Showing posts with label Burying The Dead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Burying The Dead. Show all posts

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Tuesday, April 8, 1862

Oh! what a terrible scene does Shiloh's field present this morning. It is a scene of death; its victims lay everywhere. The blood of about thirteen thousand warriors has been shed here in the last two days. My God! what a sacrifice, what a flow of blood. But liberty has claimed it for an emancipated mind, and may it water well the great tree of universal freedom, and cause it to extend its branches fosteringly over a struggling people. In these two days of battle the Seventh sustained a heavy loss. The following are the casualties: 

Major R. Rowett, wounded. 

Company A. — Captain Samuel G. Ward, killed; private Alden Bates, killed. 

Company B. — Captain Hector Perrin, wounded; private Charles Newton, killed; Michael O'Keep, killed. 

Company C. — Sergeant George Mitchell, killed; Samuel Wilson, wounded. 

Company D. — Private Andrew McKinnon, killed. 

Company E. — Private Edmund Keve, wounded. 

Company F. — Killed; private Isaac Britton. Mortally Wounded ; privates John Jackson, Chas. P. Laing, John P. Hale. Wounded ; Wallace Partridge, John Dell, James Harrington, Hugh H. Porter, John Larkin, James Close. 

Company G. — Private John Gibland, killed; Captain Henry W. Allen, wounded ; private George Harris, wounded. 

Company H. — Lieutenant Leo Wash. Myres, killed ; private John H. Duff, killed ; private Ernst H. Myres, wounded; private Charles Ward, wounded; Sergeant Laban Wheeler, wounded; private James Walker, wounded; private Geo. W. Fletcher, wounded; private Carol Hurt, wounded; private Thomas Taylor, wounded; private Charlie Halbert; wounded; private Elam Mills, wounded. 

Company I. — Corporal Seth Hamilton, killed ; private John Bollyjack, killed ; private James Craven, killed; private James Lacy, killed; Sergeant Charles M. Fellows, wounded; private James Crowley, wounded; private John Johnson, wounded; private George Marsh, wounded; private Wm. S. Rogers ; wounded; private Michael Toner, wounded; private George Vesey, wounded; private George W. Byron, wounded; private Marcus McKinnis, wounded; private Daniel J. Baker, wounded. 

Company K. — Private John Nixon, killed; private Charles P. Huffman, wounded; private Jacob Howe, wounded ; Sergeant J. B. Sanders, wounded ; Sergeant Wm. C. Gillson, wounded; private John M. Anderson, wounded; private Thos. J. R. Grant, wounded; private Green B. Johnson, wounded; private George Reiner, wounded; private Joseph White, wounded. Total killed, 14; total wonnded, 43; sum total of casualities, 57. 

Glorious record! Proud names! Yes, proud as any that will ever embellish our national escutcheon. Departed souls, as courageous as history can boast of. From Shiloh's dark wilderness, no nobler, no braver spirit took its flight into the skies than the spirit of Captain Ward, of Company A. He fell mortally wounded in the fiercest of the battle Sunday evening, while at the head of his company, cheering his men on to deeds of valor. Some of his company stop to carry him from the field; but while glory is beaming in the dying warrior's eye, he says to his gallant men: “There goes the flag; it will need all its noble defenders to hold it up in the terrible battle that is raging so fiercely. Boys, it is trembling now! Lay me down to die; leave me and follow the old Seventh's silken folds, and tell the boys of Company A, that ere the sun's light is hid from this field, their Captain will be no more; that I will be silently sleeping in death. Tell them to remember Captain Ward, and keep the old flag in the wind.” 

Fainting he falls; his features lose their glow; his eyes are closed forever to the light. Alone, he died—died in his glory. Noble sacrifices may be offered in this war for the Union, but no nobler sacrifice, no grander type of a man, of a soldier, will ever be offered than has been offered in Captain Samuel G. Ward, of Company A. Captain Ward was among the first to hearken to the first call of the President in April, 1861. From a private in Company A, he was promoted by Colonel Cook to Sergeant Major of the regiment. At the end of the three months' service, Sergeant Major Ward was unanimously chosen Captain of Company A, in which position he served faithfully until liberty claimed him as a sacrifice on Shiloh's field, April 6th, 1862. Every one saw in him the elements of a rising officer; a star that was already shining, the light of which would have been seen afar had not the wild tempest blown it out so early. Though he passed away in youth's hopeful morning, ere his aspirations were reached, immortality's royal messenger will take up his name, and while soft winds chant a requiem around his grave, will say of him: “Here sleeps Captain Ward, whom liberty claimed in its great struggle on Shiloh's plain. He lived, he died, for country, home, and flag.” 

Lieutenant Leo Washington Myres, of Company H, died as the warriors die-nobly. He stood manfully while the bolts of war around him rattled, but he is a silent sleeper now. Amid shooting flames and curling smoke, he bravely sacrificed his life—sacrificed it as one of the martyrs of freedom. Being among the first to rush to the standard when arch treason first lifted its mad head, he was elected Second Lieutenant of Company H, and at the end of the three months' service, he was unanimously chosen First Lieutenant, in which capacity he valiantly served until his life was sealed at Shiloh, April 6th, 1862. 

In the wild storm that swept over that field, no truer patriot soldier was borne down than Lieutenant Myres. As a lover of liberty he followed the flag southward and stood beneath its folds where the gulf winds blew across the plains of Mexico. With Taylor and Scott, he fought for it there. With Wallace he died for it down by the Tennesssee. Oh ! how can it be that stars that gave such brilliant light should go out so soon. The providences of God are indeed mysterious. 

But all died in their glory. Sergeant Mitchell, company C, Corporal Seth Hamilton, company I, privates Alden Bates, company A, John H. Duff, company H, Charles Newton, Company B, Andrew McKennon, company D, Isaac Britton, company F, John Gibland, company G, Corporal J. Nixon, company K, and many others, died crowned with laurels as bright as the midnight stars. Though they carried the musket, we will ascribe no less praise to them, for heroes they proved themselves to be. From Thermopylæ to Shiloh, the world has never produced grander types of gallantry than has been produced in these private soldiers, who fell on this battle-field. Of all the fallen of the Seventh who went down in Shiloh's two days of battle, I can only say of them as Mark Anthony said of Julias Cæsar, “Their lives were grand; the elements so mixed in them that all the world might stand up and say, they were men; they were heroes; they were soldiers.” 

While on the battle-field, Sergeant S. F. Flint, Company I, writes: 

Soft fall the dews of midnight and morning, 
O’er the green hills where slumber the brave, 
Fall on each nameless and desolate grave; 
And soft be the song of the slow flowing river, 
As it pours by the shores they have hallowed forever. 

In peace and off duty the soldier is sleeping, 
No more will he wake at the shrill reveille, 
As it rings through the vales of the old Tennessee; 
But the wail of the wind, and the roll of the river, 
As it thrills o'er the hills his requiem forever, 

Oh! the homes in their own northern prairies and valleys, 
More lonely and dark than those desolate graves, 
O! the wailings that answer the winds and the waves ; 
O! the tears that will flow like the fall of the river, 
As it swells through the dells where they slumber forever. 

But lift up the old flag they died in defending, 
And swear by each nameless but glorious grave, 
That hallowed with triumph its free folds shall wave 
O'er the hills and the vales and the bright flowing river, 
O'er the whole lovely land of our fathers forever. 

We will now pass to yonder hospital steamer. The Seventh's wounded lay here; among the noble company lies the gallant Captain Hector Perrin, wounded badly in the thigh. Though a son of France, he loved freedom, and being one from the school of La Fayette, he fought bravely on Shiloh's field. Among this company we find heroes, all of whom have shown and yet show that they have in them the element of steel. Patiently and silently they endure their suffering. Who ever witnessed such fortitude ? The world will fail in its annals of blood to exhibit grander types. Some have lost a leg, others have frightful wounds in the face; but these are their patents of nobility. Dr. Hamilton, our popular Assistant Surgeon, as ever, has a care for the unfortunate ones. He is now, with his usual promptness, preparing to send them north. Some of them will never return again; but may a grateful people open wide to them their generous hearts, and leave them not to drift through the world in storm. Returning we mingle with the living. Of the noble survivors we can only say of them, they did well; they played their part as nobly as the most gallant warriors have ever done on any battle-field. In these two days of battle Major Rowett, who is now in his tent slightly wounded, but prostrated upon his cot, worn out by excessive toil, proved himself worthy the leadership of brave men. Where danger most threatened, there he was always found. None moved amid the carnage with a more dashing force. Full of fire and life, with a reckless contempt for danger, he stemmed the wild storm. He was wounded twice and had his horse shot but nothing could check him. At the head of his regiment he was always found, and it is conceded by those who knew, that no regimental commander handled his command on Shiloh's field better than Major Rowett handled the Seventh, At no time was the regiment driven into confusion, though many times its line was broken, but each time was reformed promptly, and be it said to the credit of the regiment, not a prisoner was taken in consequence of straggling. Captain Monroe, acting Major, has won the encomiums of all. Fight and battle seem to be his element. He carries with him triumph and glory. Enthusiastic as are all the brave, his voice was ever heard cheering the men and telling them never to let the flag go down. Captains Lawyer, Hunter, Estabrook, Church, Lieutenants Ring, Smith, Roberts, Ellis, Sullivan, Sweeny and Ahern were ever foremost in the battle and ever found encouraging their men, bidding them to stand firm for the flag and freedom. The color bearer, Sergeant Coles Barney, of company H, won for himself the admiration of his officers and comrades, for the gallant manner in which he bore his banner through the wild tempest. 

But all were brave, and all fought valiantly. They marched in blood, and threw themselves against arch treason until the Union's proud banner waved upon a triumphant field. At times it was fearfully dark, and the flag seemed to droop, but our noble men stood around it, and while blood was ebbing, they formed a defense of steel backed by hearts that never faltered. And thus defended, their flag, the pride of the mighty millions, shed glorious light around the noble men of the Seventh. 

Large parties are now at work burying the dead of both armies. Shiloh will be one vast grave-yard, but it will be destitute of marble slabs. Hundreds of Union soldiers will sleep here, and in the years to come, the patriot pilgrims will tread the earth above them, and know not that beneath sleeps Shiloh's martyrs. But should they chance to see some graves that are arched, so that they can be recognized as the graves of the lone soldiers, they will not know whether the sleepers fought for or against the old flag, and the friends of the loved and lost will not know upon which graves to throw their flowers or drop their tears, 

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 57-65

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Diary of Colonel Jacob Ammen, April 8, 1862

The line of battle of the Fourth Division is formed before day; all ready to commence the terrible work again. The night, was rainy, disagreeable, yet, the men and officers move promptly and appear ready and willing to meet the enemy. The scouts returning all report the enemy in full retreat for Corinth. There is now time to look over the field and witness the destruction—the dead, wounded, and dying, cannon dismounted, arms scattered, horses killed, &c.

The loss of the Tenth Brigade is as follows:


Each brigade is to bury all the dead on the ground over which it marched. The Tenth has been at work, and buried 112 of the enemy that fell in our front. They took their wounded off the field, except the prisoners we captured.

* But see revised Statement, p. 106, and Ammen’s report, p. 329

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 10, Part 1 (Serial No. 10), p. 336-7

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Shipp to Major-General Francis H. Smith, July 4, 1864

July 4, 1864.

GENERAL: In obedience to General Orders, No. --, headquarters Virginia Military Institute, June 27. 1864, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Corps of Cadets under my command in the field from May 11 to June 25, inclusive:

In obedience to orders from Major-General Breckinridge, communicated through you, at 7 a.m. on the morning of May 11 the Corps of Cadets, consisting of a battalion of four companies of infantry and a section of 3-inch rifled guns, took up the line of march for Staunton. The march to Staunton was accomplished in two days. I preceded the column on the second day some hours for the purpose of reporting to General Breckinridge, and was ordered by him to put the Cadets in camp one mile south of Staunton.

On the morning of the 13th I received orders to march at daylight on the road to Harrisonburg, taking position in the column in rear of Echols' brigade. We marched eighteen miles and encamped; moved at daylight on the 14th; marched sixteen miles and encamped.

At 12 o'clock on the night of the 14th received orders to prepare to march immediately, without beat of drum and as noiselessly as possible. We moved from camp at 1.30 o'clock, taking position in the general column in rear of Echols' brigade, being followed by the column of artillery under the command of Major McLaughlin. Having accomplished a distance of six miles and approached the position of the enemy, as indicated by occasional skirmishing with his pickets in front, a halt was called, and we remained on the side of the road two or three hours in the midst of a heavy fall of rain. The general having determined to receive the attack of the enemy, made his dispositions for battle, posting the corps in reserve. He informed me that he did not wish to put the Cadets in if he could avoid it, but that should occasion require it, he would use them very freely. He was also pleased to express his confidence in them, and I  am happy to believe that his expectations were not disappointed, for when the tug of battle came they bore themselves gallantly and well.

The enemy not making the attack as was anticipated, or not advancing as rapidly as was desired, the line was deployed into column and the advance resumed. Here I was informed by one of General Breckinridge's aids that my battalion, together with the battalion of Col. G. M. Edgar, would constitute the reserve, and was instructed to keep the section of artillery with the column, and to take position, after the deployments should have been made, 250 or 300 yards in rear of the front line of battle, and to maintain that distance. Having begun a flank movement to the left, about two miles south of New Market, the nature of the ground was such as to render it impossible that the artillery should continue with the infantry column. I ordered Lieutenant Minge to join the general artillery column in the main road and to report to Major McLaughlin. After that I did not see the section of artillery until near the close of the engagement. Major McLaughlin, under whose command they served, was pleased to speak of the section in such complimentary terms that I was satisfied they had done their duty.

Continuing the advance on the ground to the left of the main road and south of New Market, at 12.30 p.m. we came under the fire of the enemy's batteries. Having advanced a quarter of a mile under the fire we were halted and the column was deployed, the march up to this time having been by flank in column. The ground in front was open, with skirts of woods on the left. Here General Breckinridge sent for me and gave me in person my instructions. The general's plans seem to have undergone some modification. Instead of one line, with a reserve, he formed his infantry in two, artillery in rear and to the right, the cavalry deployed and, guarding the right flank, left flank resting on a stream. Wharton's brigade of infantry constituted the first line; Echols' brigade the second. The battalion of Cadets, brigaded with Echols, was the last battalion but one from the left of the second line, Edgar's battalion being on the left. The lines having been adjusted the order to advance was passed. Wharton's line advanced; Echols' followed at 250 paces in rear. As Wharton's line ascended a knoll it came in full view of the enemy's batteries, which opened a heavy fire, but not having gotten the range, did but little damage. By the time the second gotten line reached the same ground the Yankee gunners had the exact range, and their fire began to tell on our line with fearful accuracy. It was here that Captain Hill and others fell. Great gaps were made through the ranks, but the cadet, true to his discipline, would close in to the center to fill the interval and push steadily forward. The alignment of the battalion under this terrible fire, which strewed the ground with killed and wounded for more than a mile on open ground, would have been creditable even on a field day.

The advance was thus continued until having passed Bushong's house, a mile or more beyond New Market, and still to the left of the main road, the enemy's batteries, at 250 or 300 yards, opened upon us with canister and case-shot, and their long lines of infantry were put into action at the same time. The fire was withering. It seemed impossible that any living creature could escape; and here we sustained our heaviest loss, a great many being wounded and numbers knocked down, stunned, and temporarily disabled. I was here disabled for a time, and the command devolved upon Captain H. A. Wise, Company A. He gallantly pressed onward. We had before this gotten into the front line. Our line took a position behind a line of fence. A brisk fusillade ensued; a shout, a rush, and the day was won. The enemy fled in confusion, leaving killed, wounded, artillery, and prisoners in our hands. Our men pursued in hot haste until it became necessary to halt, draw ammunition, and re-establish the lines for the purpose of driving them from their last position on Rude's Hill, which they held with cavalry and artillery to cover the passage of the river, about a mile in their rear. Our troops charged and took the position without loss. The enemy withdrew, crossed the river, and burnt the bridge.

The engagement closed at 6.30 p.m. The Cadets did their duty, as the long list of casualties will attest. Numerous instances of gallantry might be mentioned, but I have thought it better to refrain from specifying individual cases for fear of making invidious distinctions, or from want of information, withholding praise where it may have been justly merited. It had rained almost incessantly during the battle, and at its termination the Cadets were well-nigh exhausted. Wet, hungry, and many of them shoeless--for they had lost their shoes and socks in the deep mud through which it was necessary to march--they bore their hardships with that uncomplaining resignation which characterizes the true soldier.

The 16th and 17th were devoted to caring for the wounded and the burial of the dead. On the 17th I received an order from General Breckinridge to report to General Imboden, with the request upon the part of General Breckinridge that the corps be relieved from further duty at that time and be ordered back to the Institute. The circumstances of General Imboden's situation were such as to render our detention for a time necessary. We were finally ordered by him to proceed to Staunton without delay, for the purpose of proceeding by rail to Richmond, in obedience to a call of the Secretary of War. Returning, the corps marched into Staunton on the 21st; took the cars on the 22d; reached Richmond on the 23d; were stationed at Camp Lee until the 28th; were then ordered to report to Major-General Ransom: ordered by him to encamp on intermediate line. On the 28th left Camp Lee; took up camp on Carter's farm, on intermediate line, midway between Brook and Meadow Bridge roads; continued in this camp until June 6. On the 6th received orders to return to Lexington; reached Lexington on the 9th; Yankees approached on 10th; drove us out on the 11th; we fell back, taking Lynchburg road: marched to mouth of the North River and went into camp. Next day (Sunday, the 11th) remained in camp until 12 m.; scouts reported enemy advancing; fell back two miles and took a position at a strong pass in the mountains to await the enemy. No enemy came. We were then ordered to Lynchburg; went there; ordered to report to General Vaughn; ordered back to Lexington; reached Lexington on the 25th. Corps furloughed on June 27.*

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
 S. SHIPP,                  
Lieutenant-Colonel and Commandant.
Maj. Gen. F. H. SMITH,

* Nominal list of casualties (omitted) shows 8 killed and 44 wounded.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 37, Part 1 (Serial No. 70), p. 89-91

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Tuesday, February 18, 1862

This morning a fatigue party is detailed from the Seventh to help bury the dead on the battle field, and those who died from wounds received in battle, who are now lying in every house in Dover (a small village on the banks of the Cumberland inside the fortifications). All day yesterday the fatigue parties were engaged burying the noble slain. War is indeed a mad machine, terrible in its work.

Silently extended on the gory main,
The fallen warriors mid the carnage lay;
No hand was there to ease the racking pain,
And staunch the life blood ebbing fast away.

But when the old flag comes home to Tennessee, over the Union soldiers' graves will be built up all that their posterity shall desire of order and government.

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 42-3

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: May 25, 1863

Burying the dead that had lain between the Union and Confederate
lines for three days.

Pemberton sent a flag of truce to Grant at two P. M., and the cessation of hostilities thus agreed on, lasted till eight o'clock in the evening. It made us happy, for we fancied it was a sign they wanted to surrender—but no such good luck. It was simply to give both sides a chance to bury their dead, which had been lying exposed since the twenty-second. Both armies issued from their respective fortifications and pits, and mingled together in various sports, apparently with much enjoyment. Here a group of four played cards—two Yanks and two Rebs. There, others were jumping, while everywhere blue and gray mingled in conversation over the scenes which had transpired since our visit to the neighborhood. I talked with a very sensible rebel, who said he was satisfied we should not only take Vicksburg, but drive the forces of the south all over their territory, at last compelling them to surrender; still, he said, he had gone into the fight, and was resolved not to back out. He said they had great hope of dissension in the north, to such an extent as might strengthen their cause. There have been grounds for this hope, I am sorry to say, and such dissensions at the north must prolong the war, if our peace party should succeed in materially obstructing the war measures of government. From the remarks of some of the rebels, I judged that their supply of provisions was getting low, and that they had no source from which to draw more. We gave them from our own rations some fat meat, crackers, coffee and so forth, in order to make them as happy as we could. We could see plainly that their officers watched our communications closely.

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 35-7

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Official Reports: The Gettysburg Campaign, June3 – August 1,1863: No. 338. Reports of Col. William Gamble, Eighth Illinois Cavalry, commanding First Brigade.

No. 338.

Reports of Col. William Gamble, Eighth Illinois Cavalry, commanding First Brigade.

June 22, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the part taken by this brigade in the cavalry fight of yesterday.

The brigade—composed of the Eighth New York, Eighth Illinois, three squadrons Third Indiana, and two squadrons Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, with one section of the First U.S. Artillery, under Lieutenant Michalowski, in all about 1,600 strong—left Aldie at 5 a.m.; marched to Middleburg; from thence west across a ford at Goose Creek. The rebel skirmishers occupying the opposite bank under cover of a stone wall at the ford, one squadron of the Third Indiana Cavalry was dismounted, and, with the advance guard deployed, drove the rebels from the opposite bank, when the column crossed, and advanced south on the Upperville road. Encountered the enemy 1 mile from the ford, on the right of the road: deployed the column in line of battle, and a few well-directed shells into the enemy's column dispersed him rapidly in retreat through the woods southward. One mile farther, found the enemy behind stone walls, near a house; a few more shells drove them again toward Upperville. Two miles farther, the enemy's skirmishers, supported by artillery, were found strongly posted. I deployed the column in line; advanced and drove the enemy from two strong positions behind stone walls, his guns continually throwing shells at us.

We continued the march, and found the enemy strongly posted west of Upperville, at the base of the mountain. The Eighth Illinois, Third Indiana, and Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, about 900 strong, leading the column, came on rapidly at a gallop; formed in line; charged up to the enemy's five guns amid a shower of shells, shrapnel, and case shot; drove the rebel gunners from their pieces, when the enemy's cavalry, seven regiments strong, emerged from the woods, and a hand-to-hand conflict ensued, the enemy outnumbering us three to one. We retired a short distance behind a stone wall, and maintained our position, repulsing the repeated charges of the enemy by well-directed carbine and pistol firing.

The enemy then, on account of his superior numbers, attempted to turn both flanks, when a squadron of the Eighth Illinois and one of the Third Indiana Cavalry were deployed to cover the flanks, and, after a sharp conflict, repulsed the enemy, after which the section of artillery arrived, supported by the Eighth New York Cavalry, and shelled the enemy from his position. The enemy then retreated toward Ashby's Gap, pursued for 2 miles by the First and Second Cavalry Brigades, which at sunset returned, and encamped on the battle-field, buried the dead, and took care of the wounded. Eighteen dead bodies of the enemy were buried, and over 30 of their wounded were found, in addition to what they carried away, besides prisoners, the exact number of which the provost-marshal of the division will report.

Our loss is as follows:

8th Illinois Cavalry
3d Indiana Cavalry
12th Illinois Cavalry (Captain Brown wounded)

Horses killed—Third Indiana Cavalry, 18; Eighth Illinois Cavalry, 17. Total, 35 horses of enlisted men; 1 horse of Colonel Gamble; 36 horses in all killed.

All of which is respectfully submitted.
 WM. GAMBLE,                   
 Colonel, Commanding First Cavalry Brigade.
Capt. T. C. BACON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Cavalry Division.

Camp near Catlett's, Va., August 24, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the several engagements with the enemy, from June 28 to July 31 last, in accordance with orders from division headquarters:


About 8 o'clock on the morning of the 1st instant, while in camp at the seminary building, the officer commanding the squadron on picket in front gave me notice that the enemy, consisting of infantry and artillery, in column, were approaching his pickets from the direction of Cashtown, with deployed skirmishers in strong force, about 3 miles distant. This information was immediately communicated to the general commanding the division, who ordered my command to be in immediate readiness to fight the enemy. My brigade—consisting of the Eighth New York, Eighth Illinois, three squadrons of the Third Indiana, and two squadrons of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, about 1,600 strong, with Tidball's battery, Second U.S. Artillery—was placed in line of battle about 1 mile in front of the seminary, the right resting on the railroad track and the left near the Middletown or Fairfax [Fairfield] road, the Cashtown road being a little to the right of the center, at right angles with the line. Three squadrons, part dismounted, were ordered to the front, and deployed as skirmishers to support the squadron on picket, now being driven back by the enemy's artillery and skirmishers. Our battery of six 3-inch rifled guns was placed in battery, one section on each side of the Cashtown road, covering the approaches of the enemy, and the other section on the right of the left regiment, to cover that flank. The enemy cautiously approached in column on the road, with three extended lines on each flank, and his and our line of skirmishers became engaged, and our artillery opened on the enemy's advancing column, doing good execution. The enemy moved forward; two batteries opened on us, and a sharp engagement of artillery took place. In a short time we were, by overpowering numbers, compelled to fall back about 200 yards to the next ridge, and there make a stand.

In the meantime our skirmishers, fighting under cover of trees and fences, were sharply engaged, did good execution, and retarded the progress of the enemy as much as could possibly be expected, when it is known they were opposed by three divisions of Hill's corps. After checking and retarding the advance of the enemy several hours, and falling back only about 200 yards from the first line of battle, our infantry advance of the First Corps arrived, and relieved the cavalry brigade in its unequal contest with the enemy.

In the afternoon, the enemy, being strongly re-enforced, extended his flanks, and advanced on our left in three strong lines, to turn that flank. The general commanding division ordered my brigade forward at a trot, and deployed in line on the ridge of woods, with the seminary on our right. Half of the Eighth New York, Third Indiana, and Twelfth Illinois were dismounted and placed behind a portion of a stone wall and under cover of trees.

The enemy being close upon us, we opened a sharp and rapid carbine fire, which killed and wounded so many of the first line of the enemy that it fell back upon the second line. Our men kept up the fire until the enemy in overwhelming numbers approached so near that, in order to save my men and horses from capture, they were ordered to mount and fall back rapidly to the next ridge, on the left of the town, where our artillery was posted. The stand which we made against the enemy prevented our left flank from being turned, and saved a division of our infantry.

My brigade fought well under disadvantageous circumstances against a largely superior force. Every officer and soldier did his duty. The list of casualties is large, but could not be less, considering the position we occupied. Major Lemon, Third Indiana, was mortally wounded, since dead; Lieutenant Conroe, Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, killed; Captain Fisher and Lieutenant Voss, same regiment, wounded; Captain Follett, Eighth New York, severely wounded; Captain Martin, Third Indiana, wounded; Captain Morris, Eighth Illinois Cavalry, serving on my staff, was wounded, and one of my orderlies killed. Tidball's horse battery, under Lieutenant Calef, attached to my brigade, was worked faithfully, did good execution, and fully sustained its former high reputation. This brigade had the honor to commence the fight in the morning and close it in the evening.


This brigade was ordered to engage the enemy on the left of the Boonsborough road, near Williamsport, the Reserve Brigade being on the right of the road. The Third Indiana Cavalry was ordered to capture and destroy a train of seven wagons of the enemy on our left, on the Downsville road, which was successfully accomplished, making prisoners of the drivers and those in charge of the train. The brigade was then placed in line of battle, and three-fourths of it dismounted to drive in the enemy's skirmishers; and Tidball's battery of four guns, placed in position, supported by the balance of the mounted men, opened on the enemy, many times our superior in numbers, and did excellent execution; the dismounted men in the meantime, keeping up a sharp carbine fire, drove in the rebel pickets on their reserve. The dismounted men were under the immediate command of the gallant and lamented Major Medill, Eighth Illinois Cavalry, who fell, mortally wounded.

We held our position until dark, and were then relieved by Colonel Devin's brigade, and ordered to fall back to Jones' Cross-Roads, in the direction of Boonsborough, which we reached about midnight, the delay being caused by Kilpatrick's division having been driven back in confusion from the direction of Hagerstown, completely blockading the road in our rear, making it impassable for several hours.


The enemy was reported advancing on the Hagerstown road. General Buford ordered my brigade to take position on the crest of the ridge on the right of the road to Hagerstown, about 1½ miles from Boonsborough, my dismounted men thrown out to the front and in the strip of woods on the right of the road; the battery in position in the center of the line, supported by the mounted men. The rebels moved forward to drive in our skirmishers, supported by their battery, but after a sharp contest were unable to drive me from my position on the right. The enemy, however, gradually worked round on the left, driving in the skirmishers of Kilpatrick's division; placed a section of artillery so as to bring a cross-fire on my brigade, when I was ordered to' fall back on Boonsborough. Afterward Kilpatrick's division was relieved on the left and placed on the right, but being unable to dislodge the enemy from the woods I formerly occupied, my brigade was again ordered forward; the battery placed in position under a heavy fire; three-fourths of the brigade dismounted and ordered to drive the enemy out of the woods in front, which was accomplished rapidly under a heavy fire of shell and musketry, General Buford in person leading the advance line of skirmishers; drove the enemy 3 miles, and across Beaver Creek, on the Williamsport or Funkstown road. General Kilpatrick, with two squadrons of his command, galloped down the road within a short distance of the enemy; halted, looked at each other, and retired, when the dismounted men of my brigade came up and drove the enemy across Beaver Creek.


The brigade having driven the rebels along the Hagerstown road from Beaver Creek to within 3 miles of Funkstown on the 9th instant, we advanced again on the 10th instant with dismounted skirmishers and artillery, supported by the balance of the mounted men. The division advanced in line of battle, Reserve Brigade on the right, First Brigade in the center and on both sides of the road, and the Second Brigade on the left. Drove the enemy rapidly, under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry, into Funkstown, on a large reserve of the enemy. We occupied the heights above Funkstown, with Tidball's battery, under Lieutenant Calef, which did good execution, and our skirmish line was advanced to the suburbs of the town. The enemy tried hard with a much superior force to dislodge us from our position, but so long as our ammunition lasted he was unable to do so. Our infantry finally arrived to within half a mile in our rear, and although we were hard pressed by the enemy, and nearly all our ammunition expended, the infantry pitched their shelter-tents, and commenced cooking and eating, in spite of repeated and urgent requests to the commanding officer of the infantry to occupy our excellent position and relieve us. When our ammunition was expended, we were ordered by General Buford to fall back. The rebels then occupied our position, and our infantry afterward had to retake it, with the unnecessary loss of several killed and wounded.


On the morning of the 14th instant, the brigade was ordered to march on the enemy in the direction of Downsville from our camp, near Bakersville. We proceeded in that direction, found the enemy's earthworks at Downsville abandoned, and were informed that the enemy had retreated toward Falling Waters and Williamsport, to cross the Potomac during the night. The brigade marched rapidly toward Falling Waters, and when near there observed a division of the enemy intrenched on a hill, covering the approaches to the ford. While the brigade was moving round to flank and attack the enemy in rear, to cut them off from the ford and capture them all, in connection with the other two brigades of the First Cavalry Division, which we could easily have accomplished, I saw two small squadrons of General Kilpatrick's division gallop up the hill to the right of the rebel infantry, in line of battle behind their earthworks, and, as any competent cavalry officer of experience could foretell the result, these two squadrons were instantly scattered and destroyed by the fire of a rebel brigade, and not a single dead enemy could be found when the ground there was examined a few hours afterward. This having alarmed the enemy, he fell back toward the ford before we could get round to his rear. We, however, with our dismounted men, attacked him in flank on rough ground, and had a sharp carbine engagement, taking about 511 prisoners, 61 of whom, together with 300 stand of arms, were turned over to an officer of Kilpatrick's division by mistake; also a 3-inch Parrott gun, captured from the enemy by the Eighth New York Cavalry, which was afterward sent by General Kilpatrick to the camp of this brigade, where it properly belonged.


In obedience to orders, this brigade marched from near Rectortown, Va., to Chester Gap (about 20 miles), arriving in that vicinity at 3.30 p.m., July 21. About a mile from the Gap our advance line of skirmishers encountered the enemy's pickets. I dismounted six squadrons, and drove the enemy's pickets to the crest of the Gap their reserve, which was found to consist of Pickett's division of infantry, one regiment of Jones' cavalry, and a battery of six guns, occupying the Gap, on the crest of the mountain. Upon obtaining this information, and not having a sufficient force to drive the enemy from the Gap, having no support nearer than 20 miles, we fell back 1½ miles from the Gap, and took position so as to cover the two roads leading from the Gap, one toward Barbee's Cross-Roads, the other to Little Washington and Sperryville; placed the guns in battery, and a strong line of pickets in front and flanks.

We captured to-day 23 prisoners, 84 horses, 12 mules, 664 beef-cattle, 602 sheep, all purchased and on the way to be delivered to the rebel army at the Gap, in charge of a commissary agent and his son, who were also captured.

July 22, at 8 a.m., my pickets reported the enemy advancing in column with skirmishers on the road from the Gap toward Sperryville. When the head of the enemy's column came within easy range, we opened fire on it with artillery and the carbines of the dismounted men so effectually that his column, with his wagon train, halted and fell back out of our range, his advance guard and skirmishers being still engaged with ours, and continued firing, we holding our position, and preventing the head of Longstreet's corps from moving forward from the Gap from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m., when the enemy brought five regiments of infantry around out of sight in the woods, and, approaching my left flank, drove in our skirmishers, and only by overwhelming numbers compelled me to fall back slowly toward Barbee's Cross-Roads, keeping my vedettes and pickets watching the enemy.

I think it proper to state that our battery, under Lieutenant Heaton, Second U.S. Artillery, had the very worst kind of ammunition, and consequently could do but comparatively little execution. About one shell in twelve would explode, and then it would be prematurely, over the heads of our own men.

A tabular recapitulation of killed, wounded, and missing is herewith appended, the usual list of casualties by name having previously been forwarded, according to orders.

All of which is respectfully submitted.
 WM. GAMBLE,                   
 Col., Comdg. First Brigade, First Cavalry Division.
Capt. T. C. BACON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Cavalry Division,


Number of killed, wounded, and missing of First Cavalry Brigade,
from June 28 to July 31, 1863.

Gettysburg, Pa(*)
July   1, 1863
Williamsport, Md.
July   6, 1863
Boonsborough, Md.
July   8, 1863
Funkstown, Md.
July 10, 1863
Failing Waters, Md.
July 14, 1863
Chester Gap, Va.
July 21, 22, 1863


WM. GAMBLE Colonel,                  
Commanding First Cavalry Brigade.
August 24, 1863.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1 (Serial No. 43), p. 932-8

Friday, February 23, 2018

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: January 27, 1864

Concluded to bury Extell's remains in city. Went to Gait House for breakfast. Bought a pair of boots. Evening saw Corsican Brothers, went with company.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 106

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: July 14, 1864

We have been too busy with the raiders of late to manufacture any exchange news, and now all hands are at work trying to see who can tell the biggest yarns. The weak are feeling well to-night over the story that we are all to be sent North this month, before the 20th. Have not learned that the news came from any reliable source. Rumors of midsummer battles with Union troops victorious. It's “bite dog, bite bear,” with most of us prisoners; we don't care which licks, what we want is to get out of this pen. Of course, we all care and want our side to win, but it's tough on patriotism. A court is now held every day and offenders punished, principally by buck and gagging, for misdemeanors. The hanging has done worlds of good, still there is much stealing going on yet, but in a sly way, not openly. Hold my own as regards health. The dreaded month of July is half gone, almost, and a good many over one hundred and fifty die each day, but I do not know how many Hardly any one cares enough about it to help me any in my inquiries. It is all self with the most of them. A guard by accident shot himself. Have often said they didn't know enough to hold a gun. Bury a rebel guard every few days within sight of the prison Saw some women in the distance. Quite a sight. Are feeling quite jolly to-night since the sun went down Was visited by my new acquaintances of the 9th Michigan Infantry, who are comparatively new prisoners. Am learning them the way to live here They are very hopeful fellows and declare the war will be over this coming fall, and tell their reasons very well for thinking so. We gird up our loins and decide that we will try to live it through. Rowe, although often given to despondency, is feeling good and cheerful There are some noble fellows here. A man shows exactly what he is in Andersonville. No occasion to be any different from what you really are. Very often see a great big fellow in size, in reality a baby in action, actually sniveling and crying and then again you will see some little runt, “not bigger than a pint of cider,” tell the big fellow to “brace up” and be a man. Statue has nothing to do as regards nerve, still there are noble big fellows as well as noble little ones. A Sergt. Hill is judge and jury now, and dispenses-justice to evil doers with impartiality. A farce is made of defending some of the arrested ones. Hill inquires all of the particulars of each case, and sometimes lets the offenders go as more sinned against than sinning. Pour receiving punishment.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 86-7

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: July 12, 1864

Good order has prevailed since the hanging. The men have settled right down to the business of dying, with no interruption. I keep thinking our situation can get no worse, but it does get worse every day and not less than one hundred and sixty die each twenty-four hours. Probably one-fourth or one-third of these die inside the stockade, the balance in the hospital outside. All day and up to four o'clock P. M., the dead are being gathered up and carried to the south gate and placed in a row inside the dead line. As the bodies are stripped of their clothing in most cases as soon as the breath leaves, and in some cases before, the row of dead presents a sickening appearance. Legs drawn up and in all shapes. They are black from pitch pine smoke and laying in the sun Some of them lay there for twenty hours or more, and by that time are in a horrible condition. At four o'clock a four or six- mule wagon comes up to the gate and twenty or thirty bodies are loaded on to the wagon and they are carted off to be put in trenches, one hundred in each trench, in the cemetery, which is eighty or a hundred rods away. There must necessarily be a great many whose names are not taken. It is the orders to attach the name, company and regiment to each body, but it is not always done. I was invited today to dig in a tunnel, but had to decline. My digging days are over. Must dig now to keep out of the ground, I guess. It is with difficulty now that I can walk, and only with the help of two canes.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 85

Thursday, September 7, 2017

General Pierre G. T. Beauregard to Samuel Cooper, July 21, 1863

July 21, 1863 9 p.m.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:

Enemy recommenced shelling Wagner yesterday, with few casualties on our part. We had in battle of 18th about 150 killed and wounded. Enemy, including prisoners, about 2,000. Nearly 800 were buried under flag of truce. Colonel Putnam, acting brigadier, and Colonel Shaw, commanding negro regiment, were killed.


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 28, Part 2 (Serial No. 47), p. 214

Thursday, June 22, 2017

1st Lieutenant Charles Wright Wills: March 26, 1862

Camp near Point Pleasant, Mo., March 26, 1862.

It is, to-day, very much warmer. I'm altogether too hot to be comfortable in my shirt sleeves. Don't know what is to become of us in July if it is so hot in proportion. I shake in my boots at the thought of the mosquitoes, flies, etc., we will have to endure. Vegetation is giving the surroundings a greenish appearance already, and have seen a peach tree in nearly full bloom. Wheat is about three or four inches above ground. Makes a very respectable sod. I think there are more Union people here than in any part of Missouri that I have been in, and fewer widows. Men are nearly all at home and putting in their crops as coolly as though there was no war. Some of our soldiers impose on the natives pretty badly. You don't know how thankful you ought to be that you don't live in the invaded country. Wherever there is an army, for 10 or 15 miles around it there will be hundreds of stragglers. Some out of curiosity, some to see the natives and talk with them, but the majority to pick up What they can to eat. There is not a farm house within ten miles of camp, notwithstanding the positive orders against straggling, that has not, at least, 50 soldier visitors a day, and they are the poorest soldiers and the meanest men that do all the straggling, or nearly all. They will go into a house and beg what they can and then steal what is left. Rough, dirty, coarse brutes, if they were all shot, our army would be better off. Most of these fellows are bullies at home, and that class makes plunderers in war. I've seen enough of war to know that it isn't the brawling, fighting man at home that stands the bullet whistle the best. A favorite game of these chaps, where they are not utterly depraved (there are a good many of the latter), is for a couple of them to go in the house and make themselves as interesting as possible while the others clean out the smokehouse, chicken yard, and the premises generally. The greatest objection and the only one I have to being in the army, is the idea of being associated, in the minds of the people of this country, as well as the home folks, with such brutes. But I tell you, that I have always acted the gentleman to the best of my ability since I entered the army, and I don’t believe I’m a whit worse than I was at home. I haven't drank one-tenth as much liquor as I did in the same length of time at home, and you know how much that was, and that I hate the stuff too much to ever taste it unless forced upon me. The last I touched was with poor George Shinn just before the 17th left the cape. We drank to “Our next shake hands, may it be at the end of the war, at home and before three months.” George was a No. 1 soldier. We bays all think everything of him. Tell him we all sympathize with him and wish him a speedy recovery, and that his services may not be needed any more. Seems to me I write you nearly every day, but haven't had a letter from home for two or three weeks. Our mail is very irregular though, and I can excuse, but I would like you to get all of mine and save them, for I would like to look these over myself when I get home, as I keep no diary. The day is so warm that our boys are all out bathing in a little swamp lake near here. The Lord knows some of them need it. Cleanliness is undoubtedly the best preventive of disease in the army. Hardly any of the boys that are cleanly suffer from disease. The colonel and Sidney went to Cairo yesterday. The colonel with dispatches from General Pope, I believe, and Sid. just because he could. We buried our two boys yesterday morning that were killed at Cane Bridge, and I (never felt sadder in my life. I’m sure that knowing I would be killed to-morrow wouldn’t hurt me half as much. These poor fellows have suffered all the hardships and trials of the private soldier's life, and are now put under the ground in the dark-swamp, without a friend here, save their comrades, and probably after the army leaves, a friendly eye will never see their graves. I sent a package of letters back to a young lady that one of them was engaged to. Our men have been living on mush and the other messes, makeable from cornmeal for a week, without coffee or any thing else. Couldn't get provisions through from Cairo near fast enough, and Pope gobbled up everything that did come for the troops at Madrid. Chet. Caswell, a Canton boy, is here now and cooking for our mess, I can live on fried mush as long as the next man. The frogs, bugs, blackbirds and sich like, keep up a perfect bedlam around us the whole time.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 73-5

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 6, 1863

The excitement has subsided, as troops come pouring in, and many improvised cavalry companies go out in quest of the fox — who has vanished we know not exactly whither.

It is believed we have taken 15,000 or 20,000 prisoners, and that the enemy's killed, wounded, and prisoners must reach the appalling number of 40,000.

On Sunday, the enemy opposite Fredericksburg sent over a flag, asking permission to bury their dead. This was granted. But when they came — two corps under Gen. Sedgwick came over and fell upon our few regiments in the vicinity. So goes the story. Then, it is said, when Gen. Lee ordered two of our divisions to drive Sedgwick back, the men, learning the enemy with the flag of truce had given no quarter to their comrades, refused to fight unless permitted to retaliate in kind. This was promised them; and then their charge was irresistible, never pausing until the Yankees were hurled back across the river. No prisoners were taken. However this may be, Gen. Lee sends the following to the President:

“[Received by telegraph from Guiney's Depot.]

Headquarters, 10 o'clock A M.,
“May 5, 1863.
To his Excellency, President Davis.

“At the close of the battle of Chancellorville, on Sunday, the enemy was reported advancing from Fredericksburg in our rear.

“Gen. McLaws was sent back to arrest his progress, and repulsed him handsomely that afternoon. Learning that this force consisted of two corps, under Gen. Sedgwick, I determined to attack it, and marched back yesterday with Gen. Anderson, and uniting with Gens. McLaws and Early in the afternoon, succeeded by the blessing of Heaven in driving Gen. Sedgwick over the river. We have reoccupied Fredericksburg, and no enemy remains south of the Rappahannock in its vicinity.

R. E. Lee, General.

Another dispatch from Gen. Lee says Hooker is still on this side of the river, at United States Ford, fortifying.

Gen. Longstreet is now closeted with the Secretary of War. No doubt his entire corps will immediately rejoin Lee.

Jackson was wounded (his arm has been amputated) before the great battle was fought, by our own men, in the gloom of the evening, supposing him a Federal officer. He was recounoitering in front of the line.

S. S. H—— writes to the department, proposing to send an emissary to the North, to organize secret societies to destroy the enemy's stores, ships, railroad bridges, etc. by an unexplained process.

Tillman, Griffin & Co. write to Judge Campbell to obtain them permission to trade with Mexico. Does this mean trading cotton with the enemy? 1 know not whether the request was granted.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, writes to the Secretary to day for permission for some of his Louisiana friends to leave the country in a government steamer.

It is said that the government at Washington is ordering their troops from North Carolina and other places on the Southern seaboard towards Washington, and to reinforce Hooker — or Hooker's army. I think Hooker himself will go the way of all general flesh that fails.

The President sent to the War Department fifty-five letters today, written to him on various subjects, but mostly asking appointments. He had read them, and several had indorsed on them, in his own hand, what he wished done in the premises. So he has not lost his sight. He still attends to business at his dwelling, and has not been in his office for more than a month.

Secretary Seddon is gaunt and emaciated, with long straggling hair, mingled gray and black. He looks like a dead man galvanized into muscular animation. His eyes are sunken, and his features have the hue of a man who had been in his grave a full month. But he is an orator, and a man of fine education — but in bad health, being much afflicted with neuralgia. His administrative capacity will be taxed by the results.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 310-2

Thursday, June 1, 2017

3rd Sergeant Charles Wright Wills: December 11, 1861

Bird's Point, Mo., December 11, 1861.

Our cavalry brought in 16 prisoners to-night, about 10 last night; a band of Thompson's men took a couple of boys from our regiment prisoners, out 10 miles from here at the water tank on the railroad. The owner of the house happened to be outside when they surrounded the house and he scooted down here with the news, and by 2 o'clock we had a lot of cavalry and infantry en route for the scene of action. The cavalry started them out of the brush and captured this 16. The Rebels killed one of Colonel Oglesby's men. They did not recover our men but started up and lost another gang that probably has them.

We will be in our quarters next week although we don't need them. It is rather pleasant here now. I took a swim yesterday. ’Twas confounded cold, but I wanted to bathe so I took the river for it. We haven't had a man complaining in the company for a week. We buried one poor fellow last week, but he would have died at home. When I was home last I weighed 142, now I weigh 160. Can you imagine me.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 48