07/16/07 — Local writer releases her Civil War book

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Local writer releases her Civil War book

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 16, 2007 1:45 PM

A book describing life in Goldsboro during Reconstruction will hit the shelves Aug. 1.

"After Sherman's March: Goldsboro at the End of the Civil War" was written by local historian Emily Weil.

Mrs. Weil said she is excited about the release and a little nervous. This book is different from her previous writings, she said. It is more personal. She created characters for the book from the diaries of people who lived in Wayne County during the 1860s and 1870s.

A common thread is the fortunes of ousted Goldsboro Mayor James Privott and his wife, Mary. Much of the book is based on how they coped with life after the war.

Mrs. Weil said 1,000 copies of the book will be shipped by the printer to the Wayne County Museum soon and should arrive by Aug. 1.

Profits from sales of the book will benefit the Wayne County Historical Association, which operates the museum.

"Until a few people have read it and say they like it, it's going to be kind of like giving birth," Mrs. Weil said.

The books will cost $25, and they will be available at the museum, the Wayne County Public Library and all of its branches, Waynesborough Village, the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace and at Mrs. Weil's office.

Books can be ordered ahead of time with a 20 percent discount.

The book is 163 pages long, hard-bound and contains 23 illustrations and two maps.

Mrs. Weil gathered information for the book from diaries, letters and interviews with descendants of people living in Wayne County at the time.

Goldsboro was taken over by federal troops in 1865 following the Battle of Bentonville and remained under martial law for several years afterward while the South was going through Reconstruction.

There were about 1,200 people living in Goldsboro when Gen. William T. Sherman's army marched in with nearly 60,000 soldiers. Goldsboro was a railroad center and had been Sherman's objective when he left South Carolina. At Goldsboro, his troops teamed up with Union commands that had marched inland from the coast. Within a month, the war was over.

North Carolina did not have its own government for 10 years, but was under the control of a military governor. Many men who had been community leaders before the war were disenfranchised and not allowed to vote nor hold office. Citizens could be detained by authorities for no reason. The region's economy had been destroyed and many people lived in poverty while others profited from the radical changes.

In 1868, North Carolina re-entered the Union, and martial law ended.

"It was a difficult period," Mrs. Weil said. "The local people had to adjust to a new reality. Things were no longer the way they had been."