Union of Combatants
(Preface): John W. Thomas, who represented this area in the state legislature in the mid-1800s, laid out the town of Thomasville in 1852 on the proposed route of the North Carolina Railroad. Three years later, the line was completed to the new town, and the first train passed through on January 20, 1856. By 1860, Thomasville was thriving with 308 residents, a female seminary and a shoe factory. After the war, the town became noted for its furniture-making industry, especially chair manufacturing.
Thomasville grew during the Civil War at first because of the importance of its shoe factories and later because of the location here of hospitals and convalescent facilities for soldiers. The Union occupation of North Carolina's coastal region in 1862 caused the first influx of civilian refugees and wounded soldiers. In March 1865, the last major Confederate army, commanded by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, brought its wounded here as it retreated during the campaign against Union Gen. William T. Sherman's army. The battles of Averasboro and Bentonville (March 13 and March 19-21, 1865) resulted in many Confederate casualties and wounded Federal prisoners. Wayside hospitals were established in a tobacco warehouse and in the local Baptist and Methodist churches by Dr. Simon Baruch of South Carolina, later an authority on hygiene and water therapy and the father of renowned early-20th-century financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch. The dead from these hospitals, Northern and Southern, were buried in this cemetery together, a practice almost unknown during the war. More information concerning the city's role in the war and the soldiers interred here is available at the Thomasville Depot, located one-half mile west at the intersection of East Main and Trade Streets.