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Yankees in Martinsville, VA | MyHenryCounty.com/MyMartinsville.com
Yankees in Martinsville! How did they ever get in?
by Thomas D. Perry

Stoneman went to Georgia taking command of Sherman's left during the Atlanta Campaign. In an effort to redeem his reputation, Stoneman and 2000 cavalry went on a raid to free the Union soldiers at Andersonville. On July 31, 1864, Stoneman, along with 700 of his men, became prisoners while raiding towards Andersonville. He was the highest ranking Union general captured during the war.
Exchanged in September 1864, Stoneman presented a two-phase attack on the railroad in southwest Virginia and the Confederate munitions factory at Salisbury, North Carolina. He raided Saltville, VA in December 1864. In early 1865, commanding the Department of East Tennessee near Knoxville, Stoneman started a raid that brought his men to Patrick and Henry Counties. Stoneman did not come to William Jackson PalmerMartinsville, but Brigadier General William J. Palmer, commanding a brigade of Stoneman's cavalry.
William Jackson Palmer was born on September 16, 1836, on the Kinsale Farm in Leipsic, Kent County, Delaware, into a Quaker Family. In 1841, the family moved to Germantown near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
As a young boy, his fascination with steam locomotives "spurred Palmer to learn all he could about railroads." At age 17 in 1853, Palmer began working in the engineering corps of the Hempfield Railroad near Washington, Pennsylvania. Two years later, he went to England and France to study railroading and coal mining. The next year, Palmer was the railroad President's Private Secretary learning the inner workings of a railroad.
When Civil War erupted in 1861, Palmer was against violence, but he was more against slavery. In July 1862, Palmer returned to Philadelphia to raise the troops that became the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, raising 1,200 men in ten days. During the Antietam Campaign, Confederates captured Palmer within Southern lines in civilian clothing in what is today Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a few days after the battle along Antietam Creek. Confederates sent Palmer to Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond, Virginia, suspected as a spy, but later exchanged him in January 1863.
He returned to his regiment in 1863 in Tennessee and served in the Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and Knoxville Campaigns and in 1864 near Chattanooga. On January 14, 1865, near Red Hills, Alabama, leading Company A of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Palmer's actions led 29 years later to his receiving the Medal of Honor bestowed upon him on February 24, 1894, stating "With less than 200 men, attacked and defeated a superior force of the enemy, capturing their field piece and about 100 prisoners without losing a man."
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