The Raiders Soon Departed
— 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 Asheville on April 26, the day that Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham.
After destroying the Confederate supply depot and prison at Salisbury, Union Gen. George Stoneman led his raiders west towards Tennessee, arriving in Statesville on the night of April 13, 1865. Here his men burned supplies, the railroad depot, and the Iredell Express
office, nearly setting the town afire. Some soldiers were accused of mistreating residents and beating one to compel him to lead them to hidden gold. The wife of Zebulon B. Vance, however, received courteous consideration, and Col. William J. Palmer, commander of one of Stoneman's brigades, ordered personal items returned to her that had been removed from one of her trunks. The raiders soon departed.
As Federal troops closed in on Raleigh near the end of the war, Gov. Vance fled the city at midnight on April 12 and joined his family here in the residence now called the Vance House. He remained there until Union cavalrymen arrested him on May 13. Taken to Washington, D.C., and held in the Old Capitol Prison for seven weeks, Vance was finally released without being charged and returned here. He later moved to Charlotte, practiced law, was elected U.S. Senator, and held that office until his death in 1894. The house was moved to Sharpe Street in 1950.
Iredell County voted 1,818 to 191 against a state secession convention in February 1861. When President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to supress the rebellion after the surrender of Fort Sumter in April, however, North Carolina seceded on May 20. Statesville and Iredell County residents joined companies in eleven North Carolina regiments, the Home Guard, and the Junior Reserve units. Most fought in battles in Eastern North Carolina and Virginia. Veterans later attended many reunions and Memorial Day services here. About 45 veterans are buried at Fourth Creek Landing Cemetery and 200 at Oakwood Cemetery in Statesville. The Beaux Arts-style former courthouse here was built about 1900.