Stoneman made two different raids out of TN into Southwestern VA and into NC. The first of these was in early Dec of 1864. The objectives were to destroy the rail line between Bristol, TN and Wytheville, VA and to destroy the saltworks at Saltville, VA. Both of these were successful and Stoneman withdrew to TN with few casualties.
Because of his success in this raid in Feb. 1865, he was promoted to Commander of the district of east TN.
The second raid started out of Morristown, TN the last week of March 1865. Stoneman commanded nine regiments of cavalrymen. His assignment was to disrupt all areas of southwestern VA and western NC and then attempting to rescue POW’s held at Salisbury, NC. His troops shot up Boone, NC on March 28 then took Wilkesboro, NC on March 29th. When the news of Stoneman moving into NC become known to the Confederates that were concerned with Sherman moving north through SC they had to start shifting troops away from eastern NC and back towards the important depot as Salisbury, NC.
Instead of moving on Salisbury, Stoneman shifted direction and moved north into VA burning bridges, destroying rail lines and burning any and all supplies that they couldn’t carry. They continued through Salem, VA and to within a few miles of Lynchburg, VA before turning south into NC once more. This raid into VA, in addition to destroying supplies his troops destroyed over 150 miles of rail lines destroying many crucial bridges.
On the 10th of April Stoneman’s troops moved through Winston-Salem, NC. He reached Salisbury on April 12th and destroyed all of the supplies there along with much of the town. The flames were visible 15 miles away. He did not rescue any POWs as the last of them had been moved from Salisbury in March. Stoneman then moved north before turning back to Knoxville, TN with more the 1000 prisoners.
As for Alvan Gillem; He was Stoneman’s second in command. He had commanded a brigade of three east TN regiments. These regiments were formed from men from western NC/eastern TN that fought for the union. During Stoneman’s raid they would show a level of brutality towards both civilian and military Confederates that would have shamed Sherman’s men in their march through GA. Stoneman attempted to keep Gillem and his men reigned in but they pillaged, plundered and destroyed at every opportunity. Stoneman did not care much for Gillem or his men.
Col. G. W. Kirk was not along on this raid, he had been tasked with fortifying the passes in Watauga county that separated NC and TN.
Sorry if this is a longer explanation then you were looking for. If you are interested in the events in western NC/eastern TN during the war, I recommend that you try “Bushwhackers, The Civil War in the North Carolina, The Mountains” by William R. Trotter.
Hope this helps you out.