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Cowan Metts

Obituary of James I. Metts, Wilmington, North Carolina.

The old North State lost a beloved son in the death of Gen. James I. Metts, which occurred at Wilmington on October 18, 1921. As Commander of the North Carolina Division U. C. V., and also Commander of the Camp at Wilmington, he held a place as the beloved leader of the veterans of his State, who mourn his passing. He was a native of Kinston, N. C., born March 6, 1843, and had lived more than seventy years of his life in Wilmington.

In April, 1861, at the age of nineteen James I. Metts joined the Wilmington Rifle Guards as a private, and he was with the company when it seized Fort Caswell at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. This company was assigned to the 18th Regiment N. C. Troops. At the expiration of his enlistment he reenlisted in Company G, 3rd N. C. Troops (infantry) and soon became fifth sergeant. He participated in the battles around Richmond, including the Seven Days' battles, where he fought with gallantry, winning many compliments for his coolness and bravery under fire. After the battle of Malvern Hill he was made orderly sergeant and was assigned to the main work of drilling the recruits of his company; and after the battle of Sharpsburg, he was promoted to senior second lieutenant. He took part in the campaigns around Winchester, Bunker Hill, Fort Royal, and Gordon Springs. Probably where he did his best fighting and displayed unusual bravery was in the Confederate assault at Culp's Hill on the afternoon of the second day at Gettysburg. A little later he was wounded in the right breast by a rifle ball, and was hauled three miles over a rough road to a field hospital. From there he was taken to a hospital in Baltimore, where he slowly recovered. He was then sent to Johnson's Island and for thirteen months was a prisoner of war. In August, 1864, he was selected for exchange and was soon back in Richmond. He took command of his company as captain, also of Company E, and served in Cox's brigade, Grimes's division, until detailed on the staff of General Grimes as special inspector of the divisions, surrendering at Appomattox.

Returning to Wilmington, Captain Metts engaged in business, continuing actively at work until his death, enjoying through these years the high esteem and respect of his fellow citizens. In November, 1869, he wedded Miss Cornelia F. Cowan, daughter of Col. Robert H. Cowan, his old commander, and their married life was blessed with six children, three of whom survive him-John B. Metts, late colonel of the 119th Infantry, 30th Division, now Adjutant General of North Carolina; Edwin A. Metts and Miss Eliza Metts, of Wilmington. A brother, Charles G. Metts, of Norfolk, Va., also survive him.

Three full companies went out from Wilmington, N. C., in 1861; The Wilmington Light Infantry, the Rifle Guards, and the German Volunteers. There were also some light artillery, some cavalry, and volunteers in heavy artillery. Wilmington may be proud of them; their record was above praise; many of them were faithful unto death, and all were loyal to the end.

Among these men James I. Metts stood conspicuous; and when peace came he willingly buried all hatred and malice toward our late enemies, but he never put out of his life his love for the men in gray, or did he ever neglect the opportunity to say or do anything for their benefit. He did not seek favor by apologizing for them. He was proud of them, and those who survive are proud of him, and lovingly lay this humble tribute on his grave.

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, February, 1922.

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