Fighting for Comrades
In a letter by Lieutenant Hoyle to his wife on February 15, 1864, he detailed how the army endured such large sufferings. Similarly, McPherson depicted how nearly 260,000 Confederate individuals died during the Civil War (1998, 27). General Davis told the 55th North Carolina regiment to re-enlist in February of 1864. The entire unit minus Jesse Tallen recommitted their names to the Confederate cause. It seemed a very high number. However, Hoyle noted that all of the soldiers had a desire to do their duty and knew how important each man’s duty was to the overall war effort. (Item 252) Thus, many soldiers not only died during the Civil War, they died by personal choice having enlisted rather than being drafted by Conscription Laws. Many in the 55th Regiment of North Carolina did re-enlist upon the request by General Davis in February of 1864. These soldiers were fighting for the man next to them whose ability to do his duty well would mean life or death for those around him. (Hoyle 2010, 160)
Specifically Hoyle fought for the men in his regiment. These comrades of Hoyle’s ranged from dear friends like R. M. Sherrill, to fellow fighting soldiers, and for those who had los their lives. Hoyle wrote to Mrs. Wise, the widow of a 55th North Carolina Regiment soldier, “It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the death of your husband Levi Wise. He was killed on the 14th inst [as appeared in text], while bravely fighting the enemy.” (Item 246) McPherson argued the same claim that men fought to honor their regiment. Essentially fighting for the man beside you who also attests to who you are as members jointly bound to the same regiment. (1997, 42) Although McPherson discussed fighting for one’s regiment and fellow soldiers his main claim was that the Confederate soldiers fought for patriotism and loyalty to their nation. These patriotic notions were evident in the letters by Hoyle and played a minor role in Hoyle’s motivation. Hoyle occasionally mentioned the influence of these sentiments although they remained secondary. He claimed, “I am willing to defend my country in defense of its glorious principles of freemen.” (Hoyle 2010, 85) Going on he claimed that his willingness to defend his country was why he contentedly endured the hardships associated with the life of a soldier.
Hoyle did fight to preserve the Confederate States of America, for patriotism, and freedom, but a one great driving force was to preserve his comrades. As stated by Hoyle himself, “ I am willing as other men to fight for my country although I would rather be at home. Yet I feel like I ought to stay with my fellow-soldiers, and share my fate with theirs.” (Hoyle 2010, 80) Thus, Hoyle recognized that loyalty to his comrades meant more than Confederate patriotism or national freedom.
The soldiers from his regiment had grown close together through their mutual hardships, and they desired to assist one-another in battle. Those too weak to fight or severely injured were given menial tasks at the back of the troops during battle. Rooker, a soldier in the 55th Regiment, who was injured, cried when he could not enter the fight beside his comrades. “Of course he did not cry because he was happy he escaped death, or even sad he could not aid in a patriotic act, rather he cried because he could not stand in front and shield and fight beside his fellow brother in the Confederate army.”(Hoyle 2010, 98) Rooker, along with other soldiers felt it was dishonorable to one’s unit to sit out or hold positions on the outskirts of battle. Such ideals represented the deep-loyalty and comradeship developed by Hoyle’s unit and the 55th regiment while enduring the Civil War.
Hoyle showed support of those injured or deceased throughout his military career. (Hoyle 2010, 132) Even during the bloodiest days of battle during May and throughout the summer of 1864 the soldiers, specifically Hoyle, continued to valiantly fight. Ten men from the 55th regiment were placed on the Confederate Roll of Honor for their service during the intense May fighting (Hoyle 2010, 169) Girvan noted in the book Deliver us from this Cruel War, “ Hoyle served with many close friends as well as cousins and several of his wife’s brothers. To fall short of doing one’s duty effectively meant failing the very people they loved and admired.” (2010, 37) Thus, Hoyle fought to preserve the lives of his fellow soldiers and honored their efforts by enduring and aiding these soldiers throughout the war.