Friday, August 27, 2010

Currituck County

It’s been a long time since we examined a county… just been a little busy. I reckon it’s time to return to our study. I thought this time we would look at the far north-eastern corner of the state – Currituck County.

Currituck County, which borders Virginia, was formed in 1668. The name Currituck is a local Native American word meaning “land of the wild geese.” Surprisingly, the county seat, also named Currituck, has (according to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina) never been incorporated. The county is largely surrounded by water, and the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal cuts through the county. According to the 1860 census, there were a total of 7,415 people living in Currituck County. That included 2,524 slaves and 221 free persons of color. In the 1860 presidential election, Currituck County men cast 595 votes for Breckinridge and 66 for Bell. No one voted for Douglas.

In the 1861 vote to call a convention, Currituck County men voted 447 in favor of the convention, with 86 opposed. Henry M. Shaw was elected the convention delegate. Shaw, born in Rhode Island, had a varied career. He was a businessman, minister, medical doctor, and state senator. Shaw withdrew from the convention early on to accept the colonelcy of the 8th North Carolina Troops. Shaw served in the Army of Northern Virginia for a time. During the 1864 attack on New Bern, Shaw was mortally wounded.

Currituck County sent several companies into Confederate service. They include Company B, 8th North Carolina State Troops, Company E, 17th North Carolina State Troops, Company G, 4th North Carolina Cavalry, and Companies C and G, 68th North Carolina Troops. There were also several men from Currituck County who served in several different companies in different regiments of the United States Colored Troops.

During the war, Currituck County suffered much from raiding, guerrilla bands, and frequent incursions. Early in the war, the state of North Carolina established salt works. Federal soldiers from the 5th Rhode Island were sent at least once to search and destroy these works. On several occasions the Northern blockading fleet captured vessels off Currituck. On August 19, 1861, the USS Dale boarded the British bark Queen of the Lake, and about a month later the same sailors boarded the schooner Velma.

The site of the Court House in Currituck was visited numerous times throughout the war. On February 12, 1862 the 59th Virginia Infantry passed through the Hamlet. Many of the companies of the 8th North Carolina State Troops were recruited on the grounds of the Court House, and at another point during the war, Federal Troops were camped on the courthouse grounds. Mid-May 1863 local Confederates attacked and captured Federal mail-ship steamers Emily and the Arrow in the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. In August 1863 Confederate guerillas burned all of the bridges in Currituck and surrounding counties and in June 1864 Federals raided into Currituck County.

In 1918, a monument was placed on the grounds of the courthouse in Currituck to commemorate the county’s Confederate soldiers.

1 comment:

NCMeekins said...

Hey Michael,

You probably well know but just in case - Colonel Shaw is buried right there at his home in Shawboro. Well-versed local historian Ray Etheridge lives in the Shaw house. He is a great fount of knowledge on the area.