From its earliest days, Fayetteville has played a part in the significant events that have shaped the state and even the country. From the Liberty Point Resolve of 1775 that pledged local support for the Revolutionary War to the wars in the middle east that are shaping our world today.
As part of the 31 Day Salute honoring the military, the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum is hosting Cumberland County Goes to War. The exhibit celebrates the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the American Civil War.
“This being a local history museum, we are focusing on what was going on in Fayetteville and Cumberland County during the Civil War,” said Fayetteville Historic Properties Manager Bruce Dawes. “It is kind of a compartmentalized exhibit. We’ve got a section on the arsenal, and then we talk about the home front war efforts. A lot of that has to do with the contributions of the ladies and children and the elderly people that were serving on the home front. It was certainly a war where sacrifices were felt at all levels, not just the soldiers in the field, but on the home front, too. They did a lot of sacrifice and volunteer work.”
Visitors to the exhibit may not know that Fayetteville had three hospitals in operation during the Civil War. There was one on Hay Street, one at the arsenal and another close to the Cape Fear River that helped to take care of wounded soldiers coming from places like Fort Fisher.
“We will have a section on Fayetteville as it relates to being an inland port on the Cape Fear River and our connection with Wilmington and the whole blockade running thing,” said Dawes. “We talk about goods coming in from Europe through the blockades and things coming up the Cape Fear River. We talk about the Cape Fear River and Fayetteville and what was going on with the river.”
From there visitors follow the action to the battle of Monroe’s Crossroads which was fought on land that is now Fort Bragg, but was part of Cumberland County. This battle was as fought towards the end of the war March 10, 1865, and it only gets more exciting from there.
“We profile Monroe’s Crossroad, and the day after that was the occupation of Fayetteville by General Sherman,” said Dawes. During Sherman’s stay in town, the Cape Fear River bridge was burned and Sherman’s army had to build pontoons to get across. The Confederate army proceeded north and the union army pursued and went north, too.
On the Harnett/Cumberland line, the battle of Averasboro commenced on March 15 of 1865, and there were Fayetteville natives in the mix who will be represented in this part of the exhibit, too.
“Then, just to bring the war to a complete close, because we have Fayettevillians who fought in the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina, and the last major engagement of the war in North Carolina that is the battle of Bentonville, which will also be featured,” said Dawes. “We also have a random sampling of personalities — people from Fayetteville/Cumberland County who served in the war. We have pictures of these local veterans and personalities. Of course most of them fought for the south but there were a few who fought for the Union.”
One of these personalities includes an African-American who went to Maryland and helped to raise a couple of Union regiments. Every aspect of the exhibit is closely related to what was going on in Fayetteville Cumberland County at the time Dawes said. The exhibit runs through May 31 at the Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Visit www.fcpr.us/transportation_museum.aspx or call 433-1458 to find out more.
Photo: The Fayetteville Transportation Museum is hosting Cumberland County Goes to War through May 31.