On May 20, 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. Thus began the state's involvement in the American Civil War.
This weekend the N.C. Museum of History and the State Capitol in Raleigh will commemorate the 150th anniversary of North Carolina's secession vote. On Friday, May 20, the Museum of History will open the small exhibit North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862, which is located within the museum's military history gallery A Call to Arms. On Saturday, May 21, the State Capitol will present North Carolina Secedes, a living history program that includes a re-enactment, period music, a drill and dress parade, lectures and more.
Details about the exhibit and the program follow. Both are free and open to the public.
North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862
North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862 highlights the events leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War and the early battles. On view from May 20, 2011, through Oct. 29, 2012, the exhibit features artifacts related to the state's role in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the nation's western expansion, and the Civil War. Civil War artifacts include the Confederate first national flag of the 33rd Regiment N.C. Volunteers, 1861-1862; and an M1833 dragoon saber and scabbard (1861-1862) used by Zebulon B. Vance, colonel of the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops and later the state's wartime governor. A bugle, snare drum, banjo and flugelhorn are among the musical instruments on exhibit.
North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862 is the first exhibit in a three-part series that explores the four-year conflict that changed the state and nation. The exhibit series, titled North Carolina and the Civil War: 1861-1865, tells the story of North Carolinians who lived, served and sacrificed during the nation's bloodiest conflict.
The series' second exhibit, debuting in 2013, will focus on the year 1863. The final installation, opening in 2014, highlights the last engagements of 1864-1865 and postwar consequences.
North Carolina Secedes: Living History Program at State Capitol
North Carolina Secedes, a living history program at the State Capitol, takes place Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will commemorate the state's historic vote and look at North Carolina's early wartime preparations.
At 11 a.m. in the historic House Chamber, hear readings from Secession Convention speeches. Contemporary accounts of May 20, 1861, recount that after the unanimous vote, someone dropped a handkerchief from the Capitol's west portico to signal to the crowd below that North Carolina had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Maj. Stephen Dodson Ramseur's artillery unit, which was posted on the grounds for the occasion, announced the historic moment by firing its cannons.
During the May 21 program, approximately 100 re-enactors from the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops will portray Maj. Ramseur's battery and re-enact an infantry drill and rifle-fire during the war. In the afternoon watch the drill and dress parade, and hear a field music concert. Lectures will focus on the state's military organization, war flags, and the early uniforms and equipment of both North Carolina and Union soldiers. Additionally, a facsimile of North Carolina's Ordinance of Secession will be on display inside the Capitol.
The exhibit and the living history program are presented as part of the N.C. Civil War Sesquicentennial, a statewide initiative organized by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in North Carolina. For more information go to www.nccivilwar150.com
To learn more about the Museum of History, call 919-807-7900 or access www.ncmuseumofhistory.org
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The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton St. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, 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 is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com