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Stoneman in Elkin, North Carolina


Stoneman in Elkin, North Carolina


In early April of 1865, the Union brigade led by Colonel Palmer of General George Stoneman’s raiders, invaded the town of Elkin, North Carolina, to requisition food supplies. The remainder of the Union force was trapped on the South side of the Yadkin River by rising floodwaters from the previous day’s rain. (OR Series I, Volume XLIX, Part I 1897, 326) Chris Hartley, author of the largest published work on the raid, relates that the Union troops were met in Elkin by the 60 female employees of the cotton mill, “who welcomed the visitors with ‘quite a reception' in which “flirting became the main pastime.” (2010, 107) Once his troops were established in the town, Palmer took control over three of the local mills to process corn meal for his troops. (OR Series I, Volume XLIX, Part I 1897, 327) According to local historian Ruth Minick, an unnamed Union soldier is quoted as saying that a storehouse of additional supplies was also found that included “flour, meat, honey, butter, molasses, tobacco, and chestnuts.” (2000, 423)

Unlike the situation in many southern towns, the mills at Elkin were not destroyed by the Union soldiers after being used. This is especially surprising, given that the cotton mill was used to make uniforms for the confederate army. (Hartley, 2010) The lack of destruction in the town is most likely the result of the high level of cooperation with the Union raiders, although the possibility exists that it was a result of both Colonel Palmer and cotton mill owner Richard Gwyn being members of the Freemason fraternity. (Hartley 2010, 107) After the Union soldiers encamped for the night, they met up with the rest of the raiding force, who had just been able to cross the river, and proceeded through Surry County. (OR Series I, Volume XLIX, Part I 1897, 328)


Hartley, Chris J. Stoneman's Raid 1865. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair Publisher, 2010.

Minick, Ruth. "Southern Hospitality May Have Saved Cotton Factory." In Surry County Soldiers in the Civil War, by Jackson Hester Bartlett. Charlotte: Delmar Printing, 1992.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Volume XLIX, Part I. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897.


Jacob Simpson


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Jacob Simpson, Stoneman in Elkin, North Carolina, Civil War Era NC, accessed February 25, 2024,