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Henry H. Ragon Correspondence - MMS 1636
Captain Henry H. Ragon served with Company A, 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
August 6, 1864
Having a few spare moments after a very fatiguing march I thought I would devote them in trying to interest the many readers of your valuable paper by recanting some of the trials and troubles the 144th have gone through with in marching and countermarching in this campaign. We started from the Relay House on the 14th of July for Washington City; we arrived there about the middle of the afternoon. We bivouacked for the day near the railroad depot, no knowing was to be the next move, or in what direction if it all, a move was to be made. We, however, were not kept long in waiting, orders were received to march about 8 A.M. July 15th. When the whole column consisting of the Sixth Corps, a portion of the 19th Corps, including Kenly's Brigade, to which the 144th was attached, along with the usual amount of cavalry and artillery. We took the Rockville Pike as far as the village of Tenallytown; we took the main road and proceeded in the direction of Poolesville. We bivouacked the first night some 10 miles from the city. This being the first marching some of the boys had done, some of them were pretty well "played." We, however, started the next morning fresh and vigorous, still continuing our course along the Potomac until we arrived at what is known as White's Ford. The army crossed the river at this place by wading. The width of the stream at this point is near a half a mile. The Rebs crossed at his place only a few hours before our forces arriving there, in fact, our advance guard were near enough to shell the rear guard of the retreating Rebels.
We continued our march, nothing of importance occurring to our march tale. We arrived at the Gap in the Blue Ridge known as Snicker's Gap a distance of 64 miles from Washington. We rested at this place for two days and night, giving our boys a chance to recruit their tired limbs and partly revenge themselves for their long chase on a friendly Reb by capturing, or rather confiscating, a fine Beef or pig, and sometimes a well stored bee's cap.
We started from the Gap on our return march, about 9 P.M. July 20th and arrived at the Chain Bridge on the 23rd. Nothing of importance on the return march save a few shots from some of Mosby's men being fired into us.
Scarcely had we rested from our march when we were again ordered to march, which we commenced on the 26th, for some place, no one knew where. However, a few days patience and hard marching brought us in sight of the beautiful city of Frederick. Some three miles southeast of the city is the battlefield of Monocacy. That portion of the battlefield over which we passed (being near the Junction) shows unmistakable signs of hard fighting, from the manner in which the tengerails (?) are torn to pieces and the number of mounds or heaps of dirt which mark the many resting places of our brave boys, who fell fighting for their country on that never to be forgotten day, in which our forces lost so heavily. While we drop a tear of sympathy for the many brave boys who fell there, we also feel quite to rejoice that quite as many if not more of our enemies of our beloved flag and country paid for their rashness on that memorable day, as shown by the number of piles of dirt, which is a little to the West of our men. The fury of the Johnnies was shown in trying to batter down the firm iron bridge so recently erected over the Monocacy River at this place, but all their attempts to destroy it were fruitless, although they injured it to some considerable extent. After resting a few hours at this place (Monocacy Junction), we again took up our line of march for Harper's Ferry. We reached Halltown, four miles south of the Ferry, on the next day, being the 28th day of July, there, you see, we marched a distance of 65 miles in about four days with the thermometer an average of 99 degrees.
We came across the 123rd O.V.I. at Halltown. It would have done good to see the joy at the meeting of many old and long separated friends. I had the pleasure of taking by the hand the old and tried veterans, Col. W.T. Wilson and Capt. J.W. Chamberlain. They are both looking as though they had seen "actual" service this summer. Most of the men of the 123rd from our county are looking well.
On the evening of the 30th at 1 o'clock, we began to fall back across the Potomac; this was one of the hardest marches I ever experienced. Many of the boys were falling from entire exhaustion, quite a number of which died. We did not halt until we arrived some two miles north of Frederick, on the Emmitsburg Road. Since then we have kept up a continual move. The longest one being from Monocacy Junction to Harper's Ferry, which was made by railroad.
We find ourselves tonight in line of battle near our old camping ground at Halltown, Va. How long we will stay here is more than I can say. We have 8 companies of our regiment here, making in the aggregate for duty 331 men and 9 officers. Quite a number of men were left sick at Washington. The boys are looking forward to the time when they are to start for home with considerable anxiety. My "posish" being rather uncomfortable laying flat upon the ground and space limited, I shall bring my already lengthy letter to a close, my respects to all.
Capt. H.H. Ragon
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