Chicago Standard Genealogical Publishing Company.

A Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away online

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Online LibraryChicago Standard Genealogical Publishing CompanyA Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away → online text (page 2 of 108)
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one hundred men for reconnaissance over the mountains to find the position
of the enemy. When we started it was raining hard, and the road was uj)
hill and down, but the colonel started his troop at a canter, which he kept up
for ten miles without giving the a chance to breathe. Coming in
sight of a few Confederates, who took to the woods on our aii])roach. the
colonel decided that he Iiad gained renown enough for one dav and returned


to camp at the same pace that he took in goiiig- up. The result was, the
horses were worthless after that.

Mrs. Jessie B. Fremont, the general's w'lie, was with him all the time,
and had charge of a body of men known as "Jessie's scouts." Part of the
Sixth Ohio was identified with them; and a more fearless woman I ne\-er
saw. Where danger was thickest, she was sure to be there.

We first met the enemy at Woodstock, June 2, 1862, the regiment coming
•in collision with Colonel Ashby's force of cavalry, and a beautiful little fight
ensued, but only for a short time, when the Pennsylvania "Buck-tail"' regi-
ment came to our relief, and the enemy was handsomely repulsed. Colonel
Ashby being killed.

The rebel general, .Stonewall Jackson, was making his way up the Shen-
andoah valley, Fremont was in hot pursuit^ and on the 3d we came up with
his rear guard at Fisher's Hill; and from the amount of camp equipage
scattered along the road we concluded that they were in haste to make some
advantageous point before being attacked. At Mount Jackson they crossed
the river and burned the bridge after them. This delayed our army two
davs in making pontoons and laying them across the much swollen river, for
il iiad lieen raining continuously for about two weeks.


On the 8th day of June we met General Jackson's forces in position at
Cross Keys, where a severe engagement took place, lasting all day. The
troops engaged on the federal side prior to this had seen very little fighting,
but in this battle they behaved like \'eterans. The troops of Milroy. Schenk and
Blenker, besides the artillery and cavalry, were engaged. It was in this action
that the celebrated "Jackass" battery came into action for the first time, and
probably the last. The mode of operating the guns was to load the mules as
close U> the enemy as possible, face them in the opposite direction in range of
the enemy, and then fire the guns. The guns were four-pound howitzers,
securely fastened to the saddle. If the mule was accustomed to this mode of
warfare he stood quiet; if not, he usually started on the run. These cannon
were loaded with grape and canister and did good work, at short range.

After the fight at Cross Keys, Jackson, on the morning of the otii,
crossed the Shenandoah river at Port Republic, burning the bridge after him.
and Fremont's troops were left on the west side of the river. General Shields
was on the east side ready to engage Jackson as soon as he crossed. Had
Shields crossed and attacked Jackson in front with Fremont in the rear, it is
possible that most of the Confederate troops would ha\-e been captured; but,
as it turned out. Jackson fought Fremont, with partial success, on the 8th
then crossed the river and whipped Shields, with neatness and dispatch.

After but a few days' rest he was on his way up the valley, and about
the 25th was in General McClellan's front, near Richmond, with banners
flving. After the Cross Kevs battle the Sixth Ohio was ordered down the


A-allev with the balance of Fremont's force, going to Fisher's Hill. As we
Avere'on our way we passed through W ." nistnck. a small town the streets of
which were verv narrow and the pciiuMOs ,,1 the houses overhung the streets;
iuid as the Union soldiers filed by women came -nt en the porticoes and threw
dirty water and other refuse upon them. The ofticers of the regiment held
a council of war and some of them were fur reducing the town to ashes ; but
better judgment prevailed and the town was spared.

An amusing circumstance occurred here. Nearly all of the men in the
regiment thought it would be the right thing to keep up with the prevailing
St vie of having their hair cut tight to their heads. Of course I couldn't
think of being out of style; so, after the barber had finished his work, I went
to Captain Richart's tent and doffing my cap, remarked, "Captain, how do you
like my cut?" He was a droll fellow and after looking at me for a few

moments, said, "Well, Reeves, you would make a d d pretty corpse to

send home to your mother." That settled it, and I let my liair grow out

At Fisher's Hill, or, as it was afterward called, Fort Fisher, we made
several reconnaissances to Winchester and vicinit}". The regiment was next
ordered to the Luray valley, and at Luray Court Ilnuse it was fired upon
by citizens from the house tops, and some of our men were wounded. We
captured most of the men, and kejit them under guard at the court-house
for a number of days, making most of them take the oath of allegiance accord-
ing to general order No. i issued by General Pope, the corps commander.
Luray at this time was the worst "secesh" town in Virginia._ and during our
stav there we lost several men while on picket duty. One day the company
bugler and myself went out viewing the beauties of the valley, when we hap-
jjened to think that it was a long time since we had had a good square meal,
and. coming to a farm house, we asked for something to eat; the question was
answered in the affirmative. ^\'hiIe waiting for our dinner we noticed that
one of the young girls left the house by the rear door. I told Tanner to keep
a careful watch out of doors, and I would do the same inside, and that we
would eat one at a time. Dinner ready, I sat down and ate my meal, and,
after paying for it. went out to relieve Tanner; but just as I mounted my horse
I heard the clatter of horses' feet coming throug'h the lane from the barn. and.
ahmit twenty of Mosby's men were hastening toward us. yelling like "mad."
\\'e started off, with the rebels in hot pursuit, and the chase was kept up for
a mile: but we succeeded in making our esca])e, although Tanner's horse had
a l)ullet in his thigh. After this the men were n(3t allowed to go out in small

On the 7th or 8th of August the Sixth Ohio Cavalry left Luray xalicy
and were ordered to report to (leneral Pope, who was then near Cuh)eper.
On the Qth we met (ieneral Banks' division near Cedar mountain. Banks
had about seven thousand five hundred men, of all arms; and the comliined
force of Jackson, Ewell and Hill, whom he had to encounter, greatly out-
numbered his force.



Banks was sent out to reconnoiter and ascertain the strength of the
eneniv, but not to bring on a general engagement. Instead of obeying or-
ders, he brought on one of the worst battles of the war, considering the num-
ber engaged. The Sixth Ohio was stationed on the left as flankers, and
came in touch with Stuart's cavalry several times during the day, at one
time being surrounded, and would have been captured had not General Green's
brigade been sent to our relief. At the outset Banks had the enemy on the
run, on nearly every part of the line, Init was outnumbered three to one,
later in the day, and had to retire.

Late in the afternoon. Shafer Mowry and myself were sent out on
vidette duty, remaining out all night. Not being relieved in the morning,
we suspected that the army had left, as we heard no firing; and which way
to go puzzled us. Howe\er, we started toward the battle-field, but all was
as still as the dead that were buried there. We nor our poor horses had had
anything to eat for many hours, but some distance from the battle-field we
found some green corn, which we ate without roasting, as we were afraid
to build a fire to roast it.

Near dusk we started toward \\"ashington, but as it was raining we
turned our horses into a field, and, placing our ponchos over a couple of
rails aslant against the fence, we crawled under to keep as dry as possible.
About midnight a regiment of rebel cavalry came along, and were within
three rods of us ! we could hear them talking about the "Yanks." Fortunately,
however, they did not see us. The next morning before daylight we saddled
dur horses and continued on our way. Soon we found where some cavalry
had turned off to the left into a piece of woods, before the rebel cavalrv
had passed that night, and, believing them to be our men, we followed the
tracks: and about half a mile from the main road we came to General Sigel's
headquarters, without a single guard in sight. My companion said, "Be Gorry !
I am going to have a new horse." He went to the line where the general's
horses were tied, tied his own and took one of the other horses. We could
ha\e taken the whole of them, and perhaps captured the general himself,
Avitlinut much trouble. After going about a mile further into the woods we
fiiund our regiment cooking breakfast. I can assure you that we did full
justice to that breakfast of hard-tack and cofi^ee, after a three davs' fast.
It was reported that we were capturetl, and we were heartily welcomed' back to


About tlie 1 8th of August, General Pope's army was stationed at the
different fords and crossings on the Rappahannock river. The Sixth Ohio
Cavalry was attached to General Sigel's corps, and was commanded by Gen-
eral Buford, a splendid officer, ^^"e were guarding the ford at Whhe Sulphur


The tact that General IMcClellan's army liad left the James river and
were moving toward Washington in his usual delil)erate way of moving an
army, gave General Robert E. Lee what might ha\e been the opportunity
of his life, namely, to mass his men and fight Pope before McClellan's forces
came to join Pope; but the fact that the latter had fought so stubbornly to
maintain his position at the river, prevented General Lee from massing his

Both armies, of Pope and Lee, at the time of the second Bull Run battle,
had about the same number, — fifty-five thousand men each. Three days were
spent by the enemy in trying to force a crossing of the river. Finally, on
the 22(1, Jackson succeeded in crossing at Sulphur Springs ; but a heavy rain
that night swelled the river so much that it was impossible for other troops
to cross until the 24th.

On the 27th the Sixth Ohio and two other regiments made a recon-
naissance to Salem and \\'hite Plains, whei-e the}- met and made a charge on
the rear of General A. P. Hill's c^>v\)>. capturing some prisoners; but we soon
found that we were between Hill's and Longstreet's corps, and Longstreet
and his staff soon came into view, and the stay of the reconnoitering party
was in consequence cut short by a magnificent charge, in which we did not
come out first winner as we did in the earlier part of the day. We left about
thirty men in care of the enemy, besides the prisoners that w€ had captured
from Hill in the morning. However, we accomplished our purpose of find-
ing out the relative strength of the enemy's forces.

Returning to the main command, we went into camp in a piece of woods
near the river with instructions not to build anv fires. We were busily
engaged in cleaning our guns, when a shell exploded in our midst. Some
one had built a fire, and the enemy, seeing the .smoke, had got the exact range
of the camp at the first shot; and it took but three or four shots to con\-ince
us that we were not in a "healthy" place.

For the next two days, the movements of tht army were a mystery to
all except the higher officers, for we maixhed and countermarched without
any destination, seemingly. Our poor horses were unshod, and having no
feed many had given out and were abandoned. General J. E. B. Stuart, the
celebrated Confederate cavalry leader, had made a terrible raid on Catlett
Station, had captured the wagon trains, burned the bridges after him. and
reached their own lines before the Union troops could get a chance to fight
back. From the "23d to the 29th we were skirmishing continuously: but
Jackson succeeded in getting in on our rear, and, after capturing a large
amount of commissary stores and guns at Manassas, took possession behind
the old railroad embankment, with Longstreet well posted on his right. The
night of the 29th was spent in massing troops on both sides and by 6 o'clock,
A. M., of the ,30th the battle commenced all along the line, lasting all day.
with scarcely a moment's cessation.

It was here that many acts of heroism were displayed. Among the
most conspicuous was that of General Reynolds, of the Pennsylvania Reserves.
Seeing his brigade waver before Longstreet's men, he seized a flag from the


color-bearer, and rode along the line, the men cheering and following him as
he led the charge. The Iron brigade carried the line, but could not hold it.
About 7 o'clock, P. M.. the federals commenced to waver, and by 8 o'clock
were ordered by General Pope quietly to retire all along the line, and they fell
back on Centerville, in good order, although it is claimed that the retreat
became a mob, which was not the fact in the case; and if General Fitz John
Porter had come up, as he should, and could easily, have done, he would have
saved the day. But jealousy was the cause of the Union army's defeat in this,
as in other battles of the Potomac army.

On the 1st of September the armies met again, this time at Chantilly,
near Fairfax Court House. The divisions under Hooker, Reno, Heintzel-
man and Kearny were engaged. They came together like two cyclones, and
for nearly an hour, in one of the worst thunder-storms one experiences in a life
time, the musketry was more deafening than thunder. In this battle two
of the bravest generals lost their lives, — Generals Kearny and Stevens. The
next morning Pope's army moved on to Washington, unmolested. So ended
the second battle of Bull Run.

When the Union troops were on their march to the capital city, the
Sixth (Jhio Cavalry were left as rear guard to bring up the stragglers, as there
are always some in every army. As we were going along about our business,
there were two guns of a rebel battery that kept annoying us all the time by
coming up behind us, unlimbering their guns, firing a shot or two, when we
would deploy into the woods out of the way. Colonel Lloyd at last saw a
chance* to put a stop to this annoyance. On our way we had to pass through
a small valley, and we posted two companies, dismounted, along the fence
at the foot of the hill in such a position that they could not be seen, and the
balance of the regiment was sent forward through the valley. The enemy
came to the top of the hill, prepared to fire at those going through the \-alley :
but they never fired another gun, for the boys stationed along the fence had
the drop on them, and there were not many men or horses left, after thev had
fired that volley, fit for service. ^

That night was very chilly, and the men had no overcoats; and as the
men of the Sixth, plodding along, chilled to the bone, many in a drowsy condi-
tion, were passing through a narrow and deep cut in the road, some of the
stragglers of our own troops on the brow of the hill or embankment, thinking
we were rebels, fired into our midst. This made the front of the column
double back on the rear all in a heap: Init the colonel called to the men to cease
firing, telling them who we were. This woke us up for the balance of the

After the defeat at Bull Run. the UnicMi troops were concentrated around
Washington. Reorganization commenced immediately. The men in the
ranks were not much disheartened, but were greatly disgusted with the half-
hearted way that some of the generals conducted' themselves. They were
all well aware that they were not out-generaled in the fight, but that they could
win if they had an ec|ual chance, and therefore were anxious for another
engagement. Our regiment was camped at Hall's farm, which adjoined


General Robert E. Lee's residence and is now the National Soldiers' Cemetery
at Arlington. Here we received three new companies, with recruits to fill the
old companies, new clothing, tents and many new horses. While here my
brother Charles, of Company A, was taken ill with fever and sent to the hos-
pital at Germantown, where he died.

After the battle of Bull Run, the Confederates were very much elated with
their success, and planned and executed a raid into ^Maryland, in hopes of
recruiting their army, which was much depleted.


General Lee put his army in motion on the 3d of September, and on the
5th some of his troops were in Maryland, with Stonewall Jackson in the
lead. He marched to Frederick City, where it is reported that some of the
soldiers fired upon the flag of old Barbara Frietchie : and every one knows
how beautifully our poet Whittier has put the legend into verse.

On the 5th of September General Pope asked to be relieved, and General
George B. McClellan was placed in command of the Armies of the Potomac
and the James. After reorganization he put his army in motion in the direction
of ^laryland. to head off General Lee. who was in the vicinity of South Moun-
tain and making for Penns_\-lvania. About the 5th of Septemljer the cavalry of
the Potomac were organized into a division, with General Pleasanton as our
commander, and a few days later we were on the move into Maryland. He
was ordered to clear the way to South mountain, Lee's troops being in that
vicinity. McClellan was concentrating- his force on that place, and Lee's
cavalry was watching his movements at Frederick City.

On the 13th our cavalry was ordered to make a reconnaissance in the
direction of Fo.x and Turner's Gap in the South mountain range, followed
by a brigade of infantry ; here General Lee was supposed to be in force, but
we found only the rear guard of the army, holding the ])ass : the main liodv hav-
ing passed through the day before. AVe found the pass blocked with fallen
trees. These cleared away, and the summit reached, we were received by
a raking volley from the enemy, hidden in the underbrush on the side of the
road. This gave us a check for a few minutes, but, dismounting, we drove
them back on their reserve, who were formed in an open field ; and here again
we were received with a deadly fire.

We had been on the fighting line about half an hour when a battery
of artillery came into action. This was followed by a brigade of infantry
from General J. D. Cox's division, who were quickly deployed to the right
and left of the road. Then the battle opened in earnest. Shrapnel and
musketry made sad havoc on toth sides; but our brave men steadily ad-
vanced until they came to a cross road, with a stone fence running parallel
with the one which we were on. Here ensued a hand-to-hand encounter
for its possession: but the Ohio boys were victorious. The Confederates
were routed and driven down the mountain in disorder; l)ut, being reinforced,
they came back with that familiar yell which one must hear to appreciate.


But we kept possession of the Sharpslnirg road until the arrival of the Ninth
Corps, who relieved us.

As we were retiring from the engagement we saw (jeneral Jesse Reno,
sitting on the side of the road watching his troops pass ; and in a few minutes
afterward we heard that while inspecting a portion of the skirmish line he
was killed. General Reno was a brave man and one of the finest-looking gen-
erals in the service.

The Ninth Corps were engaged until darkness put a stop to the fighting,
expecting on the morrow to renew the battle ; but the dawn found no enemy,
they having retired during the night down the Sharpsburg road.

On the 15th General McClellan put his army in motion, following after
Lee with great caution, fearing, as he always did, that he would be out-
numbered, and did not make any serious attack. This gave Jackson time to
come up, after his successful maneuvers in capturing Colonel Miles' force of
twehe thousand men at Harper's Ferry. It is believed by most military men
that had McClellan attacked Lee on the morning of the 15th he would have
gained one of the most decisive battles of the war. As it was. General Lee
fell back on Antietam. where he selected his line of defense at leisure, with
an added strength of General Jackson's corps to help him.

On the 1 6th, the day found both armies looking at each other across
Antietam creek, — a narrow, but deep stream, with steep banks. I could give
a vivid picture of the battle of Antietam; but I will not do so, for the reason
that the historian has already done it better than I can ; so I will pass on to
other scenes, merely saying that the Ijattle was fought with no decisive results
to either army, — and the loss in each was something appalling, — about 2,108
killed, and 9.549 wounded on the L'nion side, and the loss was probal)]y as
great on the Confederate side!

From the i8th of Septemlier to the jOtli of October the army lav com-
paratively idle. At the latter date McClellan reported to the authorities at
Washington that he had crossed the Potomac river and was now on ^'irginia
soil, prepared to move southward on the east side of the Blue Ridge moun-
tains, whilst General Lee was making his way up the Shenandoah valley on
the west side, keeping a close watch of "Our Brave Little Mac." But there
was one branch of the service that was kept on the move day and night,
keeping a sharp watch on Stuart and Mosby, and that was the cavalry.

Finally the government became very weary of the tardy movements of
McClellan: and on the 5th of November he was superseded by General
Ambrose E. Burnside, who took command of the Army of the Potomac, which
now numbered 120.000 men. of all arms. Tt was questionable whether the
change would lie an improvement, Imt anv general was preferable to General
McClellan. ' '"

Burnside decided to make his base of operations and a forward move-
ment on Richmond at or near Fredericksburg and moved his force to Fal-
mouth, opposite to Fredericksburg. Our regiment went into camp on the
old battlefield of Chantilly. doing outpost duty most of the time. In November


new recruits came to the regiment to fill up the companies, and many of the old
memliers were discharged for physical disal)ility and other causes.


While we were on our wa}- to S(JUth mountain a squad of about twenty-
five of the Sixth Ohio boys concluded to do a little scouting, and incidentally
a little foraging, just to keep up our splendid reputation in that line. \\'e had
gone ofT to the right of the main command ^jerhaps five miles, and were in
a section where very few troops of either army had been. Spying a large
farm house a half-mile to the right of the road, with a lane, having beautiful
shade trees on either side, leading" up to it, we struck out for it. After look-
ing the premises over to our satisfaction, finding ham and chickens, — which
we paid for in Confederate' scrip, — we concluded to have dinner, wdiich the
darkies insisted upon cooking for us ; and while they are doing it I will try
to describe the house and surroundings.

The house was one of those stately mansions built in the earlv settlement
of Virginia, closely resembling the Washington residence at Mount \"ernon.
The interior was finished ofif in panel work, walnut and cherrj-. The fire-
places — of which there were a number — were immense brick affairs with brass-
trimmed andirons. The floors were maple, and waxed. The hall and stair-
way was large enough to admit of driving a horse and carriage in and up stairs.
The outside of the house had seen but little paint for many years, and was
not in keeping with the interior. A fine looking old gentleman, about eighty
years of age and one of the old school in every sense of the word, met us on
the i)orch and with a kindly smile said, "Gentlemen, what can I do for you
to-day?" On being informed of our desire to buy ham and chickens, he was
willing to accommodate us with all we would pay for. The grounds aliout
the house were in a state of dilapidation, but were one time very beautiful,
with large pine and elm trees which gave shade and beauty to the now decaying
old place. This was all inclosed with a high rail fence, enclosing about ten
acres, and on the outside of this fence was a long row of cheap houses for

Online LibraryChicago Standard Genealogical Publishing CompanyA Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away → online text (page 2 of 108)