Brig. General Alfred Moore Scales (CSA), Governor

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Alfred Moore Scales

Also Known As: "Alf"
Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Reidsville, Rockingham, NC, USA
Death: February 9, 1892 (64)
Greensboro, Guilford, NC, USA
Place of Burial: Greensboro, Guilford, NC, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Henry Scales and Jane Watt Bethell
Husband of Kate Bullock Henderson
Brother of William Nathaniel Scales; James Pinckney Scales; Robert Watt Scales; Junius Irving Scales; Emma Jane Scales and 5 others

Occupation: lawyer, statesman, general, governor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Brig. General Alfred Moore Scales (CSA), Governor

Alfred Moore Scales (November 26, 1827 – February 9, 1892) was a North Carolina state legislature, Confederate general in the American Civil War and the 45th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1885 to 1889, and Congressman.

Early life

Scales was born at Reidsville, in Rockingham County, North Carolina. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Scales, were strong believers in education. After attending a Presbyterian school, the Caldwell institute and the University of North Carolina, Scales entered teaching for a time. Later, he studied law with Judge William H. Battle and Judge Settle and then opened a law office in Madison, North Carolina.

Pre-War public service

Scales was elected county solicitor in 1852. He was elected four times to the North Carolina state legislature and served as chairman of the Finance Committee. In 1854 he ran a close but unsuccessful race as the Democratic candidate for United States Congress in a Whig district. In 1857 he was elected to Congress but was defeated for re-election two years later. From 1858 until the spring of 1861 he held the office of clerk and master of the court of equity of Rockingham County. In 1860 he was an elector for the Breckinridge ticket and subsequently involved in the debate over North Carolina's secession.

Civil War service

Early military service

All of Alfred Scales's Civil War service was with Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Soon after the call for troops from Washington he volunteered as a private in the North Carolina service, but was at once elected captain of his company, H of the 13th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, and was elected to succeeded General William Dorsey Pender as colonel on November 14, 1861. He was engaged at Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg in the Peninsula Campaign, and in the Seven Days Battles near Richmond. After Malvern Hill, he collapsed from exhaustion and came near to death. His superior, Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland, Jr., said in his report that Scales was "conspicuous for his fine bearing. Seizing the colors of his regiment at a critical moment at Cold Harbor and advancing to the front, he called on the 13th to stand to them, thus restoring confidence and keeping his men in position." It took him until November to recuperate so he missed the battles of both Second Manassas and Antietam, but returned in time for the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

During the winter of 1862–63, the 35-year-old colonel married 18-year old Kate Henderson. She was the daughter of a prominent family from Gaston County, North Carolina.

At Fredericksburg, in December 1862, Scales temporarily took command of the brigade after General Pender fell wounded. Pender turned over the command during a Federal assault, saying to him, "Drive those scoundrels out". Scales promptly ordered Major C. C. Cole of the 22nd North Carolina to dislodge the enemy, which A.P. Hill reported was "handsomely done."

Scales again served with distinction during the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, where he was wounded in the thigh, continuing on the field until loss of blood forced him to leave. It was to his regiment that General Pender said, "I have nothing to say to you but to hold you all up as models in duty, courage and daring." In his official report Pender referred to Colonel Scales as "a man as gallant as is to be found in the service."

Gettysburg Campaign

While at home, recovering from his wound, he was promoted to brigadier general on June 13, 1863, and upon his return was assigned to the command of Pender's old brigade when Pender was promoted to the command of A.P. Hill's Light Division. In the first day's fight at Gettysburg with Pender's Division, it was the attack of his brigade that helped pave the way for Abner M. Perrin's Brigade to break through the Union line on Seminary Ridge and force the enemy to retreat toward Cemetery Hill.

During this attack, Scales's Brigade suffered heavy casualties. He personally fought with great gallantry, and was severely wounded in the leg by a shell fragment on Seminary Ridge. Every field officer of his brigade was killed or wounded save two, and his brigade, already sadly reduced by its terrible sacrifices at Chancellorsville, lost in nearly 550 men out of the 1,350 engaged.

On the second day at Gettysburg, the brigade was only engaged in skirmishing, but in the third day's battle, it participated in the famous Pickett's Charge. Half of the General Pender's division, James Lane's and Scales's brigades, advanced in the charge with Pickett's and Pettigrew's Divisions. Since Pender had been wounded, his two brigades in the charge were placed under the command of Major General Isaac R. Trimble. Due to Scales's wounding, his brigade was commanded during the charge by Colonel William Lee J. Lowrance. Elements of this brigade were among the Confederates to advance farthest in the gallant but unsuccessful charge.

With General Pender at his side, Scales rode back to Virginia in an ambulance, and after being left at Winchester, he recovered enough from his wounds to be returned to service. Unfortunately, General Pender died from his wounds.

Military service after Gettysburg

After returning to service upon the apparent recovery from his wound, Scales participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia during 1864 including the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and the Siege of Petersburg. Due to his previous wounds being unhealed, Scales took a leave of absence late in the war, and was at home in North Carolina when the army surrendered at Appomattox Court House. There is no record that the general was ever formally paroled, but he applied for amnesty at Raleigh on June 22, 1865, and was pardoned on June 18, 1866.

Post-War public service

After the war, Scales returned to the practice of law, a profession in which he gained great distinction. In 1874 he was elected to the Forty-fourth Congress, and was re-elected to the four succeeding congresses. In 1884, he was elected Governor of North Carolina by a majority of over twenty thousand votes. Upon the expiration of his term as governor in 1888 he retired permanently from political life, repeatedly refusing to run again for Congress. In 1888 Scales left the governorship and was elected president of the Piedmont Bank at Greensboro, and served as its president until he died.

Scales was never in good health after leaving the governorship in 1888. His condition was diagnosed as Bright's disease, causing his brain to become so affected that during the last months of his life, he was only conscious for short intervals. He died in Greensboro and was buried there at the Green Hill Cemetery.

Alfred Scales was greatly beloved and respected by all. Noted historian Douglas S. Freeman, in discussing eight promotions to brigadier general Lee needed to make after Chancellorsville said, "One promotion was a matter of course. ..." and then mentioned Scales first of the eight. At the time of his death all the businesses in Greensboro closed and the entire city turned out to attend his funeral. His family life was always pleasant. He was survived by his wife, Kate, and his daughter, Mrs. John Noble Wyllie.

He was admitted to the Bar in 1851 and began practicing law in Madison, Rockingham County, NC. His tiny office remains as a landmark on one of the main streets. Within 3 years, he became Rockingham County's solicitor. He and Kate had no children but raised his brother James Pinckney's daughter Kate Lewis as both her parents had died by time she was only 4.He was an early leader of the Wentworth Presbyterian Church (Wentworth is very near Madison). His law office, which he opened in 1856, is a little house that was put on the National Register in 1982. Having practiced only 4-5 years, he took an interest in politics. He represented Rockingham County in the NC House of Commons 1852-56; he served again 1866-69. He served one term 1857-59 in the US House of Representatives; in 1860 he was a Presidential elector for the Dem. Party for John C. Breckinridge. On or about 20 April 1861, he enlisted in Wentworth as a private in Co. H, just after the outbreak of the Civil War. The same day he was elected captain. He was elected colonel 11 October 1861 and commissioned the next day and transferred to Field & Staff of 13th Regiment, NC Infantry. He was wounded twice, once at the Battle of Chancellorsville and again at Gettysburg. In 1863 he was promoted to Brigadier General of Pender's Division and commanded the troops at Gettysburg (Pender had been killed). There is a monument to him at Gettysburg. After the War, he moved his family to Greensboro to practice law with his younger brother Junius Irving. From 1874-84 he served 5 successive terms in the US House of Representatives. He was governor of NC 1885-89. When his brother Junius Irving died in 1880, he took over the raising of his nephew Alfred Moore, my grandfather, in what was apparently a very unhappy period in the child's life.

More on Alfred Moore Scales

Brigadier General Alfred Moore Scales


A visit to Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro, North Carolina, will reveal the First National Flag of the Confederacy, proudly flying high over a hill bearing a bronze sentinel, silently guarding the remains of 300

unknown Confederate soldiers who gave that last supreme measure to the cause for which they had fought

for so gallantly. Nearby, some 100 paces north of this spot will be found an unassuming granite marker, in

section 8 of the cemetery. Without knowing it was there, one would easily pass the resting spot of one of

North Carolina's most prominent sons, Alfred Moore Scales. (GPS position 36.04.93n/079.47.88w)

Alfred M. Scales was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina on November 26, 1827, and had been a successful lawyer, state legislator, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1857-1859) before

answering the call to serve his state and his new nation at arms. A supporter of John C. Breckinridge in the

1860 presidential election, Scales attended the state's secession convention in February 1861, and hesitated

in advocating immediate secession. Remarkably, Scales voluntarily enlisted as a 34 year old Private in

Company H of the 13th Regiment North Carolina Troops on or about April 30, 1861. Quickly recognizing

his merit, the company elected Scales as their Captain on the same date. (The date of his rank was re-

ported as May 3, 1861)

Again, his competence was rewarded as he was elected Colonel of the 13th Regiment on October 11, 1861,

receiving his commission the next day. He served in the area of Norfolk, and later led his troops on the

penninsula at Yorktown, Williamsburg, and nearer Richmond at the battle of Seven Pines. During the Seven

Days' Battles of late June, 1862, Scales led with such skill and distinction that he received praise from his

superior officers. At Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, Scales temporarily took command of the brigade

of Brig. Gen. William D. Pender, after the latter fell wounded. His regiment again served with distinction

during the battle of Chancellorsville, where Col. Scales was wounded in the thigh during fighting of May

1-3, 1863. He was promoted to Brigadier General on June 13, 1863.

After a period of recouperation, Brig. Gen. Scales returned to command the Fourth Brigade, consisting of the

13th, 16th, 22nd, 34th and 38th North Carolina Regiments. Maj. Gen. Pender, now Scales' ranking

officer, was commanding a division of Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's Third Corps. During fighting on the first day of

Gettysburg, Scales was again wounded at Seminary Ridge. Later, on the third day of battle at Gettysburg,

Scales' and Lane's brigades went down in history as participating in the infamous "Pickett's Charge" upon

Cemetery Ridge, both brigades being deployed on the far left, under command of Gen. Trimble. After

returning to service, Scales participated in the campaigns of 1864; The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court

House, and the siege of Petersburg. Due to previous unhealed wounds, Scales took a leave of absence

late in the war, and was at home in NC when the war ended. There is also speculation that he was never

formally pardoned.

After the war, Scales was reelected to the State Legislature (1866), as well as to Congress (1874-1884),

and served as governor of North Carolina for two terms (1884-1888). After retiring from public service,

Scales became President of the Piedmont Bank of Greensboro, NC. He died on February 9, 1892.

Returning to the gentle, windswept hills of Green Hill Cemetery, a time capsule in the hustle and bustle

of the city, one's thoughts cannot help but drift back in an attempt to capture with the imagination

the dedication, valor, and personal bravery exemplified by such a man as Alfred Moore Scales... a man of

his time. Marking what was undoubtedly Scales' unassuming style, a second simple granite headstone

sits quietly next to his, amongst the boxwoods. It reads:

" Kate B. Henderson Scales

March 15, 1846

April 15, 1930

Wife of Alfred Moore Scales

Erected by Madison-Mayodan Greys Chapter U.D.C."

These two simple headstones cannot do justice to the accomplishments and lifelong service of Alfred

Scales. However, the simplicity of their design speak volumes about the character behind the man;

to do one's duty.

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Brig. General Alfred Moore Scales (CSA), Governor's Timeline

November 26, 1827
Reidsville, Rockingham, NC, USA
- 1846
Age 17
University of NC
February 9, 1892
Age 64
Greensboro, Guilford, NC, USA
Age 64
Greensboro, Guilford, NC, USA
small school on Thos. Settle plantation with the Settle & Martin children
read law under Judges Thos. Settle & Wm. H. Battle
The Caldwell Institute