Department of Virginia and North Carolina

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The Department of Virginia and North Carolina was a United States Military department encompassing Union-occupied territory in the Confederate States during the Civil War. In 1863 it was formed by the merging of two previously existing departments: the Department of Virginia and the Department of North Carolina. In 1865 the two departments were once again separated.

Department of Virginia[edit]


The Department of Virginia was created on May 22, 1861 to include any areas within a 60 mile radius of Fortress Monroe and any sections of North Carolina and South Carolina occupied by the Union Army.[1] Major General Benjamin F. Butler was appointed the its first commander. Early battles undertaken by troops from this department under General Butler included actions at Big Bethel and Hatteras Inlent. Early on the department was also known as the ‘’’Department of Southeastern Virginia’’’.

On January 7, 1862 the areas of North Carolina were detached to form the Department of North Carolina. On June 1, 1862 the area south of the Rappahannock River and east of the Fredericksburg-Richmond-Petersburg-Weldon Railroad were added to the department. From June 26, 1862 to September 12, 1862 John Pope’s Army of Virginia operated within the department. On July 15, 1863 the Dept. of Virginia was merged with the Dept. of North Carolina.


On January 18, 1865 the Department of Virginia was re-created to consist of the area within 60 miles of Fortress Monroe, the areas south of the Rappahannock River and east of the Fredericksburg-Richmond-Petersburg-Weldon Railroad. On April 19, 1865 much of the rest of Virginia was added, excluding the Shenandoah Valley. From January 18, 1865 to August 1, 1865 the Army of the James consisted of troops from this department which were the first to enter the fallen capital city of Richmond.


Benjamin F. Butler (22 May 1861-9 August 1861)
John E. Wool (9 August 1861-2 June 1862)
George B. McClellan (appointed 1 June 1862 – never assumed command)
John Adams Dix (2 June 1862-6 April 1863)
Erasmus D. Keyes (6 April 1863-14 April 1863)
John Adams Dix (14 April 1863-15 July 1863)
E.O.C. Ord (18 January 1865-14 June 1865)
Henry W. Halleck (appointed 16 April 1865 but revoked 19 April 1865)
Alfred H. Terry (14 June 1865-6 August 1866)

Posts in Department of Virginia[edit]

Department of North Carolina[edit]


The Department of North Carolina was created on January 7, 1862 to include the areas of North Carolina occupied by Union forces. These areas were formerly part of the Department of Virginia.[2] Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside was the department’s first commander. Early territories captured by Burnside’s Expeditionary Force included Roanoke Island, New Bern, Morehead City, Beaufort and Fort Macon. On December 24, 1862, XVIII Corps was created, composed of the five divisions stationed in North Carolina. On July 15, 1863 the department was merged with the Department of Virginia. The Department of North Carolina was headquartered at the Slover-Bradham House in New Bern, North Carolina.[3]


On January 31, 1865 the department was re-created to include Union-occupied areas of North Carolina excluding those occupied by the armies of William T. Sherman. General John M. Schofield was hand picked by Ulysses Grant to head the department. Schofield assembled troops within the department into the Wilmington Expeditionary Force which he personally led in the capture of Wilmington. Significant territories included in the department were those captured by Ambrose Burnside in 1862 along with recently captured Fort Fisher and Wilmington. In March 1865, The troops of the Department of North Carolina formed the "revived" X Corps, under the command of Alfred Terry. On May 19, 1866 it was merged into the Department of the Carolinas.


Ambrose Burnside (7 January 1862-6 July 1862)
John G. Foster (6 July 1862-29 March 1863)
Innis N. Palmer (29 March 1863-16 April 1863)
John G. Foster (16 April-15 July 1863)
John M. Schofield (31 January 1865-20 June 1865)
Jacob D. Cox (20 June 1865-28 June 1865)
Thomas H. Ruger (28 June 1865-19 May 1866)

Posts in Department of North Carolina[edit]

Department of Virginia & North Carolina[edit]

The Department of Virginia & North Carolina was created on July 15, 1863 composed of all the territories formerly part of the Department of Virginia and Department of North Carolina. From December 21, 1863 to June 27, 1864 St. Mary's County, Maryland was also part of the department. On January 18, 1865 the department was again separated into the Dept. of Virginia and Dept. of North Carolina.[4]

From August 12, 1863 to April 25, 1864 the Army of North Carolina consisted of troops from the District of North Carolina within the Department of Virginia & North Carolina.[5] The Army and District of North Carolina were commanded by John J. Peck.

From April 28, 1864 to January 18, 1865 the Army of the James was composed of troops within the Dept. of Virginia & North Carolina. It primarily served in Virginia during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and during the siege of Petersburg conducting operations against the city of Richmond north of the James River.


George W. Getty (15 July 1863-18 July 1863)
John G. Foster (18 July 1863-28 August 1863)
Benjamin F. Butler (28 August 1863-27 August 1864)
E.O.C. Ord (27 August 1864-5 September 1864)
David B. Birney (5 September 1864-7 September 1864)
Benjamin F. Butler (7 September 1864-14 December 1864)
E.O.C. Ord (14 December 1864-24 December 1864)
Benjamin F. Butler (24 December 1864-7 January 1865)
E.O.C. Ord (7 January 1865-18 January 1865)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eicher p.849
  2. ^ Eicher p.837
  3. ^ Survey Planning Unit Staff (May 1972). "Slover-Bradham House" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  4. ^ Eicher p.850
  5. ^ Eicher p.856
  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.