Chimney Rock in Rutherford County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Hickory Nut Gorge
From Raiders to Pursuers
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.
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.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 24, 1865.
Location. 35° 26.251′ N, 82° 14.47′ 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. Touch for directions.
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. 5½ 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); Stoneman's Raid (approx. 12.7 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.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 23, 2008, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,481 times since then and 39 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.