Sketches and Reminiscences of Nemaha County Veterans of the Civil War
Below are some sketches and stories featuring Nemaha Co. veterans of the War of the Rebellion, taken from "The History of Nemaha County," published 1916:
John Benfer served with the One Hundred and Twenty-third
Ohio volunteers, fighting in the celebrated battle of Winchester, and
serving with the Army of the James River. He was taken prisoner
three times and was released, the third time only by the surrender of
Lee at Appomattox. James L. Brockman, who has served Seneca as
city clerk with efficiency, fought with the Thirteenth. James Draney
who came to Nemaha county in 1857, served as a teamster during the
war in Colonel Taylor's State militia. Elbert Dom Dumont was one of
the youngest soldiers who have ever made Nemaha county their home.
He was barely sixteen when he joined the Ninth Michigan volunteers and
served until 1865. After he left the army he went to school at the
seminaries of Ovid and Fulton in New York. He came to Seneca many
years after the war closed as an architect and builder. He erected the
jail, the Centralia school house, which fire later destroyed, the opera
house in Wetmore, and many residences and business blocks. He
married Miss Mary Bruner of Nemaha county. Two sons of E. J. Emery
met remarkable deaths during their service in the war. George Emery
was drowned in the Ohio river and Edwin was ship-wrecked off the
North Carolina coast and presumably drowned.
A. J. Felt, affectionately called, over the State, "Andy," founder of
several newspapers, once editor of the Seneca "Tribune" and Lieutenant
Governor of Kansas, was a soldier with the Seventh Iowa regiment. He
was taken prisoner at Belmont, Mo., and held for nearly a year, and
afterward was in a hospital for four months. He rejoined his regiment
and was promoted to sergeant. Mr. Felt founded the "Tribune." He
was the father-in-law of Senator William H. Thompson. He died
about twelve years ago. Dr. Hayes, who has made Seneca his home
since 1881, was but seventeen years old when he enlisted with the
Indiana volunteers, serving with the famous armies of the Cumberland
and Tennessee and fighting at Shiloh, Chattanooga and other famous
battles. After the war he returned to his home in Newcastle, Ind., and
to school as well. Dr. Hayes having had a taste of adventure, shipped
on the Polaris for the North Pole in 187 1. He was picked up by the
ship Arctic after two years in the Arctic regions, carried to Scotland and
thence made his way home. Since then he has settled down to
doctoring, after government work in Washington and a few years at a medical
school. Judge Lanham, almost the first Nemaha county resident, served
in the army before anyone. He served on picket duty in 1854. He was
wounded, but with the beginning of the Civil war he served with the
wonderful Eighth Kansas, through until the end, including the terrible
march to San Antonio. J. H. Larew was with the Fifth Missouri; J. W.
Larimer with the Fourth Iowa, marching with Sherman to the sea; J.
L. McGowan enlisted first with the Second Missouri, later raising a
Kansas Militia company; N. H. Martin, at sixteen years, enlisted with
the Forty-sixth Iowa infantry; Mort Matthews, the venerable county
surveyor who has held his job for over thirty years without opposition,
was a soldier with the Thirty-fifth Ohio infantry; James Parsons
enlisted with the Denver Home Guards, later recruiting a New Mexican
regiment, and finally entered the field as second lieutenant of the
Second Colorado infantry. Mr. Parsons was the first Nemaha county
surveyor and was elected in 1858.
R. S. Robbins fought with the
Twenty-second Ohio and became a captain. Capt. Lewis Sheeley did not get
enough fighting with Missouri regiments and chasing guerillas but
stayed with the army in Hancock's veteran reserve corps for a year
after the war closed and became colonel of the Kansas State militia. He
had lived in Seneca since 1860.
J. F. Clough, founder of the Sabetha "Republican," fought with the
Sixty-ninth Ohio. He was shot twice during the battle of Mission
Ridge, a bullet piercing his lung. He was a year in a hospital.
Ira F. Collins, one of the brilliant, early day citizens of the county,
who today is as fascinating and interesting a man as he was forty years
ago, enlisted in the One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois. He was taken
prisoner at Mobile and held in one of the southern prison pens until the
close of the war. He had served under Grant at Vicksburg and saw
about every side of life in the army. When he was asked recently how
many rebels he supposed he had killed, he replied, "Oh, just about as
many as they killed of me." Mr. Collins was the first mayor of
Sabetha, State representative and State senator. John E. Corwin was a
soldier with General Sherman with the Ninety-seventh Indiana infantry.
He was in the Grand Review. S. B. Freelove as lieutenant and S. P.
McAllister as captain were members of the Plainfield battery that tendered
to President Lincoln its services before the firing on Sumter. He fought
through the war with the Eighth Illinois cavalry.
J. E. Price, the elevator man for whom the station of Price was
named, enlisted in a Pennsylvania regiment. He was wounded at
Antietam but when his wound healed he went back into the fray and
stayed until the game was called at Appomattox. He retired a
lieutenant, a post given him for conspicuous bravery in manning a gun
abandoned at the siege of Richmond where he was a member of the Light
Artillery, one of the few Nemahans to be in the artillery. J. E. Price did
not forget his military training after his removal to Sabetha. He taught
a crowd of young girls a broom drill, the perfection of which, as
feminine drillers, is still told with pride. The little station of Price still
has standing its two elevators, but the rural free delivery put the
post-office out of business. The elevators are used when the season's crops
are especially good.
N. S. Smith, for years and years the city attorney of Sabetha until
his resignation about a years ago, was a member of the One Hundred
and Twelfth Illinois. He was sick, in a hospital in 1865, after fighting
through the Atlanta campaign in Tennessee, and was discharged in August, 1865.
Z. Bean, of Wetmore, served under Sheridan in the Fifth
Wisconsin regiment. John Dudley came out to Kansas from Illinois to farm.
Conditions here were so desolate that he found relief in enlisting as a
private in the Third Missouri. He was wounded and taken prisoner,
held for several months, freed, again captured, and escaped, swimming
across the Saline river, and wearing a pair of pantaloons which he made
himself, by ripping the sleeves out of his coat. Returning to Wetmore,
farming in Kansas has since seemed a less trying job.
Dr. J. W. Graham, of the Forty-fourth Illinois, has kept among his
treasures a paper signed by President Lincoln and countersigned by
Secretary Stanton, conveying especial thanks to him for conspicuous
bravery and service. Dr. Graham was a physician in the abandoned
town of Capioma going later to Wetmore, where he was the first
druggist, postmaster, justice of the peace and a good citizen at large.
J. H. Hart was a member of Company I, Thirty-third Iowa, who
was present at the fall of Mobile, was transferred to Mexico and Texas,
mustered out at Rock Island, Ill, and then came to Nemaha county, settling on a farm near Granada.
Alfred Johns was one of the few Nemahans to have fought with
the Fifteenth Kansas. The Fifteenth was recruited by Colonel Jellison
to protect the Kansas border after the terrible Quantrill raids,
culminating in the Lawrence massacre. The officers were mainly from
Leavenworth, Olathe, and that section, with a notable exception in the case of
the lieutenant colonel, who was George H. Hoyt, of Boston, Mass. The
Fifteenth remained on the job as border protectors until the famous
Price raid, when their work in that historical event was conspicuous for
A. J. McCreery and his three sons served in the Rebellion, all in
different regiments. A. J., with the Eleventh Kansas; Alvin, with the
Ninth Indiana and William with the Tenth Kansas. The Tenth was a
consolidation of the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments and a portion
of the Fifth under the command of Col. W. F. Cloud, of Emporia. This
section of the State was well represented in the Tenth. Among the
illustrious names is that of Judge Nathan Price, of Troy. He is the
father of Mrs. Paul Hudson, wife of the editor of the New Mexican
"Herald," who in all the present Mexican difficulties has stuck to his post.
The Tenth was called first to the Indian difficulties on the Neosho; they
battled with Ouantrill, fought at Paririe Grove and finally were detailed
to Alton, Ill., to take charge of the military prison there.
Nathaniel Morris, of Wetmore, was a fighter with the Seventh
Illinois, a regiment of laurel winning soldiers, who seemed to win
whereever they went. Morris became a sergeant. Stories are told of a daring
capture made by Morris. Dressed in citizen's clothes he captured a
rebel officer. His own horse was stolen by a Ouantrill man. and later
recovered. Before moving to Nemaha county from Linn county he had
taken part in the border war down there. David Scott was a second
lieutenant in the Third Iowa, and later a color bearer in the Twenty-second Iowa.
The youngest Nemaha county soldier, and perhaps the youngest in
the State, was Daniel Smith, who enlisted with the Thirteenth Kansas
at the age of fourteen, in fact, he was not quite fourteen when he
enlisted. Nemaha county claims that he is the youngest soldier who ever
entered either Union or Confederate armies during the entire Rebellion.
He served through the three years of his enlistment, carrying his gun as
bravely as any soldier. Returning to Wetmore he made his home there,
becoming a plasterer. Daniel Birchfield was a member of the Ninth
Kentucky. He was captured on the retreat from Richmond but was
exchanged. At the close of the war he drove three oxen across the
desolate country to Montana. He prospected and floated down the
Yellowstone and Missouri to Omaha in a Mackinaw boat, then settled down in
James F. Brock, of Centralia, served with the Twenty-fourth Iowa
infantry ; George R. Hunt was a member of the Twelfth United States
infantry, a regiment which was noted for quelling the draft riots of New
York; W. A. Lynn enlisted with the Eighth New York cavalry, which
fought at Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Winchester, straight
through to Lee's surrender, a very noted regiment. Mr. Lynn says it
was to the lieutenant colonel that the flag of truce was waved at
Isaiah Stickel was principal of the Union Academy in Sparta. Ill.,
when the war broke out. He enlisted as a private in the Second Illinois
and left the army a lieutenant. At Holly Springs, Miss., the captain of
his company was taken prisoner and the conduct fell upon him. With
six men in canoes he penetrated the bayous for thirty miles during the
Vicksburg campaign pursuing a boatload of rebels and capturing two
officers. These are but two instances of his fine work during the war.
He came to Centralia in 1866, was the first postmaster of the town and
was in the mercantile business before going into farming and stock
raising. J. O. Barnard, of Oneida, served with the Ninety-fourth Illinois.
G. H. Johnson, later a postmaster of Corning, was a member of the
Eighty-ninth New York infantry ; Morrison Mackley with the One
Hundred and Seventy-third Ohio; Joseph McCutcheon, with the
Sixty-first Pennsylvania ; George F. Roots, who came to this country from
England in 1850, and to Nemaha county in 1856, enlisted with the
Thirty-sixth Illinois. Mr. Roots lived in Illinois before coming to Kansas
and it was he who named Illinois creek. He had some knowledge of
surveying and laid out much country around Corning.
E. S. Vernon fought with the Seventy-eighth Ohio at the battles of
Shiloh, Fort Donelson and all the others of fame; J. C. Warrington with
the Thirteenth Iowa; David Bronson, of Granada, with the Fifty-seventh Illinois;
A. B. Ellit was with the Second Kansas that routed
Quantrill and his men. The three Haigh brothers, James, Urias and
Joseph, fought in the Rebellion.
J. O. Hottenstein, of a western Kansas county, was captain of the
company in which "Uncle" Dave Wickins, postmaster of Sabetha,
served during the Civil war, and he after many years, hunted Mr.
Wickins up. Mr. Wickins recalls one incident of their service together very
well. There was a skirmish in Mississippi in which Wickins was hit
three times and Hottenstein was hit once. Both men were injured at
almost the same moment. Hottenstein was shot through the left breast
just above the heart. Wickins was shot in the leg, hand and arm. "Let
Hottenstein alone, and give other wounded attention; Hottenstein can't
live anyway," said an attendant. Hottenstein made a great fuss at this
and swore he would live to see the funeral of most of his company. In
a few weeks he was well and at the head of his company again. The
scar on David Wickin's right hand was caused by the wound in this
G. K. Hatch, of Granada, served as a member of the One Hundred
and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, partook of the pursuit and capture of
General Lee and was in at the finish. G. W. Conrad enlisted with the
Twenty-eighth Iowa, fought under Sheridan and told great stories of
Sheridan's ride. Lewis Logan was with the Twenty-second lowas; A.
J. Morgan with the Fourteenth Indiana, barely escaping capture at
Gettysburg. J. F. Randel served six months with the Twenty-second
Kansas at the close of the war. F. F. Fisher enlisted with the Twenty-third
Wisconsin. J. Hollingsworth, when but fifteen years old, enlisted with
the Thirtv-third Illinois. These enlistments in regiments of other
States show a remarkable range of citizenship which has gathered
together under Nemaha county's banner. Another odd circumstance is
that no two were members of the same regiment.
Any attempt to fully handle stories and reminiscences of the war is
futile. A three-volume novel could not contain those of Nemaha
county veterans. Still there are anecdotes that are irresistable. Uncle Jock
Matthews, veteran rural mail carrier, who for twenty years has held the
record for shortest time in delivering his mail out of Sabetha, joined
the Pennsylvanians in a cavalry regiment. He got on his horse to go to
war. He did not even stop to put down his knapsack, let alone drill, or
stack arms, or make camp. He was rushed immediately into battle, and
the battle was the second Battle of Bull Run. Recently F. A. Gue, a few
miles from Sabetha, with Mrs. Gue took an odd journey: a visit to all
the prisons where Mr. Gue was held during the war. They visited
Chickamauga, where Mr. Gue was captured while taking care of
thirty-eight Union soldiers, as assistant surgeon. Mr. Gue spent 526 days in
prison during the War of the Rebellion. He was at Libby, Pemberton,
Danville, Andersonville, and Salisbury, N. C. The Salisbury prison,
merely a stockade, burned down and Mr. Gue was taken to
Florence, S. C., where he was kept until near the close of the war. Mr. Gue's
health was in as miserable a state as might be imagined after such an
experience. He settled near Sun Springs where there is a mineral well,
the waters of which restored his health. Lyman Fair marched with
Sherman to the sea. He says it was during this famous tramp that the
song, "Marching through Georgia," was conceived. The song was
started by the men in the ranks and compiled as they marched along. It
passed from man to man, line to line, company to company, and regiment
to regiment. As they walked along the whole army sang the song on
their way to the sea.
Nemaha county treasures many odd bits of war relics today, half
a century after the close of the Civil war. A. G. Rees, a farmer living
one mile west of the Sabetha hospital, is an old soldier who makes a trip
almost daily on foot from his home to the town of Sabetha. He has kept
in fighting trim as a result, or tramping trim, anyway. He carries with
him an odd cane fashioned from bits of horn taken from the tips of his
favorite cattle, dehorned during his farming life since the close of the
war. The cane looks like a stick of polished onyx. Mr. Rees has among
his relics a piece of hardtack which he carried through the Civil war.
Mr. Rees was with the Ninety-second Illinois mounted infantry. He
marched with Sherman to the sea and carried his hardtack on that
historic march. Hardtack, to the uninitiated of the present generation and
to those of the farmlands who have never been to sea, is merely a name.
It is supposedly a biscuit. In reality it is a cracker, big and hard. Mr.
Rees's hardtack bears the stamp "Rilley," as a certain popular cracker
today bears the stamp "Uneeda." The Rees treasures number more
than the cane and hardtack. Saved from the depredations of soldiers,
Mrs. Rees has treasured a set of cups and saucers that were among the
bridal gifts of her grandparents. She has also a set of silver spoons that
were made from shoe buckles of her great-uncle, who presented them to
her grandmother. The shoe buckles had also seen war service, and were
on a pair of shoes worn by Mrs. Rees's uncle when he came over to
America from Ireland over a hundred years ago.
This website created June 12, 2011 by Sheryl McClure.
© 2011 Kansas History and Heritage Project