Stoneman's Raid

Gen. George Stoneman
Gen. George Stoneman
On March 24, 1865, Union Gen. George Stoneman led 6,000 cavalrymen from Tennessee into western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia to disrupt the Confederate supply line by destroying sections of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, the North Carolina Railroad, and the Piedmont Railroad. He also sought to liberate Union prisoners-of-war held in Salisbury and hoped to deprive the Confederate armies of supplies, cut off avenues of retreat, and encourage Unionists in western and central North Carolina.

Stoneman struck at Boone on March 28, then divided his force and sent part into Virginia on April 2; it returned to North Carolina a week later. On April 12, the Federals occupied Salisbury and burned the already abandoned prison, as well as public buildings, industrial structures, and supply depots. Stoneman moved west the next day, dividing his command again in the face of limited resistance. Other than a fight at Swannanoa Gap, Stoneman and his cavalrymen encountered only bushwhackers and isolated groups of Confederate soldiers.

Stonemanís forces approached Asheville on April 23, negotiated a truce, and rode through the streets on April 26, while Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnson surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham. Two days later, part of Stonemanís force returned to Asheville to loot. Other elements either continued to Tennessee or joined the pursuit of Confederate President Jefferson Davis into Georgia.

Timeline for Stoneman's Raid (March-April 1865)

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