Fort Hamby on the Yadkin
The following data is extracted from Trinity College Historical Society.
In March 1865, General Stoneman left East Tennessee, moving by the turnpike leading from Taylorsville, Tenn., through Wautauga county to Deep Gap on the Blue Ridge. On the 26th of March, he entered Boone, N. C., and on the 27th the column was divided, one division under General Stoneman marching towards Wilkesboro, while the other, under General Gillam, crossed the Blue Ridge at Blowing Rock and went to Patterson in Caldwell County, and then joined Stoneman at Wilkesboro. Leaving Wilkesboro on the 31st, General Stoneman moved over into Surry County, going toward Mt. Airy. During the march through this section of the State, Stoneman's men committed many depredations, and after leaving Wilkesboro a number of the lawless element of his command deserted. Shortly after this a number of men, some deserters from Stoneman's command and other worthless characters, led by two desperate men, Wade and Simmons, completely terrorized a large portion of Wilkes county by their frequent raids.
In order to fully understand the situation, the condition of the country at that time must be taken into consideration. Almost every man fit for military service was in the army, and the country was almost completely at the mercy of the robbers. It was thought after Lee had surrendered and the soldiers were returning home, that these depredations would be discontinued but they were not.
These marauders were divided into two bands. One, led by Simmons, had its headquarters in the Brushy Mountains, and the other, led by Wade, had its headquarters near the Yakin River in Wilkes County. The bands at times operated together, but it is principally with Wade's band that this article is to deal. The house which Wade had chosen and fortified, was near the road which leads from Wilkesboro to Lenoir, in Caldwell county, and about a mile from Holman's Ford, where the valley road crosses the Yadkin river. The house was situated on a high hill,
Commanding a fine view of the Yadkin valley, and of the valley road for a distance of a mile above and a mile below the ford. The house fronted the river on the south while the rear was protected by the "Flat Woods" belt, in which there were sympathizers if not aiders and abettors of the band. From this position the Yadkin valley and the surrounding country for at least half a mile in every direction could be swept and controlled by Wade's guns. There is a legend that this point was chosen by Daniel Roone as a splendid military post to protect himself against the Indians. At any rate it would have been almost impossible to choose a stronger location, both offensive and defensive, than this. The house was built of oak logs, and was two stories high. In the upper story Wade had cut portholes for his guns, which were army guns of the most improved type, and could command the approaches to the house from all directions, making it indeed hazardous to attempt to reach it. This house belonged to some dissolute women by the name of Hamby, and after Wade had fortified it, the name by which it was known was "Fort Hamby." "The exact number of men engaged in these depredations is unknown though it has been stated on good authority to have at no time exceeded thirty." (Hon. R. Z. Linney, Col. G. W. Flowers.)
Making this their headquarters, they began to plunder f he surrounding country, and from their cruelty it appears that their object was to gratify a spirit of revenge as well as to enrich themselves. They marched as a well-drilled military force, armed with the best rifles. It was only a short time before they brought the citizens for many miles around in every direction under their dominion. They plundered the best citizens, subjecting men and women to the grossest insults. Their cruelty is shown by this act. A woman was working in a field near Holman's Ford, having a child with her. The child climbed on the fence and the men began to shoot at it, and finally killed it. Emboldened by their success in Wilkes County, they made a raid into Caldwell county on the 7th of May. Major Harvey Bingham, with about half a dozen young men from Caldwell and Watauga counties, attempted to route these murderers from their stronghold at Fort Hamby. On Sunday night after their raid into Caldwell, Major Bingham made a well-planned move on the fort, at a late hour of the night. For some reason, Wade and his men were not aware of the approach of Bingham's men until they had entered the house. Wade and his men announced their defenseless condition, and begged for their lives. No guns were seen, and they were, so Bingham believed, his prisoners. They gave Wade and his men time to dress, after which, at a moment when the captors were off their guard, they rushed to their guns, which were concealed about their beds, and opened fire on them. The result was that Clark, a son of General Clark, of Caldwell County, and Henley, from the same county, was killed. The others escaped, leaving the bodies of Clark and Henley.
Being encouraged by the failure to dislodge them, they began to enlarge the territory, which they were to plunder. About a week previous to this, Simmons with his band had crossed into Alexander County and had made a raid on Col. McCurdy, a well-to-do planter.
About this time Mr. W. C. Green, of Alexander county, who had been a Lieutenant in the Confederate Army, received news from a friend in Wilkes county that Wade had planned to move into Alexander county and make a raid on his father, Rev. J. B. Green, and to kill him (W. C. Green) if found. Mr. Green began to fortify his house, barring all the doors with iron. They also took five Negroes into their confidence and these promised to assist in defending the house against Wade. It was found out that they had in the house fire-arms enough to shoot eighteen times without re-loading. Weapons were also provided for the Negroes.
Source: Trinity College Historical Society