Shawboro, NC: Col. Henry Shaw was born in Rhode Island but died fighting for the Confederacy, possibly against former neighbors and family friends.
On Sunday, a small group of people honored Shaw, as they do every year, by laying a wreath at his graveside located in the community named after him.
Shaw was a doctor, a colonel in the Confederate Army, a North Carolina state senator and a U.S. congressman. He was a strong proponent of states’ rights over the federal government, an issue still debated today, said local historian Barbara Snowden.
“We like to honor people who mean something to our county,” Snowden said. “You have to know history to know what’s going on today.”
Shaw’s family moved to North Carolina when he was about 12, after financial troubles following the War of 1812, Snowden said. His brother returned to the North. Shaw earned a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, according to the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography by William Powell.
Despite his northern ties, he loved his adopted home in Currituck where he practiced medicine, Snowden said. He supported secession as a congressman and joined the Confederate Army.
Shaw led 3,000 men in the Eighth Regiment of the North Carolina Infantry against a force of 13,000 men of Gen. Ambrose Burnside in the February 1862 battle for Roanoke Island. Burnside’s forces included the Fourth and Fifth Rhode Island. Shaw must have known he was fighting men from his home state, according to an account by the Currituck County Historical Society.“Colonel Shaw only surrendered in order to avoid the certain massacre of his men by the much larger Union force,” the online account said.
Shortly after Shaw was paroled, his regiment reformed. He was sent to try to retake the city of New Bern from the Union Army. On Feb. 1, 1864, Shaw was shot dead from his horse at a place called Batchelder’s Creek, about 10 miles from New Bern.
The tiny community of Bailey was renamed Shawboro after the Civil War, according to the North Carolina Gazetteer.
The wreath-laying is held annually on the date of Shaw’s birth.