Mars Hill College

Mars Hill College (HMFB4)

Location: Mars Hill, NC 28754 Madison County
Country: United States of America

N 35° 49.623', W 82° 32.968'

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Strategic Location, Divided Loyalties

Baptist farm families here established Mars Hills College in 1856. The four-acre college campus had three structures by 1861: a two-story brick classroom building, a frame dormitory for boys, and a frame teachers' residence. They stood about 75 yards in front of you.

During the war, neighbors, families and even brothers here were divided in their loyalties to the Southern cause, but many joined the Confederate army during the first two years. Mars Hill was a strategic location, a crossroads for north-south and east-west travel. A hundred-man detachment from the 64th North Carolina Infantry - called "Keith's Detail" - was posted here, the first of several Confederate units at Mars Hill during the war. The college was closed during the last two years of the conflict as conditions in mountain communities deteriorated and supported for the Confederacy waned.

Home Guard commander Gen. John W. McElroy had his headquarters here after July 1863. He wrote to North Carolina Governor Zebulon B. Vance in April 1864, "I have 100 men at this place to guard against [Union Col. George W.] Kirk, of Laurel, and cannot reduce the force....In fact, it seems to me that there is a determination of the people in this country generally to do no more service in the cause."

Confederate troops left Mars Hill to forage in March 1865, just before Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender in Virginia, Kirk led his 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (U.S.) into the village and burned the college dormitory and teachers' residence. Mars Hill College survived the war's depredations, but it took forty years to replace what had been destroyed
HM NumberHMFB4
Series This marker is part of the North Carolina Civil War Trails series
Placed ByNorth Carolina Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 28th, 2014 at 8:25am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 360040 N 3965873
Decimal Degrees35.82705000, -82.54946667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 49.623', W 82° 32.968'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 49' 37.38" N, 82° 32' 58.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)828
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 911 College St, Mars Hill NC 28754, US
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