Confederate Incognito

The Civil War Reports of “Long Grabs,” a.k.a. Murdoch John McSween, 26th and 35th North Carolina Infantry


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About the Book

Preferring anonymity, Murdoch John McSween wrote over 80 letters under the pseudonym “Long Grabs” to the Fayetteville Observer (North Carolina), serving as their unofficial war correspondent. For the first two full years of the war, 1862–1863, he was a sometimes drill master at Camp Mangum, in Raleigh, and a wanderer among the regiments in North Carolina and Virginia. What he wrote was varied—the fighting in eastern North Carolina and at Fredericksburg and Petersburg in Virginia, the conditions of the soldiers, the hardships of the civilians, the history of places he visited, and biographical sketches such as that of Jefferson Davis. In 1863, based on certain promises made by Colonel Matt Ransom, McSween joined the 35th Regiment. A bitter dispute soon developed over those promises with the result that McSween was court-martialed and sentenced to twelve months at hard labor. Released, he joins the 26th Regiment and is twice wounded at the Battle of Petersburg. After the war, he returns to Fayetteville where he edits and publishes The Eagle newspaper.

About the Author(s)

Editor E.B. Munson retired in 2014 from Joyner Library at East Carolina University, where he contributed more than 12,000 magazine article abstracts for the North Carolina Periodicals Index. He has compiled and self-published 52 monographs on North Carolina history and genealogy.

Bibliographic Details

Murdoch John McSween

Edited by E.B. Munson

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 271
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, 3 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7210-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0135-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1
Introduction 5
1. North Carolina Goes to War 17
2. Camp Mangum, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia April 10, 1862–June 26, 1962 25
3. Conscription Camps August 1, 1862–October 29, 1862 49
4. Reporting from Virginia October 31, 1862–March 12, 1863 63
5. War on the North Carolina Home Front March 12, 1863–June 1, 1863 110
6. Return to Virginia June 9, 1863–July 1, 1863 162
7. Richmond and Petersburg: The Final Year July 12, 1864–February 22, 1865 210
8. Fayetteville, North Carolina: Reconstruction Years 231
Chapter Notes 237
Bibliography 255
Index 259

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Willie Parker Peace Award—North Carolina Society of Historians
  • Award for Excellence in Publishing—The North Carolina Genealogical Society
  • “valuable”—Civil War News
  • “valuable”—The NYMAS Review
  • “meticulous editing…Munson…carefully tracked down the elusive writer to positively establish his identity. This remarkable set of writings is a tribute to his dedication to accurately preserving the past”—Blue & Gray Magazine
  • “engaging”—North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal
  • “well-documented study”—The North Carolina Historical Review
  • “excellent…very well written and interesting…unique…recommend”—Civil War Courier
  • “We are so fortunate to have been introduced to Murdoch John McSween by the truly phenomenal research of a proficient historian, a modern day Sherlock Holmes, who kept digging through a myriad of sources, looking for data pertaining to ‘Long Grabs,’ so that his story could be told. We appreciate the tremendous effort Mr. Munson made on our behalf to search for and gather this collection of letters and present them to us in such a scholarly, yet reader-friendly manner. It has been an honor to meet Mr. McSween, whose memory has been reborn due to the dedication of a skillful writer and some impeccable research. Thank you!”—The North Carolina Society of Historians