Union Captain David C. Stone: Battery A, 1st Kentucky, later 5th United States Colored Cavalry.

By Bryan Bush


David Stone was born in Louisiana in 1827, and by 1850, he was living in Louisville, Kentucky. On February 27, 1855, he married Sarah Ann Reason of Spencer County, Kentucky. Interestingly, on his marriage certificate, David Stone stated he was from Oldham County, Kentucky and born in Chillicothe, Ohio, but on the census records from 1850, 1860, and 1870, he stated he was born in Louisiana. According the Louisville City Directory in 1861, he was living in the U.S. Hotel, in Louisville, Kentucky, as assistant city engineer. He was also Captain of the Louisville Battery, Kentucky State Guard.


On June 26, 1861, Captain David Stone was brought up on charges. The first charge was disobedience of orders. On June 3, 1861, Major General Simon Buckner, Kentucky Inspector General, ordered Stone to report to Colonel Thomas Hunt at Camp Clay near the summit of Muldraugh Hill. Stone refused to obey the order. On the second charge, conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, Buckner ordered Stone to Muldruagh Hill to report to Thomas Hunt on June 6, which he again failed to do. In an answer to Major Alex Casseday, who was a staff officer acting under directions of Buckner, asked Stone whether he was willing to obey the order. Stone replied, “I will not obey it.” He made the statement on Fourth and Market Street in Louisville. Additional charges were added. On June 6, 1861, Stone wrote from the Headquarters of the Louisville Battery:


Fellow soldiers-Having received your preamble and resolutions at the regular meeting of the Louisville Battery, held June 6, 1861, and seeing unanimous majority of the names of the members composing this company attached thereto and being read by the clerk, was adopted unanimously such being the case and such complaints as presented in the resolutions I do hereby declare this company disbanded from this date and that the arms be handed over to the proper authorities.”


Stone plead not guilty, but the court found Stone guilty on all charges and fined him fifty dollars and ordered him cashiered out of the Kentucky Guard. The courts found Stone “willfully disobedient” and his conduct could “even for a brief period, destroy the best military organization.” The courts stated that Stone’s insubordination led them to believe that Stone was “not worthy of being again entrusted with a commission in the service of his State.”[i]


On July 1, 1861, Stone joined the Union army and enrolled at Camp Joe Holt. On September 27, 1861, he organized the 1st Kentucky Independent Light Artillery, Battery A, at Camp Muldraugh Hill, Kentucky and the Union army assigned him the rank of captain. According to a May 6, 1862 article in the Louisville Daily Courier, Captain Stone presented a Confederate pike to the newspaper. He captured the pike on the battlefield at Shiloh, Tennessee. According to the newspaper article, the pike was one of 450 taken from the Mississippi Tigers, when General William T. Sherman made his reconnoitering excursion. Stone’s battery accompanied General Sherman. According the paper, a thousand pikes were captured at Shiloh.[ii]


At the battle of Perryville, on October 8, 1862, Stone’s battery, which was comprised of six guns, two 10lb Parrott rifles, two 14lb James Rifles, two 6 lb. smoothbores, arrived at the battlefield at 1 pm. He was ordered to halt and deploy his guns under the cover of a hill and in some woods. While in position, Stone saw Confederate cavalry under Colonel John Wharton forming around a large barn, about 1,800 or two thousand yards away. Union Colonel John Starkweather ordered Stone to put a Parrott rifle in position and open fire on the Confederate horsemen. After firing on the Rebel cavalry, he was ordered to have another Parrott rifle put into position a short distance from the first and open fire. After firing fifteen or twenty rounds, the Southerners retired and the guns ordered to cease fire. Union General Lovell Rousseau, commanding the Third Division, stated that Stone “admirably shelled and dispersed the (enemy’s cavalry) in great disorder.”

Stone only ceased firing for about ten minutes, when Rousseau ordered Colonel Starkweather to place Stone’s battery and Captain Asahel Bush's 4th Indiana Artillery on a high ridge, on the extreme Union left. Their position extended diagonally to the front, and to support Stone and Bush he ordered the 1st Wisconsin onto the ridge. The 79th Pennsylvania was placed on another ridge, running at almost right angles to the one where the batteries were placed. Stone moved his battery about one hundred yards to the front and in advance of his former position. No sooner had the battery arrived at their new position, the Confederate infantry, under General George Maney’s brigade and regiments from General Alexander P. Stewart’s brigade, appeared with Captain William Carnes Tennessee battery and Captain William Turner’s Mississippi battery. Wharton’s four hundred cavalry also returned. The 9th and 27th Tennessee, along with the 5th, 4th and 6th Tennessee, headed directly for Stone. He opened fire with case shot and shell from the whole battery. The Confederates continued to advance. Stone waited until the Rebels were within canister shot and then opened fire from all his guns. The Confederates continued to approach to within thirty yards, and Stone’s gunners panicked and tried to pull their guns to safety by hand. The gunners abandoned the pieces and fell back. According to John H. Otto, of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry, when he came to Stone’s battery he found the guns “silent and deserted. Most of the artillery men being dead, or wounded. The Captain and some of the unhurt gunners had deserted the battery.”[iii] Otto and another former gunner named Loewenfeld of Company F, 21st Wisconsin, grabbed some men and managed to load four of Stone’s cannons with double canister and fired into the oncoming Confederates. The 79th Pennsylvania and the 1st Wisconsin Infantry also opened fire on the advancing Confederates and drove them back down the slope into the cornfield. Col. Starkweather rode up to Otto and Loewenfeld thinking they were Stone’s men and told them to give the Confederates Hell. Stone’s artillerymen returned to their guns and took over and opened fire. Starkweather later ordered Stone to cease firing and return to the hill about three hundreds away immediately to the rear of their first position. [iv]

When Stone arrived at his new position, he began firing on Carnes and Turner’s Confederate batteries about 2,500 yards away, supported by Rebel infantry and cavalry. During the engagement, General William Terrill ordered a broken regiment of infantry to support Stone’s battery, but he was shortly thereafter struck by a shell fragment fired by a Rebel battery, leaving him mortally wounded. A. A. Starr, of Bush’s 4th Indiana Artillery, wrote about his experience during the battle. He wrote that Stone’s battery was on the right of their battery and both Stone and Bush “came under heavy fire, first from two batteries (which we partially silenced), then two Rebel brigades made a desperate charge to turn our left. They advanced through a cornfield and up the hill in the face of the fire of our two batteries, supported by the 1st Wisconsin, 21st Wisconsin, and 79th Pennsylvania. General William Terrill’s brigade fell back in confusion leaving the Rebels seven guns. Then Stone’s battery retired, leaving one gun.” The Rebels rushed on to where Stone was located and “poured an enfilading fire upon us. Their line of bayonets were within a few feet of our guns. The 1st Tennessee flag was shot down, it fell between our guns. Starkweather ordered us to limber up but so many horses shot down. We got off all the caissons and limbers, the 1st Wisconsin pulled one of our guns back. It was near here that Terrill fell.”[v] As Stone and Bush fell back, the 79th Pennsylvania and the 24th Illinois, joined by several other regiments, took a position behind a stone fence located on the brow of a hill. Here Bush and Stone divided into three sections and fired on the oncoming Confederates, but Stewart’s and Maney’s men were tired and badly mangled from previous fighting. They broke off the pursuit under the heavy Federal fire and fell back.

After the Confederates retired, firing ceased for about a half hour, due to the coming of night on the battlefield. Gen. Rousseau ordered Stone to keep up a slow fire from one gun with shell in order to let the Confederates know that the Federals had not left the field. Stone directed his fire in some woods and field immediately in his front. At 8 pm, Stone ceased firing, and ordered his caissons to move. He had fired four hundred rounds during the battle. According to the Louisville Daily Journal newspaper, he had two men killed: Sergeant Jacob Kennett of Louisville, Corporal William H. Voskhule of Louisville, with Edward Dowden of Louisville mortally wounded and who later died in a hospital. Five men were wounded: 1st Sergeant John D. Irvin, who was slightly wounded and captured, John Huber of Louisville wounded in the leg, David Rickter, from Brooks Station, in the arm, Samuel Shuff, Center County, in the neck and Benjamin Lorren of Louisville. Wounded and missing were private John Hahne, John Coffman, Hospital Steward Joseph Briswalker, Charles Collins, and Phillip Eichert, who was missing. According to the newspaper, Stone wrote that the battery withstood four distinct charges and “repulsed them nobly.”[vi]


During the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on December 31, 1862, Col. Starkweather reported that the wagon train of the 28th Brigade, consisting of sixty-four wagons loaded with camp equipage, stores, officers baggage, knapsacks, etc., was sent from Stewartsboro for camp at Jefferson near Stone’s River, Tennessee. The wagon train was unprotected except for some convalescent soldiers and a small guard, with ten wagons loaded with rations. The head of the train had just arrived in camp and while in the process of being parked, the rear and center of the train was attacked by General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry brigade. The Rebels advanced on both sides of the highway for the purpose of attacking and destroying the entire wagon train. The Union brigade formed and prepared for battle.

Starkweather ordered the wagon train at double quick to be parked, and sent the 21st Wisconsin to the front and rear of the train. He also ordered the 1st Wisconsin to deploy to the right and left from the center as skirmishers, and to move forward. He moved the 24th Illinois to the bridge crossing the river, together with one section of artillery, and then advanced to the front with the 79th Pennsylvania and two sections of artillery under Captain Stone.

The 21st Wisconsin was hotly engaged and pressed severely by the Confederates in front and on the left. They passed to the right of the highway and occupied a hill, upon which was a log house, which gave them a good position. The 2nd Kentucky Cavalry (US), around fifty men, was sent to the left and front to probe the area where the Confederates were located and were soon engaged. The right wing of the 1st Wisconsin was rallied on the right, and placed in rear of the first section of artillery, which was on the hill occupied by the 21st Wisconsin, opening with shell. The 79th Pennsylvania was placed in the rear of the left wing of the 1st Wisconsin, which was skirmishing to the front. One section of artillery opened fire on the Rebels in front, between the Union infantry on the right and left.


The 1st and 21st Wisconsin, and two sections of Captain Stone's artillery, fought the Confederate cavalry who were mainly on foot and supported by two field howitzers. The Rebels were finally repulsed and left the field after severe fighting. The engagement lasted two hours and ten minutes. The brigade followed the fleeing Confederates for about one and a half miles. Starkweather thought that his rear was unsafe and ordered the brigade to retire and return to camp on the north side of Stone’s River, near Jefferson. Starkweather ascertained that the Rebel force was around 3,500 men, while his force was about 1,700 men. The Rebels lost about 83. Starkweather lost twenty wagons, which were captured and burned. Stone lost one man missing and one man captured. Overall Union casualties amounted to 122 men, with one man killed, eight men wounded, 104 men missing.[vii]

During the Battle of Murfreesboro, or Stone’s River, Tennessee, which was fought from December 31 to January 2, Stone’s battery was not ordered into position until January 1. His guns were posted on the right of the Murfreesboro pike, directly in front of the log house, one section stationed in the woods, about one hundred yards away. The battery moved to the front edge of the woods, in rear of the center of the brigade to which the battery was attached. That night the battery relieved Lieutenant Charles Parsons, which was stationed outside and in front of the woods, commanding the cornfields and woods to the right and front. In this position, the battery remained until January 3. At 4 pm, Stone relieved Captain Jerome Cox’s 6th Ohio Battery, which was about fifty yards to the left, posting a half battery in their place at night, and shelled the fields and woods from both points. They were not further engaged.[viii]

Under General Order Number 49, Headquarters of the Department of the Cumberland, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Stone was court martialed on charges of cowardice for his actions during the Battle of Perryville. According to the charges, Stone fled to the rear, between the lines of limbers and caissons of his battery, which “sheltered (him) from the fire of the enemy and through fear, he was down upon the ground and did remain in that attitude for some minutes, that is to say, twenty minutes more or less.” He was found not guilty of cowardice, but found guilty on AWOL and abuse to a lieutenant. The lieutenant was Thomas Thomasson. On May 5, 1863, he was dishonorably discharged. On May 30, 1863, the President of the United States removed his sentence, upon the recommendation of the Judge Advocate General. The Judge Advocate General stated the facts did not justify the sentence.[ix]


On August 15, 1864, at the Headquarters of the United States Colored Cavalry in Lexington, Kentucky, under Special Order No. 3, Colonel James Brisbin, who was on the board of examiners, stated that Stone passed the requisite examination before the board of examiners and was to report to Lieutenant Colonel John Hammond. On September 1 Stone recruited one hundred men at Taylor Barracks, in Louisville, Kentucky and reported to Camp Nelson, Kentucky. On September 19, 1864, David Stone was appointed captain of Company C, the 5th United States Colored Cavalry at Camp Nelson, Kentucky and his commission was to date from August 9, 1864. He was mustered in upon the appointment of President Abraham Lincoln.[x] The 5th United States Colored Cavalry was organized at Camp Nelson on October 24, 1864 and was under the command of Union Colonel James Brisbin. The regiment was attached to the 1st Division, District of Kentucky, Department of the Ohio.

By the end of September 1864, Union General Stephen Gano Burbridge, Military District Commander for the State of Kentucky, decided to make a raid into southwest Virginia in an attempt to destroy the salt works at Saltville, Virginia. General Jacob Ammen and General Alvan Gillem would cooperate with Burbridge on his raid. Burbridge selected the 5th USCC to also accompany his force on the raid. Saltville was the Confederacy’s most important salt works, and essential to the preservation of meat for the southern armies. On October 2, 1864, Burbridge attacked the Confederate right along Chestnut Ridge. Confederate General Felix Robertson and George Dibrell’s small brigades faced the 5th USCC, along with the 12th Ohio Cavalry and the 11th Michigan Cavalry. The three Union regiments made two unsuccessful charges on Chestnut Ridge, and Union Colonel Robert Ratliff’s brigade prepared for one final assault. The 5th USCC, the 12th Ohio, and the 11th Michigan dismounted, and the Federals advanced. The Confederates left their earthworks and charged. The fighting raged for three hours. The Rebels were driven back to a line of ditches atop the ridge and then retreated to a new line in front of the town of Saltville. Robertson withdrew and left Dibrell surrounded and a large gap opened up on the Confederate center. The 5th USCC advanced and took the Rebel works. The Confederates fell back to their new line to the safety of their batteries. Ratliff decided not to pursue another attack. The two Federal assaults came to an end.

Burbridge attempted to flank the Confederate left and ordered Colonel Charles Hanson’s 37th Kentucky Mounted Infantry to dismount and march across Little Mountain, but came across the 4th Kentucky Cavalry (CS) and Colonel James T. Preston’s battalion of reserves. Hanson’s men tried to ford the river, but the Confederates long range muskets took a heavy toll of Hanson’s men. The final Federal assault failed and cost Burbridge one hundred men, including Colonel Hanson, who was severely wounded. The Confederates held off the remaining Federal assaults and at 5 pm, Burbridge decided to retreat. Burbridge left most of his dead and wounded on the battlefield, including the men of the 5th USCC. As Burbridge withdrew, Confederate reinforcements arrived, including General John C. Breckinridge. The Confederate defensives held and saved the salt works.


On October 3, General William T. Sherman ordered Burbridge to return to Kentucky. The day after the battle, one of the worst atrocities of the war occurred. Confederate trooper Private George Mosgrove of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry wrote in his memoir: “Presently I heard a shot then another and another until the firing swelled to the volume of that of a skirmish line.” He mounted his horse and arrived in front of Dibrell’s and Robertson’s brigades on Chestnut Ridge and found the Tennessee soldiers killing black Union soldiers. Mosgrove wrote that the Tennessee troops were “mad and excited to the highest degree. They were shooting every wounded negro they could find. . . . It was horrible, most horrible.” Confederate Captain Edwin Guerrant noted in his diary that his men took no black prisoners. Private Harry Shocker, a wounded Union soldier from the 12th Ohio Cavalry watched as Confederate guerrilla Champ Ferguson walked around the battlefield killing white Union prisoners along with the black soldiers. Around fifty black soldiers were killed in the massacre.[xi]

By October 19, the 5th USCC was back in Lexington, Kentucky and by October 21, they were in Harrodsburg. From December 10 through 29, the 5th USCC participated in Union General George Stoneman’s Raid into Southwestern Virginia. His force included Burbridge’s division and a brigade under General Alvan Gillem. On December 17-18, Stoneman defeated a Confederate force at Marion, Virginia and advanced towards Saltville. General Breckinridge had only five hundred men at Saltville, under the command of Colonel Robert Preston, and a brigade of cavalry under General Basil Duke was on its way. On December 20-21, Gillem, including the 5th USCC, led the advance and attacked the Confederate defensives. Burbridge joined the battle and the two Federal columns overwhelmed the Southerners. Preston’s Rebel forces retreated and Stoneman’s columns entered the town of Saltville and destroyed the salt walks. On December 24, 1864 several days after the second battle of Saltville, Stone was captured at Clinch River and became a prisoner of war. On January 6, 1865, he was confined at Wytheville, Virginia.


On February 21, 1865, Stone was paroled at Aikens Landing, Virginia and on the 28th he reported at Camp Parole, near Annapolis, Maryland. On February 22, 1865, he was granted a leave of absence for thirty days. In March, he was exchanged, and in April he again reported for duty. On May 19, 1865, he was on detached service with his old company in Paris, Kentucky. On May 22, 1865, Stone turned over his company to Captain Shuck. On August 9, 1865, he was again on detached duty as Provost Marshal in Lexington, Kentucky, and on October 14, 1865, he was relieved from detached service. In December 1865, he was detailed on General Court Martial at St. Francis River, Arkansas. On March 16, 1866, Stone was mustered out of the Union army in Helena, Arkansas. [xii]

Stone married Sarah Wildman, from New Jersey, in Ogle, Illinois on December 18, 1867. On the 1870 census, David Stone was forty-four years old and living in DeWitt County, Illinois. He listed his profession as a civil engineer. On the 1880 census, he was still living in DeWitt, Illinois. He listed his occupation as a farmer. His wife was 42 and he had several children: Lycurgus (10), Lycius (8), Sarah (7), and Ulysses S. Stone (1). On January 20, 1882, David Stone died in DeWitt County, Illinois.

[i]The Louisville Daily Journal, June 26, 1861, p. 1. [ii]Louisville Daily Journal, May 6, 1862. [iii] David Gould and James B. Kennedy, edited, Memoirs of a Dutch Mudsill: The War Memories of John Henry Otto, Captain, Company D, 21st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, The Kent State University Press, Ohio, 2004, 47-48. [iv] Noe, Kenneth, Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle, The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 2001, 251-253. [v] Letter to the Editor from A. A. Starr, 4th Indiana Battery, Near Lebanon, Kentucky, 10/25/1862. Valparaiso Republic, 11/12, 1862, [vi]Louisville Daily Journal, October 10, 1862. [vii] O.R. Series I, Volume XX/1 [S#29] December 26, 1862-January 5, 1863-The Stone’s River or Murfreesboro, Tennessee Campaign. No. 71-Reports of Col. John Starkweather, First Wisconsin Infantry, commanding Third Brigade. [viii] O.R. Series I, Volume XX/1 [S#29] December 26, 1862-January 5, 1863-The Stone’s River or Murfreesboro, Tennessee Campaign. No. 9-Report of Col. James Barnett, First Ohio Battery, Chief of Artillery. [ix] Adjutant General’s Report for the State of Kentucky, 1st Kentucky Light Artillery. [x] Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored), 6th United States Colored Cavalry, The National Archives. [xi] Bush, Bryan, Butcher Burbridge, Union General Stephen Gano Burbridge and His Reign of Terror Over Kentucky, Acclaim Press, Morley, Missouri, 2008, 142-147. [xii] Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry, 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored), 6th United States Colored Cavalry, The National Archives

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