North Carolina’s Tar Heel nickname may have as an origin one of the state’s products in pre-revolutionary days, tar made from turpentine. North Carolina is still home to vast stretches of hardy pine forest.
The state’s official web site traces the nickname’s source to the Civil War when retreating soldiers left a column of North Carolinians to battle the enemy. The North Carolinian troops bid farewell to their fleeing comrades with the admonishment that next time “we’ll put tar on your heels to make you stick”. Gen. Robert E. Lee reportedly retorted “God bless them Tar Heel boys.”