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Walking Through Greensboro's Past

Chaos and Collapse in Confederate Greensboro:
Landmarks of Civil War-Era Greensboro

Greensboro College

Unfortunately, most of the records concerning Greensboro Women's College during the Civil War were destroyed in a fire in 1863. Financially, the college was considered a successful institution and reportedly had to become more selective with their admissions. The women who attended the college would send care packages to soldiers fighting the war. A legend surrounding the college claims there was a hospital located on or near the campus during the Civil War; however, no evidence has been found to prove that story. For more information, please visit the Brock Historical Museum, located on the Greensboro College campus. Mr. Lindsay Lambert is the director of the Brock Museum and graciously provided the information for this project.

The Green Hill Cemetery

The Green Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for many of Greensboro's important historical figures. Alfred M. Scales was a North Carolina Governor, served as general in the Confederate Army, and as a United States Congressman. John A Gilmer was asked to serve on President Lincoln's Cabinet prior to the Civil War. A.P. Eckel was the mayor of Greensboro during the Civil War and was forced to face the devastating chaos that consumed the city after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. All three of these men and many others buried here were crucial to the formation and survival of Greensboro before and after the war. The Daughters of the Confederacy erected a memorial commemorating 300 Confederate soldiers who were wounded at the Battle of Bentonville and died in a nearby hospital. Tours of the cemetery are open to the public. These tours provide more in-depth information about the important historical figures and families laid to rest in Green Hill Cemetery.

Blandwood Mansion

America's oldest example of Italianate architecture was originally built as a two-story farm house in 1795. Blandwood Mansion eventually became the home of James Motley Morehead, one of the men responsible for establishing the railroads in North Carolina. Morehead also built several additions to Blandwood. The Morehead family became self-sufficient by building a cotton mill on the plantation, which was one reason they were able to maintain their wealth until well after the Civil War. A progressive man, Morehead made sure all of his daughters were educated at Greensboro College. He also established the Edgeworth Seminary, which burned down during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Greensboro became an occupied city and Blandwood housed several Union Officers. Blandwood Mansion has been well-preserved, thanks to the efforts of Preservation Greensboro. Tours are open to the public.

Guilford College

Guilford College fell under enormous political and economic pressure from the Confederate Government during the Civil War. It was founded in 1837 by Quakers, who struggled to uphold their pacifist beliefs and protect their students. Dr. Nereus Mendenhall did his best to raise money to buy exemptions for his students, though he was not always successful. The faculty and students of Guilford College gave aid to wounded soldiers and deserters from both the Union and the Confederacy. Deserting soldiers trying to avoid the home guard could often find baskets of food hanging in the barn located on the campus. There was one recorded battle fought at Guilford College when a handful of deserters attempted to steal some beehives, and the students united and fought them off. A more complete, though dated history of Guilford College is Dorothy Lloyd Gilbert's Guilford: A Quaker College, printed in 1937 by Jos. J. Stone and Company.

Camp Stokes

Standing in the land sandwiched between Lawndale Drive and Westover Terrace and trying to envision a basic training camp next to a prison is difficult, but still worth a visit. From 1864 to 1865 Camp Stokes served as a prison camp for not only Union prisoners but also rebel deserters. According to an article by William Trotter, 200 Federal prisoners of war were brought to the camp after the Battle of Bentonville. It must have been quite a sight to see Union POWs mingling with rebel deserters who would have been awaiting court martial and possible execution. The site is commemorated by a historical marker placed by the Sons of the Confederacy.

Troy-Bumpass Inn

This Greek revival building was the dream home of Reverend Sidney D. Bumpass, who later became one of the first trustees of Greensboro College and a Presiding Elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Before he died in 1851, Rev. Bumpass established the Weekly Message Methodist newspaper. His wife, Frances M. Bumpass, continued the paper after he died. Before and after the Civil War, Frances Bumpass ran small schools in her house to support her family in addition to printing editions of the Weekly Message. When the Confederacy surrendered, more than a thousand soldiers were stationed in Greensboro. According to family legend, a few encamped themselves in the orchard on the Bumpass property. Currently, the Troy-Bumpass Inn is being used as a Bed and Breakfast.

Information on the Troy-Bumpass House is taken from Cheryl F. Junk's 2005 Ph.D. dissertation, 'Ladies, Arise! The World Has Need of You': Frances Bumpass, Religion, and the Power of the Press, 1851-1861, and her article, “The Troy-Bumpass House,” for the forthcoming Encyclopediae of North Carolina History (2006, UNC Press).