Zhane Perkins, left, and Shannon Burns, share a bench with Civil War re-enactor Bobby Allen, from Asheboro, NC, on the grounds of the Old State Capitol in Raleigh, Saturday, May 21, 2011 — 150 years after North Carolina officially seceded from the Union.
For the Independent Weekly’s annual summer issue we chose to focus on something a lot people have noticed by now; this year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Being that we are who we are though, our focus was local, contentious and a bit funky. The War of Northern Aggression, as some Southerners still refer to it, did not arrive in the Raleigh/Durham area until the final days of the bloody conflict. On April 13, 1865, nearly 60,000 Union troops led by General William T. Sherman marched into Raleigh, along with a caravan of 25,000 more people, mostly emancipated African-Americans.
For the next three weeks General Sherman and Confederate General Joseph P. Johnston negotiated the terms of surrender at Bennet Place, near present day Durham. It’s been said that during the drawn out negotiations soldiers on both sides enjoyed smoking the local brightleaf variety of tobacco, creating a huge and widespread market for the soon-to-be-booming cigarette industry based out of Durham.
There’s plenty more fascinating history where that came from - read and explore the Independent Weekly Summer Guide 2011.