The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the true interests and honor of the State. In a letter written by him to Governor Swain in January, 1864, he said:

        "Almost every argument can be answered but one--that is the cries of our women and children for bread. Of all others that is the hardest for a man to meet.

        "But the historian shall not say it was the weakness of their Governor, or that Saul was consenting to their death. As God liveth there is nothing I would not do or dare for a people who have honored me so far beyond my deserts."

        For this he was willing to make any sacrifice, even to death. He felt as did the brave Horatius of Rome.

                         To every man upon this earth
                         Death cometh soon or late.
                         And how can man die better
                         Than facing fearful odds
                         For the ashes of his fathers,
                         And the temples of his Gods;
                         And for the tender mother
                         Who dandled him to rest,
                         And for the wife who nurses
                         His baby at her breast.

        To him these were no idle words or empty professions. During his whole term as Governor this was fully proved by acts and deeds.

        He, at the suggestion of General Martin, purchased from the Clyde a steamship, and established a system of supplies by carrying cotton to Europe, and receiving in return arms and necessaries for the people, that else must have perished for food and raiment.

        If the troops of North Carolina were the best clothed and best equipped men in the Southern army, it was due to the sagacity and energy of Governor Vance.

        On the approach of Sherman's army the Governor went to Statesville, where he had some time previously sent his wife and children; there he was arrested and brought to Washington City and placed in Carroll prison.

        There were many ridiculous statements made as to the capture of Governor Vance, which were offensive, and drew from him the following correction:

"CHARLOTTE,13th October, 1868.


        "I see by the public prints that General Kilpatrick has decorated me with his disapprobation before the people of Pennsylvania. He informs them, substantially, that he tamed me by capturing me and riding me two hundred miles on a bareback mule. I will do him the justice to say that he knew that was a lie when he uttered it.

        "I surrendered to General Schofield at Greensboro, N. C., on the 2d May, 1865, who told me to go to my home and remain there, saying if he got any orders to arrest me he would send there for me. Accordingly, I went home and there remained until I was arrested on 13th May, by a detachment of 300 cavalry, under Major Porter of Harrisburg, from whom I received nothing but kindness and courtesy. I came in a buggy to Salisbury, where we took the cars.

        "I saw no mule on the trip, yet I thought I saw an ass at the general's headquarters; this impression has since been confirmed.

        "The general remembers, among other incidents of the war, the dressing up of a strumpet, who assisted him in putting down the rebellion in the uniform of an orderly, and introducing her into a respectable family of ladies. This and other feats of arms and strategy so creditable would no doubt have been quite amusing, and far more true than the mule story. I wonder he forgot it.

"Respectfully yours,

"Z. B. VANCE."

        How Governor Vance employed his time while in prison is shown by the following notes received from him. He bore his confinement with all the patience of a patriot, and "submitted with philosophy to the inevitable."

"CARROLL PRISON, 16 June, 1865.


        "MY DEAR SIR: I desire to study French while in confinement. I want a dictionary, grammar, and Ollendorf's method. I am quite well, and see no hope of getting out soon.

"Very truly yours,

"Z. B. VANCE."

        I was, of course, pleased to oblige him, and sent the books.

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