A Town Divided

A Town Divided (HM12H4)

Location: Elizabeth City, NC 27909 Pasquotank County
Buy North Carolina State flags at Flagstore.com!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at Flagstore.com!

N 36° 18.055', W 76° 13.371'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

The Burning of Elizabeth City

During the Civil War, neither the North nor the South was totally united over the key issues. Just as some Northerners supported slavery and secession, some Southerners were abolitionist and Unionists. These issues could split families, divide communities, and generate violence. As the "official" war progressed, quasi-military organization were formed to wage another war against soldiers and civilians alike. Ambushes and retaliation comprised the "war within the war" between 1861 and 1865.

On February 10, 1862, Federal naval power under Commander Stephen C. Rowan overwhelmed the small flotilla (the "Mosquito Fleet") of Confederate gunboats off Cobb's Point on the Pasquotank River. Elizabeth City would soon be occupied and would remain in Union hands for the remainder of the war.

Local secessionists who preferred to see the town burn rather than be under Federal control asked Col. Charles Frederick Henningsen, 59th Virginia Infantry, to set it afire as he evacuated his force. He complied, and the fire destroyed the courthouse, which stood on the site of the present building. Fortunately, the county records had been removed for safekeeping.

Unionist residents put out the fires. The incident revealed the deep rifts in the community between secessionists who would burn their own homes to show their enemy "that they were fighting a people they can never subdue" and Unionists who would risk their lives among their secessionist neighbors to support the Federal occupation. What began as a political disagreement quickly escalated into guerilla warfare.

"The Federals?are in their vessels near E. City. The town has been fired?and a considerable portion burned. It is expected that the remaining portion will be burned." - Richard B. Creecy to daughter Betty, Feb. 13, 1862

"About two-thirds of the town is burned. ?The inhabitants have all left and burned the town themselves." - Gen. Henry A. Wise Feb. 11, 1862

"I detached Sergeant Scroggs?with a detail, to aid the citizens in destroying the place by fire, as I had been requested to do by some of the most prominent of them. They only partially succeeded, two blocks only having been burned and a few isolated houses in the suburbs." — Col. Charles K. Henningsen, Feb. 12, 1862

Major funding for this project was provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, through the Transportation Enhancement Program of the Federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century
HM NumberHM12H4
Placed ByNorth Carolina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 at 12:45pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 390205 N 4018019
Decimal Degrees36.30091667, -76.22285000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 18.055', W 76° 13.371'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 18' 3.30" N, 76° 13' 22.26" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)252, 919
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 201-217 N Elliott St, Elizabeth City NC 27909, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. This marker needs at least one picture.
  10. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  11. Is the marker in the median?