Union troops invade Salisbury, at least that's how it looked

Union troops invade Salisbury, at least that's how it looked

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A scene that may have played out in a very similar fashion exactly 150 years ago was dramatized on the streets of downtown Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

The famous raid by Union General George Stoneman made a stop in Salisbury as the Civil War was at an end.

On Sunday those events were reenacted in the very place where they happened; in front of the Rowan Museum, which, at the time, was the county courthouse.  If Stoneman is given credit for anything by the locals, it's the fact that he listened to pleas to spare the courthouse.

Local historian Terry Holt and Rowan Museum Director Kaye Hirst coordinated the modern day Yankee invasion.

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources created a special web page for the events that mark the 150th anniversary of The War Between The States. This is the entry related to Stoneman's Raid:

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.

Stoneman's 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 Stoneman's force returned to Asheville to loot. Other elements either continued to Tennessee or joined the pursuit of Confederate President Jefferson Davis into Georgia.