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brigades and regiments, were entrusted to members of our regiment for safe delivery. It was a duty, comrades, that took us to the farthest front, into the thickest of the fight, into the greatest possible danger, and the record has yet to be made that the confidence thus reposed in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry on the battlefield of Chickamauga was in a single instance misplaced.
One comrade has said: "I was told to take two men and find General Granger, somewhere on the extreme left”-and he has described the thrilling and dangerous ride they had, and how, finally, they succeeded in finding not only Granger but Thomas, also, and the orders were safely delivered. Another comrade has related that he remembers distinctly that the line was broken in front of the Dyer House, and he has described our position as being drawn up in line immediately in the rear of headquarters, and how General Rosecrans was moving about in front, and as he came through the thicket Colonel Palmer rode up to him and said: “General, shall I charge with my regiment,” and the reply was: “No, Colonel, you had better take your command a little further to the rear.” Now, to show the ground covered by us in the performance of our duty in this battle, I wish to refer to an event that occurred on the right and which has not been spoken of before, that I remember. You know that on the night of the 18th the line of battle was changed, and although the fires were kept burning along the front, the army was moving all night in solid, compact mass in the rear of that line of fires towards the left, to take up a new position and to form the new line of battle. Just at that time it was necessary that Colonel Minty, commanding a considerable portion of cavalry somewhere on the extreme right, should be communicated with. That duty devolved upon an entire company of our regiment. That company left headquarters, in the vicinity of Crawfish Springs, about dusk on the evening of the 18th, and soon after, in the darkness, came upon this solid mass of infantry making the movement toward the left. It was a surprise so sudden that in an instant, instinctively, without orders, thousands of muskets were cocked at once, and the men who had filled the road from side to side broke to the right and left, and the sound of the cocking of those thousands of muskets, and the rustling of the leaves in the woods, struck terror to the hearts of the men of that company which can hardly be described. It was necessary to explain quickly, and the explanation was made none too quickly, I can assure you. I do not believe, comrades, that a company of cavalry during the entire war was ever so near complete annihilation as was company I on that occasion, although not a shot was fired. Colonel Minty was found; the orders were, instructing him that the line of battle was being changed and to come in a little closer, and as the sun rose bright and clear on the morning of the 19th, the bugle call of "boots and saddles," from regiment to regiment, echoed and re-echoed among the hills and mountains at Blue Bird Gap. My comrades, the scene that presented itself to our gaze on the morning of September 20, '63, I think, simply baffles description. What a grand rush and charge in overwhelming numbers the enemy made, battery after battery was quickly taken, although the most heroic efforts were made to hold the guns. Our own regimental line, formed to resist the attack, was pierced in several places, the enemy taking position in our rear, behind the trees, and firing at us as we fell back to form a new line, of which we formed several in our vain efforts to check the retreat. But notwithstanding all this great confusion and carnage, we left the field with a compact organization and a column practically unbroken, and were soon admirably posted in the valley near Lookout Mountain, where at the time some of us, at least, thought that Wheeler with his cavalry would come sweeping down upon us in an effort to take Chattanooga in our rear. From that position we moved into Chattanooga and occupied Cameron Hill. One company had been sent up on to Lookout Mountain to watch the movements of the enemy. It was a narrow escape for them, and they succeeded in rejoining us by coming down the rugged and steep side of the mountain near the point with their horses from summit to base, and reaching us just as the enemy was closing in around the town. Young men who have visited this field and been on Lookout Mountain since the war, have said: "That story of yours about a company of your regiment being cut off on Lookout Mountain and escaping by coming down its side with their horses," as I have described, "must be one of your fairy tales of the war. It does not seem possible that they could escape in that way." There are comrades of company L here to-day, however, who know that the description I have given is correct.
This, comrades, is something of our experience in the battle of Chickamauga. Time will not permit me to go more into detail.
We were mustered into the service as a regiment on August 22, 1862. Young, untried, no experience whatever as soldiers, but full of patriotic fervor, the detachments hastily sent from our camp at Carlisle to Antietam performed the duty assigned them there better than, at the time, they thought they did. This has been amply testified to by competent authority long ago. An unfortunate event, however, occurred in our Antietam experience. I refer to the capture of our commander and organizer, Colonel Palmer. Had he been successful in his last mission into the enemy's lines, and been able to return to us at once, I believe that, after these many years we can agree, much if not all of the trouble and disappointment and spirit of.discontent that befell us as a regiment during the succeeding two or three months, would have been avoided, because it is fair to presume, in the light of subsequent events in our regimental history, that we would have been speedily perfectly organized; and as a well-organized and equipped regiment of cavalry, had we arrived at Nashville, as we did, on the eve of the movement of General Rosecrans against Bragg-instead of two hundred and seventy-two men mounting their horses on the 26th of December, 1862, and eventually becoming the advance of the right wing of the Army of the Cumberland in the Stone River campaign-in my opinion the regiment in its entirety would have gone just wherever it was ordered to go. To say less than this would be to reflect unjustly on the patriotic spirit, discipline and bravery of men who were tried in the fire of battle on many fields, and never found wanting in any of these necessary attributes of the true Union soldier. Stone River was a dear experience for us, and December 29, 1862, just beyond Overall Creek, towards Murfreesboro, will never be forgotten; for, in the twinkling of an eye, as it were, nearly one-third of our number engaged were either killed, wounded or captured, and among the dead were found both of our majors who commanded in that brave but unfortunate charge.
Then came the period of reconstruction, reorganization. All I need say is that it was grandly accomplished, and during the time that the army lay at Murfreesboro we were frequently called upon and rendered efficient service, and when, at last, towards the close of June, 1863, the Army of the Cumberland moved out on the Chickamauga campaign, the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, as enthusiastic and perfectly an organized regiment of cavalry as could be found anywhere in the armies of the Union, with colors flying, was found in its appropriate place. From that time forward, until the close of the war and the pursuit of Jefferson Davis and our final muster out at Nashville, on June 21, 1865—under Colonel Palmer until his promotion, and afterwards Lieutenant Colonel Betts, who succeeded him in the command-the history of our regiment is the story of a succession of brilliant movements, well planned expeditions, and successful skirmishes and battles, that, for able direction on the part of its officers and bravery and endurance on the part of its men, will compare
the war on either side.
I have already referred to the Chickamauga campaign. After the battle of Chickamauga came the siege of Chattanooga, and very soon we were sent to the Sequatchie Valley to protect the corn and provisions there until they could be gathered together and taken to Chattanooga for the support of the army. From that valley the regiment moved early in December to assist in the defense of Knoxville, and for two months were actively engaged in our first East Tennessee campaign. I regret that I cannot speak from personal experience of the service rendered in this campaign. The company to which I belonged had been sent to Chattanooga and arrived there just in time to be assigned to duty, with the other companies already there, in the battle of Missionary Ridge. We returned to our camp at Pikeville mostly on foot and with no serviceable horses, and, of necessity, were ordered to remain in the valley. The campaign in front of Knoxville was one of the most brilliant in our regimental history, and I am sorry that time will not permit me to speak of it in detail from the record, but I have only to mention Mossey Creek, Dandridge, Sevierville, Strawberry Plains, Gatlinburg, to recall to those who participated the scenes of their great trials and triumphs.
The campaign having ended, the regiment, joined by the detachment Kft in Sequatchie Vaiiey, are again at Chattanooga, but with horses worn out and disabled. We are sent to Nashville to be remounted, and from there again start for the front, and are actively engaged in scouting the country in all directions from Chattanooga, and finaily reaching Calhoun, Georgia, from which place we are ordered on September 5, 1864, on what we call our second East Tennessee campaign. We became the advance of the expedition in force under General Gillem to assist General Burbridge in his attack on the Salt Works at Abingdon, Virginia. The main body advanced only as far as Carter's Station, on the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, but the Fifteenth pushes forward as far as Bristol, on the state line, having been engaged with the enemy not only at Carter's Station, but also at Vautauga Ford. We moved to Kingsport and there the command was divided Colonel Palmer, with seventy-five men, succerded in joining Burbridge and the remainder retreating to Bull's Gapwere closely pursued by superior numbers and compelled to fight at Kingsport and Rogersville, in which latter engagement the enemy were so bravely repulsed that the pursuit was ended there. Again we are at Chattanooga, and are constanly employed in scouting for two months, meeting bands of the enemy and taking many prisoners. And then came the battle of Nashville, and while on our march north and within sound of the guns of that great battle, we are ordered in pursuit of Hood's defeated and demoralized army. Rapidly we moved to Decatur, Alabama, and on the last day of the year 1864, in Mississippi, overtook and destroyed all his pontoon boats, together with the necessary equipments and a large number of wagons and other property, returning to Decatur with many prisoners, after having routed what opposition Roddy could offer, and completely defeating Colonel Russell's Fourth Alabama Cavalry on the last day of our return march. From Decatur we moved to Huntsville, and if ever men were tired and worn out and needed rest, we were. But rest we were not to have, for news of the enemy crossing the Tennessee River reaching camp, we were again on the move, and on January 16, 1865, succeeded in capturing almost the entire command of General Lyon at Red Hill, Alabama, returning with one piece of artillery and more prisoners than we had men. Our active service still continues, and we are constantly employed in scouting, meeting and routing bands of the enemy on all our expeditions. Before the spring campaign of 1865, opens we are again supplied with fresh horses and again march to Chattanooga, and are ready for our closing campaign of the war. The Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry became one of the regiments of the First Brigade, First Cavalry Division, Department of East Tennessee. That division, about five thousand strong, left Knoxville the latter part of March, 1865. Moving over the mountains into North Carolina was begun one of the most extended and successful expeditions in which we were ordered to take part. We proceeded north as far as Wytheville and Christiansburg, Virginia, and one battalion of the Fifteenth as far as Lynchburg, making a demonstration that struck consternation and confusion into the ranks