Monday, March 26, 2012

Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit To Be Hosted by Libraries in Waynesville and Greenville during April

RALEIGH – The Civil War savaged lives yet secured the future of generations in North Carolina and the rest of the nation, and altered the course of American history. The injustices faced by African Americans were some of the most significant factors leading to the American Civil War (1861-1865). The fight for liberation is just one of many moving features of theFreedom, Sacrifice, Memory: Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit (, which will visit the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville and the Sheppard Memorial Library in Greenville April 1-28.

“The Civil War was the first war widely covered with photography,” explains Deputy Secretary Dr. Jeffrey Crow of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. “TheFreedom, Sacrifice, Memory exhibit provides images of historic figures, artifacts, and documents that brought the reality of the war from the battlefront to the home front, then and now.”

The exhibit will commemorate the bravery and resiliency of North Carolinians throughout the Civil War with stimulating images gathered from the State Archives (, the N.C. Museum of History (, and State Historic Sites( A total of 24 images will be displayed by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources ( in 50 libraries throughout the state from April 2011 through May 2013. A notebook will accompany the exhibit with further information and also seeking viewer comments.

The collection depicts many different aspects of the war and includes images of artifacts and official documents. One picture shows the Cherokee Members of Thomas’s Legion, a unit recruited by William Holland Thomas, who had been adopted by the tribe and was a tribal leader. He led an almost entirely Cherokee unit from the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee into battle for the Confederacy.

The statewide tour will visit various regions presenting the importance of North Carolinians in the Civil War and educating viewers of each area’s participation and commitment during this tumultuous time.

For information on the exhibit call the Haywood County Library at (828) 452-5169 or the Sheppard Library at (252) 329-4580. For tour information, contact the Department of Cultural Resources at (919) 807-7389.

About the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historical sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Civil War Comes to Carteret County

BEAUFORT - Cannons and cavalry, music and living history - Step back to 1862 as the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort offers a free Civil War Sesquicentennial "Living History Weekend" on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25.
Held in partnership with the Beaufort Historical Association, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Fort Macon State Park, events will be offered on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"The year 2012 commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Union invasion and occupation of Beaufort," said Museum event coordinator Lori Duppstadt. "The weekend of events will bring history alive for visitors of all ages."
Throughout downtown Beaufort, re-enactors will create vignettes of drills, encampments, and life in a Union-occupied town. Visitors will also be able to watch cannon demonstrations, and take interpretive tours historic homes and the Old Burying Ground.
To show the widespread impact of the occupation, additional Civil War sites throughout Carteret County will hold programs. Take a tour of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, watch a rare night-time cannon firing at Fort Macon State Park, and enjoy Civil War-era music at The History Place.
--Cannon demonstrations - Grayden Paul Park, 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m.
--Infantry demonstrations - Beaufort Historic Site, 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
--Children's games, dress-up and crafts - Maritime Museum, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
--Civil War Lighthouse Tours - Cape Lookout National Seashore, 10 a.m.-noon, 1-3 p.m.
--Historic house tours - Beaufort Historic Site, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
--Civil War bus tours - Beaufort Historic Site, 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.
--"Life in Beaufort during the Civil War" exhibit - Beaufort Historic Site, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
--Navy demonstrations - Maritime Museum's Watercraft Center, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
--"Watched by Sound and Sea: Occupied Beaufort, 1862" exhibit - Maritime Museum, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
--Night-time cannon firing - Fort Macon State Park, 7:30 p.m.
--Old Burying Ground tours - Beaufort Historic Site, 1-3 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
--Civil War Lighthouse Tours - Cape Lookout National Seashore, 10 a.m.-noon, 1-3 p.m.
--Performance by "The Carteret Grays," Civil War-era music - The History Place, 2 p.m.
For more information, visit online or call (252)728-7317. The Museum is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

News and notes

Friends, I've not done this in forever, but here is a look around at different news stories concerning the War in North Carolina.

The Charlotte Observer reports this morning that the SCV in Monroe is one step closer to erecting a monument to black Confederate soldiers from the area. Check it out here.

Raleigh's News and Observer has a good article about battlefield wounds and loss of limbs during the war. Check it out here.

Lots of news out there about the recent commemoration of the March 1862 battle of New Bern. Check it out here, here, and here.

Exploration at the Salisbury Confederate prison site continues. Check out this story here.

Eastern Carolina University has a display on the war at the Joyner Library. Get more information here.

Information on the slave narratives and the town of Cary can be found here.

And finally, a great story about the re-interment of two members of the 26th North Carolina Troops in Raleigh. Check out the story here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

RALEIGH - Another wave of volunteers will descend on battlefields in North Carolina and across the nation. However, unlike the Civil War volunteers of 150 years ago, these participants will be armed with paint brushes, trash bags and weed whackers.
On Saturday, March 31, volunteers from across the nation at more than 100 sites in 25 states are coming together to participate in the nationwide "Park Day" to help clean and restore America's priceless battlefields.
In North Carolina, there will be four North Carolina State Historic Sites and one State History Museum participating. They include:
Fort Fisher, 1610 Fort Fisher Blvd. South, Kure Beach, NC, 28449; or (910) 458-5538
Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson, 8884 St. Phillips Road, Southeast, Winnabow, NC, 28479; or (910) 371-6613
Bennett Place, 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham, NC 27705; or (919) 383-4345
Vance Birthplace, 911 Reems Creek Road, Weaverville, NC 28787; or (828) 645-6707
N.C. Maritime Museum-Southport, 204 East Moore St., Southport, NC 28461; or (910) 457-0003
In exchange for the hard work, volunteers will receive t-shirts and learn of the site's history from local experts. To volunteer, directly contact one of the sites.
For general information call (919) 807-7389. The Division of State Historic Sites and the Division of State History Museums are agencies of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On the road

Friends, I'll be at the Bristol Motor Speedway this afternoon and evening, signing books, with New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb. Drop by and see us if you get a chance.

Tomorrow evening, I'll be speaking to the North Carolina Civil War Round Table in Burlington, NC. They meet at the K&W Cafeteria at 6:00 pm.

Next week, on March 22, I'll be speaking to the Cabarrus Rangers SCV Camp in Midlands (Cabarrus County), North Carolina.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


(Bentonville, N.C.) – The North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund on Feb. 27 approved a $355,000 grant to acquire 120 acres that will become part of Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest battlefield preservation organization, will be matching the state grant dollar-for-dollar using funds from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program, effectively allowing the state to acquire the land for half its total cost. With the completion of this project, the Trust and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources will have partnered in the preservation of a total of 1,435 acres at Bentonville.

“The remarkable work done to permanently protect the Bentonville Battlefield is among the great success stories of this organization,” said Trust President James Lighthizer. “We are honored to continue such a fruitful long-term partnership with the state of North Carolina and look forward to many more opportunities for mutual achievement in the months and years to come.”

Lighthizer emphasized that the availability of federal battlefield preservation matching grant funding made this project an outstanding investment for the state, essentially allowing the popular state historic site to grow significantly, while funding only half the fair-market value for that land.

“Our Bentonville Battlefield is a rare jewel because, unlike many Civil War battlefields, the landscape includes miles of original trenches in a largely undeveloped, agricultural area. We are grateful that the Civil War Trust recognizes and supports our efforts,” said North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda Carlisle. “We are preserving history and open space, while simultaneously enhancing economic activity in the area with tens of thousands of visitors and an economic impact of nearly $7 million for Johnston County annually.”

Each of the nine properties covered by the grant is adjacent to previously preserved properties, allowing this project to augment and enhance the preservation legacy at Bentonville. With the assistance of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund, in particular, the Civil War Trust has been able to acquire historically significant battlefield land associated with the First, Second and Third Days of the battle. Today, a total of 1,435 acres have been permanently protected at Bentonville, much of it through partnerships between the Civil War Trust, Bentonville Battleground Historical Association, the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

With its proximity to Interstates 95 and 40, Bentonville has long been eyed by preservationists as a site potentially vulnerable to development. Today, Johnston and Wayne counties continue to experience long-term development pressure that is threatening the remaining rural landscape in the vicinity of Bentonville. This project will preserve open green space as well as the remnants of a battlefield that, in the words of the federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, had “a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war.” This combination of historic significance and pending threat, earned Bentonville a Priority I, Class A ranking in that congressionally-authorized report, the highest possible designation.

The Battle of Bentonville, fought in Johnson County in March 19–21, 1865, is often referred to as the Confederate army’s “last stand in the Carolinas.” This defeat, coupled with the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia a few weeks later, prompted Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to surrender his command on April 26. Fighting raged over more than 6,000 acres during the largest engagement to take place in the Tar Heel State and 4,500 men fell as casualties.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 32,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 1,1919 acres in North Carolina. Please visit the Trust’s website at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

Bentonville Battlefield Offers Rare After Dark Hospital Tour

FOUR OAKS - On Saturday, March 17, visitors to the Bentonville Battlefield "War So Terrible" Civil War medical program will have a rare after dark tour of the hospital with re-enactors for a $5 fee. Tickets are limited and will be available the day of the program. Parental discretion is advised.

During the evening living history program, the Harper House will be transformed to look as it did the first night of the Battle of Bentonville on March 19, 1865. Tour guides will lead civilians on a historical journey by candlelight on a search for loved ones injured in battle. Visitors will witness re-enactors as surgeons and medical personnel performing amputations and providing other medical care, and also see wounded soldiers awaiting treatment.
The evening tours are part of Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site's Civil War March 17-18 medical program that compares Civil War medical care to 21st century care. A surgical company from the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps and medical units from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army will demonstrate current techniques used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The day time activities on March 17-18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., include musket and artillery demonstrations, and are free. Concessions will be available from the Bentonville Fire Department.

On March 17 at 1:30 p.m., research historian Ansley Wegner will give a presentation on her book, "Phantom Pain," about the hardships endured by Civil War amputees and North Carolina's artificial limb program for veterans, the first in the South.

The Battle of Bentonville was fought March 19-21, 1865, and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. During the three day seize, 80,000 combatants fought across 6,000 acres. Approximately 4,200 casualties resulted.

In addition to the battlefield, the home of John and Amy Harper was converted into a field hospital by the Union Army. The home stands today and is furnished as a Civil War field hospital. The site also includes a reconstructed kitchen and slave quarters.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"this company is the worst Co. to swear and gamble..."

Lately, I've been slowly reading through Rable's God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War. I came across an interesting passage the other day. Rable writes on page 90: "During the first two years of the war, soldier attendance at often infrequent religious services remained shockingly low." As many of you know, I've studied two regiments in details (and read about others). The war was already over a year old when the 58th North Carolina Troops was mustered into service (July 29, 1862). They went the next year without a chaplain. In late 1862, while stationed at Cumberland Gap, William Horton (Company I) wrote to his sister that “this company is the worst Co to swear and gambel you ever seen in your life. They play Cards day and night…” Interestingly enough, their chaplain, John W. Rabey, was listed as a deserter of the 26th North Carolina Troops when he was appointed chaplain of the 58th North Carolina Troops.

In stark contrast to the 58th NCT, and to Rable's statement, is the 37th North Carolina Troops. Albert L. Stough was a Baptist minister and was appointed on November 20, 1861, the same day the regiment was organized. Stough was "zealously engaged in the cause, [and] his labors were greatly blessed." Stough reported in the Biblical Reporter in February 1862 that the "religious interest in the 37th regiment was " very strong and attentive."  Stough asked for more "religious reading matter…  " and praised the work being made to circulate "Bibles among…" the soldiers.  “ The enterprise is glorious in its orgins…" he wrote, and thought that "the interest of our country, the happiness of our families, the preservation of pure religion, requires alike our exertions in supplying the destitute with the Gospel of the Son of God."  He closed his letter with "Pray for us.  Pray for our unfortunate nation, that we may have a speedy and honorable peace."

The interest regarding religion in the 37th North Carolina Troops went unabated through much of the war, while the lack of interest maintained itself in the 58th North Carolina Troops.  This leads to a few questions that I can’t answer right now: Did this level of interest have something to do with when the regiments were formed? The 37th North Carolina was formed of men in the second wave of enlistment in late 1861, and the 58th North Carolina was largely made up of men forced to voluntarily enlist because of conscription in 1862. Did it have something to do with place? Probably not - since sixty percent of the 37th North Carolina came from the same counties as the 58th North Carolina. Did it have something to do with class? That would be hard to answer. Was the Army of Northern Virginia more religious than the Army of Tennessee?  Well, that's a good question. I look forward to working out these questions as I work on more regimental histories. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

"From Slavery to Freedom in the North Carolina Piedmont"

Johnson C. Smith University is excited to host a one-day conference titled "From Slavery to Freedom in the North Carolina Piedmont." The conference will take place on Friday, March 30, 2012 on the JSCU campus in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina.

The conference will showcase discussions of both slavery and freedom in North Carolina before and after the Civil War by scholars, students, archivists, as well as local historians. 

Between panels, Dr. John David Smith will give the keynote address at the luncheon. John David Smith is the Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the author of several important works in Southern history including An Old Creed for the New South: Proslavery Ideology and Historiography,
1865-1918 (2008) and the forthcoming Seeing the New South: Race and Place in the Photographs of Ulrich B. Phillips. 

The conference is free and open to the public. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided; RSVPs are required. 

Please RSVP to Dr. Brian Madison Jones at or call 704-378-1165. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Update: Civil War Charlotte

Folks - sorry for the lack of posts this month. If you've followed along for any length of time, you've noticed that when I get close to the end of a project, I get really focused. I am happy to report that I've finished writing Civil War Charlotte, and I'm a little over half way through my first read-through. So far so good-- the book goes where no historian has been before. More details will follow soon, and I'll be back to posting regularly soon....

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Libraries in Kinston, Marion Honor “Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory” with Statewide Civil War Photography Exhibits March 2-29

RALEIGH – Since the beginning of the Civil War (1861-1865) 150 years have passed, but its widespread impact and defining characteristics remain vivid. These can especially be seen and the state’s war experience is illustrated in theFreedom, Sacrifice, Memory: Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit ( The exhibit will be hosted simultaneously by the Neuse Regional Library in Kinston and the McDowell County Public Library in Marion from March 2-29, honoring North Carolinians in the Civil War with a variety of images.

“The Civil War was the first war widely covered with photography,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Crow, Deputy Secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. “TheFreedom, Sacrifice, Memory exhibit provides images of historic figures, artifacts, and documents that brought the reality of the war from the battlefront to the home front, then and now.”

The exhibit will travel the state from April 2011 through May 2013, visiting 50 libraries and four museums with its showcase of 24 images. The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources ( commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with images gathered from the State Archives (, the N.C. Museum of History ( and State Historic Sites ( A notebook will accompany the exhibit with further information and seeking viewer comments.

Among the various pictures is an image of a mourning ring crafted by a North Carolina Confederate soldier and made out of a type of easily carved rubber called guttapercha, containing mother of pearl and gold inlay. Mourning rings were used to buy various items in prison like socks and were also fashionably worn by Southern women as a symbol for loved ones fighting or fallen in the war.

For more information on the exhibit, call the Neuse Regional Library at (252) 527-7066 or the McDowell County Public Library at (828) 652-3858. Contact the Department of Cultural Resources at (919) 807-7389 for tour information.