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Take a Civil War tour in Haywood County

fr cemeteryWith the help of Civil War enthusiasts in Haywood County, The Shelton House Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts has put together a full weekend of events to commemorate the last shot fired in the Civil War east of the Mississippi. Many of the same events are also planned for the weekend of June 12-13.

Learn about the last shot

Before visiting all the sites, learn about the Battle of Waynesville and the Surrender of the Western N.C. Army from Jule Morrow, Captain of the 25th NC Infantry Regiment. Morrow has been participating in Civil War re-enactments for many years. He will give a presentation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8, at The Shelton House, 49 Shelton St., Waynesville.

Sulphur Springs ceremonies

Once you’ve let the story of the last shot sink in, visit Sulphur Springs Park on Timothy Lane in Waynesville at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 9, for a re-enactment led by the 25th NC Infantry Regiment. The re-enactment will occur again at 3 p.m.

At 11 a.m. members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will give a presentation at the park before leading everyone down the street to lay a wreath at the Civil War monument. Former chapter president Aileen Ezell said she is very excited to have two Haywood County men present who are descendants of Civil War soldiers — Col. William Holland Thomas’s great-great grandson William Thomas Byrd and Capt. Robert Conley’s great grandson John Row. Conley was the man who actually fired the famous last shot in Waynesville. 

Daughters of the Confederacy built and placed the monument at 1049 Sulphur Springs Road, and members will give a brief history about it on Saturday. 

“In 1922 the Daughters had a district meeting in Asheville and it was suggested we build a monument to the last shot fired,” Ezell said. “All the chapters contributed. It was built on our own property and the dedication was in 1923.”

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Gravesite memorial events

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans Col. William Holland Thomas Camp 2231 chapter will have a wreath-laying ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Green Hill Cemetery. 

At 2 p.m., memorial speeches will be given at the Civil War market at Green Hill Cemetery where many officers and soldiers of the Last Shot Battle are buried. At 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be a worship and memorial service at Green Hill Cemetery honoring various Civil War veterans and a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Col. Thomas.

At 5 p.m. May 9, Bethel Rural Community Organization’s Historic Preservation Committee will host a Bethel Cemetery tour of several gravesites, including those of Pinkney Inman, members of the Inman family and other noteworthy individuals buried there. Historical data will be relayed about Bethel history, cemetery and grave marker data and the difficulty of the Civil War for the families that is typified by traumatic events that affected the Inman family. Following the cemetery tour, visitors may drive a short distance to view Cold Mountain.  

Theater events

If you’d rather take a break, cool off and have a drink and snack, The Strand theater at 38 Main St., Waynesville, will be showing “Gone with the Wind” at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 9-10.

Bethel Rural Community Organization has selected Civil War segments from its award-winning oral history DVD, “Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came Before Us,” to play at the Strand following the showing of “Gone With the Wind” on Saturday. The video will also be featured on Sunday just before to the showing. Chosen segments of oral history about Bethel Cemetery, the Inman family and the demise and burial of Pinkney Inman, protagonist in the “Cold Mountain” book and movie, are told by Inman family descendants.  

On Monday, The WNC Civil War Round Table will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. at The Strand. The public is welcome to attend to hear Gettysburg Park Historian John Heiser speak about the 26th NC Infantry’s involvement at Gettysburg on the first day of the three-day battle. 

Shelton House events

The Shelton House just off Pigeon Street in Waynesville will offer commemorative Civil War events all day Saturday. Museum Curator Jackie Stephens will be giving museum tours all day. Visitors will learn about the history of the house that was built just after the war in 1875 and the Shelton family who occupied it. A Civil War exhibit in the house displays a Union soldier’s sword that was taken during the war by Stephen Shelton himself. 

Other items include war medals, a copy of a photo taken in Haywood County at the 25th reunion of the Civil War, a replica of a Civil War-era dress, a Civil War cannonball that was found by the town of Waynesville near Frog Level and a satchel that was made by a Confederate solider while he was in a prisoner-of-war camp in Illinois. 

For those looking to make some genealogical discoveries during their trip, The Shelton House has a roster of Haywood County soldiers who served in the Civil War. 

The Shelton House lawn will be converted into a living history camp where re-enactors will set up tents just as they did during the war. 

Re-enactor Anita Pruett will also lead a Civil War fashion show exhibiting the different uniforms and dresses worn during the era. 

Self-guided events

For those who want to venture out on their own this weekend, there are several other Civil War sites worth checking out. 

To find Thomas’ Last Resting Place, look for the trails sign located in Greenhill Cemetery, Hillview Circle and Main Street in Waynesville.

The Battle House marker can be found right in front the town of Waynesville Municipal Building, located at 16 S. Main St., Waynesville.

Dozens of Confederate soldiers are buried at Locust Field Cemetery, located at Locust Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the library in Canton. During the war, the church and cemetery was a muster site for the local 112th Beaverdam Militia Regiment, and a campground. 

A marker for Kirk’s Raid is located at the Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park at 16 Fie Top Road, Maggie Valley. Col. George Kirk raided Waynesville in February 1865 — burning the home of Young Bennett in Cataloochee and a makeshift hospital for ailing Confederate soldiers along the way. As Kirk approached Soco Gap, Lt. Robert T. Conley’s sharpshooters of Thomas’ Legion attacked. 

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