Captain Albert M. Hunter's account of
the War between the Sates
Source: Descendants of A.M. Hunter
by John Miller
supplied with rations and well taken care of. The next day a car
with rations for the company came, and we bade them good-bye and
rode to Cumberland, en route for Camp Chase, Ohio. The officers
went to a motel, and the privates slept in a depot. In the
morning we went to see about going to Camp Chase, when we learned
our men had been taken off in the night.
We knew we did not really belong to Camp
Chase, so we took passage in a stage for Bedford, PA. The battle
of Antietam and South Mountain had cut off all communications east
by the B&O railroad. We arrived in Bedford towards sunset,
remained all night, took a stage in the morning for Hopewell,
where our money gave out. The conductor of that road agreed to
take us to Huntington by us promising to get transportation as
soon as we could and send the papers to him. I tried to get it
but don’t know if the road was ever paid for our ride.
The road runs over some of the highest
trestles I ever saw. I noticed that three tall trees were placed
on top of each other in? some trestles and a notice was posted for
the engineer to run only four miles an hour while crossing.
Looking out of the windows of the car it seemed as if we were
Arriving at Huntington we found a recruiting
officer who cared for us and gave us transportation to Harrisburg,
PA, there we slept all night and “jumped” our bed bill.
Lieutenant Gallagher of Co. “C” knew the conductor and made
arrangements for all of us to ride to Baltimore with him. I did
not think the train would start soon and stepped around the depot
and returned in a minute or two when lo! The train was pulling
out. I ran as hard as I could after it to the bridge, but could
not catch it. The guard would not let me cross, so I ran up the
river to the wagon bridge, and crossed then down to Bridgeport
just in time to see the last care going around the hill just
below. I was in a fix for a minute, but soon thought “go ahead
with your old darned smoke wagon, I’ll get along some other way”.
I found a quarter in one of my pockets and
went into a hotel and got a good breakfast, and waited for
something to turn up. It was Sunday and things seemed to work
slow. About noon I found a conductor who had a train of
ammunition to take to Hagerstown for our army and I secured
passage with him. When we got to Carlisle one of the brakemen
deserted them and I took his place to Chambersburg. There I had
acquaintances, but I was afraid to go away from the train for fear
of being left again, so I hunted all of my pockets and found a few
pennies and purchased all the bread they would buy off a woman who
was baking new the depot. We waited and waited for orders to go,
but it was after night before we started. In the meantime I got
into a car that was loaded with grain and fell asleep, and did not
know much about the trip until I waked up and found it was
daylight and I was in Hagerstown.
I went to the quarters and found my company
was near Williamsport. I walked down the pike and met some of the
boys and this was what we called “home again.”
I found Lieut. H.C. McNair in command of the
company. Lieut. W.A. Horner was sick. I learned too that Col.
Miles had surrendered Harper’s Ferry with about 30,000 soldiers,
that he had been wounded and died, that our battalion of cavalry
with a regiment of Indian cavalry cut their way out through the
rebel army at Shepardstown, captured a train of wagons with
provisions and wounded, and were a part McClellan’s army.
I was paroled prisoner and had to report to
Annapolis, MD for exchange. But as Bolivar, our old camp was on
the way I went that way to see if the “Jonnies” had got my private
and company property, which I kept in a trunk.
The boys had put our large flag in the trunk
and torn up the floor of an old building, put it under and piled
all the old lumber they could find on top, and all went through
safe and sound, for which I was truly thankful.
After staying all night, looking in at some
of my fair acquaintances, I bought a very pretty looking horse
from one of my men, on trust. I started for home before going to
In about a month from my capture I was in
camp parole at Annapolis, as was all the rest of my men who had
been captured. The day after we arrived, the company who had
entertained us at Paw Paw tunnel came to camp. I learned from
them that a few days after we left a large force of the enemy
attacked them and completely surrounded their camp, and they had
to surrender. I did not meet cousin Shriver.
While at the parole camp I was paid and the
boys were not. They were hard up, and had to go into the tobacco
fields and take the green leaves to chew. It made their mouths
sore. Flohr asked me to loan him a dollar to get some good
tobacco, as his mouth was so sore he could hardly eat. I gave him
the money and in a few hours I met him on the street staggering
along and asked him how he was getting along. “Oh, first rate”,
he said. “I have a pound of tobacco, pretty drunk and ten cents
About six of us officers took boarding in the
city, drew our wood and sold it for board and had a jolly time.
We had to report to camp every day, in fact we were ordered to
camp but did not obey. Col. Bankster, the commandant, was a
blusterer but did not mean half as much as he said.
We were not exchanged until the 12th
of December. I arrived at camp in the night at Harper’s Ferry.
By daylight I was ordered to drive Capt. Saylers’ Cavalry from the
neighborhood of Charlestown. We met them two or three miles from
Camp charged them and drove them back. We captured two of their
men, and two of my men could not control their horses and they ran
into a party of Saylers’ men and were captured. They came back
next morning paroled, with a note asking their men, but during the
night they had been sent to Fort McHenry at Baltimore and we could
not comply. The balance of the winter and spring was spent in
scouting and watching the movement of the enemy.
There were a number of fine looking young
ladies about the ferry and Bolivar Heights and when we had a few
days in camp we would get up and dance or a party of some kind.
I always kept the boys with money if they
happened to run short. I never kept any record of it but I feel
sure they always paid me back. I had confidence in the boys and I
do not think they ever intentionally cheated in money
transactions. But at the close of the war, I did a good many
things for the officers and some of the privates who promised me
pay that I never received. Not so with those in my company.
In the spring our company was stationed on
Maryland Heights. From where we made many scouts until in June
when General Lee was commencing the invasion of Penna.
Genl. French, who had taken command at
Harper’s Ferry, sent me with my company and “D” up the river
towards Sharpsburg to see what was going on. When within two
miles of the town, but on the Maryland side, we encountered the
enemy picket, we charged them and drove them a mile or two, firing
a few shots then they drive our pickets back; thus we spent the
afternoon. When night came we camped on a high hill. In the
morning we could see the enemy crossing the river in large
numbers. At Sharpesburg that evening we found that a large
provision train was camped new the town. I sent to Genl. French
a report saying that they might be captured, but he thought
perhaps they wanted us to come out from Harper’s Ferry and then
they would come in; perhaps it was so, but I never thought so.
Lieut. W. A. Horner
thought we were not doing enough and he asked permission to take a
dozen men and go through the rebel lines, and see what was going
on. I had no authority to send him but I risked it, and a dozen
volunteered to go. He went right through them, and came out at
Boonsboro and from there to Waynesboro then over to Fountain Dale,
where he encountered a squad of Johnnies gathering up horses and
provisions. He charged them, captured several and ran the rest in
Fairfield and from there to Emmitsburg. Then the men were
detailed to guide the army of the Potomac in and about the
neighborhood of Gettysburg. They did good service.
At this time Genl. Hooker was relieved of the
command of the army of the Potomac, and Genl. Meade was given
command. We still had our camp on Maryland Heights, and were kept
busy watching the movements of the enemy. In the latter part of
June we were ordered to move and expected to joint the army of the
Potomac in Pa. But we went down below Harper’s Ferry a few miles
to Weaverton, where we camped for several days, until the balance
of Genl. French’s division could move the store and munitions of
war, then we, the division marched into Frederick City, where we
found that the rebel Genl.
Steward had been cut off from Lee and was
crossing the river at Edwards Ferry to find the truth of the
matter. Our cavalry (I did not go) was sent to see how it was.
They found he had crossed and that he was heading for Westminster,
Md., and hunting Genl. Lee who was then at Chambersburg. Major H.
A. Colo was made Marshall and he appointed me his assistant and
our men as city patrols. We had a fine jolly time for about a
month. Our duties were not numerous, and we ha d plenty of tie to
play the gallant with the ladies. Shoulder straps, brass buttons
and blue clothes were an open sesame to the heart of almost any
fair maiden. Then the liberality of soldiers went far in winning
them a fair companion.
During this time the battle of Gettysburg was
in operation. Some of our men were detailed as couriers to and
from that place. When Lee’s army was retreating, we were sent to
Harper’s Ferry to burn the R. R. bridge to prevent them crossing.
Previous to that however, about a dozen of Balor’s or Mosby’s Va.
Cavalry came from Harper’s Ferry and drove our pickets in nearly
to the infantry camp. We were called on to drive them back and
capture them if possible. But before we could get out they had
made about five miles of their way back. I learned a very
important fact about how to save a horse’s wind at that race. I
noticed the rebels rode slowly up hill, then they would ride down
grade at nearly double the pace we could because they had saved
their horses going up, when we had exhausted ours.
We returned to the city in the evening and
found that a spy had been caught and hanged. He had been in our
camp many a time selling maps of Va.
On the 4th of July, 1863 we were
ordered to go to Harper’s Ferry and drive any enemy out that was
there and burn the bridge to prevent Lee from escaping at that
place. My company was detailed to do the work. We charged up the
narrow road between the hills and the R. R. truck and drove the
johnnies back across the bridge. Then we had the pleasure of
shooting at each other across the river. I remember that somehow
I had a pair of red Zouave trousers on and as we were sitting on
our horses, with the high rocks for a background, my red trousers
seemed to be an especial mark. The bullets came thick near me
striking the rocks with a chuck much like an old chew of tobacco
on a board.
We soon had the way clear and I sent the
engineers with their axes on the bridge to get kindling and fire
it. They found a barrel of oil, which was used, and soon the fire
was doing its work. It looked like an awful pity to destroy the
structure, but military necessity knows no bounds. Night soon set
in. The blazing fire mad us visible to the enemy and they kept up
a sharp fire at us, which we returned all night, firing as near as
where we would see a flash, as we could. We had no casualties.
We heard of one wounded of the enemy. In the morning we found the
destruction of the bridge less than we had expected. The canal
bridge on the Md. was all consumed. The floor through the iron
parts burned out but the Y on the Va. Side was not more than half
We returned to the city and found that the
army of the Potomac had and was passing and hurrying toward
Hagerstown to intercept Lee, but they were too late. Lee had
succeeded in crossing the river into Va. Not much was
accomplished. A few skirmishes and we went back to camp again.
Lieut. Link of Co. “A” go it into his head
that he ought to get married. There was no objection excepting
Mary Wachters’ widowed mother. He came to me for advice. I
managed it in this way. Mary had a sister that favored the
match. I soon became a beau of hers, and would take both out for
a promenade in the evening and would go to an ice cream saloon
where Link would meet us, and then pass an hour or two on the
streets, escort the ladies home. Link dropping out of the
procession before nearing her home.
After a week or two spent in this way the
ladies in the presence of their mother, expressed a desire to
visit a lady friend in Mechanicstown, some 10 or 12 miles away. I
proposed to get a carriage and take them. The mother said it
would be too expensive for me. I made light of that and it was
agreed that we go, but we only went a mile in that direction and
then to get Lieut. Link. We then turned off and went to a village
8 miles in another direction where the services of a minister soon
made them one. We were to return immediately and the marriage was
to be kept a secret, but after getting supper the high contracting
parties concluded that they would remain all night and go home
next morning and make a full confession, and if the mother would
not receive them Link was to tell her he would take care of Mary.
This time I made it convenient to leave the
procession before it reached the house of the widow, but waited in
sight to e sure they went in. I learned afterwards that the
mother very sensibly yielded and all went well.
I am sorry to say that some 8 or ten years
afterward Link deserted her, went West, and report said he was
hung for stealing horses.
A short time after this we were sent down in
Montgomery Co. along the canal in the neighborhood of the mouth of
I remember a daring feat, about half a dozen
of us performed at the viaduct over the Monocacy. Instead of
going down under the viaduct and fording the stream, we rode over
on the Burbank side of the viaduct, a narrow stone wall twenty
feet above the water with a key stone so high in the center, our
horses could hardly step over it. Some ten or twelve years before
I drove a carriage, sitting in it, over the tow path side, which
is only a few inches wider than two wheels, and if the hub had
struck hard on the iron railing it might have sent my carriage and
all into the canal. I learned afterwards that others always led
their horses over.
In the month of May 1862, I was sent with the
company to Smithfield, to reconnoiter and get all the information
that we could. After scouting around for a day or tow, we found
that the secession citizens were in the habit of going to
Martinsburg, Va., and taking the oath of Allegiance, getting all
the provisions they could buy and rising them or furnishing them
to the rebel soldiers. We sent out 8 or 10 of our men to
intercept some of these customers. About the middle of the night
a wagon came along well laden with salt and other stuff. The boys
halted him and questioned him according to instructions, which was
to pretend they were Mosby’s men, and that they wanted
information. They got plenty of it and were informed they could
get all they wanted from the Yankees at Martinsburg if they would
take the oath. They told him that a company of Yankees was camped
in Smithfield and he must drive into town and go for a pass, and
notice all the particulars and count how many they had in camp.
They then left him and hurried back to camp with the plan. Early
in the morning our man came marching into town for a pass. I
questioned about his loyalty, business, etc., which he answered
very satisfactorily. He looked around and seemed to be counting
us very carefully. After he got through he said that he would
like to pass. I told him that I would give him a guard to
Harper’s Ferry and confiscate his property. He begged so hard for
his goods that I sent them home by his sons who were with him, and
I sent him to Col. Miles who sent him to Fort McHenry. He got
back soon but I think he learned a lesson he never forgot.
Another time Capt. Vernon conceived the idea
that we could catch some of the men of Baylor or Mosby’s command
by going beyond Charlestown and secreting ourselves near the main
roads and picking up the ones who came home at night.
He with his company took one road. I took
another and about 10 o’clock snow began falling and it got very
cold. Some of us nearly froze. We were compelled to dismount and
form a ring and run around after each other nearly all night. We
got nothing and waded back to camp in the morning through a foot
While I was assistant Marshal in Frederick
City, I, as nearly all the soldiers did, became acquainted with
many ladies and we generally would select one to spend our money
on and spend a pleasant hour with when off duty.
One night in company with several others took
our ‘girls’ to Woodsboro in buggies. We had supper, ice cream and
a jolly time. When coming home, my horse, a very gentle one,
suddenly kicked, knocked the dash (a wooden one) over our heads
and landed with one hind foot over the cross bar of the shafts.
He stood as still as a sheep until unhitched. It was done so
quick, and unusual a proceeding that I have never understood it.
Jake Smith, the Dutchman I had hired the
buggy from, was as mad as a hornet the next morning when I went to
settle the bill. I asked him what his buggy was worth. He said
$90. I gave him the money, had the buggy repaired for $2.50 and
now had one of my own, but as we were soon ordered away, I had to
send it home.
I got very sick when camped at or near
Darnestown. I came into Frederick for treatment. I got some
medicine from a surgeon, and got better in a day or two and found
my Middletown girl was in the city. I hired a back and took her
home, and spent a day or two with her. She proved to be a good
nurse and in a few days I was ready for camp duty.
I spring of 1862 we were camped at
Kearnesvile, near the B&O Railroad guarding it. A train had been
switched off. It had a car loaded with whiskey. Our boys soon
found it, and broke in knocking the head out of a barrel, and soon
those were inclined were drunk. They were so sly that it took a
day or two to find the liquor. When we did, we saw a wooden
bucket in some bushes, which we supposed had whiskey in it. I had
my carbine in my hand and raised to shoot a bullet through it but
thought someone might hid near, and called out for anyone to clear
out I was going to shoot through the bucket. No one moved. I
fired and the whiskey jumped a yard high and the bucket split, and
then, “Pocahontas” a nickname for one of our boys, raised up out
of the bushes near the bucket, half tight and said “Don’t shoot
We found the car pushed it nearer to
camp, and I slept in it that night. The night I was awakened by a
peculiar sound, I listed for a moment and found it was the cutting
of an auger. I quietly slipped the door open and crawled out,
looked around and saw Corporal Diehl trying an auger for a? of the
car into a barrel and catching a lot of whiskey.
The next night the
car door was slid open. I thought several were going to break in
and take the liquor. I fired my revolver at random out the door.
When A.W. Fritchey spoke saying that John Buller a bad drinker,
was nearly dead for whiskey. With that John came up saying,
“Please give me some. I have perpetration (Palpitation) of the
heart”. I did not comply, and told him to drink some coffee.
The next day, by some
means the lock was broken on the other side of the car from camp,
and a barrel was rolled out. One of the better disposed boys told
me about it, and I do not think it was five minutes until, with
another officer, we were out and after the offenders. Not a thing
could be seen. We hunted and found they had lifted the barrel
into the clover field and absolutely carried it through the clover
field for fear of making a track. With difficulty we followed a
quarter of a mile and found it in some bushes. We shot a dozen
bullet holes through it and let the stuff run out.
We sent immediately
to the R.R. officials to take the car away, which was done that
day, but John Wolf, a tricky fellow, got in some way and when a
mile from camp, rolled a barrel out while the train was running,
jumped off, secreted the barrel in the woods.
Joe Test, a quiet
boy, had a pass to go on that train to Harper’s Ferry, was
arrested there for the deed and put into the guardhouse. He was
released the next day and John put in.
The boys got the
barrel, dug a deep hole in the middle of a tent and that night
buried it. We did not know anything about it until the empty
barrel was rolled out, and there was no drunkenness.
While camped there
the pickets were fired on often by citizens or rebels who came
home on furlough. We never caught any of them, but it was very
necessary for us to be cautious when out at night.
Major O.A. Horner, orderly
sergeant then, and myself went to visit our “girls” in Middletown
valley. We, as is often usual in such cases, stayed too long with
them to reach camp before night.
We were five miles
away from camp when dark set in. We were certain of trouble. A
very heavy piece of timberland a half-mile in length was the piece
of woods that most of the trouble came from. Of course we must go
through it. We rode very fast, knowing a side shot would most
likely pass behind, fortunately we were mistaken and soon we were
took us up the valley under General Banks. We were ordered back.
The first night I was sent out on picket, just at sun down our
pickets were fired on by a squad of Rebels. They fired and came
into the reserve double quick. John Dullar who always boasted of
how he could fight a hundred, jumped on his horse and started
back. Geo. Shriver saw him first and called “come back you
cowardly rascal”, but he rode on. The rest of us charged after
the enemy but they were soon out of reach. By the time we got
straightened up the whole company came galloping to our relief.
John had ridden into camp with a fearful tale of havoc and almost
alarmed the whole command."
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