Yankees in Martinsville! How did they ever get in?
by Thomas D. Perry
Palmer stayed in Martinsville (apparently in the home at 33 Church Street) and Wheeler withdrew twelve miles from town. Wheeler wrote later on April 8, "At dark tonight the enemy was still in Henry Court House. During the day, he was re-enforced by about 800. They tell citizens that they will advance on Danville in the morning. As yet no buildings have been burned."
Instead, Palmer rejoined Stoneman's command on April
9 in Danbury, North Carolina. He did not know that Jefferson
Davis was a few miles away in Danville. Stoneman's raid
continued down into Piedmont North Carolina attacking
Salisbury on April 12. Stoneman returned to Tennessee
four days later. Palmer continued in pursuit of Jefferson
Davis. Stoneman left Gillem in command of the rest of
his force. Gillem moved through Morganton, Rutherford,
where he sacked Asheville and returned to Tennessee
on April 26. On May 10, Union cavalry captured President
Davis near Irwinville, Georgia. Two days later, the
Confederates won the last battle of the war near Brownsville,
After the war, Stoneman retired in May 1871. He bought a 400-acre estate in the San Gabriel Valley near San Marino, California, called "The Oaks." He served as Governor of California from 1883 until 1887. Stoneman returned to New York in poor health and had surgery for his recurring hemorrhoid problem and died in Jamestown on September 5, 1894, while visiting a sister. He rests today in Bentley Cemetery in Lakewood, New York. He never visited Martinsville.
Palmer left the United States Army on June 21, 1865.
He married and had three daughters. He started railroads
in Colorado and founded the city of Colorado Springs.
On March 13, 1909, General Palmer died at his estate,
Glen Eyrie, "the eagle's nest," at age 72.
He left an estate estimated between 3 and 5 million
dollars that he donated to schools and institutions.
This amount today adjusted for inflation would be $102,651,931.82.
Even though a "Yankee," William Jackson Palmer
proved himself an officer and a gentleman during the
course of his long life and during his visit to Martinsville.
This article also appeared in Showcase Magazine.