Saturday, April 8, 2017

Joan Baez: 'Till Stoneman's Cavalry came'

This marker was erected Jan. 19, 1988 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
They probably didn't mean to celebrate a Yankee birthday, but the ceremony
was held just one day after the 150th birthday of Major Abram B. Garner.
I know Garner's birthday because it's the same as mine. Tom Layton, editor 

     The Stoneman Gazette congratulates Joan Baez on her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her biggest hit, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, references Stoneman's Raid:
Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train,
till Stoneman’s cavalry came, and tore up the tracks again
.
     Songwriters Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm (who were inducted into the Hall of Fame with The Band in 1994) conjured up Caine to narrate historical events at the end of the Civil War.
     In the winter of '65, the Confederacy was just barely alive, and the purpose of Stoneman's Raid was to finish it off. After Stoneman's cavalry destroyed the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, the rebels' final lifeline was the Piedmont Railroad between Danville and Greensboro.
     After Richmond fell, both of those towns served as temporary capitals of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis presided April 3-10 in Danville, until he heard that Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered April 9 at Appomattox. Then he fled to North Carolina, where he hoped that Gen. Joseph Johnston's army would be able to continue the fight.
     Davis was aboard one of the last trains that made it to Greensboro before the Reedy Fork trestle was destroyed April 11 in a daring raid ordered by Stoneman and led by Maj. Abram Garner. At the time, the Yankees were unaware of Lee's surrender or Davis's flight.
     Davis stayed April 11-16 in Greensboro and then eluded Stoneman's cavalry on his way south through Charlotte, past the smoldering bridge at Nation Ford, and across South Carolina. He held final meetings in Abbeville and Washington (Ga.) before catching up with his family and being captured by Michigan troops May 10 in south Georgia. 
This bridge crosses Reedy Fork at the same place as the original timber trestle destroyed by Stoneman's cavalry. (Photo by Royce Haley).

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