RALEIGH – Colonel Isaac Avery lay dying on the Gettysburg battlefield that sweltering July day. Struck in the neck by an enemy bullet, his writing hand was paralyzed, yet he was determined to record his last thoughts for his family. Found next to his body, scrawled in pencil and written with his left hand, was a scrap of paper with the words: "Major: Tell my father I died with my face to the enemy. I. E. Avery."
This is one of thousands of treasures in the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ State Archives. Some rarely exhibited items will be taken from the vault and displayed on Monday, Oct. 24, 9:30 a.m-3 p.m., as the State Archives celebrates American Archives Month. Archivists will be available to provide context for the documents. Diaries, letters, sheet music, government documents, a map of Gen. William T. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign, and more will be displayed, as will a Civil War letter from home:
Francis Poteet was conscripted into the 49th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in 1863, leaving behind his wife, Martha, and their children. In a letter to her husband posted June 16, 1864, she writes to him, “
Promoted by the Society of American Archivists, American Archives Month raises awareness about the value of archives and archivists through public events and activities. North Carolina ’s theme, “Not Just A List of Names,” focuses on Civil War-related documents as the nation commemorates the war’s sesquicentennial.
Also on display Oct. 24 will be documents telling the stories and names of the famous and not-so-famous. View a letter from Jefferson Davis to Gov. John W. Ellis dated May 23, 1861, congratulating him on North Carolina ’s succession; a Confederate soldier’s bloodied New Testament picked up from the Fort Fisher Battlefield; and a wooden pedestal hand-built by a Union soldier who came to possess the testament and where it came to rest.
The event is free to the public and will be held in the State Archives Search Room of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Building, 109 E. Jones Street , Raleigh , N.C. 27601 .