“Although Jefferson Davis never enforced his order to enslave captured black soldiers, some of his senior officers committed atrocities against black troops in violation of the code of war….
“Even more common was violence committed against individual black soldiers in captured areas of the South. In Morehead City, North Carolina, whites murdered a black soldier for taking ‘rather more liberty than an Anglo-Saxon [man] likes to submit to.’
“Soldiers expected danger from uniformed opponents, and Northern blacks were raised to be wary of white neighbors, but few were prepared for the threat of assassination in the dead of night….”
— From “The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era” by Douglas R. Egerton (2014)
On this day in 1863: In a letter to Jefferson Davis, Gov. Zeb Vance argues that antiwar sentiment in the state can be appeased “only by making some effort at negotiation with the enemy.” Davis’s response: Lincoln has refused to negotiate and demanded unreasonable peace terms.
Confederate military defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg have spawned some 100 public meetings in 40 N.C. counties. Although the state will sacrifice more than its share of men in battle, enthusiasm for the war has been from the beginning far from universal, and Vance is continually at odds with Davis over states’ rights.
“In western North Carolina, some members of the Eastern Cherokee band expressed a willingness to serve with the Confederacy, but racism nearly kept them out of the ranks. William Thomas, an influential friend of the Cherokees, tried to get a state bill passed authorizing him to raise a Cherokee battalion. The legislature voted it down, citing fears [it] might confer citizenship on the Cherokees.
“In fact, the Cherokees were already citizens of North Carolina, though rarely treated as such, by virtue of previous treaty agreements. One of the bill’s leading opponents quipped that he would as soon be seen alongside free blacks in a voting booth as to associate with Cherokees.
“Undeterred, Thomas sought Jefferson Davis’s permission to enlist Cherokees. Davis readily agreed, giving Thomas a colonel’s commission…. From early 1862 through the war’s end, Thomas’s Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders ranged through the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, enforcing conscription, impressing supplies and rooting out Union sympathizers.”
— From “Bitterly Divided: The South’s Inner Civil War” by David Williams (2008)
“During the last years of slavery, planters and slave traders transplanted tens of thousands of Negroes from the depleted fields of the upper Southeast to the newly cleared and fertile lower portions of Mississippi’s river counties. The advent of freedom did not end this population movement….
“In 1866, Jefferson Davis negotiated a shipment of such workers from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three years later the Raymond [Miss.] Gazette reported that Negroes in North Carolina were still seeking opportunities for settlement in the Mississippi Yazoo Delta.”
— From “The Evolution of the Mississippi Delta: From Exploited Labor and Mules to Mechanization and Agribusiness” by James Bell (2008)
“[In 1895] a black newspaperman found himself on a New Bern-bound train among several elderly black men and women who had just experienced six years of debt peonage in Mississippi.
“They had left North Carolina for the promise of a better life in the deep South, but they quickly disovered to their horror that ‘escape’ was the only way out of sharecropping ‘those bottoms.’ Even then ‘they will hunt you, catch you and bring you back and give you a good thrashing, just as they used to do in slavery times,’ said one sharecropper.”
— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920″ by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)
A few words with Michael Hill, coordinator of the N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program:
Of the 7 markers approved in the last round, 5 recognize blacks and 1 a Cherokee. Is the marker advisory committee playing catch-up? Is this a formal policy?
We have no established policy but rather operate based primarily on what comes through the transom. If you check Blacks in the Keywords search box, you’ll see that a heavy proportion of those since I joined the staff in 1982 have been African American. In the broader sense, this might be seen as catch-up but, more precisely, it’s a reflection of public interest.
What caused removal of the marker for Tryon’s March in Polk County in Macon County? How often does this happen?
Removal of markers is uncommon. The note on the remaining Tryon’s March marker page [O-34]
explains the situation, i.e., we got it wrong. Likewise with a Stoneman’s Raid marker in Newton. It’s no longer there; he missed Newton by 40 miles. Irony of ironies, the number once assigned to that marker is now on the Hiram Revels marker in Lincolnton [O-12]
. When Jeff Davis left the Senate, some predicted that one day his seat would be filled by a black man and it came to pass. That man was Revels.
How unusual was Gaston County’s decades-long rejection of a marker for the Loray Mill Strike [O-81]?
Also rare are objections by local parties to a marker. Gastonia is the prime example.
In Raleigh descendants of W. W. Holden at one time opposed mention of impeachment on his marker [H-92]. But it stands today, right outside the N&O office, and indicates that he was impeached and removed.
County commissioners in Greene County were not thrilled about the prospect of the James Glasgow marker [F-66] noting that he was convicted on land fraud charges but they did not stand in the way of its placement.