Chris J. Hartley has worked in marketing and communications for several large companies. On the side, he chases the history that has fascinated him since childhood. He has published several articles and is a frequent speaker about the Civil War. He lives in Pfafftown, NC.
Stoneman's Raid 1865by Chris J. Hartley
In the spring of 1865, Federal major general George Stoneman launched a cavalry raid did of 1876, Jesse James moved to Waverly, Tenext two months, Stoneman s cavalry rode across six Southern states, fighting fierce skirmishes and destroying supplies and facilities. When the raid finally ended, Stoneman s troopers had brought the Civil War home to dozens of
In the spring of 1865, Federal major general George Stoneman launched a cavalry raid did of 1876, Jesse James moved to Waverly, Tenext two months, Stoneman s cavalry rode across six Southern states, fighting fierce skirmishes and destroying supplies and facilities. When the raid finally ended, Stoneman s troopers had brought the Civil War home to dozens of communities that had not seen it up close before. In the process, the cavalrymen pulled off one of the longest cavalry raids in U.S. military history.
Despite its geographic scope, Stoneman s 1865 raid failed in its primary goal of helping to end the war. Instead, the destruction the raiders left behind slowed postwar recovery in the areas it touched. In their wake, the raiders left a legacy that resonates to this day, even in modern popular music such as The Band The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
Based on exhaustive research in 34 repositories in 12 states and from more than 200 books and newspapers, Hartley s book tells the complete story of Stoneman s 1865 raid for the first time.
- Blair, John F. Publisher
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- 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)
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As the Civil War was ending, massive cavalry raids became a staple of Union activity. With major CSA armies tied to fixed points or unable to break contact, many areas were almost undefended. A veteran well-armed force could move at will, destroying infrastructure and defeating available forces. Stoneman's Raid was one of the last cavalry raids of the war. This raid is the inspiration for The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and background for a TV movie. The author did not come to the raid via the book or the movie but grew up in the area of the raid. A self-confessed "history geek", this was the main event in local history. This happy combination results in an excellent history that is a joy to read. Major General George Stoneman was not having a good war. In 1863, moving from staff to field he commanded Hooker's cavalry at Chancellorsville. His raid goes badly; Hooker snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and manages to blame Stoneman. In 1864, leading part of McCook's cavalry outside of Atlanta, he is forced to surrender. Unlucky or incompetent, no one wants anything to do with him. Except for John Schofield, who wanted Stoneman to command the Department of the Ohio Cavalry. Schofield got his way, more because no one wanted to take the responsibility of saying 'No' to a new department commander. Stoneman performed well, producing an excellent force, raiding Virginia and North Carolina. Logical or not, the Union worried that Lee and Johnston combined could prolong the war. How this would happen, where they would draw supplies and how they could defeat Grant and Sherman's converging armies is unspecified. Fear is not always logical but taking measures to stop events from occurring is. To counter this, Stoneman is to conduct a major raid, cut railroads, destroy supplies, infrastructure, free POWs and make it impossible for Lee and Johnston to meet. While specific to Stoneman's raid in 1865, the planning phase is common to all raids during the war. Supplies are limited to ammunition and barest of essentials, everything else is taken from civilians. The Home Guard or small garrisons are the expected opposition. All main-line CSA units are with the main armies, creating almost a vacuum in many areas. The Union is relies on veterans and Spencer Rifles as a force multiplier in any encounters. Destruction of railroads is a major objective; bridges over major rivers are a close second. Taken together, they cripple any transportation system. Along the way, raiders burn any bridge, mill or factory. Food, horses disappear. Stoneman seems to have left used up horses rather than shoot them. This resulted in a "swap" that left something behind. During the raid, movement and misdirection are major factors. The author captures the uncertainty of the authorities and population over objectives and direction. Stoneman makes a real effort to ensure their confusion. The needs of men and horses play a major role in determining the route. This is very true in a mountainous region as the raiders try to balance distance, objectives and need for food. Operating deep in enemy territory, well behind enemy lines takes a toll. Requirements of foraging, destruction of railroads, bridge burning and road capacity forces splitting the command. The reader understands the isolation of these small units confronting bushwhackers or home guards far from support. [B&N limit on characters reached]