Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 2013: Museum of the Albemarle Exhibits Artifacts from the Battle of Gettysburg

Contact: Wanda Stiles, Curator
 Release Date:  Immediate
 (252) 335-1453

 Museum of the Albemarle Exhibits Artifacts from the Battle of Gettysburg
 By: Leonard Lanier, Assistant Curator, Museum of the Albemarle
Elizabeth City, NC—With the nation commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg next week, the Museum of the Albemarle has something for those unable to attend the ceremonies in Pennsylvania.  The museum’s sesquicentennial exhibit on the Civil War, Under Both Flags: The Civil War in the Albemarle, has several artifacts connected to the biggest battle ever fought in North America.

                Although the battle occurred far from the Old North State, local men played a key role in Gettysburg, probably none more famous than James Johnston Pettigrew.   Pettigrew, who grew up at Bonarva Plantation on the shores of Lake Phelps in Tyrrell County, led the North Carolina troops that participated in Robert E. Lee’s last great attempt to break the Union lines on July 3, 1863—Pickett’s Charge.  Visitors to the museum can see a pistol case that belonged to Pettigrew.

                Many local soldiers participated in Pickett’s Charge alongside Pettigrew.  Isaac Byrum of Ryland was one such person.  During the attack, Byrum suffered a serious leg wound.  Left for dead on the battlefield by his Confederate compatriots, Union soldiers took him to a hospital where a surgeon removed his left leg below the knee.  Despite his disability, Byrum returned to Chowan County and operated a successful lumber business for over fifty years.  The Museum of the Albemarle displays the wooden leg that Byrum wore the rest of his life.

                While Pettigrew and Byrum endured the withering fire of Federal guns, the cavalry of both armies clashed to the east of Gettysburg.  After the battle, a Union trooper of the 5th Michigan Cavalry, Lancaster Gorton, scoured the field in search of souvenirs.  On the body of a dead Confederate officer, he found a watch inscribed “M. I. Tobias & Co., Liverpool.”  Gorton took the watch back home to Michigan thinking he now owned a fine English pocket watch.  In actuality, the treasured souvenir was a fake, made by Swiss watchmakers to look like an English timepiece.  Gorton’s grandson donated the item to the museum in 1967. 

Visitors can view these and many other Civil War artifacts at the Museum of the Albemarle, a regional branch of the North Carolina Museum of History.

The Museum of the Albemarle is located at 501 S. Water Street, Elizabeth City, NC. (252)335-1453. Find us on Facebook! Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays and State Holidays. Serving Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties, the Museum is the northeast regional history museum of the North Carolina Division of State History Museums within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at

About The North Carolina Department of Cultural ResourcesThe North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan W. Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission to enrich lives and communities creates opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art; NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and economic stimulus engines for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state; developing and supporting access to traditional and online collections such as genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

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