It is true that the men who made up the 58th North Carolina Troops were either unwilling volunteers, or outright conscripts. It is not true that they were from counties with “heavy” Union sentiments. In Watauga County, out of 986 men (and one woman) who enlisted, only 104 would served the Union cause. In Yancey County, so many men volunteer for the Confederate cause that the county government passed a resolution saying that there were no men left to volunteer. Almost all of the counties that supplied men to the 58th North Carolina Troops had companies to enlist for the Southern cause prior to the state leaving the Union in May 1861.
The Jacob Austin you listed was from Union County, down next to Charlotte, and not from the mountain counties.
The E. F. Younts you listed joined in Athens, Georgia.
Many of the men who were executed were recent arrivals in the 58th NCT. They had recently been captured by the home guard, and forced into service. Most of those executed were brought back under guard.
Was desertion bad in the 58th NCT? Yes. Maybe the worse of any Confederate regiment. However, many did not join the Union army once they deserted. They simply went home.
Michael C. Hardy