Monday, July 30, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Delap Family Cemetery

620,000+... We killed 620,000+ of each other during the War. They died on battlefields, of wounds, and of disease. The last cause felled the most men. The 58th North Carolina Troops spent the winter of 1862-1863 guarding mountain passes in east Tennessee. Something made them sick. It could have been the common camp complaints, like measles. Or, something could have been in the water. Whatever the cause, scores of men from the regiment died that winter. These men were taken to a family cemetery, the Delap family Cemetery near Jacksboro, Tennessee.

Over time, the final resting place of these Confederates was forgotten to all but a few. In 2004, a friend of mine walked into the Campbell County  Historical Museum, looking for the graves. She just happened to walk in on a day when the volunteer on duty was someone who knew of the cemetery. To make a long story short, the cemetery was found and cleaned, and gravestones were installed. I had the honor to speak at the dedication service a few years ago. You can see a list of names by visiting this link:

I visit the Delap Cemetery from time to time. This photo was taken in June 2007.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Burke County Courthouse

There are not many war-time courthouses in North Carolina. Most of the county seats of government have been replaced a time or two since the war ended. One of the few remaining structures is found in Morganton, Burke County.

Burke County's courthouse was built in the 1830s. From 1847 to 1861, the North Carolina Supreme Court used the building to hold summer sessions, escaping the heat in Raleigh. According to local legend, some of Stoneman's troops rode  their horses through the building in April 1865. The building survived the war and serves as a museum today.

This photo was taken in July 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - the flag of the 37th NCT

You've probably figured this out by now, but just in case you have not, I have a special interest in a few of North Carolina's regiments. One of those, the subject of my first book, is the 37th North Carolina Troops. This regiment was mustered into service in November 1861, and became members of the Branch-Lane brigade, Light Division, Army of Northern Virginia. The 37th NCT lost more men during the war than any other Tar Heel regiment.

This flag was issued to the regiment prior to the battle of Fredericksburg in late 1862, and was captured on April 2, 1865, below Petersburg, Virginia.

For over two decades now, I've been following the flag of the 37th NCT around. When I was a child, this flag was one of eight that hung over the sarcophagus of Robert E. Lee in Lee Chapel in Lexington, Virginia. My next encounter came in the late 1990s as I researched for the book on the 37th NCT. The flag was at Pamplin Park, at their Breakthrough Museum, not far from where it was captured. Next came a special treat at the North Carolina Museum of History in May 2008. I got to speak about the regiment, and then unveiled the flag to a packed house. Now, the flag, pictured here, is at the new Appomattox branch of the Museum of the Confederacy.

This photo was taken in May 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Hastings House

In February 1865, Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard left their headquarters in Charlotte and moved via-rail towards Smithville. They planned to confront a portion of William T. Sherman's army.  The William Hastings House, built ca. 1854, is located in Smithfield, Johnston County. This house, although not on its original site, served as their headquarters prior to the battle of Bentonville.

I took this photograph of the Hasting House in March 2008.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On the road this week

Folks, I'll be hitting the trail again this week. I'll be speaking to the JEB Stuart  SCV Camp this evening in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. They meet at 7:00 pm at the Sagebrush Steakhouse (6:00 pm for dinner). Everyone is welcome.

On Thursday, July 26, I'll be speaking on Civil War Charlotte at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. Time is 1:00 pm.

On Saturday, July 28, I'll be at the Yancey County Genealogy Research Get Together at the Yancey County Public Library in Burnsville. The event runs from 12:00 until 5:00 pm.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - the Sunken Road

When it comes to War-time history, there are some places that are iconic: Ft. Sumter, the High Water Marker at Gettysburg, and the Cedar Grove at Murfreesboro are just a few. Among that list is the Sunken Road at Sharpsburg.

The Army of Northern Virginia had advanced north, into Maryland. Since the Federals were pressing his army, Lee sought to concentrate his men at the village of Sharpsburg, near Antietam Creek. The Federals attacked Lee’s left first but were never able to completely overpower the Confederates. Next they tried the center, with elements of Daniel Hill’s division positioned in a sunken farm road. Part of the position was occupied by George Anderson’s brigade, made up of the 2nd, 4th, 14th and 30th North Carolina Regiments. These regiments were eventually pushed out of their position, now known as the Bloody Lane, but not before stalling several Federal attacks. Anderson’s brigade lost 327 killed and wounded.

Taken in May 2010, this photograph shows the position of the 14th North Carolina State Troops in the Sunken Road.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Camden Library and Cleveland County Library To Display Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit in August

RALEIGH – Determination, commitment and pride are among many characteristics of North Carolinians depicted in the“Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory: Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit” ( The exhibit commemorates North Carolina’s role in the Civil War (1861-1865). It will visit the Pasquotank-Camden Library in Elizabeth City and the Cleveland County Library in Shelby on simultaneous routes in August.
At the Pasquotank-Camden Library the traveling exhibit is on display Aug. 5-29. A “Tea Social” on Aug. 5 at 2:30 p.m. will launch the exhibit opening and also a reading series, “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War.” Visitors can meet North Carolina Humanities Scholar Dr. Hillary Green, browse the exhibit and meet re-enactors Frank Parrish and Mark Maland, who will portray Generals Lee and Grant, respectively, in a dramatic reading narrated by Tom Cherry.
In Cleveland County the statewide commemorative exhibit is open Aug. 1-29.
“The Civil War was the first war widely covered with photography,” explains Deputy Secretary Dr. Jeffrey Crow of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. “The ‘Freedom, 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.”
Images gathered from the State Archives (, the N.C. Museum of History (, and State Historic Sites ( will illustrate valiant members of the Confederacy, African Americans fighting for freedom, and daring women dedicated to the South. A total of 24 images will be exhibited by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources ( in 50 libraries and four museums throughout the state from April 2011 to May 2013. A notebook will accompany the exhibit with further information and seeking viewer comments.
Amidst the photos will be a picture portraying the battle at Fort Fisher, “Parapet Position,” which shows a re-enactment of Union soldiers advancing over the fort parapets in the march to cut off the supply lines to the Confederate Army before capturing Wilmington; and an image of a “Mourning Ring,” a popular adornment worn by Southern women to show support for loved ones fighting in the war.
For information on the exhibit call the libraries at 252-335-2473 (Elizabeth City) or 704-487-9069 (Shelby). For information on the tour or call (919) 807-7389.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Cross Creek Cemetery

Fayetteville has a rich War-time history. One familiar story regards  the US Armory which the Confederates appropriated and used to manufacture weapons. Fayetteville was visited by Sherman in 1865, who destroyed the army building. Fayetteville is also the site of North Carolina's first Confederate monument.

Sherman’s forces were barely out of Fayetteville when a group of ladies, led by Ann Kyle, the wife of a Confederate captain, obtained from the mayor a plot of land in Cross Creek Cemetery. Kyle raised the money to purchase coffins and have graves dug. Soon thereafter, the remains of thirty Confederate soldiers who had died in various places around town were reinterred in the new Confederate section. After coordinating the movement of Confederate soldiers in Fayetteville, the ladies determined to raise a monument. They pieced together a quilt and began to sell raffle tickets not only in Fayetteville but also in Chapel Hill, Tarboro, and Wilmington. Their goal was to raise $1,000. In a war-ravaged economy, they only managed to raise one-third of that sum. Martha Lewis won the quilt in May 1868 and then sent the prize to former Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The ladies next employed a local stonemason to construct and install the monument. On December 30, 1868, the monument to the Confederate dead at Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville, the first in North Carolina, was dedicated. This was the fifth Confederate monument raised in the South following the end of the war.

I've visited Fayetteville on several occasions. This photo was taken in October 2009.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - 60th North Carolina Monument

There were five North Carolina regiments at the Battle of Chickamauga, which was fought September 18-20, 1863, in north Georgia. Each of these regiments, four infantry and one cavalry, were assigned to different brigades and fought in different parts of the battle.

Bragg’s plan for September 20 was for the right of the Confederate line to attack at “day-dawn,” while the divisions to the left engaged once their neighbors made contact. Breckinridge’s division launched the first attack and quickly landed in the rear of the Federal lines. The 60th North Carolina was in the center of the attack that pushed the Federals back. A call for reinforcements went out to follow up the successful attack, a call that went unheeded. Federal reinforcements soon arrived, and the Confederates, so close to cutting off the Federal line of retreat, were pushed back. Of the 150 men taken into the attack by the 60th Regiment, 8 were killed, 36 were wounded, and 16 were reported missing.

Many decades after the War, North Carolina appointed a group of commissioners to go to Chickamauga and mark the places the regiments had fought. Three of those regiments-- the 39th, 58th, and 60th--eventually received monuments. . On November 10, 1905, Gov. Robert Glenn gathered with “a small party of North Carolinians” to dedicated the Tar Heel markers. The marker to the 60th was dedicated first, followed by the marker to the 58th NCT.

This photo was taken in April 2011.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Slash Church

Hanover County, Virginia, is packed with history: from Native Americans and European explorers, to Revolutionary War history. Much concerning the Civil War also took place in the area. On May 26, 1862, Brigadier General Lawrence O'Bryan Branch made his headquarters here, at Slash Church. His staff officers slept in the pews that night, as the men who formed his North Carolina brigade slept in the rain outside the building. The next day, portions of Branch's forces pitched into the Federals of Fitz John Porter's Fifth Corps to the east. The day would result in a Confederate loss.

Branch did not survive the war; he was killed at the battle of Sharpsburg in September of that year. Slash Church did survive the War, and a later fire. The building, or most of it, was constructed in 1729, and it is the oldest such structure in Virginia.

I have been to Slash Church on several occasions, even attending worship there when I was working on my book on the battle of Hanover Court House. This photograph dates from May 2010.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On the Road

Two events coming up in the next week.

On Sunday, July 15, I'll be speaking and singing at Park Road Books in Charlotte at 2:00 pm. Subject: Civil War Charlotte: Last Capital of the Confederacy.

On Tuesday, July 17, at 4:00, I'll be leading a workshop on researching your Civil War ancestor at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone. Everyone is invited!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Blanford Church Cemetery

Among North Carolina's soldiers, the War produced some 36,000 to 40,000 dead. Some of these men were killed on a battlefield, while others died of wounds they received. The majority died of disease. The Blanford Church Cemetery, in Petersburg, Virginia, is proclaimed as the largest Confederate Cemetery. And the vast majority of the 30,000 plus dead, died during the war. There were others that were brought in and reinterred after the war was over.

When possible, soldiers were buried in plots divided up into sections by states. This marker denotes the location of the North Carolina section.

This photograph was taken in March 2007.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Allison-Deaver House

Located in Brevard, in Transylvania County, the Allison-Deaver house has a good bit of sad, War-time history associated with it. Considered the oldest standing frame house in western North Carolina, portions of it were built in 1815. According to the story, a group of bushwhackers attacked the house, looking for Capt. James Deaver. Instead of finding him,  they found his father, William Deaver, whom was shot and mortally wounded on the front porch. The house is open for tours May through October.

This photograph was taken in October 2008.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Cumberland Gap

When it comes to history, more people would associate Cumberland Gap with Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road than with the Civil War. While the famed explorer certainly passed through the Gap on more than one occasion, the area also has very strong connections with Civil War history. Both sides built defenses on the top of Cumberland Mountain. And, not once during the war did these fortifications actually fall to a attack of the enemy. No, usually the enemy simply used another pass, and surrounded the Mountain and the Gap, simply waiting for those on the Mountain to get hungry and surrender.

There were several North Carolina regiments stationed at Cumberland Gap, or the surrounding area, from 1861 until 1863. The 29th NCT was there, and it was the 58th NCT that was left behind to garrison the area in September 1862. In September 1863, a large portion of the 64th NCT was captured at the Gap, with the resulting stay at Northern prisons resulting in numerous deaths.

Cumberland Gap is a place I visit regularly, as it is on the way between my house and the home of my in-laws. This photo of Fort McCook was taken in June 2008.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Oxford Confederate monument

There are more than 150 Monuments to North Carolina's Confederate soldiers. The Granville County monument was dedicated on October 20, 1909, with North Carolina governor William W. Kitchin speaking. The monument was raised by the Granville Grays Chapter of the United daughters of the Confederacy. One witness to the day of dedication wrote that "the line of march [by the old soldiers] was flanked by thousands of beautiful women and handsome men, and as many of God's sweetest smile - numberless happy-faced children. None were more attractive, none presented a finer appearance than the several hundred orphans under the guardianship of the Masons of North Carolina." The monument originally sat in the middle of the street but was later relocated in front of the library.

This photograph was taken in June 2012.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Looking for NC's Civil War - Battery Buchanan

Way out on Federal Point, where US 421 ends, stands an earthen mound. It does not look like much today, but during the War, it was an impressive fortification that mounted four heavy guns. Battery Buchanan, the works further to the north at Fort Fisher, was constructed to protect the port at Wilmington, along the Cape Fear River.

Battery Buchanan was constructed in 1864. On January 15, 1865, as the Federals attacked Fort Fisher, the Fort's wounded commanders, Gen. W. H. C. Whiting and Col. William Lamb, were taken via stretcher to Battery Buchanan with hopes of being loaded on boats and making their escape. They found no boats and were forced to surrender as the Federal troops closed in.

I have visited Battery Buchanan on several occasions. This photo was taken in June 2012.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Looking for North Carolina's Civil War

You have probably already figured this out, but just in case you haven't: I travel. A lot. Some trips are to do research, and others to talk and sell books, while a few trips are just for fun. And, I take pictures. Thousands of them. With all of these trips and photos, you would have thought it would not have taken me as long to come up with a way to use them. So, I'm going to start a new series here on the old blog. It is going to be called "Looking for North Carolina's Civil War." Over the next few months and years, I hope to share with you some of the places that I have gone and how they are connected to the War. These places might be forts, battlefields, historic houses, or old cemeteries. Most of the stories will be short. I hope you enjoy. And, if you have any places you think I should visit, please drop me a line and let's chat.

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Patriotic Past

Reid Mitchell, in his book Civil War Soldiers, once observed that "the Civil War soldier proved curiously filled with echoes of the American Revolution. The patriotic past and the Biblical past were the two great historical memories by which Americans measured their present."

There is probably no place in North Carolina (and few in the South) where Reid's words rang more true than in Charlotte.  For many years prior to the War, local citizens gathered each May 20 to celebrate the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. While scholars today debate the Meck Dec's actually existence, in the 1850s and 1860s, local citizens congregated yearly to remember what their grandfathers (and probably a few fathers) had done to defy the British.

In reference to Mitchell's statement, I thought we might look at a few examples of Charlotte citizens' use of their "patriotic past."  There are probably many, many more than just these few.

At Morrow's Turn Out, in December 1860, Jas. Ardrey, speaking to the crowd while the committee met, appealed "to the sons of Mecklenburg to know if they had degenerated since the days of '76." (Western Democrat 18 December 1860)

At a meeting approving the candidates for the proposed convention in February 1861, part of the resolution read "That the spirit which animated the patriots of 1775, in Mecklenburg, survives to us as our birth right, and shall be exerted now with the same determination to maintain and defend our rights." (Western Democrat  26 February 1861)

In April 1861, the ladies of Charlotte presented a flag to the Hornet's Nest Riflemen, right before the company left for Fort Caswell. In their presentation speech, the ladies reminded the men that "You are honored as being among the first called by our Governor to maintain the honor of the State and defend those rights maintained by our forefathers on the 20th of May, 1775." (Western Democrat April 23, 1861)

In September 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was in town, speaking for 15 to 20 minutes in the rain at the railroad depot.  Trying to rally the support of the people, Davis said "that he was happy to meet the old people of Mecklenburg, whose ancestors were known in history as the foremost and staunchest friends of freedom; that no matter who made the first written declaration of independence, it was certain that the people of this section were the first to defy British authorities and declare themselves free; that the present struggle for liberty from yankee tyranny proved that the spirit of the sires of '75 and '76 still actuated their descendants." (Western Democrat 27 September 1864)

So just a few quotations. I wonder how other Tar Heel towns felt? Maybe some more newspaper digging is in  the future. It would be equally interesting to compare Charlotte, with say, Philadelphia...