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Henry S. Chapin Correspondence - MMS 1585
Henry S. Chapin wrote the following letters to the editor of the Perrysburg Journal while serving with Company F, 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Annapolis Junction, Md.
July 5, 1864
Your readers are doubtless aware that yesterday was the "Glorious Fourth," at all events such was the case in this vicinity according to the almanac! In the estimation of many people, that is nor genuine Fourth of July which is not attended with the destruction of a great deal of gunpowder, the consumption of huge dinners, and guzzling of measureless quantities of all the varieties of tanglefoot! And many a man of more than ordinary intelligence measures the glory of the Fourth by the apparent size of his head and the misery of his feelings on the morning of the 5th. According to the standard, yesterday wasn't much of a day for Company F- we caused no unnecessary destruction of gunpowder, ate only our regular pork and beans for dinner, and no member of the company had to be held in position at roll call in the evening. The day, however, did not pass without an incident for at roll cal in the morning we received the following salute from headquarters..
Relay House, July 4th, 1864 10:30 P.M.
Captain A. Cook: Put your company in order to move on very short notice.
Keep on hand three days of cooked rations.
E.D. Tyler, Brigadier General Commanding.
Preparations were made accordingly; rations were cooked, and each one made such an arrangement of his traps as would enable him to move on short notice. This done, we had only to keep near camp and await further orders, which we are yet continuing to do...
Aside from these preparations, but little yesterday occurred in camp. At 4 P.M. the members of the company assembled, when Captain Cook, by invitation, briefly addressed them, in a manner interesting, instructive, and appropriate to the time and occasion. At the conclusion of the Captain's remarks, three cheers were given him by the company.
After supper, three boys-one white and two contraband-appeared in camp and performed a variety of hoe-downs in a manner which would make merely ordinary disciples of the "light fantastic" ashamed of their skill. I have frequently seen the dancing of both white and colored experts, but the performance of one of these contraband boys-ten or twelve years old-settled the dancing heretofore witnessed. I won't attempt to describe it, for that is impossible- but just imagine if you can, an ordinary-sized 12 year old, black as charcoal with hair sheared close with limbs all hung on pivots, and bending in any direction, and get him to keeping time with the music, with a promise of some money if he puts in his best licks; and then if you can fully imagine the way in which such an individual can make himself fly, you will have an idea of one of the incidents of our Fourth of July. During the dance, his body from tip to toe was bent in about the shape of four lengths of rail fence, and each limb had the appearance of dancing on its own hook while his head fell back until his face was directly upward--when he seemed the exact personification of the darkey who,.
"Had no wool on top of his head
Nor a place where the wool ought to grow.".
It is stated today that all the troops stationed throughout this department- the Middle Department- have received orders and are prepared to move on short notice. This is supposed to be owing to the report that a rebel force is now in the vicinity of Martinsburg, on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, about one hundred miles west of here. We are liable to move at any hour, yet whether we leave this place or not will probably depend on the number of rebel raiders, and the necessities of our army in that quarter. I hazard nothing-and cannot be accused of boasting-is saying that the Wood county boys of this regiment, and all other regiments are ready to go wherever they are needed; and if we are taken in the direction of Martinsburg, we shall have the consolation of knowing that we are "Going to fight mit Sigel.".
The weather here is exceedingly warm; but as our camp enjoys the protection of numerous shade trees it is cool and comfortable compared with what it would be if located in an open field. The company is in good health-no member being in the hospital here..
Annapolis Junction, Md.
July 18, 1864
A correspondent of the New York Times having written to that paper that the "One Hundred Days Men" men stationed here "ingloriously fled from their post" during the late raid, I have obtained from Captain Cook permission to publish the following letter written by him to Lieut. Col. Miller which utterly refutes the charge of the Times' correspondent, and at the same time gives a clear and reliable statement of what Co.F has been about during the great raid..
July 16, 1864.
Col. F.R. Miller:.
It may not be uninteresting to you to know what part Co.F has played during the Rebel invasion of this state. They have not been idle spectators of the events which have transpired in this eventful period.
After the defeat of our army at Monocacy, the enemy advanced in force to Ellicote Mills, which is within 10 miles of this place, but by means of our scouts we kept open communication with the main body of our army until it retreated to Baltimore. This left us entirely alone, almost surrounded by Rebels, without any reinforcements, or means of defense, except in our right arms. There were only 70 of us here, but we resolved to make a stand against the entire Rebel army, which was reported advancing on this place. We knew by our scouts that they were advancing on Ellicote Mills, and when Gen. Wallace retreated from there it left not a man between the enemy and us. We immediately commenced preparations for the defense of this place, and for this purpose built breastworks on the bank of the railroad, where it is cut at right angles by the County road, along which the Rebels would pass in their approach to the Junction. We also barricaded the County road and obtained from the Surgeon in charge of the hospital a six-pound brass field piece and sent for ammunition for it, but was unable to obtain any. This rendered the piece of no avail and I sent it to Col. Hunt, at Annapolis, for the defense of that city, which was also threatened (he also having ammunition for it). During the day, we patrolled the roads and sent scouts throughout the surrounding country; while at camp and the Junction, we kept up a constant guard. At night the entire company laid on their arms behind our breastworks, which we named Fort Good Hope.
Thus affairs continued until about noon of the 13th of July when the telegraph operator sent out word that the Baltimore track had been torn up by the Rebels between us and Washington, at Beltsville, about 8 miles from the Junction. We knew from the report of our scouts that the Rebels were in strong force at Ellicote Mills, a distance of 10 miles on our right, this brought them to within 8 miles of our left, and it was at the same time reported that a strong cavalry force was passing to the rear of us to attack Annapolis.
Unwilling to rely on a mere report, however believable it might appear, I at once dispatched a locomotive under guard of five men down the road to see where and by whom it had been cut. Capt. Briggs, who was lying on a train of cars at the Junction with almost 400 veterans, bound from Annapolis to Washington, volunteered to go with the locomotive and make the reconnaissance at the same time I sent a party of three men on horseback by a circuitous route for the same purpose. On the return of the locomotive, Capt. Briggs reported that the road had been torn up by a large body of Rebels, who were advancing on the Junction and destroying the road as they came; this was confirmed by the men whom I had sent out on horseback. The forces which were guarding the road at Beltsville had retired and reported the Rebels to consist of Infantry and Cavalry, supported by Artillery.
I immediately telegraphed Gen. Ord, then in command of the 8th Army Corps-that the telegraph line had been cut, and the railroad track between the Junction and Washington, at Beltsville by a large groups of Rebels. I also telegraphed the same to Col. Hunt, in command at Annapolis. From Gen. Ord, I received the following dispatch:.
Baltimore, July 12th, 1864
Capt. A. Cook: Take to the woods and come into Relay House and report to the commanding officer. Bring all you can with you. .
Col. Root ordered the train of soldiers which was waiting here for transportation to Washington, to return at once to Annapolis, and sent me the following dispatch:.
Annapolis, July 12th, 1864.
Capt. Cook, Commanding Post: A train will leave here at once to bring your command and the public property here. Be ready..
A.R. Root, Col. Commanding.
Notwithstanding we made every preparation to defend the place, and the boys anxious to exchange shots with the Rebels, this order had to be obeyed. It was imperative and allowed of no evasion. If it had come to us unsought and undesired, Gen. Ord acting with his knowledge of the situation, deemed it for our own, as well as for the public interest, to retire from a place where we had an army of over 20 thousand in front, with its wings resting on the railroad at each side of us, while we were absolutely at their mercy. We therefore made preparation to obey this order and retire. By these orders it will be seen that there were two ways of retreat offered us-one on foot through the woods to Relay House, which wold have involved the loss of all the Company property, and an abandonment of the public stores- the other by railroad to Annapolis, by which all could be saved. I chose the latter, believing it to be for the public interest, for in going to Relay House we could have been of no service to the country, as that place was in no danger, the enemy having passed there and gone to the North East of Baltimore. While by going to Annapolis, I hoped to be of service as it was reported the enemy was advancing on that place, and Col. Root had verbally requested me to come to his aid if he was hard pressed and compelled to fall back. Indeed, at Annapolis, at this juncture of affairs the danger was so imminent that Col. Root had declared the place under martial law, and ordered every able-bodied citizen into the trenches. On our arrival there we were assigned to duty, where we remained until the morning of the 15th, when we were honorably relieved by the following complimentary order:.
Special Order No. 157.
Headquarters, Camp Parole, Md.
Near Annapolis, Md. July 15th, 1864.
Capt. Asher Cook: Co.F, 144th Regt., Ohio National Guard, will at once proceed with his company to Annapolis Junction, Md. And report by telegraph to Gen. Ord for duty..
The Col. Commanding desires to express his earnest thanks for the zealous and efficient manner in which Capt. Cook and the men belonging to his company have discharged the arduous duties assigned them while in this command..
By Order of: Col. A. R. Root,
94th N.Y. Vols., Commanding Post.
The Col. Was so well pleased with the conduct of the Company that he was unwilling to part from them by the above formal note of thanks, but visited the men, and thanked them for their gentlemanly and soldierlike bearing, and added:"You are entitled to great praise for the firmness with which you have remained at your post, and refused to leave without orders, when it was reported and believed that you were entirely surrounded by the enemy.".
This is briefly the part that Co.F has acted during those exciting times, and that position and credit it has won in military circles, and the praise which it has received from those best acquainted with the valuable service the Company has rendered.
But the rebel residents here are very much mortified and chagrined that we went to the relief of Annapolis and did not remain here until they had spread the net for our capture by their friends, the Rebels in arms.
To this brief statement, I have no flourishes of Rhetoric to add- "The truth speeds best when plainly told."-But I may add without flattery that the men under my command have shown a great fortitude in bearing up under intense excitement, and the fatigues incident to long and continued watching by day and by night, as any in the service, and have not the slightest reason to doubt but they would do as good execution in battle. At least, I do not ask for better or braver men to stand by and defend me. The false reports in circulation here emanated from Rebel sympathizers, whom Co.F has compelled to assume the virtues of Union men, though it is evident that they secretly repudiate the oaths of loyalty, which their coward hearts have taken to avoid the just deserts of traitors. Our temporary absence and the Rebel supremacy afforded them an opportunity to glut their vengeance by lying, the way to them and all others the most pleasing and natural. It is quiet now, however, as the fawning sycophants ever were, and you may rest assured Co.F will keep them so during our stay amongst them and should the Rebels come again, we will persuade the commanding General to leave us here, that we may hang Rebel and Rebel sympathizer together..
I have the honor, Sir, to be
Your obedient servant,
Asher Cook, Capt., Co.F 144th Regt. O.N.G.
Annapolis Junction, Md.
July 19, 1864.
Ere this, your readers are doubtless aware that Company I, Capt. McKee, and Company B, Capt. Black, of the 144th Ohio, were engaged in the Battle of Monocacy on Saturday July 9th. Although it was known here, more than a week since, that these companies were in the battle. I have heretofore omitted writing anything concerning them because, until recently, it has been almost impossible to obtain any reliable information concerning the condition of the companies, or the casualties they sustained; and even now I can only give such information as I have been able to glean from conversation with different members of the companies engaged. No one, however, whom I have yet seen pretends to be able to give a complete list of the casualties-but the following are all which I have yet learned:.
Ebenezer Coen, Company B, killed. He was shot in the head, during a charge in the early part of the engagement, and died instantly..
Capt. McKee, Co.I, flesh wound between knee and ankle..
I.N. Kelly, Co.I, is said to have died of "sunstroke" during the retreat..
Sergeant Lewis, Company B, wounded in the left arm near shoulder, slight. He is in hospital in Frederick City, doing well..
Elias Benn, Co.B, wounded in back..
Wm. Barton, Co.I, was slightly wounded and is at Annapolis..
I am told that most of the above wounded remain in hospital at Frederick, and if others were wounded, they probable remain there..
The Ohio "One Hundred Day's Men" engaged in the battle were parts of the 144th and 149th Regiment under command of the Colonel of the 149th. If I am correctly informed the main body of our army during the battle was in the vicinity of Monocacy Junction, but these One Hundred Day's men were thrown out as skirmishers to the northward nearly to Frederick City, two or three miles from the main army. There they fought, holding superior numbers in check, for 8 hours until the main army retreated, and the Rebels appeared on their right and left as well as in front; yet they did not cease fighting until their commanding officer told them to save themselves as best they could. Then commenced, I am told, and unceremonious retreat-every man for himself. Many of the boys, however, continued firing as they ran until the Rebels got so close to them that they had to throw away their guns to escape..
Many were compelled to take to the woods, and remain secreted, or travel far in the opposite direction, to avoid the Rebels. In this manner, the companies became very much scattered-and it is owing to this fact that so little can now be learned as to the number of prisoners taken by the Rebels, or who were injured during the fight..
Lieut. Weddell, of Company I, is a prisoner..
Lieut. Kimberlin, of Company I succeeded in escaping, although closely pursued. In company with three of his men- Chris Baker, Ogeda Wade, and Wm. Winnup-he traveled northward and arrived at Gettysburg, Pa. Monday evening. Near that place he met Wm. H. Minton and Urban Love of Company B. Altogether, there were nearly one hundred officers and men from different companies and regiments who arrived at Gettysburg. Whenever they made inquiries, they heard of Rebels being east of them-which prevented their sooner reaching a point from which they could return to Baltimore..
Captain Black of Company B was at first reported a prisoner, but he arrived at the Relay House on Wednesday evening last..
From the statements of different persons, I believe that nearly three-fourths of each of the companies have already returned, all right, and more are yet coming in..
The regiment, with the exception of the companies of Captain Smith and Captain Cook, went to Washington, three or four days since..
I cannot at present only briefly allude to the doings of Company F during the late raid. On Saturday 9th inst., the firing of the battle of Monocacy was distinctly heard in camp, and I need not attempt to tell how ardently we all hoped for the success of our arms. About 8 P.M., a dispatch was received stating that our forces were badly beaten and falling back in confusion before the Rebels, who were rapidly advancing. We had been ready to "march on short notice," since the morning of the 4th, and it was then expected that we should soon receive orders to move to the "front" would soon move up to Annapolis Junction-as parties of Rebel cavalry were then only a few miles distant. Captain Cook immediately placed the company in condition to meet either emergency-either march when orders came or to promptly return any compliments which the Rebels might tender us. We slept on our arms at night and kept strict watch by day until Tuesday 12th inst., when we ere ordered to Annapolis, as an attack was expected there. We remained there until Friday when we were ordered to return here-and here we are!.
For further particulars of the movements of Company F, I refer your readers to a letter from Captain Cook to Lieut. Col. Miller, a copy of which I send you for publication..
E.L. Palmer of Captain Hathaway's company, this regiment, died at Relay Barracks Hospital, of typhoid fever, on Thursday last, 14th inst. He was, I believe, a resident of Freeport, Wood County.
Annapolis Junction, Md.
July 25, 1864.
The latest information I have been able to obtain concerning Companies I and B from Tonotgany and Gilead of this regiment show that their losses in the battle of Monocacy are much less than first reported-in fact, less than they were believed a week since..
During the past week, Lieut. Kimberlin of Company I-who is now at Camp Parole-has succeeded in learning the whereabouts of all of his men, and I am indebted to him for the following list of the wounded and prisoners of Company I, which is believed to be complete. No member of that company was killed during the battle. The wounded were:.
Capt. McKee, flesh wound in right thigh.
Wm. Barton, flesh wound, slight.
E. Van Horn, left side, slight.
E. Gingery, severe flesh wound in right leg, below knee.
Jonathan Walters, severe flesh wound in left leg, just above knee.
The following were taken prisoners, and are supposed now to be in the hands of the Rebels:.
Lieut. George Weddell
J.F. Reams, I. Macklin, L.Long, C.H. Dewese, J. Burket, A. Jolley, I.N. Kelley.
It was last week reported and believed that I.N. Kelley died from sunstroke during the retreat. It now appears that he is among the prisoners.
As I wrote you last week, Company B (Captain Black) had one man-Ebenezer Coen-killed. I have also learned that Ebenezer Coen's body was buried after the battle by two members of his company. The Rebels had taken the shoes from his feet and stolen whatever he had in his pockets-nothing remaining but a few letters he had received..
The following are all the wounded of Company B, which I can learn:.
Sergt. C.F. Lewis, flesh wound in arm near shoulder, slight.
Jacob Frankfather, severe flesh wound in leg.
Wm. Benn, wounded in back.
I am informed that four members of Company B are prisoners in the hands of the Rebels, but have been able to learn the names of only two of them, viz.: William Anglebeck and E. Jones..
Of the wounded of the two Companies, Lewis, Van Horn, Gingery, and Walters were in Hospital at Frederick City a few days since. The others are at Annapolis..
Captain McKee's wound is healing rapidly; he is now able to walk with a cane and hopes to be able to join his company in a couple of weeks..
The 144th Regiment, except the companies of Captain Cook and Captain Smith, was sent to Washington more than a week since, and when last heard from by us was in the direction of Leesburg. The majority of Companies B and I were with the regiment, under the command of Captain Black.
Letters for members of Companies B and I will probably reach their destination more quickly if directed to Camp Parole, Annapolis, as it is thought those companies will return there soon; and if such should not be the case, letters will be forwarded to the proper address of the Companies, by the members now remaining there..
The late raid in this state has proved that the Rebels still know how to treat their prisoners in a barbarous manner. A few days since I saw four members of the 149th Ohio who were taken prisoners at Monocacy on Saturday 9th inst. The Rebels kept them, and made them march with their army until Monday evening, the 11th inst. without giving them a morsel of food. At that time, the men fell down in the road from exhaustion, when the Rebels paroled them. They were also robbed as soon as taken of everything of value they had about them- money, watches, knives, pocket combs, & c. and in some cases articles of clothing were also taken..
I am told that Americus Wade, of Company I, was taken prisoner but couldn't stand the march and "gave out" from exhaustion when the Rebels threatened to shoot him unless he kept marching on. He concluded that they could shoot him if they wished to, but he couldn't march. They finally paroled him..
Affairs in the vicinity of Company F are very quiet and countenances of the secesh in this locality, which during the raid, were so jovially joyful have resumed their lank proportions and woe begons appearance. They have started a rumor, however, that their friends are already on their way North on another raid with the intention of making their permanent residence in this locality..
The health of Company F continues good. Two or three members of the company are unwell, but there are no cases of sickness which are considered at all dangerous..
A long train of cars loaded with Rebel prisoners-genuine "graybacks"- passed through here Saturday afternoon last, for the North. Through the kind consideration of somebody a couple of barrels of ice water were placed on the railroad platform, for their entertainment, and as luck would have it. However, a train load of Union soldiers cam along just ahead of the secesh and the boys of Company F turned in and dealt the ice water all out to the soldiers-in consequence of which what water the "graybacks" got was of the ordinary kind..
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