Major Petty Biography

September 20, 1830 to parents, George Petty and Missaniah Camp Petty in Gaffney, South Carolina. He was the oldest of seven children. He moved to and resided in Gaston County where he was by occupation a farmer. He married Sarah Jane Cobb on December 28, 1852 and together they had four daughters.

Major Petty was a good citizen and hard worker. He joined the North Carolina militia in Gaston County and became the commanding officer.

At the beginning of the War Between the States, Petty enlisted in Gaston County in the Gaston Rangers Rifle Company that was later to become Company H of the 49th North Carolina Troops at age 31. Probably because of his NC Militia experience he was elected Captain on March 22, 1862. The rifle company was made up of men who had volunteered earlier, but were turned away because of lack of weapons.

The Gaston Rangers moved by train to Camp Mangum near Raleigh, NC (today it’s the Crabtree Valley Mall) and joined with nine other rifle companies to become the 49th North Carolina Troops (NCT) commanded by Colonel Stephen Dodson Ramseur from Lincolnton, NC.

Battle Flag of the 49th NCT

At Camp Mangum the soldiers were issued wooden pikes. They learned to drill with these pikes. Before taking the field the pikes were replaced with 69 caliber converted smooth bore muskets. Later they exchanged their smooth bore muskets for two-banded Enfield rifles.

Records show that Major Petty reported present or accounted from November, 1862, through December, 1863. He fought with the 49th NCT in the Richmond campaign against McClellan, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg or Antietam. At Fredericksburg, Virginia the 49th NCT manned the wall on Marye’s Heights.

In 1863, Ransom's Brigade of which Major Petty’s Company H was a part, were assigned the responsibility to protect the Weldon-Wilmington Railroad, one of the South’s most important supply lines.

In the spring of 1864, Lt General Benjamin Butler left Fortress Monroe in an effort to capture Petersburg, Virginia. With both major Confederate armies occupied in Northern Virginia and Georgia, the only organized unit that could move to intercept Butler was Ransom’s Brigade of which Major Petty’s unit was a part. General PGT Beauregard used Ransom's brigade to form his entire defensive force to stop Butler.

On May 16, 1864, they arrived just in time at Drewry’s Bluff and fell back in front of Butler's overwhelming force. The brigade was forced to endure the night in a swamp; wet, cold and subjected to Federal cannon and mortar fire. It was during this fire that Major Petty was hit by the fragments of a mortar shell in the shoulder.

Major Petty returned to duty prior to July 1, 1864. He was appointed Major on August 5, 1864, and transferred to the Field and Staff.

In the Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864, the Federals exploded a bomb beneath the South Carolinians manning the trenches outside Petersburg, Virginia. Ransom’s Brigade with the 49th NCT were on the north of the crater. They, along with the South Carolinians held the breech until General Mahone’s Virginians closed the hole in the line.

Major Petty and the 49th North Carolina participated in the ill fated attack on Fort Stedman, March 25, 1865. The 49th took the fort, but was not supported on the flanks and had to retreat.

Ransom’s brigade was pulled out of the defensive lines and moved to the end of the line and placed under General Pickett’s command. On April 1, 1865 the 49th North Carolina along with Major Petty were attacked by an overwhelming force from the front, flank and rear. The 49th was overwhelmed at Five Forks, Virginia and most of Ransom’s Brigade were killed, wounded, missing or captured.

What was left of the 49th NCT along with Major Petty surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865. Records show that the 49th NCT started their enlistment with close to 1,000 men. At Appomattox they surrendered 11 officers and NCOs and 23 privates. Major Petty was the highest ranking Confederate from Gaston county that surrendered at Appomattox.

After the war he returned to his farm. He and his family became good citizens of Gaston County. Major Petty died on January 27, 1898.

He was a model citizen; a man who did his duty with honor and devoted his later life to his family and community.

On his burial marker are these words:
The pains of death are past.
Labor and sorrow cease,
And lifelong warfare closed at last. His soul is found in peace.