RALEIGH, N.C. – On May 20, 1861, delegates from across the state met in the House Chamber of the State Capitol and voted to sever North Carolina’s ties with the Union. On Saturday, May 21, 2011, the Capitol will present “North Carolina Secedes,” a living history program commemorating the historic vote and a look at the state’s early wartime preparations.
The free event will take place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and is open to the public. It is part of the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial, a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in North Carolina (www.nccivilwar150.com).
The re-enactment of the Secession Convention’s vote will take place in the historic House Chamber at 11 a.m. Contemporary accounts of the day recall that following the unanimous vote, a handkerchief was dropped from the west portico as a signal to the crowd below that North Carolina had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s artillery unit was posted on the grounds for the occasion and announced the historic moment by firing its cannons and infantry. Approximately 100 re-enactors from the 26th North Carolina Regiment will portray Ramseur’s battery and re-enact the infantry firing on the southwest grounds.
In the afternoon, the event will feature a drill and dress parade, a field music concert and lectures on the state’s military organization, war flags, and the early uniforms and equipment of both North Carolina and Union soldiers. Additionally, a facsimile of North Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession will be on display inside the Capitol.
For those hoping to get a glimpse of Confederate camp life, the 26th NC (http://www.26nc.org/) will be encamped at Historic Oak View County Park on the east side of Raleigh. On Sunday, the group will present “Preparing for War: The 26th NC in 1861” at the park from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit http://www.wakegov.com/parks/oakview for details.
The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history, architecture and functions of the 1840 building and Union Square. The Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington streets. For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol/default.htm or call (919) 733-4994.
Administered by the Division of State Historic Sites, the State Capitol is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
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