The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the State Senate, of which body he was chosen Speaker.

        In 1858 he was a candidate for Congress, to fill the vacancy made by the appointment of Hon. T. L. Clingman as United States Senator. Colonel David Coleman, who was also a Democrat, opposed him, and after they had canvassed a large portion of the district, Hon. Z. B. Vance announced himself a candidate, and Colonel Coleman withdrew; but the district had given Mr. Buchanan a very small majority, and the dissension was such that Vance was elected.

        In 1860, W. W. Avery was again chairman of the North Carolina delegation in the National Convention at Charleston, and seceded with the southern wing of the party that afterwards nominated Mr. Breckenridge. During the same year he was again elected to the State Senate, and declined the nomination for Speaker in favor of his friend H. T. Clark, who become Governor after the death of Governor Ellis. After the election of Mr. Lincoln he was an avowed secessionist, and strongly urged the call of a convention during the winter of 1860 and 1861.

        After the State seceded on the 20th of May, 1861, he was elected by the Convention as one of the members from the State at large of the Provisional Congress. He served in that body until the Provisional Government was succeeded by the permanent government, provided for in the Constitution adopted in 1861. He was a member and chairman on the Committee on Military Affairs.

        A majority of the Democrats in the Legislature of 1861 voted for Mr. Avery for Senator in the Congress of the Confederate States; but a large minority supported Hon. T. L. Clingman, while the Whigs voted for a candidate from their own party. After balloting for several weeks the friends of the two candidates compromised by electing Hon. W. T. Dortch.

        After the expiration of his term in Congress in 1862, he returned to his home with authority from the President to raise a regiment; but was prevented from carrying out his purpose by the earnest protests of his aged father and four brothers, who were already in active service. They insisted that he was beyond the age for service, and it was his duty to his family and country to remain at home.

        He was an earnest and active supporter of the Confederate cause, and contributed liberally to the government and for the maintenance of the families of soldiers.

        In 1864 an incursion was made by a party of so-called Unionists from Tennessee, commanded by Colonel Kirk, who afterwards gained a very unenviable notoriety in North Carolina. This party, after surprising and capturing a small body of conscripted boys in Burke County, retreated towards Tennessee. Mr. Avery with a body of North Carolina militia pursued the party, and in attacking the retreating forces at a strong position in the mountains, was mortally wounded. He was removed to his home in Morganton, where he died on the 3d day of July, 1864.

        In all the relations of life he was distinguished for his kindness and affability, and his unselfish love for the comfort and happiness of others. No man has been more missed and lamented by the community in which he lived, and his aged father, (then in his eightieth year,) went down to his grave sorrowing for the loss of this the third son who had fallen in battle within one year.

        For the Genealogy of the Avery family see Appendix.


        There are no families in the State that have rendered more important service to the State than the McDowells.

        Although careful research has been made for years in records of the State, and families,
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