Military Reminiscences of the Civil War V1
Jacob Dolson Cox

Part 1 out of 9

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_Formerly Major-General commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps_




My aim in this book has been to reproduce my own experience in our
Civil War in such a way as to help the reader understand just how
the duties and the problems of that great conflict presented
themselves successively to one man who had an active part in it from
the beginning to the end. In my military service I was so conscious
of the benefit it was to me to get the personal view of men who had
served in our own or other wars, as distinguished from the general
or formal history, that I formed the purpose, soon after peace was
restored, to write such a narrative of my own army life. My
relations to many prominent officers and civilians were such as to
give opportunities for intimate knowledge of their personal
qualities as well as their public conduct. It has seemed to me that
it might be useful to share with others what I thus learned, and to
throw what light I could upon the events and the men of that time.

As I have written historical accounts of some campaigns separately,
it may be proper to say that I have in this book avoided repetition,
and have tried to make the personal narrative supplement and lend
new interest to the more formal story. Some of the earlier chapters
appeared in an abridged form in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil
War," and the closing chapter was read before the Ohio Commandery of
the Loyal Legion. By arrangements courteously made by the Century
Company and the Commandery, these chapters, partly re-written, are
here found in their proper connection.

Though my private memoranda are full enough to give me reasonable
confidence in the accuracy of these reminiscences, I have made it a
duty to test my memory by constant reference to the original
contemporaneous material so abundantly preserved in the government
publication of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies. Where the series of these records is not given, my
references are to the First Series, with the abbreviation O. R., and
I have preferred to adhere to the official designation of the
volumes in parts, as each volume then includes the documents of a
single campaign.

J. D. C.

NOTE.--The manuscript of this work had been completed by General
Cox, and placed in the hands of the publishers several weeks before
his untimely death at Magnolia, Mass., August 4, 1900. He himself
had read and revised some four hundred pages of the press-work. The
work of reading and revising the remaining proofs and of preparing a
general index for the work was undertaken by the undersigned from a
deep sense of obligation to and loving regard for the author, which
could not find a more fitting expression at this time. No material
changes have been made in text or notes. Citations have been looked
up and references verified with care, yet errors may have crept in,
which his well-known accuracy would have excluded. For all such and
for the imperfections of the index, the undersigned must accept
responsibility, and beg the indulgence of the reader, who will find
in the text itself enough of interest and profit to excuse many





Ohio Senate, April 12--Sumter bombarded--"Glory to God!"--The
surrender--Effect on public sentiment--Call for troops--Politicians
changing front--David Tod--Stephen A. Douglas--The insurrection must
be crushed--Garfield on personal duty--Troops organized by the
States--The militia--Unpreparedness--McClellan at Columbus--Meets
Governor Dennison--Put in command--Our stock of munitions--Making
estimates--McClellan's plan--Camp Jackson--Camp Dennison--Gathering
of the volunteers--Garibaldi uniforms--Officering the troops--Off
for Washington--Scenes in the State Capitol--Governor Dennison's
labors--Young regulars--Scott's policy--Alex. McCook--Orlando
Poe--Not allowed to take state commissions.



Laying out the camp--Rosecrans as engineer--A comfortless
night--Waking to new duties--Floors or no floors for the
huts--Hardee's Tactics--The watersupply--Colonel Tom
Worthington--Joshua Sill--Brigades organized--Bates's
brigade--Schleich's--My own--McClellan's purpose--Division
organization--Garfield disappointed--Camp routine--Instruction and
drill--Camp cookery--Measles--Hospital barn--Sisters of
Charity--Ferment over re-enlistment--Musters by Gordon
Granger--"Food for powder"--Brigade staff--De Villiers--"A Captain
of Calvary"--The "Bloody Tinth"--Almost a row--Summoned to the



Political attitude of West Virginia--Rebels take the
initiative--McClellan ordered to act--Ohio militia cross the
river--The Philippi affair--Significant dates--The vote on
secession--Virginia in the Confederacy--Lee in
command--Topography--The mountain passes--Garnett's army--Rich
Mountain position--McClellan in the field--His forces--Advances
against Garnett--Rosecrans's proposal--His fight on the
mountain--McClellan's inaction--Garnett's retreat--Affair at
Carrick's Ford--Garnett killed--Hill's efforts to intercept--Pegram
in the wilderness--He surrenders--Indirect results
important--McClellan's military and personal traits.



Orders for the Kanawha expedition--The troops and their
quality--Lack of artillery and cavalry--Assembling at
Gallipolis--District of the Kanawha--Numbers of the opposing
forces--Method of advance--Use of steamboats--Advance guards on
river banks--Camp at Thirteen-mile Creek--Night alarm--The river
chutes--Sunken obstructions--Pocotaligo--Affair at
Barboursville--Affair at Scary Creek--Wise's position at Tyler
Mountain--His precipitate retreat--Occupation of
Charleston--Rosecrans succeeds McClellan--Advance toward Gauley
Bridge--Insubordination--The Newspaper Correspondent--Occupation of
Gauley Bridge.



The gate of the Kanawha valley--The wilderness beyond--West Virginia
defences--A romantic post--Chaplain Brown--An adventurous
mission--Chaplain Dubois--"The river path"--Gauley Mount--Colonel
Tompkins's home--Bowie-knives--Truculent resolutions--The
Engineers--Whittlesey, Benham, Wagner--Fortifications--Distant
reconnoissances--Comparison of forces--Dangers to steamboat
communications--Allotment of duties--The Summersville post--Seventh
Ohio at Cross Lanes--Scares and rumors--Robert E. Lee at Valley
Mountain--Floyd and Wise advance--Rosecrans's orders--The Cross
Lanes affair--Major Casement's creditable retreat--Colonel Tyler's
reports--Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton--Quarrels of Wise and
Floyd--Ambushing rebel cavalry--Affair at Boone Court House--New
attack at Gauley Bridge--An incipient mutiny--Sad result--A notable
court-martial--Rosecrans marching toward us--Communications
renewed--Advance toward Lewisburg--Camp Lookout--A private sorrow.



Rosecrans's march to join me--Reaches Cross Lanes--Advance against
Floyd--Engagement at Carnifex Ferry--My advance to Sunday
Road--Conference with Rosecrans--McCook's brigade joins me--Advance
to Camp Lookout--Brigade commanders--Rosecrans's personal
characteristics--Hartsuff--Floyd and Wise again--"Battle of
Bontecou"--Sewell Mountain--The equinoctial--General Schenck
arrives--Rough lodgings--Withdrawal from the mountain--Rear-guard
duties--Major Slemmer of Fort Pickens fame--New positions covering
Gauley Bridge--Floyd at Cotton Mountain--Rosecrans's methods with
private soldiers--Progress in discipline.



Floyd cannonades Gauley Bridge--Effect on Rosecrans--Topography of
Gauley Mount--De Villiers runs the gantlet--Movements of our
forces--Explaining orders--A hard climb on the mountain--In the post
at Gauley Bridge--Moving magazine and telegraph--A balky
mule-team--Ammunition train under fire--Captain Fitch a model
quartermaster--Plans to entrap Floyd--Moving supply trains at
night--Method of working the ferry--Of making flatboats--The Cotton
Mountain affair--Rosecrans dissatisfied with Benham--Vain plans to
reach East Tennessee.



An impracticable country--Movements suspended--Experienced troops
ordered away--My orders from Washington--Rosecrans objects--A
disappointment--Winter organization of the Department--Sifting our
material--Courts-martial--Regimental schools--Drill and picket
duty--A military execution--Effect upon the army--Political
sentiments of the people--Rules of conduct toward them--Case of Mr.
Parks--Mr. Summers--Mr. Patrick--Mr. Lewis Ruffner--Mr.
Doddridge--Mr. B. F. Smith--A house divided against itself--Major
Smith's journal--The contrabands--A fugitive-slave
case--Embarrassments as to military jurisdiction.



High quality of first volunteers--Discipline milder than that of the
regulars--Reasons for the difference--Practical efficiency of the
men--Necessity for sifting the officers--Analysis of their
defects--What is military aptitude?--Diminution of number in
ascending scale--Effect of age--Of former life and
occupation--Embarrassments of a new business--Quick progress of the
right class of young men--Political appointments--Professional
men--Political leaders naturally prominent in a civil war--"Cutting
and trying"--Dishonest methods--An excellent army at the end of a
year--The regulars in 1861--Entrance examinations for West
Point--The curriculum there--Drill and experience--Its
limitations--Problems peculiar to the vast increase of the
army--Ultra-conservatism--Attitude toward the Lincoln
administration--"Point de zęle"--Lack of initiative--Civil work of
army engineers--What is military art?--Opinions of experts--Military
history--European armies in the Crimean War--True
generalship--Anomaly of a double army organization.



Rosecrans's plan of campaign--Approved by McClellan with
modifications--Wagons or pack-mules--Final form of plan--Changes in
commands--McClellan limited to Army of the Potomac--Halleck's
Department of the Mississippi--Frémont's Mountain
Department--Rosecrans superseded--Preparations in the Kanawha
District--Batteaux to supplement steamboats--Light wagons for
mountain work--Frémont's plan--East Tennessee as an objective--The
supply question--Banks in the Shenandoah valley--Milroy's
advance--Combat at McDowell--Banks defeated--Frémont's plans
deranged--Operations in the Kanawha valley--Organization of
brigades--Brigade commanders--Advance to Narrows of New River--The
field telegraph--Concentration of the enemy--Affair at
Princeton--Position at Flat-top Mountain.



A key position--Crook's engagement at Lewisburg--Watching and
scouting--Mountain work--Pope in command--Consolidation of
Departments--Suggestions of our transfer to the East--Pope's Order
No. 11 and Address to the Army--Orders to march across the
mountains--Discussion of them--Changed to route by water and
rail--Ninety-mile march--Logistics--Arriving in Washington--Two
regiments reach Pope--Two sent to Manassas--Jackson captures
Manassas--Railway broken--McClellan at Alexandria--Engagement at
Bull Run Bridge--Ordered to Upton's Hill--Covering
Washington--Listening to the Bull Run battle--Ill news travels fast.



McClellan's visits to my position--Riding the lines--Discussing the
past campaign--The withdrawal from the James--Prophecy--McClellan
and the soldiers--He is in command of the defences--Intricacy of
official relations--Reorganization begun--Pope's army marches
through our works--Meeting of McClellan and Pope--Pope's
characteristics--Undue depreciation of him--The situation when
Halleck was made General-in-Chief--Pope's part in it--Reasons for
dislike on the part of the Potomac Army--McClellan's secret
service--Deceptive information of the enemy's force--Information
from prisoners and citizens--Effects of McClellan's illusion as to
Lee's strength--Halleck's previous career--Did he intend to take
command in the field?--His abdication of the field command--The
necessity for a union of forces in Virginia--McClellan's inaction
was Lee's opportunity--Slow transfer of the Army of the
Potomac--Halleck burdened with subordinate's work--Burnside twice
declines the command--It is given to McClellan--Pope relieved--Other
changes in organization--Consolidation--New campaign begun.



March through Washington--Reporting to Burnside--The Ninth
Corps--Burnside's personal qualities--To Leesboro--Straggling--Lee's
army at Frederick--Our deliberate advance--Reno at New Market--The
march past--Reno and Hayes--Camp gossip--Occupation of
Frederick--Affair with Hampton's cavalry--Crossing Catoctin
Mountain--The valley and South Mountain--Lee's order found--Division
of his army--Jackson at Harper's Ferry--Supporting Pleasonton's
reconnoissance--Meeting Colonel Moor--An involuntary
warning--Kanawha Division's advance--Opening of the battle--Carrying
the mountain crest--The morning fight--Lull at noon--Arrival of
supports--Battle renewed--Final success--Death of Reno--Hooker's
battle on the right--His report--Burnside's comments--Franklin's
engagement at Crampton's Gap.



Lee's plan of invasion--Changed by McClellan's advance--The position
at Sharpsburg--Our routes of march--At the Antietam--McClellan
reconnoitring--Lee striving to concentrate--Our delays--Tuesday's
quiet--Hooker's evening march--The Ninth Corps command--Changing our
positions--McClellan's plan of battle--Hooker's evening
skirmish--Mansfield goes to support Hooker--Confederate
positions--Jackson arrives--McLaws and Walker reach the field--Their



Hooker astir early--The field near the Dunker Church--Artillery
combat--Positions of Hooker's divisions--Rocky ledges in the
woods--Advance of Doubleday through Miller's orchard and
garden--Enemy's fire from West Wood--They rush for Gibbon's
battery--Repulse--Advance of Patrick's brigade--Fierce fighting
along the turnpike--Ricketts's division in the East Wood--Fresh
effort of Meade's division in the centre--A lull in the
battle--Mansfield's corps reaches the field--Conflicting opinions as
to the hour--Mansfield killed--Command devolves on Williams--Advance
through East Wood--Hooker wounded--Meade in command of the corps--It
withdraws--Greene's division reaches the Dunker Church--Crawford's
in the East Wood--Terrible effects on the Confederates--Sumner's
corps coming up--Its formation--It moves on the Dunker Church from
the east--Divergence of the divisions--Sedgwick's passes to right of
Greene--Attacked in flank and broken--Rallying at the Poffenberger
hill--Twelfth Corps hanging on near the church--Advance of French's
division--Richardson follows later--Bloody Lane reached--The Piper
house--Franklin's corps arrives--Charge of Irwin's brigade.



Ninth Corps positions near Antietam Creek--Rodman's division at
lower ford--Sturgis's at the bridge--Burnside's headquarters on the
field--View from his place of the battle on the right--French's
fight--An exploding caisson--Our orders to attack--The hour--Crisis
of the battle--Discussion of the sequence of events--The Burnside
bridge--Exposed approach--Enfiladed by enemy's
artillery--Disposition of enemy's troops--His position very
strong--Importance of Rodman's movement by the ford--The fight at
the bridge--Repulse--Fresh efforts--Tactics of the
assault--Success--Formation on further bank--Bringing up
ammunition--Willcox relieves Sturgis--The latter now in
support--Advance against Sharpsburg--Fierce combat--Edge of the town
reached--Rodman's advance on the left--A. P. Hill's Confederate
division arrives from Harper's Ferry--Attacks Rodman's flank--A raw
regiment breaks--The line retires--Sturgis comes into the
gap--Defensive position taken and held--Enemy's assaults
repulsed--Troops sleeping on their arms--McClellan's reserve--Other
troops not used--McClellan's idea of Lee's force and plans--Lee's
retreat--The terrible casualty lists.



Meeting Colonel Key--His changes of opinion--His relations to
McClellan--Governor Dennison's influence--McClellan's attitude
toward Lincoln--Burnside's position--The Harrison Landing
letter--Compared with Lincoln's views--Probable intent of the
letter--Incident at McClellan's headquarters--John W.
Garrett--Emancipation Proclamation--An after-dinner discussion of
it--Contrary influences--Frank advice--Burnside and John
Cochrane--General Order 163--Lincoln's visit to camp--Riding the
field--A review--Lincoln's desire for continuing the
campaign--McClellan's hesitation--His tactics of discussion--His
exaggeration of difficulties--Effect on his army--Disillusion a slow
process--Lee's army not better than Johnston's--Work done by our
Western army--Difference in morale--An army rarely bolder than its
leader--Correspondence between Halleck and McClellan--Lincoln's
remarkable letter on the campaign--The army moves on November 2--Lee
regains the line covering Richmond--McClellan relieved--Burnside in



Intimacy of McClellan and Burnside--Private letters in the official
files--Burnside's mediation--His self-forgetful devotion--The
movement to join Pope--Burnside forwards Porter's dispatches--His
double refusal of the command--McClellan suspends the organization
of wings--His relations to Porter--Lincoln's letter on the
subject--Fault-finding with Burnside--Whose work?--Burnside's
appearance and bearing in the field.



Ordered to the Kanawha valley again--An unwelcome surprise--Reasons
for the order--Reporting to Halleck at Washington--Affairs in the
Kanawha in September--Lightburn's positions--Enemy under Loring
advances--Affair at Fayette C. H.--Lightburn retreats--Gauley Bridge
abandoned--Charleston evacuated--Disorderly flight to the
Ohio--Enemy's cavalry raid under Jenkins--General retreat in
Tennessee and Kentucky--West Virginia not in any Department--Now
annexed to that of Ohio--Morgan's retreat from Cumberland
Gap--Ordered to join the Kanawha forces--Milroy's brigade also--My
interviews with Halleck and Stanton--Promotion--My task--My division
sent with me--District of West Virginia--Colonel Crook
promoted--Journey westward--Governor Peirpoint--Governor
Tod--General Wright--Destitution of Morgan's column--Refitting at
Portland, Ohio--Night drive to Gallipolis--An amusing
accident--Inspection at Point Pleasant--Milroy ordered to
Parkersburg--Milroy's qualities--Interruptions to movement of
troops--No wagons--Supplies delayed--Confederate retreat--Loring
relieved--Echols in command--Our march up the valley--Echols
retreats--We occupy Charleston and Gauley Bridge--Further advance
stopped--Our forces reduced--Distribution of remaining
troops--Alarms and minor movements--Case of Mr. Summers--His
treatment by the Confederates.



Central position of Marietta, Ohio--Connection with all parts of
West Virginia--Drill and instruction of troops--Guerilla
warfare--Partisan Rangers--Confederate laws--Disposal of
plunder--Mosby's Rangers as a type--Opinions of Lee, Stuart, and
Rosser--Effect on other troops--Rangers finally abolished--Rival
home-guards and militia--Horrors of neighborhood war--Staff and
staff duties--Reduction of forces--General Cluseret--Later
connection with the Paris Commune--His relations with Milroy--He
resigns--Political situation--Congressmen distrust Lincoln--Cutler's
diary--Resolutions regarding appointments of general officers--The
number authorized by law--Stanton's report--Effect of Act of July,
1862--An excess of nine major-generals--The legal questions
involved--Congressional patronage and local distribution--Ready for
a "deal"--Bill to increase the number of generals--A "slate" made up
to exhaust the number--Senate and House
disagree--Conference--Agreement in last hours of the session--The
new list--A few vacancies by resignation, etc.--List of those
dropped--My own case--Faults of the method--Lincoln's humorous
comments--Curious case of General Turchin--Congestion in the highest
grades--Effects--Confederate grades of general and
lieutenant-general--Superiority of our system--Cotemporaneous
reports and criticisms--New regiments instead of recruiting old
ones--Sherman's trenchant opinion.



Desire for field service--Changes in the Army of the
Potomac--Judgment of McClellan at that time--Our defective
knowledge--Changes in West Virginia--Errors in new
organization--Embarrassments resulting--Visit to General
Schenck--New orders from Washington--Sent to Ohio to administer the
draft--Burnside at head of the department--District of
Ohio--Headquarters at Cincinnati--Cordial relations of Governor Tod
with the military authorities--System of enrolment and
draft--Administration by Colonel Fry--Decay of the veteran
regiments--Bounty-jumping--Effects on political parties--Soldiers
voting--Burnside's military plans--East Tennessee--Rosecrans aiming
at Chattanooga--Burnside's business habits--His frankness--Stories
about him--His personal characteristics--Cincinnati as a border
city--Rebel sympathizers--Order No. 38--Challenged by
Vallandigham--The order not a new departure--Lincoln's
proclamation--General Wright's circular.



Clement L. Vallandigham--His opposition to the war--His theory of
reconstruction--His Mount Vernon speech--His arrest--Sent before the
military commission--General Potter its president--Counsel for the
prisoner--The line of defence--The judgment--Habeas Corpus
proceedings--Circuit Court of the United States--Judge Leavitt
denies the release--Commutation by the President--Sent beyond the
lines--Conduct of Confederate authorities--Vallandigham in
Canada--Candidate for Governor--Political results--Martial
law--Principles underlying it--Practical application--The intent to
aid the public enemy--The intent to defeat the draft--Armed
resistance to arrest of deserters, Noble County--To the enrolment in
Holmes County--A real insurrection--Connection of these with
Vallandigham's speeches--The Supreme Court refuses to
interfere--Action in the Milligan case after the war--Judge Davis's
personal views--Knights of the Golden Circle--The Holmes County
outbreak--Its suppression--Letter to Judge Welker.



Condition of Kentucky and Tennessee--Halleck's instructions to
Burnside--Blockhouses at bridges--Relief of East
Tennessee--Conditions of the problem--Vast wagon-train
required--Scheme of a railroad--Surveys begun--Burnside's efforts to
arrange co-operation with Rosecrans--Bragg sending troops to
Johnston--Halleck urges Rosecrans to activity--Continued
inactivity--Burnside ordered to send troops to Grant--Rosecrans's
correspondence with Halleck--Lincoln's dispatch--Rosecrans collects
his subordinates' opinions--Councils of war--The situation
considered--Sheridan and Thomas--Computation of
effectives--Garfield's summing up--Review of the situation when
Rosecrans succeeded Buell--After Stone's River--Relative
forces--Disastrous detached expeditions--Appeal to ambition--The
major-generalship in regular army--Views of the President
justified--Burnside's forces--Confederate forces in East
Tennessee--Reasons for the double organization of the Union armies.



Departure of the staff for the field--An amusingly quick
return--Changes in my own duties--Expeditions to occupy the
enemy--Sanders' raid into East Tennessee--His route--His success and
return--The Confederate Morgan's raid--His instructions--His
reputation as a soldier--Compared with Forrest--Morgan's start
delayed--His appearance at Green River, Ky.--Foiled by Colonel
Moore--Captures Lebanon--Reaches the Ohio at Brandenburg--General
Hobson in pursuit--Morgan crosses into Indiana--Was this his
original purpose?--His route out of Indiana into Ohio--He approaches
Cincinnati--Hot chase by Hobson--Gunboats co-operating on the
river--Efforts to block his way--He avoids garrisoned posts and
cities--Our troops moved in transports by water--Condition of
Morgan's jaded column--Approaching the Ohio at
Buffington's--Gunboats near the ford--Hobson attacks--Part captured,
the rest fly northward--Another capture--A long chase--Surrender of
Morgan with the remnant--Summary of results--A burlesque



News of Grant's victory at Vicksburg--A thrilling scene at the
opera--Burnside's Ninth Corps to return--Stanton urges Rosecrans to
advance--The Tullahoma manoeuvres--Testy correspondence--Its real
meaning--Urgency with Burnside--Ignorance concerning his
situation--His disappointment as to Ninth Corps--Rapid concentration
of other troops--Burnside's march into East Tennessee--Occupation of
Knoxville--Invests Cumberland Gap--The garrison surrenders--Good
news from Rosecrans--Distances between armies--Divergent lines--No
railway communication--Burnside concentrates toward the Virginia
line--Joy of the people--Their intense loyalty--Their faith in the



Organizing and arming the loyalists--Burnside concentrates near
Greeneville--His general plan--Rumors of Confederate
reinforcements--Lack of accurate information--The Ninth Corps in
Kentucky--Its depletion by malarial disease--Death of General Welsh
from this cause--Preparing for further work--Situation on 16th
September--Dispatch from Halleck--Its apparent purpose--Necessity to
dispose of the enemy near Virginia border--Burnside personally at
the front--His great activity--Ignorance of Rosecrans's
peril--Impossibility of joining him by the 20th--Ruinous effects of
abandoning East Tennessee--Efforts to aid Rosecrans without such
abandonment--Enemy duped into burning Watauga bridge
themselves--Ninth Corps arriving--Willcox's division garrisons
Cumberland Gap--Reinforcements sent Rosecrans from all
quarters--Chattanooga made safe from attack--The supply
question--Meigs's description of the roads--Burnside halted near
Loudon--Halleck's misconception of the geography--The people
imploring the President not to remove the troops--How Longstreet got
away from Virginia--Burnside's alternate plans--Minor operations in
upper Holston valley--Wolford's affair on the lower Holston.







Ohio Senate April 12--Sumter bombarded--"Glory to God!"--The
surrender--Effect on public sentiment--Call for troops--Politicians
changing front--David Tod--Stephen A. Douglas--The insurrection must
be crushed--Garfield on personal duty--Troops organized by the
States--The militia--Unpreparedness--McClellan at Columbus--Meets
Governor Dennison--Put in command--Our stock of munitions--Making
estimates--McClellan's plan--Camp Jackson--Camp Dennison--Gathering
of the volunteers--Garibaldi uniforms--Officering the troops--Off
for Washington--Scenes in the State Capitol--Governor Dennison's
labors--Young regulars--Scott's policy--Alex. McCook--Orlando
Poe--Not allowed to take state commissions.

On Friday the twelfth day of April, 1861, the Senate of Ohio was in
session, trying to go on in the ordinary routine of business, but
with a sense of anxiety and strain which was caused by the troubled
condition of national affairs. The passage of Ordinances of
Secession by one after another of the Southern States, and even the
assembling of a provisional Confederate government at Montgomery,
had not wholly destroyed the hope that some peaceful way out of our
troubles would be found; yet the gathering of an army on the sands
opposite Fort Sumter was really war, and if a hostile gun were
fired, we knew it would mean the end of all effort at arrangement.
Hoping almost against hope that blood would not be shed, and that
the pageant of military array and of a rebel government would pass
by and soon be reckoned among the disused scenes and properties of a
political drama that never pretended to be more than acting, we
tried to give our thoughts to business; but there was no heart in
it, and the morning hour lagged, for we could not work in earnest
and we were unwilling to adjourn.

Suddenly a senator came in from the lobby in an excited way, and
catching the chairman's eye, exclaimed, "Mr. President, the
telegraph announces that the secessionists are bombarding Fort
Sumter!" There was a solemn and painful hush, but it was broken in a
moment by a woman's shrill voice from the spectators' seats, crying,
"Glory to God!" It startled every one, almost as if the enemy were
in the midst. But it was the voice of a radical friend of the slave,
who after a lifetime of public agitation believed that only through
blood could freedom be won. Abby Kelly Foster had been attending the
session of the Assembly, urging the passage of some measures
enlarging the legal rights of married women, and, sitting beyond the
railing when the news came in, shouted a fierce cry of joy that
oppression had submitted its cause to the decision of the sword.
With most of us, the gloomy thought that civil war had begun in our
own land overshadowed everything, and seemed too great a price to
pay for any good; a scourge to be borne only in preference to
yielding the very groundwork of our republicanism,--the right to
enforce a fair interpretation of the Constitution through the
election of President and Congress.

The next day we learned that Major Anderson had surrendered, and the
telegraphic news from all the Northern States showed plain evidence
of a popular outburst of loyalty to the Union, following a brief
moment of dismay. Judge Thomas M. Key of Cincinnati, chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, was the recognized leader of the Democratic
party in the Senate, [Footnote: Afterward aide-de-camp and acting
judge-advocate on McClellan's staff.] and at an early hour moved an
adjournment to the following Tuesday, in order, as he said, that the
senators might have the opportunity to go home and consult their
constituents in the perilous crisis of public affairs. No objection
was made to the adjournment, and the representatives took a similar
recess. All were in a state of most anxious suspense,--the
Republicans to know what initiative the Administration at Washington
would take, and the Democrats to determine what course they should
follow if the President should call for troops to put down the

Before we meet again, Mr. Lincoln's proclamation and call for
seventy-five thousand militia for three months' service were out,
and the great mass of the people of the North, forgetting all party
distinctions, answered with an enthusiastic patriotism that swept
politicians off their feet. When we met again on Tuesday morning,
Judge Key, taking my arm and pacing the floor outside the railing in
the Senate chamber, broke out impetuously, "Mr. Cox, the people have
gone stark mad!" "I knew they would if a blow was struck against the
flag," said I, reminding him of some previous conversations we had
had on the subject. He, with most of the politicians of the day,
partly by sympathy with the overwhelming current of public opinion,
and partly by reaction of their own hearts against the false
theories which had encouraged the secessionists, determined to
support the war measures of the government, and to make no factious
opposition to such state legislation as might be necessary to
sustain the federal administration.

The attitude of Mr. Key is only a type of many others, and makers
one of the most striking features of the time. On the 8th of January
the usual Democratic convention and celebration of the Battle of New
Orleans had taken place, and a series of resolutions had been
passed, which were drafted, as was understood, by Judge Thurman. In
these, professing to speak in the name of "two hundred thousand
Democrats of Ohio," the convention had very significantly intimated
that this vast organization of men would be found in the way of any
attempt to put down secession until the demands of the South in
respect to slavery were complied with. A few days afterward I was
returning to Columbus from my home in Trumbull County, and meeting
upon the railway train with David Tod, then an active Democratic
politician, but afterward one of our loyal "war governors," the
conversation turned on the action of the convention which had just
adjourned. Mr. Tod and I were personal friends and neighbors, and I
freely expressed my surprise that the convention should have
committed itself to what must be interpreted as a threat of
insurrection in the North if the administration should, in opposing
secession by force, follow the example of Andrew Jackson, in whose
honor they had assembled. He rather vehemently reasserted the
substance of the resolution, saying that we Republicans would find
the two hundred thousand Ohio Democrats in front of us, if we
attempted to cross the Ohio River. My answer was, "We will give up
the contest if we cannot carry your two hundred thousand over the
heads of your leaders."

The result proved how hollow the party professions had been; or
perhaps I should say how superficial was the hold of such party
doctrines upon the mass of men in a great political organization. In
the excitement of political campaigns they had cheered the
extravagant language of party platforms with very little reflection,
and the leaders had imagined that the people were really and
earnestly indoctrinated into the political creed of Calhoun; but at
the first shot from Beauregard's guns in Charleston harbor their
latent patriotism sprang into vigorous life, and they crowded to the
recruiting stations to enlist for the defence of the national flag
and the national Union. It was a popular torrent which no leaders
could resist; but many of these should be credited with the same
patriotic impulse, and it made them nobly oblivious of party
consistency. Stephen A. Douglas passed through Columbus on his way
to Washington a few days after the surrender of Sumter, and in
response to the calls of a spontaneous gathering of people, spoke to
them from his bedroom window in the American House. There had been
no thought for any of the common surroundings of a public meeting.
There were no torches, no music. A dark crowd of men filled full the
dim-lit street, and called for Douglas with an earnestness of tone
wholly different from the enthusiasm of common political gatherings.
He came half-dressed to his window, and without any light near him,
spoke solemnly to the people upon the terrible crisis which had come
upon the nation. Men of all parties were there: his own followers to
get some light as to their duty; the Breckinridge Democrats ready,
most of them, repentantly to follow a Northern leader, now that
their recent candidate was in the rebellion; [Footnote: Breckinridge
did not formally join the Confederacy till September, but his accord
with the secessionists was well known.] the Republicans eagerly
anxious to know whether so potent an influence was to be
unreservedly on the side of the country. I remember well the serious
solicitude with which I listened to his opening sentences as I
leaned against the railing of the State House park, trying in vain
to get more than a dim outline of the man as he stood at the
unlighted window. His deep sonorous voice rolled down through the
darkness from above us,--an earnest, measured voice, the more
solemn, the more impressive, because we could not see the speaker,
and it came to us literally as "a voice in the night,"--the night of
our country's unspeakable trial. There was no uncertainty in his
tone: the Union must be preserved and the insurrection must be
crushed,--he pledged his hearty support to Mr. Lincoln's
administration in doing this. Other questions must stand aside till
the national authority should be everywhere recognized. I do not
think we greatly cheered him,--it was rather a deep Amen that went
up from the crowd. We went home breathing freer in the assurance we
now felt that, for a time at least, no organized opposition to the
federal government and its policy of coercion would be formidable in
the North. We did not look for unanimity. Bitter and narrow men
there were whose sympathies were with their country's enemies.
Others equally narrow were still in the chains of the secession
logic they had learned from the Calhounists; but the broader-minded
men found themselves happy in being free from disloyal theories, and
threw themselves sincerely and earnestly into the popular movement.
There was no more doubt where Douglas or Tod or Key would be found,
or any of the great class they represented.

Yet the situation hung upon us like a nightmare. Garfield and I were
lodging together at the time, our wives being kept at home by family
cares, and when we reached our sitting-room, after an evening
session of the Senate, we often found ourselves involuntarily
groaning, "Civil war in _our_ land!" The shame, the outrage, the
folly, seemed too great to believe, and we half hoped to wake from
it as from a dream. Among the painful remembrances of those days is
the ever-present weight at the heart which never left me till I
found relief in the active duties of camp life at the close of the
month. I went about my duties (and I am sure most of those I
associated with did the same) with the half-choking sense of a grief
I dared not think of: like one who is dragging himself to the
ordinary labors of life from some terrible and recent bereavement.

We talked of our personal duty, and though both Garfield and myself
had young families, we were agreed that our activity in the
organization and support of the Republican party made the duty of
supporting the government by military service come peculiarly home
to us. He was, for the moment, somewhat trammelled by his
half-clerical position, but he very soon cut the knot. My own path
seemed unmistakably clear. He, more careful for his friend than for
himself, urged upon me his doubts whether my physical strength was
equal to the strain that would be put upon it. "I," said he, "am big
and strong, and if my relations to the church and the college can be
broken, I shall have no excuse for not enlisting; but you are
slender and will break down." It was true that I looked slender for
a man six feet high (though it would hardly be suspected now that it
was so), yet I had assured confidence in the elasticity of my
constitution; and the result justified me, whilst it also showed how
liable to mistake one is in such things. Garfield found that he had
a tendency to weakness of the alimentary system which broke him down
on every campaign in which he served and led to his retiring from
the army much earlier than he had intended. My own health, on the
other hand, was strengthened by out-door life and exposure, and I
served to the end with growing physical vigor.

When Mr. Lincoln issued his first call for troops, the existing laws
made it necessary that these should be fully organized and officered
by the several States. Then, the treasury was in no condition to
bear the burden of war expenditures, and till Congress could
assemble, the President was forced to rely on the States to furnish
the means necessary for the equipment and transportation of their
own troops. This threw upon the governors and legislatures of the
loyal States responsibilities of a kind wholly unprecedented. A long
period of profound peace had made every military organization seem
almost farcical. A few independent military companies formed the
merest shadow of an army; the state militia proper was only a
nominal thing. It happened, however, that I held a commission as
Brigadier in this state militia, and my intimacy with Governor
Dennison led him to call upon me for such assistance as I could
render in the first enrolment and organization of the Ohio quota.
Arranging to be called to the Senate chamber when my vote might be
needed upon important legislation, I gave my time chiefly to such
military matters as the governor appointed. Although, as I have
said, my military commission had been a nominal thing, and in fact I
had never worn a uniform, I had not wholly neglected theoretic
preparation for such work. For some years the possibility of a war
of secession had been one of the things which would force itself
upon the thoughts of reflecting people, and I had been led to give
some careful study to such books of tactics and of strategy as were
within easy reach. I had especially been led to read military
history with critical care, and had carried away many valuable ideas
from this most useful means of military education. I had therefore
some notion of the work before us, and could approach its problems
with less loss of time, at least, than if I had been wholly
ignorant. [Footnote: I have treated this subject somewhat more fully
in a paper in the "Atlantic Monthly" for March, 1892, "Why the Men
of '61 fought for the Union."]

My commission as Brigadier-General in the Ohio quota in national
service was dated on the 23d of April, though it had been understood
for several days that my tender of service in the field would be
accepted. Just about the same time Captain George B. McClellan was
requested by Governor Dennison to come to Columbus for consultation,
and by the governor's request I met him at the railway station and
took him to the State House. I think Mr. Larz Anderson (brother of
Major Robert Anderson) and Mr. L'Hommedieu of Cincinnati were with
him. The intimation had been given me that he would probably be made
major-general and commandant of our Ohio contingent, and this,
naturally, made me scan him closely. He was rather under the medium
height, but muscularly formed, with broad shoulders and a
well-poised head, active and graceful in motion. His whole
appearance was quiet and modest, but when drawn out he showed no
lack of confidence in himself. He was dressed in a plain travelling
suit, with a narrow-rimmed soft felt hat. In short, he seemed what
he was, a railway superintendent in his business clothes. At the
time his name was a good deal associated with that of Beauregard;
they were spoken of as young men of similar standing in the Engineer
Corps of the Army, and great things were expected of them both
because of their scientific knowledge of their profession, though
McClellan had been in civil life for some years. His report on the
Crimean War was one of the few important memoirs our old army had
produced, and was valuable enough to give a just reputation for
comprehensive understanding of military organization, and the
promise of ability to conduct the operations of an army.

I was present at the interview which the governor had with him. The
destitution of the State of everything like military material and
equipment was very plainly put, and the magnitude of the task of
building up a small army out of nothing was not blinked. The
governor spoke of the embarrassment he felt at every step from the
lack of practical military experience in his staff, and of his
desire to have some one on whom he could properly throw the details
of military work. McClellan showed that he fully understood the
difficulties there would be before him, and said that no man could
wholly master them at once, although he had confidence that if a few
weeks' time for preparation were given, he would be able to put the
Ohio division into reasonable form for taking the field. The command
was then formally tendered and accepted. All of us who were present
felt that the selection was one full of promise and hope, and that
the governor had done the wisest thing practicable at the time.

The next morning McClellan requested me to accompany him to the
State Arsenal, to see what arms and material might be there. We
found a few boxes of smooth-bore muskets which had once been issued
to militia companies and had been returned rusted and damaged. No
belts, cartridge-boxes, or other accoutrements were with them. There
were two or three smooth-bore brass fieldpieces, six-pounders, which
had been honeycombed by firing salutes, and of which the vents had
been worn out, bushed, and worn out again. In a heap in one corner
lay a confused pile of mildewed harness, which had probably been
once used for artillery horses, but was now not worth carrying away.
There had for many years been no money appropriated to buy military
material or even to protect the little the State had. The federal
government had occasionally distributed some arms which were in the
hands of the independent uniformed militia, and the arsenal was
simply an empty storehouse. It did not take long to complete our
inspection. At the door, as we were leaving the building, McClellan
turned, and looking back into its emptiness, remarked, half
humorously and half sadly, "A fine stock of munitions on which to
begin a great war!" We went back to the State House, where a room in
the Secretary of State's department was assigned us, and we sat down
to work. The first task was to make out detailed schedules and
estimates of what would be needed to equip ten thousand men for the
field. This was a unit which could be used by the governor and
legislature in estimating the appropriations needed then or
subsequently. Intervals in this labor were used in discussing the
general situation and plans of campaign. Before the close of the
week McClellan drew up a paper embodying his own views, and
forwarded it to Lieutenant-General Scott. He read it to me, and my
recollection of it is that he suggested two principal lines of
movement in the West,--one, to move eastward by the Kanawha valley
with a heavy column to co-operate with an army in front of
Washington; the other, to march directly southward and to open the
valley of the Mississippi. Scott's answer was appreciative and
flattering, without distinctly approving his plan; and I have never
doubted that the paper prepared the way for his appointment in the
regular army which followed at so early a day. [Footnote: I am not
aware that McClellan's plan of campaign has been published. Scott's
answer to it is given in General Townsend's "Anecdotes of the Civil
War," p. 260. It was, with other communications from Governor
Dennison, carried to Washington by Hon. A. F. Perry of Cincinnati,
an intimate friend of the governor, who volunteered as special
messenger, the mail service being unsafe. See a paper by Mr. Perry
in "Sketches of War History" (Ohio Loyal Legion), _vol. iii._ p.

During this week McClellan was invited to take the command of the
troops to be raised in Pennsylvania, his native State. Some things
beside his natural attachment to Pennsylvania made the proposal an
attractive one to him. It was already evident that the army which
might be organized near Washington would be peculiarly in the public
eye, and would give to its leading officers greater opportunities of
prompt recognition and promotion than would be likely to occur in
the West. The close association with the government would also be a
source of power if he were successful, and the way to a chief
command would be more open there than elsewhere. McClellan told me
frankly that if the offer had come before he had assumed the Ohio
command, he would have accepted it; but he promptly decided that he
was honorably bound to serve under the commission he had already
received and which, like my own, was dated April 23.

My own first assignment to a military command was during the same
week, on the completion of our estimates, when I was for a few days
put in charge of Camp Jackson, the depot of recruits which Governor
Dennison had established in the northern suburb of Columbus and had
named in honor of the first squelcher of secessionism. McClellan
soon determined, however, that a separate camp of instruction should
be formed for the troops mustered into the United States service,
and should be so placed as to be free from the temptations and
inconveniences of too close neighborhood to a large city, whilst it
should also be reasonably well placed for speedy defence of the
southern frontier of the State. Other camps could be under state
control and used only for the organization of regiments which could
afterward be sent to the camp of instruction or elsewhere. Railway
lines and connections indicated some point in the Little Miami
valley as the proper place for such a camp; and Mr. Woodward, the
chief engineer of the Little Miami Railroad, being taken into
consultation, suggested a spot on the line of that railway about
thirteen miles from Cincinnati, where a considerable bend of the
Little Miami River encloses wide and level fields, backed on the
west by gently rising hills. I was invited to accompany the general
in making the inspection of the site, and I think we were
accompanied by Captain Rosecrans, an officer who had resigned from
the regular army to seek a career as civil engineer, and had lately
been in charge of some coal mines in the Kanawha valley. Mr.
Woodward was also of the party, and furnished a special train to
enable us to stop at as many eligible points as it might be thought
desirable to examine. There was no doubt that the point suggested
was best adapted for our work, and although the owners of the land
made rather hard terms, McClellan was authorized to close a contract
for the use of the military camp, which, in honor of the governor,
he named Camp Dennison.

But in trying to give a connected idea of the first military
organization of the State, I have outrun some incidents of those
days which are worth recollection. From the hour the call for troops
was published, enlistments began, and recruits were parading the
streets continually. At the Capitol the restless impulse to be doing
something military seized even upon the members of the legislature,
and a large number of them assembled every evening upon the east
terrace of the State House to be drilled in marching and facing, by
one or two of their own number who had some knowledge of company
tactics. Most of the uniformed independent companies in the cities
of the State immediately tendered their services, and began to
recruit their numbers to the hundred men required for acceptance.
There was no time to procure uniform, nor was it desirable; for
these independent companies had chosen their own, and would have to
change it for that of the United States as soon as this could be
furnished. For some days companies could be seen marching and
drilling, of which part would be uniformed in some gaudy style, such
as is apt to prevail in holiday parades in time of peace, whilst
another part would be dressed in the ordinary working garb of
citizens of all degrees. The uniformed files would also be armed and
accoutred; the others would be without arms or equipments, and as
awkward a squad as could well be imagined. The material, however,
was magnificent, and soon began to take shape. The fancy uniforms
were left at home, and some approximation to a simple and useful
costume was made. The recent popular outburst in Italy furnished a
useful idea, and the "Garibaldi uniform" of a red flannel shirt with
broad falling collar, with blue trousers held by a leathern
waist-belt, and a soft felt hat for the head, was extensively
copied, and served an excellent purpose. It could be made by the
wives and sisters at home, and was all the more acceptable for that.
The spring was opening, and a heavy coat would not be much needed,
so that with some sort of overcoat and a good blanket in an
improvised knapsack, the new company was not badly provided. The
warm scarlet color, reflected from their enthusiastic faces as they
stood in line, made a picture that never failed to impress the
mustering officers with the splendid character of the men.

The officering of these new troops was a difficult and delicate
task, and so far as company officers were concerned, there seemed no
better way at the beginning than to let the enlisted men elect their
own, as was in fact done. In most cases where entirely new companies
were raised, it had been by the enthusiastic efforts of some
energetic volunteers who were naturally made the commissioned
officers. But not always. There were numerous examples of
self-denying patriotism which stayed in the ranks after expending
much labor and money in recruiting, modestly refusing the honors,
and giving way to some one supposed to have military knowledge or
experience. The war in Mexico in 1847 was the latest conflict with a
civilized people, and to have served in it was a sure passport to
confidence. It had often been a service more in name than in fact;
but the young volunteers felt so deeply their own ignorance that
they were ready to yield to any pretence of superior knowledge, and
generously to trust themselves to any one who would offer to lead
them. Hosts of charlatans and incompetents were thus put into
responsible places at the beginning, but the sifting work went on
fast after the troops were once in the field. The election of field
officers, however, ought not to have been allowed. Companies were
necessarily regimented together, of which each could have but little
personal knowledge of the officers of the others; intrigue and
demagogy soon came into play, and almost fatal mistakes were made in
selection. After a time the evil worked its own cure, but the ill
effects of it were long visible.

The immediate need of troops to protect Washington caused most of
the uniformed companies to be united into the first two regiments,
which were quickly despatched to the East. It was a curious study to
watch the indications of character as the officers commanding
companies reported to the governor, and were told that the pressing
demand from Washington made it necessary to organize a regiment or
two and forward them at once, without waiting to arm or equip the
recruits. Some promptly recognized the necessity and took the
undesirable features as part of the duty they had assumed. Others
were querulous, wishing some one else to stand first in the breach,
leaving them time for drill, equipment, and preparation. One figure
impressed itself very strongly on my memory. A sturdy form, a head
with more than ordinary marks of intelligence, but a bearing with
more of swagger than of self-poised courage, yet evidently a man of
some importance in his own community, stood before the seat of the
governor, the bright lights of the chandelier over the table
lighting strongly both their figures. The officer was wrapped in a
heavy blanket or carriage lap-robe, spotted like a leopard skin,
which gave him a brigandish air. He was disposed to protest. "If my
men were hellions," said he, with strong emphasis on the word (a new
one to me), "I wouldn't mind; but to send off the best young fellows
of the county in such a way looks like murder." The governor,
sitting with pale, delicate features, but resolute air, answered
that the way to Washington was not supposed to be dangerous, and the
men could be armed and equipped, he was assured, as soon as they
reached there. It would be done at Harrisburg, if possible, and
certainly if any hostility should be shown in Maryland. The
President wanted the regiments at once, and Ohio's volunteers were
quite as ready to go as any. He had no choice, therefore, but to
order them off. The order was obeyed; but the obedience was with bad
grace, and I felt misgivings as to the officer's fitness to
command,--misgivings which about a year afterward were vividly
recalled with the scene I have described.

No sooner were these regiments off than companies began to stream in
from all parts of the State. On their first arrival they were
quartered wherever shelter could be had, as there were no tents or
sheds to make a camp for them. Going to my evening work at the State
House, as I crossed the rotunda, I saw a company marching in by the
south door, and another disposing itself for the night upon the
marble pavement near the east entrance; as I passed on to the north
hall, I saw another, that had come a little earlier, holding a
prayer-meeting, the stone arches echoing with the excited
supplications of some one who was borne out of himself by the
terrible pressure of events around him, whilst, mingling with his
pathetic, beseeching tones as he prayed for his country, came the
shrill notes of the fife, and the thundering din of the inevitable
bass drum from the company marching in on the other side. In the
Senate chamber a company was quartered, and the senators were there
supplying them with paper and pens, with which the boys were writing
their farewells to mothers and sweethearts whom they hardly dared
hope they should see again. A similar scene was going on in the
Representatives' hall, another in the Supreme Court room. In the
executive office sat the governor, the unwonted noises, when the
door was opened, breaking in on the quiet business-like air of the
room,--he meanwhile dictating despatches, indicating answers to
others, receiving committees of citizens, giving directions to
officers of companies and regiments, accommodating himself to the
wilful democracy of our institutions which insists upon seeing the
man in chief command and will not take its answer from a
subordinate, until in the small hours of the night the noises were
hushed, and after a brief hour of effective, undisturbed work upon
the matters of chief importance, he could leave the glare of his
gas-lighted office, and seek a few hours' rest, only to renew the
same wearing labors on the morrow.

On the streets the excitement was of a rougher if not more intense
character. A minority of unthinking partisans could not understand
the strength and sweep of the great popular movement, and would
sometimes venture to speak out their sympathy with the rebellion or
their sneers at some party friend who had enlisted. In the boiling
temper of the time the quick answer was a blow; and it was one of
the common incidents of the day for those who came into the State
House to tell of a knockdown that had occurred here or there, when
this popular punishment had been administered to some indiscreet
"rebel sympathizer."

Various duties brought young army officers of the regular service to
the state capital, and others sought a brief leave of absence to
come and offer their services to the governor of their native State.
General Scott, too much bound up in his experience of the Mexican
War, and not foreseeing the totally different proportions which this
must assume, planted himself firmly on the theory that the regular
army must be the principal reliance for severe work, and that the
volunteers could only be auxiliaries around this solid nucleus which
would show them the way to perform their duty and take the brunt of
every encounter. The young regulars who asked leave to accept
commissions in state regiments were therefore refused, and were
ordered to their own subaltern positions and posts. There can be no
doubt that the true policy would have been to encourage the whole of
this younger class to enter at once the volunteer service. They
would have been the field officers of the new regiments, and would
have impressed discipline and system upon the organization from the
beginning. The Confederacy really profited by having no regular
army. They gave to the officers who left our service, it is true,
commissions in their so-called "provisional army," to encourage them
in the assurance that they would have permanent military positions
if the war should end in the independence of the South; but this was
only a nominal organization, and their real army was made up (as
ours turned out practically to be) from the regiments of state
volunteers. Less than a year afterward we changed our policy, but it
was then too late to induce many of the regular officers to take
regimental positions in the volunteer troops. I hesitate to declare
that this did not turn out for the best; for although the
organization of our army would have been more rapidly perfected,
there are other considerations which have much weight. The army
would not have been the popular thing it was, its close
identification with the people's movement would have been weakened,
and it perhaps would not so readily have melted again into the mass
of the nation at the close of the war.

Among the first of the young regular officers who came to Columbus
was Alexander McCook. He was ordered there as inspection and
mustering officer, and one of my earliest duties was to accompany
him to Camp Jackson to inspect the cooked rations which the
contractors were furnishing the new troops. I warmed to his earnest,
breezy way, and his business-like activity in performing his duty.
As a makeshift, before camp equipage and cooking utensils could be
issued to the troops, the contractors placed long trestle tables
under an improvised shed, and the soldiers came to these and ate, as
at a country picnic. It was not a bad arrangement to bridge over the
interval between home life and regular soldiers' fare, and the
outcry about it at the time was senseless, as all of us know who saw
real service afterward. McCook bustled along from table to table,
sticking a long skewer into a boiled ham, smelling of it to see if
the interior of the meat was tainted; breaking open a loaf of bread
and smelling of it to see if it was sour; examining the coffee
before it was put into the kettles, and after it was made; passing
his judgment on each, in prompt, peremptory manner as we went on.
The food was, in the main, excellent, though, as a way of supporting
an army, it was quite too costly to last long.

While mustering in the recruits, McCook was elected colonel of the
First Regiment Ohio Volunteers, which had, I believe, already gone
to Washington. He was eager to accept, and telegraphed to Washington
for permission. Adjutant-General Thomas replied that it was not the
policy of the War Department to permit it. McCook cut the knot in
gallant style. He immediately tendered his resignation in the
regular army, taking care to say that he did so, not to avoid his
country's service or to aid her enemies, but because he believed he
could serve her much more effectively by drilling and leading a
regiment of Union volunteers. He notified the governor of his
acceptance of the colonelcy, and his _coup-de-main_ was a success;
for the department did not like to accept a resignation under such
circumstances, and he had the exceptional luck to keep his regular
commission and gain prestige as well, by his bold energy in the

Orlando Poe came about the same time, for all this was occurring in
the last ten days of April. He was a lieutenant of topographical
engineers, and was stationed with General (then Captain) Meade at
Detroit, doing duty upon the coast survey of the lakes. He was in
person the model for a young athlete, tall, dark, and strong, with
frank, open countenance, looking fit to repeat his ancestor Adam
Poe's adventurous conflicts with the Indians as told in the frontier
traditions of Ohio. He too was eager for service; but the same rule
was applied to him, and the argument that the engineers would be
especially necessary to the army organization kept him for a time
from insisting upon taking volunteer service, as McCook had done. He
was indefatigable in his labors, assisting the governor in
organizing the regiments, smoothing the difficulties constantly
arising from lack of familiarity with the details of the
administrative service of the army, and giving wise advice to the
volunteer officers who made his acquaintance. I asked him, one day,
in my pursuit of practical ideas from all who I thought could help
me, what he would advise as the most useful means of becoming
familiar with my duties. Study the Army Regulations, said he, as if
it were your Bible! There was a world of wisdom in this: much more
than I appreciated at the time, though it set me earnestly to work
in a right direction. An officer in a responsible command, who had
already a fair knowledge of tactics, might trust his common sense
for guidance in an action on the field; but the administrative
duties of the army as a machine must be thoroughly learned, if he
would hope to make the management of its complicated organization an
easy thing to him.

Major Sidney Burbank came to take McCook's place as mustering
officer: a grave, earnest man, of more age and more varied
experience than the men I have named. Captain John Pope also visited
the governor for consultation, and possibly others came also, though
I saw them only in passing, and did not then get far in making their



Laying out the camp--Rosecrans as engineer--A comfortless
night--Waking to new duties--Floors or no floors for the
huts--Hardee's Tactics--The water-supply--Colonel Tom.
Worthington--Joshua Sill--Brigades organized--Bates's
brigade--Schleich's--My own--McClellan's purpose--Division
organization--Garfield disappointed--Camp routine--Instruction and
drill--Camp cookery--Measles--Hospital barn--Sisters of
Charity--Ferment over re-enlistment--Musters by Gordon
Granger--"Food for powder"--Brigade staff--De Villiers--"A Captain
of Calvary"--The "Bloody Tinth"--Almost a row--Summoned to the

On the 29th of April I was ordered by McClellan to proceed next
morning to Camp Dennison, with the Eleventh and half of the Third
Ohio regiments. The day was a fair one, and when about noon our
railway train reached the camping ground, it seemed an excellent
place for our work. The drawback was that very little of the land
was in meadow or pasture, part being in wheat and part in Indian
corn, which was just coming up. Captain Rosecrans met us, as
McClellan's engineer (later the well-known general), coming from
Cincinnati with a train-load of lumber. He had with him his compass
and chain, and by the help of a small detail of men soon laid off
the ground for the two regimental camps, and the general lines of
the whole encampment for a dozen regiments. It was McClellan's
purpose to put in two brigades on the west side of the railway, and
one on the east. My own brigade camp was assigned to the west side,
and nearest to Cincinnati. The men of the two regiments shouldered
their pine boards and carried them up to the line of the company
streets, which were close to the hills skirting the valley, and
which opened into the parade and drill ground along the railway.

A general plan was given to the company officers by which the huts
should be made uniform in size and shape. The huts of each company
faced each other, three or four on each side, making the street
between, in which the company assembled before marching to its place
on the regimental color line. At the head of each street were the
quarters of the company officers, and those of the "field and staff"
still further in rear. The Regulations were followed in this plan as
closely as the style of barracks and nature of the ground would
permit. Vigorous work housed all the men before night, and it was
well that it did so, for the weather changed in the evening, a cold
rain came on, and the next morning was a chill and dreary one. My
own headquarters were in a little brick schoolhouse of one story,
which stood (and I think still stands) on the east side of the track
close to the railway. My improvised camp equipage consisted of a
common trestle cot and a pair of blankets, and I made my bed in the
open space in front of the teacher's desk or pulpit. My only staff
officer was an aide-de-camp, Captain Bascom (afterward of the
regular army), who had graduated at an Eastern military school, and
proved himself a faithful and efficient assistant. He slept on the
floor in one of the little aisles between the pupils' seats. One
lesson learned that night remained permanently fixed in my memory,
and I had no need of a repetition of it. I found that, having no
mattress on my cot, the cold was much more annoying below than above
me, and that if one can't keep the under side warm, it doesn't
matter how many blankets he may have atop. I procured later an army
cot with low legs, the whole of which could be taken apart and
packed in a very small parcel, and with this I carried a small
quilted mattress of cotton batting. It would have been warmer to
have made my bed on the ground with a heap of straw or leaves under
me; but as my tent had to be used for office work whenever a tent
could be pitched, I preferred the neater and more orderly interior
which this arrangement permitted. This, however, is anticipating.
The comfortless night passed without much refreshing sleep, the
strange situation doing perhaps as much as the limbs aching from
cold to keep me awake. The storm beat through broken window-panes,
and the gale howled about us, but day at last began to break, and
with its dawning light came our first reveille in camp. I shall
never forget the peculiar plaintive sound of the fifes as they
shrilled out on the damp air. The melody was destined to become very
familiar, but to this day I can't help wondering how it happened
that so melancholy a strain was chosen for the waking tune of the
soldiers' camp. The bugle reveille is quite different; it is even
cheery and inspiriting; but the regulation music for the drums and
fifes is better fitted to waken longings for home and all the sadder
emotions than to stir the host from sleep to the active duties of
the day. I lay for a while listening to it, finding its notes
suggesting many things and becoming a thread to string my reveries
upon, as I thought of the past which was separated from me by a
great gulf, the present with its serious duties, and the future
likely to come to a sudden end in the shock of battle. We roused
ourselves; a dash of cold water put an end to dreaming; we ate a
breakfast from a box of cooked provisions we had brought with us,
and resumed the duty of organizing and instructing the camp. The
depression which had weighed upon me since the news of the opening
guns at Sumter passed away, never to return. The consciousness of
having important work to do, and the absorption in the work itself,
proved the best of all mental tonics. The Rubicon was crossed, and
from this time out, vigorous bodily action, our wild outdoor life,
and the strenuous use of all the faculties, mental and physical, in
meeting the daily exigencies, made up an existence which, in spite
of all its hardships and all its discouragements, still seems a most
exhilarating one as I look back on it across a long vista of years.

The first of May proved, instead, a true April day, of the most
fickle and changeable type. Gusts of rain and wind alternated with
flashes of bright sunshine. The second battalion of the Third
Regiment arrived, and the work of completing the cantonments went
on. The huts which were half finished yesterday were now put in good
order, and in building the new ones the men profited by the
experience of their comrades. We were however suddenly thrown into
one of those small tempests which it is so easy to get up in a new
camp, and which for the moment always seems to have an importance
out of all proportion to its real consequence. Captain Rosecrans, as
engineer, was superintending the work of building, and finding that
the companies were putting floors and bunks in their huts, he
peremptorily ordered that these should be taken out, insisting that
the huts were only intended to take the place of tents and give such
shelter as tents could give. The company and regimental officers
loudly protested, and the men were swelling with indignation and
wrath. Soon both parties were before me; Rosecrans hot and
impetuous, holding a high tone, and making use of General
McClellan's name in demanding, as an officer of his staff, that the
floors should be torn out, and the officers of the regiments held
responsible for obedience to the order that no more should be made.
He fairly bubbled with anger at the presumption of those who
questioned his authority. As soon as a little quiet could be got, I
asked Rosecrans if he had specific orders from the general that the
huts should have no floors. No, he had not, but his staff position
as engineer gave him sufficient control of the subject. I said I
would examine the matter and submit it to General McClellan, and
meanwhile the floors already built might remain, though no new ones
should be made till the question was decided. I reported to the
general that, in my judgment, the huts should have floors and bunks,
because the ground was wet when they were built,--they could not be
struck like tents to dry and air the earth, and they were meant to
be permanent quarters for the rendezvous of troops for an indefinite
time. The decision of McClellan was in accordance with the report.
Rosecrans acquiesced, and indeed seemed rather to like me the better
on finding that I was not carried away by the assumption of
indefinite power by a staff officer.

This little flurry over, the quarters were soon got in as
comfortable shape as rough lumber could make them, and the work of
drill and instruction was systematized. The men were not yet armed,
so there was no temptation to begin too soon with the manual of the
musket, and they were kept industriously employed in marching in
single line, by file, in changing direction, in forming columns of
fours from double line, etc., before their guns were put in their
hands. Each regiment was treated as a separate camp, with its own
chain of sentinels, and the officers of the guard were constantly
busy teaching guard and picket duty theoretically to the reliefs off
duty, and inspecting the sentinels on post. Schools were established
in each regiment for field and staff and for the company officers,
and Hardee's Tactics was in the hands of everybody who could procure
a copy. It was one of our great inconveniences that the supply of
the authorized Tactics was soon exhausted, and it was difficult to
get the means of instruction in the company schools. An abridgment
was made and published in a very few days by Thomas Worthington, a
graduate of West Point in one of the earliest classes,--of 1827, I
think,--a son of one of the first governors of Ohio. This eccentric
officer had served in the regular army and in the Mexican War, and
was full of ideas, but was of so irascible and impetuous a temper
that he was always in collision with the powers that be, and spoiled
his own usefulness. He was employed to furnish water to the camp by
contract, and whilst he ruined himself in his efforts to do it well,
he was in perpetual conflict with the troops, who capsized his
carts, emptied his barrels, and made life a burden to him. The
quarrel was based on his taking the water from the river just
opposite the camp, though there was a slaughter-house some distance
above. Worthington argued that the distance was such that the
running water purified itself; but the men wouldn't listen to his
science, vigorously enforced as it was by idiomatic expletives, and
there was no safety for his water-carts till he yielded. He then
made a reservoir on one of the hills, filled it by a steam-pump, and
carried the water by pipes to the regimental camps at an expense
beyond his means, and which, as it was claimed that the scheme was
unauthorized, was never half paid for. His subsequent career as
colonel of a regiment was no more happy, and talents that seemed fit
for highest responsibilities were wasted in chafing against
circumstances which made him and fate seem to be perpetually playing
at cross purposes. [Footnote: He was later colonel of the
Forty-sixth Ohio, and became involved in a famous controversy with
Halleck and Sherman over his conduct in the Shiloh campaign and the
question of fieldworks there. He left the service toward the close
of 1862.]

A very different character was Joshua W. Sill, who was sent to us as
ordnance officer. He too had been a regular army officer, but of the
younger class. Rather small and delicate in person, gentle and
refined in manner, he had about him little that answered to the
popular notion of a soldier. He had resigned from the army some
years before, and was a professor in an important educational
institution in Brooklyn, N. Y., when at the first act of hostility
he offered his services to the governor of Ohio, his native State.
After our day's work, we walked together along the railway,
discussing the political and military situation, and especially the
means of making most quickly an army out of the splendid but
untutored material that was collecting about us. Under his modest
and scholarly exterior I quickly discerned a fine temper in the
metal, that made his after career no enigma to me, and his heroic
death at the head of his division in the thickest of the strife at
Stone's River no surprise.

The two regiments which began the encampment were quickly followed
by others, and the arriving regiments sometimes had their first
taste of camp life under circumstances well calculated to dampen
their ardor. The Fourth Ohio, under Colonel Lorin Andrews, President
of Kenyon College, came just before a thunderstorm one evening, and
the bivouac that night was as rough a one as his men were likely to
experience for many a day. They made shelter by placing boards from
the fence tops to the ground, but the fields were level and soon
became a mire, so that they were a queer-looking lot when they
crawled out next morning. The sun was then shining bright, however,
and they had better cover for their heads by the next night. The
Seventh Ohio, which was recruited in Cleveland and on the Western
Reserve, sent a party in advance to build some of their huts, and
though they too came in a rain-storm, they were less uncomfortable
than some of the others. Three brigades were organized from the
regiments of the Ohio contingent, exclusive of the two which had
been hurried to Washington. The brigadiers, beside myself, were
Generals Joshua H. Bates and Newton Schleich. General Bates, who was
the senior, was a graduate of West Point, who had served some years
in the regular army, but had resigned and adopted the profession of
the law. He lived at Cincinnati, and organized his brigade in that
city. They marched to Camp Dennison on the 20th of May, when, by
virtue of his seniority, General Bates assumed command of the camp
in McClellan's absence. His brigade consisted of the Fifth, Sixth,
Ninth, and Tenth regiments, and encamped on the east side of the
railroad in the bend of the river. General Schleich was a Democratic
senator, who had been in the state militia, and was also one of the
drill-masters of the legislative squad which had drilled upon the
Capitol terrace. His brigade included the Third, Twelfth, and
Thirteenth regiments, and, with mine, occupied the fields on the
west side of the railroad close to the slopes of the hills. My own
brigade was made up of the Fourth, Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh
regiments, and our position was the southernmost in the general
camp. McClellan had intended to make his own headquarters in the
camp; but the convenience of attending to official business in
Cincinnati kept him in the city. His purpose was to make the brigade
organizations permanent, and to take them as a division to the field
when they were a little prepared for the work. Like many other good
plans, it failed to be carried out. I was the only one of the
brigadiers who remained in the service after the first enlistment
for ninety days, and it was my fate to take the field with new
regiments, only one of which had been in my brigade in camp.
Schleich did not show adaptation to field work, and though taken
into West Virginia with McClellan in June, he was relieved of active
service in a few weeks. He afterward sought and obtained the
colonelcy of the Sixty-first Ohio; but his service with it did not
prove a success, and he resigned in September, 1862, under charges.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. xii. pt. ii. pp. 308-310.] General
Bates had some reason to expect an assignment to staff duty with
McClellan, and therefore declined a colonelcy in the line at the end
of the three months' service. He was disappointed in this
expectation after waiting some time for it, and returned to civil
life with the regrets of his comrades. There were some
disappointments, also, in the choice of regimental officers who were
elected in the regiments first organized, but were afterward
appointed by the governor. The companies were organized and assigned
to regiments before they came to camp, but the regimental elections
were held after the companies were assembled. Garfield was a
candidate for the colonelcy of the Seventh Regiment, but as he was
still engaged in important public duties and was not connected with
any company, he was at a disadvantage in the sort of competition
which was then rife. He was defeated,--a greater disappointment to
me than to him, for I had hoped that our close friendship would be
made still closer by comradeship in the field. In a few weeks he was
made colonel of the Forty-second Ohio, in the second levy.

Up to the time that General Bates relieved me of the command of the
camp, and indeed for two or three days longer, the little
schoolhouse was my quarters as well as telegraph and express office.
We had cleared out most of the desks and benches, but were still
crowded together, day and night, in a way which was anything but
comfortable or desirable. Sheds for quartermaster's and subsistence
stores were of first necessity, and the building of a hut for myself
and staff had to be postponed till these were up. On the arrival of
General Bates with two or three staff officers, the necessity for
more room could not be longer ignored, and my own hut was built on
the slope of the hillside behind my brigade, close under the wooded
ridge, and here for the next six weeks was my home. The morning
brought its hour of business correspondence relating to the command;
then came the drill, when the parade ground was full of marching
companies and squads. Officers' drill followed, with sword exercise
and pistol practice. The day closed with the inspection of the
regiments in turn at dress parade, and the evening was allotted to
schools of theoretic tactics, outpost duty, and the like. Besides
their copies of the regulation tactics, officers supplied themselves
with such manuals as Mahan's books on Field Fortifications and on
Outpost Duty. I adopted at the beginning a rule to have some
military work in course of reading, and kept it up even in the
field, sending home one volume and getting another by mail. In this
way I gradually went through all the leading books I could find both
in English and in French, including the whole of Jomini's works, his
histories as well as his "Napoleon" and his "Grandes Opérations
Militaires." I know of no intellectual stimulus so valuable to the
soldier as the reading of military history narrated by an
acknowledged master in the art of war. To see what others have done
in important junctures, and to have both their merits and their
mistakes analyzed by a competent critic, rouses one's mind to
grapple with the problem before it, and begets a generous
determination to try to rival in one's own sphere of action the
brilliant deeds of soldiers who have made a name in other times.
Then the example of the vigorous way in which history will at last
deal with those who fail when the pinch comes, tends to keep a man
up to his work and to make him avoid the rock on which so many have
split, the disposition to take refuge in doing nothing when he finds
it difficult to decide what should be done.

The first fortnight in camp was the hardest for the troops. The
ploughed fields became deep with mud, which nothing could remove but
the good weather which should allow them to pack hard under the
continued tramp of thousands of men. The organization of the camp
kitchens had to be learned by the hardest also, and the men in each
company who had some aptitude for cooking had to be found by a slow
process of natural selection, during which many an unpalatable meal
had to be eaten. A disagreeable bit of information came to us in the
proof that more than half the men had never had the contagious
diseases of infancy. The measles broke out, and we had to organize a
camp hospital at once. A large barn near by was taken for this
purpose, and the surgeons had their hands full of cases which,
however trivial they might seem at home, were here aggravated into
dangerous illness by the unwonted surroundings and the impossibility
of securing the needed protection from exposure. As soon as the
increase of sickness in the camp was known in Cincinnati, the good
women of that city took promptly in hand the task of providing
nurses for the sick, and proper diet and delicacies for hospital
uses. The Sisters of Charity, under the lead of Sister Anthony, a
noble woman, came out in force, and their black and white robes
harmonized picturesquely with the military surroundings, as they
flitted about under the rough timber framing of the old barn,
carrying comfort and hope from one rude couch to another. As to
supplies, hardly a man in a regiment knew how to make out a
requisition for rations or for clothing, and easy as it is to rail
at "red tape," the necessity of keeping a check upon embezzlement
and wastefulness justified the staff bureaus at Washington in
insisting upon regular vouchers to support the quartermaster's and
commissary's accounts. But here, too, men were gradually found who
had special talent for the work.

The infallible newspapers had no lack of material for criticism.
There were plenty of real blunders to invite it, but the severest
blame was quite as likely to be visited upon men and things which
did not deserve it. The governor was violently attacked for things
which he had no responsibility for, or others in which he had done
all that forethought and intelligence could do. When everybody had
to learn a new business, it would have been miraculous if grave
errors had not frequently occurred. Looking back at it, the wonder
is that the blunders and mishaps had not been tenfold more numerous
than they were. By the middle of May the confusion had given place
to reasonable system, but we were now obliged to meet the
embarrassments of reorganization for three years, under the
President's second call for troops. We had more than ten thousand
men who had begun to know something of their duties, and it was
worth a serious effort to transfer them into the permanent service;
but no one who did not go through the ordeal can imagine how trying
it was. In every company some discontented spirits wanted to go
home, shrinking from the perils to which they had committed
themselves in a moment of enthusiasm. For a few to go back, however,
would be a disgrace; and every dissatisfied man, to avoid the odium
of going alone, became a mischief-maker, seeking to prevent the
whole company from re-enlisting. The recruiting of a majority was
naturally made the condition of allowing the company organization to
be preserved, and a similar rule applied to the regiment. The
growing discipline was relaxed or lost in the solicitations, the
electioneering, the speech-making, and the other common arts of
persuasion. After a majority had re-enlisted and an organization was
secure, it would have been better to have discharged the remaining
three months' men and to have sent them home at once; but authority
for this could not be got, for the civil officers could not see, and
did not know what a nuisance these men were. Dissatisfied with
themselves for not going with their comrades, they became sulky,
disobedient, complaining, trying to make the others as unhappy as
themselves by arguing that faith was not kept with them, and doing
all the mischief it was possible to do.

In spite of all these discouragements, however, the daily drills and
instruction went on with some approach to regularity, and our raw
volunteers began to look more like soldiers. Captain Gordon Granger
of the regular army came to muster the re-enlisted regiments into
the three years' service, and as he stood at the right of the Fourth
Ohio, looking down the line of a thousand stalwart men, all in their
Garibaldi shirts (for we had not yet received our uniforms), he
turned to me and exclaimed: "My God! that such men should be food
for powder!" It certainly was a display of manliness and
intelligence such as had hardly ever been seen in the ranks of an
army. There were in camp at that time three if not four companies,
in different regiments, that were wholly made up of undergraduates
of colleges who had enlisted together, their officers being their
tutors and professors; and where there was not so striking evidence
as this of the enlistment of the best of our youth, every company
could still show that it was largely recruited from the
best-nurtured and most promising young men of the community.

Granger had been in the Southwest when the secession movement began,
had seen the formation of military companies everywhere, and the
incessant drilling which had been going on all winter, whilst we, in
a strange condition of political paralysis, had been doing nothing.
His information was eagerly sought by us all, and he lost no
opportunity of impressing upon us the fact that the South was nearly
six months ahead of us in organization and preparation. He did not
conceal his belief that we were likely to find the war a much longer
and more serious piece of business than was commonly expected, and
that unless we pushed hard our drilling and instruction we should
find ourselves at a disadvantage in our earlier encounters. What he
said had a good effect in making officers and men take more
willingly to the laborious routine of the parade ground and the
regimental school; for such opinions as his soon ran through the
camp, and they were commented upon by the enlisted men quite as
earnestly as among the officers. Still, hope kept the upper hand,
and if the question had been put to vote, I believe that
three-fourths of us still cherished the belief that a single
campaign would end the war.

In the organization of my own brigade I had the assistance of
Captain McElroy, a young man who had nearly completed the course at
West Point, and who was subsequently made major of the Twentieth
Ohio. He was sent to the camp by the governor as a drill officer,
and I assigned him to staff duty. For commissary, I detailed
Lieutenant Gibbs, who accompanied one of the regiments from
Cincinnati, and who had seen a good deal of service as clerk in one
of the staff departments of the regular army. I had also for a time
the services of one of the picturesque adventurers who turn up in
such crises. In the Seventh Ohio was a company recruited in
Cleveland, of which the nucleus was an organization of Zouaves,
existing for some time before the war. It was made up of young men
who had been stimulated by the popularity of Ellsworth's Zouaves in
Chicago to form a similar body. They had had as their drill master a
Frenchman named De Villiers. His profession was that of a teacher of
fencing; but he had been an officer in Ellsworth's company, and was
familiar with fancy manoeuvres for street parade, and with a special
skirmish drill and bayonet exercise. Small, swarthy, with angular
features, and a brusque, military manner, in a showy uniform and
jaunty _képi_ of scarlet cloth, covered with gold lace, he created
quite a sensation among us. His assumption of knowledge and
experience was accepted as true. He claimed to have been a surgeon
in the French army in Algiers, though we afterward learned to doubt
if his rank had been higher than that of a barber-surgeon of a
cavalry troop. From the testimonials he brought with him, I thought
I was doing a good thing in making him my brigade-major, as the
officer was then called whom we afterward knew as inspector-general.
He certainly was a most indefatigable fellow, and went at his work
with an enthusiasm that made him very useful for a time. It was
worth something to see a man who worked with a kind of dash,--with a
prompt, staccato movement that infused spirit and energy into all
around him. He would drill all day, and then spend half the night
trying to catch sentinels and officers of the guard at fault in
their duty. My first impression was that I had got hold of a most
valuable man, and others were so much of the same mind that in the
reorganization of regiments he was successively elected major of the
Eighth, and then colonel of the Eleventh. We shall see more of him
as we go on; but it turned out that his sharp discipline was not
steady or just; his knowledge was only skin-deep, and he had neither
the education nor the character for so responsible a situation as he
was placed in. He nearly plagued the life out of the officers of his
regiment before they got rid of him, and was a most brilliant
example of the way we were imposed upon by military charlatans at
the beginning. He was, however, good proof also of the speed with
which real service weeds out the undesirable material which seemed
so splendid in the days of common inexperience and at a distance
from danger. We had visits from clerical adventurers, too, for the
"pay and emoluments of a captain of cavalry" which the law gave to a
chaplain induced some to seek the office who were not the best
representatives of their profession. One young man who had spent a
morning soliciting the appointment in one of the regiments, came to
me in a shamefaced sort of way before leaving camp and said,
"General, before I decide this matter, I wish you would tell me just
what are the pay and emoluments of a _Captain of Calvary!_" Though
most of our men were native Ohioans, General Bates's brigade had in
it two regiments made up of quite contrasted nationalities. The
Ninth Ohio was recruited from the Germans of Cincinnati, and was
commanded by Colonel "Bob" McCook. In camp, the drilling of the
regiment fell almost completely into the hands of the adjutant,
Lieutenant Willich (afterward a general of division), and McCook,
who humorously exaggerated his own lack of military knowledge, used
to say that he was only "clerk for a thousand Dutchmen," so
completely did the care of equipping and providing for his regiment
engross his time and labor. The Tenth was an Irish regiment, and its
men used to be proud of calling themselves the "Bloody Tinth." The
brilliant Lytle was its commander, and his control over them, even
in the beginning of their service and near the city of their home,
showed that they had fallen into competent hands. It happened, of
course, that the guard-house pretty frequently contained
representatives of the Tenth who, on the short furloughs that were
allowed them, took a parting glass too much with their friends in
the city, and came to camp boisterously drunk. But the men of the
regiment got it into their heads that the Thirteenth, which lay just
opposite them across the railroad, took a malicious pleasure in
filling the guard-house with the Irishmen. Some threats had been
made that they would go over and "clean out" the Thirteenth, and one
fine evening these came to a head. I suddenly got orders from
General Bates to form my brigade, and march them at once between the
Tenth and Thirteenth to prevent a collision which seemed imminent.
My brigade was selected because it was the one to which neither of
the angry regiments belonged, the others being ordered into their
quarters. My little Frenchman, De Villiers, covered himself with
glory. His horse flew, under the spur, to the regimental
headquarters, the long roll was beaten as if the drummers realized
the full importance of the first opportunity to sound that warlike
signal, and the brigade-major's somewhat theatrical energy was so
contagious that many of the companies were assembled and ready to
file out of the company streets before the order reached them. We
marched by the moonlight into the space between the belligerent
regiments; but Lytle had already got his own men under control, and
the less mercurial Thirteenth were not disposed to be aggressive, so
that we were soon dismissed with a compliment for our promptness. I
ordered the colonels to march the regiments back to the camps
separately, and with my staff rode through that of the Thirteenth,
to see how matters were there. All was quiet, the men being in their
quarters; so, turning, I passed along near the railway, in rear of
the quartermaster's sheds. In the shadow of the buildings I had
nearly ridden over some one on foot, when he addressed me, and I
recognized an officer of high rank in that brigade. He was in great
agitation, and exclaimed, "Oh, General, what a horrible thing that
brothers should be killing each other!" I assured him the danger of
that was all over, and rode on, wondering a little at his presence
in that place under the circumstances.

The six weeks of our stay in Camp Dennison seem like months in the
retrospect, so full were they crowded with new experiences. The
change came in an unexpected way. The initiative taken by the
Confederates in West Virginia had to be met by prompt action, and
McClellan was forced to drop his own plans to meet the emergency.
The organization and equipment of the regiments for the three years'
service were still incomplete, and the brigades were broken up, to
take across the Ohio the regiments best prepared to go. One by one
my regiments were ordered away, till finally, when on the 3d of July
I received orders to proceed to the Kanawha valley, I had but one of
the four regiments to which I had been trying to give something of
unity and brigade feeling, and that regiment (the Eleventh Ohio) was
still incomplete. General Bates fared even worse; for he saw all his
regiments ordered away, whilst he was left to organize new ones from
freshly recruited companies that were sent to the camp. This was
discouraging to a brigade commander, for even with veteran troops
mutual acquaintance between the officer and his command is a
necessary condition of confidence and a most important element of
strength. My own assignment to the Great Kanawha district was one I
had every reason to be content with, except that for several months
I felt the disadvantage I suffered from assuming command of troops
which I had never seen till we met in the field.

The period of organization, brief as it was, had been valuable to
the regiments, and it had been of the utmost importance to secure
the re-enlistment of those which had received some instruction. It
had been, in the condition of the statute law, from necessity and
not from choice that the Administration had called out the state
militia for ninety days. The new term of enrolment was for "three
years or the war," and the forces were now designated as United
States Volunteers. It would have been well if the period of
apprenticeship could have been prolonged; but events would not wait.
All recognized the necessity, and thankful as we should have been
for a longer preparation and more thorough instruction, we were
eager to be ordered away.

McClellan had been made a major-general in the regular army, and a
department had been placed under his command which included the
States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, to which was added a little
later West Virginia north of the Great Kanawha. [Footnote:
McClellan's Report and Campaigns (New York, 1864), p. 8. McClellan's
Own Story, p. 44. Official Records, vol. ii. p. 633.] Rosecrans was
also appointed a brigadier-general in the regulars, and there was
much debate at the time whether the Administration had intended
this. Many insisted that he was nominated for the volunteer service,
and that the regular appointment was a clerical mistake in the
bureaus at Washington. There was no solid foundation for this
gossip. A considerable increase of the regular army was authorized
by law, and corresponding appointments were made, from major-general
downward. It was at this time that Sherman was made colonel of one
of the new regiments of regulars. It would perhaps have been wiser
to treat the regular commissions as prizes to be won only by
conspicuous and successful service in the field, as was done later;
but this policy was not then adopted, and the newly created offices
were filled in all grades. They were, of course, given to men from
whom great services could reasonably be expected; but when none had
been tested in the great operations of war, every appointment was at
the risk that the officer might not show the special talent for
command which makes a general. It was something of a lottery, at
best; but the system would have been improved if a method of
retiring inefficient officers had been adopted at once. The
ostensible reason for the different organization of volunteers and
regulars was that the former, as a temporary force to meet an
exigency, might be wholly disbanded when the war should end, without
affecting the permanent army, which was measured in size by the
needs of the country in its normal condition.



Political attitude of West Virginia--Rebels take the
initiative--McClellan ordered to act--Ohio militia cross the
river--The Philippi affair--Significant dates--The vote on
secession--Virginia in the Confederacy--Lee in
command--Topography--The mountain passes--Garnett's army--Rich
mountain position--McClellan in the field--His forces--Advances
against Garnett--Rosecrans's proposal--His fight on the
mountain--McClellan's inaction--Garnett's retreat--Affair at
Carrick's Ford--Garnett killed--Hill's efforts to intercept--Pegram
in the wilderness--He surrenders--Indirect results
important--McClellan's military and personal traits.

The reasons which made it important to occupy West Virginia were
twofold, political and military. The people were strongly attached
to the Union, and had generally voted against the Ordinance of
Secession which by the action of the Richmond Convention had been
submitted to a popular vote on May 23d. Comparatively few slaves
were owned by them, and their interests bound them more to Ohio and
Pennsylvania than to eastern Virginia. Under the influence of Mr.
Lincoln's administration, strongly backed and chiefly represented by
Governor Dennison of Ohio, a movement was on foot to organize a
loyal Virginia government, repudiating that of Governor Letcher and
the state convention as self-destroyed by the act of secession.
Governor Dennison, in close correspondence with the leading
loyalists, had been urging McClellan to cross the Ohio to protect
and encourage the loyal men, when on the 26th of May news came that
the Secessionists had taken the initiative, and that some bridges
had been burned on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad a little west of
Grafton, the crossing of the Monongahela River where the two western
branches of the road unite as they come from Wheeling and
Parkersburg. The great line of communication between Washington and
the West had thus been cut, and action on our part was necessary.
[Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. p. 44.]

[Illustration: CAMPAIGNS IN WEST VIRGINIA 1861.]

Governor Dennison had anticipated the need of more troops than the
thirteen regiments which had been organized as Ohio's quota under
the President's first call, and had enrolled nine other regiments,
numbering them consecutively with the others. These last he had put
in camps near the Ohio River, where at a moment's notice they could
occupy Wheeling, Parkersburg, and the mouth of the Great Kanawha.
[Footnote: _Id_., pp. 46, 47.] Two Union regiments were also
organizing in West Virginia itself, of which the first was commanded
by Colonel B. F. Kelley of Wheeling. The left bank of the Ohio was
in McClellan's department, and on the 24th General Scott, having
heard that two Virginia companies had occupied Grafton, telegraphed
the fact to McClellan, directing him to act promptly in
counteracting the effect of this movement. [Footnote: _Id_., p.

On the 27th Colonel Kelley was sent by rail from Wheeling to drive
off the enemy, who withdrew at his approach, and the bridges were
quickly rebuilt. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 46, 49, 655.] Several of the
Ohio regiments were ordered across the river at the same time, and
an Indiana brigade under General Thomas A. Morris of that State was
hurried forward from Indianapolis. As the Ohio troops at Camp
Dennison which had been mustered into national service were in
process of reorganizing for the three years' term, McClellan
preferred not to move them till this was completed. He also adhered
to his plan of making his own principal movement in the Great
Kanawha valley, and desired to use there the Ohio division at our
camp. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 50, 656, 674.] The Ohio regiments first
sent into West Virginia were not mustered in, and were known as
State troops. General Morris reached Grafton on the 1st of June, and
was intrusted with the command of all the troops in West Virginia.
He found that Colonel Kelley had already planned an expedition
against the enemy, who had retired southward to Philippi, about
fifteen miles in a straight line, but some twenty-five by the
crooked country roads. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. ii. p. 66.]
Morris approved the plan, but enlarged it by sending another column,
under Colonel E. Dumont of the Seventh Indiana, to co-operate with
Kelley. Both columns were directed to make a night march, starting
from points on the railroad about twelve miles apart and converging
on Philippi, which they were to attack at daybreak on June 3d. Each
column consisted of about fifteen hundred men, and Dumont had also
two smooth six-pounder cannon. The Confederate force was commanded
by Colonel G. A. Porterfield, and was something less than a thousand
strong, one-fourth cavalry. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 70, 72.]

The night was dark and stormy, and Porterfield's raw troops had not
learned picket duty. The concerted movement against them was more
successful than such marches commonly are, and Porterfield's first
notice of danger was the opening of the artillery upon his sleeping
troops. It had been expected that the two columns would enclose the
enemy's camp and capture the whole; but, though in disorderly rout,
Porterfield succeeded, by personal coolness and courage, in getting
them off with but few casualties and the loss of a few arms. The
camp equipage and supplies were, of course, captured. Colonel Kelley
was wounded in the breast by a pistol-shot which was at first
supposed to be fatal, though it did not turn out so, and this was
the only casualty reported on the National side. [Footnote: Colonel
Kelley was a man already of middle age, and a leading citizen of
northwestern Virginia. His whole military career was in that region,
where his services were very valuable throughout the war. He was
promoted to brigadier-general among the first, and was
brevet-major-general when mustered out in 1865.] No prisoners were
taken, nor did any dead or wounded fall into our hands. Porterfield
retreated to Beverly, some thirty miles further to the southeast,
and the National forces occupied Philippi. The telegraphic reports
had put the Confederate force at 2000, and their loss at 15 killed.
This implied a considerable list of wounded and prisoners, and the
newspapers gave it the air of a considerable victory. The campaign
thus opened with apparent _éclat_ for McClellan (who was personally
at Cincinnati), and the "Philippi races," as they were locally
called, greatly encouraged the Union men of West Virginia and
correspondingly depressed the Secessionists. [Footnote: Official
Records, vol. ii. pp. 64-74.]

Nearly a month elapsed, when, having received reports that large
forces of the enemy were gathered at Beverly, McClellan determined
to proceed in person to that region with his best prepared troops,
postponing his Kanawha campaign till northwestern Virginia should be
cleared of the enemy.

Military affairs in West Virginia had been complicated by the
political situation, and it is necessary to recollect the dates of
the swift following steps in Virginia's progress into the
Confederacy. Sumter surrendered on Saturday, the 13th of April, and
on Monday the 15th President Lincoln issued his first call for
troops. On Wednesday the 17th the Virginia Convention passed the
Ordinance of Secession in secret session. On Friday the 19th it was
known in Washington, and on Saturday Lee and Johnston resigned their
commissions in the United States Army, sorrowfully "going with their
State." [Footnote: Johnston's Narrative, p. 10. Townsend's Anecdotes
of the Civil War, p. 31. Long's Memoirs of Lee, pp. 94, 96.] On the
following Tuesday (23d) the chairman of the Virginia Convention
presented to Lee his commission as Major-General and Commander of
the Virginia Forces. On the same day Governor Dennison handed to
McClellan his commission to command the Ohio forces in the service
of the Union. Although the Confederate Congress at Montgomery
admitted Virginia to the Confederacy early in May, this was not
formally accepted in Virginia till after the popular vote on
secession (May 23d) and the canvassing of the returns of that
election. Governor Letcher issued on June 8th his proclamation
announcing the result, and transferring the command of the Virginia
troops to the Confederate Government. [Footnote: Official Records,
vol. ii. p. 911.] During the whole of May, therefore, Virginia's
position was unsettled. Her governor, by the authority of the
convention, regarded her as independent of the United States, but by
an inchoate act of secession which would not become final till
ratified by the popular vote. The Virginia troops were arrayed near
the Potomac to resist the advance of national forces; but
Confederate troops had been welcomed in eastern Virginia as early as
the 10th of May, and President Davis had authorized Lee, as
Commander of the Virginia forces, to assume control of them.
[Footnote: _Id_., p. 827.]

It was well known that the prevailing sentiment in West Virginia was
loyal to the Union, and each party avoided conflict there for fear
of prejudicing its cause in the election. Hence it was that as soon
as the vote was cast, the aggressive was taken by the Virginia
government in the burning of the bridges near Grafton. The fire of
war was thus lighted. The crossing of the Ohio was with a full
understanding with Colonel Kelley, who recognized McClellan at once


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