The Civil War, Day by Day

Col. Zebulon E. Vance

North Carolina Secedes

This development was part of the second and more significant wave of secession, which occurred after the Civil War officially began…and which considerably strengthened the Confederacy.

President Abraham Lincoln was shocked by North Carolina’s decision, for the state had previously refused to even hold a secession convention. Like its counterparts in the upper South, it had held out for compromise with the North. When a group of Southern sympathizers seized Forts Caswell and Johnston before the war began, Governor John Ellis cooperated by returning the forts to the Federal government.

Unfortunately, the longer North Carolina waited, the more Lincoln misinterpreted the state’s inaction as a show of solid Union support. Once the gunfire started at Fort Sumter, however, there was no longer a margin for misunderstanding.

According to one prominent North Carolina resident, this confrontation left North Carolina feeling “prostrated” by the Union…and compelled to “resist until we repel our invaders or die.”

With swift dispatch, the state took back the forts they had restored to Union control. Ellis swore his support to the Confederacy…and North Carolina was now officially an enemy to the North.

Mort Künstler painted this portrait of Col. Zebulon Vance, who later became Governor, in front of the North Carolina flag.

June's Archived Features:

Monday June 1, 2020
Tuesday June 2, 2020
Wednesday June 3, 2020
Thursday June 4, 2020



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.