Romance Kindled During Union Occupation of Fayetteville
As characteristic of the military presence in the Fayetteville area throughout the years, soldier boys met, fell in love with, and married local girls. This was true not only in the case of my parents, but also in my family’s history. It was not long after General Sherman’s march through Fayetteville in March of 1865 that David Fields married Sarah Wright on July 5, 1865. David Fields was a soldier with the Union’s 13th Cavalry, 117th Pennsylvania Regiment, Company C. This cavalry unit landed in Wilmington after the fall of Fort Fisher, rode up along the Cape Fear River, and brought communications to Sherman before his armies moved out of Fayetteville. David’s unit stayed in Fayetteville as a peace-keeping force after Sherman’s departure. It was during this occupation that David met Sarah. One of the stories passed down is that David met Sarah near the Market House in Fayetteville as he warned the people in Sarah’s church to flee, as the church was susceptible to fire or damage during or just after Sherman’s capture of the city. Sarah was the daughter of Hiram Wright, who was with the Confederate 2nd Battalion, North Carolina Local Defense Troops, Company D, known as part of the “Arsenal Guard.” It is believed that the personnel of this Company were the workers of the Fayetteville arsenal. It has been speculated in the family that Sarah was one of the many women who worked in the Arsenal before its destruction by Sherman’s troops. Before the War years, Hiram had been a cooper in the local turpentine industry, and it probably was his coopering skills that were used at the arsenal. Sherman’s army not only destroyed the arsenal but greatly hurt the economy of the Fayetteville area with the destruction of the turpentine and cotton mill industries. The great economic hardships right after the war probably were what pushed the newly wed couple, along with father-in-law Hiram, to move to the Moss Neck community (near present-day Pembroke) in Robeson County, where they could use their coopering skills in the turpentine industry that survived there after the war. Years later, after the decline in Moss Neck’s turpentine industry, David and Sarah bought a small farm in Moss Neck and raised a family of ten children there. The farm was where the “Field’s Farm Subdivision” is located today. David and Sarah Fields, along with Hiram Wright, are buried in the McNeill Cemetery about a quarter of a mile east of the present-day Moss Neck crossroads and railroad crossing. Their descendants live throughout Robeson, Cumberland, Hoke and Moore Counties.