Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Honor the warriors, if not the war

Catawba County, N.C., lost 624 men in the Civil War. The local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp is named for Capt. Charles Connor, who was the county's only casualty in Stoneman's Raid.

     Today, as Confederate Memorial Day is observed in the Carolinas, The Stoneman Gazette presents the following honor roll of Confederate soldiers and Southern civilians who were killed during Stoneman's Raid. 
     We will have the corresponding Union honor roll on Memorial Day, May 30.
     I have identified seven Confederate soldiers, dozens of unknown soldiers, and seven Southern civilians who lost their lives defending their homeland against Stoneman's Raid.
     It seems likely that the South lost at least 50 lives during the two-month raid, including civilians. That's about one death per day, which is actually not bad from a military perspective, considering that there were 4,000 armed Yankees roaming the countryside.
     Unfortunately, the names and stories of many of the Confederate defenders have been lost to history. By the spring of 1865, record-keeping was not a Confederate priority. Also, much of the opposition to Stoneman's Raid was by anonymous bushwhackers rather than organized troops.
     It is revealing that the list below includes four officers but only one private. Certainly there were many more Confederate privates who died on the battle lines. (On the Union side, 26 of the 33 fatalities were privates.) In fact, the only Confederate private we do know about is remembered because he was shot in his own hometown.
     I intend to revise this honor roll as additional information becomes available. If you have any names or details about those who gave their lives during Stoneman's Raid, please add a comment below.
CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS (listed in the order they fell)
  • Pvt. Joseph "Warren" Green was killed March 28 in Boone, N.C. Family tradition says he was shot by Myles Keogh, the flamboyant Irishman who led Stoneman's Raid into Boone. Green was listed as 22 in the 1860 census, so he would have been about 27 when he died. He was a Confederate private who had been wounded twice previously and may have been convalescing at home when he joined the Watauga Home Guards to confront Stoneman's Raid. Casualties in Boone also included Warren's cousin Calvin Green (who was gravely wounded but recovered) and civilians Jacob Mast Councill and Elijah Norris (who were killed). 
  • Capt. Francis M.Y. "Frank" McNeely (or MacNeely) was killed April 12 at Salisbury. According to historian Robert Lee Hadden, McNeely was involved in an exchange of gunfire at the Confederate Arsenal, and he killed two Yankees before he was shot. Another account says that after he was shot, he was beaten so badly that he died. A native of Rowan County, McNeely enlisted at age 21 in 1861, was appointed captain of the Rowan Rifle Guard, and served a year before returning home to Salisbury because of illness. He kept his commission and remained on light duty, which means he was probably working at the arsenal or the prison. 
  • Lt. A.B. Coffee was killed April 14 in Statesville, N.C., in a clash with the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Newspaper accounts describe Lt. Coffee as "a fine specimen of a man" who was originally from Mississippi and served with Col. T.C. Flournoy's Confederate scouts. Encountering what he thought was a small party of Federal soldiers, he charged into Stoneman's lines and was shot through the mouth. He was taken to a home in Statesville, where he uttered his last words: "My gracious." The day after Stoneman's troops left Statesville, citizens dressed his body in a fresh suit of clothes and buried him with Masonic rites at the old Fourth Creek Presbyterian Church cemetery (now First Presbyterian Church of Statesville). A young lady named Annie Donnell who helped with the funeral described him as "a brave-looking soldier." Coffee is among 28 Confederate soldiers buried at the church and the only one killed in Statesville. 
  • Lt. Charles Connor was killed April 17 in Newton, N.C., by the 10th Michigan Cavalry. He came from a wealthy and influential family—his father was a congressman and his grandfather was governor. To read his story, click here
  • Lt. John T. Shotwell was executed April 18 near Blowing Rock, N.C., as he tried to escape from Kirk's raiders. Shotwell was among about a thousand prisoners captured by Stoneman in Salisbury, Statesville, and Lenoir, who were being marched across the mountains to Knoxville, and Col. George Kirk was determined to make an example out of him. "Damn him--shoot him!" Kirk ordered, according to an account by fellow prisoner Albert Stacey Caison. Several other prisoners died during this march. 
  • Cadet McKenzie "Theodore" Parker of the Arsenal Cadets was shot May 3 by Stoneman's troops on the courthouse square in Anderson, S.C. He was the next-to-last casualty of Stoneman's Raid. 
  • Sgt. A.C. Wall with Gen. Joseph Wheeler's cavalry was shot through the heart May 9 during a midnight skirmish near Madison, Ga., when he encountered a detachment of the 12th Ohio Cavalry led by Lt. J.J. Defigh. Sgt. Wall may have been a Texas Ranger. As far as I can tell, he was the last Confederate soldier killed in action during the Civil War.
  • At least one suffered a fatal head wound in a gunfight with Col. Miller's 3rd Brigade April 5 in Wytheville, Va. Most of the Confederates defending Wytheville were from Kentucky under the command of Gen. John Echols. There were likely other Confederate casualties in this skirmish. The Union reported 35 killed, wounded, or captured. 
  • One was killed April 8 near New London, Va., during Major William Wagner's raid on Lynchburg, according to the regimental history of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. 
  • Twenty-seven from Col. James T. Wheeler's 6th Tennessee Corps were killed April 8 in an ambush near Martinsville, Va., according to Col. Luther Trowbridge's history of the 10th Michigan Cavalry. One of these was skewered by Lt. Fred Field. If Trowbridge is right, this was the deadliest engagement of Stoneman's Raid. (I have identified five Union soldiers who died in this fight.) On the other hand, one Confederate report says that only one rebel died, a private named Edwards. 
  • Several Confederates in Col. Samuel Ferguson's cavalry may have been killed or wounded April 11 near Lexington, N.C., in a two-hour gunfight with the 10th Michigan. Col. Trowbridge's book says 75 to 100 were killed or wounded, based on newspaper accounts. However, this seems exaggerated, considering that the Yankees were retreating, yet none of them were even wounded. 
  • Two were killed April 11 near Greensboro, according to the 15th Pennsylvania history. One was during the capture of the Third S.C. Cavalry, and the other was by "lucky shot" from Charles Betts' battalion. 
  • One was killed April 12 in Salisbury on the piazza of the house of Frank Shober, according to Spencer. Certainly there were other Confederate deaths in Salisbury (the Union lost 10 men in winning the battle), but I have not been able to document them. 
  • Elijah Norris was shot in the back March 28 in Boone as he tried to escape the raid in Boone, N.C. He may have been a member of the Watauga Home Guard. 
  • James M. Howard was killed April 2 in Floyd County, Va., as he tried to prevent Stoneman's troops from looting, according to John D. Chapla's book on the 42nd Virginia Infantry. Howard had been a Confederate lieutenant but was discharged from the army in 1862. 
  • Matthew Ellison was killed May 1 near Turner Hill in Pickens County, S.C., after he refused to give up his plowhorse. In retribution, a Union soldier from Michigan in the same vicinity was killed May 9. 
  • Capt. Josiah Choice, 57, was shot May 2 in Greenville, S.C., when he threatened to kill anyone who took his horse, according to Greenville historian A.V. Huff. This is almost certainly Josiah Choice, 57, who served in Hampton's Legion under Gen. Wade Hampton III. The incident happened at his home, known as the Old Rock House, on the Buncombe Road. The enemy was Capt. James Lawson's battalion, detached from Asheville by Gen. Davis Tillson. 
  • A freed slave was shot by Lawson's battalion May 2 in Greenville. Robert Seigler's book, "The Best Gun in the World," includes an account from G.W. Taylor, a gunsmith at the State Military Works in Greenville. Taylor said a former slave who probably belonged to the estate of the late Vardry McBee shot at him from a distance of several hundred yards as he crossed an open field between Pendleton Street and the Gaillard School House. The next day, Lawson's troopers caught up with the man in the woods near the State Works, where they shot and killed him "for impudence."  
  • Unknown civilian was killed in Hartwell, Ga., between May 13 and 21 by occupying troops from the 11th Michigan Cavalry.
  • Pvt. Josiah Davis of the 45th Virginia Infantry died April 7 in Carroll County, Va., according to the Carroll County Honor Roll. This would have been while Stoneman's 3rd Brigade was passing through Hillsville, but it is unclear if Davis was killed in action or had previously come home wounded.
  • Pvt. James T. Tyson of the 40th Alabama Infantry died May 23, 1865, in Salisbury and is buried in the Old Lutheran Church Cemetery. Records say his regiment surrendered at the Yadkin River bridge, but the date is unclear and I don't know if he fought in Stoneman's Raid.
  • Calvin J. Miller died May 26, 1865, and is also buried at the Lutheran cemetery in Salisbury. His grave is decorated as a Confederate veteran but I do not know if he fought in Stoneman's Raid. 

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