The Boone Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Town of Boone are pleased to announce that a Headstone Rededication Service will be held on Sunday, April 8, at 2:00pm in the Boone Cemetery. The service will include the unveiling of three replica stones provided by the Veterans Administration to replace the Union grave markers that stood for many years in the Boone Cemetery. Representatives from Major General George Stoneman Camp #6 of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War will be on hand to perform the historic rededication memorial service, the program for which dates back to 1917.
All three Union soldiers served in the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, which was organized in Knoxville, Tennessee, in October 1863 and saw action in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina throughout the latter half of the American Civil War. Beginning on March 21, 1865, the regiment, temporarily under the command of Major Andrew J. Bahney, participated in a support role in Stoneman’s Raid, an expedition into western North Carolina coordinated by Major General George Stoneman that was designed to cut off Confederate escape routes into the mountains. Activity at Boone was concentrated into two waves.
The first wave arrived on March 28, when a detachment of the 12th Kentucky Cavalry marched on Boone, killing at least three local residents, wounding several others, and capturing as many as 68 Watauga men, some of them members of the Confederate Home Guard. Among the dead was Jacob Mast Councill, who was killed in a field near his home on the east side of Boone, despite being unarmed and pleading for his life. The home of James W. Councill, which had been the defensive position of the Home Guard and the focus of much of the initial fight, was located on the present site of the downtown Boone Post Office and served as a field hospital for wounded Union soldiers and residents alike. Stoneman spent the night in the Jordan Councill home, located where the Daniel Boone Condominiums presently stand on West King Street, before moving on with most of his forces the following day.
The second wave came on April 5, when two regiments under the command of Colonel George W. Kirk—Bahney’s 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry and Kirk’s 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry—arrived. While most of the men continued on two days later toward Deep Gap and Blowing Rock, Kirk remained at Boone with about 400 men, occupying the Jordan Councill house, fortifying the courthouse (located where the Linney House presently stands), and sending men out into the county to forage from civilian homes. Kirk also established at least two field hospitals in the county, one of them almost certainly a continuation of the hospital established at the James W. Councill home in March. The stop at Boone likely provided the opportunity to leave the three men from Bahney’s regiment in hospital at Boone.
All three of the Union soldiers buried at Boone died from disease, and regimental records provide some information about their lives. Private William T. Bradley enrolled with Company B of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry on September 25, 1863, and mustered in at Knoxville on October 6, 1863. Born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, about 1847, Bradley may have been the youngest of eight children of William and Elisabeth Bradley of the Cathey’s Creek vicinity, as listed in the 1860 Census. He was a farmer who stood 5 feet, 8 inches tall with blue eyes and dark hair at the time of his enlistment. He was transferred to Company H on January 1, 1864. Bradley died from typhoid pneumonia at Boone on April 10, 1865. His tombstone order, placed in 1879, incorrectly rendered his name as “William F. Bradley.”
Private Henry P. Evans enrolled with Company F of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry on October 1, 1863, and mustered in on December 9, 1863, at Walker’s Ford, Tennessee. Born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, about 1832, Evans was a farmer who stood 5 feet 10 inches tall, with blue eyes and black hair. He deserted his regiment in April 1864 but returned in June. He died of “fever” at Boone on April 16, 1865. His tombstone order, placed in 1879, misspelled his name as “H. P. Ewins.”
Private John E. Maricle enrolled with Company H of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry on October 10, 1864, and mustered in on January 21, 1865, at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Born in Harlan County, Kentucky, about 1836, Maricle may have been the eldest son of Frederick and Mary Maricle, as listed in the 1850 Census. He was a farmer who stood 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with blue eyes and dark hair at the time of his enlistment. He died from a relapse of measles at Boone on April 15, 1865.
Two other men from the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry—James M. Pain and Robert Foster—also died during their regiment’s occupation of Watauga County. Pain died from typhoid fever “in Watauga County, NC, on the march” on April 11, although some records suggest rheumatism as a cause of death. His place of burial is not known but likely occurred somewhere in Watauga County. Robert Foster appears to have died in Watauga County on April 22 from unidentified causes, although he was listed as ill in company records earlier in the month. A tombstone was ordered for him in 1901, to be placed at the “Madison County Cemetery near Marshall, NC,” but it is more likely that he was buried in Watauga County at an unknown location.
All three of the men who died at Boone were interred in what was described on their tombstone applications as the “Councill Cemetery,” in a part of the cemetery later known as the “black” section of the Boone Cemetery. Their grave locations were well-documented in cemetery surveys by John Heaton during the 1970s and early 2000s and confirmed by a recent ground-penetrating radar survey of the black section. The gravestones remained at this location until the late 1990s, when they were placed on their backs along the fence dividing the white and black sections, slightly to the south of the original burial location. They remained there until about 2010, when the stones disappeared entirely. Two of the stones returned to the Boone Cemetery in 2014, when they were found stacked in the northwest corner of the white section of the cemetery. One of these disappeared again before 2016, when the Town of Boone, which had recently acquired the cemetery, removed the last remaining stone for safekeeping. Unfortunately, this stone had badly eroded over the years and become illegible, necessitating its replacement.
This rededication ceremony is the latest in a series of efforts by the Town of Boone and the HPC to preserve and protect the cemetery while also celebrating its history. Last October, with assistance from the Town and the HPC, the Junaluska Heritage Association unveiled a marker it had designed and purchased to acknowledge the burials of 165 African Americans in the historic black section of the cemetery, many of which are otherwise unmarked. The Town also recently completed work on a wall protecting the east end of the black section from erosion and installed a new fence around the entire cemetery to replace the battered chain link fence erected in the 1970s. The HPC is also engaged in an extensive survey and GIS data collection of the surviving grave markers in the entire cemetery.