Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Tour

We had a chance this past Saturday to get out into the field once again. Our local SCV camp tries to take a field trip every year. This year, we visited a few of the sites in Knoxville, Tennessee. We started off our tour at the McClung Museum in Knoxville. The museum has a half-hour-long movie on the battle of Fort Sanders that was not half bad. The only thing I would complain about was that the movie said Burnside moved into east Tennessee and forced the Confederates out of the area. Actually, the Confederates in east Tennessee (save Frazier’s brigade at Cumberland Gap), were withdrawn to General Bragg in north Georgia, thus allowing Burnside to take east Tennessee. Much of the downstairs area is full of original artifacts pertaining to the war. I really enjoyed the original case of canister shot. There were also artifacts excavated from the construction site where a sorority house has now been built by UT. Next, we visited the Mabry-Hazen House, built in 1858 and full of original furnishings. Then we were off to Bethel Cemetery, a couple of blocks away. This cemetery contains the graves of 1,600 Confederate soldiers, including numerous Tar Heels from the 29th, 39th, 58th, 60th, and 64th NCT regiments. Finally, we headed over to the south side of town and visited the entrenchments at Fort Dickerson. As General Wheeler attacked from the south, Federal troops fell back into this earthen fort and stopped this portion of the Confederate advance. We tried to find neighboring Fort Stevens, but did not have much luck. We also drove over a portion of the Fort Sanders battlefield, and saw the two 15-inch Rodmans on the courthouse grounds. Overall, it was a great day, and I look forward to Camp 1946’s next outing.
Picture: three-inch rifle at Fort Dickerson.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Living History Series: “A Day in the Life of a Civil War Soldier”

From our friends in Raleigh…

FOUR OAKS − Grab a camera, bring a sketchbook and pack a picnic, and head out to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site’s free Summer Living History program, “A Day in the Life of a Civil War Soldier,” on Saturday, June 5, from 10 a.m.− 4 p.m. Period-costumed living historians from the 18th NC/53rd PA and 1st NC/11th NC will demonstrate how soldiers made meals, maintained their weapons and uniforms, and trained for battle.

A highlight will be musket demonstrations at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Artillery firings of a three-inch ordnance rifle, a typical Civil War cannon, will be held at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

“Visitors can discover how Civil War soldiers lived in camp and what role the enlisted man played in battle,” said Bentonville Battlefield Program Coordinator Megan Phillips.

According to one historical account, the artillery fire during the Bentonville battle was so heavy that it “literally barked the trees, cutting off limbs as if by hand.” Though outgunned by Union troops, Confederate artillerymen used fortified positions to halt the Union advance for several hours.

The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, involved 80,000 troops and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site interprets the battle and the Harper House hospital, where many Confederates were left in the aftermath. The site is located at 5466 Harper House Road , Four Oaks, NC 27524. It is three miles north of Newton Grove on S.R. 1008. For more info rmation, visit or call (910) 594-0789.

Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina ’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at

Sgt. Matthew Goodson

While on our grand tour a week ago, we took a drive through Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. We’ve been cemetery junkies for a long time and never pass up a chance to stroll through another. I actually teach a class on gravestone art, and I’m always looking to expand my collection of images that I use.

While driving through the cemetery, we happened upon the grave of a Tar Heel – Sgt. Matthew Goodson, Co. F, 52nd North Carolina Troops. Goodson and one other soldier (from Virginia I think), seemed to be the only Confederates buried in the cemetery. Evergreen is a very historic area, was part of the fight at Gettysburg, and has many historic graves, including members of the Getty family, John Burns, and Jenny Wade. If you are ever in the ‘burg, take a moment to drive by.

So, back to Goodson. A peek at his service record from the North Carolina Troop book series shows that he was a merchant in Cabarrus County prior to enlisting at the age of 34 in May 1862. He was mustered in as a private in Company A (not Company F, as his stone says), On March 1, 1863, Goodson was promoted to first (or orderly) sergeant of Company A. On July 3, 1863, during the battle of Gettysburg, he was wounded in the lungs and captured. Turning to a different source (Coco’s Wasted Valor), we learn that Goodson, after his capture, was taken to the Jacob Schwartz farm, which was being utilized as a hospital by the II Corps. Goodson lingered until July 12, 1863, when he perished. The sergeant was interred in a cornfield on the property of Schwartz, one of the three burial sites on the farm.

In January 1866, a local farmer wrote to Goodson’s widow, informing her that he had found the grave and was having it reinterred in Evergreen Cemetery, “where he would personally mark it well, care for it, and make sure it would never be lost.” Apparently, Evergreen Cemetery had voted to set aside a section of the cemetery for Confederate graves, just like the section it had for Union graves. In August 1867, the cemetery board decided to “move the Rebel dead buried in Ever Green Cemetery to a more secluded place…” As of 1990, that “seclude place,” according to Coco, had still not be found. Goodson’s grave has a Confederate marker from the Veterans Administration, along with an iron cross. I wonder, in the past twenty years, has his grave been found? Or is this just a memorial stone? Goodson has a cenotaph at the First Presbyterian Church in Concord, North Carolina.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hang down your head…

Still not much free time around here. I did finish one major project on Monday, but wrote a proposal for a new book last night. Oh well, some people never learn.

Rob Neufeld takes a look at the story of Tom Dula (the Tom Dooley of Kingston Trio fame) in his current column in the Asheville Citizen. (You can read it here.) The Dula story is a pretty famous – Dula lives in Wilkes County before the war and has a fling with a local girl. He goes off to the war, survives, and returns home to find his girl married. Their fling continues, but on the side, Dula finds Laura Foster. At some point (maybe during the war), Dula contracts a venereal disease, and blames Foster. Someone (Dula? Ann Melton, his other girl?) kills Foster and Dula flees to Tennessee where he is captured. Neufeld’s article picks up here, with Zebulon Baird Vance defending Dula at trial. Dula loses the trial and is hanged for the murder of Foster.

So, a short summary of events. If you want to know more, check Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley by John Foster West.

However, what I want to take a few moments to examine is the service record of our Tom Dula.

According to the NPS web site, Soldiers and Sailors, there were five men by the name of Thomas Dula in Confederate service from North Carolina. These include Thomas J. Dula, from Wilkes County, who served in the 26th North Carolina Troops and as Lt. Col. Of the 58th North Carolina Troops. Some folks have tried to make this Thomas Dula, because of his service in Vance’s regiment, the Tom Dula of story and song, but he is not. Our Dula, Thomas C. Dula, served in Company K, 42nd North Carolina Troops. According to volume ten of the North Carolina Troop books published by the state department of cultural resources, our Dula resided in Wilkes County and was seventeen years old when he enlisted in April 1862. Company K was from Wilkes County, and there were two other Dulas serving in this regiment: William C. (age 20) and William L. (no age given). Tom Dula was promoted to Drummer in January – February 1864. He was captured during the battle of Wise’s Fork, North Carolina, on March 10, 1865, and sent to the prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. Dula took the oath and was released on June 11, 1865.

Next, we’ll look at Dula’s compiled service record. Dula was reported as being a patient in the Confederate States Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, from November 1 to November 24, 1862, and was then reported as a patient at the Episcopal Church Hospital in Williamsburg , Virginia, from December 3 to December 25, 1862, with a complaint of Re. Febris. [fever]. In January and February 1863, he was back with his regiment, but was reported sick in his quarters. Dula seems to have been present until August 10, 1864, when he was reported sick in a hospital in Richmond (this was at the end of October).
Well, not much to go on. Maybe Dula contracted his VD while he was a soldier. That happened frequently . But there is not enough to go upon while looking at his record. Just a couple of prolonged trips to the hospital and one record of having a fever.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

End of the Grand Tour

We arrived back home Friday, and all agree, we had a really good trip. We spent Thursday morning at the visitor center (more on this in a minute), and then I met with Eric Lindblade of Ten Roads Publishing (more on this in a few days). After lunch, we hit several of the shops (some really good ones squeezed between the kitschy tourist stuff) and made a few more rounds on the battlefield, and then left town. In all we visited eight battlefields (can you count New Market? You drive through this one while traveling down the interstate). We explored the positions of quite a few Tar Heel regiments.

I was really good vis-a-vis book purchases: I only came home with three. They include Tom Clemens’s Volume 1 of Carman’s The Maryland Campaign; Johnson and Anderson’s Artillery Hell; and, a little book by Jayne E. Blair entitled Tragedy at Montpelier: The Untold Story of Ten Confederate Deserters from North Carolina. It appears that these ten men served in the 3rd NCST. I look forward to reading these as time permits.

This was my first trip to the new Gettysburg visitor center. I have read many mixed reviews about the new visitor center – some good and some bad. Some believe that the visitor center focuses too much on the causes of the war, and not enough about the actual battle of Gettysburg. Maybe, maybe not. I do wish they had focused a little more on why they (the Union soldiers) fought. There was just a slight mention throughout the displays of what Union soldiers fought for: preservation of the Union. Gary W. Gallagher had a really good piece on this neglected subject in a recent Civil War Times. The vast majority of Union soldiers did not enlist to fight for the abolition of slavery; they enlisted to preserve the Union. I agree with Gallagher that this story is almost a forgotten aspect of the war. I also watched the film “A New Birth of Freedom.” This is the second time in the past few weeks that I have seen this tidbit in a public place: that the advancement of slavery in the South was due to the demand of cotton by Northern and Great Britain industrialist and textile mill owners. The other place where this was brought up was on the History Channel’s America: The Story of Us. The History Channel special even went as far as to state that slavery was on the decline in Southern States until the industrial revolution happened in the North. This is not something that I’ve really looked into; what do you think? The History Channel cannot be wrong, can it?

There were precious few mentions of North Carolina in the visitor center. Maybe I just missed them with the thousands (tens of?) school kids milling about. They did have the flag of the 47th North Carolina Troops on display. Personally, I could do without the grand overview of the War that the Gettysburg Visitor Center presents. Is that not why we have the museums in Harrisburg, PA, or at Tredgar in Richmond? The Park proudly displays a small plaque stating that what is displayed is but a fraction of the collection it has. It seemed to me that much of the non-Gettysburg collection was on loan from somewhere else. Get rid of all of the other stuff and put more Gettysburg on display. The battle is why people come to Park anyway. Then maybe some of these other fine pieces can grace other museums and they can all be enjoyed and used to teach, rather than just locked away in a vault somewhere.

Speaking of those milling school kids, several of whom appeared to have been taught manners by chimpanzees, we were all distressed by the general rudeness and lack of decorum exhibited by many visitors. Yes, seventh-graders in large numbers will be loud even if they whisper, but we noted that at many other museums (the Smithsonian, the state museums in Raleigh), there are “suits” on hand who will quickly squash loud, disrespectful, or disruptive behavior. The docents were nice, but more scary guys in suits might have improved the atmosphere for those of us not interested in yelling across the galleries to our BFFs.

Once again, all had a really great time. I got some research for future projects finished, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grand Tour, pt. 4

Another great day on the battlefield. We started early with a tour of Culp’s Hill, followed by Cemetery Ridge. We then met some friends and tromped McPherson’s Ridge, Seminary Ridge, Little Round Top, and another round of Cemetery Ridge. After parting company, I followed Reilly’s North Carolina battery around for a while, and little more driving on McPherson’s Ridge. After a short rest, we met more friends, walked to town, had dinner, walked around some more, and had ice cream. Great day. I’ve taken a little over 500 photographs so far on this trip. Tomorrow, we are planning to visit the visitor center, I have a meeting with a publisher, and then some shopping and a few more tours. Might start heading home tomorrow evening… might not either. No rain today, and the clouds broke this evening.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grand Tour, pt. 3

Our day was a great success – very little rain, even though it was a tad bit cooler than we had anticipated. We wound up spending almost six hours at Antietam – walking the Sunken Road, and following Reilly’s Battery around the field. Of course we visited the sites associated with Branch’s Brigade. Had a great talk about the 37th NCT and Branch’s brigade with one of the rangers. More about this later. We skipped South Mountain and headed to Gettysburg, got checked into our room, and had dinner at O’Rorke’s. We then drove around the Little Round Top section of the battlefield. We have some friends coming down from Allentown to tromp the field with us tomorrow. They have never been to Gettysburg, and we are trying to determine where to take them in the few short hours we will have together. The Visitor Center is a must, and the Confederate and Federal positions in regard to the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge. Probably Little Round Top, and the 26th NCT’s position on Day 1. That’s probably all we’ll have time for.

Well, I think I’m off to bed. I am going to try and get over to Culp’s Hill early in the morning, before our friends arrive.

The Grand Tour, pt. 2

Day two of our “three hour” tour – it rained pretty much the entire time yesterday. We visited six different battlefields: Hanover Court House, North Anna, Spotsylvania, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Manassas. A spot at the Wilderness was our real destination, and thanks to the rangers at Chancellorsville for pointing us in the right direction. Manassas was not on our original itinerary, but traffic was so bad heading into Washington City, that we took a detour and wound up at Manassas. We did manage to tramp around the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania and walked to see the buff statue of General Jackson at Manassas. Today, we are in Maryland, and plan on touring Sharpsburg and South Mountain. I have my son Nathaniel, who is nine, along on this trip. While he has visited many of these sites before, this will be the trip he really remembers. Isabella, who is three, just wants to know who turned Jackson into a statue.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On the grand tour

I’m off on a grand tour of War related sites in the Eastern Theater. We’re spending the night in historic Ashland, not far from the Hanover Court House battlefield. I’ve stayed here many times. No, I don’t think we will be visiting any new battlefields on this trip, just reconnecting with some old sites. I’ve not tour Eastern Theater sites in several years – my work on the 58th NCT took me in the opposite direction. While we’re out and about, I will be researching/following two North Carolina organizations, one infantry and one artillery. More about this later. Well, as you can see by the time I posted this, it is kind of late. We have a full day tomorrow (probably in the rain), so I will sign off for now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

News and notes...

Still very busy here around the Hardy household. I did sneak a few moments and looked at some online newspapers, and found a few items of interest.

The news abounds with stories regarding Confederate Memorial Day, which was yesterday in North Carolina.

Jamie Funkhouser stood vigil at the Confederate Monument in Winston-Salem. You can learn more here.

Interesting article on ENC Today on how North Carolina “ignores” Confederate Memorial Day. Hmm, partial true, but not entirely. There are scores of events that take place to commemorate Confederate Memorial Day. Check out the article here.

Found an article in a paper from Waltham, Massachusetts, that outside of showcasing profound ignorance, I’m not sure the purpose of. The columnist writes: “There is no federal commission organizing the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration, Richard Lewis of the Virginia Tourism Corporation told me, in part "because of the political minefield we just ran into" with McDonnell's proclamation. Some states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, are making no effort to mark the anniversary. Others, Pennsylvania included, are not using the term sesquicentennial because "no one can pronounce it, no one can spell it, and no one knows what it means." Um, maybe the writer needs to visit or You can check out the article here.

On to other news

Information on the recent Salisbury Prison Tour can be found in this article in the Salisbury Post.

An article on Fort Johnston in Southport can he found here.

A good article on the battle of New Bern can be found here in the Sun Journal.

The ENC Today has an article on African-Americans serving as spies during the war. Check it out here.


The Statesville Record and Landmark has an article on the home of Zeb Vance in Statesville. You can learn more here.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Yet another one of those little mysteries.

If you did not know, John Smith is the most common name in the English language. It is a genealogist’s nightmare. Back a few months ago, I was in the Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, and came across a tombstone for John Smith, Co. I, 58th North Carolina Troops. This tombstone was in the small Confederate section, not far from North Carolina’s first Confederate Monument. Yes, there was a John Smith in the 58th North Carolina Troops. He was first sergeant of Company I. The problem? The John Smith in Company I died on April 15, 1873, and is buried in Watauga County. So I wonder who this John Smith is? According to Soldiers and Sailors, there were 211 men by the name of John Smith who served in the Confederate army from North Carolina.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mitchell County

Sorry for the lack of posts – I’ve been kind of busy and, unfortunately, I believe that this will continue for the next two or three weeks.

I thought we would continue with our county-by-county study of North Carolina and turn our attention to Mitchell County and a mystery.

Mitchell County was formed in 1861 from portions of Watauga, Yancey, Caldwell, and Burke Counties, and named in honor of Dr. Elisha Mitchell, former professor at the University of North Carolina (there was only one campus at the time). Since the county was formed in 1861, we do not have the usual stats, and Mitchell County’s representative in the 1861 secession debates was the same as Yancey County’s: Milton P. Penland, a Yancey County merchant. According to a Tax List, there were 65 slaves in Mitchell County in 1862. The original county seat was in the southern portion of the county and called Calhoun, in honor of John C. Calhoun. The county seat was moved by General Assembly decree during the war, to a spot called Davis, even though it cannot be ascertained if the community was called Davis in honor of Jefferson Davis, or because some members of a Davis family lived nearby.

That being said, we’ll jump into the mystery. Ask anyone locally about the formation of Mitchell County and you will hear that it was formed because it was more pro-Union that Yancey County. In 1935, Muriel Early Sheppard wrote in Cabins in the Laurel, “As soon as war was declared, the [Toe River] Valley split in two. The northern half , which supported the Union, wanted to part company with the Secessionist southern half. They succeeded in bringing about the separation in 1861…” (56). It would be impossible to tell you how many times this has been reprinted, both in conversation and in print. I don’t think it is true, and I’ll show you why.

New counties do not get formed overnight, especially in western North Carolina. In the nineteenth century, the power base in the Tar Heel state resided with the eastern counties, and their legislatures fought hard to keep new western counties, which differ in politics, from being formed. Yancey County, which contributed the most to the new county, is a good example. The formation of Yancey County was originally proposed in 1825. It was not until 1833 that the measure actually passed. One representative in the General Assembly in 1833 tried to establish a new County in the east called Roanoke (as a counter balance), and then went as far as to propose that Yancey County be established with “administration of justice without representation.” Both measures failed.

People in the Toe River Valley had been trying to form this new county for a long time. According to the Asheville Messenger, there was a meeting held in June 1850 in Burnsville for the purpose of “making a New County out of portions of Buncombe, Yancey and Watauga.” I do have other evidence to prove false the idea of Mitchell being formed because it was pro-Union, but we’ll just leave it at these two. The idea that Mitchell was formed because of the secession crisis is simply not fact; it is local myth.

Was there a strong Unionist element in Mitchell County? Absolutely. I’ll not deny that, especially in northern Mitchell County. As with most western North Carolina counties, the closer you get to the Tennessee line, the more Unionist they become. Most of the Confederate soldiers served in Company E, 6th NCST; Company I, 29th NCT; Companies A, B, and K, 58th NCT; and, Company K, 6th NC Cavalry. Most of the Union soldiers served in the 3rd NC Mounted Infantry and the 13th Tennessee Cavalry. According to Terrell Garren’s Mountain Myth, there were 771 Confederate soldiers and 84 Union soldiers from Mitchell County.

Details about Mitchell County and the war are scarce, mostly just fragments found in obscure sources. There was an underground railroad funneling escaped prisoners through the area during the war. One stop was the old English Inn in Spruce Pine. There are also a couple of stories of large deserter camps in the county, and one, up near Roan Mountain, contained 250 armed men. I’ve also never been able to determine if Mitchell County ever organized a home guard company. If so, the designation appears to be lost. I can find evidence of Brig. Gen. John W. McElroy being ordered into Mitchell County with the home guard companies from surrounding counties, in an attempt to help Mitchell County organize its own home guard. Maybe more information on this will come to light in the future.

Most of the war in Mitchell County could be described as the worst of guerilla warfare. Families fought against families, neighbor against neighbor. Most of these encounters were small engagements (a few shots). In August 1864, portions of the 68th North Carolina Troops were quartered in Bakersville, probably attempting to break up some of the deserter camps in the area.

Garren estimates that 87 Mitchell County men died during the war. Hundreds more probably perished within the confines of the county where civil war truly existed. There are no records of a United Confederate Veterans camp in the county after the war. I did see a newspaper article once of an attempt to form of Grand Army of the Republic camp in Bakersville, but apparently this did not materialize.

Mitchell County will celebrate its sesquicentennial next year, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the festivities.