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supposed our forces would immediately push on into Lynchburg after this success, but, after mov-
ing about until a short time after dark, they were ordered into camp. One brigade camped so
near the enemy in the dark that the men commenced taking rails from the same fence. Some
men of Gordon's (Rebel) brigade having exposed themselves, a lively little skirmish sprang up
about midnight, but was quelled by withdrawing a short distance from each other.

On the 18th, at two A. M., Crook's command set off on a flanking expedition to the right to
cross James River and attack Lynchburg in the rear. The cavalry, at the same time, were sent
to the left to make a diversion. The Twenty-Third had not commenced crossing, however, when
a messenger came from General Hunter with information that the enemy had received heavy
re-enforcements, and was preparing to attack the lines in the center. It, with other forces,
marched back rapidly, and soon after received information that the enemy was about to attack
in overwhelming force, and that the artillery was in danger. It then moved double-quick to the
exposed point, in the advance, led by General Crook in person. The roar of artillery and the
crash of shell prevented any orders from being heard, but the command always followed such
lend. The attack was soon repulsed, with trifling loss. The troops lay in line of battle at this
point until some time after dark, when, finding the enemy heavily re-enforced from Richmond,
a skirmish-line was left on the front, while the rest quietly withdrew and commenced the retreat
from Lynchburg, marching rapidly toward the town of Liberty. The fighting was all done in a
dense thicket where the light of the sun could not be seen. The men had had no sleep for two
days and nights, and scarcely anything to eat. In this condition they marched, falling down
frequently asleep in the road, it being with the utmost difficulty that they could be kept on
their feet. About ten A. M. the regiment rested an hour and twenty minutes, and then pushed
on without any more halts. Of the subsequent march, the following extracts from the diary of
an officer of the regiment form a fitting record :

"June 19. — Marched all day, dragging along very slowly. The men had nothing to eat, the
trains having been sent in advance. It is almost incredible that men should have been able to
endure so much, but they never faltered, and not a murmur escaped them. Often men would
drop out silently, exhausted, but not a word of complaint was spoken. Shortly after dark, at
Liberty, had a brisk little fight with the enemy's advance ; reached Buford's Gap about ten A. M.
of the 20th. General Crook remained here with Hayes's brigade, holding the gap until dark,
inviting an attack. The army was, however, too cautious to do more than skirmish. A<"ter dark
we withdrew, and marched all night to overtake the command in the advance. Reached Salem
about nine A. M. Hunter had passed through Salem, and a body of the enemy's cavalry fell
upon his train and captured the greater part of his artillery. About the same time Crook was
attacked in front and rear, and, after a sharp fight, pushed through, losing nothing. Heavy skir-
mishing all day, and nothing to eat, and no sleep. Continued the march until about ten P. M.,
when we reached the foot of North Mountain, and slept.

" At four A. M. next morning (22d) left in the advance, the first time since the retreat com-
menced. By a mistake a march of eight miles was made for nothing. Thus we toiled on, suf-
fering intensely with exhaustion, want of food, clothing, etc. On the 27th a supply-train was
met on Big Sewell Mountain. Men all crazy. Stopped and ate ; marched and ate ; camped about
dark, and ate all night. Marched one hundred and eighty miles in the last nine days, fighting
nearly all the time, and with very little to eat."

The column reached Charleston July 1st, and remained there refitting and resting until July
10th, when the Twenty-Third embarked for Parkersburg, en route for Martinsburg, General
Crook's command having been ordered East to meet Early, who had invaded Maryland and Penn-
sylvania. It reached Martinsburg on the 14th, lay in camp there until the 18th, and then
marched to Cabletown, ten miles beyond Harper's Ferry, driving in the enemy's pickets. Still
under the immediate command of General Hunter, General Crook being at Snicker's Gap,
Hayes's brigade (including the Twenty-Third) was sent, without cavalry and with two sections
of a howitzer battery of the oldest and clumsiest pattern, to attack Early's army of twenty

Twenty-Third Ohio Infantry. 165

thousand or more, in flank, with no other force on this side of the Shenandoah and no possibility
of communicating. The enemy had already whipped the First Division, with the whole Sixth
Corps to back them, and they lay on the opposite bank of the river at Snicker's Ferry. After
pretty heavy skirmishing the Twenty-Third, with the Thirty-Sixth Ohio, were entirely sur-
rounded by two divisions of the enemy's cavalry, but fought their way out and returned to camp.
Marching toward Harper's Ferry, on the 22d of July, they joined General Crook at Winchester.

On the 24th a battle was fought at Winchester, in which the National forces were defeated
after a well-contested fight from early in the morning until nine o'clock at night. The Twenty-
Third Ohio lost in this engagement one hundred and fifty-three men, ten of whom were commis-
sioned officers. General Mulligan and his brother-in-law were killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Comly and many others wounded.

The forces moved toward Martinsburg early next morning, the enemy following closely. At
Martinsbnrg the enemy's cavalry charged into the town, when General Crook made a sudden
advance with his whole force, drove them badly and captured a number of prisoners. He then
withdrew, and under cover of the feint of numerous camp-fires, moved off quietly toward the
ford at Williamsport, and camped on the south bank of the Potomac.

On the 2Gth of July a series of marches and countermarches were inaugurated which waa
kept up until the evening of the 14th of August, when Duvall's brigade had quite a battle with a
considerable force of Rebel infantry and artillery. The enemy's artillery gave them such an
advantage that they drove our forces back five or six hundred yards, but a charge was made and
in turn they were driven back, with the loss of some prisoners and a fine lot of beef cattle. Then
followed another dance up and down the Valley, fighting and retreating. At Front Royal Sheri-
dan's cavalry made a saber charge and captured two hundred and sixty of the enemy.

At Halltown, on the 23d of August, the enemy attacked at daylight but did not follow it up.
At six P. M. Hayes's brigade, the Twenty-Third and Thirty-Sixth Ohio, witli part of the Fifth
West Virginia, sallied out and drove in the enemy's skirmish-line, capturing a lot of prisoners
from Kershaw's Rebel division. This charge was brilliantly executed, and excited astonishment

among the Rebel prisoners. The universal inquiry was: "Who the h 1 are 'uns?" On the

23d another sortie was made, and six officers and one hundred prisoners taken, all from Ker-
shaw's (South Carolina) division.

Nothing of importance transpired until the 3d of September at Berryville, where the
Twenty-Third was sent out on picket. A general engagement was brought on just before dark, in
which was desperate fighting — the most of it after dark. As the Twenty-Third formed line and
went into battle, the boys were received with loud cheers. Colonel Hayes, commanding brigade,
went out of the line to meet and lead his old regiment. The cannonade was very rapid and con-
tinuous, and the exploding shells and the blaze of the discharge from guns and small arms made
a diabolic display. At ten o'clock both parties withdrew, apparently satisfied, and the Twenty-
Third returned to picket-duty. It lost in this affair Captains Austin and Gillis, both brave and
accomplished officers.

After the usual amount of marching and countermarching, from the 4th to the 18th of Sep-
tember, the battle of Opequan was fought on the 19th. General Crook's command was in
reserve, but was very soon brought into action and sent to the extreme right of the line to make
a flank attack. Hayes's brigade had the extreme right of the infantry. The position was reached
under cover of an almost impenetrable growth of cedar, crossing a swampy stream. Here the
division was halted and formed — First Brigade (Hayes's) in front, and the Second (Johnson's)
in rear. Throwing out a light line of skirmishers the brigade advanced rapidly to the front,
driving the enemy's cavalry. The National cavalry at the same time advanced out of the woods
on the right. After advancing in this way across two or three open fields, under a scattering fire,
the crest of a slight elevation was reached, when the enemy's infantry line came into view, off
diagonally to the left front, and he opened a brisk artillery fire.

Moving forward double-quick under this fire, the brigade reached a thick" fringe of under-
brush, dashing through which it came upon a deep slough, forty or fifty yards wide and nearly

166 Ohio in the Was.

waist deep, with aoft mud at the bottom, overgrown with a thick bed of moss, nearly strong
enough to bear the weight of a man. It seemed impossible to get through it, and the whole
line was staggered for a moment. Just then Colonel Hayes plunged in with his horse, and
under a shower of bullets and shells, with his horse sometimes down, he rode, waded, and
dragged his way through — the first man over. The Twenty-Third was immediately ordered by
the right flank and over the slough at the same place. In floundering through this morass men
were suffocated and drowned, still the regiment plunged through, and, after a pause long enough
to partially re-form the line, charged forward again, yelling and driving the enemy. Sheiidan's
old cavalry kept close up on the right, having passed around the slough, and every time the
enemy was driven from cover charged and captured a large number of prisoner?. This plan was
followed throughout the battle, by which the cavalry was rendered very effective. In one of
these charges Colonel Duvall, the division commander, was wounded and carried from the field,
leaving Colonel Hayes in command. He was everywhere exposing himself recklessly as usual.
He was the first over the slough; he was in advance of the line half the time afterward; his
Adjutant-General was severely wounded ; men were dropping all around him, but he rode
through it all as if he had a charmed life.

No re-enforcements — no demonstration as promised. Something must be done to stop the
murderous concentrated fire that is cutting the force so dreadfully. Selecting some Saxony rifles
in the Twenty-Third, pieces of seventy-one caliber with a range of twelve hundred yards, Lieu-
tenant McBride was ordered forward with them to kill the enemy's artillery horses, in plain
sight. They moved forward rapidly under cover as much as possible. At the first shot a horse
drops; almost immediately another is killed; a panic seems to seize the artillery and they com-
mence limbering up. The infantry take the alarm, and a few commence running from the
intrenchments. The whole line rises, and with a tremendous yell the men rush frantically for
the breastworks ; and thus, without stopping to fire another shot, the enemy ran in utter confu-
sion — that terrible cavalry, which had been hovering like a cloud on the flanks, sweeping down
on the Rebels and capturing them by regiments. Eight battle-flags were captured and a large
number of prisoners. The " grayback's " soon looked as numerous as the " blue coats." The
enemy's artillery in the Star fort was obliged to stop firing and fall back, and the battle was at
an end.

About this time the Sixth Corps emerged from the woods in the rear and started forward in
magnificent style, lines all well dressed, and everything in striking contrast with the shattered
condition of the troops just engaged. Thus ended the battle of Opequan (pronounced O-pee-can).
The result was a complete and decisive victory. Lieutenant McBride with his party, sent to kill
artillery horses, brought in one hundred and two prisoners, of whom he captured Colonel Edgar
and forty-two others himself. The regiment captured about two hundred men. The artillery was
captured by the combined force, and therefore the credit does not belong to either in particular.

The battle of North Mountain occurred September 20, 1864. It was more of an impetuous
charge than a regular battle. The Twenty-Third, with its companions of the brigade, charged
with perfect fury up the whole line of intrenchments, the enemy scarcely making a stand at all,
flying in utter rout and terror as Crook's command gained their rear, abandoning gun after gun
to their hands. The loss of the regiment was only one killed and one mortally wounded.

From this time forward until October 19th no regular battle was fought. The usual amount
of hard marching from point to point in the Valley was gone through with, with occasional
skirmishes and one or two " artillery duels " to vary the monotony of camp-life.

On the 19th, however, the battle of Cedar Creek was inaugurated. The Nineteenth and
Sixth Corps and the cavalry occupied positions on a parallel line with the enemy's front as he
lay in camp, or nearly so. General Crook's First Division (Thoburn's) occupied works about a
mile further to the front and on the left of the main line, and the works from their left flank
rearward were entirely empty, except that the Ninth Virginia, from the Second Division, occu-
pied a small portion of them about half a mile back, where they had been at work the day before.
Crook's Second Division (Duvall's, commanded by Hayes), or as much of it as was left from

Twenty-Third Ohio Infantry. 167

details for cattle-guards, pickets, etc., occupied a camp about one mile and a quarter in rear of
the First Division, and in rear of the Manchester Pike. An independent brigade (Kitching's)
occupied a camp to the left and rear of that. The Rebel attacking column crossed the North
Fork of the Shenandoah from the left of Fisher's Hill, passed down near the base of the Massa-
nutten Mountain, beyond the picket-line, and recrossed the river at Buxton Ford, well to the rear
of Crook's command. From there they passed again toward the front, just outside the National
lines, through the darkness and fog, forming a line of battle extending from Thoburn's right to a
point about opposite Middletown, beyond the extreme left. (Prisoners reported that this move-
ment was commenced at dark the preceding night.) The night was very dark, and even after
daylight a thick fog obscured everything and added to the effect of the enemy's attack. The
nearest force of National cavalry on the left was at Front Royal, eight miles distant. The reader
will please note this fact particularly. It may be well to state that a feint was made in Custar's
front on the extreme right, before the attack, and that a small column of the enemy accompa-
nied by General Early in person, crossed Cedar Creek, on the Winchester Pike, after the
left was turned.

General Sheridan was absent in Washington, and, by seniority, the command devolved upon
Major-General Wright, commanding Sixth Corps. As soon as the lines were settled into position
General Crook discovered the weak point on the left, a ford across the North Fork of the Shen-
andoah, accessible from the Massanutten Mountain, and which could not be covered by his infan-
try. He applied immediately for a division of cavalry to cover this ford and picket the front of
the mountain. This request was immediately granted. For some unexplained reason the cav-
alry had not yet been placed there on the nights of the 18th and 19th. It was generally supposed
that it was there, and the division officer of the day for the Second Division was instructed that
it was there, as was also the corps officer of the day Colonel Brown, of the Thirteenth West Vir-
ginia. When the division officer of the day for the Second Division (Colonel Furney, of the
Thirty-Fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry), made the grand rounds, it was reported to him it was
suspected that troops were moving through the woods in that direction ; and while he was on the
picket-line he discovered cavalry there, and supposing it to be National cavalry patrolling, rode
out to see what news they had, and was quietly "gobbled up." (He afterward escaped at Mount
Jackson and arrived safely in camp.)

Nearly the whole flanking force of the enemy crossed at this ford. With the cavalry in
position this would have been simply impossible; and sufficient notice of any such event would
have been given to have placed not only the Army of West Virginia, but the whole of Sheridan's
army, in the works at the left, to oppose the enemy after he had crossed. The enemy's line,
when the attack opened, extended from the front of Crook's First Division all the way round to
a point about opposite Middletown, they having gained their position under cover of the fog and
darkness, as above stated. To meet this force lying quietly there under cover, waiting for the
feint on the right of the line (which was the signal for the attack), General Crook had about
four thousand men. If placed in skirmish-line they would not more than cover the front of
the enemy's attacking force. The Second Division (Hayes) had but fourteen hundred and forty-
five men in camp for duty. This was the situation when, at about half-past four A. M., the
enemy advanced in heavy force against the works of the First Division, pushing in rapidly what-
ever of the picket-line they failed to capture. Although the forces were promptly in line, the
enemy had it all their own way, and overwhelmed and overlapped the lines so as to push them
back rapidly.

The situation in a few minutes after the attack was about this: Crook's command, overpow-
ered and driven from their advanced position, were forming on the left of the Nineteenth Corps,
which corps was just getting into action, the left being hotly engaged, but not so much so aa
Crook's command yet. The right of the line had not been engaged at all, and was not for some
time after. While the line was in this situation the trains were all slowly moving off. A des-
perate stand was made by the shattered lines of Crook's command to save the head-quartera
train of the army, which came last from the right, and it succeeded. Many brave men lost their

168 Ohio in the Was.

lives in this— Colonel Thoburn, commanding First Division ; Captain Bier, General Crook's
Adjutant-General, and others. Colonel Hayes, commanding the First Division, had his horse
shot under him, and narrowly escaped with his life. Lieutenant-Colonel Hall, of the Thirteenth
Virginia, was killed, but the train was saved.

From this time the whole line fell slowly back, fighting stubbornly, to a new position which
had been selected. There they halted, and the enemy seemed content with shelling us

General Crook lay a couple of rods away from the line, in a place which seemed to be more
particularly exposed than any other part of the line. Colonel Hayes lay close by, badly bruised
from his fall, and grumbling because the troops did not charge the enemy's line, instead of wait-
ing to be charged. Suddenly there is a dust in the rear, on the Winchester Pike ; and, almost
before they are aware, a young man, in full Major-General's uniform, and riding furiously a mag-
nificent black horse, literally "flecked with foam," reins up and springs off by General Crook's
side. There is a perfect roar as everybody recognized — Sheridan! He talks with Crook a
little while, cutting away at the tops of the weeds with his riding-whip. General Crook speaks a
half-dozen sentences that sound a great deal like the crack of the whip; and by that time some
of the staff are up. They are sent flying in different directions. Sheridan and Crook lie down
and seem to be talking, and all is quiet again, except the vicious shells of the different batteries
and the roar of artillery along the line. After awhile Colonel Forsyth comes down in front and
shouts to the General: "The Nineteenth Corps is closed up, sir." Sheridan jumps up, gives
one more cut with his whip, whirls himself around once, jumps on his horse, and starts up the
line. Just as he starts he says to the men : " We are going to have a good thing on them now, boys /"
And so he rode off, and a long wave of yells rolling up to the right with him. The men took
their posts, the line moved forward, and the balance of the day is a household word over a whole

On October 7th the regiment was detailed as train-guard to Martinsburg, and marched to
Winchester, where a brigade of the enemy's cavalry was reported to be. On the march the men
voted at the Presidential election. It was impossible to take all the votes, as the train required
vigilant watching. The votes were collected by the judges of election as the column was in
march, from among the wagons, etc. There were seven anti-war votes, the first ever cast in the
regiment, principally from among the teamsters. The regiment reached Martinsburg about
nine P. M., with the weather very cold, raining, and no wood.

On the 13th of November it returned to Winchester with a supply-train of seven hundred
wagons. On the 14th it marched to camp at Kernstown, where the Army of the Shenandoah
was lying, and went into camp in a dense thicket. The next day the regiment re-commenced drill
and ordinary camp routine, and kept it up until the middle of December, when it was transferred
from the extreme left to the extreme right of the line. About the 20th of December Hayes's
brigade was ordered to Stephenson's Depot, where it remained on duty until the 29th, when it
marched to Martinsburg and went into camp.

On January 1, 1865, it embarked for Cumberland at ten A. M., and arrived at six P. M.
Colonel Hayes was promoted to a Brigadier-Generalship, and Lieutenant-Colonel Coraly to
Colonel, both to date from October 19, 1S6L

The regiment reached Grafton on the 12th of January. The post at Beverly had been cap-
tured and the regiment was to operate against the enemy and protect the railroad. From the
13th to the 18th it lay at Grafton, without tents and with insufficient bedding. The weather was
very cold. Keturning to Cumberland on the 19th, the regiment was there occupied down to
March 1st with drill and discipline, and the ordinary camp routine.

Thereafter followed the collapse of the Southern Confederacy and the surrender of their
armies. The boys became anxious to get home. The rest of April, May, June, and most of July
were spent in restive, inglorious ease. The wished-for order came at last, and the Twenty-Third
was mustered out on the 26th of July, 1865, at Cumberland, and took the cars for Camp Taylor,
near Cleveland, where the men were paid and discharged.

Twenty-Fourth Ohio Infantry.





I. A ME.







22, ISM


22, I8R1

Appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
Killed December 31, 1862.




14, ISli:


14, lsti2




1, 1863


lit, 1863

Resigned October .3. 1863.




31, "

Mustered out June 24, 1»64.

Lt. Colonel....


in! ism





; .»IUEI, A. ClI.Hr.RT

22, "


22, "

Appointed Colon"! 44th regiment.


[.Li. i an Buttles


14, "


14, "

Resigned November 28, ISM.


Frederick C. Jones


is, "


IS. "

Promoted to Colonel May 14, 1862.


Vlbert S. IIai.i


1 1, 1802


(1, 1862

Appointed Colonel 105th regiment Aug. 11, '02.



11, "


3d, "

Killed December 31, 1862.


A. T. 31. CuL'KEKIM


31, "


21, 1SR3

Promoted to Colonel.


Samuel A. Gilbert


10, 1861


in, isd

I'roinoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.



22, 44

Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.




14, "


14, "

Resigned November 28, 1861.




20, "


2(1, 44

Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Mav 11, 1363.


Ur.NRV Tkrky


14, 18*12


ti, 1862

Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Aug. 11, 1802.


Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidOhio in the war : her statesmen, her generals, and soldiers (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 165)