Upcoming Civil War Sesquicentennial Events in North Carolina

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

[Updated, 5/31/2011: for a list of currently available video/audio from the “Contested Past: Memories and Legacies of the Civil War” Conference, visit this blog post.]


On May 20, 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. Thus began the state’s involvement in the American Civil War.

This weekend the N.C. Museum of History and the State Capitol in Raleigh will commemorate the 150th anniversary of North Carolina’s secession vote. On Friday, May 20, the Museum of History will open the small exhibit “North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862,” which is located within the museum’s military history gallery “A Call to Arms.”

Also at the Museum on Friday, May 20, in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a daylong conference with more than 18 speakers will be held with the theme “Contested Past: Memories and Legacies of the Civil War.

The keynote address by David Blight of Yale University will be “Race and Reunion: Has Civil War Memory United or Divided America?” Eight sessions are planned with topics ranging from “Arms for Art, and Other Shenanigans: The Curious Case of a Marble Bust of John C. Calhoun” presented by John Coffey, North Carolina Museum of Art, to “Risky Remembrances: African American Accounts of the Civil War and Reconstruction” presented by John Haley, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The conference is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources with support from the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, North Caroliniana Society, North Carolina Civil War Tourism Council and North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. For more information go to www.nccivilwar150.com .

The $25 registration fee includes morning refreshments, a boxed lunch and the closing reception.

The deadline for registration to receive a boxed lunch is Tuesday, May 17.

To make payment by cash or check (payable to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association), contact Parker Backstrom at (919) 807-7279 or e-mail him at  parker.backstorm@ncdcr.gov . For conference information call Michael Hill at 919-807-7288 or e-mail him at michael.hill@ncdcr.gov.

On Saturday, May 21, the State Capitol will present “North Carolina Secedes,” a living history program that includes a re-enactment, period music, a drill and dress parade, lectures and more. Details about the exhibit and the program at the Capitol follow. The exhibit and Capitol events are free and open to the public.

North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862

“North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862” highlights the events leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War and the early battles. On view from May 20, 2011, through Oct. 29, 2012, the exhibit features artifacts related to the state’s role in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the nation’s western expansion, and the Civil War. Civil War artifacts include the Confederate first national flag of the 33rd Regiment N.C. Volunteers, 1861-1862; and an M1833 dragoon saber and scabbard (1861-1862) used by Zebulon B. Vance, colonel of the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops and later the state’s wartime governor. A bugle, snare drum, banjo and flugelhorn are among the musical instruments on exhibit.

“North Carolina and the Civil War:  The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862” is the first exhibit in a three-part series that explores the four-year conflict that changed the state and nation. The exhibit series, titled “North Carolina and the Civil War: 1861-1865,” tells the story of North Carolinians who lived, served and sacrificed during the nation’s bloodiest conflict.

The series’ second exhibit, debuting in 2013, will focus on the year 1863. The final installation, opening in 2014, highlights the last engagements of 1864-1865 and postwar consequences.

North Carolina Secedes: Living History Program at State Capitol

“North Carolina Secedes,” a living history program at the State Capitol, takes place Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will commemorate the state’s historic vote and look at North Carolina’s early wartime preparations.

At 11 a.m. in the historic House Chamber, hear readings from Secession Convention speeches. Contemporary accounts of May 20, 1861, recount that after the unanimous vote, someone dropped a handkerchief from the Capitol’s west portico to signal to the crowd below that North Carolina had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Maj. Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s artillery unit, which was posted on the grounds for the occasion, announced the historic moment by firing its cannons.

During the May 21 program, approximately 100 re-enactors from the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops will portray Maj. Ramseur’s battery and re-enact an infantry drill and rifle-fire during the war. In the afternoon watch the drill and dress parade, and hear a field music concert. Lectures will focus on the state’s military organization, war flags, and the early uniforms and equipment of both North Carolina and Union soldiers. Additionally, a facsimile of North Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession will be on display inside the Capitol.

The exhibit and the living history program are presented as part of the N.C. Civil War Sesquicentennial, a statewide initiative organized by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in North Carolina. For more information go to www.nccivilwar150.com.

To learn more about the Museum of History, call (919) 807-7900 or access www.ncmuseumofhistory.org  or Facebook. For details about the State Capitol program, call (919) 733-4994 or visit www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol/default.htm.

# # #
The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton St. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com .

This entry was posted in Events and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.