Edward Pascal McKinney.

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the railroad stations. On the contrary there were
many persons more interested in getting the sol-
diers' money away from them.

io8 Life in Tent and Field

The men had a good time at home and were all
on hand at the expiration of their thirty-days fur-
lough. They reported for duty in New York and
we left there one afternoon by steamer for Alex-
andria. Outside of Sandy Hook the weather was
rough and the vessel rolled and pitched. All had
got filled up with good things at home, of which
most of them were relieved after a few hours. It
was about the middle of February when we
reached Alexandria, where we waited some time
to be remounted, some of us having quarters at the
Marshall House where the first officer in the war
was killed. Colonel Ellsworth, commanding a
Regiment of Zouaves, was sent to Alexandria
with other Regiments to protect Washington.
He was assassinated while hauling down a rebel
flag which had been raised over the Marshall
House. His death caused a tremendous sensation
in the North.



Early in March, 1864, Grant was made Lieu-
tenant General, and a little later was given su-
preme command of all the armies of the United
States. This was hailed with satisfaction by the
Army of the East — in fact by the whole country.
It took military affairs out of politics and put all
the Departments under one supreme head. Here-
tofore every General commanding a corps wanted
to be at the head, and several had aspirations for
the Presidency. Almost all the Brigadier Gen-
erals got their appointments through political in-
fluence. Colonels who had proved their merit in
the field and were recommended for promotion by
their superior officers, were subordinated to men
who had no experience and nothing but a political
pull to recommend them.

March 23, 1864, General Sheridan was ordered
from the West by General Grant, to Washington,
and was given command of the Cavalry of the
Army of the Potomac. He reached Washington
April 4 and the following morning issued orders


iio Life in Tent and Field

assuming command. Next to Grant, Sheridan was
the greatest general of the war.

Between Sheridan and Meade there was at first
some friction. Meade wanted a large retinue and
his headquarters looked like a small city, there
were so many tents. He wanted the Cavalry to
remain with his Army and furnish escorts and
pickets, whereas Sheridan wanted the Cavalry to
be a distinct and compact corps. General Grant
was willing to give Sheridan his head, and the
result showed which was right. Without Sheri-
dan's Cavalry the war would doubtless have been
prolonged, no one can tell how long.

Grant was not long in getting his Army in mo-
tion. On the third — fourth of May the Army of
the Potomac crossed the Rapidan and a battle
began which was not to end until the surrender of
Lee at Appomattox.

On the south side of the Rapidan I was with
the Regiment as Adjutant, where they fought dis-
mounted and held back quite a large force of Con-
federate Infantry. A soldier next me was struck,
in the face by a Minie ball and his nose and the
flesh between his eyes and mouth carried away.
He walked off the field and I never saw him again.
He was the most horrible sight I ever beheld. I
have always felt that I would rather be killed out-
right than be so disfigured.

Some days later we were engaged with a force

General Grant Made Commander in Chief 1 1 1

of Infantry in a large wood and got the enemy on
the run. My duties as Adjutant were to keep the
alignment and to prevent the companies from get-
ting separated. 1 had in my hands a sharp car-
bine which was fired by the use of a brass percus-
sion cap.

While I was endeavoring to close a gap be-
tween two companies I saw a big Johnny stop and
raise his gun at me. I dodged behind a tree and
the ball struck the tree near my head. The man
then turned to run and exposed a broad back. I
took careful aim with my carbine which failed to
go off. The brass percussion cap had dropped off.
If the gun had gone off I would have bored the
man through the spine for I had a sure bead on
him. I felt a sense of disappointment much as I
have since felt when hunting partridges and my
gun, for some reason, has failed to discharge.


Sheridan's raid to Richmond

On the fourth of May my regiment, the Sixth
New York Cavalry, Crocker commanding, moved
out toward Stevensburg and crossed the Rapidan.
The next day we moved to Chancellorsville and
encamped on the old battlefield. The point of
woods where Jackson's advance had been halted
showed what a hot place it must have been. Ev-
ery tree and twig the height of a man's head had
been cut by shell or rifle balls. There were large
piles of human bones over which dirt had been
thrown and washed away by the rains. Dr. San-
ger claimed to be a phrenologist and the soldiers
brought skulls for him to tell their nationality and

On the morning of the ninth Sheridan started
on what he called his Richmond raid. The Sec-
ond Brigade (Devin's) of the First Division, had
the advance. We passed a long wagon train of
wounded from the Wilderness — not a train of
ambulances, but regular army wagons, without
springs. The groans of the wounded were not a


Sheridan's Raid to Richmond 113

pleasant sound. That night after dark we
reached Beaver Dam Station on the Virginia Cen-
tral Railroad, where we captured a wagon train
and about two hundred Federal soldiers who were
being taken as prisoners to Richmond. We also
captured two engines and a train of cars, and
burned the railroad station which contained about
two hundred thousand pounds of bacon. I well
remember how it looked, piled up like cordwood —
a pile about six feet wide, four feet high, and
forty feet long.

Two of our men got on to one of the captured
engines and tried to signal another engine whose
whistles we could hear two or three miles down
the road. I was ordered, with a part of my Regi-
ment, to destroy the railroad about a mile from
the station. This was done pretty thoroughly by
starting large fires and turning the rails and ties
over on to the fire in a huge pile. The ties were
burned and the rails warped.

Two days later occurred the fight at Yellow
Tavern. General J. E. B. Stuart, Commander of
Lee's Cavalry, by forced marches, had got be-
tween us and Richmond. In this fight Stuart was
killed, and his Cavalry defeated. Stuart's death
was a serious blow to the Confederacy and a cause
of deep mourning to Lee.

During this fight Colonel Crocker, with the
Sixth New York, was ordered to clear the Brooks

114 Life in Tent and Field

Pike, the principal highway leading from the
North into Richmond, The Regiment was formed
in column of platoons, and we advanced rapidly
with Crocker and myself at the head, to where
the road led through a line of earthworks which
covered Richmond on the north. Here, with
sabers drawn, we charged on a gallop and drove
back toward Richmond a company of picket
guards. We probably could have charged into
Richmond without serious loss in getting in. How
to get out was another question. We, however,
halted and held the pike until after midnight, when
Sheridan at the head of the Cavalry Corps came

While halted on the pike we could hear all the
bells ringing in Richmond. A newsboy came out
with papers which told of Stuart's death and the
nearness of the Yankee troops. They were print-
ed on one side, on coarse brown paper, resembling
our cheap wall paper. I gave Sheridan the only
copy I secured and have always regretted that I
did not keep it.

Sheridan led his corps by a road running east
inside this line of earthworks, to the Meadow
Bridge road, a road leading out of Richmond
across the Chickahominy, which we reached about
daylight. During the night march I was over-
come with drowsiness, dismounted, and lay down
beside the road, with instructions to Webster, my

Sheridan at Meadow Bridges 115

orderly, to wake me in ten minutes. When he
woke me he asked if I heard a torpedo go off.
The enemy had planted torpedoes in the road,
with wires attached to explode the shell when the
horses struck the wires, and one had exploded
within a few feet of where I was lying.

At Meadow Bridges Sheridan was attacked
from all sides by a large force of Infantry from
Richmond, and by Gordon's Cavalry from the
South, while Fitzhugh Lee's Cavalry were on the
other side the Chickahominy to contest our pas-

I was sent with the Sixth Regiment to repair
the bridge. The planks had been removed but the
string-pieces were left. We laid fence rails and
such planks as we could find, so that dismounted
troops could get across.

As soon as the bridge was passable it was
crowded with crossing troops. My Regiment was
then relieved and I went up on the bluff and sat
down by General Sheridan and watched the fight
on the other side of the Chickahominy. General
Devin crossed with the rest of his Brigade and
when Sheridan saw him moving forward he said,
with a sigh of relief, "It is all right, there goes
Tommy Devin."

General Grant, in his "Memoirs," page 155,
says of this affair:

"Sheridan passed through the outer defenses of

ii6 Life in Tent and Field

Richmond, and could, no doubt, have passed
through the inner ones, but having no supports
in near he could not have remained. After caring
for his wounded he struck for the James River
below the city, to communicate with Butler and
to rest his men and horses as well as to get food
and forage for them.

"He moved first between the Chickahominy and
the James, but in the morning (the twelfth) he
was stopped by batteries at Mechanicsville. He
then turned to cross to the North side of the
Chickahominy by Meadow Bridges. He found
this barred, and the defeated Confederate Cav-
alry, reorganized, occupying the opposite side.
The panic created by his first entrance within the
outer works of Richmond having subsided troops
were sent out to attack his rear.

"He was now in a perilous position, one from
which but few Generals could have extricated
themselves. The defenses of Richmond, manned,
were to the right, the Chickahominy was to the
left with no bridge remaining and the opposite
bank guarded, to the rear was a force from Rich-
mond. This force was attacked and beaten by
Wilson's and Gregg's Divisions, while Sheridan
turned to the left with the remaining Division and
hastily built a bridge over the Chickahominy un-
der the fire of the enemy, forced a crossing and
soon dispersed the Confederates he found there.

Sheridan's Raid to Trevillian Station 1 17

The enemy was held back from the stream by the
fire of the troops not engaged in bridge building."

In a short time the enemy were driven back
and the column resumed its march to Haxall's
Landing on the James River where supplies were
obtained. Sheridan rejoined Meade's Army May

On the first of June occurred the fight at Cold
Harbor, a severe engagement in which Devin's
Brigade took a part and in which Devin had a
good deal of difficulty in keeping his pipe lighted.

Six days later Sheridan started on his Trevillian
Station raid. I messed with Colonel Crocker, and
the first day we lost our coffee. We had provided
six days' supply, but a fresh contraband (negro
servant) had boiled the whole lot for the first
morning's breakfast. This was a serious loss and
can be appreciated only by those who have had a
like experience. We relied on coffee more than
on solid food.

Sheridan's force was away from the main army
about two weeks on this raid to Trevillian Station.
We had some severe fighting. I remember more
clearly than anything else during the expedition,
the support of a battery by the Sixth New York.
This battery was a little back from the crest of a
hill so that the muzzles of the guns just cleared the
top of the hill. The enemy had a battery on a
similar crest about a mile distant. We remained

Ii8 Life in Tent and Field

dismounted behind the battery, holding our horses,
far enough down the hill so that most of the
shells passed over us although we had some cas-

Having to lie still for so long a time, and listen
to the shells coming close over our heads, was
more trying to the nerves than active fighting.



I was promoted May 24 to the rank of Captain
and Commissary of Subsistence. My commission
was signed by Abraham Lincoln, President, and
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. I was as-
signed as Commissary of Subsistence to the Re-
serve Brigade, composed of three Regiments of
United States Regulars, and one New York and
one Pennsylvania Regiment, all commanded by
General Wesley Merritt.

Previous to my assignment a Lieutenant from
one of the Regular Regiments had been acting
Commissary and had furnished the officers the
supplies they needed, taking their "I. O. U." in
payment. This was contrary to Army Regula-
tions, as commissioned officers had a certain allow-
ance for the purchase of their subsistence supplies.

After my appointment, the officers, including
General Merritt, continued to send orders with-
out money to the Commissary, which I was com-


120 Life in Tent and Field

pelled to refuse; whereupon General Merritt gave
me a written order through his Adjutant General,
to supply his officers until they should get their
pay. I was surprised at this, as Merritt was a
graduate of West Point and should have known
the regulations. I explained to him that if I
obeyed his order it would make him personally
liable for all the debts his officers might contract
with the Commissary and would be collected from
his pay. He rescinded his order but it left with
him a feeling of resentment toward me. This
feeling was shared by the officers of the Regulars,
who besides their inability to get supplies, had a
feeling of contempt and enmity toward volunteer

Merritt shortly after issued an order forbid-
ding the slaughter of cattle within a certain dis-
tance of any of his Regimental Camps. The
Army was supplied with beef by cattle driven on
foot under charge of the Commissary, and slaugh-
tered as required. A few days later I received
an order of arrest signed by the Adjutant Gen-
eral of the Brigade, "by order of Brigadier Gen-
eral Wesley Merritt, commanding." I was
charged with disobedience of orders in having
cattle slaughtered within the prescribed limits. I
felt quite disturbed, but found on investigation
that the offal he had discovered had not been left
by my herdsman but by those of another Brigade.

Failure of the Mine Explosion 121

When I proved this to Merritt he reheved me
from arrest and had the grace to ask my pardon.

I was much In favor with the enlisted men as I
kept them better supplied than they had been
before at any time, but I was afraid General Mer-
ritt might make it unpleasant for me, and at my
request was transferred to my old Brigade under
General Devin.

Those whose memories go back to the Civil
War cannot fail to remember the explosion of the
mine In front of Petersburg on the thirty-first of
July, 1864, and the great disappointment through-
out the country at the dismal failure of the effort.
Everything had been carefully planned and troops
and artillery concentrated to follow up and take
advantage of the confusion of the enemy. The
failure has been ascribed to the Incompetence or
cowardice of the officers in charge of the forces
which were to enter the mine and attack the di-
vided lines of the enemy. Some hours elapsed be-
tween the explosion, which had opened a deep
passage one hundred feet wide, and the attack.

General Grant was deeply chagrined at this
failure. To add to his troubles word reached him
that the Confederate General, Early, had defeated
our troops In the Shenandoah Valley, crossed the
Potomac, entered Pennsylvania, burned the de-
fenseless city of Chambersburg, and was threat-
ening Washington.

122 Life in Tent and Field

I was on my way to the south of Richmond to
supply my Brigade, which had been sent, on the
failure of the mine, to destroy the Weldon Rail-
road, when I received word to turn back as soon
as possible after the issue of rations. This took
most of the night, and before noon of the next day
I was back at Haxall's Landing, where I received
orders to leave my supply train and follow Sheri-
dan to Washington, where he had already gone.
Two Divisions of Cavalry were on transports
when I reached the Landing. Two corps of In-
fantry had preceded Sheridan for the defense of
Washington, which was in a state of great con-
sternation at the near approach of Early who was
thundering at its defenses.

Sheridan was ordered by General Grant to the
Shenandoah Valley and given supreme command
of all the forces in that Department.



From the beginning of the war the Shenandoah
Valley had been a bone of contention between the
North and the South, lying between the Blue
Ridge on the east, and the AUeghanies on the
west. The Shenandoah River, called by the In-
dians "The Daughter of the Stars," pursued its
way north for one hundred miles, through a val-
ley of the greatest fertility amid scenery unsur-
passed in America, entering the Potomac at
Harper's Ferry. The mountaineers living in the
Blue Ridge from the mountain peaks could discern
every movement in the valley and report to Gen-
eral Lee, while several passes through the moun-
tains enabled Lee to send troops from the Army
of Virginia in haste to oppose any movement of
the Federal forces or to attack our flank.

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad followed the
Potomac west from Harper's Ferry and was sub-
ject to frequent raids. Harper's Ferry, a little
village at the north of the Shenandoah, became
known to all the world when John Brown made it


124 ^^/^ i^ Tent and Field

the base of his operations in his attempt to free
the slaves. Thomas Jefferson had made his home
there some of the time in order to gaze upon its
superb mountain scenery. It was held by the
Southern troops at the beginning of the war, but in
1 86 1 was abandoned as untenable. The most im-
portant militaxy operations were further south,
principally in the vicinity of Winchester, which is
twenty-eight miles south of Harper's Ferry, and
which is said to have changed hands over sixty
times during the war. The possession of the
valley was vital to Lee, not only because of its
strategic as a highway between the North
and South, but because Lee drew from it largely
supplies for his Army.

Sheridan was entrusted by Grant with the im-
portant task of clearing the enemy out of the val-
ley and of rendering it barren as a basis of sup-
plies. How well he performed his task history
has recorded.

July 31 I fed my Brigade near the Weldon
River, south of Richmond, and the morning of
August 2 I was in Washington. My wagon train
with its well trained animals and experienced
drivers, I was most reluctantly compelled to leave
behind. I had often, with this train, overtaken
the Cavalry on a rapid march over difficult roads.
In Washington a new train had to be gotten to-
gether, untrained animals fitted to harness, new

Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley 125

and inexperienced drivers found, and wagons
loaded with supplies.

I attended to the loading of the wagons, and as
fast as they were loaded they were started out on
the road leading up the Potomac toward Harper's
Ferry, with orders to halt at a point just outside
the city. When the last one was loaded I found
that the wagons, instead of being on the road to
Harper's Ferry, were scattered all over Washing-
ton. The drivers were citizens, not soldiers, were
averse to leaving Wasliington for service in the
field, and many of them had abandoned their
teams. This caused nearly a day's delay. At last,
with the aid of the Provost Guard, the wagon
train was got under way, with a soldier on guard
over each driver to prevent his running away.
Even with this precaution some of them escaped.

I reached Harper's Ferry the night of August
fourth and halted over night at the base of Point
of Rocks. One of the mules belonging to the train
got loose and climbed the rocks where it was so
steep a man could not follow him.

The Potomac was forded August 5 with the loss
of one wagon. Halltown, six miles south, was
reached late that night and there I found my
Brigade (the Second Brigade, First Cavalry Divi-
sion). It took the rest of the night to issue ra-
tions. In the morning before daylight the Bri-
gade were all gone and the empty wagon train was
sent back to Harper's Ferry to be reloaded.



August 12 the entire wagon train of the Cav-
alry Division, consisting of several hundred
wagons and at least three miles long, in charge
of Captain Mann, Assistant Quartermaster, was
on its way south on the pike leading from Har-
per's Ferry to Winchester. Winchester is the
most important place in the Shenandoah Valley.
It is about thirty miles up the Valley, south of
Harper's Ferry, and at different times was the
headquarters of both the Federal and Rebel
Armies. It changed hands sixty-seven times dur-
ing the war. The inhabitants when they got up
in the morning did not know whether they were
in Northern or Southern hands. The wagons of
my Brigade had the rear of the train, under the
charge of Lieutenant Everts, Quartermaster of
the Sixth New York, and my wagons loaded with
subsistence stores the extreme rear.

About dark we went through Charlestown,
where John Brown was tried and executed. Here
the train was joined by a brigade of infantry


Attack by Mosby 127

which was composed of raw troops enlisted for
one hundred days' service. These troops marched
in the front and rear of the train with a number
of Companies scattered at intervals.

About midnight, while passing through some
woods, a light spring wagon belonging to a man
who was authorized to follow the Army and save
the hides of cattle butchered in the field, was cut
out from the train of the Second Brigade, and
run off through the woods on a cross road, by some
boys who were barely out of their teens. Major
Sawyer, the paymaster, was with the train, and
his trunk containing $112,000 in greenbacks was
in one of Lieutenant Event's wagons. The boys
were doubtless after the money. Major Beards-
ley of the Sixth New York, who had been North
and was with the train on his way to rejoin his
Regiment, accompanied by the mail carrier of the
Sixth, overtook the wagon before it got out of
the woods and brought it back to the train with
both the young fellows prisoners.

At this time I missed one of my wagons, which
was loaded with coffee and sugar, and learned that
it had broken down near Charlestown. With my
orderly, I returned, found the wagon, made some
temporary repairs, and started with it to overtake
the train. About a mile north of Berryville a
man, woman and girl were trying to get a cow into
a small enclosure. I stopped and helped them to

128 Life in Tent and Field

secure the cow and inquired if Mosby had been
seen in the vicinity. Both the women in a very
contemptuous manner said we needn't be afraid of
Mosby as he was probably a hundred miles away.
The man, however, came near me and said in an
undertone that Mosby had been in Berryville the
night before, and that if we could get beyond
Berryville he thought we were safe from an at-
tack. At that time Mosby's name was familiar
to everybody. He was called by Northerners a
guerrilla. He had an independent command com-
posed of one or two hundred young men whose
homes were in the northern part of Virginia, and
who were familiar with every path through the
woods and mountains. When too hotly pursued
or not actively engaged, they could be concealed,
scattered at their various homes. By sudden and
unexpected attacks on our wagon trains and on the
trains of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad he in-
flicted a good deal of damage. I had a presenti-
ment that Mosby would be after our train, insuf-
ficiently guarded as it was. I then rode forward
with the intention of reporting the danger from
Mosby to some officer of the Infantry.

A short distance ahead I found the wagons of
the Reserve and Second Brigades halted to water
the animals. They were "parked," i.e., drawn up
in lines on the north of a small stream. Only one
team could water at a time, and as fast as a team

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