Nathaniel Riley served as a Private in Company K of the 55th North Carolina Infantry. He volunteered on March 1, 1862 at Oak Hill, NC. His service records describe him as 5′ 7″, age 34, farmer. He was admitted to the hospital October 28, 1864 for a gunshot wound to the right thigh that resulted in the amputation of his leg.
The wounding of Nathaniel Riley occurred near Burgess’ Mill during the last major battle in 1864 of the Siege of Petersburg. It is known alternately as Burgess’ Mill, The Battle of Boydton Plank Road, or First Hatcher’s Run. The 55th N.C. was attached to Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Davis’s Mississippi Brigade at this time (nephew of President Jefferson Davis). The following is a brief description from the NPS and a map of the area:
“The IX and V Corps were to hit the Confederate fortifications while the II Corps was to cut the supply lines. Between the weather, the terrain, and poor maps the attack went slowly and the Confederates responded quickly.
Gen. Heth (CSA) stretched his line to stop the V and IX Corps from getting to Boydton Plank Road and he then sent Gen. Mahone (CSA) to attack the right flank of the II Corps. Gen. Hancock (USA), commander of the II Corps, turns Mahone’s initial success into a trap.
Mahone was repulsed and Hancock showed his old self in this his last battle of the Civil War. However, Union troops were forced to retreat back to their original positions.”
[An excellent, detailed account of the action is found here: Beyond the Crater]
Nat Riley was born on June 5, 1830 in Orange County, North Carolina, a son of Copeland Riley and Amelia Ward. On September 25, 1856, he married Phebe A. Slaughter in Person County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Jacob G. Slaughter and Elizabeth P. Howard.
Nathaniel Riley died on September 1, 1898, predeceased eleven years earlier by his wife, Phebe, who died on August 13, 1887. They are both buried in Allensville Methodist Church Cemetery in Person County, NC.
The flag of the 55th North Carolina Infantry, believed to have been captured at Gettysburg.