Copyright
Edward Pascal McKinney.

Life in tent and field, 1861-1865 (Volume 1) online

. (page 7 of 8)
Online LibraryEdward Pascal McKinneyLife in tent and field, 1861-1865 (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Author Wounded 129

was watered it went on and the next team drove
into the stream. This necessarily took a good
deal of time. The Infantry Guard were asleep
on the ground and not an officer could be found.
I rode forward and dismounted to watch my
wagons as they came up out of the stream on to
the road.

To the east of Berryville is Snicker's Gap,
through the Blue Ridge. Day was just breaking
when from that direction came a few shells fired
at the train, followed at once by a charge of
Mosby's men yelling like Indians. There was no
resistance. The Infantry Guard aroused from
their sleep, scattered in all directions with hardly
a shot. Those poor drivers who had been so re-
luctant to leave Washington, left their teams and
tried to escape but most of them were captured.

I had tied my horse to a small tree and he had
wound the hitching strap around the tree. The
Johnnies came on so fast I had to cut the strap,
and was trying to mount, when one of them put
his pistol against my head and fired, the ball pass-
ing through the hat and grazing my head. An-
other, as I had my foot in the stirrup, shot me
through the thigh and I fell to the ground. Sev-
eral as they passed shot at me lying there. They
were too excited to shoot straight.

One man dismounted, snatched my saber, and
rifled my pockets of watch, money and knife. I



130 Life in Tent and Field

had quite a sum of money belonging to the Gov-
ernment which I saved by thrusting it up my shirt
sleeve.

From what I saw of Mosby's men I would not
consider them very formidable. They were a wild
lot of boys and would not have stood up against
a good steady iroop. As soon as they had charged
past me I crawled under a vine which ran over
some rocks and became unconscious from loss of
blood.

My last recollection was of Mosby giving or-
ders and of two field guns placed directly over me.
While lying under the muzzles of the guns I
plainly heard Mosby give orders to his men to cut
the animals loose and to set fire to the wagons at
once, and not to stop to plunder, but to get
across the river with the captured animals and
prisoners as soon as possible.

When I regained consciousness a number of
Mosby's men were moving about collecting pris-
oners. Two of them came to the clump of brush
and vines where I was hid, and said, "Come out of

there, you damned Yankee son of a b ," and

both fired into the clump. I did not respond and
they passed on. Others did the same at every
little clump and used the same words. (An offi-
cer who was a prisoner for some time, told me that
the epithet had been applied to him so often he



Mosby's Report 131

could not hear it anywhere without turning his
head in response.)

Mosby, in his "Memoirs," states in regard to
this affair as follows :

"Through Snicker's Gap we crossed the Blue
Ridge Mountains after sundown and passed over
the Shenandoah River not far from Berryville. I
halted at a barn for a good rest and sent Russell
to see what was going on upon the pike. I was
asleep when he returned with the news that a very
large train was just passing along. There were
325 wagons, guarded by Kenly's Brigade and a
large force of Cavalry. They had not stopped
to find out our numbers. We set a paymaster's
wagon on fire, which contained — this we did not
know at the time — $125,000. I deployed skir-
mishers as a mask, until my command, the pris-
oners, and booty were well across the Shenandoah
River. We took between 500 and 600 horses,
200 beeves, and many useful stores; destroyed
seventy-five loaded wagons, and carried off two
hundred prisoners including seven officers."

Mosby was mistaken in regard to a Cavalry
Guard. There were no Cavalry guarding the
wagon train, and the Infantry Brigade he refers
to consisted solely of men who had just enlisted
for one hundred days and had never been in the
field before.



132 Life in Tent and Field

In regard to the Paymaster's wagon which he
says they burned, that is also a mistake. Some
of his men got into the wagon but were easily
driven out. Major Sawyer, Paymaster, the next
day paid the Brigade with the money which
Mosby says was burned.

While I was still hidden under the vine a half
dozen of our men, who had been in hiding, came
up the road. When I called to them they were
at first frightened, but I assured them I was a
wounded Yankee officer, and they helped me out
and put me on a horse they had caught. I took
charge of the squad and we moved toward Win-
chester, but had not gone far when we met the
First Rhode Island Cavalry going toward the
scene of the disaster. With them was Billy Web-
ster, my orderly, riding his own horse and leadinp^
mine. I waited while he went to a nearby farm
house and got an old Virginia carriage and double
harness for our two horses. He put the saddle in
the carriage and I rode in state into Winchester.

report of captain e. p. mckinney

Harper's Ferry, W. Va.,

August 16, 1864
Capt. W , H. H. Emmons,

Assistant Adjutant General, Reserve Brigade,
Cavalry Corps.
Sir : I have the honor to report that on Friday,
the twelfth instant, I started from this place with



Attack by Moshy 133

five days' rations for 2,250 men and extra stores
for sales to officers, in wagons. The wagon train
of this Brigade was composed of a few wagons
carrying forage, ten wagons carrying subsistence
stores, and the various regimental and headquar-
ters wagons, and was in the rear of the entire
train, which was commanded by Captain Mann,
Assistant Quartermaster. From one mile this
side of Charlestown the train was accompanied
by a guard of Infantry, said to be a Brigade.
About 2 A. M. of the thirteenth instant the rear of
the train, i.e., the wagons belonging to my Bri-
gade, after much trouble, caused by the inexperi-
ence of the drivers and the newness of the mules
to harness, went into park with the rest of the
train (infantry and cavalry) at the stream this
side of Berryville. It was daybreak in the morn-
ing before the first part of the train had hauled
out of park, and the wagons of the Second
Brigade, which immediately preceded those of
this Brigade, were beginning to cross the stream,
when a few shots were fired by light howitzers
from, I should think, a quarter of a mile distant,
into the part of the train which was yet in park,
which were almost instantly accompanied by a
small number of mounted men, charging as for-
agers, dressed in gray uniforms and carrying only
revolvers, which they used with more noise than
precision. The charge and also the howitzer
shots came from the side of the road toward
Snicker's Gap. The guards who accompanied us,
as far as I could see, threw down their arms and
ran away without firing a shot. The party that
made the attack took away all the mules and fired



134 Life in Tent and Field

the wagons which they could not get off, and es-
caped without any molestation. All the wagons
of this Brigade were captured or destroyed, as far
as I could learn, with the exception of one wagon
carrying officers' baggage of the First U. S. Cav-
alry. My opinion is that a company of fifty men
might have saved the train without loss, if they
had made a stand in time. The property lost, for
which I am responsible, was five days' rations for
the brigade, stores destroyed for officers' supplies,
all the quartermasters' and commissary property
pertaining to the subsistence department of the
brigade, and all my papers and vouchers of last
month, this including books, ration returns, in-
voices and receipts, receipts for payment of com-
mutation of rations, etc. A wound received at
the time the train was attacked prevented my
making an earlier report.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

E. P. McKlNNEY,

Captain and Commissary of Subsistence, Reserve
Brigade.

In Winchester Dr. Streeter had charge of a
little church used as a hospital filled with wounded,
both Northerners and Southerners. I was taken
into a little room at the right of the entrance and
stripped. From my neck to my heels my under-
clothing was soaked with blood which had run
down my body while hidden under the vine where
I lay with head and body down.

I was being sponged when a troop of girls came



Almost a Romance 135

in with refreshments for the wounded. Bass, the
Hospital Steward, threw a blanket over me, and
one of the girls sat down beside me. She said to
me, "How do you feel?" I was somewhat em-
barrassed and replied, "I feel pretty well, how do
you do?"

Some of the girls advised Dr. Streeter to put
the rebel wounded out into the street, saying,
"That's what they would do to you."

Under Dr. Streeter's advice I asked the girl
who sat by me if I might go to her house. Web-
ster, my orderly, took me there in the old car-
riage. I was given a large apartment, and food
and flowers were brought to my room. The girl
was bright and attractive. Any further romance
was prevented by my departure the next morning.

Colonel Scott of the Eighth Pennsylvania, had
been wounded through the right shoulder. He
came to my room to see me, and when he heard
of my horses and carriage proposed that we start
for home right away. It was quite risky but we
resolved to take the chances.

Near Berryville we were chased by a rebel
picket and had to run our horses full speed. At
Charlestown, where John Brown was tried and
hung, we saw a party in rebel uniform but were
not molested. Near Halltown at dusk we met
quite a large party of Union men on the way back
to their Regiments from hospitals in the North,



136 Life in Tent and Field

and had a good deal of trouble in getting them
to believe we were Yankees, not Johnnies. At
Harper's Ferry, Washington Junction, Baltimore,
and Havre de Grace, officers came on the train to
examine the passes of soldiers going North.

On leaving Baltimore the train was crowded.
A lady, wife of a Captain in the Navy, gave me
part of her seat and persuaded a man in the seat
forward to vacate so that I could rest my wounded
leg. I mention this because it was so unusual for
a soldier, whether wounded or not, to get any
sympathy.

In New York I went to the house of Dr.
Tucker, a cousin, who took great pride in showing
off my wound to his patients.

I was lying on a couch in the doctor's office and
heard a whispering in the hall and the doctor say-
ing repeatedly, "Come in, come in!" The door
opened and my brother came in. His surprise and
deHght at finding me there were beyond my power
of description. A Captain Shipman in Bingham-
ton had seen my name in the New York Tribune
among the wounded, and frightened my mother
by abruptly telling her. My brother started at
once for the Shenandoah Valley to look for me,
and was overwhelmed with joy at finding me alive
in New York.



CHAPTER XX

campaign in the shenandoah valley.
Sheridan's ride

My recovery was rapid, and in about three
weeks I was well enough to report for duty. My
brother accompanied me as Commissary's Clerk.
I was ordered to Martinsburg to draw supplies
for Sheridan's Army. As soon as they were
loaded in wagons furnished by the Quartermaster,
we started up the Valley. The wagon train in
charge of a Quartermaster and myself, passed
through Winchester before daylight in the morn-
ing. About two miles south of Winchester we
encountered some of our troops, coming back in
disorder, who told us that Early had made an
attack that morning and that our army was de-
feated and in full retreat. We at once sent a man
back to Winchester to inform Sheridan, who had
stayed there over night, on his way back from
Washington. He, however, had already got the
news and passed us a few minutes later on his
famous black horse, which Buchanan Reed has
immortalized.

137



138 Life in Tent and Field

Sheridan in his "Memoirs" says: —
"We mounted our horses between half-past 8
and 9, and as we were proceeding up the street
which leads directly through Winchester, from
the Logan residence, where Edwards was quar-
tered, to the Valley pike, I noticed that there
were many women at the windows and doors of
the houses, who kept shaking their skirts at us
and who were otherwise markedly insolent in
their demeanor, but supposing this conduct to
be instigated by their well-known and perhaps
natural prejudices, I ascribed to it no unusual
significance. On reaching the edge of the town I
halted a moment, and there heard quite distinctly
the sound of artillery firing in an unceasing roar.
Concluding from this that a battle was in prog-
ress, I now felt confident that the women along
the street had received intelligence from the bat-
tle-field by the "grape-vine telegraph," and were
in raptures over some good news, while I as yet
was utterly ignorant of the actual situation."

Shortly after orders came from Sheridan to
take the wagon train two miles north of Win-
chester and there await further orders. Win-
chester was about half and half, Union and Rebel,
and the feeling there was very bitter. As we
passed through not a Union man was to be seen,
but the other element, men and women, were
out on the street jeering at us and telling us that



Sheridan's Shenandoah Campaign 139

Sheridan had got what was coming to him, and
that our Army was thoroughly licked.

About dark we got orders to take the train
back to join the Army, and as we again passed
through Winchester, this time going south, not a
Rebel was to be seen, but the Union element was
on the street cheering and waving handkerchiefs.
They had received the news of Sheridan's victory
some time before.

We reached the front with the supply train at
midnight. Around headquarters, scattered pro-
miscuously and covering acres of ground, were
all the spoils of war — batteries and caissons, small
arms, some stacked and some thrown loose on
the ground, horses and mules, wagons and pris-
oners. Our troops were asleep on the ground
except a few who were on guard over the groups
of prisoners. Early had certainly got what was
coming to him.

The next day we started with the wagon train
back to Martinsburg for more supplies. Later
the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester
was repaired and Winchester became our base
of supplies. Some of our trains had been cap-
tured and the railroads torn up by Mosby's men.
To stop Mosby's interference with our suppljes,
Sheridan issued a proclamation to the inhabitants
of the Valley, informing them of his intention to
destroy houses, barns, and everything which could



140 Life in Tent and Field

harbor Mosby, if his means of communication
were again interfered with. This had its desired
effect. His trains were perfectly safe after that.

About this time troops were sent into the Lou-
don Valley to destroy the crops of hay and grain
and to bring away the animals. The Loudon Val-
ley lies east of the Shenandoah, separated by
the Blue Ridge, and had been a fertile source of
supply for Lee's Army, and also a base of opera-
tions for Mosby. The expedition ended after
burning barns and mills, and driving thousands of
cattle, sheep and hogs across the Shenandoah
River. They had to swim the river to get across
into our lines.

In the latter part of December, my Brigade of
Cavalry (the Second) went into Winter Camp
at Lovettsville, which lies at the mouth of the
Loudon Valley, separated from Maryland by the
Potomac. Opposite Lovettsville on the Mary-
land side is the small town of Berlin. A rope
ferry from Berlin was the only means of com-
munication between the two places. Some time
previously when I passed through Berlin a ma-
chine gun was placed covering the ferry. It stood
there unguarded and evidently abandoned. It
was constructed something like a revolver. The
soldiers called it a coffee-mill gun because it had
a hopper, like an old-fashioned coffee-mill, which
held the cartridges as they were fed into the gun.



JVinter Quarters 141

We were at Lovettsville about two months.
The inhabitants of the Loudon Valley were gen-
erally friendly. Supplies for men and horses were
drawn in wagons from Harper's Ferry.

I had been one day to Harper's Ferry for sup-
plies, and had sent them back by wagon road on
the south side of the river, while I returned by
rail on the north side, and rode on the engine
with the engineer. The train was late and I
found the ferryman at Berlin asleep in his house.
It was imperative for me to get back to camp
before morning, ahead of my train. It was only
by threats and promise of reward I could get tjbe
ferryman to take me across. The wire cable was
down and the river was swift and full of anchor
ice, and the boat had to be poled across. We
landed about a half mile down the river.

The Regiments of the Brigade were stationed
in a semicircle about Lovettsville and had built
winter huts. These were made like dog cabins
about twelve feet long and ten feet wide, with
bunks for two men on each side, a door in one end,
and a chimney made of logs with a fireplace, in
the other. The cracks between the logs were
chinked with mud, and the inside of the chimney
plastered with the same substance. Each soldier
was provided with a piece of muslin six feet
square, out of which he made a shelter to sleep
under in the field. These had buttonholes and



142 Life in Tent and Field

buttons on all four sides. By buttoning four pieces
together a roof for the hut was provided which
kept out the rain and let in light.

One night the Sixth New York had a surprise
party. A company of Mosby's men captured
their pickets and rode into camp firing their
pistols and yelling. Our men turned out in night
uniform and soon had them on the run. The
Johnnies killed one officer and wounded a number
of men, and lost two men killed and a number
wounded and prisoners.



CHAPTER XXI

EXPEDITION TO JOIN GRANT BEFORE RICHMOND

In the latter part of February we broke camp
and started South. There was a deep snow on
the ground, I was ordered to draw rations of
coffee, sugar and salt for Sheridan's entire force
and forbidden to take anything else in the wagons,
even a small tent for myself. The only tent in
the whole command was one used by the Adjutant
General. The whole Army slept on the ground
in the snow. I, one night, got into a small house
with no floor except the ground. It was occupied
by an old woman who had a little fire in a fire-
place. I had lain down for a night's rest when
In came an officer of higher rank who ordered
me out. It was his right, I suppose. I slept on
the railroad which was near, and lay on the broken
stone with which the roadbed was ballasted, where
the snow had blown away. In the morning my
orderly asked me how I liked my feathers.

The column of mounted troops was perhaps
ten miles long. One day the column crossed a
small stream. Before all had crossed, the water

143



144 Life in Tent and Field

had risen so that some horses were carried off
and horses and riders drowned. It had rained,
and rained hard, for two days and nights. Every-
body was wet to the skin.

The next morning Devin sent Mahnken, his
Adjutant General, to me for some Commissary
whiskey. I told him there was nothing doing, that
Sheridan's orders were so strict I had not dared
to put any whiskey into the wagons. He came
back a second time when I told him the same as
before, but that if he would protect me with Sheri-
dan I would see the Commissary Sergeant as to
what could be done. The third time he returned
and said the whiskey was for Sheridan and his
staff and for all his officers. In some unaccount-
able way a cask of whiskey had got in among the
barrels of sugar and salt.

When we rode into Staunton I took from a
Johnny an old Revolutionary flint-lock horse
pistol, which I kept. The old thing was of no
value but I still have it.

At Waynesboro among the mountains, Custer
captured Early's entire force and took seventeen
battle flags, which were carried by his escort up
to the time of Lee's surrender. Custer was a
dashing oflicer and loved a display.

The wagon train consisted solely of an am-
munition train and my train of subsistence stores.
On the road to Charlottesville the wagons got




GENERAL GEORGE A. CUSTER



Expedition to Join Grant Before Richmond 145

stuck in the mud. While waiting for help to move
them I went into an elegant Southern house. I
found only a lady, who told me that her husband
was the English engineer who constructed the
Menai Bridge; that our soldiers had taken several
hundred bottles of wine and had destroyed her
furniture and pictures, among them a painting by
Landseer; and that some of the men were in the
basement at that time. I ordered them out and
came near being shot for my pains. They were a
lot of men whom we called "dog robbers," who
on a long march would get away from their com-
mand and commit all kinds of depredations.
These men were a curse to our Army. On a long
march they would drop out of the column and
when they again reported for duty claim that
their horses were disabled and unable to keep up.
By their plundering and robbery they did more
than all the rest of the Army to embitter the in-
habitants against the North.

One of them one night stole my horse which
was fastened close by where I was sleeping. The
command moved at daylight, and after a long
search I found the horse in possession of a gang
who were having breakfast in picnic style, of
bacon and eggs, honey, and various delicacies.
The horse had been sheared and smeared so that
I would not have known him but for a whinny
he gave when he saw the mare on which I was



146 Life in Tent and Field

riding. With the help of my orderly, and by
covering the gang with my revolver and by threat-
ening to shoot the first man that moved, I re-
covered the horse.

During our halt at Charlottesville, I with some
others called on the President of the University
of Virginia, who treated us with courtesy and
showed us through the building. There were no
students there at the time. This University was
founded by Thomas Jefferson in 18 19 and is still
very flourishing and draws students from the
whole country, some from the North.

From Charlottesville we moved to the James
River above Lynchburg, struck the James River
and Kanawha Canal, and began its destruction.
The canal was fed from the James River, which
was then at a high stage, and when we cut the
locks the water rushed through them in a torrent.
The wagon train for a long distance followed the
tow path which was between the canal and the
river, and we were occasionally fired at by a small
force of Confederates who kept opposite us on
the south side.

A crowd of about two thousand negroes fol-
lowed the train. When we came to a bridge which
was so narrow the mules could not draw the
wagons across safely, they would unhitch the ani-
mals and draw the wagons by hand. I asked one
old darky why he left home to tramp so far. He



Expedition to Join Grant Before Richmond 147

said, "Because you all took all we had to eat."
I asked him why they didn't hide it, and he
replied, "Marse, we done hide it, we done bury
it up in the groun', but when you all came along
you dug it up jus' as if you know right whar
'twas."

A few miles above Lynchburg we re-crossed
the canal on an open bridge, i.e., a bridge without
any side rails or guard. This was a somewhat
wider bridge than some, and we did not have the
mules taken from the wagons. One wagon loaded
with ammunition went overboard into the canal,
dragging the Six mules off the bridge, and wagon
and mules all disappeared. I was told that there
were two black babies in the wagon, and this was
probably true as a good many women were carry-
ing babies, and they got tired and slipped their
babies into the wagons.

At a small place through which we passed I
obtained from a citizen some Confederate paper
money, amounting, at its face value to over one
hundred thousand dollars, in exchange for a
small amount of coffee. The man from whom I
got it said the Confederacy had gone up and the
money was no good.

White House is nearly east of Richmond,
where the Richmond & Yorktown Railroad
connects with the Pamunkey River. It was used
as a base of supplies for McClellan's Army while



148 Life in Tent and Field

in front of Richmond. It is reached by boat and
had a very good landing. At White House a
large quantity of subsistence stores were turned
over to me. These had been sent there by General
Grant to await our coming. General Sheridan
had sent some of his scouts through the Rebel
lines to General Grant, asking for supplies to meet
him at White House. It was reported that each
of these scouts was promised several thousand


1 2 3 4 5 7

Online LibraryEdward Pascal McKinneyLife in tent and field, 1861-1865 (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 8)