The Union Pursuit Out of Waynesboro

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 3 (Gettysburg Campaign), Page 991

[CONFIDENTIAL.] JULY 10, 1863-5. 30 a. m.

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Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Major General J. E. B. STUART:

GENERAL: I received last evening your note of the 9th, relative to information brought by your scouts. During the night, Lieutenant [Thomas L.] Norwood, Thirty-seventh North Carolina Regiment, who was wounded at Gettysburg and made his escape, arrived. He reports he passed at Waynesborough what he supposed a division of the enemy, though it was called a heavy column. He also stated he heard that another column was passing down toward Boonsborough, and a third to Fredericktown. Notify [B. H.] Robertson to be on the lookout, and offer stiff resistance. Lieutenant N. says that General Couch, with Pennsylvania militia, was at Chambersburg. We must prepare for a vigorous battle, and trust in the mercy of God and the valor of our troops. Get your men in hand, and have everything ready.

Very truly,

R. E. LEE, General.

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Report of General Joseph Knipe At Waynesboro, Encamped at Washington Township

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Union General Joseph Knipe

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF THE SUSQUEHANNA, Waynesborough, July 11, 1863.

 

The brigadier-general commanding calls the attention of the command to the certainty of an early with the enemy, and it is strictly enjoined upon brigade, regimental, and company commanders to attend at once to the condition of the arms and ammunition of the men under them. No time is to be lost in putting the arms in perfect order, and seeing that the boxes are filled with cartridges. The rations on hand must be cooked and out in haversacks, so that no detention will ensue when the order to march is given, and also that the men may not suffer for food when it may be impossible for the supply trains to reach them. By order of Brig. General W. F. Smith, commanding First Division:

ALEXANDER FARNHAM, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Promulgated by order of Brigadier-General Knipe:

ROBERT MUNCH, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General .

Also the following.

Preparations were immediately made to carry out the above orders. Rations were procured and cooked under the directions of Quartermaster John C. Mullett, and orders were received to form in line at 3 p. m. of the 11th instant. Here, at this time, we joined you brigade for the first time, having been separated, as before mentioned, during our stay at Waynesborough, and marched down the hill on to the road; halted for the other regiments in our brigade to come into line, where we had to wait one full hour before they came into line, a delay, I am happy to say, which the gallant Sixty-eight regiment never caused any officer or brigade while in the service, being always prompt . Preparations being completed, orders were given,

“Battalion, right face; forward march!” and we were off for “Dixie, ” our march being on the direct road to Hagerstown from Waynesborough . Outmarch was with quick step for the first 4 miles. When we arrived at the Little Antietam – a river, from the heavy rains which had fallen, had become much swollen, and was very rough and rapid, the bridge over which had been destroyed by Lee’s army, on their retreat after the Gettysburg fight, only three days before, which we had to ford -we had now advanced some 2 miles across the line into Maryland, After fording and getting everything across, our march was slow and cautious, being in close proximity with the rebel pickets, and every moment expecting an engagement . Marching slowly, the night very dark, mud deep, we came to a halt in an open field about 10 o’clock, where the division bivouacked for the remainder of the night having sent out pickets and taken every precaution against a surprise . Before arriving where we bivouacked, my sickness became so severe that I was obliged to turn over my command to Lieutenant-Colonel Swift, and stopped, accompanied by Surgeon-

Soldier’s Aid Societies

By Alicia Miller

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The Union Soldier Monument stands guard, looking South from the Chambersburg Diamond. The same direction that many Confederate invasions took place from. 

How many of you are familiar with Soldier’s aid societies? Franklin County had its fair share of these societies during the Civil War, contributing all that they could for the welfare of their soldiers. At the outset of the war some women were reluctant to see their men join the army because they well understood the economic and emotional consequences of such action. These wives and sweethearts urged caution and counseled patience but they were in the minority and could not drown out the drumbeats that rallied communities to war. Most women supported the war and contributed to its conduct in numerous ways. Women on both sides of the mason and Dixon line took on roles that were quite similar during the war years. Clothing the first round of volunteers was but one way that they contributed to the initial rush to arms. They were expected to take care of the household and keep it running until the men returned. They also helped the war effort by sewing blankets, making bandages, joining nurse’s organizations and working at hospitals. Women rose to such challenges not only because they had the valuable skills of homemakers but also because they like their men folk had developed organizations ranging from sewing circles to temperance groups that allowed them to rally for quick collective action.

Soldiers Aid Societies became very prevalent in the war years on both side of the war. The Semi-Weekly Dispatch printed an article on January 28, 1862 urging the women of Pennsylvania to form Ladies’ Aid Societies in every village and town, as well as church and school societies, to make sure that all women contribute necessary supplies for the soldiers who are ill in hospitals throughout the Union.

Locally there were Ladies Societies in Mercersburg, Waynesboro, Chambersburg, Greencastle, and Fayetteville and they were very active both during the Civil War and the years following it. In 1861 the ladies of Chambersburg provided picket guards protecting the town with baskets of supplies and food, and presented a flag to the 7th and 8th regiments. In 1862 the Ladies of Waynesboro crafted a flag for the 126th Pennsylvania.

An article about the appreciation for the ladies societies in the area was in the Valley Spirit on July 30, 1862 entitled Our Patriotic Ladies: We visited, on Friday last, the Associate Reformed Church, which is occupied during the week by the Ladies Aid Society. We found the room pretty well filled with ladies, engaged in the noble, patriotic and christian duty of providing clothing, and other comforts, for our sick and wounded soldiers. We might say much in praise of our ladies, but this is an age in which noble deeds bring their own reward. We will say this much, however, the ladies of Chambersburg will compare with any in existence, in their efforts to provide for the wants, and relieve the suffering of our sick and wounded in the army. They have enlisted in the good cause their nimble fingers and their noble, warm and patriotic hearts with a will. All honor then to our ladies who have thus nobly evinced their patriotism and vindicated that judgment which the poet has pronounced upon their sex, and which the world has applauded. “When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou.”

The following article in Valley Spirit on May 6, 1863 is a striking comparison to the previous: How little is now in reserve for the next battle? With what remorse will every man and woman regret the indifferences of the present hour, when garments and various comforts are suddenly required? Heretofore hundreds of boxes were ready for shipment–now everything is lacking. The great rise in the price of material is one cause of this falling off; and this should render more imperative the duty of concentrating and sending through the most efficient channel all the stores which our loyal women furnish. Another cause of this falling off is in the weariness consequent upon this protracted war. But in the language of the President of the Commission, “As long as the men fight the women must knit and sew,” and the friends at home furnish means to alleviate the sorrows and wants of the camps and hospitals. Whatever you may have hitherto been doing, from this time consider how you can best and most surely reach the suffering soldier, where he is most exposed and most forgotten. Do not delay; do not abandon your efforts after a short time. You must enlist in the work for the war. It is the woman’s part in the patriotic struggle we are in.

In October 28, 1863, according to the Franklin Repository the Ladies Aid Society of Chambersburg reported some of their contributions to their soldiers in need: We forwarded in May and June 7 boxes containing the following goods (including a package from the ladies of Fayetteville, consisting of 4 shirts, 7 pair of drawers, 1 pair of pillow cases and 2 quilts,) 90 pillow cases, 62 pair drawers, 75 shirts, 14 bed sacks, 76 sheets, 127 towels, 68 handkerchiefs, 7 pair of stockings, 6 fans, 20 comforts, 15 quilts, 4 blankets, 22 wrappers, 4 pair of slippers and 14 pillows; also from friends in town and country a large quantity of canned and preserved fruit, bologna sausage, 14 doz. eggs, corn starch, jellies, butter.

In the latter years of the war many local ladies aid societies held held fairs benefitting Christian commission’s work for sick/diabled soldiers and by 1864, they were receiving letters from soldiers and officers asking them for items they needed and requesting the women to help supply them directly, certainly a sign of the need for such an organization and of the Aid Society’s success. In the years following the war the ladies aid societies of the area still continued to work tirelessly to improve the welfare of the soldiers, even with intentions of erecting a monument to Franklin County’s soldiers.

Initiated by the ladies aid society and secured through gifts of Franklin County citizens, the Memorial Fountain and Statue in downtown Chambersburg honors the town’s role in the Civil War. It was dedicated on July 17, 1878 to honor the men who fought in the Civil War and has a faithful Union soldier guarding the southern gate at the fountain.

Exploits of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry Before The Battle of Gettysburg

Moyer, Henry P. History of the Seventeenth regiment, Pa. volunteer cavalry or one hundred and sixty-second in line of Pa. volunteer regiments, war to supline the rebellion, 1861-1865; by Pennsylvania cavalry. 17th regt., 1862-1865; 1911,

THE MARCH INTO MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA, pg 48-49

As we crossed the boundary line between Maryland and Pennsylvania, one of the guidon carriers of Company G, of our regiment, was stationed at the line making the announcement to each company as they approached, that they were, at that point, entering upon Pennsylvania soil. The boys raised their caps and lustily cheered, again and again, for the old Keystone State and Old Glory.

On June 29, 1863, the regiment encamped for the first time, since it left Harrisburg, on Pennsylvania soil, in the vicinity of Waynesboro, in sight of the homes of many of the members of Company G. A request was made to Colonel Josiah H. Kellogg to permit the men of Company G, to visit their homes during the night, which request was granted, however, only upon condition that every member of the company would be present again at roll call the following morning. Captain L. B. Kurtz commanding the company vouched for the men, and, to the credit of the company, it could be truthfully said that every member of the company was present for duty and answered roll call the next morning. It was in this same camp that, early the following morning, an old Pennsylvania farmer and his daughter drove into our camp with a one horse spring wagon and handed out loaves of bread and cakes, free of charge, saying he and his wife and daughter stayed up all night and baked them for the soldiers. “They are yours,” he continued, “you are welcome to them. I wish I had more to give you.” The boys doffed their caps and thanked the donors. Then someone proposed three cheers for the old farmer, another proposed three cheers for his wife, and still another proposed three cheers for the daughter. It is needless to say that in less time than it takes to tell this little incident, the bread and cakes were all distributed. The old farmer said, if we would remain until next morning, he would come again with more bread and cakes; but, before he left camp, “Boots and Saddles” sounded, and we parted, he no doubt for his home, and the regiment in the direction of Gettysburg where we arrived about four o clock in the afternoon of June 30, 1863.


CROSSING THE POTOMAC, pg 58-59

We crossed the river on pontoons at Edwards Ferry and took up the line of march through Maryland, moving so as to cover the left flank of the army. The country was loyal and men and horses recuperated rapidly. Passing near Frederick City, Md., a luckless spy happened to fall within our clutches. A drumhead court-martial dealt out prompt justice and his body was left hanging to a tree by the road side. A committee of indignant citizens called on General Buford and wanted to know why he was hanged. General Buford informed them that the man was a spy and he was afraid to send him to Washington because he knew the authorities would make him a brigadier General. The committee retired, unanimously voting General Buford a “Northern brute.” The march through Western Maryland was thoroughly enjoyable good roads, frequent streams of water, fine camping grounds, sympathizing people often crowding villages and country towns as we swept on through them. Mails, with letters from home, and newspapers, too, met us and were distributed almost every day. Later in the day June 29th w r e crossed the boundary line into Franklin County, Pa. The men of Company G, of this regiment, commanded by Captain Luther B. Kurtz, were natives of this county, and mostly recruited at or near Waynesboro. A trooper of this company, with guidon, stood at the line while the regiment passed, and each squadron lustily cheered him as we hastened on.

The division crossed the South Mountain on a good highway, along which the enemy s cavalry had preceded us some days. The road at some points had been barricaded by home guards and local troops to retard their progress, but these obstructions had mostly been removed. The command bivouacked on the night of the 29th at the foot of South Mountain, with orders to move at sunrise. The camp, as near as we can remember, was some eight or ten miles east of Waynesboro, the home of Captain L. B. Kurtz and the home of the men of Company G. The captain asked Colonel Kellogg for permission to take his company and spend the night in his native village. The request was novel; the orders under which the command was marching were very exacting. The colonel was a West Pointer and a strict disciplinarian. On the other hand, the sympathies of every officer in the command were with Captain Kurtz and his men. The request was granted and Company G went home for the night, leaving assurances of honor that all would be back at the hour the column would march, and, true to their word and country, they came, and when they reported the next morning, without a man missing or a straggler, they received a warm greeting from their generous, though less fortunate, companions.

 


A RETROSPECT, pg. 379-380

General Buford s Division crossed the Pennsylvania line in Franklin County on the 20th of June Passing over the South Mountain it went into camp near Fairfield for the night, in a region abounding in forage and water for our jaded horses, as well as in supplies of Pennsylvania bread and meat for the wearied men of the command. The days march was uneventful, save in the short but eloquent speeches made by the captains in obedience to orders, and in the responsive and ringing cheers made by the gallant soldiers as they marched by the trooper of Company G, who stood with streaming guidon, on the boundary line of the State, indicating our exit from doubtful Maryland into loyal Pennsylvania.

The restful camp that followed our march over the mountain was memorable only in the departure of Company G on a social visit for the night to their homes, at and near Waynesboro, in the exercise of authority reluctantly given them by Colonel Kellogg, and their return without a man missing by sunrise on the following morning, in fulfillment of their pledge of honor. The day s march had a significance, however, far beyond the comprehension of the toiling officer and soldier of the line. The trained eye and splendid forecast of General Buford, scanned with eager interest the landscape that opened to his view on this mountain highway. Gravely impressed by the importance of impending events, Buford said to the officers surrounding him “within forty-eight hours, the concentration of both armies will take place upon some field within view, and a great battle will be fought.” By the examination of a local map obtained in the neighborhood, the remarkable convergence of broad highways at Gettysburg was first clearly disclosed to the officers in command, and indicated the approximate field of the coming conflict. To this point, under general instructions, Buford hastened and directed his next day s march. It is a remarkable coincidence that on the evening of this day, June 29, General Lee issued his order for the concentration of his army at Cashtown, recalling General Ewell from the Susquehanna. The march of

Buford’s column northward, reported to Lee by his secret service, indicated the advance of the Army of the Potomac in the same direction. This movement precipitated preparations for what was then, as well as subsequently, believed to be the greatest battle of the war.

The advance of all columns was upon Gettysburg on the morning of June 30, save that commanded by General Stuart; General Ewell from the east, General Hill from the north, General Longestreet from the west; from the south, General Buford on the left, General Gregg on the right, covering the capital, and the face of the country from Hanover to Fairfield the Army of the Potomac, under a new commander was moving to strike the Army of Northern Virginia whenever found.


BACK IN PENNSYLVANIA, pg. 396-397

On the night of June 29th, the regiment encamped upon Pennsylvania soil, about eight miles from Waynesboro, almost in sight of the homes of the members of Company G. I heard Colonel Bean, in a public address, make the statement that Captain Kurtz, commanding Company G, asked permission at this time to allow his men to visit their homes during the night, and that this permission was granted upon condition that every member of the company must report for duty again at sunrise the following morning; and that, to the credit of Company G, it could truthfully be said that every member of the company answered roll call the next morning.

Confederate Gunner George Neese during the Retreat from Gettysburg to Monterey Pass

George Neese. Three years in the Confederate Horse Artillery, New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1911 Pg. 189-193

July 4 — It seems that the great battle is over and from all appearances our forces intend to strike out for Dixie’s fair land. The last reverberations of the deep booming thunder of the artillery that shook the hills around Gettysburg have died away, and the thick sulphury folds of the battle cloud that hung like a canopy over the battle-scarred plain and hugged the bloody crest of Cemetery Hill had dissolved in the soft summer air before General Lee’s army unwound itself from its deadly coil, and like a huge and dangerous serpent glided slowly and defiantly away toward the Potomac.

As soon as the Federal commander was thoroughly convinced that the Confederate forces were withdrawing from his front, he dispatched his cavalry on missions of destruction, to harass our rear and if possible destroy the immense trains of commissary and ordnance stores that were on the road toward the Potomac, by the way of Hagerstown valley.

Vast squadrons of the enemy’s horsemen soon swarmed and hung along our track like hungry vultures, ceaselessly watching for vulnerable points to attack and to seize booty, to the great terror and consternation of quartermasters, clerks, servants, cooks, and teamsters.

The arduous and responsible duty devolving on the Confederate cavalry during the retreat was to guard and defend the retiring trains of wagons and ambulances against all inroads and attempts that the Federal cavalry were liable to make for their capture or destruction, and more especially to strenuously oppose and foil all efforts of the enemy to make any advantageous interposition between General Lee’s army and the Potomac.

At sunrise this morning we moved to Fairfield and remained there until General Ewell’s wagons and ambulances passed, and then we followed them as a rear guard. It was nearly night when the last ambulances passed Fairfield, and at about six o’clock this evening we took up our line of march and followed them, the great caravan moving on the Hagerstown road.

At dark we struck the foot of the Blue Ridge. The road was muddy and slippery, the night dark; rainy, dreary, and dismal. The train moved very slowly, with halts and starts all night. Every time an ambulance wheel struck a rock I heard the pitiful groans of the wounded. Now and then an ominous and inauspicious boom of a Yankee cannon came rolling through the thick darkness from the top of the mountain, and apparently on the road we were on, which unmistakably indicated that the enemy was seriously interfering with the movements of our wagon train.

To-day while we were at Fairfield a drenching thunder-shower passed over, and we went in a stable for shelter during the rain. While we were in there some of our boys played marbles for amusement. Eventually one of the marbles rolled through a crack in the floor, and in order to get it we raised one of the boards in the floor, and under there we found a large store-box full of good, clean, nice bed-clothes, sheets, blankets, counterpanes as white as snow, and beautiful quilts, all of which had been recently hidden from the supposed desecrating hands of prejudged thieving Rebels. We left everything in the box and reported our find to the family that owned the stable, and told them to move their goods to the house and fear no danger of being molested. The family seemed to be astonished at our find and utterly surprised into coyish silence to learn that their goods were safe even when discovered by the dreaded Rebels.

I am almost convinced that a strong sentiment prevails throughout the whole North that the Southern army is composed of thieves and robbers mixed with barbarians and savages, and this malignant spirit is instilled into the populace and encouraged by irresponsible, mean lying newspapers that are published by men who have never been south of Mason and Dixon’s line.

Just yesterday, after the little fight with the Yankee cavalry near Fairfield, a young lady came to me and asked whether our men would allow her to take care of a wounded man that was lying in the road near her father’s bam. I told her to go and take care of as many wounded as she could find, and assured her that our men would not disturb her nor willingly interfere with her humane and laudable mission. I also told her that we did not come to Pennsylvania to make war on women.

July 5 — We were on the march nearly all last night, and most of the time we were mixed up in an ambulance train. Our march was very slow, and seemed more like a dead march than anything we have done in the marching business since the war. The surroundings were about as cheerful as a tomb.

The cannon we heard in the forepart of the night belonged to the Yanks, and they were shelling some of our wagon trains on top of the mountain. This morning just before day Colonel Thockmorton, commanding the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, came down the mountain with his regiment in a rather stirred-up condition, as if something wild and very dangerous had been seen in front. Captain Chew asked Colonel Thockmorton where he was going. He replied, ” Down the mountain. A Yankee battery fired canister into the head of my command, and I am not going up there again until daylight.” Captain Chew then remarked, ” Colonel, my battery was ordered up here to support your regiment, and if you go back, I will too.” Accordingly we went back down the mountain a short distance, fed our horses and waited for day. Immediately after daylight we renewed our march up the mountain, and when we arrived on top the Yankee destroyers had vanished from the scene of their last night’s destructive operations, and all was still and quiet on the mountain highlands. From all accounts and appearances the Yankee force that struck the wagon train on top of the mountain last night was considerable and overwhelming, as we had but few men to protect the train at that point in particular. It was not the train that we were guarding that was destroyed. The Yanks destroyed about ninety wagons, and they did their work well. Some of the wagons were chopped to pieces and others were burned. I saw the debris, such as skillets, frying pans, camp kettles, and all sorts of camp furniture scattered all along the road.

I made a little tour of inspection this morning where the Yankee raiders attacked the wagon train last night, merely to see whether I could find any evidence or trace of the resistance our few wagon train guards offered to the overwhelming force of Yankee cavalry that swept along the road. I found very few battle scars or marks on the trees and bushes, but behind a rock in a thick clump of trees lay one of our sharpshooters, still and silent in the bivouac of the dead, and no earthly reveille will ever wake him again. He was shot through the brain, and no doubt was killed by his adversary firing at the flash of the sharpshooter’s gun, which still lay by the dead body and pointed to the front.

After we were on the summit of the mountain about two hours we went down a mile on the Emmitsburg road on picket. We had about five hundred infantry of McLaw’s division with us for support. The infantrymen threw up breastworks along the front of our position. We remained on picket all day, and this evening we moved back a mile and camped at Monterey Springs on the summit of the Blue Ridge, sixteen miles, east of Hagerstown. General Longstreet’s infantry came up the Emmitsburg road this evening.

 

 

Jacob Hoke Writes About the Great Night Battle

Jacob Hoke. The Great Invasion of 1863; or General Lee in Pennsylvania, W. J. Shuey Publications Dayton OH, 1887. Pg. 451-453

On this same day (Saturday, 4th,) Kilpatrick’s cavalry division, reinforced by Huey’s brigade, of Gregg’s division, moved from Emmittsburg up to Monterey Pass, with the purpose of striking the enemy’s line. The following thrilling and graphic account of the terrific night attack by that bold and intrepid leader, has been furnished me by Dr. H. G. Chritzman, who was connected with Huey’s brigade. So far as I am aware no account of that affair has ever before been published. Dr. Chritzman, says:

“July 4th, we moved to Emmittsburg and reported to Kilpatrick; moved same evening to intercept Swell’s wagon-train which was reported to be near Monterey Springs. The brigade moved rapidly up the mountain road, striking Ewell’s wagon-train about three o’clock in the morning of July 5th, in the midst of a furious thunder storm, whilst on its retreat from Gettysburg.

‘At once there rose so wild a yell

Within that dark and narrow dell,

As if all the fiends from heaven that fell,

Had pealed the banner cry of hell.’

This, combined with the Plutonic darkness made it one of the nights long to be remembered. When we came up with the wagon – train, Federal and Confederate cavalry, wagons, ambulances, drivers and mules became a confused mass of pursued and pursuing demons whose shouts and carbine shots, mingled with the lightning’s red glare and the thunder’s crash, made it appear as if we were in the infernal regions. Especially so as the cries of the wounded often rose high above the din of the conflicting forces.

“Frequently a driver would be shot or leave his mule team, when the unrestrained animals would rush wildly down the narrow road, and in many instances the wagons with the mules attached would be found at daylight at the bottom of some deep ravine crushed to pieces, with the mules dead or dying. It was a fearful ride suiting well the fearless intrepidity of our daring commander. A Confederate brigade, then a long train of wagons and ambulances, then our brigade in the center, with Ewell’s corps in our rear, going down that narrow mountain road upon the principle of the devil take the hindmost,—you have Kilpatrick’s dash across Monterey Pass.

Peace Democrats Who Opposed the Civil War

copperheadpinFor years, I have heard stories about a group of people who lived along the Mason Dixon Line that were opposed to the Civil War. This topic is a forgotten aspect that played a major role in politics in several Maryland and Pennsylvania towns in this region. Maryland is known as a border state and it is common knowledge that the state was split in their loyalties. However, did you know that Pennsylvania was just the same? There were several men who took up arms for the Confederacy from Pennsylvania. Some sources state that almost 2,000 men fought in the Confederate army. As the Civil War progressed, many Pennsylvania Democrats were split, and as a result their party became split as well. Some men supported the war while others did not, those that did not became known as a Copperhead.

In 1862, once it became known that the Civil War would give way to freedom for African Americans, a race war was inevitable. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln announced a formal emancipation of all slaves within the Confederate States that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. Many white citizens as well as immigrants in Maryland and Pennsylvania feared that their employer would replace them with the freed African Americans, paying them at a lower pay rate. The war was unpopular, and as a result many people rose up against the drafts. Most citizens just wanted peace with the southern states. They felt that a war wasn’t worth the lives that would be expended and they did not want new laws being enforced to pay for the war debt. By the Spring of 1863, many Franklin County, Pennsylvania papers gave birth to the Anti-war men known as the Copperheads.

Most Civil War buffs have heard the term “Copperhead,” but do they really understand who these men were? Looking up the definition of a Copperhead during the time of the American Civil War, the term was dubbed as a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederate States of America. Copperheads were sometimes identified by a copper cent with the Goddess of Liberty cut out and displayed as a badge upon their coat lapel.

Most of the newspaper accounts cited in this article are from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, which borders Northern Maryland cities such as Hagerstown, and within 15 miles of Emmitsburg. Even though these sources are directly related to Pennsylvania, the same sentiments were expressed in the bordering Maryland towns.

The term Copperhead was first reported in Waynesboro in the Waynesboro Village Record on March 13, 1863. The Waynesboro Village Record ran an article comparing the 1863 Copperhead to that of the 1814 Copperhead. “Comparing them to the Federalists who convened the infamous Hartford Convention, the article declares that copperheadism of today is the offshoot of copperheadism of 1812-14.” But, it adds, “Just as the Federalists were dealt a stunning blow as a consequence of their actions following the U. S. victory over the British, a similar result will befall the latest generation, which will be visited with the scorn and damnation of not only all American freemen, but by the lovers of freedom throughout the world as well.”

Another story from March 13th was reported about the distribution of a pamphlet that was reported as a “Treasonable Document.” This article read: “It is reported that several local, prominent copperheads are involved in a scheme to distribute pamphlets containing a speech recently delivered by “the Ohio traitor, Vallandigam.” Despite the fact that Vallandigam was threatened with violence in his own state for his pro-southern views, the piece sardonically notes, for some reason, parties in Franklin County applaud the villain and seek to give him notoriety by disseminating his treasonable documents among the people.”

In March of 1863, the Copperheads were victorious during the township elections. The Valley Spirit on March 25th, 1863 reported that “During the Spring elections Franklin county is now largely Democratic beyond the peradventure of a doubt. It is an old saying, that the first thunder of the season awakes the snakes, and it must have been the late storm that stirred out the “copperheads” on Friday last. For out they came, though the day was scarcely warm enough for them, and like the Serpent that Aaron cast down before Pharaoh, they very quietly went to work and devoured all the little poisonous snakes that were hissing out their venom around them. Stand firm, Democrats, be moderate, patient, long-suffering, stick together, and the story of Aaron’s big snake won’t be a circumstance to the way the “blacksnakes” and “blowers” will disappear before next fall.”

In another article entitled “Union or Loyal League” excerpts from the article reveal “They’ll keep the damned copperheads in their places, so this is the object of the organization, is it? They alone are to decide who are “copperheads,” and “copperheads” are to be “kept in their places” that is, in other words, to be prevented from expressing their opinions by voice or through the ballot box. Well, let the issue come; the sooner it is met the better. Such is the movement now being inaugurated in Pennsylvania.”

On March 27th, 1863, the Copperheads made the Waynesboro Village Record. It was reported that on two occasions rebel sympathizers met on the streets after dark and celebrated to honor Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and the Southern Cause, however the Copperheads were growing bolder. Another article in the paper stated that the Copperheads did not speak out against the use of African Americans in the Confederate army where blacks and whites would fight/work side by side even though they were opposed to African American men enlisting in segregated regiments of the Union army.

On April 1st, 1863, the Valley Spirit reported that the Democratic majority outweighed the Republicans in victories across the Commonwealth. However, when it came to the Democratic Copperhead and the radical Republication known as a Blacksnake, it was stated that a “copperhead is fearless, independent, and brave, while black snakes are cowardly, hissing, and thieving.”

Soon politics in the local papers began a political war with words. On April 3rd, 1863, the Waynesboro Village Record reported: “The focus of the piece is on the newspaper’s claim to political impartiality, which, they admit, has been called into question lately by local copperheads. It is a high crime in their estimation for a paper neutral in politics to denounce traitors of the Vallandigham stripe North, and thus advocate the cause of the Union and true democracy. They call this partiality, abuse of the democratic party, etc. It will be impossible for us to contend with present prices successfully, with the lying “copperheads” resorting to every means in their power.”

As the war with words stormed throughout the papers, the Waynesboro Village Record on April 14, 1863 reported that “The editors denounce the mounting criticism of Union Leagues made by copperhead newspapers, which contend that the organization is extremely partisan. Copperhead papers every where (says the Hanover Spectator) are making bitter and malignant attacks upon the Union Leagues and charge among other things that they are secret oath bound associations intended to suppress public sentiment by the sword and bayonet.”

On April 17th, 1863, the Waynesboro Village Record ran an article: “A Copperhead Corns Pinched.” It was a rebuttal to an article that appeared in the Chambersburg Valley Spirit, assailing one of the Record’s correspondents. The controversy was sparked by the views that disloyal northerners should be “strung up to the telegraph poles along the railroad.”

As the Copperheads’ reputation grew, so did the editorials in the papers. During the Union Loyal League Meeting held in May it was reported by the Waynesboro Village Record that “the organizational meeting for local chapter of the Union League went off smoothly with the exception of the expected interruptions of several copperheads who, like “slimy reptiles,” milled about the hall “bellowing” throughout the evening. The man who asserts that nobody is disloyal in the loyal states must be one of two things, a fool or full-fledged traitor. Who tore down under cover of darkness, in Waynesboro, months ago, the American flag? Were they loyal hands?”

Franklin County Copperheads would soon be at unease as their leader was arrested. Ohio Representative Clement Laird Vallandigham was the Copperhead faction of anti-war Democrats and was a vigorous supporter of constitutional states’ rights. He did not believe in supporting a war to end slavery, which he felt would lead to the enfranchisement of the African American people. He was arrested by the Union Provost because he had violated an army order against the public expression of sympathy for the Confederate States. He was ordered to be confined for the duration of the Civil War. However, on the order of President Lincoln, Vallandigham “the Copperhead traitor” was instead sent to the enemy lines.”

On May 22nd, it was reported “The arrest of Vallandigham has sparked considerable unrest among copperheads, even in Waynesboro. Some of his supporters proposed having a rally in town to voice their displeasure with the arrest, but opted not to because it was deemed inexpedient at this time.” A week later the Waynesboro Village Record on May 29, 1863, reported “The Original Copperhead, Utilizing an extract from an address given by Benedict Arnold to validate its claim, the piece casts copperheads as the heirs to his legacy of shame.”

Upon returning to Pennsylvania, Company B of the 126th Pennsylvania had their flag inscribed “Copperheads Beware.” Unknown to the soldiers at the time, the flag was soon adopted by the Fulton Union League.

While, disarray was all surrounding the arrest of Vallandigham, the Waynesboro Village Record on June 05, 1863, reported that another demonstration was made by the Copperheads at the Waynesboro Square voicing their support to Jefferson Davis and Vallandigham “who, it appears, has become their “pet.”

On June 12th, 1863, just days before the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania, the Waynesboro Village Record reported that close to 2,000 clergymen in France and England have united to condemn the “Slave Aristocracy.” The religious leaders assert that the Confederacy, based as it is on slavery, “is at war with Christianity.” In fact, proclaims the piece, outside of the South, with the exception of northern copperheads, this sentiment “is the view of the Christian world.”

Another article in the same edition read “it is quite easy to determine the motives underlying copperheads’ support for the Confederacy: naked self-interest. Proponents of the southern cause in New York advocate “peace at any cost” because they “lost the Southern trade” as a consequence of the war. Similarly, supporters of the rebel cause in Illinois are spurred primarily by the drop in the price of corn occasioned by the onset of the conflict.” These malcontents, the article declares, would rather “break up the nation” than sacrifice their own personal economic interests.

With the introduction of new publications in Philadelphia, the Copperheads were given the opportunity to reach a broader audience with their political statement. However, several anti-Copperhead supporters stated that the new publications “Expresses sentiments so treasonable, that a man would have to be a bold, bonified traitor to endorse such opinions.” In New York, an elderly gentleman was heckled and dragged from the stage at a copperhead meeting because he asserted that South Carolina started the war.

Soon the Copperheads would be tested in Waynesboro and the surrounding areas as Confederate soldiers would embark upon their town. Many Copperheads had long anticipated this moment, thinking that their support of the Confederate cause would be warmly received by the soldiers. This turned out to be the exact opposite; in fact many Copperheads were shunned by the Confederate soldiers. Many area newspapers headlined the “Rebels Snub the Copperheads”. Pennsylvania residents were treated poorly by the Confederate soldiers such as one case where a Confederate soldier threatened harm to a woman if she did not cut down a Liberty pole. This was according to reporters “one of the most ‘malignant copperheads’ in town.”

As Confederate Albert Jenkins and his cavalry brigade made their way northward into Pennsylvania, several Copperheads were surprised to see that the Confederate general refused to shake their hands. In one case Jenkins was reported as saying “Lincoln ought to have hung you and the rest of the Copperheads long ago. We would not tolerate such men in the Southern Confederacy. We respect those who are against us in the North much more than the Copperheads.” Many Confederate soldiers voiced their opinions to the Copperheads telling them that if they truly supported the South, they should pick up a musket and join the fight. This stunned the Copperheads to their core.

Soon, in July, violence began in New York by the Copperheads when they resisted the draft. The Copperheads were blamed for hanging men from lamp posts as well as trying to start another riot. Many papers criticized the inconstancy of the Copperheads. “To opponents of black enlistment, Copperheads declare a “white man’s war.” To government calls for white enlistments, Copperheads cry “black man’s war.” To opponents of black enlistment, Copperheads charge racial inequality.”

In Kentucky, it was reported that “contempt for the Copperheads who have little respect for the Union soldiers who fight to preserve the Union. The author sees little difference between the rebels and the Copperheads.” In Tennessee, the Knoxville Register states that “consideration of those Germans here and elsewhere, who have been led, against their better judgment and the tradition of their Faderland, by copperhead demagogues, to sympathize with the rebels, or at least to place themselves in an attitude of opposition to the administration of the United States Government. We think that with this knowledge of what the rebels think of the Germans and how they purpose to treat them, any German who still blindly follows their Copperhead leaders, is utterly destitute of self-respect and of brotherly feeling for the gallant Germans in our army”

In the Franklin Repository published on August 5, 1863 “The Fulton Democrat, edited by the member of the Democratic State Committee for this district, seems exceedingly ambitious to get up a small draft riot in Fulton County. In a late issue an editorial review of the conscription bill thus apologizes for the copperhead thieves and murderers of New York.”

As the Copperheads’ reputation grows they will soon be attacked by their words, actions and political stand regarding several key issues of the day. Many articles in the local Franklin County papers state that African Americans are superior to the Copperheads. Other headlines state that the Copperheads were whispering into the ears of people stating the Government is neglecting the people. Eventually other Democrats began leaving the party.

The Union ticket even tried to influence women. On September 30th, 1863, the Franklin Repository stated “To the young women we would say, that if after trying all their persuasive eloquence on their suitors they prove to be incorrigible Copperheads, give them the mitten at once. Don’t waste a smile on a fellow who refuses either by bullet or ballot to help put down the rebellion. Make these bucks face the Union music square, or go under!”

President Lincoln issued a proclamation that was published in the New York Tribune, “How good a work the President has done for the army and the nation, by his timely interposition between the Copperheads and their cherished object, of defeating the draft and so preventing the reinforcement of the army, when he issued his recent proclamation suspending the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus in certain cases. The schemes of the conspirators of copperheadism have been brought to naught.”

In Waynesboro, Major B. M. Morrow of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Cavalry responded to accusations that he and his soldiers disrupted a Union meeting previously reported in the Franklin Repository. Major Morrow stated “As for the term of Copperhead applied to me. I care not, as my attachment to the army for more than two years will give the lie to that.”

While the papers kept fueling the intense political fire regarding Copperheads, this one article is, at the very least, comical. On October 7, 1863, the Franklin Repository wrote “John M. Cooper, formerly of the Spirit, is a Copperhead working as a clerk in Harrisburg and assessing mortgages for the county.” The Repository jokes that in order for the county to avoid paying its taxes, Cooper should recommend inviting the rebels to come and visit in order to destroy their property, thus eliminating the need to pay taxes.

In late October it was reported that the rebel invasion brought an increased influence to Copperheads who encouraged local citizens to vote against Governor Curtin because the state government was slow in its compensation to the invaded areas. The Copperheads wanted Democrat George Woodward to gain control of Pennsylvania. By the elections of 1863, it was reported that the Copperheads unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the representatives from several states from voting. To make matters worse, all the Pennsylvania Copperheads voted against offering any encouragement for the enlistment of African Americans. During this period many Pennsylvania news editors wanted a “conscription bill that will “gobble up” a due share of the whining, cowardly, copperheads.” Even the papers stated that many Union soldiers who deserted from the ranks of the army were aided by the Copperheads.

As the Spring of 1864 was winding down, the papers continued to wage war against the Copperheads and “their decisive discomfiture in November” by running several columns in the papers for the Lincoln and Johnson ticket. With this new ad campaign, “A sardonic celebration of the new “marriage” between Copperheads and radicals, joined together by their mutual hatred of Lincoln.” The Copperheads would loose that cause when Lincoln was reelected as the President of the United States.

Until the close of the war and even during reconstruction, the Copperheads were still viewed as traitors to the Union, and as a result the Republicans held the public’s support up to the Great Depression. The term Copperhead would soon fade away as a footnote in history as the nation was coming together as one.

14th Virginia Cavalry Raiding Horses at Monterey Pass

From the Richmond Dispatch, April 5, 1896, Diary of Lieutenant Hermann Schuricht, of the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry.

June 18th.—My company on picket, and I am officer of the day. Nothing of the enemy.

June 19th.—The company was ordered to Waynesborough, Pa., to capture horses and cattle in the neighborhood for our army. A powerful thunder-storm surprised us at night, and we took refuge on a large farm. The proprietor was obliged to furnish us with rations for ourselves and our horses.

June 20th.—We succeeded in capturing a number of horses and some cattle. At noon we came to the farm of an old Pennsylvania German. He was scared to death at catching sight of us, and shouted ‘O mein Gott, die rebels!’ I soon reassured him, telling him that no harm should result to him if he furnished us with a dinner and rations for our horses, and we were well cared for. A Federal cavalry regiment passed in sight of the place, fortunately not discovering our presence, and I concluded to march with my command to Lestersburg, Md., where the citizens furnished us with supper. We camped for the night in an open field, midway between Lestersburg and Hagerstown.

June 21st and 22d.—The 14th Virginia Cavalry Regiment readvanced towards Chambersburg, Pa., but Co. D, in charge of Captain Moorman and Major Bryan, of Rhodes’ Division, was detailed to proceed to the South Mountain to capture horses, of which about 2,000 had been taken there by farmers and industrial establishments to hiding places. We again passed through Lestersburg and then entered on the mountain region. It proved to be a very dangerous section for cavalry movements. At 1 o’clock at night we came to Use’s Iron-Works. Mr. Use, upon demand, furnished provisions, but as we discovered on the following days, secretly informed the farmers and troops of our approach.

22nd New York State National Guard in Washington Township, July 1863

History of the Twenty-Second Regiment of National Guard of the State of New York, George Wood Wingate, 1895, New York, NY. Pg. 293-301.

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George Wood Wingate

 

JOINING THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

After the regiment had eaten a light breakfast of hard-tack, the rain ceased and the skies cleared up. Leaving Altodale ]Mont Alto], Wednesday, July 8, the division followed the course of the Little Antietam, in a southwesterly direction, to Waynesborough, most of the time wading in mud over their ankles, and sometimes to their knees, and went into camp in some woods on the Waynesborough and Hagerstown pike, about two miles beyond, having marched about eleven miles. Here it became a part of the Third Brigade, Second Division of the Sixth Army Corps, whose white cross, artistically carved out of cracker, was at once adopted by a number of the regiment. In the subsequent maneuvers it became a part of the Army of the Potomac.

Waynesborough was a pleasant little place, with many pretty and patriotic girls, the prettiest the men had seen since leaving Carlisle. The town, however, had been so cleaned out by the enemy that one could not even buy a tin cup. The foraging parties of the regiment scoured the country both in and outside the pickets with untiring zeal, but the results were meagre enough. During the three days they remained there, the Twenty-second had almost nothing to eat the first day and but a bare sufficiency afterward. Fortunately, there was nothing to hinder their sleeping, washing the mud out of their clothes (which they had to do piecemeal, having no others), and watching them while they dried. The Confederates were nearby, and in strong force, their pickets being but two miles distant; and officers and men were required, by special orders, to be always on the alert. No passes whatever were permitted to be issued.

Gen. Meade, in his report of the battle of Gettysburg, makes the following allusion to the arrival of the brigade, though he erroneously makes Boonesborough, instead of Waynesborough, the place where the division first joined him: It is my duty as well as my pleasure to call attention to the earnest efforts at co-operation on the part of Maj.-Gen. D. N. Couch, commanding the Department of the Susquehanna, and particularly to his advance of 4,000 men under Brig.-Gen. W. F. Smith, who joined me at Boonesborough just prior to the withdrawal of the Confederate Army.

The following report of his arrival was made by Gen. Smith to Gen. Williams, Assistant Adjutant-General of the Army of the Potomac:

Waynesborough, July 8, 1863. My command arrived here to-day, and finding Gen. Neill here have encamped so as to render him all possible assistance till definite instructions are sent to me. My command is an incoherent mass, and, if it is to join the Army of the Potomac, I would suggest that the brigades, five in number, be attached to old divisions, and thus disperse the greenness. They cannot be manoeuvred, and, as a command, it is quite helpless, excepting in the kind of duty I have kept them on in the mountains. I have here about 4,000 men, and, I suppose, 2,000 have straggled away since I left Carlisle.* * Mainly from illness, poor food and worn-out shoes.

Gen. Knipe is the only one I have with me who is at all serviceable, and he is anxious to get back to his own brigade in the Twelfth Corps. I am utterly powerless, without aid, and in the short time allotted to infuse any discipline into these troops, and, for the reasons given above, make the suggestion as being for the best interest of the service.

This suggestion of Gen. Smith was a wise one, at least, as far as the New York troops were concerned. The trouble with them was the inexperience of their brigade commanders and the want of confidence the men felt in them. If mixed with the veterans of the Potomac, and put under experienced officers, their efficiency would have been doubled.

The following official communications show the situation at this time.

Brig.-Gen. Thomas H. Neill to Gen. Williams: Headquarters Light Division Army Of The Potomac, July 9, 1863.

“Baldy” (W. F.) Smith is here with his command. Col. Gregg, with a brigade of cavalry, who leaves for Boonesborough, will send this. A scout brings information that Lee has one corps intrenched on the Williamsport pike from Hagerstown, another on the Boonesborough pike, and Early is said to be up toward Middlebury between Newcastle and Hagerstown.

The news of the capture of Vicksburg is confirmed. Have sent a cavalry reconnaissance toward Hagerstown this morning. It has not returned.

Since writing the above, have felt the enemy’s pickets, with a regiment of cavalry, at a bridge four or five miles from Hagerstown. They are stubborn. We drove them away, but they returned as we retired.

Gen. Smith is in with his mixed command. Am delighted to have the benefit of his counsel and advice. We are all right, but watch Early’s division on my right toward Middlebury.

Asst. Adjt.-Gen. Williams to Gen. Smith: Headquarters Army Of The Potomac, July 9, 1863.

The army will occupy the line from Boonesborough to Rohrersville to-day. The army (men and animals) is very much exhausted, and cannot advance as rapidly as desired. Although the information respecting the position of the enemy is not very definite, yet he is believed not to have crossed any large part of it over the Potomac, but is concentrating it between Hagerstown and Williamsport. Under these circumstances, definite instructions cannot be sent to you. You will look to the security of your command; join this army when you can do so with security, unless the operations of Gen. Couch require you to unite with him. Definite instructions will be sent you as soon as practicable. Although highly desirable that Gen. Neill should join his corps, yet he must be governed by your instructions.

Gen. Smith to Gen. Couch: Waynesborough, July 9, 1863.

I am here awaiting orders from you or Gen. Meade, and am much in want of shoes, and will be happy to ride over and see you when you arrive at Shippensburg.

Gen. Smith to Gen. Williams:

Waynesborough, July 10, 1863. I had proposed to move the command to join the Army of the Potomac to-morrow morning, but, in consequence of your dispatch, shall await orders, and do my best here. The cavalry made a scout to-day, and found the rebels strongly posted on the right bank of the Antietam, below Leitersburg. I fear, if I am kept here to make a long march, I shall not be able to get into the fight.

On July 9 (Thursday), the division was greatly fatigued and very hungry. The commissary reported: We shall have no rations to-day, as the Government train from Harrisburg has not been able to reach here, roads so bad and bridges washed away. A little bread was obtained and a slice issued to each man.

On July 10, the rations had not arrived, but some food was obtained at the houses. The men bathed in Antietam Creek and found it a great relief as some of them had not had their clothes off for over two weeks. That night the Twenty-second had dress parade, the first since leaving camp at Harrisburg.

The following general order was read in front of each regiment of the brigade: Headquarters First Division, Dept. Of The Susquehanna, Waynesborough, July 11, 1863.

The brigadier-general commanding calls the attention of the command to the certainty of an early engagement with the enemy, and it is strictly enjoined upon brigade, regimental and company commanders to attend at once to the condition of the arms and ammunition of the men under them. No time is to be lost in putting the arms in perfect order and seeing that the boxes are filled with cartridges. The rations on hand must be cooked and put in haversacks, so that no detention will ensue when the order to march is given; and also that the men may not suffer for food when it is impossible for the supply trains to reach them. By order of Brig.-gen. W. F. Smith.

This was very necessary. The incessant rains, the fording of streams and sleeping on the wet ground had kept the men’s guns (muzzle-loaders) in horrible condition. They had nothing with which to draw the charges.

Once the regiment formed in line to fire a volley and not twenty rifles were discharged at the command, and fully ten minutes were spent before the greater part of the wet loads could be fired.

The gray uniforms of a number of the regiments of the division were not approved of by the veterans of the Army of the Potomac, and those wearing them were advised that their health would be improved by their exchanging them for blue blouses before they got into action, as there was great danger that they might get fired on from the rear as well as from the front.

MARCHING THROUGH MARYLAND.

Friday, July 10, the Twenty-third and Seventy-first went out two or three miles on the Greencastle pike, where they remained for the day. During the afternoon of Saturday, July 11, distant cannonading was heard, caused by Gen. Meade’s feeling the enemy at Williamsport. Reports were current throughout the division of another battle in which Lee had been worsted, and the excitement was great, although such matters had got to be such an old story that the feeling was less than would be supposed. About dusk, on the division marched for Maryland in high spirits. On the way, the Twenty-second marched and counter-marched a good deal, losing three hours’ time and its temper, in consequence of Gen. Ewen having forgotten that in going through a strange country he could not get on well without providing himself with a guide.

Consequently, it was not until after dark that it reached the Antietam, at Scotland’s Bridge, although this was only about two miles out. The bridge had been burned, and was still smoking, and the men were ordered to ford the stream. As no one knew the depth, the men took off their trousers, or rolled them up to their hips, only to find the water not two feet deep.

Once across, a pleasant moonlight march over a first-rate road soon brought the column to the border; and when the officers announced, “That house marks the line, boys!” it was with no small gratification that the men shook off the dust from their feet, singing, with great impressment, the Union version of ” Maryland my Maryland,” together with a number of parodies not very complimentary to the ” men we left behind us.” It appears from the records that some objection was anticipated on the part of a portion of the troops to their being sent out of Pennsylvania. Nothing of the kind ever existed in the New York regiments, and they heard of nothing’ of it among their Pennsylvania associates.

Captain John Walker

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In October 1861, John A. Walker enlisted in Company A, 77th Pennsylvania Infantry at Chambersburg, PA. Upon enlistment he was given the first lieutenancy of his company. Lieutenant Walker saw his first major action at the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862. In December, he was wounded in the knee at the Battle of Stones River, Tenn.

Lieutenant Walker returned to Waynesboro while recuperating from his injury. In February of 1863, he was promoted to Captain and took command of Company A. During September and October of 1863, Walker fought well at Battle of Chickamauga and Siege of Chattanooga.

In March of 1864, Captain Walker returned to Waynesboro to recruit men for his company. The newspaper called him “A brave and competent officer, as has been shown on various battle-fields and recruits could join no more creditable organization.” Captain Walker was killed on August 5th, 1864 just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.