On Reverend Philip Slaughter’s Property, “The Shelf”

This is the 4th & last installment of a series of four memorable tours given at Cedar Mountain Battlefield in 2019. Links to the previous 3 tour reports can be found at the end of this post.

“The Shelf,” October 7, 2019

The last tour I will profile here was a particular pleasure for me.  It was a comprehensive driving tour of the entire range of the 1862 battlefield.  It began as a challenge. 

FCMB board member Karen Quaintance directed two visitors from New Hampshire to contact FCMB via our website in order to arrange a tour of Cedar Mountain on their next visit to the area, and I answered the call.  These were not average tourists, but seasoned battlefield explorers.  

In his initial contact, Mr. Bill Boyle wrote me: 

“I believe my friend Mike Carlson and I have visited Cedar Mtn. three times over the years. We come fully equipped with battlefield maps.  Just to give you a little background we have been researching battlefields and sites for nearly 25 years.  We are members of the American Battlefield Trust, Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Assoc., Gettysburg Foundation, Friends of the Wilderness etc.

After recently reading Krick’s book Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and reading the maps we realized we had a lot more to learn.”

Wow, this was intimidating, I thought.  I’m not sure what I can tell them that they don’t know already.  But I had a great opening.  Further conversations revealed their particular interest in Pegram’s night-time artillery duel, a keen interest which I share with them, and which story I know well.  But it wouldn’t  take very long to show them the spot, so I determined to add in some special  extras for our tour.

Pegram's Knoll

Pegram’s Knoll is the high ground behind the white building in this photo.  Old Orange Rd. (the original road during the battle) pictured.

Through our FCMB partners, I obtained permission from the current owner of the Rev. Philip Slaughter property to bring my guests up the 200-foot hill where the Slaughter house once stood.  The battlefield landmark is referred to as “The Shelf.”   From here, Generals Ewell & Isaac Trimble had a magnificent commanding view of the entire battle.

Trimble wrote, “I was ordered to advance through the woods on our right along the slope of Slaughter Mountain and occupy a favorable position. About 3 o’clock the brigade reached the northwest termination of the mountain, in an open space elevated about 200 feet above the valley below, and distant form the position of the enemy’s battery about 1 1/4 miles,  …Having sent for you [Ewell] to examine the point, you decided to drag up Latimer’s battery, of my brigade, and place it in position, which was done promptly, about 3:30 p.m.” #1

From these heights, 18 year old Capt. Joseph Latimer’s untouchable battery belched forth rounds from 4 rifled guns, upon the broad plain below.  Two guns of Nathaniel Terry’s Bedford Artillery joined them.  Soldiers of the 35th Battalion VA Cavalry assisted pushing the guns up the hill.  Some died of heat stroke in the process.  The chance to visit this hill would be a highlight for both visitors and guide alike.

October 7th, 2019, the day of the tour, was a blast.   In my “worse for the wear and tear” Camry, or, “the adventure vehicle of choice,” as I like to call it, we visited the Shelf, where we took our time exploring the mountain, searching out the perfect spot for Latimer’s artillery to take position.  Trees obstruct the view today so it was challenging, but we think we succeeded.  

The current house standing today is built on the same footprint of the original Slaughter home.

A week after the battle, David Hunter Strother, one of General Banks’ staff, wrote in his memoirs:

“August 17, Sunday.   …I rode over to the mountain and visited the house of the Rev. Dr. Slaughter, late rebel head-quarters, and commanding a beautiful and comprehensive view of the country from Culpeper to the Rapidan.  This house has been completely gutted; and it was pitiable to see the fragments of a tastefully-selected library fluttering over the fields on the mountain side.  Among these I recognized the torn leaves of a valuable Italian collection called “IL VATICANO.”  The plates illustrating the frescoes, painting and statuary of St. Peter’s and the Vatican were all gone.  The furniture of the establishment had received no better treatment.”

Strother continued:

“At the corner of a wood I found a large party of our soldiers industriously engaged in exhuming something from under a mound of fresh earth, supposed to conceal silver plate and other treasures.  The sun was broiling, and they sweltered considerably at their voluntary labor.  They presently stirred up the putrid body of a horse.  This instead of disenchanting them only served to create fresh hopes.  What more adroit and natural way of concealing treasure than by burying it under this offensive body?  Suffocated by the intolerable odor I left them, still in high hopes, declaring that every stroke of their mattocks gave forth a hollow sound.  Doubtless their hopes proved as hollow as the sound.” #2

Devine Life Church

Down the mountain we visited Divine Life Baptist Church, which stands on the site of what once was Calvary Church, established 1855.  The Church was destroyed during the battle but the stained glass window was saved by Mrs. Philip Slaughter.

Captain Charles T. Crittenden of the 13th VA, who fought this battle on his own land, is buried at the church.Colonel Charles Crittenden's grave  

Col. Charles T. Crittenden’s grave, pictured.

After visiting these sights we drove up the Old Orange Road to the area of “Pegram’s Knoll.”

“I was directed to follow the enemy.  Colonel Stafford and General Field being now up, Stafford’s brigade was put in advance, and Field with Pegrams’ battery next…Stafford advanced, feeling his way cautiously, skirmishing, and taking prisoners.  Passing through the woods he came upon the enemy in force. By directions of General Jackson, Pegram occupied a little knoll upon the margin of the field and opened fire.” #3

Pegram opened fire.

“All at once Bang! went a cannon and a shell came whistling over our heads.” wrote a gunner from Battery K, 1st NY Light Artillery  “We had our battery in position in front of this Rebel battery but they did not know it for it was very dark when they ran their battery through the woods in front of us.  As they came up with the battery by our pickets the captain of their battery says to our pickets, “Here men help get this battery in position and we will give them g-d d—- Yankees hell!”  But he thought they were his own men.  They (our pickets) thought it was one of our batteries, but when he spoke our pickets left on the double quick. As I said before they fired the first gun. I tell you when our guns opened upon them the shells made them scatter very quick.  When they fired, you oddly see a regular stream of fire come out of their guns.”  #4

“The next morning 2 lieutenants of artillery were found dead on the spot occupied the evening before by the enemy’s battery, with abundant evidence that they had suffered terribly in killed and wounded.  Eleven dead horses were piled up within a few rods and 8 more were found dead along the road upon which the enemy retreated, together with a disabled caisson.”#5

Timothy O'Sullivan photo, Aug. 1862. Dead Horses on the Battlefield

Pictured are the dead horses on Pegram’s Knoll.  Photo by Timothy O’Sullivan, August 1862.

After our brief stop near Pegram’s Knoll the tour continued up Old Orange Road, across Route 15 to the sight were Colvin’s Tavern once stood.  From a hill above the tavern, artist Edwin Forbes sketched the tavern then being used as a hospital.  His caption, “The battle of Cedar Mountain.  Night at the hospitals.  Arrival of Gen. McDowell’s Corps.”  The key on the back describes numbers 1 – 7 on the drawing.  1.  Blue Ridge Mts.  2.  Turnpike.  3.  Confederate battery firing on the retreating Union forces. 4.  Thompson’s Union battery replying.  5.  Old farm house used as a Union hospital. Wounded lying on the ground.  6.  McDowell’s Corps arrived after forced march from Culpeper C.H.  7.  Gen. Pope’s headquarters.

Edwin Forbes Sketch, Library of Congress

Edwin Forbes Sketch of Cedar Mtn. Battlefield, night of August 9th, 1862.

The site of the tavern and the hillside behind it are today dotted with modern houses.

The driving portion of this comprehensive overview of the battle continued.  We passed the Nalle House on route 15, which was Gen. Pope’s headquarters the night of August 9th, and turned up a road which took us to the hill where the Brown House once stood. 

46th PA MonumentThen, with the 27th Indiana tour fresh in my mind, we drove to the Wayland’s Mill road trace and walked into the woods to see the broken ground which General Gordon’s Brigade crossed to the battlefield.    Next we visited the three monuments in the woods and took pictures.  These are the monuments to the  28th NY, the 27th Indiana, and the 46th PA.  Lastly, we drove around to the front of the woods to see the 10th Maine monument.  Because the site was then covered with corn stalks, it was difficult to see the low ridge where Major Pelouze and Colonel Beale had their tete-a-tete over whether to advance or fall back.

John M. Gould wrote in the history of the 10th Maine: 

“Without delay we faced about, and had retreated a few steps when Major Pelouze, a staff officer, rode out and said that Gen. Banks forbade this movement, but the Colonel persisted and we kept on.”

“The staff officer grew furious and appeared to be having a fist-fight with our Colonel, so animated were the gesticulations of the two officers.  The Major said much that the Colonel thought was unnecessary, and ended with the peremptory order to halt the regiment.”#6

The 10th Maine Infantry lost 39 killed, 179 wounded of 487 men present.

Pictured is the 10th Maine Monument at Culpeper National Cemetery.

This ended the driving portion of our tour.

Back on preserved ground we proceeded to walk the length of the entire field.  After circumnavigating from “The Gate” to “The Point” to the 3rd Wisconsin Monument, and the Stonewall Brigade marker, I felt I had presented all the information I could.  But Bill & Mike were not finished. 

My two guests wanted to walk the bit of preserved land across VA Route 15 that was Brig-Gen. Taliaferro’s  line, and so we did.

Pictured, Mike Carlson at Cedar Mtn. Battlefield.

Taliaferro’s Brigade quickly marched to this spot, in line of battle, from their position in the woods near the Crittenden Gate.  They had been lying is support of Confederate batteries and taking enemy shells, that “were tearing the forest to atoms.”  So they eagerly complied with orders to connect with the left of Gen. Early’s Brigade to the south along Crittenden Lane.  At the proper place they wheeled 90 degrees and advanced “over the ridge” near the lane, then over the fence on the east side of the lane and into the presence of enemy infantry skulking in the corn.”#7

Bill Boyle & Brad Forbush chat while visiting the position of Brig.-Gen. Taliaferro’s  Brigade.  

This was the kind of tour that was a blast for me.  One where the participants had the time and passion for seeing it all.  Everything I learned through research and following FCMB V.P. Michael Block around the field for 1  1/2 years was conveyed, and new places were visited by all.#8  

 The year 2019  was an exciting one at Cedar Mountain Battlefield.  Our battlefield guides await new visitors in 2020.



NOTES:

#1.  OR, Series 1, Vol. 12, part 2; p. 235.

#2.  David Hunter Strother, Virginia Yankee; p. 81-82.

#3.  OR Series 1, Vol. 12, part 2;  p. 216.

#4.  Letter from W. E. Smith, Battery K, 1st NY Light Artillery, Feb. 23, 1863, seen on eBay October 31, 2009.

#5. OR, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 2;  p. 172.

#6.  History of the First–Tenth–Twenty-ninth Main Regiment, By Major John M. Gould, 1871; p. 184-185. 

#7.  Krick, Robert K., Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountan, UNC Press, 1990;  p. 84.   OR p. 211.]

 #8.  Look for the release of  FOCMB Vice President Michael Block’s new  book on the battle next year, titled  The Carnage was Fearful” coming from Savas Beate books.  It will be a great compliment to the already outstanding work on the subject, “Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain” by Robert K. Krick.


Links to the previous posts in our 2019 tour highlights series:

Some Memorable Moments from the 2019 Tour Season

The 27th Indiana Volunteers at Cedar Mountain

The 31st Virginia at Cedar Mountain

31st Virginia at Cedar Mountain

This is the 3rd installment of a series of four memorable tours given at Cedar Mountain Battlefield in 2019.

On September 25, 2019, Friends of Cedar Mountain vice president Michael Block hosted Dr. Victor L. Thacker, retired Air Force Colonel, on a visit to the Cedar Mountain battlefield. Mike contributed the following tour report.

Victor was most interested in the 31st Virginia Infantry, as his great great uncle French Harding played a prominent role in the August 9 fight. The 31st Virginia was part of Jubal Early’s Brigade, Ewell Division; all part of Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Shenandoah.

After introductions, we traveled south to the ford at Crooked Run, where Harding and the Army of the Shenandoah crossed as they advanced towards the eventual fight. The ford is on private property, with very limited access.

We continued to follow the Confederate march to a point just west of the battlefield, where Early’s command briefly rested along the banks of one of Crooked Run’s feeder streams, then marched on to the battlefield.

At the start of the day’s fighting, Early was ordered to advance and clear out the Federal cavalry, who were maintaining a picket line. Early’s Virginians advanced and made short work of the horse soldiers, clearing the western end of the field and allowing Jackson’s men to deploy.

We began our tour of the fighting again on private property (with permission), where the 31st Virginia fought. Early’s brigade aligned to the south of modern US Route 15 and spent the majority of the day fighting near the Crittenden Lane, first on a rise to the east, and later in the fields below the lane. Victor was knowledgeable about the fight and the role the 31st played.

Dr. Thacker
Dr. Victor Thacker on the battlefield.

In September 2019, much like August 1862, the land was in corn. We were able to find viewing points along the field as Early’s portion of the fight was discussed. In that late 1862 afternoon, combined advances by three Federal Brigades broke portions of the Confederate lines, including Early’s position on this rise.  The 31st retreated about 200 yards into a wooded hollow and that is where French Harding had his moment. 

Jubal Early, in his after-action report, stated the event thusly: “A body of men from the Thirty-First Virginia Regiment, around their colors, advancing the same way, attracted my attention by their gallantry. I was particularly struck by the bravery exhibited by the color-bearers, of these two regiments (the 13th being the other), who, with these small bodies of men around them, were waving their flags in the very front, as if to attract a fire upon them, and advancing all the well.” One of those color-bearers was French Harding.1

Harding’s memoirs were published in 2000 and tell the same story, from his perspective. “My Immediate later actions is to me, now inexplicable. Probably I then had no reason for it, other than the knowledge that some of my comrades had been left dead, and others wounded, on the battlefield. Be that as it may, one of the color guard – Martin Mulvey – had brought up the regimental flag; which I at once caught up and waved, called the boys to follow me, and without orders, started back to meet the enemy.”2

It is always a moving experience to walk significant family ground and it was not different for Victor Thacker. As a guide I draw profound pleasure from walking with descendants, recounting their personal histories on the spot where that history occurred. 

We followed French and the 31st Virginia as they advanced across the corn toward the Culpeper Court House – Orange Courthouse road, as they chase the broken Federal ranks and where the fighting for this particular unit ended.  

Victor Thacker photographs Early’s Brigade Marker at “The Point.”

Our last stop was The Point, where the recovered Grimsley Marker for Early’s Brigade is now located. It was a bright clear early afternoon, and easy for both of us to look at the rolling land, practically unchanged in 157 years, to reflect on the events and fortunes of all involved that day. Harding French survived the Battle of Cedar Mountain without injury, but was wounded in the arm three weeks later in the Thunder at Ox Hill.

French Harding survived that wound and the war.


NOTES:

1.   Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 2, p 233.

2.  Thacker, Victor K., ed., French Harding Civil War Memoirs, (Parsons, WV, McClain Printing Company, 2000), p 60-61.

The 27th Indiana Volunteers at Cedar Mountain

This is the 2nd installment of our look at four memorable tours given at Cedar Mountain in 2019.

The 27th Indiana at Cedar Mountain, September 19, 2019

In July, Mr. Bob Shaffer contacted FCMB Vice President Michael Block to share information about his grandmother’s uncle, Edmund R. Brown, and to schedule a private tour with the Friends of Cedar Mountain.   The date September 19 was set to escort Mr. Shaffer around the battlefield.  Edmund R. Brown wrote the beautifully descriptive regimental history of the 27th Indiana Volunteers published in 1899.   His eloquent words are often quoted on tours of the battlefield. Here’s a brief example describing the regiment’s  eight mile march to Cedar Run which began just beyond Culpeper.

“The air was as hot as a bake oven.  Going directly south, near the noon hour, the sun beat mercilessly into our faces.  Our small, cloth caps, with narrow visers, were poor protection for our heads and eyes, while, with our heavy, regulation dress coats tightly buttoned, our bodies seemed to be a furnace of fire.  Not more than one or two of the Twenty-seventh were sunstroke and fell down in convulsions, but scores of other regiments were affected in that way. As we passed along in the intense heat we saw many o them lying on the ground, frothing at the mouth, rolling their eyeballs and writhing in painful contortions.  This march was the first of several almost incredible things accomplished that day.”

The day of the battle, August 9, 1862, happened to be Edmund Brown’s 17th birthday.  What were you doing when you were 17?  

Bob brought a copy of his ancestor’s book with him to Cedar Mountain while the 3 of us, Mike, Bob and I, explored the battle from the perspective of the 27th Indiana.  We drove behind the preserved land to see the high hill where the Brown House once stood, the jump-off point of the 27th when they advanced into battle.  From here,  two companies, C & F, were detached to the right a half mile as flank guards and were not engaged this day.  They were forgotten about when the Union lines fell back, so the two companies had an adventure finding their comrades after the retreat.  From the Brown House the regiment stepped off on the double-quick, across Cedar Run, towards the battle already in progress.  It was a long difficult approach.  

Our tour stopped in the woods, again on private property, where the old road trace of the Civil War era Wayland’s Mill road can be found.  Before us was the rugged, rock-strewn embankment the 27th charged over during their advance.  Brown wrote:

“Where the left wing of the Twenty-seventh struck the slope it rises at an angle of almost forty-five degrees.  All the way up the surface is not only steep, but mostly very broken.  Ravines, gulches, ledges of rock and innumerable loose stones, large and small, impede the progress at every step.  Trees and low bushes stand thick, with fallen tops and limbs and a tangle of vines and briars in many places, next to impenetrable.”

Looking down the slope today, the ground remains the same and Edmund Brown’s words came alive for us.   Nearby, on top of the wooded hill, stands a monument to the 27th, near the spot where the regiment stepped off the hill into combat.   It was placed in 1901 by John Bresnahan, of Washington, D.C., a Company A veteran who also placed the regiment’s monument at Chancellorsville. 

Our tour group left the woods and proceeded to the battlefield proper, where we walked the ground near the 3rd Wisconsin Monument.  It was here the 27th met the enemy in earnest.  When the regiment hit the fence bordering the wheat field they had to climb over it, or get around it somehow as best they could.  The enemy brigades of James J. Archer and Charles A. Ronald were in front and firing.  The regiment, being unprepared to respond,  had to fall back.  They reformed on a ridge a short distance from the fence and went in again, this time firing as they entered the fray.  Now in addition to Archer & Ronald’s brigade, William D. Pender’s brigade was on their flank.  And here we have a mystery, still to this day.

In the first advance the  3rd Wisconsin, was on the left of the 27th Indiana.  Six companies of the 3rd Wisconsin followed  Crawford’s brigade into the wheat field after a short delay and were forced back.  The 27th Indiana passed some of these troops in the woods on their advance.  The 3rd WI troops reformed and returned to the battle.  Because their battlefield monument is so far to the right of the Union line, it is presumed they came in on the right of the 27th Indiana.  It is a puzzle that remains to be solved.

Historian guide Michael Block was able to point to certain characteristics of the ground here, and offered his theories on the location of the hill where the 27th fell back and re-formed before their second charge. 

One last point on behalf of the 27th Indiana Infantry.  Their Brigade Commander General George H. Gordon constantly slighted them.  Another member of our board, historian Alonzo Lacey, whose great great uncle, Henry A. Ferris (Farris) served in the 27th and survived all its campaigns, said to me, “at Buckland Station, between Strasburg and Front Royal, the [27th IN] regiment, with some others of the 3d WI skirmished with Turner Ashby’s Cavalry and beat them back, but Gordon said they were routed.” 

General Gordon slighted the regiment again in his official report of Cedar Mountain.  But as Edmund Brown points out, in Gordon’s own book, “From Brook Farm to Cedar Mountain,” which was written years later, the brigade commander gives a more accurate account of events.

And so ended our exploration of the 27th Indiana at Cedar Mountain.  Its a part of the battle we don’t often get to tell due to time considerations.  In Mike’s words, “getting down to details and really understanding what was happening” make these kinds of tours especially rewarding for visitors and guides alike.  As Bob Shaffer summed up, “Walking the ground is the only way to understand it.”

Pictured above is the author at left with Mr. Bob Shaffer at the 27th Indiana Monument.

Some Memorable Moments from the 2019 Tour Season

Reflecting on the past year’s activities, the board members of Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield take great pride in their successful efforts to increase the number of public and private guided tours of the battlefield offered in 2019. In addition to the regularly scheduled and advertised monthly tours, generally given on the 3rd Saturday of each month, May through October, there were a few tours given by happenstance. The most important of these for the author was when he guided Mr. George Griffin, a descendant of a 10th Virginian soldier, and fulfilled this out of state visitor’s long-time desire to walk in his ancestor’s footsteps.

The last time George and his wife Jo Ann visited many years ago, the land was not preserved, nor were there any markers to delineate where the fighting happened. It was a marvel for George to have access to the land and walk in his ancestor’s footsteps. It was especially meaningful for me to provide that service. And then there were the pre-arranged tours presented by special request. All of these were significant but four tours stand out as being especially enjoyable for the visitors as well as the guides.

We will feature a summary of these special guided tours, each as an individual post, in the coming weeks. Here is the first installment.

Adjutant Charles Sprout’s Sword Returns to Cedar Mountain, May 13

On May 13, Mr. Joseph Maghe and his wife Deb brought several artifacts from their private collection to the Cedar Mountain Battlefield Visitor’s Center. Most prominent among them was the sword of Adjutant Charles P. Sprout, 28th New York Volunteers, who was killed in action at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862. I’ve had a long association with Joseph through our common interest in the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He is one of the most magnanimous collectors it is my pleasure to know, who has no qualms about sharing his collection with interested parties. In his words, “The historical articles are meant to be seen and shared.”

Many years ago, it was Joseph who tipped me off that eBay was auctioning one of my great-great grandfather’s Civil War letters. Joseph’s consideration, allowed me to purchase this singularly treasured artifact, a September 1861 letter written from Harper’s Ferry. When I learned Joseph was traveling to Manassas to share some of his collection with a private tour, I invited him to Cedar Mountain. He accepted. We had not yet met face to face, but that introduction was made at the Manassas tour. A couple of days later we met again at Cedar Mountain.

FCMB Vice President Michael Block and battlefield historian Lon Lacey were also in attendance. The most exciting relic was the sword of Adjutant Charles Sprout, the popular officer of the 28th NY Infantry whose death in the battle was widely lamented. He was killed during the famous charge of General Samuel W. Crawford’s first brigade, against the weak left flank of Stonewall Jackson’s line. In this action the regiment went in with 320 men, and lost 209.

General Crawford himself mentioned Sprout in his report of the battle:

“Lieutenant Sprout, adjutant of the Twenty-eighth New York, was killed at the side of the enemy’s battery, and the gallant conduct of the men was sufficiently attested by one of the generals of the enemy himself, as we stood together upon the battlefield twenty-four hours after the action amid the mingled bodies of the dead of both sides.” A touching denouement to this story is that Adjutant Sprout’s daughter attended the 28th New York monument dedication ceremony at the Culpeper National Cemetery in 1902.

Harry E. Bowen, the son of Captain Erwin Bowen, described the scene in a letter to his family:

“Mrs. Stilson [of Detroit] was introduced to the audience as the daughter of Adjutant Sprout being three months old at the time of his death at Cedar Mountain. Her father had wished her named Annie Lourie Sprout, which lent an added charm to the song of Annie Lourie which she sang. The enthusiasm brought her back the second time, and all joined in the Star Spangled Banner.”

After enthusiastically swapping stories and sharing personal artifacts from the war, we walked the battlefield together. A drizzly day gave the tour added interest.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are  several from that special day.

Board members Michael Block and Lon Lacey talk while Joseph reads the transcript of my great-great grandfather’s September 1861 letter written from Harper’s Ferry, on the Maryland side of the river.

Board member Lon Lacey shows Joseph his ancestor’s carbine with name inscribed on the stock.

FCMB Vice President Michael Block sets the stage for the battlefield tour.

At “The Point.” This is the spot on the battlefield where the 28th New York charged through the wheat field to attack the weak Confederate left flank.

Near the spot on the battlefield where Adjutant Charles Sprout, 28th NY, was killed.

Walking the field, Cedar Mountain in the background.

FOCMB Vice-President Michael Block, with Adjutant Sprout’s Ceremonial Sword.  Mike gave a talk the following week in Sprout’s home-town of Lockport, N.Y.

A photo of Mike speaking at the New Holland Land Office Museum, in Batavia, N.Y., May, 2019.  He spoke on the 28th New York’s action during the Battle of Cedar Mountain, and the postwar reconciliation between the 28th NY and the 5th Virginia Infantry.  This included the “returning of the 28th’s battle flag by the Virginians in 1882, and the New Yorker’s visit to Staunton, VA the following year.

So that’s it for this week.  Next up will be a recap of a July tour that focused on the 27th Indiana Infantry with the descendant of Edmund Brown, the author of the 27th’s regimental history.

66th Ohio soldier Aaron Riker’s account of the battle at Cedar Mountain

It’s always our pleasure to meet visitors whose ancestors were at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. The July 20 tour group led by board member Brad Forbush included descendants of soldiers serving with the 42nd Virginia and 66th Ohio regiments. Tour participant Ivars Peterson is connected by marriage to Aaron Riker, a soldier who served with the 66th Ohio in the commissary department supporting troop supplies. Mr. Peterson shared his post-tour blog entry that includes an excerpt specific to Cedar Mountain from Aaron Riker’s wartime diary and photos from the July tour.

Read the blog entry

Aaron Riker of the 66th Ohio

Please note: Descendants who submit an ancestor form may have their ancestors honored during a recognition ceremony at our annual commemoration of the battle in August.

Descendant tour: Following the 21st Virginia Infantry at Cedar Mountain

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FCMB) welcomes requests for battlefield tours by individuals or groups seeking to learn more about the battle. FCMB was delighted to respond to a request by Mr. Mike Dove for a  private tour in August 2018. Board member Bradley Forbush provided the tour and wrote this tour report.

Mike Dove had traveled to Cedar Mountain several times in the past, but those trips were before a crucial portion of the battlefield was preserved by American Battlefield Trust.

On those previous visits, only a solitary sign on the side of route 15 indicated the Battle of Cedar Mountain happened “near here.”

In 2018 Mike contacted Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield and scheduled a guided tour of the field. He and his cousin, Kay, drove up from North Carolina for the battle’s 156th anniversary weekend on August 10, 2018. For the first time Mike retraced the footsteps of three of his ancestors, present at the battle on August 9, 1862.

Mike and Kay

Five of Mike’s ancestors served in the 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry at one time or another. The first 3 family members to enlist were William J. Dove (about age 29), his younger brother Jackson Green Dove (about age 18) and their brother-in-law John J. Rowland (about age 41). Each man was  from Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Their company organized at Chalk Level and was accordingly called the “Chalk Level Grays.” The 3 recruits signed enlistment papers July 1, 1861 in Richmond, and the “Grays” became Company H of the 21st Virginia Volunteer Infantry.

The 21st was sort of a “hard luck” regiment. From its earliest days the men suffered from sickness and exposure. A brief synopsis of their difficult first year of service is provided in a separate post.

The history of the 21st Virginia is closely related to the history of the 3 other regiments of their brigade, the 42nd Virginia, 48th Virginia, and 1st Virginia (Irish) Battalion. This brigade, under the command of Colonel Thomas S. Garnett, fought at Cedar Mountain.

At the Cedar Mountain engagement, Garnett’s brigade happened to occupy the most deadly position on the Confederate line. The 21st Virginia suffered 37 men killed and 85 wounded. Three of the casualties were members of the Dove family.

Walking Tour of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, August 10, 2018

Walking in the footsteps of your ancestors leads to powerful emotions. During the anniversary weekend of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Mike was retracing the last moments of his great-great grandfather’s life.

Mike was familiar with the memoir of John Worsham, a member of Company F, 21st Virginia. One incident in particular from Worsham’s narrative stood out in Mike’s memory. Worsham wrote:

“Our division was hurried along the road some distance, the Second Brigade marched to the front of the column and halted, the roll was called, we were ordered to load, and, after a few minutes of rest, we resumed the hurried march. Going a short distance, the men on the  left of the road cleared the way for a cannon ball that came bounding along like a boy’s ball.

The force with which it was traveling is indicated by its striking the stump of a tree, glancing  up, and going out of sight. A little farther on we came to four of our men lying in the road dead, killed by this same ball. The road was fairly alive now with shot and shell from the enemy, and we filed to the left into the wood, went about one hundred yards, filed to the right, and continued our march, parallel to the road.” #1

“Where did that happen?” Mike asked me, as we stood in the battlefield’s meeting house.

“Right outside the door here, on the Old Orange Road in front of the battlefield parking area,” I replied.

The tour proceeded from the meeting house.  We followed the Old Orange Road trace  past the Crittenden Gate and onto the battlefield proper. After their circuitous advance through woods to avoid enemy artillery fire in the road, the 21st formed at the edge of the trees lining the turnpike.

John Worsham’s narrative continues:

“The Second Brigade [Colonel T. S. Garnett] formed a line of battle in the corner or angle of the wood, the 21st Virginia Regiment on the right, the 48th Virginia next, both facing east, the 42d Virginia. next, and, at right angles to the road facing north, the Irish battalion next, forming the left.” #2

Our tour followed the path of the Confederate line pointing out approximately where it bent back at a right angle into what was then woods, but what is now an open field. At a point across the field the Confederate line ended. Supporting troops were coming, but would not arrive until after a devastating attack swept past the open left flank of the brigade line. The charging Federals turned, and headed through the woods towards the unsuspecting troops lining the road. The attack rolled up that part of the Confederate line perpendicular to the road. Elements of the 42nd Virginia, virtually defenseless with their front at a right angle to the enemy, did what they could to defend themselves in vicious hand to hand combat, but it proved of little  use.

Those troops along the road, the 21st Virginia and most of the 48th Virginia, were busily engaged with the enemy Ohioans advancing through the cornfields to their front-left, unaware of the charging force directly behind them.

John Worsham continues, “…As soon as we reached the road, we saw a line of Yankees advancing from the corn field, the 21st and 48th opened fire on them at once; and the battle of Cedar Run had commenced in earnest. We caused the advancing line to halt, and the fighting was terrific.”

While thus engaged, the Federal soldiers in their rear began to trickle, then pour, out of the woods behind the Virginians’ line. The Colonel of the 21st realized what was happening and tried to get his men out of harm’s way.

“A part of the force advancing against the left of the brigade, were firing directly into the flank of the 48th and 21st Regiments, and were making terrible havoc in their ranks. Col. Cunningham of the 21st, who was sick, came along the line, walking and leading his horse,  and said to the men as he passed that the enemy are in our rear and he desired to get us out of the position we were in, and we must follow him.

“… After a few steps, I saw a Yankee sergeant step into the road about fifty or seventy- five yards ahead of us, and at the same time heard the firing of rapidly approaching enemy in our rear. … The sergeant, having  his gun in his left hand, his drawn sword in his right, turned  up the road towards us, and approached. A Yankee private stepped into the road just ahead of him; this being the road on which we marched to get to our position, it shows that the enemy were not only in our front, flank, and rear, but actually had the second brigade surrounded. The Yankee sergeant did not stop his advance towards us until he actually took hold of one of the men of our regiment and pulled him out of ranks, and started toward the rear with his prisoner. One of our men, who was in the act of capping his gun, raised it to his shoulder, fired, and the sergeant fell dead not ten feet away. By this time the road was full of Yankees, and there was such a fight as was not witnessed during the war; guns, bayonets, swords, pistols, fence rails, rocks, etc., were used all along the line. I have heard of a “hell spot” in some battles, this sure was one.

“… Col. Cunningham had crossed the road leading his horse, pulled down the fence, passed through the gap into the field, started to mount his horse, his foot in the stirrup , when he was struck by a bullet, and fell back dead, his horse receiving his death wound at the same time. It was a terrible time, the Second Brigade was overwhelmed, nearly half of the 21st VA. Regt. lay on the ground, dead and wounded.” #3

Colonel Cunningham

Among the casualties were Mike Dove’s great great grandfather, Private William J. Dove, killed in action. William’s brother Jackson Green Dove was badly wounded, shot in the left lung; yet he survived the war, even returning to his regiment after his recovery. Their 18 year old cousin  William A. Dove was killed at Cedar Mountain.

The day after the battle, after some minor skirmishing in the morning, the opposing  sides dis-engaged. Orders came to care for the wounded and bury the dead. On this day, August 10, 1862, one Confederate described the section of the Orange Road where Garnett’s Brigade fought, “so backed up with dead men and horses that it was impossible to follow it.”#4

During our tour the question arose: what became of the Confederate dead buried on the battlefield? The answer is a sad one. The field remains a graveyard to this day.

On August 10 and 11, 1862, “The majority of the Confederate dead were buried tenderly by friends and comrades who retraced their movements for that cheerless purpose.”#5

No matter how carefully or hastily the Confederates were buried by their comrades, the graves are lost.

In 1863, on two separate occasions, Southern soldiers camped near the battlefield took the time to cover up the exposed bones and graves of the Confederate fallen because “hogs had been rooting there.” #6

After the war, in 1868 the remains of 405 Union soldiers were exhumed from the battlefield and re-interred at the newly established Federal Cemetery in Culpeper. Only the remains of one of these was identified, the rest are unknown. There is no evidence extant of the removal of Confederate dead. Their remains are most likely forever mingled with the soil on which they died.

Mike’s great great grandfather William J. Dove was about age 30 when he was killed on August 9, 1862. His wife Susan, with her 3 children — William Henry (age 5), Mary Elizabeth (age 3), and Martha J. (age 2) — moved back to Caswell County, North Carolina where she was born and where her parents still lived. In late August 1864, she was granted a one time payment of $83.30 from the Confederate States government for the loss of her husband.

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield Anniversary Weekend

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield offers guided tours anytime for visitors who contact us in advance, but there are advantages to visiting during our annual event, always the second weekend in August. Several activities are planned, and as Mike Dove learned, you never know who you might meet.

After taking in an artillery demonstration Mike and his cousin Kay chatted with living historian Kevin Dawson. During the conversation Dawson revealed he too had an ancestor in the Confederate army killed at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.

“What regiment?” Mike asked. “The 21st Virginia,” replied Kevin.

“That’s the same regiment!” Mike responded, surprised. “What Company?” “Company H,” Kevin replied.

The Dove and Dawson ancestors were in the same Company!

Kevin shared his family’s story with Mike and Kay:

“Our family history says that my great great great grandfather, along with his 5 sons (including my great great uncle, Samuel Templeton) joined the 21st Virginia Infantry, Co. H, “Chalk Level Grays”, out of Pittsylvania County. During the fighting, Samuel was mortally wounded, and when the fighting began to subside, his father and brothers went back and found Samuel leaning against a tree, having been shot in the neck. According to family history, Samuel, knowing he was near death, told his family to tell his mother that he loved her and that he was sorry. He told his father and his brothers to continue fighting, so that his death wouldn’t “be for nothing.” He then held his father’s and brothers’ hands and slipped away.”#7

Living historian Kevin Dawson (photo credit Kevin Odom Photography )

In all, it was a memorable visit for Mike and Kay, and they plan to return to attend the anniversary weekend in 2019. The Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield were pleased and honored to make their acquaintance and happy to provide the tour.

A late afternoon memorial service closes the anniversary weekend events. A list of names of soldiers present at the battle, provided by descendants of those soldiers, is read aloud to the gathered crowd. A bell rings out for the names of those mortally wounded or killed. In 2018 the names of William J. Dove and William A. Dove were added to the list.

If you are interested in a guided tour of the battlefield or a customized tour similar this experience, please contact the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield at 540-727-8849 or info@friendsofcedarmountain.org

NOTES

  1. John Worsham. One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry, Neale Publishing Company, New York, 1912. p. 110-111.
  2. Worsham, p. 111.
  3. Worsham, p. 111-114.
  4. Robert K. Krick, Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1990. p. 339.
  5. Krick, p. 340.
  6. Krick, p. 388-392.
  7. The roster in author Susan A. Riggs History of the 21 VA, (H. E. Howard Publisher, Lynchburg, VA, 1991) lists the following members of the Templeton family in Company H.

Templeton, James R. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania in Company H as Private. Wounded flesh July 1864. Listed AWOL November-December 1864 (final roll).

Templeton, Robert A. Present from November-December 1861. Company H Sergeant. Then to Private. To Corporal August 31, 1862. To Sergeant November 1, 1862. AWOL. To Private January-February 1863. KIA May 3, 1863 Chancellorsville.

Templeton, Samuel; Father John Templeton. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. KIA August 9, 1862 Cedar Mountain.

Templeton, William E.; Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. AWOL and arrested. POW May 20, 1864 Spotsylvania Court House. (Point Lookout). Joined U.S. service June 15, 1864.

Templeton, William H.; 5’9 1/2”, dark complexion, brown hair, blue eyes. Resident Greenhill, Campbell County. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. POW April 6, 1865 Burkeville. Oath and released June 2, 1865.

ADDENDUM

Members of the Dove Family who served in the Confederate Army

21st VA Company H:

Dove, William J. Age about 30 at time of death. (b. between 1832 – 1839 though 1850 census and his widow’s age suggest 1832 is correct). KIA Cedar Mountain. One of 7 children, was born in the 1830s in the foothills of the White Oak Mountain on Magoty Creek in Pittsylvania County, VA. He married Susan A. Strader on March 25, 1853 in Caswell County, NC. In 1860 he was living in Pittsylvania County. Left widow Susan A. Dove and 3 children, William Henry, age 5, Mary Elizabeth, age 3, and Martha J., age 2. His widow moved back to Caswell County, NC where she was born and where her parents still lived. In late August, 1864, she was granted a one time payment of $83.30 from the Confederate States government for the loss of her husband.

Dove, Jackson Green (brother of William J. Dove). 5’11 1/8”, dark complexion, dark brown hair, dark hazel eyes. Resident of Pittsylvania County. Company H. Wounded August 9, 1862 at Cedar Mountain. Court-martialed March-April 1863. POW September 25, 1864 Harrisonburg (Point Lookout). Oath and released June 11, 1865. [Age 18 or 19; b. 1843 – 1844/ source = 1850 census.]

Dove, William A. (cousin to William J. Dove & Jackson Green Dove). Son of George A. P. Dove who also served in 53rd Virginia. Age 18 when KIA at Cedar Mountain.

Rowland, John J. Father John Rowland. Enlisted July 1, 1861 in Pittsylvania County in Company H as Private. Died January 31, 1862 in Winchester. [Probably exposure from Romney Campaign – BF] Age about 42 at time of death. 1850 census gives his age at 31, (b. about 1819 which corresponds with the birthdates of his siblings. His mother, Nancy Tucker is born about 1791).

Shelton, Nathan Frank. Born December 22, 1827, 5’10”, dark complexion, dark hair, dark eyes. Resident of Pittsylvania County. Farmer.  Enlisted March 10, 1862.  Company H.  Private.  Court martialed August 3, 1862. Shoemaker January-February 1864. Wounded. Minie ball March 25, 1865 Fort Stedman and POW April 25, 1865 Petersburg or April 6, 1865 Farmville (Newport News, Fairground Post Hospital, Petersburg). Oath July 1, 1865. Some discrepancies in record. (Brother-in-law to William J. Dove and Jackson Green Dove). [Nathan Frank Shelton lived to be aged 77. He died January 21, 1907; buried in Shelton Cemetery, Pittsylvania County; source  Find A Grave).

Other Regiments:

Thomas H. Dove (brother to William J. and Jackson Green). Enlisted on February 14, 1862 in Motley’s Company 1st Regiment Virginia Light Artillery. Died July 19, 1862 in CSA Hospital at Danville, VA of typhoid fever. He was about age 37 at the time of death. Born about 1825; source: Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853 – 1912. Index. Family Search, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2010; index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

George A. P. Dove (father of William A. Dove, cousin to William J. and Jackson Green Dove). George served in the 53rd Virginia. Record not on hand.

Tracing an ancestor’s footsteps on Cedar Mountain Battlefield

Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield (FOCMB) welcomes requests for battlefield tours by individuals or groups seeking to learn more about the battle. FOCMB was delighted to respond to a request by Mr. Greg McQuillan, of Colvina, California and his two sons, Brannon and Brendan for a  private tour in April 2018. Continue reading “Tracing an ancestor’s footsteps on Cedar Mountain Battlefield”