Civil War Heritage of Emmitsburg

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"The post of Company C at Four Locks was not a very unpleasant one as we had comfortable quarters. We were then uniformed with gray overcoats a color which the Confederates had adopted, though I think the fact was not known by the Government at the time these coats were issued to us.." Private James Scott, Cole's Cavalry, Company C


A copy of the service paper for a Cole's Cavalryman

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In their own words: Cole’s Cavalry in January of 1862

“In the winter of 1861(2) Cole’s Cavalry was constantly patrolling the Potomac River from Harper’s Ferry to Cumberland except Company B which was on duty in Western Virginia. The winter was very severe but the boys bore it’s harsh uncomplainingly. Company C was on picket duty at Four Locks on the canal. Drilling and picket duty was the principal occupation of both cavalry and infantry which was schooling them for the more serious business of the oncoming days of the war.

The post of Company C at Four Locks was not a very unpleasant one as we had comfortable quarters. We were then uniformed with gray overcoats a color which the Confederates had adopted, though I think the fact was not known by the Government at the time these coats were issued to us.

Occasionally Colonel Kenly made us a visit at our post, and on one occasion he ordered us to escort him to one of the posts of his infantry on the river, a few miles away. When we neared their camp our cars were painted by the beating of the "long roll" which meant ‘prepare to encounter the enemy. The Colonel halted us and galloped rapidly toward them, but returned in a short time rolling from side to side on his horse in a paroxysm of laughter. As soon as he could get his breath he said "Boys, you must have your coats changed at once. My men took us to be Rebels and had I not halted you when I did they would have given us a volley. I feel funny about it now, boys but it might not have been funny at all, had I not halted you in time, for it began to dawn upon me what was the matter. You must have other coats immediately." Not long after, we were clothed in the royal blue.

Early in January, 1862, General Stonewall Jackson left the Shenandoah Valley with his command and marched to the Potomac opposite Hancock, Maryland. He sent a flag of truce to General Lander demanding the surrender of the place. Only a small body of Government troops was stationed there, but all Federal forces within reach were quickly notified to come to the rescue - horse, foot and artillery. When surrender was refused, the enemy opened fire on Hancock. As soon as we at Four Locks heard the roar of cannon, we felt that it meant business for us, and, true to our anticipations, orders came to us to march for Hancock instantly.

The weather had turned very cold and clouds had been threatening snow since early morn. Late in the afternoon a heavy snowstorm set in. When our march began, the ground was covered to a depth of several inches, which was being added to rapidly. The wind was high and as we moved west on the turnpike it drove the snow stingingly on our faces and rendered progress very disagreeable. Night came on, and the snow being then so deep that we could not move our horses faster than a walk, we suffered much from the cold. At times nearly all of us were dismounted and floundering through the snow to get up some warmth. Thus we proceeded hour after hour while the wind howled through the leafless trees bordering the bleak mountain road and continued to drive the flakes into our faces, which so enveloped us that we looked like a procession of ghosts.

It was perhaps a little past midnight when we reached Hancock, where we hoped to get at once some sort of shelter, both for ourselves and horses, as each alike were pretty well exhausted, but we found a battery of artillery stretched along the main street the men and horses of which had not yet secured shelter. Their guns looked like mounds of snow. All was in silence except the suppressed voices of the men, for loud speaking was forbidden, so to prevent the enemy from learning of, across the narrow river, the arrival of reinforcements.

Company C halted in the street just in rear of this battery and waited until patience was exhausted for some directing power to order us into or tell us where we might obtain shelter. So we set about looking it up for ourselves. On our left at the head of our column, stood a large brick dwelling house, an alley leading to the river along by one side of it. Adjoining it on the other side and fronting on the street was a one story brick structure evidently for use as an office. We tried rapping on the door of each building but that brought no response and we obtained entrance through a window into the small building. He we had the happy fortune to a stove and a plentiful supply of fuel and also a candle. This was soon lit and we made a fire on the stove, which was very much needed for we were suffering greatly from cold. There was not room for more than half of us further explanation had to be made. From this a door led into the large house. It was not locked and, entering the house we found it abandoned. Having discovered more candles we lit it up when we saw abundant evidence that the house had been evacuated in the utmost haste. The beds were in disorder, articles of clothing were lying around loose and debris of various kinds littered the floors. The family must have fled when hostilities commenced before daylight.

We made our way to a quite large kitchen where we found a bountiful supply of every kind of cooking utensils. No food was anywhere and the house was dreadfully cold. It is sufficient to mention that several vessels which had been left on the cooking range full of water were frozen to the bottom. Some of the boys busied themselves at once in making fire on the range.

We then examined the rear of the premises to hold our horses. We discovered that a gate opened from the before mentioned alley and were greatly gratified to find there was room enough for all our horses which was our intention to make them as comfortable as possible. The voice of a picket came up form the riverside with words of more than politeness. "Put out that light you idiot unless you want your head knocked off with a cannon ball." I put out the light of course to oblige this gentleman and hastened into the house, to the grateful aroma of cookery that was floating in the wintry air.

The fire on the range had thawed out the frozen vessels on it and the boys had looked about for something to cook. At one side of the kitchen was a large pantry, but the door into it was locked and no key could be found. One of our young men said "Let me lean against it" which he did, and it opened. Oh what a sight for hungry eyes and stomachs! Shelves of preserves and pickles, jars of apple butter and a tubful of fresh sausage, plenty of sweet ham and bread and butter, also coffee and tea. In the kitchen was a table large enough for twenty or thirty men to gather round, for which a white cloth was found and soon it was ‘set’. The frying pans were cooking sausage by the yard. It was sputtering and giving out it’s appetizing odor and the raw bacon we had brought with us was getting into crisp and toothsome condition. And the aroma of coffee made. What a feast it was and there was more than plenty for all. Some of the boys after eating heartily of substantials, ended up with a heavy covering of preserves upon them which felt good at the time but later on when fermentation asserted itself in their stomachs the contents of those important origins had a monkey and a parrot time.

One of our good boys, being so long in stature and getting on so much, did not score quiet in his interior department till some time the following day, when peace was restored by the wholesale ejection of the warring contents. But what a kingly feast it was while it lasted, and how all the discomforts of the snowy and freezing match were forgotten and what jokes were uttered about the enemy across the river, and as to whether the ears of the family which had fled from the house were not burning just then, and as to what might be the situation at daylight but who cared. We had just had the jolliest meal that ever soldiers had, and we were ready for anything.

We were as careful as possible not to damage or destroy any of the glasses, dishes, plates and utensils belonging to the absent family. I don’t recollect whether we washed up the dishes or not, but my impression was we did, and left things in as good shape as we could.

When the banquet ended, daylight began to appear, and we then hustled out and got breakfast for our horses and looked after their comfort. The expected bombardment from across the river with the advent of daylight did not show up. On the contrary, it was soon ascertained that the enemy had fallen back, and then rumor had it that General Lander intended to cross with artillery and cavalry and pursue. But about noon we were ordered to return to our post at Four Locks, and were back there again before the next nightfall." Private James A. Scott

“A great many things occurred in camp that helped to keep us from getting homesick. For instance we had what we called the "Fool's Den", In this tent were quartered three men who were always up to some deviltry or mischief. Jim Grimes, a dirty unkempt old man, who was the old fool, and Henry Hughs, a tall large man, we named the big fool and Tom Sherfy we named the young fool. All visitors who came into camp had to see the "Fool's Den", While we were lying at Hancock, Maryland, there was considerable sickness in camp, and our Captain concluded to get a quart of whiskey to take occasional to keep off chills and fever. One of the "boys happened to know of the fact and knew that the Captain would surely hand out the bottle for him to sample it if he would call in, but imparted the information to about six of the other comrades who were to drop into the Captain's Headquarters, of course accidental about the time he would have the "bottle out and he could not help handing it all around and when it came around to the Captain, he, of course, would have to drink to the health of the "boys, but upon raising it to his mouth behold it was all gone and the Captain did net get any of the whiskey." Lieutenant William A. McIlhenny

“The rebels would come down to the river, and several threw shots and shells over at us. One day Capt. Horner told the General commanding that he would try to dislodge them. He got permission to take the company and cross the river for the purpose. One cold night, about midnight, we embarked on a large ferry boat and crossed, mounted and started out to find the enemy, we moved along cautiously for five or six miles and halted to reconnoiter but found no one. Towards morning the cold was very severe and Sargent. George Guium built a fire at the root of a tree. It soon burned through the shell, for the tree was hollow, and made an excellent chimney. The blaze roared and crackled up and soon blazed out at the top, and as the Captain said, scared away any enemy there was near. We returned about noon very hungry and sleepy, if not wiser soldiers.

Hancock was one great big mud hole and when not frozen was almost impassable. I took sick on the last day of Feb., which was muster for pay day. As soon as the muster was over, I took stage for Clearspring, being so disgusted with Hancock. I did not want to be buried there if my sickness proved fatal.

About dark the stage started, it was full to overflowing and I wrapped up well, got up with the driver, and away we went, arriving at Clearspring late in the night. I stopped for lodging and shelter with Shas. Lotterie, an acquaintance, but Col. Kenly of Balto., MD was there with his regiment, some of Baltimore's very worst fellows, and his hotel was so full, I had to crawl in at a back window, and lay on the floor beside the dining room stove until after breakfast next morning. I was very sick with bilious fever, and I lay there looking under the stove at those roughs eating, swearing and throwing knives at each other across the table. I did not improve much in health. I had requested Charlie to send to the drug store for Calomel and Jallop, but he could not get it until near noon. In the meantime I got to bed about 9 o'clock, burning up with fever. I took the calomel and a sicker boy you have never seen, but after it had done its intended duty, I soon regained health, and in about two weeks was able to rejoin the Company." Lieutenant Albert Hunter