Blair County PAGenWeb


Blair County PAGenWeb





Blair County Newspaper Articles

News, obituaries, birth, marriage and death notices, by date.


Items from The Altoona Tribune, Altoona, Pa.,

Thursday, November 6, 1862


Important from South Carolina.
The Attack Upon the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.


Special Correspondence of the New York Times.
PORT ROYAL, Friday, Oct, 24, 1862. - Encouraged by the perfect success of the recent enterprises at St. John's river and the Bluffton Salt works, and true to the promise that he made his troops, of giving them active employment, on assuming command of the Department of the South, Gen. Mitchel has just prosecuted a third expedition, of greater magnitude and of more important aim, which while yielding fresh lustre to our arms, I grieve to say, has only partly achieved its object, and adds another long list to the names of martyrs in the Union cause.




The special design of this enterprise was to destroy the tressel- work bridges of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, crossing the Pocotaligo, Talifiny and Coosawhatchie. These streams are all tributaries of the Broad River, and to approach them it was determined, after a careful study of the map of this peculiarly impracticable and most difficult country for military operations, to make a landing at Mackey's Point, at the junction of the Broad and Pocotaligo rivers, a distance of twenty-five miles from Hilton Head, where our troops could be debarked under cover of gun-boats, and a march of eleven miles would take them to the village of Pocotaligo, at which place it was supposed the enemy would make a stand.


The attack was intended as a surprise; and while our main force was to advance, as stated, a smaller body of troops, commanded by Col. Barton, of the forty-eighth New York Volunteers, was to create a diversion, by penetrating to the Coosawhatchie bridge in the steamer Planter, convoyed by the gun-boat Patroon; but with imperative orders to retire should they encounter a superior force. By cutting the railroad in the manner proposed, communication between the cities of Savannah and Charleston would be destroyed, and the way opened for a sudden blow upon one or both of these places, at the discretion of the commanding General.




The plan of the expedition was skillfully conceived, and every precaution adopted to render it successful. Few can imagine the perplexities attendant upon the movement of troops and artillery by water. It was necessary to construct flat-boats for the transportation of field batteries; to concentrate all the light draft boats; to gain such knowledge as might be gained imperfectly through scouts, of the character of the country to be traversed; to decide upon the point selected; arriving at proper tides; providing for the subsistence of troops, and a hundred other details requiring prudence and sagacious foresight, and which after all were susceptible of disarrangement. Considering all these circumstances, and the fact that so many persons are employed in the organization of an expedition of this kind, it is not to be wondered that information passed our lines, and the enemy consequently was ready to receive us.




At nightfall of Tuesday, the 21st, the expedition was ready for departure, but did not leave until midnight, as nothing could be accomplished by reaching its destination before day-break. The vessels left in the order above designated, but the night was misty, and one or two of them ran aground, delaying their arrival at the rendezvous for some hours after the time which had been fixed.


Meanwhile the tug Starlight was despatched with some boats of the Paul Jones and a small company of soldiers from the Seventh Connecticut, under Captain Gray, to capture the rebel pickets at Mackay's Point at a plantation on the Pocotaligo river, a few miles distant. This project was only partially successful. At the plantation, Lieut. Banks, of the enemy's picket, and three men, were made prisoners, but through the incompetency of a negro guide, the guard at the point escaped, giving warning of our approach. From the Rebel officer who was taken, General Brennan learned that our attack had been apprehended by the enemy, and for several days they had been preparing for the encounter.




The tedious process of putting the men ashore in small boats was commenced soon after six A. M., on Wednesday, and by ten o'clock, men, horses and guns were landed, excepting the detachment of the third Rhode Island Volunteers, who were on the gun-boat Marblehead, which was aground all day some miles down the river.


Mackay's Point is at the confluence of the Broad and Pocotaligo rivers, and has been for several months, occupied by a strong picket of the enemy. Its distance from Hilton Head is about twenty-four miles, while the village of Pocotaligo lies about eleven miles to the northwest. From the point to the village the road leads through fertile cotton lands, and cool, shady groves, past a few fine plantation mansions, and neat negro quarters; yet the lands were neglected, the dwellings deserted, and only the tramp of the enemy's videttes, it seemed, had prevented the obliteration of the narrow path.




From the fact that an attempt on the part of Capt. Gray, of the Seventh Connecticut, to bag the picket at Mackay's during the night had resulted merely in surprising them, it was inferred that the enemy had timely notice of our approach, and would be prepared for us in strong force. We met him at noon, about seven miles out. The Rebels had stationed field artillery on either side of the road at the summit of a slight ascent, to reach which we were compelled to cross an open field and a narrow causeway. Here, as the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania came up, the enemy poured in upon us a fearful fire of grape and shrapnel, which was promptly answered by our musketry. Lieutenant Henry's artillery also passed forward at great speed, and got so close to the Rebels as to play upon them effectually with grape and canister. As the ball opened, and the echoes of artillery grew more frequent, our boys pressed on with cheers that were caught up by the entire column, and in ten minutes the Rebels had been forced from their position. They fell back, fighting as they went, our troops crowding them a distance of a mile and a half.


The Rebel fire was from the first well directed and well maintained. It was hot and terrible beyond anything I ever saw before, excepting perhaps, that at James Island. A single shell, exploding in the midst of Lieut. Henry's guns, killed one man and wounded four others. Still his pieces were served most faithfully, his gallant artillerists standing to their work till only three were left to man his right piece. The battery of Lieut. Gittings, of the Third Regular Artillery, was also badly cut up. Each of the sections lost one killed and seven wounded.
The brigade of Gen. Terry was at once thrown forward, and, in a few moments from the opening of the battle, were actively engaged in assisting Gen. Brannan's troops. The Third New Hampshire and Serrell's Engineers were held in reserve, and though through the day these troops were under severe fire, they escaped almost entirely without injury. The Forty-seventh Pennsylvania and the Fourth New Hampshire which supported Henry's guns in the advance, were terribly shattered. The former lost one hundred and forty, and the latter about fifty, in killed and wounded. These figures embrace their entire casualties; but the greater portion of them is due to the furious fire which fell so suddenly among them as the conflict commenced.


After the Rebels assumed a second position, our ammunition had become partially exhausted, and our fire was, in a measure, moderated, but as the enemy invariably redoubled their exertions as we slackened ours, another advance was made. The Rebels resisted stubbornly, but were again forced back, and took up a third position at the iron bridge across the Pocotaligo, half a mile this side of the village. In this contest Col. Chatfield, of the Sixth Connecticut fell, struck by a Minie ball in the hip. Shouting to his men to go on and do as well as they had already done, he gave up his command to the senior captain - Lieutenant Colonel Spidell having previously been disabled by a bullet in the arm, and was carried to the rear.


At the bridge the Rebels made another desperate stand. In artillery they were much the strongest, not less than twelve pieces playing upon us, while our own artillery consisted of but four Parrott guns and three howitzers from the Wabash, brought up by the Paul Jones. These pieces were under the command of Lieutenant Phoenix, of the flag ship, and most beautifully served. - The conduct of the brave tars who manned them, and especially of a youthful midshipman named Wallace, filled our soldiers with enthusiasm. - While the Rebel fire was hottest Mr. Wallace led his men forward and sent a number of shells among the enemy. Three of his men were wounded, and he was called in.


The Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, which, till yesterday, was never under severe fire, here made its mark upon the enemy. By a dashing charge, in which they were supported by the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania, they again routed the Rebels, driving them across the bridge. The enemy at once destroyed this structure, tearing up the planking and pulling down the trustlework, and placing it beyond the possibility of immediate repairs.


The fight had lasted from noon till nearly six o'clock. Slowly but steadily the Rebels had been forced back, until it was now beyond our power to pursue them further. The whistle of locomotives and the clattering of trains bringing to the station close at hand fresh troops from Charleston, were distinctly heard. Night was hastening on. Although preparations were made by the engineers to provide a crossing, it was determined to leave the field.


To General Terry was given the conduct of the retreat. It was made in most admirable order, each regiment preserving its line and covering itself with honor as it retired, no less than in the trying ordeal of the afternoon.


General Brannan and General Terry expressed themselves delighted with the condition of their troops. They were steady, true and brave. I know the troops are satisfied with their Generals, and I have yet to hear the first word prejudicial to the conduct of any officer upon the field. Captain Lambert, Captain Corgell and Lieutenant Jermaine, of Brannan's staff, and Captain Bacon, Lieutenant Tarry and Lieutenant James, of the staff of General Terry, were conspicuous throughout the fight, but escaped unharmed.


If heavy losses may indicate gallantry, the palm may be given to Colonel Good's noble regiment, the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers. Upon this command the brunt of battle fell. Out of 600 who went into action, nearly 150 were killed or wounded. All of the Keystone troops did splendidly, as did the Connecticut Volunteers, under Chatfield and Hawley. A company of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, which marched from Beaufort to Broad river, arrived upon the ground too late to participate in the action.


The force of Colonel Barton, comprising four hundred and fifty men of the Forty-eighth New York Volunteers and one company of the Third Rhode Island Artillery, under Captain Gould, had also an important duty to perform. As the force which your correspondent accompanied moved toward Pocotaligo, the steamer Planter, with the above force, was despatched up the Coosawhatchie. The Planter, together with the gun-boats Vixen and Patroon, penetrated nearly to the village, and landed a portion of their troops. The latter was just in time to intercept a train of three platform and two passenger cars, laden with troops, which had been telegraphed for from Pocotaligo, and were on their way to that point. Col. Barton opened upon this train with small arms and with grape from a boat howitzer, and killed and wounded from twenty-five to forty of the force - among them the engineer. The Planter and the Patroon shelled the town, while a party of the Forty- eighth went ashore and destroyed the railroad and telegraph tearing up the track and ties, and bringing off about a quarter of a mile of the wire. They also captured one prisoner from the train. The latter was immediately stopped, and all steam was put on for Savannah.


The arrival of heavy artillery compelled Col. Barton to fall back to the Planter; but by the destruction of bridges as he retired, he prevented its pursuit. A few of the enemy's infantry followed him, skulking along the woody shore, and maintaining a ceaseless racket of musketry. They were driven out by the Patroon, which fired no less than one hundred and twenty two shells among them. The only person injured on board the Planter was Lieut. Blanding, of the Third Rhode Island, and whose wound will, undoubtedly, cause his death.


A striking instance of heroism came under my observation. During the thickest of the fight, Artificer Zincks, of Henry's Battery, seized a shell which had fallen into our ammunition box, and threw it into a ditch where it exploded, seriously wounding him. Had it not been for his bravery and presence of mind the most serious consequences might have ensued. Lieut. Henry's horse was shot under him, and the shell that killed the animal also killed one man and wounded five others. It is a singular fact that Lieut. Gittings, of the third United States Artillery, whose section also did good service in the fight, also lost one man killed and five wounded by the explosion of a single shell. Lieut. Gittings himself was wounded in the ankle.


Three howitzers from the Wabash under command of Lieut. Phoenix and Ensigns Wallace and Larned, accompanied the land forces, and won a great deal of praise for gallantry and effective firing. Young Wallace was sent by Gen. Terry to cover the retreat from Pocotaligo Bridge, which he handsomely accomplished. He had delivered two rounds of grape into the enemy's ranks, when a shower of rifle balls were sent against him, wounding three of his men and perforating his own clothes. The heroic young fellow was then ordered to retire, which he reluctantly did, after vainly asking permission to fire another round.


The rebels left fifteen or twenty of their dead on the field, and the inference is that their loss must have been severe, or they would have had time to remove all in their successive retreats. - Two caissons, filled with ammunition, were captured from the enemy during the second battle. Our own supply of ammunition at this time having been well-nigh exhausted, this proved very opportune.




Although the main object of the expedition failed of success, yet the benefits conferred were not of trifling value. We have made a thorough reconnaissance of the heretofore unknown Broad River and its tributaries, and ascertained the character of the country, which is knowledge of immense importance, in view of the future movements in that direction. We have also demonstrated the necessity of heavy reinforcements if the Government desires Gen. Mitchell to strike heavily in this department.


Altoona Tribune, Altoona, Pa., Thursday, November 6, 1862, page 2




THE DEATH OF MORE BLAIR COUNTY PATRIOTS TO BE AVENGED. - In almost every engagement of any magnitude, and in many of the skirmishes which have taken place since the opening of the rebellion, Blair county has been represented, but never disgraced; and her representatives, whether through bad luck, or heroic bravery, have generally been sufferers. To the soldiers of Pennsylvania is attributed a daring amounting almost to recklessness, and the Blair county boys are not exceptions in this respect, neither are they the boys to run, where a stand is possible, as their conduct on all occasions has testified. Hence we infer that it is their bravery which leads to the death and maiming of so many of them. We have referred with pride to the conduct of the gallant 84th and 125th regiments, composed mainly of Blair county men, and we take pleasure in adding to the list our portion of the brave 76th. Every Blair county man of these commands has reflected credit on his county, and won for himself a place in the memory and affections of his countrymen.


In another column of our paper will be found a detailed account of the advance of our forces from Port Royal, S. C., upon the Railroad connecting Charleston and Savannah. In that advance Blair county was represented by two companies in the 76th regiment, viz: - company C, from Duncansville, under command of Capt. J. W. Hicks, and company F, from this place under command of Capt. Henry Wayne. In the engagements attending the advance, the 76th behaved most nobly, winning the admiration and praise of Gen. Brannon, the officer in command, but it suffered severely in killed and wounded. A letter received a few days since by Dr. W. R. Findley, from his son, 1st Lieut. Jos. R. Findley, of company F, gives the following account of the engagement and the loss of that company:


"I have just returned from a point about 13 miles up Broad river, where I have been with an expedition which started from this place on the evening of the 21st. The object was to cut off the rail road communication between Charleston and Savannah. At the place where the attack was to be made, the railroad crossed an island in Broad river, and on each side are large bridges. The gunboats were to destroy one bridge, and the land force, the other. I was attached to the gun boat Water With [Witch?], as Signal Officer.


"The forces landed at the lower point of this land at daylight on the morning of the 22nd. They consisted of the 76th and 47th P. V. - 3rd New Hampshire, and parts of some other regiments. After the troops had advanced some miles, they met the rebels in the woods, and drove them back - when they took position behind a swamp, having previously destroyed the only bridge across it. Our forces at once deployed and attacked. The 76th supported the marine battery on the left of the line, and at the point nearest the rebel lines. Their guns were finally silenced, but our troops could not cross to drive them out.


"During the fight several of our men were killed. Capt. Wayne was killed by a shell, which carried away his right arm and part of his right breast. He never spoke after being struck. Capt. Hamilton, Comp. H, was also killed - shot between the eyes by a rifle ball. Privates B. F. Steimer, William Boyles, and Adam Fry were also killed. Second Lieut. Geo. W. Gwinn was wounded in the leg; Corporal Richard Bell, hand; Corporal Aikens, foot; Privates, Casper Wicker, head; Fred. Wicker, arm; Jno. Detwiler, arm; Trevariar Buck, knee. None of the wounds are considered dangerous.


"I learn from some, that the bodies of Capt. Wayne and Hamilton were buried - from others that they were left on the field. If the latter, nothing shall be left undone to recover them, especially our own Captains. If it is possible to obtain Capt. Wayne's body and have it sent home, it shall be done. Our entire regt. lost from 72 to 78 in killed, wounded, and missing.


"After silencing the enemy at the swamp, our forces retired, but not before they saw a train of cars (for they were near enough to see the railroad and bridge, but could not reach them) coming in with two regiments, and could hear others coming. They then retired in perfect order.


"The Blair county boys have again distinguished themselves. They fought nobly and never flinched. The 76th has shown that her number (76) will not be disgraced - and has proved itself to be a hard fighting regiment. They stood manfully to their work, and never faltered, till the order to retire was given.


"The name of Captain Henry Wayne will now be added to the list of Blair County's sons, who have voluntarily offered up themselves, upon the altar of their country and for the preservation of the Union. In his death Company F has lost a brave soldier and a humane man."


Thus it will be seen that another of Blair county's honored sons, Capt. Wayne, and a number of no less honored privates of his company, have been added to the list of noble spirits who have given their lives for their country, and who fell at the historic battles of Winchester, Pea Ridge, Shiloh, South Mountain and Antietam. - In officers "Little Blair" has lost a gallant Murray, a brave Gallaher, a heroic Keys, a noble Ream, a patriotic Burley, an intrepid Johnson, a daring, dashing Wayne, and a long list of privates, no less illustrious or revered, whose death sixteen hundred Blair county boys yet in the field will most signally avenge, should they gain the opportunity.


Capt. Wayne was a thorough soldier, composed of fighting material, and knowing nothing of fear. Having made military tactics his study, and having seen considerable active service, he was well skilled therein, and appeared only in his proper element when in command of a company. He fought the Indians throughout the Florida war, suffering many hardships, and left the service only when there was nothing for him to do. When the first note of rebellion was sounded he immediately buckled on his sword and recruited a company for the three month service. That ended, he returned home and recruited a company of three year men and entered the 76th regiment, which, directly after its organization, was sent to Port Royal, S. C., to reinforce Gen, Anderson, then in command at that point. No braver officer than Capt. Wayne led a company in that engagement. We felt sure that when he fell it would be at the post of duty in the thickest of the fray, and so it has proven. It appears unnatural that such a brave and self- sacrificing spirit should fall by the hands, perhaps, of the very men for whom he once endangered his life to save from the merciless tomahawk, scalping-knife, or stake of the red-devils of the Florida swamps. Are not the rebels ungrateful?


An effort is now being made to have the captain's body brought home and interred in the lot set apart in Fair View Cemetery for the remains of those soldiers from Altoona and vicinity who may fall in battle, or die while in the service.


He leaves a wife, in delicate health, and six children, the eldest of whom is with the company he commanded.


The following are the names of the members of Captain Hick's company who were killed and wounded:


Killed - James Williams, and William Crawford.


Wounded - Michael Culligham, seriously; John W. Dasher, severely; Samuel Dasher, severely; George Hall, severely; Joshua W. Davis, severely; Thomas Bold, slightly; Samuel Elynn [sic], slightly; Peter Wilderson, seriously.


HALLOW-EEN. - Friday evening last was Halloween, and the boys had quite a time rattling corn against the windows, agitating nervous females, and frightening the little ones. The boys of larger growth, who stalk the streets at the "witching hour of night, when graveyards yawn," filled the streets with store-boxes, carts, wagons and other loose articles, in various localities, and exchanged all the moveable signs, rendering places of business rather difficult to find by signboard guides. This thing of "hallow-eveing" is about "played out," and like many other old time practices is more honored in the breach than the observance. So mote it be; although we have seen some rare sport on these occasions, such as putting a farmer's ox in his hay-mow and his six-horse wagon astride the comb of his barn; putting a pig in a neighbor's bed-room, while he was asleep; tying a string to the clapper of the Court House bell and, taking a position two or three squares off, ring a vigorous fire alarm and have all the citizens out in half-dress. Of course, nobody knew who done the mischief.


THE LAW REGARDING SUBSTITUTES. - It is not generally known by those procuring substitutes, perhaps, that should the latter be drafted during their term of service, the persons hiring them will either have to supply others or enter the service themselves. The law on the subject provides that if any substitute shall be called in his own turn into actual service before the term expires which he was to serve for his employer, then the person procuring such substitute shall march or find a sufficient person to march in his said substitute's turn, or be liable to pay his fine for neglect; which fine is to be recovered as other fines for neglect of serving are by this act recoverable; and sons who are not subject to the militia law may be admitted as substitutes for their fathers, if approved of by the commanding officer of the company in which they shall be offered to serve."


HOAXED.- The cry of "Fire!" and the ringing of the Shop bell, about ten o'clock, on Friday night last, brought from their warm couches those of our citizens who had already retired, and called into the streets all others. On gaining the street they discovered the sky brilliantly illuminated in the direction of North Ward, the scene of all the late fires, and a tremendous conflagration was imagined. The crowd started on "double quick," in the direction of the light, and after running themselves out of breath, were met by persons returning, who informed them that it was "Hallow Een," and the boys were having a bonfire in the field adjoining North Ward. We can't say whether there was any swearing done, but it is fair to presume that there was, unless everybody can take a joke.


OFFICERS. - The following gentlemen have been elected officers of the committee for the relief of soldiers families in this place, viz: - President, Alex. McCormick; Treasurer, John Louden. By the way, are the members of the committee doing anything toward securing a fund for the purpose indicated, and have they visited the soldiers families to find out whether they stand in need of aid. Some of them will ask for aid, but others will not, because of delicacy. Let them be attended to properly, so that the soldiers may have no cause of complaint when they return.


We have received a letter from Capt. Hicks, in reply to our correspondent, "Brevier," in reference to the County matter, but we deem it prudent to withhold its publication at present, believing that it would be productive of evil, and that the misunderstanding, which the Captain alleges but does not explain, may be more readily adjusted, when the parties meet, should they be so fortunate as to escape the dangers of war and get home again.


PUBLISH IT. - The Indiana Messenger publishes the list of exempts in Indiana county, giving the causes for exemption. A similar list should be published in every county, that the people at home, as well as the soldiers in the army, may know who has claimed exemption from the service of their country, and on what grounds. We are ready to publish the list if any one will be kind enough to furnish it.




On the 28th ult., by the Rev. Mr. Anderson, Mr. Chas Caughling, Jr., recently leader of the Keystone Band, 49th Reg. P. V., to Miss Sue E. Morrison, both of Newton Hamilton, Mifflin county.




In this place, on Saturday evening, Nov. 1st, 1862, Rebecca Douglass Stewart, daughter of Benjamin F. and Maria E. Rose, aged 1 year, 7 month and 15 days.


Altoona Tribune, Altoona, Pa., Thursday, November 6, 1862, page 3




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