Celebrating history

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2018

KINSTON, N.C. – The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center in Kinston will present three free educational and engaging presentations, Saturday, Feb. 24, to celebrate Black History month.

Learn about nurses during the Civil War, the ways freedom was experienced in North Carolina in 1865, and Col. Edward Wild’s 1st North Carolina Colored Volunteers — who later became the 35th United States Colored Troops. The presentations will be offered at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“We hope this free event will encourage diverse audiences to come and engage with speakers on the contributions women and African Americans made during the Civil War,” said Historic Interpreter Rachel Kennedy. “There are details of courage and determination that can inspire us all today.”

Shannon Walker’s 11 a.m. presentation focuses on women’s roles in medicine during the American Civil War, and the involvement of African American women in the development of the modern nursing field. Walker is the assistant manager/programs coordinator at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site.

Author and historian Reginald Hildebrand will speak at 2 p.m. on “The First Year of Freedom in North Carolina: Pursuing Freedom with the Hoe and the Sword, the Book and the Lord.” Using first-hand accounts, this talk will illustrate some of the ways freedom was experienced in 1865, including the accounts of black soldiers entering Wilmington, the first 4th of July celebration of the freed people, and a “watch night” service in Raleigh to mark both the New Year and the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Hildebrand is a retired professor of African American studies and history at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Alex “Chris” Meekins will give a 3 p.m. presentation on Col. Eugene Wild’s 1st N.C. Colored Volunteers, who along with soldiers from the 55th Massachusetts Volunteers were among the 10,000 reinforcements requested to strengthen Union forces in an attack on Charleston. The regiment became the 35th U.S. Colored Troops. Though raised in North Carolina, the soldiers saw action in South Carolina and Florida, including action at Battery Wagner made famous in the movie, “Glory.”  Meekins holds BA and MA degrees in history and became interested in U.S. Colored Troops while researching the Civil War in northeastern North Carolina.

The CSS Neuse is the only remaining commissioned Confederate ironclad above water. It was part of a new technology that the Confederacy used to combat the superior manpower and firepower of the Union Navy. Learn about this technological advance and warfare in eastern North Carolina at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center. The Confederate Navy launched the CSS Neuse hoping to gain control of the lower Neuse River and New Bern, but ultimately destroyed the vessel to keep it out of Union hands.

The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is located at 100 N. Queen St., Kinston, N.C., and open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: adults $5, senior/active military $4, students (ages 3-12) $3, ages 2 and under free.

For additional information, please call the site at (252) 526-9600 x222. The CSS Neuse Center and the Richard Caswell Memorial are within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.