Today, I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling of a marker remembering Robert B. Vance in Crosby, Tennessee. The marker was installed by the Maj. James T. Huff Camp 2243, Tennessee Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
We seldom remember Robert Brank Vance. He gets lost in the shadow of his younger brother, Zebulon Baird Vance. Robert was born in 1828. He was a merchant in Asheville, a farmer, and a clerk of court in Madison and Buncmbe Counties. On September 11, 1861, Vance was appointed colonel of the 29th North Carolina Troops. The regiment moved from Asheville to Raleigh in October 1861, and then after the bridge burnings to Jonesboro, Tennessee, in late November 1861. The winter months were spent in Cocke County, Tennessee, and then along the East Tennessee and Georgia and East Tennessee and Virginia Railroads. On February 20, 1862, Vance and the entire 29th were ordered to Cumberland Gap, serving there until late April, and in east Tennessee until Bragg's Kentucky campaign. The 29th Regiment fought at Murfreesboro in December 1862/January 1863.
Vance was promoted to brigadier general on March 4, 1863. When the Department of Western North Carolina was created, Vance was tapped as its commander. Around the end of 1863, Vance was ordered to Raleigh. Before he left, he was ordered to make a demonstration into Tennessee, hoping to distract Burnside who was looking to engage with Longstreet. Vance and his command captured a supply train, but on their return and after a small skirmish near Crosby, Tennessee, Vance was captured. He spent time in the prisons at Nashville, Louisville, Camp Chase, and Fort Delaware. Vance was finally paroled on March 14, 1865, and returned to North Carolina.
After the war, Robert Vance served in the General Assembly and in the US House of Representatives, and then in the patent office. He was married twice: first to Harriet McElroy, and then in 1892, to Lizzie R. Cook. He died at his farm near Asheville and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville. His grave is right in front of that of his brother.
If you are heading down US321, towards Gatlinburg (from the east), take a moment, pull over, and learn a little more about the life of Robert B. Vance, and the skirmish at Shultz's Mill.