Maybe more so than any other novelist below the Mason-Dixon line, including the 19th-century William Gilmore Simms of South Carolina, Inglis Fletcher of North Carolina painted the most comprehensive, historical portrait of the land on which she lived.
“Paint with the grain, son!,” my father reminded me for what seemed to be the umpteenth time. I had been assigned the task of painting the picnic table and benches.
Matthew Calbraith Butler was a member of the southern gentry and a Confederate General from South Carolina during the American Civil War. He served under the command of General Wade Hampton and his valor and good judgment earned him numerous promotions. Butler served at the First Battle of Bull Run, the Confederate Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, the Overland Campaign, Petersburg, and the Carolinas Campaign. During the Carolinas Campaign, Butler was a major general and one of the leading officers in the Confederate Cavalry. After the war, Butler became a United States Senator from South Carolina and eventually the vice president of the Southern Historical Association.
James Holland or “Big Jim” Holland was a North Carolina Militiaman and politician from Anson County, North Carolina. He served in the Revolutionary War and was elected to the North Carolina State Senate (1783, 1797) and the North Carolina House of Commons (1786, 1789). He also served in the United States House of Representatives (1795-1797, 1800-1810). Later in life Holland moved to Tennessee and served as the Justice of the Peace (1812-1818). He died in Maury County, Tennessee in 1823.
Wade Hampton III was one of the richest plantation owners in the South. He served as a general for the Confederacy during the United States Civil War and was engaged in battles, including Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Bentonville, from the beginning until the very end of the war. Hampton became the leader of Robert E. Lee’s cavalry forces, and he was sent southward at the end of the war to stop General Sherman. Hampton played an important role in the fighting in North Carolina. After the war, Hampton was elected as governor of South Carolina and served as a U.S. Senator.
A jurist and pamphleteer from North Carolina, Maurice Moore opposed the passage and implementation of the Stamp Act (1765). He was the father of Alfred Moore, a justice on the United State Supreme Court.
After completing his "March to the Sea," General William T. Sherman proceeded north into the Carolinas. Sherman’s Army wrought devastation in South Carolina and met little resistance. Sherman captured Columbia, South Carolina, and it was burned to the ground. He then proceeded into North Carolina and took Fayetteville, Goldsboro, and then Raleigh. West of Raleigh at Durham’s Station, Sherman met with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and signed a peace agreement that officially surrendered all Confederate forces still active in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Fiction is more than entertainment. It informs readers about the times in which it was written. An Inch of Snow (1964) is such a novel. It was written by William E. Cobb, a Burke County Republican, who served as a minority leader in the North Carolina Senate and served as the North Carolina Republican Chairman.
William Tecumseh Sherman was a Union General during the American Civil War. He led the Atlanta Campaign, and his “March to the Sea” was extremely popular in the North and dealt a severe blow to the South. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign seized control of South Carolina and North Carolina and led to the official surrender of the Southern Confederate Army at Bennett’s Place. Sherman’s force left a path of devastation where it went and burned down prominent cities like Atlanta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina. After the war, Sherman became the commanding general of the United States Army and was the military leader during the Indian Wars.
A recent history column briefly described An Inch of Snow (1964), an out-of-print novel depicting a state legislative race in North Carolina. It was more than entertainment depicting small-town North Carolina life. The novel’s fictitious speeches by Democratic and Republican candidates reflect the actual economic concerns of North Carolinians in the 1960s. The arguments offered are often repeated nowadays in print and on air and behind debate podiums and at dinner tables across the state.