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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Civil War - NC's Role

Posted April 12, 2011 10:32 a.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2011 10:36 a.m. EDT

What was North Carolina’s most significant role in the Civil War? And what lessons did we learn? Have you ever toured a Civil War battlefield in North Carolina and if so, what was your experience? I think these are fitting questions on the 150th anniversary of the start of the brutal conflict. 

You have a lot of events to choose from. Tar Heel soldiers helped lead the Confederate Army to victory at the First Battle of Manassas. Old North State warriors also shed a staggering amount of blood at Gettysburg in Pickett’s Charge. Did you know that North Carolina sent more soldiers to battle than any other state in the Confederacy? 

Wilmington was a major port for the Confederacy. Fort Fisher nearby was the scene of two battles. Statewide nearly two dozen battles were fought on our soil including Bentonville which was one of the last major battles in the war. At Bennett Place near Durham the war in the East ended with General Joseph Johnston surrendering to Union General William Sherman. 

A lot of people in North Carolina didn’t share Jefferson Davis’ fervor for the Southern cause. You may have read about that in the best-selling novel by Raleigh’s Charles Frazier in Cold Mountain

Some researchers estimate that more than 40,000 North Carolinians died in the Civil War. That’s more than any other state and about four and a half times the number of Tar Heel fatalities in both World Wars combined.