CHAPTER 18 – 64 War Events in Jefferson County Oct. ’61-March ’64 Summarized by Jim Surkamp (3 parts). Part 1

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CHAPTER OR STORY 18 – A TWELVE-MINUTE MEDITATION ON WAR Click Here and the link will take you to the beginning of this story at 55:40 within the longer video called “Jasper Thompson’s Destiny Day September6, 1906”

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With support from American Public University System ( The sentiments expressed do not in any way reflect modern-day policies of APUS, and are intended to encourage fact-based exchange for a better understanding of our nation’s foundational values.

Jefferson County, Virginia, becoming West Virginia after June, 1863, was witness to over 130 officially documented war events during the Civil War. These are events that took place between October, 1861 through the end of March, 1864 – the time period Jasper Thompson, we believe, was in the County tending to Washington lands or elsewhere accompanying a family member wearing a Confederate uniform. Jasper enlisted in March, 1864 into the 23rd United States Colored Troops.

  1. 1861.October.11.Harpers.Ferry.Skirmish: Chapter XIV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 5, p. 2.

2. NOTE – October 14, 1861: Richard B. Washington absent with sick leave since August 20 discharged by special Order Genl. Johnston dated Oct. 14, 1861 No. 304.

3. 1861.October.16.Bolivar.Heights.Skirmish – ROADSIDE MARKER NUMBER TWENTY-THREE:
Confederate Col. Turner Ashby gave his eyewitness report of the event of October 16th:
The enemy occupying that position for several days, had been committing depredations in the vicinity of the camp. Having at my disposal three hundred militia armed with flint lock muskets and two companies of cavalry, Turner’s and Mason’s of Colonel McDonald’s regiment. I wrote to Genl. Evans to cooperate with me, taking position on Loudoun Heights and thereby prevent reenforcements from below, and at the same time to drive them out of the Ferry where they were under cover in the buildings.

On the evening of the 15th I was reenforced by two companies of Colonel McDonald’s regiment (Captain Wingfield), fully armed with minie rifles and mounted. Captain Miller’s about 30 men mounted, the balance on foot and with flint lock guns. I had one rifled four-pound gun and one 24-pound gun badly mounted which broke an axle in Bolivar, and I had to spike it. My force on the morning of the attack consisted of 300 militia, part of two regiments commanded by Colonel Albert of Shenandoah and Major Finter of Page. I had 180 of Colonel McDonald’s cavalry (Captain Henderson’s men) under command of Lieut. Glenn, Capt. Baylor’s mounted militia, Capt. Hess about 25 men.

The rifled gun was under command of Capt. Averitt, the 24-pound gun under command of Capt. Canfield. I made the attack in three divisions and drove the enemy from their breast works without the loss of a man, and took position upon the hill, driving the enemy as far as lower Bolivar. The large gun broke down and this materially effected the result. The detachment from the large gun was transferred to the rifled piece, and Captain Averitt was sent to Loudoun Heights with a message to Colonel Griffin. The enemy now formed and charged with shouts and yells, which the militia met like veterans. At this moment I ordered a charge of cavalry, which was handsomely done, Captain Turner’s in the lead.

In this charge five of the enemy were killed. After holding this position for four hours the enemy were re-enforced by infantry and artillery, and we fell back in order to the position their pickets occupied in the morning. The position Colonel Griffin held upon Loudoun Heights was such as to be of very little assistance to us, being so elevated as to prevent them from controlling the crossing. My main force is at Camp Evans while I hold all of the intermediate ground. The enemy left the ferry last night and encamped on the first plateau on Maryland Heights. My loss was one killed and nine wounded. Report from the ferry states the loss of the enemy at 25 killed and a number wounded. We have two Yankee prisoners and eight Union men co-operating with them. We took a large number of blankets, overcoats, and about a dozen guns. – T. ASHBY, Chapter XIV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 5, pp. 247-249.

Federal commander John Geary reports on the event of October 16th:
. . . but about 7 o’clock on the morning of the 16th my pickets stationed on the heights above Bolivar, extending from the Potomac to the Shenandoah River, about 2 miles west of Harpers Ferry, were driven into the town of Bolivar by the enemy, who approached from the west in three columns, consisting of infantry and cavalry, supported by artillery. I was upon the ground in a few minutes, and rallied my pickets upon the main body of our troops in Bolivar. In a short time the action became general. The advanced guard of the rebels, consisting of several hundred cavalry, charged gallantly towards the upper part of the town, and their artillery and infantry soon took position upon the heights from which my pickets had been driven. The enemy’s three pieces of artillery were stationed on and near the Charlestown road where it crosses Bolivar Heights. They had one 32-pounder columbiad, one steel rifled 13-pounder, and one brass 6-pounder, all of which were served upon the troops of my command with great activity, the large gun throwing alternately solid shot, shell, and grape, and the others principally fuse shell. While these demonstrations were being made in front a large body of men made their appearance upon Loudoun Heights, with four pieces of cannon and sharpshooters stationed at the most eligible points of the mountain, to bombard our troops, and greatly annoy us in the use of the ferry on the Potomac. The commencement of the firing upon our front and left was almost simultaneous.

In order to prevent the enemy from crossing the Shenandoah, I detached a company of the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment, under command of Captain Shriber, for the defense of the fords on that river. He took position near the old rifle works, and during the action rendered good service there. There then remained under my immediate (241) command about 450 men. With these the fierce charge of the enemy’s cavalry was soon checked and turned back. A second and a third charge was made by them, increasing in impetuosity with each repetition, during which they were supported, in addition to the artillery, by long lines of infantry stationed on Bolivar Heights, who kept up a continuous firing. They were repulsed each time with effect. Under this concentrated fire our troops held their position until 11 o’clock, when Lieutenant Martin, by my order, joined me with one rifled cannon, which, had been placed to cover the ferry, he having crossed the river with it under a galling fire of riflemen from Loudoun Heights.

I then pushed forward my right flank, consisting of two companies (A and G) of the Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. They succeeded in turning the enemy’s left near the Potomac, and gained a portion of the heights. At the same time Lieutenant Martin opened a well-directed fire upon the enemy’s cannon in our front, and Captain Tompkins succeeded in silencing some of the enemy’s guns on Loudoun Heights. These services, simultaneously rendered, were of great importance, and the turning of the enemy’s flank being the key to the success of the action, I instantly ordered a general forward movement, which terminated in a charge, and we were soon in possession of the heights from river to river. There I halted the troops, and from that position they drove the fugitives with a well-directed aim of cannon and small-arms across the valley in the direction of Halltown. . .

Immediately after the capture of the heights Major Tyndale arrived with a re-enforcement of five companies of my regiment from Point of Rocks, two of which he ordered to report to Major Gould at Sandy Hook, and soon joined me with the others on the field. The standard of the Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers the flag of the Union was then unfurled on the soil of Virginia, and planted on an eminence of Bolivar Heights, and under its folds we directed the fire of our artillery against the batteries and forces on Loudoun Heights, and soon succeeded in silencing every gun and driving away every rebel that could be seen. The victory was complete. **The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded is generally conceded to be about 150, which they carried back in wagons and on horses as rapidly as they fell. We took 4 prisoners, among whom is Rev. Nathaniel Green North, chaplain of Colonel Ashby’s command. He is said to have been present at every battle that has occurred in Virginia. The fine 32-pounder columbiad, mounted on an old-fashioned gun-carriage, was captured, together with a quantity of ammunition for it, consisting of ball, shell, and grape shot, for the transportation of which a wagon was used as a caisson. . . . One of their small guns used at Bolivar Heights was disabled, having one of the wheels shot from the gun carriage by a well-directed shot from Lieutenant Martin. They succeeded in dragging it from the field.

**Our loss is 4 killed, 7 wounded, and 2 taken prisoners, . . . The greater part of the loss occurred in the Wisconsin companies, who gallantly sustained the position of our left flank throughout the contest. One of the soldiers taken by the enemy (242) was Private Edgar Ross, of Company C, Third Wisconsin Regiment, who was wounded in the action. The other, Corporal Beniah Pratt, of Company A, Twenty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, was accidentally taken by a few of the enemy, whom he mistook for Massachusetts men, their uniform corresponding in all respects to that of the latter. The four men who were killed were afterwards charged upon by the cavalry and stabbed through the body, stripped of all their clothing, not excepting their shoes and stockings, and left in perfect nudity. One was laid in the form of a crucifixion, with his hands spread out, and cut through the palms with a dull knife. This inhuman treatment incensed my troops exceedingly, and I fear its consequences may be shown in retaliatory acts hereafter. . . . More – J. GEARY, Chapter XIV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 5, pp. 240-242.

REFERENCE: from The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (multiple volumes) Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1901.

4. 1861.October.16.Harpers.Ferry.Destruction.Foundry:
Federal Gen. Geary described the event that occurred late on October 16th:
I visited the iron foundery at Shenandoah City, and ascertained that it was used by the rebels for casting shot and shell of all kinds. I ordered it to be burned, which was done the same night. . . . – J. GEARY, Chapter XIV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 5, pp. 239-243.

5. 1861.October.18.Harpers.Ferry.Destruction.Herr’s.Mill:
Federal commander John Geary reports on the event of October 18th:
On this morning a few of the enemy in citizens’ dress came secretly to Harper’s Ferry, by way of the Shenandoah road, burned Herrs mill, from which a great portion of the wheat had been taken, and immediately retired. – J. GEARY – Chapter XIV, Official Record, Series I, Volume 5, pp. 242-243.

6. 1861.December.Dams.4.5.Attempts.To.Destroy:
Confederate Cavalryman Harry Gilmor describes these efforts:
“An attempt was made about tho middle of the month to destroy dams Nos.4 and 5, so as to make the canal useless, and finally we did succeed in destroying No. 5.” – Gilmor, Harry. (1866). “Four years in the saddle.” New York, Harper & brothers pp. 24 (bottom)-26.

7. 1862.February.7.Harpers.Ferry.Destruction.of.Town:
On February 7, 1862, Union forces did their part in the destruction, completing the ruination of the railroad’s properties in the town. – Caplinger, Michael W. (1997). “Bridges Over Time: A Technological Context for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Main Stem at Harpers Ferry, west Virginia.” Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Institute for the History of Technology & Industrial Archaeology. Print. p. 50.

United States forces under Col. Geary crossed over into Harper’s Ferry and burned the Company’s hotel, warehouse, ticket office and water station, also 38 panels, 570 feet in length, of wood work on the double track iron trestling through the arsenal yard and boatway bridge. This was the remainder of the Company’s property in Harper’s Ferry not destroyed by the enemy. – Harwood, Herbert H. Jr. (1994). “The Impossible Challenge.” Baltimore, MD.: Barnard, Roberts and co., Inc. Print. p. 77.

8. FOOTNOTE. 1862.March.23 – Bushrod Corbin Washington captured at Kernstown:
WASHINGTON, BUSHROD CORBIN: b. 1831. 5’8 1/2″. light complexion, gray eyes, light hair. Farmer in Jefferson Co. m. 1) Katharine Blackburn; 2) Emma Willis. enl. 4/18/61 at Charles Town in Co. G of 2nd Va. Inf. as Corp. POW at Kernstown, 3/23/62 (Ft. Delaware). Exchanged 8/5/62. – Frye, Dennis E. (1984). “2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment.” H.E. Howard, Inc.: Lynchburg, Va.

9. March-May, 1862 – Thousand of the enslaved seek freedom at Harpers Ferry:
“MARCH 8, SATURDAY. Fair and mild. . . . An excitement was produced in town by the arrival of a wagon load of Negro women and children with bag and baggage as if bound for a free country. They were stopped in front of the provost marshal’s office for a long time and were the theme of much speculation for the citizens and soldiers. I understand they were forwarded to Harpers Ferry. Numbers of men have flocked into town more or less every day since our occupation. They were arrested and put into the jail. As the number increased, it was asked what was to be done with them. The quarter master from Harpers Ferry had just desired a detail of men to load and unload army stores. It was suggested to send the Negroes there to do the work and so decided. Each day since, as they have gathered in, they have been marched in squads to Harpers Ferry and having disposed of the stores are still occupied in the repairing of the railroad. This all fairly in accordance with the professed intentions of the Government. The sending forward of the women and children, however, looks ominous and may bear a dark interpretation.” – Strother, David. H. (1961). “A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War: The Diaries of David Hunter Strother.” edited Cecil D. Eby, Jr. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. Strother, p. 182. from Strother, David H. (1961). A VIRGINIA YANKEE IN THE CIVIL WAR THE DEARIES OF DAVID HUNTER STROTHER.” edited by Cecil Eby. Chapel Hill, NC: THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS – p. 10.

10. 1862.May.28-29.CharlesTown.Skirmish.Destruction.Town.Hall:
“MAY 28, WEDNESDAY. Threatened rain. Went forward with a reconnoissance toward Charles Town. We saw nothing until we arrived at the hill near the Charles Town toll gate where a sharp fire of musketry was opened on our advance by some Rebel pickets stationed on the road at the fair ground. . . In the meantime, flanking parties of cavalry were sent around the town. . . When I got to Mrs. Hunter’s house, I stopped and stood guard over it. The troops went firing down every cross street as they rushed to the other end of town. Some stopped and, breaking open the town hall, set fire to it. As it began to burn fiercely, I endeavored to get some soldiers and then some citizens to put it out. The soldiers did nothing and the citizens who showed willingness to act were deterred through fear of the soldiers. I appealed to the colonel of infantry just marching by and then to the major commanding the rear guard, but they flatly refused or evaded my request. The flames rose fiercely and threatened to destroy the village.” – Strother, David. H. (1961). “A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War: The Diaries of David Hunter Strother.” edited Cecil D. Eby, Jr. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 47-48.

Local resident, Confederate artilleryman and eyewitness Roger Preston Chew also described the May 29th event:
Winder with the Stonewall Brigade and some Artillery was ordered to Charles Town. The enemy had formed a line of battle on Potato Hill in Charles Town. General Winder planted his artillery near Cooke’s house, and deploying his infantry commenced an attack at once. The enemy soon gave way and retreated in great confusion through the town. The Market House and Railroad Station had been destroyed by the enemy the day before. General Winder pursued to the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry, but was ordered back on the 30th, and made his wonderful march to Strasburg. – Chew, Roger P. (1911) “Military Operations in Jefferson County, Virginia (and West Va.) 1861-1865.” [s.l.] : Charles Town, WV: published by authority of Jefferson County Camp, U.C.V. [by] Farmers Advocate Printing. 27 p. 35. – ROADSIDE MARKER NUMBER NINETEEN.

11. 1862.May.29-30.Harpers.Ferry.Operations:

See VIDEO: Dennis Frye – Stonewall is Stopped, Harper’s Ferry May 30, 1862 by Jim Surkamp Click Here. – TRT: 15:43.

See POST/VIDEO Illustrated Transcript: Dennis Frye: Stonewall is Stopped, Harper’s Ferry May 30, 1862 by Jim Surkamp Click Here. – 4558 words.

Events in Jefferson County regards freed enslaved workers and their families force changes in Federal policy on their treatment:

Wednesday, July 2, 1862 in Washington, D.C.: Lincoln decides to help persons deemed contrabands:
In conference with Sec. Stanton on subject of fugitive Negroes President decides that by law they cannot be sent back to masters, should not be allowed to starve, should be given work and paid reasonable wages. Butler, Correspondence, 2:41-42.

Thursday, July 17, 1862 in Washington, D.C. – Confiscation Act passed:
Confiscation Act July 17, 1862 Congress Passed – “An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes.”

Tuesday, July 22, 1862 in Washington, D.C. – Legislated Order included the following:

2. That military and naval commanders ((shall employ as laborers within and from said States so many persons of African descent)) as can be advantageously used for military or naval purposes,(( giving them reasonable wages for their labor.))

3. That as to both property and persons of African descent accounts shall be kept sufficiently accurate and in detail to show quantities and amounts and from whom both property and such persons shall have come, as a basis upon which compensation can be made in proper cases; and the several Departments of this Government shall attend to and perform their appropriate parts toward the execution of these orders.

12. Train Attack between Summit Point and Wade’s Depot on August 23rd:
Resident and artilleryman Roger P. Chew described the August 23rd event between Summit Point and Wade’s Depot:
(NOTE: Official references in the War’s Official Record to this event placed the railroad train’s capture in Harper’s Ferry. But Harper’s Ferry was the place of origination of the train; the actual capture, according to these eye-witness accounts, locate the capture of the train at Wade’s depot near Summit Point coming from Harpers Ferry about 20 miles away.-JS). In August 1862 Lieutenant Rouss with Lieut. Baylor, Lieutenant Rowland and thirty men marched down the valley intending to attack the train between Summit Point and Wade’s Depot. In each of these places the enemy had stationed eighty infantry and five cavalry. The distance between the depots was four miles. At four o’clock in the afternoon the road was reached, and soon after the whistle of the engine was heard. Obstructions were placed across the track to bring the train to a stand-still. This proved effectual and when the engine struck the obstruction, the train was halted. It was then boarded by our men and eight yankee soldiers were captured. The express car was opened, where they found baskets of champagne and boxes of fruit. It is needless to say, as the men were thirsty and hungry, they proceeded to partake of these good things. The express safe was opened and $4,000 in U. S. money was taken out. Nothing remained to be done but to burn the car. This was done effectually and a full head of steam was put on the engine and it was started in the direction of Winchester. The telegraph wire was cut for two hundred yards. Lieutenant Rowland with thirteen men took charge of the prisoners, and started back over the route they came, while Lieutenants Rouss and Baylor, with the seventeen men remaining, determined to penetrate farther into Jefferson County. – Chew, p. 19.

13. Surprise and Capture in Smithfield on August 23th:
R. P. Chew described the Smithfield event on August 23rd:
Lieutenant Rouss with these men moved in the direction of Smithfield, five miles distant. When they arrived within half a mile of the town the blue uniforms of the yankee pickets were discovered. Thinking we were a scouting party of their own men, Rouss and his party approached within twenty yards of them before they discovered who they were. The command was given to charge, and before they could fire a shot, our men were upon them and captured all three with their arms and equipment. These pickets informed our men that there were fourteen of their companions in town. A charge was made and the fourteen yankees were captured, being taken completely by surprise. The spoils amounted to 17 horses, 20 revolvers, 5 Sharpe’s carbines, saddles, bridles and other trappings. After the capture Lieut. Rouss led his men safely back into our lines. – Chew, pp. 19-(bottom of page)-20.

More at Chew:
In August, 1862, Lieutenant Rouss and Baylor; with seventeen men, captured seventeen yankees with their horses and equipments complete, in the Main street of Smithfield, not losing a man. – Chew, p. 23.

More at: Baylor, George. (1900).”Bull Run to Bull Run: Four years in the army of northern Virginia.” Richmond, VA: B. F. Johnson Publishing. pp. 56-60.

from The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (multiple volumes) Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1901.

Federal General Julius White and Baltimore & Ohio Railroad president, John W. Garrett, report of the August 23rd train capture and Smithfield event in the Official Record:
Wrote Garrett of the events of August 23rd:
. . . at 4 p.m. a squadron of the enemy’s cavalry stopped the passenger train between Harper’s Ferry and Winchester; took the agent of Adams Express and all on board prisoners except two, who escaped, and burned the train and cut the telegraph wire. The command of Lieutenant Milling, at Smithfield, a point west of Winchester road and en route to Martinsburg, was captured during the evening. – J. GARRETT, Chapter XXIV, Official Record, Series I, Part 3, Volume 12, pp. 650-651

Wrote Federal General Julius White of the August 23rd events:
The railroad train from Harper’s Ferry to this place was fired into and burned this afternoon; the mail captured, and telegraph wire cut. A few soldiers coming here were taken. With what mounted force I can muster I am trying to intercept the marauders. – J. WHITE, Chapter XXIV, Official Record, Series I, Part 3, Volume 12, p. 652.

14. 1862.September.2.Keyes.Ford.Skirmish:
Confederate Cavalryman and local resident George Baylor described the September 2nd event and adds an account from a letter of a federal eyewitness:
On September 2d, the day General White evacuated Winchester, about 9 am., with six men, we attacked the enemy’s picket near Keyes Ford, a short distance south of Harper’s Ferry, taking eight prisoners, with their horses and equipments, without loss. The Federal account of this little dash is as follows (based on a letter to the author Baylor-JS): Lieutenant Bierney, with an orderly, went to Keyes Ford to ascertain the truth of the reported capture of Cole’s cavalry pickets, and ascertained the facts to be as follows: A party of 25 Confederate cavalry dashed down the Kabletown or River road and captured the outer vidette, a quarter of a mile from his comrades, and forced him to inform them of the position of the others, who were at that time in a cornshed, dismounted. They dashed in and captured the party without resistance on the part of our pickets. – Baylor, George. (1900).”Bull Run to Bull Run: Four years in the army of northern Virginia.” Richmond, VA: B. F. Johnson Publishing. pp. 70-71.

15. 1862.September.3-4.CharlesTown.Reconnaissance: From Harper’s Ferry to Lovettsville and Charles Town:

Chapter XXXI, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19, p. 157. (Summary)

Charles Town Farmer Charles Aglionby wrote in his farm diary of the September 4th event:
There was a skirmish between some Confederate rangers and Federal cavalry. Carey Selden was shot in the mouth and a Federal soldier was shot in the groin. The Federals retired towards H. Ferry – Aglionby, Charles. “The Day Book Kept By Charles Aglionby at Mount Pleasant, Charles Town, Jefferson County, Virginia.” 6 March, 1861 to 1 January, 1866.” Transcribed by Francis John Aglionby (1932-2002). With permission from Julia Aglionby. (Available at the Jefferson County Museum, Charles Town, WV) – September 4, 1862.

16. 1862.September.12.Halltown.Skirmish:
Eyewitness George Baylor of the Virginia 12th Cavalry described the September 12th event:
About noon we again entered Charlestown and followed the enemy to Halltown. While occupying a position near Halltown, we were surprised at seeing General Jackson’s advance approaching on the Martinsburg road, en route to Harper’s Ferry. From them we learned that our troops were moving on Maryland and Loudoun Heights and investing Harper’s Ferry. – Baylor, p. 72.

Federal General Julius White reported on the September 12th incident near Halltown:
(As White’s men were evacuating from Martinsburg en route to Harper’s Ferry), upon the march, the pickets of the enemy were encountered at Halltown, but they were driven back to Charlestown, the command arriving safely at Harper’s Ferry on the afternoon of the 12th. – White – Chapter XXXI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19, p. 524 (last paragraph).

17. 1862.September.12-15.Harpers.Ferry.Siege.Capture:
See POST: The Fall of “Freedomland” – Harper’s Ferry, September, 1862 – With Dennis Frye. Click Here. 25,220 words.
See VIDEO: The Capture of Harper’s Ferry, Va. September, 1862 with Historian Dennis Frye. Click Here. TRT: 45:12.

18. (Outside County) 1862.September.15-17.Antietam.Campaign:
See POST: Video Illustrated Transcript: Antietam – Decisions Sorely Missed by Jim Surkamp Click Here. – 7125 words.
See VIDEO: Antietam – Decisions Sorely Missed Click Here. – TRT: 40:40.

19. 1862.September.17.Dec.Shepherdstown.Hospital.Care.Antietam:
See POST: The Home Front in Jefferson County Then-VA, Fall, 1862 by Jim Surkamp. Click Here. 1449 words.
See VIDEO: The Home Front in Jefferson County Then-Virginia, September-October, 1862. Click Here. TRT: 12:07.

See POST: Unforgettable, Wounded Thousands – 3 Women Paint the Picture from September, 1862 Click Here. 12556 words.

See POST: “Beyond a cut finger. . .” – Wounded Thousands in Shepherdstown, Va.- September, 1862 Click Here. 13468 words

See VIDEO: Shepherdstown’s Wounded Thousands – Sept., 1862 by Jim Surkamp Click Here. TRT: 54:53.

See POST: Video Transcript: Shepherdstown’s Wounded Thousands, September, 1862 Click Here. 6522 words.

20. 1862.September.19.Botelers.Ford.Skirmish; 1862.September.20.Action.Shepherdstown

See POST: A “Small” Blunder Ends Lee’s Campaign – Sept. 19-20, 1862 With Thomas A. McGrath – Click Here. 6496 words. (McGrath, Thomas A. (2007). “Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign, September 19-20, 1862.” Lynchburg, VA: Schroeder Publications. ISBN 978-1-889246-39-0)

See VIDEO: A “Small” Blunder Ends Lee’s Campaign – Sept. 19-20, 1862 With Thomas A. McGrath – Click Here. TRT: 35:02.

See POST/VIDEO Transcript – One “Small” Blunder Ends Lee’s Campaign – Sept. 19-20, 1862 With Thomas A. McGrath (2) – Click Here. 5169 words, and Here (video)

21.1862.September.20.Boteler’s.Ford.Trough.Road.Action: (See links #20)

22. 1862.September.21.October.8.Bridges.Main.Stem.Destroyed:
In September, 1862, the rebels returned and again laid waste to the railroad. Confederate troops destroyed much of the B&O main stem between Harper’s Ferry and Martinsburg and absconded with equipment, using teams of horses to haul locomotives over dirt roads into southern territory. They blew up two new Bollman trusses (spans three and four) as well as Bollman’s original 1852 Winchester span. Troops also burned the remainder of the temporary Potomac trustle, twenty-four spans of armory-trestle woodwork, the boatway trestle, and the 148-foot-long government power canal bridge. The latter had been the last undamaged wooden bridge remaining between Monocacy and Cumberland. . . One locomotive dangled in the trestlework at the west end of the Potomac bridge, while another sat and burned in the west of town until repair crews arrived. – Caplinger, p. 50-51.; Harwood, pp. 77-78.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee wrote of the destruction of Baltimore & Ohio as well as Winchester & Potomac railroad lines and equipment from that time period:
The condition of our troops now demanded repose, and the army marched to the Opequon, near Martinsburg, where it remained several days, and then moved to the vicinity of Bunker Hill and Winchester. The enemy seemed to be concentrating in and near Harper’s Ferry, but made no forward movement. During this time the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was destroyed for several miles, and that from Winchester to Harper’s Ferry broken up to within a short distance of the latter place, in order to render the occupation of the Valley by the enemy after our withdrawal more difficult. – R.E. LEE, Chapter XXXI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19, p. 152 (top).

George Neese in the Confederate Cavalry wrote of the September 25th event. (The very next day – the 25th – the Federals did move from Harper’s Ferry on reconnaissance on Charles Town):
This morning we ordered up the Berryville pike. We went about three miles toward Berryville, then came right back to camp. After we got back we moved camp to Leetown, which is seven miles from Charlestown, on the Smithfield and Shepherdstown road. – Neese, George M. (1911). “Three years in the Confederate horse artillery.” New York, NY; Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company. p. 127

Heros Von Borcke, on Confederate Cavalry General J.E.B.Stuart’s staff, wrote of the September 25th event:
Quite unexpectedly I received orders next morning from General Stuart to proceed with half of the Staff and couriers to Charlestown, nearly twenty miles off, and to establish near there, until further instructions, a second headquarters, to which reports from Robertson’s brigade, forming the right wing of our line, should be sent, and from which, in case of urgency, they should be transmitted by me to General Jackson, at Bunker Hill. . . . (263) On my way to the scene of action, I met a courier from Colonel Munford, who reported that the enemy had driven back our pickets opposite Harper’s Ferry, and was advancing towards Charlestown in considerable strength. I found the brigades drawn up across the broad turnpike leading to the river, on a slight range of hills beyond Charlestown, and our artillery well posted and already hotly engaged with two Federal batteries. A large number of our men were dismounted as sharpshooters, and the firing ran briskly along our whole line. The combat grew for a time fiercer and fiercer, and the Yankees seemed determined upon driving us off; but during the afternoon we assumed the offensive and repulsed them heavily, chasing their flying columns into the protecting fortifications of Harper’s Ferry. Our loss in killed (264) and wounded was small; that of the Federals must have been large, for, besides those left upon the field, many of their wounded were carried off in their ambulances, which I had seen moving to and fro all the morning. We took twenty-five prisoners. More . . . – Von Borcke, Heros. (1867). “Memoirs of the Confederate war for independence.” Philadelphia. PA: J. B. Lippincott & Co. Borcke, pp. 260-265.


from The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. (multiple volumes) Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1901.

24. 1862.September.24-25.Shepherdstown.Reconnaissance:
Federal Cavalryman Pleasonton described the events of September 24-25:
By direction of General McClellan, I am about to throw a squadron of cavalry across the river at the ford near Shepherdstown. I am instructed to notify you of the same. The party will be at the ford within an hour, and a small detachment will first cross over to feel the way. – A. PLEASONTON, Chapter XIX, Official Record, Series I, Part 2, Vol. 19. p. 355.

Dr. Abner Hard of the 8th Illinois Cavalry Regiment wrote of the September 24-25th events:
Near the village we encountered the rebel pickets who beat a hasty retreat, but our movements were ordered and executed so quickly and with such celerity, that the village was surrounded and occupied before many were aware of our presence. The place had the appearance of one immense hospital, nearly every house being filled with wounded which had been taken from the battle of Antietam. Among them were some union prisoners which we provided for with great pleasure. We drove the enemy some three miles beyond the town, and took about thirty prisoners, among them Lieutenant Colonel Lee of the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry. He was finely mounted and equipped, and expressed himself greatly chagrined at being captured. Toward evening the regiment returned to camp with their prisoners, proud of their day’s work. More . . . – Hard, Abner, M.D. (1868). “History of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment Illinois Volunteers.” Aurora, Ill.: self-published. Google Books. Hard, p. 190.

25. 1862.September.28.CharlesTown.Skirmish:
Von Borcke, of Confederate Gen. Stuart’s staff, wrote of the September 28th events:
General Stuart had meanwhile shifted his headquarters to a point exactly in rear of the centre of our outpost lines, and much nearer to Jackson than my own position at Charlestown, thus rendering my further detached duty unnecessary. Accordingly, on the morning of the 28th, orders reached me to join him at The Bower, a plantation eight miles from Martinsburg, and about ten from Charlestown. Two-thirds of our march thither had been already accomplished, and we were just entering the little village of Leetown, when a heavy cannonade was heard from the neighbourhood we had left, and Stuart soon came galloping towards us. His orders now were that I (267) should return with him at once to the scene of the conflict. Riding at full speed, in an hour’s time we reached the spot, where our troops were hard pressed by the far superior numbers of the foe. General Stuart immediately sent instructions to Fitz Lee to come with all haste to his support, and determined upon trying to maintain his position until his reinforcements should arrive. Munford and his men had been fighting with their accustomed gallantry; but the Yankees receiving again and again fresh troops from Harper’s Ferry, and their numerous batteries pouring upon us a most destructive fire, we were compelled to retreat and abandon Charlestown, which was instantly occupied by the enemy, who halted there, and did not seek to push their success farther. Their possession of the town, however, was of very short duration; for Fitz Lee suddenly appearing on their right flank at the same moment that we attacked them vigorously in front, they were now driven in turn to their stronghold of Harper’s Ferry; and before nightfall we had regained our old lines and re-established our pickets. – Von Borcke, pp. 266-267.

26. 1862.October.1.Shepherdstown.Opequon.Martinsburg.Reconnaissance.Skirmish:
Confederate General Robert E. Lee wrote of this October 1st event in his report:
The enemy’s cavalry, under General Pleasonton, with six pieces of artillery, drove back our pickets yesterday in front of Shepherdstown. The Ninth Virginia Cavalry, which was on picket, repulsed the enemy several times, by vigorous charges, disputing the ground, step by step, back to the main body. By the time his artillery reached him, Col. W. H. F. Lee, who was in command of the brigade, was obliged to place it on the west bank of the Opequon, on the flank of the enemy as he approached Martinsbnrg. General Hampton’s brigade had retired through Martinsburg on the Tuscarora road, when General Stuart arrived and made dispositions to attack. Lee’s brigade was advanced immediately and Hampton’s ordered forward. The enemy retired, at the approach of Lee, along the Shepherdstown road, and was driven across the Potomac by the cavalry, . . More . . . – R. E. LEE, Chapter XIX, Official Record, Series I, Part 2, Vol. 19. p. 12.

Participant Dr. Hard, with Federals under Gen. Pleasonton, described the October 1st reconnaissance and skirmish:
Selecting the Eighth Illinois, a portion of the Eighth Pennsylvania, and one battery of Regular Artillery, he crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown, at an early hour on the morning of the 1st of October, the Eighth Illinois being in the advance. We had proceeded but two or three miles when the advance guard, under command of Captain Forsythe, came upon tho enemy’s cavalry. The Captain, with a furious charge, such as he was in the habit of making, gallantly dispersed their advance, but finding them in too strong force to be easily driven, a section of the artillery was brought forward and forced them to retire, which they did very reluctantly, stoutly contesting every part of the road to Martinsburg, a distance of seven or eight miles. On approaching the town our troops were ordered to make a dash into it, which they did, capturing a number of the enemy, releasing some of our men held as prisoners of war, securing a quantity of plunder and driving a large force of them out of the place. It was about one o’clock when we entered and took possession. During the forenoon the rebel cavalry manifested that stubbornness and confidence which is always inspired by the consciousness of superior numbers. Our forces sustained a loss of several wounded but none killed. We killed one or two of their number. Numerous bodies of the enemy had been seen at a distance during the day, and while we remained in possession of the town they still lingered, keeping up a constant fire on our pickets and advanced posts. Our prisoners showed by their conduct that they had very little idea of being obliged to re-cross the Potomac with us. From the inhabitants, some of whom were union at heart, we learned that a large force was encamped about us; and we afterwards ascertained that during all this time, up to four o’clock in the afternoon, the commander of the rebels was engaged concentrating his forces ready to “gobble up” our entire command whenever we attempted to return. However we had a word to say on that subject.

At about four o’clock pm., General Pleasanton having gained all the information possible of the situation of the rebel army, made preparations to return. This move called for more military skill, caution and courage than it had required to advance. We were twelve miles from Shepherdstown, the nearest ford, with a force not to exceed eight hundred men, (our regiment being very much reduced at that time,) and with an opposition of five or six times our number on all sides, well acquainted with the country, of which we were comparatively ignorant. On withdrawing, the Eighth Illinois was placed in the rear of the column, the rear guard being commanded by Major Medill. Scarcely had our pickets left their post before the rebel cavalry came pouring along in pursuit. The streets were filled and completely blockaded with them. A section of our artillery, placed on a slight eminence just outside of town, and trained to bear on a bridge, with a few well directed shots held the enemy in check for a short time, and created considerable confusion in their ranks. More . . . – Hard, pp. 190-193.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee summarizes Gen. Stuart’s Oct. 8-14th journey:
On October 8 General Stuart was ordered to cross the Potomac above Williamsport with 1,200 or 1,500 cavalry (NOTE: 1800, in Stuart’s report.-JS), and endeavor to ascertain the position and designs of the enemy. He was directed, if practicable, to enter Pennsylvania, and do all in his power to impede and embarrass the military operations of the enemy. This order was executed with skill, address, and courage. General Stuart passed through Maryland, occupied Chambersburg, and destroyed a large amount of public property, making the entire circuit of General McClellan’s army. He recrossed the Potomac below Harpers Ferry without loss. – R.E. LEE, Chapter XXXI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19, pp. 152-153.

(28). 1862.October.16.Smithfield.Reconnaissance – The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official … ser.1, v.19, pt.2. p. 82

(29). 1862.October.16-17.Kearneysville.Skirmish – ROADSIDE MARKERS NO. 1, 8, & 6:
Local resident and Confederate artilleryman, Roger P. Chew, described the October 16th event in Kearneysville:
On the Sixteenth of October, 1862, Brigadier General Humphreys crossed the Potomac at Boteler’s Ford, with six thousand infantry, five hundred cavalry, and six pieces of artillery, and advanced on the roads leading to Kearneysville. Another force, commanded by Brigadier General W. S. Hancock, with his own brigade, fifteen hundred from other brigades, four regiments of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery, advanced from Harpers Ferry at the same time, in the direction of Charles Town. We had, at the time, a line of pickets extending from the North Mountain to the Shenandoah River. The advance was so sudden that it cut off some of the pickets. Humphrey’s advance guard went as far as Smithfield, and his main body a little south of Kearneysville. The Confederates had been destroying the railroad in this section, and some of General Winder’s Infantry was near. They, with Fitz Lee and Hampton’s Brigades of Cavalry, commanded by General Stuart, attacked late in the evening of the sixteenth of October, (Marker No. 1), and, after some severe fighting, drove him from his position. They were steadily driven back on the Seventeenth, but made a determined stand two miles south of Shepherdstown, on the Shepherdstown and Duffields road at what is called the Forks. A brigade of regulars, commanded by Major Lovell, U.S.A. occupied this part of the field, and the importance of holding it was apparent. Back of him was the Trough road which led to the ford on the Potomac and also the road leading to Shepherdstown. If the position were carried his retreat was endangered. Trees were felled across the road to impede the artillery and cavalry, but Winder’s infantry forced them back slowly, and the whole force crossed into Maryland.- Chew p. 8.

30. 1862.October.16-17.CharlesTown.Reconnaissance:
Artilleryman and local resident Roger P. Chew described an artillery duel at the old fair grounds near Charles Town – MARKER NUMBER TWENTY-ONE:
After the battle of Sharpsburg, McClellan remained north of the Potomac for about thirty days, when he crossed below Harper’s Ferry with his artillery on October 16, 1863. To screen that movement he sent Hancock with a large force of infantry, cavalry and artillery to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Charles Town. Our cavalry under the command of General T. T. Munford retired before this force until they reached a point about half a mile below Charles Town, known as the Old Fair Grounds. Here a section of Chew’s Battery under Lieutenant J. W. Carter and two guns of the Richmond Howitsers, a third company under Captain B. H. Smith were placed in position, and opened on the enemy, who had planted their batteries on the hill about three quarters of a mile below, known as Butler’s Hill. A severe engagement between the artillery on either side took place at this point, although the enemy were greatly superior in number and guns. – Chew, pp. 36-37.

George Baylor of the Virginia 12th Cavalry recounts the October 16-17 events:
{On September 18th}, Company B was ordered back to Harper’s Ferry, with instructions to picket the Potomac at that point and report any movement of the enemy in that direction. This position was held by our company until the enemy crossed in force and drove us back to Halltown. We remained at Halltown until the 16th of October, when a column of the enemy under General Hancock advanced, and, after a brisk fight just east of Charlestown, our small force of cavalry under Colonel Munford was driven back, and Charlestown was occupied by the enemy. On the afternoon of the 17th, General Hancock withdrew his command to Harper’s Ferry, and Charlestown was again occupied by us and pickets posted at Halltown. General McClellan having now crossed the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, began his march southward, and General Lee, who had been resting his army near Bunker Hill, moved across the mountains to confront him, but our company was left at its post. – Baylor, pp. 73-74.

Excerpts from the report of Federal commander Winfield Hancock about the Oct. 16-17 events:
On the 16th instant, in obedience to instructions, I marched toward Charlestown, Va., with my division and 1,500 men of other divisions, under command of Col. W. R.. Lee, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, and a force of cavalry, with a battery of four guns (horse artillery), Colonel Devin being in command thereof. . . . The advance of our column encountered the enemy’s pickets beyond Halltown, drove them in, and pursued until, when within short artillery range of the high ground this side of Charlestown, the enemy was found posted. He opened fire upon us with artillery. Our horse artillery battery, supported by Capt. M. A. Reno’s First Cavalry, then engaged the enemy, who opened fire from five guns, and deployed dismounted cavalry as skirmishers on their front and flanks. . . . We soon ascertained that the enemy had been driven away by the fire of our artillery, together with the threatened attack by the infantry. His force only consisted of the artillery already referred to, with two or three regiments of cavalry. The town was at once taken possession of and the troops suitably disposed for defense. Toward evening our infantry advanced and occupied the heights surrounding the town, within artillery range. . . The command remained in Charlestown until about 2 pm. The next day, when we received orders to return. It then marched to Halltown, and occupied that position during the night. The next morning, after an examination of the roads, and it being found there was no enemy in front, the command returned to Harper’s Ferry. While in Charlestown I appointed Col. J. R. Brooke, of the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, military governor, the better to preserve order. About 100 officers and soldiers of the Confederate Army were found in the town, consisting entirely, it is believed, of surgeons, hospital attendants, convalescents, and sick. Twenty-six were sent to the provost-marshal at Harper’s Ferry, and 38 wounded and unable to be removed, were paroled. Time did not permit the paroling of all who were severely wounded, as they were scattered throughout the town, requiring more time than we had for the purpose, to find them. The casualties (from the skirmish-JS) on either side were about equal, and were not numerous. I found some parts of artillery carriages belonging to the enemy, which I destroyed. . . More . . . W. HANCOCK, Chapter XIX, Official Record, Series I, Part 2, Vol. 19. pp. 91-93.

Roger P. Chew described the above-mentioned skirmish – ROADSIDE MARKER NUMBER EIGHT:
Company D, of the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry, was picketing from Engle’s Hill to the Shepherdstown road. The reserve was near where Marker No. 8 stands, at the intersection of the Uvilla and Charles Town roads. A sharp encounter took place between the Federal advance and company D, a little south of this point in Rocky Lane. Captain Knott was wounded in the shoulder. Many of the company were from this section, and knew every road. They easily made their way through the enemy’s lines and joined the Regiment. (Thus they played even; for about a month previous, our line of pickets were being advanced, and company D struck their pickets at Duffields, and chased them back on their company reserve at Marker 8. They held their own until the company had closed up, when a charge was made and they were driven to Lucas’ woods, where a regiment was stationed. They all decamped and crossed the Potomac). – Chew, p. 8.

32. 1862.November.1.Halltown.Skirmish:
George Baylor, of the 12th Virginia cavalry, wrote of the November 1st event:
On November 1st, while our company reserve was occupying a little woods on the Brown farm, we were surprised in our camp in the early morning by a dash made by the enemy’s cavalry. Our horses were unsaddled and unbridled and tied to trees. Awakening from our slumbers and realizing the situation, we fought the enemy on foot and drove them out of camp and over a hill in our front; then, while keeping up a fire with a few men, the others retired to camp, saddled, bridled, and mounted, and, making a charge on the enemy, drove them back to Halltown. Just in front of Mr. Shaeffer’s house my horse received a fatal wound and I a slight one in the calf of my leg, which was not sufficient to render me hors de combat, I led the noble animal, which I dearly loved, and whose very life seemed bound to mine by dangers shared and daily companionship, to the roadside, where she laid down on the green turf. Her breathing too plainly indicated that death was near. As her eyes rested on me in fondness and affection, human nature could not resist, and, kneeling down by her side, and clasping my arms about her neck, I wept. When I arose she was dead. She died, and with her life passed away my hopes and aspirations for her whose name she bore. The dream of my young life vanished, and the hopes of the future were dissipated. . . . The enemy having made a stand at Halltown, our company passed unobserved to the south of the turnpike, in the rear of Rion Hall, coming in their rear just east of the town, and, making a dash, routed and drove them in confusion over the hills. In this fracas we captured seven prisoners. This force proved to be Cole’s Cavalry battalion. – Baylor, p. 74.

33. 1862.November.9-10.Rippon.CharlesTown.Skirmish:
From a Federal report in the Official Record on the events of November 9-10:
(last paragraph) The command has been actively employed in picketing 3 miles of front, from the Potomac to the Shenandoah, occasionally harassed by small parties of rebel cavalry, without any serious casualties. A large portion of the division has also been arduously engaged in fatigue duties, felling timber, and constructing and improving the fortifications of the position. . .(fifth paragraph same page) November 9, a reconnaissance in force was made by the division, under brigadier-general commanding, to Rippon, within 6 miles of Berryville, driving the enemy before them, capturing prisoners, arms, horses, and cattle, and ascertaining the location and strength of the enemy in the valley between this point and Front Royal. – Itinerary of the Twelfth Army Corps, September-November 30, 1862. SECOND DlVISION., Chapter XXXI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19. p. 481.

34. 1862.November.24.25.Shepherdstown.Capture:
Federal troops locate a Confederate scouting party in Shepherdstown. They kill its leader, Redmond Burke, and capture the others. The following day they search homes in Shepherdstown.
See POST: The Fall of Redmond Burke and the “Harvard Men”, With Author Steve French. Click Here. 7988 words.

  1. The “Harvard men” Hunt Down “Bushwhacker” Burke – November 24, 1862, Shepherdstown, VA Click Here. TRT: 16:30.
  2. Shepherdstown, VA. November, 1862 & The Shameful Searchers Click Here. TRT: 23:06.

35. 1862.November.26.Cockralls.Mill.Skirmish:
From a Federal report in the Official Record on the events of November 26:
A . . . reconnaissance, with 600 infantry and two pieces of artillery, under the general commanding the division (Gen. George S. Greene, 2nd Division, XIIth Crops, Federal Army.-JS) was made on the 26th as far as Charlestown, having a skirmish with the enemy’s cavalry at Cockralls Mill, on the Shenandoah, routing them, wounding several, and taking a number of prisoners, arms, and horses, together with a quantity of flour, and destroying at that place a cloth-mill in the employ of the rebels. Thence the command marched to a point opposite Shannondale Spring, and thence to Charlestown, between which and Halltown a rebel camp was broken up, and the Seventh and Twelfth Vir- ginia Cavalry put to flight. No enemy was discovered, other than cavalry parties, in the immediate front. Returned on the same day without any casualties. – Itinerary of the Twelfth Army Corps, September-November 30, 1862. SECOND DlVISION. Chapter XXXI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Vol. 19. p. 481.

36. 1862.December.2.CharlesTown.Skirmish:
Participant Baylor wrote of the December 2nd event:
. . . (last paragraph p. 74) matters remained quiet in our front until the first part of December, when a column under General Geary, about 5,000 strong, advanced on Charlestown. Just east of the town we engaged his advance, and after a spirited contest, were driven back. In this fight, Sergeant Timberlake, Richard Baylor, and Charles Isler were wounded. The enemy passed through Charlestown and continued its route through Berryville to Winchester. Company B, falling in its rear, harassed the enemy along the route and captured some prisoners. Geary’s cavalry (Cole’s Battalion) kept close beside the infantry and could not be induced to part company. – Baylor, pp. 74-76.

37. December.20.Halltown.Skirmish:
Confederate Cavalryman George Baylor wrote of the December 20th event:
(mid-page) On the 20th of December, with 25 men, we moved down the River road and attacked the enemy’s reserve cavalry picket near the double toll-gate, just west of Bolivar Heights, capturing seven prisoners, horses and equipments, and as we were returning to Charlestown, at Lucas’s gate, just west of Halltown, encountered about 200 of Cole’s cavalry under Colonel Vernon, who, it seems, had started out on a raid to Charlestown, but on hearing the cannon firing at Bolivar heights had turned back to Harper’s Ferry. At the first glance we supposed them to be some of our regiment from Winchester, sent down to look after us, but soon realized the true situation and prepared for an attack. Five of our men had charge of the prisoners captured, which left us only 20 effective men. Both sides charged, we met near the cake and cider shop, and after a short struggle positions were exchanged, the enemy passing on to Harper’s Ferry and we to Charlestown. We brought off safely our seven prisoners, and wounded several others of the enemy. We lost one prisoner in the fight, W. L. Wilson. The enemy about a mile east of Charlestown picked up my father, who was unarmed, still a sufferer from his wound, and on a visit to some wards, but I was not aware of it until I returned to Charlestown. I met Colonel Cole that evening under flag of truce, and after inquiring after my father, proposed to him to make an exchange for him and Wilson, first offering him three for two, and finally offering his seven men for our two, but he declined. My father remained a prisoner from that time until late in 1864, but Wilson was soon exchanged and back with the company. – Baylor, pp. 77-78.

CHAPTER OR STORY 18 For War Events Oct., 1861-March, 1864 Part 2. Click Here