9th Ohio Infantry

LETTERS AND ARTICLES 

 

LETTERS OF JOHN BOSS

Pvt. John Boss was a native of Switzerland and a resident of Louisville Kentucky, when he joined the 9th Ohio Infantry. He served in Company B until he was discharged for disability on July 23, 1862.

*   Pvt. John Boss’s first letter published in the Louisville Anzeiger was introduced by the newspaper’s editor: “The following correspondence is from a former compositor in our office who prefers the military life to that of a typesetter.” Private Boss’s letter covered the period from June 27 to July 17 and included the movement to and the Battle of Rich Mountain fought on July 11, 1861. The private also bragged about the fearsome Dutch soldiers and bemoaned the lack of pay.

 

 

Louisville Anzeiger, July 28, 1861.

[Camp by Beverly, VA.]

17th July [1861]

[No saluation]

 

As I wrote the last time from Philippi [not published], we believed there would be a fight on the previous evening, instead of that we marched away in the opposite direction, to go around the enemy.  The first day [June 27] we covered 22 miles, the second, 15 miles, and on the third we arrived in Buckhannon after an eight-mile march.  We pitched a Camp there, in which we remained eight days, during which time we laid our eyes on our General McClellan for the first time.  He inspected us and said that our regiment could be placed among the best regiments of all nations, and made it the advance guard of his division.

On Sunday, 7th of July, we marched off from Buckhannon.  During the night one of our reconnoitering detachments was fired on by an enemy cavalry patrol.  No one was wounded but a bullet pierced the shaft of a rifle.  We had a very difficult march because our company had to patrol on the flank in the mountainous country and in the forest covered with undergrowth.  After a tiresome ten-mile march we arrived at a bridge [Middle Fork Bridge], which the enemy had left barely a quarter hour before.  We pitched our camp there, and while we wanted to eat our noonday meal, consisting of coffee and crackers, general march sounded and we had to drop everything and to hasten forward on the road where about 50 to 60 Secessionists men fired out of the woods at our 15-man-strong picket; there a bullet went through the hat of one of our lieutenants without wounding him while one enemy was killed.  When we arrived at that place, the enemy had already disappeared into the bushes.  Then three companies were deployed at different posts about 1 1/2 miles from camp and we were not disturbed after that.

After a two-day stay at this place, where a soldier of the 3rd Ohio Regiment was found shot dead, we marched off cautiously. The road always led up the hill and through thick woods until we lit on a rather large open place after about 7 to 8 miles, where a company of enemy troops had their camp.  With our approach they fired their rifles; our 4 companies went after them in a skirmish line.  They retreated over the mountain.  There are about 20 houses at this place called Rolling [Roaring] Creek.  When we wanted to advance further on the road, [we found] the bridge over the creek burned down.  A strong new bridge had to be built to bring the wagons and cannon over here.  We soon found that we were close to the enemy camp.  The next day [10th] our regiment and a battery made a reconnaissance through the woods.  Our company had to go up one side of the mountain and down the other and had the order to cover the right wing.  Suddenly we pushed to the outpost, where we were immediately fired on and one man was killed and two wounded. We fired and [there were] 7-enemy killed, 3 wounded and 2 taken prisoner. One of the prisoners was severely wounded.36

Besides the rifle-fire, 3-cannon shots were fired on us, however, they went too high; next, general march was sounded in the enemy camp. Afterward the advance post retired.  We had accomplished our objective, discovered the camp and now assembled on the road, where our colonel praised our company.  The prisoners were sent to the general and the next day, the prisoners [no, a local resident] had to lead 4 regiments behind the enemy in a roundabout way, while our regiment together with two others, were supposed to attack the enemy from the front.  We had to cut a route through the woods to bring our artillery and were greeted heartily for this work by two cannon shots, the work took the whole day.

We had to stand in the woods at the advance post the whole night through in constant rain until we were relieved at 5 o’clock in the morning by three other companies, then went into the camp and got about two hours sleep; then general march was sounded and we went in a hurry (without bread or water sacks), advanced to the enemy camp [Camp Garnett], that meanwhile had been attacked in its rear.  When we arrived the camp was still there, horses and wagons, in short, everything, only no more enemy.  They had formidable entrenchments there, so if we had come there on the road, we would have had to come through three [-fields of] fire.  About 300 acres had been cleared on an incline, and formidable abattis prepared, so that, if the enemy made only a little stand, we would have lost very many men.

Behind this camp, laying about a mile further and higher, is located a second [camp] that was vacated.  They had taken away all tents, wagons, horses, cannon and flags in a hurry, after they lost 162 killed and a large number wounded.  From the Indiana regiments 14 men were killed and 3 wounded. Our regiment together with the 4th Ohio Regiment and a battery made a pursuit and after 2 1/2 hours we found ourselves in Beverly. Afterward we still captured several prisoners in the woods.  The next day the news arrived that Gen. Morris had captured the fortified Secessionist camp, 4 miles from Beverly, had been taken by Gen. Morris.

On Sunday 13th July, we marched 15 miles farther and found a large burned down bridge along the way.  On Sunday, 14th July we marched 12 miles in the Allegheny [Mountains] to the Cheat River, which divides East Virginia from West Virginia, without seeing anything of the enemy, but the tracks of horse hoofs, and a lot of tent poles that were sent to Gen. Garfield.39 We had achieved our objective, West Virginia was clear, and McClellan’s order did not go farther than up to said river. 

It was terribly cold on this mountain and in spite of our blankets and fire we could not keep sufficiently warm.  After a half hour’s rest, we then marched back again and arrived in camp around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, after we marched 24 miles with a cup of coffee and half of a Cracker.

Yesterday, we went back to Beverly, and pitched a camp, where we waited on further orders from Washington.  With the capture of the camp by General Morris, 600 enemy soldiers, along with a Colonel [Pegram], surrendered. In the camp that we attacked, someone found a partially burned letter in which it says that they could clearly hear the band of the Unionists, and that in 3 to 4 days would be in possession of the band.  The prisoners said that they would have won if the Indiana Boys had been alone; however, they were frightened by the damned black Dutch who were to blame for their capture. 

With that the war in West Virginia would be ended and fortunately over, the disbursed enemy went home and are now good Union men (?)

So far I am healthy and happy and hope the same for you.

All Louisvillians are well and send all acquaintances greetings.

Up to now we still have not received a cent of pay.

 

                                                                                                            John Boss

Writing from Camp Cox ten days after the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Private John Boss of the 2nd Company provided his account of the events of September10 and in particular the time he and his company were under fire and the confusion caused by fighting in the pitch-black darkness of the night. Grateful to have survived the fighting, he concludes his letter with the wish “that this sad war would soon be over.”

 

Louisville Anzeiger, October 1, 1861.

 

Camp Cox 42 miles [northwest] from Lewisburg

     19 September 1861

 

After two days’ halt the whole column set off to attack the enemy.  We came to Birch Point in the evening, stayed there a day and took the road to Summersville, and arrived there on the 10th about 9 o’clock in the morning.  The whole hamlet was empty and the fires still burned where the enemy had camped shortly before.  We marched through the town on a terrible road.  When we were 7 miles from Summersville, we heard a single shot.  The 1st Brigade [Brig. Gen. Benham’s] (ours was the 2nd) had come to the advance post of the enemy and driven their pickets back until they were at an open place next to the forest where the enemy lay.  Here the battle began.  The enemy withdrew through the woods to get behind their entrenchments, where a terrible fire was opened with a thunderous cannonade.  Our brigade likewise advanced now.  After three thunderous hurrahs erupted, we moved forward on the road.  The fire had already become very heavy.  The 1st and 2nd companies, (I am in the 2nd) were now sent off the road into the woods to skirmish.  We did not know where the enemy lay, much less that he had fortifications.  We advanced rapidly, always moving somewhat to the right; the signal “half left” was blown and suddenly 10–15 men came out of the thicket there.  The small shrubs were all chopped off; many large trees lay crossways over one another [abattis].  We were barely 6 steps out of the undergrowth when a dreadful volley greeted us from the right flank of the enemy, which luckily went too high.  We moved back into the undergrowth and sought to shelter ourselves as well as possible, when suddenly a fearsome rain of bullets came from the left side and canister and bombs from the middle.  We lay flat on the ground.  Only one [man], who laid down too late, was wounded.  After a volley we continued to advance a few steps.  The bullets hit right and left and tore away the bushes. Later I helped take away a wounded [man] from our company who was hit in the leg by canister.  It had become quite dark now, and the fire had halted; only the cannon fired their dreadful shots and we had to lay down on the ground three times.  One thin tree was broken up by a cannon ball and fell down next to us.  It was a true wonder that in spite of the terrible rain of bullets we still remained alive and no one was wounded.

It was impossible to find our way in the dark, and we stumbled around there the whole night.  It began to rain toward morning.  We were completely worn out because we had made a strenuous march for 2 days and had enjoyed coffee only twice in two days, plus the fight and dragging the wounded.  About 9 o’clock in the morning [September 11] we came to an opening and saw our camp at a distance of 3 miles.  Later we brought the wounded to the hospital and returned to our camp and were greeted with jubilation because we were listed as missing.  Our company lost 1 dead and 6 wounded in this battle, one of who had his leg amputated and died after 8 days. The other companies had no wounded at all. In total the loss of Federal troops amounted to 21 dead and 97 wounded. We captured 2 nice flags, a mass of clothing, blankets, etc.  The losses of the Secessionists cannot be furnished because they carried off everyone when they slipped away during the night.  About 20 prisoners were captured, and we later found about 15 sick in houses.5

Saturday, the 15th [14th], we left our camping place and marched to here over the Gaul[e]y River.  General Cox arrived at this place one day too late; otherwise, he could have cut off the enemy.  We will advance from here toward Lewisburg, where we will soon come to the railroad. As one hopes, we will perhaps be home again by Christmas. We have not received newspapers for several weeks.

It is much wished that this sad war would soon be over, because if it should still continue this winter, as I believe, we would have to suffer much from sickness.  The Secessionists already have so many sick from fever and measles; in addition, [there is] the horrible cessation of commerce, and the needs of the families of the volunteers for whom we are still unable to do anything, because we have not received one cent of pay.

 

                                                                                             John Boss

 

The Louisville Anzeiger published Pvt. John Boss’s report about the battle and the brief pursuit of the defeated Confederates one week after he composed it. The lengthy narrative contained some inaccuracies that deserve mention. Private Boss erroneously stated that General Crittenden had been captured near the hospital and like Colonel McCook he cited the Fifteenth Mississippi “Tigers” as his regiment’s direct opponent.  Except for possibly its 10th Company, the blue-clad Germans principally fought against the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Tennessee Regiments. Boss reported that the three other regiments in the Union line had either retreated or were in trouble when the Germans made their vaunted charge, and overstated the size of the enemy force. Although earlier in the morning part of the Fourth Kentucky had retreated, and so did the Minnesotans for a brief period, and the Tenth Indiana had enemy troops on their flank for a while, these units aggressively engaged with the Rebels and were not about to be overrun. Private Boss, who belonged to the same company as Lieutenant Bertsch, probably had been relied on someone else for this information and was not intentionally misstating the facts, Finally, the Ninth did not capture the enemy hospital. 

 

Louisville Anzeiger, January 29, 1862.

 

Camp Hamilton, Pulaski Co., Ky.,

                                                       22 January 1862

 

It rained the whole day on January 18. In the morning on the 19th we drank our coffee rather early.  We had hardly done that when they called we should make ready because Zollicoffer is approaching.  We did not believe it because it would be the first time that the Secessionists attacked us.  Immediately the alarm was blown.  We heard several shots, thought however that the sentries had fired their rifles because it had rained very hard.  We put on our overcoats and cartridge boxes. The regiment was lined up in front and then went rather quickly through the foot-deep mud on the road.  We had marched about a half-mile when we then heard heavy rifle fire that gradually became stronger. 

The 4th Kentucky Regiment and the 10th Indiana together with 3 companies of  [the 1st Kentucky] cavalry lay about 2 miles in front of us and found themselves already under fire.  We turned right off the road into the woods in order to go around the enemy if possible.  Left of the cavalry camp we deployed in line of battle.  The fire was formidable there the first cannon shots from our side fell.  Immediately after that however the enemy answered with cannon, but without doing damage to us. One of our company was knocked to the ground by a spent bullet without being wounded.  Right after that several soldiers who were on picket came, and the fire now continued rapidly out of the woods.  Meanwhile, we heard fearsome hurrah shouts.  The 4th Kentucky Regiment had to retreat and the 10th Ind. Reg. was threatened to become surrounded; the 2nd Minnesota Reg. wavered a moment—then we stormed up a hill in the double-quick and with thunderous hurrahs and with lowered bayonets charged the left wing of the enemy who, filled with consternation, withdrew but found a rather strong position on a hill behind a fence and overturned tree trunks, whereupon a stubborn fire developed.  Through our bayonet attack we saved the 10th Ind., which immediately let loose with three hurrahs for the 9th, and emboldened the 2nd Minnesota.

The enemy battled with true desperation, but on a huge scale fell behind their fence, because we were well sheltered behind trees and maintained a terrible fire within 40 paces of them.  Now the 1, 2, 3 and 4 Companies made a rapid wheel and we fell on the left wing of the enemy, who could not endure this attack and was in danger of being cut off. The enemy regiments disbursed in wild flight. Our regiment was the first out of the woods in which two cabins served as the enemy’s hospital. We took two doctors prisoner there. A third, who wanted to flee on a horse, had shots fired at him, returned and allowed himself to be taken prisoner. He put his hand out to us, and we noticed two stars on his collar.  We asked him, if he was a general, which he denied.  Later it came out that he was [not] the young Gen. Crittenden.

General Zollicoffer was shot through the heart [“just above the left hip”] by Col. Fry from the 4th Ky. Regt. with his revolver during the battle, and he fell from his horse instantly dead.

When we arrived by the hospital, the colonel said to us: “You have done it, you brave boys.  General Thomas came up right away, thanked the colonel and congratulated him.  He said: “The nineth [sic] can’t be beat. The artillery fired two shells from the hospital at the enemy cavalry, which was rather strong and first made a move to gallop toward us, then, however, took to their heels.

On the road we found a mass of sacks filled with grain and wheat bread, canteens, blankets, rifles, cartridge boxes, etc., also five wagons with provisions and munitions.  Our regiment and the 2nd Minnesota followed the enemy in battle formation.  Other regiments followed behind us and 18 cannon. We captured several prisoners along the way, who stated, that they assemble again.  We pressed through woods, meadows and bogs, often sinking in mire until over the knee, however, could see no more of the enemy.  Here and there the artillery fired bombs into the woods, but no one showed anywhere.  Toward evening we arrived near their fortifications. A cannon shot of the enemy pointed out his position to us, then our artillery on two hills fired on the enemy position with shells.  Darkness prevented us from advancing further.  We had followed the enemy over 10 miles.

A farmer told us that the enemy had left the trenches at 10 o’clock at night on Saturday with 8 [7] regiments of infantry, 3 cannon, and 1,000 cavalrymen. To the question what they wanted there, they had answered, “whippen [to whip] the Yankees.”  They had believed that only 3 regiments of infantry without artillery were here. They made a terrible miscalculation.66 The farmer said they retreated in the wildest flight, without shoes, rifles, blankets, and cartridge boxes; they took two horses and 2 mules out of the stall and rode off with them.  To the question: what happened, he answered: the dutch Yankees fight like devils; they give us hell.  The officers had done their best to get the soldiers to stay, but all for nothing.  One tried to outdo the other in running. 

As it became dark our provision wagon arrived about which we were very happy, because many companies had no breakfast and had taken nothing with them.  We lay on fence rails under the open sky.  Luckily, it was not very cold.  We were not disturbed during the night.  I have forgotten, that our regiment captured a cannon, one they left behind, none were spiked. 

In the morning on the 20th, our artillery opened fire again without being answered.  The tenth shot hit the Steamboat on the Cumberland River, which exploded immediately and went up in flames.68 Now we advanced in the double-quick toward the fortifications that stretch 1 1/2 to 2 miles, but we found they had left.  Thousands of tents and cabins stood empty there.  All was in the greatest disorder.  A mass of beds, clothes, trunks and arms of all sorts lay strewn about.  At the river stood over 200 wagons with provisions, munitions and camps, together with 13-unspiked cannon and complete teams with them, a thousand cavalry horses and mules.  The trenches and cabins across the river were also abandoned.  Many had thrown their rifles into the river, and a number drowned.  Everyone wanted to be the first on the boat.  The cavalry had to swim over, whereby very many died. 

The victory and the booty are very large.  One estimates the loss of the enemy’s property at over $800,000.  It is the largest victory that the Union has won yet, and in fact against an enemy twice as strong.  Zollicoffer’s army is completely broken.  Many, mainly Tennesseans, are supposed to have said that they never wanted to take an arm in their hands again. Our regiment captured three flags, the 2nd Minnesota one. By noon today 360-enemy soldiers [overstated] were buried.  They had more dead than wounded and almost all were shot in the head or breast.  Our regiment lost 6 dead, including Hugo Tafel from Cincinnati, and 23 wounded, among them our Colonel McCook, who was shot in the leg (his horse was shot in its lower body); however, was still very active in the pursuit of the enemy, also our Major Joseph and our brigade adjutant [were wounded]. The 10th Indiana had 14 dead. The 2nd Minnesota, 10.  The cavalry, 4.  The number of wounded of the other regiments I cannot yet state.

On the 20th, in the trenches of the enemy, General Thomas issued a General Order71 in which he thanked the troops for their bravery.  It rained very hard and we therefore quartered ourselves in the cabins and tents. Afterwards we cleaned and aired them out a little, because a terrible mess and stink was in them.  

On the 21st in the morning our brigade marched here again.  Hopefully we have a few days rest, in order to bring our clothes and laundry along with our arms into order.

[Written] in the evening. We have orders to hold Somerset.  The Southerners had their best troops against us. For example, the 15th Mississippi Rifle Regiment, the Water Valley Rifles, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.  The 15th Mississippi Regiment is supposed to be quite annihilated; they also lost almost their whole general staff and very many officers. The prisoners say it was told to them that, if they fell into our hands, they would all be killed, and that we are avowed abolitionists, but they see, that it is a false pretense.  There will still be dead rebels found, so that one cannot give an exact count.  The number of the wounded is very large.

When the soldiers saw Zollicoffer’s corpse they tore his clothing from his body, and split up his shirt, in order to have a souvenir.  A Tennessean wanted his whole scalp, but was prevented from that because a guard was placed there.

 

                                                                  John Boss.

                                                                  Co. B[,] 9th Ohio Reg.

Louisville Anzeiger, February 12, 1862, (extract from letter) written by John Boss.

 

Camp Cumberland near Somerset

                                                           5th February 1862

 

            On January 23 we moved through Somerset and halted 1/2 mile from there.  I went back with several comrades who, like me, had a strong appetite for a snack, and visited several houses, where we were courteously admitted, but could obtain nothing to eat.  We therefore went into one of the nicest houses, where we were provided a really splendid meal, [and] where we had to give an account of the last days.  When we asked how much we owed, the people said: “Oh nothing, you have whipped Zollikoffer [Zollicoffer] for it!” …..  We quartered the wounded from the last battle in empty houses in Somerset and gave them care.  On Sunday the 26th the corpse of a member [Vonau] of the 10th [9th] Company was buried here.  Here in camp up to the 29th we received only meal instead of crackers and not once lard with it.  For 10 days we received no candles, but have not suffered from it because we had provided ourselves with them from Zollikoffer [Zollicoffer]’s camp…. 

During the night of the 30th our sutler’s store was demolished. The goods were all taken far from the tent and destroyed.  This was caused by his shamefully high prices.  For example, days before he sold a pound of butter for 40 c[en]ts, a bottle of Catawba wine and brandy, for which one first had to have an order from the Capt. and Lt. Col., at $1.20 c[en]ts, a loaf of bread 25 c[en]ts, “Punch” for a dollar.  This is a good lesson for him, because he must either sell his goods cheaper or leave the regiment.

            Most regiments under Schöpf and Thomas, except ours and the 2nd. Minn. have crossed over the Cumberland; in any case they still cannot advance very far, because the provisions cannot be transported quick enough because of the terribly inferior roads.

 

[John Boss]

 

 

Letter written by Col. Robert L. McCook about the death of Cpl. Hugo Tafel. 

Colonel Robert L. McCook’s letter to Gustav Tafel, who was in Cincinnati on sick leave advised the sergeant of his brother’s death and gave some additional information about the battle at Mill Springs Ky. McCook told Tafel that the Ninth fought against the Mississippi “Tigers.” However the regiment fought principally against the Seventeenth and Nineteenth Tennessee regiments.

 

 

Louisville Anzeiger, January 26, 1862.

 

Camp Hamilton, Ky.

[near Logan’s Cross Roads]

                                                                                                              21 January 1862

Dear friend! (Sgt. Gustav Tafel)

 

It is my painful duty, to inform you that your dear brother Hugo was shot on the previous Sunday and died at ten o’clock that night.

He fought like a man and soldier, worthy of his name, his country and his regiment.

Gustav, you have lost through this instance of death a loving brother and a good person. You should be proud that the deceased was your brother.

It is unnecessary to say to you that we all are very sorry about the loss of your brother and that we sympathize with you and your family.  This may however be only a little consolation for you.

Your brother was shot through the lower part of the breast and he had to endure much pain.  It was impossible to preserve his remains, he bled internally and we had to bury him. His body lays in a stately place, where we also buried the other dead.  A suitable monument will mark the place where his mortal remains lay buried.

Now to the battle itself.  If you had seen how our boys attacked the Mississippi “Tigers” [15th Mississippi] with bayonets and caused them to flee you should feel proud that you are a member of the regiment.

Captain Joseph was wounded in the fleshy part of his leg.  I received a severe wound to the bone below the knee.  I hope that the bone is only slightly damaged.  If I had left the field right away, perhaps it would have been better for me.  However, I stayed in the field and pursued the enemy at the head of my regiment for a distance of twelve miles, of which I had to walk three miles in foot deep mud.

My horse received three gunshot wounds; a bullet went through the collar of my coat and the fifth hit me in my leg.  From this you can see that we stood in a furious shower of bullets.  Lieutenant [Andrew] Burt, one of my adjutants was also wounded.  We pursued and drove the enemy behind his fortifications and captured some 100 acres of tents, 150 wagons, 12 cannon, 1,000 horses and mules, and a mass of arms and ammunition.  Zollicoffer is dead. You could hardly comprehend the dimension of his fortifications.  We killed a large number of the enemy, many of their dead still lay on the battlefield.

Greetings to [Judge] Stallo and Henry.

                                          Your friend

                                                      Robert L. McCook

 

LETTERS AND ARTICLES FROM THE  NATIONAL TRIBUNE

 

The National Tribune

February 16, 1911, page 3.

 

How General McCook Died

Comrades Dispute the Assertions made by F. B. Gurley and Members of His Band

In The National Trlbune of Dec 29, 1910 was published an account of the shooting of Gen Robert L. McCook according to Frank B. Gurley and others who claim that he Gurley was a duly commissioned Captain in the Confederate service and not a guerilla. Many comrades dispute this and say that Gurley, who does no deny that he fired the fatal shot was a guerilla.

What the Ohio Boys Say

E. F. Klser, President 9th Ohio Association, 10 Green Street, Cincinnati O. writes:

“The article from F. B Gurley is far from the truth. Some months ago tho 9th Ohio Association received similar statements and appointed a committee to investigate with the following results.

“In his letter Frank B Gurley claims that he received a commission as Captain from the proper authorities and states I got a few other sick soldiers and little boys together to operate inside the Federal lines.”

“It is taken for granted sick soldiers are not able to do duty and little boys cannot be held responsible for their acts. It is self evident by such admission that Gurley was a bushwhacker or guerrilla. The Confederate Government certainly never gave Gurley a commission to enlist sick soldiers and little boys to operate inside the Federal lines.

“The drove of cattle Gurley speaks of was driven thru fully for 24 hours ahead of the passing of the brigade and as Gurley and his men were at home in this locality no doubt he was informed of the coming of the Federal soldiers by the farmers with whom he was personally acquainted.

Not a Shot Fired

”Both sides commenced firing,” says Gurley. Not a shot was fired by our side at this time for the attack was an unexpected one and the men who accompanied McCook had laid their arms in the staff supply wagon that followed the ambulance in which McCook was riding. Mr. Jacob Aug, the sutlers clerk—not a soldier and having no arms—was near the ambulance riding a very tall mule, and also four or five musicians who never carry guns. One of them, Ernest Meinhardt, received a saber cut in the head.

 “ ‘When our brigade came up closer and ascertained what had taken place, they followed the enemy and fired at them. Dr Bcatty s, house in which McCook died, was unharmed when the 9th Ohio left that locality the following day. Following troops or an individual set fire to the house and it was destroyed.

“ ‘Gurley says: “The General was not sick, but was in command of his brigade and riding not in an ambulance, but In a supply wagon.” How can Gurley prove such an absurdity? McCook was sick and Col. Fred [Ferd] Vanderveer of the 35th Ohio, was in command of the brigade, as the records will verify. The 35th Ohio was in the lead, followed by the 2d Minn. and the 9th Ohio. Then came the ambulance with the sick General, the supply wagon, and the other regimental teams.

How MCook Got Shot.

“The road forked and Col. Vandrveer made a mistake and took the road to the left. When McCook reached this point he noticed the error and sent word to Vanderveer. In this way tne 9th Ohio got the advance and McCook with guards and musicians, got at the head of the column. Soon after shots were heard, and some of the guard fell back, pursued by men on horseback. Then we opened fire. When we reached the spot where McCook was shot, a distance of about a mile, the enemy had dispersed. McCook was carried to Dr. Beatty’s house where he died the following day, Aug 6 1862.”

“This statement was approved by C. W. H. Luebbert, Michael Lorentz, Jos. Plesche, Wm. Dublmeier, Frank E. Kaiser, Albert Bocklett, Fred Wendel, Albin Stecher and Gerhard Ferber, members of the 9th Ohio.”

Not According to History

T. C. Wattenspiel, 106th Ohio, Eagle Block, Salt Lake City, Utah, writes:

“The account of the death of Gen. R. L. McCook by a comrade of the 4th Ohio Cav. is at variance with the facts as published in the regimental histories of both of the 9th and the 35th Ohio. As there are members of both regiments living who were there and almost eyewitnesses I leave it to them to contradict our deluded Southern brethren including Capt, Frank B. Gurley.

McCook Was Very Sick.

Herman Beyland, Co. A, 9th Ohio, commissioned Lieutenant 2d Ky. Art., Clifton, Ky. writes:

“Gen Robert L. McCook and his Adjutant Hunter Brooke, were in an ambulance. McCook was in his nightshirt, and was a very sick man. He should have been in rear of the brigade but for a mistake. He had but few orderlies with him. Among them was Andy S. Burt. now General retired., the Portner Washington D. C .

“Being some distance in advance of his brigade, unwary of any danger, his little cavalcade was suddenly attacked. Thls frightened the horses that Adj’t. Brooke was driving. He yelled to the party attacking: ‘Do not shoot; the horses are unmanageable.’ Not heeding, the leader rode up to the sick General and shot him thru the body, wounding him fatally. He was carried into a log house where the Major in command of the 1st battalion of the 9th Ohio found him dying unattended in his agony. The brlgade also came up upon hearing the firing.

“The pathetic scenes that were enacted during that night at the deathbed of McCook and the words by him spoken will never be forgotten. Said he to his Aid: “Andy, what matters the death of 10,000 such as I or you if only this Union can be saved.”

Gurley Much Wanted

Chas. McDonald 2d Ill. Art., Midway, Pa., writes that:

“Comrade Brankam went a long way, from home to find out about the killing of Gen. Robert McCook. In August 1863, I with others under orders of Gen Gordon Granger, was sent for the plantation of Sheriff Gourley [Gurler’s] to try to capture Capt. Gurley, but he was slick enough to get away. We also had orders to burn and destroy everything on Sheriff Gurley’s place and driven away all his negroes, which was done. Among the furnishings of hls parlor was a framed commission of Frank B. Gurley {as Sheriff of the County, who was that day very much wanted at home. His commission was then smashed and burned with the other property

There Were No Cattle

Chas. A. Edwards, Co. A, 2nd Mlnn., Dodgeville, O. writes”

“The facts in the case are as follows:” Gen McCook, with the brigade, consisting of the 2d Minn., 9th and 35th Ohio and Lieut. Smith’s U. S. battery left Florence, Ala., about July 28, 1862, for Winchester, Tenn. McCook who was quite sick at the time was riding in an ambulance from the start until the day he was shot, Aug 5, 1862.

“It was a very sultry day and the McCook ambulance, with the headquarters baggage wagon, with Capts. Miller and Brooke and a guard of a few men, were some half mile or more in advance of the 35th Ohio, the leading regiment of the brigade, to avoid the dust. About noon they met a man of whom Capt. Brooke inquired how far ahead they could find water sufficient for the camp of a brigade of troops, who replied that just beyond a bend in the road which they could see ahead was a fine spring.

“McCook, who rightly judged the people of that section as rebels, said to the Captain: Probably he is a rebel and is lying to you At this the man took from his pocket a pass signed by one of Gen. Buell’s staff und said , “that ought to convince you that I am a Union man.” The party believing it was all right started on and just after passing the bend in the road alluded to, they found themselves surrounded by about 50 armed men who sprang from the thick brush by the roadside and began firing. The General, pierced by the fatal bullet, raised upon his elbow. When the leader of the gang rushed up and was about to complete his fiendish work. McCook said: ‘You had belter save your ammunition; I am done for.’ In the confusion which ensued, the driver of the baggage wagon made his escape and ran back to the advance of the 35th Ohio and reported the disaster to Col Vandev[e]er who started his regiment forward on the run, while his Adjutant turned his horse and started down the line upon the run, shouting ‘McCook has been shot and killed!’

“I cannot understand Gurley’s statement that a herd of beef cattle were with the brigade and that a body of soldiers driving the cattle began the fight. No cattle were being driven by our troops, and no attempt was made by the rebels to kill anyone except McCook. Not more than eight men, all told, were with McCook at the time he was shot, and all save the driver above referred to were taken prisoners and paroled soon afterward.

To find a cause for their hatred of McCook, we must go back to the Fourth of July at Tuscumbla, Ala. The Division of Gen. Thomas at that place celebrated the day by firing a National salute and listening to speeches made by Governor Alex Ramsey of Minnesota, Col Boyington, Gen McCook and others. I well remember some of McCook’s remarks. He said that he was a Democrat and that he enlisted to help put down this rebellion and would favor killing every rebel and freeing every slave in Alabama to do it.

“I know that squads of the 2d Minn,, without the consent or knowledge of their offlcers, burned some buildings, while the 9th Ohio, by details, in charge of officers, burned many buildings. At one of them the 9th Ohio men were met by a woman who begged the Captain not to burn her house. His reply was ‘Madam for the first time in this war an American General has been cowardly murdered. This it shall never shelter them again. I give you 15 minutes to get out your things.’ ”

 Letter Regarding the Batle of Chickmauga

The Perrysburg Journal. (Perrysburg, Wood Co., Ohio)

November 9, 1895

 

 

Recapture of Battery H, Fifth United States Artillery,

By the Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on the First Day of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Pueblo, Col., Sept., 25, 1895

To the Chattanooga Times.

     On the 10th and 20th of Septomber, 1863, your correspondent was an actor in the events which for all time to come saved Chattanooga to our union; and in penning these lines he will make no attempt to add a page to history, but simply narrate what have been matters of personal observation.

     The battle of Chickamauga was fought across and along the road leading from Lafayette, Ga., to Chattanooga, Tenn., and its immediate object was the re-occupatlon of the last named city. By a successful feint the Confederate general, Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee, was on the 9th day of September, 1803, induced to evacuate his stronghold at Chattanooga, while the union general, Rosecrans, at the same time became enabled, with his Army of the Cumberland, almost unobserved and certainly unmolested, not only at various places below that city, by means of hastily constructed rafts and pontoons to cross the wide Tennessee river, but also to safely climb and descend the abrupt Raccoon range, as well as Sand and Lookout mountain on north side of the river. Today it is clear to every soldier, that the Army of the Cumberland never, slnce its existence, had been in such a perilous and hazardous condition as when, from the 9th to the 10th of September, 1863. Its three corps were absolutely isolated on a line forty miles apart between Its two wings, each separated from the other by rugged mountain ranges, and in its center confronted by a well organized and concentrated force of superior numbers, which was even then being dally increased by the arrival of fresh troops. And totally inconceivable, then as well as now, is the failure of Gen. Bragg to take advantage of the divided condition of Rosocrans' army, by attacking and crushing the same in detail. The situation of the contending armies was thoroughly understood even by the private soldiers, and this is not, therefore, "wisdom after the fact." Instead of this, however, the confederate general on the 16th of September, resolved to await the arrival at Lafayette of the expected forces from Virginia under the command of Gen. Longstreet, and for the present moment felt contented in trying to overlay the left wing of the union army and thereby cut it off from Chattanooga. This state of affairs, ot course, necessitated, on the other slde, an immediate extension and reinforcement ot Rosecrans' left wing, for which communication with Chatanooga was of paramount and vital importance. For this reason Gen. Thomas, commanding the center of the army of the Cumberland (Fourteenth corps), received, late in the afternoon of 18th ot September, orders to move with his four divisions from the (then) camping place near Pond Spring, in a northerly direction along the Crawfish road, to a point near Lee & Gordon's mill, which Gen. Crittenden had already occupied. And now took place the ever memorable night march of the Fourteenth corps. Silent but firm, following close upon each others' heels, but continually blinded by the smoke of burning fences, these thousands of experienced veterans, four divisions strong, marched along the dusty country road, and many, it really seemed, sniffed from afar in the cold, frosty night air, the slaughter that was to come in the early morning; certain it is that in many places the lines of the two contending armies were so close that the chopping of the axes, the dull rumbling of the artillery wheels and all the notes of preparation for the struggle which was to begin the next day could be distinctly heard. Finally, at dawn of the morning the objective point was fortunately reached, and now brigade after brigade, one closing up in the rear of the other commenced marching by left flank past Crittenden into the designated new line until the last one (Van Derveer's), took its position near the old McDonald house on the Lafayette and Chattanooga road. And so the extension of our left wing was safely accomplished. It was about 7 o'clock a. m. on the morning of the 19th of September, when this last (the Third) brigade of Gen. Brannan's (the Third) division was ordered into the opposite woods toward Reed bridge and the Chickamauga rlver whore desperate fighting had already commenced. That the Third brigade of the Third division, Fourteenth corps, under command of Col. Ferd. Van Derveer and composed of the Ninth and Thirty-fifth Ohio. Second Minnesota and Eighty-seventh Indiana regiment, volunteer infantry, stands second to none in the records, both official and historical, of the effective lighting accomplished upon the bloody field of Chickamauga, is not and cannot be questioned. Only the Eighty-seventh Indiana, Second Minnesota and Thirty-fifth Ohio wore engaged early in the morning of the 10th as the Ninth Ohio haying been ordered to guard the ammunition train of Brannan's division in the rear, had not yet arrived on the battlefield. About 9 o'clock all of a sudden the confederates under Walker and Forrest made such a fierce onslaught on Baird’s division that the two brigades of King and Salbon?  were thrown out of position and repulsed, and by a charge led by Walthall's Mississippi brigade. Gunther's battery H, Fifth United States artillery was captured. Thereby Gen. Baird's line was badly shattered and King's brlgade of his division (the First) was driven in confusion across Van Derveer’s brigade to the left. It was at this critical moment that the Ninth Ohio regiment, led by its Colonel, Gustav Kämmerling appeared, having been ordered to the position at the right wing of Van Derveer's brlgade, and coming up on the run, it passed the point in rear of where the regular brigade (King), had lost its guns. With his usual cool judgement and wonderful ability to instantly perceive the situation of a field of battle, Col. Kämmerling saw the necessity of quickly changing front and attacking the rapidly advancing foe. This was no place nor tlme to wait for orders. So he at once ordered the two wing companies of his regiment to deploy as skirmishers and the remaining right companies to lie down. The ground undulating toward the hillside full of high grass and small underbrush and covered with some trees gave our soldiers a little protection and enabled the skirmishers for a little while to keep up a sharp and well aimed flre by which the enemy's advance was momentarily cheeked. Then Col. Kämmerling, with truly admirable coolness, commanded the skirmishers to lie down, but the regiment to rise and discharge, simultaneously, two regimental volleys in quick succession, whereupon immediately the order to attack with the bayonet was given. And now followed one of the wildest charges that any single regiment ever undertook. The guns on the hlllside stood near a quarter of a mile away and were equally defended by a confederate infantry and a cross fire from distant batteries of our own, but the attack was so sudden and so irresistable that in a few minutes the heavy lines of the enemy were broken and driven off, and the guns taken by the intrepid, unfaltering soldiers of the Ninth Ohio. By this little sldo affair the regiment lost 63 killed and wounded. But no better evidence of the pre-eminent distinction won here by the gallant Col. Gustav Kämmerling can be wanted than the fact that upon the special and urgent commendation of Maj. Gen. Thomas, he was promptly made a brigadier-general. Aftr the enemy had been defeated for the moment and the guns of Battery H, Fifth United States artillery, secured the Ninth Ohio regiment returned to Van Derveer's brigade and came up just as Longstreet's men were hurling themselves in a mass upon the left. The Ninth hero joined its forces to that of its comrades in time to have weight of metal tell in settling deadly conflict.

H.

 

 

The National Tribune., July 19, 1883, Page 7,  

 

Gen. Robt. L. McCook's Commission.

To the Editor Nationai Tribune:

I noticed in your issue of the 26th of June a communication from Comrade F. A, Buckingham, of Company G, Second Minnesota, in regard to the murder of out brigade commander, Col. Robert L. McCook. How well I remember that day. Our beloved commander. although weak and sick went on ahead in an ambulance to pick out a good camping-ground for us. With only a small body-guard with him, and, perhaps, was perhaps a mile or so ahead of the brigade when the guerrillas made a dash by a crossroad, onto him; his body-guard fled and the cowards left our brave commander to his fate. He was killed while the driver was trying to turn his horses, without any request to surrender as a prisoner. What a night of grief that was to the two old regiments—the Ninth Ohio and Second Minnesota. How the curses and anathemas arose from those “bully Dutchmen” when they learned that their chief had fallen murdered in his ambulance! How we pressed forward in the double-quick to reach the spot and and gaze on the bodv of our dear colonel! He had his "bully Dutch" regiment in splendid order, and maneuvered them much in the style of the Prussian army, and there was not one of them but would have laid down his life for his colonel if opportunity offered. This affair happened in August, 1862, when we were on the march towards Winchester. Tenn. As Comrade Buckingham says, we all were proud of our brigade commander, and his taking-off' in such a cowardly manner stirred the passions of every soldier to fever heat. I afterwards saw the leader of this cowardly band of guerrillas a prisoner at Stephenson. Ala., and be was guarded very closely ail the time to prevent the Ninth Ohio boys from shooting him down on sight. In your last issue I read an account of the march we made just before Chickamauga, by Capt.  F. W. Perry, of the Tenth Wisconsin. It brings back to mind at once all the incidents of that greet battle, and I am anxious to read the rest of his account. I could write much of interest of my own personal observation in that fearful fight, but will only say that, of the company I belonged to, we had but thirty men for duly when the fight began on September 19th, 1863,and after two two-days’ battle, there were but eight men left to answer roll-call. I was one of the eight, and we still had our three commissioned officers, but one of them fell afterward on the top of Missionarv Ridge, and I was ported as a guard over his body during that night.

Hiram A. Herrington.


Anoka. Minn. 2d Minn. V. I.

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