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Columbus in Polk County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Polk County Courthouse

Raiders in the County

 

Stoneman's Raid

 
Polk County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 14, 2009
1. Polk County Courthouse Marker
Inscription. (Preface):
On March 24, 1865, Union Gen. George Stoneman led 6,000 cavalrymen from Tennessee into southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina to disrupt the Confederate supply line by destroying sections of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the North Carolina Railroad, and the Piedmont Railroad. He struck at Boone on March 28, headed into Virginia on April 2, and returned to North Carolina a week later. Stoneman's Raid ended at Ashville on April 28, the day that Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham.

Union Gen. Alvan C. Gillem's brigade of Stoneman's raiders entered Polk County, stopped at Green River Plantation, then rode through Columbus on April 22, 1865, after Confederate forces blocked Gillem's path to Asheville at Swannanoa Gap. The brigade consisted of so-called "Home Yankees" -- natives of Tennessee and the mountain counties of North Carolina. Gillem and his men moved quickly through Polk County and Howard's Gap, a few miles west of here. The Confederate force there had just learned that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was negotiating his army's surrender to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham. Many soldiers at the gap concluded that the war was over and went home, reducing the ranks so that Gillem met little opposition.

The war divided neighbors
Polk County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, September 6, 2008
2. Polk County Courthouse
and families into those who either supported secession or the Union. On April 20, 1861, early in the conflict when secessionist enthusiasm was strong, Capt. John C. Camp mustered Co. K, 16th North Carolina Infantry, here at the courthouse. Three more companies were later recruited here. At least 500 Polk County men served in the Confederate army a dozen or more joined the Federals. Soon, the Confederate conscription act and the hardships of war fostered resentment. Draft evaders and deserters found refuge in the mountains. Some formed gangs, raided farms and communities, and caused hard feelings that lingered for years.

(Sidebar):
Dr. Columbus J. Miles, the "Father of Polk County," was born nearby on June 20, 1808. He became a physician, was elected to the state senate in 1846, and then served in other state offices. He led a long battle to create Polk County (finally organized in 1855). The county seat was named for him, and the courthouse was completed in 1859. He enlisted in Co. K, 16th North Carolina Regiment, on May 20, 1861, was promoted to surgeon on July 1, and resigned in March 1863 and returned home. Local conflicts between Unionists and secessionists prompted him to move to Cabarrus County, S.C. He died on Dec. 10, 1882, and was buried in the churchyard of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, S.C.
 
Erected by
Polk County Courthouse 1920's image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 14, 2009
3. Polk County Courthouse 1920's
Courtesy Polk Co. Historical Association
North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 35° 15.101′ N, 82° 11.906′ W. Marker is in Columbus, North Carolina, in Polk County. Marker is on West Mills Street (County Route 108). Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus NC 28722, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Preserve our Freedom (a few steps from this marker); Polk County Bicentennial Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); "Old Bill" Williams (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Columbus Mills (within shouting distance of this marker); Polk County World War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Round Mountain (within shouting distance of this marker); The Brave Devoted Patriots (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tryon Mountain (approx. 2.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Columbus.
 
Categories. Political SubdivisionsWar, US Civil
 
Polk County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 14, 2009
4. Polk County Courthouse
Gen. Alvan C. Gillem Courtesy Library of Congress
Polk County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 14, 2009
5. Polk County Courthouse
Dr. Columbus J. Mills Courtesy Polk County
Polk County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, June 14, 2009
6. Polk County Courthouse
Route of Stoneman's Raid in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, March-April 1865
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,232 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on , by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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