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 Memorial Site
A special memorial site for all those that fought and  died at the First Battle of Kinston



 

This is the area of the battlefield where the Union forces broke through the Confederate lines.

 

 

The first phase of the First Battle of Kinston Battlefield Park is dedicated to the memory of one of Kinston's finest young men, Wilbur King, III.  The Lenoir County Battlefields Commission recognizes posthumously Wil's outstanding service, dedication and leadership by naming the first site to be developed within the First Battle of Kinston Battlefield Park the Wil King Memorial Site.

Wil was a young man who touched the lives of many people in his quest for the preservation of Lenoir County's Civil War Battlefields. He had a great love for history and a desire in seeing that history preserved. His leadership in this endeavor was an inspiration and driving force in the historical preservation movement of the community.

Endless hours have been donated by citizens of Kinston to help make this site a fitting memorial for a wonderful young man. 

 The Historical Preservation Group would like to thank all the members of the Wil King Site committee for their dedication.  Wil would be very humbled that the citizens of Kinston honored him in this way.  He will be forever missed by the citizens of our community and especially by those of us that  loved him.

 


This letter appeared as a letter to the  Editor in the Kinston Free Press, April 7, 2003
 

Dear Editor,

   Wil King was an exciting young man with a zest for life.  His passing came far too soon and was a shock to all that knew him.   I have known Wil King since he was a young boy but it was about a year ago that I really came to know Wil King, the man. 
   We shared the same love of history and historical preservation, and the same vision for heritage tourism in Lenoir County.  As our friendship grew, I as President of the Historical Preservation Group and Wil as the preservation chairman of the Lenoir County Battlefields Commission often shared our dreams and worked closely together on the preservation of the battlefields. Wil worked hard planning for the battlefield reality.  

   He initiated the first official mapping of the battlefields so one might learn where all the events of the battles took place. He explored the fields, swamps and woods where both Confederate and Union soldiers had marched and fought.  He led the way for cartographer Mark Collier to do the professional work of mapping.  Wil had learned as much or more than most about the integrity and the terrain of the battlefields.  Wilís preservation plans for the First Battle of Kinston battlefield were taking shape and moving forward.   Working on the project of restoring and preserving the battlefields had become a real passion for Wil and was his main preservation focus.

   He spent many hours exploring and diving in the Neuse River looking for the elusive cannons used at Camp Poole during the Civil War.  He was truly an adventurous and energetic person that loved the idea of learning and experiencing what the past was all about as well as what it could mean to the future.   I shall always cherish the times spent with Wil on the river, the battlefields or just sitting around talking.  He had earned my respect and admiration.  In a way this young visionary has become my hero.  I miss him and give thanks that I had the opportunity to have known this extraordinary young man who had become my friend.
   Wil King is another reason why the preservationist of this area will work even harder than ever before to make our shared dreams become a reality. 
   The Wil King Memorial Site shall be located in the First Battle of Kinston Memorial Battlefield Park as a tribute to Wil King, for his dedication and service to the preservation of Lenoir County Civil War Battlefields and his love for our community.

Jane Phillips, President
Historical Preservation Group

 

 

 

Tourist Comes To Visit Wyse Fork Battlefield
Wil King Made An Impression

November 2002 Mark Turvey of Illinois came to North Carolina only to see where his great great grandfather died during the Battle

of Wyse Fork in 1865.  Wil King took the time to show Mark around. and showed him the spot that his great great grandfather had

died.  Upon hearing of Wilís death Mr. Turvey sent this letter to the Historical Preservation Group.

     I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Wil King. Although I met Wil only once and shared just a few hours with him, I still feel a great sense of loss. I was so impressed by the hospitality

 

a personal tour of the Kinston Civil War Battlefields and other historic sites in the community.  Wil was friendly in a genuine way, and tried to be as helpful to me as he could without expecting anything in return.
     I was amazed by the knowledge that Wil possessed of the history of Kinston, particularly of the Civil War battles.  Wil knew where the battles were fought, the names of the generals, colonels, captains and other officers, the positions of the armies during the battles, as well the locations where the Union and Confederates were encamped. Wil was able to describe the events as if he had actually been there and witnessed the battles himself.
|
    
My great-great grandfather, a Union soldier, died during the Battle of Wyse Forks on March 8, 1865. I was impressed by the respect that Wil displayed towards both the Confederate and Union soldiers as well as towards all of the citizens that were affected by the war and its aftermath.  Wil clearly had a deep understanding of the Civil Warís importance in our countryís history.
      Wil displayed concern for the economically hard times his community has experienced, but what struck me most of all was the pride Wil had in Kinston and the enthusiasm he had towards his dream of preserving the Civil War Battlefields in the community. Wil felt that preserving the Civil War Battlefields would bring tourism to Kinston and increase civic pride in the community.

     I couldnít agree more with Wil.  I believe that preserving and developing the Civil War Battlefields would not only bring tourism to Kinston, but would beautify the community and make Kinsto
n a better place to live and work.
   Some day I hope to return to Kinston and see the progress that has been made in preserving the Kinston Civil War Battlefields.  I can think of no better way to honor Wilís memory than to make his dream become a reality.
      I know that I will never forget my visit to Kinston in November 2002, nor will I forget the friendship and history that Wil shared with me.
     Please express my deepest sympathy to Wilís family and friends.
                                               Mark Turvey

Kinston Free Press
 
      Memorial Site and Civil War Battlefield Dedicated
      December 12, 2004
      LaToya Mack
      staff writer
 
      Sam King said he and his brother, Wil, spent time as young boys playing on the grounds where the First Battle of Kinston was fought, pretending to be soldiers in that battle. On Saturday, that battlefield was dedicated in Wil King's honor.
 
      History buffs and other interested parties gathered Saturday to celebrate the dedication of the First Battle of Kinston Battlefield and Wil King Memorial.
 
      Wil King died in 2003. He devoted much of his time to preserving Lenoir County's Civil War history.
 
      "He understood well what the past could mean to our future," said Jane Phillips, president of the Historical Preservation Group. "He felt strongly about people learning the true story about the Civil War - both the good and the bad."
 
      Completing the site took 18 months of planning.
 
      "We hope that we can preserve that part of the history and educate people about what happened here," said Lonnie Blizzard, chairman of the Lenoir County Battlefields Commission.
 
      The battlefield, at Meadowbrook and Harriet drives behind King's Restaurant, was where the first Union soldiers crossed Kinston. Former Lenoir County Commissioner Oscar Herring said it is important to celebrate Lenoir County's Civil War history.
 
      "This is an exciting day in Lenoir County," Herring said. "We must preserve our history because if we don't, it will be lost to future generations."
 
      The dedication honored all the men who fought in the Civil War - Confederate, Union, black and white. Kinston Mayor Johnnie Mosley encouraged the groups involved in preserving the battlefields to remember all groups in their efforts.
 
      "We have a diverse population," Mosley said. "We should be participating as a unit. ¬. We must find a way to have all of us participating in the history we are preserving."
 
      Dale Theetge, commander of the N.Y. Sons of Union Veterans, said the men who fought in the war had a lot in common despite their differences. Dedicating the site is an important way to honor those who fought.
 
      "We need to remember that there were men who fought and died here and honor that memory," Theetge said. "As long as we do that, they will not have died in vain."
 
      Confederate representative Bob Tolar said visiting battle sites and honoring the memory of those who fought is not honoring war.
 
      "Other countries had civil wars. ¬. What sets America apart is, when (the war) was over, it was over," Tolar said. "That's what makes America a great country. ¬. America didn't just happen; it was people like our ancestors - North, South, black and white."
 
 

 

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THE FIRST BATTLE OF KINSTON 1862
by
Dr. Lonnie Blizzard