Saturday, May 16, 2015

Recap: 'Brilliant but inadequately appreciated'

Capt. Frank Holcomb Mason (1840-1916) had an adventurous career as a soldier, journalist, historian, and international ambassador. He was friends with Mark Twain, President James Garfield, and John Hay (President Lincoln's private secretary). Mason served throughout the Civil War, including several months in a Confederate prison in Richmond. After he was released, he joined the Twelfth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and was part of Stoneman's Raid. It sounds like he was personally involved in the "Yankee pranky" at the Catawba River bridge as well as the burning of the Salisbury prison. He was an occasional war correspondent for the Cleveland Leader and worked there for 20 years after the war, rising from reporter to managing editor. Then he worked in embassies in Switzerland, Germany, and France, where he died in 1916. His books included an 1881 biography of his fellow Ohioan, President Garfield, published in French. His 1871 book "The Twelfth Ohio Cavalry" was the earliest of four regimental histories written by Stoneman's veterans. While he was stationed at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt in 1890, he was asked to write this chapter for a book called Sketches of War History, 1861-1865, Volume III, published by the Ohio Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. This includes some additional detail and perspective not mentioned in his 1871 history of the Twelfth Ohio. I've inserted comments in brackets where his account needs to be corrected, and bold-faced a few passages that deserve emphasis. Two pages were missing from the manuscript I found.
General Stoneman's Last Raid
and the Pursuit of Jefferson Davis

Late Captain, Twelfth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

The record of the Union armies during the War of the Rebellion included numerous military movements of minor proportions but notable importance, which, by reason of their secrecy, or the glamour of other simultaneous and more conspicuous achievements, have never found their true perspective and proportions in the history of the great struggle. Particularly was this true of cavalry operations, which frequently covered large areas and distances between the lines of the opposing forces and formed parts of comprehensive campaigns, of which popular appreciation saw only the nearer and more conspicuous features, as embodied in the maneuvers and battles of the principal armies.
Among this category of brilliant but inadequately appreciated episodes, may be fairly classed the last expedition of the cavalry division under Major-General Stoneman, which began at Greeneville, East Tennessee, in March, 1865, and ended with the pursuit of the fugitive Confederate President from Central North Carolina to his capture, in the early part of May, near Irwinville, Georgia, by the troopers of General James H. Wilson. Just as the brilliant swoop of Stoneman through Southwestern Virginia during the previous December, his destruction of Saltville, his defeat of Breckinridge, and conquest of an entire military department of the Confederacy, was overshadowed by the decisive victory of General Thomas at Nashville and the triumphant march of Sherman's legions from Atlanta to the sea, so this later exploit was overlooked in presence of the triumph of General Grant at Appomattox, the assassination of President Lincoln, and the final victories of Sherman in the Carolinas. To the great leader who planned the final combination, this expedition of Stoneman, which cut the last two railroads that would otherwise have left an open door for the escape of General Lee, was an important feature in the campaign which in the spring of 1865 so suddenly strangled the military power of the Confederacy. 
 But amid the stirring events of that period neither newspapers nor people knew or cared by whose hand the door was closed, or how it happened that just at the opportune moment a Federal cavalry force was in Central North Carolina ready to follow the trail of Jefferson Davis, and drive him to certain capture. The pursuit of the fugitive President was merely an incident which closed, or rather prolonged, a highly interesting campaign. The story of the chase requires, in order to become intelligible, to be prefaced with some account of the events which immediately preceded and led to it.
 On the 20th of March, the division of cavalry which then occupied the Department of East Tennessee, under the command of Major-General George Stoneman, assembled at Strawberry Plains, a few miles northeast of Knoxville. It was substantially the same force which had dealt such a staggering blow to Breckinridge hardly three months before. The division was under the immediate command of Brigadier-General A. C. Gillem, and included three brigades, constituted and commanded as follows:

  • The First Brigade, Colonel W. J. Palmer commanding, included the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, the Tenth Michigan, Colonel Trowbridge, and the Twelfth Ohio, under Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Bentley.
  • The Second Brigade, Colonel Miller commanding, was made up of the Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Regiments of Tennessee Cavalry [actually the Eighth and Thirteenth].
  • The Third Brigade, Colonel S. B. Brown commanding, comprised his own regiment, the Eleventh Michigan, a battalion made up of several independent companies of Kentucky cavalry, and a four-gun battery of horse artillery under Captain Reagan.
 All these regiments had seen long and hard service, which had reduced their effective strength to about half their original maximum, so that the division numbered only about six thousand men, but all veterans, well mounted, and in perfect condition.
 The troops were to live, as usual, on the country. The long distance to be traversed and the work to be done precluded all superfluous equipage. A haversack filled with bacon and coffee, an extra set of horseshoes and nails to match, a package of "Lone Jack," and a hundred cartridges in the saddle pockets, this was the orthodox equipment of each man who carried a carbine. [Lone Jack was a brand of tobacco.]
 Thus stripped for rapid and effective work, with everything on horseback, except the four guns, their caissons and one ambulance, the division left camp on the morning of the 22d, and moved rapidly eastward through Bull's Gap and Jonesborough, and on the 26th reached the Watauga River. Here the command was divided. The Second Brigade, under Colonel Miller, turned northward and made a feint toward Bristol, a small railway station on the line between Tennessee and Virginia, while the First and Third Brigades, led by General Stoneman in person, crossed the Bald Mountain range of the Alleghanies and descended upon Boone, the seat of the northwestern county of North Carolina. Here a large force of home guards was encountered, but, without a moment's delay, Stoneman charged them with the saber, and put the whole force to flight, capturing four or five hundred prisoners and a quantity of arms and stores. 
 From Boone, the command pushed on fifty miles south-eastwardly to Wilkesboro, and then, turning again northward, advanced rapidly through Dobson to Hillsville, in Virginia, about sixty miles south-east of Wytheville, where General Breckinridge had his headquarters with the wreck of his command. Thus far the plan and purposes of the campaign had been kept so absolutely secret that not even the brigade commanders had the slightest intimation of our destination, or what enemy we were going to fight. At Hillsville the column turned eastward and marched rapidly to Jacksonville, where, finding no enemy of importance, the route was again changed to the northward in the direction of Christiansburg, an important station on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, midway between Wytheville and the great bridge across New River, which had been destroyed by Stoneman's cavalry during the raid of the previous December. This bridge had been provisionally rebuilt, so that the road was in working condition. Christiansburg was defended by a small garrison, but it was surprised and overpowered before resistance could begin. The telegraph office was captured, and a Union soldier, taking his seat at the operator's desk, exchanged military questions and confidences with the operator at Lynchburg for an hour or more before the trick was discovered.
 Orders were now given to dismount, feed and rest the horses, and, by way of wholesome exercise, to tear up and destroy twenty or thirty miles of the railroad. Then, at last, it became evident that it was not Breckinridge that General Stoneman was after. The purpose of the expedition now began to develop. General Grant, with the Army of the Potomac, was pushing Lee out of Petersburg and Richmond — that much had been revealed by the Lynchburg telegrapher — and we had come to cut off his only important route of escape to the westward. The railroad was quickly and effectively destroyed. Colonel Miller's brigade tore up the rails, burned the ties, and destroyed the bridges in the direction of Wytheville; and Major Wagner, with two Tennessee regiments, broke the line in various places and burned the bridges to a point within four miles of Lynchburg, while the First Brigade destroyed the track and bridges for ten miles either way from Christiansburg. This done Colonel Palmer's brigade moved via Martinsburg [Martinsville], where it joined that of Colonel Brown, and the whole division converged rapidly on Danbury, North Carolina, arriving on the 9th. After a momentary rest, the column pushed forward to Germantown. At this place Palmer's brigade was detached and sent to Salem, where it captured and destroyed several large factories which were supplying the Confederate armies with clothing. Thence Palmer turned eastward, broke the railroad below Greensborough, and between that place and Danville, and then moved down the line destroying railway bridges and culverts, and rejoined the main column at the crossing of the South Yadkin River, about twelve miles north of Salisbury.
Railroad map printed with Capt. Mason's account. Stoneman's primary mission was to cripple the railroads west of Lynchburg (top of the map) and south of Danville (top right) to prevent Robert E. Lee's retreat and force him to surrender.

 As the Weldon railroad near the Atlantic coast was already in the hands of General Grant, this destruction of the Danville and Salisbury line broke the last railway connection of Richmond with the South, and isolated the army of General Lee from that of Johnston and the rest of the Confederacy. Salisbury was important not only as the seat of the infamous prison pen in which so many thousands of Union soldiers had been killed by starvation and exposure, but it contained besides an immense depot of ammunition, arms, provisions, medical and quartermaster's stores and factories for the manufacture of cloth for military clothing. The place was garrisoned by a force of five thousand infantry and artillerymen, under command of Major-General W.M. Gardiner, whose chief of artillery was Lieutenant-General Pemberton, who, after losing Vicksburg to General Grant, had been degraded to the rank of colonel.
 General Gardiner fully appreciated the value of the Piedmont, Danville and Richmond Railway to General Lee, and when he heard that a small division of cavalry was destroying it, he marched out, and with four thousand infantry and fourteen guns, to defend it. He took a strong position on the south bank of Grant Creek, four or five miles from town, tore up the planking of the bridge and awaited the attack, which began at daylight on the 12th. As soon as the column had closed up, the guns of Captain Reagan were posted in a favorable location to command the bridge, and Miller's brigade dismounted and advanced under a heavy fire to the bank of the creek.
 Finding it impossible to rebuild the bridge until the enemy was dislodged, Stoneman sent the Eleventh Kentucky Regiment, under Colonel Slater, to cross the creek at a ford two miles above, and a strong detachment under Major [Alfred] Donnelly, to effect a crossing a mile or two below the bridge. Both these flanking operations were promptly performed. Slater reached a striking position first, and when his sharp attack on Gardiner's left threw the enemy's line into some confusion. Miller's dismounted men, armed with Spencer carbines, charged forward and captured the bridge. Under their deadly fire, which kept the enemy out of sight, the planking of the bridge was re-laid, and over this Palmer's brigade charged in handsome style, followed by Miller's men as rapidly as they could remount and form.
 A sharp fight of twenty minutes ensued, but Gardiner's men were no match for Stoneman's veterans, and they were soon falling back along the whole line. Palmer and Miller now charged with the saber, and the retreat of the enemy soon became a rout, in which all semblance of organized resistance was lost. The routed Confederates dropped arms, knapsacks, and all else that impeded their flight. Thirteen hundred and four officers and men, nearly three thousand muskets, and every one of Pemberton's fourteen guns, were captured, and the survivors of the enemy's force, most of whom were without arms, dispersed among the hills. Stoneman's troopers then closed in upon the town, which fell without further resistance.
 Salisbury proved a rich and important prize. Orders were issued to spare private property and to refrain from all excesses which, in view of the infamous reputation of the place by reason of its prison, might have been expected from a victorious division many of whose men had suffered within that dreary stockade. A detachment of six hundred men under Major Barnes was detailed to destroy Confederate property. Their work was prompt and thorough. Ten thousand stand of small arms, one million pounds of musketry ammunition, ten thousand pounds of artillery cartridges and shells, six thousand pounds of powder, three magazines, ten thousand bushels of corn, six depot buildings, seventy-five thousand suits of uniform clothing, several thousand bales of cotton, two hundred and fifty thousand English army blankets, twenty thousand pounds of leather, a hundred thousand pounds of salt, ten thousand pounds of saltpeter, twenty-seven thousand pounds of rice, fifty thousand bushels of wheat, an immense quantity of medical supplies, mostly imported, and fifteen millions of Confederate money were among the trophies.
 For the first time since leaving Tennessee, Stoneman's men and horses reveled in full rations. All that they could not use was put to the torch. Regiments were detailed to destroy the railway buildings and machinery, and to break up the track and bridges several miles to the southward. But the most grateful duty of that day fell to a detachment of the Twelfth Ohio, which was sent to destroy the prison. The guards had fled with the rabble of Gardiner's force, leaving only a few pitiable wretches, too ill and weak to travel. All the other Union prisoners had been exchanged two months previously, or transferred to other prisons, on the approach of Stoneman's column. But the frowning stockade, the dirty enclosure honeycombed with dens and holes in which the shivering captives had burrowed like animals to find refuge from the cold, and the long line of narrow graves in which lay more than twelve thousand brave men, dead from hunger and suffering, or shot at the fatal "dead line" — all these remained to prove that the worst that had been told of Salisbury's horrors was more than true. Such of the wretched captives as remained were carefully removed to better quarters in the town, and the prison buildings and enclosure were given to the flames. Many of the unfortunate men, wasted to skeletons by privation and disease, became delirious from the excitement and joy of their sudden release.
 The original purpose of the expedition was now fulfilled, and General Stoneman, turning over the command to General Gillem, returned to his department headquarters in Tennessee. On the 17th, General Gillem, with the brigades of Miller and Brown, taking the prisoners and captured artillery, and followed by several thousand fugitive negroes, left Salisbury and marched directly westward toward Knoxville. The brigade of Colonel Palmer, unencumbered and in fighting trim, was sent by a more southwardly route through Davidson and Lincolnton to destroy several railway bridges on the lines converging from the South upon Charlotte, and then return to Tennessee by a route more southerly than that of the other brigades. At Lincolnton, Dallas, and various other points. Palmer's men, now spread out in a long line of battalions and squadrons moving by different paths and roads, encountered bodies of Confederate cavalry. Orders were in all cases to charge immediately with the saber, no matter where the enemy was found nor the apparent disparity of forces. This was done with good will and uniform success.
 From the numerous prisoners then captured, it was learned that they all belonged to the mounted brigades of Duke and Vaughan, and were endeavoring to reach a rendezvous of Wheeler's cavalry division at Charlotte. Colonel Palmer remained at Dallas several days, during which the first battalion of the Twelfth Ohio, under Major Herrick, was sent to hold the Tuckaseegee Ford, on the Catawba River, where it prevented the crossing of a brigade of Wheeler's cavalry, which, as it was subsequently learned, formed part of the escort of President Davis.
 At the same time, Major Moderwell, with two hundred picked men, likewise of the Twelfth Ohio, was sent on a raid of eighty miles to destroy the great bridge on the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad over the Catawba River. This led to a brilliant exploit, in which the major, by a clever ruse, captured the bridge guard of seven officers and two hundred and twenty-three men, with two guns, destroyed the immense bridge, eleven hundred feet in length, and returned to camp without the loss of a man.
 Meanwhile, Colonel Palmer had received by courier from General Sherman, then at Raleigh, official intelligence that General Lee's army had surrendered, and that a general armistice had been declared. The war thus seemed to be over, and, on the return of Major Moderwell's battalion, Palmer recalled Major Herrick from Tuckaseegee Ford, and set out on the 23d for Knoxville. The brigade had gone as far as Hendersonville, when it was met by a courier from General Stoneman, who, with his staff and a small escort, had pushed through rapidly to Knoxville. The dispatches brought by the courier contained the startling intelligence that President Lincoln had been assassinated, and the armistice suspended; also, an order directing Colonel Palmer to face about, and join, with all vigor and celerity, in the pursuit of President Davis, who, with his family, his personal staff, and what remained of his cabinet, was seeking to escape to the Gulf States. Similar orders from the same source reached Colonel Brown, who, with his brigade, was at Asheville, North Carolina, gathering supplies and preparing to recross the mountains into Tennessee.
 In both brigades, officers and men were alike stunned and maddened by the wanton and cowardly murder of the President. It was with difficulty, that Colonel Brown could restrain his Tennesseans from wreaking immediate vengeance upon Asheville. Yesterday, every soldier had rejoiced in the armistice, which marked, as they thought, the close of the war. Today, they sullenly rejoiced that the truce was broken, and that they could have another opportunity of avenging the foul crime at Washington. Carbines were reloaded, and at dawn, on the 27th of April, Palmer's brigade, again on a war footing, rode rapidly out of Hendersonville, in a south-easterly direction, to begin
 President Davis, as all the world knows, had left Richmond on the evacuation of Petersburg by Lee's army, and, with his staff and cabinet, had repaired by train to Danville, Virginia, where he issued a stirring proclamation, summoning the tottering military forces of the Confederacy to a final supreme effort. He waited there until advised of Lee's surrender, when the executive department again took flight by rail to Greensborough. North Carolina. Here he was met by intelligence that Stoneman had destroyed the railway from Lexington to Salisbury, and that escape by that means was impossible. The party therefore took to wheels and horseback. An ambulance carried the fallen President and his family, a wagon carried the archives and what remained of the treasury of the Confederacy, the personal staff and such members of the cabinet as remained were on horseback, and the whole was escorted by two thousand men of Wheeler's cavalry division, led by Wheeler in person. The remainder of his command, broken up into battalions and regiments, moved on either flank to cover the retreat, and thus the whole expedition marched via Salisbury to the general rendezvous at Charlotte. Here the party remained several days, hospitably entertained by the prominent citizens of that place, while Palmer's brigade, ignorant of Davis's approach, was a few miles distant at Dallas, beyond the Catawba, holding the Tuckaseegee Ford on that river, and awaiting the return of Major Moderwell from his brilliant expedition.
 Mr. Davis still hoped that Johnston's army might successfully elude Sherman, and, after the fall of Lee, the plan of the moment was to collect all of the remaining military strength of the Confederacy within a quadrilateral in Alabama and Georgia, which comprised Tuscaloosa, Selma, Montgomery, Columbus, and West Point, with an eastern outpost at Augusta. At Selma and Montgomery were important arsenals for the manufacture of arms and ammunition, besides large factories where clothing and other kinds of war material were produced. The surrounding country was rich and comparatively undisturbed, and it was here that the Confederate leaders hoped to make a " last ditch," so strong and self-sustaining as to enable them, even after the loss of Lee's army, to prolong the struggle until foreign intervention and the weariness of the North would secure for them a compromise less humiliating than actual surrender. But the superb cavalry campaign of General James H. Wilson opportunely swept away this forlorn hope. Selma, Montgomery, West Point, Columbus, and Macon successively fell before his resistless column.
 [Davis] left the main road and the bulk of his escort, and, with only a small bodyguard of Texan Rangers commanded by General Wheeler, had cut across by an obscure and more easterly route near Belton [S.C.] into Georgia.
 Brown's brigade had followed Palmer with the utmost celerity, and reached Greenville, South Carolina, at midnight on the first of May, when Palmer's men, after an unbroken march of twenty-four hours, were dismounting for a brief rest at a long covered bridge which spanned the Saluda River, It was essential to find whether the Davis cavalcade had really passed that way, and the delay of four hours was eagerly utilized by the tired troopers, who, tying their bridle reins around their wrists and ankles, lay down in the road to sleep. At the first streak of dawn, the bugle blew to horse, and the column passed the bridge, struck the familiar jingling trot, and just before noon reached a ford of the Tugaloo River, which there forms the boundary line between South Carolina and Georgia. The river was broad and the water deep and rapid, so that the horses were obliged to swim under serious difficulties. Some proved too weak, and were swept down by the swift current and lost. Fortunately, each regiment had a squad of led horses captured from Wheeler's cavalrymen, and these now came into requisition. The ford was in a mountainous and sparsely settled country, and the few natives that could be found knew nothing of President Davis, or any war news more recent than Bull Run and Chickamauga.
 Finding that he was not yet certainly upon the right trail, Palmer mounted his men, and pushing forward with remorseless energy, made one of the hardest cavalry marches of the war, arriving just at daylight on the 5th of May at Athens, Georgia, eighty miles from the starting point at the Saluda bridge. Only veteran cavalrymen and horses inured to the hardest service could have stood such a twenty-four hours' work as that, after the constant marching, the scanty food, and still more scanty rest of the preceding week. The capture of Athens was an easy and picturesque affair. It was a large, handsome, wealthy town, which, like many smaller ones that we had captured on that campaign, had never before felt the presence of an enemy. Although only a hundred miles northeast of Atlanta, Athens had by some curious chance escaped, as we were told, its share in the disasters which had overtaken the central, western, and northwestern portions of the state. At the time of our invasion, the families of many prominent Confederate officers resided there, a large and flourishing female seminary was in full activity, and an important arsenal, equipped with machinery imported from Europe, was busily manufacturing Enfield rifles and ammunition for the Confederate armies. The place had been more or less strongly fortified, but after Sherman's legions had left Georgia, during the previous autumn, the garrison had been reduced to a battalion of home guards stationed at the arsenal. Such was the feeling of security, that not even a picket was posted, and when Palmer's column came galloping into town that bright Spring morning, the home guards were pounced upon, captured, and disarmed, before they could get into line and make even a protest. Had the invading troopers dropped from the sky, the good citizens of Athens could not have been more surprised. They were even inclined to resent the capture of their town as a needless impertinence, and the tone of public opinion was lofty and loyally Confederate. If they knew anything about President Davis, they took good care not to tell it.
 Palmer's men and horses were hungry and completely exhausted, and a halt of at least one day was imperative. Guards were posted, and the brigade went into camp in the streets and open commons about the town, Nothing could have been gained by destroying the arsenal, and it was spared as property of the United States. Private property was everywhere respected; and by way of starting the community in a new and more patriotic frame of mind, a party of the Twelfth Ohio took possession of the printing office and issued a special edition of the Yankee Raider, which was sold on the streets and distributed among the principal residents. In the four small pages of that unique journal there was given a concise account of the surrender of General Lee, the assassination of President Lincoln, the destruction of Salisbury, and other important recent events, and the editorial page bristled with original verses, and a stately appeal to the Athenians to accept the result of the war, and renew their allegiance to the Union of their fathers.
 The local institution which most interested the invaders was the Young Ladies Seminary, where bevies of attractive looking pupils in white dresses and palmetto hats were seen walking in the grounds during the afternoon under the watchful guard of their teachers, and venturing occasional glances at the dusty invaders outside the seminary fence. The band of the Twelfth Ohio, dusty and battered from its long and tuneless wanderings, was stirred out and posted in front of the school, where it played a various programme, in which national airs were interspersed with "Dixie" and "My Maryland.” At the first note, the young ladies were hurried into the building by their indignant teachers, but they retired to their rooms and showed their appreciation of the serenade by furtively waving handkerchiefs from their windows. Theoretically, they were loyal to the Confederacy, as all Southern women were; practically, they were tired of the war and glad it was over.
 During the day and night spent at Athens, Colonel Palmer obtained more or less vague information about the movements of Mr. Davis, and, in the morning of the 6th, his column again set out and marched rapidly to Monroe, about thirty miles distant, in the direction of Atlanta. Here were captured a number of Confederates, skulking homeward without having been paroled, and from them Colonel Palmer learned that the general direction of his pursuit bore too far to the right. We were, moreover, close upon the heels of the party, and learned that Mr. Davis, having been abandoned by his escort, had changed his course to the eastward, and was traveling entirely by night, avoiding main roads, following obscure lanes and plantation paths, and resting concealed during the day-time, sometimes in a barn or gin-house, but more often in thickets or dense woods.
 As the brigade of Colonel Brown had not yet come up, Palmer quickly extended his line from Monroe, south-eastwardly through Eatonton across the Oconee River, then facing to the right advanced in a southerly direction, sweeping the country clean, and searching every building, swamp, and clump of timber. The utmost force that could be spared for any road was a squadron, and that had often to be broken up into sections and platoons, or extended into a skirmish line two or three miles in length. This arrangement brought Colonel Palmer's own regiment, the Fifteenth Pennsylvania, across the path of the distinguished fugitive, and they followed it like bloodhounds, driving Mr. Davis and his family into the clutches of Colonel Pritchard and the Fourth Michigan, who had been dexterously sent by General Wilson down the Ocmulgee to head them off and prevent their escape. 
 At the moment of his capture, Mr. Davis was but a few miles in advance of the Pennsylvanians, and, from what was afterward learned of his intentions, he would have been captured by them before noon of the morning on which he fell into the hands of Colonel Pritchard. [NOTE: Other accounts indicate the Pennsylvanians were 170 miles behind Davis when he was captured.] It was a keen disappointment to Palmer's men to know that the game they had chased so far had been captured by another command, but this feeling was only momentary. The important thing was that the Confederate President was a prisoner and the long four years agony of war at an end.
 Word was sent along the line, directing battalions and regiments to assemble at specified points, and to gather up and parole all that could be found of the fugitives from Lee's and Johnston’s armies, thousands of whom had deserted, just previous to the surrenders in Virginia and North Carolina, and were making their way homeward without parole and ready at the first opportunity to resume the offensive. They were mostly cavalry, but there were also artillerymen, who had fled on horses belonging to their batteries, and infantry soldiers, who had stolen horses on the way. When the Twelfth Ohio assembled at Covington, it was found that Major Moderwell's battalion had captured General Bragg; another detachment had picked up Vice-President Alexander H. Stephens, while Company L had bagged General Wheeler and the picked squadron of Texan cavalry, which had formed the final bodyguard of President Davis.
 A brief account of the last of these exploits may fitly conclude this narrative. While passing near Madison, on the Atlanta and Charleston railroad, a platoon of Company L, under Lieutenant Defigh, came late at night upon a body of cavalry which showed fight. Having sent word back to his captain, Defigh immediately charged with such vigor that the enemy broke and retreated along a plantation road leading toward the west. The full moon was shining and the Ohioans followed vigorously until after midnight when the Confederates again made a stand, and in the skirmish, which followed Sergeant A. C. Wall, of the Wheeler's Texan Rangers, was shot through the heart. This was the last man known to have been killed in battle by Palmer's brigade.
 The remainder of Squadron L, by hard riding and good luck, overtook Defigh's advance about two A. M., and the pursuit was kept up until daybreak across farms, through woods, and over a difficult country. It was then found that the trail had been lost. The enemy had turned out of the path which he had been following, and for the time eluded pursuit. Returning three or four miles, the Ohio men found where the Confederates had broken some bushes in entering a thicket. Charging along this trail into a dense wood, the pursuers soon came upon their prey encamped in a sheltered nook, with their horses picketed to neighboring trees. The detachment included eighty or a hundred men, nearly double the number of their pursuers. Many were asleep, but being roused by the guard, they were on their feet in an instant. Before they could seize their weapons, the Blue Jackets were upon them with leveled carbines, and the leader seeing this, threw up his hands in token of surrender, at the same time ordering his men to ground their arms, with the sensible remark that the war was over and blood enough had been shed. A good-natured parley ensued, as the result of which the enlisted men were paroled and released. The officers, five or six in number, exhibited paroles written in blue ink and upon forms differing essentially from those used by General Fry in paroling the armies of Lee and Johnston. Their credentials were so manifestly spurious that it was decided to retain the officers and turn them over to Colonel Palmer. Company L, with its captives, then set out for Covington.
 Accompanying the prisoners was a negro servant belonging to one of the officers. He wore the uniform of a Confederate major-general, and on being sharply questioned, confessed that he was the valet of a very plainly dressed man in the party whom he designated as General Wheeler. From the negro's story, it appeared that, after leaving Mr. Davis, the general had exchanged coats with his servant, the better to conceal his identity and rank. The officers' paroles proved to be forgeries, and when they were turned over to Colonel Palmer, he paroled and liberated all but General Wheeler, who, as we heard afterward, was sent via Charleston to Fort Warren. The three regiments of Palmer returned by different routes to East Tennessee, making long detours by difficult mountain roads to avoid the foodless desert that Sherman and Hood had left in Central and Western Georgia. The Twelfth Ohio arrived at Bridgeport, Alabama, on the 28d of May, after an absence of sixty-three days, and a promenade which lay through six states, and measured, with all its erratic meanderings, not less than a thousand miles.

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