Smithville was the first community in North Carolina to advocate secession; Greenville followed Smithville on January 11, 1861, with a 100-gun salute. Pitt County's diverse population made it a very important battleground in the war. In 1860, Pitt County's population consisted of 7,840 whites, 127 free blacks, and 8,473 slaves. G. B. Singletary formed the first military company in Pitt County, followed by the Tar River Guards and the Marlboro Guards. The first incident occurred on June 5, 1862, at Tranters Creek. Later that year, Yankees invaded Greenville on October 9th coming up the river in gun boats, raiding stores and arresting all the men in the Courthouse. The largest military activity was General Potter's raid in July 1863. There were skirmishes at Haddocks Cross Roads, Red Banks Church and Black Jack Church.