The North Carolina Museum of History, located in Raleigh, is commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg this weekend by showing a four-hour film depicting the event. It will be followed by a guide from the Gettysburg National Military Park answering questions from the audience. The 1993 film begins at 12:30, Sunday, July 7. The entire event is scheduled to end at 6 p.m.
North Carolina was one of the Confederate states. The museum’s North Carolina and the Civil War: 1861-1865 collection is divided into a three-part series and tells the story of the soldiers, civilians, and events that involved the Tar Heel state. Part two, The Raging Storm, will run through October 27, 2013. It focuses on the battlefield, surgical procedures, uniforms, flags, and the number of soldiers who died or were wounded in action in 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg had over 14,000 North Carolina soldiers out of which close to 7,000 were either killed, wounded, or captured in battle.
The 26th North Carolina Regiment was part of Pickett’s Charge, named after Major General George Pickett, which took place July 3, 1863 at Cemetery Ridge. Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered an assault against the Union army. The Confederate soldiers had to cross open fields to reach the Union soldiers who were protected behind a low stone wall. Some of the men under Pickett’s command had “pushed to within ten paces” of the wall. It would be the farthest point reached by the Confederacy. With roughly 50% of the men killed or wounded, this ended the Battle of Gettysburg.
There are two monuments commemorating the 26th Regiment on the battlefield. One is in a wooded area known as McPherson Ridge, and the second is ten paces away from the rock wall.
According to historians, it is difficult to give an accurate count of the total number of Civil War soldiers from this state. The often-quoted numbers leave out the approximate 2,000 whites and African-Americans who fought in the Union army. While scholars agree that North Carolina lost the most soldiers, the number of deaths during the war range from 33,000 to 40,000.
Part three of the Civil War exhibit will not open until 2014. It will focus on the later battles nearing the close of the war as well as postwar problems and reconstruction.
The entire three-part exhibit is part of the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial organized by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This statewide commemoration of the Civil War includes articles, documentation, timeline, and locations of events and monuments.
Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent
North Carolina Museum of History