North Carolina Voices

War in Central and Western North Carolina

"Colonel: On my arrival here this morning I found Camp Vance a heap of ruins . . . . [on] the 28th instant, ere the sound of reveille hushed in camp, it was resumed by an unknown band, and a squad, under cover of a flag of truce, proceeding to headquarters demanded an unconditional surrender of the camp, by order of [George W.] Kirk, commanding a detachment of the Third Regiment North Carolina Mounted Infantry Volunteers [Union], the same notorious tory and traitor, vagabond and scoundrel, who organized those four companies of theives and tories from Burnsville, North Carolina, last April."
  Capt. C. N. Allen, to Col. Peter Mallett, Commandant of Conscripts for North Carolina, June 29, 1864.

"The late capture of Camp Vance by the band of raiders under the renegade [Capt George W.] Kirk having involved the capture of some of your command (the reserves), I deem it proper to forward for your information the inclosed copy of letter from Captain [C. N.] Allen, reporting the affair. The report is very unsatisfactory and by no means creditable to the officers present, who, it appears, made no resistance whatever. The home guard turned out in force, and, together with a company of the Salisbury prison guard, overtook the raiders at Piedmont Springs, nineteen miles from Morganton, as reported to the Governor [Zebulon B. Vance] by Mr. [J. W.] Wilson, president Western railroad. In the skirmish or fight at this place Kirk's arm was broken and Colonel Avery, of our party, severely wounded . . . . It is supposed Colonel [John C.] Palmer will head them off, their line of retreat being through Watauga and Yancey Counties."
  Col. Peter Mallett, Conscript Office, Raleigh, N.C., to Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes, commanding Reserves, July 1, 1864.

"On Wednesday evening last a vague rumor reached me that a band of tories and deserters had on Tuesday at daylight surpised and captured Camp Vance (a rendezvous of conscripts, near Morganton) and a battalion of Junior Reserves recently organized at that place. Camp Vance is not in my district . . . . It appears that in going to Camp Vance, [Capt. George W.] Kirk, with a small band of Indians, negroes, and deserters, passed from Carter County, Tenn., through Mitchell County [N.C.] (designated Watauga County on the map), traveling in the night and avoiding all roads . . . . On his return to Tennessee he plundered and burned my residence in Mitchell County. He committed no other depredations in my district, though he committed many, I understand, east of the Blue Ridge [Mountains]. If the citizens of Morganton had notified me of Kirk's presence in their vicinity I could have captured his entire band. My forces are still after him, but he will undoubtedly escape. I fear this is but a prelude to something more serious. My force is entirely inadequate to the defense of the district. It is 250 miles from the Virginia to the Georgia State line. I am forced to keep most of my troops posted from Yancey to Cherokee Counties, in order to guard as far as possible against raids into the country opposite the enemy's lines. I have not the force to resist successfully any serious demonstrations on the part of the enemy."
  Col. John C. Palmer, 58th North Carolina Infantry, commanding District of Western North Carolina, Ashville, to Gen. Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Virginia, July 4, 1864.


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