| Marker Text: |
"On their raid through western North Carolina Gen. Stoneman's U.S. cavalry skirmished with Confederates near here on April 17, 1865." In late March 1865, Union cavalry under Major General George Stoneman, commander of the Union army “District of East Tennessee,” marched throughout western North Carolina during one of the longest cavalry raids in history. About 5,000 men under Stoneman’s command entered North Carolina with a mission “to destroy and not to fight battles” in order to expedite the close of the Civil War. Stoneman’s raid coincided with the raids of General William T. Sherman in the eastern sections of the state, stretching local home guard and militia units thin and forcing Confederate commanders to make hard choices on where their men were needed most.
Stoneman divided his men and sent detachments throughout the region, securing the destruction of the region’s factories, bridges and railroad lines. The army relied heavily on local citizens for food and supplies, often emptying storehouses. Stoneman’s raids in North Carolina lasted from late March until May when they assisted in the search for Confederate President Jefferson Davis as he fled the collapsed Confederacy. The men had marched more than 1,000 miles during the raid and historians credit their march with assuring the death of the Confederacy as they captured artillery pieces and took thousands of prisoners while destroying Confederate army supplies and blocking a line of possible retreat for both Lee and Johnston’s armies.
After news of the end of the war and Johnston’s surrender, Stoneman’s men remaining in North Carolina under the command of General A. C. Gillem marched toward a supply depot in Morganton but first encountered Confederate resistance at a bridge crossing the Catawba River. A small force of Confederates hampered Gillem’s advance but through flanking movements and Federal artillery fire, the Confederates were forced to give up their defensive positions. As a result, Gillem’s men then were able to seize supplies of corn and bacon in the town.
Mark A. Snell, ed., North Carolina: The Final Battles (1998)
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North CarolinaCornelia Phillips Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North Carolina (1866)
Ina Van Noppen, Stoneman’s Last Raid (1961)
Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains (1982)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.