01/20/10 — Militia unit's history recorded

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Militia unit's history recorded

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on January 20, 2010 1:46 PM

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Stacey Jones, who has written a history of the Goldsboro Rifles militia group, speaks at a meeting of the North Carolina Military History Roundtable on Tuesday night at the Wayne County Museum.

Stacey Jones is not a trained historian.

But the Wayne County native is interested in local history and especially his family's genealogy.

So when he discovered that he had an ancestor who served in the Goldsboro Rifles, he decided to do some research.

Over the years, he compiled more and more information on the unit, which was first formed as a militia unit just prior to the Civil War.

Jones' ancestor was Newman Potts Jones, who enlisted in the company during the Spanish-American War and died in camp in Florida.

Many local residents are aware of the Rifles reputation as a Civil War unit, but are not aware that it was reformed in the late 1800s and volunteered for duty when the U.S. declared war on Spain in 1898.

After the war it became part of the North Carolina National Guard, with some members seeing action World War I.

Jones said he didn't start out to write a book. But he felt that with all the research material he had compiled that he would be doing other folks interested in the Goldsboro Rifles a favor by putting his research into a manuscript that would detail the unit's history.

"I got to thinking, 'I've got to do something with all this information,'" he said. "My hope was to put something together so that other people wouldn't have to look it all up on their own."

Jones described his book at a meeting of the local chapter of the North Carolina Military History Roundtable on Tuesday night at the Wayne County Museum.

He described the unit's formation in the days preceding the Civil War, when local militia groups were being formed all across the South. He went on to describe its war history. The Rifles became part of the 27th North Carolina Infantry Regiment and fought in a number of major battles in Virginia, suffering heavy losses in such battles as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Bristoe Station and the Wilderness.

After the war, its members were instrumental in erecting monuments to the Confederate dead at both Willow Dale Cemetery and at the Bentonville battlefield.

During the Spanish-American War, the Rifles saw little action but did help with the occupation of Cuba for a time.

For more information about the book, or how to obtain a copy of it, call the Wayne County Museum at 734-5023.