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Fort Hamby Gang (Civil War)

 

The American Civil War was a tumultuous time.  In the North Carolina mountains, in particular, the war offered opportunities for mountaineers to be unjustifiably violent.  In some high country places, civility ended, outlaws ruled, and cruelty prevailed.  The Fort Hamby Gang of Wilkes County provides an example.

 

After Union General George Stoneman’s devastating raid in Wilkes County, the Fort Hamby Gang bullied people in the area.  Even after the war had ended, the twenty-five to –thirty men, stationed out of the Hamby widow’s house and led by a defected Union soldier, “Major Wade,” targeted prominent families in neighboring counties and seem to do so for the sheer sake of violence. 

 

There were several unsuccessful attempts to stop the vandalism and terrorism.  Caldwell citizens (home guard) crossed county lines to attack the Hamby Gang at their base of operations, the Hamby house in Wilkes County.  The home guard had the element of surprise and the upper hand in battle, until Major Wade tricked them.  When a cease-fire was agreed upon, Wade and his men emerged from their fort with guns blazing. 

 

Another attempt was successful at disbanding the group of thugs.  Several former Confederate soldiers put Major Wade and gang in their sights.  After an initial siege failed to dislodge the encamped outlaws in the Hamby house, the home guard started to burn outbuildings and then the house itself.  The Hamby gang, no doubt coughing smoke out of their lungs and wiping their burning eyes, emerged from the house.  Some surrendered.  Some fled.  Some were shot, and some captured and quickly executed.  Major Wade, however, escaped.  

 

 


Sources:

John C. Inscoe and Gordon B.McKinney, The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War  (Chapel Hill, 2000).


See Also:

Related Categories: Civil War
Related Encyclopedia Entries: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, Plott Hound: The State Dog, Sarah Malinda Pritchard Blalock (1839-1903), Catawba County (1842), Burke County (1777), Watauga County (1849), Graham County (1872), Haywood County (1808), Ashe County (1799), Surry County (1771), Yadkin County (1850), The Walton War, Transylania County (1861), Yancey County (1833), Thomas Wolfe (1900 - 1938), Sam Ervin (1896 - 1985), Earl Scruggs (1924 - ), Avery County (1911), Teague Band (Civil War), Shelton Laurel Massacre , McDowell County (1842), Macon County (1828), Rutherford County (1779), Mitchell County (1861), Jackson County (1851), Judaculla Rock, Rutherford's Campaign, North Carolina Resorts, Appalachian State University, Highland Games, Pilot Mountain, Pisgah National Forest, Cherokee Indians, Catawba Indians, Vance - Carson Duel of 1827, Madison County (1851), John W. Ellis (1820-1862), Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, Secession, Salem Brass Band, Confederate States Navy (in North Carolina), United States Navy (Civil War activity), James Iredell Waddell (1824-1886), CSS Neuse, USS Underwriter, Warren Winslow (1810-1862), Prelude to the Battle of Averasboro, The Battle of Averasboro-Day One, Louis Froelich and Company, Louis Froelich (1817-1873), North Carolina Button Factory, CSA Arms Factory, Ratification Debates, Peace Party (American Civil War), Braxton Bragg (1817-1876), Daniel Harvey Hill (1821-1889), Battle of Bentonville, Bryan Grimes (1828-1880), Fort Hatteras, Fort Fisher, Fort Clark, Fort Macon, Daniel Russell (1845-1908), The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It, Union League, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Levi Coffin (1798 – 1877), Battle of Forks Road, Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923), Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) , Fort Anderson (Confederate), Battle of Deep Gully and Fort Anderson (Federal), James T. Leach (1805-1883), Thomas Bragg (1810-1872), Curtis Hooks Brogden (1816-1901), John Motley Morehead (1796-1866), David Lowry Swain (1801-1868), Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894), Alamance County (1849), Gates County (1779), Clay County (1861), Lenoir County (1791), Union County (1842), Parker David Robbins (1834-1917), Henry Eppes (1831-1917), Washington County (1799), Hertford County (1759), Granville County (1746), Salisbury Prison (Civil War), Stoneman's Raid, James City, Fort York, Asa Biggs (1811 - 1878), Thomas Clingman (1812 - 1897), Matt W. Ransom (1826 - 1904), St. Augustine's College, Peace College, Election Case of Joseph Abbott and Zebulon Vance, Stephen Dodson Ramseur (1837 - 1864) , Vance Birthplace, Matthew Calbraith Butler (1836-1909), Wade Hampton III (1818-1902), The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads (March 10, 1865), Carolinas Campaign (January 1865-April 1865), William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), Confederate Surrender at Bennett's Place (April 17-26, 1865), Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (1836-1881) and the Carolinas Campaign, Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891) and the Carolinas Campaign
Related Commentary: Toward an Inclusive History of the Civil War: Society and the Home Front, Edward Bonekemper on the Cowardice of General McClellan, Freedmen’s Bank Served Blacks in Post-Civil War Economy
Related Lesson Plans: Discussion of the Lunsford Lane Narrative
Timeline: 1836-1865
Region: Mountains

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