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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

During George Stoneman's Raid, Palmer received an appointment as Brevet Brigadier General at age 29. Only George A. Custer became a General at a younger age. One commander said Palmer was worth "a whole brigade of most cavalry."
Colonel William J. Palmer's First Brigade of cavalry included the Tenth Michigan Cavalry Regiment under the command of Colonel Luther Trowbridge, the Twelfth Ohio under Colonel Robert H. Bentley and the Fifteenth Pennsylvania under Lieutenant Colonel Charles M. Betts.
On March 21, 1865, Stoneman with 4,500 men left Mossy Creek, Tennessee. Stoneman reached Boone, North Carolina, on March 28. The flooding Yadkin River separated Palmer's men, who crossed to the north side, from the remainder of the force on March 29. On April 1, the commands still divided by the Yadkin River reached Elkin on the north side of the river and Jonesville on the south side respectively.
Stoneman reunited his entire command on the north side of the river in Surry County at Rockford on April Richmond Meets Lincoln2. On April 2-3, Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia evacuated Richmond and Petersburg. Stoneman raided Mount Airy.
A native of Surry County, James Gwyn, commented on the Yankee raiders as they came by his place on the north side of the Yadkin. "The Yankees passed along on both sides of the river…Those who passed acted very well…Treatment of citizens by Palmer's Brigade on the north side of the river evoked the surprise of the residents who feared much harsher treatment."
As Abraham Lincoln walked the streets of Richmond with his youngest son, Stoneman moved to Christiansburg by midnight of April 4-5. Palmer's Brigade destroyed railroad track of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad east of Christiansburg. The journey to North Carolina came next and began on April 7. The route led through Patrick and Henry Counties. The direct route ran through Patrick County, where Stoneman and two brigades under the overall command of Alvin Gillem traversed.
On the return journey of Stoneman's command Palmer came through Martinsville and Henry County fighting a battle along Jones Creek when he ran into 250 Confederate cavalry under the command of James T. Wheeler. General Gillem in his report said, "Colonel Palmer, commanding the First Brigade had been directed to send the Tenth Michigan directly on the railroad to Martinsville, by some misunderstanding he marched with his entire command."

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