C. J. Wood.

Reminiscences of the war. Biography and personal sketches of all the commanding officiers of the Union Army online

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4^ Military Service Insfcitution.


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Personal Sketches of all the Commanding Officers of the
Union Army.


IsT J^ 12/ 12/ -A. T I "7" E



in Indiana and Ohio ; Pursuit, Capture, Imprisonment and Es-
cape of Morgan from the Ohio Penitentiary; his
last Fight, and Tragic Death of the
Renowned Cavalier.



Surrender of Ge^l Lee.

from the Rebel Capital ; Pursuit and Final Capture of the Rebel

Chief in the Jungles of a Dismal Swamp in

Southeastern Georgia.


Court Martial, Conviction and Hanging of Col. Orton and

Major Dunbar, two Rebel Spies, at Franklin,

Tenn., in 1863.

o. 0". woor), :m:. id..

Surgeon U. S. A.


do^'^. <Qfc^iiM<<^.




TiLDEN r' ''VC'ATiONi.

H 19^3 L

Entered according to Act of Congress, by


In the office of the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C.


Connected with the Army of the Potomac as Surgeon, I
saw, personally, all its great leaders, obtained their biography
over their own signatures, and was witness of many of their
deeds of daring and renown. Three years' constant travel
among the Union Armies in the South and West, as Sanitary
Agent, furnished a field of observation seldom equaled. Rap-
idly the tide of events bears us away from the scenes of the
war, and soon many noble deeds and noble men will be for-
gotten and buried among the dim relics of the past.

To preserve the history of these eventful days, as gathered
from original sources and personal observation, I submit these
life-sketches of Union commanders, in the hope that the pres-
ent generation will not cease to remember the devoted line
of heroes that saved the Nation, but transmit the story of their
achievements to a future and loyal posterity.



Preface, ........... 3

Contents, ......... 4

Introduction, . . . . . . . . .6

Biography and Personal Sketches of all the Commanding

Ofificers of the Union Army, ..... 7

Maj.-Gen'l Robert Anderson, . 154
Maj.-Gen'l Nathaniel P. Banks, 146
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l G. Barlow, . 205
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l H.W.Benham, 232
Maj.-Gen'l Frank P. Blair, . 135
Maj.-Gen'l Don Carlos Buell, . 115
Maj.-Gen'l Ambrose E. Burnside, 96
Maj.-Gen'l Benjamin F. Butler, 135
Brig.-Gen'l Samuel P. Carter, . 233
Brev. Maj-Gen'l J. A. Chamber-
lain, . . . .243
Brig.-Gen'l Michael Corcoran, 251
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l John M. Corse, 209
Maj.-Gen'l Jacob D. Cox, . 205
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l G. A. Cust«r, 212
Maj.-Gen'l Jefferson C. Davis, 153
Maj.-Gen'l John A. Dix, . loi
Maj.-Gen'l George M. Dodge, 157
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l T. W. Egan, 246
Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, . 252
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l W. H. Emory, 229
Brig.-Gen'l R. F. Foster, . 250
Maj.-Gen'l Wm. B. Franklin, . 95
Brig.-Gen'l James B. Fry, Pro-
vost Marsh. -Gen'l U. S. Army, 231
Maj.-Gen'l James A. Garfield, 226
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l J. W. Geary, 216
Maj.-Gen'l George W. Getty, . 217
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l A. C. Gillem, 247


Maj.-Gen'l Quincy A. Gilmore, 215
Lieut. -Gen'l Ulysses S. Grant, . 7
Brig.-Gen'l P. A. Hackleman, 225
Maj.-Gen'l Henry W. Halleck, 148
Maj.-Gen'l Winfield Scott Han-
cock, .... 127
Brig.-Gen'l Ben Harrison, . 224
Maj.-Gen'l R. B. Hayes, , . 187
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l S. P. Heint-

zleman, . . . .251

Maj.-Gen'l E. A. Hitchcock, . 238

Brig.'-Gen'l Edward H. Hobson, 159

Maj.-Gen'l Joseph Hooker, . 89

Maj.-Gen'l Oliver Otis Howard, 85

Maj.-Gen'l David Hunter, . 150

Brev. Maj.-Gen'l Rufus Ingalls, 221

Brev. Maj.-Gen'l A. "V. Kautz, 223

Maj.-Gen'l Phil. Kearney, . 124

Maj.-Gen'l Judson Kilpatrick, . 218

Brig.-Gen'l Frederic W. Lander, 201

Brev. Maj.-Gen'l M. D.Leggett, 235

Maj.-Gen'l John A. Logan, . 129

Brig.-Gen'l J. K. F. Mansfield, 169

Brig.-Gen'l George B. McCall, 249

Maj.-Gen'l Geo. B. McClellan, 81
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l J. A. McCler-

nand, .... 249

Brig.-Gen'l Robt. L. McCook, 176

Maj.-Gen'l Irvin McDowell, . 112



Brev. Maj.-Gen'l J.W. McMillen, 239

Maj.-Gen'l Jas. B. McPherson, 11 1

Maj.-Gen'l George G. Meade, . 106

Maj.-Gen'l M. C. Meigs, . . 174

Brig.-Gen'l Solomon Meredith, 237

Maj.-Gen'l Ormsby M. Mitchel, 227

Brig.-Gen'l George W. Morgan, 193

Maj.-Gen'l Gersliam ISIott, . 199

Brig.-Gen'l William Nelson, . 202

Maj.-Gen'l Edward O. C. Ord, 125

Maj.-Gen'l John M. Palmer, . 250

Maj.-Gen'l John Pope, . . 83

Maj.-Gen'l Fitzjohn Porter, . 126

Maj.-Gen'l B. D. Prichard, . 235

Brig.-Gen'l John Ramsey, . 240

Maj.-Gen'l John F. Reynolds, . 122

Maj.-Gen'l Wm. Stark Rosecrans, 116

Maj.-Gen'l Lovel H. Rosseau, . 122

Maj.-Gen'l Robert Schenck, . 245

Maj.-Gen'l John M. Schofield, 133

Maj.-Gen'l Carl Schurz, . . 200

Maj.-Gen'l John Sedgwick, 53-B
Brig.-Gen'l J. M. Shackleford, 160
Maj.-Gen'l Philip Henry Sheri-
dan, .... 69
Maj.-Gen'l Wm.Tecumseh Sher-
man, .... 50
Brig.-Gen'l T. W. Sherman, . 251
Maj.-Gen'l Franz Sigel, . . 161
Maj.-Gen'l William F. Smith, . 173
Brev. Maj.-Gen'l Giles A. Smith, 172
Maj.-Gen'l George Stoneman, . 170
Maj.-Gen'l Edwin V. Sumner, 163
Maj.-Gen'l Alfred H. Terry, . 164
Maj.-Gen'l George H. Thomas, 39
Maj. Gen'l Goveneur Warren, 53-A

Brig.-Gen'l Louis D. Watkins, .
Maj.-Gen'l Watson Webb,
Maj.-Gen'l James H. Willson, .
Maj.-Gen'l Thomas J. Wood, .
Maj.-Gen'l Horatio G. Wright,

Raid of John Morgan in the Free States,



Fh'ght of Jeff. Davis from the Rebel Capital,



In offering a personal sketch of the brave men that periled
their lives on the Nation's battle-fields, I have not been un-
mindful, that, as a people, 'we are in everything profuse.
Many a single one among these heroic men would furnish
material for an entire volume.

To condense history and furnish only what will interest and

contain matter of intrinsic value, has been my leading thought.

My object has been to write history and allow the people to

make the comments. I submit the facts and the reader can

"make his own interpretation.

Faithful to this conviction, I have taxed my readers with
only a brief sketch of each of our Union Generals, believing
that a rapid review of their lives would be more acceptable
than weary volumes of history, made out of conflicting state-
ments and doubtful authority.

A condensed history of the war, all its great battles, its
heroes, incidents and thrilling episodes.


^erqini^deiide^ of tl\e Wkf .


Born at Point Pleasant, a small village on the west bank
of the Ohio River, in Clermont County, Ohio, April 27,
1822. Educated at West Point, where he graduated
twenty-first in the class of 1843. Entered military services
as brevet Second Lieutenant in the Fourth Regiment
United States Infantry, and joined his regiment at Jeffer-
son Barracks, at St. Louis, Mo. Was promoted Second
Lieutenant in 1844, to First Lieutenant in 1847, to Captain
in 1853. Colonel of the Twenty-first Illinois Volunteers,
June, 1861; Brigadier-General of Volunteers, August 9,
1861; to Major-General, February 16, 1862; and to Lieu-
tenant-General, March 2, 1864.

In early life, Grant was an active, quiet, dutiful boy;
while at West Point, he behaved handsomely, studied inces-
santly, and won the respect of all with whom he associated.
At this time he exhibited no indications of brilliancy, but
clear intimations of a mind eminently adapted to the prac-
tical affairs of life. On entering military service as a cadet,
there happened to be no vacancy in his regiment, and the
young Lieutenant and future Lieutenant-General, Avas
ordered to duty as a private soldier.

Without hesitation, he cheerfully and patiently performed



all the duties assigned him in that capacity, going on fa-
tigue, standing sentinel, etc. He seemed thus early to
recognize the value of the old maxim as good in military,
as in any other department of life, that

"Honor and shame from no condition rise:
Act well your part, there all the honor lies."

This simple incident of serving as a private soldier, throws
around Grant's early history an idea of the dutiful and sub-
ordinate, which all young men should remember, and had a
marked influence in the formation of the future character
of the renowned chieftain. In 1844, the Fourth Infantry
was sent from St. Louis to the Red River in Louisiana, in
the frontier service against the Indians. In 1845, it fol-
lowed General Zachary Taylor to Texas, forming a part of
the army of observation. When the veteran Taylor met
the Mexicans in battle at Palo-Alto and Resaca de la
Palma, Lieutenant Grant was an active participant.

At the fierce assault on, and final capture of, Monterey,
he distinguished himself for efficiency as an officer and
daring as a soldier. He afterward joined General Scott,
and took part in the bombardment and capture of Vera
Cruz, accompanying the army of invasion, then advancing
upon the City of Mexico. At the battles of Molino del
Rey and Chapultepec, where the Mexicans were driven,
by a storming party, from strong forts and convents of great
antiquity. Lieutenant Grant displayed talents of very high

The works were built of solid, massive stone, and pos-
sessed immense strength. For gallantry on this occasion,
he won promotion on the spot, in addition to the unqual-
ified approbation and highest commendations of superior

At the close of the war with Mexico, Captain Grant was
assigned to what is by common consent regarded as the
soldier's most hated work — garrison duty. He was first


Stationed at Detroit, Michigan ; afterward, at New York.

In 185 1 his regiment was ordered to Fort Dallas, in
Oregon Territory, to counteract hostile demonstrations of
the predatory tribes of Indians.

The country was at peace, and no immediate prospect
of a war. For want of a wider field for active business.
Grant resigned his commission, and quit the army in 1854.
Returning to civil life, he settled as a farmer near St.
Louis. A few years' experience convinced him that farm-
ing did not suit him. He then removed to the city of St.
Louis, and entered into the mercantile business. From
St. Louis he moved to Illinois, where he passed the time
with his family in a quiet and retired life.

The beginning of the Rebellion in the spring of 1861
found him engaged in the leather business at Galena,

Without waiting for a formal declaration of war, or to see
what course events were likely to take, he at once dissolved
his business connections, raised the national standard in
his own town, enlisted a company of volunteers, and started
for the capital of the State.

On reaching Springfield, the place of rendezvous, Cap-
tain Grant was recommended for a command in the field.

The Governor of Illinois at that time had not enjoyed
very extensive military experience, and was slow to dis-
cern the qualities of promise in military character. He
was not favorably impressed with Captain Grant's personal
appearance, and declined promoting the Captain, as pro-
posed. The Governor declined on grounds that, at the
end of the war, would be looked upon as hardly justifiable
on all occasions. He conceived a military commander to
be a man of rare proportions, tall, to command a full view
of the field, and strong as a giant, to grapple successfully
with an enemy. Unfortunately, Captain Grant was not-
thus imposing. He was dressed remarkably plain, even


for a captain of the line, was entirely unassuming, and,
worse than all, was short in stature. Soon, however, finding
Captain Grant a business man, and acquainted with the
details of military affairs, the Governor consented to place
him on his personal staff, to discharge the duties of
Adjutant-General qf the State.

The business of raising troops went on lively under Cap-
tain Grant's supervision, until twenty regiments were
organized. When the twenty-first was full, it was reported
to the Governor as being unmanageable and insubordinate.
It was rendezvoused at Mattoon, and no man could be
found who could control it. In the multitude of the Gov-
ernor's troubles, he called Captain Grant, and asked if he
thought he could manage these turbulent Suckers. Grant
answered in the affirmative, with his usual modesty, and
was at once appointed to the command of the Twenty-first
Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. Many doubts were ex-
pressed about the success of the reserved captain in govern,
ing a regiment of raw, wild and insubordinate troops. Some
doubted the propriety of the appointment, and insisted
that a man should have been sought (to undertake such a
task) of iron will, known to be stern, implacable and rigor-
ous in all the elements of military discipline. Colonel
Grant repaired to the place of rendezvous, and formally
assumed command without any demonstration of authority.
The first thing he did, after taking command of the regi-
ment, was to order its removal to another town for encamp-
ment and drill. By judicious management and efficient
drilling, the Twenty-first was, in a short time, one of the
best disciplined regiments in the State.

In the meantime, Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi
River, and in the western part of the State, was threatened
by the Rebels. Immediate efforts were made to ship
troops to its defense, but it was found impossible to obtain
transportation. Colonel Grant notified the Governor that,


if the Twenty-first Regiment were ordered to Ouincy, they
could furnish their own transportation. The order was at
once made, and while other regiments in different portions
of the State were waiting for railroad tran.=portation, the
Twenty-first reached the point of danger on foot.

Colonel Grant was now commissioned Brigadier-General
of Volunteers, and ordered to Southern Missouri for the pur-
pose of expelling the Rebel General, Jeff. Thompson, from
that part of the country. After a brief campaign in this
service, General Grant was transferred to the command of
the district of Cairo, Illinois, at that time regarded as one
of our most important and most exposed positions.

Kentucky had adopted a species of neutrality, and her
authorities insisted that troops of neither of the contending
parties should cross or occupy her territory for hostile pur-
poses. The Confederates, knowing full well the treasonable
design of this doubtful policy, "promptly marched troops
to, and occupied, Columbus, on the Mississippi, and Bowl-
ing Green, on Barron River, in Kentucky. General Grant
soon detected this treason in disguise that Kentucky was
attempting to palm off on the country for a cowardly neu-
trality. Despising its cowardice and hating its hypocrisy,
he disregarded its demonstrations and threats by speedily
sending a force to take possession of Paducah, at the
mouth of the Tennessee River. As soon as this was
accomphshed, he seized and fortified Smithland, another
town in Kentucky, at the moiith of the Cumberland River.

As this bogus neutrality of Kentucky had already been
violated by the enemy, the authorities had no just grounds
of complaint when Union troops were thus sent to occupy
so much of her territory as was necessary for defensive

Holding Columbus, on the east side, the Rebels took
possession of Belmont, Missouri, on the west bank of the
Mississippi River, and nearly opposite to the former


place. In possession of these two commanding positions,
they could effectually command the Mississippi River, and
hold absolute control over its navigation.

To prevent this. General Grant took two brigades and
attacked the enemy at Belmont, on the 7th of November,
1861. A severe battle ensued, in which the Union forces
drove the enemy, captured four hundred prisoners, all the
Rebel fortifications, camps and camp equipage, together
with a large quantity of supplies.

Columbus was at this time garrisoned by a heavy force
of the enemy, and the National troops were unable to take
it by direct assault. Military men on both sides agreed
that it was the key to Kentucky, and that the party hold-
ing Columbus could hold possession of the State. To
meet this emergency and capture the place, General Grant
began to display a talent for strategy, for which he has
since become eminently distinguished in the progress of the
war. The enemy had now obtained almost unlimited con-
trol of the Mississippi River ; had erected Fort Henry on the
Tennessee, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, both
strong defensive works, commanding the entire State of

The quick discernment of Grant readily saw that, if these
latter posts were captured, we would not only obtain pos-
session of Tennessee, together with the control of the
Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, but that the strong-
hold at Columbus would be flanked, and necessarily fall.

Columbus is situated twenty miles below Cairo and
Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee, forty miles
above. It was necessary to induce the Rebels to hold
their forces at Columbus while an expedition attempted the
capture of the other two forts. A strong reconnoissance
was sent down the Mississippi with orders to make a
spirited attack by land and water on Columbus. While
this ruse was progressing, the main body of General Grant's


troops, consisting of ten regiments of infantry and seven
gunboats, quietly sailed up the river. The enemy were
thus completely deceived, holding their forces for the
defense of Columbus, until the Union troops were thun-
dering at the gates of Fort Henry, a hundred miles away.
On the 6th of February the fort fell into our hands, after
a brief struggle of an hour and a half. As Fort Henry
was captured by the gunboats under Commodore Foote
before the arrival of the land forces, most of the garrison

Fort Donelson was only twelve miles distant, but known
to be immensely strong and garrisoned by twenty thousand
men. As soon as Fort Henry fell, the Rebels waked up
to the tactics of the Union commander. Her Rebel Gen-
eral, Pillow, hurried from Columbus, and General Floyd from
Clarksville, with reinforcements. Buckner, Floyd and
Pillow, three renowned Rebel Generals, now united in
making Fort Donelson impregnable. All parts of the
works were extended and strengthened ; vast amounts of
amunition and supplies had been collected.

Every possible preparation was made for the defense of
a position of such vital importance to the very life of the
Confederacy. To capture it. General. Grant marched twenty
thousand men from Fort Henry, on the twelfth of Febru-
ary, and encamped at night, in a military crescent, around
its frowning battlements. Two days after, the gun-
boats arrived, bringing ten thousand reinforcements to
take part in the coming strife. The attack was begun on
the fourteenth ; on the fifteenth the enemy sallied in great
force, and attempted by almost superhuman efforts to break
the Union lines. Three days the contending armies strug-
gled for a prize equally important to both. After a fear-
ful conflict, the Union arms triumphed and the National
victory was complete. Fifteen thousand prisoners, one
hundred and fifty-six pieces of artillery, and fifteen thou-
sand small arms fell into the hands of the victors.


General Grant had now won two brilliant victories in
rapid succession, which were of incalculable value to the
National cause. Columbus on the Mississippi was speedily
evacuated. Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers were re-
opened to navigation, and Nashville, the capital of Tennes-
see, was uncovered and soon fell into our hands. All these
were among the legitimate fruits of General Grant's vic-
tories at Forts Henry and Donelson, giving great prestige
to Union arms, and very materially affecting the final re-
sult of the war. One incident of the battle of Donelson
aptly illustrates the practical turn of mind which has ever
rendered General Grant's services so valuable to the coun-
try. A prisoner had been captured and brought to the
General for examination on the second day of the battle.
Among other proceedings in the process of obtaining infor-
mation from the captured Rebel, General Grant ordered
his haversack examined, which was found to be well filled
with full rations for several. days. He decided at once that
the Rebels inside the fortification were defeated and pre-
paring to evacuate. Basing his conclusion on this simple
fact, he ordered the picket lines doubled, and every prep-
aration made for an attempt on the part of the enemy to
escape. Sure enough, that day witnessed a bold and bloody
attempt to break our lines ; the succeeding night five thou-
sand of the enemy's force, under Pillow and Floyd, stole
away in the darkness, and early the next morning the Rebel
works were surrendered. Another incident of the battle
here, may be given to illustrate another rare, but not less
valuable, trait in General Grant's military life. Early on the
morning of the sixteenth of February, after the struggle had
raged with unabated fury over forty-eight hours, a modest
white rag was seen to hang from a pole on the Rebel works.
The story was soon told, but slowly believed in the Union
army. The rising sun dispelled the mists and smoke that
hung in dark clouds above the scene of mortal strife, and told


in unmistakable language the story of the enemy's surrender,
and of the Union's triumph.

It soon attracted the attention of the whole Union army,
as crowds of our soldiers gazed in silence on this token of
their success.

A Rebel officer was seen to emerge from the fort, ad-
vancing to our lines, bearing a flag of truce. He was re-
ceived in form and his tale was soon told. Divested of its
parade of words and forms, it amounted to the very simple
statement that Pillow and Floyd had skulked away in the
darkness of the preceding night, and that Buckner, the
surviving Rebel commander, desired to surrender. In his
own language he requested a cessation of hostilities until
twelve o'clock, for the purpose of negotiating a capitulation.
General Grant's reply to this fulsome appeal has since be-
came a watchword all over the nation. "Nothing but an
unconditional surrender will be considered, and I propose to
move immediately on your works." The bearer of the flag
returned to the fort ; the unconditional surrender was forth-
coming. Buckner, in the name of Southern chivalr>% com-
plained bitterly (in making the surrender) of General Grant's
rudeness in refusing to negotiate, and for insisting on an in-
stant and humiliating surrender. This laconic answer to
Buckner's attempt at diplomacy, has so constantl}^ marked
General Grant's transactions in war, that for years he has
been called "Unconditional Surrender Grant."

Driven from the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee
Rivers, the Rebels now concentrated at Corinth, about
twenty miles south of the Tennessee, in the State of Missis-
sippi. General Grant's army had moved from the scene of
his last great victory, and lay at Pittsburg Landing, on the
left bank of the Tennessee River. His forces consisted of
the army of the Tennessee, with Lew Wallace's Division at
Crump's Landing, six miles distant. The army of the Ohio,
under Buell, was en route from Nashville destined to reinforce


Grant, and onJy twenty miles away. The enemy had col-
lected from every part of the South and West, under Albert
Sidney Johnston, one of their most distinguished and able

So great was the defection of citizens living in the Rebel
States, and so treacherous their conduct, that throughout
the war Rebel commanders were uniformly apprised of the
exact numbers, location and movements of Union armies.

On this occasion, the enemy, knowing the location of
Buell's force, conceived the plan of crushing the Union
army before it could be united. In accordance with this
design, the Rebels marched from Corinth seventy thousand
strong, and made a sudden and unexpected attack on the
army of the Tennessee under General Grant, at Shiloh Church,

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Online LibraryC. J. WoodReminiscences of the war. Biography and personal sketches of all the commanding officiers of the Union Army → online text (page 1 of 22)