Trinity College Civil War Trail Marker

In December Randolph County’s first Civil War Trail marker was installed in Trinity at the Trinity College Gazebo.

The NC Department of Commerce, through its Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development is funding the Civil War Trails project through a $1.1 million federal Transportation Enhancements grant. The monies are being used to develop, design, fabricate and install historical markers to interpret campaign sites and corridors of the Civil War.

Each marker will cost $5500 but communities will pay $1100 per sign matched by $4400 provided through the grant.  The City of Trinity paid the match on its marker. A future marker to be erected in Franklinville has been matched by the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority.

The markers on this battle route mirror those installed along the highly successful Civil War trail systems in Virginia and Maryland and are visually related to those trail markers by the same bugle logo.

The text of the marker reads as follows:


Hardee’s Last Headquarters


In the second half of April 1865, as Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army retreated west from Raleigh, his forces scattered and the army became widely dispersed. By the time he formally surrendered on April 26, the troops under his authority were encamped in Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and here at Trinity College.

Confederate Gen. William J. Hardee had retreated with his corps to a point ten miles east of here by April 17. Before the end of the month, however, as Johnston negotiated at Bennett Place near Durham with Union Gen. William T. Sherman for the surrender of the Confederate army, Hardee moved his headquarters to the college. He pitched his tent near the main building, while his aides, escorts, and scouts erected their tents among the trees north of the structure. Most of the other men in Hardee’s corps camped in the vicinity of High Point and Greensboro. Early in May, as the Confederate army was being paroled and the men began their journeys home, Hardee left here for Salisbury to board a train for Alabama. In 1888, a newspaper published a romantic account of Hardee’s breaking camp and furling his flag at Trinity College: “His daughter, Miss Annie Hardee, accompanied by the staff and many weeping and tattered soldiers, while the college bell, nearby, tolled the requiem of the Southern Confederacy, and while officers and men stood uncovered, tenderly dismantled and forever furled this last long emblem of Southern chivalry and Southern bravery.”


The Carolinas Campaign began on February 1, 1865, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman led his army north from Savannah, Georgia, after the “March to the Sea.” Sherman’s objective was to join Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia to crush Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Scattered Confederate forces consolidated in North Carolina, the Confederacy’s logistical lifeline, where Sherman defeated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s last-ditch attack at Bentonville. After Sherman was reinforced at Goldsboro late in March, Johnston saw the futility of further resistance and surrendered on April 26, essentially ending the Civil War.

A group of Methodists and Quakers organized Brown’s Schoolhouse here in 1838; the North Carolina legislature chartered Union Institute Academy here in 1841, and the school changed its name to Trinity College in 1859. It relocated to Durham in 1892, where it became Duke University in 1924. During the Civil War, in May 1861, headmaster Braxton Craven organized the Trinity Guard from among the students here. In November 1861, the company was assigned to guard the new prison at Salisbury, where Craven served as commandant for a month. He remained headmaster here until his death in 1882.


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