Friday, March 20, 2009

Company Sergeants and Corporals

Returning to the theme of the enlisted soldiers of a cavalry regiment, I thought I'd work my way down from the sergeant major and provide a description of the duties and responsibilities of the company sergeants in the words of one who filled the various positions during the war.

"The first sergeant out-ranked all other warrant officers of the company. Very many of the duties of the captain have by custom fallen to the sergeant to do. The captain is responsible but the first sergeant relieves him of a great many burdens, or rather of the performance of many duties. The first sergeant becomes a quite important person in a company and enjoys a great many privileges. The discipline of the company is largely his work.

"The next sergeant in rank in a cavalry company is the sergeant who looks after the provisions or rations of food for the men and forage for the horses. he drills with the company at least until thoroughly instructed in the use of arms and in the prescribed movements for men and horses.

"The other four sergeants are 'duty' sergeants who serve with the company always in all of its duties. The sergeants usually have command of small working parties, and may have one or more corporals with them. The sergeants perform important parts in drills, and are very necessary under officers."

"The corporals rank below sergeants, and take rank among themselves from first to eighth."

"Often a sergeant or corporal may be such only in name, not having received an appointment. this is often done to reward a specially good enlisted man when there is no vacancy to be filled, or when the captain may wish to more fully acquaint himself with a soldiers (sic) capacity before finally determining to appoint him to the position."

Admitted to the Carnival

Crossed Sabers has been fortunate enough to be included on the most recent Military History Carnival for a recent post on the sergeants major of the 6th US Cavalry. The post can be found under the general category (all things being equal, at a normal carnival the blog would probably be next to the bearded lady...). Thank you again to the folks at the MHC for including the post. The link to this version of the Military History carnival is here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fiddler's Green: Edwin S. FitzHenry

Edwin Sawtell FitzHenry was born in Dublin, Ohio on July 24, 1835. He worked as a blacksmith prior to the Civil War.

Edwin was enlisted into Company B, 6th U.S. Cavalry on August 5, 1861 by Lieutenant Wade in Columbus, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 6 ½” tall and 25 years old, with black hair, gray eyes and a sallow complexion. Interestingly, he signed into the regiment as Edwin S. Henry, dropping the “Fitz” from his name.
Private Henry trained with the new regiment at Bladensburg, Maryland and Camp East of the Capitol, Washing ton, D.C. through the fall and winter of 1861. He accompanied the regiment to the Virginia peninsula in March 1862 for the start of its first campaign as a company farrier.

Edwin seems to have avoided the disease that struck the regiment heavily after its arrival in Virginia. His first and only injury appears to have occurred at the battle of Hanover Court house on May 26, 1862. After the war he claimed to have been wounded in the left hand by a saber during the fight. There is no record of him in the regimental returns, either in the monthly return for June or the annual return for 1862. He did serve on detached service from his company at Cold Harbor with the regimental trains and hospital later that month, however, so there could be some credence to his claim. If he was injured, but not seriously enough to see one of the regiment’s assistant surgeons, there would not be a record of his injury. Regardless, he was back to duty with his company the following month.

Farrier Henry served through the rest of the campaigns of 1862 and 1863 without incident. He was one of the few soldiers in Company B who wasn’t killed, wounded or captured during the Gettysburg campaign in the regiment’s engagements at Fairfield or Funkstown. He continued to serve until the expiration of his term of service on August 6, 1864 at Light House Point, Virginia. The only change to his description is that his complexion had changed from sallow to ruddy, undoubtedly due to the many months outdoors and in the saddle during his enlistment.

The attached picture is courtesy of the Fitz-Henry family collection and shows Edwin at some point during his service. The person on the right is most likely Francis Riggs Chapman, another soldier from Company B. Chapman was also born in Dublin, Ohio, and enlisted the same day as Edwin at age 23.

After his return from the war, Edwin married Sarah Jane Burns on October 30, 1866. They had seven children over the next eighteen years. They moved to Illinois in the spring of 1875, where they lived on a farm two miles north of Gibson City until mid 1883. In 1883, Edwin moved his family to Fairbury, Nebraska. The family lived in Nebraska only six months before Edwin died from heart disease on January 12, 1884. He is buried in the Fairbury cemetery.

Sarah Jane and her children returned to Illinois. At the age of 34, she was a widow with children ranging in age from 5 months to 15 years. She received a widow's pension from the War Department for Edwin's service in the Civil War. Mrs. FitzHenry died of pneumonia on March 21, 1911.

Special thanks to Ann FitzHenry for starting me down the path of Edwin’s career and to her and her family for allowing me to post Edwin’s photo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fiddler’s Green: William J. Palmer

While William J. Palmer was not a cavalryman in a regular regiment, he was a cavalryman who rose to great prominence and distinction after the Civil War. He used his Civil war career as a springboard to an amazing career as a railroad pioneer and philanthropist, yet he is all but forgotten today outside the city that he founded. As today marks the 100th anniversary of his death, I thought it fitting to post a memoriam of his life and achievements.

William Jackson Palmer was born to a Quaker family in Leipsic, Delaware on September 17, 1836. The family left the small coastal town when he was five and moved to the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He was fascinated as a child by steam locomotives and learned all that he could about railroads. When he was 17, he went to work the Pennsylvania Railroad.. He was sent to England and France to study railroad engineering and mining. When he returned in 1856, he became the private secretary of the president of the railroad. From this position, he was exposed to the inner workings of the railroad industry, something that stood him in excellent stead in later years.

Palmer explained to the president of the PRR that coal could replace wood as a fuel source, based on his observations in England. Faced with shortages of wood along its right of ways, the company became the first American railroad to convert to coal as a fuel source. He spent the next several years focusing on associated problems with railroad engine power and combustion. Among those he worked closely with during this time was the railroad vice president’s assistant, Andrew Carnegie.

Although raised as a Quaker, Palmer was also an active abolitionist, and felt compelled to serve for the Union during the Civil War. He was appointed a captain of volunteers and recruited a troop of cavalry during October and November 1861 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The unit, known throughout the war as the Anderson Troop, was organized to serve as an escort for Major General Robert Anderson, commander of the Army of the Ohio. He was replaced before the troop reached the army, but they subsequently served as escorts for generals Sherman, Buell and Rosecrans.

The troop was very active as scouts and couriers, and commended by General Buell for their efforts following the battle of Shiloh. Their performance was so exemplary that Buell petitioned the secretary of war for permission to expand the troop to a full battalion of cavalry. Upon receiving this permission, Captain Palmer and several of his men were ordered back to Pennsylvania in July 1862 to recruit three additional companies. They opened recruiting offices in several locations across the state, and again established a camp of rendezvous at Carlisle. Recruiting was so successful that a full regiment was eventually raised, and designated the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Although also known as the Anderson Cavalry, the original troop was never incorporated into the regiment.

Early in September 1862, the regiment’s drill and training were interrupted by the Army of Northern Virginia’s invasion of Maryland. While the rest of the regiment remained in place to defend the Cumberland valley if needed, two hundred fifty men were selected to move to the front under Captain Palmer. The group, still dismounted since the regiment had not yet received its horses, proceeded by rail to Greencastle, near the Maryland border. They procured a number of mounts locally, and picketed the roads leading into the town from the south. Skirmishing took place on the 12th and 13th, but the unit was able to hold its positions, convincing General Longstreet at Hagerstown that he had “swarms of Yankee cavalry” to his front. It was Palmer’s men that the tired troopers of the cavalry column from Harpers Ferry encountered with their captured wagon train just outside of Greencastle the morning after their escape. They were withdrawn two days later, and utilized for scouting during the battle of Antietam.

The day after the battle, Captain Palmer was sent across the Potomac to Virginia in civilian clothes as a scout to determine the disposition of the Confederate army. He was captured by Confederate cavalry shortly after crossing the river, however, and sent to Castle Thunder prison in Richmond. Four months later, he was exchanged for a political prisoner and sent north. Unbeknownst to him, he was promoted to Colonel of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry on September 8, 1862.

Upon his release, Colonel Palmer recuperated very briefly before moving west to rejoin his regiment. The unit at the time was in deplorable shape. Palmer’s capture had occurred at a critical time in the formation of the regiment, and left the unit without a number of key leaders. The problems culminated in December, when over half the regiment had refused to move to the front and fight at the battle of Stones River. The 200 men who fought in the battle gave a good accounting of themselves, and both majors were killed during the fighting. Colonel Palmer returned on February 7, 1863 to find part of his regiment praised in official reports of the battle and over 600 men in prison under death sentences for mutiny.
Within weeks the young colonel negotiated a settlement which reorganized the regiment and paroled the mutineers from the firing squad as long as there were no further incidents. The regiment was organized into twelve companies, and received it s full complement of horses and equipment. The regiment was reviewed by General Rosecrans on April 10th and deemed ready for action.

The regiment performed well in the Tullahoma campaign, with three companies retained at army headquarters as an escort for the commanding general. They spent the majority of July and August on scouting and mapmaking duty. They guarded flank roads during the battle of Chickamauga, and assisted in covering the army’s retreat. They were among several cavalry units detached from the army during the siege of Chattanooga. Once the siege was raised following the battle on November 25th, they led the column under Sherman sent to relieve Burnsides’ forces at Knoxville. They continued to distinguish themselves in various engagements during November and December of 1863.

On January 13, 1862, Colonel Palmer learned that Confederate General Vance, with a force of 300 cavalry and dismounted Indians, had advanced from North Carolina and captured a small wagon train and a number of prisoners near Sevierville. His regiment was at the time in camp, with a brigade of Confederate cavalry to its front. Leaving his pickets posted to the regiment’s front, Palmer assembled 125 men and took a mountain back road to cut off the raiders before they could reach Newport. Following a march of 30 miles, Palmer’s force overtook the Confederates. A successful saber charge netted them General Vance, 150 horses, 50 prisoners, and the entire wagon train. He successfully moved the entire party safely back to Sevierville. He was recommended for promotion for his gallantry in the affair by Elliott, Foster and Sturgis.

In late January, Palmer led a raid of his regiment and the 1st Tennessee Cavalry to the mouth of the Big Pigeon River, where they captured another small wagon train and a number of mules and prisoners. The remainder of the winter was spent in scouting and reconnaissance.

The winter’s hard campaigning had exhausted the regiment’s horses, and in May 1864 it was ordered back to Nashville to remount and re-equip. Due to supply shortages, it was August before all necessary equipment was received. The regiment was further delayed from rejoining the army in responding to raids by Confederate general Wheeler. The fall was spent in continuous scouting. At the end of the year, Palmer and his men joined in the relentless pursuit of Hood’s defeated Army of Tennessee following the battle of Nashville. On November 6, 1864, he was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers for meritorious service.

On January 14, 1865, at Red Hill, Ala., Palmer and his men attacked and defeated a larger force, capturing 200 Confederate soldiers and one fieldpiece without losing a man. Palmer was awarded the Medal of Honor for that action by Congress on February 24, 1894.

Before the spring campaign of 1865 was started, General Palmer was assigned command of the First Brigade of Gillem’s Division in the cavalry under General Stoneman. General Palmer continued to perform well, and succeeded Gillem in command of the division. At the end of April 1865, Palmer’s division was ordered to proceed south in an attempt to capture Jefferson Davis. While his men didn’t succeed in capturing Davis, they did capture General Braxton Bragg and over a million and a half dollars belonging to the various banks of Macon, Georgia. This capture was forwarded to army headquarters at Augusta without incident. Not long afterward, General Palmer and his regiment were mustered out of service on June 21, 1865.

After the war, Palmer resumed his railroad career. He was appointed managing director of the Kansas Pacific Railroad and was responsible for its extension to Denver. During this time, he met Dr. William Bell, an Englishman who became his friend and partner in most business ventures for the rest of his life. Once this line was complete, he and Bell co-founded the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1870.

The young railroad entrepreneur met Mary “Queen” Mellen and her father while they were on a train trip to see the west. William and Mary were married in Flushing, New York on November 8, 1870. During their honeymoon in Great Britain, Palmer noticed the use of narrow gauge (3’ wide) railroading and recognized the advantages of using such a gauge on his own line. The narrower gauge enabled trains to take steeper grades and sharper curves, which was particularly useful in the mountains of Colorado. The majority of the D&RG railroad was built in narrow gauge. One 45 mile section, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, continues to operate today as a tourist line.

He also assisted in the establishment of Hampton University in Virginia. Typical of many traditionally black colleges and universities which trace their roots to the period immediately after the end of American Civil War, the school received much of its financial and leadership support from church groups and former officers and soldiers who had served in the Union Army. The new normal, or teachers’ school at Hampton was led by another former Union general, and Palmer gave substantial sums to help. "Palmer Hall" on the Hampton University campus was named in honor and gratitude of the his financial support.

The new railroad’s first section was an area line from Denver to Pikes Peak. Palmer loved the new area at the base of the mountain. In 1871, he acquired 10,000 acres of land east of the former territorial capital, Colorado City, and laid out and founded the new city of Colorado Springs. The city was centrally planned and developed by Palmer. Saloons and gambling houses were not permitted, and the production or sale of alcohol was illegal in the city until prohibition was lifted nationwide in 1933. Mrs. Palmer opened the first public school in the new town in November. Within two years the city had grown to over 1,500 people.
This city later became the focus of Palmer’s life. He built his dream home, which he called Glen Eyrie near Colorado Springs in the northwest foothills north of the Garden of the Gods rock formations which are today a city park. Dr. Bell built his home, called Briarhurst, at the southern end of the unique rock formation. Glen Eyrie was a 22-room frame house with a large carriage house. In 1881, the house was remodeled to include additional rooms and a tower. The house still stands today, and is owned by a group known as The Navigators. Tours of the main house can be arranged.

In 1879, he noticed a high demand for steel for rails, and constructed a large steel mill in the nearby town of Pueblo for the Colorado Coal and Iron Company. In 1892 the company merged with Colorado Fuel Company to become the state’s largest employer, and a company that dominated industry within the state for decades.

All of Palmer’s fortunes were not on the rise, however. His north-south railroad had conflicting right of way issues with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. A long and bitter legal battle ended with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against Palmer in 1880. Later that year, Mrs. Palmer suffered a mild heart attack and was advised to move to a lower altitude. She and their three daughters moved first to the East Coast, then to England. Mrs. Palmer died on December 28, 1894, and a grieving William Palmer went to England to return Mrs. Palmer's remains and the girls to Colorado Springs.

In 1901, Palmer sold the Rio Grande Western Railroad and retired. He dedicated himself and the fortune he had amassed to charity. He enjoyed being the benefactor to the Colorado Springs community, and was well liked by the people.
William Jackson Palmer’s legacy is tremendous. He granted land to several institutions in Colorado Springs, including the Union Printer's Home, the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, several churches in central Colorado Springs, and Cragmor Sanitarium, a tuberculosis sanitarium. He also provided land and funding for the creation of Colorado College and was one of its founding trustees. Palmer Hall, the main social science building on the Colorado College campus, is named for him. Two local high schools are also named for the general. Palmer Divide, the ridge north of the city, and Palmer Park in Colorado Springs, are also named in his honor. Queen Palmer Elementary School in Colorado Springs is named in honor of his wife.

In 1906, Palmer suffered a fall from a horse while on a ride with his daughters and a friend. He was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Unable to travel in 1907, he paid for all the expenses of the 208 surviving veterans to come to his vast Colorado home for a three-day reunion and celebration.

William Jackson Palmer died at his home on March 13, 1909 at the age of 72. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Sources for this entry are open sources too numerous to document, but which include Samuel P. Bates’ History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, and an excellent article by Thomas P. Lowry which can be found online at

Special thanks to Brian Downey at Antietam on the Web for permission to use the wartime photo of Palmer from his website.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Being a Regimental Sergeant Major

on blogs and elsewhere we often throw around terms and ranks without an explanation of what the term means or what the responsibilities of a given position were dutring the Civil War. One of those terms I've used a great deal over the last few months without an explanation is "sergeant major."

The sergeant major of a regiment was the senior enlisted man in the regiment. Jim Jones recently tipped me off to this description of a sergeant major in the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry in his own words from May 1865.

"Dear mother I have got along very well since I have been in the army. I am now Sergeant Major of the Regiment, but I am sure you will want to know what that is so I will tell you about it.

"A Sergeant Major is a man that does all the writing for the regiment and keeps all the Regimental Books and papers. He keeps a correct account of all the men and notes all the wounded and killed in his morning report which is sent to the headquarters of the army. Also it is his duty while laying in camp to mount guards every morning and make out all details for picket and fatigue duties. This keeps me pretty busy but I have a man to assist me to do the writing. I have a man to take care of my horse and saddle him up when I need it." (source:

This position still exists in the Army today, and the responsibilities have changed somewhat from Sergeant Major Laird's time. Sergeants major exist in units of battalion size or larger. The sergeant major is the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer. He or she serves as a monitor for, and advocate of, the enlisted personnel in the command and basic soldier standards. The position also carries with it certain ceremonial functions such as caring for the unit's colors, various ceremonies, etc.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Book Review: From Everglade to Canyon

I had planned to write a review of Theophilus Rodenbough’s From Everglade to Canyon just after I posted his Fiddler’s Green entry. While researching the author’s life, however, I discovered this review from its original publication and found history’s words much more interesting than mine. Merritt's comments weren't too surprising, as he was a popular scapegoat after the 1864 elections and after the war, particularly by the cavalry. I found the comments on General Wright and Cedar Creek intriguing, and am now curious whether Major Smith was present on the battlefield, and if so where.

The following article is from the New York Times edition of January 28, 1876.

“New Publications

The Second United States Cavalry

From Everglade to Canon with the Second Dragoons, (Second United States Cavalry.) An authentic account of service in Florida, Mexico, Virginia, and the Indian country, including the personal recollections of prominent officers, with an appendix containing orders, reports, and correspondence, military records, &c, (1836-1875) Compiled by Theophilus F. Rodenbough, Colonel and Brevet brigadier general, united States Army (late Captain, Second Cavalry) Illustrated. New York: D. Van Nostrand.

The Second Dragoons – more recently and better known as the Second United States Cavalry – was originally organized under an act approved May 23, 1836. David E. Twiggs was its first Colonel, and William S. Harney its Lieutenant Colonel. These names, with those of Col. May, Major Gen. Buford, Brevet Major gen. Philip St. George Cooke, Brevet major Gen. Wesley Merritt, Col. I.N. Palmer, and others whose services were quite as distinguished, carry back the memory to the days of the Seminole War in Florida, then to the Mexican War, in which the organization bore a most brilliant part, following that to frontier service in California, New Mexico, Kansas, and Utah, and finally to the war of the rebellion. From the first Bull Run to the famous battle of Cedar creek, when Sheridan “sent the enemy whirling through Winchester,” the Second cavalry bore a prominent part in every important battle in Northern Virginia and in the Shenandoah Valley. Besides this, it executed some of the most brilliant “raids” of the war, so that its varied experiences cover all the phases of army life, and the rehearsal of its exploits recalls many of the most stirring events in our military history as a nation.

Gen. Rodenbough’s gallant services in connection with the regiment abundantly entitle him to discharge the duties of its historian. He was appointed Second lieutenant of the Second Dragoons March 27, 1861; was promoted to a First Lieutenant the following May, and after serving with the Army of the Potomac through the campaign on the Peninsula, was appointed captain July, 1862. At the battle of Manassas, Aug. 29-30, he was captured, but was exchanged a week afterward, and during the Rappahannock campaign in January-May 1863, he was in constant service – among other duties commanding a squadron during the Stoneman raid. He commanded the regiment in the battle of Gettysburg, as well as during the Richmond campaign, (April-July 1864) accompanying Sheridan on his raid toward Charlottesville in june, and receiving a wound at the battle of Trevillian Station, which kept him out of the field for three months. He returned to his regiment in September, just in time to command it during the battle of the Opequan, where he lost an arm. One promotion after another testified to his gallantry during the war and in individual actions, until he was made Brevet brigadier general in the regular Army in March, 1865, and in December, 1870, was retired from active service, “with full rank of Colonel of cavalry on account of wounds received while on duty.”

In compiling this volume Gen. Rodenbough has modestly but wisely allowed the chief actors in the campaigns through which the Second cavalry passed – those who have made its history – to tell their story in their own words. As a consequence, we have a succession of vivid sketches of campaigns on the frontier and of hard fighting in the field, told with an enthusiasm and force which could only spring from a memory of personal experience. Col. A.T. Lee, for instance, describes a scout with Ben Beall during the Seminole War; Gen. P. St. George Cooke gives his recollections of the campaigns of 1855-1860 in New Mexico and Kansas, a “Trumpeter’s Notes,” by Chief Bugler William Drown, supply sketches of the doings of the organization partly during this same period, (1852-8); “The Letters of a Subaltern” give incidents of the early days of the war, when McClellan was organizing the Army in front of Washington and come down to the famous “change of base” to the James River; one of the “raiders” describes the famous Stoneman raid of 1863; Gen. Merritt sketches the operations of the force from Beverly Ford to Mitchell’s Station, covering some of the hardest fighting and its most brilliant exploits; Col. Charles McK. Leoser tells of a “Ride to Richmond in 1864,” and of his subsequent experience in a rebel prison; Col. William H. Harrison describes the events from Deep Bottom to Winchester in 1864, and Major S. smith gives his personal recollections of Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek. Reminiscences of less eventful times are presented by Major Alfred E. Bates, brevet Major Lewis Thompson and Lieut. Gustavus C. Doane, who assume the duty of describing the campaigns in the North-west from 1866-1875, including the Piegan expedition of 1870 and the two Yellowstone expeditions. Gen. Rodenbough introduces and connects these different papers with enough narrative to make them present a tolerably complete history of the organization through all its vicissitudes and exploits, and in an appendix he collects a list of the battles of the regiment, a summary of the military records of the officers, the roll of honor, and numerous orders, reports of operations &c. A carefully-prepared index gives the names of all officers mentioned in the volume, and makes reference easy to the different documents. Maps and numerous illustrations also add to the value and attractiveness.

Such a description of the contents of the handsome volume indicates but slightly the vast amount of labor which its preparation has cost Gen. Rodenbough. Still more imperfectly does it suggest the varied interest which it possesses for the unprofessional reader. Here and there one comes upon incidents either thrilling or grotesque, and which effectively lighten up the severer narratives of skirmishes and battles. Gen. Merritt, for instance, throws into a foot note this laughable story of the fight at Beverly Ford:

“While Dr. Wilson, Chief Surgeon of the regular brigade, was operating in a ‘field’ or ‘flying’ hospital in the cool shade of some trees, exposed occasionally to the warm compliments of the enemy’s artillery, a shell suddenly fell near him as he was in the act of bandaging the leg of a dragoon who had been slightly wounded. Simultaneously with the appearance of the shell the man jumped to his feet and hopped off with amazing agility, exclaiming, ‘Doctor, this isn’t a good place – it’s be-be-better down there!’ at the same time executing the most extraordinary kangaroo hops on one foot, while yards upon yards of the Doctor’s valuable bandage was streaming over the grass behind him. The Doctor started in pursuit, calling upon the fugitive in ‘gentle and persuasive’ tones to halt. All the non-combatants or stragglers joined in the hue and cry, but the stampeded youth continued his camel-like course until the bandage took a turn around the stump and brought him to the ground. It is needless to say that the irate surgeon returned that patient ‘for duty’ on the next morning in report of the company.”

Gen. Merritt, by the way, opens his contribution to this volume with some plain-spoken criticisms upon McClellan and his treatment of the cavalry when he had assumed command of the Army. “It was a grave misfortune,” writes Gen. Merritt, “that the controllers of our Army organization in the early part of the rebellion did not appreciate the part that cavalry was to play in the war – a misfortune for the country – a greater misfortune for the cavalry. *** The few cavalry regiments which were permitted by by our frugal Government *** were emasculated and disorganized by furnishing details as escorts , guides, orderlies, and small scouting parties, until nowhere in the State of Virginia was there a sufficient force of Union cavalry to meet successfully the splendidly-organized squadrons of Southern horse under Stuart and the younger Lees. No one was more to blame for this than McClellan, and no one of the unfortunate commanders of the Army of the Potomac suffered more because of the lack of properly organized cavalry than this general. Nor did he know how to use the cavalry he had in hand. His treatment of cavalry and cavalry commanders was proverbially harsh and unjust. He divided it up with a lavish hand among his infantry corps, division and brigade commanders, so that the smallest infantry organization had its company or more of mounted men, whose duty consisted in supplying details , as orderlies for mounted staff officers, following them mounted on their rapid rides for pleasure or for duty; or in camp, acting as grooms and bootblacks at the various head-quarters. It is not wonderful that this treatment demoralized the cavalry. It is not strange that the early cavalry commanders looked with despair on their shattered squadrons, and submitted in disgust to the disintegration which their best efforts could not prevent, and afterward in silence to the abuse for failures which they did not deserve. It was not until McClellan was removed that the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was fairly organized under Stoneman, with Buford and David Gregg as his lieutenants. Then it was that we commenced practicing the lessons which the enemy had taught us, pursuing his tactics to his ruin.”

By virtue of having lost an arm at the battle of the Opequan, when he was in command of the regiment, Gen. (then Captain) Rodenbough might have been pardoned had he himself given an account of that famous conflict, but he modestly leaves that duty to others. Major Robert S. Smith in writing of the action says:

“History has given to Gen. Sheridan all honor for his great military services rendered to his country, but has it been equally just to that noble commander, Gen. Wright, to whose matured judgment and skillful action the country has often been indebted? The world accepts success as the only proof of greatness, and by this severe interpretation it cannot now be determined whether the arrival of Gen. Sheridan at the hour he came on the battle-field of Cedar Creek was a greater misfortune to Gen. Wright than it was a benefit to the country. *** No one could more highly appreciate his great achievements than I do. I only plead for equal justice. If Gen. Sheridan had been at the head-quarters of the Army in the morning would that have prevented the surprise upon Crook’s corps? And after the enemy had gained the entrenchments behind Cedar Creek was it possible for the Army to do otherwise than fall back until a new position could be taken, and the line of battle re-formed? This was done, and an Army superior in discipline and numbers faced the enemy ready to advance when Gen. Sheridan arrived. Could the result have been different than it was with such an Army led by so experienced an officer as Gen. Wright?”

In a foot note in which he calls attention to the fact that Major Smith does not speak of the morale of the Army on Sheridan’s arrival, Gen. Rodenbough indicates that does not fully agree with the writer in his criticisms. Still the question may stand as reviving a question which was discussed at the time of the battle to some extent, and which the future historian of the war may consider in describing this notable incident in Sheridan’s campaigns. Such memoirs de service as this are chiefly valuable for the side lights which they throw upon the events with which they are connected. Gen. Rodenbough has shown what conscientious labor, inspired by genuine enthusiasm, can accomplish in this direction, and if future compilers of similar records shall show the same care in their preparation there is no danger that such volumes may be unreasonably multiplied. On page 21 we notice an error in crediting the publication of a military order to The New York Times in 1836, some years before this journal was established.”