Wallace W. Dickinson was born in 1831 in Johnson, Trumbull County, Ohio, the son of Connecticut natives Ezra Dickinson (1800-1886) and Cynthia Phillips (1802-1852).
Ezra and Cynthia were married on November 20, 1820, in Johnson (or Johnston), Ohio. Wallace received his education in Hiram, Ohio, where he was a classmate of future United States President James A. Garfield. In 1836 Ezra moved his family to DeKalb County, Indiana where his father farmed for some years. By 1840 Ezra was living in DeKalb.
In 1842 they moved to Hicksville, Defiance County, Ohio, in order to be closer to the deaf and dumb asylum located in Hicksville, since several of the Dickinson children were deaf mutes.
By 1850 Ezra and Cynthia were living in Hicksville and Wallace was living with his family and working as a teacher. Wallace’s mother died in Hicksville in 1852, after which his father then moved back to DeKalb County, settling in Wilmington Township. (Ezra would enlist in 1861 in Company F, 44th Indiana infantry.) Ezra eventually remarried twice perhaps three more times: to Elizabeth or Eliza Lounsberry (1815-1874) in 1852, to Sara Woodbury in 1874, to Mary Calwell (1810-1882) on July 7, 1878, and to Rebecca Siebert (1822-1899) on April 22, 1883. Ezra died in Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana, in 1886.
Sometime around late 1855 Wallace, along with his brothers Phillip and John, left Ohio and headed westward, spending the winter with friends in Casnovia, now part of Muskegon County, Michigan. That following spring Wallace along with his brother Phillip came to Newaygo County. On March 7, 1855, the two brothers
came to Fremont, then called Newfoundland, . . . where they spent their first night in the “old log house.,” On the 9th they pre-empted the northeast quarter of section 34, southeast quarter of section 27, and southwest quarter of section 26, all in township 13 north, range 14 west, now known as Dayton.
They then returned to Casnovia, where they hired a yoke of oxen and sleighs of Michael Krieger and moved in, reaching Harrington’s shanty, April 1, 1855. They put up a shanty on the northeast quarter of section 34, April 4th, and commenced keeping “bachelor’s hall.” The first night they staid on their land the snow was 20 inches on a level, and their bed was a flat piece of pine with the starry firmament for a canopy. A huge fire was kept up all night, and the next day, finishing their shanty, they moved in. Wallace was installed as “chief cook and bottle-washer,” a post he filled with entire satisfaction to all concerned.
That same April Wallace was elected town clerk for the newly organized Fremont Township. Wallace “was a pronounced anti-slavery man,” wrote one observer. By 1860 he was working as a daguerreotype artist in Newaygo, Newaygo County.
Wallace stood 5’5” with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was 30 years old and living in Newaygo County when he enlisted (probably in early May) as Third Sergeant in Company K on May 13, 1861. Wallace was settling into camp routine at the County Fairgrounds, just south of Grand Rapids, where the Third Michigan was forming for service, when he wrote to a friend in Newaygo County on May 12
I presume you have learned ere this that the Companies composing the Third Regiment that were enlisted for three months have been disbanded, and a new enlistment commenced for three years, or during the war. This was announced to the regiment on Thursday last week, and to some it came like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. Some Companies were terribly thinned. -- The Portland Company were entirely broken up, and the men have returned home. But let it be recorded to the honor of the Newaygo boys, that out of the twelve men who joined capt. [Byron] Pierce’s Company I [K], not one left the ranks, but have re-enlisted for three years. We are in good quarters, and every day makes some improvement. The Regiment is quartered on the Fair Grounds near the city. Barracks, Eaeing [Eating?] Saloon and Hospital are now built or nearly so, and a Bath House will soon be erected, where the men can bathe two or three times a week. It is not known how long we shall remain here; but we may not leave this summer, but it is probable that we shall go within two or three weeks. Our destination will probably be Cairo. My pass expires at 6 o’clock p.m. and I must close.
The Third Michigan Infantry left Grand Rapids on Thursday, June 13, and arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday, June 16. They marched out of the city passed Georgetown and camped along the banks of the Potomac River at Chain Bridge. On June 27, 1861, shortly after the Regiment arrived in Washington, DC, Wallace wrote home that
as Captain B. R. Pierce of Company K, was forming his company for dress parade, Sergeant Dickinson stepped forward, and in behalf of the company, presented to the Captain an elegant dress sword. It was a very agreeable surprise, as it was an expression of the high spirit which the company entertain for their gallant commander. The sword and belt cost 30 dollars. At the same time company F, through Sergeant [Abram] Martindale, presented their Second Lieutenant, Peter A. Bogardus, with a handsome regulation sword and belt, costing 22 dollars. Both presentations were accompanied by neat speeches, and responded to in appropriate and feeling terms. The fortunate recipients of these favors were taken completely by surprise, as they had received no intimation of the affair until the time of presentation.
Wallace was present for duty with the regiment through 1861, and by February of 1862 (probably as early as late November or early December of 1861) was on detached service recruiting (probably in Michigan). He returned to Virginia, probably in late March or early April of 1862, and was present for duty as of April 30.
During the Peninsular campaign in the spring of 1862, Wallace wrote occasionally to the Mecosta County Pioneer describing the recent developments in the Regiment. On May 3, he wrote from Camp Winfield Scott, Virginia that
The ‘siege of Yorktown’ has not progressed sufficiently to furnish interesting material for a communication, however enough has been accomplished to give us a clue to future operations. That General McClellan intends to reduce Yorktown by a regular siege, is quite evident; and that it will be the last great battle of the war, is very probable. Our works are on such an extensive scale, that it is impossible for one who has been here only a few days to give anything like a full description of them. The peninsula, formed by the James and York rivers, at the point occupied by our troops, is about seven miles in width, and along this whole line, and within a few hundred yards of the rebel works, redoubts and rifle-pits are being thrown up, and siege guns and mortars planted. When this work is fully accomplished, a shower of iron hail will be rained upon the rebels which will be irresistible, and they must ultimately surrender or evacuate. We do not indulge the hope, however, that we are to win a bloodless victory. if the rebels fight at all at Yorktown, they will fight desperately; for Yorktown lost and all is lost. The enemy shell our works and our working parties constantly, but thus far with but little effect. The work goes on as steadily, and surely, as though there were no rebel batteries within reach. Several shells exploded within the redoubts occupied by the Michigan Third, yesterday, but no one was seriously injured. Occasionally a shell is thrown in rather an unpleasant proximity to our camp, but s long as no one is hurt we don’t care much about it. I found the Croton and Big Rapids’ boys well and in good spirits. Fare has been rather hard since their arrival here, but they do not complain. They are ready to submit to greater hardship if necessary, for the preservation of the Union, and the overthrow of this wicked rebellion. The troops have the utmost confidence in their Commander, and he has confidence in them. Another week may pass away without a battle, but when it is fought, it will eclipse, in the numbers engaged, the amount of artillery and the awful grandeur of the conflict, any battle yet fought on this continent. It has rained constantly for the past week, but the weather is now more favorable for field operations. We have just received the intelligence of the capture of New Orleans, and it is rumored that Norfolk as surrendered.” Dickinson ended his letter with the hope that he would “with you on the next anniversary of our national independence, to celebrate it without a single star being obliterated from our nation’s banner.
A little over a week after the Third Michigan fought its first major action at Fair Oaks, Virginia (also known as “Seven Pines”), on May 31, 1862, suffering terrible losses, Wallace wrote that the “Grand Army” of the Potomac
have again met the enemy in a hand to hand contest, and again the armed hordes of Davis and Johnson have been fairly beaten by the brave defenders of the Constitution and the Union. It is true that during the most of Saturday the rebels obtained a temporary success, and rested Saturday night in the tents belonging to Casey’s Division, but ere Sunday’s sun had crimsoned the western horizon, he had been beaten back with terrible loss; and when darkness put an end to the conflict our forces had recovered all the ground that had been lost, and had advanced a mile or two beyond their original position. It is quite evidence that Casey was surprised, although picket firing had been heard for two hours before the real attack was made. Picket firing had been so common that nothing serious was apprehended, until the enemy were upon them in force. Being attacked in front and on their flanks the Division made only a feeble resistance, and, in the language of General McClellan, gave way “unaccountable and discreditably;” but as hinted at above there seems to be some extenuating circumstance connected with the retreat. Casey’s troops were raw recruits, and it is not surprising that they should have retired from a position that the best troops in the world could only have held with the greatest difficulty. Casey having been routed so easily, the enemy, encouraged by their easy conquest, pressed on, flushed with success, and confident of victory. Gen. Heintzelman now ordered forward a portion of Kearny’s and Hooker’s Divisions with instructions to check the enemy at all hazards. Gen. Kearny, anxious to carry out his instructions, selected for the work berry’s Brigade. They had won the battle of Williamsburg, and were destined again to save the army from a disgraceful retreat within sight of the rebel capital. The “Gallant Third”, which had for many months been anxious to meet the enemies of their country, led the advance; and having reached the wood in which lay concealed their mortal foes, they sent up a shout that announced to the enemy that they were again face to face with “the Brigade of sharp-shooters” that drove them from the woods and slashings at Williamsburg. The Third found themselves opposed by four rebel Regiments, but by a well directed fire, and several splendid bayonet charges, scattered them like sheep. The Michigan 2d and 5th, and New York 37th fought with their usual coolness and bravery. Our loss is 30 killed, 124 wounded and 15 missing. Company K, in which are most of the Croton and Big Rapids boys, was very fortunate, losing one killed and two wounded. Horatio Barnhard, of Co. H, from Dayton, Newaygo County, received a slight wounded in the head. Colonel Champlin was wounded in the hip during the early part of the engagement. Capt. [Samuel] Judd, Company A, was killed, and Capt. Lowen [Lowing], Company I, wounded. Alex. French was among the sharpshooters, and came out without a scratch. Our Colors were brought down four times. The Color Sergeant and one of the guard was killed, and three of the guard wounded. John G. Carpenter was one of the guard and he had a musket ball pass through his hat. Tommy Byers, of Croton, (a witty Irishman,) saw during the fight a large secesher trying to secret himself in the brush. Tommy went up to him and informed him that his assistance was needed to carry off a wounded captain. He good naturedly complied, and took the captain on his back and carried him to the rear. R. Skeels, Company H, from Fremont, was among the sharpshooters, and finding he could not retreat across the slashings without exposing himself to instant death, secreted himself in a brush heap. Here he was discovered by two of the enemy. When they came within his reach he shot one of them, while the other in turn shot at him, but seeing the muzzle at the same time he saved his life, with the loss of a finger. Not having any bayonet on his own gun he was yet at the mercy of his foe. But holding the rebel piece firmly in his hands he cried out, “Shoot him boys, I’ve got him”. The rebel, supposing there were more Yankees near by, left on the double quick time. Our whole loss was less than 3,000. The enemy’s loss is much greater. We have buried already more than 1200 of their dead. Prisoners taken acknowledge a heavy loss, especially in killed, and say they were badly beaten. They admit that their cause is almost hopeless, and express a desire that the war would soon close. They say they are tired of the sport. Georgia and Alabama men say that their States went out of the Union for fear that the abolition party would become so powerful as to control the nation. They knew the republicans were conservative, and would not interfere with Slavery in the States, but they feared the growth of abolitionism North. In speaking of the Crittenden Compromise, a Lieutenant of the [Wade] “Hampton Legion” [of South Carolina] said, “The South never would have accepted it as a basis of settlement. They claimed that a State had the right to secede; and if South Carolina could do better out of the Union than she could in it, it was her undoubted right to go out. And other States had the same right.” We expect another battle this week, unless the enemy pursue their old policy and evacuate. Gen. Johnson is reported mortally wounded. McClellan will probably besiege Richmond as he did Yorktown, and compel them to fight or evacuate.
Still optimistic, Wallace closed with the hope that “within a few days [he would] witness the surrender of the rebel capital.”
Shortly after the battle of Groveton, Virginia (Second Bull Run), on August 29, 1862, a member of the Eighth Michigan infantry wrote to a friend describing the recent ordeal. He apparently knew Wallace and thought little of him as a soldier. J. F. Doud of Dayton, Newaygo County, wrote to his friend William Utley in early September that the Third Michigan had been “cut up badly in the fight on Friday”, August 29. Doud heard that Dickinson had disappeared during the fighting. “I asked some of the boys where he was and they said they had not seen him since just before the fight, when they saw him going toward the hospital and they thought the rebels had got him. They said they hoped he had for he was always sick when there was any prospect of a fight. I guess he would do better taking likenesses than he does soldiering.”
In fact, in late September Wallace admitted in a public letter that he had in fact been sick since possibly late July, and was by inference not with the Regiment on August 29. On September 26 he was apparently with the Regiment encamped at Upton’s Hill, Virginia when he wrote and apologized to the editor of the Mecosta County Pioneer
for not writing during the past two months.
Having been quite unwell for two months past, I have neglected to write you as I intended to do occasionally. I do not know as I shall be able to give your readers any news of importance, but I will endeavor to give them an idea of the gallantry of our brave boys in the late battle at Manassas [of August 29], in which our Regiment was engaged, and in which they suffered very severely. I will not attempt to describe the fatiguing march from Harrison’s Landing to Yorktown, nor the more disagreeable part of our journey up the Potomac on the decks of a crowded boat, with scarcely room to stand erect. Arriving at Alexandria, we remained overnight and next morning took the cars for Warrenton Junction. Jackson having made a raid into the rear of our army, burning cars and destroying Railroad bridges, the Divisions of Hooker and Kearny began a retrograde movement, and on Wednesday, Aug. 27th, Gen. Hooker came up with and attacked the enemy near Catlett Station. After a brief but bloody struggle the enemy retreated toward Manassas. Kearny and Hooker were now ordered to move on to Centreville, which was accomplished with but little opposition. On Friday, August 29th, Gen. Kearny’s Division became engaged, and among the Regiments brought under fire was the Third Michigan. The point where our Regiment engaged the enemy was to the right and three miles beyond the old battlefield of 1861. The bravery of the “Gallant Third”, that had been fully tested at the battles of Fair Oaks and Malvern Hill, was to be tried again, if possible, by a more terrible ordeal. That your readers may form some idea of the murderous fire with which it was received, I have only to state, that out of 260 men that went into the fight, only 120 came off the field unharmed! Within the space of fifteen minutes 140 of our number was either killed or wounded! The rebel Regiments that poured in such a destructive fire were posted on the opposite side of a narrow field, in the edge of a wood, and it was while charging across the field that the Regiment suffered most. On their right was a rebel battery, also one in front, while they sustained a galling fire of musketry from the front and both flanks. But this was not enough. An annoying fire from a Pennsylvania Regiment killed and wounded several of our men. None but veteran troops would have stood up against such a terrible fire, but our brave boys not only stood firm, but charged across the field, driving the enemy from the fence corners into the cover of the woods, maintaining their position until ordered to retire. Col. Champlin, not yet recovered from wounds received at Fair Oaks, was at the head of his Regiment and led them into the fight. But in the early part of the engagement his partly healed wounds received fresh injury, and he left the field, leaving the command to our gallant Maj. Byron R. Pierce. With no intention of detracting from the merit and bravery of our gallant officers, I must say that every man in the ranks, with few, if any, exceptions, proved themselves heroes. Among the many names I might give, I can only mention a few that will be familiar with your readers. Sergt. James O’Donahue, Big Prairie, Sergt. George French, and Corp. Alex. French, Big Rapids, R. Misner, and brother James, Big Rapids, E. Riordon, Marengo Prairie, Frank Gooch, Color Corp., and Fred Higbee, Croton. Another name I must not omit to mention, S. D. Thompson, Newaygo, since promoted to Sergeant, for gallant conduct. R. Misner had several hair-breadth escapes, having bullets pass so near him as to draw blood, but inflicting no serious injury. All of our wounded are doing well. We are now encamped on Upton’s Hill, which is about one mile from the famous Munson’s Hill. The Regiment now number only about 170 men fit for duty. It is rumored that our Brigade is to go to Centreville within a few days. There is nothing of importance from the army of the Upper Potomac. It appears that our army are yet on the Maryland side of the river. The President’s proclamation is generally received with favor among the troops.
Some years after the war, the War Department claimed that Wallace was subsequently listed as absent without leave as of August 28, and by the end of October he was listed as a “private” and on extra duty as a nurse in Three corps hospital since October 10, although other sources simply list him as working as a hospital attendant in October.
In any case, he was reported as a nurse in Third Corps hospital in November, in the hospital (possibly Third Corps) at Alexandria, Virginia in December, in January of 1863 he was a nurse in Third Corps hospital, and was discharged on January 26, 1863, at Third Corps hospital near Fort Lyon, Virginia for “valvular disease of the heart probably existing to some extent before enlistment but much aggravated since by exposure & hard marching.”
After his discharge from the Third Michigan Wallace returned to Newaygo County and briefly entered into a business partnership with a former member of Company F, Stephen Thompson, making builder’s lime.
However, Wallace apparently tired of the business world and soon reentered the service as Second Lieutenant in Company A, Tenth Michigan cavalry at the organization of that unit, and was mustered on July 18, 1863, at Grand Rapids, commissioned July 25, crediting Newaygo. The Tenth Michigan cavalry was organized in Grand Rapids between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.
By mid-winter of 1864 the Tenth cavalry was on duty in Kentucky, and on February 25 Wallace wrote to the Grand Rapids Eagle (he became a regular “correspondent” for that paper) that “An opportunity has not yet been offered for the regiment to make a record for itself of ‘heroic deeds’, which I have no doubt it will make when the opportunity does present itself, (or they will prove themselves unworthy of the name of ‘Michigan men’) therefore I will have to confine myself to the ordinary occurrences of camp life.”
We left Camp Nelson [Kentucky] on the 25th day of January, and reached Camp Burnside, which is located at the junction of the north and south branch of the Cumberland [river] the 2d day of February. The regiment remained here but two days, when, on account of a scarcity of forage, it was ordered back to Somerset, and next day sent out into the country by battalions to forage. We went out in the vicinity of Fishing Creek, where by vigilant and persevering search corn and forage was found in sufficient quantities to supply us one week. The inhabitants, in anticipation of such friendly calls, had, in some instances, concealed their corn in obscure caverns and among ledges of rock, and had concluded that it would be “a right smart chance” if the Yankees found it. The method of operation was as follows. Having ascertained where forage was to be found we encamped near by, and immediately informed the owners that Uncle Sam's horses needed corn and must have it! The universal reply was, “I have barely enough to bread my family, but you will find ‘a right smart of corn’ at my neighbor A's.” In procuring the corn this rule was strictly adhered to: to leave sufficient corn for the support of the family, and give government receipts for the quantity already taken. There were a few cases where the owners of the forage seemed willing to divide their substance with the government. Two days our battalion encamped in the vicinity of the Mill Spring battle field. The battle was actually fought some ten miles from the Springs. I was over the battle-ground and saw the spot where the rebel chieftain fell. The battle was fought in a thick wood, and standing trees scarred with musket balls bear testimony to the fierceness of the conflict. One can almost imagine that he hears the quick and sharp firing of the pickets, the unearthly yells of the rebels as they drove back our Indiana regiment, and the wild cheers of the “boys in blue”, as they drove the “butternuts”, in utter confusion and dismay within their entrenchments. Col. Fry has the honor of having fired the fatal shot that deprived the rebel forces of their leader, but it be a common report among the inhabitants that the fatal missile was a minnie rifle ball! Having spent a very pleasant week on Fishing Creek we left for Camp Burnside with many regrets -- no doubt -- on the part of those with whom we had formed agreeable but brief acquaintance! Camp Burnside is a new military post, situated at the head of steamboat navigation on the Cumberland river. Owing to the rapids below the point navigation is difficult for barge . . . boats during the summer and autumn. A large quantity of army supplies are being brought up the river to this point, which are designed for the several posts established between here and Knoxville, Tenn. The distance to Knoxville, from this point, [is] some hundred and ten miles. The road is barely practicable for loaded teams, but [the] Government is making such improvements upon it that promise to make in time a very good military road. Government committed a grave error in not constructing a railroad from Nashville to Knoxville last summer. Beside being of incalculable value in a military point of view it would have been an immense saving of life and money.
On February 4 Company A (Dickinson’s company) received orders to proceed to Jacksborough, Scott County Tennessee, by way of
Montecello and Pambyville, for the purpose of examining the road, the forts, etc., and to look after any guerrillas that might happen to fall its way. With fifty men under the command of Capt. Standish and Lieut. Senro [?], we crossed the south branch of the Cumberland, by ferry, at 3 p.m., and marching about five miles encamped for the night at Alexander's Chapel near nashville, Tenn. Our particular reason for stopping here was that our horses needed corn and Mr. Newell happened to have the desired article! The corn was measured out to us by the owner of the plantation. You can judge my surprise and indignation when he informed me that he was a slave! a slave with blue eyes, fair complexion and thin lips! Said I, “you are as white as I am; how came you to be a slave?” “My mother was a black woman and a slave -- my father a brother of my present mistress.” He would seek freedom but for the sake of his wife he would remain and wait the result of the war which he believed would result in the emancipation of the colored folk. Here was a fine illustration of the moralizing and christianizing influences of the “peculiar institution”. Next day at 4 p.m., we reached Montecello. Here we learned that a band of guerrillas numbering from 90 to 100 men had, the day before, robbed a store at Parmlyville taking the whole stock of goods amounting in value to $1,000. Maj. Alexander is organizing a battalion of cavalry at Montecello composed entirely of Kentucky and Tennessee men. From three to four hundred have already been mustered into the service. Remaining over night at this place we continued our march next day, passing through Palmyville. . . .The guerrillas had gone up the creek, and as our route was down and across it the chances for coming in contact with them were greatly diminished. Fording the Little South-Fork three times at this point, we begin to climb the mountains by a steep winding road among the rocks. Having gained the summit, the road is quite good to the opposite side of the mountains, which descending we reach Rock Creek. The mountain scenery is grand and had it not been for the severe cold it would have been a pleasant trip. Having reached the base of the mountains an amusing incident occurred, which I will venture to relate. People generally, who have corn or forage are not very anxious to have cavalry camp near them, and resort to many expedients to prevent it. As we rode up to a farm house and halted, an old lady came to the door with her head bandaged, and looking quite a picture of despair and said, “Captain, I don't know, but my neighbors say that I have the small-pox! I thought it my duty to inform you, that you might go on and not expose your men!” “It makes no difference madam,” says the captain, “we all have had it!” When we left next morning, the old lady was convalescent and entertained hopes of a speedy recovery. Leaving Rock Creek we ascend another mountain, and half way over it we cross the Kentucky and Tennessee line into Scott County. Marching about 18 miles we reached what is called the Welch Settlement. We stopped over night with an old Baptist Minister, a Welchman [sic]. He came to this country seven years ago --purchased 10,000 acres of land in Scott County at fifty cents per acre. The land is not of the best quality, but with proper cultivation will produce tolerable crops. The old gentleman had a large library (a rare thing in a southern family) and was quite intelligent, and a warm supporter of the administration. Huntsville, the County seat of Scott County, contains about twenty dwellings, only two of which are now inhabited. Most of the citizens of the village were at the commencement of the war seccesionists, and were driven out by the loyal men of the County. A secessionist is not allowed to live here. Before the breaking out of the war Scott County contained seven hundred voters, twenty-five of which were secessionists. Of the latter those who were not killed, were driven out of the County. More than one-half of the Unionists are now in the United States service. Copperheads would not be very safe among such Unionists. Having reached the junction of the new route with the old Knoxville road, via Chetwood Post, we returned to Camp Burnside by the latter route. The road via Montecello and Parmlyville is impracticable for loaded trains, beside being 20miles farther than the present route. The regiment have just returned from a guerrilla hunt down the river, but did not succeed in finding any. Orders have just been received for us to go to Knoxville. No a wagon is to go through, not even an ambulance. forage and rations to be taken through on pack mules. The regiment will be supplied with 200 mules for that purpose. It is rumored that we shall be attached to the 9th army corps under Burnside; if so our stay at Knoxville will be short. The health of the regiment is not as good as could be desired. We left over two hundred sick at Camp Nelson, and there are 87 sick at Somerset. Capt. Shepherd, Co. F, is quite sick and will go to Lexington. He has been compelled to resign on the account of ill health. Capt. Stevenson, Co. D. is very sick in hospital at Camp Nelson. Col. Foote has been indisposed for several weeks but is much better, and will, of course, go with us to Knoxville. Major Armstrong joined us this morning. We are glad to see him back again. The sick of the regiment who are left and cannot go with us, are to go to Michigan, under the charge of Mr. Cherry, our Chaplain. Mr. Cherry deserves the gratitude of all who have friends in the 10th for the faithful manner in which he has discharged his duty as Chaplain. He has given his undivided attention to the wants of the sick, and although he has not read to us long sermons he has made a practical application of the doctrines and precepts of christianity by “visiting the sick” and “administering to their necessities”. We leave tomorrow or day after for Knoxville, where we expect to have something to do.
The Tenth remained in camp near Rutledge, Tennessee through the end of February. On Saturday, February 28 the regiment broke camp but, according to Dickinson, “owing to the delay in getting our pack train in readiness, the regiment went into camp a mile below the point.” They resumed the march on Monday, March 1.
All our corn and oats for our horses and commissary stores was packed on mules, for which purpose about 400 side-saddled and panier were furnished. Each mule was calculated to carry 225 pounds. The panier was filled with oats, and thrown over the saddle, and on the top was fastened, by means of a long strap, a sack of corn. The two first days experience in packing was rather interesting, as the packs were constantly pulling off in the mud; but the boys soon learned how to pack the mules, and there was no more difficulty in that direction. We arrived at Knoxville Sunday evening, March 6th, having marched 110 miles,the distance from Camp Burnside to Knoxville, within 7 days. During this time we had to days of rain and one of snow and sleet, and muddy roads the most of the way. Several had fords [that] had to be crossed over and at Clinton, we ferried the Clinch river. There was only one small scow with only capacity sufficient to carry over 18 horses at a time. Our advance companies crossing Saturday noon, and the whole command was not across until Sunday at noon. We remained at Knoxville but a few days, when we received orders to go to the front. Who ever heard of a Michigan regiment being any where else but at the front? Agreeably, to orders, the regiment broke camp yesterday, March 15th, and moved out of the city in the direction of Strawberry Plains. We were to report to Morristown, but by a subsequent order, we were directed to go, via the mouth of the Chunky creek, which empties into the French Bread river. This not only brought us to the front, but the extreme right of our lines. Turning to the left before reaching the creek, we continued our march towards Morristown; and arriving within 4 miles of the place encamped for the night. The 3d Indiana cavalry, who were near by, had just had a skirmish with rebel cavalry, and, from this and other indications, we began to realize that we had found what we had so long been talking of -- “the front”. Next morning, at an early hour, “boots and saddles” sounded, and we were on the way to Morristown, just in time to have the honor of covering the retreat of our army, which was accomplished in fine style, and without the firing of a single musket! The movement was not anticipated by me; but I had been accustomed to witness such movements in the army of the Potomac; and, therefore, it gave me no uneasiness. We fall [sic] back to Mossy Creek, and go into camp Friday night. The whole army are at Mossy Creek and Strawberry Plains.
On Sunday, March 20, Company A was sent on a reconnaissance across the Holstein river to Rutledge, the County seat of Granger County.
Crossing the river at Dyer's ford, our route was through a thinly settled and broken country, for about 7 miles, when we struck the main road running from Strawberry Plains to Rutledge, within one mile of the latter place. Arriving near the town, the advance guard was directed to go to the right and left, and surround the place, while the main force charged through the center of the village. The maneuver was executed in a splendid style, but fortunately for the enemy, (and for us, perhaps,) he was not there. Remaining in the village long enough for all of us to get something to eat, (the inhabitants very kindly furnished us with cornbread and butter,) we returned to camp by the same route we came. Rutledge is quite a village; and, before the war, must have been a place of considerable importance. It is the County seat of Granger County, contains a hotel, several store-houses, several brick buildings, and a court-house. It is about 36 miles from Knoxville, 28 miles south of Cumberland Gap. Business of all kinds is dead, and the stores are closed. There is neither tea, coffee, sugar nor whiskey for sale. What coffee the people do get, they purchase of the soldiers. Morristown is a place of much more importance. It is on the railroad running from Knoxville into Virginia, and about 42 miles from the city. The buildings are principally of brick; but, like all southern villages, it is almost ruined by the war. The country from Knoxville to this point is fine. The valleys are narrow but fertile and well supplied with water. But little preparation is being made to put in spring crops. Farmers have but little encouragement to repair their fences, for they do not know what hour a regiment may camp near them and burn their fences again. Thousands of acres of good farming lands will remain untilled for want of fences. Society is in a deplorable condition. Schools and church services are no longer known. The colored people do meet, however, occasionally, to listen to their colored pastor, who endeavors to break to them “the bread of life”. The slaves seem to be the happiest and most united class of people in the country. They all seem to have an idea that a great change is to take place in their condition, and like all their sympathies are with the Union cause. Among the white population, "the father is arrayed against the son, and the mother against the daughter, and a man's foes are of his own household", and neighborhood. No one is safe, especially outside the Union lines. Thousands are leaving the state, for the North; nor is the migration confined exclusively to Union men. Men whose sympathies and hopes are with the South go North, on account of the prospect of heavy taxation if the Confederate Government should be sustained; but mostly for the reason that the hope of successfully resisting the Government has utterly perished. Not an intelligent Union man, in this section of the state, entertains a doubt as to the final and speedy overthrow of the rebellion. Monday, March 21st, the 7th Ohio and 9th and 10th Michigan Cavalry, under command of Colonel Girard, went to Russellville, 6 miles beyond Morristown, on a reconnaissance, and returned Tuesday night, without having discovered any enemy. Tuesday it snowed all day. In the mean time, the 4th army corps, under Gen. Wood, had advanced from Strawberry Plains to Rutledge, on the road on the north side of the Holstein. Wednesday, orders were received to march our regiment to Rutledge, via Dyer's ford. Crossing the river, we encamped for the night, and Thursday noon, reached Rutledge. The 4th corps was just falling back towards Strawberry Plains. All the infantry forces having retired, we followed in their rear, and encamped, about sunset, on Richland Creek, 6 miles from Rutledge. What these maneuvers mean I do not pretend to know; but I think it is to hold Longstreet's forces as long as possible, in Tennessee; and at the same time, avoid a general engagement. Col. Foote, whom we left quite ill at Knoxville, has partially regained his health, and is now in command of the regiment. Lieut. Col. Trowbridge commanded in his absence. Maj. Smith commands the 1st Battalion, and is universally liked by officers and men. The boys say, “He's got the fight in him”. Maj. Newell and Maj. Armstrong are both good officers and have the confidence and respect of their men. Our Quartermaster, Taylor, is an efficient officer. Lieut. Byrley, Co. H, is now acting as Commissary. The health of the regiment will now compare favorably with any other in the service. Many who were left sick at hospitals in Kentucky are rejoining the regiment, and we shall number more effective men, one month from this time, than we do now. Dr. Spaulding, and his co-laborer, “Mr. Shaw”, are unremitting in their efforts for the relief and comfort of the sick. Our Chaplain, Rev. Mr. Cherry, makes himself useful in carrying the mail and visiting the sick. The Presidential question, which seems to be so agitating the North, is but little discussed among the soldiers. But, so far as I have heard preferences made, in 9 cases out of 10, it has been in favor of “Old Abe”. The soldiers enlisted to put down treason under the administration of Lincoln; and, although he may have committed some grave errors, yet they believe him to be honest, and desire, above everything else, to overthrow treason during his Administration. Among the soldiers, no man can be nominated for the Presidency who would poll so many votes as Abraham Lincoln. Saturday, the 1st and 3rd battalions went on a scout across the mountains into Platt valley. Sunday afternoon, Company A, the advance of the 1st battalion, discovered a detachment of the 1st Tennessee rebel cavalry, numbering about 200 men. Lieut. H. W. Lenn, with a squad of men, charged the enemy, who fell back. Having ascertained their number, Co. D dismounted and advanced as skirmishers, firing several volleys. The enemy were followed about 4 miles, when the pursuit was given up. Before the main body of the enemy had been discovered, John M. Gibbon, Co. A, was acting as one of the advance videttes on foot. A horseman rode into the road a few rods in advance of him, in our uniform; and, riding up, drew a revolver, and informed John he was a prisoner. “Give up your gun.” “Well,” says John, “I suppose I will have to do it”, and, in bringing his repeater from his shoulder, he threw a ball into the barrel, cocked his piece, and shot his captor through the heart, took his horse and saddle, and revolver, and took them to the company. Co. I have gone to Cumberland Gap, with dispatches. The 3rd battalion have just returned from a few miles above Bean Station. They brought in a Captain of a Guerrilla band, and two of his men. What future movements will be none can divine. It seems that 15,000 of Longstreet's men are yet in the vicinity of Bull's Gap, and a small cavalry force at Rogersville.
By the third week of April of 1864 the regiment was camped near Bull’s Gap. Dickinson wrote to Michigan that the Tenth
which have been resting at Strawberry Plains for a few days, received orders, on the 20th inst., to be ready for a march. Accordingly, on the 21st, six companies, under the command of Lt. Col. Trowbridge (Col. Frost being quite sick and unable to take command) went out as far as Mossy Creek, where we were joined by two companies under Maj. Smith, who had preceded us to that point a few days [earlier]. The object of the expedition, of course remained a secret; but it was intimated that we should be out ten or fifteen days, and, at Bull's Gap would be supplied with pack mules and saddles. Leaving Mossy Creek, and passing through Newmarket and Morristown, we went on to Russellville, Jefferson County, and encamped. It was gratifying to see, along the route, farmers engaged in repairing their fences and cultivating their farms. The Government is doing all within its power to encourage and protect the farmers through this section of country; and it is to be hoped that their efforts may prove a success. The season is unusually backward, and but little planting has been done. There are many fine fields of wheat and oats in the vicinity of Newmarket, and at the other points along the route. Russellville is quite a village and about equally divided on the issues between the Government and insurgent States. We reached the Gap today, about noon, went beyond about three miles, and encamped. -- Our forces here consist of the 3d Indiana cavalry and a brigade of infantry. Trains are running daily from Knoxville to this point. The roads are in tolerable condition. Lieut. Col. Trowbridge has just come from the Gap, where he has been since noon. By him I learn that we move tomorrow, with six days' rations -- these to be carried on wagons. We are to be furnished with wagons instead of pack mules. Our destination is yet a secret, and I can only conjecture. I think it quite likely that we shall go into Virginia. The 3d Indiana cavalry go with us. The people of Green and Washington counties, Tenn., are quite anxious that we should go there, to protect them from conscription. Small parties of rebel cavalry are scouring the country, taking every able-bodied man, and killing Union men. The roads are lined with men, women and children making their way into our lines. If the government forces could hold their position here, it would be a great advantage to East. Tennessee, by supplying the great demand there is now for laborers. Refugees from Virginia, and the most extreme counties of Tennessee, are to a great extent supplying the deficiency, and will continue to do so as long as they can have the protection of our arms. A few of the 90,000 Union men, who have been driven from their homes and . . . take refuge in a neighboring state, are returning to their families, which, but for the presence of our army, would be at the peril of their lives. The policy of the government allowing open and violent secessionists to save their property by taking the “oath”, meets with but little approbation among Union men. They are doing the government infinitely more harm in conveying intelligence of our movements to the enemy than they could possibly accomplish in the rebel ranks. A prominent citizen of Russellville remarked to me that they were the most bitter secessionists in the country. Said he: “These men have pointed us out to the rebel authorities, and have been the means of driving us from our homes and families, and now are acting as spies for the rebel government. These men will not be permitted to live in our midst.” The wholesale massacre of our troops at Fort Pillow, presents a new and terrible nature to the war. The government should demand for all of its soldiers, the usages of war. But if the rebel authorities desire to make this a war of extermination, we have only to say, “lay on Macduff, and damned be he who first cries hold! enough!” “Their blood be upon their own hands”. The weather is fine and roads good. We hope to give you a good account of the 10th within the next ten or fifteen days. Major Smith is with us; and if there is any chance for a brush, he will not fail to improve the opportunity.
On April 28 Wallace wrote that the chance for action for the Tenth had come at last. Apparently the Tenth had been given orders to destroy
the railroad and bridges from this point to Centre Station, 57 miles from here, and the destruction of the railroad bridge at that point across the Watauga river; second, the capture of any rebel forces that might be at the last-mentioned place. To accomplish this, it was necessary to send forward the Cavalry, as rapidly as possible, to Watanga Bridge, while a brigade of infantry was advanced as far as Jonesboro, to finish the work of destruction in the rear. The result of this strategy will be developed in General Sherman's operations in Georgia, within the next 15 days. The 10th Michigan Cavalry and the 3d Indiana Cavalry were placed under the command of Lieut. Col. Trowbridge -- Maj. Smith commanding the 10th Michigan, and Capt. Herriott the 3d Indiana.-- The infantry moved out several hours before day-light, Sunday morning, the cavalry following at an early hour, and passing the infantry before 7 o'clock a.m. It was expected that rebel cavalry would be found at Jonesboro. Passing through Greenville and Rheatown, we encamped, Sunday night, within 12 miles of Jonesboro. Monday morning, about 9 a.m., we reached Jonesboro, and charged through the village, with the hope of taking a few prisoners; but having been informed of our advance, they took the precaution to leave 15 minutes before our arrival. While resting our horses for a short time, the rebels made a sudden dash for our pickets, and took one of the boys in Co. F prisoner. Col. Trowbridge, having learned that there was a force of 3 three or four hundred infantry at Watanga Bridge, or Centre Station, besides a brigadier general, with two squadrons of cavalry, between him and the latter place, dispatched Major Smith, with the 1st battalion, under Capt. Stevenson, and three companies of the 3d Indiana, to the left, by a road that struck the river two miles below Centre Station, at Massengill's Ford, with the design of crossing the river, and attacking the enemy in the rear, while he, with companies B, C, G, H and M, under Capt. Weatherwax, with the balance of the command, moved down the railroad and attacked him in front. This plan, properly executed, would have resulted, without a reasonable doubt, in the capture of the whole rebel force. Major Smith reached the ford without opposition, but, owing to the swollen condition of the [river], found it impossible to effect a crossing, he then moved up the river to the railroad for the purpose of forming a junction with Col. Trowbridge. The enemy's pickets were driven in, and two captured. The Maj. reached the railroad just above the station, about 15 minutes before Col. Trowbridge came up, charged the enemy and drove him into his rifle-pits and forts this side of the river. It was evident that the enemy outnumbered us, and were snugly posted in rifle-pits and forts, behind rocks and fit buildings on both sides. It seemed a rather hazardous attempt to dislodge him with a cavalry force; but Col. Trowbridge and Major Smith are not the men to retire without a vigorous effort to accomplish the object of their mission. The nature of the ground rendered a charge on horseback impracticable. In order to reach the rifle-pits and for this side of the river, it was necessary to pass over the open field for about 500 yards, then up a steep hill. Companies A and D were held in reserve, while companies B, C, F, G, H and M, dismounted and advanced as skirmishers. Coming within range, the encountered a terrible fire, and lay down to escape annihilation, having advanced within 60 yards of the fort, the command to “charge” was given, when the whole line sprang forward, dashed up the hill and drove the enemy pell-mell out of the fort and down the hill, some taking refuge in a stone mill and other buildings, and some crossing the river. Having taken the fort, Capt. Weatherwax prepared to charge on the bridge. Captain Weatherwax moved forward, but it was too desperate for any but Maj. Smith and 8 others to attempt. They received a murderous fire, and the gallant captain fell with a bullet through his heart. Maj. Smith was the first to reach the fort, next Capt. Weatherwax's Quartermaster Sergeant, Co. H, and Capt. Bryant the next. A more gallant charge was never made. Before it was Lieutenant Brooks got his mountain howitzer in position, and made some fine shots. The works were abandoned for some reason, but were soon reoccupied by companies A, D and B. Both sides kept up a brisk fire until darkness put an end to the conflict. Both parties rested on their arms, to resume the fighting in the morning. Morning came, and the firing was resumed and continued until we were ready to move back, which was accomplished without loss, and in the most perfect order, company A acting as rear guard. It was with much regret that we have to record the death of Capt. Weatherwax of Co. C. The regiment loses in him one of its finest and most gallant officers. Below is a list of the killed and wounded of the regiment. Killed -- Capt. Weatherwax, private Wm. Shaw, Co. I. Wounded -- Peter Hall, Co. A, in the left shoulder, severely; Charles Bigelow, Co. I, in foot, severely, but not dangerously; William Simpson, Co. H, left shoulder, severely; Sergt. N. Decker, Co. H, left arm and side, severely; Emery Pereol, Co. B, in thigh; Oscar DeLong, Co. B, severely; Asa L. Porter , Co. C, slightly; John Knapp, Co. M, slightly. Missing -- Freeman Blanchard, Co. H; Stephen Baker, Co. I. Prisoners -- Alonzo Beckley, Co. C. The 3d Indiana lost two killed and four wounded. We took ten prisoners -- two Lieutenants and eight privates. I learn, from citizens who left the battle-field soon after we retired, that the rebel loss was 19 killed and quite a large number wounded. -- although all was not accomplished that could have been desired, enough was done to entitle is to the proud name of Michigan soldiers. Col. Trowbridge deserves much credit for the splendid manner in which the battle was conducted throughout, and Maj. Smith for his promptness in executing the orders communicated to him. Officers and men acted in a manner that would have done credit to [a] veteran regiment.
The rebels destroyed the bridge across the Watanga river, which was the main object of the expedition, and withdrew most of their forces during the night.
We are back at Bull's Gap, and will fall back in the rear of our forces that are falling back to Knoxville. A sufficient force to render Knoxville safe will remain; the balance with go to Dalton, Georgia.
The Tenth cavalry remained near Bull’s Gap until the night of April 29, when it was ordered to fall back to Morristown. On April 30 the regiment
reoccupied its old camp at Strawberry Plains. In the mean time General Schofield issued an order for us to go to Chattanooga; but, through the remonstrance of Gen. Tilson, the order was countermanded. Our horses were not in condition to do any service after so severe a march; and it was for this reason that the General was induced to let the regiment remain in this department. We were all anxious to go, but I think we shall have plenty to do here before many days. Citizens living in the vicinity of Carter Station, and deserters, agree in putting the rebel loss in the fight of the 28th of April at 30 killed and about the same number wounded. The 10th was highly complimented by General Schofield for their good conduct, and gallant charge on the rebel works. Maj. Smith has been ordered to Knoxville, to serve as Assistant Inspector General in General Tilson's staff. His fine social qualities, splendid military qualifications and gallant conduct on the battle-field, had made the favorite of the regiment, and it was with sincere regret that we parted with him, even for a brief period, for we are hopeful that he may return. We are not, however, without good officers. Col. Foote and Lt. Col. Trowbridge are with us, and Maj. Newell is expected to return within a short time. Maj. Armstrong is sick at Knoxville. We are all feeling well over the good news from Georgia and Virginia. The news of Grant's splendid victory over Lee, in his own chosen position, the presence of Gen. Butler between Petersburg and Richmond, is received by the troops with the wildest enthusiasm. It is rumored, with a good showing of probability, that General Sherman has succeeded in entraping [rebel General Joseph] Johnston, with "Fighting Joe Hooker" in his rear. Telegraphic dispatches from Gen. Tilson, the purport of which was that a division of rebel cavalry is advancing with the evident intention of making a demonstration at this point, and destroying the bridges, put us on the alert, and last night scouting parties, under Capts. Bailey and Roberts, and one under Lieut. Wilde, were out on different roads, while the horses in camp remained saddled, and everything in readiness to repel an attack. Capt. Bailey came in about noon, reporting that he had failed to discover anything of an alarming character, but that Capt. Roberts had seen a small body of rebel cavalry. Lieut. Wilde, who went out in the direction of the French Broad, has not been heard from. It is the determination of Col. Foote to hold this post at all hazards. There are, doubtless, a number of rebel scouts in this vicinity, but I question very much the presence of any considerable number of the enemy. But, if there should be, they will not find us napping; and should they make an attack, you may expect to hear of a handsome repulse. A negro regiment of heavy artillery is being raised and organized for the defense of Knoxville. Serg't Bigelow, of Co. D, is recruiting for it, and will have a Lieutenancy. I forgot to mention, in my former letter, the prompt attention given to our wounded at Watanga Bridge by our Surgeon, Dr. Scott. He was promptly on the field with an ambulance, and was not deterred by a few stray bullets from doing his duty. Interrupted letters from a rebel officer indicate that it is their purpose to give no quarter to colored soldiers, or officers commanding them. They speak of the Fort Pillow massacre as justified, and only hope that the United States will retaliate. The South can never be subdued. Defeated at Richmond, they will take to the mountains, and carry on a guerrilla warfare. This is all very fine; but when the loyal men of the South learn to play at their own game, guerrillas will "play out". A party of bushwhackers were attacked a few days ago, near Bridgeport, by an equal number of loyal citizens, and badly whipped. There is in this Department a Col. Fry, a citizen formerly of Green County, Tenn., who is doing valuable service to the Government. He, with a small party of scouts (all Tennesseeans) are constantly scouring the country, taking prisoners, and watching the movements of the enemy. The Colonel invariably carries with him one of Spencer's repeaters, and half a dozen rebels have but little business with him. He captured the notorious guerrilla Reynolds and 15 of his band, a few weeks ago. He knows no fear, and his hatred of traitors is only surpassed by his sincere love for the Union.
On May 23 Wallace wrote to the editor of the Eagle
Some little excitement was occasioned in our usually quiet camp, by a report, brought in by Col. Fry's scouts, a few days ago, that Vaughn, with a brigade of cavalry, was at Morristown; and in all probability, with a design to surprise our camp, annihilate the Tenth, and destroy the railroad bridge! To guard against such an event, improbable as it was, substantial rifle pits were soon constructed; and, in the language of Col. Foote, each man resolved to make this spot immortal by defending it to the last. On Tuesday, the 17th inst., Col. Fry, with a number of his scouts, had a skirmish with about 30 rebel cavalry, at Newmarket. To ascertain the true state of affairs, the number and design of the enemy, a detachment, consisting of 15 scouts, under Capt. REynolds, and 60 men from the 10th, 35 from the 1st battalion, under the command of Lieut. Wild, Co. F, and 25 from the 2d and 3d [battalions], under Capt. Roberts and Lieuts. Fitch and Morehouse, all under the command of Capt. Standish, was sent out, about 1 A.M., Thursday morning, with the design of surprising any rebel forces that might be at Newmarket. Reaching Newmarket early in the morning, it was ascertained that a force of 30 or 40 rebs had been there, Monday morning, and had left about 10 P.M., in what direction was not ascertained. It was thought very probable that they had gone to Danbridge; and, after the boys had procured a good breakfast, the march was resumed, Capt Roberts and a part of the scouts taking the direct route to Danbridge, while Capt. Standish, with the balance of his command, proceeded via Mossy Creek. Capt. Reynolds, with his scouts, was in advance of Capt. Roberts, and, charging into town, found himself and seven of his men,prisoners. The rebs relieved him of his wallet, containing 60 dollars in greenbacks, and took what little change his boys happened to have. The Captain, smelling hemp pretty strong, informed them that they could not hold them, as Capt. Roberts and Capt. Standish would soon surround them with a large force. At this moment, Lieut. Fitch, with a portion of Capt. Roberts' men, came dashing into the village, closely followed by the Captain, with the balance of his command. The rebs sprung into their saddles and skedaddled in every direction, leaving the Captain and his scouts behind. Capt. Standish, who had unfortunately been delayed at Mossy Creek, did not arrive as soon as he intended; and, consequently, the rebs effected their escape with less punishment than they would otherwise have received. Lieut. Wild, with the advance, encountered a number of the enemy before reaching the village and charged them. A running fight was commenced, our boys putting their horse to their utmost speed to overtake the flying foe. The rebs, to avoid capture, jumped their horses and took to the woods, closely pursued by our boys, who sent them their compliments in the shape of “Spencer's pills”. The rebs having been cleaned out, and the horses unsaddled and fed, the boys with the consent of the Captain “went for something to eat”. Good meals were soon prepared for them, at the expense of rebel citizens, and others who chose to feed them. -- They came away with many thanks to the people of Danbridge for their hospitality, with the promise to call again, whenever a sufficient number of rebs were there to make it pay. The rebel loss was one killed, several severely wounded, and three prisoners, also six horses, with bridles and saddles complete. Our loss was one killed (one of Col. Fry's scouts) and a corporal in company M, wounded. Capt. Standish gives a good account of both officers and men who accompanied him, and they are equally lavish in their praise of the Captain; for said they, “He not only gives us plenty of fighting, but he sees that we get plenty to eat”. On the whole, it was a splendid affair, and furnishes another evidence that Michigan men will fight. In a former article, I forgot to mention that Company I, as well as all the rest of the companies in the regiment, with the exception of A and D, held in reserve, and C, L and K, who were at Knoxville, were in the first charge on the fort, at the battle of Watanga Bridge. Companies I and F met with a very severe fire, but gallantly charged up the hill into the fort. Vaughn is in the vicinity of Bristol, with about 300 men. Scouting parties from 30-75 men are in Green and Washington counties, stealing horses and robbing Union families, and running off conscripts. -- I apprehend that they are not very anxious to meet with the Michigan 10th; but, unpleasant as our company may be to them, we shall give them an occasional call. Maj. Smith is at Knoxville. Maj. Newell is expected to return soon, with 60 men for the 10th Michigan Cavalry, Col. Foote is in usual good health, and in good spirits. The health of the regiment was never better than now. We are all rejoicing over the good news from Grant and Sherman. I see, by the Eagle, that the 3rd Infantry have been in the thickest of the fight, as usual. I am glad to see that Col. B. R. Pierce (my old Captain) is unharmed. Heroes of more than a dozen hard fought battles, may God protect them.
On May 28 Wallace was part of a detachment under the command of Colonel Foote, “consisting of 11 commissioned officers from the 10th, Capts. Reynolds, Carter and Walker, as guides, and 160 men (20 men from each company) and 10 of Reynolds' Scouts,” which left camp at Strawberry Plains with orders to disperse or capture
a band of guerrillas, under the notorious Bill Fry, who were in the vicinity of Greenville, committing every kind of outrage upon Union citizens. Maj. Arnold, with 60 men, was also known to be somewhere in that vicinity. How far and how well the purpose was accomplished, the sequel will show. The officers accompanying the expedition were, Col. Foote, commanding, Lt. W. W. Dickinson, Acting Adjutant; non-commissioned, E. R. Hall, Sergt. Major; Christopher Rawlings, Chief Trumpeter; and . . . Hendrick, Regimental Saddler; Capt. J. H. Standish, Acting Major; Capt. Thomas, Co. C; Lt. Harebuck and Lt. Field, Co. D; Lts. E. Cummins and J. Wild, Co. F; Lt. J. Morehouse, Co. H; Lt. G. N. Farnum, Co. I; and Lt. Ed. G. Fechet, Co. M. Capts. Reynolds, Walker and Carter (Tennesseans) accompanied the expedition as guides, and rendered very important service, and to them we are indebted in a good degree for the success of the enterprise. Saturday we encamped near Morristown. Sunday, May 29th. -- Resumed the march early this morning, nothing transpiring of any interest until near Russellville where two men, in citizen's dress, were discovered across a field, evidently endeavoring to avoid us. They were brought to a stand and examined. 300 dollars in Southern State money was found in their pockets, and 600 dollars in gold and silver in belts around their persons. Not being able to give a satisfactory account of themselves, Col. Foote sent them, in charge of Sergts. Covell and Bradley, to the Plains. On their way back, the boys took another prisoner, and took him to camp. Subsequently it was ascertained that the first two belonged to Vaughn's command, and were, without doubt, smugglers and spies. Passing through Russellville about noon, the command reached Bull Gap, about 3 p.m., and unsaddling our horses and turning them out to graze, bivouacked for the night. Monday, May 30th. -- From all the information that can be obtained, it is evident that a band of guerrillas are at Greenville, or in that vicinity. To ensure their capture, the following plan was adopted: Capt. Thomas and Lieut. Harebuck, with Co. C and five men from Co. D, with Capt. Carter as guide, are to occupy the road above Greenville, leading to Jonesboro. Lieut. Soule, Co. G, and five men from Co. D, with Capt. Reynolds as guide, are to occupy the road leading from Greenville to Rogersville. The balance of the command, under Col. Foote, are to advance on the Greenville road; and, when within a mile of the village, Lieuts. Field and Fetchet, with Co. M, and 10 men from Co. D, are to make a detour to the right, and occupy the Warm Spring road, and each detachment are to get in their several positions and at precisely at 2:30 p.m. Capt. Thomas and Lieut. Soule separated a few miles beyond the Gap, the former taking the Snaps Ferry road, via Romeo, to Carter Station, ont he Rogersville road; the latter the Babb Mill road, forming a junction at Center Station. Having me here, it was ascertained that six rebels had, a few minutes before, robbed the house of a loyal citizen, named Maloney. Instant pursuit was ordered, resulting in the killing of two of the rascals, and the capture of the other four and six horses. Capt. Reynolds captured a man by the name of Biggs, and took from him a pair of revolvers, that were taken from him (Reynolds) in a skirmish at Danbridge, 10 days before. Proceeding on the Rogersville road, to Carter Station, Capt. Thomas took a country route, and occupied the Jonesboro road; while Lieut. Soule proceeded on the Rogersville road to the outskirts of greenville. In the meantime, Col. Foote had arrived within a mile of Granville [sic], and dispatched Capt. Wallace to occupy the Warm Springs road, above intimated. Order of battle -- Lieut. Farnum, Co. I, deployed as skirmishers, to left of the road, with intervals of ten rods between troopers, joining his left with the right of Lieut. Soule's line of skirmishers, deployed in the same manner. Lieut. Morehouse, Co. H, deployed to the right of the road, in a similar manner. Lieut. Cummins, Co. F (Lieut. Wild with four men having been sent to capture Maj. Armia, who was reported to be at his father's, but the major had left a few minutes too soon) was to charge through the village, while Capt. Standish, Co. A, was held in reserve, to act as circumstances should require. It is now 20 minutes past 1 o'clock, and ten minutes are required to enable Lieut. Field and Fetchet to gain the Warm Springs road, Up to this time, the enemy are unconscious of our presence; but, a few minutes later,, a lookout from the Court House announces to his comrades that the village is surrounded by Yankees! What minutes of suspense! The ten minutes are up; and, having advanced about 80 rods, Co. A and the skirmish line is ordered forward at a gallop. Lieut. Cummins charged through the village, and captured a Lieutenant and one man, passing the main body of the enemy, who were concealed behind a hill near the Court House. Col. Fry who, up to this time, had remained invisible, suddenly appeared on the field; and, assuring the Colonel that he knew the precise position of the enemy, charged, with Capt. Standish, at the head of Co. A, up the hill by the Court House, driving the enemy in confusion down the road, killing them and capturing several prisoners. Capt. Standish continued the pursuit two miles, where the enemy made a stand behind some rocks, and the Capt., having but eight men with him, sergeant Nethaway, Corporal Urquhart, Corporal Brown, and Private Kelley, Co. A, and three men from some other cavalry, thought it prudent to send for reinforcements. It was at this point that corporal Brown was wounded. Lieut. Cummins, Wild and Manhomer, with 30 men, were sent to support Capt. Standish, and the pursuit continued for ten miles, the enemy taking refuge in the mountains. Nine of the enemy were killed in the chase, two taken prisoner, and several horses and small arms captured. The plan was perfect, and reflects much credit upon Col. Foote, both in its conception and execution. The only failure, if any, was in not getting to the Warm Spring road in time to cut off their retreat. It was a splendid affair, and is but another illustration of the fact that Michigan men will fight. Our loss was one man wounded in action. Col. Foote was wounded in the foot by an accidental discharge of his pistol on his way back to the Plains. The enemy lost, in killed 22; wounded 10; prisoners 26; horses 36; small arms 20-30.
Wallace wrote on June 14 that he was pleased to see an article in the Eagle of June 6 which gave
an account of a splendid affair at Greenville, in which a detachment of 160 men from the 10th Michigan cavalry, under Col. Foote, surprised a party of 106 rebs, under Major Arnold, killing, wounding and capturing 50 of them. The morning before the attack, Maj. Arnold had taken a loyal citizen and compelled him to enter into a bond of $5,000, to proceed to Knoxville and procure the release of one of their number, who had been imprisoned. “Tell Col. Foote, d___n him! and his cowardly regiment”, said he, “if he will come up to Greenville I will give him a sound drubbing.” The Col. was there sooner than the Maj. had anticipated, and the chivalry [cavalry] skedaddled most ingloriously, the chivalrous Major not stopping until he had found refuge in the mountains, nine miles distant from the battle-ground. He sent a note to his father, a few days after the fight, saying in palliation, that it was useless to contend with men who were armed with 15-shooters! Among the non-commissioned officers and privates who distinguished themselves for bravery and the capture of prisoners, it gives me pleasure to mention the names of Sergts. Marvin, Clark and Nethanun; Corps. Hynhart and Brown; privates Smith and Silas, Co. D; Sergt. Rose and private David Rolfe, Co. I; Sergt. Banks, Co. H; and privates Waldon and Brown, co. M. Sergt. Rose, dashing up to within a few yards of half a dozen rebs, was told to surrender. He replied, “I can't see it,” and, at the same instant, whirling his horse, received in reply a volley of bullets, several of them passing through his overcoat. Pat Kelly rode up to six rebs, supposing them to be some of his own party. Seeing they were about to make hostile demonstrations, he called out, as he quietly rode up to them, “ye fools; don't yer know yer own men? I am one of ya. Keep cool.” Having thus thrown them off their guard, he improved the opportunity to get into the bush, and, slipping off his horse, over the fence he made his escape, although a number of shots were fired at him at short range. I should have mentioned in my former letter, that Dr. Spaulding and “Uncle Shaw” accompanied the expedition, and were always on hand to attend to those who might need their services. A buggy was procured at Greenville to carry our wounded man to the Plains. A number of Libby prisoners, who made their escape while being transported from Richmond to Georgia have come in here during the past few days. A party who came in on Thursday, consisted of Lt. Col. O. C. Johnson, 15th Wisconsin; Capt. S. C. Honeyworth, 2d East Tennessee Mounted Infantry; Lt. W. P. Hodges, same regiment; Sergt. Thos. D. Chase, and Corp. James H. Whiteman, 5th Indiana Cavalry. Three came in today -- Sergt. E. B. Bigelow and private G. W. Beckwith, 5th Mich. Cavalry. The former is from Detroit, and had a brother in the 10th; the latter is from Grand Rapids, and had a brother in the 3d Infantry [Henry], who was killed in the last battle of Manassas [August 29, 1862]. They represent the rebels as despondent. They say, if Richmond falls, the game is up. Yesterday, a detachment of 200 men, from the 10th Mich. Cavalry, under Col. Trowbridge, started out on another expedition Will probably be gone 8 or 10 days. The celebrated Col. Dave Fry, with five of his men, was captured yesterday, near Mossy Creek, by a party of 30 rebels. -- He first encountered six of them; and, as with his usual practice, charged. The six fell back, drawing him into an ambuscade, when he was surrounded and captured.-- Immediately on the receipt of the news of his capture, Maj. Newell, with 20 men, went in pursuit; but was too late to render any assistance. A price was put on the Colonel's head, and he will doubtless share the fate of thousands of the loyal men of East Tennessee. The nomination of Lincoln and Johnson gives universal satisfaction, both to the soldiers and loyal citizens of East Tennessee. -- The vote of the Michigan 10th will be unanimously for “Old Abe”. The sentiment of the great mass of the army was aptly illustrated by a remark of one of our sergeants, -- “I won't vote against a Government that I am willing to support with my rifle.” Gen. Fremont's former supporters are justifiably indignant wit the position he is likely to assume in the coming campaign; and, if he permits his name to go before the American people for the Presidency, in this fearful crisis when the friends of the Union should be a unit, he will have dug his political grave so deep that the radicalism of this or future generations will utterly fail to resurrect him. How true the saying, “Great men are not always wise”. The health of the regiment is good. Col. Foote's wound is doing well.
For the rest of June and all of July things remained quiet in the camp of the Tenth Michigan cavalry near Strawberry Plains. On Monday, August 1,
Col. Trowbridge, with a detachment of 265 men, and one gun of the howizter battery, left camp, with the design of proceeding to Carter Station and destroying the railroad bridge at that point. Maj. Smith, who is always sure to be with us if there is a prospect of a fight ahead, commanded the 1st battalion, composed of Cos. A, I, L and D; Capt. Roberts the 2d, consisting of Cos. F, G, B and C. Tuesday morning, we encountered Maj. Arnold, with 100 men at Morristown. Showing fight, the boys “went for them”. A brisk skirmish ensued, in which six were wounded, among them a Lieut. mortally. Maj. Arnold adopted his usual tactics, by falling back. Reaching Russellville, we attempted to get in his front by a flank movement to the right of Bull Gap, by a road that struck the main Greenville road three miles above the Gap. Maj. Smith, with his battalion, was there in time, but the enemy avoided the trap, by taking Babb Mill road just after getting through the Gap. Next morning, when within a few miles of Greenville information reached us that Maj. Brazelton, with 100 men, was in town. Arriving near the village, the command charged through the place by different roads, but the cautious Major had left half an hour before our arrival. The enemy thus having notice of our presence in the country, it was thought imprudent to make an attempt to destroy the bridge in the face of a superior force, strongly entrenched. We remained at Greenville to rest the horses, and while here, two rebs came up to one of our videttes. When at a distance of only a few yards, they were halted, and, in attempting to make their escape, were wounded, one of them mortally. The vidette who handled them so severely was a private, Albert Platt, Co. A. Leaving Greenville, Wednesday afternoon, we reached the Plains on Friday, the 5th inst., without any further adventures. Col. Foote, having obtained a leave of absence, Lieut. Col. Trowbridge is now in command of the regiment. Maj. Armstrong, who had been in delicate health since last Spring, has been honorably discharged from the service. Capt. Standish will probably be selected to fill the vacancy. Quartermaster Sergt. Wm. Rand has received the appointment of Quartermaster of the 2d North Carolina Mounted Infantry (Col. Kirk's). The health of the regiment generally, is good. Mrs. Sears, wife of Capt. Sears, joined her husband at Knoxville, about thee weeks ago from the North. When the Captain was a Lieutenant in the 2d Michigan Cavalry, she accompanied him from St. Louis to the South, participating with him in the hardships and dangers of that campaign, and was a ministering angel to the sick and wounded. There is no political excitement. It is generally conceded that “Father Abraham” will be the “chosen one” to take the nation “through the wilderness”. I know of only one in the regiment of Fremont's former supporters who will not vote for Lincoln and Johnson. The truly loyal supporters of East Tennessee will give a unanimous vote for the nominees of the Baltimore Convention.
A raid by confederate general Joe Wheeler into eastern Tennessee disrupted communication between Nashville and the camp of the Tenth Michigan cavalry in late August and early September. On September 9 Wallace wrote the Eagle
saying that “there has been but little mail received or sent from this point for the last three weeks.” However,
Communication being once more established, I desire, through the columns of the Eagle, to furnish the friends of the 10th Mich. Cavalry, with a brief account of the warlike operations of the past three weeks, in which the regiment has borne a conspicuous part, furnishing additional evidences of its powers and valor. On the 10th of August, a cavalry expedition, consisting of the 9th Tenn., Lt. Col. John Brownlow, 13th Tenn., Lt. Col. Ingersoll, 10th Mich. Cav., Lt. Col. Trowbridge, a detachment of Col. Hicks' mounted infantry, and the 1st Tenn. battery, Lt. Patterson, left Strawberry Plains, under the command of General Gillman [Gillam], Col. Miller commanding brigade, with the design of occupying Bull Gap, and proceeding up the country as far as might be necessary, to find the enemy. The 9th and 13th Tenn. cavalry are both new regiments, and have seen but little action. The 10th Mich. Cavalry, under Col. L. S. Trowbridge, consisted of nine companies, of about 40 men apiece -- companies D, I, and a portion of F, remaining at Knoxville, 60 remaining at the Plains under Capt. Standish. Wm. T. Merit, Adjutant, and Lt. Brooks, A.Q.M., accompanied the expedition. The 2d battalion, composed of companies A, E, C, K, B and 10 men from F, was commanded by Maj. Newell; the 3d battalion -- C [?], H, L and M -- by Capt. Light. We reached the Gap on the 21st, and driving out a regiment of rebel cavalry, moved four miles beyond up Link Creek. -- Next day [22nd] we returned to Russellville. Early on the morning of the 23d, the whole command was marching toward the Gap, and occupied it, about 10 A.M., without opposition. We then moved on to Blue Springs, nine miles beyond the Gap, where the 9th Tenn. encountered a small force of the enemy. The 10th Mich. cavalry was now ordered forward, Co. A, Lt. Converse, taking the advance. One and a half miles beyond the Springs, the enemy was found in force occupying a strong position, his line of battle forming a half circle on both sides of the road, covered by a thick wood, while just in his rear through which the road passes, was a deep, narrow ravine, with high bluffs on both sides. In his front was a field of considerable extent completely covered by a heavy line of skirmishers concealed in the wood which nearly encircled it. Company A who was now 400 yards in advance of the regiment. A number of shots had been exchanged. Advancing through the open ground by a narrow lane within 100 yards of the enemy in our front the enemy opened a severe fire, when the men dismounted and returned it. The enemy now opened a severe fire on both flanks while a squadron of cavalry prepared to charge down upon us with the design of capturing the men before the could mount, and get out of their way. Discovering their designs, the company mounted their horses and fell back amidst a literal shower of bullets. -- Within two minutes five of our men were wounded and three horses killed. Lieut. Converse had his horse shot [out from] under him and made his escape on foot. Col. Trowbridge, seeing the perilous position of his advance, sent Companies E and 10 men of F, Lieuts. Dunn and Wild, K; Lieut. Soule, G; Capt. Roberts, B; and Capt. Sears, to their support, who came up most gallantly, and by a well-directed fire, not only checked the enemy, but hurled him back to his cover. The regiment now dismounted, the 2d battalion forming on the left and the 3d battalion on the right of the road. In the mean time, Lieut. Patterson got a gun in position in our rear and opened with shell on the enemy. Several guns were sent forward and supported by the 3d battalion, opened on the woods in front, Capt. Cummins, Co. L; and his men assisting in leading and firing the pieces. The 9th Tenn. made a detour to the right with the design of flanking the enemy, but the vigorous attack in front frightened [him out] of his position; and he was seen in full retreat. The command now forward following closely on the heals of the retreating foe. -- The enemy made a feeble stand at Greenville, but retired as soon as our charging columns entered the village. The 10th charged through the town, Company A headed by Lieut. W. T. Merritt and Lieut. Converse going to the extreme left with the hope of being able to cut off his train. Arriving at the College Building east of the village, on the Jonesboro road, the regiment dismounted and advanced in line of battle on foot, while two guns were opened on the enemy from College Hill. The enemy . . . continue[d] the retreat, the pursuit was abandoned and the command bivouacked for the night. The wounded were brought forward to Greenville where a comfortable building was procured for them and they were made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Too much praise cannot be awarded to our Surgeon, A. C. Spaulding, and Assistant Surgeon D. W. Scott, for their strict and constant attention to the sick and wounded on the field, regardless of danger; they have endeared themselves to both officers and men of the regiment. The enemy [suffered] at Blue Springs, of 27 in killed and wounded, and 16 at Greenville. The loss of the 23d was one killed and 9 wounded. A list is furnished below. The command moved to Rogersville on the 25th, to Bean Station on the 27th, recrossed the river at Crabbo Ford on the 30th, and reoccupied Bull Gap on the morning of the 31st. Capt. Kerner, A.G., was shot through the lungs, and was left at Greenville, and the rebels made him a prisoner after our forces left the place, and sent him to Richmond. . . . Lieut. Dunn had his horse shot [out from] under him. Sergt. Bradley, Corp. Woodard, Private Wilson, Co. A, had their horses shot. Corp. Dickinson was captured in the rebel charge, but when they were driven back, escaped, bringing with him a rebel prisoner. Casualties in the Michigan 10th: Private Benj. A. Norman, Co. A, mortally wounded by a shot in [the] bowels; Private Earl Schofield, Co. A, severely wounded by a gunshot in the side; Private David Irwin, Co. A -- gunshot wound -- right thumb amputated; Private Alonzo S. Jones, Co. A, slightly wounded by a gun shot in the left leg, below the knee; Private Pierce, Co. A, severely wounded by gun shot through the left breast and shoulders; [and a Sergeant of] Co. I, mortally wounded by a gun shot in the left leg, below the knee.
Shortly afterwards the Tenth Michigan cavalry again found itself in contact with the enemy. On September 2
Col. Trowbridge returned to the Plains [sic] on business, and Major Newell took command of the regiment; Capt. Roberts commanding the 2d, and Capt. Light the 3d battalion. On the night of the 3d, Gen. Gillam received information that Gen. Morgan, with a force of three thousand cavalry, and four pieces of artillery, was in the vicinity of Greenville, with the probable intention of making an attack on the Gap on the following day. Without waiting to be attacked in a position easily defended, Gen. Gillam determined to move on the enemy at once. At 10 p.m., we were suddenly aroused from our slumbers by the shrill notes of the bugle, that summoned us to headquarters. Maj. Newell ordered us to get our commands in readiness to march at midnight. Heavy masses of dark clouds in the west foreboded an approaching storm; and the order would have been more favorably received under less inauspicious circumstances. Nothing of an ordinary character could have induced the General to move on such a night as this. At 12, the 10th Mich. had reported at the General's headquarters. An hour later, the 10th being in advance, was carefully feeling its way through the thick darkness that had settled down on the hills and valleys, followed by two pieces of artillery and the 9th Tennessee cavalry. The 13th Tennessee cavalry had gone by another route, to come across the enemy's rear. Capt. Roberts, with two companies, E, and G, Lts. Dunn, Wild and Beach, took the advance. A heavy storm now burst upon us, which was emblematic of the storm of fire and sword that was about to burst upon the now-unsuspecting rebel chieftain, who was quietly reposing on his pillow, at Mrs. Williams', unconscious of approaching danger, and who only “awoke to hear his sentries shriek”, they come! they come! the Yanks! the Yanks! On we went, over heavy roads, and thro' turbid and swollen streams, lighted on our way by the “lightning's red glare”. The incessant flashes prevented us from running against fences, into ditches and deep gullies. Blue Springs was reached at daylight. -- One mile beyond, a sentry who was sleeping was taken in by our advance. Near the battle ground of the 23d, the enemy's pickets were driven in; and half a mile beyond, a rebel camp was aroused and skirmishing commenced. Capt. Roberts dismounting his two companies and advancing as skirmishers, driving the enemy from their first line of battle. Maj. Newell, being satisfied that there was work to be done, dismounted the regiment, deployed it on both sides of the road, and gave the word "forward". Spencer's rifles began to ring out their sweet (not so sweet to the rebs) music on the morning air. The enemy was pushed back so rapidly, that Gen. Gillam, who had several times selected a position for the artillery, was not able to give them a single shot. -- They formed behind fences and under cover of wood, but the 10th, with their seven-shooters, steadily drove them back for three miles. Firing was now heard at Greenville. The 13th Tennessee had gained the rear of the enemy, or, rather, had attacked him on his left flank. Two squadrons charged down through the village to Gen. Morgan's headquarters. Morgan had been aroused by the firing, and, hastily dressing himself, attempted to escape. Fate had otherwise decreed. He fell, not as a brave man desires to fall, at the head of his command, “charging on the foe”, but in a backyard, almost deserted by his staff, with his command surprised, broken, defeated, and flying in dismay and terror in every direction! Capts. James Clay, I. G. Withers, A. A. F. Rogers, A.D.C, and Lt. Anderson, of his staff, were captured. The chivalrous Clay had sought an asylum in a potatoe pit, but his retreat was readily discovered by a colored boy, who was well acquainted with the dodges of the Southern chivalry. He was, probably, attending to the duties of his office, by inspecting the potatoes for the commissary. He had, probably, discovered the “last ditch”. The enemy retreated by the Jonesboro road. The 10th, or a portion of it, occupied College Hill, while a portion of the command continued the pursuit. But the battle was over, and the fruits of our victory were ten rebels killed, including their General; several wounded, seven of whom fell into our hands; 68 prisoners, including Morgan's staff; one piece of artillery, two caissons, and one limber, with a quantity of ammunition captured, and the demoralization and total rout of the enemy. Our loss was slight, being two wounded in the Tennessee cavalry, and two in the 10th Michigan. Major Newell handled the regiment splendidly, and showed himself worthy, in the absence of Col. Trowbridge, to command so fine a regiment. Captain Roberts and Lieut. Wild, who had the command of the two companies at the beginning of the fight, and remained with them to the end, added something, if possible, to the good reputation they had already won in former engagements. In fact, all of the officers, Capt. Cummins, Capt. Cook, Thomas Light, Acting Major; Lieuts. Converse, Sherman, Morehouse, Hinman, Harebuck, Starkweather, Soule, Dunn, and Buell, acted with the utmost coolness and bravery. The conduct of the regiment is beyond all praise. If it had a good reputation before, it has won a splendid reputation in this department, in the past 20 days, not only in defeating Morgan, but in repulsing Wheeler at the Plains.
On September 14 Wallace mailed a letter to the editor of the Eagle in which he described the details concerning
the death of [rebel] Gen. Morgan. The Richmond Examiner, in giving the particulars of his death, represents him as being on a “reconnaissance”, and had taken lodgings at a house near Greenville, “occupied by the wife of one Williams, an officer in Burnside's staff”. “While he slept, Mrs. Williams rode 15 miles, and returned with a squad of soldiers.” “Morgan ran from the house, but was surrounded. He drew a revolver, and swore that he would not be taken alive, and attempted to break through the line, when he was halted by a volley!” It is needless to say that this statement, in the main, is false. If he was on a “reconnaissance”, it was in force of no less number than three thousand men and four pieces of artillery. But that he was “asleep”, that he “swore”, that he “attempted to run”, I have no reason to doubt. The facts in this case are that his command was surprised and whipped most beautifully, by a much inferior force; and, in the general stampede, Morgan, in attempting to escape, was killed. The attack on Strawberry Plains was made on the 24th of August, while most of our available force was up the country. Gen. Wheeler, having destroyed several miles of railroad between Loudon and Chattanooga, and finding himself cut off from Atlanta, concluded to make his way into Middle Tennessee. The river being too high to effect a crossing below, it became necessary to cross at some ford above Knoxville. Being thoroughly informed of our situation at the Plains, through citizen spies, Gen. Wheeler thought it an easy matter to cross at a ford near that point, surprise and capture the post, and replenish his stock of ammunition, an article of which he seems to have been in much need. That he should have failed in the accomplishment of his object, must have been as humiliating to the enemy as it was glorious to the handful of brave men who had resolved to defend the place to the last extremity. To give a correct idea of the situation, it will be necessary to give the location of the camp at Strawberry Plains. The post is located on the right bank, and in a bend of the river. The fort commanding the railroad bridge is built on an eminence two hundred yards above the bridge, and 100 yards from the river, which here runs nearly south. When 400 yards below the bridge, it gradually makes a turn to the west, which is its general course until some distance below the camp, the railroad from Knoxville running parallel to it. On the left of the railroad, going east, are our tents, on the slope of the hills; on the right, extending to the river, are low grounds. On the west and north are substantial rifle pits, covering the roads from Knoxville and down the Richland valley. There is also a rifle pit on the east, facing the river, connecting the fort and the bridge. On the opposite side of the river, the ground rises gradually, and, half a mile back, is wooded. The woods northeast of our camp, afford a good shelter for an enemy. One and a half mile below is McMillan's ford, where the enemy finally effected a crossing. A regiment also crossed 3 miles below, at Bailey's ford. That creek bridge, where Maj. Smith made his splendid charge, and which was destroyed by the enemy, is on the Knoxville road, 4 miles from this post. rumors of Wheeler's approach began to thicken. -- Capt. Standish had reliable information of his having crossed the French Broad, at Seven Island Ford, on the 23d. 60 men of the 10th Mich., mostly convalescents, with a few men from the Tenn. and Fisk's regiments, and one howitzer in the fort, were all the force he had at command. A telegraph dispatch to Gen. Tibou, apprising him of the situation, brought down from Knoxville two pieces of Colins' Illinois battery, and a company of Ohio heavy artillery, under Lts. Wilson and Miller. -- The Fort now mounted two 16-pounders, Rodman's rifled guns, and one small mountain howitzer, commanded by Capt. Colin. The small arms consisted of 52 Spencer rifles, 60 revolvers and 75 muskets. Capt. Standish made the following disposition of his meagre force: The right, resting on the river above the fort, was in charge of Lt. Wilson, Co. D, 1st Ohio heavy artillery. Capt. Samuel Bryan, Co. B, 10th Mich. cavalry, took charge of the rifle-pits on the left, and Lt. Botsford, Co. I, 10th Mich. cavalry, of the centre. The rifle pits for the protection of the railroad bridge, was in charge of Lt. D. A. Dodge, Commissary 10th Mich. cavalry. Early on the morning of the 24th, scouts reported a large force of the enemy within four miles of the Plains, on the Knoxville and Danbridge road. Ten men were immediately sent to McMillens' Ford, with instructions to hold it until further orders. At 9 a.m., the advance of the enemy had reached the ford, and, attempting to cross, were driven back by a severe fire from the guard on the opposite side. The enemy, being reinforced, made another effort, but were again driven back. Gen. wheeler, judging from the resistance offered, ordered up his artillery. Capt. Standish, hearing the rapid firing, dispatched Lt. Botsford, with six men, to the assistance of the ten heroic men who had now held the ford for three hours! But before he reached them, they were surrounded by a large force, that had crossed at Bailey's Ford, and eight of them were captured. Having captured the guard at the ford, the enemy crossed a part of his forces, at 2 p.m., the post was completely environed, the enemy's lines extending from College Buildings, above the bridge, on the opposite side of the river, to the ford below, and from the ford to the river above, on the north side. He had been informed that the “Yanks” had no artillery. Two of his guns opened on the camp, which soon elicited a reply from Capt. Colvin, from the fort. Throwing a few shells at random, some of which exploded within his own lines, on the north side of the river, the enemy now directed his attention to the fort. Capt. Colvin's second shot in reply dismounted one of his guns! About this time, Maj. Smith, with a detachment of 70 men, from companies D, I and F, had come up, from Knoxville, and attacked the enemy at Flat Creek bridge. In his first charge he captured a Col. and 40 men. In a second desperate charge, he broke an entire rebel brigade, sending it back in confusion on the reserves. The enemy, recovering from the shock, closed in around him in overwhelming numbers, and he was forced to cut his way out, losing his prisoners and 35 of his own men, and two commissioned officers, Lts. Weatherwax and Barr, who were made prisoners. It was, perhaps, one of the most gallant charges of the war, and had much to do in saving the Plains, by consuming the enemy's time and causing a diversion. The officers accompanying Major Smith in the charge, were Capt. Stevenson, Co. D, Lieut. Cummings, Co. F, Lieut. Manahan, Co. B, Lieut. Barr, Co. E, and Lieut. Weatherwax, Co. I, all of whom distinguished themselves. Lieut. Weatherwax, charging at the head of his company, first sent a Colonel to the rear. Meeting a Major who refused to surrender, he gave him a blow with his saber that sent him reeling from his horse into the mud. Another rebel who had come to the assistance of the dismounted Major, was served in the same manner. Lieut. Cummins, in cutting his way thro’ their lines, was thrown from his horse and severely injured. Capt. Stevenson made his escape on foot. On the night of the 23d, six Tennesseeans on picket were captured. They gave the enemy the exact force at the post, but informed them that we had no artillery. Being undeceived on this point, the next day, the enemy began to suspect that the pickets and citizens had deceived them. General Wheeler, having taken a view of the fort and camp with his glass, remarked, “You can't fool me; every rifle pit and sink-hole is full of those d___d Michigan men”. John Dunn, farrier Co. I, who was at the ford, had fired his last shot, when a South Carolina Captain entered the river; and when near the opposite shore, John drew up his Spencer's, but his magazine was empty. The Captain approached saying, --”You are my prisoner.” “You would have been a dead man,” was his reply, “had my rifle contained another bullet.” “I have a mind to shoot you,” replied the Captain. -- “I am in your power; do as you please.” The Captain extended his hand, saying, “It gives me pleasure to shake hands with a brave man once more. I will take you to the General.” John was introduced to the General as “the father of Yankees”. The General expressed his surprise that ten men should have held the ford so long, and remarked, “If I had a regiment of such men, I could march through h____l.” John G. Carpenter [formerly of the Old 3rd Infantry], who was among the number [captured?], informed me that he had a conversation with a young man formerly from Grand Rapids, Charley Bates. He belonged to Kelley's Scouts. He remarked that, although there appeared to be a division of sentiment at the North, with regard to the manner in which the war should be conducted, the South had but little to hope from that source. Yet officers and men seemed anxious to hear from the Chicago convention. “If McClellan is nominated and elected,” said they, “we shall gain our independence.” Gen. Wheeler, being satisfied that the Plains could not be taken without serious loss, withdrew his forces during the night, and, next, day, at sundown, crossed the Clinch [river] at Lee's Ford. The prisoners received the common civilities extended toward Union soldiers, being relieved of their hats, boots, and what greenbacks they happened to have in their wallets. Having crossed the Clinch, the boys were paroled. Capt. Standish deserves much of the credit for the skillful manner in which he conducted the defense. He has gone on a short leave of absence, with the design of securing recruits for the regiment. McClellan's nomination at Chicago, and his letter of acceptance, are not calculated to excite much enthusiasm in the army. Had he been nominated on an unequivocal war platform, he would have received a respectable army vote. The army is opposed to an armistice, and in favor of the draft; and, if conventions are to meet to make overtures of peace, they desire to make Grant President of one, and Sherman of the other.
During the first week of October the Tenth Michigan cavalry was involved in action near Carter Station, Tennessee.
The fight was mostly with artillery, both sides having an equal number of pieces. -- On the first day's fight, our guns were not fortunately posted; but, on the morning of the 2d, we got two pieces on an eminence, enfilading and completely commanding the rebel guns; and, by 11 a.m., they were compelled to abandon their position and fall back. The 10th were mostly employed in supporting our battery, and the men, many of whom were unaccustomed to the shrieking of rebel shells, stood the fire of their guns with the coolness and steadiness of veterans. The casualties in the 10th were one man wounded, private Wm. Norton, Co. K, accidentally. Lieut. Byery, Co. H, was struck a glancing blow on the left hip, by a solid shot, but, fortunately, sustained no serious injury. On the 3d and 4th, the command fell back to Greenville. The 10th reached the Plains on the 6th inst. The railroad bridge across the Watanga, at Carter Station, was destroyed. On Saturday, the 8th inst., Lieut. Sherman, Co. M, went into Powell valley, on a scout, with 25 men. On Monday, while in the vicinity of Thorn Hill, he was drawn into an ambuscade; and, after half an hour's desperate fighting, in which three of his men were killed and several wounded, he was completely overwhelmed, and forced to surrender. Lieut. Sherman was a brave and gallant officer, a Virginia by birth. -- five men, belonging to the scout, have come in, leaving 15 men as to the probable number made prisoners. Dr. Scott, with a small escort and a flag of truce, went out, day before yesterday, to bring in the wounded. -- he will, probably, be able to furnish additional particulars. Lieut. Col. Trowbridge left for Michigan on the 15th, on special service. Maj. Newell is now in command of the regiment. It is now settled that we go into winter quarters at the Plains, and preparations are being made for erecting suitable buildings. Sergt. A. A. Maxim, Co. A, has been promoted to Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant vice Quartermaster Sergeant Rand, promoted to be Quartermaster Sergeant Third North Carolina mounted infantry (Kirk's). Sergeant M. T. Nethaway is promoted to First Sergeant, vice Maxim, promoted. Thomas Shaw, Co. A, is promoted to be Hospital Steward, vice Charley Hartman, discharged. Captain Cummins, Co. L, will leave for Nashville tomorrow, to bring forward 200 recruits, said to be there for the 10th. The late Union victories in the North are received with no less demonstrations of joy than those achieved by Sherman in the valley of Virginia, both harbingers of an early and honorable peace. Gen. Breckinridge is said to be at Greenville, with a large force of cavalry. Gen. Gillam, with his command, now consisting of the 8th, 9th and 13 Tennessee cavalry, 15th Pennsylvania, and 3d North Carolina mounted infantry, and 1st Tennessee battery, of six guns, is still at Bull Gap.
In November of 1864 Wallace was serving with a detachment of troops who had been sent to Kentucky. On November 1-2
A detachment of the 10th Mich. cavalry, consisting of 200 enlisted men and four company officers, left Strawberry Plains, East Tenn., . . . the dismounted men, 136 in number, under Capt. S. Bryan, Lts. Morehouse and Dickinson, leaving on the night of the 1st; the mounted under Lieutenants Bryerly and Minihan [sic?], the next morning [2nd]. Capt. Bryan had orders to proceed to Cumberland Gap, via Bean Station, where he was to be joined by Lieut. Bryerly with the mounted men and led horses. -- From the Gap the whole detachment was to proceed to Lexington, Ky., to procure horses for the regiment; but subsequently were ordered to Camp Nelson. Our Surgeon, D. C. Spaulding, accompanied us. Our purpose in going via Bean Station was to gobble a party of guerrillas, but on our arrival, we learned that they had gone to Rogersville. We arrived at the gap on the 5th, after a tedious march, it having rained every day since leaving camp. Here we joined the other detachment, and, next day, proceeded on our journey. Cumberland Gap is probably one of the strongest natural fortifications in the would. 20,000 men, with a fair proportion of artillery could hold it against an army of 200,000. The 12th Mich. battery is stationed here. Monday, Nov. 7th, we reached Barkersville, the County seat of Kings County, Ky. Tuesday, moved on about 8 miles, and stopped to vote. The election passed off quietly. 71 votes were cast, of which Lincoln received 57, and “Little Mac” 14! By some unpardonable blunder, we were not furnished with the Ionia County Republican tickets; and a large number of the voters being from that County, were thus prevented from voting for Ferry. The consequences were that, through this and local causes, Hall received 20, while Ferry received only 14 votes. I might mention the names of Republican officers whose influence tended to this result; but I apprehend that it will not effect the general result, and therefore forebear. Knox County cast 600 ballots, 430 of which were for Lincoln. Laurel County gave 600 for Lincoln and 100 for McClellan. . . . Rockcastle gave McClellan only 14 votes! But, as anticipated, Kentucky has given McClellan a small majority. But the result, even in Kentucky, is most gratifying to the friends of the Union everywhere. The issues were plain, and a respectable minority of the voters of the State have given their approval to the war policy of the Administration. Kentucky is as true to the Union, and will be in the future, as Delaware and New Jersey. The coppery Louisville Journal will have to “dry up”. Little Mac, and its peace party North has “gone up”. The peace party is defunct. It expired on the 8th day of the present month, without a groan, and was carried to the grave, followed by a few mourners, dressed in gray, headed by Seymour, Wood, Valhandigham [sic], and Jeff. Davis. McClellan and Pendleton stood weeping, afar off, not for the deceased, but for themselves. Poor Mac! “How have the mighty fallen!” “Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot o’er the grave where the hero was buried”. We arrived at Camp Wilson on the 13th, and the boys took quarters at the Soldiers' Home. The Soldiers' Home is conducted by the Sanitary Commission, and, since March last, has furnished 213,400 means to soldiers, a large number of them belonging to Michigan regiments. Since it was opened, it has given food and shelter to 1,500 men at a time. Thomas Butler, Superintendent; Walter B. Ratcliff, Assistant; and John W. Collumber, Steward, are gentlemen in every sense of the word, and peculiarly qualified for the positions they occupy in the institution. I would say to Michigan soldiers, if you should have occasion to come to Camp Nelson, stop at the Soldiers' Home. You will be welcome to its hospitalities, and go away thanking God that he ever put it into the hearts of philanthropic and christian men and women of the North to establish and foster the Sanitary Commission. Besides furnishing food and shelter, it has given out to destitute soldiers a large quantity of clothing. Camp Nelson has improved greatly since we were here, 11 months ago. Worthy of notice are the water-works and washing-machine, both run by steam power. The water that supplies the camp is bro't from the Kentucky river, by means of a large cast iron-pipe, and forced to the height of 200 feet, by a 30-horse power engine, and deposited in a large reservoir. The Soldiers' Home, the hospitals and other public buildings, are supplied by means of pipes running from the reservoir. The washing-machine is run by an 8-horse power engine, and washes, wrings, dries and irons on an average 1,500 pieces per day. It is used exclusively for the benefit of the hospitals. The hospitals are built and conducted on the most approved style. Religious services are held at the Home every Sabbath, and Sabbath evening, for the religious instruction of the freedmen, in which colored ministers generally officiate in schools for the instruction of colored children in its operations. I would suggest that a school should be established for the children of poor whites and refugees. Our philanthropy should not be too exclusive, for I apprehend it to be as much a duty to educate the poor white man's child, made so by slavery, as to educate the children of the newly made free men. Both have and equal claim upon a Christian people. The Rebel Congress seems to be in a muss about arming their slaves. They will be in a greater mess when they attempt to do that thing. An old negro preacher said to me last evening, “Our folks understand it. -- The more our masters curse and hate the Yankees, the more we pray for their success and the more we love them.” Speaking of Lincoln, he said, “I have heard thousands of prayers offered, by the slaveholders of Kentucky, for the death of Lincoln; but,” said he, “the prayers of the poor slave for his preservation have constantly entered into the ears of the most High; and our prayers have been heard and answered, and we shall continue to pray until the master shall say to Lincoln -- Thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” God bless Mr. Lincoln, the President! is found in all their prayers; and he stands only second to God in their affections and religious emotions. It is folly to suppose that such a people can be made to fight successfully against a man that they may be said to worship. We shall return to Tennessee within a few days, with a fine lot of horses, with which to remount the regiment. On the 28th of last month [October], Gen. Gillam, with the 8th, 9th and 13th Tennessee cavalry, made a most gallant sabre charge, at Morristown, Tennessee, taking 200 prisoners, including 13 commissioned officers, 6 pieces of artillery, with horses and harnesses, killing 64 and wounding a large number. Gen. Vaughan was mortally wounded, and died a few days afterwards, at Bristol [Tenn.]. Gen. Gillam had four men killed and three wounded.
Dickinson and the detachment eventually rejoined the regiment near Knoxville, Tennessee, where they went into winter quarters. On New Year’s Eve, Wallace wrote to the Eagle
Since writing you from Camp nelson, Ky., events of considerable interest have transpired in East Tennessee. Gen. Gillam, after winning a most brilliant victory at Morristown, over the rebel Gen. Vaughan, in October, seems to have been destined to sustain a humiliating defeat at the same place in November, at the ands of the arch traitor Breckinridge, with the loss of 100 men in killed, wounded and missing, and his entire battery of six guns! Emboldened by his success, Breckinridge moves down and invests Strawberry Plains, with the confident expectation of capturing the place with but little difficulty. He found, however, that it was not an easy matter to accomplish, as the whole of the 10th Mich. Cavalry had not gone over the mountains, as he had supposed. Failing to accomplish anything he retired, after investing the Plains for three days, and losing a number of officers and men, without inflicting any loss on us. Fearing that Gen. Burbridge might get in his rear, who advancing through Cumberland Gap, Breckinridge withdrew to Bristol, leaving Duke at Kingsport. Again the tables are turned. Gen. Gillam, in conjunction with Burbridge, advances into Virginia, comes upon his old antagonist, defeats and drives his scattered forces into the mountains of North Carolina, capturing his artillery and wagon trains, a large amount of supplies (stolen from Tennessee) and several hundred prisoners! Gen. Burbridge, with a force of 4,000 mounted men, including two colored regiments (cavalry) reached Bean Station, Tenn., about the 6th of December, and one the 9th was joined by Gen. Gillam's command. Here Stoneman took command of the expedition. Capt. Roberts, Lt. Starkweather and 50 men from the 10th Mich. accompanied him as his escort. At daylight of the 12th Duke was attacked at Kingsport, at the ford of the Holston. Gen. Gillam flanked the enemy, routing them, killing, wounded and capturing 100, and taking a wagon train. The enemy were pursued to Bristol, which was taken at 2 o'clock in the morning, with 250 prisoners, including Col. Morgan (brother of Gen. Morgan), two trains of cars, five engines, and immense quantities of stores. Learning that Gen. Vaughan was at Zollicoffer, 21 miles below, Gen. Burbridge marched to attack him, but taking advantage of a dense fog galloped away. . . . His flight was discovered in time to head him off at Abingdon, which place was captured on the 14th, with one gun, a large amount of stores, and one engine. general Gillam continued the pursuit, and coming up with Vaughan and capturing 50 prisoners. Colonel Brown, commanding the 10th Mich. and 12th Ohio cavalry was sent to the support of Gillam, when he again advanced, and coming upon the enemy at Mt. Airy, driving him in confusion and capturing several pieces of artillery and a large wagon train. Later in the day, Col. Brown charged the Home Guards at Wytheville, capturing five pieces of artillery and eight caissons. -- In the meantime Major Yarnow, 12th Ky., with 300 picked men, struck the railroad at Glade Springs, destroying the track and two trains of cars. He got in Vaughan's front, destroying all the bridges and depots as far as Wytheville, and on the return of the expedition it met Breckinridge, when a fight of 36 hours ensued, resulting in the defeat of the enemy, who retired toward Saltville; but a force getting in his rear, he fled in confusion toward North Carolina! The road to the salt works now being open, Gen. Stoneman advanced with his whole force upon the place, and attacked it on the night of the 20th, but not without considerable loss. A few prisoners were taken, eight pieces of artillery, and a large amount of ammunition and supplies. The salt works were utterly destroyed. The works were very extensive, supplying the Confederacy with salt. Eight wells, which comprised the whole number, averaging 800 feet in depth, drilled several hundred feet through solid rock, were filled with __ shells and railroad iron. Rebel shells were never put to better use. 1,200 kettles, holding 100 gallons each, were destroyed. The damage done cannot be repaired during the war. The iron works at Starion, and lead mines near Wytheville, were also destroyed. The colored regiments of Gen. Burbridge's command are represented as having fought most gallantly. The fruits of the expedition may be thus summed up: 21 pieces of artillery captured, nine engines, five trains of cars, eight caissons, the salt works, lead mines and a large iron works destroyed, besides immense stores, and destruction of railroad depots and bridges for 100 miles; 700 prisoners taken, together with 1,500 horses and 150 mules. The amount of property destroyed is estimated at $20 million. The 10th Michigan, after having nearly completed their winter quarters at the Plains, have been ordered to Knoxville. We have been here about three weeks, and have winter quarters nearly completed, where we shall probably remain until ordered elsewhere! Christmas passed off without any unusual demonstrations, but much unlike Christmas one year ago! Burnside and Longstreet were here then to decide who should occupy the city, among the holidays, which was decided in favor of the former. The departure of Longstreet was the harbinger of success for the ensuing year. The year closes with nothing but success for our cause, . . . in the army and navy. [Union Gen.] Thomas pursues Hood's defeated and demoralized army, to the banks of the Tennessee, and Sherman after a series of brilliant victories, unparalleled in the annals of the world, leads his unconquerable army into Savannah. Grant tightens his grasp on the Confederacy at Richmond, while Butler, with the olive branch in one hand, and sword in the other, completes his Dutch canal. If we have accomplished so much during the present year, what may we not expect to accomplish in the coming year. The Presidential election which may be regarded as dangerous during a civil war, has proven most fortunate. It has demonstrated to both friend and foe an unyielding purpose on the part of the people, to sustain the Government, and overturn the rebellion.
In January of 1865 Wallace was acting Regimental Commissary. On January 23, he wrote to Michigan that
The new year seems to have wrought quite a number of changes in the 10th Mich. cavalry. Maj. Newell and Capt. Bailey, availing themselves of the order from the War Department, have “mustered out”, and Lt. Charles H. Soule has resigned and gone home. We thus lose the services of three good officers. . . . Lieut. Soule retires from the service on account of physical disability, and carries with him the respect and kind wishes of his former companions in arms. Maj. Newell was a brave and experienced officer, and his loss is almost irreparable. -- He entered the service at the first call of the President for troops, as a private in the 1st Mich. Infantry, and was with that regiment in the first battle of Bull Run. After the term of service had expired [the First was a 90-days unit] he entered the service again, as 1st Lt. in the 3d cavalry, where he remained until the organization of the 10th Mich. Cavalry, which he joined as Major. The Major has been in more than 30 different engagements. -- He was wounded at Clifton, Tennessee. He was a model officer and a thorough soldier, and his permanent absence from the regiment is a source of regret to every officer and enlisted man of the 10th Mich. Cavalry. I omitted to notice in my former letter the resignation of Lt. Weatherwax. He was compelled to resign on account of poor health, not having been fit for duty for several months. The Lieutenant, like his brother was brave to a fault, and without disparagement to any officer of the 10th, I can say that he was one of the most gallant and bravest officers. Lt. Col. Trowbridge has received the appointment of Provost Marshal General of East Tennessee, Gen. Carter having been relieved. Capt. Bryan, A.B., has received the appointment of Adjutant General on his staff. Maj. Standish now commands the regiment, Maj. Smith remaining on Gen. Tollison's staff as Acting Inspector General. O. N. Taylor, Assistant Quartermaster, has been assigned to the Quartermaster Department in the city [of Knoxville], and will probably be promoted to Captain and Assistant Quartermaster. Capt. Light has gone to Michigan with a recruiting party and will probably make his headquarters at Grand Rapids. The regiment now being permanently located at Knoxville, with the fine reputation it has gained, and armed, as it is, with the Spencer rifle (a seven-shooter), and under the command of an able and experienced officer, ought to secure for Capt. Light abundant success in procuring recruits. It will probably be the last opportunity presented for enlisting in a cavalry regiment. I have the authority of the Inspector General of the Department of the Mississippi, for saying that the 10th Michigan Cavalry is the best cavalry regiment in the Department. Capt. Light is a fine officer and I bespeak for him and his party a good time and in goodly number of recruits for the 10th. The name of the gallant Major Smith alone, in connection with any regiment ought to secure recruits in sufficient numbers to fill it up.
Wallace was a First Lieutenant in February, commissioned January 5, replacing Lieutenant Converse, and acting Commissary of Subsistence. On February 23, he wrote
The order recently published by the War Department permitting officers who have served three years “in whatever capacity” to muster out is unquestionably proper and just. Three years is the longest term an enlisted man is required to serve, and a good and faithful officer ought not to be compelled to serve a longer period, although we may lose under the order many valuable officers. There are many cases no reached by this order, where officers have served three years or more, but unfortunately it has not been continued service. Your humble servant unfortunately belongs to this [latter] class, and not being sufficiently indisposed to warrant a Surgeon's certificate [for disability], we have made up our mind to remain in the gallant 10th to the end of the war, provided it shall close soon. Among the officers of the 10th who have availed themselves of the benefits of this order, none are more regretted, none whose place will be more difficult to supply than our late Adjutant Wm. T. Merritt. When it became known that he would leave us the general inquiry was who was the next best officer to fill his place. Few officers in the service possessed better qualifications for that position or filled it with more credit to themselves than Lieut. Merritt. In retiring to civil life he carries with him the esteem and respect of his former comrades in arms, and their best wishes for his future prosperity and happiness. Your former townsman Lieut. Carlton Neal of the 11th Michigan Infantry, has been lately promoted to Captain Battery L. It was one of those rare cases where true merit triumphed over favorites. Capt. Neal has been instrumental in recruiting for the service over 100 men, has seen two years of hard service with his battery, and his promotion to Captain is received with hearty congratulations from his numerous friends here, among whom are many able and influential officers. By invitation, in company with Captain Brooks, Lt. Barr, of the 10th, and a number of officers from other Regiments, we called on Capt. Neal, this afternoon, to offer our congratulations, and to partake of a “sumptuous feast” that had been prepared for the occasion. We did ample justice to the chicken, turkey, pies, cakes, tarts, etc., to say nothing of the “wine that maketh glad the heart of man”, that sparkled around the board. Being a “Good Templar”, of course the subscriber did not indulge in the last mentioned luxury. Capt. Neal's battery is composed of a fine looking body of men, and the neatness and order displayed in personal appearance and about their quarters, speaks well for the discipline of the commander. Today the people of Tennessee will repudiate their former acts of secession by voting “Ratification”. Out of 1,000 votes cast in the city, only 100 ballots were cast “Rejection”. Yielding to the “prejudices of the civilized world” the amended constitution excludes slavery from the State. -- Slavery seduced the people of Tennessee from their allegiance to the Government, and brought upon them all the horrors of civil war. The conviction that slavery is incompatible with freedom, and its abolition the only sure guarantee of peace for the future, is rapidly gaining ground among the loyal masses of the seceded States. A telegram from Washington brings the cheering intelligence that Charleston, the hot-bed of secession and treason, is in the possession of our troops; that the National banner waves triumphantly above the battered and broken walls of Sumter. The adoption of a free constitution by the people of Tennessee, the fall of Charleston, the recapture of Fort Sumter, are triumphs enough for one day. A portion of the regiment, under Major Standish, are up country on scout. Lieut. Sherman, who was captured at Horn Hill, last summer, and subsequently made his escape is with the regiment, and acting Adjutant.
Wallace added the postscript that
A grand rebel scheme for the destruction of railroad bridges, between Knoxville and Chattanooga, and between the latter city and Nashville, has just been discovered and thwarted by the authorities, in the capture of two of the principal actors in the enterprise. The party, 14 in number, under a no less personage than Horton, of the rebel army, left Richmond about the 1st of February, and reaching the Holston river, somewhere in Virginia, procured a small boat and started down the river. For several days their progress was slowing, owing to the severe cold and ice, their boat having been ice-bound several times. They reached our lines at Kingsport, when it became necessary to proceed with some caution, concealing themselves during the day, and sailing their confederate craft during the night. Passed Strawberry Plains Bridge on the night of the 21st, and laid by the next day, between that point and Knoxville. A diary of daily events was kept, in which it says, under date of February 22d: “The Yankee's are making as much noise on the Anniversary of Washington's birth-day, as usual, firing cannon, at Knoxville, all day.” They passed under the Knoxville Bridge, on the night of the 23d without being discovered by the sentry, the night being very dark; having reached London, they were discovered by a colored man, who reported that he had seen a party of rebels, and offered his services as a guide. The officer on duty proceeded to the spot indicated, and seeing two men in federal uniform, demanded a surrender! Who are you? They replied that they were in the scout service of the United States, that their party was encamped just over the hill, and of the officer would accompany them a short distance he would be satisfied that all was right. The officer could not “see it”, and securing his prize, brought them into camp. They reached Knoxville last evening, and were safely lodged in prison. To a remark, by an officer that they were spies, and would be treated as such, they replied that they were on legitimate business. They acknowledged their purpose to have been to destroy the railroad bridges between Chattanooga and Nashville, and burn all the shipping and transports at Nashville, and other points. -- There is no doubt that an important mission was entrusted to them, by the rebel authorities, the significance of which our authorities will do well to consider. If it means anything, it looks to the probably transfer of Lee's army into Tennessee.
In March Wallace was reported on detached service at Knoxville, Tennessee. On March 21 the Tenth cavalry, commanded by Colonel L. S. Trowbridge, left Knoxville,
assigned to the 1st brigade, composed of the 12th Ohio, 13th Pennsylvania and 10th Michigan, and commanded [by] Colonel Palmer. Taking into account the number of days in which the brigade was in the saddle, the number of miles marched, and the grand results of the expedition, “Stoneman's Last Raid” will occupy one of the most brilliant pages in the closing scenes of the “Great Rebellion”. Without entering into general details of the general movements of Gen. Stoneman's command, I will continue my narration to the part taken by the 10th. To particularize, Maj. Standish, Capt. Roberts and Capt. J. H. Cummins, commanded the 1st, 2d and 3d battalions respectively. Lt. Chas. W. Watkins was appointed Adjutant, Don A. Dodge, Quartermaster, and Sergt. P. H. Brace Co. B, Acting Commissary. At Christianburg, the regiment was detached from the brigade, for the purpose of destroying the railroad bridge over the Roanoke [river] on the Lynchburg road, which was successfully accomplished on the 5th of April. Six finely constructed bridges, four of which were covered, were completely destroyed. Numerous small bridges and culverts were also destroyed, and several miles of track taken up. Resting a couple of days, the Colonel received orders to move by the shortest route to Martinsburg, or Henry Court House, to reach there by 9 a.m. on the 8th. By a rapid march of 75 miles in 26 hours, the regiment reached the Court House at 6:30 a.m., and attacked a rebel cavalry force of 350 men, commanded by Col. Wheeler. A spirited skirmish ensued, resulting in the rout of the enemy and the capture of a few prisoners. In the gallant saber charge, Lt. Thos. C. Kenyon was instantly killed, and Lt. field wounded. Lt. Kenyon had been lately promoted, and was a most faithful and gallant officer, and his death was a source of sincere and heartfelt sorrow to all. Lt. Field, who already bore honorable scars, received in the 1st Michigan cavalry, was struck by a pistol shot near the elbow, the ball passing along the arm and coming out between the thumb and forefinger. He is now at Knoxville, and doing well. Of the enlisted men, three were killed and four wounded in the charge. The enemy lost in the affair 27 in killed and wounded. From Martinsburg, the 10th moved with the rest of the brigade to Salem. Here the 10th was again detached, to destroy the bridges on the Danville railroad. Capt. J. H. Cummins, with one battalion, was detached to attract the attention of the enemy at High Point, while the balance of the regiment moved to Abbott's Creek, to destroy the bridge at that point. Capt. Cummins was most successful in his operations, destroying the railroad bridge and a large amount of property, valued at $300,000. The detachments sent to destroy the bridges over Abbott's and Leonard's creeks had succeeded in destroying one of them, when they very unexpectedly encountered Furgerson's brigade of cavalry, 800 strong, supported by a body of infantry. Having but 300 men with which to offer battle, it was thought prudent to fall back. The enemy soon attacked with great spirit, but, by skillful maneuvers, he was held in check. The command fell back by alternate squadrons. . . . [T]he enemy attempted to cut off the command by a movement on both flanks, but was successfully foiled in every attempt to produce a stampede by the coolness and bravery of officers and men. Repeated charging, he was often hurled back in the confusion by well directed volleys of our “Spencer rifles”. So determined was the enemy to break the lines and produce a stampede, that the squadrons were compelled to fall back and take up a new line at a trot. In his official report, the Captain says: “Nothing saved us from severe disaster but the steadiness and cool courage of officers and men -- all did themselves great credit, and demonstrated the fact that a stampede can be avoided by coolness and courage.” The fight continued for five miles, the enemy losing heavily from well-directed volleys from the Spencer rifle, while the 10th did not lose a man. The regiment rejoined the brigade at Salem; and, after a short rest, moved to Shallow Ford, having marched 90 miles in less than 40 hours. From Shallow Ford the regiment marched with the brigade to Salisbury, but did not reach there in time to participate in the capture of the place. -- Thence to Taylorville, and finally across the Catawba river, at Horse Ford bridge, to Newton. The regiment was now on the lookout for Davis, marching over the mountains through South Carolina to Athens, Ga. The disposition made of the command from Athens to Milledgeville forced Mr. Davis into Gen. Wilson's lines, below Mason. From the time the regiment left Knoxville to its return they had been in the saddle 70 days, and marched over 1,500 miles. -- During that time, the finishing stroke was given to the rebellion, and the work done by the 1st brigade of Stoneman's cavalry corps was, as acknowledged by Gen. Stoneman in his official report, “fatal to the rebel army in cutting the last and only road by which the rebel army could have made its escape.” After 70 days of severe marching beneath the scorching sun of the Carolinas, and over dusty roads, the regiment is again resting, for a short time, at Lenoir, Tenn., waiting for a friendly visit from some Paymaster, whose benevolent countenance we have not had the pleasure to look upon for 8 long months. The brigade, composed of the 10th Michigan and 12th Ohio, is now commanded by Col. Trowbridge, Maj. Standish being in immediate command of the 10th. Captains Light and Cook have been promoted to Majors, and mustered. Several promotions have been made, among which are Sergts. Chase, Townsend, Stone, White and Garlock [formerly of the Old 3rd] to 2d Lieutenants; Lts. W. E. Cummins, Wm. Dunn, E. P. Byerly to Captains. Maj. Smith, who is now home on a short “leave”, was on gen. Stoneman's staff in the late raid; and, as usual distinguished himself by his gallantry, has been promoted to Lt. Colonel.
From April through June of 1865 Wallace was Regimental Commissary of Subsistence. Wallace claimed in 1888 that he had been injured in the shoulder at Knoxville on March 15. In fact, he alleged that he was thrown from his horse, falling on his shoulders, “compelling him to go to the hospital at Knoxville overnight . . . and next morning was sent to camp in ambulance. It was weeks before he was able to ride.”
Apparently word was going around the camp of the Tenth Michigan cavalry that they would be sent to Texas. In June he was Acting Commissary of subsistence for the First Brigade, First Cavalry Division, probably at the dismounted camp in Knoxville (or perhaps near Lenoir, Tennessee). In any case, on June 11 Wallace wrote from Lenoir that “ The war being over, we are anxious to get our pay and muster out, but willing to go to Texas, if the good of the service and the country should require it.”
On September 8, from camp near Johnsonville, Tennessee, Wallace wrote to the editor of the Eagle
The war having closed, I cannot furnish you with anything of an exciting character, neither can I give the information, so anxiously desired by those who have friends and relations in the regiment, when we will be mustered out -- The regiment is now en route for Jackson, West Tennessee; and the probabilities are, that we will be retained in the service for several months. [The regiment would be mustered out at Memphis, Nov. 11, 1865.] Col. L. Trowbridge left the regiment at Sweetwater, Tenn., and has since been mustered out. The regiment having assembled to take leave of their Colonel, he addressed them in a manner worthy of the occasion. At the closing of the address, Maj. Light introduced a series of resolutions, expressive of appreciation of the many manly and soldierly qualities ever exhibited by Colonel Trowbridge while connected with the regiment, and regret for the circumstances that seemed to render it necessary for him to leave it, which were unanimously adopted. Col. Trowbridge having been mustered out, the command of the regiment now devolved upon that well-known and most gallant officer, I. C. Smith. It would be superfluous to express his peculiar fitness to command a cavalry regiment, as his dash and gallantry are too well known to need comment. Charlie Watkins, of your city, has been promoted to 1st Lieut. and Adjutant, and has shown, by his ability and strict attention to the duties of the office, that his position was not unworthily bestowed. The following are among the late promotions in the regiment, viz.: 1st Lt. James Minihan, Co. B to Capt. Co. D; 2nd Lt. Nelson Robinson, Co. E to 1st Lt. Co. B; Sergt. Henry Covell, Co. C to 2nd Lt Co. E; Thomas Shaw, Hospital Steward to 2nd Asst. Surgeon; Sergt. Wm. F. Smith, who was wounded at Henry Court House, [to] 2nd Lt. Co. M, vice Kenyon, same co., killed in charging the enemy at the same place. Yesterday a terrible disaster occurred on the railroad between this point and Nashville, occasioned by the explosion of 200 barrels of gunpowder! The train due here last night, when 4 miles out from Nashville, was literally blown to pieces by the explosion of powder and shell, of which there were four car loads! The engine and freight cars, together with the passenger car, was entirely demolished, and not a person on the passenger car escaped uninjured, except Lt. A. A. Maxim, of our regiment, who, at the time of the explosion, was asleep on one of the seats at the rear end of the train, and miraculously escaped. The doors, windows and seats of the car were shivered in pieces. A rail from the track was blown 30 rods, and forced through the upper story of a dwelling! This disaster is but another exhibition of the utter recklessness of life and limb on the part of those who control the public highways of the country. If the Railroad Company confined the practice of transporting men, women and children, horses and mules, gunpowder and percussion shell on the same train, without the ordinary precautions against accident, they had better transfer the road to the Government again, from whence they received it only a few days ago. We have been here ten days, shoeing our horses, preparatory to a march to Jackson, Tenn., which is about 60 miles from here. We will probably leave for that place on the 10th inst. Jackson will be the headquarters of the regiment, the command being distributed in detachments at various points in the western portion of the State, for what purpose we do not know, but I presume the government does. The 13th U.S.C.V.I. are stationed here; and, in military discipline and soldierly appearance compare most favorably with any regiment in the service. They have a good reputation as a fighting regiment. A casual inspection would convince the most skeptical of our negro haters at the North of their fitness for garrison duty.
Wallace was absent on leave from September 10, 1865, but eventually returned to duty, probably in October, and was mustered out with the regiment on November 11, 1865.
After the war Wallace returned to Newaygo and in 1868 was elected County treasurer, a post which he held for four years.
He was still Newaygo County treasurer when he married Elizabeth Garrison (1844-1920) on January 8, 1870, in Eastmanville, Ottawa County, and they had at least two children: a son and daughter.
Wallace was living in Wellington, Newaygo County in 1874, and for some years he engaged in lumbering which took him to Ludington, Mason County where he resided for a short time. After he sold his interests in the lumber industry he settled in Grand Rapids where he was residing by 1879 and where he remained until his death: in 1889 he was living at 229 Ottawa Street, and in 1894 in the Fourth Ward.
Wallace received a pension (no. 483828).
Wallace was a member of the Tenth Cavalry Association, and he served as the Tenth’s Regimental historian. He was also a member of Grand Army of the Republic Samuel Judd Post No. 133 in Newaygo and a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. On December 12, 1889, Wallace wrote to his comrades in the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, to say he was sorry for not being able to attend the upcoming annual reunion. The letter was addressed to M. D. Reed, secretary of the association.
Dear Sir and Comrade. I sincerely regret the hard necessity that will prevent me from personally greeting you and the other members of the ‘Old Third’ Regiment on the occasion of its Eighteenth Reunion at Hastings on the 13th inst. Nothing less than a lingering illness which has confined me to the house a greater portion of the time during the past six months could have induced me to frame an excuse for my absence; nor have prevented me from forming one of that happy number, who will have the pleasure of once more feeling the warm fraternal grasp from the hand of old comrades.
The Reunion being at Hastings this year adds bitterness to the cup of my disappointment for I once had the honor of being a member of a company whose numbers were largely composed of ‘boys’ from Hastings and from that vicinity. And many of them were ‘boys’ indeed! ‘Brave boys’, too, were they’ -- Who went ‘to their country's call their deeds we shall never forget; their names we love to re-call. And yet we must ever regret that so many brave boys should fall. Who, with Richardson, Kearney and Judd, Nickerson, Terry, Champlin and Sligh . . . Hill, McIntire, French and Meed who sank in the valley to die. Foul treason wiped out, with their blood.
To this you may add hundreds more who sit by your “campfires” tonight burning brighter than ever before for those who died for the right.
Let your fires flame to heaven
Wane upon wane!
Let their tongues sing an anthem
Over tyranny's grave!
Their bright coals chant a dirge
In its milder glow.
Over the groves of our heroes
In the valleys below.
Singing Liberty's grand anthem;
Yet in tones more mild;
For they are dead who sought
The life of her child!
Comrades: renew the embers of patriotism that have been smoldering under twenty-five years of sordid ambition and material prosperity. Lincoln once said, -- "Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, and patriotic men are better than gold. Twenty-four years of domestic peace and prosperity has subdued that un-holy passion that once sought to subvert and destroy the nation, but we trust time will never be so unkind as to obliterate from the memory of the nation the great and noble cause in which the Union Soldier fought and died.
President Lincoln defined the issue in his second Inaugural in the mildest terms in which it can be stated without a sacrifice of the truth of history. ‘Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive and the other would accept war rather than let it perish,’ and the war came.
The South made war to ‘strengthen, perpetuate and extend slavery while the Government claimed no right to do more than restrict the territorial enlargement of it.’
There was no sentiment perhaps that so quickened the public pulse, and sent such a wave of patriotic enthusiasm throughout the entire country as that expressed in the famous dispatch, sent to an officer in command of one of our forts in [the] south -- by General John A. Dix. ‘If any man attempt to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot.’ This was the national sentiment then and it was your valor and patriotism that makes it the public sentiment today.
Were I present with you and had I the privilege of offering and replying to a sentiment it would be the following -- ‘To General John A. Dix’ -- and in response I would say,
When granite fails to mark the place
Where heroes met, with fond embrace
Man's last and noblest sacrifice:
His name shall live in immortal fame
Who said in Freedom's holy name,
‘We will have no strange device.’ ‘
He who would those stars efface
With Palmetto's in their place
Or hauls the nation's ensign down
Aye; if but a single point he blot
Be he emperor Prince or clown
Let him perish on the spot!
Mercy for him in vain shall plead
A respite, for such unholy deed!
Give to all the comrades for me a fraternal grasp.
Wallace died of heart failure at his home, 3 Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids, on Thursday morning, June 10, 1897.
One writer who knew Wallace well described Dickinson as “pure-hearted, unselfish and noble character impressed itself upon him at the beginning of that acquaintance. Guileless himself, he believed all men the same and on that account, he was sometimes imposed upon, but a man never lived that knew of a wrong thing intentionally done by him. Single-hearted and true to those he believed his friends, loyal to his country and his family, he leaves behind him that of which any man might be proud, the record of a pure and blameless life.”
At his request Wallace’s body was sent to Newaygo and he was buried in Newaygo city cemetery: section G, row 24, grave 8.
His widow eventually moved to Oakland, California and was living at 224 Athol Avenue (probably with her son) when she died in October of 1920.
His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 451338).