Burning bacon or a bridge, firing on a church or scribbling in a courthouse, moving toward or away from troop supplies, all are tales told on North Carolina’s most recently erected Civil War Trails markers (www.civilwartrails.org).
The 12 newest markers are among nearly 200 in the state, and part of a network including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. The signs, adorned with a red bugle under blue Civil War Trails lettering, can lead history buffs on a motor tour across the state and region. The latest additions are in Alamance, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Duplin and Gates counties, and contribute to the observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War (www.nccivilwar150.com).
Before going off to war, members of the Gates County militia signed their names on a second-floor wall of the courthouse in Gatesville. The signatures are still visible today.
In March 1863, Union forces burned the Confederate armory at Kenansville, emptied a safe of Confederate money and, more importantly, destroyed two miles of track of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, cutting supply lines to Confederate forces in Virginia. The Federal troops destroyed other supplies and burned a barn containing hundreds of pounds of bacon, leaving an aroma for days.
The congregation of Freedom’s Hill Wesleyan Methodist Church was among the most outspoken of southern abolitionist groups. Active with the Underground Railroad, the church stated that no Christian could hold slaves. Proslavery mobs attacked the congregation, and small arms were fired at the Alamance County church. Vigilantes lynched congregant Micajah McPherson, who survived after his assailants were scared off. Members of the Quaker community also were subjected to physical and psychological violence but never were attacked directly by their neighbors.
Several of the new markers denote incidents from the Carolinas Campaign, which started Feb. 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, Ga., after the March to the Sea. In March 1865, Confederate forces burned a bridge and slowed the Union advance as Fayetteville was evacuated. At Averasboro, Confederates delayed the Union advance before falling back to their third line of defense.
Many stories of sacrifice and heroism are remembered on the Civil War Trails markers. Information and observances of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War also will be organized by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.