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