Annual commemoration on Botanical Gardens site inspires continual research
See also the historical insights of Col. J. H. Lovelace, Founder, Senior Field and Staff Officer and event organizer of the Battle of Asheville Commemorative Corps.
The Battle of Asheville Commemorative Corps commemorates the April 6, 1865 Civil War battle at the site--now Sycamore Meadow, UNCA Botanical Gardens, and surrounding area--2 to 4 p.m., April 3. The event features military services and an address by former Asheville mayor Charles Worley.
Was it a battle—or a skirmish, as the state and some historians deem? The question probes a living understanding of what really had gone on 145 years ago when the 101st Ohio Infantry and other Federal troops tested the mettle of the local home guard, some troops, convalescent soldiers, and others..
One of the issues is, “How could the two sides have exchanged fire all day yet have counted only a handful of casualties?” Peter Lorenz, Field and Staff Officer for the Corps, explains that the answer has to do with terrain and armaments.
The woods had been thick, the few hundred members of Asheville’s Confederate militia well-placed uphill, and the several hundred Federal troops able to get under the trajectory of the locals’ cannons.
“Poor quality fuses, inferior powder, and insufficient proper ammunition further hampered the usually crack shot artillery's efforts,” Lorenz adds. “Earlier in the war, after the Battle of Chancellorsville,” he notes, “a Confederate artilleryman commented that of every fifteen rounds of (exploding) shot fired, only one burst.”
Loremz compares the battle to the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads, in which the Union and Confederate battleships Monitor and Merrimac (CSS Virginia) fired at each other for four hours with only one casualty. In any case, Asheville’s engagement represented the Union’s focus on Asheville as one of the last strongholds of the war.
The 4-5 prisoners taken at the tanyard were colored union soldiers under Gen. Davis Tillson. They were drum-court-martialed for assaulting an old man and woman and raping a young white woman who was the niece of the couple down near Flat Creek. Only one of the soldiers was identified by the Uncle and that man gave up the names of four others who participated. The four were shot under Gen. TIllson's orders and the man who gave up the names was executed the following morning. One could see the graves opposite the old tannery on Main St as the drovers came into town. In 1907 the forgotten skeletons of the men were found when they widened the road and they were re-interred elsewhere, some speculate to Gallows Hill which was just behind the area they were found as some graves have been found on the UNC-A property that one was Woodfin's Farm and across from the farm was Gallows Hill where a few executions took place previous to the the old city jail & gallows being builtdowntown around the turn of the century.