Civil War Trails of the High County

civil war history in the high country From 2011-2015 North Carolina is commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in North Carolina. While only one engagement by regular troops was fought in the High Country, by Stoneman’s cavalry and appropriately named Stoneman’s Raid, many guerilla raids by militias, deserters, and renegades on both sides took place. These fights often pitted neighbor against neighbor and literally, “brother against brother.”

Charles Frasier’s best-selling novel Cold Mountainand the resulting hit movie are works of fiction, but are firmly based on the facts of the Civil War in the High Country. During the period of 1861 – 1865, this was disputed territory, with some communities firmly committed to the preservation of the Union and others hotly secessionist.

You can view Civil War trail signs and may have the chance to visit with the descendants of combatants on both sides throughout the High Country. Here is a list of markers:

Watauga County: Boone, Blowing Rock Area

Camp Mast

Trail sign at 815 W King Street, Boone NCA Confederate home guard camp was stationed here and attacked in February 1865 by men from Banner Elk

Mustard Fields

Field by Horn in the West Drive, Boone NCThis field was used by Confederate troops to train

Stoneman’s Raid

Marker near Deep Gap Blue Ridge Parkway Entrance- The Confederate home guard used this area as a lookout point for Stoneman’s cavalry, which was thought to be traveling to the Boone area via Wilkesboro

Avery County: Banner Elk, Newland, Elk Park

Banner Elk, NC Community

Trail sign at 7990 Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk NC-This community provided safe houses for prisoners and refugees of both sides

Blalock Family

Trail sign at 436 Hospital Drive, Newland NC- Unionists Sarah & Keith Blalock guided escaped Union prisoners to the safety of the mountains of Banner Elk

Cranberry Iron Mine

Trail sign at 5215 Elk Park Highway, Elk Park NCThe iron mine was used by Confederates to supply raw materials for the war

Reenactments

Christmas in July Festival

Weekend in July in Downtown West Jefferson NC- A civil war reenactment is held every year at the festival

Wilkes County: Wilkesboro

Fort Hamby

Trail sign at 1534 S Recreation Road, Wilkesboro NCUnion & Confederate deserters occupied this “fort” at the end of the war.

References:

Stoneman’s Last Raid, 1961, Ina W. Van Noppen

Bushwhackers: The Civil War in North Carolina: The Mountains, 1991, William R. Trotter

The War Trails of the Blue Ridge, 1932, Shepherd M. Dugger

A History of Watauga County North Carolina, 1911 (Reprint 1992), John Preston Arthur

A Short History of Watauga County, 2005, Michael C. Hardy

Links:

Civil War Trails, www.civilwartraveler.com/EAST/NC/index.html

“Cold Mountain” movie trailer, www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXGtunJ9Jqk

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