Fiddler’s Green: Michael Lawless


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Michael Lawless was born in Waterford, Ireland about 1826. He appears to have emigrated from Galway in 1849 on the brig Clarence with his older sister “Biddy” (Bridget?). He listed his occupation as farmer on the passenger list. They arrived in New York on February 10, 1849, and moved to Boston shortly thereafter.

On December 4, 1849, Michael was enlisted into Company I, 1st Dragoons by Lieutenant Charles Jordan. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7″ tall, with black hair, hazel eyes and a dark complexion. Lawless was working as a laborer at the time of his enlistment. He left the Army at the end of his enlistment on December 4, 1854 as a private at Fort Thorn, NM.

He soon rejoined the Army, enlisting in Company H of the 2nd Dragoons in St Louis, MO on March 13, 1855. This is roughly the amount of time it would have taken him to travel east on the Santa Fe Trail as a civilian from Fort Thorn. Lawless was more successful this enlistment, with promotions to corporal and sergeant. He re-enlisted into the same company on January 13, 1860 at Camp Floyd, Utah Territory. His company commander was Captain Alfred Pleasonton.

Sergeant Lawless accompanied his regiment on its march east at the outbreak of the Civil War, reaching Cantonment Holt in Washington, D.C. by the end of 1861. He served ably in the company during the campaign on the peninsula, rising to the rank of first sergeant by the summer of 1862. On July 19, 1862, he, the regimental sergeant major and several other first sergeants were recommended for commissions by regimental commander Major Alfred Pleasonton through the provost marshal of the Army of the Potomac.

Lawless was promoted to second lieutenant in the same company on July 17, 1862. Interestingly, this was two days before the date of Pleasonton’s recommendation. Due to the pace of operations within the army that summer, he didn’t learn of his promotion until September, just after the battle of Antietam. He accepted his commission on September 23, 1862 at the regiment’s camp near Sharpsburg, MD. There must have been quite a party in the camp that evening, as the sergeant major, quartermaster sergeant and three first sergeants were all notified of their appointments the same day.

Lieutenant Lawless served with Company H through the remainder of the 1862 campaigns, as well as Stoneman’s Raid. He fought well at Brandy Station, where he was one of the few officers of the 2nd Cavalry not killed or wounded. Indeed, he was the only one of the five officers he was commissioned with not to be wounded in the battle. He was promoted to first lieutenant in Company A after the battle, with a date of rank of June 9, 1863. He fought with this company for the rest of the year, frequently commanding it in the absence of its assigned captain.

First Lieutenant Lawless opened the 1864 campaign once again commanding Company A. He led it during the fighting at Todd’s Tavern, Sheridan’s “first raid,” and Old Church. in command of the company. The regimental commander cited him as “distinguished for his personal intrepidity in action and other good qualities as a soldier” during the fighting.

On June 11, 1864, during the opening phase of the battle of Trevillian Station, Lieutenant Lawless was killed while leading his company. In his report on the battle, Brigadier General Wesley Merritt said of him, “he was a fearless, honest, and eminently trustworthy soldier, ‘God’s truth’ being the standard by which he measured all of his actions.”

Originally buried on the battlefield, Lawless was later moved to Culpeper National Cemetery. He appears not to have had a next of kin, as I found no record of a pension claim.

Kentucky Farm, Virginia and the 1st U.S. Cavalry


I’ve been spending some quality time with the regimental returns of the 1st U.S. Cavalry of late. They were the only regiment not to publish a regimental history in the latter half of the 19th Century, relying on the chapter provided to The Army of the United States in 1896 for posterity. I was trying to piece together the extent of their participation in the Peninsula Campaign when I came across the following from the April 1862 monthly return:

“Companies A, B, C, F, I + K 1st Cavalry left camp near Alexandria, Va Mar. 29, ’62. Embarked in schooners and arrived at Hampton, Va about the 3rd of April ’62. Left camp April 4th and encamped on Kentucky Farm same day. Companies E + H left camp near Alexandria April 2nd and arrived at Hampton on the 4th, left camp on the 6th and joined the other companies on Kentucky Farm same day. All of the eight companies left camp on the 11th + arrived at Camp near Ship Point same day. Left Camp near Ship Point on the 24th and arrived at this camp same day.”

“This camp” meaning camp Winfield Scott, where they and the other regular cavalry regiments on the peninsula resided during the siege of Yorktown.

I had never heard of Kentucky Farm before, despite living on the peninsula for a couple of years. I checked my General Index to the O.R. — no mention. Then I used a search engine (we won’t discuss what it could mean that I checked the O.R. before a search engine) and discovered that it is still there. At over 180 acres with land worth what it is these days, they must have been quite successful over the years. But for a week in April 1862 it was host to a little over 300 members of the regular cavalry.

Samuel J. Crockett, 1st U.S. Cavalry


Samuel J. Crockett was born in Baltimore, MD in January, 1837. His parents Hugh and Margaret were both Irish immigrants. The family moved to Cayuga County, NY in 1842, where his father was a farmer.

Samuel was working as a school teacher near Chicago in Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois at the beginning of the Civil War. He initially enlisted as a private in Company B, 127th Illinois Infantry on September 5, 1862. He was discharged at Camp Douglas just a month later on October 15th for undisclosed reasons. Undeterred, he was enlisted into Company A, 1st U.S. Cavalry by Captain John Feilner on November 6, 1862. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’8″ tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and a light complexion. He was twenty five years old.

The details of Samuel’s service in the 1st U.S. Cavalry are chronicled but currently unknown. He was a good soldier, progressing through the enlisted ranks to first sergeant of his company by the summer of 1863. He kept a diary of his wartime experiences that grew to three volumes by the end of the war. Gettysburg National Military Park has an excerpt of this diary for July 3, 1863, but the whereabouts of the rest of the diary is currently unknown. He was wounded at least once at some point during his service, but not seriously enough to keep him from finishing his enlistment.

Samuel Crockett returned to civilian life at the expiration of his enlistment in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 6, 1865. After a brief trip home, he attended Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia, PA. Upon graduation in 1867, Dr. Crockett returned home to nearby Oswego County to practice medicine in the town of Sandy Creek. His invalid pension was approved by the War Department on September 8, 1870. Samuel maintained an interest in the Civil War, contributing an account of the fighting on South Cavalry Field at the battle of Gettysburg to John J. Bachelder.

Samuel married Frances C. Doolittle of Oswego County in 1872. They purchased a home in Sandy Creek shortly before the birth of their son, Robert L. Crockett, in February 1876. Samuel practiced medicine and lived there for the rest of his life. Samuel was the treasurer of the Oswego City Medical Society in the early 1870s. Robert became a doctor as well, eventually starting his own practice in nearby Oneida County.

Dr. Samuel Crockett died on April 3, 1906. Frances moved to Oneida and lived with Robert after Samuel’s death. She filed a widow’s pension and survived him by twenty years. They are buried together in Woodlawn Cemetery, Sandy Creek, Oswego County, New York.

Joseph Frederick, 6th U.S. Cavalry


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Joseph Frederick was born to German immigrants on January 15, 1837 near Pittsburgh, PA. He worked as a barber in Pittsburgh prior to the war.

Jospeh mustered into Company C, 37th Pennsylvania Volunteers on April 17, 1861. Raised in the Pittsburgh area, the regiment was ordered to Washington, D.C. on July 30th, and initially served near Tennallytown, MD. It moved to Camp Pierpont near Langley, VA in October, where it spent the winter. After service near Fredericksburg in the spring of 1862, the regiment moved to White House in early June. It arrived just in time for the Seven Days’ Battles, where it lost 230 men killed, wounded and missing in the course of little more than a week. In August, it moved north to join General John Pope’s army and fought at Groveton and Second Manassas, it lost another 52 men. The regiment lost another 54 at South Mountain, and over 50 more at Antietam.

Joseph had seen enough, and he was not alone. He was one of over a dozen members of the 37th Pennsylvania who joined the 6th U.S. Cavalry over a two week period from the end of October to mid-November. Joseph enlisted into Company G near Knoxville, MD on October 28th. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’9″ tall, with light hair, blue eyes and a light complexion.

After time spent in the regiment’s dismounted camp learning to be a cavalryman, Private Frederick joined the regiment in its winter camp near Belle Plain, VA. He, like the rest of the regiment, spent the winter rootating from the camp to picket duty at various fords along the Rappahannock River.

Jospeh’s first real action as a cavalryman came during Stoneman’s Raid in May 1863, which he weathered without incident. He was not so fortunate the following month during his first cavalry fight at Beverly Ford, becoming a prisoner of war. He was most likely captured during the fighting near the Welford house between his squadron and the 100th Virginia Cavalry of W.H.F. Lee’s brigade on Yew Ridge.

After a relatively short stint in prison on Belle Isle, Frederick was exchanged and returned to his regiment after the Gettysburg campaign. He served with the regiment through the fall and spring campaigns at the headquarters of the Cavalry Corps. Almost a year to the day after being captured, misfortune struck again. The regiment left Private Frederick as a hospital attendant with the wounded following the battle of Trevilian Station. This time he was sent to Andersonville Prison. He was fortunate enough to survive the experience, unlike several of his regimental comrades. To make the experience worse, his enlistment expired on July 29, 1864, but he wasn’t exchanged and released from service until February 13, 1865.

Joseph returned to Pittsburgh after his discharge, where he married Catherine Schneider laterr in the year. They settled in Bridge Street in Etna and he lived there for the rest of his life. In 1905, he returned to Andersonvillle to attend the cermonies at the dedication of a memorial there.

Joseph Frederick died in Etna on August 9, 1915 of arterio sclerosis and hepatic cirrhosis. He is buried nearby in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Sharpsburg, PA.

Fiddler’s Green: Manning Marius Kimmel


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Fiddler’s Green: Manning Marius Kimmel

In an odd turn of events, I discovered a regular cavalry connection linking First Bull Run and Pearl Harbor.

Manning Marius Kimmel was born near Apple Creek, Perry County, Missouri on October 25, 1832. His mother, Caroline Monica Manning, died as a result of his birth. His father, Joseph Singleton Husband Kimmel, was a successful merchant and member of the St Louis city council between 1840 and 1850. He had an older sister, Julia, and three younger siblings after his father remarried.

Kimmel attend Princeton University until he was dismissed during his junior year. He then secured an appointment to West Point in July 1853. He graduated in the middle of his class, 22 of 38, on July 1, 1857, a classmate of Marcus Reno. He was initially appointed a brevet second lieutenant of cavalry, as there were no vacancies in the two cavalry regiments at the time he graduated. Kimmel attended the Cavalry School for Practice at Carlisle, PA while awaiting his appointment as an officer. On August 18, 1858, he received his appointment as a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and was assigned to Company G.

Lieutenant Kimmel proceeded at once to his regiment in Texas, joining his company at Camp Radziminski under Captain William Bradfute. In a unique series of events, he assumed command of Company G on February 10, 1859. Captain Bradfute shot and killed one of the privates in Company K after a disagreement involving the private punching the captain in the face. Although found not guilty after a military investigation, Captain Bradfute was subsequently involved in civil court proceedings over the death which lasted until early 1861 when he resigned to join the Confederacy. Since the company’s first lieutenant was away on recruiting duty, command of the company fell to Second Lieutenant Kimmel. He would command the company for the remainder of his time in the regiment.

Soon after assuming command, Kimmel and Company G joined five other companies of the 5th U.S. Cavalry under Captain Earl Van Dorn for a spring campaign against the Comanche. On May 13, 1859, the regiment engaged a force under Buffalo Hump in what became known as the battle of Crooked Creek. Lieutenant Kimmel and his company served as skirmishers in the fight. Lieutenant Fitzhugh Lee was a friend of Kimmel’s. Although serving as adjutant for the campaign, he joined Kimmel’s company for the fight. It was nearly his last, as he took a nearly fatal arrow wound in the chest. Kimmel had a bullet pass through his hat, but was otherwise unscathed in his first enemy action. After the campaign, the company shifted to Fort Inge for the remainder of the year.

In 1860 they were ordered to Brownsville as a result of the hostilities there between Texans and marauders under Juan N. Cortina. Company G and Captain George Stoneman’s Company E joined Texas Rangers under Rip Ford for a brief incursion into Mexico near Reynosa in April. The remainder of Kimmel’s stay in Texas was relatively uneventful. He participated in the regiment’s withdrawal through Indianola according to the terms of General Twiggs’ surrender, and after landing in New York City accompanied the regiment to the cavalry depot at Carlisle, PA. Kimmel disembarked to learn that he was promoted to first lieutenant, but stayed with Company G. Many of his comrades, including his friend Fitzhugh Lee, resigned their commissions and rode south to join the Confederacy.

After a few short weeks of training with new horses and equipment, the regiment returned to the field. While most of the regiment moved south under Major George Thomas to near Harpers Ferry, Kimmel’s Company G was ordered to the defenses of Washington. He served there until July, when his company was assigned to a composite battalion of regular cavalry under Major Innis Palmer. The battalion was subsequently assigned to Tyler’s division, where they served in the battle of Bull Run on July 21st. It played no major part in the battle until the end. While they spent much of the day supporting artillery batteries, they formed the backbone of the rear guard during the army’s headlong retreat from the battlefield.

Evidently the battle evoked a realization that he couldn’t fight against the Confederacy. After seeing his company settled into position picketing to the west of the city, Kimmel took leave of them. The decision was apparently made due to conversations with one of his fellow company commanders from the battle, Captain Francis K. Armstrong of Company K, 2nd U.S. Dragoons. The two travelled to Louisville together, where both resigned their commissions at the Galt House. Armstrong resigned on the 13th and Kimmel on the 14th. Both went to work on the staff of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch as majors.

Kimmel never again led troops in battle, remaining a staff officer. He served as an adjutant general on McCulloch’s staff until he was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862. He was then reunited with Earl Van Dorn, now a Confederate major general. He worked as an assistant adjutant general for Van Dorn, and accidentally admitted the man who shot him on May 7, 1863. After a brief stint as the Confederate Adjutant General of Missouri, he finished the war on the staff of Major General John B. Magruder.

Fearing reprisal for his Confederate service, Kimmel fled to Mexico City from Houston when the war ended. He worked as an engineer for the City of Mexico and Vera Cruz Railroad for about a year, returning to Cape Girardeau, Missouri in late 1866.

In 1868 Kimmel married Sibbella Lambert. Their marriage lasted 48 years and produced seven children. Three of his sons joined the Navy. Not long after their marriage they moved to Kentucky. Manning worked as the superintendent of the St. Bernard Coal Company in St. Charles, KY from 1872-1885. In 1885 he settled in Henderson, KY where he worked as a coal dealer and real estate agent. He also served on the school board and city council.

Manning Kimmel died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home on February 27, 1916. He was 83 years old. He is buried with his wife in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, Kentucky.

His son Husband, serving in the Navy at sea at the time of his father’s death, went on to be the admiral of the Pacific Fleet on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. 

Court Martial Insights


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Court martialI first realized the possible value of court martial records when I read Dr. Mark W. Johnson’s excellent book, That Body of Brave Men. Intrigued by what he had to say about the value of the records, I did a bit of investigating.

As I perused the War Department’s General Orders for 1863 and 1864, it struck me that relatively few cavalrymen were court martialed, and even fewer regular cavalrymen. I was able to make copies of a few records on a couple of visits to the National Archives, and friend Bob O’Neill was kind enough to copy another dozen or more. Much to my delight, there is a wealth of information in these files. Nothing book worthy in and of itself, but countless smaller details that bring the larger history to life.

As a case study, let’s take a look at the court martial of Second Lieutenant Peter Rinner of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry in January 1864. Rinner was a veteran whose enlisted service started in the Mexican War, and a first sergeant in the regiment when he was commissioned the year before. I will save the other details of his service for a future post. The charge was drunk on guard. The specification was “while on Provost Guard with his squadron did become so drunk as to be unable to perform his duty as an officer. This at or near the town of Culpeper, Va. On or about the 24th day of December 1863.”

To set the stage a bit, during the winter encampment of 1863-1864 the regular cavalry regiments and possibly others rotated on provost guard duty in the town of Culpeper, Virginia. Without going into the details of the testimony, here is a sampling some of the information I discovered from just this one record.

  • A squadron strong, the guard rotated shifts daily. The squadron was responsible for guard posts in town and pickets in vicinity of the town.
  • The headquarters for the squadron on provost guard was a room in the Virginia Hotel. The officers on guard, typically a captain and two lieutenants, slept together in this room.
  • It was not customary for there to be a formal mounting of the guard when the relief happened within the regiment. Guard posts included the hotel, the Orange & Alexandria railroad depot, and “the church.” This was probably St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, built in 1821. Specific identification of guards’ names, ranks and companies validated unit roster.
  • Battery G, 2nd U.S. Artillery was located in Culpeper, and its commander, Lt. William N. Dennison, also had a room at the Virginia Hotel. One of the units of the Horse Artillery Brigade, relations between the officers of the battery and the 2nd U.S. Cavalry were cordial enough that there was a party in Dennison’s room on December 23rd which seven officers attended.
  • It was permissible for an officer of the guard to visit a party, drink and play cards as long as his duties were fulfilled and he did not become incapacitated. In this case his squadron commander was present at the time and it was not considered an offense.
  • Company morning report books were required to be signed by commanders every morning, even when the officer was on guard.
  • The regimental adjutant placed officers in arrest, not the company or squadron commander.
  • Division headquarters appointed general courts martial. Brigade headquarters selected the board members selected from the regiments of the accused’s brigade. Both volunteer and regular officers could sit on the court martial of a regular officer. Court martial duty superseded all other duties, including unit movements. The proceedings of the previous day were read to the accused and the court first thing in the morning after the court convened.
  • The 1st New York Dragoons had already joined the Reserve Brigade before the Christmas of 1863.
  • Justice was swift. The court reached its verdict on January 11th. Only two days later, the proceedings were approved by the division commander and sent to Major General Sedgwick, in temporary command of the Army of the Potomac.
  • The Army of the Potomac was cracking down on professionalism during the winter encampment. By February 18th, army headquarters had already published four general court martial orders since January 1st. Each order encompassed the results of multiple courts. This fourth order included four courts ruling on ten officers for various forms of misconduct. All ten were cashiered.

Not every court martial record contains valuable information, but this is definitely a largely underutilized source of primary source material. Another tool available to bring pieces of history to light.

Source: NARA, Record Group 153: Office of the Judge Advocate General. Folder LL1362: Court-Martial of Second Lieutenant Peter Rinner, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, January 1864.

Thomas Wathey, 6th U.S. Cavalry


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A Union Deserter Settles in Winchester

Wathey grave 6US

Photo courtesy of Krista Al Qirim Thompson

Thomas Wathey was born on February 2, 1841 in Londonderry, Ireland to Thomas and Mary Wathey. His mother was Irish and his father a Scot. In 1855, Mary, Thomas and his younger brother Will emigrated from Liverpool on the ship American Union. The family had a lower deck non-cabin berth. They arrived in New York City on June 16, 1855 en route to Rhode Island. According to the 1860 census, Thomas worked as a machinist in Providence, but by the following year the family moved to Northbridge, MA.

On May 25, 1861 Thomas was one of 64 men from Northbridge who enlisted in Company H, 15th Massachusetts Infantry. The regiment mustered into Federal service on July 12, 1861 and moved to Washington the following month. On October 21st the regiment saw its first action at Ball’s Bluff and suffered the heaviest losses of any of the Union regiments engaged. Thomas was wounded in the leg and sent home to recover from his wound. While he was home, he married Harriet Elizabeth Smith in Northbridge, MA on November 23, 1861. Minister William Merrill presided over the ceremony.

The following spring the 15th MA was assigned to the II Corps and accompanied the rest of the Army of the Potomac to the peninsula. The regiment fought at Seven Pines, Savage’s Station, and Glendale with modest losses. One of the last regiments to depart the peninsula in August, the 15th Massachusetts missed the battle of Second Bull Run. Military service agreed with Thomas, and he rapidly progressed through the enlisted ranks from private to first sergeant of Company H.

The regiment was brigaded with the 1st Minnesota, 34th and 82nd New York under Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman during the Maryland Campaign. In heavy fighting at the battle of Antietam it fought against the brigades of Semmes, Early and Barksdale and was savagely flanked by the Confederates not far from Dunkard Church. It suffered 52% casualties, losing 320 killed, wounded or missing of 606 engaged. Eleven men were killed in Wathey’s Company H alone. For the second time in less than a year the 15th Massachusetts suffered the heaviest losses by a Union regiment in a battle.

This was enough for Thomas. A month later he transferred to Company M, 6th U.S. Cavalry on October 24, 1862 in Knoxville, MD. His enlistment documents described him as 5’ 8 ½ ” tall, with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion. When the regiment returned to Virginia the following month, he and the other volunteers were sent to a camp of instruction outside of Washington to be mounted and trained.

Private Wathey quickly completed the training and rejoined the regiment. He spent the winter rotating off and on picket duty along the Rappahannock River. Cavalry life evidently agreed with him, as he was promoted to corporal before spring campaigning started.

Corporal Wathey participated in Stoneman’s Raid and the regiment’s heavy engagement at Brandy Station without injury, as well as the long march and skirmishes on the way to Gettysburg. At Fairfield on July 3, 1863, he fought dismounted in Lt. Adna Chaffee’s squadron behind a fence in an apple orchard on the regiment’s left flank. Unable to reach their horse holders when the regiment was overrun, Wathey was one of the majority of his company captured by the Confederates. When his first sergeant conducted roll call the following day, only two privates in the company were present for duty.

Corporal Wathey marched on foot south with the rest of the prisoners to Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley, then travelled by rail the rest of the way to Richmond. After being processed at Castle Thunder in Richmond, they were incarcerated on Belle Isle on the James River. Wathey was fortunate, as Company M’s were in the first group of prisoners paroled and sent north the following month. Wathey returned to duty with the regiment at the beginning of September.

Corporal Wathey was re-enlisted in Company M by Lt. Tullius Tupper on February 8, 1864. The documents say Brandy Station, but more than likely this happened at the Reserve Brigade’s encampment at nearby Mitchell’s Station. His fortunes in battle improved greatly, as he fought in all of the regiment’s major engagements of 1864 and 1865 without incident.

Thomas didn’t serve long after the end of the war. Following the Appomattox campaign, the regiment was sent to Pleasant Valley, MD to recruit and re-fit. As the regiment prepared to head west to the frontier, he deserted on July 23, 1866. He did not return home to Massachusetts, and his first wife Hattie remarried to Frank A. Cross in Northbridge, MA on August 6, 1868.

Oddly enough, the former Union cavalryman returned to the Shenandoah Valley. He settled in Winchester, VA and eventually joined the Masonic fraternity. He married Winchester native Marietta Clark, daughter of Willis B. and Emily Z. (nee’ Pierce) Clark. The couple’s first three children died in their first year, but the next three survived. Their final child also did not survive his first year in 1881.

Thomas remained in the Winchester area of Frederick County for the rest of his life. In 1880 he lived in Stonewall township, in 1890 Shawnee, and in 1900 on his son Thomas Norval Wathey’s farm as a laborer. He moved in with his son following his wife’s death on October 28, 1898.

On the 1890 veteran’s schedule, Thomas listed his service as a sergeant in Company H, 2nd U.S. Cavalry from 1858 to 1866. When he applied for a disability pension on July 25, 1892, he again cited service the wrong regiment and omitted his desertion. Understandably, the processing of his claim was greatly delayed by the inaccuracies of the filing.

Thomas Wathey died after a brief illness of pleurisy in Winchester on March 3, 1907. He had finally received a back payment for his pension of $1,100 just a month before. He was buried in the German Lutheran Church Cemetery next to his wife. His obituary in the Winchester Evening Star read:

“Obituary: Mr. Thomas Wathey, a well-known and highly-respected citizen of Winchester, who had made this city his home ever since the Civil War, passed away about 10 o’clock on Sunday morning at his home on North Kent street, near the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad passenger station, after a brief illness of pleurisy, aged 66 years.”



Adjutant General of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, Volume VII. Boston: Norwood Press, 1931.

Caughey, Donald C. and Jimmy J. Jones. The 6th United States Cavalry in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc.: 2013.

Clemens, Thomas G., ed. The Maryland Campaign of September 1862. Vol. II: Antietam. El Dorado Hills: Savas Beatie LLC, 2012.

Ford, Andrew E. The Story of the Fifteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War 1861-1864. Boston: W.J. Coulter Press, 1898.

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

National Archives, Record Group 94, U.S. Returns from Regular Army Non-infantry Regiments, 1821-1916: 6th U.S. Cavalry.

National Archives, Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration, Pension record #67724.

“Thos. Wathey Dead; Just Got Pension.” Evening Star, Winchester, VA, March 4, 1907.

U.S. Federal Census, 1860, 1880 and 1890. Accessed on, March 2020.

Book Review: Bloody Autumn


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Bloody Autumn

Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt. El Dorado Hills: Savas Beatie LLC, 2013. 148 pgs.

This book by Daniel T. Davis and Phillip S. Greenwalt is part of the excellent Emerging Civil War Series by publishing company Savas Beatie. As a rule, the books provide a good summary of the battle in question, with numerous appendices related to driving tours and additional context for the battle. This book exceeds high standards already set by the series.

Davis and Greenwalt do an excellent job in providing a coherent summary of this complicated campaign. The strategic context for both sides flows into opening moves and through the various engagements to its conclusion. The appendices are delightful, providing multiple driving tours and a section on battlefield preservation as well as an excellent essay on the campaign in memory. The work doesn’t attempt to answer every question about the campaign, but provides a solid foundation for further in-depth study of any of the engagements or the campaign as a whole. I found the historical perspective fair and well-balanced, neither lionizing nor vilifying the leaders of either side.

Cartographer Hal Jesperson’s excellent maps are plentiful and easily understood, a rarity in such works. They not only help the reader follow the campaign from home, but the driving tours make it much easier for people to explore the field today.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War, both beginners and those well-versed in the war.


Impatient Buckeyes

I have written on many occasions of volunteers who tired of duty in the infantry by the battle of Antietam and transferred to the regular cavalry thinking to escape the rigors and bloodshed of that life. Recently, however, I came across group of fellows with the opposite problem — they were tired of waiting to get into the war.

Seven members of Company A, 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry transferred to the 2nd U.S. Cavalry on October 27, 1862. They were not veterans serving in Maryland like most of their peers, but newly enlisted volunteers in Columbus, Ohio. All seven were enlisted by Captain Robert Clary into Company A, 2nd U.S. Cavalry. The men, ranging in age from 19 to 23, had enlisted in the volunteer service on the 21st and 22nd of August. Their company was not mustered into federal service until September 16th by Captain J.R. Paxton of the 15th U.S. Infantry at Camp Cleveland, Ohio. Theirs was the only company mustered. Companies B, C and D would follow in November, with the other companies to follow. After over two months of the tedium of drill with no action in sight, the men decided to take matters into their own hands when they encountered Captain Clary.

Ironically, the sergeant who was presumably the ringleader of this idea was the only one not to honorably complete his term of service with the regulars. Sergeant Benjamin F. Rhodes deserted four days after his enlistment On October 31st at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He was a farmer prior to his enlistments, born in Greenport, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him a 5’ 9” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.

Corporal Thomas G Stradford, born in Philadelphia, worked as a clerk before the war. He served his entire three year enlistment as a private in Company A, leaving the service at St. Louis, Missouri on October 25, 1865. His enlistment documents describe him a 5’ 7” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. He filed for an invalid pension on June 22, 1880 and died August 5, 1915 in Washington, D.C.

Amos V. Bailey was the only one of the group to serve as a noncommissioned officer in the regulars, finishing his enlistment as a sergeant at St. Louis in October 1865. Born in Husford County, Maryland, he was a farmer before his enlistment. He settled in Maryland after the war, and died near Churchill, Maryland on September 20, 1917.

Private Andrew Cook left no further records after enlisting into the regulars. He was a farmer before the war, born in Green Township, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 10” tall, with hazel eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion.

Private James G. Crawford was not able to serve long in the regulars before succumbing to disease. By February 1863 he was hospitalized by disease at Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C., and did not return to the regiment. On July 2, 1864 he was transferred to Company B, 2nd Veteran Reserve Corps, where he was promoted to sergeant. Interestingly, I was unable to find evidence of an invalid claim for him after the war. Born in Madison, Ohio, he worked as a miller before the war. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7’ tall, with gray eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion.

Private Marion Parker was the only one of the seven not to survive the war. He died of a disease of the lungs on December 27, 1862 at Fort Albany, Virginia. A farmer before the war, he was born in Goshen, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 7” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a fresh complexion.

Private Benjamin Franklin Stover survived the war and left regular service in October 1865 in St. Louis. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 6” tall, with hazel eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion. A farmer before the war, he was born in Pennsylvania. He married after the war and settled in Nebraska. Stover filed for an invalid pension on September 11, 1890. He died May 16, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska and is buried there in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

As for the 125th Ohio, it was quite some time after these men left before it tasted battle. The regiment fought in the major battles of the western theater from the battle of Chickamauga through the end of the war.