General David Clark of the North
Carolina militia was born on February 11, 1820, at Albin, the family plantation
near Scotland Neck in Halifax County, North Carolina, the son of David and
Louisa (Mor-fleet) Clark. The elder Clark was a wealthy planter and director of
a canal company. Educated at the Episcopal Male School in Raleigh, the younger
Clark entered neither professional nor public life. Residing in Littleton in
Halifax County, Clark concentrated on farming and became one of the wealthiest
and most progressive planters in eastern North Carolina, with many acres and
large slaveholdings. A "man of wide reading, and with a great landed interest,
he found ample occupation in superintending his estates and among the books of
his large private library." A Whig and proponent of states' rights, Clark
exerted a strong influence among the people of his area.
In December, 1861, North Carolina Adjutant General James Martin ordered Clark (who before the war had been elected colonel of the lower Halifax County [15th] militia regiment) to help organize the defenses of the northeast part of the state. Clark traveled to both Raleigh and Norfolk to obtain ammunition, guns, and supplies for his men and by January 3, 1862, established a line of couriers to relay warning of any Union invasion. The Union victory at Roanoke Island (February 8,1862) opened up the whole of northeast North Carolina to invasion from the sea, and threw the residents of this vulnerable area into a panic. In response Governor Henry Clark (no relation) ordered out the militia in the area, including Clark's 15th Regiment. Under Clark's direction the militiamen blocked the Roanoke River, felling trees across it and, at the narrowest part, deliberately sinking four vessels. By special order of the governor, dated February 20, Clark was charged with exclusive control of the obstruction and defenses of the Roanoke River, with authority to impress wagons, horses, boats, and supplies and to arrest all suspected persons. His "executive ability, great energy and zeal for the cause" so impressed the governor that he promoted Clark to brigadier general and placed under him a brigade composed of four militia regiments from three different counties. In March the militia of three more counties were placed under his command. Clark kept on this duty until, at the end of April, Confederate troops were sent in to relieve the militia. Clark thereupon returned to Halifax County. He spent the rest of the war looking after his plantations, but remained semi-active in his militia duties.
After the war General Clark continued to farm his Halifax County proper ties. He died on October 4, 1882, at Airlie plantation in Halifax County and is buried in the Thorne-Clark burial ground at nearby Bethel Hill.
Clark is listed as a general of North Carolina state troops in Clark's Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865, a comprehensive and authoritative contemporary work.'
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.