RALEIGH, NC July 24, 2014 – From the massive amphibious attack on Fort Fisher, the largest by American forces until World War II, to the 6,000 acre battlefield at Bentonville to the site of the largest surrender of the Civil War at Bennett Place, participants in an exclusive, behind-the-scenes Civil War Sesquicentennial Bus Tour will learn details about key North Carolina Civil War sites Oct. 24-26. Pre-eminent Civil War historian Mark Bradley will be the on-bus guide. Spaces are expected to go quickly. The reservation deadline is Sept. 29 and can be made at www.ncdcr.gov/CivilWarTour.
The special tour is the ideal precursor to the concluding programs in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War during the grand finale events of North Carolina’s 2015 Civil War Sesquicentennial observance. Intimate conversations and information from historians and staff of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ Division of State Historic Sites will offer unique insights into the waning days of the Civil War, and North Carolina’s role in it.
Pivotal events in North Carolina hastened the fall of the Confederacy and the end of the war in1865. The movie Lincoln illustrated the urgent need President Abraham Lincoln felt to capture Fort Fisher and disrupt supply lines to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Fort Fisher fell Jan. 15, 1865.
At the Battle of Bentonville in March, the Confederates launched their last major offensive. On April 26, with the surrender of the armies of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida; the Civil War effectively ended at Bennett Place near Durham station.
The weekend begins Friday evening in Raleigh with a tour of the antebellum N.C. State Capitol. The history of this landmark structure, from the May 20, 1861, vote for secession to the occupation by Union troops in the closing days of the war, will be reviewed by staff members during a seated dinner in the Rotunda.
Saturday starts at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, where site historian Ray Flowers’ “Fort Fisher above the Scenes” tour will provide a bird-eye view of the massive fortification and the battles fought there. Participants also will be treated to the firing of Shepherd’s Battery’s massive 32-pounder seacoast gun, which had a range of several miles.
After a barbecue lunch in Kinston, participants will learn about the strategic importance of ironclads at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. Costumed interpreters will lead a tour of the Confederate ironclad that was moved to the center in July 2013. The tour will also make a brief stop at the Wyse Fork, the 1865 battle that ensured the fall of the town and the destruction of the ironclad.
Saturday concludes at Bentonville Battlefield with a circa 1865 period meal on the grounds and a trip back in time to see the Harper family home turned into an Army field hospital. Interpreters will demonstrate the harshness of a Civil War hospital and the chaos witnessed by the Harper family.
The tour ends Sunday at Bennett Place, where the Civil War effectively ended nearly 150 years ago. Participants will learn about the negotiations between Confederate Gen. Joseph S. Johnston and Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, and how the assassination of President Lincoln impacted the negotiations and the tenuous peace. The Unity Monument at Bennett Place stands as a testament to the reconciliation of North and South at the end of the Civil War.
Reservations for the tour can be at www.ncdcr.gov/CivilWarTour. The cost by Sept. 15 is $375 per person based on double occupancy and $455 per person for single occupancy. The cost after Sept. 15 is $395 per person double occupancy and $475 per person single occupancy. Friday night will be spent in the Holiday Inn Express & Suites University Center in Wilmington. Saturday night will be spent at the Holiday Inn Express in Smithfield. The tour includes Friday and Saturday dinner. Continental breakfast is available at each hotel. Lunch will be on your own. Please note any special dietary needs with your reservation.
The N.C. Office of Archives and History administers the state’s four year Civil War Sesquicentennial observance, which concludes in 2015.
For additional information, please call (919) 807-7389. The Office of Archives and History is within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.