The first to fall for North Carolina

He was only 19. Fate or plain bad luck had brought him to a fight at Big Bethel Church in Virginia, in June of 1861. The young man had enlisted back in April, less than a week after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. The Tar Heel State had not initially joined...

The long road ends at Durham

For more than nine months, some 50,000 troops in the Army of Northern Virginia were dug in at Petersburg, in a situation that none other than Robert E. Lee had early on described, in writing, as “untenable.” During the long face-off, their contributions to the war...

Averasboro, and a civilian view

They’re making this easy for me. The week ended with distant artillery at Fort Bragg jarring the foundations of this old house. Then, on Sunday, gunners in the reenactment at the Averasboro Battlefield Museum a few hundred yards south let go a couple of rounds...

Old myths frustrate modern hopes

If you grew up white, Southern and embedded in the successor class to the Antebellum gentry, you’ve likely heard it — more than once: “I was always told that they treated them like family.” “Them” meaning slaves. It wasn’t a...

The Day Joe Johnston Stopped the War

The day after I became a teenager in 1960, Look magazine published a piece by American novelist MacKinlay Kantor, titled, “If the South Had Won the Civil War.” At the time I found the title intriguing, but the substance eluded me. Having had more than half...

Gen. Sherman’s critical turn of events

As the summer of 1864 gave way to autumn, Maj. Gen.William T. Sherman was restless. What remained of Atlanta was under Union control. Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood had by Sherman’s reckoning lost his enthusiasm for head-to-head fighting. Instead, Hood busied...
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