14th West Virginia Infantry

HISTORY

The Fourteenth W. Va. Infantry was organized August, 1862, with the following field officers: Andrews S. Core, colonel; Chapman J. Stuart, lieutenant-colonel, and Daniel D. Johnson, major. The regiment served mainly in West Virginia, in Gen’ls. I. H. Duval’s and George Crook’s divisions, Eighth Army Corps. The regiment was one of West Virginia’s busy, fighting regiments, its loss in killed and wounded during the war testifying to the truth of this statement. A few of the principal battles in which it was engaged, were: Burlington, Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, Cedar Creek, Carter’s Farm, Cloyd’s Mountain and others, the officers generally showing good judgment and gallant conduct on the battlefield.

Colonel Core, having by request received his discharge, April 14, 1863, Maj. Daniel D. Johnson was promoted to colonel and served gallantly to the close of the war. Lieut.-Col. George W. Taggart, whose portrait accompanies this sketch, was an active officer of the regiment, and in the absence of the colonel, Colonel Taggart was to be found at the head of the regiment, displaying at all times military skill. He was on several occasions complimented in orders by his superior officers.

Many of the company officers performed deeds of heroism that are worthy of record. Capt. Jacob Smith, of Co. A, is deserving a medal for gallantry in the following episode. In the spring of 1863, the captain with his company was ordered to Greenland Gap, W. Va., to reenforce a company of the 23rd Illinois Infantry. The two companies were stationed in two log houses at the cut. The Confederate General Jones, with his command, appeared on the scene. He charged the two companies, and was driven back. He charged again and again, but was as often driven away by the well-directed fire of the two companies, with considerable loss. Jones demanded the surrender. The Illinois captain who ran short of ammunition, did surrender, he, being the senior officer, ordered Captain Smith to do likewise. But Captain Smith replied, “I have some ammunition left,” and continued to fight. Jones threatened to blow the house to fragments, but Smith was resolute and continued to fight. Under cover of the large chimney, the Confederates approached the house and set it on fire. Still Smith declined to surrender, nor did he until his last cartridge was gone, when the gallant captain and his men left the burning building, now half consumed, stacked arms and gave themselves up as prisoners.

An incident in which the 14th Regiment bore a novel and unenviable part will be read with interest by those who participated. The affair happened near Winchester on the 24th of July, 1864. Colonel Johnson was in command of a brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Taggart was in command of the regiment. Colonel Johnson’s brigade was on the right of the line of battle, the 14th Regiment on the left of the brigade, some distance from the regiment next on its right, in one of those low places so numerous in the valley. When Colonel Taggart was assigned his position in line his orders were to “remain there until ordered away.” The battle opened all along the line. The concealed position of the regiment was such that neither Colonel Taggart nor any of his command had observed that the entire line had fallen back nearly two miles. Notwithstanding his positive orders, Colonel Taggart had two things confronting him and he must choose between the capture of his regiment or to fight his way to the rear. The enemy were to the right and the left of him. A thick growth of friendly sycamore bushes that skirted the road on which the Confederate cavalry were then marching, sheltered the regiment from the view of the marching cavalry. So Colonel Taggart waited the opportunity and when a breach in the enemy’s column presented itself the order was given, and over two fences, across the road, with one volley that startled the enemy, and the regiment was soon in line with the brigade, well pleased with its escape.

At Cedar Creek, on the night of August 14, 1864, General Crook ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Taggart, who was in command of the regiment, to move at one o’clock that night, cross the Shenandoah River, and reach Massanutton Mountain before daylight the next morning, to ascend the mountain and establish a signal station on the north point of it. The regiment moved and was under cover of the timber at the foot of the mountain before daylight. Company A, Captain Smith, was sent forward as an advance guard with a citizen as guide. The Captain misunderstood the instructions given him, and moved up the mountain at its north end, where from the summit some distance down there was no timber. The enemy had considerable force at that point; when Captain Smith came within range they fired upon him; the enemy were concealed behind rocks, and the captain was compelled to retire. However, the presence of Captain Smith at this point of the mountain enabled the regiment to pass around and reach the summit of the mountain a mile in the rear of the force that had fired upon Captain Smith, and a mile or more inside Early’s lines.

The ascent of the mountain was hazardous; the under brush was so dense that it was with great difficulty a man could get through. The regiment, however, was equal to almost any demands upon it, and it finally reached the mountain top. Lieutenant-Colonel Taggart placed his regiment in a defensive position, and gave it over to Major Moore, while the colonel and the officers of the signal corps were providing for their position, when the Confederates discovered the force in their rear, and quietly made their way to within a short distance of Major Moore’s line, and opened fire upon them. Major Moore at once advanced his men, and drove the enemy back to his breastworks of stone across the top of the mountain. There was a still larger force of the enemy lying under cover on a spur of the mountain towards Strasburg, which Major Moore could not see. But, before he went far enough to enable this force to get in his rear, Colonel Taggart, after a short engagement, wisely fell back. The regiment lost two men killed and several wounded. The regiment arrived in camp at 1 o’clock, after a hard march that brought poor returns. The regiment bore a conspicuous part at the battle of Carter’s Farm, July 20, 1864, having 20 killed and 52 wounded, and at Cloyd’s Mountain, May 9, 1864, where 13 were killed and 62 wounded.

The regiment lost during the war, killed in battle and died of wounds, 7 officers and 81 enlisted men; died of disease and accident, 1 officer and 156 enlisted men. Total deaths 245. The regiment was mustered out of service at Cumberland, Md., June 27, 1865. At the close of the war, Lieutenant-Colonel Taggart was promoted by President Johnson brevet colonel for meritorious conduct in battle during the war.

[Source: Loyal West Virginia 1861-1865, by Theodore Lang]

SERVICE

Organized at Wheeling, W. Va., August 25, 1862. Attached to Railroad Division, West Virginia, to January, 1863. New Creek, W. Va., Defences Upper Potomac, 8th Army Corps, Middle Dept., to March, 1863. 5th Brigade, 1st Division. 8th Army Corps, to June, 1863. Mulligan’s Brigade, Scammon’s Division, West Virginia, to December, 1563. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, West Virginia, to April. 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, West Virginia, to January, 1865. 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, West Virginia, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.–Ordered to Clarksburg, W. Va., and guard duty on the Upper Potomac, Headquarters at New Creek, till June, 1863. Expedition to Greenland Gap April 13-22, 1863. Action at Greenland Gap April 25 (Co. “A”). Duty at New Creek, Petersburg and Romney till April, 1864. Skirmish near Burlington November 16, 1863. Burlington and Petersburg Turnpike November 19. Salem December 16. Jackson River, near Covington, December 19. Operations in Hampshire and Hardy Counties December 31, 1863-January 5, 1864. Operations in Hampshire and Hardy Counties against Rosser January 27-February 7, 1864. Evacuation of Petersburg January 30. Crook’s Expedition against Virginia & Tennessee Railroad May 2-19. Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain May 9. New River Bridge May 10. Cove Mountain or Grassy Lick, near Wytheville May 10. Salt Pond Mountain and Gap Mountain May 12-13. Hunter’s Expedition against Lynchburg May 26-July 1. Diamond Hill June 17. Lynchburg June 17-18. Retreat to Charleston June 18-July 1. Buford’s Gap June 20. About Salem June 21. Moved to the Shenandoah Valley July 12-15. Snicker’s Ferry July 17-18. Stephenson’s Depot July 20. Battle of Kernstown-Winchester July 23-24. Martinsburg July 25. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign August 6-November 28. Strasburg August 15. Halltown August 24 and 26. Berryville September 3. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19. Fisher’s Hill September 22. Battle of Cedar Creek October 19. Duty at Camp Russell and in Shenandoah Valley till December. Myerstown November 28. Duty at Martinsburg, Cumberland, Md., and Winchester, Va., till June, 1865. Near Patterson Creek Station March 22, 1865 (Co. “H”). Mustered out June 28, 1865.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

LOSSES

Regiment lost during service 7 Officers and 81 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 156 Enlisted men by disease. Total 245.

[Source: Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (1861-1865), by William F. Fox]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Roster of the 14th West Virginia Infantry [Rootsweb]

From a Whirlpool of Death to Victory: Civil War Remembrances of Jesse Tyler Sturm, 14th West Virginia Infantry.  West Virginia State Archives, Charleston, West Virginia.