Monday, November 17, 2014

Colonel Roger Preston Chew: Commander of Stuart's Horse Artillery

Roger Preston Chew was born in Loudoun County,Virginia to Roger Chew and Sarah West Aldridge Chew April 9, 1843.  The family moved to Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1848.  Chew attended the Charleston Academy before becoming a cadet at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1859.  He graduated from VMI in 1861.  After graduation Chew was ordered to Harpers Ferry,Virginia with a group of VMI cadets, where he acted as a drill master. 

                                            Lt. Colonel Roger Preston Chew

In September 1861, a youthful 18 year old Chew and a VMI classmate raised an artillery battery of which Chew was elected captain.  In November 1861 Captain Chew proposed his battery be attached to Lt. Colonel Turner Ashby's 7th Virginia Cavalry as a horse artillery unit.  The plan was approved by Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin.  Chew's Battery was the first horse artillery battery in either the Union or Confederate Army.  Horse artillery road with the cavalry and participated in cavalry charges.

Chews horse artillery was attached to "Ashby's" Cavalry.  By December 1861 the battery had 2 guns an iron 3.5 inch caliber 12 Pound Blakely rifle and a 3 inch ordinance rifle made by Tredegar Iron Works.  Chews Battery rode with the 7th Virginia cavalry, where they participated in Jackson's Valley Campaign, until Ashby's untimely death on June 6, 1862.  The battery then became part of J. E. B. Stuart's Horse Artillery.  

Chews Battery remained with Stuart's Cavalry throughout the remainder of the war participating in such battles as 2nd Manassas, the Maryland Campaign, the Gettysburg Campaign, Bristoe Station, the Overland Campaign, the Petersburg Campaign, Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign and the retreat to Appomattox.  The battery suffered 100 casualties (7 killed, 43 wounded,3 missing and 47 captured) out of 271 men engaged between 1861-1865.  

In 1864 Chew was promoted to Major and later Lt. Colonel and assumed command of all of Stuart's Horse artillery.  General Wade Hampton once described Chew as "the ablest commander of the horse artillery, though that gallant body of men at different times had very gallant and efficient officers." 

After the civil war Chew became a farmer and a businessman in Charlestown, West Virginia.  He was president of the Eagle Manufacturing Company and the Charlestown Mining, Manufacturing and Improvement Company.  He married Louise Fontaine Washington, a daughter of  Colonel John Augustine Washington in 1871.  He was elected to the state legislature in 1882, 1884, 1886 and 1888.  Roger Preston Chew died March 16, 1921.  He is buried in the Zion Episcopal Cemetery in Charlestown, West Virginia.

                                Chew's Monument, Zion Episcopal Cemetery

                                   Chew's Headstone Zion Episcopal Cemetery

For further reading see "Chew's Battery of Stuart's Horse Artillery" by Edward K. Cassedy


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Old Simon" The Private Soldiers Monument, Antietam National Cemetery

A colossal granite figure rising 44' 7" high, and weighing 250 tons stands guard over the graves in Antietam National Cemetery.  The statue nicknamed "Old Simon" but officially known as the Private Soldiers Monument looks northward and honors the 4,776 Union soldiers interred in the National Cemetery who gave their lives for their country.

The design of the monument which stands in the center of the cemetery was approved by the Antietam Cemetery Board at a meeting held in Baltimore, MD., on September 16, 1867.  The corner stone was placed on September 17, 1867.  The monument was erected in 1880 at a cost of $32,000 and was dedicated September 17, 1880 the 18th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. When erected it  was the largest monument of its kind in the country.

            The Private Soldiers Monument (Library of Congress Photo)

The soldier itself which is 21.5" tall and weights 30 tons is made of 2 pieces of granite joined at the waist.   The figure stands at the military position of "in place rest".  The monument was designed by James Batterson and sculpted by James Pollette.

Close-up "Old Simon"

The base of the monument is inscribed with the words "Not for themselves but for their country ".

The beautiful monument is a fitting tribute to the valor and courage of the private soldiers of the Union Army who laid their lives on the alter of their country.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten: Remembering Union Cavalry at Mt. Zion Church Cemetery

Mt. Zion Church and the adjacent rock walled cemetery lie south of the John S. Mosby Highway (Route 50) a mile or so east of Gilbert's Corner in Loudoun County, Virginia.  I stopped there on May 10 to participate in a program sponsored by the Mosby Heritage Area Association which included visiting graves of Mosby's Rangers.

                                          Mt. Zion Church

At the back of the cemetery, nestled in the corner, are 12 U. S. Government headstones inscribed with the names of cavalrymen from the 2nd Massachusetts and the 13th New York Cavalry Regiments.  The Union soldiers were killed by Mosby's Rangers in a July 6, 1864 running skirmish near the church and on Samuel Skinners Farm east of the church.  The cavalrymen were reportedly originally buried near the Little River Church adjacent to Old Braddock Road and later disinterred and moved to Arlington National Cemetery.  In the 1990's citizens of Loudoun County obtained the headstones from the Veterans Administration and had them placed in the cemetery to honor the fallen Yankees.

Private Cornelius Tobin, Company I, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A shoemaker from Marlborough, Mass., Tobin was 19 when he enlisted on March 21, 1864. KIA July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Charles Oeldraiher, Company G, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A tinsmith from Boston, Mass., Oeldraiher was 22 when he enlisted on February 29, 1864.  KIA July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private John Johnson, Company I, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A bricklayer from Canajoharie, New York, Johnson was 22 when he enlisted on June 4, 1864.  KIA July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private William F. Dumaresy (Dumaresq) (Dumareso), Company K, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A sailor from Jersey Island, England, Dumaresy was 27 when he enlisted on June 1, 1864.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Owen Fox, Company H, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A laborer from East Braintree, Mass., Fox was 23 when he enlisted on October 9, 1863.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Corporal Samuel C. Hanscom (Handscom), Company A, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  Hanscom was from San Francisco, California.  He was 28 years old when he enlisted on December 10, 1862.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Corporal James McDonald, Company F, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A miner from California, McDonald was 30 when he enlisted on April 2, 1863.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Charles W. Rollins, Company I, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A farmer from Stanstead, Quebec, Canada, Rollins was 38 when he enlisted on May 27, 1864.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie. Virginia.

Private Patrick Riordan, Company I, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  A shoemaker from Marlborough, Mass., Riordan was 19 when he enlisted on March 31, 1864.  KIA, July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Joseph Lovely, Company K, 13th New York Cavalry.  Lovely was 20 when he enlisted on December 4, 1863 at Belmont, New York.  KIA, July 5, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Michael Hubin, Company I, 13th New York Cavalry.   Hubin was 30 when he enlisted as a private in the 13th New York on November 24, 1863.  He had previously seen service with the 4th New York Infantry, enlisting on April 27, 1861 before mustering out on May 25, 1863.  KIA July 6, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

Private Duff Montanado, Company H, 13th New York Cavalry. Montanado was 18 when he enlisted at Watertown, New York on August 7, 1863.  KIA, July 9, 1864 near Aldie, Virginia.

For fore info see: &

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Shiloh's Mortuary Monuments: Honoring Fallen Officers

There are five unique Mortuary Monuments at Shiloh National Military Park, placed there in 1902 to honor 2 Confederate and 3 Union officers killed or mortally wounded during the April 6-7, 1862 battle.  The monuments were designed by the park commission's chief engineer Atwell Thompson and erected by the government close to where the officer was killed or wounded at a cost of $250 each.  The rectangular base is made of reinforced concrete upon which is mounted 4 small pyramids of deactivated 8" cannon balls and an upright tube of a 30 Pounder Parrot Rifle.  A bronze plaque with information about each officer is mounted on the cannon barrel between the trunnions. 

                    General A. S. Johnston Mortuary Monument

General Albert Sidney Johnston commanded the Army of Mississippi at Shiloh.  Born February 2, 1803 in Washington, Kentucky he was the youngest son of Dr. John and Abigail Johnston.  He graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1826, ranking 8th of 41 cadets and was appointed a brevet 2nd lieutenant in the 2nd U. S. Infantry.  Johnston would serve in the U. S Army before and after his tenure with the army of the Republic of Texas (1836-1840) before resigning his commission in March 1861 to join the Confederate States Army.

                                   General Albert Sidney Johnston

General Johnston assumed command of the Western Military Department of the Confederate States in September 1861.  After suffering defeats at Mill Springs, Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson and Nashville in late 1861 and early 1862 Johnston withdrew his forces to the vital railroad junction at Corinth, Mississippi.  In early April 1862 his reorganized and reinforced forces left Corinth and at dawn on April 6 made a surprise attack on the Union Army of the Tennessee camped at Pittsburg Landing.  In the early afternoon while leading his forces he was shot in the right leg, presumably by his own men.  The bullet severed an artery and Johnston soon bled to death.  His remains were taken to New Orleans for burial.  He was later disinterred and reburied in Austin Texas.  Johnston is the highest ranking Confederate officer killed during the Civil War.

                    Brig. General W. H. L Wallace Monument as constructed 

                       Brig. General Wallace Mortuary Monument today

William Harvey Lamme Wallace was born July 8, 1821 in Urbana, Ohio the son of John any Mary Lamme Wallace.  As a young man he read law under Theophilus L. Dickey a friend of Abraham Lincoln and was admitted to the bar in 1846.  He served in the Mexican War with the 1st Illinois Infantry.  When the Civil War broke out Wallace volunteered as a private with the 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  The close friend of future General Thomas E. G. Ransom was elected Colonel of the 11th.  Wallace fought gallantly with the 11th Illinois at Ft. Donelson which earned him a brigadier general's star.   He assumed command  of the 2nd Division, Army of the Tennessee after Major General Charles F. Smith was sidelined by a leg injury.

                                 Brigadier General W. H. L. Wallace

Wallace's Division, which was engaged near the Hornet's Nest, withstood numerous Confederate assaults on April 6 before his division was surrounded and himself mortally wounded from a shot through the head.  He remained on the field the night of April 6th before being removed to the Cherry Mansion at Savannah, Tennessee where his wife Anne Dickey Wallace cared for until his death on April 12, 1862.  He is buried in Ottowa, Illinois.

           Brig. General Adley H. Gladden Mortuary Monument (nps photo)

Brigadier General Adley Hogan Gladden, commander of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Mississippi at Shiloh, was born at Fairfield, South Carolina September 28, 1810.  At age 20 Gladden moved to Columbia, South Carolina where he was a cotton broker.  He commanded the Palmetto Regiment in the Mexican War.  When Ft. Sumter fell Gladden was living in Louisiana.

                                      Brig. General Adley H. Gladden

At the outset of the war Gladden commanded the 1st Louisiana in Florida.  He was promoted to Brigadier General September 30, 1861.  In January 1862 Gladden and his brigade were transferred to Mobile, Alabama and later Corinth, Mississippi where the Army of Mississippi was assembling prior to advancing toward Pittsburg Landing.

While assaulting Union forces on the north edge of Spain Field on the morning of April 6 the 51 year old Gladden was mortally wounded by either a cannon ball or a shell fragment that severely mangled his left arm.  His arm was amputated, however gangrene set in and he died at Corinth, Mississippi on April 12.  He is buried at the Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.

To be continued:

Shiloh's Mortuary Monuments: Honoring Fallen Officers, Part II

Colonel Everett Peabody was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, June 30, 1830.  When 15 he studied at Burlington College in Vermont.  A year later he moved to Cambridge and graduated from Harvard in 1849 with a degree in civil engineering.  He soon had a job as a rodman for the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula Railroad.  By age 23 he was a chief engineer having worked on railroads in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri.

                                      Colonel Everett Peabody

When the Civil War erupted Everett Peabody was chief engineer of the Platte County Railroad.  As noted in "A Child's History of the United States", Volume 3," he was "6' 1" tall, broad and heavy, cool and grave in manner and accustomed to toil and exposure."  Peabody enlisted in the Union Army and was mustered in to the 13th Missouri Volunteers.  He was wounded and later captured at Lexington, Kentucky.  After being exchanged Peabody organized the 25th Missouri.

At Shiloh Colonel Everett Peabody commanded the 1st Brigade in Major General Benjamin Prentiss's 6th Division, Army of the Tennessee.  He was concerned that Confederate forces were in his front therefore before dawn on April 6 he sent out a reconnaissance force which ran into soldiers from the Army of Mississippi thus starting the Battle of Shiloh.  While leading his troops Colonel Peabody was wounded five times once in the hand, thigh, neck, body and head.  The bullet that killed him entered the upper lip and passed out the back of his head.  He was buried in a gun-box on the field.  he was later disinterred and reburied in Springfield, Massachusetts.

        Colonel Everett Peabody's Mortuary & Headquarter Monument

Peabody's Mortuary Monument is one of two at Shiloh that were uniquely designed (the other being W. H. L. Wallace's, which was originally built with an apron of cannonballs and steps).  Peabody's Monument serves as both a brigade headquarters monument and a mortuary monument which is exemplified by the star shaped plaque on the pyramid on the south east corner of the monument.

Colonel Julius Raith commanded the 3rd Brigade of Major General John McClernand's 1st Division, Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Shiloh.  Julius was born in Germany March 29, 1819.  He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1836, settling in St. Clair County, Illinois.  Raith later moved to Columbia, Monroe County, Illinois where he became a millwright.  Colonel Raith was a Mexican War veteran, serving as captain of Company H, 2nd Regiment Illinois Volunteers.

                 Colonel Julius Raith Mortuary Monument (nps photo)

When the Civil War started Julius Raith was living in O'Fallon, Illinois, the proprietor of a flour mill.  During September 1861 he raised the 43rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving as the regiment's colonel when it was mustered into federal service on October 12.  The regiment was engaged at Ft Henry and Donelson under Raith's command before moving to Pittsburg Landing.

              Colonel Julius Raith (Arkansas Old State House Collection)

While leading the 3rd Brigade near the present intersection of Confederate Road and the Hamburg-Purdy Road on April 6, 1862 Raith was severely wounded in the right thigh.  He lay on the field until April 7 when he was removed and placed on the steamer Hannibal.  His leg was amputated but he died of infection on board the steamer April 11, 1862, leaving 2 young sons orphans as his wife had preceded him in death in 1859.  Colonel Raith is buried in the Shiloh Valley Cemetery, St. Clair County, Illinois.

Thanks are tendered to Ranger Tom Parson, Shiloh National Military Park for information pertaining to construction and erection of the monuments.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pillars of Stone: Antietam's Tallest Monuments

There are many beautiful monuments located on Antietam National Battlefield. Some of the most picturesque however are the tall, mostly granite monoliths that reach toward the Western Maryland sky.  Two of these stone sentinels are state monuments, two others honor specific regiments.  Three are located on the northern end of the field while the fourth stands proud south of the historic town of Sharpsburg.

                         Philadelphia Brigade Monument

The Philadelphia Brigade Monument is the tallest monument on Antietam National Battlefield. Made of granite quarried in Barre,Vermont the 73 feet tall obelisk was dedicated September 17, 1896.  It stands on top of a four tiered base in Philadelphia Brigade Park, west of the Hagerstown Pike.  The monument honors the 69th, 71st, 72nd and 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiments.

                         9th New York (Hawkins Zouave) Monument

The 52 feet tall 9th New York Monument, also called the Hawkins Zouave Monument, is on high ground southeast of Sharpsburg.  The monument was dedicated May  29, 1897.  It was erected where the 9th New York and other regiments of the Union 9th Corps made their last stand on the left of the Union line.  The monument is made of a  40 foot long, single piece of Barre granite.  The obelisk is 4.5 feet square at the base, tapering to 3.5 feet at the top.  

                         Indiana State Monument (NPS photo)

The Indiana State Monument, which was dedicated September 17, 1910, stands at the intersection of the Hagerstown Pike and Cornfield Avenue.  It honors the four infantry (7th, 14th, 19th & 27 Indiana Volunteer Infantry) and one cavalry (3rd Indiana Cavalry) regiment from Indiana that fought at Antietam.  The 50 foot tall Barre granite monument was designed by architect John R. Lowe of Indianapolis.  It was constructed and erected at a cost of $10,000 by J. N. Forbes Granite Company of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  The 22 foot square monument base is topped by a four sided 35 foot tall shaft which tapers from 3' 6" at the base to 2' 6" at the top.

                             New York State Monument

The New York State Monument, which stands near the Visitors Center, was erected in 1919 and dedicated September 17, 1920.  The monument, built at a cost of $30,000, is a 30 foot tall doric column topped by an eagle, that stands on a 36 foot square pedestal on a tiered base.  The monument honors the 3,765 officers and soldiers from New York's 5 cavalry regiments, 13 artillery batteries, 2 engineering regiments and 66 infantry regiments who were killed, wounded, captured or missing during the Battle of Antietam.

For future reading see "Indiana at Antietam", Indianapolis, Indiana 1911 and"Remembering the Dead" New York Times May 30, 1897.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pure Gold: Major General Winfield Scott Hancock

Upon his death on February 9, 1886 President Hays had this to say of Winfield Scott Hancock: "If when we make up our estimate of a public man, conspicuous both as a soldier and in civil life, we are to think first and chiefly of his manhood, his integrity, his purity, his singleness of purpose, and his unselfish devotion to duty, we can truthfully say of Hancock that he was through and through pure gold."

                        Major General Winfield Scott Hancock

Winfield Scott Hancock and his identical twin brother Hilary Baker were born in Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania February 14, 1824 the sons of Benjamin and Elizabeth Hancock. Another son John would follow six years later. The Hancock family moved to Norristown, Pennsylvania when Winfield was four. At the age of 16 he was appointed to the United States Military Academy from which he graduated on June 30, 1844 ranking 18th of 25 cadets.

Hancock was breveted 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th U. S. Infantry, July 1, 1844. His first post of duty was at Washita on the Red River. He later saw action in the Mexican War where he was breveted 2nd Lieutenant in August 1848, for "gallant and meritorious bearing" at the Battles of Churubusco and Chapultepec.  After the Mexican War Hancock was assigned to Ft. Crawford at Prairie du Chen, Wisconsin.  In 1849 he became the regimental quartermaster for the 6th U. S. Infantry and spent six years at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis Missouri.  While in St. Louis he met and married Almira Russell, January 24, 1850.  They later had two children Russell and Ada Elizabeth.  The Hancock's were assigned to duty posts in Florida, Utah and California prior to the Civil War.

When the Civil War broke out in April 1861 Captain Hancock was in Los Angeles, California serving as the Assistant Quartermaster. Although he had many friends who would side with the Confederacy Hancock noted at the outbreak of the war that: "My politics are of a practical kind.  The integrity of the country.  The supremacy of the federal government. An honorable place or none at all."

Captain Hancock arrived in New York in September 1861.  He had been affiliated with the Army since 1840.  "By his strict devotion to duty, his invariable courage, energy and patriotic enthusiasm he had secured the confidence and attachment of all who knew him.  Correct in his personal habits, polite, affable, friendly with all, unselfish and hospitable he was a favorite wherever he went."  He reported to duty in Washington where he was appointed Chief Quartermaster for Robert Anderson, a post he never assumed, because of George McClellan's request he be appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers.  The rest as they say is history.

                         Hancock's Equestrian Statue at Gettysburg

Hancock went on to serve in the U. S. Army throughout the Civil War and continued to serve until his death in 1886.  He was nicknamed "Hancock the Superb" following a remark by General McClellan after the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1861.  He took over command of Israel Richardson's Division at Antietam and then assumed command of the 2nd Corps following the Battle of Chancellorsville.  His most conspicuous service might have been at Gettysburg where he was severely wounded and belatedly received the Thanks of Congress for his action.  This description of Hancock, by Frank Haskell, at Gettysburg is iconic: "Hancock is the tallest, and most shapely,  and in many respects is the best looking officer of them all.  His hair is very light brown, straight and moist, and always looks well, his beard is of the same color, of which he wears the moustache and tuft upon the chin: complexion ruddy, features neither large nor small, but well cut, with a full jaw and chin, compressed mouth, straight nose, full deep blue eyes and a very mobile, emotional countenance.  He always dresses remarkably well and he is dignified, gentlemanly and commanding.

                     Hancock's Equestrian Statue Washington DC
                    (Library of Congress photo)

Hancock commanded the 2nd Corps throughout the Overland Campaign in 1864 when the corps was considered "the Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac". Hancock's only major battlefield defeat was at Reams Station on August 25, 1864.  He was commanding troops in the Shenandoah Valley when the war ended.

 Lt. General  U. S. Grant paid homage to Hancock in his Personal Memoirs noting: "Hancock stands the most conspicuous figure of all the general officers who did not exercise a separate command. He commanded a corps longer than any other one, and his name was never mentioned as having committed in battle a blunder for which he was responsible. He was a man of very conspicuous personal appearance. Tall, well-formed and, at the time of which I now write, young and fresh-looking, he presented an appearance that would attract the attention of an army as he passed. His genial disposition made him friends, and his personal courage and his presence with his command in the thickest of the fight won for him the confidence of troops serving under him. No matter how hard the fight, the 2d Corps always felt that their commander was looking after them."

Winfield Scott Hancock died at Governors Island, New York in 1886 from complications of a carbuncle and diabetes.  He is buried in Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, Pennsylvania with his daughter Ada who preceded him in death.

                                     Library of Congress photo

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Honoring the Fallen: Memorial Illumination at Antietam National Battlefield

December 7, 2013 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Memorial Illumination at Antietam National Battlefield.

23,110  candles are placed on the battlefield by innumerable volunteers to honor the casualties of the September 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day in all American History.

The event is sponsored by Antietam National Battlefield in cooperation with the American Business Women's Association and the Washington County Convention & Visitors' Bureau.

Volunteers representing Union and Confederate soldiers stand around campfires while the lines of vehicles pass by, viewing the luminaries.

Vehicles line up on Maryland Route 34, hours before the event, waiting for their chance to enter the battlefield via Richardson Avenue.

 It is an awe inspiring experience both to view the luminaries and participate as a volunteer.  I had the honor, this year, along with other living historians representing Battery B, 4th U S artillery to stand around a campfire at the intersection of Dunker Church Road and Starke Avenue.  While not attempting to be a modern day Alexander Gardner I was able to sneak in a few photographs. Cannot wait until next year to do it all again.