In our last blog past we highlighted Governor Vance’s call to arms – his resounding cry for his fellow Tar Heels to meet him at the coast to repel the Yankees attacking Ft. Fisher!
For all his bloviating about shouldering arms and defending the Old North State, even going so far as to say “your Governor will meet you at the front and will share with you the worse,” the proclamation gives rise for one to beg the question – did Vance in fact go to Wilmington “to share with” fellow Tar Heels “the worse?”
These two telegraphs – one to Vance and one from Vance – from December 27th, 1864 confirm that Vance, who had been Colonel of the 26th NCST and who had been under fire at New Bern in March 1862, backed up the bravado of the proclamation and went to Wilmington to meet with his fellow Tar Heels to protect the state from the invading Yankees. His role in the action was minor – he did travel out to Ft. Fisher (accompanied by women from the local Ladies Aide Society) as the last of the Yankee forces withdrew from the area. Accounts indicate that the governor congratulated Colonel Lamb and General Whiting – joining in the hurrahs of the troops defending the fort. He was a man of his word.
Vance would return to Raleigh shortly thereafter and remain in Raleigh until the irresistible approach of Sherman’s main army forced him to flee westward. In the meantime the threat of another attack on Fort Fisher hung like the sword of Damocles over the men assigned to defend it. The sword would fall in mid-January 1865.