Saturday, May 14, 2016

1865 Boone raid made The New York Times

     The New York Times has been expanding its digital library, and today I discovered it now includes a little story on Stoneman's Raid in Boone.
     The invasion of Boone was on the front page April 3, 1865, but was overshadowed by the fall of Richmond and Petersburg. The "VICTORY!" headline foreshadowed Robert E. Lee's surrender April 9. In the same triumphant spirit, The Times wrote, "Gen. Stoneman's command is now well into North Carolina and will be heard of soon in the heart of rebeldom."
     The Times' primary source was the report Gen. Stoneman sent back to his Knoxville headquarters from Boone. (There were no reporters embedded with the raid.) This story says the Union cavalry captured Boone on March 27, instead of the March 28 date that has been accepted by historians. It also overstates the casualties (Stoneman reported nine killed, but researchers have found only one Confederate soldier and two civilians who died.)
     If you would like to revisit The Stoneman Gazette's coverage of the Boone skirmish, start here, or type Boone in the searchbar at right, or explore the links at the bottom of this post.
     The Times also included information relayed from two Virginia newspapers, the March 29 Lynchburg Virginian and the March 31 Richmond Whig (which had grown "disgusted with the Confederate habit of lying.") These describe Stoneman's previous movements in eastern Tennessee from a Confederate perspective

     The reference to the evacuation of Bristol is interesting, because Stoneman feinted in that direction before turning south and crossing the mountains toward Boone. He wanted to force the Confederates to commit their troops to defend the Tennessee valley, and this story shows his ploy worked. This news would have reached Lynchburg via train or telegraph along the Virgina & Tennessee Railroad. On April 5, Stoneman cut that lifeline.
     (The town described as Taylorsville is now known as Mountain City. The commander mentioned is Major Myles Keogh, Stoneman's Aide-de-Camp. The Kentucky officer is Major George F. Barnes, whose story I will save for Halloween.)
     Here's an easier-to-read digital transcript of the clipping above:
NEXT: Memorial Day: Stoneman's toll


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