Shelton House commemorates Civil War

By Mary Ann Enloe | Jun 05, 2013

Civil War soldiers will once again set up camp in Waynesville near the site of the final surrender east of the Mississippi in the War Between the States.

On June 7 and 8 the Shelton House Museum of N.C. Handicrafts on Pigeon Street becomes a living history camp when the N.C. 25th Infantry Regiment Re-enactors bivouac on the grounds. At 7 p.m. Friday, Captain Jule Morrow, well-known local historian who can count 56 ancestors who fought in the War Between the States, will bring to life facts about Haywood County's part in the Civil War, including battle tactics and weaponry.

He also addresses slavery and the contribution of Haywood County's black community. Saturday the day begins at 10 a.m. with an infantry drill and musket firing, followed by more demonstrations and lectures. A Civil War fashion show is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Fun and facts continue throughout the afternoon. Barbecue will be available for purchase Saturday, supplied by Appalachian Smoke.

"We are excited about this and are happy to present it again this year," said Anita Pruett, committee chairman and member of the Shelton House board of directors. Pruett is a re-enactor herself along with daughter Callie and son Zack. "We started doing this several years ago. It was something they as teenagers would actually do with their mom," Pruett said with a laugh.

All three participate in the N. C. 25th Infantry Regiment Re-enactors. The Downtown Waynesville Association's Appalachian Lifestyles Festival will be going on a block up the hill on Main Street Saturday and DWA's Buffy Phillips sees it as a perfect partnership.

Last year she said, "The (Civil War commemorative program) is all about heritage, history, who we are and where we came from.  We wholeheartedly support it and we'll try to make sure folks on Main Street know what a treat is waiting for them just down the hill."

Last year's success prompted the return of the event in 2013 at the Shelton House which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Charleston-type farmhouse was built in 1875 for Stephen Jehu Shelton, a Civil War veteran and former Haywood County sheriff.

Self-guided tours of the museum and barn are available from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The living history camp will be open all day Saturday. "There will be both Confederate and Union uniforms," said Pruett. Haywood County had Union sympathizers, although not as many as some east Tennessee border counties across the Smokies.

Some old-timers in western North Carolina whose men had worn the gray of the Confederacy referred to the bloodiest war in United States history as the "War of Aggression." The reason that crosses on the Shelton House lawn will bear only Confederate flags is that there is no verification that anyone from Haywood County died fighting on the Union side, said Pruett.

Music played on battlefields, in parlors and on front porches during those tense years, and it will play Saturday night at the Shelton House Barn.  Asheville-based regional favorite Whitewater Bluegrass Company, now in its 30th year, will repeat last year's rousing performance.

Whitewater's founder, "Uncle" Ted White, is a third-generation square-dance caller and he'll call a few. "There's a place in our heart for the Shelton House and its heritage and history," said White, himself an historian. "We were happy to be asked to come back. We always look forward to seeing our Haywood County friends."

Waynesville native and resident Steve Sutton, a three-time Grammy nominee, IBMA award winner and former longtime performer on the Grand Ole Opry, is Whitewater's banjo player. There is no charge for anything, but contributions are appreciated. Pruett emphasized that the entire event is family-friendly.