Civil War history abounds in Kinston and Lenoir County, where the first Battle of Kinston took place in 1862.
Two years later, the crew of the Confederate ironclad CSS Neuse set fire to their vessel to cover their retreat following the 1865 Battle of Wyse Fork (also called the second Battle of Kinston). The battlefields today look much like they did then, and the burned-out remains of the CSS Neuse can be seen at the CSS Neuse State Historic Site and Gov. Caswell Memorial – the home of the first Colonial governor of North Carolina. Additional relics recovered from the CSS Neuse are on display at the Kinston-Lenoir County Visitor & Information Center.
A full-scale replica of the gunboat, dubbed the CSS Neuse II, is located at the corner of East Gordon and Herritage streets in downtown Kinston. The visitor center makes a good starting point for an area history tour. Here, visitors can pick up a brochure at the visitor center to guide them on a 12-stop Civil War driving tour, and serious Civil War buffs can purchase a set of maps that trace troop movements for the battles that took place in the region. Audio CD tours are available, and 10 North Carolina Civil War Trail markers highlight significant sites.
Under development is the Cultural Heritage Museum, a heritage tourism project that will pay tribute to the more than 200,000 black soldiers and their 7,000 white officers who fought with the Union forces in the American Civil War, with emphasis on the U.S. colored troops from North Carolina.
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