Raleigh in Wake County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
North Carolina State Capitol
Last Signal Station
—Carolinas Campaign —
( Preface : )
The Carolinas Campaign began on 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 on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.
North Carolina’s official Civil War experience began and ended here. In April 1861, Governor John W. Ellis rejected President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to suppress the “rebellion” with the words, “You can get no troops from North Carolina.” A special convention met in the capitol’s Commons Hall and on May 20 adopted a secession ordinance that was celebrated with a 100-round artillery salute.
After Ellis’s untimely death on July 7, Zebulon B. Vance was elected governor and led the state from his office here until April 12, 1865. For a time, the capitol also served as a supply depot – the only Southern capitol to serve that purpose.
On April 12, 1865, Vance’s emissaries, former governors David L. Swain and William A. Graham, surrendered the capitol and Raleigh to Union Gen. William T. Sherman. The 75,000-man Federal army entered the city the next day. Union soldiers discovered coastal lighthouse lenses stored in the capitol, and one soldier stole the state’s 1789 copy of the Bill of Rights.
U.S. Army Signal Corps Lt. George C. Round established a signal station atop the capitol dome on April 14, after almost losing his life the previous night when he accidentally jumped onto the rotunda skylight and partially fell through it. On the evening of April 26, after Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender, Round sent an “extraordinary message” from the dome with colorful rockets – “Peace on Earth Good Will to Men” – believed to be the “last signal message of the war.” Sherman’s army departed early in May, and North Carolina’s legislature repealed the secession ordinance in October 1865, while under military occupation.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° Touch for map. Marker is located in Bicentennial Plaza, across the street from the capitol. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh NC 27601, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. North Carolina (here, next to this marker); Blakely Cannon (a few steps from this marker); State of North Carolina Agriculture Building (a few steps from this marker); North Carolina Dental Society (within shouting distance of this marker); Medical Society of North Carolina (within shouting distance of this marker); State of North Carolina Labor Building (within shouting distance of this marker); North Carolina Bar Association (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Hickory Highway (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Raleigh.
More about this marker. Portraits of Gov. Zebulon B. Vance and Lt. George C. Round appear on the marker, along with photographs of the State Capitol in 1861 and of a Reenactment of the ‘last signal message’ from April 26, 1990.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 9, 2013, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 9, 2013, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.