On March 28, 1865, Maj. Gen. George Stoneman’s troops marched through Blowing Rock.
Union cavalry under Stoneman, commander of the Union army District of East Tennessee, conducted 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 Gen. William T. Sherman in the eastern sections of the state.
Stoneman divided his men and sent detachments throughout the region, securing the destruction of factories, bridges and railroad lines. The army relied heavily on local citizens for food and supplies, often emptying local storehouses.
Stoneman’s raids in North Carolina lasted from late March until May. The men marched more than 1,000 miles during the raid and historians credit the expedition with assuring the death of the Confederacy.
The march is considered such a success because it captured artillery pieces and took thousands of prisoners while destroying Confederate army supplies and blocking a line of possible retreat for both Lee’s and Johnston’s armies.
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