The 55th Regiment of North Carolina recruited soldiers from counties in the state’s western regions. Company F, the unit Lieutenant Joseph J. Hoyle led, comprised many farmers from Cleveland County. Many of the men were inexperienced, which explains why their first several months were spent at Camp Mangum and Camp Campbell drilling and marching in preparation. A few months after the regiments formation the unit joined the Confederate army in Northern Virginia. (Mirvan 2010, 50) The regiment was called on to fight in Northern Virginia at key battles such as Gettysburg, the Globe Tavern, and Petersburg. Fighting until the end, the 55th regiment surrendered on April 9, 1865 with only four officers and seventy-seven men remaining. (Mirvan 2010, 36-46).
Many Confederate soldiers’ are inextricably linked to the motivations for the confederate cause. Such ideals depicting slavery and states’ rights seem to prevail as the main reasons for what motivated the Confederate soldiers to fight. In fact, many regiments from the Western United States were opposed to secession and due to lack of slaves did not feel bound to that cause either. Cleveland County, a Western region in North Carolina, likely agreed with this sentiment. Particularly Lieutenant Hoyle, who was from the county, never once mentioned slavery or states’ rights in his letters during the war. Interestingly, Confederate nationalism was very strong; however, soldiers turned to motivations beyond the Confederate cause to endure the bloody war. Lieutenant Hoyle from company F of the 55th regiment of North Carolina will be examined as a lense for viewing the private motivations of an influential soldier who supported the Confederate army wholeheartedly while remaining detached from the Confederate ideology (Boritt 1992, 31, 117)