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1864 October 29: First News of the Battle of Westport

October 31, 2014

This short weekly summary of war news comes from The Polk County Press of October 29, 1864.  The much longer “Late and interesting Items” comes from The Prescott Journal of the same date.

The second item refers to the Battle of Westport, sometimes called the “Gettysburg of the West,” which was fought October 23, 1864, in Westport, Missouri (in modern-day Kansas City).  This battle was the turning point of Price’s Missouri Expedition, forcing his army to retreat into hostile Kansas.  The 8th Wisconsin Infantry, 9th Wisconsin Battery, and a detachment of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry participated in this battle.

In the next item, it is not Union General William T. Sherman himself who is following Confederate General John Bell Hood.  While Sherman prepared for his March to the Sea, Hood planned to attack Sherman’s lines of communications between Chattanooga and Atlanta, and to move north through Alabama and into central Tennessee.  He expected that Sherman would be threatened and follow, and that he could then maneuver Sherman into a decisive battle, defeat him, and go to the aid of the besieged Petersburg and Robert E. Lee.  Sherman did not cooperate, however, and instead of pursuing Hood himself, Sherman sent General George H. Thomas to take control of the Union forces in Tennessee and coordinate the defense against Hood.  The battle that is about to take place—and actually was just wrapping up as this paper was being published—was the Battle of Dcatur, fought October 26-29, 1864,  at Decatur, Alabama, as part of what was called the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

From The Polk County Press:

News Summary.

President Lincoln has issued a proclamation, setting apart the last Thursday in November for a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God, throughout the United States, for victories over the rebels by our brave Army and Navy.  [Abraham Lincoln]

— From Missouri we have the gratifying news that Price [Sterling Price] has at last got what he so richly deserves, a good thrashing.  Price is retreating with great hast, followed closely by our forces under Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans].  The Kansas militia under Jennison [Charles R. Jennison] and Montgomery [James Montgomery], met the rebels on the border and after a spirited battle utterly routed them, capturing many prisoners, several cannon and much plunder.

— Sherman is sharply following Hood, and a battle may occur at any moment.  Hood is making for Alabama.  At last accounts Sherman was only six miles in his rear.  Hood is reported to be short of rations and forage.  Beauregard [P.G.T. Beauregard] has assumed command of the rebel department of Georgia.

— Gold has stood between 206 and 217 during the week in New York.

— The Canada rebel thieves that recently entered Vermont and robbed the banks are being arrested by the Canadian authorities.  Much of the stolen money has been recovered.

From The Prescott Journal:

— Minnesota has furnished 2,400 to the army under the July call.  Good for Minnesota.

— The Union party in Nebraska has won a victory having elected their delegate to Congress.

—After Lee, the ablest General in the rebel service, is probably Longstreet [James Longstreet].  But he fares no better at the hands of Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan] than did Early [Jubal A. Early].

— The “Times’ ” Army of the Potomac letter says :  “The army is now burning wood cut several months ago for use in Richmond.  Refugees say that fuel is very scarce in Richmond, selling at $80 to $100 per cord.”

— No other State election comes before the general election in November except West Virginia, where there is to be an election on the fourth Tuesday of October, the 25th inst., for Governor and other State officers, and for three Representatives in Congress.

— Ours is a paper blockade, the rebels say.  In the fourteen months from August of last year, the North Atlantic squadron, off Wilmington, has captured fifty splendid prizes.

— A number of boys called the Junior Reserves of North Carolina, and consisting of one regiment and battalion, have offered their services to the rebel government and been received and placed to work in the trenches at Richmond.

— The Union procession in Philadelphia on Saturday night, was fourteen miles long.  The display of banners and transparencies was on the most magnificent scale.

1864 October 29: The Battle of Cedar Creek

October 29, 2014

The following article on the Shenandoah Valley battle at Cedar Creek comes from the October 29, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

Another Glorious Victory in the Shenandoah.

The gallant Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan] has won another signal victory over the rebels under Longstreet [James Longstreet].  The attack was made by the enemy at midnight, heavy columns of men having been massed behind the hills on the opposite side of Cedar Creek, near which the battle was fought.  Our pickets were driven in or captured by the impetuous and sudden onset of the rebels, and the slumbering camps of our soldiers completely surprised.—Many prisoners were taken by the enemy and about 20 pieces of artillery.  Gen. Sheridan was at Winchester, on his way back from Washington, heard the cannonading, and hurried to the field of battle.  He comprehended, at a glance, the true state of affairs, and with that rare quality which he posesses [sic], of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, he immediately re[c]ognized his forces, and changed the aspect of affairs, and turned the tide of battle so rapidly tending toward a disastrous defeat into a glorious victory.

Sheridan, in his report, states that he has captured over 1,600 prisoners and 50 cannon besides wagons and ambulances in great numbers and and [sic] that his cavalry are in hot pursuit of the flying rebels.

Three rebel generals are wounded: Ramsur [sic: Dodson Ramseur], Lomax [Lunsford L. Lomax] and Campell [sic].¹  Gen. Ramsur who commanded a division in the rebel army, was taken prisoner, and has since died.  Prisoners captured say that Longstreet lost three-fourths of his artillery.

Battle of Cedar Creek, from the Library of Congress

“Battle of Cedar Creek,” from the Library of Congress²

From the Herald‘s, World‘s and Tribune‘s correspondents in Sheridan’s army, we glean the following particulars of the battle and its results :

The Herald‘s Martinsburg correspondent of the 22d, says information from the front indicate that our losses in the battle of the 19th inst. will reach 5,000 in killed, wounded and missing.  We also lost early in the morning twenty-four guns.  We have captured including the wounded, who are in our hands, about 7,000 men and fifty guns.  The total loss of the enemy cannot therefore be much short of 10,000 men.

Gen. Custar [sic: George A. Custer] alone has receipts for forty-five guns and five battle flags, besides a large number of ambulances, horses, harnesses, mules, &c.

This makes fifty-one pieces of artillery that his division has captured during the last two weeks.

The Tribune correspondent has the following concerning our captures at Cedar Creek and the pursuit of the enemy ;  Devine [Thomas C. Devin] with his little brigade, kept sweeping down upon their rear, gobbling up the officers and men by scores.  He pressed them so hard it was impossible to get their artillery out of his way, and their wagon and ambulance drivers and cannoniers dismounted and run off into the woods on either side of the road, and the guard of the demoralized rebel army, if it had one, followed suit, leaving the whole train in our hands.  Limbers, caisons, wagons and ambulances were all huddled together in the greatest confusion.

The World’s correspondent in speaking of the termination of the battle says :

Custar [sic] and Merritt [Wesley Merritt] charged in on the right and left, doubled up the flanks of the foe, taking prisoners, and slashing, killing and driving them as they went.

The march of the infantry was more majestic and more terrible.—The line of the foe swayed and broke before it everywhere beyond Middletown on the battle-field fought over in the morning.

Their columns were completely overthrown and discouraged and fled along the pike and over the field like sheep.  Custar [sic] took a gun in one of his charges captured from us in the morning, the first gun had had captured.  Many more guns were to be ours before night fell.

It was dusk when the whole rebel army, forsaking every inch of ground they had won, went across Cedar River pell mell and went flying on towards Strasburg.

Two brigades of cavalry, Wells’ and Lowell’s,³ pursued, charging at every chance and increasing the rout before them.  At nightfall our cavalry entered Strasburgh [sic] while the enemy was still passing through the town, and from that time until dark they confined themselves, with a division of infantry afterwards sent forward by Gen. Sheridan, to picking up prisoners and gathering together and sending to the rear the artillery, army wagons and ambulances which had been left by the foe in their headlong flight.

Forty-three guns, including nearly all of those taken from us during the day, have already been counted, and it was said the number would reach fifty.

The medical supplies captured from the 19th corps were restored ;  also several of our ambulances and wagons, and a hundred or more belonging to the enemy.  The prisoners taken will number nearly 2,000.  It has been about impossible to provide guards for them as rapidly as they are captured.  A large number sent to the rear would probably escape during the night, but all are so completely tired out with the day’s fighting and marching that we shall pick up hundreds by the wayside when the morning dawns.

The following is the principal part of Gen. Devin’s captures ;  22 pieces of artillery, including a section of 32-pounders, 36 army wagons, 30 ambulances, 147 horses, 2-stand of colors and a guidon, 352 prisoners and a large number of small arms.

The Commercial’s Washington despatch gives the following official summary of the recent great victory :

Three thousand six hundred prisoners have already been captured.

Our cavalry is engaged in picking up rebel deserters and stragglers who are glad to escape.  The whole loss of the rebels will reach 10,000 in killed, wounded and prisoners.

Among the guns captured were 20 new brass pieces which were recently turned out from Richmond and with which Early [Jubal A. Early] had been supplied only a few days previous to the last battle.  Some 2,000 stand of small arms were picked up on the field and along the track of the flying enemy.  The rebels had five infantry brigades and five cavalry brigades in the engagement.  Our wounded are being rapidly removed, and Sheridan will soon be engaged in another advance up the Valley.

The Herald’s correspondent of the 15th gives the following list of guns, &c., captured on the 10th :  1200 prisoners of the rank and file, sixty-four commissioned officers, forty-eight pieces of artillery, forty cassions [sic], three battery wagons, 008 [800?] horses and mules with harnesses complete, 65 ambulances, 50 army wagons, 15,000 rounds artillery ammunition, 1,580 stand small arms, several wagon loads including all the medical stores of the enemy, a large quantity of small ammunition and a large number of flags.  Our total loss including prisoners is reported at 4,086.  Only a small portion of the escaping rebels saved their arms, and out of Early’s formidable batteries but one piece is left him.

1.    “Battle of Cedar Creek.” This digital image is from an original 1890 Kurz & Allison print, available at the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. The UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center has in its Special Collections a copy of Battles of the Civil War: The Complete Kurz & Allison Prints, 1861-1865, Birmingham, Ala.: Oxmoor House, 1976 (Oversized E 468.7 .B3 1976), which includes a copy of this print.
2.  Alexander William Campbell (1828-1893) was severely wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. After convalescing he served in several non-combat positions, and while recruiting new soldiers in western Tennessee, Campbell was taken prisoner in July 1863. He was not exchanged until  February 1865, so was not at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
3.  William W. Wells (1837-1892) was promoted to colonel on June 4, 1864. He commanded Custer’s 2nd Brigade at Cedar Creek and his brigade took a leading part in turning the rout of the morning into a decisive victory at nightfall, capturing 45 of the 48 pieces of artillery taken from Jubal Early’s fleeing army. Congress eventually honored him with a Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Charles Russell Lowell (1835-1864) was mortally wounded during the Union counterattack at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19 and died a day later.

1864 October 22: Grand Union Mass Meeting in Prescott, and Other News

October 28, 2014

Following are the smaller items, mostly local, from the October 22, 1864, issues of The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal.

From The Prescott Journal:

Grand Union Mass Mtg, 10-22-64  THE MASS MEETING.
 Everything looks favorable for the
 success of the Grand Union Mass
 Meeting to be held here on Tues-
 day next.  If the day is fair, there
 will be such a rally of the people
 as Pierce County has never seen.
 Hot coffee and refreshments can
 be had on the grounds.
FRIENDS ! the portents are all of
a Glorious Victory !  Come and
join in the Last Grand Demonstra-
tion of the Campaign.  Come,
bearing aloft the “Old Flag” in its
beauty and glory, and let there be
a Gathering worthy of the Cause,
and of the awakened patriotism
of the people !
advertises a grand McCLELLAN
[George B. McClellan] meeting
and torch light procession to come
off in St. Paul next Saturday, and
announces at the head of the list
of speakers, HON. JOEL FOSTER,
of Wisconsin.  We subside.  Our
surprise is beyond utterance.
HON. JOEL FOSTER, of Wisconsin !
Can it be !  Isn’t it a “mistake of
 the printer !  Don’t our eyes
 deceive us !  Hon. JOEL FOSTER,
 of Wisconsin !  Isn’t it a joke !

 Union Rally!

Capt. O. T. Maxson will address the Lincoln Club of River Falls, on Saturday evening, the 22nd inst.  Let there be a full rally.


Died, Sept. 19th, at Marietta, Ga., In Hospital, JAMES H. HOLMAN, aged 21 years, 7 months and 28 days.

In lonely bed they laid him,
Away from kindred far ;
And Southern trees now shade him,
Off near the seat of war.

Nor Mother, Sister, Brother
Could list his dying prayer,
Or soothe his dying moments—
O, sad the fate of war.

Weep o’er our fallen brother,
Who sleeps his last long sleep;
Yes, weep with one another—
A Savior bids us weep.

Finger002  We have received a letter from Fort Rice, dated Sept. 13, which says the 30th Regiment expected to leave there for the front in about twenty days.

Finger002  Brick Pomeroy, bragging over his own smartness, says : “The La Crosse Democrat is a live paper.”  So is a cheese full of maggots a live cheese.

Losses of the 25th Regiment.

Lt. Col. J. M. RUSK, commanding the 25th Regiment, has forwarded to Adjutant General GAYLORD [Augustus Gaylord] the following list of men wounded in his regiment from the 15th of August to the 15th of September, the regiment having had no men killed :

Sergt. Edwin McFall, Co. H, wounded in hand, slight, Aug. 17.
Ambrose Campbell, Co. G, wounded in side, slight, Aug. 23.
Corp. Levi Pretts, Co. I, wounded in right arm, flesh wound, severe, Aug. 25.
Warren C. Moore, Co. B, wounded in left hand, severe, Aug. 25.
David G. Gillies, Co. B, wounded in right hand, severe, Aug. 25.
Jacob Eiserman, Co. E, bayonet wound in knee, on picket, (accidental), severe, September 12.
James R. Hudson, Co. E, wounded in toes on picket by musket ball, (accidental), slight.

THE 12TH BATTERY AT ALTOONA.—A private dispatch from Lt. T. JONES, commanding, gives the following names of the killed and wounded of the 12th battery at Altoona, Ga., on Thursday, Oct. 5th :

Killed.—Sergeant Barlow, Corporal Hamilton, Privates Chase, Doolittle and Davies.
Wounded.—Lt. Amaden, Sergeants Hubbard and Barton, Corporals Wilmarth and Sison, and Privates Baker, Brownson, Croft, Daily, Harrington, Henry, Harrison, Kalb, Kahn, and St. Johns.

THE COST OF THE WAR.—An elaborate series of investigations into the increase of public debt during the war has just been completed by Dr. Elder, of the Treasury Department.  The results show that the mean increase of the public debt during thirty-nine months, since July, 1861, is, as near as may be, a million and a half dollars per diem.  During the first twenty-two months of this period, the mean increase was one million three hundred thousand dollars.  Exceptional days showed a maximum of three millions, and a minimum of one million dollars, but the mean for the whole time has been as above stated, one million five hundred thousand dollars per day.  This statement entirely disposes of the howl constantly made by Copperheads upon the vast increase of the public debt.  Their do[c]uments, journals and banners ring constant changes on that subject, stating the increase of the public debt to have averaged at least three million dollars per day since the commencement of this rebellion.

From The Polk County Press:

THE DRAFT.—The drafted men of the town of Farmington reported at La Crosse last week.  There were excepted [sic: expected] to fill the town’s quota, as follows : Deit Geigei [sic: Veit Geiger], Julius Dohn, Henry Demling [sic: Demuling].¹

CLUB MEETING.—The Osceola Union Club meeting on Monday evening last was well attended and the result was a royal good time.  Speeches were made by Rev. S. T. CATLIN, C. H. STAPLES and Wm. A. TALBOYS.  Twenty new members joined the Club.

Rev. S. T. CATLIN, who had just returned from the Wisconsin Baptist State Convention, held recently at Madison, introduced the following resolution, which was adopted by that body, which was also adopted as the sentiment of the Club :

Resolved, That we regard this parricidal war upon the government of our country with all its duplicities, its perjuries, its robberies, its murders, its assassinations, its tortures, its wholesale butcheries of the unarmed and defenceless, its savage mutilations of the living and the dead, and all unparalleled atrotities [sic] on the part of the South, together with the seething cauldrons of secret conspiracy, and all the open flouting of treason at the North, as but the legitimate corruption upon the body politic of the nation—of the moral disease of human slavery—the quintessence—the root and the offspring of all villainies, too long cherished within. We thank God that the disease is out, and pray God that it may stay out until it is eradicated from the nation and peace restored upon a healthful basis.—We cherish hatred to no one, not even to the most barbarous worshippers [sic] of the bloody Moloch of Slavery, but from our love of God, our regard for our country, for justice and humanity, we esteem the earnest prosecution of the present defensive war just. To its successful termination, we solemnly and in the fear of God, reader our sympathies and our prayers. We will withhold no sacrifice our country shall demand, and which God shall enable us us [sic] to give. Let liberty and right prevail though their studious opponents shall perish.

The meeting adjourned with three cheers for LINCOLN & JOHNSON.  The next regular meeting will be held on Monday evening. Everybody is invited to attend, irrespective of party.  [Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson]

UNION SPEECH.—Hon. H. L. HUMPHREY and Hon. MARCUS FULTON of Hudson, will address the citizens of Osceola on Monday evening, October 31st, at the School House.  Let all who can be on hand.  Give the speakers a rousing house.

IN PREPARATION.—We have in preparation an article showing “what Polk County has done for the War for the Union.”  We have received statements from all the towns except Sterling, and shall publish as soon as the report from that town is received.

THE STATE ARMS.—There will be a meeting a[t] the School House, in the village of Osceola, on Tuesday evening, for the purpose of taking into consideration what is to be done with the State Arms now in this village.  They are greatly out of order, and if kept must be cleaned up.—Turn out all, and take action in the matter.

1.  Veit Geiger served in Company F of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry; Julius Dohn served in Company A of the 18th Wisconsin Infantry; Henry Demuling served in Company F of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry.

1864 October 22: News from the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry in Vicksburg

October 27, 2014

This letter from the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry in Vicksburg first appeared in Madison’s State Journal, and was reprinted in The Prescott Journal on October 22, 1864.  Company D of the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry was the St. Croix Lancers or Rangers; Company L was the Eau Claire Rangers; and Company M contained many men from Prescott.

A Letter from Vicksburg.

Presentation by the Second Cavalry to Mrs.
Harvey—The Regiment Reunited—Northern
Copperheads taking the Oath—Miscellaneous Items.

Correspondence of the State Journal.


EDS. STATE JOURNAL :—Yesterday witnessed a pleasant scene at the camp of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry.  As you know, Mrs. Gov. Harvey [Cordelia A. P. Harvey] has been unceasing in her efforts to relieve the sick and wounded soldiers from our State, and has frequently been so located as to be of great service to the Second Wisconsin Cavalry.  The boys of the regiment, officers and men, appreciated her efforts and felt that they must give her some token of their regard and esteem, which culminated yesterday in the presentation of a watch, chain, and “accompanying documents” in the shape of charms, pin, &c.

Mrs. Harvey was invited to visit the regiment yesterday, about 1½ miles from the city.  On her arrival the bugle sounded the “call,” when the regiment formed in front of the officers’ quarters under the command of Major Woods, and as the carriage of Mrs. Harvey arrived in front of the regiment they saluted her by presenting sabres, when Capt. Ring, of Co. G, stepped forward and presented Mrs. Harvey with a beautiful watch, accompanied with the following remarks :

MRS. HARVEY:—To me has been assigned the pleasing duty of presenting to you in behalf of the officers and men of the 2d Wisconsin Vol. Cavalry, this little token of their esteem.  Since our first acquaintance, we have known you as a warm and untiring friend.  From the commencement of this great rebellion your time has been devoted to the soldier; his welfare, body and soul, has been your constant study, and to none more than the 2d Wisconsin Vol. Cavalry has your care been extended.  It is natural, then, that we should feel toward you the deepest gratitude and a keen desire to express it.  Accept, therefore, this watch as an emblem of our love and gratitude.  May it serve to remind you of the great good you have done, and thus in a measure prove a reward for the sacrifices you have made for the soldier.

On receiving which Mrs. Harvey replied as follows :

CAPT. RING—My friends of the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry:  My heart is full of grateful words to you to-day, but I cannot speak them here.  My position seems very strange to me.  I cannot talk much.  In every face before me I recognize a brave defender of my country, and as such I am glad to see you.  I know that you had not forgotten me, however, as a recognition of the spirit in which I have tried to serve you and others of our brave soldiers.  It has been little that I could do, but that little I have done gladly.  I have tried to be hopeful myself, and to speak cheering words to you, and this has often been all that I could do.

God bless you for the spirit which prompted this thought for me.  I know while I receive this that the humblest friend among you who has tried to do his duty, is more deserving than I am, and it delights me to know that to every true soldier of our country Heaven has granted a prize worthier and more imperishable, even than your gift to me—in his own loyal heart.  Of this I shall henceforth preserve this beautiful memento.

Soldiers: may your every heartthrob be as strong, steady and true as the tick of your treasured gift; your every wish pure as its polished gold; every loyal aspiration, full and free, as my gratitude is to you.

Mrs. Parsons, of New Orleans, then came forward, and presented Mrs. Harvey with a beautiful and exquisite boquet [sic] of flowers, arranged by herself ;  after which, a pleasant social hour was spent by the guests in examining the beautiful present, and in listening to the “music by the band.”  By the way, the post band here is made up largely of the old 16th Wisconsin band, and is led by Mr. Slater.  It is a splendid band, and played finely on this occasion.

I must give you a description of the watch.  It is of gold, with blue enamel on each side, set with diamonds, on one side in the form of a harp, on the other a boquet [sic] ;  the diamonds are very fine ;  attached is a heavy chain of exquisite workmanship and design, accompanying which was a pin with cross and crescent, set in pearly rich and beautiful.  At the end of the chain were also attached numerous charms, as follows : ___, anchor, saber, carbine, drum, compass, cannon, Howitzer, cross, pistol, key, and field glass.  The field glass is less than half an inch in length and eighth of an inch in diameter ;  in one side you see a fine photograph of Gen. Grant with his name underneath, and in the other the Lord’s Prayer, which you can read as plainly as in the prayer-book.  The whole forms one of the most rich and beautiful remembrances I ever saw, and there is no one more worthy to received such a present than Mrs. Harvey.—With the watch the boys add their heartfelt payers for health, prosperity and future happiness.  The inscription on the inside of the watch case is as follows :  “Presented to Mrs. Louis P. Harvey, of Wis., with the Love, Gratitude and Admiration of the 2d Wis. Veteran Vol. Cav. Regt.”  The boquet [sic] I will not attempt to describe, as I am not gifted in that line, although it was some time in my possession.

Altogether the affair was a very pleasant one for all concerned.  The speeches as you will see were neat and appropriate.  Capt. Ring is a perfect pattern of a gentleman and officer.  There were several Wisconsin men present on the occasion, among whom I noticed D. K. Tenney, Vandercook, Rasdall, Dr. Wilson, and numerous citizens and also officers from other regiments.

The battalion of the second cavalry which has been detached for the past two years, arrived here on Wednesday last in good health and well mounted.  They left again the next day on an expedition which went down to Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, and are now there “seeking whom they may devour.”  This morning they sent back an installment of cattle, household furniture, refugees, prisoners, &c.  The whole expedition is expected back in a day or two.

Speculation and militia orders are rife here now.  Since the Memphis scare, the militia arm of the service is most relied upon.  A few days since an order was issued to enroll and organize, but as soon as perfected it was discovered that no arrangements had been made for “pocket money,” and yesterday a new order was issued revoking all exemptions, and requiring new ones to be applied for ;  but before any application could be made, a fee of two dollars must be paid to the “militia fund,” (it should be called the cripples’ fund,) for the benefit of the field officers, as I am informed.  I will post you on the “general trainings.”  Of course, if a cripple can’t pay two dollars, he must “train ;”  and if he does pay, then the officers can “train.”

Two citizens of Dane county, noted there for their opposition and Democratic proclivities, (a la Copper,) arrived here the other day and took the amnesty oath, very quietly and demurely, including the emancipation proclamation and other orders.

A vote at the Soldiers’ Home on Friday, of soldiers, resulted for Lincoln 49 and for McClellan 11.

Yours, &c.,               GEO. C. SMITH.

1864 October 22: Return of the St. Croix Rifles and the 1st Wisconsin Infantry

October 26, 2014

The following article appeared in The Polk County Press of October 22, 1864.

RETURN AND RECEPTION OF THE GLORIOUS OLD FIRST.—The gallant First Regiment returned to Milwaukee on the 8th and received a splendid welcome there, of which the “Sentinel” publishes an interesting account, with a sketch of the history of the regiment, which we should be glad to publish if we had room.

The Milwaukee Light Guard and a large concourse of citizens turned out to receive the boys at the depot ;  flags and banners were displayed on the line of march ;  there was a formal welcome at the Chamber of Commerce, Col. Buttrick making an appropriate speech ;  then a dinner was given the regiment at the Newhall House, after which toasts were given and eloquent speeches were made by Judge McArthur, Gen. Fairchild [Lucius Fairchild], and Gov. Saloman [sic: Edward Salomon], responded to by Chaplain McNarmara on behalf of the regiment.  After the reception was over, the regiment marched to Camp Washburne, to remain until mustered out.

Capt. Samuel [Maurice M. Samuel] and the boys of Co. F belonging in this county are with the regiment, and the boys may soon be expected home.  Capt. S. we learn will return to Chattanooga.

On the arrival of the regiment in Milwaukee, a vote was taken to ascertain how it stood on the Presidency.  The result was :

Abraham Lincoln,…………….  179
Geo. B. McClellan,……………….  8

1864 October 22: New Call for Protection on the Northwestern Frontier

October 26, 2014

The following comes from the October 22, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.  The Mille Lacs band of Indians are Ojibwe, called Chippewa at this time.

Chengwatana was a transient Ojibwa village that after Wisconsin statehood in 1848 became a permanent village located at the outlet of Cross Lake, just east of present-day Pine City, Minnesota.  In 1856 the village became the county seat of Pine County and it was briefly renamed Alhambra.  In 1862 and 1863 the village was garrisoned as a frontier military post.  When the railroad came through, Chengwatana declined to a ghost town and present-day Pine City grew up along the railroad, becoming the new county seat in 1870.

ANOTHER INDIAN MURDER.— Mr. JOHN M. GIBSON was murdered by an Indian at McLain’s Camp, on Grindstone Creek, eighteen miles north of Chengwatana, Pine county, Minnesota, on Friday last.  The following particulars of the affair we learn from Mr. McLain, who passed through Taylor’s Falls with the body, en route to Stillwater, on Tuesday.

Mr. GIBSON accompanied Mr. McLAIN to his camp, for the purpose of making preparations for logging the coming winter.  While Mr. McLAIN was absent from the camp, on Friday, GIBSON went to work digging potatoes near by, and on McLAIN’s return he was missing.  As he did not come in that night, McLAIN commenced looking for him on Saturday morning, and after searching for him some time he found his body in a hole about forty rods from the camp, covered with potato vines and other rubbish.  The hole was one that Mr. G. dug last Spring when they left camp, for the purpose of burying two barrels of pork.  Subsequently the pork was removed, and, as it proved, was used for a hiding place for his own body.

On the disgovery [sic] of the corpse, Mr. McLAIN returned to Chengwatana, and procured the assistance of Justice MUNCH, who went to the camp and held an inquest and examination.  It was found that he had been shot through the body, the ball entering the back.  It is supposed that the Indian came upon him unawares, shot him in the back, and then struck him with some sharp instrument, perhaps a hoe, as a deep gash was found upon his face.  His body was robbed of money and other valuables.

The Indian after committing the bloody deed, went to Chengwatana, and made several purchases with the murdered man’s money, of Mr. MUNCH, who, at the time, was unaware of the murder. The Indian exhibited GIBSON’s wallet, and a piece silver coin, which he gave MUNCH for goods, and which was easily identified by Mr. McLAIN.

Before Mr. McLAIN returned to Chengwatana for Mr. MUNCH, the Indian had disappeared.  He is said to belong to the Mille Lac [sic] band, and has probably gone back to his tribe.

Thus we have endeavored to record the facts of this outrageous murder.

And now, we would ask, has not our government officials had warnings enough, from these Indian devils, to move in the matter, and see that they are punished?  Does the Governor of Minnesota [Stephen Miller], and Gov. LEWIS [James T. Lewis] of our State, need any more evidence of their hostility to the whites ;  if so, when half our lumbermen, the bone and sinew of the Northwest, are killed and robbed, and they find the frontier being deserted by its inhabitants, then, we trust, they will awake into conciousness [sic], that our Indian troubles are not mere scares—but that they are a reality—that our frontier is exposed and in danger, and that now is the time when steps should have been taken to protect it.  We would ask, why is not the fate of KNIGHT and GROVER sufficient ?  We have not heard of any steps being taken by our Governor to look into the affair.  We did see a notice of a Captain or a Colonel calling at Hudson a short time ago on Indian matters.  Why was he not sent to New York ?  Perhaps, the citizens of that city, who have a large settlement between them and danger, do not believe there is cause of trouble with these Imps of Satan—and so they tell this Captain or Colonel—and so matters rest, until another victim is furnished.  Now we say—we have had enough, and want no more sacrifices.  We want this last devil caught and hung.  This, we feel confident, is the universal feeling of our frontier citizens.  We speak for them.  Will the proper authorities consider the protection of our frontier or not ?

1864 October 22: The Battle of Darbytown and New Market Roads

October 25, 2014

The Battle of Darbytown and New Market Roads took place on October 7, 1864, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.  The Union defensive lines along the New Market Road were commanded by Brigadier General August V. Kautz and Major General David B. Birney, although neither is mentioned here.  The initial Confederate attack was commanded by Major Generals Robert F. Hoke and Charles W. Field.  It was successful in dislodging the Union Cavalry from the Darbytown Road.  But when the Confederates attacked the New Market Road lines, the attack was repulsed and the Confederates withdrew.

The following article comes from the October 22, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The Rebel Attack on Butler.

The World’s 10th corps correspondent has the following account of the affair of Friday October 7th:

The point at which the enemy first made his appearance was near the intersection of the Darbytown and White Haven roads, and was held by two brigades of cavalry, one of which, under command of Col. West, was deployed across the Darbytown road, while the other, under command of Col. Spear, was deployed parallel to it across the Whitstone road, covering the approach from this direction.

The enemy, when first seen, was coming across the country from the Charles City road, and moving toward the right flank of Col. West.  The Colonel changed front hastily, so as to form a line parallel with the road and facing the enemy.  He had hardly effected this and sheltered his men behind a low hedge skirting the road, when the enemy, in overwhelming numbers, dashed on him and the command of Col. Spears in almost simultaneous charges.  The men fired steadily, but could not stay the rushing masses opposed to them.  It was evident they must retreat, so the command was given, and they moved off down the Darbytown road.  Suddenly they were checked in this direction by the enemy having outflanked Spears, who had possession of this avenue of retreat.  As there was one more chance across the country, they went around without organization.

The batteries of the 4th Wisconsin and 1st U. S., which fought bravely, moved on in the same direction, taking a blind wood road.  They had not gone far, however, when the forward piece was mired.  This stopped the remainder, and on this spot they were captured, eight guns in all, by the enemy who had followed closely and reached them soon after.

The enemy having driven the cavalry before them, now ceased the pursuit and turned toward the flank of the 10th Corps which was held by the invincible old 1st or Terry’s division [Alfred Terry].  The enemy, flushed with his easily gained victory, moved toward the little band with all the confidence of victors.  The brunt of his attack was directed toward Abbott’s 2d brigade.  He might better have chosen almost any other point, for half of these troops being armed with repeating rifles, made hasty records on the rebel ranks.  Moving towards them steadily, he exhibited a determination to force the position at any cost, but the unerring volcanic firearm more than equalled [sic] the same.

Onward they pushed ;  more dense grew the fire ;  still they advanced till within about 100 paces of our crouching death-dealers.  Then signs of weakness began to manifest themselves in their ranks.  They found that to advance in the face of that fire was simply marching to death, in short there was nothing for them, but to slink away as best they could, and slink away they did.  Not satisfied with the punishment he had inflicted, Terry at once prepared to follow up his advantage.  As our lines approached the enemy, it became evident that he was Richmond bound.  Although hopes of overtaking him were futile, still our advance was pressed on until darkness interfered.  Then, just as Pond’s Brigade had reached within half a mile of the Darbytown road, the order was given to return, and with our defenses.

In advance we picked up quite a number of prisoners, stragglers, and men who waited behind to desert. These, with our captures before our works, swelled our list of captures to some 200.

Gen. Lee [Robert E. Lee] commanded in person, and had determined to make a heavy impression on us.

Our loss in men has been very small, but the enemy has suffered horribly.  Their prisoners report Gen. Gregg¹ among their killed.  They brought two divisions into action, one under Gen. Field and a provisional division under Hoke.

1.  John Gregg (1828-1864) formed the 7th Texas Infantry and served as its colonel. They fought at the Battle of Fort Donelson, where they were captured with the garrison. Gregg was exchanged August 15, 1862, and promoted to brigadier general on August 29. Gregg’s Brigade served in the Department of the West, including the Battle of Raymond and the Battle of Jackson. The Brigade then served in the Army of Tennessee in Bushrod Johnson’s Division, fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga. After recovering from wounds, Gregg was given command of Hood’s Texas Brigade, which was in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, and they fought at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg.


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