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Museum remembers Sherman's March

By Noah Clark
Copy Editor

March 29, 2012

The Robeson County History Museum and the Rifle Guards Camp No. 216 of SCV hosted "Sherman's Raid on Lumberton" on March 17, commemorating the 147th anniversary of Sherman's march through Robeson County.


Photo by Hillary Akers
Nikki Frabott, left, and Stephanie Varela take on the lead roles of Florence and Olive in "The Odd Couple: Female Version."
In March of 1865 Union soldiers under the command of General William Sherman came through Robeson County raiding as they went.

In Lumberton troops robbed Rev. Washington Sanford Chaffin of his horse, Kate, and his wife's watch in addition to burning the railroad bridge, depot and damaging a mile of track.

Sherman's men also ransacked Floral College near Maxton and burned the Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church to the ground.


Spectators interacted with participants before and after the reenactment.

Steve Graham is part of the Harrington Light Artillery Co.A 13th Battalion based in Fairmont, N.C. and became involved in reenacting six years ago.

Graham enjoys the camping aspect of the hobby that takes him from Virginia to Georgia.

Sitting around the campfire allows you to meet reenactors from all over and helps to build friendships, Graham said.

For the Meares family who are a part of the Sons of Confederate Veterans 76th Company A NC troops, reenacting has been in their lives for long time.

According to Billy Meares, his son James, 16, has been involved in reenacting since he was 5 years old.

The Battle and lecture

Photo by Hillary Akers
Stephanie Varela as Olive gets ready for her date with humorous Spanish brothers portrayed by Jamaal Anthony and Rakeem Lawrence.
At 2:30 p.m. reenactors representing Union and Confederate forces exchanged mock gunfire in a grassy area behind the museum while spectators lined First Street to watch the events unfold.

The Union troops forced their Confederate counterparts to retreat with several of the men in gray uniforms lying on the ground after having been "shot."

Eventually the Union troops seized a horse from a man acting as Rev. Washington Sanford Chaffin and also took a watch from a woman acting his wife.

There were not as many reenactors as had been expected for the occasion, due to the event having to be postponed from its original March 3 date because of rain and the high demand of reenactors this time of year, but Capt. Tim Albert promised they would be back next year.

After the battle, visitors sat in the front room of the museum and listened to a presentation by museum director Blake Tyner, who read accounts and descriptions of the Union Army's raid on the area from the diaries and letters of local residents.

The documents depicted Union soldiers taking everything of use and figuring out the locals hiding spots with ease.


Blake Tyner, the director of the museum since 2003, is administrative assistant in the Art Department at UNCP.

Tyner graduated from UNCP in Dec. 2005 with a BA in history and a minor in public relations before obtaining an MLS from North Carolina Central University in 2008.

In 2010 Tyner was approached by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to put on an event commemorating the 145th anniversary of Sherman's march through Lumberton. The event was held on March 6, 2010, and after a one year break the reenactment was back giving people a chance to see part of Lumberton's history.

"A lot of people don't realize that Sherman's troops came through Robeson County. It is a way to show what happened," Tyner said.

People have different learning styles, so when they can see and hear the guns it impacts them a lot more, Tyner said.


Two authors from Wilmington set up tables in front of the museum to promote their books on subjects relating to the Civil War.

Richard H. Triebe's "Fort Fisher to Elmira" tells the story of Confederate soldiers captured at Fort Fisher in 1865, many of whom were from Robeson County, and their trek and imprisonment in a Union P.O.W. camp in Elmira, N.Y. There 518 captives died.

"Commando's Heart" is a work of historical fiction by Stan Atamanchuck that takes place during the Civil War in Atamanchuck's hometown of Plymouth and depicts the Union Naval blockade of the area.

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Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
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