Dozens of history buffs gathered at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Saturday as author Chris Hartley discussed his latest book, “Stoneman’s Raid, 1865” and the effect this pivotal raid had on the Civil War.
The event is the kick-off of the spring series of History Talks programs. This year, the lecture series will center around the Civil War.
Museum Executive Director Matt Edwards said the museum was lucky to get an author like Hartley.
“He is one of the nation’s foremost experts on Stoneman’s Raid and that aspect of the Civil War,” he said.
During his speech, Hartley said he became intrigued with the raid after reading a historical marker.
“In college, I wrote a paper on the subject, and that formed the basis for my continuing interest,” he said. “I wanted to address the impact of the raid on the surrounding areas.”
Stoneman’s Raid occurred in the spring of 1865 as Maj. Gen. George Stoneman embarked on a cavalry raid deep in the heart of the Confederacy.
For about two months, the cavalry rode across six Confederate states, fighting skirmishes along the way and destroying the supply line of the southern army.
The raid was one of the only battles that occurred in our region, Edwards said.
“(It) was really the only skirmish of significance in our area during the war,” he said. “We often forget that while the war devastated the economy and many of the more populated areas of the South, more rural areas were often largely untouched by battle.
“That, however, didn’t mean that the effects were not felt here. Surry County alone had over 100 residents who enlisted and that doesn’t count reserve units,” Edwards added.
Edwards said he feels it’s the duty of the museum to present these kinds of lectures and series’ to the people of Surry County.
“History Talks is the lecture series that we present in the spring and fall of each year. It is really a key part of our mission to share this region’s history with our patrons and visitors,” he said. “Since we’re in the heart of the Civil War sesquicentennial, we thought this was a great time to highlight some of that history with this program.”
Next month’s program will feature Gary Cook, who will be discussing how the South funded the Civil War.
Edwards said that with continued response from the public, he looks forward to presenting more lectures on the war.
“We’ve had a great response to this program,” he said. “It goes to show that there’s a tremendous amount of interest in this part of our nation’s history.
“It’s not always a pretty story, but it’s one that captivates people’s interest and imagination.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.