~ THE SOLDIERS~THE MEDALS~THE MEN~
Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Virginia, 23 June 1864.
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MEDAL OF HONOR~COLOR SGT. JAMES DRURY
23 Jun 1864
Place and date: At Weldon Railroad, Virginia, 23 June 1864.
Date of issue: 18 January 1893
Citation: Saved the colors of his regiment when it was surrounded by a much larger force of the enemy and after the greater part of the regiment had been killed or captured.
By the time of U. S. Grant's Overland Campaign of 1864, the 4th Regiment of Vermont Volunteer Infantry was a veteran outfit having served since 1862 as part of the proud Vermont Brigade of the Sixth Army Corps, AOP. On Thursday morning, June 23, 1864, the 4th Vermont, 230 strong, was sent on picket duty south of Petersburg under the command of Major John E. Pratt. These Vermonters were strung out in a long line covering one-half mile in front of the left end of the Vermont Brigade facing the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad. In the late afternoon the Virginia Brigade of Brigadier General William Malone's Division, A. P. Hill's Corps ANV, crashed into them. The Confederates split the picket line and fanned out behind it onto the farm of Dr. Gurley. Captain William C. Tracy assembled the left wing of the regiment for a brief fight but he soon fell mortally wounded, shot through the neck, and after a few more of the Vermonters were shot down, the rest surrendered. Major Pratt and the right wing of the regiment retreated north and eventually were forced to surrender. Somehow, in all this, Color Sergeant James Drury managed to escape with the regimental colors making it back to the safety of the Sixth Corps main line.
James Drury was born in Limerick, County Clare, Ireland, on August 27, 1837. His father died when he was age eleven and with his mother he joined an older brother in Chester, Vermont. He enlisted at age 24 as a private in Company C, 4th Vermont in August 1861. He reenlisted in December 1863 earning the appellation of "Veteran Volunteer." Drury was promoted to Sergeant on June 18, 1864 just prior to the battle at the Weldon Railroad. He appears to have been a model soldier. Captain Charles G. Fisher , in requesting Drury be granted a 25 day furlough in February 1865, wrote:
This veteran soldier, the color bearer of the regiment, has served from the commencement of the war until the present time with a singleness of purpose%u2026Disregarding danger, he has led his regiment in all the battles it participated in from May 5, 1864 to October 19, 1864. In the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg, his coolness and bravery in action commanded the respect of his officers as well as the faith and confidence of his comrades. In the engagement near the Weldon Railroad, when misfortune overtook the greater part of his regiment, he saved its colors. But more particularly did he distinguish himself in the battles in the Shenandoah valley, Charleston, Berryville, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek being names impressed upon the memories of his comrades in common with his.
Drury was promoted 2nd lieutenant of Company D on June 4, 1865 but was mustered out as a sergeant in Company C the following month. He returned to Vermont and married Jane Daugherty of Keene, New Hampshire. The Drury's moved to a two hundred acre farm near Albia, Monroe County, Iowa, [now the Lake Miami area] in 1869 where they raised a family of ten children.
In 1890 Drury was described as a prosperous businessman in Albia and was color bearer of the Bluff Creek Veterans' Association. His GAR comrades elected him "standard bearer" of Orman Post No. 123 in Albia with the admonition: "We give to your keeping this flag that our sons may emulate your noble deeds." He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1893. He died on Christmas day in 1919. Following a Solemn High Requiem Mass, he was interred in the church yard of St. Peter's Church in Lovilia. Shaded by a large Chinese elm, he is buried next to his wife and surrounded my other members of his family. The grave marker is inscribed:
Lieut. James Drury
Co C, 4 VT
BURIED: Lovilia Cemetery
First Battle of the Weldon Railroad June 23, 1864
On June 23, 1864, during the siege of Petersburg, a military engagement occurred that has been referred to as an "incredible blunder" and "melancholy affair" for the Vermont Brigade and for all of Vermont. The commander of the Vermont Brigade, Brigadier General Lewis A. Grant, told an audience after the war that this disaster "was his saddest experience of the war."
Descriptions of this engagement at the Weldon Railroad were given in the newspapers and military reports of the day. The Petersburg Express ran a detailed account the day following the battle. This was reprinted in the Richmond newspapers and across the South. Thus, on June 30, readers in North Carolina learned from The Wilmington Daily Journal:
The Petersburg Express gives the following account of the fight which took place on Thursday evening, the 23d inst. near the Weldon Railroad in the vicinity of the six-mile house [Globe Tavern]:
Gen. Mahone was speedily dispatched, at the head of a body of troops, to drive the rascals off. Upon approaching the spot about one hundred and fifty of Grant's horsemen were discovered displacing rails and removing sills. They fled precipitately upon the appearance of our forces; but it was soon ascertained that there was a heavy body of infantry in the woods, east of the tracts, massed for the purpose of supporting the cavalry.
Gen. Mahone threw forward a heavy line of skirmishers, engaged the attention of the blue coats, and then put into execution one of those flanking movements for which he has become somewhat noted during this campaign. About twilight Perry's brigade, now commanded by Gen. [Joseph] Finnegan [sic], succeeded in swinging around, and brought up in rear of the enemy. A volley or two in the rear put the enemy to thinking, and another volley or two brought about a very lively double-quick on their part. We succeeded in securing only four hundred and eighty-three of the invaders, the remainders running so swiftly that it was found impossible to overtake them.
The prisoners were marched into the city [Richmond] yesterday forenoon, about 10 o'clock, and turned over to Major [David B.] Bridgford, Gen. Lee's Provost Marshal. There were ten commissioned officers among the number, but none higher than the rank of colonel. These prisoners, in point of appearance or morals, are no improvement upon former installments. They seem to have been collected from every quarter of the globe, both civilized and uncivilized and elicited from a spectator in our vicinity, the remark, "That Grant had scraped all creation with a fine tooth comb for men to reinforce his depleted ranks."
In St. Johnsbury, Vermont, The Caledonian informed readers of the Northeast Kingdom:
The 6th corps moved toward the railroad Thursday morning, driving the enemy before them, and during the afternoon reported that they were in possession of the road, and arrangements were at once made to destroy it.
The next issue of the newspaper reported somewhat unemotionally:
The Vermont Troops are very unfortunate. The 4th regiment was nearly all captured [and also] three or four hundred of the 11th.
The Rutland Herald of June 29, 1864 under a more dramatic headline reading:
VERMONT BRIGADE --- HEAVY LOSSES,
Yesterday afternoon the Vermont brigade 6th corps, advanced upon the Weldon Railroad and obtained possession of it with little effort or loss, but were attacked immediately by an overwhelming rebel force, and repulsed before any support could reach them. Their loss was severe.
On July 6, Rutland readers were greeted with the headline:
DISASTER TO THE VERMONT BRIGADE
Reading on, they learned:
The total loss to the brigade is now stated to be 508 men. Of the Eleventh regiment, Major Fleming's battalion is reported nearly all taken prisoner. Major Fleming was with his battalion in support of a skirmish line, holding an advanced position, and the enemy broke through the line, both on his left and right, coming quite into the rear, rendering successful defense or escape impossible.
General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia, informed the Confederate Secretary of War:
Yesterday the enemy made a demonstration with infantry upon the Weldon railroad, but before he had done much damage was driven back by General Mahone with a portion of his command. About 600 prisoners and 28 commissioned officers were taken, most of whom were captured by Perry's Florida Brigade%u2026
The Adjutant General of Vermont explained that:
On the 23d, Capt. Beattie [pronounced "Bee AT Tee"] of the Third Regiment, commanding about 90 picked men as sharpshooters, pushed on to the Weldon Railroad, and a portion of the pioneers of the Brigade went out to the road and commenced its destruction. The Fourth Regiment and Major Fleming's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment occupied an advanced position as skirmishers. The enemy attacked the party on the railroad and drove them back, pushing around to the left of the advanced line, and at the same time the picket line in front of the Third Division, which held the line next on the right, fell back and the enemy occupied in force the woods upon the right and closing in from both sides upon the rear of the Fourth Regiment and Maj. Fleming's battalion, leaving them no chance for escape. The men fought desperately to the last, hand to hand, and only surrendered when their ammunition had become exhausted and surrender was necessary.
At the Weldon Railroad this did not occur. Following the mismanagement that resulted in their capture, only months of misery, disease and death followed. 59% (224 of the 381 enlisted men) died during or as a direct result of their capture. George Benedict eloquently said:
Of the men thus captured, over one half died within six month after their capture, a few in Confederate hospitals, but most of them in the prison pens of Andersonville and Columbia, S.C. Most of these Vermonters were strong and vigorous men when taken that day, who thus died by a lingering death in the hands of the enemy. A number who lived to be exchanged, came home mere wrecks of men and died soon after, and it is probably no exaggeration to say that 70 per cent of the men captured died in prison or from the results of their captivity.
The prisoners were marched to Petersburg and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. The enlisted men were loaded into cattle cars and shipped to the Confederate Military Prison at Andersonville, Georgia
The horror of Andersonville%u2014the indescribable suffering and grim mortality within the prison pen%u2014does not require retelling and is suggested in the photographs taken by a Confederate photographer in August 1864.
Burial of Leandrew B. Farnham
1864 | Andersonville, Georgia
Burial of Leandrew B. Farnham.
William Marvel has identified this photograph as showing the burial of Leandrew Farnham of Company A 11th Vermont Infantry. It was the last in a series of photographs taken at Andersonville on August 16, 1864 by Macon photographer Andrew Jackson Riddle. The burial detail is shown placing Leandrew in the mass grave that was to receive 137 bodies on this day. His grave is now identified as Grave #5851 in the National Cemetery at Andersonville. Leandrew's younger brother, Lorenzo who died on August 20, lies in Grave #6264. The Farnham brothers were captured at the Weldon Railroad on June 23, 1864.
Gravestone of Andrew St. John
Grave #3382 in the cemetery at Andersonville.
It belongs to Private Andrew St. John of Rutland, Vermont. He was the first of 112 Vermonters captured on June 23, 1864 to die at Andersonville whose graves can be identified in the cemetery. He died of dysentery on July 16, 1864.
WILLIAM PITTENGER~MEDAL OF HONOR
William Pittenger, one of the first six soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor, is buried in a Fallbrook cemetery.
In 1862 he and other Union soldiers went behind enemy lines to steal a Confederate train. The stolen train ran out of fuel, and the soldiers were captured - 8 were hanged.
Pittenger became prisoners of war. Edwin Stanton and President Abraham Lincoln presented the Medal of Honor to Pittenger and his comrades in 1863. Wayman gave Arnold custody of a sword. The sword and other Pittenger memorabilia will go on display. As for Pittenger's medal, it was sold after being given to a relative, and its whereabouts are unknown.
BORN: Jan. 31, 1840
DIED: Apr. 24, 1904
BURIED: Odd Fellows Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: Section A, Grave15
Minister, Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, Author. William Pittenger entered into the lore of the American civil war when he volunteered to be a member of a raiding party today known as the "Andrews Raid." The mission was to take control of a Confederate train at Marietta, Georgia and proceed to Chattanooga while wreaking havoc in its wake by burning bridges and destroying telegraph lines in an attempt to disrupt Confederate troop movements and communications. The heroic attempt was a disaster as not a single bridge was destroyed and all participants were captured with some hung as spies. William was an Ohio native born to Thomas and Mary Mills Pittenger in Knoxville, Jefferson County, Ohio. His meager education came from one room county schools. Patriotism was the force that caused him to enlist as a private in the 2d Ohio volunteer infantry. He first saw combat at Bull Run. His zeal let him to volunteer for the hapless Andrews railroad raid even though his commander attempted to discourage him because of bad vision. He escaped execution as a spy but remained imprisoned until repatriated in a prisoner exchange. Upon his return to the North, William was not only promoted but presented the Congressional Metal of Honor. He attempted to further serve in the Union Army but bad health forced him to leave military service at the midway point of the war. William became a theology student culminating in ordination as a Minister. For some thirty years, he filled pastoral positions in Methodist and Episcopal churches in the east. A marriage would produce six children. Rev Pittenger arrived in Fallbrook, California already in his fifties assuming the duties as pastor for Methodist and Episcopal members then meeting in what is now the First Christian Church. He was very active in the small farm community both as a lecturer against Darwinism and as a writer penning a number of historical books covering the Civil War. George ranched in rural Fallbrook where he owned a small cottage located on some twenty acres where he grew walnuts and fruit. He lobbied along with others for state legislation which created the local Irrigation District. The mostly self taught Civil War hero was a teacher for a time at Fallbrook High school then became president of the board of education. Legacy...His best authored work was "Daring and Suffering: A History of the Great Railroad Adventure" published by The War Publishing Co. in 1887. It generated two movies: In 1927,"The General," a Buster Keaton directed silent-era embellished comedy," and in 1956 a Disney made for television movie "The Great Locomotive Chase." The beautiful white wood frame church where he served is still there with a thriving congregation. Across the street is the small pastors house, a Victorian cottage where Pittenger lived and is now called the Reverend William Pittenger House. It is owned by the Fallbrook Historical Society and has found a new use as an Alzheimer Day Care Center. A few miles away is his small farm house and next door is the recently constructed Fallbrook Historical Museum. His grave remained militarily unmarked until 1988 when the Historical Society contacted military authorities who provided a standard grave stone appropriately marking the grave as that of a Congressional Medal of Honor Winner. In 2006 a new neighborhood was added to the city of Fallbrook with all its streets named after famous military figures. William Pittenger represents the civil war and here you will find William Pittenger Place. (bio by: Donald Greyfield)
JAMES J. ANDREWS
Civil War Union Partisan. Leader of the famed "Andrews Raiders".
Born in Hancock County, (now West) Virginia.
Spent the first year of the Civil War as a Union contraband runner and double agent. Conceived the idea for the raid. Was captured after it failed, tried by the Confederate Army, and hanged in Atlanta. Did not receive a Congressional Medal of Honor as he was a civilian and, hence, ineligible.
DIED: Jun. 7, 1862
BURIED: Chattanooga National Cemetery
Plot: Section H, Grave 12982
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Served in the Civil War as a Private in Company G, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery as a participant as a Mitchell Raider in the famed “Great Locomotive Chase” in April 1862. His citation reads “One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta”. He was captured when the train they confiscated “The General” ran out of fuel, and spent time in Confederate Prisons. When his Medal was issued to him on March 25, 1863, he became the second United States soldier in History to be awarded it (after Private Jacob Parrot of the 33rd Ohio Infantry - another Mitchell Raider). 22 other participants of the Raid were also awarded the Medal of Honor. (bio by: Russ Dodge)
BORN: Jan. 14, 1840
DIED: Dec. 19, 1918
DIED: McComb Union Cemetery
Plot: north side of the road
Engineer of the locomotive 'Texas' during the great locomotive chase on the Western and Atlantic Railroad on April 12, 1862.
BORN: Oct. 31, 1833
DIED: May 26, 1909
BURIED: Rose Hill Cemetery
WILLIAM W. BROWN
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.
He was a Private with Company F, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism at Big Shanty, Georgia. His official CMOH citation reads as follows "One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta".
Cause of death: Cerebral hemorrhage
BORN: Dec. 25, 1839
DIED: Dec. 26, 1916
BURIED: New Belleville Ridge Cemetery
Plot: Lot 46, Block B, Grave 1
Rank and organization: Private, Company H, 21st Ohio Infantry.
Place and date: Georgia, April 1862.
Date of issue: 25 March 1863. Citation:
One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta. (bio by: Brent Nimmo)
BORN: Jul. 7, 1828
DIED: Jul. 20, 1871, Commited Suicide in an institution for the criminally insane
BURIED: Soule Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Buried in the prison section.
E. JEFFERSON CAIN
Civil War Confederate Figure.
He was the engineer of the train pulled by the 'General,' the locomotive captured by the Andrews Raiders at Big Shanty (Kennesaw) in 1862. With William Fuller and Anthony Murphy, he followed in pursuit, first in the locomotive 'Yonah,' next in the 'William R. Smith' and finally in the 'Texas.' The 'General' was recaptured 2 miles north of Ringold.
BORN: Apr., 1827
DIED: Feb. 10, 1897
BURIED: Oakland Cemetery
WILLIAM HUNTER CAMPBELL
Civil War Union Army Figure.
A Civilian member of the Andrews Raiders and, like John Andrews, ineligible to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor
BORN: Sep. 9, 1839
DIED: Jun. 18, 1862
BURIED: Chattanooga National Cemetery
Plot: Section H, Grave 12982
DANIEL A, DORSEY
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.
Served in the Civil War as a Corporal in Company H, 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery as a participant as an Andrews Raider in the famed "Great Locomotive Chase" through Georgia in April 1862. His citation reads "One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta". His Medal was issued on September 17, 1863. 22 other participants of the Raid were issued the CMOH. He was one of seven 33rd Ohio soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Civil War (the others being Corporal Martin J. Hawkins, Private Jacob Parrott, Corporal William Reddick, Private Samuel Robertson, Private Samuel Slavens, and Private John Wollam, all of whom were also Andrews Raiders). (bio by: Russ Dodge)
BORN: Dec. 31, 1838
DIED: MAY 10, 1918
BURIED: Leavenworth National Cemetery
Plot: Section 11, Row 19, Grave 8
JACOB WILSON PARROTT
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.
During the Civil War, he served as a member of Company K, 33d Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Jacob, along with 22 other men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of General Mitchell penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train, "The General" at Big Shanty, Georgia, in an attempt to destroy the bridges and tracks between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Led by James J. Andrews, the men were able to take possession of the train, and a long chase followed. Sometimes this great adventure is referred to as "The Great Locomotive Chase". Many of the men, including Jacob, were eventually captured by the Confederate Soldiers. While being held captive, Jacob endured being whipped over 100 times, on his bare back, by the confederates as they tried to gain information from him. For his part in the undercover mission, Jacob was awarded the very first Medal Of Honor. Other "Andrew's Raiders", as they became to be known by, were also awarded the Medal Of Honor, as they so well deserved. There are several books about this exciting adventure, and Disney also made a movie entitled "The Great Locomotive Chase".
(bio by T. Parrott Dreffer, Great-great-grandaughter of Jacob Parrott)
BORN: Jul. 17, 1843
DIED: Dec. 22, 1908
BURIED: Grove Cemetery
Plot: Lot # 338, Section 1, Grave #16