June 3, 2014. Sunday, June 29 marks the 150th anniversary of the Raid on Linville Falls during the Civil War. On Saturday, June 28, The National Park Service will host a Civil War living history event held at Linville Falls, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 316, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ranger Jonathan Bennett of the National Park Service welcomes a big crowd.
“Everyone that is interested is welcome to attend. It’s a unique thing we have going one here”
The event will feature demonstrations by people in period dress, covering many aspects of life during the Civil War era, including men and women’s dress and cooking on the battlefield.
Michael Hardy, 2010 North Carolina Historian of the Year, will also speak at the event.
Linville Falls, at the time of the Civil War, was home to important Confederate manufacturing facilities. In an effort to compensate for a lack of industrial cities and resources, the Confederate government created isolated workshops in remote areas to take advantage of local resources and manufacture war materials. Linville Falls was chosen as the location for a rifle component manufacturing plant, using waterwheels to harness the river’s energy and iron ore mined at nearby Cranberry.
The Union unit that conducted the raid was the 3rd N.C. Mounted Infantry led by Colonel George W. Kirk. This unit is significant because it is one of the few Union units comprised of men from North Carolina. Members of the unit were residents of the mountains of North Carolina, including Yancey and Mitchell counties, and most members of the unit would have had to fight against their relatives.
The primary target for the raid was Morganton, location of the head of the railroad and of Camp Vance, where the Confederacy trained men from the mountains. Once captured, the Union troops marched back to Tennessee, destroying the Linville Falls facilities on their way. They encountered troops led by William Waightstill Avery, grandson of Waightstill Avery, namesake of Avery County. Avery’s men were defeated by Kirk’s raiders and William Waightstill Avery later died of wounds from the raid.
The famous raid is significant to the history and heritage of the High Country, so come to the living history event and be both educated and entertained as you experience life in the region as it was 150 years ago.
For more information on the event, contact the Gillespie Gap Interpretive Office at 828-765-1228.