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.