By Nick Nunn staff writer
This week marks the 150th anniversary of General Stoneman’s Raid on Madison. The raid, which resulted in the death of one Madison resident, James Smith, was one of the stops on the cavalry’s way toward Athens. In July of 1864, Major General W. T. Sherman sent Major General George Stoneman’s cavalry, which was comprised of the cavalry cops of the Army of the Ohio, the First Kentucky Cavalry, the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, and the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, toward Macon in order to cut the Central of Georgia Railroad from supplying Atlanta.
After beginning a retreat from Macon, Stoneman surrendered in order to allow the escape of Adams’ and Capron’s brigades, which headed toward Eatonton, then through Rutledge on the way to Madison. According to the historical marker commemorating Stoneman’s Raid on Madison, Adams reached Madison on August 1. The First Kentucky Cavalry reached Madison at 9 a.m. via East Washington Street.
The army was reported to have been talked out of burning the depot, but they removed goods from the stores and telling slaves to help themselves to the goods. Reportedly, the army had destroyed 50,000 pounds of bacon, 500 bags of coffee, an undetermined number of bales of cotton, and several barrels of liquor before leaving town. James Smith, the sole Madison resident to be killed in the raid, attempted to arrest an army soldier with a single-barreled pistol, so the soldier shot Smith in the abdomen.
Smith died a few days later from the wound. After leaving Madison later that day, Stoneman’s army traveled through Fairplay to High Shoals, where they reportedly destroyed cloth and thread but did not burn the mill there. On November 19, the 150th anniversary of General Sherman’s march through Madison will occur.