“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Elizabeth City in Pasquotank County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

A Town Divided

Place of Execution

A Town Divided CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, June 23, 2012
1. A Town Divided CWT Marker
Inscription.  (sidebar)
During the Civil War, neither the North nor the South was totally united over the key issues. Just as some Northerners supported slavery and secession, some Southerners were abolitionist and Unionists. These issues could split families, divide communities, and generate violence. As the “official” war progressed, quasi-military organization were formed to wage another war against soldiers and civilians alike. Ambushes and retaliation comprised the “war within the war” between 1861 and 1865.

The guerilla war in and around Elizabeth City reached a new level in February 1863. On February 9, Lt. Thaddeus Cox, Co. D, 1st North Carolina Volunteers (U.S.), rode sixteen miles into the country to bring his family to town. According to his company commander, Capt. Enos C. Sanders, “On his return he was attacked by a gang of guerillas, who came upon him from a thicket and tired a volley, killing him and a girl of four years old instantly and wounding the [nine-months-pregnant] wife so that she died on the 13th instant. Three other men of my company were wounded, 1 mortally, 1 badly, 1 slightly.”

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own brother had been killed by guerillas the month before. When the bodies of Cox and his child were recovered, emotions among the Unionists here ran high. They asked Sanders to shoot all the jailed prisoners captured after the January attack, in retaliation and as an example. Sanders reported to Gen. John G. Foster, his superior, “I was not myself in favor of doing so; but when I thought the matter over deliberately I ordered one prisoner, by the name of A[ddison] White, to be brought out and shot, which was done by a brother of Lieutenant Cox, for which I hold myself personally responsible.”

White was executed on the waterfront near here, and reportedly his body lay where it fell until his sister was allowed to claim it on February 17. Angry secessionists appealed to the Federal army for the arrest of Sanders. Ten months later, he was detained but never brought to trial.

“One night about sundown without trial or orders of any kind, a squad of them took [White] to the wharf & putting him up as a target, one by one they shot at him until they killed him and refusing to let his body be moved, would let no one come near it.” – Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, diary, Nov. 30, 1863

Major funding for this project was provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, through the Transportation
A Town Divided Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, June 23, 2012
2. A Town Divided Marker
Enhancement Program of the Federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century

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 February 1863.
Location. 36° 17.824′ N, 76° 13.071′ W. Marker is in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in Pasquotank County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of South Water Street and East Ehringhaus Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 501 S Water St, Elizabeth City NC 27909, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pasquotank River (here, next to this marker); Battle of Elizabeth City (a few steps from this marker); Wright Brothers in the Albemarle (within shouting distance of this marker); J. C. B. Ehringhaus (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Joseph C. Price (about 300 feet away); Culpeper’s Rebellion (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Wright Brothers in the Albemarle (about 800 feet away); Soybean Processing (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elizabeth City.
More about this marker. On the right is an illustration with the caption, "Execution by firing squad," Harper’s Weekly, Dec. 28, 1861
Elizabeth City Waterfront Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, June 25, 2012
3. Elizabeth City Waterfront Park
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 25, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 477 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 25, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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Jun. 8, 2023