07/02/06 — Interest in Wayne Civil War history is increasing

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Interest in Wayne Civil War history is increasing

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 2, 2006 2:01 AM

Interest in the Civil War continues to grow, historians say, and Wayne County's role in the war is being put on display to convince travelers the county is worth visiting to see the sites where Union and Confederate troops once battled.

Betsy Rosemann, the director of the county's Travel and Tourism office, said placing advertisements in several historical magazines has generated a lot of interest among history buffs. She said she fields 150 calls a week about Wayne's Civil War sites.

Two major battles were fought in the county during the war, at the Neuse River south of Goldsboro and at Seven Springs, then known as Whitehall.

State historical markers guide visitors to the sites of the Battle of Goldsborough Bridge and the Battle of Whitehall. Another marker in downtown Goldsboro commemorates a Union raid by troops led by Gen. John Foster.

Two new markers are expected to be erected soon to recognize locations where troops skirmished -- on Ferry Bridge Road and at Thompson's Bridge near the Bill Lane Boulevard. The first marks a skirmish late in the war related to the Battle of Bentonville 20 miles west. The second was part of the 1862 push by Union troops that led to full-scale fights at Whitehall and the Neuse River bridge at Goldsboro.

Battle re-enactments are becoming more popular than ever, said state historians Si Lawrence and Jeff Bockert, who work out of the Department of Culturual Resources' Eastern Civil War Office at Waynesborough Park. Lawrence and Bockert help groups coordinate re-enactments. A re-enactment of the Goldsboro battle was held last year at the park.

Wayne County is part of the state Civil War Trail, which was created to give travelers a way to connect sites across the state and make a tour of historically significant locations.

Re-enactors can either attempt to recreate a specific engagement, they said, or put on a living history demonstration to show how people lived at the time. An event needs to have a focus for the public to understand the program properly, they said.

Authenticity is crucial to the success of such programs, Bockert and Lawrence said. Costumes must be historically accurate. Most re-enactors are fastidious about their dress and equipment, they noted, wanting to give visitors a true glimpse into what life was like in the 1860s.

Logistics also are important, they said. Putting on a re-enactment involves much time and effort, almost all of it volunteer.

For more information about the services the Civil War Office offers, call 581-1041.