In my experiences teaching United States history, students have a misconception that American slavery was strictly an agricultural institution. The slave labor experience, in particular, is considered one that existed entirely on plantation fields, sowing, tending, or harvesting cash crops — tobacco, cotton, or rice. Not all rural slaves worked on plantations, though; many toiled on smaller farms with a workforce of five to 10 field hands.
Madison County is located in North Carolina’s mountains along the Tennessee border. It was formed in 1851 out of Buncombe and Yancey Counties, and was named for President James Madison. Marshall, the county seat, was incorporated in 1863.
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.
Hugh Judson Kilpatrick was a Union cavalry general and the first regular Union officer injured in the Civil War. He was a headstrong and reckless leader who sought fame and often exaggerated the results of battles. He earned the nickname “Kill-cavalry” for his reckless use of his men during battle. Kilpatrick became the head of General Sherman’s cavalry and participated in the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea, and the Carolinas Campaign. After the war Kilpatrick served as the US Minister to Chile, and he died in Santiago in 1881.
The surrender at Bennett’s Place was the conclusion to General William T. Sherman’s successful Carolinas Campaign. Sherman’s forces took control of Raleigh and Sherman met with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston at a farm called Bennett’s Place just outside of Durham’s Station, North Carolina, to discuss the surrender of all the forces under Johnston’s command. The initial talks occurred on April 17 and 18, 1865 but Secretary of War Edwin Stanton rejected the agreement and attacked Sherman in the press. Sherman and Johnston met again on April 26, 1865 and agreed to a surrender that was acceptable to Sherman’s superiors.
When U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., filibustered in March, the old-fashioned way, talking for approximately 13 hours and questioning whether the president had the constitutional authority to use unmanned drones to kill American noncombatants on U.S. soil, he unnerved many politicians and talking heads.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was one of the highest ranking Confederate generals and a member of “Old Virginia.” Before the Civil War, Johnston had a distinguished military career and was the first West Point graduate to achieve the rank of general. During the Civil War, Johnston became a general in the Confederate Army, defended Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign, and opposed General Sherman in the Atlanta Campaign. He took command of the Confederate Army in North Carolina on February 25, 1865 to oppose General Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign and fought at the Battle of Bentonville. Johnston officially surrendered the Confederate Army at Bennett’s Place outside Durham’s Station, North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
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.
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.
The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads was a small Civil War battle that occurred on March 10, 1865 near Fayetteville. Mounted Confederate cavalry attacked an unprepared Union cavalry encampment. The fighting lasted several hours. Although initially routed the Union soldiers rallied, counter attacked, and retook the camp. The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads opened the road to Fayetteville for Confederate troops, allowed Confederate forces to arrive at Fayetteville first, and provided the Confederates the time needed to cross the Cape Fear River before the arrival of the Union soldiers.