Elizabeth City, North Carolina: Cpl. Horton Bogue, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery

Gravestone of Cpl. Horon Bogue, Oak Grove Cemetery, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Situated in the rear section of Oak Grove Cemetery, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is the grave of Cpl. Horton Bogue, Civil War veteran, and member of the 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery. The unit was organized on March 17, 1864, at New Bern, Craven County, and Morehead City, Carteret County, North Carolina, from the 1st North Carolina Colored Heavy Artillery.

Oak Grove Cemetery, est. 1886, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013. All rights reserved.

Historic Oak Grove Cemetery, established in 1886, is the resting place of over fifty United States Colored Troops. Civil War veterans of the Union Navy, the 5th, 35th, 36th, 37th, and 50th Infantry, 1st and 2nd Calvary, and 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, are all interred here.

The majority of Civil War veterans are buried in a special plot, near the main entrance, members of the Fletcher Post No. 20, Grand Army of the Republic.

Fletcher Post No. 20, G. A. R. section, Oak Grove Cemetery, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013. All rights reserved.

However, not all Civil War veterans are to be found in this special plot. Some are buried in their own family plots, such as Pvt. Jacob Spellman, Company F, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, interred along with his wife, Jane Thompson Spellman, son William Irving Spellman (1870-1958), and grandson, Isaac Spellman (1907-1914), son of William Irving and his wife Eliza.

Pvt. Jacob Spellman (ca. 1840-1926), Co. F, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013. All rights reserved.
Graves of Edwin Spellman (l), and Isaac Spellman (r), son of William Irving Spellman and Eliza, and grandson of Jacob Spellman. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, November 2, 2013. All rights reserved.

It is perhaps for this reason that the grave of Cpl. Bogue has been somewhat overlooked, as he is not documented in the FindaGrave, or BillionGraves online databases for Oak Grove Cemetery.

I first documented Cpl. Bogue in 2012, during my first visit to Oak Grove. I’m a direct descendant of several African American Civil War veterans, and through diligent research, have been blessed to find and form tangible connections to my own family history through the location and preservation of their burial sites. Over the years, I’ve undertaken the task of finding and preserving the burial sites and stories of these brave freedom fighters. It’s a very difficult endeavor, and one of the most challenging aspects of genealogical study due to the fragile nature of a majority of African American cemeteries, many of which have been destroyed over the years, and those that survive under constant assault from environmental and commercial forces.

Per his military enlistment record, Horton Bogue was born about 1831, in Hertford County, North Carolina, He enlisted on October 19, 1864, at Roanoke Island, one of the first “freedom colonies” and haven of formerly enslaved African Americans who’d escaped slavery from North Carolina’s coastal regions in 1862.

‘”If you can cross the creek to Roanoke Island, you will find safe haven’ was a phrase often shared by freed and runaway slaves during the Civil War in February, 1862. Union General Ambrose Burnside defeated a Confederate force on the island and gained control of Northeastern North Carolina’s strategically valuable waterways. Hundreds of slaves from the interior of the state then began to make the journey towards the island and their first light of freedom.

The first able-bodied men to arrive were offered rations of food and employment building a new Union fort. As word spread, more freedmen arrived seeking food, work and shelter, as well as the safety provided by the Union forces. By May 1862, the situation was so acute that the Federal government seized unoccupied land and established a formal colony on Roanoke Island.

The Reverend Horace James as ‘Superintendent of Blacks in North Carolina’ was directed to ‘settle the colored people on the unoccupied lands and give them agricultural implements and mechanical tools…and to train and educate them for a free and independent community.’ As the colony was being organized and laid out, the Union military began enlisting the able-bodied men to form the first North Carolina regiment of freedmen.

The colony continued to grove as more freedmen sought ‘safe haven.’ By 1863, a census reported 2, 212 black residents on Roanoke Island. A church and a school with seven teachers were established and a sawmill operation supported the Union Army quartermaster. In 1865, the Superintendent reported 561 houses had been built and the population had grown to 3, 901. After the war ended, the Union government returned the seized land to its original owners. Rather than homesteaders, the freedmen were viewed as squatters on someone else’s land and the colony was disbanded. While most of the freedmen returned to the mainland, many descendants still live, work and raise their families on Roanoke Island today.” 1

“First Light of Freedom,” Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. May 28, 2012. Photo: Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.
Monument to the Freedemen’s colony of Roanoke Island, 1862-1867. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Roanoke Island, May 28, 2012. Photo:Nadia K. Orton. All rights reserved.

Mapping the life of Cpl. Horton Bogue, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery. G. W. Colton Map of North Carolina, 1856. David Rumsey Map Collection.

At the time of his enlistment, Horton was described as five feet, seven and one-half inches tall, with a “dark” complexion, eyes and hair. By occupation, he was noted as a farmer, a not uncommon designation applied to formerly enslaved enlistees. Originally assigned to Company B, Horton Bogue was transferred to Company M soon after enlistment. He mustered into service on November 11, 1864, at New Bern, and was promoted to Corporal on May 1, 1865.

As a member of the 14th U. S. C. H. A., Cpl. Bogue was assigned garrison duty in and around New Bern, Morehead City, and the Bogue Sound, confined to coastal fortifications largely to appease the racial attitudes of Southern whites who didn’t want armed African American men in their midst.

One of the most interesting aspects of Cpl. Bogue’s service was his likely participation in the Emancipation Day celebration held in New Bern on January 1, 1865. The day was described in great detail by the New Berne Times.

New Bern, North Carolina, in 1864, the year of Horton Bogue’s enlistment in the Union Army. Source: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Wilson Library, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

“Monday morning came clear and pleasant. At 9 1-2 o’clock, A. M. a beautiful silk regimental flag, was presented to the detachment of the 1st Reg. N. C. Heavy Artillery, (col’) with a neat little speech by Caroline Green, from the scholars of the Palmer School. This occurred on the old camp ground of the 25th Mass. Vols.2

The procession moved through Pollock to Middle, Middle to South Front, to Craven, Pollock, East Front, Johnston, Middle to the Park, where stands had been erected for the orators and guests.

On their arrival here, Prayer was offered by Rev. J. K. Felton, and speeches made by the following persons to in the order named: A. H. Galloway, J. O. Hara; Rt. Rev. J. J. Clinton, Rev. J. W. Hood, John Williams, Alexander Bass, Ellis Lavender, and E. H. Hill, alternated with singing by the Choir, and music by the Band. The speeches of Galloway and Bishop Clinton, particularly the latter, are spoken of as very able productions.

Every thing passed off pleasantly and successfully. Some three or four thousand must have been in the line as it passed our office. The Times tender its acknowledgements to the Galloway and Clinton Leagues for their salutes as they passed.

In the evening, meetings were held in the various colored churches, and speeches made. We did not see a colored person drunk during the whole day. Wish we could say as much for the whites.” 3

Cpl. Horton Bogue mustered out of service on December 11, 1865, at Fort Macon, Carteret County, North Carolina.

It’s important to remember that many African American Civil War veterans were productive and enterprising members of their communities after the war. In the attempt to chart Horton’s movements after his discharge, I suspected it might be a bit difficult, as his surname “Bogue” would likely be misspelled…and it was.

I was unable to locate Horton in the 1870 Census. In 1880, Horton was documented in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina, with the surname “Bouge.” Horton worked as a brick mason, while his wife, Sarah, aged thirty-two, was listed as a domestic. 4

By 1900, Horton and Sarah had moved north, to Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County, North Carolina, Documented as Horton and Sarah “Bowe,” they lived in a modest home on Allen Street. Horton, aged sixty, was still employed as a brick mason, but had been out of work for over three months. Sarah, aged forty-eight, was listed with no occupation. Two children had been born to the couple between 1880 and 1900, but none survived by 1900. Per the census record, Horton and Sarah had been married for about twenty-eight years, but I’ve yet to locate their marriage record. 5

By 1910, Horton had passed away. Sarah, with the surname “Bagne” (a transcription error), was documented as a widow in the home of Clifton and Josephine Fagan. Sarah, aged fifty-nine, had no occupation listed, and her relationship to Cliton Fagan was noted as “cousin.” 6 Sarah Bogue passed away on June 21, 1914, in Elizabeth City, and was interred the following day. Her death certificate does not contain the name of the cemetery, but she likely rests in Oak Grove Cemetery with her husband, Horton Bogue.7

Per military records, Cpl. Horton Bogue passed away between 1906-1907. I’ve ordered his pension file from the National Archives to learn more about his life, specific details that cannot be answered at this point through census records and city directories. I’m curious about his ancestry based in Hertford County, North Carolina, as I’ve traced a branch of my own paternal ancestry to the 18th-century in the same region, specifically the northern district of Hertford County, Maneys Neck and Como. Wouldn’t it be interesting if I shared a common ancestry with Cpl. Bogue? We shall see.

Cpl. Horton Bogue, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, Oak Grove Cemetery, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, Novembe 3, 2018. All rights reserved.

  1. Notes from “First Light of Freedom” wayside, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Roanoke Island, Dare County, North Carolina, May 28, 2012.
  2. Caroline Green was likely the same Caroline, aged eighteen, identified in the 1860 U. S. Census of New Bern as the daughter of Robert and Susan Green, free persons of color. Robert, age forty-four, was documented as a barber, with a five hundred dollar personal estate. “1860 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/ :accessed 12 March 2020.),. New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, p. 13; citing, “Year: 1860; Census Place: New Bern, Craven, North Carolina; Page: 39; Family History Library Film: 803894.”
  3. The New Berne Times (New Bern, North Carolina), 7 January 1865, p. 2, c. 2; image copy, Newspapers (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 12 March 2020).
  4. “1880 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/ :accessed 12 March 2020.), North Carolina, Washington County, Plymouth, Dist. 138, p. 14; citing, “Year: 1880; Census Place: Plymouth, Washington, North Carolina; Roll: 986; Page: 291B; Enumeration District: 138.”
  5. “1900 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/ :accessed 12 March 2020.), North Carolina, Pasquotank County, Elizabeth City, dist. 0076, p. 28; citing, “Year: 1900; Census Place: Elizabeth City, Pasquotank, North Carolina; Page: 14; Enumeration District: 0076; FHL microfilm: 1241210.”
  6. “1910 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/ :accessed 12 March 2020), North Carolina, Pasquotank County, Elizabeth City, dist. 0073, p. 11; citing, “Year: 1910; Census Place: Elizabeth, Pasquotank, North Carolina; Roll: T624_1124; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0073; FHL microfilm: 1375137.”
  7. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976,” database with images, Ancestry (https://ancestry.com : accessed 12 March 2020), certificate image, Sarah Bogue, 21 June 1914, no. 127, citing “Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.”

2 thoughts on “Elizabeth City, North Carolina: Cpl. Horton Bogue, 14th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery

  • Samuel L Thompson

    May 9, 2020 at 7:15 pm Reply

    It’s funny how I can find Jacob Spellman my great great grandfather being used as an example but I can’t find any other information to connect some unanswered questions. Witt Spellman is my great grandfather however I’m unable to find any other information pertaining to him except census information from Suffolk. But I’m sure I’m on to something. thank you

    • In general, I’ve found that some family members don’t have the same type of paper trails as others, leaving them more difficult to find. Stay the course! I’m in the area, so If there’s any way in which you believe I may be able to assist, let me know. Many have helped me in the past, so I’m always open to help others…paying it forward. Take care, and the best of luck in your research.

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