Piano Recital at Spring Arbor

On June 30, we performed piano selections of our choice at an assisted living facility called Spring Arbor. Zeke’s and my piano teacher had set us up to play here as an end-of-the-year piano recital and invited Houston to play a couple songs, as well. To open and close the recital, Zeke and I played two duets, with us all performing individual pieces in between.

Because it’s so different from just practicing at home, playing in front of an audience is a great experience. Moreover, the residents were delighted by our recital, so much so that we’ve already had another performance since and we plan on returning to Spring Arbor monthly.

Stoneman’s Raid into North Carolina

General George Stoneman.

Stoneman’s Raid was one of the last large campaigns of the Civil War, and was also one of the largest cavalry raids of the war. It lasted from late March to early May of 1865. After the capture of Atlanta Georgia by Union forces, Union General George Stoneman proposed a cavalry raid into Southwest Virginia to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and the saltworks in Saltville, Virginia. After he successfully carried out this raid, another raid was proposed to move south through North Carolina and capture Columbia, and met up with General William Sherman’s forces. Before the raid, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered Stoneman to “destroy but not fight battles.” 

In late March of 1865 6,000 men of Stoneman’s Cavalry advanced to Knoxville, Tennessee, but before they crossed into North Carolina, they were informed that Columbia had already fallen to Union forces, so they instead were going to advance towards Christiansburg, Virginia to cut off Lee’s army if they tried to retreat. On March 28, the raiders entered North Carolina and encountered some Confederate Home Guard, near Boone. They killed 9 of the Confederates, burned the local jail, and pillaged Boone. 

Stoneman’s forces were ordered to “dismantle the country” as they advanced east towards Wilkesboro, taking food and stealing horses from farms as they went. The Union Cavalry captured Wilkesboro and supplies in the Yadkin Valley, before splitting his forces on April 9, one half would advance towards Greensboro, and the other into Virginia. On their way to Virginia, Stoneman’s men burned the town of Abingdon, North Carolina, before crossing into Virginia, where they destroyed much of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in Wytheville and Christiansburg, with some of his men going as far as Lynchburg. On April 9, they encountered Confederate Cavalry in Henry Courthouse (present day Martinsville, Virginia). They suffered 5 dead and 4 wounded there. 

Stoneman’s Cavalry crossing the Yadkin River.

Meanwhile, the other half of his army had made it to Danbury, North Carolina, where his forces reunited. He sent one brigade to destroy the bridges between Danville and Greensboro, and the rest of his force to destroy depots along the Yadkin River, and advance towards the railroad hub of Salisbury. While the bulk of his command advanced towards Salisbury, the smaller force occupied Salem (now Winston-Salem). 

Multiple detachments of Stoneman’s forces ravaged the countryside near Jamestown and High Point. One of these detachments ran into superior Confederate forces near Lexington, and were forced to withdraw. On April 11, the smalled of the two forces burned and looted the town of Huntsville, then reunited and continued the march towards Salisbury, which was an important railroad town. The federals then encountered Home Guardsmen near Shallow Ford, but dispatched them easily.

A view of Salisbury and the prison in 1864.

Union forces arrived in Salisbury on April 12, which was defended by Confederate General William M. Gardner. There was also a Confederate Prison there for Union Prisoners of War. They took Salisbury by that Afternoon, but lost about 20 killed and some more wounded. After they captured Salisbury, they burnt the prison, railroad houses, and piled up clothing, ammunition, and civilian food in the street and burned it. Much of the property in the city was burned. 

Stoneman’s Cavalry then split his force again on April 13, one marching towards Statesville and the other marching south to the Catawba River. When they occupied Statesville, they burned a newspaper building, the government buildings and a railroad station. Continuing west, the raiders plundered the towns of Lincolnton and Taylorsville. Meanwhile to the south, Union forces captured many bridges and skirmishes with local forces before again meeting up with the main force. 

Stoneman’s forces marching through North Carolina on April 14.

When their force reached the town of Lenoir, some of Stoneman’s officers wished to destroy the “rebellious hell hole”, but Stoneman prevented the troops from doing that. Since he had heard rumors about General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, Stoneman decided to complete his mission by marching west back into Tennessee. He split his command again, with the main force marching into Tennessee with over 1,000 prisoners, and the other force, commanded by General Alvan C. Gillem, to attack Asheville. 

Gillem’s forces encountered rebel forces guarding a bridge over the Catawba River just east of Morganton. They quickly took the bridge, which was only defended by some Home Guard and local citizens. Morganton was captured later that day. Planning to defend Asheville, Confederate artillery and 500 men were placed in Swannanoa Gap on the road to Asheville. Gillem’s men were not able to go through the gap, and went through Howard’s Gap to the south. 

On April 23, Gillem encountered Confederates, but they were asking to surrender, having heard of Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to William T. Sherman’s forces in Durham. Confederate General James G. Martin agreed to cease resistance to the Union forces if they were given the terms that Sherman had given to Johnston. At this point, most of the Stoneman’s army had already advanced back into Tennessee, but the rest of the force still wanted to capture Asheville. 

Even though all Confederate forces had surrendered, the Union forces sacked the town of Asheville on April 26, 1865. They burned down mill houses, robbed many women of their belongings, and pillaged everything of value. Gillem’s army eventually made its way into Tennessee, but a smaller force under Colonel William J. Palmer was sent south to try to capture fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Palmer’s men advanced south into South Carolina then into Georgia, not succeeding in capturing Davis, but they did capture Confederate General Braxton Bragg and Joseph Wheeler on May 17. 

Historical marker in Asheville, North Carolina.

The raid ended after the capture of Asheville, and Stoneman’s forces had advanced into Tennessee. Much of the countryside of Western North Carolina was pillaged by Stoneman’s forces, and many Confederate prisoners were captured. Miles of railroad were destroyed in North Carolina and Virginia, and although not many lives were lost, it had an impact on the end of the Civil War. 

Meteorology: Predicting the Weather

November 22, 2022

Meteorology is the study of weather and prediction of weather based on observations and historical data. Extensively, it also covers climatology and atmospheric physics. Although weather can be beautiful, like a red cloud streaking across the sky during a sunset, or it can be unpleasant, like when your clothes are drenched with sweat and stick to you on a humid summer day. However, it can also be extremely dangerous, which is why the study of meteorology is important. It can even predict natural disasters like hurricanes.

To forecast weather, meteorologists use technology and conditions of the atmosphere for the given place or time. Because they are used to predict severe weather, weather warnings are vital.


When small drops of water condense, the base of a cloud is created. There are high clouds, middle clouds, and low clouds. High clouds form 6,000 meters above the ground and they are mostly ice crystals. Middle clouds form between 2,000-6,000 meters and are formed from water and ice crystals, while low clouds form between the ground and 2,000 meters and are almost always made up of raindrops. Nimbostratus clouds are ominously dark but aren’t the most common thunderhead clouds; those would be Cumulonimbus clouds. Looking like cotton, Cumulus clouds are the most prevalent cloud shape. 


Air is an agent of change. For instance, it can transport particles long distances from one place to another, all the way across the earth. Relative humidity is a measure of the concentration of water vapor in the air. When relative humidity is 100%, water begins to condense out of the air. This is why cold drinks “sweat.” This air is considered saturated, so it absorbs more vapor. For the water to condense, bits of dust, salt, or smoke are required for the molecules to stick to it. This particle-filled air can condense high in the atmosphere or on the ground or on objects. If a mass of air is compressed, work is done on it, and if it is done faster than the mass can transfer heat away, it is said to undergo adiabatic heating, which literally means adiabatic means without heat transfer. Adiabatic cooling is where the air mass expands and cools.


Mid-latitude cyclones are storm systems that sweep across land from east to west and typically travel thousands of miles. A thunderstorm starts with humid, unstable air rising, condensing and forming a cumulus cloud. The falling raindrops create a downdrift of cooler air, while the falling cool air and rising warm air makes a storm cell. Particle collisions within the cloud result in static charges. Eventually, the difference in charge ends in a discharge from one charged location to another. The lighting heats the air through which it passes, causing it to expand and contract rapidly. Thunder is the pressure wave created by this. When air circulates in a cumulonimbus cloud, it can form a funnel cloud that extends below the cloud. Once this funnel cloud reaches the ground it is called a tornado. These violent storms are most common in the plains of the United States, but can also occur in Australia and Asia. Tornadoes can have winds between 65 and 450 kilometers per hour. 

Weather can be peaceful and stunning, yet it can turn volatile at any second. Fortunately, the predictive sciences of Meteorology can help us survive and thrive while being in weather, and maintain a level of safety while enjoying it.