Saturday, June 4, 2016

LAST SHOT FIRED IN THE CIVIL WAR by Cheri Kay Clifton


Six months out of the year I live in the historical town of Waynesville, North Carolina.  I never knew how historical until last year when I attended events to mark the 150th Year of the American Civil War.  Come to find out, Waynesville lays claim to holding the notable distinction of where the last shot of the Civil War was fired east of the Mississippi. 



With the news of General Lee's surrender traveling slowly, the Civil War continued in Western North Carolina.  A Confederate unit known as Thomas' Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders led by Lieutenant Robert T. Conley were passing through the woods in Sulphur Springs (present day, Waynesville) when they stumbled into the camp of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel William C. Bartlett.  Conley rapidly formed a skirmish line and began firing causing the Union soldiers to run in confusion.  One of Bartlett's men, James Arwood was killed during the skirmish. 
The Union soldiers retreated into Waynesville and Thomas' Legion surrounded the town.  The following day, May 7, Confederate commanders General James Green Martin and Colonel William Holland Thomas (for whom the Legion was named) met with Bartlett at the Battle House in Waynesville in order to negotiate the surrender of the Union forces. Martin and Thomas were made aware that General Joseph E. Johnston had capitulated in Durham, North Carolina on April 26th, so Martin and Thomas surrendered their Confederate troops instead.

Last Shot Confederate Memorial
erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.


I attended the reenactment of the battle.

An interesting side note about Colonel William Holland Thomas is that he served concurrently as Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and as a member of the North Carolina State Senate (1848-1861), the only white man to have ever served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Indians.  Adopted by Chief Yonaguska, Thomas learned to read, write and speak Cherokee at a young age.
Colonel Thomas' grave at Waynesville Cemetery.
The yellow flag is the official flag of the
Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation
who continue to honor their great white chief.

As another side note, it is a matter of odd historical fact that the last shot of the Civil War west of the Mississippi was fired from the Confederate Navy ship, the CSS Shenandoah across the bow of a New Bedford whaling ship in the Bering Sea off Siberia on June 22, 1865, more than a month after the war had actually ended.  
Please visit my web site: www.cherikayclifton.com and give me a like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CheriKayClifton 

Wishing everyone Happy Trails!

11 comments:

  1. Fascinating. The end of the Civil War came slowly to Texas. Maybe because of poor communication, or maybe because some units were isolated in the vast region, and had way of knowing. Maybe this is something I could research.
    I grew up knowing very little about the Civil War. Even as an adult, I never gave it a thought, and don't remember ever seeing any kind of CW memorial.
    I learned the most only about 20 years ago as we toured a couple of CW battleground memorials. It was intriguing and sad, too.
    Thanks...I like to read a post by someone who has first hand knowledge. Most, like me, depend on research.

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    1. Yes, Celia, it was great to be up close & personal, sort of speak, with that bit of history.

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    2. Celia, I wanted to add that I, as I know the other Sweethearts, appreciate how you and Caroline monitor our blog and take the time to write comments on our posts. Nice also to hear from our sister authors as well. I'm so glad to be a part of this wonderful author group!

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  2. Interesting post, Cheri. I find the part about Colonel Thomas being chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokees particularly intriguing. I'd like to learn more about him. I'm a small part Cherokee and my ancestors came from Tennessee. Love history!

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    1. Linda, I love American history for sure! That's why I love to write historical westerns. Wonderful that you have some Cherokee blood, would be great to research more about them. Since I'm near Cherokee, NC, I plan on seeing their dramatic play, Unto These Hills, which is about their history, the sad Trail of Tears. up to and including present day.

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  3. Very interesting Historical tidbits, Cheri!! I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Keep up the good work! Your books are a joy to read as well.

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  4. Thanks, Karol, always nice to hear from one of my best fans!!

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  5. Dear Cheri: Great post. What interesting information, so many little curious bits to spark the imagination.

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  6. Thanks, Gini. Often when we authors do our research on a particular subject, we learn lots of facts that we weren't even looking for which can enhance our storytelling even more.

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  7. Cheri, thank you for revealing this momentous history that took place in Waynesville, NC--just up the road a piece from Charlotte where I live. I learned a bit of something here today. I also was surprised about the very last shot fired west of the Mississippi was in the Bering Sea, for Pete's sake!
    Research is a writer's chocolate. Great blog, Cheri.

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  8. Nice to hear from a sister North Carolinian! Love your comparison of research to writer's chocolate. Trouble is, sometimes I want to indulge too much in both!

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