Monday, March 27, 2017

Fleeing to Statesville

We don't seem to talk much about Statesville and the War. And to be honest, not that much went on there during the conflict. Or, maybe we have just not researched it out that much. Stoneman's cavalry visited the town on April 13, 1865, and set fire to the military stores stockpiled near the railroad depot, along with the depot itself.

Statesville's other claim to fame, in the grand scope of North Carolina and the War, deals with Governor Zebulon Baird Vance. As Sherman approached from the South, Vance sent his family to Statesville. When Stoneman's men approached, Hattie and the children fled to Lincolnton, but returned after the crisis had passed. Vance arrived on May 4. He had attempted to surrender himself, but was told that there were no orders concerning governors. That changed on May 8, when Grant issued orders to General Schofield to arrest Zeb. Federal troops, some 300 of them, as the story goes, arrived in Statesville on May 13, Vance's thirty-fifth birthday, surrounded the house, and arrested the governor. The following day, Vance was on his way to the Old Capital Prison in Washington, D.C.

Landon Carter Haynes
Vance was not the only official to flee to Statesville. Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes was also there. Haynes was elected to the Confederate senate in 1861. He was from Carter County, a Tennessee county containing a large number of Unionist and overrun with violence. When the Confederate government fled Richmond following the breakthrough of lines below Petersburg, Haynes fled as well, eventually making his way to Statesville. Unlike Vance, he was not arrested, but after President Johnson's amnesty proclamation of May 29, 1865, Haynes submitted his letter asking for a pardon. Haynes would eventually relocate to Memphis, Tennessee.

So who else was in Statesville? A quick search of North Carolina and Tennessee Confederate Congress and Senators showed no other applicants from Statesville. That's not to say that other officials were not with Haynes, and then decided to move further on, or maybe back to their homes, where they wrote their own letters to Andrew Johnson.

It would be nice to be able to track the individual Confederate senators as they left Richmond and made their ways back to someplace else. Given the tight grip that the Federals had on the land, I'm pretty sure that most of them would have passed through the Piedmont section of the Tar Heel state. 

1 comment:

Tom Layton said...

Good stuff, as always.
Statesville evidently was where Stoneman's cavalry first heard the news of Lee's surrender. Capt. Henry Weand of the 15th PA wrote in his journal: "Statesville is a very pretty town. It was said that it had been picked out as the future capital of the Southern Confederacy, but from present appearances, the latter won’t need a capital."