Tom Dula and Zeb Vance

by Fred Ray on May 27, 2010 · 2 comments

Rob Neufeld has posted the third part of the series on the Tom Dula saga, detailing the role of his chief defense council, former NC governor Zebulon Vance. Neufeld begins by stating that Vance himself had run afoul of the Yankee government.

On May 13, 1865, Federal General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick had Vance arrested at his home in Statesville and taken to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C.  After eight weeks, Vance was released on parole, on the conditions that he stay in North Carolina and remain subject to the order of the President.

Vance returned to NC and re-entered legal practice, and one of his causes, done pro bono, was the defense of young Dula.

Vance lost the Dula case. There was too much damning circumstantial evidence and, according to Dula, perjury. Dula was hanged in Statesville on May 1, 1868.

The case gains greater depth with the knowledge that during the first trial, Cornelia Phillips Spencer, daughter of one of Vance’s Chapel Hill professors, was writing “The Last Ninety of the War in North Carolina” and corresponding with Vance for clarifications.

Vance, therefore, was dwelling on his actions — how he’d decided not to surrender after the news of Appomattox until all North Carolina soldiers still on the field were safe. He sent a letter to Gen. William Sherman about terms, but Jefferson Davis had it intercepted. He met with Davis and found the Confederate president still wishing to fight, taking the war west.

Vance continued to be a very successful and popular figure in NC. You can read all three parts of the story at The Read on WNC web site.


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