Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brigadier-General Cyrus Bussey


Cyrus Bussey was born on the 5th day of October, 1833, in Trumbull county, Ohio, where he lived till the year 1837, when he removed with his father, the Rev. A. Bussey, to Southern Indiana. When fourteen years of age, he entered a dry-goods store as clerk; and at sixteen embarked in the mercantile business on his own account. In 1855 he came to Iowa, and settled in Bloomfield, Davis county. Previously to coming to Iowa he had spent two years in the study of medicine; but the practice of that profession not according with his tastes he resumed, after coming to Iowa, his former business.

Mr. Bussey was formerly a Democrat in politics, and in 1858 was elected by that party to the State Senate from Davis county. During the canvass that terminated in his election, the oratorical skill and ability that he displayed in his speeches surprised the people of Davis county, who had heretofore known him as a successful merchant. He served in the State Senate during the session of 1860-61, and. also in the extra war session; and unlike the representatives from Davis county, gave hearty support to the Administration and voted for every war measure. By his fealty to the Government he lost caste with his party and forfeited all prospects of political preferment in his county, for it was intensely democratic.

On the 11th of June, 1861, General Bussey was appointed an aid de camp to Governor Kirkwood, and served in that capacity during the southern border excitement in the summer of 1861, distributing arms and organizing the militia.

On the 10th of August, 1861, he was commissioned colonel of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, and in ten days from that date, had his regiment in rendezvous. Early in February, 1862, he was ordered with his regiment from Benton Barracks near St. Louis, to Rolla, Missouri, which place, after a few days' rest, he left and marched for Springfield, to join General Curtis. He reached Springfield on the 15th instant, but General Curtis had already left in pursuit of General Price toward the Arkansas border. On learning this fact, and hearing rumors of an impending battle, Colonel Bussey decided to push on at once, and join General Curtis' command at all hazards. The roads were heavy and the weather inclement; but on the evening of the 16th instant, he reached Sugar Creek, having accomplished in four days' time, some two hundred miles. It is not the greatest cavalry march on record; but at that day there was not a greater, where it was made in the direction of the enemy.

After joining the Army of the South West, Colonel Bussey was assigned to the command of a cavalry brigade. With this command he fought in the battle of Pea Ridge, and engaged the enemy near Leetown. The circumstances attending the opening of the engagement on the part of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, and the part the regiment sustained in the action are as follows: Van Dorn, declining to attack General Curtis in front, stole in the night-time quietly by the right flank of the original line of battle, hoping to gain position in the rear, and by a sudden attack, and with confusion as his ally, push the Federal army to ruinous defeat. But General Curtis divined his plans, and made disposition of his forces to meet the enemy in the new position.

The new line was formed early in the morning, and the rebel advance encountered near Elkhorn Tavern — Curtis' right. At about the same time, Colonel Osterhaus with an infantry command, and Colonel Bussey with his cavalry brigade, were sent out from the left to strike the enemy in flank, while they were moving into position. This force proceeded through the timber and some open fields to beyond Leetown, when they saw the enemy's train and some cavalry passing by their front. This cavalry the 3d Iowa, under Lieutenant-Colonel Trimble, was ordered to charge; but while moving to the attack, the regiment suddenly came on the infantry of McCulloch, McIntosh and Albert Pike, concealed in the timber. Lieutenant-Colonel Trimble was instantly shot in the head and disabled; and a majority of the men of the 3d Iowa, who were killed and wounded in the engagement, fell here. Nine of Company D were killed and wounded by this fire. The regiment was of course repulsed, and, wheeling about, retired.

But in the meantime a force of rebel cavalry having advanced from the right, charged the command of Colonel Bussey, and, after a short struggle, drove it back in confusion. This rebel cavalry, the 3d Iowa while falling back encountered, and immediately charged and routed it. A running fight then ensued, during which the rebel General Ben McCulloch was shot from his splendid black charger. Company D, Captain Norman W. Cook, had the honor of killing this celebrated rascal. In these charges and counter-charges, both the Benton and Fremont Hussars failed to do themselves credit: some declare that they broke without firing a gun. All of Bussey's command now fell back to the infantry of Colonel Osterhaus, which was found in line of battle. The enemy soon followed, and in this position, which was near Leetown, was done the principal fighting on the left.

The enemy were routed on the 8th of March, and, on the morning of the 9th, Colonel Bussey in command of his brigade and with a battery of artillery started in pursuit. He came up with their rear-guard at Bentonville, which he found in line of battle; but a few shots from his artillery put it to flight. Pursuing still, Colonel Bussey continued to harass the enemy's rear till he had gained his strong-hold in the Boston Mountains. Pea Ridge was Colonel Bussey's first battle, and, in evidence of their admiration of his conduct throughout the engagement and in the pursuit, his regiment presented him with a magnificent sabre, costing over seven hundred dollars. Pea Ridge was also the first battle of the 3d Iowa Cavalry, and it was one of the hardest in which the regiment ever fought It was at Pea Ridge only, that the killed and wounded were subjected to the shocking atrocities of barbarous warfare. Many of the wounded were killed after their capture, by the inhuman wretches, led to the conflict by Albert Pike. Eight of the 3d Iowa alone were scalped, and many bore evidences of having been murdered after their capture. The killed, wounded and missing of the regiment numbered fifty; and among the former were Sergeants W. O. Crawford, G. N. Anderson, R. H. Millard, and J. W. Montgomery. Not to convey a wrong idea, I should state that only five companies of the regiment were in the engagement— A, B, C, D and M. The 2d Battalion, under command of Major H. C. Caldwell, was at the time serving in Central Missouri.

During the spring and summer of 1862, Colonel Bussey continued with the Army of the South West, and accompanied it on its long and tedious campaign through Arkansas to Batesville. On this march, he had command of his brigade, and, with it, was sent on various expeditions; but in all of these he failed to meet the enemy in any considerable force. On the 10th of July, 1862, he was assigned to the command of the 3d Brigade of General Steele's Division, Army of the South West, which he retained till the 2d of the coming September. From the 2d of September till the 11th of January following, he was in command of either a brigade or a division, but on the last named date was appointed to the command of the District of Eastern Arkansas; and the manner in which he discharged the duties of this command, affording, as it did, so great a contrast with the administration of his predecessor, challenged the attention of the General Government.

On the 6th of April, 1863, Colonel Bussey succeeded Major-General Washburne, in command of the 2d Cavalry Division, Army of the Tennessee; but his command here was Brief; for, desiring a more active field of labor, he was at his own request relieved and ordered to report at Vicksburg, where, on his arrival, he was made chief of cavalry. From the last of May till the surrender of Vicksburg, he had command of all the cavalry in the rear of the beleaguered city, and, in \\atching the movements of General Johnson, rendered important services to General Grant.

The advance of General Sherman against Jackson, Mississippi, after the fall of Vicksburg, was led by Colonel Bussey, who, on the 8th instant, engaged the rebel General Jackson, and after a spirited little fight forced him to retire. He was more or less engaged with the enemy till the 16th instant, during which time he visited Calhoun, Beattie's Bluff, and Vernon. On the 17th of July, he started in command of an expedition to Canton, Mississippi, and on this march again encountered General Jackson with a force numbering four thousand strong. The engagement lasted from eight o'clock in the morning till five in the evening, when the enemy, repulsed at all points, fell back and crossed to the east side of Pearl River. On this expedition, Colonel Bussey destroyed thirteen manufacturing establishments, forty miles of railroad, and a large amount of rolling stock. It is proper to state in this connection that, in all these operations, Colonel Bussey's regiment formed a part of his command.

Coloney Bussey was promoted to a general officer on the 5th of January, 1864; and the above statement of his services suffices to show that his title to a star was long anterior to the date of his receiving it. He was nominated and confirmed for "special gallantry," on the reports of commanding generals.

Since promoted to his present rank, General Bussey has served in the Department of Arkansas: until the middle of February, 1865, he was stationed at Little Rock, and much of this time was the president of a court-martial. Immediately after General Reynolds succeeded General Steele at Little Rock, General Bussey was assigned to the command of the 3d Division, 7th Army Corps, and ordered to relieve General Thayer at Fort Smith, Arkansas. The history of these changes in commanders has been discussed elsewhere, and well illustrates the esteem and confidence in which General Bussey was held by his superiors. Soon after he assumed command at Fort Smith, the following appeared in an editorial of the "New Era:"

"The firm administration of the new commander, General Bussey, together with his untiring efforts to deal justice with an even hand to all, have contributed greatly to restore confidence among the loyal people, and infuse new hope for a bright future among them."

And Governor Murphy, in a letter to the same paper writes:

"I have great confidence in your present commander, General Bussey. His judgment energy, and firmness I feel confident will be equal to the task imposed, though it be great. General Reynolds, commander of the Department, will fully sustain him in every measure for the protection of loyal citizens, and the suppression of villainy."

Before closing this sketch of General Bussey and his old regiment, I cannot forbear alluding to some of the many brave officers, who have contributed to make the history of the 3d Iowa cavalry what it is. Majors Perry, Duffield, Drake and Scott; Captains Van Benthuser, Anderson, Cook, Duffield, Robison, Mayne, Hughs, Taylor, Miller, Mudgett and Warner, and Lieutenants Dale, Fitch, Cherrie, Horton, Walker, McCrary, Crail, Spencer, Curkendall, De Huff, Baker, and H. D. B. Cutler were among the officers who accompanied the regiment to the field. Lieutenant Cutler, a brave and genial companion, was for a long time on the staff of General Bussey — I think his adjutant-general.

Among others, too, who are deserving of mention, is the late Lieutenant A. H. Griswold. He was killed in Arkansas, on the 27th of June, 1862, by a party of guerrillas. The circumstances of his murder are as follows:

"With twenty men of Company K, Lieutenant Griswold went out yesterday morning as escort to Captain Fuller's forage-train. The party proceeded down White River about ten miles, where they loaded the train with corn, and were returning to camp without having discovered the enemy. After traveling three miles, the cavalry escort in the rear of the train were fired upon by a party of rebels concealed in a canebrake about twenty yards distant, killing the lieutenant, Corporal Thomas Watson, and Privates Richard Luke and James L. Beacom, all of Company K; and wounding Privates Edwin Beckwith, in elbow, severely; Wesley Pringle, in side, not dangerously; James Marsh, in head, not dangerously; and Marcus Packard, in leg, slightly. The escort returned the fire, and succeeded in bringing off the train, with the killed and wounded. Lieutenant Griswold was a most faithful and efficient officer, and a gentleman, whose loss will be deeply felt by a large circle of friends in the regiment and in Iowa, where he leaves a wife and two children."

General Bussey is five feet, eleven inches in hight, and has a slender, athletic form. He has an exceedingly fair complexion, dark hair, and dark, lustrous eyes. He is not only comely in person, but winning in manners, and, with his pleasing conversational powers, could not be otherwise than popular in any community. He has ready wit, great power of expression, and is able to say whatever he wishes in whatever way he pleases; and in this lies the secret of his success as a public extempore speaker. General Bussey has confidence in himself and his abilities, and is happily free from those airs and indiscretions common to men overburdened with self-esteem. As a business man, he was characterized for promptness and order, and these traits he carried with him into the army. He is ambitious and fond of public eclat, and — who is not?

Mr. J. Thompson of the 1st Iowa Cavalry, in an article on the Iowa general officers, speaks thus of General Bussey:

"His demeanor indicates at once the scholar and gentleman. He possesses fine sensibilities, and a character irreproachable for honesty and morality. His moral qualities have suffered little by three year's contact with the evil associations of the army. Position or promotion does not change him. It gives me pleasure to dwell on the virtues of his private life, because he stands alone in this respect. His conduct during the war proves him not unworthy the position he occupies."

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 583-90

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