Rode’s Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
John Simpson was born in 1825 to Vinson and Dicey Simpson, and was the one of 17 children. They farmed in Surry County North Carolina. He had several siblings, including Nancy, born in 1825.
On November 20, 1845, he married Matilda Edwards Harris of Surry County. They had 5 children, three of which were born prior to the war. There was: Joseph, born 1847; Jane born 1851; Lee, born 1856; Marettia, born 1866; and Mary, born 1869.
He enlisted on April 7, 1862, as a substitute. As a subsistence farmer, things had been rough, so he decided to accept the bounty, feeling that his son Lee could keep the farm going in his absence, and Jane was of an age to where she could ably assist her mother. He joined about a month before the newly created 53rd NC was organized for service in the Dept. of North Carolina, with Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel commanding. He was assigned to Co. E of the 53rd. This unit saw duty in various locations in N.C. but no real action or battles until its transfer to Lee’s Army of Northern Va. in May, 1863, Rode’s Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. As the brigade was scheduled to head north to join Lee’s main army after Chancellorsville, John received word that things were getting desperate at home, so he took an extended leave to return home (the army saw it as desertion). John returned to his unit in October, 1863, in time to see action during the Bristoe Campaign, and Mine Run during the November – December, 1863 timeframe. The muster rolls indicate he developed a medical problem during the latter part of this period and was absent. The brigade then entered winter camp.
As the spring 1864 campaign got underway during the Battle of the Wilderness, John was captured during the fighting on the second day. Unknown to him, his brother Tyre Simpson was also captured a week later during the Battle of the Spotsylvania Court House. Upon John’s capture, he was taken to Point Lookout, Md. where he stayed until October 12, 1864 when he decided to take the oath of allegiance and joined Co. A, 4th U.S. Vol. Infantry as part of the Union army. Since these units were typically sent west so as to not fight previous fellow Confederate soldiers, John viewed this as an acceptable option, compared to starving and fighting the elements of Point Lookout. As part of the 1,750 ex-Confederate recruits who joined the U.S. Volunteers, he was sent to the western frontier to fight Indians. As such, he could have ended up at Camp Douglas in Utah, Fort Union, New Mexico, or Fort Benton in Montana, although there is no record where he was assigned.
John returned home in late 1865 where he rejoined his wife and resumed farming, and some wagon repair work. He had two more daughters during the initial years after his return from the war. Sadly, his wife Matilda died in 1880. He married again in 1882 to Lucinda Flinchum. There were no children during this marriage. John died in 1895 at the age of 70.