Stoneman’s Raid 1865
By Chris J. Hartley
John F. Blair, Winston Salem, NC
Reviewed by Keith Jones
Stoneman’s Raid has long lived as near legend in the Carolinas. Across Western North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina, historic markers mark every place General George Stoneman and his raiders struck. Information about the full scope and time line of the famous cavalry raid required a lot of tedious legwork. Now Hartley’s thoroughly researched work brings this all together in one cohesive narrative.
Strong writing tops off the laborious research Hartley poured into his book. As tough as it can be for a Southern man to read of the exploits of Union raiders burning their way through his ancestral homeland, it is gratifying to learn the details of how this all took place. There is much to be learned of the how, why and results of this action. Hartley spares no details about the members of the raid or of the Confederates and citizens who attempted to defend their homes from them.
Hartley puts this raid in perspective. Whereas Sherman’s March boiled down to total war where no person nor property was safe or off limits, Stoneman’s Raid was not. Despite the damage inflicted, Stoneman went to great lengths to limit the damage to targets with military significance. Of course any time that number of soldiers are turned loose on the countryside, there will be outrages. These are also related in this book. By the end of this work, you will have the full picture of Stoneman’s Raid and what The Band was signing about in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”