About North Carolina Unionists

Interesting reflections on Unionists of North Carolina from the North Carolina Museum of History.


22 Responses to “About North Carolina Unionists”

  1. Interesting topic. I was discussing the topic of Union Soldiers from NC with a gentlemen at the NC archives last week. The “lost cause” movement removed the history of these men who fought in Union Regiments from NC from the publics memory. My GG grandfather said the Confederate officers treated their men like sh*t. He joined the Union Army. I ordered a tombstone from the VA and put it up but everyone thinks its for a Confererate Unit.

  2. Photos of Edward Phillips-1st NC
    http://www.rrphillips.com/gallery.htm Edward holding my uncle Grover Phillips Jr.
    http://www.rrphillips/gallery7.htm Edward Phillips

  3. southernunionists Says:

    Richard, Thank you for your comments and the links to the photos! This is exactly what I hoped for when I created this site. A lot of folks need to know about Southern Unionists, especially as we come closer to the 150th anniversary of the war. Great work on securing a headstone for this “Southern hero!” Thanks again!

  4. http://www.rrphillips.com/kinston_22/index.htm

    Link to page regarding the hanging of soldiers in Kinston, NC

  5. http://www.rrphillips.com/union/union.html

    page I have been working on to document Union Soldiers from Onslow County, NC

  6. southernunionists Says:

    Richard, Your Onslow Union soldiers work is very impressive! Speaking of Onslow, I’m very familiar with the county having spent several years living there when growing up (I’m a Marine brat). Keep up the good work on the Union soldiers! Best, Robert

  7. […] (North Carolina) Hangings I’d like to thank Richard Phillips for his contributions (comments made to this post) regarding North Carolina Unionists and Union soldiers. He has quite the database in the works. […]

  8. http://www.rrphillips/slavery/James_Avirett.htm

    I thought the following paragraph from James B. Averitt of Onslow County is quite telling. James came from a large slave holding family in Onslow County and his book (The Old Plantation: How We Lived in Great House and Cabin Before the War) recounts his good ole days. He calls NC Unionists Buffaloes. A term used in NC to describe white Union soldiers from NC during the Civil War. Most people when they year the word Buffaloe think of Black Soldiers out west.

    [The following begins on page 70 of the Avirett’s book mentioned above]

    “As compared with the other staples of the South, what do you regard as the most serious drawback or disadvantage of the planter’s turpentine interests? The laborers, and notably so the chippers, are employed in large, wooded tracts of country, out of range of anything like close oversight and must be stimulated to their best work, as well by premiums for best crops as by so regulating their work that a portion of each week is their own to do as they please with. It is very different on the cotton, sugar, tobacco and rice plantations. The great disadvantage in the crop, however, is that the distilleries, the spirits of turpentine, the resin, and in fine the whole plant and its yields are so combustible that no insurance company, domestic or foreign, will insure the property. The only protection against fire that can be had is to police the premises as thoroughly as possible. How is this done? By placing here and there all over the orchards double log cabins for the families of some twenty or more white men. These people occupy these cabins free of rent, with as much land as they choose to cultivate, which rarely extends beyond a garden and truck patch, the men fishing and hunting by day and night, while the women hoe the little crops and raise poultry, the children gathering whortleberries and wild currants. These men are required to do three things; first, they are to guard the orchards from fire, and if a small fire occur, as it often does in the summer time by lightning striking and igniting a resinous pine tree, they and their families must extinguish it. If it gets beyond their control they are to blow horns, summon the neighboring tenants and, sending all around for help, fight the fire fiend until it is put out; secondly, they must once a week salt and care for the herd of cattle and drove of sheep belonging to the proprietor, carefully penning the sheep at night so as to protect them from the dogs, wildcats and bears, which are found in those large tracts of unbroken forests. Thirdly, they must look out for the planter’s honey bees, and when the cold weather sets in they must take the honey and carry it into the mansion for the use of the planter’s family. They are obliged, under contract, to turn out when summoned to work the roads of the estate. These tenants find a ready market for all the game, poultry and berries they will carry into the plantation. Sometimes they spend a whole lifetime in this dwarfed but important relation to the proprietor. They form a distinct element in the organism of this large landed estate. They never mingle with the more thrifty white people, while the negroes on the estate look down upon them, calling them, most disdainfully, “poor white trash.” Under the old régime this was the people who were unhappily affected by the plantation system, because they lived in the presence of and close contact with servile labor and lived and died with an emphatic protest against the decree which forced them to work. From this class all through the coastal region, during the late Confederacy, sprang what was called the “buffalo,” who cast in their lot with the federal troops as soon as any lodgment was made. They have not yet died out from among us, but still live, utterly contemned by the better class of whites and distrusted by negroes.”

  9. http://www.clis.com/friends/bufffaloes.htm

    Listed below an excert from the website listed above. Several years ago I told my uncle that his great grandfather had been in the Union Army. His reponse was that he was a “dam traitor”. My father on the other hand said he was quite proud.

    “In my years as historian of Fort Macon, many people have sought my help in tracing ancestors who served in the Confederate garrison of Fort Macon during the siege and battle of April, 1862. For most Southerners, knowing their ancestors served in the Confederate Army is a source of great personal pride and satisfaction. Unfortunately for several people I have talked with, tracking their ancestor’s military service at Fort Macon ended in a manner for which they were completely unprepared. For instance, one woman said her ancestor was in the Confederate Army in the 1st North Carolina Regiment and supposedly served at Fort Macon in 1864. Yet she had looked through Confederate regimental histories and rosters for this regiment and could not find any mention of her ancestor’s name or any indication the regiment was ever at Fort Macon. Of course, I explained that most likely her ancestor had to be in the 1st North Carolina Union Volunteer regiment, which was in fact stationed at Fort Macon in 1864, and told he the story of the North Carolina “Buffaloes”. The discovery that her ancestor was in one of the Buffalo regiments, of course, came as a complete shock. The woman was completely and utterly devastated. “You mean he was a traitor to the South?” she gasped. The reaction of the other persons who made similar discoveries was essentially the same. Despite the passage of over 130 years, the North Carolina Buffaloes still elicit the strongest emotions of contempt and disdain for many North Carolinians.”

  10. http://www.rrphillips.com/union/nc_at_andersonville/index.html

    I visited Andersonville yesterday to document NC Union Soldiers buried there. Looking at the number of men from Tennessee who died at Andersonville I came up with a question that I would like to look into.

    Did Southern Unionists die at rates greater than other Union Soldiers in Andersonville? If so, why?

    • Richard, I don’t think that anyone has calculated the rate of deaths of either Southern Unionist civilians or those in the Union army. However, are you asking about the rate of deaths among those who might be categorized as Southern Unionist POWs in Andersonville as compared to the rate of deaths of those from Northern states? That might not be such a difficult thing to figure out, though it would take some time. I suppose Southern Unionists might have been better acclimated to the conditions. It would be interesting to see what someone would come up with on this.

  11. My thoughts were comparing death rates of Southern Unionists POWs to Union soldier POWs from Northern States. I dont remember the source but I read a Union Soldiers recollections of his experiences at the prison in Florence SC. He stated that the Confederate Commander had a distain for Southern Union Soldiers.
    Many of these Southern Unionists were neighbors, friends, and relatives with the men in gray. This had to add an extra dimension to the situation.

    • Oh, now that’s quite enlightening! I would like to see some sort of study on this. Let me know when you find the recollection about the Confederate Commander being particularly hard on Southern Union soldiers; that should get a post to itself here.

  12. From The Seventh Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry: West Tennessee Unionists in Andersonville Prison website by Peggy Scott Holley:

    “It would also be expected that southern Unionist prisoners who held to their convictions would be especially resented by their guards. Warren Goss, a Massachusetts soldier at Andersonville and later Florence, mentioned in his memoir that Colonel Iverson, who was in charge of the Florence prison, was very vindictive and harsh to southern Union men. He often called them”d–d traitors” and asked them why they were fighting against “their country.” Iverson, however, was considered by northern prisoners to be one of the kindest of the prison commanders.”

    • It may or may not be worthwhile, but a look into the pension records of the soldiers who survived such ordeals might shed more light on thus type of thing.

  13. http://www.rrphillips.com/union/nc_at_andersonville/slides/Peter_Francis.html

    This is an interesting photo taken at Andersonville. Peleg(Peter) Francis is buried beside Wm. Scott USCT. Peleg was a member of Company F, 2nd NC. HIs company was captured at Beech Grove. 22 of them were hung at Kinston, 9 others died ay Andersonville.

    The Story of Sylvester McGowan (c.1818-c.1900)

  15. http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncuv/honey1.htm

    Perhaps resistance would have been better, but Confederate retaliation against resisters was much more certain than death on the battlefield. Jackson Jones, a thirty-year-old Quaker, provided one example of what happened to resisters when the military got a hold of them. After being conscripted he refused to answer roll call, stand in the ranks, or cooperate in any way with the war effort. As punishment, he was imprisoned, “bucked down” (hands tied between his knees), pierced with a bayonet, refused food and water, and had one of his ears cut off. Despite this torture, his brother testified, “he always spoke his sentiments boldly and openly, no matter who was present,” and finally the army discharged him.22

  16. Richard Says:


    I have started a page documenting burials of NC Union soldiers for anyone who is interested. Thanks

  17. I recently took photos in Andersonville Prison trying to document NC soldiers who died there. Alot of these men could not be found at the cemetery and I wondered why. I am currently reading Divided Allegiances: Bertie County during the Civil War. This book has answered my question. “The NC soldiers captured at Plymouth assumed the names of Northern Soldiers or others in an attempt to disquise their Southern identities. Many took the bogus name to their prisoner-of-war graves”

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