North Carolina at War . . .Civil War related sites and museums under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources: Somerset Place
Somerset offers a comprehensive and realistic view of nineteenth-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. During its 80 active years (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset was one of the upper South's largest plantations. Three generations of owners, around 50 white employees, two free black employees, and more than 850 enslaved people lived and worked at Somerset. (Washington County)
The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, was the culminating event of the Carolinas Campaign — a climactic final showdown between the armies of William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston, and the largest battle ever fought on North Carolina soil. Bentonville is a National Historic Landmark. (Johnston County)
The largest earthen fort in the Confederacy anchored the Cape Fear River defense system protecting Wilmington. By 1864, Wilmington was the last remaining seaport open to blockade-running, and had become the "Lifeline of the Confederacy." The capture of Fort Fisher in 1865 featured the largest naval bombardment of the war; and the Union assault remained the largest combined land-sea operation in U.S. history until World War II. Fort Fisher is a National Historic Landmark. (New Hanover County)
This large earthen fort helped guard the port of Wilmington, on the western bank of the Cape Fear River defense system. After the fall of Fort Fisher, Fort Anderson was bombarded and seized by Union troops during their march to capture Wilmington. These beautifully preserved coastal defenses were built atop the ruins of colonial Brunswick Town. (Brunswick County)
Ironclad gunboat — one of 22 commissioned by the Confederate navy, and sister ship of the famous CSS Albemarle. The Neuse's remains are on display in Kinston. With nearly 15,000 artifacts preserved, the Neuse collection is one of the largest for a Confederate naval vessel, and provides valuable insight into 19th-century shipbuilding and naval warfare. The Neuse was scuttled on March 12, 1865, when Gen. John Schofield's Union forces reached Kinston.(Lenoir County)
This 1840 Greek Revival structure served as North Carolina's seat of government during the War. During the Union occupation of Raleigh in April 1865, a Federal soldier pilfered the state's original copy of the Bill of Rights from the Capitol building. This document only recently found its way back into North Carolina's custody. The State Capitol is a National Historic Landmark. (Wake County / Raleigh)
North Carolina Museum of History
The Museum of History in Raleigh houses a treasure trove of North Carolina related Civil War artifacts. Through detailed text and images, the museum's online exhibit "North Carolina and the Civil War" tells the full story of the state's experience during the conflict. (Wake County / Raleigh)
Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex
A regional branch of the North Carolina Museum of History. Aside from its indoor Civil War exhibits, this museum in Fayetteville oversees the 4.5-acre site of the 1836 U.S. Arsenal. This facility was seized during the war and used to manufacture arms for the Confederacy. When Gen. William T. Sherman's army reached Fayetteville on March 11, 1865, Union forces destroyed the arsenal. (Cumberland County)
George W. Dixon House
During the Union occupation of New Bern in the Civil War, the early 1830s Dixon House served as a hospital for the 9th Vermont Infantry. The house is Federal with some Greek Revival features, a style popular in New Bern during the early nineteenth century, and is part of the complex at Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens. (Craven County)
John Wright Stanly House
During the Civil War, when Union forces occupied New Bern, the Stanly House briefly served as the first headquarters of Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. Later, the house was used as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy, Catholic nuns who served as nurses in nearby Union hospitals. Built in the early 1780s, the Stanley House — part of the complex at Tryon Palace — is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the South. (Craven County)
New Bern Academy Museum
New Bern Academy was the first school in North Carolina to be established by law in 1766. The current structure was built ca. 1808-09, and served as a school until 1971. During the Civil War, when Union troops occupied New Bern, the Academy building was converted to a military hospital to treat victims of spinal meningitis, smallpox, yellow fever epidemics, and battle casualties. The Academy Museum is part of the complex at Tryon Palace. (Craven County)
As part of 400 years of Outer Banks history, the Battle of Roanoke Island (the first engagement of the Burnside Expedition) and the later Freedmen's Colony (home to 3,500 freed slaves during the war) are interpreted at the Roanoke Adventure Museum at Roanoke Island Festival Park. (Dare County)
Outer Banks History Center
This regional archives and research library, administered by the North Carolina State Archives, features a Civil War collection covering the wartime history of the area, and coastal military operations. Subject areas address historical, cultural, economic, governmental, and scientific topics pertaining to North Carolina and to neighboring states. (Dare County)
Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace
A pioneer farmstead in the Reems Creek Valley was the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance — colonel of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, and the state's wartime governor, 1862-1865. Vance eventaully served three terms as governor, and was also elected to the U.S. Senate. The five-room log house — reconstructed around original chimneys — and its outbuildings are furnished to evoke the period from 1795-1840. Vance's military and political career, and the history of his famous mountain family, is traced at the homestead. (Buncombe County)
The plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families were among the largest in pre-Civil War North Carolina, and among the largest of the entire South. By 1860, the family owned almost 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves. Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres, lay at the center of this enormous estate. When the Civil War ended, defiant former slaves at Stagville and Fairntosh destroyed property and initially resisted contracts for sharecropping. (Durham County)
On April 26, 1865 — following the Carolinas Campaign and the Union occupation of Raleigh — Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Gen. William T. Sherman at the Bennett Place near Durham Station. It was the largest troop surrender of the war, affecting Confederate forces in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. (Durham County)
Other Civil War Related Sites . . .Monroe's Crossroads Battlefield
Cavalry clash on March 10, 1865, between Union troopers under Gen. H. Judson Kilpatrick and Confederates under Gen. Wade Hampton. This was the first organized attack on Sherman's forces in North Carolina. The site is located near the drop zones on the Fort Bragg military reservation. NOT ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC.
The battle of Averasboro was fought March 16, 1865, between Sherman's Left Wing and Confederate troops under Gen. William J. Hardee. This crucial delaying action bought time as Gen. Jospeh E. Johnston gathered Confederate forces for a more substantial attempt to slow Sherman's march through North Carolina (resulting in the Battle of Bentonville).
Wyse Fork Battlefield
The Battle of Wyse Fork was fought March 8-10, 1865, as Gen. John Schofield's Union forces marched inland toward Goldsboro (and a junction with Sherman's army). Gen. Jacob D. Cox's Federals clashed near Southwest Creek with Gen. Robert F. Hoke's Confederate division and elements of the Army of Tennessee (nominally under command of Gen. Braxton Bragg).
Fort Macon State Park
This brick and stone fort, first garrisoned in 1834, was part of the United States costal defense system, guarding the deep-water port of Beaufort. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Fort Macon was seized by Confederate troops. During Gen. Ambrose Burnside's invasion of North Carolina, Fort Macon was recaptured by Union forces after a siege and bombardment in March-April 1862. During the rest of the war, the fort served as a coaling station for the Federal fleet at Beaufort.
This earthen fort was located on a bluff at Rainbow Banks (near Hamilton). It held a commanding position, 70 feet above the Roanoke River, and helped guard against Union expeditions inland toward the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad (the "Lifeline of the Confederacy"). The fort also offered protection during construction of the ironclad warship CSS Albemarle (built above Hamilton). The Albemarle played an important role in Confederate operations against the Union occupation of eastern North Carolina.
Cape Fear Museum
This museum in Wilmington collects, preserves and interprets objects relating to the history of the Lower Cape Fear region — including its rich Civil War history. The exhibit "Waves & Currents" features a waterfront model of Civil War Wilmington. By 1864, Wilmington was the last major Confederate seaport open to blockade-running trade — the hub of the "Lifeline of the Confederacy."
Salisbury National Cemetery
A monument to Union soldiers at this cemetery in Salisbury bears the following inscription: "In 18 trenches, just south of this spot, rest the bodies of 11,700 soldiers of the United States Army, who perished during the years 1864 and 1865 while held by the Confederate Military authorities as prisoners of war in a stockade near this place." The abandoned Salisbury Prison was burned on April 12, 1865, during Stoneman's Raid through western North Carolina. The garrison house is the only surviving structure from the original facility. Salisbury National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
New Bern National Cemetery
Officially established on February 1, 1867. Many of the burials at New Bern are reinterments of Union soldiers remains from the surrounding area, including Beaufort, Hatteras and locations along the coast. Over 1,000 unknowns are buried in a separate section. New Bern National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Raleigh National Cemetery
This cemetery in Raleigh, located in a relatively isolated area of the capital city, contains a large Georgian Revival lodge and is defined by a masonry enclosure wall. The remains of several Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Bentonville are buried here. Raleigh National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Wilmington National Cemetery
In 1867, land was purchased from a local Wilmington resident for the construction of a national cemetery. Most of the original interments were remains removed from the Wilmington City Cemetery, Fort Fisher, Fort Johnson and the surrounding area. An inspection dated May 13, 1870, reports 2,039 interments, including 698 known and 1,341 unknown graves marked by headboards. A number of Union soldiers killed at Fort Fisher are buried here. Wilmington National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Historic Oakwood Cemetery
Founded in 1869, this scenic cemetery in Raleigh's Oakwood National Historic District is the final resting place of nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers. In 1871, 103 soldiers were re-interred here from the battlefield at Gettysburg. In 1883, the remains of 107 Confederates were relocated here from Arlington Cemetery near Washington, D.C. Notable Civil War related burials at Oakwood include Gen. Robert F. Hoke, Gen. William R. Cox, Gen. George Anderson, Capt. James Maglenn (officer on the blockade-runner Ad-Vance), Col. H. W. Burgwyn, and Col. Henry K. Burgwyn (among others). Carle A. Woodruff, a former Union artillery officer and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is also buried here.
This beautiful cemetery in Wilmington was chartered in 1852. Notable Civil War related burials here include Maj. Gen. William H. C. Whiting (senior Confederate officer at Fort Fisher), the famous Confederate spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Capt. John Newland Maffitt (Confederate naval officer and blockader-runner), George Davis (Confederate senator and cabinet secretary), Gen. William MacRae, and victims of Wilmington's yellow fever epidemic of 1862. A large monument marks the ground where 367 unknown Confederates who died in the battles at Fort Fisher, and elsewhere, lie buried.