Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fiddler's Green: James Lewis

Note: I am deeply indebted to Lee Blauvelt for the information contained in this entry. We’ve been working on James for the last week or so, trying to determine whether he was captured at Fairfield or Funkstown, and just who was commanding Company I during the aforesaid engagements. Thanks again, Lee.

James Lewis was born on September 3, 1840 to William and Hannah Lewis in Saratoga County, New York. Different documents list his exact birthplace as either Walden, Lexom Plains or Lake George, most likely the latter. The 1850 census shows his family in Fort Anne, which is very close to Lake George. By 1861, the family had moved to Southfields, Orange County, New York, now the town of Monroe.

James enlisted in Company B, 124th New York Infantry “Orange Blossoms” on August 12, 1862, and mustered in as a private on September 5th. He is described in his enlistment documents as a 21 year old farm laborer with a dark complexion, dark hair and eyes. He was tall at 6’ 1”, and one of his friends described him as “one of the strongest men in the state.”

Life as an infantryman apparently didn’t agree with him, and he transferred to the 6th U.S. Cavalry on August 26th in accordance with General Orders No. 154 of 1862. He was assigned as a private to Company I, under the command of Captain George C. Cram.

Private Lewis kept a low profile after joining the cavalry, as he doesn’t appear in the muster rolls again until April 1863, when he served on detached service at Aquia Creek, Virginia from the 12th to the 30th. He was joined there by a sergeant, a corporal, a bugler, a farrier and eighteen other privates. The nature of the duty isn’t specified, but could be anything given the location’s proximity to the camps of nearly all of the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry.

He served with his company without incident through the spring campaign of 1863, including Stoneman’s Raid, Brandy Station, and the other preliminary cavalry battles of the Gettysburg campaign. At some point that spring, he reportedly fell or was pushed off of lumber that was being used to cross a ditch and ruptured his right side on a pile of rocks. This injury caused him problems intermittently through the remainder of his life.

Private Lewis was lucky enough to come through the battle of Fairfield unscathed, though his commander and 6 enlisted men from his company were captured during the battle. Four days later at Funkstown, Maryland, Private Lewis was not so fortunate. First Sergeant Worrell led the company in the absence of any of its assigned officers, but this battle didn’t go much better than the disaster at Fairfield. Two members of the company, Corporal Alonzo Ellsworth and Private William Thomas, were killed. Ten enlisted men, including James Lewis and First Sergeant Worrell, were captured.

James participated in the long march to Richmond experienced by many prisoners of the Gettysburg campaign, arriving in Richmond at Belle Isle on July 21st. He was fortunate enough to be paroled ten days later at City Point, Virginia on August 2nd. Lewis was then sent to Camp Parole, Maryland, near Annapolis, where he was treated for chronic diarrhea until October 12, 1863.

Returning to his regiment, James once again resumed his low profile. He surfaces again the following year, when he served on detached service from February 29th to October 31st at Cavalry Corps Headquarters. Following this last period of detached service, he remained with his regiment through the end of the war, other than a few days of service at brigade headquarters in February 1865.

Following Lee’s surrender in April, Lewis accompanied his regiment to Pleasant Valley, Maryland, where he was treated for measles from May 4th to 12th. He moved to Frederick with the regiment in July, where he was discharged on July 29, 1865.

Lewis applied for an invalid pension on June 23, 1880, citing his rupture in 1863. Apparently, the attorney who prepared his paperwork was somewhat notorious for filing for pensions and was accused of forging documents.

After his time in the military, James returned to orange County, New York. He married Mary Odell in 1870, who died the following year. In March of 1872, he married Anna Eliza Johnson of Johnsontown, New York. They spent the remainder of their years in Orange and Putnam counties, raising five children. After Anna died on May 1, 1903, James lived with relatives. He died of arterial sclerosis on January 1, 1919 in Newburgh, New York. He is buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Mountainville, New York, near the town of Cornwall.


Lewis, James. Enlistment papers and pension request, NARA (information courtesy of Lee Blauvelt)

Muster Rolls, 6th U.S. Cavalry, M744, NARA

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where Did He Go?

Fear not, loyal readers (all three of you), the rumor that I clumsily tripped and fell off the internet is unproven (no one's seen me on crutches, and the cast comes off tomorrow). The past couple of weeks have been really hectic in "real life", and this, coupled with an embarrassment of riches in the new material category, has kept me from posting.

This will, of necessity, be a catching up and preview post. This should be a busy week for Crossed Sabers, however. Upcoming posts will include a couple of Fiddler's Green posts, including a rare enlisted man's story thanks to a helpful descendant. There will probably be several short vignettes of some folks who've popped up a lot in research recently.

I have managed a bit of reading lately, finishing two of this year's birthday presents. I thought Roger Hunt's mid-Atlantic volume of his Colonels in Blue series was tremendous. Hunt did an excellent job with the book, and I even found two cavalry regulars hiding in there, Paddy Starr and Andrew Evans. Both of them were in the 6th Cavalry, causing yet another review of their potential Fiddler's Green entries. For those interested in more on Starr, check J.D. Petruzzi's Hoofbeats and Cold Steel. His feature there in his Faded Hoofbeats series is the definitive work I've seen on him. My only disappointment with the book was that one of the people I was really looking for, Theo Rodenbough, wasn't there. This certainly wasn't Roger's fault, however, since Rodenbough's in a different work --- Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue, which is now on the wish list.

The other book was Eric Wittenberg's Protecting the Flank, a work on the cavalry battles in the vicinity of what is now East Cavalry Field on the 2nd and 3rd days of the battle of Gettysburg. I'm a big fan of Eric's writing, and this book didn't disappoint. I am now much more informed on the cavalry actions on the Army of the Potomac's right flank during the battle, and the bibliography yielded another possible source or two for the 6th Cavalry history (so that's where D.McM. Gregg's papers are!).

One could point out that if I had all that time to read, I also had time to post, and to this I can only plead a lack of focus. There's been a bit of new material arriving lately as well, thanks to some generous readers. I was able to obtain copies of William Emory's papers from 1861 and 1862, as well as two sets of letters by privates of the 6th Cavalry. Stu Richards was kind enough to send along spare copies of two rolls of microfilm, one with the ordnance returns of Union regiments for 1862 and 1863, and the other containing the 5th Cavalry's regimental returns for the first half of the war. So I should be able to revisit the Exodus from Texas series with some numbers, as well as provide Harry Smeltzer over at Bull Runnings with some hard numbers for the First Bull Run campaign. Thanks again, Stu! And of course Patty Millich seems to turn up something interesting every few days and send it my way as well.

The microfilms from NARA containing the 4th U.S. Cavalry regimental returns are due any day now, so I'd better either starts saving quarters for the library's microfilm printer or start searching eBay or Craig's List for one of my own. Hmm, scratch that second option, sounds like a possible straw/ camel issue with my wife.

I noticed last week, that both Jim Miller at Civil War Notebook and Brett Schulte at TOCWOC have posted their nonfiction Civil War libraries, and this is a project that I'm considering as well. Now if I could just decide to go with Word or Excel. I think Word will win, as it's easier to compile bibliographies and footnotes that way later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

6th Cavalry - April 1862

The majority of the regiment spent the month at Camp Winfield Scott, near Ship Point at the mouth of the Poquoson River. Companies C and L, not yet at full strength, remained in Washington under the command of Captain Brisbin. The regiment's assigned strength this month was 881 officers and enlisted men in the ten active companies.

Of the 42 officers assigned, only 21 were listed as present for duty, including Assistant Surgeon J.H. Pooley. 16 of the missing 20 were on detached service. Major Lawrence A. Williams continued to command the regiment. Major J.H. Carleton, newly assigned to the regiment but never to serve a day with it, was in Los Angeles in command of the southern district of California. Captain Taylor of Company F was serving on General Sumner’s staff, and Captain Brisbin was in Washington with Companies C and L. Captain August Kautz was sick at Camp Winfield Scott, and 2nd Lt Andrew Stoll was still sick in Washington. 1stLt Frederick Dodge was serving as an aide de camp to General Craig, and 2nd Lt Stephen Balk was serving as the Deputy Provost Marshall for the brigade. The regiment had not yet heard a shot fired in anger, and two of its companies were already commanded by lieutenants.

The regiment had 840 enlisted men at the end of the month, but only 762 present for duty. Health conditions continued to improve with only 38 troopers sick in camp, though 52 remained absent sick in hospitals away from the regiment. 21 continued to serve on extra duties away from the regiment, mostly as teamsters for the Quartermaster Department. Seven troopers were in arrest or confinement within the regiment’s camp. Two troopers were absent on leave, and three were absent without leave.

Four privates were discharged for disability in April, three in Washington and one at Camp Winfield Scott on the peninsula. Five men deserted from the regiment this month, two from Alexandria and three from the peninsula. No soldiers died in April.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bates Letters - April 16, 1863

Note: the battle of "Verd Creek" that Bates refers to appears to be the April 10th battle of Franklin or Harpeth River. The regiment captured Freeman's Battery, which was subsequently recaptured by Forrest's cavalry. They lost five men killed and 18 wounded in the engagement. The regiment's sergeant major killed the battery commander in the capture of the guns, which was the source of subsequent animosity the regiment and Forrest's command.

I found Bates' observations on the differing miltary legality of "foraging" in Virginia and Tennessee interesting as well.

Murfreesboro Tenn April 16th/ 63

Dear Parents,

Though it is some time since I have written to you I shall not try to excuse myself --- “You know too well the story of our thralldom; We are slaves.” For nearly two weeks I have not had time to swap jack-knives even if I wanted to do it. The company has been in a pretty sharp fight since I wrote the account of our advance to Snow Hill, and we have distinguished ourselves as the complimentary order of Capt McIntyre says – “To the list of your brilliant actions you have added the name of Verd Creek, a name which will be brightest among the many.” I suppose you have read in the papers before this of the affair and I can give you no particulars for I was like Bob Acres at the battle of the Nile, -- “There all the while, off about seven mile” but the firing was very rapid, and lots of prisoners were taken, lots of hats lost in the charge, and I am very sorry to say, lots of lives lost in the regiment.

We had plenty of poultry, pigs and sheep on the last trip, and the soldiers here are allowed to confiscate anything which appears disloyal or dangerous. A pig if he shows any disposition to bite, is summarily punished, and chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and such, have to take the oath, or die!! I say the soldiers are allowed to confiscate but must qualify the assertion, in this regiment, and indeed throughout the western army the officers instead of watching the men to catch them Jayhawking, turn their heads and let the men go in. The result is Virginia where the men have not been allowed to take an ear of corn without being court-martialed is secesh to the backbone, while Tennessee is rapidly getting union. I thought when on furlough that the fighting was about all done, but have changed my mind. Before long there will be one of the greatest battles of the war between Murfreesboro and Nashville, or I am mistaken. I have no doubt but Rosencrans will win but twill be a long pull, and a strong pull.

The order of the night is for every body to be ready to start at a moments warning and perhaps we shall be “off for the wars” before morning. I am so used to getting up o’nights now that I don’t mind it much and would as soon start for Chatanooga now as eat my supper. And as for fighting, the Regiment is so used to that I believe they would cut a mans head off as cool as cut a ration of beef. General Rosencrans is imitating the policy of McClellan in digging and ditching, and wherever there is room for a fort or ditch in this neighborhood, one is built or in course of building. The men all like him but I don’t, for this reason he has a Priest with his staff, to say mass night and morning. At least the boys all say so, and what every body says must be true.

I want you to send me some postage stamps for none are out here. I am going with the company the next time it goes to the front and shall perhaps have something interesting to write. All the prisoners taken at the Snow Hill scout were retaken by guerillas while on the road to Nashville, mine among the rest, I shant try to take any more if they cant be kept after the taking. Give my love to all for I have not time to particularize.
I remain affectionately
Charles E. Bates

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fiddler's Green: Joseph Kerin

Joseph Kerin was born in Ireland. He enlisted in Company B, 2nd U.S. Dragoons on January 3, 1853. He joined the company in Texas the following month, and served at Fort Belknap until 1855. In the fall of 1855, the company moved from Fort Belknap to Fort Riley, Kansas. Kerin was involved with his company in the Kansas troubles in 1856, and accompanied the Mormon expedition to Utah in 1857 before his enlistment expired on January 3, 1858.

Kerin returned to the army five months later, enlisting in the General Mounted Service at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania on August 5, 1858. He served there as a private, corporal, sergeant and finally first sergeant of the Permanent Troop until October 1861.
He served as the Drill Instructor for the Anderson Troop, Pennsylvania Volunteers in September 1861, and was appointed a second lieutenant, 6th U.S. Cavalry on October 26, 1861.

Lieutenant Kerin joined the regiment the following month, and was assigned to Captain John Savage’s Company H. He accompanied the regiment to the Peninsula in March 1862, and distinguished himself several times during the campaign. He was engaged in the siege of Yorktown and the battle of Williamsburg, where he captured a Confederate captain. He also participated in engagements at Slatersville, New Kent Court House, Cumberland landing, White House, New Bridge, Mechanicsville, and Hanover Court House. He was brevetted first lieutenant on May 27, 1862 for gallant and meritorious service at the battle of Hanover Court House. He was also present during the destruction of bridges on the North Anna River and the action at Ashland. Following the engagement at Ashland, he served as an acting assistant general for the brigade of regular cavalry during the pursuit of Stuart during his first ride around the Army of the Potomac and the first three days of the Seven Days Battles. He rejoined his company following the retreat to Harrison’s Landing, and was engaged at Charles City, Haxall’s Landing and New Market Road.

In the absence of Captain Savage, he commanded Company H from September 1862 to April 1863. During the Maryland campaign, he saw action at Sugar Loaf Mountain, Antietam, scouting in Loudon and Fauquier counties, the pursuit of Stuart on his second ride around the Army of the Potomac, and an action at Charlestown. Lieutenant Kerin was then appointed Provost Marshall of the Cavalry Division, Army of the Potomac, in which capacity he served during the actions at Philomont, Unionville, Upperville, Barbour’s Crossroads, Amissville, and the battle of Fredericksburg. Kerin was promoted to first lieutenant, 6th Cavalry on December 23, 1862.

Kerin rejoined the regiment in March 1863, and was present with his company during Stoneman’s Raid. He was taken prisoner while fighting at Beverly Ford during the battle of Brandy Station, and spent the remainder of the war in various Confederate prisons. He was confined at Libby Prison, Virginia, Macon, Georgia and Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. He escaped once on his way to Columbia by jumping from the train, but was recaptured. He escaped a second time from Columbia, but was recaptured by the aid of dogs. Lieutenant Kerin was exchanged in March 1865, and was brevetted captain on April 1, 1865 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Beverly Ford on June 9, 1863.

After spending a month with the regiment in Maryland, he was assigned to duty mustering volunteer regiments from June 1865 to January 1866. Lieutenant Kerin returned to the regiment in Texas, serving seven months with it before he was promoted to captain on July 28th.

Following his promotion, he served on a military commission in Houston before he was transferred back to Carlisle Barracks. After a brief stint of recruiting duty, he was assigned command of the Permanent Troop. He also served as the Treasurer and an Instructor of Tactics at Carlisle Barracks until April 1867. Another stint of recruiting followed this assignment until December 1868, this time Philadelphia and Boston, with a brief return to Carlisle for strike duty over the holidays of 1867-1868.

Captain Kerin served with his regiment at Fort Richardson, Texas until April, when he was assigned to two months of regimental recruiting duty. Following this, he was in charge of the Shreveport Arsenal and grounds until November 1869.

Captain Joseph Kerin retired from the army on June 28, 1878 and died on September 24, 1890.


Carter, W. W., From Yorktown to Santiago with the 6th U.S. Cavalry (Baltimore, the Lord Baltimore Press, 1900).

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903), page 594.

Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Army and Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, Volume II (New York: D. Van Nostrand Publishing, 1873), pg 119-120.

Muster Rolls, 6th U.S. Cavalry, NARA, M744

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fiddler's Green - James H. Pooley

James Henry Pooley was born in Northamptonshire, England in 1810. He was educated in England and received a licentiate’s diploma for the practice of medicine. He married and had five children before immigrating with his family to the United States in the mid-1840s. They settled at Dobbs Ferry, in Westchester County, New York, where he worked as a general practitioner and obstetrician.

During the Civil War, Dr. Pooley was appointed an Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army on August 5, 1861. He initially served on hospital duty in Washington, D.C. until November, and was assigned to the 6th U.S. Cavalry in December. He served with the regiment throughout the Peninsula campaign, and was assigned to duties at Fortress Monroe in July and August 1862.

When the army evacuated the peninsula, Dr. Pooley was assigned to the Convalescent Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia for the remainder of the year. He served with the Light Battery, 5th U.S. Artillery in the IX Corps, Army of the Potomac until April 27, 1863, when he resigned his commission.

Dr. Pooley returned to New York and resumed his practice. His two oldest sons followed him into the practice of medicine. His eldest son, James H. Pooley, Jr., was a professor at the Starling Medical College in Columbus, Ohio and later the Dean of Faculty of the Toledo Medical College. His second son, Thomas R. Pooley, was a professor of ophthalmology at the New York Polyclinic and surgeon in chief of the New Amsterdam Eye and Ear Hospital.

Dr. Pooley was described in his obituary as a “man of engaging manners and a fluent and eloquent public speaker.” He retired from his practice in 1880, and returned to England shortly after the death of his wife Anna in 1885. He died on June 3, 1890 in Birkenhead, England, and is buried next to his wife in a cemetery near Liverpool.


Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903), page 797.

Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Army and Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, Volume I (New York: D. Van Nostrand Publishing, 1873), pg 105.

Muster Rolls, 6th U.S. Cavalry, NARA, M744

New York Times, June 4, 1890, obituaries

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Getting to the Peninsula, Part 3

In the last installment of this series, we see the regiment safely ashore and Captain Kautz still in the hospital.

“March 31. -- … Everything is in great confusion here and there are more vessels here than there is means to land….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

Returns for the Army of the Potomac dated March 31, 1862 show the strength of the four regular cavalry regiments present for duty as 99 officers and 2,502 enlisted men. The 6th, with nearly 1,000 men, would have comprised nearly half of this number. This did not include the two companies of the 4th US Cavalry assigned as the army’s headquarters cavalry escort. Companies A and E consisted of 4 officers and 104 enlisted men present for duty under Captain McIntyre. (OR, Ser I, Vol 11, pt III, pg 53)

“April 1. – I felt much worse to-day and finally went into the hospital of the Hygeia Hotel, no longer able to get about. A portion of the regiment got ashore to-day. The balance are still in the steamers….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

The Hygeia Hotel, built in 1822, was located adjacent to Fortress Monroe on Old Point Comfort near the town of Hampton. During the campaign, most of the hotel was used as a hospital and offices for the army's Provost Marshall and Medical Director, while part of the building remained a hotel. It was ordered to be destroyed in September, 1862. A copy of the Harper's Weekly article on the order, with a very nice sketch of the hotel, is available on the Son of the South blog here. No reason is provided for the order.

“April 2. -- … The company was landed and I obtained such of my personal effects as I needed and Birgner, one of my men, to attend on me, as the attendance in the hospital is very limited. Savage and Doctor Pooley came to see me to-day….” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 113)

Kautz’ attendant was Private Louis F. Bergner of Company B. On the regimental muster rolls for the month, he’s listed as “on detached service at Fortress Monroe.” Captain Savage commanded Company H, and John Pooley was the regiment’s assistant surgeon at this time.

“April 4. -- …Gelbreath brought in my horse and the intelligence that the regiment had received orders to march at once. I am still on my back and utterly unable to travel and for the first time in my life am left behind on the march. They will be compelled to abandon quite a lot of property for want of transportation. I sent Birgner to look after what was left behind from my company.” (Supplement to the OR, Volume 1, page 114)

Kautz is referring to Corporal Joseph S. Gilbreath of Company B. The regiment moved to Ship Point, at the mouth of the Poquoson River, and established their first camp in enemy territory.