In 1865, as the Civil War came to a close, Union and Confederate soldiers were faced with the reality of returning home. Many were simply released from service in the area where their unit had last been stationed. And others, like Washington Duke, a Confederate sailor, were prisoners released by the Union Army. All facing the possibility of getting home the only way available to them, walking.

The Journey Back

The Civil War was a brother’s war that divided families and communities, and once over still left behind the seemingly impossible task of healing a nation. Historian and reenactor Philip Brown will make the walk from New Bern to Durham as Duke did then, but not as Washington Duke. According to Brown, he will be representing all soldiers returning home from any war. He will make the 166-mile journey on foot along the back roads of rural NC in Civil War era clothing and shoes.   

Brown loves reenacting and history, and is interested in how people interact with history. He completed a master’s degree in Public History at UNG-Greensboro in April, and earned a B.A. degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in Peace, War, and Defense and American History. Soon after the 13-day walk, the Charlotte native will start working at Gettysburg National Military Park in late May.

According to Philip, "this walk takes a portion of North Carolina's history and spreads it across a large area of the state. The event is also designed to get people interested and engaged with history.  We are working with a subject and time period in North Carolina that has deep connections to things that we deal with today, especially the experience of civilians and soldiers in the aftermath of military conflicts."

The Schedule of Walking and Events

Listed below is the route and schedule that Philip will be following. He makes his way through Johnston County for a total of 5 days with various activities to mark the occasion of his journey and pay homage to the profound association that Johnston County has to the events of the Civil War.

A Soldier's Walk Home Map
May 10        New Bern, 3 p.m. Ceremonial opening at Academy Museum
May 11        New Bern, 9 a.m. Walk begins from Union Point
                  Cove City, 6 p.m. Ceremonies at Cove City Public Library
May 12        Kinston, 5 p.m. Federal check point activity, Harriet’s Chapel on Battlefield Site
                  Kinston, 7 p.m.  Reception with veteran’s and other guests - closed
May 13        Kinston, 8:30 a.m. Breakfast at CSS Neuse with officials - closed
                  Kinston, 10 a.m. Visit with 7th and 8th grade students at Arendall Parrot Academy
                  Kinston, 1 p.m. Visit with 4th grade students at Contentnea School
                  Kinston, 2:15 p.m. Tour of CSS Neuse II
                  Kinston, 2:45 p.m. Visit Military Walk of Honor
                  Kinston, 3:15 p.m. Visit Maplewood Cemetery-Mass Confederate Burial Site
                  Kinston, 4 p.m.  Visit Memorial Site of the Kinston Battlefield
                  Kinston, 7 p.m.  Dinner at Olivia’s – ticketed event for public
May 14        Seven Springs, 5 p.m. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park camping
May 15        Goldsboro, 2 p.m.  Goldsboro Bridge Battlefield camping
May 16        Princeton, 4 p.m. Wreath-laying at Veteran’s Memorial
May 17        Smithfield, 6 p.m.  Reception/Tour of Confederate Monument-Wreath-laying
May 18        Clayton, 4 p.m. Arrive at Smith-Compton House. 6 p.m. Veteran’s Ceremony
                  Clayton, 7 p.m.  Town Square program
May 19        Clayton, 8:30 a.m. Wreath placement at Clayton Yellow Jackets Monument
                  (veteran’s burial site)
May 19        Raleigh, 7 p.m. UDC hosted dinner (closed)
May 20        Raleigh, 11 a.m. Brown, reenactors, including USCT, meet with school groups
May 21        Morrisville, 3:30 p.m. After School program. 6:30 p.m. Ceremonies, Ernie
                  Dollar speaks
May 22        Durham 6 p.m. Ceremony with dignitaries at American Tobacco Campus
May 23        Durham, 11 a.m. Arrive at Duke Homestead for Bullfest Program. Welcome
                  home, music, dance lessons, crafts

Feel free to attend any of the wreath-laying events you see listed on the schedule as they are open to the public. Wreath-laying ceremonies are happening in Princeton, Smithfield, and Clayton; please note that times listed in the schedule may vary slightly due to Philip's walking time each day. In addition, there will be a program at the Clayton Town Square on the evening of May 18th. The program includes a welcome speech by the mayor, a few appropriate musical performances, and even a speech from Philip himself.