RALEIGH, NC January 8, 2014 – In 2014, the penultimate year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial observance, a plethora of events and programs will be presented at state historic sites and museums in North Carolina. The roar of cannons, enactment of the draft, moans of the wounded, and the introduction of torpedoes to warfare are among topics to be explored this year. The final year of 2015 will conclude the sesquicentennial and the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War with free programs. Among 2014 highlights:
“Always near the front, with instruments and tourniquets: The Medical Service at Fort Fisher” is scheduled for Jan. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Fort Fisher State Historic Site at Kure Beach. It will examine the medical care available to Union and Confederate soldiers during combat at Fort Fisher. Infantry re-enactor units will discuss camp life and artillery units will fire the site’s 32 pound and 12 pound cannons, which could fire up to 1,600 yards and 3 miles, respectively.
The attack during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher was the largest assault by the U.S. Army and Navy until World War II, and followed a smaller attack in December. Union forces had to stop the supply line to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that fed through Fort Fisher. Combined Federal casualties are believed to have exceeded 1,500; Confederates are believed to have been greater than 3,800. Care of the injured among the casualties will be examined during the program.
Ansley Wegner, author of “Phantom Pain: North Carolina’s Artificial Limb Program for Confederate Veterans,” will discuss her research and North Carolina’s program for its vets, and be available for book signings. The Jewett Patent Leg was the most widely provided to thousands of North Carolina veterans, in this the first Southern state to offer prosthetics to veterans. The third Jewett Patent Leg known to exist will be featured in a new exhibit “An Eminent Work of Justice and Charity” that will open during the program. It includes information on the care of the soldiers’ physical and mental wounds after the Civil War.
Author Richard Triebe will talk about captured North Carolina Troops who were sent to Prisoner of War camp in Elmira, N.Y., and their struggle to survive. He will be available to sign his books, “From Fort Fisher to Elmira,” and “Confederate Fort Fisher: A Roster 1864-1865.” Author and historian Michael C. Hardy also will speak.
A test of Civil War knowledge for history buffs young and old is being presented by the Museum of the Cape Fear and Methodist College in Fayetteville Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m. in Yarborough Auditorium at the college. Questions will be a combination of multiple choice, true or false and fill in the blank. Prizes will be awarded to adult winners and to students aged 16 and under.
Even though much of coastal North Carolina fell to Union forces early in the Civil War, the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center program Feb. 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will show that area was still contested ground. The USS Underwriter Expedition Symposium and Navy Living History program will show how a spectacular attack by the Confederate Navy aboard the CSS Neuse could still challenge Union control of the region. Registration for the symposium is $10; the living history program with costumed interpreters, Civil War naval displays and living history demonstrations is free.
Navy life did not only mean shipboard activity, and will be examined at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site in Winnabow in “The Navy Way” program Feb. 15-16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The outmanned and outgunned Confederates first used torpedoes during the Civil War. The first marine torpedoes were fixed water mines, not the self-propelled explosives of today. There will be torpedo demonstrations at the fort, and re-enactors of artillery and cavalry soldiers also will participate in the program. Brunswick Town has one of the most extensive exhibits of Civil War torpedoes in the southeast.
The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Four Oaks will bring the realities of war home March 15-16. The “Forced to Fight” program will examine the waning days of the war, which is not going well for the Confederacy. The draft is again being used, and men aged 17 to 50 who were left at home are now being required to join the fight. Re-enactors of the 11th and 18th NC Troops, 27th NC Company D and 1st NC Volunteers will portray raw conscripts being trained for war from a period manual of arms. The two day program will feature infantry and artillery demonstrations and will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Visitors also can “enlist” during the program.
In March 1865, the Battle of Bentonville proved to be the longest and bloodiest in the state’s history, and saw 80,000 combatants engaged more than three days and 6,000 acres. It was said the fighting was so intense as to shear the bark off the trees.
A weekend of special events at the Tryon Palace complex in New Bern March 15-16 will explore the effects of the war on the American family in the 1860s, with special emphasis on the Stanly family. Activities will occur at the N.C. History Center, Waystation, Academy Museum and will feature New Bern’s Civil War period hospitals and offer tours, soldier encampments, craft activities and are included with the regular cost of admission.
“Many Roads to Surrender” is the April 26-27 surrender commemoration at Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham. Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered to Federal Maj. Gen. William Sherman April 26, 1865, nearly 90,000 troops, the largest troop surrender of the Civil War, representing the armies of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. The surrender was more than a week after the famous surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to Federal Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va.
Historians and authors from the National Park Service will highlight five major surrenders of the Civil War, including Appomattox, Bennett Place, Citronelle, Ala., New Orleans, La., and Doaksville, Okla., during the program. Civilian and military re-enactors will demonstrate what life was like at the end of the American Civil War. Saturday evening will conclude with an off-site Grand Blue and Gray Ball and fundraising auction for a new exhibit gallery at Bennett Place. The annual Sunday Unity Monument wreath laying ceremony will have speakers and presentations. The Saturday program is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many other programs are scheduled this year:
- The Museum of the Albemarle will have a Civil War Living History Day with re-enactors of civilian and military characters Feb. 8.
- The State Capitol will offer a “Raleigh Occupied” program at in April.
- Somerset Place in Creswell will have summer and fall programs
- Vance Birthplace in Weaverville will hold a military encampment in the fall.
- The N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort and the Southport location, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, will offer Civil War related lectures, films, classes or tours throughout the year.
Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort is exhibiting the “Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory: Civil War Sesquicentennial Photography exhibit through Jan. 23. The exhibit shows the involvement of soldiers, women and the enslaved during the period. The Western Archives in Asheville also is hosting that exhibit.
Mountain Gateway will also host a “Freedom for All” panel exhibit opens in February that examines the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on to passage of the 13th Amendment which freed the enslaved. The “Freedom for All” exhibit also will visit Historic Halifax, Historic Stagville, Somerset Place, Tryon Palace and the CSS Neuse Civil War Center this year.
For additional information, please call (919) 807-7389.