|Reinterment of Pvt. Biggs - Baily, NC|
Reinterment of Pvt. Biggs
At 8:45 a.m. on a wet Saturday morning members of the 26th North Carolina Troops, Batteries C and D of the 10th North Carolina State Troops (1st Regiment North Carolina Artillery) began arriving at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church in Bailey, North Carolina. Why you may ask? To pay a last tribute to a husband, father, and Civil War Artilleryman, by reintering this man who had for 137 years had been separated from his family, as he lay in a graveyard of one, alone one final salute.
As Charles Smith (Great-Great Grandson) read the story of how Private Warren Biggs's grave had been found and of the families efforts to get him reintered one had to be touched by the devotion to family that Charles must have had. Private Biggs was married in 1860 and had two children before he died of disease in 1863, as he served in the 10th North Carolina Heavy Artillery Battalion around Wilmington, North Carolina.
With pride eighteen members of Battery D, 10th N.C.S.T. participated in this service, along with members of Capt. Larry Pittman's Battery C and members of the 26th North Carolina led by Capt. Tim Williford and Lt. Fred Burt. The artillery provided a section of guns to participate in the firing of a final salute, pallbearers and a caisson to carry the remains. The infantry provided a Color Guard and an infantry company to fire in the final salute. The event had been well coordinated by Dennis Rogers, a descendent of Private Biggs, Tim Williford, Larry Pittman and our own Joe Slifer. Last minute coordination was made when everyone arrived and the preparation began. Horses were harnessed (sporting new red blankets), pallbearers practiced folding the flag, infantrymen and the Color Guard made last minute preparation and cannons were prepositioned.
As 11:00 arrived the caisson moved forward to pick-up the remains of Private Biggs, while the two gun crews took their place beside their pieces. Every man in uniform performed his duty with dignity and respect. The caisson pulled pasted the hearse and after doing a left-about returned to position itself to receive the remains. Sgt. Rhyne and his pallbearers, assisted by Capt. Williford removed the casket, placed the 1st National Flag and secured it to the caisson. We then moved to our start point across the road from the church, about 1/4 of a mile away. Lt. Burt, knowledgeable of our abilities to pull in the mud had looked at a turn-around point and moved out to meet us with his recommendation. Cpl. Rhew and Pvt. Horne executed their second flawless left about halted and awaited the Color Guard as they moved to the front of the formation. We then moved out to carry Private Biggs to his final resting-place, with his wife. The Color Guard, caisson with his remains, followed by an infantry company must have given Private Biggs a lump in his throat as he looked down from on high with pride. Over a hundred family members, well wishers and newsmedia waited for the procession to arrive at the church. After the formation was halted Sgt. Rhyne and his pallbearers removed the casket and fell-in behind the Color Guard as we moved to the graveside. A trumpeter played an excellent rendition of Dixie as we moved toward the grave.
Reverend Sheets said a brief invocation, followed by a welcome by Dennis Rogers. Charles Smith then told of his efforts to reunite Private Biggs with his wife. Capt. Larry Pittman delivered a brief history of Private Bigg's unit, followed by a "perfect" section firing under the command of 1st Sgt. Slifer, which was echoed by an impressive infantry salute and ended by another perfect section firing. Rev. Sheets then made his final remarks and as the trumpeter played Taps the flag was folded and given to the family.
After the ceremony men gathered around the open grave and tossed buttons into it, as tokens of their respect for this Son of North Carolina.
The family fed us a super barbecue lunch and after packing up and saying good-bye we all headed home. Wet, but very satisfied to have been a part of this moving ceremony.
I would like to thank each and every member of our unit who came out on a wet dreary day to pay a final tribute to this Soldier. I would also like to thank Capt. Tim Williford for arranging for us to be a part of this ceremony - Tim you have been and remain a cherished friend of the artillery. Additionally, I would like to thank Capt. Larry Pittman of Battery C for being a part of the ceremony. Finally, I would like to thank our own 1st Sgt. Joe Slifer, who with Capt. Williford made the arrangements. Infantry and artillery, serving together paid a enduring lasting tribute to a Civil War Soldier.
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