Tuesday, November 03, 2009
We have camped in the hills surrounding Salisbury, NC for a week exploring the city and the surrounding area. The campground was very friendly and full for the Halloween celebration. Salisbury has been an important city since colonial times, being the largest city in western North Carolina and perhaps seen its peak just before the start of the Civil War.
In the early years, Daniel Boone, among others was dispatched from here to explore the wilderness called Kentucky. Andrew Jackson studied law here and was admitted to the bar in Rowan County in 1785. Later President Washington would spend two days here during his southern tour after his election.
The Civil War disrupted the economy and life of this city and left it to find a new identity. During the Civil War, the confederacy purchased a failed business complex near the downtown area and established a prisoner of war camp. This camp, designed to hold 2,500 prisoners, eventually held over 11,000. The conditions here were extremely difficult and the prisoners suffered greatly. Depending on the version you care to believe, between 3,500 and 7,500 prisoners died in this camp. General Stoneman raided the area during the same period as Sherman’s march to the sea and burned the prison complex to the ground and destroyed all of the Confederate army supplies that have been removed to the area for safe keeping from Sherman. Unlike Sherman, he did not destroy the civilian structures.
We visited the site, but nothing is left but one building. The area on and around the site today is depressing in its appearance. Perhaps it is only a reflection of its sad history.
Besides the large number of antebellum homes remaining, the other interesting site is a national cemetery that holds the graves of the fallen from all wars since the beginning of this country.