Sherman’s Troops Camped at Laurel Hill

As Sherman's army moved north from Georgia, several units passed through Laurel Hill camped in this vicinity March 8-9, 1865.

On March 8, 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman, traveling with the 15th Corps, crossed the state line and entered what is now Scotland County. Orders went out that Union troops should treat North Carolinians less harshly than South Carolinians, who were blamed for starting the war.

Other parts of the Union army had entered North Carolina the previous day. Heavy rain and poor roads made for difficult travel. On the night of March 8, Sherman’s party camped at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church near Laurinburg, home to one of the many congregations founded by Scots settlers in the Cape Fear region in the eighteenth century.

At camp, Sherman made plans to advance on to Fayetteville and Goldsboro. Sending communications to fellow Union officers in Wilmington, he ordered that a boat be sent up the Cape Fear River to meet him in Fayetteville.

While near Laurel Hill, a contingent of Union troops destroyed the Murdock Morrison gun factory, a supplier of Confederate weapons. Other troops ransacked the meeting place of the Richmond Temperance and Literary Society in Wagram. On their way out of the area, Sherman’s soldiers are said to have used pews from the church to build a bridge across Jordan’s Creek.

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