With Veteran’s Day approaching, I wanted to share something about Charlotte’s history and involvement in our nation’s wars. I asked Levine Museum of the New South’s staff historian, Dr. Tom Hanchett, to help me out. Dr. Hanchett is known for his Charlotte history book Sorting Out the New South City, plus his monthly “Food from Home” column in the Charlotte Observer. Read on to learn about five sites, each related to a different war, and then go and visit these sites, on Veteran’s Day or any day.
Revolution – An N.C. historic marker on South Tryon Street just off Trade Street heralds British General Lord Cornwallis’s bruising in the 1780 Battle of Charlotte. He is said to have called Charlotte a “hornet’s nest” of rebellion – and we’ve proudly made the hornet’s nest a city symbol: police logo, boy scout badges, our old NBA basketball team…
Civil War – A block further down South Tryon, in front of McCormick & Schmick, find the sidewalk plaque where Confederate President Jefferson Davis stood when he heard of Lincoln’s assassination. Davis and his cabinet stopped in Charlotte as they fled the fall of Richmond near the War’s end.
World War I – Camp Greene only existed for two years but it hosted some 65,000 World War I soldiers-in-training. Charlotte’s Remount Road got its name from the stables where cavalry officers saddled their horses. Drive by the white clapboard Dowd House, just off Remount at 2216 Monument Street, and imagine the days when it was Camp headquarters.
World War II – Heading out Statesville Avenue, look to your right just past Oaklawn Avenue for Hercules Industrial Park. The sprawling brick building, erected in the ‘20s by Henry Ford to assemble Model T cars, served as a Quartermaster Depot during World War II, a warehouse for military supplies. Afterward, Cold War era Hercules missiles were made here.
Vietnam War – Under the towering oaks next to red-brick St. Mary’s Chapel on 3rd Street near CPCC is a quiet place of remembrance, the Mecklenburg County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Vietnam War veterans created the sweeping granite arc that not only holds names of our area’s war dead, but also tells the history of that conflict.
Interested in learning more about Charlotte’s history? Here are some of the websites that Dr. Hanchett recommends: