The three men were William Bradley from Rutherford County, N.C., Henry Evans from Buncombe County, N.C., and John Maricle of Harlan, Ky. They were privates in the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry and died of diseases during the occupation of Watauga County, April 5-18, 1865. There were at least two other Union soldiers who died in Watauga County, but their gravesites are not known.
Bradley, Evans, and Maricle were buried in what became known as the "black section" of the town cemetery. Boone historian Eric Plaag said the location was "probably a political statement on where the bodies of those who are fighting for black freedom should be put to rest."The "Home Yankees" made life miserable in Boone, so it's no wonder that these men were buried without honor, but it is also important to understand that most southerners who joined the Union army were not actually fighting to free the slaves. More likely, their motive was to defend the nation their grandfathers had fought to establish, or avoid the Confederate draft, or qualify for a Union pension. One of Stoneman's last surviving veterans was a North Carolinian who said he volunteered for the Union infantry "to keep out of the rebel army."