The Tar Heel Legend www.visitnc.com OnlineWebsite - www.visitnc.comAddress301 N. Wilmington St.Raleigh, PhonePrimary - (919) 733-7651 Ever wonder how North Carolina got the nickname the Tar Heel State? Some say it stems from colonial days when North Carolinas chief exports were pitch and tar, which come from the states many pine trees. Since North Carolina was the poorest colony, people said its citizens ran around barefoot, getting tar on their heels. There is also the story that, during the Revolutionary War, American patriots dumped tar into what is now North Carolinas Tar River to keep the British army from taking the waterway. But the most popular version of the Tar Heel story is that the nickname took hold during a battle in Virginia during the Civil War when a group of soldiers retreated, leaving North Carolina soldiers to fight by themselves. The victorious North Carolina soldiers later said they were going to put North Carolina tar on the heels of the soldiers who had retreated to make them stick better in the next fight. Inspired by the way North Carolina troops stood firm in battle, Gen. Robert E. Lee was heard to say, God bless the Tar Heel boys.