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The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Complete by General Philip Henry Sheridan

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the inferior chiefs gave the signal to attack. The principal chief,
Tetootney John, and two other Indians joined me in the centre of the
circle, and protesting that they would die rather than that the
frenzied onslaught should succeed, harangued the Indians until the
rest of the company hastened up from camp and put an end to the
disturbance. I always felt grateful to Tetootney John for his
loyalty on this occasion, and many times afterward aided his family
with a little coffee and sugar, but necessarily surreptitiously, so
as not to heighten the prejudices that his friendly act had aroused
among his Indian comrades.

The situation at Yaquina Bay did not seem very safe, notwithstanding
the supply of beef we brought; and the possibility that the starving
Indians might break out was ever present, so to anticipate any
further revolt, I called for more troops. The request was complied
with by sending to my assistance the greater part of my own company
("K")from Fort Yamhill. The men, inspired by the urgency of our
situation, marched more than forty miles a day, accomplishing the
whole distance in so short a period, that I doubt if the record has
ever been beaten. When this reinforcement arrived, the Indians saw
the futility of further demonstrations against their agent, who they
seemed to think was responsible for the insufficiency of food, and
managed to exist with the slender rations we could spare and such
indifferent food as they could pick up, until the Indian Department
succeeded in getting up its regular supplies. In the past the poor
things had often been pinched by hunger and neglect, and at times
their only food was rock oysters, clams and crabs. Great quantities
of these shell-fish could be gathered in the bay near at hand, but
the mountain Indians, who had heretofore lived on the flesh of
mammal, did not take kindly to mollusks, and, indeed, ate the
shell-fish only as a last resort.

Crab catching at night on the Yaquina Bay by the coast Indians was a
very picturesque scene. It was mostly done by the squaws and
children, each equipped with a torch in one hand, and a sharp-pointed
stick in the other to take and lift the fish into baskets slung on
the back to receive them. I have seen at times hundreds of squaws
and children wading about in Yaquina Bay taking crabs in this manner,
and the reflection by the water of the light from the many torches,
with the movements of the Indians while at work, formed a weird and
diverting picture of which we were never tired.

Not long after the arrival of the additional troops from Yamhill, it
became apparent that the number of men at Yaquina Bay would have to
be reduced, so in view of this necessity, it was deemed advisable to
build a block-house for the better protection of the agents and I
looked about for suitable ground on which to erect it. Nearly all
around the bay the land rose up from the beach very abruptly, and the
only good site that could be found was some level ground used as the
burial-place of the Yaquina Bay Indians--a small band of fish-eating
people who had lived near this point on the coast for ages. They
were a robust lot, of tall and well-shaped figures, and were called
in the Chinook tongue "salt chuck," which means fish-eaters, or
eaters of food from the salt water. Many of the young men and women
were handsome in feature below the forehead, having fine eyes,
aquiline noses and good mouths, but, in conformity with a
long-standing custom, all had flat heads, which gave them a distorted
and hideous appearance, particularly some of the women, who went to
the extreme of fashion and flattened the head to the rear in a sharp
horizontal ridge by confining it between two boards, one running back
from the forehead at an angle of about forty degrees, and the other up
perpendicularly from the back of the neck. When a head had been
shaped artistically the dusky maiden owner was marked as a belle, and
one could become reconciled to it after a time, but when carelessness
and neglect had governed in the adjustment of the boards, there
probably was nothing in the form of a human being on the face of the
earth that appeared so ugly.

It was the mortuary ground of these Indians that occupied the only
level spot we could get for the block-house. Their dead were buried
in canoes, which rested in the crotches of forked sticks a few feet
above-ground. The graveyard was not large, containing probably from
forty to fifty canoes in a fair state of preservation. According to
the custom of all Indian tribes on the Pacific coast, when one of
their number died all his worldly effects were buried with him, so
that the canoes were filled with old clothes, blankets, pieces of
calico and the like, intended for the use of the departed in the
happy hunting grounds.

I made known to the Indians that we would have to take this piece of
ground for the blockhouse. They demurred at first, for there is
nothing more painful to an Indian than disturbing his dead, but they
finally consented to hold a council next day on the beach, and thus
come to some definite conclusion. Next morning they all assembled,
and we talked in the Chinook language all day long, until at last
they gave in, consenting, probably, as much because they could not
help themselves, as for any other reason. It was agreed that on the
following day at 12 o'clock, when the tide was going out, I should
take my men and place the canoes in the bay, and let them float out
on the tide across the ocean to the happy hunting-grounds:

At that day there existed in Oregon in vast numbers a species of
wood-rat, and our inspection of the graveyard showed that the canoes
were thickly infested with them. They were a light gray animal,
larger than the common gray squirrel, with beautiful bushy tails,
which made them strikingly resemble the squirrel, but in cunning and
deviltry they were much ahead of that quick-witted rodent. I have
known them to empty in one night a keg of spikes in the storehouse in
Yamhill, distributing them along the stringers of the building, with
apparently no other purpose than amusement. We anticipated great fun
watching the efforts of these rats to escape the next day when the
canoes should be launched on the ocean, and I therefore forbade any
of the command to visit the graveyard in the interim, lest the rats
should be alarmed. I well knew that they would not be disturbed by
the Indians, who held the sacred spot in awe. When the work of
taking down the canoes and carrying them to the water began,
expectation was on tiptoe, but, strange as it may seem, not a rat was
to be seen. This unexpected development was mystifying. They had
all disappeared; there was not one in any of the canoes, as
investigation proved, for disappointment instigated a most thorough
search. The Indians said the rats understood Chinook, and that as
they had no wish to accompany the dead across the ocean to the happy
hunting-grounds, they took to the woods for safety. However that may
be, I have no doubt that the preceding visits to the burial-ground,
and our long talk of the day before, with the unusual stir and
bustle, had so alarmed the rats that, impelled, by their suspicious
instincts, they fled a danger, the nature of which they could not
anticipate, but which they felt to be none the less real and



The troubles at the Siletz and Yaquina Bay were settled without
further excitement by the arrival in due time of plenty of food, and
as the buildings, at Fort Haskins were so near completion that my
services as quartermaster were no longer needed, I was ordered to
join my own company at Fort Yamhill, where Captain Russell was still
in command. I returned to that place in May, 1857, and at a period a
little later, in consequence of the close of hostilities in southern
Oregon, the Klamaths and Modocs were sent back to their own country,
to that section in which occurred, in 1873, the disastrous war with
the latter tribe. This reduced considerably the number of Indians at
the Grande Ronde, but as those remaining were still somewhat unruly,
from the fact that many questions requiring adjustment were
constantly arising between the different bands, the agent and the
officers at the post were kept pretty well occupied. Captain Russell
assigned to me the special work of keeping up the police control, and
as I had learned at an early day to speak Chinook (the "court
language" among the coast tribes) almost as well as the Indians
themselves, I was thereby enabled to steer my way successfully on
many critical occasions.

For some time the most disturbing and most troublesome element we had
was the Rogue River band. For three or four years they had fought
our troops obstinately, and surrendered at the bitter end in the
belief that they were merely overpowered, not conquered. They openly
boasted to the other Indians that they could whip the soldiers, and
that they did not wish to follow the white man's ways, continuing
consistently their wild habits, unmindful of all admonitions.
Indeed, they often destroyed their household utensils, tepees and
clothing, and killed their horses on the graves of the dead, in the
fulfillment of a superstitious custom, which demanded that they
should undergo, while mourning for their kindred, the deepest
privation in a property sense. Everything the loss of which would
make them poor was sacrificed on the graves of their relatives or
distinguished warriors, and as melancholy because of removal from
their old homes caused frequent deaths, there was no lack of occasion
for the sacrifices. The widows and orphans of the dead warriors were
of course the chief mourners, and exhibited their grief in many
peculiar ways. I remember one in particular which was universally
practiced by the near kinsfolk. They would crop their hair very
close, and then cover the head with a sort of hood or plaster of
black pitch, the composition being clay, pulverized charcoal, and the
resinous gum which exudes from the pine-tree. The hood, nearly an
inch in thickness, was worn during a period of mourning that lasted
through the time it would take nature, by the growth of the hair,
actually to lift from the head the heavy covering of pitch after it
had become solidified and hard as stone. It must be admitted that
they underwent considerable discomfort in memory of their relatives.
It took all the influence we could bring to bear to break up these
absurdly superstitious practices, and it looked as if no permanent
improvement could be effected, for as soon as we got them to discard
one, another would be invented. When not allowed to burn down their
tepees or houses, those poor souls who were in a dying condition
would be carried out to the neighboring hillsides just before
dissolution, and there abandoned to their sufferings, with little or
no attention, unless the placing under their heads of a small stick
of wood--with possibly some laudable object, but doubtless great
discomfort to their victim--might be considered such.

To uproot these senseless and monstrous practices was indeed most
difficult. The most pernicious of all was one which was likely to
bring about tragic results. They believed firmly in a class of
doctors among their people who professed that they could procure the
illness of an individual at will, and that by certain incantations
they could kill or cure the sick person. Their faith in this
superstition was so steadfast that there was no doubting its
sincerity, many indulging at times in the most trying privations,
that their relatives might be saved from death at the hands of the
doctors. I often talked with them on the subject, and tried to
reason them out of the superstitious belief, defying the doctors to
kill me, or even make me ill; but my talks were unavailing, and they
always met my arguments with the remark that I was a white man, of a
race wholly different from the red man, and that that was the reason
the medicine of the doctors would not affect me. These villainous
doctors might be either men or women, and any one of them finding an
Indian ill, at once averred that his influence was the cause,
offering at the same time to cure the invalid for a fee, which
generally amounted to about all the ponies his family possessed. If
the proposition was accepted and the fee paid over, the family, in
case the man died, was to have indemnity through the death of the
doctor, who freely promised that they might take his life in such
event, relying on his chances of getting protection from the furious
relatives by fleeing to the military post till time had so assuaged
their grief that matters could be compromised or settled by a
restoration of a part of the property, when the rascally leeches
could again resume their practice. Of course the services of a
doctor were always accepted when an Indian fell ill; otherwise the
invalid's death would surely ensue, brought about by the evil
influence that was unpropitiated. Latterly it had become quite the
thing, when a patient died, for the doctor to flee to our camp--it
was so convenient and so much safer than elsewhere--and my cellar was
a favorite place of refuge from the infuriated friends of the

Among the most notable of these doctors was an Indian named Sam
Patch, who several times sought asylum in any cellar, and being a
most profound diplomat, managed on each occasion and with little
delay to negotiate a peaceful settlement and go forth in safety to
resume the practice of his nefarious profession. I often hoped he
would be caught before reaching the post, but he seemed to know
intuitively when the time had come to take leg-bail, for his advent
at the garrison generally preceded by but a few hours the death of
some poor dupe.

Finally these peculiar customs brought about the punishment of a
noted doctress of the Rogue River tribe, a woman who was constantly
working in this professional way, and who had found a victim of such
prominence among the Rogue Rivers that his unlooked for death brought
down on her the wrath of all. She had made him so ill, they
believed, as to bring him to death's door notwithstanding the many
ponies that had been given her to cease the incantations, and it was
the conviction of all that she had finally caused the man's death
from some ulterior and indiscernible motive. His relatives and
friends then immediately set about requiting her with the just
penalties of a perfidious breach of contract. Their threats induced
her instant flight toward my house for the usual protection, but the
enraged friends of the dead man gave hot chase, and overtook the
witch just inside the limits of the garrison, where, on the
parade-ground, in sight of the officers' quarters, and before any one
could interfere, they killed her. There were sixteen men in pursuit
of the doctress, and sixteen gun-shot wounds were found in her body
when examined by the surgeon of the post. The killing of the woman
was a flagrant and defiant outrage committed in the teeth of the
military authority, yet done so quickly that we could not prevent it.
This necessitated severe measures, both to allay the prevailing
excitement and to preclude the recurrence of such acts. The body was
cared for, and delivered to the relatives the next day for burial,
after which Captain Russell directed me to take such steps as would
put a stop to the fanatical usages that had brought about this
murderous occurrence, for it was now seen that if timely measures were
not taken to repress them, similar tragedies would surely follow.

Knowing all the men of the Rogue River tribe, and speaking fluently
the Chinook tongue, which they all understood, I went down to their
village the following day, after having sent word to the tribe that I
wished to have a council with them. The Indians all met me in
council, as I had desired, and I then told them that the men who had
taken part in shooting the woman would have to be delivered up for
punishment. They were very stiff with me at the interview, and with
all that talent for circumlocution and diplomacy with which the
Indian is lifted, endeavored to evade my demands and delay any
conclusion. But I was very positive, would hear of no compromise
whatever, and demanded that my terms be at once complied with. No
one was with me but a sergeant of my company, named Miller, who held
my horse, and as the chances of an agreement began to grow remote, I
became anxious for our safety. The conversation waxing hot and the
Indians gathering close in around me, I unbuttoned the flap of my
pistol holster, to be ready for any emergency. When the altercation
became most bitter I put my hand to my hip to draw my pistol, but
discovered it was gone--stolen by one of the rascals surrounding me.
Finding myself unarmed, I modified my tone and manner to correspond
with my helpless condition, thus myself assuming the diplomatic side
in the parley, in order to gain time. As soon as an opportunity
offered, and I could, without too much loss of self-respect, and
without damaging my reputation among the Indians, I moved out to
where the sergeant held my horse, mounted, and crossing the Yamhill
River close by, called back in Chinook from the farther bank that
"the sixteen men who killed the woman must be delivered up, and my
six-shooter also." This was responded to by contemptuous laughter, so
I went back to the military post somewhat crestfallen, and made my
report of the turn affairs had taken, inwardly longing for another
chance to bring the rascally Rogue Rivers to terms.

When I had explained the situation to Captain Russell, he thought
that we could not, under any circumstances, overlook this defiant
conduct of the Indians, since, unless summarily punished, it would
lead to even more serious trouble in the future. I heartily seconded
this proposition, and gladly embracing the opportunity it offered,
suggested that if he would give me another chance, and let me have
the effective force of the garrison, consisting of about fifty men, I
would chastise the Rogue Rivers without fail, and that the next day
was all the time I required to complete arrangements. He gave me the
necessary authority, and I at once set to work to bring about a
better state of discipline on the reservation, and to put an end to
the practices of the medicine men (having also in view the recovery
of my six-shooter and self-respect), by marching to the village and
taking the rebellious Indians by force.

In the tribe there was an excellent woman called Tighee Mary (Tighee
in Chinook means chief), who by right of inheritance was a kind of
queen of the Rogue Rivers. Fearing that the insubordinate conduct of
the Indians would precipitate further trouble, she came early the
following morning to see me and tell me of the situation Mary
informed me that she had done all in her power to bring the Indians
to reason, but without avail, and that they were determined to fight
rather than deliver up the sixteen men who had engaged in the
shooting. She also apprised me of the fact that they had taken up a
position on the Yamhill River, on the direct road between the post
and village, where, painted and armed for war, they were awaiting

On this information I concluded it would be best to march to the
village by a circuitous route instead of directly, as at first
intended, so I had the ferry-boat belonging to the post floated about
a mile and a half down the Yamhill River and there anchored. At 11
o'clock that night I marched my fifty men, out of the garrison, in a
direction opposite to that of the point held by the Indians, and soon
reached the river at the ferryboat. Here I ferried the party over
with little delay, and marched them along the side of the mountain,
through underbrush and fallen timber, until, just before daylight, I
found that we were immediately in rear of the village, and thence in
rear, also, of the line occupied by the refractory Indians, who were
expecting to meet me on the direct road from the post. Just at break
of day we made a sudden descent upon the village and took its
occupants completely by surprise, even capturing the chief of the
tribe, "Sam," who was dressed in all his war toggery, fully armed and
equipped, in anticipation of a fight on the road where his comrades
were in position. I at once put Sam under guard, giving orders to
kill him instantly if the Indians fired a shot; then forming my line
on the road beyond the edge of the village, in rear of the force
lying in wait for a front attack, we moved forward. When the hostile
party realized that they were completely cut off from the village,
they came out from their stronghold on the river and took up a line
in my front, distant about sixty yards with the apparent intention of
resisting to the last.

As is usual with Indians when expecting a fight, they were nearly
naked, fantastically painted with blue clay, and hideously arrayed in
war bonnets. They seemed very belligerent, brandishing their muskets
in the air, dancing on one foot, calling us ugly names, and making
such other demonstrations of hostility, that it seemed at first that
nothing short of the total destruction of the party could bring about
the definite settlement that we were bent on. Still, as it was my
desire to bring them under subjection without loss of life, if
possible, I determined to see what result would follow when they
learned that their chief was at our mercy. So, sending Sam under
guard to the front, where he could be seen, informing them that he
would be immediately shot if they fired upon us, and aided by the
cries and lamentations of the women of the village, who deprecated
any hostile action by either party, I soon procured a parley.

The insubordinate Indians were under command of "Joe," Sam's brother,
who at last sent me word that he wanted to see me, and we met between
our, respective lines. I talked kindly to him, but was firm in my
demand that the men who killed the woman must be given up and my
six-shooter returned. His reply was he did not think it could be done,
but he would consult his people. After the consultation, he returned
and notified me that fifteen would surrender and the six-shooter
would be restored, and further, that we could kill the sixteenth man,
since the tribe wished to get rid of him anyhow, adding that he was a
bad Indian, whose bullet no doubt had given the woman her death
wound. He said that if I assented to this arrangement, he would
require all of his people except the objectionable man to run to the
right of his line at a preconcerted signal. The bad Indian would be
ordered to stand fast on the extreme left, and we could open fire on
him as his comrades fell away to the right. I agreed to the
proposition, and gave Joe fifteen minutes to execute his part of it.
We then returned to our respective forces, and a few minutes later
the fifteen ran to the right flank as agreed upon, and we opened fire
on the one Indian left standing alone, bringing him down in his
tracks severely wounded by a shot through the shoulder.

While all this was going on, the other bands of the reservation,
several thousand strong, had occupied the surrounding hills for the
purpose of witnessing the fight, for as the Rogue Rivers had been
bragging for some time that they could whip the soldiers, these other
Indians had come out to see it done. The result, however,
disappointed the spectators, and the Rogue Rivers naturally lost
caste. The fifteen men now came in and laid down their arms
(including my six-shooter) in front of us as agreed, but I compelled
them to take the surrendered guns up again and carry them to the
post, where they were deposited in the block-house for future
security. The prisoners were ironed with ball and chain, and made to
work at the post until their rebellious spirit was broken; and the
wounded man was correspondingly punished after he had fully
recovered. An investigation as to why this man had been selected as
the offering by which Joe and his companions expected to gain
immunity, showed that the fellow was really a most worthless
character, whose death even would have been a benefit to the tribe.
Thus it seemed that they had two purposes in view--the one to
propitiate me and get good terms, the other to rid themselves of a
vagabond member of the tribe.

The punishment of these sixteen Indians by ball and chain ended all
trouble with the Rogue River tribe. The, disturbances arising from
the incantations of the doctors and doctresses, and the practice of
killing horses and burning all worldly property on the graves of
those who died, were completely suppressed, and we made with little
effort a great stride toward the civilization of these crude and
superstitious people, for they now began to recognize the power of
the Government. In their management afterward a course of justice
and mild force was adopted, and unvaryingly applied. They were
compelled to cultivate their land, to attend church, and to send
their children to school. When I saw them, fifteen years later,
transformed into industrious and substantial farmers, with neat
houses, fine cattle, wagons and horses, carrying their grain, eggs,
and butter to market and bringing home flour, coffee, sugar, and
calico in return, I found abundant confirmation of my early opinion
that the most effectual measures for lifting them from a state of
barbarism would be a practical supervision at the outset, coupled
with a firm control and mild discipline.

In all that was done for these Indians Captain Russell's judgment and
sound, practical ideas were the inspiration. His true manliness,
honest and just methods, together with the warm-hearted interest he
took in all that pertained to matters of duty to his Government,
could not have produced other than the best results, in what position
soever he might have been placed. As all the lovable traits of his
character were constantly manifested, I became most deeply attached
to him, and until the day of his death in 1864, on the battle-field
of Opequan, in front of Winchester, while gallantly leading his
division under my command, my esteem and affection were sustained and
intensified by the same strong bonds that drew me to him in these
early days in Oregon.

After the events just narrated I continued on duty at the post of
Yamhill, experiencing the usual routine of garrison life without any
incidents of much interest, down to the breaking out of the war of
the rebellion in April, 1861. The news of the firing on Fort Sumter
brought us an excitement which overshadowed all else, and though we
had no officers at the post who sympathized with the rebellion, there
were several in our regiment--the Fourth Infantry--who did, and we
were considerably exercised as to the course they might pursue, but
naturally far more so concerning the disposition that would be made
of the regiment during the conflict.

In due time orders came for the regiment to go East, and my company
went off, leaving me, however--a second lieutenant--in command of the
post until I should be relieved by Captain James J. Archer, of the
Ninth Infantry, whose company was to take the place of the old
garrison. Captain Archer, with his company of the Ninth, arrived
shortly after, but I had been notified that he intended to go South,
and his conduct was such after reaching the post that I would not
turn over the command to him for fear he might commit some rebellious
act. Thus a more prolonged detention occurred than I had at first
anticipated. Finally the news came that he had tendered his
resignation and been granted a leave of absence for sixty days. On
July 17 he took his departure, but I continued in command till
September 1, when Captain Philip A. Owen, of the Ninth Infantry,
arrived and, taking charge, gave me my release.

From the day we received the news of the firing on Sumter until I
started East, about the first of September, 1861, I was deeply
solicitous as to the course of events, and though I felt confident
that in the end the just cause of the Government must triumph, yet
the thoroughly crystallized organization which the Southern
Confederacy quickly exhibited disquieted me very much, for it alone
was evidence that the Southern leaders had long anticipated the
struggle and prepared for it. It was very difficult to obtain direct
intelligence of the progress of the war. Most of the time we were in
the depths of ignorance as to the true condition of affairs, and this
tended to increase our anxiety. Then, too, the accounts of the
conflicts that had taken place were greatly exaggerated by the
Eastern papers, and lost nothing in transition. The news came by the
pony express across the Plains to San Francisco, where it was still
further magnified in republishing, and gained somewhat in Southern
bias. I remember well that when the first reports reached us of, the
battle of Bull Run--that sanguinary engagement--it was stated that
each side had lost forty thousand men in killed and wounded, and none
were reported missing nor as having run away. Week by week these
losses grew less, until they finally shrunk into the hundreds, but
the vivid descriptions of the gory conflict were not toned down
during the whole summer.

We received our mail at Yamhill only once a week, and then had to
bring it from Portland, Oregon, by express. On the day of the week
that our courier, or messenger, was expected back from Portland, I
would go out early in the morning to a commanding point above the
post, from which I could see a long distance down the road as it ran
through the valley of the Yamhill, and there I would watch with
anxiety for his coming, longing for good news; for, isolated as I had
been through years spent in the wilderness, my patriotism was
untainted by politics, nor had it been disturbed by any discussion of
the questions out of which the war grew, and I hoped for the success
of the Government above all other considerations. I believe I was
also uninfluenced by any thoughts of the promotion that might result
to me from the conflict, but, out of a sincere desire to contribute
as much as I could to the preservation of the Union, I earnestly
wished to be at the seat of war, and feared it might end before I
could get East. In no sense did I anticipate what was to happen to
me afterward, nor that I was to gain any distinction from it. I was
ready to do my duty to the best of my ability wherever I might be
called, and I was young, healthy, insensible to fatigue, and desired
opportunity, but high rank was so distant in our service that not a
dream of its attainment had flitted through my brain.

During the period running from January to September, 1861, in
consequence of resignations and the addition of some new regiments to
the regular army, I had passed through the grade of first lieutenant
and reached that of captain in the Thirteenth United States Infantry,
of which General W. T. Sherman had recently been made the colonel.
When relieved from further duty at Yamhill by Captain Owen, I left
for the Atlantic coast to join my new regiment. A two days' ride
brought me down to Portland, whence I sailed to San Franciso, and at
that city took passage by steamer for New York via the Isthmus of
Panama, in company with a number of officers who were coming East
under circumstances like my own.

At this time California was much agitated--on the question of
secession, and the secession element was so strong that considerable
apprehension was felt by the Union people lest the State might be
carried into the Confederacy. As a consequence great distrust
existed in all quarters, and the loyal passengers on the steamer, not
knowing what might occur during our voyage, prepared to meet
emergencies by thoroughly organizing to frustrate any attempt that
might possibly be made to carry us into some Southern port after we
should leave Aspinwall. However, our fears proved groundless; at all
events, no such attempt was made, and we reached New York in safety
in November, 1861. A day or two in New York sufficed to replenish a
most meagre wardrobe, and I then started West to join my new
regiment, stopping a day and a night at the home of my parents in
Ohio, where I had not been since I journeyed from Texas for the
Pacific coast. The headquarters of my regiment were at Jefferson
Barracks, Missouri, to which point I proceeded with no further delay
except a stay in the city of St. Louis long enough to pay my respects
to General H. W. Halleck.



Some days after I had reached the headquarters of my regiment near
St. Louis, General Halleck sent for me, and when I reported he
informed me that there existed a great deal of confusion regarding
the accounts of some of the disbursing officers in his department,
whose management of its fiscal affairs under his predecessor, General
John C. Fremont, had been very loose; and as the chaotic condition of
things could be relieved only by auditing these accounts, he
therefore had determined to create a board of officers for the
purpose, and intended to make me president of it. The various
transactions in question covered a wide field, for the department
embraced the States of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas,
and all of Kentucky west of the Cumberland River.

The duty was not distasteful, and I felt that I was qualified to
undertake it, for the accounts to be audited belonged exclusively to
the Quartermaster and Subsistence departments, and by recent
experience I had become familiar with the class of papers that
pertained to those branches of the army. Indeed, it was my
familiarity with such transactions, returns, etc., that probably
caused my selection as president of the board.

I entered upon the work forthwith, and continued at it until the 26th
of December, 1861. At that date I was relieved from the auditing
board and assigned to duty as Chief Commissary of the Army of
Southwest Missouri, commanded by General Samuel R. Curtis. This army
was then organizing at Rolla, Missouri, for the Pea Ridge campaign,
its strength throughout the campaign being in the aggregate about
fifteen thousand men.

As soon as I received information of my selection for this position,
I went to General Halleck and requested him to assign me as Chief
Quartermaster also. He was reluctant to do so, saying that I could
not perform both duties, but I soon convinced him that I could do
both better than the one, for I reminded him that as Chief
Quartermaster I should control the transportation, and thus obviate
all possible chances of discord between the two staff departments; a
condition which I deemed essential to success, especially as it was
intended that Curtis's army should mainly subsist on the country.
This argument impressed Halleck, and becoming convinced, he promptly
issued the order making me Chief Quartermaster and Chief Commissary
of Subsistence of the Army of Southwest Missouri, and I started for
Rolla to enter upon the work assigned me.

Having reported to General Curtis, I quickly learned that his system
of supply was very defective, and the transportation without proper
organization, some of the regiments having forty to fifty wagon each,
and others only three or four. I labored day and night to remedy
these and other defects, and with the help of Captain Michael P.
Small, of the Subsistence Department, who was an invaluable
assistant, soon brought things into shape, putting the transportation
in good working order, giving each regiment its proper quota of
wagons, and turning the surplus into the general supply trains of the
army. In accomplishing this I was several times on the verge of
personal conflict with irate regimental commanders, but Colonel G. M.
Dodge so greatly sustained me with General Curtis by strong moral
support, and by such efficient details from his regiment--the Fourth
Iowa Volunteer Infantry--that I still bear him and it great affection
and lasting gratitude.

On January 26, 1862, General Curtis's army began its march from Rolla
to Springfield, Missouri, by way of Lebanon. The roads were deep
with mud, and so badly cut up that the supply trains in moving
labored under the most serious difficulties, and were greatly
embarrassed by swollen streams. Under these circumstances many
delays occurred, and when we arrived at Lebanon nearly all the
supplies with which we had started had been consumed, and the work of
feeding the troops off the country had to begin at that point. To
get flour, wheat had to be taken from the stacks, threshed, and sent
to the mills to be ground. Wheat being scarce in this region, corn
as a substitute had to be converted into meal by the same laborious
process. In addition, beef cattle had to be secured for the meat

By hard work we soon accumulated a sufficient quantity of flour and
corn meal to justify the resumption of our march on Springfield; at
or near which point the enemy was believed to be awaiting us, and the
order was given to move forward, the commanding general cautioning
me, in the event of disaster, to let no salt fall into General
Price's hands. General Curtis made a hobby of this matter of salt,
believing the enemy was sadly in need of that article, and he
impressed me deeply with his conviction that our cause would be
seriously injured by a loss which would inure so greatly and
peculiarly to the enemy's benefit; but we afterward discovered, when
Price abandoned his position, that about all he left behind was salt.

When we were within about eight miles of Springfield, General Curtis
decided to put his troops in line of battle for the advance on the
town, and directed me to stretch out my supply trains in a long line
of battle, so that in falling back, in case the troops were repulsed,
he could rally the men on the wagons. I did not like the tactics,
but of course obeyed the order. The line moved on Springfield, and
took the town without resistance, the enemy having fled southward, in
the direction of Pea Ridge, the preceding day. Of course our success
relieved my anxiety about the wagons; but fancy has often pictured
since, the stampede of six mule teams that, had we met with any
reverse, would have taken place over the prairies of southwest

The army set out in pursuit of Price, but I was left at Springfield
to gather supplies from the surrounding country, by the same means
that had been used at Lebanon, and send them forward. To succeed in
this useful and necessary duty required much hard work. To procure
the grain and to run the mills in the country, replacing the
machinery where parts had been carried away, or changing the
principle and running the mills on some different plan when
necessary, and finally forward the product to the army, made a task
that taxed the energy of all engaged in it. Yet, having at command a
very skillful corps of millwrights, machinists, and millers, detailed
principally from the Fourth Iowa and Thirty-sixth Illinois volunteer
regiments, we soon got matters in shape, and were able to send such
large quantities of flour and meal to the front, that only the bacon
and small parts of the ration had to be brought forward from our
depot at Rolla. When things were well systematized, I went forward
myself to expedite the delivery of supplies, and joined the army at
Cross Hollows, just south of Pea Ridge.

Finding everything working well at Cross Hollows, I returned to
Springfield in a few days to continue the labor of collecting
supplies. On my way back I put the mills at Cassville in good order
to grind the grain in that vicinity, and perfected there a plan for
the general supply from the neighboring district of both the men and
animals of the army, so that there should, be no chance of a failure
of the campaign from bad roads or disaster to my trains. Springfield
thus became the centre of the entire supply section.

Just after my return to Springfield the battle of Pea Ridge was
fought. The success of the Union troops in this battle was
considerable, and while not of sufficient magnitude to affect the
general cause materially, it was decisive as to that particular
campaign, and resulted in driving all organized Confederate forces
out of the State of Missouri. After Pea Ridge was won, certain
efforts were made to deprive Curtis of the credit due him for the
victory; but, no matter what merit belonged to individual commanders,
I was always convinced that Curtis was deserving of the highest
commendation, not only for the skill displayed on the field, but for
a zeal and daring in campaign which was not often exhibited at that
early period of the war. Especially should this credit be awarded
him, when we consider the difficulties under which he labored, how he
was hampered in having to depend on a sparsely settled country for
the subsistence of his troops. In the reports of the battle that
came to Springfield, much glory was claimed for some other general
officers, but as I had control of the telegraph line from Springfield
east, I detained all despatches until General Curtis had sent in his
official report. He thus had the opportunity of communicating with
his superior in advance of some of his vain subordinates, who would
have laid claim to the credit of the battle had I not thwarted them
by this summary means.

Not long afterward came the culmination of a little difference that
had arisen between General Curtis and me, brought about, I have since
sometimes thought, by an assistant quartermaster from Iowa, whom I
had on duty with me at Springfield. He coveted my place, and finally
succeeded in getting it. He had been an unsuccessful banker in Iowa,
and early in the war obtained an appointment as assistant
quartermaster of volunteers with the rank of captain. As chief
quartermaster of the army in Missouri, there would be opportunities
for the recuperation of his fortunes which would not offer to one in
a subordinate place; so to gain this position he doubtless intrigued
for it while under my eye, and Curtis was induced to give it to him
as soon as I was relieved. His career as my successor, as well as in
other capacities in which he was permitted to act during the war, was
to say the least not savory. The war over he turned up in Chicago as
president of a bank, which he wrecked; and he finally landed in the
penitentiary for stealing a large sum of money from the United States
Treasury at Washington while employed there as a clerk. The chances
that this man's rascality would be discovered were much less when
chief of the departments of transportation and supply of an army than
they afterward proved to be in the Treasury. I had in my possession
at all times large sums of money for the needs of the army, and among
other purposes for which these funds were to be disbursed was the
purchase of horses and mules. Certain officers and men more devoted
to gain than to the performance of duty (a few such are always to be
found in armies) quickly learned this, and determined to profit by
it. Consequently they began a regular system of stealing horses from
the people of the country and proffering them to me for purchase. It
took but a little time to discover this roguery, and when I became
satisfied of their knavery I brought it to a sudden close by seizing
the horses as captured property, branding them U. S., and refusing to
pay for them. General Curtis, misled by the misrepresentations that
had been made, and without fully knowing the circumstances, or
realizing to what a base and demoralizing state of things this course
was inevitably tending, practically ordered me to make the Payments,
and I refused. The immediate result of this disobedience was a
court-martial to try me; and knowing that my usefulness in that army
was gone, no matter what the outcome of the trial might be, I asked
General Halleck to relieve me from duty with General Curtis and order
me to St. Louis. This was promptly done, and as my connection with
the Army of Southwest Missouri was thus severed before the court
could be convened, my case never came to trial. The man referred to
as being the cause of this condition of affairs was appointed by
General Curtis to succeed me. I turned over to the former all the
funds and property for which I was responsible, also the branded
horses and mules stolen from the people of the country, requiring
receipts for everything. I heard afterward that some of the blooded
stock of southwest Missouri made its way to Iowa in an unaccountable
manner, but whether the administration of my successor was
responsible for it or not I am unable to say.

On my arrival at St. Louis I felt somewhat forlorn and disheartened
at the turn affairs had taken. I did not know where I should be
assigned, nor what I should be required to do, but these
uncertainties were dispelled in a few days by General Halleck, who,
being much pressed by the Governors of some of the Western States to
disburse money in their sections, sent me out into the Northwest with
a sort of roving commission to purchase horses for the use of the
army. I went to Madison and Racine, Wis., at which places I bought
two hundred horses, which were shipped to St. Louis. At Chicago I
bought two hundred more, and as the prices paid at the latter point
showed that Illinois was the cheapest market--it at that time
producing a surplus over home demands--I determined to make Chicago
the centre of my operations.

While occupied in this way at Chicago the battle of Shiloh took
place, and the desire for active service with troops became uppermost
in my thoughts, so I returned to St. Louis to see if I could not get
into the field. General Halleck having gone down to the Shiloh
battle-field, I reported to his Assistant Adjutant-General, Colonel
John C. Kelton, and told him of my anxiety to take a hand in active
field-service, adding that I did not wish to join my regiment, which
was still organizing and recruiting at Jefferson Barracks, for I felt
confident I could be more useful elsewhere. Kelton knew that the
purchasing duty was but temporary, and that on its completion,
probably at no distant date, I should have to join my company at the
barracks; so, realizing the inactivity to which that situation of
affairs would subject me, he decided to assume the responsibility of
sending me to report to General Halleck at Shiloh, and gave me an
order to that effect.

This I consider the turning-point in my military career, and shall
always feel grateful to Colonel Kelton for his kindly act which so
greatly influenced my future. My desire to join the army at Shiloh
had now taken possession of me, and I was bent on getting there by
the first means available. Learning that a hospital-boat under
charge of Dr. Hough was preparing to start for Pittsburg Landing, I
obtained the Doctor's consent to take passage on it, and on the
evening of April 15, I left St. Louis for the scene of military
operations in northeastern Mississippi.

At Pittsburg Landing I reported to General Halleck, who, after some
slight delay, assigned me to duty as an assistant to Colonel George
Thom, of the topographical engineers. Colonel Thom put me at the
work of getting the trains up from the landing, which involved the
repair of roads for that purpose by corduroying the marshy places.
This was rough, hard work, without much chance of reward, but it, was
near the field of active operations, and I determined to do the best
I could at it till opportunity for something better might arise.

General Halleck did not know much about taking care of himself in the
field. His camp arrangements were wholly inadequate, and in
consequence he and all the officers about him were subjected to much
unnecessary discomfort and annoyance. Someone suggested to him to
appoint me quartermaster for his headquarters, with a view to
systematizing the establishment and remedying the defects complained
of, and I was consequently assigned to this duty. Shortly after this
assignment I had the satisfaction of knowing that General Halleck was
delighted with the improvements made at headquarters, both in camp
outfit and transportation, and in administration generally. My
popularity grew as the improvements increased, but one trifling
incident came near marring it. There was some hitch about getting
fresh beef for General Halleck's mess, and as by this time everybody
had come to look to me for anything and everything in the way of
comfort, Colonel Joe McKibben brought an order from the General for
me to get fresh beef for the headquarters mess. I was not caterer
for this mess, nor did I belong to it even, so I refused point-blank.
McKibben, disliking to report my disobedience, undertook persuasion,
and brought Colonel Thom to see me to aid in his negotiations, but I
would not give in, so McKibben in the kindness of his heart rode
several miles in order to procure the beef himself, and thus save me
from the dire results which be thought would follow should Halleck
get wind of such downright insubordination. The next day I was made
Commissary of Subsistence for the headquarters in addition to my
other duties, and as this brought me into the line of fresh beef,
General Halleck had no cause thereafter to complain of a scarcity of
that article in his mess.

My stay at General Halleck's headquarters was exceedingly agreeable,
and my personal intercourse with officers on duty there was not only
pleasant and instructive, but offered opportunities for improvement
and advancement for which hardly any other post could have afforded
like chances. My special duties did not occupy all my time, and
whenever possible I used to go over to General Sherman's division,
which held the extreme right of our line in the advance on Corinth,
to witness the little engagements occurring there continuously during
the slow progress which the army was then making, the enemy being
forced back but a short distance each day. I knew General Sherman
very well. We came from near the same section of country in Ohio,
and his wife and her family had known me from childhood. I was
always kindly received by the General, and one day he asked me if I
would be willing to accept the colonelcy of a certain Ohio regiment
if he secured the appointment. I gladly told him yes, if General
Halleck would let me go; but I was doomed to disappointment, for in
about a week or so afterward General Sherman informed me that the
Governor of Ohio would not consent, having already decided to appoint
some one else.

A little later Governor Blair, of Michigan, who was with the army
temporarily in the interest of the troops from his State, and who
just at this time was looking around for a colonel for the Second
Michigan Cavalry, and very anxious to get a regular officer, fixed
upon me as the man. The regiment was then somewhat run down by
losses from sickness, and considerably split into factions growing
out of jealousies engendered by local differences previous to
organization, and the Governor desired to bridge over all these
troubles by giving the regiment a commander who knew nothing about
them. I presume that some one said to the Governor about this time,
"Why don't you get Sheridan?" This, however, is only conjecture. I
really do not know how my name was proposed to him, but I have often
been told since that General Gordon Granger, whom I knew slightly
then, and who had been the former colonel of the regiment, first
suggested the appointment. At all events, on the morning of May 27,
1862, Captain Russell A. Alger--recently Governor of Michigan
--accompanied by the quartermaster of the regiment, Lieutenant Frank
Walbridge, arrived at General Halleck's headquarters and delivered to
me this telegram:

(By Telegraph.)
"DETROIT, May 25, 1862.


"Captain Philip H. Sheridan, U. S. Army, is hereby appointed
Colonel of the Second Regiment Michigan Cavalry, to rank from
this date.

"Captain Sheridan will immediately assume command of the

"By order of the Commander-in-Chief,

I took the order to General Halleck, and said that I would like to
accept, but he was not willing I should do so until the consent of
the War Department could be obtained. I returned to my tent much
disappointed, for in those days, for some unaccountable reason, the
War Department did not favor the appointment of regular officers to
volunteer regiments, and I feared a disapproval at Washington. After
a further consultation with Captain Alger and Lieutenant Walbridge, I
determined to go to the General again and further present the case.
Enlarging on my desire for active service with troops, and urging the
utter lack of such opportunity where I was, I pleaded my cause until
General Halleck finally resolved to take the responsibility of
letting me go without consulting the War Department. When I had
thanked him for the kindness, he said that inasmuch as I was to leave
him, he would inform me that the regiment to which I had just been
appointed was ordered out as part of a column directed to make a raid
to the south of the enemy, then occupying Corinth, and that if I
could turn over my property, it would probably be well for me to join
my command immediately, so that I could go with the expedition. I
returned to my tent, where Alger and Walbridge were still waiting,
and told them of the success of my interview, at the same time
notifying them that I would join the regiment in season to accompany
the expedition of which Halleck had spoken.

In the course of the afternoon I turned over all my property to my
successor, and about 8 o'clock that evening made my appearance at the
camp of the Second Michigan Cavalry, near Farmington, Mississippi.
The regiment was in a hubbub of excitement making preparations for
the raid, and I had barely time to meet the officers of my command,
and no opportunity at all to see the men, when the trumpet sounded to
horse. Dressed in a coat and trousers of a captain of infantry, but
recast as a colonel of cavalry by a pair of well-worn eagles that
General Granger had kindly given me, I hurriedly placed on my saddle
a haversack, containing some coffee, sugar, bacon, and hard bread,
which had been prepared, and mounting my horse, I reported my
regiment to the brigade commander as ready for duty.



The expedition referred to by General Halleck in his parting
conversation was composed of the Second Michigan and Second Iowa
regiments of cavalry, formed into a brigade under command of Colonel
Washington L. Elliott, of the Second Iowa. It was to start on the
night of the 27th of May at 12 o'clock, and proceed by a circuitous
route through Iuka, Miss., to Booneville, a station on the Mobile and
Ohio Railroad, about twenty-two miles below Corinth, and accomplish
all it could in the way of destroying the enemy's supplies and
cutting his railroad communications.

The weather in that climate was already warm, guides unobtainable,
and both men and horses suffered much discomfort from the heat, and
fatigue from the many delays growing out of the fact that we were in
almost total ignorance of the roads leading to the point that we
desired to reach. In order that we might go light we carried only
sugar, coffee, and salt, depending on the country for meat and bread.
Both these articles were scarce, but I think we got all there was,
for our advent was so unexpected by the people of the region through
which we passed that, supposing us to be Confederate cavalry, they
often gave us all they had, the women and servants contributing most
freely from their, reserve stores.

Before reaching Booneville I had the advance, but just as we arrived
on the outskirts of the town the brigade was formed with the Second
Iowa on my right, and the whole force moved forward, right in front,
preceded by skirmishers. Here we encountered the enemy, but forced
him back with little resistance. When we had gained possession of
the station, Colonel Elliott directed me to take the left wing of my
regiment, pass to the south, and destroy a bridge or culvert supposed
to be at a little distance below the town on the Mobile and Ohio
Railroad. The right wing, or other half of the regiment, was to be
held in reserve for my support if necessary. I moved rapidly in the
designated direction till I reached the railroad, and then rode down
it for a mile and a half, but found neither bridge nor culvert. I
then learned that there was no bridge of any importance except the
one at Baldwin, nine miles farther down, but as I was aware, from
information recently received, that it was defended by three
regiments and a battery, I concluded that I could best accomplish the
purpose for which I had been detached--crippling the road--by tearing
up the track, bending the rails, and burning the cross-ties. This
was begun with alacrity at four different points, officers and men
vieing with one another in the laborious work of destruction. We had
but few tools, and as the difficulties to overcome were serious, our
progress was slow, until some genius conceived the idea that the
track, rails and ties, might be lifted from its bed bodily, turned
over, and subjected to a high heat; a convenient supply of dry
fence-rails would furnish ample fuel to render the rails useless.
In this way a good deal of the track was effectively broken up, and
communication by rail from Corinth to the south entirely cut off.
While we were still busy in wrecking the road, a dash was made at my
right and rear by a squadron of Confederate cavalry. This was
handsomely met by the reserve under Captain Archibald P. Campbell, of
the Second Michigan, who, dismounting a portion of his command,
received the enemy with such a volley from his Colt's repeating
rifles that the squadron broke and fled in all directions. We were
not molested further, and resumed our work, intending to extend the
break toward Baldwin, but receiving orders from Elliott to return to
Booneville immediately, the men were recalled, and we started to
rejoin the main command.

In returning to Booneville, I found the railroad track above where I
had struck it blocked by trains that we had thus cut off, and the
woods and fields around the town covered with several thousand
Confederate soldiers. These were mostly convalescents and
disheartened stragglers belonging to General Beauregard's army, and
from them we learned that Corinth was being evacuated. I spent some
little time in an endeavor to get these demoralized men into an open
field, with a view to some future disposition of them; but in the
midst of the undertaking I received another order from Colonel
Elliott to join him at once. The news of the evacuation had also
reached Elliott, and had disclosed a phase of the situation so
different from that under which he had viewed it when we arrived at
Booneville, that he had grown anxious to withdraw, lest we should be
suddenly pounced upon by an overwhelming force from some one of the
columns in retreat. Under such circumstances my prisoners would
prove a decided embarrassment, so I abandoned further attempts to get
them together--not even paroling them, which I thought might have
been done with but little risk.

In the meantime the captured cars had been fired, and as their
complete destruction was assured by explosions from those containing
ammunition, they needed no further attention, so I withdrew my men
and hastened to join Elliott, taking along some Confederate officers
whom I had retained from among four or five hundred prisoners
captured when making the original dash below the town.

The losses in my regiment, and, in fact, those of the entire command,
were insignificant. The results of the expedition were important;
the railroad being broken so thoroughly as to cut off all rolling
stock north of Booneville, and to place at the service of General
Halleck's army the cars and locomotives of which the retreating
Confederates were now so much in need. In addition, we burned
twenty-six cars containing ten thousand stand of small arms, three
pieces of artillery, a great quantity of clothing, a heavy supply of
ammunition, and the personal baggage of General Leonidas Polk. A
large number of prisoners, mostly sick and convalescent, also fell
into our hands; but as we could not carry them with us--such a hurried
departure was an immediate necessity, by reason of our critical
situation--the process of paroling them was not completed, and they
doubtless passed back to active service in the Confederacy, properly
enough unrecognized as prisoners of war by their superiors.

In returning, the column marched back by another indirect route to
its old camp near Farmington, where we learned that the whole army
had moved into and beyond Corinth, in pursuit of Beauregard, on the
13th of May, the very day we had captured Booneville. Although we
had marched about one hundred and eighty miles in four days, we were
required to take part, of course, in the pursuit of the Confederate
army. So, resting but one night in our old camp, we were early in
the saddle again on the morning of the 2d of June. Marching south
through Corinth, we passed on the 4th of June the scene of our late
raid, viewing with much satisfaction, as we took the road toward
Blackland, the still smoldering embers of the burned trains.

On the 4th of June I was ordered to proceed with my regiment along
the Blackland road to determine the strength of the enemy in that
direction, as it was thought possible we might capture, by a
concerted movement which General John Pope had suggested to General
Halleck, a portion of Beauregard's rear guard. Pushing the
Confederate scouts rapidly in with a running fire for a mile or more,
while we were approaching a little stream, I hoped to gobble the main
body of the enemy's pickets. I therefore directed the sabre
battalion of the regiment, followed by that portion of it armed with
revolving rifles, to dash forward in column, cut off these videttes
before they could cross the stream, and then gather them in. The
pickets fled hastily, however, and a pell-mell pursuit carried us
over the stream at their heels by a little bridge, with no thought of
halting till we gained a hill on the other side, and suddenly found
ourselves almost in the camp of a strong body of artillery and
infantry. Captain Campbell being in advance, hurriedly dismounted
his battalion for a further forward movement on foot, but it was
readily seen that the enemy was present in such heavy force as almost
to ensure our destruction, and I gave orders for a hasty withdrawal.
We withdrew without loss under cover of thick woods, aided much,
however, by the consternation of the Confederates, who had hardly
recovered from their surprise at our sudden appearance in their camp
before we had again placed the stream between them and us by
recrossing the bridge. The reconnoissance was a success in one way
--that is, in finding out that the enemy was at the point supposed by,
General Pope; but it also had a tendency to accelerate Beauregard's
retreat, for in a day or two his whole line fell back as far south as
Guntown, thus rendering abortive the plans for bagging a large
portion of his army.

General Beauregard's evacuation of Corinth and retreat southward were
accomplished in the face of a largely superior force of Union troops,
and he reached the point where he intended to halt for reorganization
without other loss than that sustained in the destruction of the cars
and supplies at Booneville, and the capture of some stragglers and
deserters that fell into our hands while we were pressing his rear
from General Pope's flank. The number of these was quite large, and
indicated that the enemy was considerably demoralized. Under such
circumstances, an energetic and skillfully directed pursuit might not
have made certain the enemy's destruction, but it would largely have
aided in disintegrating his forces, and I never could quite
understand why it was not ordered. The desultory affairs between
rear and advance guards seemed as a general, thing to have no
particular purpose in view beyond finding out where the enemy was,
and when he was found, since no supporting colums were at hand and no
one in supreme control was present to give directions, our
skirmishing was of little avail and brought but small reward.

A short time subsequent to these occurrences, Colonel Elliott was
made a brigadier-general, and as General Pope appointed him his
Chief-of-Staff, I, on the 11th of June, 1862, fell in command of the
brigade by seniority. For the rest of the month but little of moment
occurred, and we settled down into camp at Booneville on the 26th of
June, in a position which my brigade had been ordered to take up some
twenty miles, in advance of the main army for the purpose of covering
its front. Although but a few days had elapsed from the date of my
appointment as colonel of the Second Michigan to that of my
succeeding to the command of the brigade, I believe I can say with
propriety that I had firmly established myself in the confidence of
the officers and men of the regiment, and won their regard by
thoughtful care. I had striven unceasingly to have them well fed and
well clothed, had personally looked after the selection of their
camps, and had maintained such a discipline as to allay former

Men who march, scout, and fight, and suffer all the hardships that
fall to the lot of soldiers in the field, in order to do vigorous
work must have the best bodily sustenance, and every comfort that can
be provided. I knew from practical experience on the frontier that
my efforts in this direction would not only be appreciated, but
requited by personal affection and gratitude; and, further, that such
exertions would bring the best results to me. Whenever my authority
would permit I saved my command from needless sacrifices and
unnecessary toil; therefore, when hard or daring work was to be done
I expected the heartiest response, and always got it. Soldiers are
averse to seeing their comrades killed without compensating results,
and none realize more quickly than they the blundering that often
takes place on the field of battle. They want some tangible
indemnity for the loss of life, and as victory is an offset the value
of which is manifest, it not only makes them content to shed their
blood, but also furnishes evidence of capacity in those who command
them. My regiment had lost very few men since coming under my
command, but it seemed, in the eyes of all who belonged to it, that
casualties to the enemy and some slight successes for us had repaid
every sacrifice, and in consequence I had gained not only their
confidence as soldiers, but also their esteem and love as men, and to
a degree far beyond what I then realized.

As soon as the camp of my brigade was pitched at Booneville, I began
to scout in every direction, to obtain a knowledge of the enemy's
whereabouts and learn the ground about me. My standing in drawing at
the Military Academy had never been so high as to warrant the belief
that I could ever prove myself an expert, but a few practical lessons
in that line were impressed on me there, and I had retained enough to
enable me to make rough maps that could be readily understood, and
which would be suitable to replace the erroneous skeleton outlines of
northern Mississippi, with which at this time we were scantily
furnished; so as soon as possible I compiled for the use of myself
and my regimental commanders an information map of the surrounding
country. This map exhibited such details as country roads, streams,
farmhouses, fields, woods, and swamps, and such other topographical
features as would be useful. I must confess that my crude sketch did
not evidence much artistic merit, but it was an improvement on what
we already possessed in the way of details to guide the command, and
this was what I most needed; for it was of the first importance that
in our exposed condition we should be equipped with a thorough
knowledge of the section in which we were operating, so as to be
prepared to encounter an enemy already indicating recovery from the
disorganizing effects of his recent retreat.

In the immediate vicinity of Booneville the country was covered with
heavy forests, with here and there clearings or intervening fields
that had been devoted to the cultivation of cotton and corn. The
ground was of a low character, typical of northeastern Mississippi,
and abounded in small creeks that went almost totally dry even in
short periods of drought, but became flooded with muddy water under
the outpouring of rain peculiar to a semi-tropical climate. In such
a region there were many chances of our being surprised, especially
by an enemy who knew the country well, and whose ranks were filled
with local guides; and great precautions as well as the fullest
information were necessary to prevent disaster. I therefore
endeavored to familiarize all with our surroundings, but scarcely had
matters begun to shape themselves as I desired when our annihilation
was attempted by a large force of Confederate cavalry.

On the morning of July 1, 1862, a cavalry command of between five and
six thousand-men, under the Confederate General James R. Chalmers,
advanced on two roads converging near Booneville. The head of the
enemy's column on the Blackland and Booneville road came in contact
with my pickets three miles and a half west of Booneville. These
pickets, under Lieutenant Leonidas S. Scranton, of the Second
Michigan Cavalry, fell back slowly, taking advantage of every tree or
other cover to fire from till they arrived at the point where the
converging roads joined. At this junction there was a strong
position in the protecting timber, and here Scranton made a firm
stand, being reinforced presently by the few men he had out as
pickets on the road to his left, a second company I had sent him from
camp, and subsequently by three companies more, all now commanded by
Captain Campbell. This force was dismounted and formed in line, and
soon developed that the enemy was present in large numbers. Up to
this time Chalmers had shown only the heads of his columns, and we
had doubts as to his purpose, but now that our resistance forced him
to deploy two regiments on the right and left of the road, it became
apparent that he meant business, and that there was no time to lose
in preparing to repel his attack.

Full information of the situation was immediately sent me, and I
directed Campbell to hold fast, if possible, till I could support
him, but if compelled to retire he was authorized to do so slowly,
taking advantage of every means that fell in his way to prolong the
fighting. Before this I had stationed one battalion of the Second
Iowa in Booneville, but Colonel Edward Hatch, commanding that
regiment, was now directed to leave one company for the protection of
our camp a little to the north of the station, and take the balance
of the Second Iowa, with the battalion in Booneville except two sabre
companies, and form the whole in rear of Captain Campbell, to protect
his flanks and support him by a charge should the enemy break his
dismounted line.

While these preparations were being made, the Confederates attempted
to drive Campbell from his position by a direct attack through an
open field. In this they failed, however, for our men, reserving
their fire until the enemy came within about thirty yards, then
opened on him with such a shower of bullets from our Colt's rifles
that it soon became too hot for him, and he was repulsed with
considerable loss. Foiled in this move, Chalmers hesitated to attack
again in front, but began overlapping both flanks of Campbell's line
by force of numbers, compelling Campbell to retire toward a strong
position I had selected in his rear for a line on which to make our
main resistance. As soon as the enemy saw this withdrawing he again
charged in front, but was again as gallantly repelled as in the first
assault, although the encounter was for a short time so desperate as
to have the character of a hand-to-hand conflict, several groups of
friend and foe using on each other the butts of their guns. At this
juncture the timely arrival of Colonel Hatch with the Second Iowa
gave a breathing-spell to Campbell, and made the Confederates so
chary of further direct attacks that he was enabled to retire; and at
the same time I found opportunity to make disposition of the
reinforcement to the best advantage possible, placing the Second Iowa
on the left of the new line and strengthening Campbell on its right
with all the men available.

In view of his numbers, the enemy soon regained confidence in his
ability to overcome us, and in a little while again began his
flanking movements, his right passing around my left flank some
distance, and approaching our camp and transportation, which I had
forbidden to be moved out to the rear. Fearing that he would envelop
us and capture the camp and transportation, I determined to take the
offensive. Remembering a circuitous wood road that I had become
familiar with while making the map heretofore mentioned, I concluded
that the most effective plan would be to pass a small column around
the enemy's left, by way of this road, and strike his rear by a
mounted charge simultaneously with an advance of our main line on his
front. I knew that the attack in rear would be a most hazardous
undertaking, but in the face of such odds as the enemy had the
condition of affairs was most critical, and could be relieved, only
by a bold and radical change in our tactics; so I at once selected
four sabre companies, two from the Second Michigan and two from the
Second Iowa, and placing Captain Alger, of the former regiment, in
command of them, I informed him that I expected of them the quick and
desperate work that is usually imposed on a forlorn hope.

To carry out the purpose now in view, I instructed Captain Alger to
follow the wood road as it led around the left of the enemy's
advancing forces, to a point where 'it joined the Blackland road,
about three miles from Booneville, and directed him, upon reaching
the Blackland road, to turn up it immediately, and charge the rear of
the enemy's line. Under no circumstances was he to deploy the
battalion, but charge in column right through whatever he came upon,
and report to me in front of Booneville, if at all possible for him
to get there. If he failed to break through the enemy's line, he was
to go ahead as far as he could, and then if any of his men were left,
and he was able to retreat, he was to do so by the same route he had
taken on his way out. To conduct him on this perilous service I sent
along a thin, sallow, tawny-haired Mississippian named Beene, whom I
had employed as a guide and scout a few days before, on account of
his intimate knowledge of the roads, from the public thoroughfares
down to the insignificant by-paths of the neighboring swamps. With
such guidance I felt sure that the column would get to the desired
point without delay, for there was no danger of its being lost or
misled by taking any of the many by-roads which traversed the dense
forests through which it would be obliged to pass. I also informed
Alger that I should take the reserve and join the main line in front
of Booneville for the purpose of making an advance of my whole force,
and that as a signal he must have his men cheer loudly when he struck
the enemy's rear, in order that my attack might be simultaneous with

I gave him one hour to go around and come back through the enemy, and
when he started I moved to the front with the balance of the reserve,
to put everything I had into the fight. This meant an inestimable
advantage to the enemy in case of our defeat, but our own safety
demanded the hazard. All along our attenuated line the fighting was
now sharp, and the enemy's firing indicated such numerical strength
that fear of disaster to Alger increased my anxiety terribly as the
time set for his cheering arrived and no sound of it was heard.

Relying, however, on the fact that Beene's knowledge of the roads
would prevent his being led astray, and confident of Alger's
determination to accomplish the purpose for which he set out, as soon
as the hour was up I ordered my whole line forward. Fortunately,
just as this moment a locomotive and two cars loaded with grain for
my horses ran into Booneville from Corinth. I say fortunately,
because it was well known throughout the command that in the morning,
when I first discovered the large numbers of the enemy, I had called
for assistance; and my troops, now thinking that reinforcements had
arrived by rail from Rienzi, where a division of infantry was
encamped, and inspirated by this belief, advanced with renewed
confidence and wild cheering. Meantime I had the engineer of the
locomotive blow his whistle loudly, so that the enemy might also
learn that a train had come; and from the fact that in a few moments
he began to give way before our small force, I thought that this
strategem had some effect. Soon his men broke, and ran in the utmost
disorder over the country in every direction. I found later,
however, that his precipitous retreat was due to the pressure on his
left from the Second Iowa, in concert with the front attack of the
Second Michigan, and the demoralization wrought in his rear by Alger,
who had almost entirely accomplished the purpose of his expedition,
though he had failed to come through, or so near that I could hear
the signal agreed upon before leaving Booneville.

After Alger had reached and turned up the Blackland road, the first
thing he came across was the Confederate headquarters; the officers
and orderlies about which he captured and sent back some distance to
a farm-house. Continuing on a gallop, he soon struck the rear of the
enemy's line, but was unable to get through; nor did he get near
enough for me to hear his cheering; but as he had made the distance
he was to travel in the time allotted, his attack and mine were
almost coincident, and the enemy, stampeded by the charges in front
and rear, fled toward Blackland, with little or no attempt to capture
Alger's command, which might readily have been done. Alger's
troopers soon rejoined me at Booneville, minus many hats, having
returned by their original route. They had sustained little loss
except a few men wounded and a few temporarily missing. Among these
was Alger himself, who was dragged from his saddle by the limb of a
tree that, in the excitement of the charge, he was unable to flank.
The missing had been dismounted in one way or another, and run over
by the enemy in his flight; but they all turned up later, none the
worse except for a few scratches and bruises.

My effective strength in this fight was 827 all told, and Alger's
command comprised ninety officers and men. Chalmers's force was
composed of six regiments and two battalions, and though I have been
unable to find any returns from which to verify his actual numbers,
yet, from the statements of prisoners and from information obtained
from citizens along his line of march, it is safe to say that he had
in the action not less than five-thousand men. Our casualties were
not many--forty-one in all. His loss in killed and wounded was
considerable, his most severely wounded--forty men--falling into our
hands, having been left at farm-houses in the vicinity of the

The victory in the face of such odds was most gratifying, and as it
justified my disinclination--in fact, refusal--to retire from
Booneville without fighting (for the purpose of saving my
transportation, as directed by superior authority when I applied in
the morning for reinforcements), it was to me particularly grateful.
It was also very valuable in, view of the fact that it increased the
confidence between the officers and men of my brigade and me, and
gave us for the balance of the month not only comparative rest, but
entire immunity from the dangers of a renewed effort to gobble my
isolated outpost. In addition to all this, commendation from my
immediate superiors was promptly tendered through oral and written
congratulations; and their satisfaction at the result of the battle
took definite form a few days later, in the following application for
my promotion, when, by an expedition to Ripley, Miss., most valuable
information as to the enemy's location and plans was captured:

"JULY 30, 1862.--3.05 P. M.

"Washington, D. C.

"Brigadiers scarce; good ones scarce. Asboth goes on the month's
leave you gave him ten months since; Granger has temporary command.
The undersigned respectfully beg that you will obtain the promotion
of Sheridan. He is worth his weight in gold. His Ripley expedition
has brought us captured letters of immense value, as well as
prisoners, showing the rebel plans and dispositions, as you will
learn from District Commander.

"W. S. ROSECRANS, Brigadier-General.
"C. C. SULLIVAN, " "
"G. GRANGER, " "
"W. L. ELLIOTT, " "
"A. ASBOTH, " " "



After the battle of Booneville, it was decided by General Rosecrans,
on the advice of General Granger, that my position at Booneville was
too much exposed, despite the fact that late on the evening of the
fight my force had been increased by the addition of, a battery of
four guns and two companies of infantry, and by the Third Michigan
Cavalry, commanded by Colonel John K. Mizner; so I was directed to
withdraw from my post and go into camp near Rienzi, Mississippi,
where I could equally well cover the roads in front of the army, and
also be near General Asboth's division of infantry, which occupied a
line in rear of the town. This section of country, being higher and
more rolling than that in the neighborhood of Booneville, had many
advantages in the way of better camping-grounds, better grazing and
the like, but I moved with reluctance, because I feared that my
proximity to Asboth would diminish to a certain extent my
independence of command.

General Asboth was a tall, spare, handsome man, with gray mustache
and a fierce look. He was an educated soldier, of unquestioned
courage, but the responsibilities of outpost duty bore rather heavily
on him, and he kept all hands in a state of constant worry in
anticipation of imaginary attacks. His ideas of discipline were not
very rigid either, and as by this time there had been introduced into
my brigade some better methods than those obtaining when it first
fell to my command, I feared the effect should he, have any control
over it, or meddle with its internal affairs. However, there was
nothing to do but to move to the place designated, but General
Granger, who still commanded the cavalry division to which the
brigade belonged, so arranged matters with General Rosecrans, who had
succeeded to the command of the Army of the Mississippi, that my
independence was to be undisturbed, except in case of a general
attack by the enemy.

We went into camp near Rienzi, July 22, sending back to the general
field-hospital at Tuscumbia Springs all our sick--a considerable
number--stricken down by the malarial influences around Booneville.
In a few days the fine grazing and abundance of grain for our
exhausted horses brought about their recuperation; and the many large
open fields in the vicinity gave opportunity for drills and parades,
which were much needed. I turned my attention to those disciplinary
measures which, on account of active work in the field, had been
necessarily neglected since the brigade had arrived at Pittsburg
Landing, in April; and besides, we had been busy in collecting
information by scouting parties and otherwise, in prosecution of the
purpose for which we were covering the main army.

I kept up an almost daily correspondence with General Granger,
concerning the, information obtained by scouts and reconnoitring
parties, and he came often to Rienzi to see me in relation to this
and other matters. Previously I had not had much personal
association with Granger. While I was at Halleck's headquarters we
met on one or two occasions, and the day I joined the Second Michigan
at Farmington I saw him for a few moments, but, with such slight
exception, our intercourse had been almost exclusively official. He
had suggested my name, I was told, to Governor Blair, when the
Governor was in search of an officer of the regular army to appoint
to the colonelcy of the Second Michigan Cavalry, but his
recommendation must have been mainly based on the favorable opinions
he had heard expressed by General Halleck and by some of the officers
of his staff, rather than from any personal knowledge of my capacity.
Of course I was very grateful for this, but some of his
characteristics did not impress me favorably, and I sometimes wished
the distance between our camps greater. His most serious failing was
an uncontrollable propensity to interfere with and direct the minor
matters relating to the command, the details for which those under
him were alone responsible. Ill-judged meddling in this respect
often led to differences between us, only temporary it is true, but
most harassing to the subordinate, since I was compelled by the
circumstances of the situation not only invariably to yield my own
judgment, but many a time had to play peacemaker--smoothing down
ruffled feelings, that I knew had been excited by Granger's freaky
and spasmodic efforts to correct personally some trifling fault that
ought to have been left to a regimental or company commander to
remedy. Yet with all these small blemishes Granger had many good
qualities, and his big heart was so full of generous impulses and
good motives as to far outbalance his short-comings; and
not-withstanding the friction and occasional acerbity of our official
intercourse, we maintained friendly relations till his death.

In pursuance of the fatal mistake made by dispersing Halleck's forces
after the fall of Corinth, General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the
Ohio had been started some time before on its march eastward toward
Chattanooga; and as this movement would be followed of course by a
manoeuvre on the part of the enemy, now at Tupelo under General
Braxton Bragg, either to meet Buell or frustrate his designs by some
counter-operation, I was expected to furnish, by scouting and all
other means available, information as to what was going on within the
Confederate lines. To do the work required, necessitated an increase
of my command, and the Seventh Kansas Cavalry was therefore added to
it, and my picket-line extended so as to cover from Jacinto
southwesterly to a point midway between Rienzi and Booneville, and
then northwesterly to the Hatchie River. Skirmishes between outposts
on this line were of frequent occurrence, with small results to
either side, but they were somewhat annoying, particularly in the
direction of Ripley, where the enemy maintained a considerable
outpost. Deciding to cripple if not capture this outpost, on the
evening of July 27, I sent out an expedition under Colonel Hatch,
which drove the enemy from the town of Ripley and took a few
prisoners, but the most valuable prize was in the shape of a package
of thirty-two private letters, the partial reading of which disclosed
to me the positive transfer from Mississippi of most of Bragg's army,
for the purpose of counteracting Buell's operations in northern
Alabama and East Tennessee. This decisive evidence was of the utmost
importance, and without taking time to read all the letters, I
forwarded them to General Granger July 28, in a despatch which
stated: "I deem it necessary to send them at once; the enemy is
moving in large force on Chattanooga." Other than this the results
of the expedition were few; and the enemy, having fled from Ripley
with but slight resistance, accompanied by almost all the
inhabitants, re-occupied the place next day after our people had
quitted it, and resumed in due time his annoying attacks on our
outposts, both sides trying to achieve something whenever occasion

The prevalence of a severe drought had resulted in drying up many of
the streams within the enemy's lines, and, in consequence, he was
obliged to shift his camps often, and send his beef-cattle and mules
near his outposts for water. My scouts kept me well posted in regard
to the movements of both camps and herds; and a favorable opportunity
presenting itself, I sent an expedition on August 14 to gather in
some animals located on Twenty-Mile Creek, a stream always supplied
with water from a source of never-failing, springs. Our side met
with complete success in this instance, and when the expedition
returned, we were all made happy by an abundance of fresh beef, and
by some two hundred captured mules, that we thus added to our trains
at a time when draft animals were much needed.

Rations for the men were now supplied in fair quantities, and the
only thing required to make us wholly contented was plenty of grain
for our animals. Because of the large number of troops then in West
Tennessee and about Corinth, the indifferent railroad leading down
from Columbus, Ky., was taxed to its utmost capacity to transport
supplies. The quantity of grain received at Corinth from the north
was therefore limited, and before reaching the different outposts, by
passing through intermediate depots of supply, it had dwindled to
insignificance. I had hopes, however, that this condition of things
might be ameliorated before long by gathering a good supply of corn
that was ripening in the neighborhood, and would soon, I thought, be
sufficiently hard to feed to my animals. Not far from my
headquarters there was a particularly fine field, which, with this
end in view, I had carefully protected through the milky stage, to
the evident disappointment of both Asboth's men and mine. They bore
the prohibition well while it affected only themselves, but the trial
was too great when it came to denying their horses; and men whose
discipline kept faith with my guards during the roasting-ear period
now fell from grace. Their horses were growing thin, and few could
withstand the mute appeals of their suffering pets; so at night the
corn, because of individual foraging, kept stealthily and steadily
vanishing, until the field was soon fringed with only earless stalks.
The disappearance was noticed, and the guard increased, but still the
quantity of corn continued to grow less, the more honest troopers
bemoaning the loss, and questioning the honor of those to whose
safekeeping it had been entrusted. Finally, doubtless under the
apprehension that through their irregularities the corn would all
disappear and find its way to the horses in accordance with the
stealthy enterprise of their owners, a general raid was made on the
field in broad daylight, and though the guard drove off the
marauders, I must admit that its efforts to keep them back were so
unsuccessful that my hopes for an equal distribution of the crop were
quickly blasted. One look at the field told that it had been swept
clean of its grain. Of course a great row occurred as to who was to
blame, and many arrests and trials took place, but there had been
such an interchanging of cap numbers and other insignia that it was
next to impossible to identify the guilty, and so much crimination
and acrimony grew out of the affair that it was deemed best to drop
the whole matter.

On August 27 about half of the command was absent reconnoitring, I
having sent it south toward Tupelo, in the hope of obtaining some
definite information regarding a movement to Holly Springs of the
remainder of the Confederate army, under General Price, when about
mid-day I was suddenly aroused by excited cries and sounds of firing,
and I saw in a moment that the enemy was in my camp. He had come in
on my right flank from the direction of the Hatchie River, pell-mell
with our picket-post stationed about three miles out on the Ripley
road. The whole force of the enemy comprised about eight hundred,
but only his advance entered with my pickets, whom he had charged and
badly stampeded, without, on their part, the pretense of a fight in
behalf of those whom it was their duty to protect until proper
dispositions for defense could be made. The day was excessively hot,
one of those sultry debilitating days that had caused the suspending
of all military exercises; and as most of the men were lounging or
sleeping in their tents, we were literally caught napping. The alarm
spread instantly through the camp, and in a moment the command turned
out for action, somewhat in deshabille it is true, but none the less
effective, for every man had grabbed his rifle and cartridge-box at
the first alarm. Aided by a few shots from Captain Henry Hescock's
battery, we soon drove the intruders from our camp in about the same
disorder in which they had broken in on us. By this time Colonel
Hatch and Colonel Albert L. Lee had mounted two battalions each, and
I moved them out at a lively pace in pursuit, followed by a section
of the battery. No halt was called till we came upon the enemy's
main body, under Colonel Faulkner, drawn up in line of battle near
Newland's store. Opening on him with the two pieces of artillery, I
hurriedly formed line confronting him, and quickly and with but
little resistance drove him in confusion from the field. The sudden
turning of the tables dismayed Faulkner's men, and panic seizing
them, they threw away every loose article of arms or clothing of
which they could dismember themselves, and ran in the wildest
disorder in a mad effort to escape. As the chase went on the panic
increased, the clouds of dust from the road causing an intermingling
of friend and foe. In a little while the affair grew most ludicrous,
Faulkner's hatless and coatless men taking to the woods in such
dispersed order and so demoralized that a good many prisoners were
secured, and those of the enemy who escaped were hunted until dark.
When the recall was sounded, our men came in loaded down with plunder
in the shape of hats, haversacks, blankets, pistols, and shotguns, in
a quantity which amply repaid for the surprise of the morning, but
did not excuse the delinquent commander of our picket-guard, who a
few days later was brought to a realizing sense of his duty by a

Shortly after this affair Captain Archibald P. Campbell, of the
Second Michigan Cavalry, presented me with the black horse called
Rienzi, since made historical from having been ridden by me in many
battles, conspicuously in the ride from Winchester to Cedar Creek,
which has been celebrated in the poem by T. Buchanan Read. This
horse was of Morgan stock, and then about three years old. He was
jet black, excepting three white feet, sixteen hands high, and
strongly built, with great powers of endurance. He was so active
that he could cover with ease five miles an hour at his natural
walking gait. The gelding had been ridden very seldom; in fact,
Campbell had been unaccustomed to riding till the war broke out, and,
I think, felt some disinclination to mount the fiery colt. Campbell
had an affection for him, however, that never waned, and would often
come to my headquarters to see his favorite, the colt being cared for
there by the regimental farrier, an old man named John Ashley, who
had taken him in charge when leaving Michigan, and had been his groom
ever since. Seeing that I liked the horse--I had ridden him on
several occasions--Campbell presented him to me on one of these
visits, and from that time till the close of the war I rode him
almost continuously, in every campaign and battle in which I took
part, without once finding him overcome by fatigue, though on many
occasions his strength was severely tested by long marches and short
rations. I never observed in him any vicious habit; a nervousness
and restlessness and switch of the tail, when everything about him
was in repose, being the only indication that he might be
untrustworthy. No one but a novice could be deceived by this,
however, for the intelligence evinced in every feature, and his
thoroughbred appearance, were so striking that any person accustomed
to horses could not misunderstand such a noble animal. But Campbell
thought otherwise, at least when the horse was to a certain degree
yet untrained, and could not be pursuaded to ride him; indeed, for
more than a year after he was given to me, Campbell still retained
suspicions of his viciousness, though, along with this mistrust, an
undiminished affection. Although he was several times wounded, this
horse escaped death in action; and living to a ripe old age, died in
1878, attended to the last with all the care and surrounded with
every comfort due the faithful service he had rendered.

In moving from Corinth east toward Chattanooga, General Buell's army
was much delayed by the requirement that he should repair the Memphis
and Charleston railroad as he progressed. The work of repair obliged
him to march very slowly, and was of but little use when done, for
guerrillas and other bands of Confederates destroyed the road again
as soon as he had passed on. But worst of all, the time thus
consumed gave General Bragg the opportunity to reorganize and
increase his army to such an extent that he was able to contest the
possession of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. Consequently, the
movement of this army through Tennessee and Kentucky toward the Ohio
River--its objective points being Louisville and Cincinnati--was now
well defined, and had already rendered abortive General Buell's
designs on Chattanooga and East Tennessee. Therefore extraordinary
efforts on the part of the Government became necessary, and the
concentration of National troops at Louisville and Cincinnati to meet
the contingency of Bragg's reaching those points was an obvious
requirement. These troops were drawn from all sections in the West
where it was thought they could be spared, and among others I was
ordered to conduct thither--to Louisville or Cincinnati, as
subsequent developments might demand--my regiment, Hescock's battery,
the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, and the Thirty-sixth and
Forty-fourth Illinois regiments of infantry, known as the "Pea Ridge
Brigade." With this column I marched back to Corinth on the 6th of
September, 1862, for the purpose of getting railroad transportation
to Columbus, Kentucky.

At Corinth I met General Grant, who by this time had been
reestablished in favor and command somewhat, General Halleck having
departed for Washington to assume command of the army as
General-in-Chief. Before and during the activity which followed his
reinstatement, General Grant had become familiar with my services
through the transmission to Washington of information I had furnished
concerning the enemy's movements, and by reading reports of my fights
and skirmishes in front, and he was loth to let me go. Indeed, he
expressed surprise at seeing me in Corinth, and said he had not
expected me to go; he also plainly showed that he was much hurt at
the inconsiderate way in which his command was being depleted. Since
I was of the opinion that the chief field of usefulness and
opportunity was opening up in Kentucky, I did not wish him to retain
me, which he might have done, and I impressed him with my conviction,
somewhat emphatically, I fear. Our conversation ended with my wish
gratified. I afterward learned that General Granger, whom General
Grant did not fancy, had suggested that I should take to Cincinnati
the main portion of Granger's command--the Pea Ridge Brigade--as well
as the Second Michigan Cavalry, of which I was still colonel.
We started that night, going by rail over the Mobile and Ohio road to
Columbus, Ky., where we embarked on steamboats awaiting us. These
boats were five in number, and making one of them my flag-ship,
expecting that we might come upon certain batteries reported to be
located upon the Kentucky shore of the Ohio, I directed the rest to
follow my lead. Just before reaching Caseyville, the captain of a
tin-clad gunboat that was patrolling the river brought me the
information that the enemy was in strong force at Caseyville, and
expressed a fear that my fleet could not pass his batteries.
Accepting the information as correct, I concluded to capture the
place before trying to pass up the river. Pushing in to the bank as
we neared the town, I got the troops ashore and moved on Caseyville,
in the expectation of a bloody fight, but was agreeably surprised
upon reaching the outskirts of the village by an outpouring of its
inhabitants--men, women, and children--carrying the Stars and
Stripes, and making the most loyal professions. Similar
demonstrations of loyalty had been made to the panic-stricken captain
of the gunboat when he passed down the river, but he did not stay to
ascertain their character, neither by landing nor by inquiry, for he
assumed that on the Kentucky bank of the river there could be no
loyalty. The result mortified the captain intensely; and deeming his
convoy of little further use, he steamed toward Cairo in quest of
other imaginary batteries, while I re-embarked at Caseyville, and
continued up the Ohio undisturbed. About three miles below
Cincinnati I received instructions to halt, and next day I was
ordered by Major-General H. G. Wright to take my troops back to
Louisville, and there assume command of the Pea Ridge Brigade,
composed of the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, Thirty-sixth and
Forty-fourth Illinois infantry, and of such other regiments as might
be sent me in advance of the arrival of General Buell's army.
When I reached Louisville I reported to Major-General William Nelson,
who was sick, and who received me as he lay in bed. He asked me why
I did not wear the shoulder-straps of my rank. I answered that I was
the colonel of the Second Michigan cavalry, and had on my appropriate
shoulder-straps. He replied that I was a brigadier-general for the
Booneville fight, July 1, and that I should wear the shoulder-straps
of that grade. I returned to my command and put it in camp; and
as I had no reluctance to wearing the shoulder-straps of a
brigadier-general, I was not long in procuring a pair, particularly
as I was fortified next day by receiving from Washington official
information of my appointment as a brigadier-general, to date from
July 1, 1862, the day of the battle of Booneville.



I reported to Major-General Nelson at the Galt House in Louisville,
September 14, 1862, who greeted me in the bluff and hearty fashion of
a sailor--for he had been in the navy till the breaking out of the
war. The new responsibilities that were now to fall upon me by
virtue of increased rank caused in my mind an uneasiness which, I
think, Nelson observed at the interview, and he allayed it by giving
me much good advice, and most valuable information in regard to
affairs in Kentucky, telling me also that he intended I should retain
in my command the Pea Ridge Brigade and Hescock's battery. This
latter assurance relieved me greatly, for I feared the loss of these
troops in the general redistribution which I knew must soon take
place; and being familiar with their valuable service in Missouri,
and having brought them up from Mississippi, I hoped they would
continue with me. He directed me to take position just below the
city with the Pea Ridge Brigade, Hescock's battery, and the Second
Michigan Cavalry, informing me, at the same time, that some of the
new regiments, then arriving under a recent call of the President for
volunteers, would also be assigned to my command. Shortly after the
interview eight new regiments and an additional battery joined me,
thus making good his promise of more troops.

A few days later came Nelson's tragic end, shocking the whole
country. Those of us in camp outside of the city were startled on
the morning of September 29 by the news that General Jefferson C.
Davis, of the Union Army, had shot General Nelson at the Galt House,
and the wildest rumors in regard to the occurrence came thick and
fast; one to the effect that Nelson was dead, another having it that
he was living and had killed Davis, and still others reflecting on
the loyalty of both, it being supposed by the general public at first
that the difficulty between the two men had grown out of some
political rather than official or personal differences. When the
news came, I rode into the city to the Galt House to learn the
particulars, reaching there about 10 o'clock in the forenoon. Here I
learned that Nelson had been shot by Davis about two hours before, at
the foot of the main stairway leading from the corridor just beyond
the office to the second floor, and that Nelson was already dead. It
was almost as difficult to get reliable particulars of the matter at
the hotel as it had been in my camp, but I gathered that the two men
had met first at an early hour near the counter of the hotel office,
and that an altercation which had begun several days before in
relation to something official was renewed by Davis, who, attempting
to speak to Nelson in regard to the subject-matter of their previous
dispute, was met by an insulting refusal to listen. It now appears
that when Nelson made this offensive remark, Davis threw a small
paper ball that he was nervously rolling between his fingers into
Nelson's face, and that this insult was returned by Nelson slapping
Davis (Killed by a Brother Soldier.--Gen. J. B. Fry.) in the face.
But at the time, exactly what had taken place just before the
shooting was shrouded in mystery by a hundred conflicting stories,
the principal and most credited of which was that Davis had demanded
from Nelson an apology for language used in the original altercation,
and that Nelson's refusal was accompanied by a slap in the face, at
the same moment denouncing Davis as a coward. However this may be,
Nelson, after slapping Davis, moved toward the corridor, from which a
stairway led to the second floor, and just as he was about to ascend,
Davis fired with a pistol that he had obtained from some one near by
after the blow had been struck. The ball entered Nelson's breast
just above the heart, but his great strength enabled him to ascend
the stairway notwithstanding the mortal character of the wound, and
he did not fall till he reached the corridor on the second floor. He
died about half an hour later. The tragedy cast a deep gloom over
all who knew the men, for they both had many warm personal friends;
and affairs at Louisville had hardly recovered as yet from the
confused and discouraging condition which preceded the arrival of
General Buell's army. General Buell reported the killing of Nelson
to the authorities at Washington, and recommended the trial of Davis
by court-martial, but no proceedings were ever instituted against him
in either a civil or military court, so to this day it has not been
determined judicially who was the aggressor. Some months later Davis
was assigned to the command of a division in Buell's army after that
officer had been relieved from its command.

Two Confederate armies, under General Kirby Smith and General Braxton
Bragg, had penetrated into Kentucky, the one under Smith by the way
of Cumberland Gap, the other and main army under Bragg by way of the
Sequatche Valley, Glasgow, and Mumfordsville. Glasgow was captured
by the enemy on the 17th of September, and as the expectation was
that Buell would reach the place in time to save the town, its loss
created considerable alarm in the North, for fears were now
entertained that Bragg would strike Louisville and capture the city
before Buell could arrive on the ground. It became necessary
therefore to put Louisville in a state of defense, and after the
cordon of principal works had been indicated, my troops threw up in
one night a heavy line of rifle-pits south of the city, from the
Bardstown pike to the river. The apprehended attack by Bragg never
came, however, for in the race that was then going on between him and
Buell on parallel roads, the Army of the Ohio outmarched the
Confederates, its advance arriving at Louisville September 25.

General Buell immediately set about reorganizing the whole force, and
on September 29 issued an order designating the troops under my
command as the Eleventh Division, Army of the Ohio, and assigning
Brigadier-General J. T. Boyle to command the division, and me to
command one of its brigades. To this I could not object, of course,
for I was a brigadier-general of very recent date, and could hardly
expect more than a brigade. I had learned, however, that at least
one officer to whom a high command had been given--a corps--had not
yet been appointed a general officer by the President, and I
considered it somewhat unfair that I should be relegated to a
brigade, while men who held no commissions at all were being made
chiefs of corps and divisions; so I sought an interview with General
Buell's chief-of-staff, Colonel Fry, and, while not questioning
Buell's good intentions nor his pure motives, insisted that my rights
in the matter should be recognized. That same evening I was assigned
to the command of the Eleventh Division, and began preparing it at
once for a forward movement, which I knew must soon take place in the
resumption of offensive operations by the Army of the Ohio.

During the interval from September 25 till October 1 there was among
the officers much criticism of General Buell's management of the
recent campaign, which had resulted in his retirement to Louisville;
and he was particularly censured by many for not offering battle to
General Bragg while the two armies were marching parallel to each
other, and so near that an engagement could have been brought on at
any one of several points--notably so at Glasgow, Kentucky, if there
had been a desire to join issue. It was asserted, and by many
conceded, that General Buell had a sufficient force to risk a fight.
He was much blamed for the loss of Mumfordsville also. The capture
of this point, with its garrison, gave Bragg an advantage in the race
toward the Ohio River, which odds would most likely have ensured the
fall of Louisville had they been used with the same energy and skill
that the Confederate commander displayed from Chattanooga to Glasgow;
but something always diverted General Bragg at the supreme moment,
and he failed to utilize the chances falling to him at this time,
for, deflecting his march to the north toward Bardstown, he left open
to Buell the direct road to Louisville by way of Elizabethtown.

At Bardstown Bragg's army was halted while he endeavored to establish
a Confederate government in Kentucky by arranging for the
installation of a provisional governor at Lexington. Bragg had been
assured that the presence of a Confederate army in Kentucky would so
encourage the secession element that the whole State could be forced
into the rebellion and his army thereby largely increased; but he had
been considerably misled, for he now found that though much latent
sympathy existed for his cause, yet as far as giving active aid was
concerned, the enthusiasm exhibited by the secessionists of Kentucky
in the first year of the war was now replaced by apathy, or at best
by lukewarmness. So the time thus spent in political machinations
was wholly lost to Bragg; and so little reinforcement was added to
his army that it may be said that the recruits gained were not enough
to supply the deficiencies resulting from the recent toilsome marches
of the campaign.

In the meanwhile Buell had arrived at Louisville, system had been
substituted for the chaos which had previously obtained there, and
orders were issued for an advance upon the enemy with the purpose of
attacking and the hope of destroying him within the limits of the
"blue grass" region, and, failing in that, to drive him from
Kentucky. The army moved October 1, 1862, and my division, now a
part of the Third Corps, commanded by General C. C. Gilbert, marched
directly on Bardstown, where it was thought the enemy would make a
stand, but Bragg's troops retreated toward Perryville, only resisting
sufficiently to enable the forces of General Kirby Smith to be drawn
in closer--they having begun a concentration at Frankfort--so they
could be used in a combined attack on Louisville as soon as the
Confederate commander's political projects were perfected.

Much time was consumed by Buell's army in its march on Perryville,
but we finally neared it on the evening of October 7. During the
day, Brigadier-General Robert B. Mitchell's division of Gilbert's
corps was in the advance on the Springfield pike, but as the enemy
developed that he was in strong force on the opposite side of a small
stream called Doctor's Creek, a tributary of Chaplin River, my
division was brought up and passed to the front. It was very
difficult to obtain water in this section of Kentucky, as a drought
had prevailed for many weeks, and the troops were suffering so for
water that it became absolutely necessary that we should gain
possession of Doctor's Creek in order to relieve their distress.
Consequently General Gilbert, during the night, directed me to push
beyond Doctor's Creek early the next morning. At daylight on the 8th
I moved out Colonel Dan McCook's brigade and Barnett's battery for
the purpose, but after we had crossed the creek with some slight
skirmishing, I found that we could not hold the ground unless we
carried and occupied a range of hills, called Chaplin Heights, in
front of Chaplin River. As this would project my command in the
direction of Perryville considerably beyond the troops that were on
either flank, I brought up Laiboldt's brigade and Hescock's battery
to strengthen Colonel McCook. Putting both brigades into line we
quickly carried the Heights, much to the surprise of the enemy, I
think, for he did not hold on to the valuable ground as strongly as
he should have done. This success not only ensured us a good supply
of water, but also, later in the day, had an important bearing in the
battle of Perryville. After taking the Heights, I brought up the
rest of my division and intrenched, without much difficulty, by
throwing up a strong line of rifle-pits, although the enemy's
sharpshooters annoyed us enough to make me order Laiboldt's brigade
to drive them in on the main body. This was successfully done in a
few minutes, but in pushing them back to Chaplin River, we discovered
the Confederates forming a line of battle on the opposite bank, with
the apparent purpose of an attack in force, so I withdrew the brigade
to our intrenchments on the crest and there awaited the assault.

While this skirmishing was going on, General Gilbert--the corps
commander--whose headquarters were located on a hill about a mile
distant to the rear, kept sending me messages by signal not to bring
on an engagement. I replied to each message that I was not bringing
on an engagement, but that the enemy evidently intended to do so, and
that I believed I should shortly be attacked. Soon after returning
to the crest and getting snugly fixed in the rifle-pits, my attention
was called to our left, the high ground we occupied affording me in
that direction an unobstructed view. I then saw General A. McD.
McCook's corps--the First-advancing toward Chaplin River by the
Mackville road, apparently unconscious that the Confederates were
present in force behind the stream. I tried by the use of signal
flags to get information of the situation to these troops, but my
efforts failed, and the leading regiments seemed to approach the
river indifferently prepared to meet the sudden attack that speedily
followed, delivered as it was from the chosen position of the enemy.
The fury of the Confederate assault soon halted this advance force,
and in a short time threw it into confusion, pushed it back a
considerable distance, and ultimately inflicted upon it such loss of
men and guns as to seriously cripple McCook's corps, and prevent for
the whole day further offensive movement on his part, though he
stoutly resisted the enemy's assaults until 4 o'clock in the

Seeing McCook so fiercely attacked, in order to aid him I advanced
Hescock's battery, supported by six regiments, to a very good
position in front of a belt of timber on my extreme left, where an
enfilading fire could be opened on that portion of the enemy
attacking the right of the First Corps, and also on his batteries
across Chaplin River. But at this juncture he placed two batteries
on my right and began to mass troops behind them, and General
Gilbert, fearing that my intrenched position on the heights might be
carried, directed me to withdraw Hescock and his supports and return
them to the pits. My recall was opportune, for I had no sooner got
back to my original line than the Confederates attacked me furiously,
advancing almost to my intrenchments, notwithstanding that a large
part of the ground over which they had to move was swept by a heavy
fire of canister from both my batteries. Before they had quite
reached us, however, our telling fire made them recoil, and as they
fell back, I directed an advance of my whole division, bringing up my
reserve regiments to occupy the crest of the hills; Colonel William
P. Carlin's brigade of Mitchell's division meanwhile moving forward
on my right to cover that flank. This advance pressed the enemy to
Perryville, but he retired in such good order that we gained nothing
but some favorable ground that enabled me to establish my batteries
in positions where they could again turn their attention to the
Confederates in front of McCook, whose critical condition was shortly
after relieved, however, by a united pressure of Gilbert's corps
against the flank of McCook's assailants, compelling them to retire
behind Chaplin River.

The battle virtually ended about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, though
more or less desultory firing continued until dark. Considering the
severity of the engagement on McCook's front, and the reverses that
had befallen him, I question if, from that part of the line, much
could have been done toward retrieving the blunders of the day, but
it did seem to me that, had the commander of the army been able to be
present on the field, he could have taken advantage of Bragg's final
repulse, and there would have remained in our hands more than the
barren field. But no attempt was made to do anything more till next
morning, and then we secured little except the enemy's killed and
most severely wounded.

The operations of my division during the engagement pleased. General
Gilbert very much, and he informed me that he would relax a rigidly
enforced order which General Buell had issued some days before,
sufficiently to permit my trains to come to the front and supply my
almost starving troops with rations. The order in question was one
of those issued, doubtless with a good intent, to secure generally
the safety of our trains, but General Gilbert was not elastic, and on
the march he had construed the order so illiberally that it was next
to impossible to supply the men with food, and they were particularly
short in this respect on the eve of the battle. I had then
endeavored to persuade him to modify his iron-clad interpretation of
the order, but without effect, and the only wagons we could bring up
from the general parks in rear were ambulances and those containing
ammunition. So to gain access to our trains was a great boon, and at
that moment a more welcome result than would have been a complete
victory minus this concession.

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