Anniversary Video with Civil War Times: A Dead Letter Soldier and Ranger Cameo, 7/21/2021

25 07 2021

Our third stop on Thursday was the Henry House, which is a reproduction of a post war structure. There we learned about a soldier in the 1st Ohio Infantry, commanded by Alexander McDowell McCook – gotta look into that middle name a little closer – in Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division. We also get to hear from Ranger Anthony Trusso of the battlefield staff. Appearing in this video is Civil War Times editor Dana Shoaf (who also stands behind the camera for the very first time), director of photography Melissa Winn, and MNBP Ranger Anthony Trusso.





#2 – Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 126-128

Left camp with 668 rank and file, 29 field and company officers, in pursuance of General McDowell’s orders, to go upon this expedition with the available force of one of my regiments, the regiment selected being the First Ohio Volunteers. Left two companies—Company I and Company K, aggregate 135 men—at the crossing of the roads. Sent Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, with two companies, 117 men, to Falls Church, and to patrol roads in that direction. Stationed two companies—D and F, 135 men—to guard railroad and bridge between the crossing and Vienna. Proceeded slowly to Vienna with four companies—Company E, Captain Paddock; Company C, Lieutenant Woodward, afterwards joined by Captain Pease ; Company G, Captain Bailey ; Company H, Hazlett ; total, 271 men.

On turning the curve slowly, within one-quarter of a mile of Vienna, were fired upon by raking masked batteries of, I think, three guns, with shells, round-shot, and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. When the train stopped, the engineer could not, on account of damage to some part of the running machinery, draw the train out of the fire, the engine being in the rear. We left the cars, and retired to right and left of train through the woods. Finding that the enemy’s batteries were sustained by what appeared about a regiment of infantry and by cavalry, which force we have since understood to have been some fifteen hundred South Carolinians, we fell back along the railroad, throwing out skirmishers on both flanks; and this was about 7 p. m. Thus we retired slowly, bearing off our wounded, five miles, to this point, which we reached at 10 o’clock.

Casualties.—Captain Hazlett’s company, H, 2 known to be killed, 3 wounded, 5 missing; Captain Bailey’s company, G, 3 killed, 2 wounded, 2 missing; Captain Paddock’s company, E, 1 officer slightly wounded; Captain Pease’s, 2 missing.

The engineer, when the men left the cars, instead of retiring slowly, as I ordered, detached his engine with one passenger car from the rest of the disabled train and abandoned us, running to Alexandria, and we have heard nothing from him since. Thus we were deprived of a rallying point, and of all means of conveying the wounded, who had to be carried on litters and in blankets. We wait here, holding the roads for reenforcements. The enemy did not pursue.

I have ascertained that the enemy’s force at Fairfax Court-House, four miles from Vienna, is now about four thousand.

When the batteries opened upon us, Major Hughes was at his station on the foremost platform car. Colonel McCook was with me in one of the passenger cars. Both these officers, with others of the commissioned officers and many of the men, behaved most coolly under this galling fire, which we could not return, and from batteries which we could not flank or turn from the nature of the ground, if my force had been sufficient. The approach to Vienna is through a deep, long cut in the railway. In leaving the cars, and before they could rally, many of my men lost haversacks or blankets, but brought off all their muskets, except, it may be, a few that were destroyed by the enemy’s first fire or lost with the killed.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.

[Received at the War Department June 18,1861.]

I am enabled now to give you additional and exact details of the affair near Vienna last evening. A perfectly reliable Union man, residing in Vienna, [and who] was there during the attack, has arrived, bringing with him, in patriotic and Christian kindness, the six bodies of our killed who were left behind. I have sent them to Camp Lincoln by the train which has just left for burial. He reports also one wounded man remaining at Vienna, John Volmer, of Company G, for whom I have just sent an assistant surgeon and two men with the same gentleman who brought the killed in his wagon, carrying a flag of truce, to be displayed if necessary. When the wounded man arrives I will send him forward by a train to my camp, to be conveyed from there to Georgetown Hospital by ambulance.

The casualties, as I now am able accurately to state them, are as follows:

Dead, 8.—Captain Hazlett’s: 1st, George Morrison, of Company H, brought in to-day. 2d, David Mercer, of same company, brought off the field to this place, and died here. 3d, Daniel Sullivan, of Captain Bailey’s company, G. 4th, Joseph Smith, Company G, brought in to-day. 5th, Philip Strade, Company G. 6th, Thomas Finton, Company G. 7th, Eugene Burke, Company G. 8th, J. R. T. Barnes, Company G, shot in the passenger car that was carried away from us by the engineer, and died on his way to this camp.

Wounded and yet living, 4.—1st, David Gates, Company G, dangerously. 2d, B. F. Lanman, Company G, severely, but not dangerously. 3d, Henry Pigman, Company H, dangerously. (Those three were sent to the hospital this morning.) 4th, John Volmer, Company G, supposed dangerously; yet at Vienna and sent for.

Total killed and wounded, 12. None, I believe, are now missing.

From the same reliable source I ascertain that the whole force attacking us was at least 2,000, as follows: South Carolina troops, 800; these had left Fairfax Court-House on Sunday and gone over to the railway; two [hundred] came down yesterday through Hunter’s Grove. They sent, anticipating our coming to Fairfax Court-House, for 2,000 additional infantry, of whom only from 600 to 1,000 arrived before the attack. The enemy had cavalry, numbering, it is believed, not less than 200, and, in addition to these, was a body of 150 armed picked negroes, who were posted nearest us in a grain field on our left flank, but not observed by us, as they lay flat in the grain and did not fire a gun. The enemy had three pieces of artillery, concealed by the curve of the railway as we passed out of the cut, and more pieces of ordnance—six, our informant believes—arrived on the field, but not in time for action. The three pieces thus placed were fired very rapidly; must have been managed by skillful artillerists; but I cannot learn who was in command of the enemy. Our men picked up and brought away several round and grape shot, besides two or three shells, which did not explode because the Borman fuse had not been cut. This raking fire was kept up against the cars and upon us as we retired through the woods and along each side of the railway. Its deadliest effect was on Company G, on the third platform car from the front, and on Company H, on the second platform car. Company E, on the foremost car, was not touched. The first firing raked the train diagonally with round shot; the other, before the train came to a full stop, was cross-firing with canister and shells through the hind cars. The pieces were at a distance of about 150 yards, and no muskets or rifles were brought into action.

The rebels must have believed that our number far exceeded the little force of 271, or else I cannot understand why they made no pursuit nor came out, as we could discover, from the rise of ground behind which they were posted with their overwhelming numbers.

The enemy’s whole force left Vienna last night between 10 and 12 o’clock; supposed to have gone to Fairfax Court-House. It is understood that there is a considerable force assembled at that point, but cannot ascertain how many. None of the bridges have been burned, nor the railway interfered with, between this point and Vienna since we came down the road.

I send this, as we remain at this point without other facilities for correspondence or writing except to communicate by the Army telegraph, and I trust you will accept it in place of a formal written report.

I am, just now ordered by Brigadier-General Tyler to move forward with my brigade in the direction of Falls Church, for which I am now getting in readiness. I have already spoken of the skill and coolness with which Colonel McCook and Major Hughes, with other officers, helped to conduct our retirement to this place. It was a very slow and painful march, carrying in the arms of the men and in blankets and on rude litters made by the way their wounded comrades. But I must not omit to mention others.

Adjt. J. S. Parrott, my aide, Lieutenant Raynor, and Surgeon McMallen gave effective assistance. The company officers who were under fire generally behaved with coolness and gallantry. Captain Pease, of Company C, especially distinguished himself in protecting our rear and flanks, and I warmly recommend him to favorable consideration. The non-commissioned officers and men generally also behaved extremely well on the march, as we retired along the road. Captain Crowe, with Company D, which was among those I had left as patrol guards on the railway as we passed up, came up handsomely at double-quick step to our support, and Lieut. Col. E. A. Parrott, with his detachment of two companies, which had been thrown out to Falls Church and on the roads in that neighborhood, hearing of the attack on our advance, hastened by a cross-road to the line of the railroad to join and give us any support required.

I have, in my former dispatch, mentioned the disregard of my instructions and cowardly desertion of us by the engineer of the train. His name, I understand, is Gregg. One of the brakemen, Dormin, joined us, and carried a musket and gave good help. The enemy, I learn, burned that part of the train which was abandoned by the engineer.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.





Pvt. Henry Harrison Comer*, Co. A, 1st Ohio Infantry, On the Battle

11 01 2018

For the Lancaster Gazette

Our Army Correspondence.

Washington City, D.C.

July 24, 1861

Messrs. Editors: – Since writing to you last, stirring scenes and startling events have transpired. Leaving Camp Upton at 2 p.m. on Friday July 15, with bright hopes of a speedy reunion with friends and relatives, we joined regiment after regiment, brigade after brigade, division after division until the Grand Army of Occupation, filed in ranks of four numbering 50,000 men, were marching toward Manassas Junction, the bands playing national airs, banners floating in the breeze, voices singing Union anthems, and myriad bayonets gleaming in the sun. High and sanguine hopes were entertained that the horde of political blacklegs, bankrupt politicians, refugees from foreign climes and crimes, murderers, thieves pick pockets and assassins who composed the Southern rebel army would be most effectually wiped out and the Stars and Stripes float in glory and beauty o’er Vienna Station, Germantown, Fairfax Court House, Manassas Gap and Junction, and at last have a crowning glory by waving in majesty and beauty on the Capitol at Richmond. The station at Vienna was taken possession of, our national emblem placed on the track where one month before the 1st Ohio was fired into be a masked battery of the enemy. Germantown, Fairfax and Centreville fell before the stern front and steady march of the army of freedom, until we brought up at the northern fork of Bull’s Run, on July 20. Here a masked battery within an entrenchment was stormed, but with ill success, and both sides got off with considerable loss. Sunday morning dark and early, 2 o’clock, our column, under the command of Gen. McDowell, marched to the since scene of conflict; Schenk’s Brigade, composed of the 1st and 2d Ohio and the 2d New York, was given the post of honor and were thrown out as advance skirmishers in order to detect and draw forth the enemy’s fire of the masked batteries. The enemy lay strongly entrenched in unseen trenches, under cover of the woods and in the long grass. The 1st Ohio made the opening charge of musketry, the 2d New York followed at a double quick, which brought forth the enemy’s fire and regiment of riflemen who were finely repelled by the 2d Ohio. Our brigade loss was comparatively small, considering the dangerous position assigned us, and as you have heard by the newspapers, telegraphic reports and rumors probably more than iIi know of the details, I leave the matter to the official report of our very worthy and efficient Brigadier who has, after a considerable lapse of time, and by keeping us boys over their time, avenged the slaughter of Vienna and gained a reputation for Ohio!

The battle of Bloody Run will never be effaced from the O.V.M.’s memory; the mounds of dead and dying, the heroic charges, the rivers of blood, the death-groans of comrades, the ghastly visage, the faintly articulated cry for water, the booms bursting, the cannon’s flash, the impetuous rush, the Grecian stolidity, the Roman courage, the army of enthusiastic, impetuous, devoted and courageous soldiers who rushed into the jaws of death and charged into the cannon’s mouth, will live vividly in their memories long after the rebels who caused the disaster and death, have expired their crimes by an ignominious death on earth, and a torturing life among the spirits of the damned!

The precipitate retreat, the hurried flight from the field of action, was owing to a misconstrued order, and it is estimated that 15,000 U.S. Troops were in close proximity who were not in the engagement at all. Up to 3 P.M., the battle was ours, when Johnston’s rebel reinforcements turned the tide and compelled a retreat, which, although not compulsory, was a necessity. We were ordered to retreat which we lost time in doing! and starting at the double quick came, a distance of over 30 miles, our muskets, canteens, blankets, haversacks, cartridge boxes, etc., still a component of our baggage. At Fort Corcoran, Arlington Heights, we were kept in a drenching rain for six mortal hours, while regiment after regiment moved past us to shelter, food, and repose. We are now here in Washington City, barracked at Union Block, corner of 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, while your correspondent has taken rooms at the Avenue House, doffed his soldier clothes, donned clean toggery, and imagines himself once more a icitizen!i

The order has been given to march to camp at 10 o’clock to-day, at the end of 7th st., to attend to roll call, see who are killed, wounded and missing, and to make arrangements for getting home as soon as troops now in waiting for orders are marched to this city to fill our places.

L.M. Dayton and Myron H. Gregory are here, together with Gen. W.T. Sherman of our city, who was commandant of a brigade. Company A has lost none of its members, with, possibly, the exception of William Swygert, who was substituted in place of Kitty Linn as a Pioneer. – He has not yet reported himself at headquarters.

Yours, as ever,

Harry Comer.

The Lancaster [OH] Gazette, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed and transcribed by Dan Masters

* Records found for Henry Comer and Harry Comer in 1st Ohio. ID of Henry Harrison Comer is per contributor.

Harrison Comer is listed as a private in Co. A. in the Official Roster of Ohio Troops in the War of the Rebellion found at Ancestry.com

Harrison Comer at Ancestry.com

Harrison Comer at Fold3