Category Archives: Biographical

Biographies of Officers and Men of the 1864 Valley Campaign

New Biography on Grumble Jones

At long last, Brig. Gen William E. “Grumble” Jones has his badly needed biography. James Ballard of Texas, formerly of Southwest Virginia, has stepped in and filled this historical void. I had an opportunity to interview him this past spring.

Here is the transcript:

What is the most revealing issue about Grumble Jones that you found in your research?

I would have to say that the most revealing issue about Grumble Jones was his unwavering support of the Lost Cause. In contrast to his future revered commander, Robert E. Lee and his future protege’, John Singleton Mosby, who both hoped that Virginia would remain with the Union, Jones assumed a hard-lined secessionist position long before the conflict began. In February of 1861, while Virginia was still with the Union, Jones corresponded to CSA President Davis declaring that in the event that Virginia chose to remain with the Union, he would renounce his allegiance to his home state and serve the new Confederacy. I feel that Jones stood with the Southern extremists who welcomed the Civil War.

Tell us about Jones how earned the nickname “the Stonewall Jackson” of East Tennessee.

According to author & source Scott Cole in his 34th Battalion Virginia Cavalry, Jones received this moniker from the Richmond Whig. Aside from the Chickamauga Campaign and a few other exceptions, the Confederacy enjoyed very little success in the entire state of Tennessee. East Tennessee, in particular, was pro-Union from the beginning of the conflict and provided bases of operations for potential Federal offenses against the mineral reserves in bordering Southwest Virginia (the salt-works at Saltville and the lead mines at Wythville). Jones’s overwhelming victories at Rogersville (TN), Jonesville (VA), and Wyerman’s Mill (VA), although minor engagements, alarmed the Federals into taking a defensive posture and shifting their priorities to defending their presence in Knoxville and the Cumberland Gap. Grumble’s triumphs in late 1863 and early 1864 thus served as a diversion to protect the Southwest Virginia mineral reserves much in the same manner as Jackson’s Valley Campaign of 1862 thwarted a Federal advance on Richmond. Upper East Tennessee remained under Confederate control until the fall of 1864 after the Jones Brigade of Southwest Virginia permanently withdrew from the region.

With the above said, Longstreet’s Corps occupied East Tennessee during that same period and contributed even more so to the security of Southwest Virginia. However, Longstreet’s failed Knoxville Campaign and the missed opportunity at Bean Station mark his presence with perhaps an unfair stigma of failure.

There seems to have been a tendency to establish the legendary Stonewall Jackson as a standard to be measured up against. In contrast to the Jones’s success in the region, CS Brigadier General Alfred E. Jackson, a kinsman to the legend, received the contra-distinct moniker of “Mudwall Jackson” for his failure in the Battle of Blue Springs that had secured East Tennessee for the Federals before Jones came on to the scene.

Jones’s reputation for parity with Stonewall Jackson was not limited to his operations in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. After the war, a former trooper praised Jones for the execution of his spring of 1863 West Virginia Raid with a parity to Jackson. While that expedition was in progress, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Greg Curtin erroneously reported to President Lincoln that Stonewall Jackson was the Confederate commander conducting the raid with an exaggerated number of troops. In that campaign, Jones acted as a master of diversion. Heavily outnumbered and deep in enemy territory, Jones accomplished most of his objectives by deceiving the Federals and keeping them pinned down on the defensive.

What are your thoughts about the relationship between Jones and Stuart?

There is much irony in the adversarial relationship between Jones and Stuart, as the two Virginians had much in common. Both were raised in upper-middle-class families in the Appalachian Mountian region of rural western Virginia. Although their paths did not cross at either institution, both had academic ties to nearby Emory & Henry College and were members of the same literary society (later evolved into a social fraternity) before going on to West Point where both graduated in the upper portion of their respective classes. In spite of earning the privilege to choose other branches of the Old Army, both selected the mounted service, considered at their times to be the least desirable. The final eighteen months of Grumble’s service in the US Mounted Rifles overlapped the first eighteen months of Stuart’s tour of duty on the Texas frontier. Although they did not serve at the same garrisons, they probably grew familiar with each other while serving on special assignments such as court-martial duty.

Notwithstanding the similarities, there was a significant contrast between the experiences of Jones and Stuart in the Old Army. Jones’s eight years of service were marked with despair, isolation and personal tragedy. Stuart, on the other hand, enjoyed a tenure of glory, adventure, and romance. Married for less than ten weeks, Jones lost his wife to a drowning incident while in route to his new assignment in Texas. Stuart, conversely, married the daughter of his commanding officer and relished in a blissful marriage (in spite of his father-in-law’s loyalty to the Union) that lasted the remaining nine years of his life. Whether or not the contrast in fate contributed to the Jones’s animosity toward Stuart is up for speculation.

Early in the conflict, Jones went on record as resenting having to serve under Stuart who was nine years his junior in age. When Jones was a captain, Stuart was a colonel. With the same directive at promoted Jones to colonel, Stuart received the promotion to brigadier general. By the time Jones earned the rank of brigadier general, Stuart was already a major general.

There was an obvious personality conflict between the two generals. Stuart, the flamboyant extrovert thrived on the pomp and pageantry of martial displays, particularly demonstrated when he ordered the two grand reviews at Brandy Station. As Stuart’s antithesis, the low-profiled Jones was said to be contemptuous of such displays which he considered to be a waste of time and resources. Stuart was vain; Jones was proud.

The combination of personal animosities scalated from the outset. When the spring of 1862 field elections cost Jones command of the 1st VA Cavalry, he went on record accusing Stuart of unfairly influencing the outcome (how much that factored is not certain). Months later, Stuart unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Robert E. Lee from promoting Jones to brigadier general. For the time immediately following Jones’s promotion, Lee had the luxury of keeping the two generals separated, but when circumstances necessitated their rejoining, both resisted. Jones even offered his resignation in order to avoid returning to Stuart’s command.

It was apparent that Jones and Stuart disliked each other but with that said, Stuart praised Jones on several occasions. Sometimes, however, it was unclear whether Stuart intended to direct his praise toward Jones individually or to his troops. Also, whether or not those acclaims were attempts at reconciliation is up for speculation. During campaigns and in the preparation thereof, both seemed to put their personal differences aside.

The Jones- Stuart dispute came to a head at the conclusion of the Gettysburg Campaign when Jones submitted a “disrespectful letter” to Stuart. The content of that letter may never be known, but it led to Jones’s arrest, a court-martial conviction, and banishment from the Army of Northern Virginia, something both parties desired. To me, the content of that letter would be priceless. It placed Stuart in the rather awkward position of wanting to punish Jones for submitting the letter but while keeping the content confidential.

In spite of his personal disdain, Jones respected Stuart’s abilities as a commander. In a posthumous measure of reconciliation, Jones regarded Stuart’s death as detrimental to the Southern cause as the loss of Stonewall Jackson. With Jackson’s revered reputation as the standard, Jones labeled the late Stuart with the highest possible measure of praise. If nothing else, the Jones-Stuart relationship was complicated and could be a detailed study by itself.

Is Jones a forgotten hero at Brandy Station or does history give him full credit for his role?

There is no question that Jones’s decisive actions early in the engagement at Brandy Station ultimately allowed Stuart’s cavalry division to salvage a draw and avoid a complete disaster. With that said, the Battle of Brandy Station was too large of an engagement for one individual to receive a disproportionate share of credit for the successes or blame for the setbacks. Jones’s brigade was responsible for the security at Beverly’s Ford, and he had properly placed his horse artillery further back at St. James Church. Stuart’s report that the Jones Brigade “had the hardest of the fighting” was correct, but the unit happened to be positioned where the intense action occurred. Unlike Beverly Robertson’s brigade at Kelly’s Ford, Jones and his troops did their job and performed up to expectations. Although it may be somewhat of a reach to say that Jones receives “full” credit, I’m inclined to say that history gives him “proper” credit.

The nickname Grumble. I failed to find any wartime account calling him Grumble. The only thing close was an officer saying notwithstanding his grumbling he should be promoted. What did you find in the origins of that name? It seems to be more popular among modern historians than his fellow Confederates.

I agree that it is highly possible that the moniker of “Grumble” may have been designated by modern historians and not by persons of his time, even in their post-war writings. I have not seen any correspondence or reports from members of either side referring to Jones by that nickname. In his diary reflecting on the Battle of Piedmont, Private Charles H. Lynch of the 18th Connecticut Volunteers recalled that Jones’s nickname was “Billy.”

General Robert Ransom’s inspection report of April 24, 1864, remarked, “Jones ought to be promoted; notwithstanding all of his grumbling, he is a fine officer.” It was Jones’s last official evaluation before his death which would occur six weeks later. It is quite possible that the moniker was created and stood based on that report. If the reference to the moniker was something that was only privately spoken at the time, we have no way of knowing.

What do you think he would have accomplished if he had lived? Would he have made a difference in the Valley?

I have wondered about the scenario if Hunter had given up and retreated before Thoburn’s troops finally stormed the unoccupied gap in Jones’s lines. Jones would have survived and directed the brigades of Imboden and Vaughn to spearhead a pursuit. However, against DuPont’s effective artillery, any counter-offensive would have been a stalemate at best and a suicide mission at worst. I feel it is highly unlikely that Jones would have been able to drive Hunter’s forces beyond the North River. Conversely, the Federals would have maintained a formidable presence in the Valley just as they did following New Market. Hunter would then have had the option to march eastward, and that potential outcome is up to even broader speculation. Also, Staunton would have been exposed to Crooks Army of the Kanawha District approaching from the west. A Southern victory at Piedmont would have resulted in other difficulties.

In many ways, Hunter’s victory at Piedmont backfired as his overall Lynchburg Campaign was a failure. Aside from the attrition in the way Confederate losses, it did nothing to bring the war closer to a conclusion. Occupying Staunton was a temporary measure and torching VMI at Lexington served no purpose other than to arouse Southern resolve to retaliate. I’m of the feeling that the initial measures of Early’s Washington Raid, desperate as they were, were among the South’s finest moments of the war. I doubt that Jones’s presence would have extended the momentum beyond what it managed to accomplish before or after Grant appointed Phil Sheridan to launch his Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

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A Misrepresentation: Sheridan’s Reaction to Painting of Himself Riding the Battle Line At Cedar Creek

sheridan-cc

When Sheridan saw this now widely publicized painting of himself riding along the line of battle to inspire the men at Cedar Creek and show that he had returned to the army, he reacted vociferously to its inaccuracies.

“Now just look,” said Sheridan, “and see how blank ridiculous that man has made me appear. Here I am represented as riding down the line with a flag in my hand and a whole regiment of cavalry as my escort. Why, blank, blank, blank, I made to appear like a blank fool. Now the truth is I rode down the line with ‘Tony’ Forsyth; that was all there was to it. No flag. No escort.”

Soon after, Sheridan read an article describing his reaction to the artwork. His response:  “I wouldn’t have cared so much about it except that [it] makes me swear so [much]. People will think I am in the habit of swearing. Why, blank, blank, blank, you that isn’t so.”

Note that “Tony Forsyth” was Col. James Forsyth Sheridan’s Chief-of-Staff. The ride along the battle line had been the brainchild of another staff officer, Major George “Sandy” Forsyth (no relation to James)  had been the one who suggested that Sheridan show himself to the men when he returned to the Army at Cedar Creek.

Sheridan’s appearance along the line of battle rejuvenated the rank and file of the Army of the Shenandoah. Lt. Col. Moses Granger of the 122nd Ohio, Sixth Army Corps recalled the scene:

General Sheridan came riding along the line, just in my rear, as I was sitting on a stump, he drew rein, returned our salutes, gave a quick look at the me, and said, ‘You look all right, boys! We’ll whip’em like h–l before night.’ At this hearty cheers broke out, and he rode on passing from the rear to the front of our line through the right-wing of my regiment, and thence westward followed ever by cheers.”

Instantly all thought of merely defeating an attack upon us ended. In its stead was a conviction that we were to attack and defeat them that very afternoon. All were sure that “Little Phil” would make it impossible for the enemy to turn our flank, and easy for us to turn theirs.”

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The Battle of Piedmont: Reluctant Leader, C. S. Brig. Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones – A Long Promised Biography

 

Gen. William E. Jones

Gen. William E. Jones

The Confederate high command in Richmond desperately sought a suitable replacement for Breckinridge in the Department of Western Virginia. The ranking officer in that department, Brigadier General William E. “Grumble” Jones, remained uncertain of his position. On May 20, at his headquarters near Abingdon, Virginia, Jones received a telegram from General Samuel Cooper ordering the retention of Brigadier General John C. Vaughn’s Tennessee cavalry brigade in the Department. The tone of the order implied Jones to be the acting commander of the De­partment, but failed to enumerate. Perplexed, Jones telegraphed Gen­eral Cooper in Richmond, “Must I assume command of the Department of Western Virginia?”[i] No response came, so on May 23, Jones again telegraphed Cooper:

No order has reached me merging the Department of East Tennessee and Western Virginia, though telegrams have reached me which would imply such had been done. I was di­rected by General Bragg to watch the enemy coming from Ka­nawha, and in cooperating with General Jenkins I found my­self in the Department of Western Virginia. Now my com­mand is in both departments, and I will continue to command both until further orders, or the arrival of a superior officer.

Cooper responded by issuing an order for Jones to assume command of the Department of Western Virginia. With his old army appetite for direct orders quenched Jones set about to fulfill his duties.[ii]

Born on the middle fork of the Holston River on May 9, 1824, Wil­liam Edmondson Jones grew to manhood in Washington County, Virginia, near the Tennessee border. During the American Revolution, his Edmondson forebears had been “Overmountain” men who turned the tide of that conflict at the battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. Jones grew up learning the tough ways that allowed the Appalachian pioneers. At the same time, he received an extensive education at Emory and Henry College before attending West Point. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1848, ranked twelfth out of forty-eight cadets. After spending three years in Oregon as a Lieutenant, the young officer re­turned home to marry Miss Eliza Dunn. On the return trip, the young couple sailed from New Orleans. A violent storm wrecked the ship which carried them. When they attempted to land in a lifeboat, a wave swept Eliza from the small vessell. Only the heroism of Thomas B. Edmondson, the Lieutenant’s cousin, saved him from the same fate. The whirling waters washed away William’s dreams and hopes of a long and happy life together. Eliza’s body was recovered and buried at Glade Spring Presbyterian Church back in Virginia. Stunned by his tragic loss, Jones returned to his post with a heavy heart. The young widower immersed himself in his duty in order to avoid the pain of his loss and became “embittered, complaining and suspi­cious.” He eventually became known as “Old Grumble Jones” and could be “a disagreeable customer when crossed.” It is likely, however, that some of these qualities existed even before Eliza’s death given the rugged background of the Jones’ family. Finally, in September 1856, he resigned from the army and returned to his estate on the Holston River. In 1857, Jones visited Europe on mili­tary business for the state of Virginia.[iii]

Politically, Jones believed in Southern society and in the rights of the individual states. He saw slavery as an economic necessity beneficial to both master and slave. When John Brown raided Harper’s Ferry in an attempt to stimulate a slave insurrection in 1859, Jones urged Virginians to revitalize and reorganize the Commonwealth’s ability to defend itself through a military means. “It is as much our duty to prepare for the coming dangers,” declared Jones, “as to defend our assailed rights and none but the obstinate blind can fail to see the dangers great and most horrible in our future.”[iv]

When the war broke out in 1861, Jones raised a company of cavalry from Washington County known as the Washington Mounted Rifles, and became its first captain. The company joined Colonel James E. B. “Jeb” Stuart’s 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment, and took part in the First Battle of Manassas under Jones’ able guidance. He ultimately rose to the rank of colonel, but in April of 1862, Jones fell out of favor with Stuart, and the regiment voted him out of office due to his harsh disciplinary practices and embittered attitude. With compe­tent officers in short supply, Jones received an appointment as the colo­nel of the 7th Virginia Cavalry in July 1862, replacing the the fallen Turner Asby. Jones instilled discipline in Ashby’s rowdy horseman and displayed aggressive the aggressive streak that Stonewall Jackson admired. In early August, Jones encountered and attacked a vastly superior force at Orange Court House. “No time could be afforded for inquiries-to fight or run were the only alternatives; I chose the former…”[v]

By September, Confederate authorities promoted him to brigadier general at the request of Stonewall Jackson. The latter had Jones placed in command of the Valley District but his personality and military ways elicted complaints from local civilian leaders. In May 1863, the crotchety Virginian led his brigade on a raid into Union held West Virginia in a joint mission with Imboden. This highly successful raid destroyed sixteen railroad bridges and two trains, seized 1,000 head of cattle and 1,200 horses, and captured seven hundred pris­oners. Additionally, Jones ravaged the oil works at Burning Springs, destroying 3,000 barrels of oil and all production facilities. Robert E. Lee com­plimented General Jones on the raid’s sagacity and boldness.

Upon returning to Virginia, Jones and his brigade rejoined Stuart’s cavalry with the Army of Northern Virginia near Culpepper Courthouse. On June 9, his vigilance at Brandy Station while Stuart conducted a dress parade saved the cavalry from defeat. Jones’ command withstood repeated Union assaults and played a decisive role in preventing disaster there. However, His icey relations with Stuart continued. When Jones warned Stuart of approaching Union troopers, the Cavalry chief replied, “Tell General Jones to attend to the Federals in his front, and I’ll watch the flanks.” When Jones received the reply, he snarled, “So he thinks they ain’t coming, does he? Well, let him alone, he’ll damned soon see for himself.”[vi]

Jones attempted to resign from the service instead of serving under Stuart, but General Lee withheld the resignation. Nevertheless, Jones continued his consistently dependable efforts throughout the Gettysburg Campaign. Although Stuart purposely assigned the capable Jones’ rear echelon duty, he effectively led his brigade in several combats throughout the campaign, including actions at Upperville and Fairfield. His command twice crossed swords with the 6th U.S. Cavalry during the campaign. After inflicting 242 casualties upon that regiment and defeating it on two separate occasions, Jones reported, wryly “The Sixth U.S. Cavalry numbers among the things that were.”[vii]

Finally, Jones’ feud with Stuart boiled over as Lee’s army returned from Gettysburg. Jones took exception with something Stuart did and wrote his commander “a very disrespectful letter.” In spite of their differences, Stuart had considered Jones “the best outpost officer” in the Army of Northern Virginia. Stuart recognized that Jones’ “watchfulness over his pickets and his skill and energy in obtaining information were worthy of all praise.” Stuart’s praises for Jones were matched only by his desire to have him removed from his command. When he received Jones’ letter, Stuart promptly relieved Jones of his command and placed in “close arrest.” This incident resulted in a court martial and ended Jones’ service with the Army of Northern Virginia.[viii]

In the aftermath of the court martial General Lee wrote Confederate President Jefferson C. Davis:

I consider Jones a brave and intelligent officer, but his feelings have become so opposed to General Stuart that I have lost all hope of his being useful in the cavalry here… he says he will no longer serve under Stuart and I do not think it would be advantageous for him to do so, but I wish to make him useful.[ix]

As a result of Lee’s recommendation, the Confederate War Department assigned Jones to the Department of Western Virginia. There he received command of a brigade of undisciplined Virginia cavalry regiments. Jones instilled these men with discipline and drastically improved their performance on the battlefield. In November, Jones routed a Union force at Rogersville, Tennessee, capturing 700 prisoners with their wagons and equipment. On January 2, 1864, Jones captured 385 men and three pieces of artillery by surrounding a Federal force at Jonesville, Virginia. During February, his troopers de­feated the 11th Tennessee (U. S.) Cavalry at Wyerman’s Mill and appre­hended 265 Union soldiers, eight wagons and one hundred horses. The Richmond Whig declared General Jones to be the “Stonewall Jackson of East Tennessee.” In early May, Jones combined with General John H. Morgan in the successful defense of Wytheville and Saltville against General William W. Averell’s blue coats.[x]

Jones’ experience as a cavalry commander justified his assignment to command the Department of Western Virginia. His reputation had been built upon the utmost vigilance and the ability to use scouts and patrols to obtain accurate information on enemy movements. When “Old Grumble Jones” learned where the enemy was, he did not allow them to sieze the initiative. Instead, Jones aggressively went on the offensive and hoped to catch his opponents with their guard down. From Orange Courthouse to Wyerman’s Mill, Jones had done just that. Most of the time, his efforts were rewarded with success and outright failure was unkown. In the Shenandoah Valley, Jones would be called upon to put his ability to the ultimate test. No longer would he be leading a brigade or two of cavalry. Now he would lead a combined force of all arms against rejuvenated opponent intent on victory.

 

[i] OR, 37:pt.1:745.

[ii] OR, 37:pt.1:746-747.

[iii] Thomas W. Colley, “Brigadier General William E. Jones,” Confederate Veteran, 6:266-267; Personal Reminiscences of a Maryland Soldier in the War Between the States 1861-1865., 81.

[iv] William E. Jones Papers, Library of Virginia.

[v]OR, 12:2:112.

[vi] Thomas A. Lewis, The Civil War: Gettysburg, Confederate High Tide. Time-Life Books, 1985, 20.

[vii] OR, 27:2:754.

[viii] Warner, Generals in Grey., pp. 166-167; Colley, CV 6:266-267; Andy Maslowski, “Burning Springs, Va.,” America’s Civil War, Sept. 1988, pp. 8, 65-66.

[ix] OR, 29:2:771-772.

[x] Colley, p. 267; Warner, p. 166-167; Jeffrey C. Weaver, 64th Virginia Infantry. (Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1992), p. 86.

For more on the Battle of Piedmont

197.0 Piedmont Battle

 

 

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Col. George S. Patton and the Last Battle of Winchester

Gen. George S. Patton was one of America’s premier military commanders in World War II. His family tree included his grandfather Col. George S. Patton, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, who gave his life for the Confederate cause at the Last Battle of Winchester. Patton had had raised the 22nd Virginia Infantry in the Kanawha Valley and spent most of the War Between the States campaigning in the mountains of what is now West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. He suffered wounds in engagements at Scary Creek in 1861 and Giles Courthouse (Pearisburg), Virginia. In 1864, the increasing intensity of the war in the Shenandoah Valley, brought Patton there, where he led the 22nd Virginia in a counterattack that changed the tide of battle at New Market, throwing the Union Cavalry into disorder. He led Echols’ brigade in an attack at the Second Battle of Kernstown that along with the rest of Brig. Gen. Gabriel Wharton’s division sent Gen. George Crook’s army retreating in confusion from the battlefield and through the town Winchester.

On September 19, 1864, Col. Patton and his brigade fought at Winchester against Gen. Phil Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah. After covering a crossing of the Opequon Creek that was not attacked, Patton’s brigade was withdrawn toward Stephenson’s Depot. When Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge found his small command of Wharton’s infantry division and Col. Milton Ferguson’s brigade of cavalry about to be cut-off by Union cavalry moving on their rear, he withdrew toward Winchester leaving Patton as the rearmost infantry command to cover the retreat.

Marching through woods along the bed of the ruined Winchester and Potomac Railroad east of the Martinsburg Pike, Patton’s infantry encountered the advance of Col. Thomas Devin’s cavalry brigade driving back Ferguson’s cavalry brigade in confusion along the Charlestown Road. Patton’s infantry charged, cleared the road and opened the way for Col. George Smith’s cavalry to counterattack and temporarily drive Devin’s men back while Ferguson rallied. Patton then continued the retreat toward Winchester. As he moved toward the main battlefield, a courier from Breckinridge ordered Patton assist the Confederate Cavalry on the Valley Pike.

Patton almost immediately encountered Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, the Confederate cavalry commander, leading Col. William Payne’s brigade toward the Valley Pike to resist the oncoming Union deluge of horse soldiers. The two officers conferred, and Lee told Patton of the approach of Crook’s infantry Lee’s former position on the left of Gen. John B. Gordon’s division. Lee urged Patton to attend to the Union foot soldiers and that Lee would continue on toward the Pike to deal with the Union horsemen. Patton complied and moved his small brigade into position behind a stonewall on the Hackwood Farm in front of Red Bud Run. When the Union infantry appeared on the north bank of that stream, Patton’s Virginians opened fire and pinned down the attacking Ohioans and West Virginians as the struggled to cross the swampy stream. At length, Union forces drove Gordon’s division from its position on Patton’s right, and the infantry in his front began to work their way across Red Bud Run. Patton’s brigade attempted to withdraw but the situation became impossible when Col. Thomas Devin’s brigade attacked on Patton’s left flank and cut off his line of retreat. Division commander Gen. Gabriel Wharton sent “order after order” for Patton to rejoin the division closer to Winchester, but it was physically impossible.

Fitz Lee reported that Patton was mortally wounded as he attempted to change front to deal with the myriad of threats facing his brigade. Two regiments of Devin’s brigade capture 300 prisoners and every battle flag from Patton’s brigade. According to Lt. Col. George Edgar, another VMI grad, he rallied the fragments of Patton’s brigade at Fort Collier with the assistance of Fitz Lee. Lee himself was soon seriously wounded, and the Union cavalry stormed around the Confederate left, routing Jubal Early’s army of the Valley District.

Patton was taken to the home of a family member in Winchester where he died several days later. Contrary to some accounts, he did not grab a revolver and threaten to shoot a Union surgeon who recommended amputation. That story, if true, happened earlier in the war. Instead, it looked like he would recover from the wound, but infection took hold and he died. There are also stories of Patton being mortally wounded in the streets of Winchester near the railroad depot. However, I have been unable to trace these to any contemporary sources. Not surprisingly, Patton’s role seems to have grown during the Civil War centennial commemoration after his grandson had gained fame as one of America’s premier combat leaders in World War II.  This story makes for an interesting historiographical study.

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The Staff of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

Sheridan and StaffLooking for some help to Identify the men of Sheridan’s staff. So far here is what I have come up with.

Updated thanks to some help from Stefan and JD 🙂 and my own continued detective work. Thanks.

Sheridan’s Staff – June 1864

Top Row Standing on Porch:

Capt. Joseph O’Keeffe,  Capt. Michael V. Sheridan,  Lt. Col. Frederick Newhall, Unknown, Maj. George “Sandy” Forsyth, Capt. Louis Carpenter, Unknown, Capt. James F. Wade

Standing on Top Step:

Might this be Col. C. R. Smith of the 6th PA Cav? Sheridan had him on his staff.

Bottom Row:

Unknown, Capt. Thomas W. C. Moore, Col. James “Tony” Forsyth, Gen. Sheridan

All officers to the right of Sheridan are unknown at this time. Any help you can provide in identifying any of these officers is greatly appreciated. It is interesting to try and figure out and one can go back and forth on id’s. For example, Sheridan’s brother Michael could be one of two men. If you look at a picture of MVS twenty years later, the second man from the left in top row seems to be the proper id. However, it was said that he looked just like Phil. Looking at General S’s photograph as a lieutenant in the Regular Army in the 1850’s, the third man from left on the top row is a convincing choice.

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More on William H. Emory

Emory was a native Marylander who graduated from West Point in 1831, the same year that his commander in the Valley, Phil Sheridan, was born. After four years of service in the 4th U.S. Artillery that included duty at notable posts such as Fort McHenry in Baltimore and Charleston Harbor, SC, he resigned from the army and became an assistant United States Engineer. He quickly gained a reputation as a first rate cartographer and rejoined the army after a two year separation as a topographical engineer. During the Mexican War, Emory commanded a regiment of volunteers from Maryland and District of Columbia, which he led in Winfield Scott’s campaign from Vera Cruz to Mexico City.

When the Civil War broke out, Emory became Colonel of the 5th U. S. Cavalry and by the time of McClellan’s 1862 Peninsula Campaign, the Marylander was commander of the Army of the Potomac’s Reserve Brigade of cavalry. Later that year, Emory was transferred to the infantry and ended up serving as a division commander under Nathaniel Banks during the 1863 Port Hudson Campaign. In the spring of 1864, Emory gained distinction during Banks’ failed Red River Campaign by covering the retreat and saving Banks’ army from further damage. After that, he commanded the detachment of the Nineteenth Corps that was sent to Virginia as reinforcements to General Grant at Petersburg. However, Jubal Early’s Raid on Washington changed those plans, and Emory ended up going to the relief of Washington and subsequently campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley under Wright, Hunter and Sheridan.

On a personal note, Emory was married to Matilda Wilkins Bache, a great Granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin. One of his sons also served in the Civil War in the U. S. Army and another attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and went on to become and Admiral in the U. S. Navy after the Civil War.

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Major General William H. Emory and the Battle of Cedar Creek

Maj. Gen. William H. Emory, “Old Brick Top,” as he was known in the Regular Army or more simply the “Old Man” to the young soldiers who served under him, is generally viewed as the weak link in the command structure of Gen. Phil Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah. He was certainly an outsider; General Horatio Wright commanded the Sixth Corps from the Army of the Potomac and had fought through Grant’s bloody Overland Campaign. General George Crook was Sheridan’s West Point roommate and a fellow Ohioan. Sheridan’s chief of cavalry, Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert had served his commander as a division commander since May of 1864. All three of these men had, to one degree or another, already established a relationship with Sheridan, their commander. At fifty three years of age, Emory was also significantly older than the other officers, including Sheridan who was only 32. Emory developed a reputation as a worrier throughout the war. During the Port Hudson, Louisiana Campaign of 1863, staff officer David Hunter Strother believed that Emory’s timid councils were having a negative impact on Union commander Nathaniel Banks. When the fighting at the Third Battle of Winchester or Opequon Creek, temporarily went against the Union, Emory believed that all was lost, but in the end the Union forces achieved victory.

One month later at Cedar Creek while Sheridan was away at Washington, however, Emory prophetically warned Wright and Crook that the army’s left flank was vulnerable to attack. However, the two men whose commands emerged from Third Winchester and Fisher’s Hill with significantly enhanced reputations, “pooh-poohed” Emory’s warnings. Jubal Early struck precisely where Emory had warned. Perhaps Emory had worried one time too many, and Crook and Wright saw his forebodings at Cedar Creek as a case of the boy or cried wolf. In fairness to Emory, however, military officers earn their paychecks considering all of the possibilities and taking action to prevent failure and ensure success. That is exactly what Emory did at Cedar Creek, but he was an outsider and not a member of Sheridan’s inner circle nor was he from the Army of the Potomac. Although, his forewarning only earned him the enmity of Wright and Crook, Emory had done his job. Had Wright and Crook listened to Emory, the need for Sheridan’s famous ride may have very well been eliminated.

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Colonel Augustus Moor and The Battle of Piedmont

Col. Augustus Moor

Col. Augustus Moor

Colonel Augustus Moor has long intrigued me as a Civil War officer.  When I look at his picture, I see a man who would seem more at home relaxing on a stool at a beer garden in my hometown of Parma, Ohio after another loss by the Cleveland Indians than leading troops in battle in 1864.  Parma, for those not familiar with it, is noted for its strong Germanic and Slavic ethnic roots (read polkas, beer, sauerkraut, and kielbasa).  Moor certainly does not look the part of the prototypical “dashing and gallant” officer of either side with his stout build and clean shaven face.

However, looks can be deceiving and they certainly were for Colonel Moor.   Major Theodore F. Lang of Hunter’s staff observed that Moor was “an intelligent and efficient officer and gallant soldier who was well liked by officers and men.”  He had received military training at the Royal Academy of Forestry in his native Germany and was actively involved in revolutionary plotting against the monarchy. The latter activities resulted in an eight-month prison sentence and two-year banishment from the Fatherland.  Upon release from prison, Moor immigrated to the United States and settled in Philadephia to begin a new life. During the Second Seminole Indian in Florida, he served as an officer in a Philadelphia Dragoon Company.  He ultimately settled in Cincinnati where he opened “Moor’s Garden,” a popular bakery, coffeehouse and tavern.  He also joined the local militia and founded the city’s German Democratic Club, gaining prominence among Cincinnati’s burgeoning German population.  When the Mexican War broke out, he organized a company for the 4th Ohio Infantry and saw action under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, rising to the rank of colonel.  After the war, Moor returned to to his family and prosperous business in Cincinnati until the outbreak of the Civil War.

In 1861, Moor organized the 2nd German Regiment or 28th Ohio Infantry and led it through the 1861 West Virginia campaigns.  He rose to brigade command in 1862, but was captured while leading an advance patrol during the Battle of South Mountain.  After returning to West Virginia, Moor experienced his greatest tactical success of the war leading his small brigade in a victorious charge in November 1863 at the Battle of Droop Mountain, the largest ever fought in West Virginia.

Battle Flag of the 28th Ohio

In the spring of 1864, Moor arrived in the Shenandoah Valley and soon found his brigade broken up by Sigel in the midst of the campaign.  Sigel then sent Moor twenty miles in advance of the main army, a “great mistake” to Moor who dutifully followed orders.  Moor advanced and drove Imboden out of New Market (See Charlie Knight’s Valley Thunder) and held the ground, waiting for Sigel to arrive.  When finally showed up, he posted his main force beyond supporting distance of Moor.  The Confederates attacked and drove his outnumbered force from the field in confusion.  Although Sigel was a fellow German, Moor mockingly described Sigel’s efforts as a case of “butiful management.”

During the battle of Piedmont, Moor led his brigade against the Confederate infantry in several attacks.  The first drove back the advance Confederate line.  Moor attempted to follow up his success, but was stopped by Confederate infantry entrenched behind a rail fence.  Hunter ordered a third attack, and Moor complied expecting to be supported on his left by Colonel Joseph Thoburn’s brigade.  Thoburn concluded that his flank was exposed and did not advance in conjunction with Moor, whose brigade was again repulsed.  This time the Confederates counterattacked, but fortunately, Moor’s veteran regiment, the 28th Ohio, held its ground in the center of the battle line.  Moor’s Germans laid down behind the brow of a hill and opened fire at the attacking rebels.  Supported by Captain Alfred Von Kleiser’s artillery on the right, Moor repulsed the rebel effort.  Thoburn’s brigade withdrew to the support of the United States artillery until ordered by Hunter to conduct a flank attack.  This time the assault came off as planned, and Moor’s brigade joined in the attack that routed the rebels from the battlefield, with the 28th Ohio making a bayonet charge against the entrenched Southerners.  In this battle, Moor’s brigade bore the brunt of the fighting losing nearly 500 men killed and wounded.  Moor’s old regiment, the 28th Ohio lost 138 of those casualties and counted 72 bullet holes in its battle flag at the end of the day.

After the battle, Hunter’s army occupied Staunton. Moor, whose enlistment was expiring was tasked with escorting the 1,000 Confederate captives to the Camp Morton POW Camp in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Hunter was disappointed that Moor was leaving the service, but expressed “. . . his high appreciation of your [Moor’s]  soldierly qualities and services, and his regret at losing you from this command.  The masterly management of your brigade at the recent battle of Piedmont on the 5th instant, did no more than sustain the creditable character given of you by your former commanders.”  Hunter’s adjutant also informed Moor that Hunter “. . . trusts that the service may not permanently lose so good an officer at a time so critical and to this end has written a letter to the Hon. Secretary of War.”  Nevertheless, Moor and the 28th Ohio escorted the prisoners to Indiana and after a short stay there were mustered out of the service.  The Germans were welcomed Indiana as conquering heroes and greeted by bands and a lengthy speech by Governor Morton.  Fortunately, Lieutenant Henry Ocker noted that Colonel Moor halted the 28th Ohio at a German beer garden and treated his men “to a few glasses of beer.”

Moor returned home to his family and business, living in Cincinnati until his death in 1883. He was buried in Cincinnati’s  Spring Grove Cemetery a prominent resting place for veterans of the War of the Rebellion.  Also buried there is his son-in-law, Major General Godfrey Weitzel who married Moor’s daughter

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General William Woods Averell and the 1864 Valley Campaign

Gen. William W. Averell

William W. Averell had worked wonders organizing and training the cavalry in the Department of West Virginia dating back to 1863. He had been sentenced to the remote department after being relieved of his command at the end of the Chancellorsville Campaign. By the spring of 1864, Averell had conducted several successful operations including the Battle of Droop Mountain and his Salem Raid. That spring he led the cavalry portion of General George Crook’s raid against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad and failed to reach the vital Confederate salt and lead mines, being repulsed by Confederate Generals William E. “Grumble” Jones and John Hunt Morgan.   Averell returned to West Virginia with Crook, until Major General David Hunter summoned the combined force to the Shenandoah Valley in late May.

Crook and Averell joined Hunter at Staunton on June 7. Hunter took a liking to Averell and the cavalryman served as one of Hunter’s primary consultants during the march to Lynchburg. However, when the expedition failed, Hunter and Crook, blamed Averell, the former citing “the stupidity and conceit of that fellow Averell… of whom I unfortunately had at the time a very high opinion, and trusted him when I should not have done so.” While Averell’s advice proved impractical, Hunter’s slow march and repeated delays were the true cause of his failure to sack Lynchburg. Unfortunately for Averell, Grant trusted Hunter and accepted his assessment of Averell at face value.

When Confederate General Jubal A. Early raided Washington, the only Union general to achieve an outright success against the wily Confederate was Averell. Moving south out of Martinsburg, Averell attacked Early’s rearguard a few miles north of Winchester on July 20. Although Averell was greatly outnumbered, his tactical deployments routed the Southerners, inflicting 400 casualties upon ajor General Stephen D. Ramseur’s division and capturing a four-gun battery. Four days later, Crook sent Averell’s small division on an impossible mission against more than double his number of Confederate cavalry at the Second Battle of Kernstown. Crook’s calculations proved exceedingly dubious, and Averell’s division was routed in the most embarrassing fashion. By the end of July, Early had dispatched Brigadier General John C. McCausland on his infamous Chambersburg Raid. With only 1,300 men, Averell pursued McCausland into West Virginia, where he caught him near Moorfield with his command camped astride the South Branch of the Potomac River.

With scouts dressed as Confederates in the lead, Averell misled the Southern pickets and stormed into McCausland’s camps without warning, completely routing the Rebels. Averell inflicted nearly 470 casualties upon McCausland’s force and captured another battery of Confederate artillery. Averell had scored his second victory in impressive fashion in less than three weeks, eliminating nearly 900 Confederates and two batteries from the Southern war effort. Both victories came when Averell was operating as an independent commander where the New York native did not have to work closely with fell officers and coordinate his actions within the confines of an army. That situation would soon change.

Repeated Union failures in the Shenandoah Valley led to the appointment of Major General Philip H. Sheridan to command in that troubled region on the same day that Averell won his victory at Moorefield. From the outset, Grant made it known to Sheridan that he could make his appointments to command based upon his preference and disregard seniority in the process. When Sheridan made Major General Alfred T. A. Torbert his chief-of-cavalry, Averell, the senior officer, fumed. Grant told Sheridan to relieve Averell if he did not accept the matter. A short while later, Grant inaccurately opined to Sheridan that it seemed as if Averell was being driven back without much fighting and that it might be time to relieve the New Yorker. Sheridan did not act upon Grant’s suggestion.

At the time, Averell was operating in a semi-independent command covering the Potomac River on Sheridan’s right flank. Throughout early September, Averell routed the Confederate Cavalry between Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot on an almost daily basis. At the same time, Early’s infantry made it a routine occurrence to march out and drive back Averell. At the Battle of Opequon Creek or Third Winchester on September 19, Averell played an important part in the outcome but acted with an overabundance of caution that seemed to border upon recalcitrance. Not coincidentally, this was the first time that Averell served under Torbert’s direct command. Averell bypassed Torbert and sent a messenger directly to Sheridan in the hottest part of the battle. Sheridan told the messenger that Averell needed to charge. When the staffer protested that Averell’s division had seen hard service at Martinsburg all week and that his horses were tired, Sheridan roared, “I don’t give a damn for horseflesh today. Tell him I said Charge!” Averell did charge, although not with the same vigor and aggressiveness that characterized the actions of Brigadier General Wesley’s Merritt’s division and the casualty rolls bore that out.

At Fisher’s Hill, Crook later claimed that he was the source of inspiration for Sheridan’s successful flanking assault. However, a review of Sheridan’s actions and a time line of events reveal a different story. Sheridan was on the skirmish line all day on September 21. He spent a significant amount of time with Averell’s division, and the New Yorker suggested that a corps of infantry could hug the base of North Mountain and then turn and attack Early’s left flank and rear at Fisher’s Hill. That very plan was adopted and led to the route of the Confederate forces. Although Crook later claimed credit for the battle’s outcome, but the battle plan’s true progenitor may have been Averell.

Unfortunately, Averell did not pursue the retreating Confederates in the aggressive fashion that Sheridan was accustomed to his Army of the Potomac cavalryman doing. The result was that Averell was relieved of his command. Much disappointment abounded among the officers and men of his command. Averell’s military reputation was irreparably damaged and he never held another command during the war. Between his innate recalcitrance, Grant’s urging of Sheridan to relieve Averell and his being an outsider in Sheridan’s cavalry corps, the New Yorker was lucky to have lasted as long as he did. There is no question that Averell served the Union cause ably in 1864 and one might argue that he did so against longer odds and in more difficult situations than did Torbert, Merritt and George A. Custer.

Averell never forgave Sheridan for his indiscretion. Years later, Sheridan encountered Averell in the lobby of a hotel and greeted him as an old friend. Averell spurned Sheridan’s overture, and wrote him a note explaining that he had not forgotten the way Sheridan treated him in the Shenandoah Valley and could not in good conscious act as if Sheridan had not mistreated him in 1864

For additional information on Averell in the Valley, see Shenandoah Summer and Blue and Gray Magazine.

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Colonel James Mulligan at Second Kernstown: A Soldier’s Recollections

Yesterday’s post on Colonel Mulligan prompted me to share this interesting recollection of Mulligan’s last moments on earth. I had not seen this particular account when Shenandoah Summer was published, but it supports other accounts that led me to the same conclusion regarding General George Crook’s actions at Kernstown. It is quite interesting to see the difference of opinion from soldiers who were from outside of Crook’s sphere of influence. Crook’s tight knit group, including Col. Rutherford B. Hayes, sugar coated Crook’s role in the defeat at Kernstown. Hayes went so far as to write that escaping from such an overwhelming force after a defeat was greater evidence of a General’s skill than actually winning the battle. The following account was written by Lieutenant T. S. Nutter of the 10th West Virginia Infantry.


The battle of Kernstown was fought July 24, 1864. General Crook commanded the Union forces. Only part of his forces, however, were engaged. Mulligan’s Brigade, the Tenth West Virginia, Twenty Third Illinois, and a few other regiments bore the brunt of the battle. The Union forces were not only defeated but utterly routed, demoralized and panic-stricken, worse than ten thousand “Texas steers.”

I have always held that General Crook was wholly responsible for Colonel Mulligan’s death, and the disastrous and useless battle that was fought. I formed this conclusion at the time from an animated conversation that took place between the two not more than a half hour before the battle began. Colonel Mulligan, with his brigade, had been skirmishing with the enemy all day the day before the battle and on the day of the battle up to within a half hour of the time the conversation took place. Colonel Mulligan was satisfied that the enemy were in full force in our front, and so reported to General Crook. About 2:30 P.M., our line fell back, and took up a position behind a lane that runs from the Strasburg Pike to the Pritchard Mansion. About one-fourth of a mile distant there is a crook or turn in the lane about midway. Right at this turn the two regiments – Tenth Virginia and Twenty Third Illinois- joined. My company was next to the Twenty Third.

Lt. James Nugent

Colonel Mulligan was exactly in our rear, no more than twenty feet distant. Just then General Crook and staff rode up very leisurely, and after saluting each other, General Crook said, “Well, Colonel Mulligan, what are the prospects here?” To which Mulligan replied, “The prospects are that we will get a sound thrashing. The enemy are in our front in full force, and I think we had better fall back, cover our retreat, and save ourselves the best we can.”

Crook replied “Oh, no; no, no; not at all. I don’t think there are a hundred men over in those woods. I have sent back for reinforcements; there is no danger. We are able to whip all the rebels there is in our front.”

This somewhat discourteous answer of General Crook in which he might have said to Colonel Mulligan in so many words, “You don’t know any thing about it; I guess I know what I am doing, evidently stung Colonel Mulligan to the quick, for he quickly replied in an animated but suppressed manner, “All right, General; if you say so, right here we will fight, but we are doomed to defeat.

To this General Crook replied, “Never fear, Colonel.” The result showed that Colonel Mulligan was right, and that General Crook was totally ignorant of the true situation. The penalty of General Crook’s ignorance was the worse than useless sacrifice of one of the best such men who walked on American soil, wore the Irish Green or American blue. Colonel Mulligan was certainly a magnificent specimen of manhood, a true soldier, loved and respected by all…

I saw Colonel Mulligan fall; saw his brother in law and aid-de-camp, Lieutenant [James] Nugent dismount and attempt to raise the fallen hero up, but only to receive a death wound himself. This occurred near the spot where the two officers held the conversation so short a time before.

By Lieutenant T. S. Nutter, 10th West Virginia Infantry

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, September 10, 1881

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