Fall of Raleigh NC
Backstory and Context
The fall of Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, occurred on April 13, 1865 shortly before the end of the Civil War. General Sherman and his army had marched north from Georgia through the Carolinas reeking savage destruction on southern cities and the Confederate Armies.
In his desire to spare Raleigh from certain destruction, Governor Zebulon Vance proposed to surrender the city to General Sherman before shots could be fired. Given the desire of the Governor to surrender, the Confederate Army left the city and headed west to avoid surrendering.
Governor Vance appointed two former Governors, William A. Graham the 30th governor and David L. Swain the 26th governor, as commissioners to offer terms of surrender to General Sherman. Graham and Swain departed Raleigh on April 12, 1865 by train to General Sherman’s headquarters in what in is now present day Clayton NC just southwest of Raleigh.
Governors Swain and Graham were held throughout the day of the 12th and through the night at General Sherman’s headquarters. Fearing that the governors had been imprisoned or killed, Governor Vance fled Raleigh. Prior to leaving Raleigh, Governor Vance left a letter authorizing Mayor William Harrison to act on his behalf.
Both Swain and Graham were allowed to return to Raleigh on April 13th with news of the acceptance of terms by General Sherman. Upon hearing this, Mayor Harrison proceeded to the meeting place just south of the capital city. Mayor Harrison officially surrendered the city of Raleigh to General Judson Kilpatrick. Officially accepting the surrender General Kilpatrick and his army made their way to the state capital removing the Confederate flag and raising the US flag over the capital. The surrender was not without incident, a lone Confederate cavalryman, not willing to give up, opened fire. He was subdued by union troops and quickly hung.
General Sherman followed soon after taking up residence in the Governor’s mansion.
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