Waynesville, North Carolina, is located 30 miles southwest of Asheville, N.C. between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge mountains.
The town of Waynesville was founded in 1810 by Colonel Robert Love, born May 11, 1760, in Augusta County, Virginia, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated the land and named the town after his former commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. General Wayne was born January 1, 1745 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the nickname “Mad Anthony”. Waynesville was incorporated as a town in 1871.
On May 6, 1865, Union Colonel William C. Bartlett’s 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, the Union Garrison at Waynesville, were attacked by a detachment of rebels from Col. William Holland Thomas’s Legion of Highlanders, who had been summoned by the locals of Waynesville. Thomas’ Legion fired “The Last Shot” of the Civil War here. The following day the Confederate and Union commanders negotiated a surrender. They had been made aware that Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston had already surrendered and that continued hostilities would prove pointless.
The claim that Waynesville saw the last shot fired in the Civil War is unsubstantiated, and the Battle of Palmito Ranch is considered as the final battle of the Civil War. It was fought May 12, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas (see Day 269).
We explored Waynesville to look for evidence of the last shot theory, but nothing has been preserved from the Civil War. In fact, no mention of that theory is mentioned anywhere (although it might have been in one of their closed museums).
So, I set off for the old Strand Theater which is now a coffee and ice cream shop. Sadly, it was closed today.
Waynesville today, although the County Seat, is nothing more than antique shops, and tourist traps.