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Mars Hill in Madison County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Mars Hill College

Strategic Location, Divided Loyalties

 
 
Mars Hill College Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
1. Mars Hill College Marker
Inscription.  Baptist farm families here established Mars Hills College in 1856. The four-acre college campus had three structures by 1861: a two-story brick classroom building, a frame dormitory for boys, and a frame teachers' residence. They stood about 75 yards in front of you.

During the war, neighbors, families and even brothers here were divided in their loyalties to the Southern cause, but many joined the Confederate army during the first two years. Mars Hill was a strategic location, a crossroads for north-south and east-west travel. A hundred-man detachment from the 64th North Carolina Infantry - called "Keith's Detail" - was posted here, the first of several Confederate units at Mars Hill during the war. The college was closed during the last two years of the conflict as conditions in mountain communities deteriorated and supported for the Confederacy waned.

Home Guard commander Gen. John W. McElroy had his headquarters here after July 1863. He wrote to North Carolina Governor Zebulon B. Vance in April 1864, "I have 100 men at this place to guard against [Union Col. George W.] Kirk, of Laurel, and cannot reduce the force....In fact,
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it seems to me that there is a determination of the people in this country generally to do no more service in the cause."

Confederate troops left Mars Hill to forage in March 1865, just before Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender in Virginia, Kirk led his 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (U.S.) into the village and burned the college dormitory and teachers' residence. Mars Hill College survived the war's depredations, but it took forty years to replace what had been destroyed
 
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1865.
 
Location. 35° 49.623′ N, 82° 32.968′ W. Marker is in Mars Hill, North Carolina, in Madison County. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 205 Cascade St, Mars Hill NC 28754, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Mars Hill University (a few steps from this marker); Spilman Hall (a few steps from this marker); Rural Heritage Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Marshbanks Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Bascom Lamar Lunsford (within shouting distance of this marker);
Col. George W. Kirk image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
2. Col. George W. Kirk
Founders Hall (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); McConnell Hall (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Mars Hill College (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mars Hill.
 
Mars Hill College Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
3. Mars Hill College Marker
First College Building image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
4. First College Building
Mars Hill College Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
5. Mars Hill College Today
Mars Hill College Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
6. Mars Hill College Today
Mars Hill College Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
7. Mars Hill College Today
Mars Hill College Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
8. Mars Hill College Today
Mars Hill College Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 26, 2009
9. Mars Hill College Today
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 9, 2009, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,165 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on October 9, 2009, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 27, 2023