Thursday, August 23, 2012

Macon County

Since I am leading a discussion about the War and Macon County this afternoon (at the Hudson Library in Highlands), I thought maybe we would turn our attention to a survey about Macon County and the War.

Macon County was created in 1828, taken from Haywood County. It was named for Nathaniel Macon, a early North Carolina political leader in Washington. Franklin is the county seat.

In 1860, the population of Macon County was 6,004, including 519 slaves and 115 free persons of color. In the 1860 presidential election, local white men cast 221 votes for Breckinridge, 469 for Bell, and 13 for Douglas.

When the secession crisis came in February 1861, locals were divided. Local men cast 250 votes for the convention, and 259 votes against calling the convention. Their one delegate was Conaro D. Smith. Born in 1813 in North Carolina, Smith grew up in Tennessee, and then returned to North Carolina, clerking for the firm of Smith and McElroy in Yancey County. Soon thereafter, Smith was licensed to preach, traveling the circuit in Georgia and Tennessee, before retiring to Macon County. He would go on to serve in the General Assembly in 1862. He died in January 1894.

When the war came, Macon County sent 1,267 men to Confederate service. They served in Company K, 1st North Carolina Cavalry; Companies E and G, 6th North Carolina Cavalry; Company A, 7th North Carolina Cavalry; Company H, 16th North Carolina State Troops; Company G, 25th North Carolina Troops; Companies B and I, 39th North Carolina Troops; Company D, 62nd North Carolina Troops; and Company K, 69th North Carolina Troops. Macon County also had 22 men who served in the Union army, mostly in one of the United States Volunteer regiments. By the end of the War, 201 men had died in Confederate service.

Like many other mountain counties, Macon County's war was very personal. There were a couple of key events that did take place within the county. Thomas's Legion of Cherokee and white soldiers was created in Franklin in September 1862, and one of the last surrenders of Confederate forces in the east also took place in the town at Dixie Hall on May 12, 1865.

After the war, there was a United Confederate Veterans camp in Franklin (camp 955) and in 1909, a Confederate Monument was dedicated in the town of Franklin.

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