One Hundred Days Men - More From the 168th OVI

In a previous post we discussed the service of the 168th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the Second Battle of Cynthiana. Here are two stories, published in The National Tribune, adding a bit more insight to what the 168th went through during the hot summer of 1864.

Map of the Second Battle of Cynthiana, First Phase - American Battlefield Trust

The first story was contributed to the newspaper by George Dallas Mosgrove from a letter that had been written to him by John A. Barrett, a drummer in Company D of the 168th. Mosgrove himself was at Cynthiana as part of the Fourth Kentucky Cavalry (a battalion strength unit at Cynthiana) and wrote of his war services in Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman.


The National Tribune, July 4th, 1905


Captured by Morgan

I was much interested in your account of the fight at Cynthiana, Ky., which occurred June 11, 1864. Attacking us early in the morning, Morgan captured the greater part of my regiment, myself included. With five or six others, however, I escaped during the confusion in the town, and ran to Keller’s Ridge, where I was captured with Hobson’s men, whom Morgan fought later in the day. On the hurried march next day you had a long column of prisoners – probably 1,300, captured at Mt. Sterling and at Cynthiana. I remember seeing you riding the pretty little brown mare, pacing along the column with a tired little “Yank” behind you. A young Confederate cavalryman befriended me also, permitting me to ride behind him some miles. His face was smooth and pleasant, and his hair was dark. He rode a sorrel horse. If living that boy is now an old man. I wish I knew his name. I often think of him and the march to Claysville, 10 miles from Cynthiana, where Morgan paroled the prisoners, his usual way, I believe.

In the fight Col. C. Garis, of the 168th Ohio, was badly wounded, his horse was killed, and his bridle, saddle and sword fell into the hands of your men. Can you inform me what became of them? Any information will be most thankfully received, especially as to the sword. The Colonel died a few years ago from the effects of his wounds received that morning in the little Kentucky town on the Licking River.

I visited Cynthiana about two years ago and noted many changes. There is now no woodland on Keller’s Ridge, where Morgan and Hobson fought.


Mosgrove would go on to add:

My friend Barrett remembers Cynthiana as I remember it, that hurried march to Claysville being ever fresh in memory. I regret that I know nothing of his colonel’s sword or other equipment. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to return the sword. I have little hope, however, of being able to find it.

The sword story actually has an ending, as evidenced by this article published a few months later by an officer from Company I of the 168th.


The National Tribune, September 7th, 1905


CAPTURED AT CYNTHIANA

Lieut. Ellis, 168th Ohio, Give His Experiences With Morgan

I was Second Lieutenant of Co. I, 168th Ohio. I was left with 100 men at the terminus of the railroad, which had been destroyed by the rebels. A stockade was there, and a distillery close by. It was four miles to Cynthiana. Our duty was to gather teams to haul the commissary goods for the regiment. They were to arrive on the train at 2 p. m.[1]

We secured the transportation without any trouble. The man who had the distillery invited myself and another, whom I might chose, to take dinner with him. I accepted his generous hospitality, and took Serg’t Heins with me. The whisky he had was white and 40 years old. I was only a little past 17 years at that time, and had not learned the art of drinking, so I was no judge of good whisky. While eating our dinner a message came to me that the rebels had surrounded the men, and for me to hasten back to them immediately. I finished me dinner, and found the men talking to about 50 rebels.[2]

I had left a Sergeant in charge when I went to dinner. I had been told the men were giving out news as fast as the enemy wanted it; but they all denied it, and I believed them, so I told the rebels to light out and be quick about it, and they did.

We had an order for one canteen of whisky, and Duke Wells took all the canteens and had them filled with whisky and changed the order for 100 canteens. It was very hot, and the dust was four inches deep.[3]

We started for Cynthiana at 4 p. m., arriving about dark, with some noisy boys. I was called before the Colonel to give an account of the noisy men. I explained to him that I was powerless to stop it, and that the men would be quiet the rest of the night. It was a serious affair, for the enemy was close by the town.

We were attacked early in the morning. I was making coffee and frying bacon, but a few bullets destroyed my breakfast. We sprang to our guns, hastened to a stone fence, and took shelter behind it; but 1,000 men could not keep 8,000 or 10,000 away, so we fell back into a brick warehouse not finished, and fought from the windows. Soon after a flag of truce came to us about 50 feet off; firing had ceased, and the Colonel stepped out to surrender and was shot. If that was not cold-blooded, cowardly murder, then I don’t know what is. Serg’t Hines was shot at the same time, and died. I was hit three times, flesh wounds. I wanted to fight it out if that was the game; but we were prisoners.[4]

The New Rankin House (Hotel)

They used Col. Garis’s sword the same as they did mine, to wit, broke it over the banister, robbed me of $160 in greenbacks, took my watch and chain and officer’s suit, $75, also my hat, and marched us to a green spot on the side of the hill and kept us all night. We were hurried off the next day to Claysville, where Morgan paroled the prisoners, but had the commissioned officers brought to his headquarters. He intended taking them to prison. How many there were I do not know, but for me I was not with them long.

Morgan was a fine specimen of manhood. Too bad he was a guerrilla.

I rode behind a rebel, riding a pretty brown horse, pacing along the column. I had ridden across the creek, and escaped, footsore and with rheumatism, as so many had from that exposure.

[1] Nineteen year old Second Lieutenant Cyrus Ellis enlisted in the 168th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment on May 2nd, 1864, one of four Ellis men in Company I. The terminus mentioned was Keller's Bridge on the Kentucky Central Rail Road, the bridge being burned on June 8th, along with the two blockhouses that guarded the crossing. The distillery had been built in 1840 by Abram Keller, and in 1861 sold to Cook & Ashbrook in with the brand "A. Keller, Bourbon." It was actually only one mile to Cynthiana along the railroad, and about two miles via farm lanes and roads.


[2] Sergeant William P. Irons is the Heins/Hines mentioned.


[3] Marmaduke Wells, a thirty year old private.


[4] At least part of the 168th was camped south of the Licking River. They fell in along a stone wall that ran parallel to the river, with the waist deep river to their immediate rear. The numbers cited by Lt. Ellis are dramatically inflated, as there were 1,500-1,600 Confederates and perhaps 300-350 Federals defending the town. The brick warehouse mentioned is the New Rankin House (or hotel), that was three stories tall and still exists. Colonel Garis would survive his wounds, but Sergeant Irons would die of his on July 4th.

SOURCES

American Civil War Research Database

Penn, William - Kentucky Rebel Town

Perrin's History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas Counties

The National Tribune, July 4th, 1905

The National Tribune, September 7th, 1905

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