Friday, August 31, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: Matt Ransom bust.

As many of you know, Matt Ransom was a North Carolina native (Warren County), UNC grad, Confederate general, and United State Senator (post war). During the War, he served as colonel of the 35th North Carolina Troops. He was wounded three times during the war. Born in 1826, he died in 1904.The North Carolina Historical Commission commissioned this bust, and it resides in the rotunda of the State Capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was dedicated on January 11, 1911.

I took this photo in March 2008.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: the charge of the 58th and 60th at Resaca

It had been a long winter for the men in the 58th and 60th North Carolina regiments in and around Dalton, Georgia. However, with Sherman's men poised just to their north, no one could really look forward to the spring campaigns. During the attacks on May 14 - 15, 1864, the 58th and 60th Regiments, a part of Reynolds' brigade, Stevenson's division, launched an attack across these fields, and pushed the Federals back. Sherman, however, soon moved a force further to the south, and Johnston was forced to abandon his position and fall back, keeping himself between Sherman and Atlanta.

This photo was taken in May 2008.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: the 6th NCST at Bull Run

Somewhere near this photo, possibly right where I was standing, is the ground that the 6th North Carolina State Troops charged over on July 21, 1861. Bee's brigade had been rushed to the field on the cars, and, according to Capt. Neill Ray after the war, as they neared the field, "we began to meet wounded men--we saw blood--the war was a reality... We were led on, avoiding exposed places so as to keep out of sight of the enemy, until we were brought up in front of what is known as the 'Henry House,' near which a battery was posted... It was but a short time... before these guns were silenced and captured." But in those few minutes Colonel Fisher and many others had been killed. The regiment had received its baptism of blood."

I took this photo in May 2010.

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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: Zeb Vance Birthplace

Zebulon Baird Vance is undoubtedly one of the most important North Carolinians of all time. From Buncombe County, he was educated at UNC (there was only one at the time), was a lawyer, served in the General Assembly, the United State House of Representatives, as colonel of the 26th North Carolina Troops, as governor of North Carolina, and as a United State Senator. Vance was born on Reams Creek, near Weaverville, northeast of the Asheville. The historic site contains reproduction cabins, along with numerous outbuildings, and a visitor center with museum.

I've been to the Vance Birthplace several times. This photograph was taken in August 2012.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: Flag of the 1st NC Cavalry

Flags held a special place of honor among many of the soldiers we study and write about. Many men gave their lives for these banners, and even today, are irreplaceable artifacts connected to the past. The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has the third largest collection of Confederate flags in existence. However, the flag of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, pictured here, is not one of them. This flag, and a small number like it, are held in private collections.

The 1st North Carolina Cavalry was organized on August 12, 1861, in Warren County. The first colonel was Robert Ransom, and the regiment served under the command of JEB Stuart. Actions included the Seven Days, Antietam, Brandy Station, the Wilderness, Reams Station, and Appomattox.

This photograph was taken in April 2011 at the Wilkes County Heritage Museum. The flag is no longer on display.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: the Rowan Artillery at Gettysburg

Back a few years ago, I found a couple of great letters from a member of the Rowan Artillery concerning the battle of Gettysburg. These letters were used in my book, North Carolina Remembers Gettysburg. Longstreet's Corps had no Tar Heel Infantry within it, only three Tar Heel batteries. Once of those batteries was the Rowan Artillery, also known as Company D, 1st North Carolina Artillery. At times, the Rowan Artillery was the far right of the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. This battery supported Hood's attacks on July 2. During the action, one of the guns burst, and was later replaced by a captured Federal gun.

I have visited this site numerous times, and I usually have these letters and read them as I sit here, imagining what took place. This photo was taken in May 2010.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War: Alamance Battleground

Mention Alamance, and many people envision the pre-Revolutionary battle that pitted the Regulators against the militia of the governor (British). That in itself is a fascinating story. But the site also has a connection to our own civil war. In April 1865, as elements of Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee retreated west from Raleigh, the 3rd North Carolina Junior Reserves, under the command of Col. John Hinsdale, camped on the old battlefield.  A recent archeological dig produced artifacts from their brief stay, artifacts that are on display inside the visitor center.

Let me encourage you to visit the Alamance Battleground Historic Site. It is well worth your time.

I took this photo in August 2012.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Two Captains From Carolina"

Bland Simpson Discusses "Two Captains from Carolina" Sept. 13
Two Captains from Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012
Wilson Special Collections Library
5:30 p.m. Lecture | Pleasants Family Assembly Room
Free and open to the public
A former slave turned freight captain and a Confederate blockade runner. Author Bland Simpson brings these historical figures to life in his latest book, Two Captains from Carolina: Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War.
Simpson will discuss and read from his work in a free public program on Thursday, Sept. 13, in the Wilson Special Collections Library.
The 5:30 p.m. program in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room is free and open to the public.
For more information, please see:

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

On the Road this Week

This is probably the busiest week I have on the schedule for this year. I hope you can join me at one of these events.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - Caldwell Public Library - Cemetery Iconography.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - Salisbury Public Library - Rowan Rifles SCV - Civil War Charlotte. 6:30 pm.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - Riverview Inn Fish Camp - Stonewall Jackson Camp SCV - Civil War Charlotte. 6:00 pm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012 - Zebulon Baird Vance Birthplace, Weaverville. - Western NC and the War. All day.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Maplewood Cemetery, Wilson

It seems that all of my posts last week have center around stones. This post will be no different. During the War, a Confederate hospital existed in Wilson, North Carolina. It was known as General Hospital No. 2. After the war was over, 101 men who had died in the hospital and were interred locally were removed to the Maplewood Cemetery. In 1902, the monument above was donated to mark their final resting spot. In 2003, two of North Carolina's Sons of Confederate Veterans Camps erected a plaque with the names of the men (mostly North Carolinians) who were interred at the site.

This image was taken in May 2008.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Gettysburg

Have you been to Gettysburg lately? The town is always packed, and the visitor center crowded. Few places capture our attention like "the 'burg." We could spend a month blogging about nothing but North Carolina at Gettysburg, (and I might at some point). Of course, we could also do that with Antietam, Chancellorsville, or Chickamauga.

For those familiar with the field, this image needs little context. It is the marker for the spot attained by the 26th North Carolina Troops on July 3, 1863.  For those really familiar with the regiment, or the battle, then you know of the debate - about how this monument is in the wrong place, and should be a little further to the right of this photo.

Regardless, the story of the 26th NCT at Gettysburg should be one remembered by every Tar Heel.

This image was taken in May 2010.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

On the road this week

Folks, I'll be on the radio this morning, Thursday, August 2, 2012 (WATA 1450 AM - Boone), talking about books, history, and this weekend's High Country Festival of the Book.

Tomorrow evening, I'll be speaking to the 47th NCT Troops Camp, SCV, in Wake Forest. They meet at Forks Cafeteria. Everyone is welcome!

On Saturday, I'll be speaking on a panel at the High Country Festival of the Book with Rod Gragg, Patrick Schroeder, and Johnnie Pearson. The panel is at 11:30 am.

I hope to see you out and about!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Boone City Cemetery

The War was a seemingly "off-site" event for the residents of the town of Boone. Oh, there were the parades and drills the opening days, and there were those who came back maimed, or a few deserters or escaped prisoners who were housed in the local jail, but that was pretty much the extent of the war for its first few years. That changed on March 28, 1865, when the lead element of a Federal column under George Stoneman rode into town and got into a brawl with local home guard. A few locals were killed and wounded in the fight. Twenty-four hours later, Stoneman was gone. Unfortunately for the people in Boone, the War returned when a brigade of home Yankees rode into Boone and set up camp. They were there to protect Stoneman's line of retreat should he need to fall back through the mountain passes.

We will never know all that took place those weeks that the 2nd and 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (US) occupied the town. We do know that three members of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry took sick while in Boone, died, and were buried, not within the confines of the main cemetery, but in its rear, were local slaves were interred. The Federals'  graves were eventually marked with stones from the VA. Regrettably, those stones have been moved, and now lie near the entrance to the cemetery, weathered and broken. Hopefully, they will be replaced soon with new stones, near the spot were they were once planted.

This image was captured in June 2011.