‘Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory’: Civil War Sesquicentennial Events in North Carolina

The American Civil War wrought great hardship upon the state and nation.  North Carolina suffered at least 35,000 deaths, one-quarter of all Confederates lost, and felt more than its share of pain.  The nation and state survived the war years, 1861-1865, but at great price. 

In observance of the Civil War sesquicentennial (www.nccivilwar150.com) the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (www.ncculture.com) has planned more than 200 events statewide. 

“The sesquicentennial is a great opportunity for all North Carolinians to more clearly and carefully examine these events which shaped our state and nation,” observes N.C. State Historic Sites Division Director Keith Hardison.  “We are planning events to take a fresh look at the war and engage kids to grandparents, and also illustrate how our nation survived this great test.”

Sesquicentennial programs will examine the roles of women, Cherokee, U.S. Colored Troops and more.  The impact of the war on home life, sickness and mortality, battles on land and sea, Civil War music, and freedman’s colonies are among topics that will be explored. 

In April, the “Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory: The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Photography Exhibit” begins touring the state, starting with Fayetteville in the east and West Jefferson in the west.  The images of soldiers in combat, women helping the war effort and African Americans seeking freedom are all encompassed in the exhibit that will visit 50 libraries and four museums statewide through spring 2013.  Images from the State Archives, the N.C. Museum of History collection, and photographs of contemporary Civil War re-enactments at historic sites will offer a broad look at that tumultuous time.

The first of three significant conferences of the sesquicentennial will be on the theme “Memory” on May 20 at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh; it will examine literature, historiography, statuary and other legacies.  Attention turns to “Freedom” for the second panel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem in 2013, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  A final symposium in 2015 at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington will examine “Sacrifice” in the anniversary year of the fall of Fort Fisher, Sherman’s March and the close of the war.

The Historical Publications Section (www.ncpublications.com) in April will publish Volume 18 of the North Carolina Roster of the Civil War, covering the Senior Reserves.  The North Carolina Civil War Atlas, to be published in fall 2014, is a comprehensive study of the total number of North Carolinians to serve in the Civil War, deaths, the price of materials, maps, military campaigns and more.

For additional information call (919) 807-7389.  North Carolina will examine the Civil War objectively and comprehensively, and invites citizens to participate in the reflection and conversations in their own communities. 

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is 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.

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