For decades, people have been offering up their versions of what happened during the Civil War. Most of the time, these people are products of lies that are passed down through the years or are history buffs in their own right. However, there are a select few that know the real truth because they had relatives that fought and lived or died for the cause. This on-going series will show you the intense drama that North Carolina endured and Greensboro specifically.
Studying the Civil War has taken two decades of my time and I still don’t know every single thing about it. I’m not sure that anyone can ever master a time period of that caliber. It’s hard to tell a story in a sequential, neat order, especially since every line transcended that present moment and often tangled with other stories. The effect has been mostly impressionistic, as I’ve explored secession, the naivete of young recruits, women being left behind on farms, the atrocities of prison camps, the heroism of spies and the daring acts of slaves.
One thing I always come back to is the dark nights of despair, the undying glows of hope and the countless moments of soldiers holding their breath right before a battle begins. Whenever I do research, I will find a letter that is handwritten by a soldier from 1862 or I will see a photograph of a young private that gave his life for his country or beliefs and I sit there and think how exciting it must have been for him. At the same time, though, I realize that these soldiers had to be scared senseless. But it is that fear that turns a man into a great soldier.
After years of studying the Civil War, it is unbelievable to think of the emotional and physical intensity that it brought to the nation. For me, this war is a continuous adventure that will never stop. I invite all of you to follow me as I share North Carolina and, in particular, Greensboro’s involvement in the United States’ Civil War.