From the Moundsville Echo, June 9, 1909
by C. C. M. [Christopher C. Matthews]
Submitted by Joseph D. Parriott.
The following interesting story of one soldier's life and experiences, is also a good history of the days just before the war and of that gallant company, "A" of the Twelfth regiment.
It gives some interesting and laughable incidents of life in camp in which our soldier boys figured.
The writer of this sketch was born in Elizabethtown now Moundsville in a log house on back street now Tomlinson avenue. The old house is now gone with the past, and a new up to date one stands in its place.
My first entrance to the town and the world was on November 15th 1843.
I have a distinct recollection of the first money I ever earned for myself. It was for hoeing corn for Raphael Hanna at 18 cents per day. He lived where Henry Thompson now lives. I did so well that he raised my wages to 25 cents per day but I boarded myself. Later we moved to the Bakewell house, down by the mound and raised water melons and nut megs by the thousand and when ripe, put them in the cave in front of the mound which kept them cool and nice.
At that time a great many drovers of cattle stopped at Mr. James Burleys, as there was no railroad by which to ship them, and the men stayed with us. Still later there was a county fair held in the Mound enclosure. One of the things that made a lasting impression upon me was the sight of "Black Tom," as everybody called him, sitting on the bench is the argricultural hall whistling, "Jordan am a hard road to travel." I have asked him lately how old he is but he says he does not know.
The height of my ambition at that time and a little later, was to get big enough to join one of the military companies that was in our town. One was called the Todd blues the other the Bruce grays. Both these organizations existed until the Civil war came on, and a number of the members went into each army, north and south. I remember being down at the B. & O. station as the Indiana soldiers came through on their way to the front and they asked me when they would begin fighting as that is what they expected when they reached the Ohio river. From that time on the war excitement was all the talk. Our state had then eleven Regiments of Infantry in the field, and in August of 1862 a call was made for three hundred thousand more men. At that time they were very particular in their examinations. You must be as they said "sound as a dollar." Size did not seem to count, for as I waited my time to go before the board, Joe Roberts, as we called him, came out and said they wouldn't pass him and he could not go. We who were little gave up getting in, but after numerous inquiries about you and your family record away back all of which I have forgotten long ago except the last one which was "Can you run a beef a mile?" I answered "yes," and the examiner said, "I guess you will do." So from that time I became a full fledged soldier. As our company was the first one enrolled we had choice of letter, and so became company A "12" Va. After being mustered into the United States Army at Wheeling, we were very much afraid that the war would be over before we got to the front. Could we have seen thirty five months ahead of us with hard soldiering we would have had more patience.
Next came the election of Company Officers. Hagar Tomlinson was elected Captain, W. J. Burley 1st Lieutenant; Thomas McGruder, 2nd Lieutenant; Thomas R. Morgan, Orderly Sergeant; Joseph Tomlinson 1st Sergeant; John G. Jones 2nd Sergeant; Thomas W. Manning and Joseph Caldwell Sergeants. Then came the eight corporals, then privates enough to make one hundred and one. We were engaged in the following battles: Winchester, June 13 and 14, 1863; New Market, Va., May 15, 1864; Piedmont, Va., June 5, 1864, Lynchburgh, Va., June 18 and 19, 1864; Snicker's Ferry, Va., July 18, 1864; Kearnstown, Va., July 24, 1864; Berrysville, Va., Opequan, Va., Sept. 19, 1864; Cedar Creek, Va., Oct. 19, 1864; Hatcher's Run, Va., April 1st, 1865; Fort Gregg, Va., April 2nd, 1865; Appomattox Court House, Va., April 9, 1865, where being in the advance we received the last volley fired by General Lee's Army. The first man wounded in our Company was Wm. F. Byrnes, brother of Geo. Byrnes of this city, of the five boys killed on the field at Piedmont, Va., was that of M. Turner brother of John M. Turner, Esq., and Lem Jones, brother of John G. Jones of Fairview.
The last year of the war we were armed with Spencer Seven shooter carbines and Co. A was detailed as sharp shooters.
I think there must have been ten cords of apple tree wood representing the tree under which the surrender took place. Many laughable scenes took place among us after the surrender, after the confederate regiments were paroled they were given in charge of their own Colonels to march to their homes. We lined up along the road to see them march by with that long even swinging step so natural to the well drilled soldier. We called out "Well, Johnnie you are going home are you?" The answer came back "That is what I am, Yank, going to raise corn and cotton." When General John B. Gordon's Georgia brigade marched by, one of the boys said, "Johnnie when you get home this time you will stay there won't you? the answer came back quick as a flash: "Now don't give me any of your sass or we will come back and lick you again." which created a lot of fun at the Yank's expense. One other amusing thing occurred to little George Harris, better known in the army as "Mousie" who got in the way of a rebel bullet at Lynchburg disabling his left arm and so on the retreat as rations was at a premiun he was fortunate enough to find a chest full of flour surrounded by comrades, he only having one arm to fill his haversack with, one of the boys threw him in the flour bin head foremost where he stayed until he got his sack full, as it had been raining he was a sight when he got out to the road just then General Hunter and staff rode up. The General stopped and said: "Soldier where have you been?" Quick as a flash Mousie said: "Why, damn it, I have been in the mill." With a roar of laughter the General and staff rode away.
Among the many funny things that happened on the famous trip, Hunter said, I recall two incidents when the army began its retreat from Lynchburg, our townsman, S. W. Mathews, better known in the army as "Jack," who belonged to the famous 1st Virginia Cavalry, whose horse had given out and his shoes, also came over to our regiment in his bare feet with his cavalry spur on, his appearance was surely ludicrous.
The other one was on Colonel Joe McCombs who got tired and captured a fine mule and concluded to ride him. After trying all manner of known ways to make him go, he dismounted and got a club and used it with a vengeance. He went about twenty feet, that is, Joe did.
After picking himself up after his ride, he had the satisfaction of seeing an infantryman mount the mule and after using his best powers to make him go, used his bayonet on him. He rode the same distance the Colonel did and then it came to him all at once, that the Colonel did and then it came to him all at once, that the Colonel had the first ride. After giving the Colonel a piece of his mind, is language not used in Sunday School, started afoot.
After the surrender and the Confederates had started on the long march to their home, we were ordered to Lynchburg to protect the property of the citizens from their own soldiers and so failed to get in the grand review at Washington. We have never gotten over that yet, as we have certainly thought we earned it.
The war now being ended we longed for home and loved ones, but not all the dear comrades came back. We numbered forty-six who took the cattle cars at Richmond for home.
May no war cry ever be heard again in our fair land and may old glory ever float over the "land of the free and the home of the brave." -- C. C. M.