Monuments to local Union troops hint at little-known history

Monuments to local Union troops hint at little-known history: Henderson County is one of the few in the state to pay tribute to its boys in blue
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Above, a Union uniform on display at the Henderson County Heritage Museum; right, the county’s two monuments to locals who remained loyal to the US in the Civil War

For all the raucous recent controversy surrounding Confederate monuments, some other remembrances of the Civil War stand silently in the shadows. In North Carolina, for example, there are some 120 Civil War monuments (not counting grave markers), the vast majority of which pay tribute to the Confederacy. Ten of the memorials, however, salute North Carolinians who opted to fight for the Union.

Two of those are in WNC, both in Henderson County. The county swung mostly Confederate, with some 1,700 local men joining the rebel ranks, according to the Henderson County Heritage Museum, but about 150 others bucked the local majority to serve as US soldiers. The latter wouldn’t get a monument to mark their sacrifice until 1985.

That’s when the late James B. King, a Hendersonville native whose ancestors fought on both sides of the war, raised funds to install a five-foot-tall stone marker next to what was then Etowah’s public library branch on Brickyard Road. Its inscription reads, in part: “In honor of Union veterans of the Civil War … with great respect for the women who carried on at home while husbands and brothers were fighting to preserve the Union.”

About 20 years later, the library moved to a new location, and today the monument sits mostly unnoticed next to a day-care center. In 2008, the county placed an additional Union marker next to Hendersonville’s Historic Courthouse along the Honor Walk, which commemorates the county’s dead from numerous wars. Perhaps fittingly, the Union monument sits just yards away from a prominent Confederate one erected in 1903.