Asheville, with a population of approximately 2,500 by 1861, remained relatively untouched by the Civil War but contributed several companies to the Confederate States Army, as well as the United States Army. For a time, an Enfield rifle manufacturing facility was located in the town. The war came to Asheville as an afterthought when the "Battle of Asheville" was fought in early April 1865 at the present-day site of the University of North Carolina. With Union forces withdrawing to Tennessee after encountering resistance from a small group of Confederate senior and junior reserves and recuperating Confederate soldiers in prepared trench lines across the Buncombe Turnpike; orders had been given to the Union force to take Asheville only if this could be accomplished without significant losses.
An engagement was also fought later that month at Swannanoa Gap as part of the larger Stoneman's Raid with Union forces retreating in the face of resistance from Brig. Gen. Martin, commander of Confederate troops in western North Carolina, but returning to the area via Howard's Gap and Henderson County. In late April 1865, North Carolina Union troops from the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, under the overall command of Union Gen. Stoneman, captured Asheville. After a negotiated departure, the troops nevertheless subsequently returned and plundered and burned several Confederate supporters' homes in Asheville.
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