April of this year will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.
More than 620,000 men died as a result of it — a little more than 200,000 in actual battle and the other 400,000 through disease, starvation, suicide or other means. It’s a war that has spawned millions of books, thousands of films and countless re-enactments.
It’s a part of our history so powerful … so important … that you’ll find people today still upset over the result of it. I’m looking at you, guy with “The South Will Rise Again” bumper sticker.
I’ve always been completely fascinated by this war.
My grandfather in Ohio has some memorabilia and has even penned a few books on the war.
In middle school, I openly voiced my displeasure with my eighth-grade history teacher for “hurrying through” the Civil War because he only had three days left in the school year to teach it.
And recently, while perusing my lineage on ancestry.com, I discovered I have both Union and Confederate blood in me — one of my multiple-great-grandfathers fought for the South and died in a small battle in Tennessee. His name was Marmaduke Murphy.
With that kind of name, I expected him to be a general. He was not … but I was still fascinated.
But my “Civil War buff” label became “buffier” when a stomach virus kept me home last Thursday and forced me to a full day on the couch. As I sipped on Gatorade and forced myself to eat Jello, I watched nine hours of Ken Burns’ 1990 documentary, “The Civil War.” Why it took me 21 years to finally sit down and watch this, I’ll never know. But I’m glad I finally watched it, and I’ve taken on a whole new appreciation for not only this short period of American history, but history in general.
And now, of course, I want to know more.
So to mark the 150th anniversary, The Herald is planning a big story or a series of stories on our region and state and the role it played in the Civil War. North Carolina was home to more than 20 battles, including the final cavalry battle of the war in nearby Morrisville. North Carolina the last state to secede from the Union, as farmers in the eastern portion of the state who supported slavery were offset by those in the mountains who weren’t nearly as passionate about secession or Southern ideals.
As for Sanford’s role … well, that’s what we’re hoping to learn. I already know of a handful of local Civil War buffs, and we will certainly be seeking their help in this. I do know the Endor Iron Furnace was used by troops during the war, and heck … our county itself is named for Confederacy Gen. Robert E. Lee.
So it only makes sense to do this, right?
Anybody with old stories, memorabilia or interesting bloodlines associated with the Civil War, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll receive extra attention from me if you’re actually a Civil War vet (and can use e-mail).
BELOW: The Rant conjurs the spirit of Marmaduke Murphy, distant relative of Billy Liggett and Civil War casualty.