Valley of Humility: NC in the Civil War

A monument to the 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg

Unlike it’s southern neighbor, North Carolina wasn’t eager to secede from the Union. South Carolina led the way with its secession from the Union on December 20, 1860. Florida and Mississippi followed on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, 1861 (respectively). But it wasn’t until May 21, 1861 that North Carolina gave in and seceded from the Union. This was over a month after the attack on Ft. Sumter (which sparked the secession of states like Virginia). In fact, North Carolina was the last state to secede.

Interestingly, even though N.C. was hesitant to secede, they lost more men to the Civil War than any other southern state. The troops N.C. sent played a major role in many Civil War battles. On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the 26th North Carolina (originally comprised of 839 men) lost 627 men leaving them with only 212 at the end of the day. By the end of the three days, only 152 men remained. This is the highest casualty percentage for one battle of any regiment, North or South.

It’s speculated by some that despite it’s commitment of troops, North Carolina’s reluctance to secede prompted Sherman to spare the state during his campaign throughout the South which destroyed major cities in South Carolina and Georgia.

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One Response to Valley of Humility: NC in the Civil War

  1. Steve says:

    I’m guessing you’ve already graduated but I hope you check your own site from time to time.
    While in the Coast Guard, I was stationed at Elizabeth City. From my reading of this region, I found that the North landed some soldiers who were chasing the Confederate Mosquito Fleet via the Pasquotank River (Really more like an inlet than a River) After skirmishing with the local militia, a slave agreed to take them to South Mills. Here they figured to finish off the remainder of the Confederate fleet that was in the canal next to the Great Dismal Swamp that connected Elizabeth City to Norfolk.
    It was soon dark and the Union troops were exhausted from the heat, humidity and the fighting of the previous day. The slave, (For reasons unknown) ended up taking the Yankees several more miles than necessary and as dawn broke they were facing a Regiment of Georgia Regulars who were tasked with guarding South Mills. A quick but violent fight broke out, both sides lost men, but the Yankees wanted no part of the South Mills area. They retreated back to Elizabeth City to lick their wounds.
    In 1986 I asked permission of the owner of the corn fields where the battle took place for permission to hunt the area and received permission.
    I had only used a detector for about two years, and on that day the gauge broke, but I still ended up finding a Union Regimental Ring. and part of a Union Breast Plate. It still had some leather attached to it but was in poor shape. I also found a few Minie balls. The owner told me the place had been picked pretty clean, and with my inexperience dependent on that needle guage I ended up quitting early. I learned that day that when on a Civil war Battle Field you dig any and everything, or else it just becomes frustrating. Oh yes, bring water, although Southern Born, I had to leave for the same reason the Union did. I was exhausted from the heat and humidity. I did end up shooting a Water Moccasin that got too close for comfort, but fortunate for me, no one shot back.
    What I’d give to go back there again, with what I know now.

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