Summary

Served as a Major in the UNION ARMY during the CIVIL WAR for the State of Indiana in Wilder's Lightening Brigade. Known for John A. Washington's death.

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Union) 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Major 1
Birth:
20 Aug 1839 1
Lawrence, Stark, Ohio 1
Death:
24 Sep 1919 1
Tropico, Glendale, California 1
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Full Name:
John J Weiler 1
Birth:
20 Aug 1839 1
Lawrence, Stark, Ohio 1
Male 1
Death:
24 Sep 1919 1
Tropico, Glendale, California 1
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Birth:
Mother: Ann Elizabeth Filson 1
Father: William Weiler 1
Marriage:
Emaline J Williams 1
11 Feb 1864 1
Whitley Co, IN 1
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Civil War (Union) 1

Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Major 1
Service Start Date:
12 Jun 1861 1
Service End Date:
08 Aug 1865 1
Enlistment Date:
28 May 1861 1
Enlistment Location:
Whitley County, Indiana 1

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Bio of Major John J Weiler

United States

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John was born and raised in Stark Co., Ohio August 20, 1839 to William Weiler and Anna Elizabeth Filson. As of June 5, 1860 he was still living with his family in Lawrence Township, Stark, Ohio working as farm hand.

Two of his brothers served the Union Army, enlisting in the state of Ohio.  Joseph F Weiler was 25 when he died at the battle of Murfreesboro, TN on January 1, 1863 &  Luther Hamilton Weiler was 20 when he died at the battle of Athens, AL on September 4, 1864

At the age of 21 John enlisted in the enlisted in the Whitley County Volunteers at Columbia City, Indiana, April 21, 1861 under the first call of 7500 men.  He was in Co. "E" of the 17th Regt. when organized. He climbed the ranks from Sergeant to Major during his 4 year of service.

John fought in 219 battles during the Civil War; among them is Wilsons Raid, for his service in this battle Robert H.G. Minty recommends John receives a promotion to lieutenant-colonel. John is known for the death of John A Washington, for this service young Sergeant Weiler received the thanks of Simon Cameron Secretary of War and a pistol and belt which belonged to Col. John A. Washington. Also the capture and return of Terry’s Texas Rangers battle flag.  While he served the Cumberland Army he was part of Wilder’s Lightning Brigade.

John married Emaline Williams on February 11, 1864 in Whitley Co, Indiana. They had 4 children. In 1869 John moved his family to Green, Wayne, Ohio. In 1870 John is a farmer with a property value of $12,800. In 1872 & 1873 he served as trustee of Green Township. In 1880 John is working as a Rail Road Agent.

John attended the 17th Indiana Wilder’s Brigade Reunion held September 7, 1887 in Greencastle, IN. He received a silver brigade badge. He also attended the Co E 17th Indiana reunion in 1911 and held again September 1912 in Columbia City, IN.

In 1887 John and his family moved to Jefferson City, Washington Co, TN. Then they moved to Dallas, TX in 1889.

John was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, first listed in the Davidson Post, No. 490, Smithville, Wayne, Ohio in 1884-1885 where he served as commander; then Patton Post, No. 26, Johnson City Tennessee in 1888-1889 where he served as Adjutant; later he was a member of John A Dix Post, No 11, GAR (Organized 1885) in Texas from 1889-1910 and served as the Junior Vice-Commander in 1896-1899. Then he served as Adjutant in 1900-1904. He was a delegate for Dallas for the 18th National Encampment in 1903.

In 1893-1894 John and partner George W. Clayton were proprietors of Clayton & Weiler Manufacturers of Cider. In 1896 John owned an Ice Cream Parlor. In 1897-1899 John again is an Apple Cider Manufacturer. 1900-1903 & 1909-1910 John worked for Colonial and U.S. Mortgage Company as a loan inspector. In 1904-1905 John was the proprietor of Linden Hotel. 1906-1908 John worked as a Laborer at the fairgrounds.

May 29, 1913 Major John J Weiler was living in Tropico, California.  He wrote memoirs of his time in the service that were published in “Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: a history from its organization to the end of the war, giving description of battles”

John died September 24, 1919 in Glendale, CA and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Cemetery office confirmed that this burial is unmarked; The plot information is confirmed at Section C; Lot #13; Space 21.

A little controversy in the newspaper… Civil War Talk - Death of John Augustine Washington III

1887-1888

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FIGHTING THEM OVER - What Our Veterans Have to Say About Their Old Campaigns

     The National tribune., November 10, 1887, Page 3  

S. F. Dent, Co. E, 15th Ind., Clarissa, Minn., writes of the death of Col. John A. Washington, that it took place on Elk River, W. Va., in August, 1861, the fatal shots being fired by 12 soldiers (not 12 shots only), four of which struck the Colonel in the back. He would like to know the regiment to which these soldiers belonged.  

     The National tribune., December 01, 1887, Page 3

COL. WASHINGTON'S DEATH

The Exact Story, Told by Maj. Weiler.

Editor National Tribune: Comrade S. F. Dent, Co. E, 15th Ind., who recently told the story of the death of Col. John A. Washington, Topographical Engineer on Gen. Robert E. Lee's staff, near Elkwater, W. Va. Errs so much in various points that I send you the substance of the true story as recently published on the oath of one familiar with the facts, as I am the Serg't Weiler referred to. Col. Washington was a near relative of George Washington.

During the month of September, 1861, the Union forces lay at Elk Water, W. Va., and Capt. G. W. Stough, of Co. "E", 17th Ind., was ordered to move his command to the support of the outposts, as the enemy, under command of Lee, were reconnoitering the camp, and there were indications that an attack was contemplated by his entire force. While at the outpost (Sept, 13,1861) the report came that the enemy was circling to the right and rear, and Capt. Stough was directed to reconnoiter a ravine not far distant and verify the rumor, it possible. Weiler was a Sergeant at the time, and he was given two men and was ordered to proceed in advance on the side of the mountain, while the company marched along the road at the base, a given point being named where they were to rejoin the command. Near the appointed meeting-place Serg't Weiler and his men met three men on horseback, dressed in blue, but with their hats peculiarly marked, the one in the center having the bearing of an officer, and the trio evidently scouting around to see what could be seen. On observing the Sergeant, they wheeled squarely to the right and attempted to ride away, but Weiler cautioned his men, who were good shots, to "take the middle one," and he dropped from his saddle, while the others escaped. The accuracy of the aim may be judged from the fact that all three of the shots took effect in the body near the heart, one of the bullets in its passage tearing away a part of the scab-band of the sword which he wore.

Papers in his possession showed him to be Col. John A. Washington, Topographical Engineer of Gen. Lee's staff, and on his person was found his sword, two revolvers, a field-glass, $1,500 in money, and a remarkably accurate map of the Federal camp, giving the forces even to the artillery and cavalry, and the number of available men, with a plan of attack, showing the different roads to be taken by the advancing forces, and other data, the whole of which proved of inestimable service to the Union cause. All of these things were reported to the Secretary of War, who publicly thanked Serg't Weiler for the Service he had accomplished, and in directing the return of the body to the Confederate forces Weiler was permitted to go along. This act also led to his speedy promotion as Second Lieutenant, and gallantry on other fields advanced him to a Major's commission. One of the two revolvers taken from Washington was also given him, and he still preserves it as a valuable memento.

J. J. Weiler, Sergeant, Co. E, 17th Ind., Johnson City, Tenn.

     The National tribune., August 16, 1888, Page 3

COL. WASHINGTON'S DEATH

The Story as Told by W. L. Birney.

Editor National Tribune: Maj. Weiler, Co. E, 17th Ind., who recently wrote of the death of Col. John A. Washington near Elkwater, W. Va., errs so radically, notwithstanding he says his report was made under oath, that I send you the true account. The Major is correct up to the point where Capt. Stowe was ordered forward with Co. E, 17th Ind., to reconnoiter; but here he seems to have become demoralized, and as his story seems to indicate that he wishes the exact account, I will give it.

When Capt. Stowe had reached a point whore prudence made it necessary, ho detailed Corp'l William L. Biruey with two men to act as advance-guard, and ordered him to proceed along the base of the mountain to the right of the road to guard against a surprise. Wm. Johnson and Wm. Sumaney were the two men detailed. Serg't Weiler hero made a request that he be permitted to be one of the squad. Capt. Stowe then ordered Sumaney to remain with the company and Weiler to take his place, and ordered also that Birney retain command of the advance-guard, because he had considerable experience.

We moved forward at once rapidly, yet cautiously, until we reached a point where the road, after crossing the stream, made a sharp bead to the right toward the foot of the mountain and came very close to the line of our advance. Here, while we halted to examine what we took for a brush tent on the opposite mountain, we heard what was supposed to be a squad of cavalry coming down the road toward where we were standing. Corp'l Biruey ordered his men to take position behind a bank of earth formed by a tree having been torn out by the roots, and whore we were completely protected from observation and within 30 to 40 feet of the road. In a few moments three horsemen appeared in view over a rise in the road not more than 100 yards distant, advancing so leisurely that at first we were puzzled as to whether they were friends or foes. By the time they got nearly abreast of our position we had discovered by their uniform that they were enemies. They were now so close we dared not move for fear of being discovered.

They were evidently all officers, and the Corporal was anxious to get all three, and quietly whispered to Serg't Weiler, who was on his loft, to take the left-hand man, who was large and well-proportioned and wore a gray uniform with a red sash. Wm. Johnson, who was on the Corporal's right, was ordered to fire on the right-hand man, who also wore a gray uniform, the Corporal saying he would direct his fire on the man in the middle, who wore a blue uniform, with a white cloth sewed across" the top of his blue cap. When directly opposite our position they turned square to the right, leaving the road, with the evident intention of riding out in the valley to take a look at our works. This brought them squarely in our front with their backs to us and about 30 to 40 yards distant. The Corporal gave the word, and the fire was delivered. The man to the right was untouched, the one in the center fell from his horse, the one to the left appeared to be slightly wounded in the left side or shoulder. The Corporal instantly ordered "the guns reloaded. By the time this was completed the man who had fallen from his horse was making some efforts as though he was trying to get his revolver. Serg't Weiler jerked his gun to his face and fired, piercing the man's body with another ball. Corp'l Birney then and there reproved Serg't Weiler for firing on a man too seriously wounded to rise to a sitting posture, and directed him to reload and return to the company and report what had occurred.

Now, Major, your points of error are as follows: Serg't Weiler was not given two men, neither did he give a single order, caution or direction. Corp'l Birney was in charge from beginning to end. There was no point designated to meet the company. If we got into trouble we were to fight and fall back to the company. Serg't Weiler and his men did not meet three men on horseback. While Corp'l Birney and his men lay in ambush for three men who rode along the road, with the result detailed above. The accuracy of the aim may be judged from the fact that but one man out of three was unhorsed at the short range of 40 yards. Johnson declared he misunderstood my order and fired on the middle man.

W. L. Birney, Co. E, 17th Ind., Chief of Wilder's Scouts, Oakwood, Mo.

     The National tribune., October 25, 1888, Page 3

Death of Col. John A. Washington.

Editor National Tribune: In your issue of Aug. 16 I noticed a communication from W. L. Birney pretending to correct a statement made by Maj. J. J. Weiler in regard to the death of Col. Washington, near Elk Water, W. Va., in September, 1801. Birney starts out by accusing the Major of making a false statement. But we will see who made the false statement before we get through. The following are the unvarnished facts in the case: On the September afternoon in question Capt. George W. Slough, with his company (E, 17th lnd.), was ordered out to make a reconnaissance toward Gen. Lee's camp. When well outside of our picket-lines Capt. Slough detailed Serg't J. J. Weiler and 10 men for advance-guard. The Sergeant, in command of his guard, moved forward promptly, but had not gone more than about 40 yards when three rebel officers made their appearance, and received a volley from the advance-guard, which brought Col. Washington from his horse, mortally wounded, not more than 35 or 40 yards distant from the company. Orderly-Serg't C. J. Ward went to where the Colonel fell, and, with the assistance of others of the company, brought the Colonel to the company. We soon provided a stretcher, placed the Colonel upon it and started back to camp.

The Colonel was very badly wounded, and died on the way. His remains were conveyed to Gen. Lee's camp the next day under a flag of truce. The foregoing is a true statement of the facts made by one who was present with the company on that occasion. David Garver, Captain, Co. E, 17th lnd.

     Commentary:

The newspapers initially reported Sergeant J.J. Weiler as Sergeant Lieber, receiving one of John A Washington’s revolvers.

In a letter written to Simon Cameron (Secretary of War) from Brig. General J.J Reynolds; dated 30 Oct 1861 he states:

Your letter of instruction of 22d is received.

On further investigation it is made to appear that the three shots received by Col. John A. Washington, all of which were plainly visible in his body, were fired by Sergeant John J. Weiler (not Lieber as heretofore reported), Corporal Wm L. Birney and Private Wm F Johnson. All of Company ‘E’ 17th Indiana Regiment.

In accordance with the term of your letter of 22d I have distributed the articles among these soldiers, Sgt. Weiler claiming the Revolver.

Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: J.J. Weiler

Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment, page 93
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Tropico, California, May 20, 1913.

W. H. H. Benefiel, Pendleton, Indiana:

Dear Comrade-It is too late to give you a detailed account of what you ask. You have the affair of the killing of Colonel John A. Washington in West Virginia. On September 4, 1864, I was sent with Companies H and B to Stockbridge, Georgia; captured a rebel mail and a number of prisoners. On October 28, 1864, had command of Companies G and F in advance of the regiment, with orders to go to Goshen. After crossing Mill Creek was ordered by Colonel Vail to return, as the regiment was attacked by a superior force of rebels. As we approached the bridge we found the enemy in possession. I dismounted the men and drove the enemy away, sent my led horses through a cornfield, followed with the men and rejoined the regiment with the loss of one man. In the meantime Colonel Vail had reported to General Wilson that myself and the two companies were captured. 

On the 13th of October, 1864, after the charge on the rebels strongly posted on Noses Creek, I was ordered by Colonel A. O. Miller, commanding the brigade, to take the two leading companies, H and I, of the Seventeenth and follow a bunch of rebels that were seen to go in the woods. On reaching the road they were on we captured the flag of the Eighth Texas, or Terry's Texas Rangers. Now, Wilson's raid from Gravelly Springs, Alabama, in 1865 to Macon, Georgia, on the first day of April, 1865, at Ebenezer Church, where General Forrest made his stand. Companies B, G, H and I made that famous saber charge on Forrest's whole force, breaking through three lines of dismounted men, when Captain Taylor was killed. Next day at Selma Wilder's Brigade charged the forts and broke through their lines. I went in with the left wing, which crossed the works first. On the 20th day of April, 1865, I was put in command of the four saber companies, E, G, H and I, with orders to go to Macon if possible, forty-five miles away. We met with but little resistance the first twenty miles; from that on we had to charge rail barricades at every turn in the road. At Mimm's Mill we met them in heavy force behind a rail fence, and they had set the bridge on fire. Captain McDowell, Walter Collins and myself crossed the bridge together. Collins was struck with a ball on his belt buckle, which saved his life. • The fire was put out by carrying water in our hats, the planks replaced and the command crossed, and it was a race from there to Macon, where we found the breastworks fully manned. Myself, with the advance, waited until Colonel White came up with the balance of the regiment, when we rode on into the town, and received the surrender of all the troops there. Next day I was put in command of the regiment and remained in command until we started home to be mustered out. While here some of my men came to me for permission to go to the cemetery to unearth a battery of four British loaders, said to be buried there. I gave the permit, and in a short time the guns were brought to my headquarters. 

J. J. WEILER, Major Seventeenth Indiana Volunteers.

WHILE IN CAMP ELKWATER, WEST VIRGINIA.

On September 13, 1861, Company E, Seventeenth Indiana, was ordered to go to the outposts to support the force there on duty, as the enemy, under General R. B. Lee, were reconnoitering our camp and preparing to attack us with their entire force, reported by them at 20,000 men. Soon after arriving there it was reported that the rebels were moving a force to our right and rear. Captain K. W. Stough, of our company (B), was ordered to take his company and go up the valley toward Brady's Gate about a mile and see If the report was true. I being a sergeant at the time, he gave me ten men, with orders to go in advance up on the side of the mountain, and he would follow in the road in supporting distance with the balance of the company. When we had advanced about a mile we met the rebels out on a scout, three of them riding in advance, and when opposite where we were they turned square to the right, when W. L. Birney, Wm. Johnson and myself fired on them, killing one, who proved to be Colonel John A. Washington, topographical engineer on General Lee's staff. By the death of Washington it is supposed we were saved a heavy battle. Washington had on his person two revolvers, a large knife, field glass, compass, gold watch, $150 in money, a map of all our works, with number of troops, and the plan of General Lee's advance, number of his troops, etc. The articles captured were reported by General Reynolds to the War Department. In a few days orders were received complimenting me for the service rendered, and to send the navy revolver to the Secretary of War and to give the balance of the articles to me. The money and watch were sent with his body to his friends. His body was taken in an ambulance, under flag of truce, and delivered to the rebels, myself driving the ambulance. Colonel Hascall and Adjutant Kerstetter going in advance with the flag.

This is as near as I can recollect the affair.

J. J. WEILER.

 

War Department, October 22, 1861.

Brigadier-General J. J. Reynolds, Camp Elkwater, Virginia:

Sir—Through the hands of Captain H. Jones Brooks I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of one of the army revolvers found on the person, of Colonel John A. Washington. I shall always prize it as a memorable relic of the present glorious struggle for freedom and the Union. To the brave Sergeant John J. Weiler, of the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment, who enjoys the honor of having made this notorious rebel leader bite the dust, you will, in the name of the War Department, present the other revolver and articles found upon the traitor's person and retained in your care.

I have the honor to be

Very respectfully,

Signed SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.

 

A letter written and published in Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: a history from its organization to the end of the war. By Benefiel, W. H. H; September 14, 1913. page 93-94

Mobile Bay Campaign - Letters

Page 1

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies - Volume XLIX Page 444-445

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 49, Part 1 (Mobile Bay Campaign)

HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS, MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,

Near Macon, Ga., May 11, 1865.

Major E. B. BEAUMONT,

Asst. Adjt. General, Cavalry Corps, Mil. Div. of the Mississippi:

MAJOR: In my official report of the part taken by this division during the past campaign while under my command, I have made honorable mention of the following-named officers:

Lieutenant Cols. Benjamin D. Pritchard, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, and Frank White, Seventeenth Indiana (mounted) Infantry; Major John J. Weiler, Seventeenth Indiana (mounted) Infantry; Captain Charles T. Hudson, Fourth Michigan Cavalry, and First Lieuts. James H. McDowell and William E. Doyle, Seventeenth Indiana (mounted) Infantry. I beg to call the attention of the major general commanding more particularly to the gallant and meritorious conduct of these officers. On the night of the 17th Lieutenant-Colonel Pritchard marched from Columbus, Ga., in command of his own regiment and the Third Ohio Cavalry, under orders to push forward and save the Double Bridges over Flint River. He carried out his orders faithfully and energetically, saved the bridges, although every preparation had been made for burning them, and captured the battalion which had been left to destroy them. Lieutenant-Colonel Pritchard was severely wounded in the battle of Chickamauga, in September, 1863. Captain Hudson led his battalion with sabers, and captured the entire force. Captain Hudson was shot through the shoulder while leading his company in a charge at the battle of Shelbyville, Tenn., on the 27th of June, 1863. Lieutenant-Colonel White had command of the advance on the 20th of April. He drove a rebel once of nearly equal strength to his own from Spring Hill to Macon, a distance of twenty-one miles, in five hours, driving them from behind at least a dozen well-built rail barricades, and saving the bridges over Tobesofkee and Rocky Creeks. The former was on fire, the latter ready for the application of the match, when he carried them. He also received the surrender of the city of Macon from General Cobb, having nothing with him but his own regiment, with which he had entered the city. Colonel White was severely wounded at the battle of Mission Ridge in November, 1863. Major Wiler, Lieutenant McDowell, and Lieutenant and Adjutant Doyle rode in the advance in the various charges made while driving the rebels from their barricades on the 20th. Lieutenant McDowell staked his horse on one of the barricades, killing him instantly. These three officers were on the extreme advance in the charge on the burning bridge and acted in the most gallant manner throughout the day. I earnestly recommend that these five officers be promoted by brevet-Lieutenant-Colonels Pritchard and White to the rank of colonel, Major Weiler to lieutenant-colonel, Captain Hudson to major, and Lieutenants McDowell and Doyle to captains.

I am, respectfully, your, obedient servant,

ROBT. H. G. MINTY,

Colonel, Commanding Division.

**********************

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies - Volume XLIX Page 457-460

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 49, Part 1 (Mobile Bay Campaign)

HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH INDIANA VOL. (MOUNTED) INFTY.,

Macon, Ga., April 21, 1865.

CAPTAIN; I have the honor to make the following report of this regiment, which I commanded on the 20th instant:

On the morning of the 20th the regiment being the advance regiment of the division (Second), the four companies with sabers were sent forward as advance guard of the division under Major Weiler. I had the remaining companies, as the regiment, in the proper order of march in rear of the headquarters. From our camp of the preceding night, from whence we started in the morning, it was forty-five miles to Macon. After marching about twenty-four miles, and when near Spring Hill, the advance guard first met a small force of the enemy and drove them off, capturing a few. I then moved forward with the other companies and assumed command of the advance. We rested near Spring Hill about an hour and then moved on. Near Montpelier Springs we again met the enemy and charged him to up to and through a strong barricade of rails and brush across the road, charging it driving the enemy from it, and capturing about a dozen of them, three officers, and a few horses. Resting a minute, I again moved forward at a fast trot in order to be in time to save the bridge over the Tobesofkee Creek, at Mimm's Mills. Here we found the enemy in line about 300 strong, and attacked them. The advanced charged, mounted, over the burning bridge until stopped by the plank being torn up. They then dismounted, as did also the two advance companies, E and H, and I double-quicked them across the bridge, and after a sharp fight of about five minutes drove the enemy off in confusion. In the meantime I had parts of the other companies at work extinguishing the fire on the bridge, the men carrying the water in their hats, caps, and everything else available. As well drove the enemy from the bridge, I sent two companies (G and I) across a ford below the bridge to pursue the enemy, and gave pursuit at the same time with the dismounted men. The road after crossing the bridge makes a bend, and the enemy had to retreated around this bend, whilst my dismounted men double-quicking across the bend had the enemy under fire for about 200 yards, and took good advantage of it, firing very rapidly demoralizing the enemy, causing them to throw away guns (over 100), blankets, haversacks, &c., and fly as for their lives. The fire on the bridge was sufficiently suppressed in about fifteen minutes to admit of horsemen crossing, and leaving men still at work against the flames, I crossed the command and pushed on. About two miles from the bridge and about thirteen from Macon I was met by a flag of truce under the rebel Brigadier-General Robertson. The force we were pursuing passed the flag of truce and thus saved themselves. I sent word to Colonel Minty, commanding Second Division, of the state of things, and awaited orders. The flag of truce detained us about half an hour. I then received orders from Colonel Minty to give them five minutes to get out of the way, and and then to drive everything before me and save the bridge over Rocky Creek at Bailey's Mill. I placed Adjt. W. E. Doyle in charge of the advance guard of fifteen men, giving him instructions and sending him forward at a trot, supporting him closely with the regiment. After going about two miles be came in sight of the flag-of-truce party covering the rear of a force of about 250 men, said to be Blount's battalion. They were moving slowly, and evidently trying to delay us. Seeing this the adjutant, as I had instructed, him charged them, causing the flag of truce to run into the woods, capturing three of the officers that were with it, and driving the rebel cavalry pell-mell along the road. They kept up a continual fire on us for some time, but with no effect. On getting within sight of the Rocky Creek bridge the enemy were discovered on foot attempting to fire the bridge. The advance drove them off, however, and pursued them closely to the palisades in the road. Before getting to the bridge the adjutant had sent to me for a small re-enforcement, and I sent him Major Weiler and Lieutenant James H. McDowell with Company E. The major caught up before getting to the bridge.

On arriving at the palisades the advance got up amongst the rebels and some firing ensued, the rebels breaking off the road through the gardens on the right in confusion. The advance tore down a few of the palisades, passed through, and rode up to near the rebel works. Here Major Weiler and Adjutant Doyle rode up on the works and demanded their surrender telling them that we had two divisions of our cavalry in their rear. The colonel commanding not being present, the men believed that they were cut off; subordinate officers surrendered their commands, and the soldierly threw down their arms, and as directed marched down to the road, where Lieutenant McDowell took charge of and formed them. The major and adjutant were at this time riding along the line of works, telling the men to throw down their arms and surrender; that they were cut off and were our prisoners; that flight was vain and that fighting would avail nothing, and the rebel soldiery were throwing down their arms and hastening to the road and the officers were following the men. I came up at this time with the regiment and found the rebel prisoners in line along the road under Lieutenant McDowell. I ordered Adjutant Doyle to the forts on the right of the road to receive their surrender. As soon as the regiment got inside the line of works the entire line surrender, finding themselves cut off from town, and Colonel Cumming, who commanded the forces (one brigade) immediately on the road, came down with about 500 men and surrendered to me. I left two companies (G and I) in charge of prisoners, and moved on toward town with the other companies. At the edge of town I was met by some officers with a flag of truce from General Cobb, asking what terms I would give him if he surrendered the city and forces. My answer was unconditional surrender and gave the flag five minutes to get out of my way. After passing into the town the distance of four or five squares, another flag of truce met me stating that General Cobb submitted to my terms, surrendering the city and everything in it. I marched into two and up to General Cobb's headquarter, thus taking formal possession of the city. I placed patrols on duty at once and camped the regiment in the court-house square and adjoining street. We captured in the city and in the works Major General Howell Cobb, Brigadier General Gus. W. Smith, Brigadier-General Mackall, and Brigadier-General Mercer: 3,500 prisoners, including over 300 officers of all grades below brigadier-general; 5 stand of colors, about 60 pieces of artillery of all calibers, and about 3,000 stand of arms. There were also large quantities of quartermaster's, commissary medical, and ordnance stores captured in the city. The exact estimates of the stores I have not been able to find out. We had in the action during the day 21 commissioned officers and 500 enlisted men. We lost 1 killed and 2 wounded. I have to return thanks to Major J. J. Weiler for the efficient aid given me in commanding the regiment, to Adjutant Doyle for the able manner in which he handled the advance guard whilst in command, and to Lieutenant J. H. McDowell, who ably assisted the major, for his promptitude and energy in getting the prisoners together and retaining them. I have also to return my thanks to every officer and man in the regiment for the cheerfulness with which they endured the hardships incident to the march, for the alacrity with which they obeyed every order, and for the gallant manner in which they have gone at the enemy where they have found him since the opening of the campaign. And I have also to return thanks to Captain T. W. Scott and Lieutenant Culberston, of Colonel Minty's staff, for the efficient aid and assistance given me in taking the city. I had omitted to state that we captured after getting in the city four 2-pounder breech-loading guns, known as Travis guns, made and intended for General Forrest, and a large number of horses and mules.

I have the honor to remain, captain, respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                              FRANK WHITE.

                                                                              Commanding Regiment.

Captain O. F. BANE,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General First Brigadier, Second Div., Cav. Corps,

                                                                              Military Division of the Mississippi.

 

                                                              ADDENDA 

 HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH REGIMENT INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,

April 25, 1865.

Captain T. W. SCOTT,

Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Cavalry Corps:

SIR: I have the honor to send, in accordance with your order, four rebel flags marked by whom captured. The large flag of the Sixth Regiment Arkansas Volunteers was captured on a train at the railroad depot on occupying Macon by Sergt. John W. Deen, of Company C, Seventeenth Indiana Volunteers. The flag marked "captured by Reuben Phillips, Company C, Seventeenth Indiana Volunteers" (battle-flag), was got at the same time and place.

The battle-flag marked "captured by First Lieutenant James H. McDowell, Company B, Seventeenth Indiana Volunteers," was surrendered to him by Colonel Cumming in the rebel works on the Columbus road, one mile and a half from Macon, Ga., on the surrender of said works. The rebel flag marked on the flag "Worrill Grays," was captured by Privates A. R. Hudson and J. Davis from a battalion of militia near Culloden, Ga., after a sharp skirmish in which a small party of the regiment ran about 200 militia. I also hold subject to orders four 2-pounder Travis guns, breech-loading, smooth-bore, brass. They are not mounted. They were found by Corporal Bottorff, of Company K, boxed up and buried in the small-pox grave-yard. He (Bottorff) was directed to them by a rebel soldier. The guns were made for presentation to Lieutenant-General Forrest. I would respectfully suggest that it has been the custom to allow regiments to retain flags captured by them, in order that they may be sent by the regiments to their State libraries; and I would therefore ask that the flags be returned to the regiment to be disposed of in this manner.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                                  JOHN J. WEILER,

                                                                                  Major, Commanding Regiment.

Civil War Service - John J Weiler

Indiana

Weiler, John J.
4 images

John served in the Civil War for the state of Indiana:

Enlisted as a Sergeant on 21 Apr 1861 in Company E, 17th Infantry Regiment Indiana. He was promoted to 5th Sergeant in May 1861, then Lieutenant 2nd Class on 31 Jan 1862 for Co. K. He transferred to company E on 25 Mar 1862 and was promoted to Lieutenant 1st Class. He was promoted to Captain on 21 Nov 1862.

He was dismissed on 31 Dec 1863 and restored on 15 Jun 1864. He transferred to company S with promotion to Major on 08 Jan 1865, He mustered out 08 Aug 1865 in Macon, GA

Grand Army of the Republic - GAR member

United States

John was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, first listed in the Davidson Post, No. 490, Smithville, Wayne, Ohio in 1884-1887 where he served as commander; then Patton Post, No. 26, Johnson City Tennessee in 1888-1889 where he served as Adjutant; later he was a member of John A Dix Post, No 11, GAR (Organized 1885) in Texas from 1889-1910 and served as the Junior Vice-Commander in 1896-1899. Then he served as Adjutant in 1900-1904. He was a delegate for Dallas for the 18th National Encampment in 1903.

Civil War Photograph Sold

In November 2009 a signed photograph of Capt. John J. Weiler was sold at auction in New York

Lot#: 2075  

Description: Signed Id'd CDV. Major. John.J. Weiler 17th Indiana.

Estimate: $200.00 - $400.00

The photo sold for $440

 

John's Life In Texas

Texas

City Directory Dallas 1897 John J Welier GAR p2.PNG

He was a member of John A Dix Post, No 11, GAR (Organized 1885) in Texas from 1889-1910 and served as the Junior Vice-Commander in 1896-1899. Then he served as Adjutant in 1900-1904. He was a delegate for Dallas for the 18th National Encampment in 1903.

In 1893-1894 John and partner George W. Clayton were proprietors of Clayton & Weiler Manufacturers of Cider. In 1896 John owned an Ice Cream Parlor. In 1897-1899 John again is an Apple Cider Manufacturer. 1900-1903 & 1909-1910 John worked for Colonial and U.S. Mortgage Company as a loan inspector. In 1904-1905 John was the proprietor of Linden Hotel. 1906-1908 John worked as a Laborer at the fairgrounds.

Civil War Typed and Signed Letter Sold

In December 2007 a signed letter typed by Major John J. Weiler was sold at auction

Lot#: 164 

Description:  AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT FROM THE OFFICER WHO KILLED CSA COLONEL JOHN A. WASHINGTON

Estimate: $400.00 - $600.00, starting bid $240.00

The letter sold for $275

Section from Robert E. Lee and the 35th Star

"Robert E. Lee and the 35th Star" by Tim McKinney, copyright 1993, Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Inc. Charleston, WV 25304, ISBN 93-929521-75-7, 144 pages.

Page 74.

"Lee's announcement to the troops did not mention the sad fate of Lt. Col. John Augustine Washington, who was killed while on reconnaissance at Elkwater on the 13th. While awaiting word from Rust, Lee had decided to probe the enemy position at Camp Elkwater in an attempt to discover any weakness in their defenses. Lee's son Rooney, commanding the cavalry, was ordered to lead the expedition. Rooney, accompanied by Colonel Washington and a cavalry detachment, scouted the country in front of the Union lines. Proceeding cautionsly at first, Rooney Lee decided their mission was accomplished and wanted to return. Colonel Washington urged they continue awhile longer, and though it was against his better judgement, Rooney Lee agreed. It was to be a fatal decision. About one mile in front of Camp Elkwater was a Federal picket post, and about another one-helf mile in advance of them was a small Union scouting party, consisting of members of the 17th Regiment Indiana Infantry. The men had advanced beyond the picket to a long narrow defile in which ran Elkwater Fork. The mountain side to the right at this section was covered with dense undergrowth, and was thus enticing as a place from which to ambush the Confederates. Three member of the 17th, Sgt. J. J. Weiler, Cpl. Wm. L. Birney, and Pvt. Wm. L. Johnson, advanced along the road, while at the same time Lee and Washington, with just two other men, moved toward them. Just then Lee and Washington caught sight of an enemy sentinel about a half mile down the valley. "Let us capture that fellow on a gray horse, Washington exclaimed. Directing the two men wih them to remain hehind, Rooney and Colonel Washington charged down the road. After covering about half the distance the inrtepid Southerners found themselves directly opposite Sergeant Weiler and party. Realizing their predicament, Lee and Washington wheeled quickly right acoss the road, presenting their backs to the Yankees. Without a word spoken the three Indiana soldiers raised their muusket and fired. As it happened all three of the men shot Colonel Washington, who fell from his excited horse as it turned away. Major Lee's horse was wounded and he took off on foot up the bed of the creek. Fortunately for Lee his comrades horse ran toward him. Lee mounted it and made good his escape.

General Lee was greatly pained by the loss of his aide and friend. The next morning, the 14th, Lee sent Col. W. E. Starke to Camp Elkwater under flag of truce to determine Washington's fate. Lee's note of inquiry was addressed to the general commanding U. S. troops at Huttonsville: "Lietenant Colonel John A. Washington, my Aide-de-Camp, whilst riding yesterday with a small escort was fired upon by your pickets and I fear killed. Should such be the case, I request that you will deliver to me his body, or should he be a prisoner in your hands, that I be informed of his condition."

Early that morning General Reynolds had ordered the return of Washington's body. Sergeant Weiler, one of the party who killed the colonel, drove the wagon containing his remains. In a short while the exchange was accomplished, and the unfortunate episode passed into history, gone but not forgotten.

Colonel Washington had previously made several successful scouts of the Federal camps near Valley Mountain, apparently using a map from a Northern newspaper which was found on his person. An Ohio soldier who witnessed the taking of Washington's body later described what he saw; "Three balls passed through Washington's body near together coming out from his breast. He fell mortally wounded. Major Lee was unhurt... When reached, Colonel Washington was struggling to rise on his elbow, and, though gasping and dying, he muttered 'water', but when it was brought to his lips from the nearby stream he was dead. Wahington's name or intials were on his gauntlets cuffs and upon a napkin in his haversack; these served to dentify him and a large knife in his belt. He also had a powder-flask, field glass, gold plated spurs, gold watch and fob-chain, letters, a map of the country, and some small gold coin on his person... thus early, on his first military campaign, fell John Augustine Washington... the great-grandson of General Washington's brother and on his mother's side a great-grandson of Richard Henry Lee, Virginia's great Revolutionary patriot and statesman. He inherited Mount Vernon, but sold it before the war to an association of patriotic ladies.

Colonel Washington's pistols were sent by General Reynolds to the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron; the secretary ordered that Sergeant Weiler be given one of the pistols, and the knife went to Corporal Birney, while Private Johnson received the gauntlets. General Reynolds retained the field glass but eventually gave it to Colonel Washinton's son, George. Col. Milo Hascal, of the 17th Indiana, took possession of the spurs and powder-flask, and Capt. George L. Rose, of Reynold's staff, kept a letter through which a bullet had passed, Indeed, many of the Union soldiers rejoiced in having killed such a man as Washington... As if the facts were not grim enough, some men exaggerated the truth in their letters home and to hometown newpapers. A member of the 13th Indiana wrote his friends back home declaring that they had thoroughly whipped the Rebels. He said they killed not one, but two prominent Confederates: "... we killed Colonel Washington and General Lee and about 100 men... when the bloody 13th got into them we made them run..." Of course exaggeration was not a trait peculiar to Yankees."

FOOTNOTES to the text transcribed: 
26. John Levering, "Lee's Advance and Retreat in the Cheat Mountain Campaign in 1861...From a paper read before the Commandery of the State of ILLinois, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, December 12, 1889. Published in Military Essays and Recollections, V, 4, Cozzens & Beaton Co.: 1907, pages 11-35 (page 33 cited). 
27. Joseph Warren Keifer, Slavery and Four Years of War, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London; 1900. Additional Washington family history was obtained from an article which appeared in Confederate Veteran Magazine, March 1926, pg. 96. 
28. From the papers of John Halvy, included in the manuscript collections of the Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Ind., letter of September 22, 1861. 
29. Confederate Veteran Magazine, March 1926, pg. 96 and United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, March 1991, pg. 14. 
30. Robert E. Lee, Jr., Recollections and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee, New York: 1904, pgs. 44-46. 
31. Freeman, R. E. Lee Biography, V. I, pg. 576. 

Mt. Vernon Heir Falls, Lee Tells The Child

 Mt. Vernon Heir Falls, Lee Tells The Child  

The link above has information, reserched by Jim Surkamp, on John A Washington; his family, time in the service and death.

References J. J. Weiler who was 23 years old at the time of the death of John A Wasington who was 40 years old.

 

 

Battle of Chickamauga: Colonel John Wilder's Lightning Brigade Prevented Total Disaster

Historically, the Battle of Chickamauga is recorded as a two-day battle starting on September 19, 1863. For the men of Colonel John T. Wilder's mounted infantry brigade, the fabled 'Lightning Brigade,' the battle actually started a day earlier. And, as events would prove, the Lightning Brigade was not only one of the first units from the Army of the Cumberland to be engaged at Chickamauga, but also the last unit to leave the field.

The men in the Lightning Brigade reflected the fighting spirit of their combative commander. John T. Wilder was an imaginative man who took great pride in his work and was determined to build one of the finest fighting units in the Union Army. Originally from New York, Wilder moved to Ohio when he was 19 and took a job as a draftsman and millwright in a mill in Columbus. Later, he moved to Greensburg, Ind., where he established his own foundry. He became an expert in hydraulic engineering, erecting numerous mills in the North and the upper South.

When the Civil War started, Wilder was determined to form his own artillery battery, and he cast two cannons in his foundry. However, his application was turned down–the state of Indiana had already met its quota of artillery batteries. Undaunted, Wilder joined the 17th Indiana Infantry as a captain and was quickly appointed lieutenant colonel.

As an infantry unit, the 17th Indiana constantly skirmished with Confederate cavalry. One day, frustrated because there was not enough Union cavalry to protect the infantry, Wilder ordered his men to mount mules used to pull the regiment's supply wagons. The mules were not used to being ridden and did not take kindly to the foot soldiers' attempts to ride them. As fast as the men mounted the mules, they were thrown off, much to the amusement of the men from other units who had gathered to watch. Wilder, however, was convinced that his men should be mounted, and he requested permission to do so. Three months later, on February 12, 1863, permission was granted.

Wilder's next goal was to provide his soldiers with the best weapons available, and he attended a demonstration of Christopher Spencer's new repeating rifle. The Spencer had a tubular magazine that held seven rimfire cartridges and, it would soon prove to be one of the most deadly weapons in the Civil War. Wilder arranged for a bank loan back in Indiana to finance the purchase of the Spencers, while his men agreed to have money deducted from their pay to help reimburse their commander. In May 1863, Wilder's men received their new rifles, becoming one of the first mounted infantry units in the Army of the Cumberland to be equipped with repeating rifles.

Wilder's brigade at the start of the Chickamauga campaign consisted of the 17th and 72nd Indiana and the 92nd, 98th and 123rd Illinois. The brigade's artillery support was supplied by Captain Eli Lilly's 18th Indiana Battery, which featured six 3-inch Rodman guns.

The Lightning Brigade had been assigned to Maj. Gen. Joseph Reynolds' division of Maj. Gen. George Thomas' XIV Corps. However, the brigade had what amounted to an independent commission to support all three corps in Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans' army during its advance through Middle Tennessee toward the strategic railroad town of Chattanooga, on the Georgia border.

Confederate General Braxton Bragg planned to lure Rosecrans into a false sense of security, hoping to make him think that the Confederate army was demoralized and retreating toward Atlanta. To convince Rosecrans that his army was in bad shape, Bragg had some of his men pose as deserters and report that the Rebel army was demoralized and unable to offer any resistance to the swift Union advance.

Bragg's plan worked like a charm, and by early September Rosecrans' army was spread out over a large area, with the three corps separated by 60 miles of mountainous, heavily wooded terrain. The rough terrain made it hard for the three corps to maintain contact. Each of the three corps commanders was operating in the dark, not knowing where the enemy army was located.

In truth, Bragg had concentrated his army on the east side of Chickamauga Creek, hidden in the dense forest from the eyes of the Union army. While Federals laboriously inched southward, Bragg's army was preparing for battle. Bragg had been heavily reinforced with two divisions from the Army of Mississippi and an entire corps from the Army of Northern Virginia. The original plan was to attack Thomas' corps as it crossed Chickamauga Creek and began its climb up the Pigeon Mountain, and to crush the corps before help could arrive. Other segments of Bragg's army would wait for Maj. Gen. Thomas Crittenden's corps and then attack it. Finally, the full weight of the Confederate army would be brought down on Maj. Gen. Alexander McCook's corps, destroying the Army of the Cumberland corps by corps.

By September 10, Rosecrans had begun to realize that Bragg's army was not in retreat. Units from Thomas' corps began to report the presence of large Rebel units. Major General James Negley's division encountered a strong Rebel force when it crossed the Chickamauga, and Negley was forced to retreat. Thomas reported back to Rosecrans that the enemy was no longer falling back in disarray, as they had been led to believe. Both Thomas and McCook were concerned about being spread so far apart. After consulting with Thomas, McCook started making plans to shift his corps northward and closer to Thomas' corps.

Wilder's brigade was now attached to Crittenden's corps and on September 11 had marched near Ringgold, Ga., where it had skirmished with Colonel J.S. Scott's brigade of Confederate cavalry, driving it toward Tunnel Hill, then skirmished for half an hour with a second Rebel force before driving the enemy back toward Buzzard Roost.

The next day the brigade was ordered back to Ringgold. About four miles from its destination, the brigade encountered pickets from Brig. Gen. John Pegram's division of Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate cavalry. The brigade attacked and drove Pegram's units down the road to LaFayette. Soon Wilder learned that Brig. Gen. Otto F. Strahl's Confederate brigade was deployed across the road to Lee and Gordon's Mill. Wilder's brigade was cut off, virtually surrounded by enemy forces. Luckily for Wilder, the Confederates hesitated to attack his brigade, not knowing the composition of the Union force that had suddenly appeared in their midst.

At dusk, Wilder ordered his men to build fires over a large area to make the enemy believe that a large force was camping for the night. While the 72nd Indiana and the 98th and 123rd Illinois formed a line of battle with Lilly's battery, the 17th Indiana started searching for a way out. Scouts were sent out to round up some local inhabitants who were threatened with death if they failed to lead the Union forces out of the trap.

By 8 p.m., the 17th Indiana had found a way out, and the brigade began to march north past the pickets of Strahl's brigade. The brigade got out of the situation without losing a man. Wilder's brigade reached Crittenden's position about midnight, tired and exhausted from the long and arduous march, yet happy to have escaped certain capture.

With more and more units reporting encounters with Rebel units, Rosecrans decided to unite his three corps, and messages were sent to Thomas and McCook to concentrate their forces on Crittenden's corps. The Army of the Cumberland was still vulnerable to attack–and now Bragg was ready to attack.

On September 15, Bragg announced his final plans at a meeting of his senior officers. He intended to march northward and then west to interpose the army between Chattanooga and the Union forces. This would force Rosecrans to either fight or fall back across the Tennessee River to keep his supply line open.

By September 17, the forces on both sides were moving northward, and it was only a matter of time before they would collide with each other. Rosecrans realized that the vital crossings over Chickamauga Creek needed to be defended, yet he was still not fully convinced that the Rebels had anything more than a few cavalry units in the area. To counter any threat by Confederate cavalry, he ordered Wilder's brigade, along with Colonel Robert Minty's cavalry, to defend Reed's and Alexander's bridges. The two brigades were all that would stand in the way of Bragg's effort to cut off the Union army from Chattanooga.

To complicate matters, Wilder's five regiments were now reduced to four. The 92nd Illinois had been sent to Missionary Ridge outside Chattanooga to guard the courier line for the army. Minty's brigade consisted of the 4th Michigan, 7th Pennsylvania and 4th U.S. Cavalry troops, along with a battalion of the 3rd Indiana. Supporting his brigade was a section from the famous Chicago Board of Trade Artillery Battery. Due to sickness and lack of fresh remounts, both the units were under strength. Minty's brigade numbered less than 1,100 men, while Wilder's brigade numbered about 2,000.

On the morning of September 17, Wilder's brigade headed for Alexander's Bridge, three miles north of Lee and Gordon's Mill, while Minty's brigade was sent to Reed's Bridge. Both commanders saw evidence of strong Confederate forces in the immediate area. Dust clouds could be seen rising from the east side of the creek. Minty reported his concerns to Crittenden, who discounted the reports, believing that it was only scattered Confederate cavalry.

In spite of continued reports of increased Confederate activity in the area, the Union commanders failed to realize the importance of safeguarding the crossings over the Chickamauga, in effect leaving only two undersized brigades to defend the entire left flank of the army against 16,000 Confederates. During the night of September 17, Minty sent several worried dispatches to Crittenden, stating that he could hear train after train arriving at Ringgold and unloading Confederate infantry. Convinced that an attack was imminent, Minty had his men awakened before daylight. They fed their horses and ate their meal as the first rays of daylight came over the mountains. At daylight, the horses were saddled and the artillery harnessed. Camp was struck and the gear loaded and sent to the rear.

At 5 a.m., Minty sent out two reconnaissance parties of 100 men each to try to locate the Rebels. Men of the 4th U.S. Regiment were sent toward Leet's Tan Yard, and 100 men from the 4th Michigan and 7th Pennsylvania, under the command of Captain Hebert Thompson, were dispatched toward Ringgold. By 6 a.m., Thompson reported the enemy moving in force toward his position. Minty moved the 4th U.S., the 4th Michigan and a section of artillery east about a mile and a half to a ridge overlooking Pea Vine Valley. To buy more time, he reinforced his pickets and sent them halfway down the east slope of Pea Vine Ridge. Meanwhile, the Thompson scouting party fought a skirmish with units of Colonel John S. Fulton's infantry brigade, supported by a battery of Georgia artillery. The intense musketfire, coupled with deadly artillery, forced Thompson and his men to fall back and take cover on Pea Vine Ridge.

At 11 a.m., Minty sent the following message to Brig. Gen. Thomas Wood: 'Sir: The enemy has driven in my scouts from toward Ringgold and are following up apparently in force. Cavalry and infantry are reported. I am now skirmishing heavily. I have had one man killed and several wounded. Please report my signal to Generals Rosecrans and Crittenden.'

For the men of Wilder's brigade, the morning of September 18 was clear and beautiful. The men had foraged for breakfast, and by midmorning the smell of eggs, bacon and chicken wafted over the area of Alexander's Bridge. Units of the 72nd Indiana and 123rd Illinois had been posted on the east side of the bridge to act as pickets. For time being all was quiet, until men of the 72nd Indiana who had been foraging on the east side of the creek returned suddenly, reporting Rebel infantry to the northeast. 'Boots and Saddles' was blown by the buglers of each regiment, immediately followed by orders to fall in. The entire brigade took up positions in preparation for battle.

From atop Pea Vine Ridge, Minty could see long lines of Confederate infantry marching toward Dyer's Bridge and ford a mile to his north. Both crossings were unprotected. Minty sent a courier to Wilder asking him to send reinforcements to guard the crossing points. Shortly after 11 a.m., Wilder received Minty's request and promptly dispatched seven companies of the 72nd Indiana, along with the 123rd Illinois and a section of Lilly's battery.

After sending the units northward, Wilder deployed the 17th Indiana to the right of Alexander's Bridge, with the 98th Illinois on the left side. Dense woods in the immediate area around the bridge on the west side of the creek helped shield the two units. The creek at that point was narrow and deep with steep banks. The enemy had no choice but to try to take the bridge or find another place to ford the creek. Four hundred yards southwest of the bridge, the four remaining guns of Lilly's battery were emplaced on a knoll. Wilder had fewer than 1,000 men to oppose 8,000 Confederate infantry, plus part of Forrest's vaunted cavalry, all supported by artillery.

At Reed's Bridge, the 123rd Illinois was deployed to occupy and hold Dyer's Bridge, while the 72nd Indiana was sent to guard the ford farther downstream. As one company of the 72nd moved near the ford, it was ambushed by enemy troops who had already crossed the ford. A sharp skirmish ensued, driving the 72nd back toward Dyer's Bridge. A few minutes later, the 72nd was ordered to withdraw and report back to Minty.

Minty, in the meantime, had regrouped his command east of the bridge and ordered an advance against the lead elements of the enemy corps, driving them over the ridge and back into the Pea Vine Valley. The Confederates now established a crescent-shaped line that extended from the creek above Dyer's Ford across the ridge into Pea Vine Valley. The men in gray numbered nearly 10,000, including 15 regimental stands of colors.

Minty's men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the enemy and unable to hold on to the eastern side of the bridge. The best they could do would be to try to delay the Confederates as long as possible before withdrawing across the bridge. To that end, Minty formed a new line 500 yards east of the bridge with the 4th Michigan, two battalions of the 4th U.S. and the remaining companies of the 7th Pennsylvania. He ordered the artillery and one squadron of the 4th U.S. to set up an ambush near the bridge in a densely wooded patch. The rest of the 4th U.S. was ordered back across the bridge. There they formed on the high ground immediately west of the creek.

As the Confederates swept by the Reed house on the battlefield, the ambush was sprung. The four guns of the Board of Trade Battery opened up on the surprised Rebels, raking them with double-shotted canister. When the Southerners stopped to redeploy, Minty sent the 4th Michigan across the bridge, followed closely by the 7th Pennsylvania. To cover the withdrawal, a squadron of the 4th U.S., led by the Lieutenant Wirt Davis, made a brave saber charge that gave the beleaguered cavalrymen time to get across the bridge. Crossing the bridge behind them, Davis and his men stopped under heavy fire and ripped up the flooring on the bridge, tossing the planks into the creek.

Minty now formed a line on the high ground west of the bridge. For the next two hours his brigade held the entire Rebel force in check. But by 3 p.m. the Confederates had crossed the bridge, and other forces were finding shallow places to cross the creek as well. Seeing that he could no longer hold out against vastly superior numbers being brought to bear on his tired troopers, Minty sent word to the 123rd Indiana to withdraw, adding that he was unable to hold out much longer.

Meanwhile, at Alexander's Bridge, Wilder and his two regiments were engaging another large Confederate force. At 10 a.m., a company of Southern infantry made the first attempt to cross the bridge, but was quickly driven back by the pickets of the 72nd Indiana. After the initial attack, members of the regiment ripped up the planking on the bridge and built a lunette fort on the west side of the bridge astride the road. Thirty-seven men from Company A then took up positions in the lunette, waiting for the next Confederate attack.

Lilly's battery of four rifled guns opened fire with long-range canister and percussion shells. Captain William Fowler's Alabama battery returned fire. One of the Rebel battery's first shells landed near Lilly's No. 2 gun, ricocheting and hitting the corner of the Alexander house and bouncing back among members of the battery. Private Sidney Speed alertly ran over, picked up the live shell and hurled it over the log house, where it exploded harmlessly.

For the next several hours, Wilder's men traded fire with the 30th and 34th Mississippi, who had taken positions in a cornfield on the east side of the creek. The Confederates continued to charge the bridge, only to be driven back by Company A, reasonably secure in their lunette.

For almost five hours, Wilder's brigade held off the Rebel attack. But eventually Confederate units began to find places where they could cross without opposition. With Minty withdrawal from Reed's Bridge, the Southerners gained a secure foothold on the west side of the creek. At 4 p.m., Wilder reported the crossing of the enemy: 'The enemy are crossing [infantry and cavalry] Chickamauga Creek at Alexander's and Byram's Ford below. Colonel Minty has fallen back toward Roseville; has two of my regiments. Colonel Minty reports cannonading toward Cleveland last night. This forenoon a column of dust arose in Napier Gap; three hours in passing. A large camp fire is now seen at Napier's. The column that attacked me came through Napier's Gap; another column came from the direction of Peeler's. Colonel Minty reports infantry flanking him on both flanks.'

Wilder's men were being pressed from all sides. Time was rapidly approaching when they could no longer hold their position and would have to withdraw. Wilder had already received word from Minty that he was being forced to withdraw from Reed's Bridge. With Minty gone, the Confederates began streaming across Chickamauga Creek and heading south towards Alexander's Bridge and Wilder's left flank.

At 5 p.m., Lilly's battery fired its last rounds, limbered up its guns and withdrew. The 17th Indiana covered their withdrawal, and the 98th Illinois slowly fell back, fighting as they withdrew. After these units started withdrawing, the men of Company A realized they would soon be surrounded and captured if they did not try to escape. The men knew that they could not all leave at once, so they decided to let two men at a time slip away. Sergeant Joseph A. Higinbotham, in running 30 yards, was shot five times–in the head, face, right arm, left side and right leg. Remarkably, he recovered from his wounds, but later died at Corinth, Miss, in January 1864. In all, the company lost two wounded, as well as 31 of their 37 horses killed.

Wilder's brigade fell back about three miles before stopping and setting up a new defensive line. There they threw up breastworks of fence rails, rocks and trees. The horses were sent to the rear, and the brigade prepared to meet another onslaught from the Confederate army. The 72nd Indiana and 123rd Illinois rejoined the brigade and were placed in line on the left. Minty's brigade took up positions to the right of Wilder's brigade.

Five Confederate brigades moved down the west bank toward Lee and Gordon's Mill. Marching as fast as they could, they ran right into Wilder's brigade. The Southern skirmish line was halted immediately by the deadly fire of the Lightning Brigade's Spencer rifles.

Captain Joseph Vale of Minty's command found General Crittenden, accompanied by General Wood and Wilder, at the Viniard house. He reported that Minty had been engaged since 7 a.m. Crittenden asked the captain: 'Who is it that is coming? What have you been fighting out there?' Vale responded, 'Buckner's corps, Hood's division of infantry and artillery, and some of Forrest's cavalry.' Crittenden refused to believe the report, saying, 'Wilder has come in with the same outlandish story; there is nothing in this country except Pegram's dismounted and Forrest's mounted cavalry, with a few pieces of artillery.'

Minty himself rode up a few minutes later and reported to Crittenden that the Rebels were now on the west side of the creek and advancing toward his position. Crittenden, still believing that the enemy did not have such a force in front of them, ordered Wood to take a brigade of infantry and drive off the Rebel units. While Wood was organizing his brigade, Wilder and Minty rode back to their units.

Wood moved his brigade up to Wilder's position and, accompanied by Crittenden, rode up to Wilder and demanded to know where the enemy was. Wilder replied, 'Ride forward, General, ten paces, and you will see for yourself.' Wood ordered his brigade to form a line of battle in front of Wilder's men. Crittenden added a further dig at Wilder, smirking, 'Colonel, we expect to hear a good report for you.'

Wood's infantry advanced into the woods and suddenly met a tremendous volume of musketry from both front and flank. The infantry broke and ran, bowling over Wilder's and Minty's men in panic. Wilder turned to Minty and remarked loudly, 'Well, Colonel Minty, the general has got his report.' Wilder and Minty then rushed forward to counter the enemy attack. Meanwhile, Wood galloped off toward Lee and Gordon's Mill, but not before exclaiming, 'By Gad, they are here!'

The Confederates advanced toward the rail barricades behind which Wilder's and Minty's men waited. When the Rebels got within 30 yards, Wilder ordered his men to open fire. Both brigades sent a hail of bullets from their Spencers into the enemy. The Confederates were cut down in droves. The graybacks wavered and fell back, leaving many casualties on the field.

The survivors of the first attack re-formed in the tree line and emerged again with fresh units, advancing toward the men of the Lightning Brigade. As soon as they were close enough, the brigade again opened fire, supported by Lilly's battery, and whole sections of the Confederate line ceased to exist. Again the Rebels were forced to withdraw to the safety of the woods. The Confederates gave up and broke off the attack around 10 p.m.

For the men of Wilder's and Minty's brigades, the fighting finally came to an end. The night of September 18 was cold and miserable, made even worse by the lack of blankets and food for the men because their horses had been moved to the rear, along with their bedrolls and equipment. No fires were allowed, so the exhausted men just lay down in their positions and went to sleep.

All night long, as Wilder's men tried to catch some sleep, the sounds of thousands of marching infantry and hundreds of caissons and wagons filled the night air. The entire Union army was on the march. Rosecrans had ordered a realignment of his three corps, and Thomas was ordered to march his XIV Corps north beyond Crittenden and extend the line northward in order to neutralize Bragg's flanking maneuver.

At 4 a.m., Wilder and Minty were relieved and moved their brigades to the west out of the Viniard house. For the first time in 24 hours the men and horses were fed–sweet potatoes for the men and two ears of corn for each horse. Wilder and his officers met to discuss the actions of the previous day and to prepare plans for the upcoming battle. The day before they had been the left flank of the Union army. Now they found themselves protecting the right flank, as the Union forces had shifted position during the night.

The bravery of the men of Wilder's Lightning Brigade and Minty's cavalry had prevented total disaster from befalling the Army of the Cumberland. Without the valiant Union stand on the banks of Chickamauga Creek, the Confederate army would have swept down the Union flank, and the Battle of Chickamauga would have been lost on the very first day. Once again, the Spencer rifles had proved their worth.

This article was written by Hubert Jordan and originally appeared in the July 1997 issue of America's Civil War magazine.

Originally published by America's Civil War magazine. Published Online: June 12, 2006

Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: SEVENTEENTH REGIMENT- THREE YEARS' SERVICE

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SEVENTEENTH REGIMENT- THREE YEARS' SERVICE.
Colonel John T. Wilder,
Seventeenth Indiana Mounted Infantry.

Commander of Wilder's Brigade.
Brevet Brigadier-General August 7, 1864.

The Seventeenth Regiment was organized at Camp Morton, Indianapolis, during May, 1861, and was mustered into the United States service on the 12th of June, 1861, for three years. When the regiment was first organized there were ten full companies, but in October, 1861, Company A was taken out and organized into an artillery company and was known as Wilder's Battery, named after Colonel J. T. Wilder, who afterwards was commander of the famous Wilder's Lightning Brigade of mounted infantry, thus leaving only nine companies, until August, 1862. A new Company A was recruited and added, making a full quota of companies of the regiment again. The regiment had a full complement of officers and men, mostly young men under twenty-one years of age. The companies making up the regiment were from different parts of the State, and not only represented every county in the State and twenty States of the Union, but had representatives from nearly every nation of Europe. On the 1st of July it left Indianapolis for Parkersburg, Virginia, which place it reached on the 5th, after stopping three days at Cincinnati. Remaining in this vicinity until the 23rd, it took the cars and moved to Oakland, Maryland. Marching sixteen miles to the north branch of the Potomac, it was engaged until the 7th of August in constructing the fortifications known as Camp Pendleton. Proceeding by railroad from Oakland to Webster, and thence on foot up Tygart's Valley to Huttonsville, the regiment reached Cheat Mountain Pass on the 12th, and afterward went into camp at Elkwater. While in this vicinity the Seventeenth participated in the operations of General Reynolds's army, including the battle of Green Brier, on the 3d of October, in which its loss was one killed. On the 19th of November it proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where it reported to General Buell on the 30th, and there lay in camp on Oakland Race Course until the 10th of December. Being assigned to General Nelson's Division, tlie regiment marched to Camp Wickliffe, near New Haven, where it remained until February 10, 1862, when it moved toward Green River. Crossing Green River, it marched southward, arriving at Nashville on the 12th of March, and there remained until the march to the Tennessee River was begun. Colonel Hascall being appointed Brigadier-General on the 25th of March, he was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel John T. Wilder. Leaving Nashville on the 29th of March, the regiment reached the field of Shiloh on the 8th of April. It then participated in the march to and siege of Corinth, and after its evacuation moved with Buell's army through northern Alabama to McMinnvllle, Tennessee, where, on the 30th of August, it overtook Forrest and attacked and routed him. On the 3d of September the Seventeenth left McMinnville and marched via Murfreesboro, Nashville, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and West Point, to Louisville, Kentucky, arriving there on the 25th of September, after marching 270 miles and having a skirmish with Bragg's rear guard on the 21st, near Munfordsville. Leaving Louisville on the 1st of October, it moved to Bardstown, where it remained in camp until the 18th, and then marched to Nashville by the way of Lebanon, Columbia, Glasgow and Gallatin, reaching there on the 20th of November. Between this and the 1st of February, 1863, the regiment was engaged in numerous expeditions in different directions from Nashville, and then moved its camp to Murfreesboro. On the 12th of February orders were received for the regiment to mount itself, and the following month was occupied in foraging and pressing horses, until the regiment was fully mounted, after which it was kept constantly moving on scouting expeditions. On the 18th of May the men were armed with Spencer rifles, with which effective weapons each man became the equal of seven men. After being mounted and until the close of the war the regiment was a part of the famous Wilder's Lightning Brigade, which included the Seventeenth and Seventy-second Indiana, Ninety-second, Ninety-eighth and One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois Infantry and the Eighteenth Indiana (Captain Eli Lilly's) Battery. On the 24th of June it moved to Hoover's Gap, where the enemy was strongly posted. The rebel force of five regiments of infantry, three companies of sharpshooters and a battery, made several charges upon the Seventeenth, which were repulsed gallantly. The regiment held the rebels at bay until out of ammunition, when reinforcements from the other regiments of the brigade coming up, the enemy were driven from the field. The Seventeenth captured seventy-five prisoners and one hundred and twenty-five stand of arms, and sustained a loss of forty-eight killed and wounded. After this engagement it marched to Manchester, driving the enemy and capturing many prisoners. It then marched on a raid to Cowan, after which it scouted the country in various directions, and on the 21st of August skirmished with the enemy across the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. After the evacuation of that place, the Seventeenth moved towards the North Chickamauga and Dalton, frequently skirmishing with the .enemy. On the 11th of September it marched to near Ringgold, where it met Scott's Brigade of rebel cavalry and two pieces of artillery, when a sharp fight ensued, resulting in the driving of the enemy to Tunnel Hill with severe loss. The regiment lost one and two wounded. Between this and the 18th frequent skirmishes occurred with the enemy, and on that day the division to which the Seventeenth was attached was attacked in force and compelled to fall back. The next day the regiment fought nearly all day in the battle of Chickamauga, breaking the enemy's lines every time he charged. On the 20th it repulsed a severe charge of the enemy, and then charged in return, driving the rebels and killing, wounding and capturing a great number. The regiment fought till 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when it was ordered back toward Chattanooga. On the 1st of October it started, as part of General Crook's command, in pursuit of General Wheeler, then in the Sequatchie Valley. On the night of the 3d the regiment attacked Crew's rebel brigade at Thompson's Cove and routed them, capturing a number of arms and the battle flag of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, presented to them by the ladies of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; the regiment lost but one wounded. The next day it marched to McMinnville, where it skirmished with the enemy and drove him out of and beyond the town, losing two killed and four wounded. On the 7th of October, when beyond Shelbyville, the regiment struck the enemy and attacked him, driving him from the field and into , Farmington, where he made a stand. Here the Seventeenth charged the rebels, capturing three of Wheeler's guns, a great number of small arms and three hundred prisoners. The regiment lost forty-eight killed and wounded, including three commissioned officers. Crossing the Tennessee River at Lamb's Perry on the 9th, further pursuit was abandoned and the regiment moved to Huntsville, Alabama, from whence it started, on the 13th, in pursuit of the enemy under Forrest, Roddy, Wharton and others. On the 27th it went into winter quarters at Maysville, from whence, on the 18th of November, in pursuance of the orders of General Thomas, two hundred and fifty of the best mounted men marched to near Chattanooga and crossed the Tennessee on Sherman's pontoon on the night of the 23d. Moving in the direction of Cleveland, they went round by Tyner's Station, whilst the battle was raging at Mission Ridge, to within seven miles of Ringgold and destroyed rebel wagon trains and stores. They returned to Cleveland oh the 26th after destroying, altogether, seventy-seven wagons. Being attacked the next day by Kelly's Brigade, they were forced to destroy the foundry at Cleveland and fall back to near Chattanooga, losing one man killed. On the 30th they marched toward Knoxville, running through the rebel lines to get into the town. Leaving there on the 5th of December, they crossed the Chilhowee Mountain into North Carolina, and then into Tennessee, camping at Charleston on the 14th of December. The majority of the regiment, then dismounted and in camp at Pulaski, having re-enlisted on the 14th of January, 1864, left the next day for Nashville, where they were joined on the 18th by the part of the regiment at Charleston. Two hundred and eighty-six having been re-mustered as veterans, the regiment left Nashville on the 22d of January for Indianapolis on veteran furlough. Arriving there on the 25th, it was publicly received in the Capitol grounds and was addressed by Governor Morton, Colonel Wilder and others. While in Indiana the veterans were allowed to purchase horses, and being remounted, left Indianapolis by rail on the 2nd of April, and on arriving at Louisville, went into camp until the 18th, when it proceeded to march to Nashville, reaching there on the 25th, after riding one hundred and eighty-six miles. Leaving there next day, the regiment reached Sherman's army, then on the march to Atlanta, on the 10th of May. Prom this time until the 31st of October it was actively and constantly engaged In the cavalry and scouting operations incident to the march upon and capture of Atlanta, and the pursuit of Hood's retreating army northward. It participated in the numerous skirmishes, the raids to cut the enemy's communications, and was conspicuously engaged at Pumpkin Vine Church, Big Shanty, Belle Plain Road, Kenesaw Mountain, Marietta, Chattahoochie River (being the first troops to cross this stream). Stone Mountain, Plat Rock, New Hope Church, Rome, Coosaville, Leesburg and Goshen. On the first of November, 1864, after turning over its horses to Kilpatrick's Cavalry, the regiment left Rome, Georgia, for Louisville, Kentucky, where, on the 24th, it was remounted. Moving from Louisville on the 28th of December, it reached Nashville on the 8th of January, 1865, from whence it marched to Gravelly Springs, Alabama, arriving there on the 25th. Here it remained until the 12th of March, when it marched with General Wilson's cavalry command into the interior of Alabama. On the 1st of April the Commands of Roddy and Forrest were overtaken and attacked at Ebenezer Church, on Bogue's Creek, twenty-nine miles from Selma. The Seventeenth participated and charged the rebels gallantly, capturing one hundred prisoners and one gun and losing eight killed, eleven wounded and five missing. On the 2d it participated in the engagement at Selma and in the taking of the rebel works surrounding the town. The Seventeenth first drove the rebels into their forts and then out of them, and afterward drove them from their Interior works and their position behind the railroad embankment into the town, taking all forts from No. 18 to the river on the west side of the town. Four pieces of artillery and about three hundred prisoners were captured. Out of four hundred and twenty-one oflficers and men engaged the Seventeenth lost twelve killed and eighty wounded. After the battle the regiment moved to Montgomery, and from thence to Columbus, Georgia, from which point it marched to Macon, near which place it engaged the enemy on the 20th of April and drove him into the city, saving two important bridges which the rebels were in the act of firing. By a ruse the enemy were led to believe that our force was but the advance of two divisions of cavalry, and the city was surrendered, and with it Generals Howell Cobb, Mackall, Mercer and Gustavus W. Smith, three thousand prisoners, including officers of all grades, five stands of colors, sixty pieces of artillery and three thousand small arms. The Seventeenth had in the action during the day four hundred and fifty-one officers and men, of whom one was killed and two wounded. Camping near the city for a month, it moved on to Macon on the 22d of May, where it did post duty until the 8th of August, 1865, when it was mustered out of service, serving a period (as an organization) of four years three months and eight days. Leaving Macon soon after, the regiment arrived at Indianapolis on the 16th of August with six hundred and seventy-five men and twenty-five officers, and was the day following publicly received in the Capitol grounds and addressed by Lieutenant-Governor Conrad Baker, General Vail, General White, General Wilder and others. In a few days afterwards it was finally discharged from service. During its term of service the Seventeenth Regiment marched over four thousand miles, and captured over five thousand prisoners, more than six thousand stand of arms, seventy pieces of artillery, eleven stands of colors and more than three thousand horses and mules. All this, was done with the loss of three officers and sixty-six men killed and thirteen officers and one hundred and seventy-six men wounded - a total of killed and wounded of two hundred and fifty-eight.

We boast of having accomplished more with the least loss of life than
any other regiment in the service.

PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS.

The Seventeenth Indiana has the distinction of one of its members having, while on a scouting expedition in West Virginia, shot and killed a distant relative of the father of our country, Colonel John A. Washington, who was at the time chief of General R. E. Lee's staff, by Sergeant J. J. Weiler of Company E. Also one of its number, Captain James A. Taylor, of Company G, being killed in a hand-to-hand conflict with Rebel General Forrest, at Ebenezer Church, Selma, Alabama.

REVEILLE CALL.

I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up a tall,
I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up a tall.

The privates and the corporals.
The sergeants, one and all;
The lieutenants they are lazy.
But the captain the worst of all.

Oh! I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up in the morning;
Oh! I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up,
I can't get 'em up at a-1-1.

Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: a history from its organization to the end of the war. By Benefiel, W. H. H; September 14, 1913

Seventeenth Indiana Regiment Reunion - Wilder's Brigade 1887

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Seventeenth Indiana Regiment Reunion - Wilder's Brigade
7 Sep 1887
Greenecastle, Indiana

John T Wilder purchased 500 solid silver medals, in New York, with the brigade badge for each old member to the brigade. To be presented at the reunion.

From Souvenir of the 17th Indiana Regiment:

ORGANIZATION OP THE REGIMENTAL ASSOCIATION AND ITS REUNION SINCE THE CLOSE OF THE WAR.

For several years after the close of the war the comrades of the Seventeenth Regiment paid but little attention to the whereabouts of each other.

They were too busy in their efforts to provide homes for themselves and families, and in cementing the broken chords incident to their soldier lives; but as they advanced in age they gradually became possessed of a desire to see each other again, and in fraternal manner talk over the interesting incidents of their soldier lives.

While attending a reunion of the Wilder Brigade at Charleston, Illinois, August 22 and 23, 1888, the comrades of the Seventeenth Indiana who were in attendance held a meeting in the G. A. R. Hall at that place and effected a regimental organization, and elected as President Sergeant W. H. Fisher of Company D and Sergeant W. H. H. Benefiel of Company G secretary and treasurer. It was decided that a call be made for a reunion of the survivors of the regiment, the meeting to be held in the city of Anderson, Indiana, on October 17, 1888. In response to the call about sixty-five comrades of the regiment were present and registered at this, the first annual reunion of the regimental association. The citizens of Anderson gave our comrades of the grand old Seventeenth (as they called us) a grand reception, furnishing them with meals and lodging free of cost. On the evening of the 17th a grand good campfire was held in the beautiful Doxey Opera House, where a splendid program was prepared for the occasion. Speeches were made by the Mayor and by Captain Patten, Generals J. T. Wilder, Hascall and Major-General Nathan Kimball, who wsts the first colonel of the Fourteenth Indiana, and who was our guest on this occasion. The grand old General had come all the way from Ogden, Utah, to attend this reunion (as he said) of the twin brother of his old Fourteenth Indiana Regiment.

Since that time the regimental reunions have been held at various times and places throughout the State; at times in connection with the Wilder's Brigade reunions, but without any systematic organization. The last, which was the twenty-first annual reunion of the regimental association, was held in the city of Anderson again, on the 16th and 17th of September, 1912, the officers at this time being: President, Lieutenant P. M. VanPelt of Company G, and Sergeant W. H. H. Benefiel of Company G, secretary and treasurer. 

Capture and Return of the Terry's Texas Rangers Flag

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A Terry Texas Ranger; 1861-1865; The Life Record of H. W. Graber; Sixty-two Years in Texas

page 202-203 & 401-409

page 202

It is hardly necessary to say that that finding the enemy’s Calvary in out rear for a great many miles, resulting on a general stampede, everybody trying to escape out of it.  In recording this engagement I regret to have to mention the loss of our beautiful flag which, encased in a rubber cover, slipped off its staff and was found by Major Weiler, commanding a battalion of the Seventeenth Mounted Indiana Infantry, and after many years, returned to us at Dallas, Texas, by Governor Mount and staff, instructed to do so by joint resolution of the Indiana Legislature, in response to a memorial, drawn up and sent by me.

page 401-423 (401-409 below)

CHAPTER XXXVII

The Terry Rangers' Flag.

One most remarkable incident I must not fail to add: As stated heretofore, the Terry Rangers of which I was a member, lost a beautiful flag sent us by a couple of young ladies of Nashville, made of their dresses, which after the first engagement wherein it was displayed, near Rome, Georgia, we lost in a stampede and it was found by a scout of the enemy the next day. This flag had worked in beautiful silk letters, the name of Terry's Texas Rangers, beside some Latin, which I do not remember.  After the war, on a number of public occasions, such as the several National Expositions in Chicago and Philadelphia, the Grand Army, who had charge of such matters, exhibited this flag, with a tag in bold letters, "Captured from Terry's Texas Rangers in an engagement near Rome, Georgia, by the Seventeenth Indiana Mounted Infantry."

Such a public exhibition of our misfortune was galling to the members of the regiment and when Governor Hendricks, the first Democratic Governor of Indiana, was installed, we made a request through our Governor Hubbard for the return of the flag. Governor Hendricks very properly referred the request to the State Librarian of Indiana, who happened to be a vindictive, howling Republican and in answer wrote Governor Hubbard a very insulting letter, refusing to return the flag. The matter then was dropped.

About thirty-four years after the close of the war, a business friend, Mr. William Burr of Dallas, who was an ex-Federal soldier, came to my office one day, and asked me if I ever drank any cider ? I told him I did when I could get good cider. He told me he had a friend in an old shack near the Windsor Hotel, who was making cider, and invited me to go around and have a glass of cider with him. To this I consented. He there introduced me to a Major Weiler, and in conversation with him, I found that he belonged to Wilder 's Brigade, who were with Sherman's army in Georgia. While we were sipping cider Burr remarked, "Well, this is pretty good; two Yanks and one Johnny sipping cider together."

Major Weiler then asked what command I belonged to ? I told him I belonged to the Eighth Texas Cavalry, He said, "Terry's Texas Rangers?" I told him, "Yes," when he said, "I am mighty glad to meet you ; I have been trying to find somebody belonging to your command ever since I've been in Dallas. I am the man that found your flag.' ' Of course, I was much gratified at meeting him and told him about our efforts to have the flag returned and the result at the hands of the State Librarian. "Now, Major, this flag is yours; you found it and as you state you want to return it, you make a demand on Governor Mount of Indiana, claiming the flag as yours and return it to our regiment.' ' He said that it had been the ambition of his life to do this and in accordance therewith indited a letter to Governor Mount, requesting the return of the flag to him, for the purpose, he stated, to return it to the Rangers.

He furthermore stated that he was well acquainted with Governor Mount, as the Governor was a private in his command, of which he was a major. Verily, strange are the vicissitudes of life ! Governor Mount's major was now making cider at five cents a glass.

In due time Major Weiler received an answer to his request from the Governor's Private Secretary, stating that the Governor had no authority to return the flag, which could only be done through a joint resolution of the Legislature of Indiana. We then both concluded that we might as well give it up ; we hardly thought that a unanimous vote could be had on such a proposition by a lot of politicians.

I then requested the major to furnish me a written statement, setting forth the circumstances under which he came into possession of the flag and especially that the flag was not captured in battle, but was picked up in the road the next day after our engagement, encased in a rubber pocket, and he did not examine it until he returned from a scout and rejoined his main command, being much surprised that the package found contained the Terry Texas Rangers' flag, which was forwarded to the State authorities at Indianapolis, Indiana.

In about a month the Terry Rangers had their annual reunion at Austin, Texas, where I had read the statement of Major Weiler, which, of course, was a matter of surprise and deep interest. A resolution by a comrade was offered to appoint a committee, with myself as chairman, to memorialize the Indiana Legislature, requesting the return of the flag, I being the only member of the committee present, the balance not being in attendance at the reunion. On my return home I wrote to each member of the committee, requesting them to draw up a memorial and forward to me, to which I received no response. I then drew up the memorial myself and attached a letter I received from a Colonel Wylie in Dallas, who was a gallant soldier and commanded an Iowa regiment during the war.

I next forwarded this memorial to the Richmond City Mill Works of Richmond, Indiana, a concern I was doing business with, requesting that they turn it over to their Representative in the Legislature, which they promptly did and in due time I received a letter from Senator Binkley, stating that he would take pleasure in introducing it and that I would hear from him in due time.

To my great surprise, in about thirty days I received a printed copy of a joint resolution of the Legislature of the State of Indiana, carried unanimously, instructing Governor Mount to return the flag to the Terry's Texas Rangers in person and appropriating two hundred and fifty dollars to pay the expense of his trip to Texas. The complete resolution follows:

House Concurrent Resolution No. 6, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9

Preamble and Concurrent Resolution in relation to the return to the association of the survivors of Terry's Texas Rangers of their battle flag, captured from them during the late war of rebellion by the 17th Regiment of Indiana Infantry (mounted) Volunteers, appointing a commission to discharge said duty, and ordering an appropriation to pay the expenses thereof.

Whereas, On October 13, 1864, during the War of the Rebellion, the flag of the Texas Rangers at a battle near Coosaville, Alabama, was captured by the 17th Regiment of Indiana Infantry (mounted) Volunteers, in command of Major J. J. Weiler, and then belonging to General J. T. Wilder 's Brigade, which brigade at the time was in command of General A. 0. Miller, and subsequently, by the proper authorities, was deposited in the archives of the State of Indiana, and now reposes in the custody of the State Geologist, and to which is attached the following inscription:

"Battle flag of the Texas Rangers, captured from the 8th Texas Cavalry near Galesville, Alabama bama, October 13, 1864, by two companies of the 17th Indiana Infantry, commanded by Major J. J. Weiler, of Company E, Wilder 's Brigade." 

And, Whereas, H. W. Graber, George W. Littlefield, S. P. Christian, W. D. Cleveland and R. Y. King, all of the State of Texas, as a committee duly appointed by and representing the Association of Survivors of Terry's Texas Rangers, by their petition hereunto attached, have asked the Legislature of the State of Indiana to kindly return to that association

said battle flag, that it may be kept and treasured by them, and in said memorial the said Major J. J. Weiler, now a Past Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic for the district of Texas, has united, and which memorial is as follows:

"To the Honorable President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Legislature of the State of Indiana:

"The undersigned, your memorialists, most respectfully show that they were selected by the Association of Survivors of Terry's Texas Rangers, a committee to memorialize your honorable bodies for the return to said association of the colors of that command, lost during the Civil War near Coosaville, Alabama.

"Your memorialists would show that in a cavalry engagement on the 13th day of October, 1864, the flag of the Texas Rangers was lost near the field and found by one of your memorialists, Mr. J. J. Weiler, then the Major of the 17th Indiana Infantry, and was subsequently deposited in the archives of your State.

"In view of the fact that the American people have forever put behind them the animosities and heartburnings which were incident to our unfortunate Civil War, and are one united, patriotic people, marching shoulder to shoulder under the folds of the Star Spangled Banner, and keeping the step to 'Hail Columbia' in the onward sweep to that high destiny, which, through the providence of God, awaits our grand Republic.

"Your memorialists would most respectfully request that such action be taken by your honorable bodies as will result in the return of the flag to the Association of the Survivors of Terry's Rangers.

"As beautifully and appropriately expressed by Col. W. D. Wylie, in his letter hereto attached, 'We now drink out of the same canteen, sheltered and protected by one common flag,' a sentiment so universal that it is without hesitation we appeal to our countrymen, the brave and gallant and patriotic citizens of Indiana, in even a matter of sentiment so delicate as that involved in our request. And as gracious as the favor will be accounted by the association, we are sure that the still greater pleasure will be with the people of Indiana in bestowing it.

"Most respectfully submitted,

"H. H. GRABER, "W. D. CLEVELAND, "G. W. LITTLEFIELD, "R. Y. KING, "S. P. CHRISTIAN, "J. J. WEILER,

And, Whereas, There is attached to said memorial a letter from W. D. Wylie, also a Past Commander, G. A. R., of the Department of Texas, as follows:

"Dallas, Texas, September 30, 1898.

"Col. H. W. Graber, Quartermaster-General Trans-

Mississippi Department, U. C. V.:

"My Dear Sir: Referring to the conversation we had in reference to the colors of your old command, which had been lost during the late Civil War, on October 13, 1864, in a battle near Coosaville, Ala., by my comrade and our mutual friend, Maj. J. J. Weiler, of the 17th Indiana, who had, under instructions, turned the flag over to the State of Indiana, where it now reposes in the State library at Indianapolis, and which you are now endeavoring to have returned to the remnant of your old command as an old soldier, Colonel, I can readily understand the beautiful sentiment which is so characteristic of the American soldier in the desire of yourself and comrades to secure the colors under which you passed through so many dangers, which are now passed and gone, leaving only the memories of a struggle which has resulted, with all its sufferings and animosities, in bringing us closer together, and we now drink out of the same canteen, sheltered and protected by one common flag, and in this connection, at your request, it is with pleasure I give the episode relating to the return of the flag of the 57th Indiana Infantry by Texas, in 1885. While commanding the Department of Texas, Grand Army of the Republic, in 1885, Parsons' Confederate Brigade held their annual reunion at Cleburne, Texas. Myself and others who wore the blue were the honored guests of the brigade. During the proceedings, Major Heath and Capt. W. G. Veal called my attention to the fact that a brave soldier (a corporal) of the 13th Tennessee, now a resident and citizen of Texas, had in his possession and on the grounds the regimental flag and colors of the 57th Indiana, which he had captured at the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., in December, 1864, and had taken careful care of for twenty years, hoping that he would find some representative of that regiment to whom he could return this priceless and precious relic. I received the valued colors from the brave soldier and immediately conferred with Department Commander of the State of Indiana, and was informed that the 57th would hold their annual reunion during the month of September of the current year, and they earnestly requested that Texas be present in person at that time for the return of their long-lost colors. We arranged that Capt. W. G. Veal and Maj. E. M. Heath, of the Confederate Veterans, and Corporal W. M. Crooks, the brave soldier who had captured the colors, should accompany myself and staff to the reunion at Kokomo, taking with us the flag.

there is additional information on the legality of the return, page 410-423.

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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

page 395 - Texas Terry Flag

Names of officers and men mentioned for bravery and efficiency: Sergt. John W. Deen, Major J. J.  Weiler Captured flags - Seventeenth Indiana

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Fort Wayne News

21 Jun 1898

CONFEDERATE FLAGS -- THOSE AT INDIANAPOLIS

Preserved at the State Museum - Story of the Capture of the Most Notable Ones

The discussion as to the disposal of the confederate flags taken in battle has caused a great deal of interest to be displayed on those now preserved at the state capitol.

They are preserved in the state museum in the state capitol, on the south side; opposite the case in which the union flags are kept.  Ten of them bear labels telling of the date and place of capture.  The remainder have no mark, all that is known being that they were captured in battle by Indiana soldiers.  Efforts have been made to ascertain the history of all the flags, but so far these have been fruitless.

Prominent among the flags is the one dictates that the banner was made at home by the hand of a sympathizing southern woman.  This flag was taken near Galesville, Ala., Oct. 13, 1864, by two companies of the Seventeenth Indiana Infantry, led by Major J.J. Weiler, of company E.  This regiment was part of Wilder’s brigade.  The flag of the Texas Rangers is the most noticeable of the confederate banners.  An ex-confederate soldier, who stood for a long time in front of the captured flags, a day or so ago, said the flag of the Rangers was a rare specimen of the banners of the confederacy

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The Confederate Veteran - Jul 1897

FLAG OF TERRY'S TEXAS RANGERS 

Unknown 

An event well worthy of elaborate mention is that of the return of the battle flag of Terry's Texas Rangers, Eighth Texas Cavalry. Comrades H. W. Graber, George B. Littlefield, S. B. Christian, W. D. Cleveland, and R. Y. King, a committee from the Rangers, and J. J. Weiler, now of Texas, petitioned for its return, setting forth that it was lost by their command during an engagement near Coosaville, Ala., October I3, 1864, and found by J. J. Weiler, of the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment, and turned over to the State of Indiana. Gov. James A. Mount, of Indiana, attended by a committee of Union veterans, went to Dallas, where he was met by Gov. Sayers and Confederate associations of Texas. The ceremonies attending the return of this flag were interesting and in every way creditable. 

The return of this flag was all the more cordial because of the return, a few years ago, of the flag of the Fifty-Seventh Indiana Regiment, captured by Corporal W. M. Crooks, of Texas, in the glare of carnage at Franklin, November 30, 1864. Comrade Crooks was greatly honored by the men of that regiment at its formal return, an account of which appeared in the VETERAN for July, 1897. 

It is a coincidence that at this sitting a letter comes from a prominent member of the Woman's Relief Corps of Indiana, who writes of having spoken to a friend, prominent in that State, about the use of the word "rebel" in describing the flags in their State capitol. He replied to her that it was done many years ago, that it ought not to be so, and that he would see to having it changed. All these things show the virtue of persistence in righting things that will be of increasing importance as the decades pass. 

In his address Gov. Mount said: "We come to-day to return to its original owners a flag which was once borne bravely in bloody conflict. We come bearing the flowers of love and of peace, returning this flag that it may be a testimony and a symbol of a reunited people, reunited in fact, reunited in heart, in sympathy, and in brotherly love." 

To Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson he paid a splendid tribute, feeling and tender and manly. 

Gov. Mount read a poem by Frank L. Stanton. of Atlanta: 

But now I'm in the Union. I see there, overhead, 

The flag our fathers fought for; her rippling rills of red 

All glorious and victorious; the splendor of her stars--- 

And I say: "The blood of heroes dyed all her crimson bars." 

I'm for that flag forever, 'gainst foes on sea and shore. 

Who shames her? Who defames her? Give me my gun once more. 

We'll answer where they need us-when the war fires light the night; 

There's a Lee still left to lead us to the glory of the fight. 

We're one in heart forever---we're one in heart and hand; 

The flag's a challenge to the sea, a garland on the land; 

We're united-one great country; freedom's the watchword still; 

There's a Lee that's left to lead us---let the storm break where it will. 

"Rejoicing in this union that will henceforth be defended by the brave Texans as valiantly as by Indianians, clothed with authority from the Legislature, which is expressive of the voice of the people, it becomes my pleasant duty to return to your excellency this battle flag, so gallantly carried in war by Terry's Texas Rangers, braver men than whom never drew sword in battle. Take this flag, and may it henceforth be an emblem of unity and good will between the great States of Indiana and Texas and a seal ot their fidelity to the national Union." 

After music, Gen. Cabell introduced Gov. Sayers, who said: 

"Cold indeed would be the heart that could not be warmed by such a scene as this. A short time ago the President announced that the time had come when it was the duty of the nation to care for the graves of the dead heroes of the South as well as for those of the North. From Maine to California and from far-away Washington to the remote borders of Southwest Texas-all over this country there went up a shout of approval from the people as with one voice. From the mountain top end 'from the valleys came words of commendation and indorsement. 

"You, my ex-Confederate comrades, have listened to the words of eulogy by Gov. Mount of your gallantry and devotion, and on this point let me bear testimony. For fourteen years I represented this people, in part, in Congress, and while during that time in the debates and speeches many bitter and acrimonious things have been said, I never, during all those years. however fierce passion might burn, heard fall from the lips of a Northern soldier one word, one syllable in disparagement to the Southern soldier. 

"I will tell you what is going, to happen. This is but the forerunner of other scenes like this. The day is not far distant when all over this country the survivors of the war will meet and celebrate their victories together. The war cost us much. Everything worth having costs labor, anxiety, and oftentimes blood and death. The government, North, East, and West, strong in resources, met the chivalry of the South. Four years of weary, bloody strife ensued, the most gigantic contest of the ages, and finally Appomattox came and Lee surrendered, the great, heroic, magnanimous Grant refusing to take his sword. And then Gen. Grant issued his order that rations be distributed among Lee's starving followers, and that the men take their horses home with them for use on the farms. In what land, under what sky, after four years of death and desolation, could you witness such a scene as this, save in our country? Judge Reagan, the last living member of President Davis's Cabinet, sits on this stage to-day. Ex-Confederates have sat in the House and in the Senate of the Congress, have been members of the council chamber of the President and ambassadors to represent the republic at the courts of foreign nations. In no country, with no people under the sun, could such a thing as this have taken place, save in our country. 

"I only arose to be the organ for the transmission of this flag to these brave men, but my feelings would not permit silence. 

"Gov. Mount and staff, when you go home you will take with you the best wishes, the earnest prayers, and the heartiest good will of all this people." 

The band played the "Star-Spangled Banner," the entire audience standing and cheering the glorious old anthem. Gen. H. W. Graber then introduced Hon. James F. Miller, of Gonzales, President of the Terry Rangers' Association, who, on the part of the Rangers, received the flag. 

I would add, in regard to this last flag of my regiment that it was presented to us by Miss Flora McIver and her sister, and was made out of a silk dress of ante - bellum days. John McIver brought the flag to us when we were returning from the last great raid made by Gen. Joseph Wheeler in Tennessee in the fall of 1864. The Rangers saw this flag for the first time when preparing to re-cross the Tennessee River near Florence, Ala. We were charmed with its beauty, and vowed to defend it, remembering the noble ladies who gave it. 

We only had the flag about a month, when it was lost in passing through the woods on the day of the engagement with Gen. Wilder's Cavalry, October 12, 1864. When lost the flag was wrapped in an oilcloth case, which slipped off the flagstaff unknown to our standard bearer, Commandant Jones. 

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John J Weiler & the Terry's Texas Rangers Flag

13 Oct 1864 , Coosaville, Alabama

Capture and Return of the Terry's Texas Rangers Flag  

May 29, 1913 Major John J Weiler was living in Tropico, California.  He wrote memoirs of his time in the service that were published in “Souvenir, the Seventeenth Indiana Regiment: a history from its organization to the end of the war, giving description of battles” In this publication it addresses the capture of the Terry’s Texas Ranger Flag “On the 13th of October, 1864, after the charge on the rebel strongly posted on Noses Creek, I was ordered by Colonel A.O. Miller, commanding the brigade, to take the leading two companies, H & I, of the Seventeenth and follow a bunch of rebels that were seen to go in the woods. On reaching the road they were on we captured the flag of the Eighth Texas, Terry’s Texas Rangers.”

==============

Several communications were read bearing on a flag. of the Terry Rangers which is held by the state of Indiana as a trophy of war, and which, it is claimed, was captured , but the correspondence showed it was found after a battle, and not captured at all. A committee was appointed to act in conjunction with Maj. Weiler, of the Seventeenth Indiana Volunteers, to memorialize the Indiana Legislature to have this flag returned to the Rangers. The following were appointed on the committee: Henry W. Graber, George W. Littlefield, S. P. Christian, R. Y. King, and W. D. Cleveland.

http://www.terrystexasrangers.org/new sclippings/confederate_veteran/1898_372.html 

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This banner commemorates the return of the Regimental standard of the 8th Texas Cavalry by the State of Indiana in ceremony held in Dallas, Texas on October 5, 1899 (see The Confederate Veteran 1899 7:545-546, and The Boston Evening Transcript, August 22, 1899). According to the Transcript two banners were made by the state of Indiana - one for Governor Mount and one for his Texas counterpart, Governor Sayers. The banner offered here was purchased this banner at the estate sale of descendant of Governor Mount,; presumably this is one of the two banners described in the 1899 newspaper article cited above. 

The event marked the end of a long period of negotiation between the states of Texas and Indiana. J.J. Weiler of the 17th Indiana had found the on October 13, 1864, during an engagement near Coosaville, Alabama. The banner was subsequently turned in to the Indiana’s Adjutant General. 

This banner incorporates the history of two storied Civil War Cavalry brigades, the 8th Texas, or "Terry’s Texas Rangers" and the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry - "Wilder’s Lightning Brigade." The 8th Texas Cavalry (1861-1865) was organized by Col. Benjamin Franklin Terry in August 1861, and ultimately participated in some 275 engagements in seven states in the Western theater. The unit earned a reputation that ranked it among the most effective mounted regiments in the "western theater" of operations. 

"Wilder’s Lightning Brigade" of the 17th Indiana Mounted Infantry, was likewise a hard fighting unit, organized by industrialist Col. John T. Wilder of Greensberg, Indiana. Wilder’s unit became legendary for their use of Spencer repeating rifles in the Tullahoma Campaign and especially at Chickamauga where they turned the tide of a portion of the Confederate assault. 

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Southern Mercury. (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 35, Ed. 1 Thursday, August 31, 1899

Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition

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Shiner Gazette (Shiner, Tx) Imge 8  15 Mar 1899

The Terry Texas Flag

It Was Lost by The Stranded Bearer And Afterward Found by The Enemy - Bit of History

Every surviving Terry Ranger highly appreciates the action of Major Weiler, the Indiana legislature, and that of our owen state in their partiotic action in this matter.

Terry Texas Ranger Flag Communication

Letters written regarding the flag, per a collection for sale online:

Materials concerning the return of the Ranger’s second flag, which was captured by an Indiana unit on October 13, 1864, after it became accidentally lost.

1.   TLS (copy), ca. May 14, 1898, from J.J. Weiler to A.J. Mount, Governor of Indiana, stating that he now lives in Texas and because he captured the flag, he would like to return it to the Rangers. 1 p., folio.

2.   TLS (copy), Dallas, May 18, 1898, from J.J. Weiler to the Rangers stating that he was the one who found the flag and discussing the political difficulties of returning it under the present political conditions. 1 p., folio. Small hole costing a few letters.

3.   TLS, Dallas, May 18, 1898, from J.J. Weiler to the Terry’s Texas Rangers Association, explaining in detail how the flag got captured and regretting that it cannot be returned expeditiously. 1-1/2 pp., folio.

4.   TLS, Dallas, May 18, 1898, from W.W. Graham to J.G. Booth explaining his interactions with George W. Littlefield and J.J. Weiler concerning the flag, stating he asked the latter to certify that the flag was merely lost rather than captured. 1 p., 4to. Chipped.

5.   TLS (copy), Indianapolis, June 16, 1898, from Charles E. Wilson to J.J. Weiler stating that the governor has directed him to write that it is not in his power to return the flag. Only the legislature may do that. 1 p., 4to.

&

ALS, May 10, 1899, from W.D. Wylie to W.H. Kyle, warmly and positively responding to an invitation to attend the upcoming reunion. States that he will also attempt to have Major Weiler come with him. (Weiler captured the second Rangers’ flag, took it to Indiana, and was instrumental in having it returned.) 2 pp., 4to, on printed stationery.

 

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