Organized at Camp Hill, near Garysburg, N.C. in May 2861 with Colonel George Burgwyn Anderson commanding, mustered into Confederate service in that same month. The 10 companies comprising the regiment came from the following respective counties: A -- Iredell, B -- Rowan, C -- Iredell, D -- Wayne, E -- Beaufort, F -- Wilson, G -- Davie, H -- Iredell, I -- Beaufort, and K -- Rowan. The total first enlistment in the regiment comprised 1,376 men.
On the 29th of July, 1861 the regiment was assigned duty at Manassas Junction. Disease played havoc with the troops, but after months of drilling together the regiment emerged a firm fighting body. In March of 1862 first contacts were made with enemy when they were sent to Yorktown, Virginia.
Seven Pines (Fair Oaks)
Every one of 25 officers was killed, wounded or disabled. John A. Stikeleather of Co. A asked to carry the flag and remained color bearer until the end of the war.
Major Bryan Grimes was promoted to Colonel of the regiment. Unit missed the slaughter at Malvern Hill by being assigned to the burial detail that day.>
Under overall command of General Daniel H. Hill, the North Carolina troops held over ten times their number of enemy troops in check with but few casualties among themselves. One of those casualties was General Garland.
The 4th regiment together with 2nd, 14th and 30th regiments repulsed charge after charge of union troops in a defensive line drawn up in a road that would forever after be called "Bloody Lane". Once the road was flanked, the 4th withdrew to a secondary position and held for the remainder of the day. During this engagement, General Anderson, the original regimental commander, was killed. The author of the unit history, Col. E. A. Osborne, was wounded and captured at Shepherdstown but later exchanged after the battle of Fredericksburg.
Another Confederate unit refused to charge enemy breastworks to their front and, instead, lay behind cover. The 4th charged over this unit and captured the works, holding them against several counter attacks. General Ramseur commanded and he and the brigade were commended in writing by the wounded General "Stonewall" Jackson.
The next day, the 4th made a ferocious assault upon the enemy’s strongpoint in view of Generals Stuart and Rodes and once again were victorious in carrying the field.
Accompanying the 2nd N.C. regiment, the 4th regiment were the first troops to enter the town of Gettysburg on July 1st. During Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg, the 4th held the honored position of rearguard during the entire movement.
The 4th was engaged every day of the conflict and occupied a position just to the left of the "Bloody Angle." Here they fought the enemy to a standstill in the rain from 5:30 in the morning to 2:00 the next morning.
General Lew Wallace’s forces were driven by the 4th from Frederick to Washington. After threatening Ft. Stevens, the 4th retired south.
Retreat to Appomattox
After clearing the road to Lynchburg, General Grimes was ordered by General Gordon to retire. Confused over the order, Gen. Grimes refused to leave. He held the men in place, defying orders, until General Lee himself ordered the withdrawal. During this movement, the enemy tried to overwhelm the brigade. Yet, the brigade faced about and poured a deadly volley into the enemy thus driving them off. It was the last volley fired at Appomattox and the last ever fired by the Army of Northern Virginia.
Lieutenant Colonel John A. Young was forced to leave the regiment due to an incurable skin disease, and being a clothing manufacturer, he went almost bankrupt making uniforms for the army. At one time he supplied every member of the 4th with a uniform and cap at his own expense.