“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chimney Rock in Rutherford County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Hickory Nut Gorge

From Raiders to Pursuers


—Stoneman's Raid —

Hickory Nut Gorge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, October 11, 2008
1. Hickory Nut Gorge 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 Asheville on April 26, the day that Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham.

Union Gen. Alvan C. Gillem led two brigades of Gen. George Stoneman's raiders into Rutherford County after finding his planned route to Asheville blocked at Swannanoa Gap on April 20, 1865. Gillem rode on to Hendersonville and ordered Col. William J. Palmer to set up headquarters in Rutherfordton, then follow Gillem's force. On April 26, the day Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered near Durham, Palmer's brigade marched about ten miles west of Rutherfordton and bivouacked, then rode another sixteen miles to Hickory Nut Gorge and the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The next day, St6oneman, having learned that Confederate President Jefferson Davis had fled south from Richmond, ordered Palmer to discontinue his march to Asheville and join in the
Hickory Nut Gorge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, October 11, 2008
2. Hickory Nut Gorge Marker
pursuit of Davis: "Follow him to the ends of the earth, if necessary, and never give him up."

Palmer, made a temporary general, turned around his disappointed men who had thought they were going home, marched down the mountain through the gorge, passed through Rutherfordton and then across Island Ford to the head of the Savannah River via Spartanburg. He continued the pursuit until May 15 when he learned that Davis had been captured in Georgia.

During this period, passage for wheeled vehicles through the gorge was difficult, and only rough roads and natural gaps provided access to the mountains, which sheltered both Union and Confederate deserters who hid by day and foraged by night. Others who used gaps such as Hickory Nut included escaped Union soldiers from Confederate prisons at Columbia and Salisbury en route to friendly lines in Tennessee.

"Our March today was through the grandest scenery ... through Hickory Nut Gap. ... It was so imposing that the usual chat of the riders was hushed." - Capt. Harry K. Weand, 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 26.251′ N, 82° 14.47′ 
Hickory Nut Gorge image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, October 11, 2008
3. Hickory Nut Gorge
W. Marker is in Chimney Rock, North Carolina, in Rutherford County. Marker is on East Main Street (U.S. 74). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Chimney Rock NC 28720, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Barbara T. Meliski Park (approx. 0.3 miles away); Chimney Rock (approx. 1.4 miles away); Ayr (approx. 5˝ miles away); Sherrill's Inn (approx. 8 miles away); Gen. William J. Palmer (approx. 8 miles away); Potts Fort (approx. 8.2 miles away); Howard Gap Road (approx. 12.4 miles away); Swannanoa Gap (approx. 12.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chimney Rock.
More about this marker. In the lower center of the marker is a portrait of Gen. Alvan C. Gillem. Beside that portrait is a photo of several Federal officers, including Col. William J. Palmer who led the pursuit of Jefferson Davis. On the lower right is a map showing the Route of Stoneman's Raid in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, March-April 1865.
Also see . . .  Stoneman's Raid Civil War Trails. A Stoneman's Raid tour site. (Submitted on October 24, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Categories. War, US Civil
Chimney Rock image. Click for full size.
By Stanley and Terrie Howard, October 11, 2008
4. Chimney Rock
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 23, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,314 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 23, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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