SPARTANBURG, S.C.One hundred and fifty years ago this afternoon, Stoneman's 1st Brigade rode into Spartanburg in pursuit of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
One Union soldier described Spartanburg as a pretty and repentant town. "This was the first state that moved to go out of the Union, and just now none of them is more willing to come back," our war correspondent, Pennsylvania Capt. Henry Weand, wrote in his journal. "One of the more prominent citizens of Spartanburg, a Mr. Shivers, made a speech on our entrance into town, asking us to respect private property. In conversation he said, 'I was as bad a secessionist as there was in the country. We are badly whipped and very willing to return to our former allegiance, and my feelings are an index to those of most all.'"
Another Pennsylvanian made sure those sentiments were publicized throughout town. As Capt. Weand explained:
It is a positive experience for the men to take up their old civic pursuits once more. Probably it is done to see if what was once learned has been forgotten. Company G was placed in the town, and Serg. Jos. R. Lonabaugh was in charge of the guard. Originally a printer, he naturally took up his quarters in the office of the Carolina Spartan, to the expressed disgust of its editor, Mr. Trimmier. Lonabaugh told him that he was a printer, and to prove it took a “stick” and turning to a case of type set up the following extra:
This was published the next day, and brought Lonabaugh an invitation to take supper with Mr. Trimmier. A few days later our Sergeant had another opportunity at Athens, Ga., and worked all night to get out an edition of the Southern Watchman.SPARTANBURG, S.C., April 30, 1865This evening, about 5 o’clock, Brevet Brigadier-General Wm. J. Palmer arrived in town with his brigade of Yankee cavalry. Much to the relief of the citizens, no private property was disturbed, strict orders having been given to prevent it. It is hoped that their conduct may meet the approval of our citizens, and that they may learn to know the Yankees and not find them such devils as they were led to imagine they were.
The newspaper editor was James Vernon Trimmier, whose ire toward Yankees was understandable. He was still grieving the death of his brother, who was mortally wounded March 31, 1865, during the fall of Petersburg, Virginia. Another brother had died of illness while serving in the Confederate Army, and still another had been wounded three times and lost sight in one eye. Just 39 days after the Spartanburg raid, James Trimmier died at age 38, and his surviving brother Frank succeeded him as editor.
Another version of the Carolina Spartan is preserved in the May 6 Athens newspaper that Weand mentioned. I have found a copy of that paper, and it includes the following reprint from Spartanburg cleverly mocking the Confederacy:
THE CAROLINA SPARTANEXTRA EDITIONSUNDAY, APRIL 30, 1865
KIND READERS:While writing this we smell the battle afar off, and on every breeze is bourne to one ears, the thunder of the Captains and the shouting. Already in our minds eye, we behold the hungry villains devouring our subsistence; already to the doleful brays of our mules made captive reach our distracted ears, and admonish us that the time to take these valuable animals to the mountains has arrived.There no longer remains any doubt as to the approach of the Yankees; and as the Assyrians came down like the wolf on the fold, so will the vandal hordes of Lincolndom descend upon Spartanburg, unless something is done to prevent it. There is no time left for decision or delay. Rise, men of Spartanburg, in your might, and gird up your loins for the conflict, go forth, and smite the invaders.“But screw your courage to the sticking point,Some there may be in the community whose craven hearts prognosticate failure and defeat,
and we’ll not fail.”
In the meantime, your Editor will retire to a safe place in the vicinity and await the results with anxiety. If one brave, but alas, small force is successful in resisting the Yankees’ advance, we will return, if not —.As we write, news has arrived by a reliable gentleman that France has formed an alliance offensive and defensive with Col. [William] Thomas, commanding the Cherokee Indians, and one hundred thousand gallant copper colored patriots, armed with tomahawks and scalping knives are now marching on New York City. Great consternation prevails at the North. This glorious item of intelligence should nerve the arms of our brave defenders to strike at last.As the Spartans of old choked up the pass of Thermopyle with the Persian dead, so let us imitate their glorious example, and cover our hills and valleys with the carcasses of these miscreants. How truly the poet says,“Tis great for one’s country to die.”“He that fights and runs away,We trust that our readers will appreciate the grandeur of the sentiment and that they will not go backward to offer such a precious and great thing as life on the altar of Southern Independence. Oe, Spartans of old. —Since writing the above we learn that the report of the alliance between Gen. Napoleon and Col. Thomas is untrue, which is greatly to be regretted. One devil, who is possessed of a literary taste, has been reading an ancient poem entitled [text is smudged, but it may refer to the Roman historian Tacitus], and has just read aloud the following passage from the same,
Will live to fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Will never, never, fight again.”
After thinking the matter over, we have come to the conclusion that there is rich truth in the above lines, and accordingly advise our friends to refrain from hostilities.
Newspapers were legitimate targets for Stoneman's Raid because they were so often used for southern propaganda. In Statesville, N.C., on April 13, the raiders burned the office of the Iredell Express, "a paper which was obnoxious from the warmth with which it had advocated the cause of the Confederacy." Once they reached South Carolina on May 1, they wrecked the office of the Anderson Intelligencer.
|Let's all fight: Salisbury editor|
J.J. Bruner took a stand,
but only on paper.
According to a Union account published five weeks later in an Ohio newspaper, "some wag of a typo among our cavalry got up a small extra and continued the editorial, showing the different stages of uncertainty, fear, and final exit of the editor."
I have not been able to find the Salisbury edition, but the Athens paper also includes a version of that story.
As soon as it was printed, the raiders destroyed the presses, and it would be nine months before The Carolina Watchman resumed publication. Sixteen years later when Bruner published Rev. Jethro Rumple's 618-page History of Rowan County, they censored any mention of Stoneman's Raid in Salisbury.
Ohio Capt. Frank Mason worked with Lonabaugh to produce the Athens newspaper, which he called the Yankee Raider. Mason later became a newspaper editor in Cleveland, and in an 1890 book called Sketches of War he reminisced:
By way of starting the community in a new and more patriotic frame of mind, a party of the Twelfth Ohio took possession of the printing office and issued a special edition of the Yankee Raider, which was sold on the streets and distributed among the principal residents. In the four small pages of that unique journal there was given a concise account of the surrender of General Lee, the assassination of President Lincoln, the destruction of Salisbury, and other important recent events, and the editorial page bristled with original verses, and a stately appeal to the Athenians to accept the result of the war, and renew their allegiance to the Union of their fathers.
William Bushong, in a remembrance written for the 12th Ohio's 1910 reunion, said the Yankee Raider "perhaps was read but not enjoyed by the citizens of the place."
NEXT: Stoneman's headquarter on Caesar's Head
|Near Joanna, S.C.: Jefferson Davis slept here April 30|