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number four thousand, the regiment, with other mounted troops, crossed the Cumberland River
at Mill Springs, attacked Pegram, defeated him, drove his force to their retreat beyond the Cum-
berland Mountains, and returned to Somerset. In June, 1863,. Pegram having collected his
force and again returned to the rich grazing lands about Monticello, the River Regiment, with
four other cavalry regiments, all under command of Colonel A. V. Kautz, crossed the Cumber-
land River, and on the 9th of June again attacked and drove him from Monticello. The troops
started to return to Somerset, supposing Pegram alarmed and retreating. On the return march
the Seventh Ohio was in the rear of the column, with companies D and H thrown out as rear-
guard. In this way the column had marched several miles, till the rear-guard discovered huge
volumes of dust rising from the road in their rear, which proclaimed the pursuit by the enemy.
The two companies nerved themselves to check the Rebel advance, and selected a position behind
a stone wall. The enemy coming up received the well-directed fire of the guard, which emptied
several saddles, but the Rebels charging gallantly drove the guard from its chosen position. Gallop-
ing along the road, closely pursued by the enemy, the guard loaded their carbines, wheeled into line

Seventh Ohio Cavalry. 799

and delivered a fire which checked the Eebel advance for a moment. The rear-guard was soon
re-enforced by the entire regiment, and afterward by other regiments and a battery, when a close
and desperate fight ensued, lasting till after dark, when both parties withdrew. This engage-
ment was known as that of the Eocky Gap.

The next day the ground was held "neutral" by both parties, while the dead and wounded
were cared for. General Burnside complimented the regiment, in orders, for their service in this
engagement, which he announced as the "spirited cavalry engagement at Eocky Gap, Kentucky."
Eosecrans being prepared to start on his campaign from Murfreesboro', desired the railroad in
East Tennessee, connecting Bragg with the army in the east, to be cut again, and on the 10th of
June one hundred picked men of the Eiver Eegiment, under command of Captain Warren,
were detailed, and joined a raiding-party organized by Colonel 1 Saunders. The force crossed the
Cumberland Eiver at Williamsburg, and thence proceeded via Jillico Mountain to the Swiss
Settlement of Wartzburg, in the Cumberland Mountains, where, after a sharp engagement, they
captured one hundred and fifty prisoners, and destroyed a large quantity of ordnance, quarter-
master, and commissary supplies belonging to the Confederacy. They then crossed the Cumber-
land Mountains via the Chittwood route, and thence to Lenoir Station, on the Knoxville and
Chattanooga Eailroad, where they tore up the track, burned the ties, twisted the rails, and burned
a large depot well filled with army supplies. The raiders then marched to Knoxville, and
securing a position within the corporation of that place, threw a few shells over the town and
made a feint of giving battle. They then marched rapidly to Strawberry Plains, twelve miles
east, surprised and captured the garrison at that place, and burned the magnificent long railroad
bridge spanning the Holston Eiver, the depot, and several large warehouses, wherein were stored
large quantities of army supplies. June 28th it was learned that Morgan, with a force of three
thousand five hundred men, was on the south bank of the Cumberland Eiver, and was about to
cross to make a raid on the Louisville and Nashville Eailroad. From Jamestown the regiment
scouted to Crellsboro, where it had a skirmish with Basil Duke's regiment.

On the 3d of July Morgan succeeded in crossing his command over the Cumberland Eiver
at Burksville, some twenty miles west of the Eiver Eegiment's position, and started on his raid
into the interior of the State, the Seventh, with other troops, pursuing. The pursuit was con-
tinued till on the 10th of July the force arrived at the bank of the Ohio Eiver at Brandenburg,
Kentucky, just in time to see the rear-guard of Morgan's force departing from the Indiana shore,
and the steamboats in which they had crossed enveloped in flames. A gunboat soon made its
appearance, and was immediately dispatched to Louisville for boats to cross the National force
over the river. Ten precious hours were lost waiting for these boats, and when they arrived the
command crossed the river and continued the pursuit, following Morgan via Corydon, Vienna,
and Lexington, Indiana. Crossing the White Water Eiver at Harrison, the pursuing force
entered the State of Ohio, and on the 13th of July passed thirteen miles north of Cincinnati, near
Mount Pleasant ; thence via Springdale and Glendale, in Hamilton County, crossed the Little
Miami Eailroad and Eiver near Miamiville ; thence via Shady Grove, Batavia, and Williams-
burg, in Clermont County ; Sardinia and New Hope, in Brown County ; Locust Grove, in Adams
County, Jasper and Piketon, in Pike County ; thence via Rutland Corner, in Meigs County. At
daylight on the morning of the 19th of July the advance-guard drove in the Rebel pickets, and
the enemy was found in line of battle near Buffington Island. The River Regiment being in the
advance was the first to attack, and being re-enforced by other troops, a sharp engagement ensued,
which resulted in the defeat of the enemy, who fled from the field in the greatest disorder, leav-
ing their artillery, and dead and wounded on the field, and scattering their arms and stolen
property, consisting of boots, shoes, and clothing of all kinds. The pursuit was continued till
dark, up to which time two thousand five hundred prisoners had been brought in, and the rest of
the raiders were scattered, or hiding in the woods.

After the rout a flag of truce was sent, by the enemy to Colonel Garrard, of the Seventh, the
bearer of which announced that Colonels Basil Duke and Howard Smith, of Morgan's force,
with their respective staffs, and a small detachment, had been cut off from their main force, and

800 Ohio in the War.

would surrender if an officer was sent to them. Colonel Garrard immediately sent Adjutant
Allen and Lieutenant McColgin with the bearer of the truce to receive the surrender. These
officers on reaching the ground found that the detachment of the enemy, comprising two Colonels
and several other officers, and about fifty men, had surrendered to one National soldier (Sergeant
Drake, of the Eighth Michigan Cavalry), who discovered the party secreted in a ravine in
the woods, while he was seeking for plunder, and to him the whole party laid down their

On September 3d the regiment entered Knoxville, the metropolis of East Tennessee. On
the 4th it marched from Knoxville via Tazewell to within two miles of Cumberland Gap, and,
with other troops, invested that stronghold. A summons to surrender was made, but was refused
until the afternoon of the 9th of September, when preparations for carrying the place by assault
having been made, the garrison, under General Frazer, consisting of two thousand six hundred
men, with fifteen pieces of artillery, surrendered, and the River Regiment was detailed to receive
the surrender, and occupy this "gateway to East Tennessee."

On September 10th the regiment returned to Knoxville, and from there marched to Carter's
Station, in Upper East Tennessee, where, in a night fight, it drove a large force of the enemy
from that place. Soon after the Seventh, under orders, fell back from Carter's Station to Bull's
Gap, a strong position in Bey's Mountain, forty miles east of Knoxville. This position was held
till the 10th of October, when, in the battle of Blue Springs, it participated in the final charge
made near night, in which the enemy was routed and sought safety in retreat. The regiment lost
Captain Joel P. Higley, of company K, who was killed while leading the second battalion to the
charge. General Burnside caused one of the principal forts near Knoxville to be named in
honor of this gallant officer, whose merits he well knew and appreciated. The day after the
battle at Blue Springs the regiment, with other mounted troops, pursued the retreating enemy,
and continued the pursuit for five days. Finally, after capturing from him a large number of
prisoners and vast quantities of supplies, it drove him into the barren region of South-west Vir-
ginia. At Bristol, a town on the Tennessee and Virginia line, they destroyed hundreds of thou-
sands of dollars' worth of army supplies, several railroad locomotives, and a large number of
passenger and freight-cars. The railroad track was torn up for miles, the ties burned, the rails
twisted, and not less than six large railroad bridges burned.

On October 17, 18G3, the work of destruction having been completed, Colonel Garrard, of
the River Regiment, was placed in command of the Seventh Cavalry, the Second East Tennessee
Mounted Infantry, and Battery M, Second Illinois Light Artillery, numbering in all about one
thousand effective men, and ordered to Rogersville, Hawkins County, where they arrived on the
19th of October.

About the 1st of November Colonel Garrard moved his camp from Rogersville to a strong
position about three miles up the valley of the Holston. On the evening of the 5th he received
information from General Wilcox, then near Greenville with four regiments of infantry and six
of cavalry, that a force of over three thousand of the enemy's cavalry, under W. E. Jones, was
maneuvering between the line of the railroad held by him (General Wilcox) and the line of the
Holston, held by Colonel Garrard; that it was uncertain which would be attacked, and that if
the movement was on Colonel Garrard it was hoped he would be able to check their advance.

Colonel Garrard decided that it was his duty to remain at his post and make the best fight
he could. Orders were given for the command to be in readiness to fight at daybreak, and at
midnight strong scouting-parties were sent out on the two routes of the enemy's approach, with
orders to fall back only as they were driven.

Soon after daylight the scouting-party of the Tennessee regiment was scattered and ridden
over by the charge of the Rebel column coming down Carter Valley, and passing on into the
town. The Rebel column in the Holston Valley was delayed by the skirmishing of the Seventh
Ohio scout, so that the regular fighting in position did not commence until eight o'clock. The
Rebel force that had come down Carter Valley moved up on the left and rear and opened the
attack, which was followed up at once by the attack of the other force in front. The National

Seventh Ohio Cavalry. 801

position was a wooded table-land of about forty acres, with steep, open slopes to a creek and
ravine in front, and to the open fields of the Holston Valley on the right. On the left and rear,
across open fields, was a dense forest. About half-past ten the Rebels gained the ravine and
charged up the slope, mainly upon the artillery. While arrangements were making here to
resist this charge, it was found that the Rebels had carried the hill, captured the artillery, and
were driving the Seventh back through the woods. The fight was maintained, from tree to tree,
with desperation. The artillery horses had been so disabled that for some time before the charge
there had been no hope of moving the guns; but before leaving them the artillery officers had
rammed them full of shells, and fired their last pistol-shots at close range into the Rebel line.
All who could, made their escape across the open fields under fire, to the Holston River. The
defeat of the right placed the Rebels between the Tennessee regiment and the Holston River,
their only route of escape, and that regiment surrendered.

The Seventh lost one hundred and twelve men and some of its best officers — McColgin,
Shaw, Copeland, Carr, and Allen; the two latter escaping the following night. Assistant-Sur-
geons Tullis and Barrett voluntarily remained on the field to care for the wounded. Most of
the men were killed or captured in the fight from tree to tree in the woods. The Orderly-Bugler
Schmenke was killed at the Colonel's side. It was a terrible defeat, such as is inevitable when
one thousand men are left unaided t<y fight three thousand five hundred; but no discredit can
attach to men who were fairly whipped from the field.

Censure being cast upon Colonel Garrard for this defeat by persons who termed it a "sur-
prise in camp," General Burnside ordered Colonel Loring, Inspector-General of the Army of
the Ohio, to investigate and report upon it. After full investigation Colonel Loring reported in
substance as follows: "Instead of censure, Colonel Garrard is entitled to much credit for his
management of the late affair at Rogersville."

The regiment was ordered to the defense of Cumberland Gap. It crossed the Clinch Mount-
ains, took position on the north bank of Clinch River, and held that position against the enemy
during the siege of Knoxville. During this time dispatches in cipher were received by Colonel
Garrard from General Grant and President Lincoln, with instructions to send them through the
enemy's lines to General Burnside, then besieged in Knoxville. These were accompanied by a
message from General Wilcox, commanding at Cumberland Gap, promising promotion or reward
to whatever soldiers should carry these dispatches to General Burnside. Sergeants Little and
Davis, of the River Regiment, volunteered for this hazardous duty, and made the trip through
the Rebel lines not less than three times, with dispatches to and from General Burnside. The
Governor of Ohio rewarded Sergeant Little with a First-Lieutenant's commission ; but Sergeant
Davis, though equally deserving, received no promotion.

On December 5th, the siege of Knoxville being raised, the regiment joined the force under
General Burnside in the pursuit of the retreating enemy. On the 13th a sharp engagement
occurred at Bean Station, the enemy retiring at nightfall; but on the following day he renewed
the attack with his entire infantry force, and a hotly-contested battle ensued, lasting during the
entire day, both parties suffering severely. On the 15th the troops at Bean's Station retired to
Rutledge, and on the following day to the main army at Blain's Cross Roads. On the 17th the
regiment, after seven days and nights of almost continued fighting and skirmishing (the men
subsisting during that time on parched corn), was relieved from the advance line and given a few
days to recruit.

On the 23d it crossed the Holston River and engaged and drove the enemy from New
Market. On Christmas Day it crossed Bey's Mountain and engaged a largely superior force near
Dandridge, and after hard fighting all day, and after being twice surrounded, was compelled to
cut their way out.

No man of all the Army of the Ohio on duty in East Tennessee will ever forget the sad
and gloomy New Year's Day of 1864, and the ten days following. The army lay on the hills
about Mossy Creek, half starved ; a half bushel of cornmeal was issued to a brigade of men for
a day's rations ; the country was searched for miles around by these famishing troops, and every -

Vol. II.— 51.

802 Ohio in the War.

thing eatable taken. Horses died of starvation by hundreds. In those fearful storms the men
were without shelter, and for two men there was but one blanket. The fires were kept burning
all night, and men dare not sleep for fear of freezing. The men were without clothing, and many
of them, instead of pantaloons could only boast of a pair of drawers, and having no boots or
shoes, wrapped their feet in pieces of blankets.

On the 20th of January the regiment marched to Knoxville, crossed the Holston, and
marched to Sevierville, on the Little Pigeon River, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains.
On the 23d it marched to the line of the French Broad River, and picketed the fords of that
stream for a distance of twenty miles above Dandridge. On the 27th, the enemy having crossed
the river, the regiment joined the force of National troops under command of General Sturgis,
and gave battle to Morgan's and Armstrong's divisions of Wheeler's cavalry, at Fair Garden.
After several hours' fighting they were defeated and driven in full retreat across the French
Broad River. Two pieces of Rebel artillery and several hundred prisoners were captured.
From East Tennessee the regiment was sent to Kentucky by railroad, going via Knoxville, Chat-
tanooga, Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, to Nicholasville, where it
arrived on the 9th of May, 1864. On the 8th of June information was received of the presence
of Morgan's force at Mount Sterling, Kentucky, threatening Lexington ; and the regiment was
ordered to that place, when Colonel Garrard, being the ranking officer present, ordered the
small National force in Lexington to retire to and hold the fort near town, while he, with his
brigade, moved back to Nicholasville and took position to defend Camp Nelson, a fortified camp,
containing millions of dollars' worth of supplies. On the 10th of June Morgan entered Lexing-
ton with his force and burned the railroad depot, but did little other damage. In the afternoon
of that day the Seventh Ohio marched to Lexington, and joined the force under General Bur-
bridge, in pursuit of Morgan. On the night of the 11th the regiment, with the force under Gen-
eral Burbridge, marched toward Cynthiana, where they arrived at daylight of the 12th, and there
attacked Morgan's force, defeating, and driving him from the field in confusion. Captain Hall,
with his company of the Seventh, captured an entire company, and its officers, from a Rebel
regiment. While driving the enemy in fall retreat toward the Licking River Captain Rankin, of
the Seventh, with eight or ten of his men, headed off a party of running Rebels, and forty -two
of them surrendered to the Captain without firing a gun. In the impetuous charge made by the
left wing of the National forces, which was commanded by Colonel Garrard, General Burbridge
commanding the right wing, the River Regiment succeeded in breaking through the Rebel right,
and, charging at full gallop, reached the rear of the Rebel line of battle before it gave way on
the center or left. Captain Allen, with Lieutenants Burton and Mitchell, leading a saber-charge,
succeeded in wresting from the enemy and holding the bridge over Licking River, the Rebel line
of retreat, and of gaining and holding the opposite bank of the river; and with the rallying
cry of "Rogersville/" killed, wounded, and captured a large number of the same enemy who had
defeated them at Rogersville, Tennessee, November 6, 1863. In this engagement the regiment
captured some five hundred prisoners, though in doing so sacrificed several valuable men, includ-
ing Lieutenant William McKnight.

Colonel Garrard's brigade was ordered to pursue Morgan. It marched rapidly to Claysville,
and compelled the fleeing enemy to liberate some four hundred prisoners whom they had cap-
tured from General Hobson a few days before. On the 14th of June, having followed Morgan
into the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where neither rations nor forage could be obtained, the
pursuit was abandoned. The Seventh had marched two hundred and seventy-two miles in six
days and nights.

On July 4th the regiment started from Nicholasville to join the army under General Sher-
man on the Atlanta campaign, reaching Atlanta July 26, 1864. Until the 2d of September it
participated in the siege of the "Gate City," being actively engaged with the enemy almost daily.
It then marched to Decatur, six miles east of Atlanta, where it remained till the 4th of October.
Then, till the 6th of November, it was employed in scouting the country for forty miles
around Atlanta, and bringing supplies from the country to the garrison. On November 30tb

Seventh Ohio Cavalry. 803

was fought the bloody battle at Franklin, Tennessee, where the regiment, on the left of the
National line, tenaciously held its position. After the battle of Franklin it continued to operate
on the flanks of General Schofield's army till it reached Nashville, where it was engaged in
scouting, picketing, and skirmishing, till the 13th of December. It was then ordered to Edge-
field, and the cavalry corps being reorganized, was assigned to the First Brigade, Sixth Division,
Cavalry Corps, commanded by General Wilson, and two days afterward participated in the battle
of Nashville. In the first day's fight, charging by squadrons, it drove the enemy in its front a
mile and a half, capturing four pieces of artillery; and on the second day was actively engaged.
In the subsequent pursuit of the remnant of Hood's army it was the first regiment to cross the
Harpeth River, and attack the enemy in his chosen position at Franklin, finally driving him
from the place, and securing from him two thousand seven hundred Rebel wounded, besides a
large number of National wounded, in hospital at Franklin.

On Christmas Day, 1864, the regiment engaged the Rebel rear-guard at Pulaski, and drove
him from the place in haste and disorder, capturing from him three pieces of artillery, an ammu-
nition-train, several caissons, etc.; and on the 27th drove the flying and dispirited rear-guard
of the enemy across the Tennessee River. On account of the impassable condition of the roads,
and the impossibility of supplying the troops, the pursuit was ordered to be discontinued.

The Seventh now went into winter-quarters at Gravelly Springs, Alabama, where it remained
till the 22d of March, 1865. At that date the cavalry corps commanded by General "Wilson
(about eighteen thousand strong) marched southward, to destroy all railroad communications,
supplies, etc., between the Rebel armies of the west and east. At Elyton the regiment destroyed
the Red Mountain Iron Works, and at Monticello the Shelby Iron Works, and the Iron Works
at Columbiana. These several works were worth over a million of dollars, and were of inesti-
mable value to the Rebels as the source of iron supply for the naval and military arsenals at

On the 1st of April, near Plantersville, the Rebels, under General Forrest, made a stand,
and the River Regiment was closely engaged, losing, among the killed, Lieutenant Grassen M.
Cole, a valuable officer. The enemy was defeated, and fell back within the trenches about
Selma, which place was carried by assault. The Seventh Ohio, after entering the town, was
ordered to pursue the retreating Rebel column, and in the pursuit the regiment captured four
pieces of artillery, a wagon-train, and some three hundred prisoners. When on the Anderson-
ville Road, and the regiment on the full gallop toward the "prison-pen," driving the enemy
before them, a flag of truce was shown by the enemy. The regiment was halted, and the bearer
of the truce announced the capitulation of Lee at Appomattox C. H., the surrender of Johnston
to Sherman, and the close of the war. The pursuit was at once discontinued, and the forces,
which an hour before had been contending in deadly strife, joined hands and bivouacked on the
same field.

The regiment then moved to Macon, thence to Atlanta, Georgia, where it was engaged till
the 15th of May in scouting Northern Georgia, to prevent the escape of Jeff. Davis. Alter his
capture it was ordered to Nashville, where it laid down its arms and was honorably mustered out
of service, on the 4th day of July, 1865.

During the three years' service there were received into the regiment two hundred recruits,
which gives a total of fourteen hundred men belonging to the regiment during its service. When
mustered out it numbered eight hundred and forty men, showing a loss of five hundred and sixty
men by the casualties of war. Included in this loss were the following-named officers, who were
killed in action, or died of wounds, or of disease contracted in the service: Captains Joel P.
Higley, William D. Ketterman, Arthur D. Eells, Samuel D. Murphy; Assistant-Surgeon Rich-
ard II. Tullis; First-Lieutenant and Regimental-Commissary John McColgin; Lieutenants Les-
ter G. Moore, William McKnight, Frank B. Powers, and Grassen M. Cole.


Ohio in the War.



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Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidOhio in the war : her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers (Volume 2) → online text (page 139 of 165)