Fiddler’s Green: James B. McIntyre


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James B. McIntyre was born in Tennessee on August 14, 1833. His family moved to Texas during his childhood, near the town of Brenham in Washington County. In 1849, he and Horace Randal became the first two appointees to the United States Military Academy from the state of Texas. Randal was later a cavalry officer and brigadier general in the Confederate Army. James graduated the academy on July 1, 1853, near the bottom of a class that included future cavalrymen Philip Sheridan, John Chambliss and Nelson Sweitzer. He received an appointment as a brevet second lieutenant in the 7th Infantry, as there were no open second lieutenant vacancies.

Upon joining the regiment at Fort Brown, Texas, he was initially assigned to Company A. His commander was Robert S. Garnett, later the first general officer killed during the Civil War and cousin of the general killed at Gettysburg. The first lieutenant of the company was Edmund Kirby Smith. Although only a brevet officer, he performed well, and served in command of Company I within a year of graduation from the academy.
On October 17, 1854, James McIntyre married Jane A. Selkirk in Austin, Texas. They had three children over the next four years: Hugh on October 9, 1855, Mary Bell on October 1, 1857 and William James D. in October 1859.

On March 3, 1855, McIntyre finally received his appointment as a second lieutenant, but in a different service. He received an original appointment to the newly authorized 1st U.S. Cavalry, and joined his new regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He spent the next several years on frontier duty skirmishing with the Cheyenne, Sioux and Comanche Indians. He was promoted to first lieutenant in the regiment on January 16, 1857. He was one of four lieutenants present when J.E.B. Stuart was wounded in an action at Solomon’s Fork of the Kansas River on July 29, 1857. The other two were Lunsford Lomax and David S. Stanley.

McIntyre served as the regimental quartermaster from April 15, 1858 to April 30, 1860. He was part of the force under Major John Sedgwick dispatched toward Utah in May 1858. They marched as far as the Colorado Territory before a peace settlement was reached, and they returned to Fort Leavenworth. He assisted with the construction of Fort Wise (later Fort Lyon), Colorado, and served there and at Fort Riley, Kansas until 1860.
McIntyre was on a leave of absence with his family when the war broke out. He was promoted to captain and command of Company E on May 3, 1861, and soon joined his company at Washington, D.C. As the senior officer present, he commanded the only squadron of the 4th U.S. Cavalry in the eastern theater for the next year and a half.

Although kept very busy, the squadron saw little combat, serving as escort for Major General McClellan through the Peninsula, Antietam and Fredericksburg campaigns. After a brief period of detached service in Washington, D.C. from December 1862 to March 1863, he rejoined his company in Tennessee. He commanded the company during operations in Tennessee and Alabama during the spring of 1863. Captain McIntyre received a brevet promotion to major for gallant and meritorious service during the battle of Franklin, Tennessee on May 10, 1863, and assumed command of the regiment the following month.

Captain McIntyre commanded the regiment for the rest of the year. He earned a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct in his leadership of the regiment in the battle of Chickamauga on September 25, 1863. After a brief leave of absence during the winter, he resumed command of the regiment in March and led it through all of the campaigns of 1864 as well.

In his report on Kilpatrick’s Raid during August 1864, Captain McIntyre made the following statement on his regiment’s performance near Lovejoy’s Station:

“But it was in the charge, when cavalry fought in the legitimate way, the cool, dismounted lieutenant, sergeants and soldiers became the cavalryman, and where all were heroes it would be invidious to make distinction.”

After another brief leave of absence during the winter of 1864, McIntyre again commanded the regiment at Gravelly Spring, Alabama from January to March 1865. Ironically, after commanding the regiment for nearly two years, he missed its last major action of the war, Wilson’s Raid and the battle of Selma. He was detached from the regiment for recruiting duty at Baltimore, Maryland on March 1, 1865 and served there for the remainder of the year.

On November 15, 1865, his wife Jane died, and their three children went to live with his father, Hugh, in Brenham, Texas. His father later received his pension.

In 1866, former Army of the Cumberland commander major General George H. Thomas recommended McIntyre for a brevet to full colonel for his services during the war. In his recommendation, General Thomas noted, “Capt. McIntyre has been an industrious and zealous officer and has performed the duties of every position he has held with ability, and with great credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his commanding officers.”

Following the war, he returned to the frontier with his regiment, once again in command of his Company E in Texas. He commanded Fort Brown, his first assignment as a brevet second lieutenant in 1853, from May 1866 to January 1867. He then moved with his company to Fort Riley, Kansas. Although he was promoted to major in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry on July 28, 1866, the news took months to reach him, and he never joined his new regiment.

Major McIntyre set out from Fort Riley on April 16, 1867. He had been ill with consumption since January with symptoms of consumption and “also suffering from excessive indulgence in alcoholic liquors,” according to the post surgeon. He arrived at Fort Larned on May 1st, but his condition had worsened, and he was too sick to continue his journey.

James B. McIntyre died of consumption at Fort Larned, Kansas on May 10, 1867, but his story doesn’t end there. He was buried in grave #9 in the post cemetery. A very popular officer while he commanded the post, the garrison constructed a brown obelisk in his honor that still stands today. Though weathered and difficult to read, one can still make out the inscription:

“J.B. MacIntyre, Col. USA Died at Fort Larned Kansas, May 9 1867. Was one of the officers, of Extra Duty, Maintained the Honor of his Country Gallantly during the Days of the Recent Rebellion.”

When the post was closed in 1888, the cemetery contents were moved to the cemetery at Fort Leavenworth. In an oversight, the contents of the cemetery were not cataloged. They were interred in new graves in their own section of the Fort Leavenworth cemetery, surrounded by a short wooden fence. Captain John McIntyre rests with 62 of his comrades from Fort Larned, in a grave marked “Unknown US Soldier.”

Cullum, George W. Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, Volume II. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891. Pages 569-570.
Fort Larned NHP website ( accessed December 8, 2014.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Page 437.
National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1861-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Commission Branch, 1863-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 4th U.S. Cavalry.
Tom Jones, “Randal, Horace,” Handbook of texas Online ( accessed December 8, 2014.
Wert, Jeffry D. Cavalryman of the Lost Cause. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Fiddler’s Green: Ephraim Adams


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I don’t often feature enlisted men in the Fiddler’s Green series, for the simple reason that there isn’t normally much information available about them. I found the case of Ephraim Adams somewhat unique, though. He literally grew up in his company, and held every enlisted rank in it before falling at its head in battle.

Ephraim Adams was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in late 1839. He was enlisted into Company F, 2nd U.S. Dragoons at Carlisle on December 24, 1855 by Lieutenant Tyler as a bugler at the age of 16. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’4″ tall, with gray eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. He served his first enlistment on the frontier with his regiment, earning the rank of sergeant just before reenlisting in Company F at Fort Kearney, Nebraska Territory on September 20, 1860.

Ephraim continued to serve with his company through most of the Civil War, earning the rank of first sergeant by the time he reenlisted a second time. Lieutenant Robert Lennox, his former sergeant major, reenlisted him into Company F on July 12, 1864 at Light House Landing, Virginia, as the regiment recovered from Sheridan’s two raids. Due to heavy losses among the regiment’s officers, he was commanding his company when the regiment moved to the Shenandoah Valley in early September.

First Sergeant Adams was leading his company during the battle of Cedar Creek when he received a gunshot wound to the face on October 19, 1864. After initial treatment at a field hospital on the battlefield, he was admitted to the U.S. General Hospital at York, Pennsylvania on October 26th. He did not regain consciousness before he died there on November 1, 1864. According to the final statement signed by First Lieutenant James Cahill, a former fellow first sergeant, he was buried on November 3, 1864 in plot #130 at Prospect Hill Cemetery, York, Pennsylvania.

Fiddler’s Green: Lewis Thompson


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I am greatly indebted to Sherry Harris, a relative of Lewis Thompson, for adding a great deal of detail and both pictures to the story of this brave cavalryman.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Harris.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Harris.

Lewis Tappen Thompson was born in Philadelphia on July 25, 1838. He was the eldest of five children who survived childhood. His father, also named Lewis, was a publisher and member of the Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia. He was also part of the Underground Railroad before the Civil War.

Lewis was raised in Philadelphia, and educated for a business career. He was working as a cashier and bookkeeper for P. Waples and Co. of Philadelphia when the war broke out. Lewis and his brother James enlisted in Company A, 71st New York State Militia, a ninety day regiment, on April 21, 1861, and mustered out with the rest of the company on July 30th. He served primarily at the Washington Navy Yard, but also fought in the first battle of Bull Run.

When the regiment was mustered out, Thompson was appointed a lieutenant of volunteers and assigned as an aide on the staff of Brigadier General John C. Fremont. After Fremont was relieved of command, he worked briefly as an adjutant general for Lane’s brigade before being appointed a captain in the 3rd Kansas Cavalry. Singled out for bravery and leadership in a winter expedition into Missouri for forage, General Lane recommended him for an appointment in the regular army.

On February 19, 1862, Lewis Thompson was appointed a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and assigned to Company I. He wouldn’t see his new company for nearly a year. He remained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for several more months working as a Mustering & Disbursing Officer. He was promoted to first lieutenant on October 28, 1862, but word of the promotion did not reach him or the regiment until the following spring.
Lieutenant Thompson joined the 2nd U.S. Cavalry at Fort Albany, Virginia in December 1862, where several recently recruited companies were en route to join the regiment. He commanded Company G during the march, then joined Company I upon arrival. He spent the winter on picket duty with his company, based from their winter quarters near Falmouth.

Lieutenant Thompson was active in the spring campaign, serving with his company under Lieutenant Thomas Dewees during Stoneman’s Raid and the battle of Brandy Station. He received a brevet promotion to captain for gallant and meritorious service two weeks later during the battle of Upperville on June 21, 1863.

Lieutenant Thompson was captured during the Gettysburg campaign on July 2, 1863 while “attempting to communicate with corps headquarters,” according to brigade commander Wesley Merritt’s report on the battle. He was held at Libby Prison in Richmond until June 1864, then he was transferred briefly to Macon, Georgia and then onward to Charleston, South Carolina.

Lewis became very sick with tuberculosis and bronchitis while in Charleston, and likely would have died there if not for some family intervention. His sister, Matilda, had married Brigadier General Rufus Saxton, a quartermaster officer. When the Union captured parts of South Carolina in 1864, Saxton was appointed military governor of the state. He established his offices in the same building as the erstwhile Confederate commander of the area, former member of the 2nd Dragoons William Hardee. Hardee had been Saxton’s commander at West Point before the war. Saxton heard of his brother in law’s illness, and by luck was holding one of Hardee’s staff officers of the same rank prisoner. After Saxton contacted Hardee, “he responded cordially, and the two officers were exchanged, and the life of one brave officer was saved.”

Thompson was exchanged at Charleston, SC on October 4, 1864, and sent to Camp Parole, near Annapolis, Maryland to recover in the military hospitals there. After recovering from his illness and his release from Camp Parole, Maryland, Captain Thompson was assigned to special duty on the staff of Governor Cummings in Golden City, Colorado. He served there from September 25, 1865 until September 1866, when he was ordered to join his company. In the interim, he had been promoted twice. He received a brevet promotion to major for meritorious service during the war on September 25, 1865. On July 28, 1866, he was promoted to captain and command of Company L, 2nd U.S. Cavalry.

Thompson continued to suffer the effects of his captivity for the remainder of his life. He took a sick leave of absence from August 16, 1868 to March 29, 1869. He rejoined his company at Fort Ellis, Montana in the summer of 1869. The photo below is from a group picture of regimental officers on a porch at the fort.


On February 26, 1869, the President directed that the brevet rank of Colonel be conferred upon Thompson. The reason was not stated. Other than the letter to Secretary of War Schofield directing the promotion on Executive Mansion stationery, there is no documentation of the promotion in his records.

1869 Comm T24 pg 2

Captain Thompson was sent to a retiring board in 1870, but the board recommended him for retention. He proved their judgment in the field, commanding his company during the Piegan expedition under Major E.M. Baker earlier that year. He also led his company in an engagement with Sioux at Prior’s Fork, Montana on August 14, 1872.

He returned home to Germantown, Pennsylvania on a sick leave of absence August 25, 1874 to September 12, 1875. He was suffering from chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis. One of the certificates of sickness states “the latter Cachenia having existed for the past six years, I reproduce the certificate given by Dr. Frantz, Surgeon, U.S.A. and continued in June 67 by Dr. Bailey, Surgeon, U.S.A.”

Despite his illnesses, he remained in touch with the regiment and its former officers. He even wrote a short chapter on the Piegan expedition of 1870 for Theophilus Rodenbough’s From Everglade to Canon with the Second United States Cavalry, published in 1875.

Captain Thompson commanded Company L in Major James Brisbin’s battalion of the 2nd Cavalry in Colonel John Gibbon’s column during the Little Big Horn campaign. He was so ill toward the end of the march that he was carried on a stretcher behind a mule with his company.

Lewis Thompson committed suicide in his bed near the headwaters of the Little Big Horn at 6 a.m. on July 19, 1876 “by shooting himself through the breast.” Assistant Surgeon H.O. Paulding’s letter stated, “Captain Thompson had been ailing with Neuralgia of the Stomach, together with excessive vomiting and diarrhea, for two days previously, and no doubt it was the intense suffering that produced the mental aberration which led to the fatal act.”

An article in the Freeman Journal noted, “He was a gentle, genial man, a true gentleman. He was buried at 6:30 pm. All the officers and men attended. General Gibbon made a few appropriate remarks. 1st LT. Edward McGuire read the service.”

In a letter to General Sherman upon learning of his death, Governor Potts of Montana wrote “He was a fine officer and an accomplished gentleman, & was very popular. He was a Philadelphian.”

Unfortunately, Thompson’s story didn’t end there. His brother in law, Lieutenant Colonel Rufus Saxton, requested to move his remains home from Montana to be buried with the rest of his family. His request was endorsed by Brigadier General John Pope, commander of the Department of the Missouri, and Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan, but denied by order of the Secretary of War.

A year later, Saxton and Lewis’ brother moved his remains to the family plot in Saulsbury Church Yard, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The cemetery is currently known as Thompson Memorial Cemetery.


Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Page 640.

Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, Volume 2. New York: George W. Carleton, 1869. Page 345.

National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1861-1870.

National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Commission Branch, 1863-1870.

National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 2nd U.S. Cavalry

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1, page 943.

Rodenbough, Theophilus. From Everglade to Canon with the Second United States Cavalry. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. Pages 378-383 and 470.

Saxton, Rufus. “The Reminiscences of a Quartermaster in the Early Days of the Civil War,” Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Volume 6 (1921), pages 394-412.

The Death of Charles Russell Lowell


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Craig Swain’s post yesterday here on fallen leaders at Cedar Creek jogged a memory. I knew I had seen a contemporary account of the death of Charles Russell Lowell, but couldn’t remember where. Lowell had an interesting position during the battle. He was a captain in the 6th U.S. Cavalry and colonel of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, both present at the battle, and in command of both regiments as the commander of the Reserve Brigade.

Today, I remembered where I had seen it. Charles A. Humphreys was the regimental chaplain for the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry from 1863 through the end of the war. As the chaplain, he frequently encountered the regimental commander, so one must expect a bit of bias. In his postwar history of the regiment, Field, Camp, Hospital and Prison in the Civil War, 1861-1865, Humphreys chronicles Lowell’s passing.

“I have already told how my gallant Colonel, in this month’s campaign in which he was every day under fire, seemed to bear a charmed life, having had thirteen horses shot out from under him — one of them struck in seven places — and his clothes riddled with bullets. He had not himself been touched till the third charge in the Battle of Cedar Creek, when a spent ball for a moment took away his breath and afterwards left him voiceless. General Torbert urged that he be taken from the field. But Lowell whispered: “No! It is only my poor lung. I have not lost a drop of blood yet. I want to lead in the final charge.” So a little parapet of earth was thrown up to shield him from the bullets of the enemy, and he lay there motionless for two hours, having exacted a promise that he should be told when the charge was ordered. This came about three o’clock. Then, though too weak to mount his horse without assistance, he said, “I am well, now,” and allowed his faithful men to lift him into the saddle, and he rode to the front amid the cheers of his troops. Then his strength rose with the occasion, and though the death flush was on his cheeks he rode firm and erect as ever, and though he could only whisper his commands to his aids, [sic] all saw by the pointing of his sword that he meant Forward to victory or death.

“Just as they were in the thickest of the fight, Lowell — still leading on his men — was pierced by a bullet from shoulder to shoulder and fell into the arms of his aids [sic]. Yet even thus he would not check the vigor of the assault, but allowed himself to be carried forward in the track of his rapidly advancing brigade till he reached the village of Middletown and saw that the battle was won. Then he lay down upon his death-couch as calmly as to a night’s repose, and, though partially paralyzed, he remained for a time conscious, and gave minute directions about the business of his command, dictated some private messages of affection, and twice directed his surgeon to leave him to look to the wounds of other officers and of some wounded prisoners whose cries of pain he overheard, and then quietly and contentedly went to sleep and waked no more on earth.”

Obviously Humphreys uses a bit of poetic license in his account. From the nature of his final wound and other accounts of his fall, it seem far more likely that he was in the village or on its outskirts when he was shot.

Lowell was mourned across the Cavalry Corps. His division commander’s comments were contained in the previous post, and his corps commander, A.T.A. Torbert, commented in this excerpt from official report:

“In this general advance Colonel Lowell, Second Massachusetts Cavalry, commanding reserve Brigade, First Division, while charging at the head of his brigade, received a second wound, which proved to be mortal. Thus the service lost one of its most gallant and accomplished soldiers. He was the beau ideal of a cavalry officer, and his memory will never die in the command.”


Humphreys, Charles A. Field, Camp, Hospital and Prison in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1918. Pages 179-181.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 43, Part 1, Page 434.

Photograph of Charles Russell Lowell in 1864, USAMHI.

150 Years Ago: Cedar Creek


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150 years ago today, the battle of Cedar Creek was fought. The previous month’s defeat had all but ended the campaign the month before, but Confederate general Jubal Early cast one last throw of the dice to try to destroy Sheridan’s army.

I have decided to include two versions of the regular cavalry’s piece of the battle. The first and most direct, is an excerpt from the official report of the Reserve Brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel Casper Crowninshield, on the battle. It is very brief and to the point, as he assumed command of the brigade toward the end of the battle.

“October 17, remained in camp, picketing on right of First Brigade. October 18, remained in camp, picketing as before. October 19, broke camp at daylight and moved to the right of the infantry on a reconnaissance for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the enemy; found their cavalry in force; skirmished with them about an hour, when orders were received to fall back, as the whole army had been attacked; proceeded to the left of the infantry and formed skirmish line, connecting with infantry on the right and First Brigade on left; Second Massachusetts made two charges on the enemy’s infantry, checking their advance; held our position until 3 p.m., when the whole line advanced, and this brigade, together with Second Brigade, charged a battery of the enemy’s artillery; were repulsed, with considerable loss, Colonel Lowell being mortally wounded while leading his command in the charge. Lieutenant Colonel Crowninshield, Second Massachusetts Cavalry, assumed command of brigade. The enemy’s line commenced to fall back, when we again charged, pursuing them down the pike and across Cedar Creek. Here we were halted and ordered to fall back, recrossed the creek, and camped on left of infantry.” (Official Records, Series I, Volume 43, Part 1, page 492)

The official report of the division commander, Brigadier General Wesley Merritt, is typically much more animated and verbose.

October 24, 1864.

MAJOR: I respectfully submit the following report of the part this division took in the battle of the 19th and subsequent operations:

About 4 a. m. on the 19th an attack was made on the pickets of the First Brigade near Cupp’s Ford, which attack, coupled with the firing on the extreme left of the infantry line, alarmed the camps, and everything was got ready for immediate action. The First Brigade was at once ordered to move to the support of its picket-line, while the Reserve Brigade, which had the night before received orders to make a reconnaissance on the Middle road, was ordered to halt and await further orders. This brigade had advanced in the execution of its reconnaissance to the picket-line, and subsequently acted for a short time with the First Brigade in repelling the attack of the enemy feebly made on that part of the field. Soon after moving from camp the heavy artillery firing, and immense number of infantry stragglers making across the country to the Back road from our left, showed that it was in that direction the heavy force of the enemy was advancing. The Fifth U. S. Cavalry, attached to division headquarters, was immediately deployed across the fields, and, together with the officers and orderlies of the division staff, did much toward preventing the infantry going to the rear, and forced everyone to stop and form line. About this time the Second Brigade (General Devin) was ordered to move to the left of the line, cover and hold the pike, and at the saline time deploy men in that part of the field to prevent fugitives from going to the rear; this General Devin quickly accomplished, and did good service, especially in preventing the infantry straggling. On moving to the left General Devin ordered his battery to report to division headquarters, where Lieutenant Taylor, commanding, received orders to advance to an eligible position on the infantry line of battle, and use his pieces on the enemy till such time as it was unsafe to remain there. Great credit is due Lieutenant Taylor for the prompt and efficient manner in which he carried out this order. He was well advanced to the front of battle, without supports from his own command, and none save what was offered by the thin and wavering line of infantry near his position. The artillery of the infantry had gone unaccountably to the rear, or had been captured by the enemy, and Taylor’s was the only battery for some time on that part of the field. It is thought that his rapid and destructive fire did much toward preventing a farther advance of the enemy on that flank in the early part of the day. About 10 o’clock, in compliance with orders from the chief of cavalry, the First Division was moved to the left of the infantry line and disposed so as to connect with the infantry and at the same time cover the Valley pike and the country to the left. This was soon done — the Second Brigade (Devin’s) occupying the right, the Reserve Brigade (Lowell’s) the center, and the First Brigade (Kidd’s) the left of the division line of battle. Orders were then sent to each brigade to press the enemy warmly, and Lowell was cautioned to watch his opportunity and charge a battery of the enemy which seemed exposed in the open country to the left of the pike. Never did troops fight more elegantly than at this time; not a man shirked his duty, not a soldier who did not conduct himself like a hero. All through the day each man fought with the instinct and judgment of an officer and with the courage for which this division has become so celebrated. Twice or thrice by movements in the infantry line on our right the enemy got in the flank of the division line and subjected it to a murderous fire; but there was no movement on the part of the men save that demanded by superior judgment for a fresh disposition to meet the contingency; no running, no confusion, where at one time among so many others there was the most intense demoralization. The line at this time, in compliance with orders given as above stated, advanced nearly to Middletown, driving the enemy before it through the open country, the gallant Lowell, as usual, with his noble command forcing from the enemy every available inch of ground. This advance was handsomely made by all the brigades; at the time it was intended more as an offensive-defensive movement than one looking to a final victory. The enemy withdrew from the open country, evidently fearing the attack of the cavalry, and the battery which was marked for attack and possible capture also withdrew to a safer position. Sheltered by the woods on each flank and the houses and fences of Middletown, the enemy (Kershaw’s and Pegram’s divisions) in our front, Kershaw on the extreme right, continued a sharp skirmish, varied by attacks on both sides, until the final advance by the whole army under the major-general commanding Shortly after taking position on the left of the line as above described, Colonel Moore’s brigade, Second Division, was ordered to report to the First Division for orders. This brigade, having skirmishers on the line to the left of the pike, was ordered to advance with the line of the First Division; it did so handsomely, fighting with spirit while it remained with1 the command; it was ordered to the left toward Front Royal later in the day by the chief of cavalry. During the entire day the enemy kept up an artillery fire on our position whit h was truly terrific; it has seldom been equaled for accuracy of aim and excellence of ammunition. The batteries attached to this division did nobly, but were overpowered at times by weight of metal and superior ammunition. So excellent was the practice of the enemy that it was utterly impossible to cover a cavalry command from the artillery fire; a number of horses and men were destroyed by this arm during the day. As the news spread through the command that the major-general commanding the army had arrived a cheer went up from each brigade in this division; every officer in the command felt there was victory at hand; they all had confidence in him who had formerly commanded them more directly in trying circumstances, and when the order was given for a general advance each veteran in the First Division bent his brow resolutely and rode fearlessly toward the goal. Words are but poor vehicles to convey a description of the scene; suffice it to say, the charge was successfully made, each brigade doing its duty nobly. The Reserve and Second Brigades charged into a living wall of the enemy which, receiving the shock, emitted a leaden sheet of fire upon their devoted ranks; but the enemy were broken and fled before the resistless force of the blow, coupled with the stern, steady, unrelenting, yet swift, advance of the infantry, who, under the new regime, excited the admiration of all beholders.

The First Brigade, in column of regiments in line, moved forward like an immense wave, slowly at first, but gathering strength and speed as it progressed, overwhelmed a battery and its supports amidst a desolating shower of canister and a deadly fire of musketry from part of Kershaw’s division, at short range, from a heavy wood to our left. Never has the mettle of the division been put to a severer test than at this time, and never .did it stand the test better. The charge was made on an enemy well formed, prepared to receive it with guns double-shotted with canister. Into that fearful charge rode many a noble spirit who met his death. One more prominent than the rest, if individual prominence among a band of heroes is possible, received his death wound — the fearless Lowell, at the head of as gallant a brigade as ever rode at a foe, fell in the thickest of the fray, meeting his death as he had always faced it — calmly, resolutely, heroically. His fall cast a gloom on the entire command. No one in the field appreciated his worth more than his division commander. He was wounded painfully in the early part of the day, soon after which I met him; he was suffering acutely from his wound, but to ask him to leave the field was to insult him almost; a more gallant soldier never buckled on a saber. His coolness and judgment on the held were unequaled. An educated and accomplished gentleman, his modest, amiable, yet independent, demeanor endeared him to all his superiors in rank; his inflexible justice, temperate, yet unflinching, conduct of discipline made him respected and loved by his subordinates. He was upright as a mall, pure as a patriot, and preeminently free from the finesse of the politician. His last breath was warm with commendations of his comrades in arms and devotion to his country’s cause. Young in years, he died too early for his country, leaving a brilliant record for future generations, ending a career which gave bright promise of yet greater usefulness and glory.

After the charge our ranks were soon formed and the command moved forward resistlessly to Cedar Creek. Part of the enemy’s forces which had bed by the fords below were followed by detachments of the First and Reserve Brigades, which captured quite a number of prisoners, the First Brigade adding another to its trophies in the shape of a battle-flag. The Second and Reserve Brigades moved to Cedar Creek (the Second Brigade in advance), charged across the fords and bridge, pursuing the enemy with unparalleled vigor to his stronghold — Fisher’s Hill — leaving, like the whirlwind, nothing but the wreck in their track to be gathered up.” In this pursuit the Second Brigade lost heavily. I respectfully call attention to the report of General Devin, commanding Second Brigade, who ably conducted this movement. Great credit is due him for his untiring energy and determination in following up the victory, toward which he and his gallant command had done as much during the entire day as men could do. The Reserve Brigade was also ” in at the death,” but, in compliance with orders, halted and formed as a reserve, while the First and Second Brigades pursued the enemy on their different roads. Night alone saved Early’s demoralized army from total annihilation. As it was, he carried off with him but five pieces of artillery and but few other wheels.

The following morning (October 20) the division moved to Fisher’s Hill, where a small force of the enemy’s cavalry was found. This disappeared from our front and the command was pushed on to Woodstock. At that point it was ascertained from citizens and prisoners that the enemy was some distance in advice. The First and Second Brigades were halted and the Reserve Brigade ordered on toward Edenburg, beyond which point it went, without, however, coming up With the dying enemy. During this pursuit a number of wagons, ambulances, caissons, arms, &c., abandoned by the enemy, were found on the road and destroyed.

During the battle and subsequent pursuit the following captures were made and property destroyed by the division: 3 battle flags, 22 pieces of artillery, 8 caissons, 37 ambulances, 29 wagons, 95 horses and harness, 141 mules and harness, 389 prisoners of war, including 6 commissioned officers; two of the above wagons were loaded with muskets. Property destroyed; 12 army wagons, 28 ambulances, 81 muskets, 2 caissons
In concluding this report I must again return my acknowledgments to my staff and subordinate commanders for their untiring energy and zeal ill the performance of their duties and implicit and unquestioning obedience to orders; they are commended to the notice of superior headquarters.
The men and officers of the command have endured all the hardships of the arduous campaign without the comforts afforded by a regular system of transportation, oftentimes without regular issues of rations uncomplainingly and cheerfully. If there have been any instances of unsoldierly conduct they are exceptions to the rule. The command as a whole is gallant and well disciplined, confident in its own strength and justly proud of its prowess.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding Division.” (Official Records, Series I, Volume 43, Part 1, pages 448-452)

Despite the effusive description of their role in the battle, casualties in the Reserve Brigade were relatively light. The total was only 37 killed, wounded and missing, broken down as follows:

2d MA Cav: 1 officer killed, 6 men killed; 3 officers and 13 men wounded; 1 man captured or missing. (24)
1st US Cav: 2 men killed; 5 men wounded. (7)
2nd US Cav: 2 officers and 4 men wounded. (6)
(Ibid., page 137)

More On Fort Garland


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I ended up with the cart a bit before the horse, but here’s the basic information on Fort Garland to go with its Civil War history.

Fort Garland was constructed in 1858 to help keep the peace between settlers in the San Luis Valley and their Apache and Ute Indian neighbors. It was actually the second fort built in the area. Soldiers had manned Fort Massachusetts for the previous six years. The original fort had a stout wooden stockade, and was similar in appearance to the common perception of a western fort. Although only six miles north of the new fort, Fort Massachusetts was at a higher elevation, and the inhabitants had been plagued by sickness, extreme cold in the winter and isolation, as the fort was over 30 miles from the closest town.

The new fort was named for brevet Brigadier General John Garland, commander of the Military District of New Mexico at the time the fort was constructed. A native of Virginia, Garland entered the army as a first lieutenant in 1813, and served stints in the 1st, 3rd and 4th U.S. Infantry before his promotion to colonel and command of the 8th U.S. Infantry Regiment. He was brevetted numerous times, though the first is one I had not seen before. He was brevetted to major on May 27, 1827 for ten years of faithful service in the same grade – captain. The brevet notwithstanding, he wasn’t promoted to major for another nine years. During the Mexican War he received additional brevets for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Contreras and Churubusco. He was not as well-known as his son in law, James Longstreet, who married his daughter in 1848. He remained loyal during the Civil War and was still on active duty in New York when he died on June 5, 1861.


Unlike Fort Massachusetts, Fort Garland was not constructed as a wooden stockade. Like many forts in desert areas, it was built of adobe. Soldiers took advantage of the rich clay and sand to make earthen bricks, which were coupled with wood from nearby slopes to build a very durable fort. Eventually the fort consisted of twenty two buildings, and the troops marched south from Fort Massachusetts and occupied the post. It was not a large fort with barracks buildings for an infantry company and a cavalry company, each of 50 men. The first photo below shows the plans of the fort, while the second is of a diorama currently on display at the fort. The infantry barracks are at the base of the picture, and the cavalry barracks and stables are at the top.



The mission of the fort’s garrison was to cover the entire San Luis Valley – an area 100 miles wide east to west and 75 miles long north to south. They were expected to provide protection to all of the inhabitants scattered across the valley in all seasons. Surprisingly, before the war there were frequently occasions when there were no cavalry assigned to the fort, which must have made patrolling the area difficult. Although sometimes full during the Civil War, the garrison was frequently 50 men or less during the fort’s existence. Below is a picture of the cavalry stables from across the parade field.


The fort’s primary claim to fame was that Colonel Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson commanded the fort and its garrison of New Mexico volunteers from 1866 to 1867. During its existence, it was home to companies of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th U.S. Cavalry regiments. A company of the 9th U.S. Cavalry ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ garrisoned the fort from 1876 to 1879 during a Ute uprising. Once the uprising was quelled, troop numbers dwindled until the fort was abandoned in 1883.

The post is now a museum under the management of the San Luis Valley Museum Association, and they have done a tremendous job restoring the site. Five of the original twenty two buildings still stand, and visitors can tour the parade ground, both barracks, the commandant’s house and the gift shop located in one of the former officer’s quarters buildings. The interpretive exhibits are very well done. The site is open 9am – 5pm April 1st to October 31st, and 10am – 4pm the rest of the year. It is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

Fort Garland – A Civil War History


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Work sent me over to the San Luis Valley of Colorado a couple of months ago. Normally the valley isn’t much of a tourist destination, with the exception of land-locked natives in search of sand dunes and alligators. But it’s also the site of the first and second forts constructed in Colorado Territory, Fort Massachusetts and Fort Garland. While the former was quickly abandoned in the 1850s, the second figured slightly in the Civil War. This proved too long for a single post, so this one will focus on the fort’s Civil War history and I’ll do another on the fort itself.


At the beginning of 1861, the fort was garrisoned by three companies of regulars: Companies A and F, 10th Infantry and Company G, 2nd Dragoons. The post was commanded by Captain Cuvier Grover of the 10th Infantry, and Lieutenant Ebenezar Gay commanded Company G. In February Company G was ordered to Taos, New Mexico, and in March to Fort Union. Major E.R.S. Canby, 10th Infantry, rejoined from an expedition into Navajo county in March, and resumed command of the post.


Edward Richard Sprague Canby, a native of Kentucky, graduated from West Point in 1835. He served in the 2nd U.S. Infantry until 1855, when he was promoted to major in the 10th Infantry. During the Mexican War, he earned brevet promotions to major at Churubusco and Contreras and to lieutenant colonel at Belen Gate, Mexico City for gallantry in action. Major Canby was ordered south to Fort Union in May, and Major Daniel P. Whiting, also of the 10th Infantry, arrived June 15th to assume command of the two infantry companies and the post.


David Powers Whiting graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1828, 28th in his class. He served in the 7th U.S. Infantry as a lieutenant and captain, and earned a brevet promotion to major during the Mexican War for gallant and meritorious conduct during the battle of Cerro Gordo. He was promoted to major in the 10th Infantry on December 20, 1860, and was a year senior to Canby.

Company F, 10th Infantry was ordered to Fort Union July 9th, leaving the understrength Company A to garrison the fort. First Lieutenant William H. Russell commanded the 22 enlisted men present for duty, as well as serving as the post’s acting assistant quartermaster and acting assistant of commisary services. Company I, 2nd U.S. Cavalry arrived at the post on October 9th. Captain T.J. Durnin of the 16th Infantry commanded the 30 enlisted men of the company present for duty.

Thomas James Durnin enlisted in Company G, 2nd U.S. Dragoons on June 14, 1855. He was promoted to corporal, sergeant and first sergeant in the company by the war’s outbreak. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the 16th Infantry in the orders expanding the regular army on May 14, 1861. Interestingly, though identified as a captain in numerous post returns, he was not promoted to first lieutenant until October, and was not actually a captain until December 1864.

The garrison remained unchanged for Major Whiting until December, which was a busy month for the post. Company A, 10th Infantry departed on the 10th for Santa Fe. Captain Theodore H. Dodd’s company of Colorado volunteers arrived on the 14th, followed seven days later by Captain James H. Ford’s company of Colorado volunteers.


Garrison changes continued through the early months of 1862. Dodd’s Company stayed only long enough to recover from its long march and reprovision, departing January 3rd for Santa Fe. Ford’s Company left a month later, on February 5th. Company I, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, still commanded by Captain Durnin, was the post’s only garrison through spring and early summer.

In March 1862 the post was finally assigned medical staff. Civilian Lewis B. McLain was assigned as the acting assistant surgeon by the district’s medical director in Santa Fe.

July 1862 was another month of great change for the small fort. Major A.H. Mayer, 1st New Mexico Volunteers, arrived to take command of the post on July 17th. Daniel Whiting, now a lieutenant colonel in the 10th U.S. Infantry, departed to join his regiment on the 26th. He was the last regular army officer to command the post for several years. Company I, 2nd U.S. Cavalry was joined in garrison by Company D, 1st New Mexico Volunteers on July 30th.

Company I and Captain Durnin departed the post for Fort Union on August 9th, replaced two weeks later by Company H, 2nd Colorado Volunteers on August 24th. Company H and Company D, 1st New Mexico Volunteers departed on a ten day scout September 5th, marching 242 miles before returning to post on the 15th. They were joined by four additional companies the following month, raising the garrison to its largest size during the war. Company C, 3rd U.S. Cavalry arrived from Fort Union on September 24th, followed three days later by Company M, 1st New Mexico Volunteers. Companies H and K, 1st Colorado Volunteers, arrived under Major Edward W. Wynkoop on September 29th, bringing the garrison to 370 enlisted men by the end of the month. With only two company-sized barracks buildings, many of the men must have lived under canvas.

The garrison thinned considerably in October. Company C, 3rd U.S. Cavalry departed for Fort Lyon on the 3rd. Major Wynkoop left for Denver with Companies H and K, 1st Colorado Cavalry on the 26th, accompanied by Company H, 2nd Colorado Cavalry. Company D, 1st New Mexico Volunteers remained the sole garrison for the next few months, though the post commander changed several times.


Major Mayer left the post on December 10th, ostensibly on 60 days leave, but he never returned. Captain Ethan W. Eaton of Company D, 1st New Mexico assumed command. The remainder of the winter was quiet, broken only by an expedition of 2 officers and 28 enlisted men to Conejos ordered by the Department of New Mexico in February. Captain Eaton established the garrison at Conejos under Lieutenant Moore and returned to the post.

April was evidently a confusing month for the post. Post returns at the time were filed every ten days instead of the usual monthly requirement. Early in the month, Captain Joseph B. Davidson and Company C, 1st Colorado Cavalry arrived at the post. Captain Davidson assumed command on the 16th, but on the 20th both he and Captain Eaton filed post returns stating they were in command. Closer examination revealed that Captain Eaton had been absent without leave until April 18th, and had apparently been submitting returns in absentia. When this started is unclear, but the May return shows that Captain Eaton was dismissed from the service by War Department Special Order 63, April 9, 1863. Captain Davidson remained in command of the post, and Captain Birney arrived to take command of Company D on May 30th.

There was also a murder on the post in May. According to the post return, “Private Lujan of Co. D 1st New Mexico Vol was Shot by Private Cambojar while asleep in his quarters.” It is unclear what the outcome of this event was, but the company was relieved from duty at the post the next month, departing under Captain Birney for regimental headquarters on June 6th. Company E, 1st Colorado Cavalry arrived on July 12th, bringing the present for duty strength of the garrison to 52 enlisted men.

August 1863 was a very active month for the post. Reporting requirements changed, with orders now coming to the post from the District of Colorado rather than the Department of New Mexico. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Tappan of the 1st Colorado Volunteers arrived to take command of the post on August 12th. Colorado also sent additional forces to garrison the fort. The 45 enlisted men of Company F, 3rd Colorado Volunteers under 2nd Lieutenant Albert S. Gooding arrived from Denver on the 21st, and the 26 enlisted men of the Right Section, 1st Colorado Battery under 2nd Lieutenant Horace W. Baldwin arrived five days later. Lieutenant S.N. Crane of the 1st Colorado Cavalry and 30 men relieved 1st Lieutenant Moore’s garrison at Conejos, and he returned to the post and assumed command of the squadron on the 16th.

At the end of September, Governor John Lewis and Colonel Chivington briefly visited the fort while sending troops into the field against the Indians. Although there had been no issues near the fort, an expedition departed on the 29th. Lieutenant Colonel Tappan commanded a battalion consisting of Companies C and E, 1st Colorado Cavalry and the Right Section, 1st Colorado Battery. 2nd Lieutenant Gooding served as the battalion adjutant, and 1st Lieutenant David R. Wright assumed command of Company F, 3rd Colorado Volunteers and the post.

Tappan, Company E and the artillery section returned on October 10th, followed by Company C the next day. Company C was ordered to Denver on the 17th, and Company F of the 3rd Colorado was relieved and ordered to Fort Lyon on the 28th. There was apparently some difficulty with the artillery section during the expedition, as 2nd Lieutenant Baldwin was dismissed from the service at the end of the month.

Company E was reinforced by Company A, 1st Colorado Cavalry under Lieutenant Edward A. Jacobs on November 9th, bringing the squadron strength to 60 enlisted men. The Right Section, 1st Colorado Battery was commanded by a noncommissioned officer, and had only 10 enlisted men present for duty and no serviceable horses. This likely had something to do with Lt. Baldwin’s dismissal. On the 24th Lieutenant Moore and 40 men were dispatched to assist a supply train reach the post, most likely over La Veta pass.


The winter of 1863-1864 was a quiet one for Lieutenant Colonel Tappan and the small garrison. In February, Lieutenant Baldwin returned to the artillery section, and in March the section changed from the right section to the left section. This appears to have simply been a change of designation, as no new troops arrived and Lt. Baldwin remained in charge of the section. The section departed for Camp Fillmore, Colorado Territory on April 16th.

On June 1st, Captain Charles Kerber’s Company I, 1st Colorado Cavalry relieved Companies A and E as the post garrison. With a strength of only 2 officers and 33 enlisted men, there was plenty of room for the newcomers. Captain Isaac Gray and Company E departed the same day for Spring Bottom on the Arkansas River, followed on the 14th by Lieutenant Jacobs and Company A. Captain Kerber assumed command of the post from Lieutenant Colonel Tappan on June 19th.

Despite the increasing hostilities with Indians elsewhere in the state that culminated in the Sand Creek Massacre in November, the remainder of 1864 was very quiet for the post’s small garrison. The company’s strength waned in the final months of the year. On November 1st, civilian F.R. Waggoner assumed duties as the post’s acting assistant surgeon, relieving Lewis McLain, the post longest tenured wartime resident. By December, the 37 enlisted men present for duty were nearly outnumbered by the post’s 24 civilian employees – a quartermaster clerk, a commissary clerk, two storekeepers, a wagon master, a saddler, a chief herder, two herders, , a cook, a butcher, eight teamsters and six laborers.


1865 was uneventful for the post. Captain Kerber remained in command of the fort through the end of the war. In February, Company I was designated as “Squadron B, Veteran Battalion, 1st Colorado Cavalry.” Although the garrison’s strength had increased to 72 men present for duty by April, no new units arrived at the fort.

The wartime regular army commanders of Fort Garland did not fare well after the war. Canby, promoted to general in the interim, was killed by Modoc Indians during a peace conference in California in 1873. David P. Whiting retired before the war ended, on November 4, 1863. Thomas J. Durnin was transferred to the 25th Infantry Regiment as part of an expansion of the regular army on September 21, 1866. He was cashiered exactly one year from that date.

The following post will examine the post itself, and the efforts of a dedicated few to preserve it for future generations.


Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903.
Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, 2 volumes. New York: George W. Carleton, 1869.
National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1861-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 2nd U.S. Cavalry
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Military Posts: Fort Garland, CO
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914

Fiddler’s Green – Richard Fitzgerald


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Richard Fitzgerald was born in County Waterford, Ireland in 1838. After immigrating to the United States, he worked as a fireman prior to serving in the army. He was enlisted into the General Mounted Service by Lieutenant Magruder in Baltimore, Maryland on January 20, 1859. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 10” tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a ruddy complexion.

At this period, the General Mounted Service meant assignment to the Cavalry School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania and various recruiting assignments. Fitzgerald rose through the enlisted ranks, and was serving as a first sergeant in the permanent company at Carlisle Barracks service when he was appointed a second lieutenant in Company I, 5th U.S. Cavalry on November 7, 1863.

Cavalry depot commander Captain David Hastings of the 1st U.S. Cavalry submitted the recommendation for his appointment, which was also signed by every officer assigned to the depot. It read: “Sergeant Hastings is well instructed in all the details and duties relative to the mounted service, and will make an excellent Cavalry Officer. His character and services justly intitle [sic] him to that position: he done some good service, as first sergeant of the permanent company of this Depot, in the recent battles in Pennsylvania and Maryland.”

Lieutenant Fitzgerald joined his regiment at Mitchell’s Station, Virginia the following month. He served there through the winter and spring, including skirmishes at Barnett’s Ford, Charlottesville, Stanardsville, and Morton’s Ford. Although assigned to Company I, he spent very little time there. He was on special duty commanding Company E from January to March, then shifted to Company M in April as the spring campaign began.

He led his company ably in the Overland Campaign and Sheridan’s two raids toward Richmond. He was promoted to first lieutenant in Company I on June 12, 1864, replacing former sergeant major Joseph P. Henley when he was killed at Trevillian Station. Fitzgerald continued to command Company M as the regiment was transferred to the Shenandoah Valley.

Lieutenant Fitzgerald led his company well in the near constant skirmishing that comprised the first month of the campaign. During the battle of Opequon on September 19, 1864, “he was killed while gallantly leading his company in a charge against the enemy.” He is buried in the military cemetery at Winchester, Virginia.

LT Fitzgerald 1

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Page 268.
Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, 2 volumes. New York: George W. Carleton, 1869. Volume 1, page 152.

National Archives, Record Group 94, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1861-1870.
National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 1st, 2nd and 5th U.S. Cavalry

National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914

Price, George F. Across The Continent With The Fifth Cavalry. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1883. Pages 507-508.

150 Years Ago: Battle of Opequon, or Third Winchester


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Today marks the 150th anniversary of the battle of Opequon, or Third Winchester. While the cavalry was primarily involved in the larger fight at its culmination, with the first of the large scale charges that became its hallmark under Sheridan, they still had a busy day.
Rather than try to hastily sketch the battle into a blog post, I have decided to let one of the participants tell the story in his own words. For those desiring more in depth information on the battle, I strongly recommend The Last Battle of Winchester by Scott Patchan. It is the best treatment of the battle that I’ve seen.

The closest commander to the source for my purposes is Reserve Brigade commander Colonel Charles R. Lowell. He served through the Peninsula campaign as a lieutenant and captain in the 6th U.S. Cavalry before he was selected to command a regiment of volunteers, the Second Massachusetts. This was his first major engagement as a brigade commander.

The Reserve Brigade consisted of four regiments of cavalry for this battle. Since Colonel Lowell commanded the brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Casper Crowninshield commanded the 2nd Massachusetts. He was the senior regimental commander. Captain Eugene M. Baker commanded the 1st U.S. Cavalry. The 2nd U.S. Cavalry was commanded by Captain Theophilus F. Rodenbough until he was severely wounded near the end of the day’s fighting, then by Captain Robert S. Smith. Lieutenant Gustavus Urban, the former regimental sergeant major, commanded the 5th U.S. Cavalry. The 6th Pennsylvania, under command of Major Charles L. Leiper, was ordered to the remount camp at Pleasant Valley, Maryland on September 8th and was not present for the battle.

Colonel Lowell’s report for the period encompasses two weeks of maneuver by the brigade, so I have excerpted his words on the battle:

“September 19, marched at 2 a.m.; reached Opequon at Seiver’s Ford before daybreak. The enemy’s picket-line was driven in by Second U.S. Cavalry and Second Massachusetts Cavalry, about forty prisoners being taken, and the opposite bank of the creek occupied in a line of about three miles, the right connecting with the First Brigade. A very gallant charge was made by Second U.S. Cavalry on one of Breckinridge’s batteries, but was repulsed, the infantry supports being well placed behind rails breast high, a simultaneous charge by the First Brigade being also repulsed. Soon after noon the whole line was advanced to the Martinsburg pike; the brigade was necessarily much scattered. Two squadrons of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry joined the charge of the Second Brigade on the enemy’s infantry; the rest of that regiment got mixed up with the skirmish line of Averell’s division. The First, Second, and Fifth U.S. Cavalry advanced toward Winchester, on the left of the pike; charged a battery supported by infantry and cavalry; captured two guns, with their caissons and most of the horses and drivers. What part of these regiments could be rallied assisted in the subsequent charge of the First Brigade upon a brigade of the enemy’s infantry. After dark the brigade was moved through Winchester and camped two miles out on the Valley pike.”

The Reserve Brigade’s total casualties for the battle were 103, including killed, wounded and missing. This was a little more than a third of the First Division’s 288, but the brigade was roughly half the size of Custer’s First Brigade and Devin’s Second Brigade. One of the men of the Reserve Brigade, First Sergeant Conrad Schmidt of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, earned the Medal of Honor during the battle, but that will be detailed in a separate post.

I was not able to identify the members of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry killed during the battle. Regimental casualties included 3 men killed, 3 officers and 8 men wounded, 1 officer and 5 men missing or captured. Those of the three regular regiments are listed below.

1st U.S. Cavalry
First Sergeant Henry Montville, Co. C, KIA
Corporal Jacob McAtlee, Co. G, KIA
Private Ledoux Lewis, Co. I, KIA
Private John Siedler, Co. C, KIA
One officer and 13 men wounded, 6 men missing or captured.

2nd U.S. Cavalry
Captain James F. McQuesten, serving on brigade staff, KIA
Corporal Edward Sheehy, Co. K, KIA
Two officers and 17 men wounded, 1 officer and 7 men missing or captured.

5th U.S. Cavalry
Lieutenant Richard Fitzgerald, Co. I, KIA
Corporal Michael Howard, Co. E, KIA
Private Albert Bigmore, Co. G, KIA
Private Henry Curry, Co. I, KIA
Three officers and 9 men wounded, 12 men missing or captured


National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 1st, 2nd and 5th U.S. Cavalry
National Archives, U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914
National Archives, U.S., Register of Deaths in the Regular Army, 1860-1889
OR, Series I, Volume 43, part 1, page 111. (task organization and commanders)
OR, Series I, Volume 43, part 1, page 117. (casualty totals)
OR, Series I, Volume 43, part 1, page 490. (Lowell’s report)

150 Years Ago: Trevillian Station


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150 years ago today, the cavalry forces of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia collided in the largest all cavalry battle of the Civil War at Trevillian Station. For two days the forces went at each other hammer and tongs, in some of the fiercest cavalry fighting of the war.

Rather than craft yet another summary of the battle on its anniversary, I decided to focus on the official report of the battle and on identifying the casualties from the regular regiments.

The official report of Brigadier General Wesley Merritt, commanding the Reserve Brigade, covers the period from May 26th to June 25th, so I’ve chosen to excerpt only those sections relevant to the fighting at Trevillian Station.

“On the 7th the brigade marched with the division, crossing the Pamunkey on the second expedition. On the 8th, 9th and 10th of June the march was continued without event.

“On the 11th the brigade left camp at 5 a.m., moving toward Gordonsville. The Second Cavalry, forming the advance guard, soon encountered the enemy’s pickets, which were driven in and the main body of the enemy engaged. Captain Rodenbough handled his gallant regiment with great skill and unexampled valor, charging and driving the enemy mounted, and forcing him, as usual, to cover. Captain Rodenbough was here wounded, as also Lieutenant Horrigan, of the Second. Here also Lieutenant Lawless, of the same regiment, was killed. He was a fearless, honest, and eminently trustworthy soldier, “God’s truth” being the standard by which he measured all his actions. The entire brigade was soon engaged, the First on the left, and the First New York Dragoons on the extreme right. On the left of this latter was the Sixth Pennsylvania, and next the Second Cavalry, now commanded by Capt. D.S. Gordon. The Fifth Cavalry was held as a support to the battery. The enemy was driven through a thick tangled brushwood for over 2 miles to Trevilian Station, on the Virginia Central Railroad, but not without serious loss to ourselves, though we inflicted heavy punishment on the adversary in killed, wounded, and prisoners. [start pg 850] Among his wounded was General Rosser, commanding Hampton’s old division, and a colonel commanding a brigade was killed, his body, along with most of the enemy’s killed and wounded, falling into our hands. Few less than 200 prisoners, including 6 or 8n officers, were taken by the brigade. The enemy’s retreat finally became a rout, led horses, mounted men, and artillery all fled together in the wildest confusion. Williston, with his battery, took position near by, and did elegant practice with his guns, planting shells in the midst of the confused masses of the retreating enemy. Trevilian Station was thus gained. In this retreat part of the enemy went toward Gordonsville, while fragments were driven off on the road to Louisa Court-House. In their headlong career these latter came in contact with the First Brigade, which, being engaged toward its rear by the advance of Fitzhugh Lee’s division coming from Louisa Court-House, was compelled to abandon some captures it had made from the led horses and trains of the force that was engaging the rest of the First Division, as above described. This brigade soon formed a junction and took position to the left rear of the Reserve Brigade. In the meanwhile, Fitz. Lee’s division advanced on the Louisa Court-House road and took up a line on the left of the Reserve Brigade, his line being perpendicular to the last. The two parts of the line at this time formed a right angle, the Reserve Brigade occupying the right of the line, to the vortex of the angle, the second Brigade on its left, occupying part of the other line, and the First Brigade, with the Second Division, remained in echelon to the left rear, as above mentioned.

“On the night of the 11th the enemy retired from our left front and took up position on the Gordonsville front.

“About 3 p.m. on the 12th the brigade was ordered to attack the enemy’s left, while it was intended that the First Brigade should co-operate on its left, while the Second Brigade of the division was held in reserve. The brigade went in on an open field to its right and attacked the enemy’s left flank vigorously. It was slow work, however, and as the enemy was not pressed on the left he concentrated his force on the brigade, and by large numbers and fresh troops, gave the command as much as it could attend to. Still both officers and men stood up to their work, doing manfully all that their former prowess would lead the most sanguine to expect, holding everything they had gained on the left, where the line was weakest, and driving the enemy on the right before them in expectation of a general advance. In thus advancing the right of the brigade was so swung round as to be exposed to the enemy’s attack on its wing. This he was not slow to take advantage of, when a squadron of the Second Cavalry, my only remaining mounted support to the battery, was thrown in to meet the attack. Here again the Second did nobly. Coming up on the right of the Sixth Pennsylvania, which up to that time had been the extreme right regiment in line, they charged gallantly, and, though few in numbers, by the impetuosity of their onslaught, drove the enemy back and protected the right until relieved by two regiments of the Second Brigade (the Fourth and Sixth New York). After these two regiments got in position this squadron of the Second was withdrawn to again act as support to the battery, which was ordered to advance, a good position having been gained on the right. Right gallantly did the battery come up in the midst of a heavy musketry fire, we being at that time so close to the enemy that their shells all flew far over us. Planting three [start pg 851] guns of the battery in this position, where it dealt the enemy heavy blows, Lieutenant Williston moved one of his brass 12-pounders onto the skirmish line. In fact, the line was moved to the front to allow him to get an eligible position, where he remained with his gun, in the face of the strengthened enemy (who advanced to its very muzzle), dealing death and destruction in their ranks with double loads of canister. It was now dark and I was ordered to retire the brigade, which was done slowly and leisurely, the enemy not advancing. This day the loss of the brigade was heavy for the numbers engaged. The general advance was not made.” (Official Records, Vol. 36, Pt. 1, pgs 850-852)

While I was able to track down the names of almost all the casualties from the battle, I felt that listing all of the wounded made the post overly long. Only the names of those killed are listed, as well as the numbers of wounded and missing. The four officers killed in the battle will be featured separately over the course of the remainder of the month.

1st US Cavalry:

Killed in action:

1LT John H. Nichols

1LT Frederick Ogden

Sgt E. Jackson, Co. H

Sgt William Mulcahy, Co. M

Sgt James Rathburn, Co. C

Pvt Henry Lynch, Co. D

Pvt John Normyle, Co. E

Pvt George Ott, Co. K

Pvt H.S.P. Petro, Co. D

An additional 29 enlisted men were wounded, three of them dying of wounds later in the month. Six enlisted men were listed as missing in action.

2nd US Cavalry:

Killed in action:

1LT Michael Lawless, Co. A

Sgt Christian Fisher, Co. M

Pvt Thomas Corbett, Co. A

Pvt Edward Gorman, Co. B

Pvt James Ferris, Co. F

Pvt Ariel C. Chapin, Co. K

Pvt James Levens, Co. L

Pvt Patrick McArdle, Co. E


An additional two officers, including regimental commander Captain T. F. Rodenbough and 1st Lieutenant Patrick Horrigan, and 34 enlisted men were wounded. Captain Charles McK. Leoser and two enlisted men were listed as missing in action.


5th US Cavalry:

Killed in action:

1LT Joseph P. Henley, Co. I

Corp Charles E. Asher, Co. G

Pvt Patrick Keeney, Co. G


An additional two enlisted men were wounded, and two more were listed as missing in action. The 5th US Cavalry’s casualties appear light in comparison to the other two regiments, but over half of the regiment did not participate in the battle.


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