Hamilton Civil War Collection
The Hamilton Collection, owned by R.L. Hamilton, is one of the finest private Civil War collections in the United States. It is on display in the park’s visitors center during normal operating hours.
Handguns on display include many early models from manufacturers such as Colt, Smith & Wesson, Savage, and more. Rifles include numerous muskets made by both Union and Confederate companies and rare and unusual carbines from many manufacturers.
The collection includes cannon balls, artillery shells, small arms ordnance, knives, personal items from the period and many belt buckles worn by soldiers involved in the many Civil War battles. Among these buckles is one from Arkansas considered to be the rarest of all Civil War buckles.
The Civil War in Wayne County
Foster’s Raid – December 1862
Wayne County was strategically important to both the Union and Confederacy during the war, primarily because of the intersection of three railroad lines in Goldsboro.
In late 1862, a force of 10,000 men under Union General John G. Foster made its way to Wayne County from New Bern. On December 15 his men clashed with Confederate forces near the town of Whitehall, today known as Seven Springs.
Two days later Foster reached his primary objective, a railroad bridge over the Neuse River south of Goldsboro. They managed to set fire to the bridge but the damage was minimal and repaired within a few weeks.
The original bridge is long gone but was located very near the Highway 117 bridge over the Neuse, just a couple of miles from Old Waynesborough Park.
The battlefield can be visited today.
Sherman’s March – Spring 1865
In early March of 1865 General William T. Sherman arrived in North Carolina with a force of more than 60,000 troops. His objective was Goldsboro and its crucial railroad intersection.
After the Battle of Bentonville on March 21, Sherman linked up with other Union forces in Goldsboro on March 23.
Local legend says that he ordered the burning of several river warehouses in Waynesborough, the last remaining buildings in the former town. In reality the buildings burned in a fire just after the war but it makes for a great story, and it is true that thousands of Union troops crossed the Neuse at Waynesborough on their way to Goldsboro.