The Civil War, Day by Day

Winter Riders

Winter Riders

The Southern states, they believed, had both a Constitutional right and a just cause for leaving the Union and forming a new nation. Like these North Carolinians depicted on a wintry Raleigh street, countless Confederate soldiers fought and died for the cause of Southern independence.

They had gone to war reluctantly, but no Confederates had done more to defend the South than the citizens and soldiers of North Carolina. They had cautiously waited, watching with sadness and sympathy, as one Southern state after another seceded from the Union. Even after warfare erupted at Fort Sumter, many North Carolinians hoped negotiations would hold the country together. Not until President Lincoln called for 75,000 Northern volunteers to invade the South, did the citizens of “the Old North State” vote to secede. They would not allow Northern troops to cross their borders for the purpose of making war on fellow Southerners.

By early 1863, as gray-clad North Carolina troops tramped down Raleigh’s snow-covered streets, the Tar Heels had proven they were not reluctant warriors. They had fought and died in significant numbers in every theater of war east of the Mississippi. Although North Carolina contained one-ninth of the Confederate population, one-sixth of Southern troops were North Carolinians. Tar Heel civilians were also doing their part for “the Cause,” providing rations, equipment and arms from Carolina fields, factories and blockade runners.

What thoughts were in the minds of Raleigh’s women and children as they watched the men of their state heading through a snowy night, bound for faraway warfare and an uncertain future? What images preoccupied North Carolina’s young Confederate warriors as they passed Raleigh’s warm and beckoning lights? Would they return to home and family? Would they fall on a distant battlefield, slain by a foe they had never met?

In February of 1863, what lay ahead for many North Carolina soldiers and thousands of other Southern troops was the greatest battle of the war - the greatest battle ever fought in North America - looming in the summer to come at an obscure Pennsylvania hamlet called Gettysburg. There, thousands of Tar Heel troops would lay down their lives in defense of homes and homeland at peaceful-sounding sites as McPherson’s Ridge, Willoughby’s Run and Cemetery Ridge. Of the 15,000 Confederates killed and wounded at the battle of Gettysburg, one-fourth would be from North Carolina.

There, noted a surviving Tar Heel, and on countless other bloody fields of fire, the Confederates from North Carolina “covered themselves with glory.”

March's Archived Features:

Wednesday March 1, 2023
Thursday March 2, 2023
Friday March 3, 2023
Saturday March 4, 2023
Sunday March 5, 2023
Monday March 6, 2023
Tuesday March 7, 2023
Wednesday March 8, 2023
Thursday March 9, 2023
Friday March 10, 2023
Saturday March 11, 2023
Sunday March 12, 2023
Monday March 13, 2023
Tuesday March 14, 2023
Wednesday March 15, 2023
Thursday March 16, 2023
Friday March 17, 2023
Saturday March 18, 2023
Sunday March 19, 2023
Monday March 20, 2023
Tuesday March 21, 2023
Wednesday March 22, 2023
Thursday March 23, 2023
Friday March 24, 2023
Saturday March 25, 2023
Sunday March 26, 2023
Monday March 27, 2023
Tuesday March 28, 2023
Wednesday March 29, 2023



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.