Archive for Uncategorized
by Rick Steelhammer, for the Charleston Gazette
How do you motivate 300 battle-weary cavalrymen to voluntarily leave their encampment in the dead of winter, ride more than 75 miles across snow-covered mountains, and then attack an enemy garrison force more than three times larger?
Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser faced just such a challenge 150 years ago this week at his brigade’s winter quarters near McDowell, Virginia, where food and warm clothing were in short supply following a successful Union sweep through the Shenandoah Valley the previous fall. Rosser began honing his leadership skills while a cadet at West Point, where his roommate was George Armstrong Custer, before dropping out two weeks before graduation, at the outset of the Civil War, to accept a commission in the Confederate Army, in which he rapidly advanced through the ranks. But on this occasion, hunger and discomfort likely trumped charisma in raising volunteers for the planned raid.
On Jan. 9, 1865, Rosser and 300 volunteers drawn from 9 Virginia regiments rode westward on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike toward the Union supply depot at Beverly, guarded by two regiments of Ohioans — a force totaling nearly 1,100 troops. After spending the first night in a church and a scattering of houses atop Allegheny Mountain, Rosser’s force rode on, crossing the Greenbrier River and Cheat Mountain, where rain changed to snow, causing the Confederates’ overcoats to freeze solid and “rattle like boards,” according to Thomas J. Arnold’s “A Battle Fought in the Streets: Rosser’s Beverly Raid of 1865.”
As the Confederates approached Beverly at the end of the second day of their trek, they stopped at the family home of one of Rosser’s volunteers to rest and gather information about the Union garrison, including the fact that the federal officers had spent much of the night at a dance in Beverly’s Leonard Hotel and should be fast asleep at the time of the raid, planned to take place just before dawn. The enlisted troops, Rosser was told, were housed in a series of log huts, and were also expected to be sleeping through the subfreezing night.
When the attack began on Jan.11, 1865, the federal troops were taken completely by surprise.
“The Federals, such as were not captured, retreated, fighting through the streets of Beverly and across the bridge on the road to Buckhannon,” Arnold wrote. After about 30 minutes of fighting, 6 Union troops were dead, 23 were wounded and nearly 800 were captured. About 150 Union troops managed to escape to safety in Buckhannon. Confederate losses were one dead and several more wounded. The Confederates helped themselves to nearly 10,000 rations from the Union supply depot, along with 600 rifles and 100 horses.
By the time the Confederate raiders returned to Staunton, about 250 of their prisoners had escaped, including the garrison’s commander, Lt. Col. Robert Youart, who was later relieved of duty for his role in the debacle.
After learning of Rosser’s success, Union Army Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan wrote that he had advised Gen. George C. Crook, commander of federal forces in West Virginia, “some time ago to break up the post at Beverly; it is of no use, and is bait for the enemy, both from position and gross carelessness, and want of discipline on the part of the troops.”
The raid was the last significant action to take place in Randolph County during the Civil War.
Despite leading his cavalry against his former college roommate’s cavalry force on several occasions during the war, Rosser and Custer remained friends. In June 1864, Rosser captured Custer’s entire supply train, including the flamboyant general’s personal wardrobe, during the Battle of Trevilian Station. Custer returned the favor a few months later during the Battle of Tom’s Brook, when Rosser’s supply train, including his personal wardrobe, was seized by his classmate’s troops.
“Please accept my good wishes and this little gift — a pair of your draws (sic) captured at Trevilian Station,” Rosser wrote his friend.
“Thanks for setting me up in so many new things,” Custer replied after capturing Rosser’s headquarters wagon. “But would you please tell your tailor to make the coat tails of your next uniform a trifle shorter?”
by Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Towering over rows of neatly arranged headstones at Columbus Confederate Cemetery, a tarnished bronze statue of a Southern soldier stands watch atop a granite archway on which the word “Americans” has been engraved.
An inscription on a round, three-foot-high boulder at the base of the arch informs visitors that 2,260 Confederate Soldiers, most of them prisoners of war who died of diseases that swept through Columbus’s Camp Chase, located adjacent to the cemetery during the Civil War, are buried within the grounds.
But according to a Columbus man who has been researching biographies of the cemetery’s occupants, at least seven of the graves may actually contain the remains of Union soldiers — including Pvt. Benjamin F. Fettro, of Clarksburg, and Pvt. John E. Clark, of Morgantown, — who were mistakenly interred with their former foes.
On Sunday afternoon, November 16, a sign was erected and dedicated to commemorate the purchase and preservation of two properties totaling 2.2 acres on the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. The properties are contiguous to the historic Cement Mill property which was saved and preserved in 2011.
In late 2011, the Civil War Trust (CWT) purchased 18 acres of the Cement Mill property and in late 2013, another small parcel, contiguous to the Cement Mill property, was purchased. Early this year the CWT purchased another property contiguous to the Cement Mill property. All the properties were deeded to the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). Ultimately, the HLC intends to donate the parcels to the National Park Service (NPS). A conservation easement has been placed on the properties and they have been included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The total cost of all the land purchases was $536,000. The funds to complete the recent purchases came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund administered by the NPS, Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc., and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. Importantly, all the properties purchased by the CWT are contiguous to 59 acres already saved through the use of conservation easements. In total, 104 acres of the core of site of the Battle of Shepherdstown have been saved and preserved.
This effort has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Almost $1.2 million has been raised through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years.
If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to: www.battleofshepherdstown.org.
On Tuesday, September 2, 2014, Brian Stuart Kesterson presented “Incidents of Morgan’s Raid with an Account of Stovepipe Johnson’s Retreat through West Virginia” in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston.
Kesterson focused on the ill-fated 1863 raid of General John Hunt Morgan and Colonel Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson’s retreat through West Virginia. Several years ago, he traveled over roads and lanes that Col. Johnson and his 300 retreating Confederate cavalrymen traveled. The remoteness of the retreat route largely factored in the preservation of a substantial part of the route, according to Kesterson. “Some of these roads were little better than wagon paths and they have changed very little since the time of the Civil War. About 90% of Johnson’s original retreat route still exists, which is amazing to think about since he and his men retreated over eight counties in West Virginia and two counties in Virginia.”
A native of Wood County, Brian Kesterson received a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College and his teaching certification and master’s degree in education from Ohio Valley College. He currently is a history teacher at Parkersburg High School. He also is a member of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, which has provided living history, boot camp programs for the school children of West Virginia and Ohio since 1990, and serves as chief musician/bugler for the general staff of the United States Volunteer Infantry.
Kesterson appeared in the in the movie The Patriot (2000) as a special abilities re-enactor for the Revolutionary War time period and has appeared in documentaries on Civil War and other historical topics. He is the author of The Last Survivor: The Memoirs of George William Watson, A Horse Soldier in the 12th Virginia Cavalry (1993); Campaigning with the 17th Virginia Cavalry Night Hawks at Monocacy (2005); Dear Sir . . . Dear Miss . . .: The Letters of Granville B. Mann, Company A, 30th Battalion Virginia Sharpshooters & Miss Lucinda Maria Virginia (Chandler) Mann (2007); and Incidents of Morgan’s Raid with an Account of Stovepipe Johnson’s Retreat through West Virginia (2013).
In 1783, Thomas Jefferson stood in awe of its beauty. Abolitionist John Brown raided the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859, only to be captured by U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E. Lee and Lt. J.E.B. Stuart. In 1861, General Thomas J. Jackson occupied Harpers Ferry, then returned in 1862 as “Stonewall,” bringing about the largest mass surrender of U.S. troops of the Civil War.
Today, the Civil War Trust has the opportunity to save 13 acres at Harpers Ferry. This tract—the site of the historic Allstadt’s Ordinary—played a pivotal role in John Brown’s raid and was at the heart of the battlefield in 1862. Now, thanks to a phenomenal $19.41-to-$1 match, we can protect this crucial piece of American history and preserve it for future generations.
On Sunday afternoon, June 15th, there will be a marker dedication at 2pm at Quaker Memorial Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, honoring the fallen West Virginia soldiers buried there in unmarked graves. The event is sponsored by the Taylor-Wilson Camp #10 of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. The public is invited to attend. Listed below are the West Virginia soldiers lost during the Lynchburg Campaign.
Many other events and activities are scheduled during the week of June 13-21, 2014. For more information on the Lynchburg Sesquicentennial, contact Kevin Shroyer, chairman of the Lynchburg Sesquicentennial Committee.
For more information on the Lynchburg Campaign, visit huntersraid.org.
Union soldiers from West Virginia who were casualties of Gen. David Hunter’s Lynchburg Campaign, June 10-20, 1864
1st West Virginia Light Artillery, Battery B
1. Pvt. John Boyce
2. Pvt. William Rust
1st West Virginia Light Artillery, Battery D
3. Pvt. John G. Beardsley
4. Pvt. John W. Durbin
5. Pvt. James O. Mills
1st West Virginia Cavalry
6. Pvt. Alexander Hoback, Wagoner
2nd West Virginia Cavalry
7. Pvt. James Woodrum, Co. H
3rd West Virginia Cavalry
8. Corp. William Wentz, Co. M
7th West Virginia Cavalry
9. Pvt. Valentine Alexander, Co. G
10. Sgt. Patterson Ballard, Co. B
11. Pvt. William A. Green, Co. I
12. Sgt. Abner Monk, Co. B
1st West Virginia Infantry
13. 2nd Lieut. Joseph B. Gordon, Co. C
14. Pvt. Robert J. Simpson, Co. I
5th West Virginia Infantry
15. Pvt. John Fausnott, Co. D
16. Pvt. Daniel Forbus, Co. B
17. Pvt. Solomon Harrison, Co. D
18. Pvt. James M. Johnson, Co. H
19. Pvt. John Kelley, Co. K
20. Pvt. James H Parker, Co. I
21. 2nd Lieut. David J. Thomas, Co. A
22. Sgt. Colman B.B. Waller, Co. K
9th West Virginia Infantry
23. Pvt. Henry S. Smith, Co. D
11th West Virginia Infantry
24. 1st Lieut. James Barr, Co. D
25. Pvt. Henderson Burdett, Co. G
26. Pvt. Thomas McPherson, Co. K
27. Pvt. James L. Mathews, Co. I
28. Pvt. Francis Proudfoot, Co. C
29. Pvt. Jasper Rand, Co. B
30. Pvt. Morgan Rexroad, Co. C
31. Pvt. John W. Sigler, Co. C
32. Pvt. Francis M. Smith, Co. C
12th West Virginia Infantry
33. Pvt. James M. Stewart, Co. F
34. Pvt. James White, Co. K
14th West Virginia Infantry
35. Pvt. John S. Prince, Co. D
15th West Virginia Infantry
36. Pvt. Phillip Coonts, Phillip, Co. F
37. Pvt. Daniel Daugherty, Co. C
38. Pvt. Daniel Dulaney, Co. C
39. Sgt. Thomas Fowler, Co. A
40. Corp. Joseph W. Hitt, Co. B
41. Pvt. John S. Kayser, Co. D
42. Pvt. William King, Co. K
43. Pvt. Robert Lemmon, Co. C
44. Pvt. George Runner, Co. E
45. Pvt. John Watkins, Co. C
The Civil War Trust has negotiated to purchase a property on the Shepherdstown Battlefield and has asked for the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association’s (SBPA) help in funding the purchase. The property, with a house, is 1.6 acres and contiguous to the Cement Mill property. The price is $185,000. If the purchase is completed with SBPA’s help, it will mean that SBPA has helped to save 104 acres of the battlefield. In addition the purchase of this property will mean that 79 acres will be contiguous and contain about 1850 feet of river front property along the Potomac River and measure about 2100 feet south of the river.
The Board of SBPA would like to contribute as much as possible and asks your help in effecting this purchase. We continue to thank you for your past support and hope that you will continue to support our effort to save the battlefield.
-SBPA Board of Directors
Cement Mill Property Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Through the diligent work of the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission and Martin Burke, Chairman, the Cement Mill property has been included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The effort was aided by Tom Clemens, who helped in obtaining the approval of the Washington County (MD) Historic District Commission (WCHDC). As you may know, thePotomac River is in MD which places the Cement Mill dam in the river and in MD. Consequently, the application for inclusion in the NRHP needed the approval of the WCHDC.
In a letter from Flat Top Mountain, [West] Virginia, on July 18, 1862, Sergeant John F. Sherrick of Company E, 34th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, describes the beauty of the area, and of prayer meetings being held in camp. Enlisting at age 27, Sherrick was later wounded at Fisher’s Hill, Virginia, on September 22, 1864, and died of his wounds at Baltimore on October 1, 1864. He is buried in the Loudon Park National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.
Camp Flattop Tannery
Flattop Mountain July 18th, 1862
One & all
Once more I try to drop a line to you & endeavor to let you know of my whereabouts yet I know not what is the reason that I do not receive more letters from you, whether you never receive mine, or I yours.
Since our retreat from Princeton we have remained on Flattop Mountain which is a very healthy & pleasant place & the most romantic scenery of any camp we have ever been in. To go on the highest point one can see from 30 to 60 miles over a hilly or mountainous country which looks beautiful & to a great extent like some vast meadow or grain field when the wind blows making its surface a succession of waves. In the distance may be seen looking up like some dark cloud the top of some of the highest points of the blue ridge, nearer the Alleghany range & still nearer & nearly surrounding you smaller mountains, spurs of the Alleghany & numbers of large hills, thus you may form some idea of the scenery. The best of water & plenty of it flows from the top of this mountain. The health of the men here is good. There are very few in the hospital & our surgeons are almost idle. My health is still good.
We started a prayer meeting about a week ago & the 1st night there was 8 or 10 present & we continued on every night & the meeting has been growing both in numbers & interest & I tell you I found it was good for me to be there. Now we have a couple hundred present generally. Some confessing that they do not enjoy religion but did once & desire to start anew. Others say their “feet had well nigh slipped” but they felt encouraged & strengthened & were determined to persevere on & finally reach their “mansion in that sunlight clime”. One or two say they have felt a change of heart & that they enjoy themselves in a Saviors love & then what touching incidents are related. One man left home a professed Christian but since he was in the army he grew cold & indifferent in religion. He had a wife & 5 children at home & he was not blessed with much of this worlds goods. His companion took sick & died & his children are left without a home, cast upon the cold charity’s of the world, his wife requested him to meet her in heaven. It aroused him & now his only stay & support is the Savior & his love & mercy & then the prayers of many a pious mother or loved one is often spoke of & its mellowing influence is felt by more than one.
Amongst those thus assembled are a number of Germans & our meetings are carried on part in English & part in German & from various denominations yet they all seem to travel the same road & have the same theme to talk about namely the love of God, truly one can say here “How pleasant thus to dwell below in fellowship & love” when he sees them thus mingling together in harmony, but there are other things that detract from the loveliness of the scene, such as being in arms & the constant profanity & vulgarity of many others by which we are surrounded.
Oh that all would turn from the error of their way & seek salvation. Remember us in your prayers that much good may be done in the name of God & we all finally meet in heaven. Please answer & give my respects to all enquiring friends, I must close. Remaining yours as ever,
John F. Sherrick
Co. E. 34th Regt. O. V. P.
Via. Charleston W. Va.
Page 2 of 3
You can help save 924 acres of core battlefield at Cool Springs, Virginia, where 5000 troops of General George Crook’s Army of West Virginia fought against a force of 8000 Confederates on July 18, 1864. (Casualties: Federal 422, Confederate 397) Several West Virginia units were involved in this fight including the 1st, 4th, 12th, and 15th West Virginia Infantry regiments.
Currently, there is an opportunity to multiply your gift with a $30.53 to $1.00 match!
November 6, 2013, marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Droop Mountain. Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park Superintendent Michael Smith did a great job in organizing a wonderful ceremony to dedicate a new monument to the soldiers killed or died of wounds during the battle. Speakers included my good friends Terry Lowry, author of Last Sleep: The Battle of Droop Mountain, and Richard A. Wolfe, representing the West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. I had the honor of reading the names of the fallen soldiers of the West Virginia Mounted Infantry units.
For more information, visit www.droopmountainbattlefield.com.
Charleston Gazette Newspaper coverage of the event: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201311090049