Raid After Surry
After crossing the Blue Ridge, Stoneman turned his attention to his original target, the rail system and other strategic points in Southwest Virginia. The raiders spent seven days in the "Old Dominion," during which they struck several targets of Confederate significance. The main body of the raid targeted Hillsville, Jacksonville, and Taylorsville, while several detachments targeted Wytheville, Christiansburg, Salem, Lynchburg, Franklin Court House, and Henry Court House. The East Tennessee and Virginia railroad, which was the main target in Virginia, suffered almost 100 miles of damage at the hands of the raiders. According to Hartley, “George Stoneman’s raiders had fulfilled their orders to the letter.”
When he was satisfied with his work in Virginia, Stoneman turned the attention of his troops back to North Carolina and the Confederate Prison at Salisbury. On their way south, the raiders struck many towns throughout the Piedmont. The raiders split into three groups, which struck the towns of Danbury, Germanton, Bethania, Huntsville, Mocksville, Winston, Salem, Kernersville, Greensboro, Jamestown, High Point, and Lexington before turning their collective attention to Salisbury. After a brief, but intensive, fight over the city, Stoneman’s raiders captured Salisbury and its spoils. Upon the discovery that the prison had been evacuated prior to the raid, the Union soldiers turned their attention to the rest of the city and the surrounding area.
After the success in Salisbury, Stoneman’s raiders struck various targets in the surrounding area to further weaken the Confederacy. One unit under Colonel Palmer actually pursued Confederate president Jefferson Davis during his retreat into the Deep South. With the conclusion of the war and the dawn of Reconstruction, Stoneman’s overall raid was looked at in different ways. According to Hartley, Stoneman’s raid was not the military success it was intended to be because of its timing so late in the war. It was, however, a devastating blow to the former Confederacy, which now had to begin the stages of rebuilding.