The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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of a sectional President was considered by many, and specially by South Carolina, a reason for secession, and on December 20, 1860, that State held a convention which declared the connection of that State with the Union dissolved, and proceeded to place the State in an attitude hostile to the United States. This example was followed by other States south of her.

        North Carolina's Legislature directed the question of calling a convention to be submitted to the people. The press, and the people were much exercised on this momentous question. The meeting of the people was largely attended, and addressed by the ablest statesmen, as Mr. Badger, Governors Morehead, and Graham, in opposition to secession. The people with just unanimity declared against calling a convention. But when (April 19, 1861) Sumter was fired upon, and surrendered to the Confederate Army, the "Northern heart was fired."

        On the 15th Lincoln had called for 75,000 troops; then the whole Southern section became aroused, the glorious summer time of peace gave place to the wintry blasts of war and discontent. Virginia seceded. This placed North Carolina in such a position that she must either join in a war against her neighbors and sisters, or unite her fortunes with them and share their fate. She did not now hesitate in her decision. Influenced by their views, a convention was called, which met on a day memorable in her history (May 20, 1861), and passed an ordinance of secession from the Federal Union, by a unanimous vote; the 20th of June of that year saw North Carolina a member of the Confederacy. To this measure Governor Graham made a strong but fruitless opposition. He wished the State to hold her destinies in her own hands, that she might act as the exigencies of the hour should require. He was eminently conservative in his views. He it was who opposed an ordinance to define and punish treason, in a speech of great power and matchless eloquence.

        He was calm and considerate whilst the tempests howled around him, and the signals of war burned in every beacon height.

        In December, 1863, Governor Graham was elected to the Confederate Senate by a majority of two-thirds of the Legislature, and took his seat in May, 1864. This was a perilous period for the Confederate cause, and it needed all the counsel, comfort and support that could be afforded. The brilliant success of early years of the war had been followed by a succession of defeats and disasters. The battle of Gettysburg, that very Waterloo of the war, had been fought and lost to the Confederates; Vicksburg had fallen, and the armies of the North had cut the South in twain. Sherman had made his "march to the sea," his track was marked by rapine and desolation. The force opposed to the South, was as seven to one.*

        * The whole number of Confederates surrendered, including Lee's command, amounted to 150,000. The whole number of Federals amounted to 1,050,000. (Stephens' Hist. U. S., p. 161).

It had become plain that the war could not be longer successfully prosecuted by the South.

        In this cloud of gloom, a ray of hope appeared in the form of a conference at Hampton Roads, between Lincoln and the Confederate Commissioners; this took place on February 3, 1865. The terms offered by Mr. Lincoln were, that the seceded States should return to the Union, with slavery as it was; but that slavery was liable to be abolished by an amendment to the Constitution. The Southern Commissioners demanded independence. There could be no compromise reached, and the conference ended.

        On their return, the commissioners, Mr. Davis and Mr. Benjamin, made speeches to the public, but they seemed flat, almost insipid. The tenor of the speeches made by Mr. Davis and Mr. Benjamin, showed that they were not based upon a realization of the facts of the case, but Mr. Graham did realize the true condition of affairs in all its force. His letters, published in "The Last Ninety Days of the War," show how clearly his vision swept the political horizon. The Congress
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