Sunday, November 29, 2009

Davidson County

It has been a while since we looked at one of North Carolina’s counties and the war. So, I thought we would pick up and take a look at Davidson County, located in the Piedmont section of the state.

Davidson County was formed in 1822 from Rowan County and was named for William Lee Davidson, a patriot during the Revolutionary War who was killed at the battle of Cowan’s Ford, on the Catawba River, in 1781. The county seat is located in Lexington, named for the 1775 battle of Lexington at the start of the Revolution. The railroad arrived in Davidson County in 1855. Another principal town is Thomasville.

In 1860, Davidson County had a total population of 16,601 people, including 3,076 slaves and 147 free people of color. In the 1860 presidential election, 1,186 men voted for Bell, 728 for Breckinridge, and 15 voted for Douglas. In the February 1861 vote on whether or not to call a convention to consider secession, Davidson County men voted 368 for and 1806 against the convention. Their elected delegates were Benton C. Douthitt and Benjamin A. Kittrell. Douthit was born in 1811 and served in the house of Commons in 1844 and the State Senate in 1858. He was a Unionist who switched when Lincoln called for troops. Kittrell was born in 1831, attended UNC, and studied law under Judge Pearson. He also opposed secession.

Davidson County sent nearly 2,000 men into Confederate service. Some of those men served in Companies B and I, 14th North Carolina Troops; Company A, 21st North Carolina Troops; Companies A and I, 42nd North Carolina Troops; Company K, 45th North Carolina Troops; Companies B and H, 48th North Carolina Troops; and Company A, 54th North Carolina Troops.

There are many interesting sites throughout the county. Several soldiers took advantage of the depot at Thomasville and left for the war from that point. A NC Civil War Trail Marker marks the site. Near Main Street and Salem Street in Thomasville is another marker. This one teaches us about a site nearby that was a hospital and a refugee camp. The hospital started out for Confederate soldiers, but later provided care for soldiers from both armies. Not far away is the Thomasville City Cemetery. There are 36 soldiers interred in the soldiers’ plot. Certain websites write that the Thomasville City Cemetery is the only cemetery in the world where Confederate and Union soldiers are buried together in a single gravesite. Thomasville was also the site of a shoe factory that helped supply Confederate soldiers during the war. In Lexington, the county courthouse was burned in February 1865 and General Kilpatrick stayed at the home of Dr. Holt at the close of the war. General Stoneman was stopped in a skirmish on April 12, 1865, at the Yadkin River bridge, and Jefferson Davis camped in a “pine grove” on April 16, 1865, as he sought to evade Federal troops.

In September 1905, “Several thousand people from Davidson and surrounding counties gathered to witness” the unveiling of Davidson County’s Confederate monument. Among the throngs were an estimated 300 to 400 Confederate veterans. The monument was originally in the center square in front of the courthouse, and it was frequently hit by automobiles. In the 1950s the monument was relocated to a less dangerous place, not far from the original site.

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