What would make my 3rd great grand parents, Henry Bryant and Caroline Ellison Bryant, leave Beaufort County, NC to come to Carteret County, specifically Morehead City. I think the answer to this is tied to how the Civil War unfolded in eastern, North Carolina. From the evidence I have found from various death certificates of my ancestors, I have identified that they were residing in the city of Washington, NC prior to the Civil War. On another post I will go into who I believe may have owned Caroline and Henry. For now, let's look at my theory regarding why they eventually made Morehead City their home.
Beaufort County, Washington, N.C. "Hoisting the Union flag at Washington, North Carolina." Harper's Weekly, April 19, 1862, p.252. Courtesy of the North Carolina Civil War Image Portfolio, Prints and Photographs, North Carolina Collection from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Shelling of rebel batteries in the woods opposite of Washington, N.C. April 16th 1863." Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 16, 1863, p.124 Courtesy of the North Carolina Civil War Image Portfolio, Prints and Photographs, North Carolina Collection from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The cities of New Bern and Morehead City became Union occupied in 1862. A short time later Washington, NC shared the same fate. As a result, these cities became a safe haven for slaves and freed people of color. My ancestors would have been living under the protection of the Union until things changed in April of 1864.
Here's an excerpt from a website I found that gives detail on what changed in 1864. The link to the full article you will find here: http://www.pamlico.com/washington/about-washington1.shtml
When Confederate forces won the nearby Battle of Plymouth in April 1864, Union forces were ordered to leave Washington, but before they did, they struck the town with a devastating blow. For three days, Union troops plundered the town, breaking into stores, houses and stables. They took all the goods they could carry and destroyed the rest.
On the morning of April 30, 1864, the day the troops left, a fire started in Washington. It burned from the Pamlico River through the northern limits of the town, consuming one-third of the town. Soon thereafter, another fire burned from present-day Market Street eastward. Much of the town was reduced to ashes and its 3500 residents had dwindled to only 500 after the fires.
Morehead City was still under the control of Federal troops when this occurred. If you recall from my last post, my 3rd great grandparents registered their union in Carteret County. The start of their cohabitation according to the record was July 31, 1864. Hmm...are you thinking what I'm thinking?