Laurel Hill in Scotland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Murdoch Morrison Gun Factory
Guns and Smoke
—Carolinas Campaign —
The Carolinas Campaign began of February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, Georgia, after the March to the Sea. Sherman's objective was to join Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia to crush Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Scattered Confederate forces consolidated in North Carolina, the Confederacy's logistical lifeline, where Sherman defeated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's last-ditch attack at Bentonville. After Sherman was reinforced at Goldsboro late in March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered at Bennett Place near Durham on April 26, ending the Civil War.
The Murdoch Morrison Gun Factory was located just in front of you on Gum Swamp Creek, which provided it with water power. Until Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s army swept through here on March 9, 1865, it manufactured rifles modeled after the Buchanan Rifle pictured here, as well as other weapons for the Confederate army. Three millponds on Gum Swamp Creek also powered textile miles built before the Civil War.
When Sherman’s army entered North Carolina eight miles south of here, poor weather and wet bottomlands soon bogged it down. Marching was very difficult, especially in the direction of the Lumber River north of here. Part
Gen. Evander McNair, who was born in Laurel Hill, moved to Mississippi and then Arkansas. He led a Confederate brigade in major battles in the Mississippi River valley, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
“In our march through North Carolina we were in the home of the long leaf pine which has given turpentine to the country.… Here are extensive forests of trees from twenty inches to three feet in diameter and at least seventy feet without a limb, but spreading at the top with a dense mass of interlocking limbs, clothed in evergreen leaves so dense as to exclude the sun. The ground is covered from 4 to 6 inches deep with “pine needles.”…(Sap-laden pine trees were ablaze), causing a smoke which could hardly escape through the green canopy above, but hung like a pall over our heads. …A cabin …by the side of a sluggish stream …filled with barrels of resin and tar …had been set on fire. The burning contents found their way to the water and floated winding down the stream like fiery serpents of ancient mythology. …It seemed as though somehow I had got into ‘Dante’s Inferno.’” — William D. Hamilton, Recollections of a Cavalryman of the Civil War, on the march through this region
Old Wire Road, behind you was one of the earliest roads through the Carolinas. It was the main route from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, La., and along its length was strung one of the first telegraph lines between the two cities. Laurel Hill developed as a regular stop along the road and hosted travelers between Fayetteville, N.C., and Columbia, S.C.
The Murdoch Morrison Gun Factory produced rifles similar to the Buchanan Rifle; it was made by Morrison's father-in-law who taught him the trade. — Courtesy State Sen. William Pernell
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 34° 49.224′ N, 79° 31.769′ W. Marker is in Laurel Hill, North Carolina, in Scotland County. Marker is on Old Wire Road (State Highway 144) west of Crest Mill Road, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Laurel Hill NC 28351, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Original Richmond Cotton Mill (here, next to this marker); Murdoch Morrison (here, next to this marker); Sherman's March (approx. 1.3 miles away); Ida Yarn Mill (approx. 1.4 miles away); Original Springfield Cotton Mill (approx. 2.6 miles away); Old Laurel Hill Church (approx. 3.7 miles away); a different marker also named Sherman's March (approx. 4.2 miles away); Terry Sanford 1917-1998 (approx. 4.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Laurel Hill.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Roads & Vehicles • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 300 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.