Men Flock to Nashville to Enlist: 24 February 1862

Nashville and the Clouds of War:

24 February 1862

Written by: Earl P. Bell

Posted: 8 March, 2010

The 24th of February 2010, marked the one hundred and forty eighth anniversary of a most important day in the history of Nash County – the 24th of February 1862.  In fact, if the week before and after, that day in 1862 are considered as a single time frame,  it is the epicenter, during 1862,  for the enlistment by Nash County men to bear arms on behalf of Nash County, North Carolina and the Confederacy.  During those roughly two weeks, the town of Nashville was filled with one of the highest forms of human drama, men volunteering to leave home and hearth, train themselves as soldiers and then travel to strange, distant places to engaged in a bloody fight for a newly formed country.  The pace of enlistment quickened on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd, however, those days of enlistment are dwarfed by the massive rush witnessed in Nashville on the 24th of February.   The usual places of registration were overwhelmed by the large number of men in town, from all over Nash County and even a few from adjoining counties, as they appeared on this historic day to enlist.

On 20 May 1861, the Secession Convention met in Raleigh and in seven hours of discussion the one hundred and fifteen representatives unanimously voted to withdraw from the Union and, since Lincoln had already issued a call for troops on 15 April 1862, began to prepare for war.  Archibald Hunter Arrington, Nash County’s representative at the Convention, cast the county’s vote for secession.   In the Convention debate,  a secession supporter, A. W. Venable of Granville County, declared, in response to the argument that secession meant war, [you will be able to] “wipe up every drop of blood shed in the war with this handkerchief of mine.”

Once the secession ordinance was approved the issue debated was whether to submit the decision of the Convention to withdraw from the Union to all the legal voters of North Carolina.  The ordinance requiring such submission was defeated by a vote of 34 voting “yes” and 72 voting “no.”  Nash representative Arrington voted not to submit the question of secession to the voters of the state.  Thus, war came and the call for volunteers.  One poster recruiting men for the cavalry exclaimed “$100 bounty will be paid to each man as soon as mustered into service; plenty to eat and good clothes will be furnished by the Government.  Men who come and bring their horses will be paid 24 dollars per month.  Those who have good shot guns can get a good price for them.”

Memories of the Revolution were fading in the country and the Census of 1840 was the last time enumerators recorded the names of the men who successfully fought to create a new nation.  In 1861, most Nash County men had been spared fighting in a war, now on the horizon they and their families faced a Civil War.  What happened to Nash County men after all of this is recorded in detail under “Military” and “The Civil War” on this site.  What you will find there is the published military record of our kin who joined the 47th NC Infantry, Companies A and D.  It is my firm belief that if a person is to fully appreciate what happened to these men from Nash County from 1861 through 1865 he or she must abandon their focus, however briefly, on their own family, read slowly and with reflection on the men from everyone’s family.  Only within an appreciation of this larger, collective experience is there meaningful context for the experiences of our own kin.  The work of recording their fates continues on all the regiments primarily from Nash County.

Finally,  we are locating and posting the graves of all Nash County soldiers in the Civil War who are buried outside of North Carolina.  The first posting of these Nash men lists those buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  The work on 30th NC Infantry, Company I, a regiment of men primarily from Nash,  should be completed shortly.   All people from Nash County, who had kin in this war, are invited to fill in the details of what happen to your family beyond these limited military records.  It will be posted next to their published military records.  The most treasured additions are those stories that have been kept alive and passed down in your family.