Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader

By Gordon B. McKinney | Go to book overview

13 CHALLENGES TO THE COMPROMISE

In the immediate aftermath of his proclamation, Zeb waited to see what impact it would have. At the same time, he sought some rest. He had been feeling ill throughout this period of difficult negotiation, and he was worried because his brother had been furloughed from the army with typhoid fever. What remained of Zeb's attention was directed to a daring Confederate military maneuver. Sensing that the federal army at his front was not going to advance aggressively, General Robert E. Lee had detached a division of the Army of Northern Virginia under the leadership of General James Longstreet and sent it to reinforce the Army of Tennessee, which faced an advance from federal troops in the western theater. This transfer proved to be difficult due to the inadequacies of the Confederate rail system. Ironically, because Zeb had not provided much assistance to speed along the completion of the Danville to Greensboro rail link, which was still not complete in the autumn of 1863, all of Longstreet's troops would have to travel through Raleigh on their way west. This inconvenience would have grave consequences.

As the tired and ill governor prepared to go to bed on the evening of September 9, the day after his proclamation had been published, a local citizen aroused him and told him that Confederate troops were attacking Holden's newspaper office. Zeb ran out of the house, jumped on his horse, and rode down the street toward the rapidly developing riot. On the way, he stopped at a local hotel and persuaded Lieutenant Colonel Shepherd of a Georgia Regiment to accompany him to the scene. Once there, Zeb discovered a large number of troops from General Henry L. Benning's Georgia brigade—and perhaps some soldiers from North Carolina as well—destroying the supplies at Holden's office. Zeb arrived just in time to prevent the troops from damaging the presses. Acting quickly, he attracted the attention of the rioters and began to speak to them. He scolded the soldiers for taking part in such a disreputable exercise. He asserted that "a blow had been struck at the dearest rights of a private citizen—rights purchased by the richest blood of their patriotic fathers in defense of which every man among them should be ready to lay down his life."1 Zeb's speech changed

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Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1: What Manner of Man? 1
  • 2: A Mountain Boyhood 5
  • 3: Scholar and Suitor 16
  • 4: Lawyer and Apprentice Politician 31
  • 5: Congressman 49
  • 6: Secession Crisis 65
  • 7: Colonel of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment 78
  • 8: Campaign for Governor 97
  • 9: Building a Strong North Carolina 110
  • 10: Relations with the Confederate Government 130
  • 11: Growing Challenges 152
  • 12: Protest 168
  • 13: Challenges to the Compromise 185
  • 14: Campaign for Reelection 200
  • 15: Returned to Office 217
  • 16: Defeat with Honor 231
  • 17: Prisoner 248
  • 18: The Politics of Reconstruction 264
  • 19: Frustrated Politician 283
  • 20: The Battle of Giants 302
  • 21: Governor Again 324
  • 22: United States Senator 345
  • 23: Party Leader 366
  • 24: Farmers' Alliance and Reelection 384
  • 25: Decline 397
  • 26: Monuments and the Man 406
  • Notes 417
  • Index 467
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