The Civil War, even after so many years, has an eternal grip on the American psyche. James Greathouse, the senior museum specialist at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, explains the fascination by saying, “In many ways it was our last ‘Napoleonic Style’ war. Colorful uniforms, regimental bands and all that pomp and ceremony. From the dashing cavalry trooper riding off to glory and honor to the lines of soldiers marching shoulder-to-shoulder braving shot and shell, the Civil War reminds us of an age of chivalry. “
To further explore this era, the museum organized a Civil War Bus Tour with Greathouse as the tour guide. The tour explores three different towns that have deep, though perhaps unexpected connections, to the Civil War.
“For the Averasboro portion of the tour we will stop at several places along the battlefield to explain how the battle developed and hear some personal accounts,” said Greathouse. “At the museum, tour members will have time to explore the exhibits and check out the gift shop. At Bentonville, we will go over the details of the battle, but will not venture too far into the battlefield area. The bus tour guide will provide background information on the Carolinas’ Campaign and the visitor’s center displays will allow the group to get a greater understanding of how the battle unfolded.”
In Fayetteville, Averasboro and Bentonville, the tour will highlight personal accounts by the soldiers and civilians that witnessed the battles.
For Greathouse the single best moment of the tour is the hospital
“It is an unbroken reminder of the brutality of warfare. This nice home was thrown into the midst of war and I really do not think that life there was ever the same there after the battle,” he said.
The entire tour is riveting for both the experienced Civil War enthusiast and the less experienced. The route itself is hauntingly beautiful, so beautiful that Greathouse says it is a struggle to imagine the brutality that took place, noting that these events are still very pertinent.
The Civil War was a very human and personal affair for those who served, and having an honest retelling is vital to understanding America today.
“To understand the Civil War and what it means to America today, we need to look at the war from all sides,” Greathouse says. “For me, it is the stories of the common soldiers and civilians just trying to survive the war that holds my attention. It is these stories that truly show us the best and worst of what the Civil War was about. These personal stories are where we can learn something worth remembering.”
The Cumberland County History Bus Tour is on June 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is required as space is limited. There is also a $5 fee per person, and moderate walking may be involved. For more information visitwww.fcpr.us/transportation_museum.aspx or call 910-433-1457.