By Michael C. Hardy
Michael C. Hardy is the 2010 North Carolina Historian of the Year. He specializes in writing about North Carolina and Civil War history. You can learn more about him by checking out his web page at: michaelchardy.com
He probably started off as a Confederate soldier, deserted, joined the Union army, and even had a fort named for him. But when it comes to the life of William W. Rollins, plenty of questions remain.
It appears that Rollins was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on July 14, 1838. He was the son of a L. J. Rollins, listed as a preacher in the 1860 census. By 1860, the family was living in Madison County, North Carolina. From available online resources, it is unclear if Reverend Rollins was connected to the new Mars Hill College prior to the war. In the same census, William Rollins was listed as having $1000 of real estate and $250 of personal property.
On August 13, 1861, Wallace W. Rollins enlisted in Company D, 29th North Carolina Troops. I believe that William W. Rollins and Wallace W. Rollins are the same person. There is no other Rollins with similar initials in the 1860 Madison County census. The enlistment cards list Wallace W. Rollins as being 23 years old when he enlisted in 1861, consistent with an 1838 birthday. Rollins was mustered in as a First Sergeant. On an unknown date, he was promoted to sergeant major of the 29th Regiment and transferred to the field and staff. On May 2, 1862, Rollins was elected captain of Company D and transferred back to the company (Capt. John A. Jarvis was defeated for reelection when the regiment reorganized.)
It is really unclear what happens next (the records of the 29th North Carolina are some of the worst)...
Get the rest of the story and maybe help solve a mystery at Michael C. Hardy's blog "Looking for North Carolina's Civil War."