New Read North Carolina Novels Site!

I am happy to announce that the North Carolina Collection’s new blog–Read North Carolina Novels–has officially gone live! This blog replaces the old Read North Carolina Novels website; it is updated, expanded, and provides more ways to search for the kinds of North Carolina-set books that might interest you. You can search for books by keyword or author, or browse based on genre, county, region, or year of publication. We’ve also categorized books for kids, series books, and novels that have fictional N.C. settings. I’m especially excited that the new site also offers you the opportunity to make comments and suggestions. We will be adding to the blog regularly as the North Carolina Collection acquires new titles, and we welcome suggestions of books to add to our list.

So, whether you are already a fan of fiction set in North Carolina or just looking for your next summer read, you should check it out. To visit, click here, or on the “Read North Carolina Novels” link in the right-hand column.

North Carolina Novels

Take a virtual tour of the Smokies

Smoky Mountains 75th

With the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 75th Anniversary fast approaching, a new interactive website has been launched as a “Virtual Visitor Center to showcase all things 75th.” The site features an interactive timeline with photos, sound clips, and videos; a calendar of upcoming events; and even a Smokies Family Album, where users can share their own stories and images from the country’s most-visited park.

Roosevelt speech

My favorite find on the site is the sound clip from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1940 Dedication Speech, an event we’ve got pictured on a postcard (at left) from the NC Postcards site. Can’t get enough? Check out our This Month In North Carolina History article about the speech.

Carolina’s Cooter

A recent Raleigh News and Observer column alerted me to the fact that the Tar Heel state can claim Ben L. Jones, otherwise known as The Dukes of Hazzard‘s Cooter Davenport, as a native son. Jones was born in Tarboro and later attended the University of North Carolina in the mid-1960s. While in Chapel Hill, he took part in several civil rights protests and performed in plays with the university’s Playmakers Theatre. (The accompanying picture comes from the 1963 Yackety Yack, UNC’s yearbook.) After his stint as Hazzard County’s “Crazy Cooter,” Jones turned to politics, representing Georgia’s Fourth District in Congress from 1989 to 1993. He has recently released an autobiography, which is titled Redneck Boy in the Promised Land: The Confessions of “Crazy Cooter.”

Raleigh, The Beheaded One

Here at North Carolina Miscellany, we’re always looking for interesting items dealing with North Carolina history and culture. In searching through Faris Jane Corey’s North Carolina Firsts, I found one that I knew but didn’t know. Our fair capital city, named for Sir Walter Raleigh, is the “only state capital in the nation named in honor of a man who was beheaded.”

I have to say that I think Ms. Corey is correct. Can any Miscellany readers think of another one in the U.S.? In the world?

Leonard Medical School

The Leonard Medical School was the state’s first four-year, MD-granting program and was one of the first in the nation. Part of Shaw University, the school operated from 1881 to 1914, when the university’s trustees shortened the program to two years. The school closed during the 1918-1919 school year. During its existence, the Leonard Medical School trained and graduated more than 400 African American physicians.

After Graduation, What?

The North Carolina Collection has a wide variety of ephemeral materials related to the history of UNC, including announcements, programs, bulletins, and posters. While sorting through new items, I found this undated brochure from the old University Placement Service entitled “After Graduation, What?” The imagery of the graduate standing alone and looking back at the Old Well struck me as an accurate portrayal of the bittersweet feelings of many recent-graduates. And then I opened the brochure, saw the scary job-search font on the next page, and knew that I had to share it with others.

Placement Service brochure cover Placement Service brochure page 2

The advertised Placement Service—for which students registered at the beginning of their final year—gave various types of career advice, notified students of job vacancies and examinations for which they were qualified, nominated registrants for open positions, arranged interviews, and answered inquiries about specific people from prospective employers. Some of the advice is timeless, but perhaps my favorite tidbit from the Service is the dated reminder, “And, girls, married or not, most of you will work sometime!”

Check Out What’s New to the Collection

At long last over 200 titles of the newest additions to the North Carolina Collection are now listed on our “What’s New in the North Carolina Collection?” page. Make sure to peruse the list for 10 new titles of poetry, 23 new autobiographies and bibliographies, over 40 new works of fiction and much more. So if you are looking for a great recipe to wow your friends at your next barbecue (Dan Huntley, Lisa Grace Lednicer, and Layne Bailey: Extreme Barbeque: Smokin’ Rigs and Real Good Recipes), trying to decide where to take the family for the weekend (Jim Hoffman: Fun with the Family North Carolina: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips with the Kids) or the dog (Karen Chavez: Best Hikes with Dogs), or just looking to catch up on your North Carolina photographic history (Kevin Adams: North Carolina Then and Now), then this is one list you’ll want to check out. To see the full list simply click on the link in this entry or click on the “What’s New in the North Carolina Collection?” link under the heading “Pages” in the right column. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the North Carolina Collection Reading Room.

June 1861: Battle of Bethel

This Month in North Carolina History


One could say that the Civil War began for North Carolina on the 10th of June, 1861, near Bethel Church, Virginia. On that day the First Regiment of North Carolina Infantry (6 Months, 1861) engaged U. S. troops in what has been called the first battle of the Civil War.

The First North Carolina Infantry was mustered into state service in Raleigh on May 13, 1861 and was led by Colonel Daniel Harvey Hill of Mecklenburg County. Consisting of colorfully named units from several counties, such as the Hornet Nest Rifles, Charlotte Grays, Orange Light Infantry, Buncombe Rifles, Lafayette Light Infantry, Burke Rifles, Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, Enfield Blues, and Southern Stars, the regiment reflected the general enthusiasm of the early days of the war.

Then, on May 17, the regiment was accepted into Confederate Service and ordered to Richmond, Virginia. From there it was sent to Yorktown, and went into camp. On June 6 the regiment marched south eleven miles to Bethel Church, Virginia, sometimes called Big Bethel, and bivouacked without tents in the rain. The regiment had brought only 25 spades, 6 axes and 3 picks, but Colonel Hill was determined to put his command in a good defensive position. Dirt flew, and by June 8 the fortification of the camp was substantially complete. That night Confederate General John Magruder arrived at Bethel to take command.

Some nine miles from the First North Carolina at Bethel was the Federal stronghold of Fortress Monroe. Built to protect the United States from foreign attack, the fort served during the Civil War as a staging ground for United States troops and ships and a stepping off point for military operations into Virginia. General Benjamin F. Butler, commander of Union forces at Fortress Monroe, learned of the movement of the North Carolina Regiment and dispatched General Ebenezer W. Peirce with 2,500 troops to attack the Confederates at Bethel.

Discovering the Federal advance, the North Carolinians moved to their prepared positions. Around 9:00 a.m. on the 10th of June the Battle of Bethel began and by 2:00 p.m. it was over. Federal troops made successive uncoordinated attacks on the First North Carolina’s position and, meeting a spirited defense, retired from the field. Federal casualties were 76 while North Carolina’s total was only 11. Of these 11, Henry Lawson Wyatt of Tarboro, North Carolina, was the only Confederate soldier killed.

Over the next four years tens of thousands of North Carolinians served in every theater of the conflict, and North Carolina’s total loss from the war, 40,000, was greater than any other Confederate state. To North Carolina Confederates, however, the state’s participation in the first battle of the war was a source of pride, and “First at Bethel” was a boast for many years in the Tar Heel State.


David J. Eicher. The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Walter Clark, Ed. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65. Raleigh, NC: Published by the State, E. M. Uzzell, Printer and Binder, 1901.

Louis H. Manarin, Comp. North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster. Vol. III. Raleigh, NC: State Department of Archives and History, 1971.

North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial. North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Image Source:

W. G. Lewis. The Only Correct and Reliable Map of the Battle of Bethel!: From a Survey and Drawing. Tarboro’, N.C.: Wm. B. Smith, [1861]. North Carolina Collection. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.