickness." Captain Mayo is the only commissioned officer listed as "present." The return was completed about six weeks before the Battle of New Bern
James Micajah Mayo "studied law at the University of Virginia in 1859 and 1860. In October of 1861, following the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed to the rank of Captain in the Confederate States Army and organized the North Carolina 2nd Artillery Regiment, Company F (AKA North Carolina 36th regiment, Company F), nicknamed 'The Pamlico Artillery'. On March 14, 1862, at the Battle of New Bern, NC, his company defended Fort Ellis on the Neuse River about four miles south of New Bern. The fort contained eight guns. When the union troops broke through the confederate defenses south of Fort Ellis, Mayo was ordered to destroy his guns and the ammunition magazine which contained over 3000 pounds of powder and 500 loaded shells, so that they would not fall into the hands of the enemy. He sent his men out of danger, placed the powder 'trail' to the explosives and lit it himself. It was reported the explosion was the largest and loudest of the entire battle.
Unfortunately, Captain Mayo was not far enough away from the magazine when it ignited and he was severally [sic] injured. It was estimated that he was thrown as far as one hundred feet by the blast. Both of his legs were broken, his flesh and eyes badly burned and he was reported as 'killed' by some observers. That night he was found by Major W. B. Lowell of the Connecticut 11th who had him moved through Union lines to a hospital where he was treated by Dr. Whitcomb. As a captured Southerner under the doctors care, he slowly recovered and eventually regained his eyesight. Major Lowell visited him frequently, wrote letters to his mother, read and played the violin for him. After five months he was well enough to travel. General Burnside arranged for a special escort to return Captain James M. Mayo back to his home in Edgecombe County. He re-enlisted in September of 1862 in the North Carolina 4th Calvary (North Carolina 59th Regiment) as a Field Officer, appointed to the rank of Major October 7, 1862. His unit first saw service in North Carolina and Southern Virginia. In May of 1863, his unit was placed under the command of Brigadier General Beverly Robertson. At the Battle of Upperville Virginia on June 21, 1863, leading a charge against Union Forces which ended in hand-to-hand combat, he was captured a second time. He was sent to Old Capital Prison in Washington DC and on August 8, 1863, transferred to Johnson Island Military Prison, Lake Erie, Sandusky, Ohio where he remained until February 24, 1865, and was then transferred to City Point, Virginia for exchange. While a Prisoner of War at Johnson Island he kept a detailed diary of the day-to-day event of prison life. The first of two volumes, covering the period from August 7, 1863 through March 10, 1864, is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, and is stated to be one of the best accounts of prison life written by either Yankee or Rebel. A second volume, covering the period from March 1864 to his release in February 1865, has been lost" [online NamSouth.com]. Item #37699