Columbus in Polk County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Polk County Courthouse
Raiders in the County
— Stoneman's Raid —
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
The war divided neighbors 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.
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
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Political Subdivisions • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails series list.
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). Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbus NC 28722, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbus.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 15, 2009, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,393 times since then and 31 times this year. Last updated on March 4, 2012, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 15, 2009, by Stanley and Terrie Howard of Greer, South Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.