Page images
PDF
EPUB

SKETCH OF COL. BENJAMIN H. GRIERSON.

COLONEL BENJAMIN H. GRIERSON is a native of Pennsylvania—was born in Pittsburg in July, 1827. Consequently, he is (July, 1864,) thirty-seven years of age. At a very early age he was removed to Trumbull county, Ohio, in which State he resided nearly fifteen years, and then removed to Jacksonville, Illinois, where he resided when the great Rebellion broke out.

He was in the produce business, and, to use his own words, “was also a musician, being able to play on any instrument, from a jewsharp to a hand-organ.'

Shortly after hostilities commenced, he left for Cairo to join a company that had been raised in his town; but on arriving there he was called to the position of Aid to General Prentiss.

When the 6th Illinois Cavalry was organized, he was elected Major of that regiment, but remained on detached service as Aid to General Prentiss, with whom he served with distinction.

On the 28th of March, 1862, when Colonel Cavanaugh resigned, Major Grierson was unanimously elected by the officers to fill his place, and in December, 1862, he was ordered to command the 1st Brigade of Cavalry, consisting of the 6th and 7th Illinois, and 2d Iowa Regiments.

Colonel Grierson, with his command, had been engaged in all the cavalry skirmishes and raids of West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, up to his memorable advent into Baton Rouge. In him were happily united to a good physical organization, sagacity and prudence, courage, tact, and indomitable energy, the natural precedents of glorious success.

t

INCIDENTS OF COL. GRIERSON'S RAID.

Although, in many instances, our troops passed them. selves off for the rebel Van Dorn's, or Jackson's, cavalry, yet, whenever recognized by the country people, they were treated in the most respectful manner; and, on several occasions, the strongest demonstrations of Union feeling were voluntarily made.

Our men were frequently cheered, and invited to share hospitalities, in the name of the old flag--all showing that it is only necessary to once more establish the authority of the Government, to bring back to its allegiance the noble old State of Mississippi.

In many instances the inhabitants, along the different routes taken by our cavalry, when they found we were not as we had been described—namely, robbers and assassins, insulters of women and children, and everything else, base, and contemptible—bade us God speed, and acknowledged that they had been bitterly deceived. In every instance, private property was respected, unless found in the hands of guerrillas.

While several of our scouts were feeding their horses, at the stables of a wealthy planter of secession proclivities, the proprietor looking on, apparently deeply interested in the proceeding, suddenly exclaimed, “Well, boys, I can't say I have anything against you. I don't know but on the whole, I rather like you. You have not taken anything of mine, except a little corn for your horses, and that you are welcome to. I have heard of you all over the country. You are doing the boldest thing ever done. But you'll be trapped, though; you'll be trapped, mark me."

At another place, where our men thought it advisa ble to represent themselves as Jackson's cavalry, a whole company was graciously entertained, by a strong secession lady, who insisted upon whipping a negro, because he did not bring the hoe-cakes fast enough.

On one occasion seven of Colonel Grierson's scouts stopped at the house of a wealthy planter, to feed their jaded horses. Upon ascertaining that he had been doing a little guerrilla business, upon his own account, our men encouraged him in the belief, that as they were the invincible Van Dorn cavalry, they would soon catch the Yankees. The secession gentleman heartily approved of what he supposed to be their intentions, and enjoined upon them the necessity of making as rapid marches as possible.

As our men had discovered two splendid carriagehorses in the planter's stable, they thought, under the circumstances, they would be justified in making an exchange, which they accordingly proceeded to do.

As they were taking the saddles from their own tired steeds, and placing them on the backs of the wealthy guerrilla's horses, the proprietor discovered them, and at once objected. He was met with the reply, that as he was anxious that the Yankees should be speedily overtaken, those after them should have good horses. “All right, gentleman," said the planter, “I will keep your animals until you return. I suppose you'll be back in two or three days, at the furthest. When you return, you'll find they have been well cared for."

Our soldiers were sometimes asked where they got their blue coats. They always replied, when traveling under the name of Van Dorn's cavalry, that they took them from the Yankces, at Holly Springs. This always excited great laughter among the secessionists. Our scouts, however, usually wore the regular secesh uniforms.

16

STORY LXXIII.

A MULE CHARGE ON REBEL CAVALRY.

On Thursday, April - 1863, Lieutenant Cushing, of the United States Gunboat Commodore Barney, made a gallant reconnoissance, with seventy-five seamen, and a boat howitzer, from the Nansemond up to Chuckatuck village, about three miles distant from his vessel.

It appears that on the morning of that day, a citizen showed himself on the banks of the river, bearing & a white flag, when Acting Master Harris, of the Gunboat Stepping Stone, sent a boat to see what he wanted Upon the boat nearing the shore, it was treacherously fired into, and one man killed and others wounded.

Lieutenant Cushing organized his expedition to punish this treachery. His officers were Acting Ensign Hunter; Master's Mate Birtwisle, in charge of howiter, and Master's Mates Boardman and Aspinwali, in charge of seamen, acting as infantry; Lieutenant Cushing in command.

On reaching shore, the gallant young Lieutenant confiscated two mule-carts, one for a limber for his howitzer and the other for an ammunition wagon. Proceeding on, he drove in three different vidette parties of cavalry, and when he reached Chuckatuck, which contains one long street, he found quite a large body of the Nansemond cavalry drawn up, and preparing to charge on him.

Quickly unlimbering his howitzer, he threw in a charge of shrapnel, and gave the enemy its benefit, as they sounded the charge. The discharge of the howitzer frightened the mules in the carts, and they dashed up the street at full speed upon the advancing cavalry, the sailors in the carts cheering and yelling and firing as they went.

This novel charge threw the cavalry into disorder, and Lieutenant Cushing immediately rushed on with the rest of his force, killing three of the Rebels, and securing their horses, arms, and equipments, only losing one man on his side.

He destroyed a quantity of forage, meat, &c., and then retreated in order to his boats, the enemy being reinforced, and showing a disposition to cut him off. In his return, a sailor found one of the captured horses rather unmanageable, under nautical rule, and inclined not to mind the tiller-ropes or steerage-gear, as the jolly tar called the reins. Finding that the animal was determined to carry him back to the Rebel side, he brought him to an anchor, by drawing one of the holster pistols, and shooting him through the head. He then rejoined his companions, very well satisfied at having got clear of such a lubberly craft. The expedition was planned with great daring and successfully carried out.

STORY LXIV.

LIEUTENTANT-COLONEL PHILLIPS' RAID IN MISSISSIPPI.

ABOUT the 9th of August, 1863, General Hurlbut, having ascertained that there was a large amount of railroad stock at Grenada, which the Rebels were endeavoring to get off south, by making temporary repairs

« PreviousContinue »