William James Hoke
William James Hoke, younger
brother of John Franklin Hoke, was born in Lincolnton on October 5, 1825, the
son of Colonel John and Barbara (Quickie) Hoke. The younger Hoke was a merchant
in Lincolnton before the war. "Beloved by all who knew him," Hoke was for many
years Lincoln County clerk and master of equity. He was a delegate to the 1858
Democratic state convention and a leader of the anti-Holden, more conservative
wing of the state Democratic party. In 1861 he was the secretary of Lincoln
County's secession vote convention.
On April 25, 1861, Hoke was commissioned captain of Company K (the "Southern Stars"), 1st (Bethel) North Carolina Infantry, a six-months regiment. The 1st was sent to Virginia where on June 10, 1861, it played a key role in the engagement at Big Bethel, the first southern land victory of the war. On January 17, 1862, Hoke was commissioned colonel of the 38th North Carolina Infantry. The 38th, part of Dorsey Pender's Brigade, fought for four years with the Army of Northern Virginia. Hoke was wounded at the June 26, 1862, Battle of Mechanicsville and did not rejoin his regiment until after the Battle of Fredericksburg. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, Hoke briefly led the brigade. On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Hoke was wounded in the leg. This wound disabled him for field service. In 1864 Hoke led his regiment (and occasionally Alfred Scale's brigade) at the Battles of Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. His old wounds acting up, he was retired to the invalid corps on June 18, 1864- Hoke's performance had, evidently, left something to be desired; Pender, his immediate superior, called him "the greatest old granny." In August, 1864, Hoke was assigned to command the post of Charlotte, North Carolina, which he retained till the end of the war. He was also assigned to duty as adjutant general and inspector general of reserves. On January 12, 1865, Hoke was assigned to command a brigade of three reserve regiments, composed of detailed men, and ordered to Salisbury, North Carolina, to guard that place and the Union soldiers imprisoned there.
After the war Hoke returned to Lincoln County, making a living as a merchant and serving as Lincolntown town clerk. He died suddenly in Columbia, South Carolina on October 11, 1870, and is buried in the cemetery of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Lincolnton.
SHSP and CV call him a brigadier general, in command of the post of Charlotte, presumably a reference to his leading the reservist brigade in 1865. However, Clark's Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865, a comprehensive contemporary work that lists all North Carolina militia generals, doesn't show W. J. Hoke as general. It does list his brother, which suggests that the war rank of the two Hokes may have been run together by SHSP and CV. Or W. J. Hoke's staff rank of inspector general is being misinterpreted.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.