The Vance Brothers

On a recent trip to North Carolina to speak at the Western North Carolina Civil War Round Table, I made a slight detour to visit the city of Asheville. While there I continued a mini-quest of mine to see the grave sites of all 425 Confederate generals.

One of the Confederate generals buried in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville is Brigadier General Robert Vance. When war broke out he raised a company from his home county of Buncombe, North Carolina but was quickly elected colonel of the 29th North Carolina. The unit began its service stationed in the Cumberland Gap of Kentucky/Tennessee. In the fall of 1862, Vance and his Tar Heels went north on the Confederate invasion of Kentucky.

Vance later assumed the command of James Rains’ Brigade after that officers death at the Battle of Stones River on December 31, 1862. Five months later, Vance was promoted to brigadier general by the personal directive of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

He continued in command of the brigade until contracting typhoid fever and went home to North Carolina to recuperate. He would never command the brigade again, instead he was reassigned to command of the District of Western Carolina. After a successful raid against a Union supply train, Vance and his Confederates were in turn captured by the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry as they tried to remove the train to Confederate territory.

Vance spent the rest of the war in Fort Delaware and was paroled on March 10, 1865.

I found out while reading one of the Civil War Trails about the burial of Zebulon Vance, Robert’s younger brother and the wartime governor of North Carolina. His grave lies just up the hill from Robert’s.

Zebulon initially served in the military but won the gubernatorial election in North Carolina in September 1862 and would win reelection in 1864. He would be replaced by William Holden by order of President Andrew Johnson in March 1865. While in office he would be a major advocate of individual rights, local self-government, and kept the North Carolina courts fully functional during the whole war instead of suspending habeas corpus; the only Confederate state to do so.

He looked over North Carolina with the best interests in mind throughout his terms as governor.

And just like in the Civil War, he looks over for posterity his older brother.

Vance Brother Graves  Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina
Vance Brother Graves
Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina

*Generals at Rest, The Known Gravesites of all 425 Confederate Generals is a publication by Richard and James Owen. I have used it as my guideline to find, take pictures of, and learn about all the men who rose to this rank in Confederate service. Check back for future postings about some of these men.*

8 Responses to The Vance Brothers

    1. Thanks Berry for the catch!

      Maybe I spent too much time in the Waxhaws of South Carolina on the trip too and where I picked up Jackson as president theme. 🙂

      Thanks for reading too!

  1. Brig. Gen. James Edward Rains was killed on 31 December 1862 at Stones River. Brig. Gen. Gabriel J. Rains, head of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, survived the war and died in 1881.

  2. Now I know I’m not the only one. I acquired “Generals at Rest” a few years ago, and whenever traveling somewhere, try to visit the graves in the vicinity. (So far I have not made it to very many of them.) That is a beautiful photo and thought of the Brothers Vance graves.

  3. Phill and Amanda, I too share your affliction, but I hadn’t known about the book. It’s going on my Amazon wish list.

    If anyone’s interested, I do have the gravesites of all of the generals – Union and Confederate – plotted out on a Google map, and I’d be happy to pass on the link.

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