The short, unhappy life of the Confederate Department of Western North Carolina will be studied at the Oct. 8 meeting of the Upper Cumberland Civil War Roundtable. This department was created in the fall of 1863 after Confederate reverses across the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, when Chattanooga and Knoxville fell into Union hands.
The department’s principal city, Asheville, became headquarters for three units of Confederate Tarheels — the 62nd, which had already lost many of its men in an ignominious surrender at Cumberland Gap; the 64th, some of whose members had committed the infamous Shelton Laurel Massacre; and Thomas’ Indian Legion, which by late 1863 was reputed to have more deserters than any other North Carolina unit.
The night’s speaker, Tennessee Technological University history instructor Philip C. Davis Jr., wrote his master’s degree thesis at Wake Forest University on Confederate sentiment in Western North Carolina. Davis received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary and has done further graduate work under the noted Steven Ash at UT. He has been at Tennessee Tech since 2002.
His talk will employ letters, diaries, official reports and contemporary newspaper accounts.
The Roundtable meets on the second Tuesday of each month — except for a June-July hiatus — at the First Presbyterian Church, 20 N. Dixie Ave., in Cookeville.