Friday, November 03, 2006

CW sites in western North Carolina, part 1


Mike Ables, from Apopka, Fl (by the way - did you know that your hometown newspaper was started by a Confederate veteran from North Carolina?) recently wrote asking about Civil War sites in western North Carolina. There are not many. While George Stoneman did come through with a sizeable force of Federal cavalry in March 1865, which did result in several minor skirmishes, there were no large-scale pitched battles in the area. There are also no battlefield parks. But there are a few sites in western north Carolina worth checking out.

Fort Defiance, in Caldwell County, was built by the Lenoirs in the late 1700s. It was visited by Stoneman. While Stoneman's men burned many structures, Fort Defiance was saved. It has been restored, and is well worth the visit. While also in Caldwell County, visit the Caldwell Historical Museum in downtown Lenoir. It is a wonderful museum and has some good information about the War.

In Burnsville, in Yancey County, you will find the Rush-Wray Museum of Yancey County History. It is located in the ca. 1840 McElroy House. McElroy was a pre-war militia colonel, and in the summer of 1863, became brigadier general of the first brigade of North Carolina Home Guard. It is believed that he used this structure as his headquarters while he was in Burnsville. It is also believed that the house was used as a hospital after a skirmish in the town in April 1864. McElroy's daughter, Harriett, married Brig. Gen. Robert Vance, and McElroy's son, John S. McElroy, was colonel of the 16th NCT.

The Avery County Historical Museum in Newland also has a small Civil War display. A few miles from Newland (towards Linville) are the graves of Keith (McKeesan) and Malinda (Sam) Blalock, one-time members of the 26th NCT, and later Unionists who operated an underground railroad for escaped Union prisoners in western North Carolina. Their graves are in the Montezuma Community Cemetery.

While in the area, don't forget to visit the Carson House, just west of Marion, in McDowell County. The home, constructed in 1793, survived a burning attempted in the last days of the war.

More to come....

2 comments:

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Joe Key said...

I am a descendant of John Alexander Key, who was also in Co A 28th NC Regiment. He was the oldest brother of Martin VanBuren, and Andrew Jackson Key whom you mentioned in your Nov 2, 2006 posting. R. J. Key, who you also mentioned, was actually James Ransome Key and was a brother, not a cousin. There was also a 5th brother, Samuel Chafin Key. Each of the brothers, except for Andrew J, enlisted in the Surry Regulators in April 1861. James and Martin were killed at Hanover CH. John Key, my GrGrGr grandfather, was captured at Petersburg in Apr 1865 and released from Fort Delaware upon giving Oath of Allegiance on June 19. Andrew J Key was the only brother that made it to Appomattox. He surrendered with 13 others from Co A.

My email address is smittykey@msn.com