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Chapter 18:

  • Supplementary
  • -- roll of veterans -- First Massachusetts Light Battery -- battle of Cedar Creek

We left at Harrisonburg, October 3, 1864, not only those men originally recruited for our company, whose terms of service had not expired, and those who belonged to the Sixteenth New York Volunteers and had been attached to our command since the departure of their regiment, but also our veterans who had re-enlisted at Brandy Station in the spring. This roll of honor embraced the names of Charles Appleton, Joseph H. Marea, Henry Smitherman, Richard J. Isaacs, Wm. Hanscom, Martin V. Cushing, Nicholas G. Lynch, Joseph Barnes, George Barnard, Alonzo Sackett, Chester Ellis, Jno. H. Burnham, Jno. Carter, David Covell, Matthew Adams, R. P. Charters, Jno. W. Chase, Daniel Benham, Willard Chaffin, Chas. Edwards, T. F. Longley, Henry S. Marsh, Jno. Magee, Wm. F. Ward, Wm. White, Geo. Howes. The first named comrade was killed in the memorable fight of the 19th of October, the second was mortally wounded, and it is said he was borne from the field upon the back of Comrade Lynch, who ministered to him in his last moments.

During the next fortnight after the departure of the long train from Harrisonburg, Sheridan, having pursued the remnant of the enemy to Port Republic, and having sent his cavalry east and west destroying provisions and munitions, retired down the valley burning all the grain and forage that remained, as he passed, so that the enemy should find no subsistence there. He had reached Cedar Creek and encamped upon its banks on the 15th of October, and, apprehending no danger, had gone upon a visit to Washington.

Early, reinforced, having stealthily followed down the valley, determined to surprise the unsuspecting army before him. In this he succeeded perfectly, flanking the Eighth Corps on both [188] sides in the dense darkness, and rushing into the camps with a fearful yell, just before daylight, October 19; and in less than a half hour, this Federal corps was fleeing, panic-stricken, having lost 24 guns and 1,200 prisoners. Sheridan was at Winchester on his return when the disastrous tidings met him, and, riding at full speed, reached his beaten army at 10 o'clock, A. M. He spent two hours in reviving the spirits of his men, and after repulsing a fresh attack on his left, ordered at 3 P. M. a general advance, which was successfully made, followed by a second charge, which was still more successful,—though the Confederates opposed to them nearly all the cannon of both armies,—facing the foe to the rear and driving them through Staunton, recovering the 24 guns lost in the morning and taking 23 others, with 1,500 prisoners.

The following sketches, which we believe to be authentic, were contributed, the one in 1878, and the other six years earlier, to the history of the Shenandoah campaign. We regret that we cannot give the names of the authors, but are pleased to present them here, as descriptive of the action in which our comrades, Charles Appleton and Joseph Marea, were killed.


‘The Federal Army of the Shenandoah was encamped October 19, 1864, on Cedar Creek; during the absence of its commander it was surprised at daylight at Alacken, by the Confederate army, under Gen. Early, its left flank turned and driven in confusion, the remainder of the army retiring, yet in good order. Gen. Wright, in command at the time, after having succeeded in restoring something like order among the surprised troops, seeing that the position they had fallen back to was an exposed one, ordered a general retreat to enable him to restore communications. The retreat was conducted in good order, and Gen. Wright had halted and restored his lines, when, at 10 A. M., Gen. Sheridan, who had heard of the disaster at Winchester, arrived on the field. He was informed by Gen. Wright of the dispositions made by him, of which he approved. The pursuit by the Confederate army had ceased, the men being occupied in plundering the camps of the Eighth and Nineteenth Corps. Gen. Sheridan arrived there to find that his army had been surprised and routed, but he found that the worst was over, the line reformed, and the army not demoralized. His presence lent an inspiring effect, so that, [189] making his line as compact as possible, an attack made upon it at one P. M. was successfully repulsed. At three P. M., after making some charges with his cavalry, he attacked the Confederates with great vigor, driving and routing them, and capturing 50 pieces of cannon, including 20 pieces of his own lost in the morning, with about 2,000 prisoners, besides releasing many of our men who had been captured in the morning. The cavalry drove them yet further the next day. During that night Early retreated, and the military operations in the valley of the Shenandoah were at an end.’


‘Early's attack was made under cover of a dense fog, and the darkness of early morning. The troops were driven four miles. Gen. Wright, the Union commander, though wounded, still remained on the field, and managed to get his troops in a new position in the rear. Sheridan heard the cannonading thirteen miles away, at Winchester. Knowing the importance of his presence, he put spurs to his coal-black steed, and never drew rein until, his horse covered with foam, he dashed upon the battlefield. Riding down the lines, he shouted: “Turn, boys, turn! We're going back.” 1 Under the magnetism of his presence, the fugitives rallied and followed him to the fight and victory.’


Just one month after the battle of Opequon, or the commencement of Sheridan's campaign in the valley, the campaign certainly unsurpassed in brilliancy by any other of the war, was brought to an end. The Confederate army of the valley was in effect destroyed; Maryland was never more invaded or the capital again menaced.

The old Sixth Corps returned to the James to participate in the closing scenes of the war. Its record thenceforth was a continuation of that story of faithful and honorable service which had justly given it distinction from the date of its institution in the spring of 1862.


Gen. Wm. Farrar Smith

Was born in St. Albans, Vt., February 17, 1824. He graduated at West Point, July 1, 1845, and was immediately appointed brevet second lieutenant of topographical engineers; he performed important work incident to that branch of the military service. Subsequently Lieut. Smith was assistant professor of mathematics at West Point. In 1848, he was engaged in surveys upon the Mexican frontier, and later in Florida. Thus occupied until 1855, he was again instructor at the Military Academy.


Five days before the battle of Bull Run, Smith was commissioned colonel of the Third Vermont; was engaged on the 21st of July, 1861, serving on the staff of Gen. McDowell. August 13, Col. Smith was made brigadier general of volunteers, and during the winter of 1861, commanded the Vermont brigade, then in Sumner's division. He led this command at Lee's Mills, the most important incident of the siege of Yorktown. He participated in the battle of Williamsburg, as commander of a division in Sumner's corps.

Upon the formation of the Sixth Army Corps, Gen. Smith's command was transferred to that organization. His division was engaged at Savage's Station, and at White Oak Creek it was the stubborn resistance of Smith's artillery and infantry that prevented Jackson from crossing and uniting his forces with those of Longstreet, at Charles City Cross Roads. Gen. Smith participated in the affair at Malvern Hill. He was promoted to a major generalship in July, 1862. Gen. Smith led the Second Division of the Sixth Corps, at Crampton's Gap, in Maryland; and at Antietam his division, coming to the relief of Sedgwick and Crawford, in the afternoon of the 17th of September, made the memorable successful charge that drove back the Confederates upon their left. In the battle of the 13th of December, 1862, on the Rappahannock, Gen. Smith commanded the Sixth Corps, the right of the Left Grand Division. After the Fredericksburg campaign, he was transferred to the command of the Ninth Corps.


Gen. Smith was chief engineer of the Army of the Cumberland, in the fall and winter of 1863, and directed the work of capturing [191] the heights overlooking Brown's Ferry below Chattanooga. He subsequently participated in the battle of Missionary Ridge.

... Returning to the department of Virginia in March, 1864, he was placed in command of the Eighteenth Corps; rendered important service at Cold Harbor, June 1 to 3, and was conspicuous in the events incident to the siege of Petersburg. Gen. Smith resigned his commission in the volunteer service in 1865, and in the regular army in 1867. He is at present president of the police commission of the city of New York.

Gen. Jno. Sedgwick

Was born in Cornwall, Ct., September 13, 1813. Graduated at West Point, July, 1837. In this year, as a junior second lieutenant of artillery, he made a campaign against the Seminoles in Florida. Subsequently he served upon the northern frontier in the Canada border troubles. Young Sedgwick accompanied Scott's expedition to Vera Cruz, and participated in the battles that followed the surrender of that port, winning for gallantry displayed at Cerro Gordo, Churubusco, Molino del Rey and Chapultepec, the brevets of captain and major. He was present during the assault upon the Mexican capital, and at its capture. He was made lieutenant colonel of cavalry in the Second United States; afterward, in the same year, was commissioned colonel of the First United States Cavalry; this was in August, and in the latter part of that month, he was made brigadier general of volunteers. During the fall and winter of 1861, Gen. Sedgwick commanded a brigade of Heintzelman's division. In the Peninsula campaign, he was at the head of a division of Sumner's Corps, which participated in the siege of Yorktown, and the battle of Fair Oaks, where their arrival after a toilsome march largely contributed to the favorable ending of that engagement. His command distinguished itself at Savage's Station, June 29, and at Fraser's Farm, June 30, where its general was wounded, as he was also three times, severely, at Antietam. The wounds received at this place deprived the nation of his services until the following December.

The changes of corps commanders which resulted from the change in the chief command of the Army of the Potomac, after [192] the winter of 1862, found Gen. Sedgwick at the head of the Sixth Corps, as the commander of which he is known to fame. In May, 1863, he was ordered by Gen. Hooker to carry the heights of Fredericksburg, and form a junction with the main army at Chancellorsville. The town was occupied on Sunday morning, May 3, with little opposition, but the storming of the heights behind it cost the lives of several thousand men. The advance of the Sixth Corps was checked at Salem Heights about four o'clock in the afternoon, by a superior force detached by Gen. Lee, from the main army confronting Hooker. The force opposing Gen. Sedgwick was further strengthened the next morning, May 4, and it was only by great skill and hard fighting that the general was able to hold his ground during the day, and to withdraw at night across the Rappahannock.


On the evening of June 30, 1863, the Sixth Corps, the right of the army following the movements of Lee, was at Manchester, northwest of Baltimore, thirty-five miles from Gettysburg; the events of the hour demanding the concentration of the army at the last place, the Sixth Corps made the march thither in twenty hours, arriving before two P. M., July 2. The corps participated thenceforth in the action of the 2d and 3d of July.


Gen. Sedgwick commanded the right of the Army of the Potomac at Rappahannock Station, November 7; also at Mine Run, November 26 to December 7, 1863.


Gen. Sedgwick was conspicuous in the battles of the Wilderness, and those at Spottsylvania. On the 10th of May, 1864, he was killed by the bullet of a sharpshooter. He was universally beloved. In the Sixth Corps he was known as ‘Uncle John,’ and his death cast a gloom over that command which was never dispelled. A monument wrought of cannon captured by the Sixth Corps, was erected to his memory at West Point.

Josiah Porter

Was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1830. He graduated from Harvard College in 1852, and we believe was a classmate of the [193] lamented Col. Paul Revere, who fell at Gettysburg. After graduation Porter studied law and was admitted to practice in the courts of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. He early evinced great interest in military affairs, becoming in 1852 a member of the Boston Light Artillery. In 1861, when the Massachusetts militia was called to the defence of the capital, Porter was first lieutenant of the Light Artillery Corps, with which he had early connected himself; he accompanied that command as its second officer, and served with honor during the term of enlistment of his company. The scene of its-operations was central Maryland, being in the department commanded by Gen. Butler. Lieut. Porter, whose urbanity made him ever popular with officers and men, seems to have been a local authority as a tactician, when the battery first entered the service, and this fact, doubtless, had due influence in causing his selection for the command of the First Massachusetts Light Battery. Capt. Porter evinced great executive ability in the arduous work of recruiting, mustering, equipping, and instructing his command, and the condition and appearance of the corps at the moment of departure for the South furnished ample confirmation of this. He was at the time the recipient of an elegant sword from the Harvard class of which he had been a member. Thenceforth, until after the battle of Antietam, in 1862, his history is that of his company. When family affairs necessitated his withdrawal from the army, and finally compelled his resignation, an excellent officer was lost to the service. After the war he resumed practice in his profession in New York City. He continued to have the liveliest interest in military affairs, and was colonel of the Twenty-second Regiment New York S. V. M. He is at present adjutant general of the state of New York.

The resignation of Colonel Josiah Porter, Twenty-second Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., is a topic of conversation just now in the regimental lines and throughout the First Division, where he has the well-earned reputation of being one of the most successful and accomplished regimental commanders in the service.

The colonel joined the regiment in 1865 as captain of Company G; was commissioned major May 10, 1867; lieutenant colonel January 30, 1869, and colonel October 1, 1869, since which time the regiment under his command has made steady progress in strength, discipline, and efficiency. Although he has proved himself a first-class infantry officer, Colonel Porter's fame is associated with his war record as an artillery officer. [194]

Colonel Porter is a graduate of the class of 1852, Harvard University. Prior to the war he was a member of the Boston City Council, having been also a member of the First Massachusetts Volunteer Artillery, joining it at its organization, and rising to its command with the reputation of being one of the most accomplished artillerists in the State. In April, 1861, the battery, under command of Captain Porter, took the field at the first call to arms, proceeding to Baltimore by the way of Annapolis, arriving there on May 8, just in time to save the magnificent viaduct of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from threatened destruction. This was the first important service rendered by Porter's battery. On an adjacent hill, above the railroad station, the famous Bouquet battery was built, under the direction and supervision of Captain Porter, for the protection of the road, and here the battery remained during the greater part of its three months service, perfecting its gunnery practice and making occasional demonstrations in Baltimore to keep the enemy in check. On June 20, 1861, the battery was ordered into Baltimore, and formed part of the force then occupying the city.

On its return to Boston, at the expiration of its three months service, it was immediately reorganized by Captain Porter as the First Massachusetts Light Artillery, and mustered in for three years service. It then consisted of six Guns—two rifles, two smooth bores, and two howitzers—and two hundred men. Their departure from Boston and passage through New York, on their way to the front, was marked with great enthusiasm. Shortly after their arrival in Washington a grand review of cavalry and artillery took place, on which occasion General Barry, chief of artillery, complimented Captain Porter on the drill and discipline of the battery, which he placed on the right of line of twenty full batteries assembled. President Lincoln and General McClellan were also present, the President remarking to the general, ‘That,’ pointing to Porter's battery, ‘is the best battery on the field.’

When the Union army advanced into Virginia, Porter's battery was assigned to Slocum's division of the grand old Sixth Corps, with whose glorious record the history of the battery is inseparably connected. It subsequently took a prominent part in the siege and fall of Yorktown, and in the battle of West Point. After the retreat of the enemy beyond the Chickahominy Porter's battery took position at Mechanicsville, within view of the steeples of Richmond. During the seven days battle (which marked the celebrated change of base) the battery had hot work to perform. At the battle of Gaines' Mills it was ordered to reinforce General Porter's Fifth Corps, and at the close of the day was left in an exposed position. Captain Porter was without orders to retire, and held his position, stubbornly and alone, for an hour, while the lines were closing in upon him, and little hope of retreat left. At length the command to fall back at full speed came, and, after delivering a parting volley into the advancing lines, the battery leisurely retired under a fire which ended only at the increasing darkness.

On June 30, the battery participated in the battle of Glendale, or Charles City Cross Roads. Porter's battery and Upton's battery of regular artillery went into action together on the most exposed part of the line, and did fearful [195] execution. The battery on this occasion threw 600 shells and spherical case, sometimes within 200 yards range. An attempt by a determined charge, with massed columns of infantry, to capture the position, was repulsed with great slaughter, Porter's howitzers making wide gaps in the enemy's lines. There is a good picture of this fight in Harper's Weekly of July, 1862. The battle of Malvern Hills was fought next day, in which, also, the battery participated. This was the sixth of the seven days fighting. Upon the defeat of Pope's army the Army of the Potomac marched to his support, and Captain Porter came up with his battery after the crushing defeat of the Second Bull Run, or Manassas, or Gainesville, as it is variously called, and subsequently held a covering position in the works at Centreville. The battery subsequently took part in the advance into Maryland, and participated in the action at Crampton's Gap, where the Sixth Corps, under cover of the artillery fire, charged up the slopes of the Blue Ridge. Following close upon this came Antietam, where Porter's battery had position in the open fields in front of the woods and close to the cornfield where such terrible slaughter took place.

After this battle, urgent private business compelled Captain Porter to apply for leave of absence, which being returned disapproved, with the flattering endorsement that so able and brave an officer could not be spared, he was forced to resign, and, turning over the battery to the next in command, returned to Boston. Subsequently, strong efforts were made to induce him to resume command, but without success. He was reappointed to fill the vacancy created by his own resignation, but declined to accept a commission requiring immediate service. His retirement was much regretted. It is hoped, for the good of the Twenty-second and the service, that Colonel Porter will be induced to withdraw his resignation. Action is being taken toward this end in all the companies of the regiment, and by the board of officers.

New York Evening Express, Aug. 23, 1879.

Wm. H. McCartney

Was born in New Hampshire, 1832. Was educated in the public schools, studied law, and was admitted to practice. Several years before the outbreak of the civil war, he was located in Boston, diligently employed in his profession. McCartney, during these years, was an active and enthusiastic member of military organizations, was an officer in a regiment of infantry, and later a member and then an officer of light artillery. He served during the three months campaign, in response to the first call for troops (75,000), as junior first lieutenant of the Boston Light Artillery. He seems in this campaign to have acquired reputation both as a disciplinarian and tactician; and immediately on the return of the battery to Massachusetts was commissioned senior first lieutenant [196] of the First Massachusetts Light Battery, about to be raised. Lieutenant McCartney was an energetic, zealous officer, in character original and strongly marked,—possessed of a keen sense of justice. It would have been impossible for him to be a routine officer. It therefore goes without saying that popularity would not be the prime purpose of his life in camp, but his ability was conceded by all, and his friends bear the strongest testimony to his fidelity to duty as it presented itself to him. As captain of the First Massachusetts Battery, he was recognized in the army corps to which that command was attached, as one of the ablest artillery officers in the volunteer service. He led his company at Fredericksburg, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Mine Run, 1863; in the campaigns from Brandy Station to Petersburg in the spring and summer of 1864, he handled his command with admirable judgment and consummate skill. In August, 1864, the Sixth Corps, having been detached from the Army of the Potomac and been sent to the defence of the capital, it afterwards constituted a part of Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah. Capt. McCartney's battery participated in the battles of Opequon and Fisher's Hill. The term of enlistment of the command expired while it was at Harrisonburg, Oct. 3, 1864, sixteen days before the battle of Cedar Creek, and it was mustered out in Boston, on the very day on which that conflict occurred. The captain was then made provost marshal of Boston, and before the close of the war was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers. He was prominent as a speaker in the political campaign of 1864, and he was in the following year appointed collector of internal revenue for the fourth district. McCartney is at present practicing in his profession in central eastern Pennsylvania.

1 One of the panic-stricken, that day, says: ‘What Sheridan really said was, “Turn about, you d—d cowardly curs, or I'll cut you down! I don't expect you to fight, but come and see men (referring to the Sixth Corps) who like to.” He was recognized, and there was a shout, “ It is Sheridan!” The effect was electrical; we turned and moved southward with even more alacrity than we had displayed in retreating.’

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