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Home North Carolina Caldwell County City of Lenoir Historical Markers Stoneman's Raid

Stoneman's Raid

US 321 at US 64, Lenoir, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 54' 50.2776", -81° 31' 30.432"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"On a raid through western North Carolina Gen. Stoneman's U.S. cavalry passed through Lenoir Mar. 28, and were there again, Apr. 15-17, 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 thinly 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.

     The town of Lenoir was visited by Stoneman’s men on two occasions. During the first stages of the raid, a contingent of men was sent to destroy a nearby factory and, during the final days of the raid, it was again visited since it was seen as “a rebellious little hole.” The town was looted heavily but Stoneman’s presence in the town prevented excessive damage to its inhabitants. Rumors of the end of the war had reached the town during Stoneman’s stay, and he left with a small contingent of men for Tennessee on April 16th. Traveling with Stoneman on his return march were about 900 Confederate prisoners, mostly old men and young boys. Stoneman’s remaining forces left Lenoir the following day, headed for Asheville and other objectives in the mountains.

Mark A. Snell, ed., North Carolina: The Final Battles (1998)
John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina (1963)
Cornelia 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
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Stoneman's Raid Historical Marker Location Map, Lenoir, North Carolina