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"Major General, Confederate Army. His service spanned the Peninsula Campaign to Appomattox. Family plantation, called "Grimesland," was here." Bryan Grimes, Confederate major general, was born in 1828 in Pitt County on his family’s plantation, “Grimesland.” Grimes, a planter, served the Confederacy throughout the entire war, enlisting soon after North Carolina’s secession from the Union and serving until Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. After the war he returned to “Grimesland” and lived there until his murder in 1880.
Grimes in 1844, at the age of 15, Grimes began attending the University of North Carolina. He graduated in 1848, and soon returned to “Grimesland.” In 1849, Grimes took over operation of the plantation. In 1860 he traveled to Europe, bolstering his public reputation in North Carolina. He returned in 1861 and aligned himself with secessionists, joining the North Carolina convention in May 1861. Grimes signed the ordinance of secession on May 20, 1861.
Following North Carolina’s secession from the Union, Grimes enlisted in the North Carolina troops and was commissioned a major in the 4th North Carolina Regiment. In his first year, Grimes saw action in numerous battles, including the first Battle of Manassas, the Peninsula Campaign, and the Battle of Seven Pines. As the first Confederate forces to arrive, Grimes led his troops into the Battle of Gettysburg but also acted as the defense on the retreat. In 1864 he was promoted to brigadier general, and was commissioned a major general in February 1865. Grimes was the final officer in the Army of Northern Virginia promoted to the rank of major general. After leading his troops against the Union forces near Appomattox, Grimes surrendered under the direct instructions of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865.
After the surrender of Confederate forces at Appomattox, Grimes returned to North Carolina and to “Grimesland.” He worked to rebuild the plantation to its former prosperity, and again became one of the most successful planters in North Carolina. Grimes lived at “Grimesland” with his second wife, Charlotte Emily Bryan, and his children until he was killed in August 1880. While returning for a political convention in neighboring Beaufort County, Grimes was murdered by a hired assassin near Bear Creek, only about five miles from Grimesland. The murder was planned to prevent him from testifying in a court case. At the time of his death, Bryan Grimes was a trustee for the University of North Carolina and was respected throughout the state.
T. Harrell Allen, Lee’s Last Major General: Bryan Grimes of North Carolina (1999)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 374-375—sketch by James D. Daniels
Henry T. King, Sketches of Pitt County: A Brief History of the County (1911)
Manly Wade Wellman, Dead and Gone: Classic Crimes of North Carolina (1954)
Weymouth T. Jordan, ed., North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (1973), IV
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.