The War at Home: Exploring Winston and Salem during the Civil War

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Company D, 21st North Carolina Volunteers
Company D, 21st North Carolina Volunteers
Francis L. Fries, entrepreneur and industrialist
Francis L. Fries, entrepreneur and industrialist
Washington Fries, former enslaved worker in the Fries textile mill
Washington Fries, former enslaved worker in the Fries textile mill

 Images courtesy the Collection of Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Key Details:

  • With North Carolina entering the War, local businesses and individuals began mobilizing men and supplies. The first companies of volunteer troops were organized in Salem on June 17 and marched to Danville, VA to be mustered into the Confederate Army. This represents the first time that Moravian boys, raised in a pacifist tradition, would go off to war. Forsyth County established The Board of Sustenance to help see to the needs of volunteers’ families.
    • Alfred Belo, son of prominent merchant Edward Belo, formed the first company of volunteers from Forsyth County. The company was named the Forsyth Rifles. After the War, Belo rode a horse from Salem to Texas. He joined the Galveston Daily News, and eventually came to own the paper. The company grew and is still in business today as Belo Corp, a nation-wide media conglomerate.
    • The 26th Regiment was originally headed by General Zebulon Vance, who was then elected Governor of NC in late 1862. The Salem boys that formed a brass band and were attached to the 26th Regiment became famous for their presence at Gettysburg and for their many well-attended concerts.
  • The F&H Fries Manufacturing Company produced large amounts of woolen cloth and cotton jeans for North Carolina’s troops. Likewise, the local Spach and Nissen wagon works supplied goods to the army. The irony here is that all employed enslaved labor to produce goods for the Confederate cause.
  • The War led to new roles and assertiveness for women. In addition to women on the countryside having to take over farming responsibilities, many others in town sought to organizing fundraising efforts and serving as nurses for local troops.
    • One of the volunteer nurses was Eliza Kremer, well known as a local teacher, for whom the first public school in Forsyth County was named (Kremer School).
  • Local schools, most notably the Salem Female Academy, remained open throughout the War. The Female Academy became a haven for many young ladies from the war-torn areas of the South; wartime enrollment was over 50% out of state.
    • The Female Academy’s steward and principal, Augustus Fogle and Robert de Schweinitz, respectively, both spent much of their time scouring the countryside for food and supplies to provide for the students.


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