|Yankees in Martinsville! How did they ever get in?
by Thomas D. Perry
If Aunt Pittypat of Gone With The Wind fame had lived in Henry County near the end of the War Between the States in April 1865, she might have exclaimed and I paraphrase, "Oh, dear, Yankees in Martinsville! How did they ever get in?" By April 1865, the American Civil War was about to come to an end. Until that time Patrick and Henry Counties in Virginia were untouched by the armies of the United States of America. That changed as Robert E. Lee evacuated Richmond, the Capitol of Virginia, and the Confederate States of America. As Lee went west for fateful meeting with U. S. Grant to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Confederate President Jefferson F. Davis came south on the train to Danville.
this same time from the east came over 4000 cavalry
under the overall command of Major General George Stoneman.
Stoneman was born on August 22, 1822, in Busti, now Lakewood,
New York. Described as "a correct moral man,"
he attended the United States Military Academy at West
Point in the heralded class of 1846 that included George
B. McClellan and George Pickett. During his third year,
Stoneman's roommate was Thomas J. Jackson. He was not
"Stonewall" yet. After graduating the six foot
four inch Stoneman, described as a "generous hearted,
whole souled companion," was part of a march from
Kansas to California in the Mormon Battalion during the
Mexican War. He fell in love with California and vowed
to make it his home one day. U.S. Secretary of War, Jefferson
Davis, appointed Stoneman to the Second United States
Cavalry. In 1861, Stoneman refused to surrender to Confederate
authorities in Texas. He took part of his command and
escaped north via ship.
He served under McClellan in the early part of the war. He received promotion to Brigadier General in August 1862 and Major General in November. During Chancellorsville in May 1863, Stoneman left Hooker raiding towards Richmond and became the scapegoat of the Union defeat. Using medical problems as a reason, specifically hemorrhoids, Stoneman took a desk job running a cavalry bureau near Washington, D. C.