Henry Court House Engagement
— Stoneman's Raid —
On March 24, 1865, Union Gen. George Stoneman led 6,000 cavalrymen from Tennessee into southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina to disrupt the Confederate supply line by destroying sections of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the North Carolina Railroad, and the Piedmont Railroad. He struck at Boone on March 28, headed into Virginia on April 2, and returned to North Carolina a week later. Stoneman's Raid ended in Asheville on April 26, the day that Confederate Ge. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman near Durham.
One of the last engagements of the Civil War in Virginia occurred here on April 8, 1865, as Union Col. William J. Palmer's brigade of Gen. George Stoneman's command swept through Henry County.
Confederate Col. James T. Wheeler and about 250 cavalrymen bivouacked the night before about a mile north of here on Jones's Creek on their way to join Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina. Wheeler's unit included recruits from Middle Tennessee, detachments from Wheeler's 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment and the 9th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, and some local Henry County men.
At dawn on April 8, Palmer's 10th Michigan Cavalry, which had been detached from the brigade but was to reunite with Palmer in Henry County, collided instead with Wheeler's troopers here at Henry Court House. Both sides claimed victory in the brief but sharp engagement. Federal officers reported that "we remained masters of the field" and that "after a brisk skirmish, the Confederates were chased from the town." Wheeler, however, reported that he took several prisoners and that "the enemy, after a spirited fight, were repulsed." Casualty reports also conflicted, but perhaps half a dozen Federals were killed or wounded; a single Confederate was reported killed.
Later in the day, the remainder of Palmer's brigade rendezvoused here, and Wheeler withdrew fifteen miles east. The Federals rode south toward Salisbury, North Carolina, a major Southern supply depot and site of a 10,000 man prisoner-of-war camp. The day after the fight here, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.