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North Carolina’s Role in the Civil War Research Paper

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Updated: May 1st, 2020


The North Carolina state, like other states in the USA, has a significant history that dates back to the American Civil War between 1861 and 1862. The state’s help towards the war came mainly in the form of supply of military personnel, ammunition, and other military supplies that helped to keep the enemy soldiers at bay. This research paper focuses on the role that the state of North Carolina played during the Civil War to ensure victory against the adversary.

Actions and Role of North Carolina

Significant contributions of the state of North Carolina helped to shape up the American Civil War in a more special manner. Firstly, North Carolina provided close to 134,000 personnel to help in the realization of the Confederate objective in the war.

This was comparatively the biggest number of servicemen to have come from a single state, among the numerous states that formed the Confederate State. This figure made up approximately a sixth of the entire Confederacy army. Given the large contribution of personnel towards the Confederate army, North Carolina also suffered immense consequences after at least 40,000 of the servicemen perished, either because of direct war consequences or because of disease-related causes.

In addition to the large contribution of army personnel, North Carolina also provided a significant number of generals, whose skills helped the Confederate State to outwit its adversaries.

Amongst the most notable generals who hailed from North Carolina included Braxton Bragg, who was in charge of the Western Theatre, and Daniel Harvey Hill, who led the North Carolina Infantry to the Battle of the Big Bethel. Other notable generals included William Dorsey Pender, who participated in the Battle of Seven Pines during the Civil War, and Stephen Dodson Ramseur, who took charge of the Battle of Malvern Hill.

The agriculturally rich Piedmont region of North Carolina acted as the main producer of food that was used by the Confederate forces. This was a significant contribution, as it was necessary for the Confederate State to have a steady food supply for its servicemen. Another of North Carolina’s strategic regions, Wilmington, offered a vantage point from where the Confederate forces monitored and participated in both the Atlantic Ocean and the European trade.

The Union’s efforts during the war equally benefited from the North Carolina region, despite a larger percentage of the territory has been under the Confederate forces’ control. More importantly, the north-eastern region of North Carolina fell under the Union forces’ control during the Civil War, prompting Edward Stanly to take over as the new governor.

The Union forces’ firm holds to the captured North Carolina region equally resulted in a massive loss of workers in the form of slaves, who opted to flee the Confederate States’ camp in favor of the Union’s camp.

The significance of the North Carolina State continued even after the formal accession of Lincoln as President in 1861. At the time, there were growing calls for the state to secede. On the other hand, the Unionists opposed any secessionist efforts, a move that prompted the creation of a vote to determine the majority. The Unionists went ahead and won the vote by 47,323 against 46,672.

President Lincoln later ordered 75,000 troops to quell the rebellion voice, but North Carolina stated it would not contribute its forces to the mission, in a statement issued by Governor Ellis. The declaration for secession by the North Carolina Governor emerged popular, even among counties in the Union camp whose delegates openly showed support for the Confederate States’ position.

Eventually, the Union faced its worst moment on the 20th of May 1861, as the state seceded. Celebrations conducted to mark the Mecklenburg Declaration, similar to the one conducted at Independence in 1775.

Despite the Civil War mostly happening in the Southern states, except in North Carolina, critical war campaigns occurred mainly within the Old North State territory. The 1865 period witnessed increased activities in the region. For instance, the Sherman’s March to the Sea war campaign eventually ended in North Carolina after taking part in Georgia and South Carolina.

On the other hand, General William J. Hardee used Averasboro as he continued with what Sherman had initiated. Equally, General Joseph E. Johnston relied on the significant Bentonville area of North Carolina as he led his forces against Sherman’s forces between the 19th and 21st of March in 1865. This also marked the end of a series of battles that made up the Civil War, resulting in Sherman’s surrender at Bennett Place.


The North Carolina state was significant during the Civil War in many ways, including giving the largest contingent of servicemen to the Confederate States. It also produced the majority of key army generals who led the war against the Unionists. The rallying call for secession conducted by the North Carolina Governor resulted in a victory for the Confederate States, as it attracted more delegates from the Union counties that had initially voted to defeat secessionist calls.


“Editors’ Notes.” The Journal of Economic History 65.2 (2005): 572-657.

Henretta, James A., Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self. America: A Concise History, Volume I: To 1877. 5th ed., Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.

Liscow, Zachary. “Why Fight Secession? Evidence of Economic Motivations from the American Civil War.” Public Choice 153.1-2 (2012): 37-54.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "North Carolina's Role in the Civil War." May 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/north-carolinas-role-in-the-civil-war/.


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