Custer's heroes in the Civil War

Publié le par custerwest

Men of Custer's division who gained the Medal of Honor in the Shenandoah Valley, during the Civil War
Medal of Honor recipients : Hartwell B. Compson, Robert Niven, & Andrew Kuder, Charles Goheen, Daniel Kelly, Henry Bickford, James Congdon, John Miller, Peter O'Brien, Warren Carman, Harry Harvey, George Ladd, Michael Crowley
Unit : General George Armstrong Custer's 3rd division, US cavalry

Battle: Battle of Waynesboro, March 2, 1865

It was a battle where the Eighth New York Cavalry, under the gallant leadership of Major Hartwell B. Compson, earned undying fame.  The major himself performed wonderful feats of bravery and set an example which electrified his men and inspired them to deeds of splendid heroism.  At the head of his troops who were selected to make the attack, he charged down the highway into Waynesboro.  

The enemy had five pieces of artillery in the roadway and had thrown up earthworks on each side of the road ; behind these breastworks infantry was posted.  He was at the head of his command with a color-bearer on one side and a bugler on the other, when they struck the Confederate forces and a hand-to-hand fight took place.  Just then General Early and his staff moved down their front to direct the movement of the Confederate forces.
Coming upon Early's headquarters battle-flag he ordered the bearer to surrender.  A fierce fight at close quarters ensued and finally a heavy blow with the sabre knocked his opponent from his horse and the flag was captured.
Breaking through the Confederates, he moved his forces down towards South River and kept up the charge until he reached the bank.  Seeing that the enemy were closing in on his rear and that his support did not come up, he crossed the river and found earthworks thrown up on the opposite side from which the enemy could have prevented their crossing had they occupied them.  He at once dismounted his men and placed them in the Confederate earthworks.  

Then when Custer pressed down upon the rebels they were forced to cross the river, where they were ordered to surrender.  The result was that when the battle was over Colonel Compson's command alone had taken 800 prisoners five pieces of artillery, 1,500 stands of small arms and eight battle-flags.
Being needed no longer at the ford, Compson, who had noticed the enemy moving their wagon-trains over the mountains by way of Rock Fish Gap, followed with his regiment, overhauled it and captured everything in sight.  It was in this action where Second Lieutenant Robert Niven, of Company H, of the same regiment, had a hot encounter with a body of rebels.  "I was ordered to pick out five men from my company,"  says the lieutenant,  " to go ahead as an advance guard and we pressed along the narrow, hilly road, densely lined with woods.  By this time the atmosphere was quite foggy.  I had gotten far in advance of my comrades when suddenly I found myself right in the midst of a wagon-train composed of about ten wagons and a dozen Confederates, commanded by a lieutenant.  

With a great show of bravery I ordered them to surrender and promised that every one who attempted to escape would be shot on the spot.  But they saw that a one-man order to twelve scattered men was practically worthless, when the bushes around there offered such a good opportunity to get away. Consequently, when the regiment came up I had captured not only three or four prisoners, but also two rebel flags, ten army wagons with mules attached, the lieutenant's horse, and all of General Early's official papers."
Second Lieutenant Andrew Kuder, First Sergeant Charles A. Goheen and Sergeant Daniel Kelly of Company G, and also Corporal Henry H.  Bickford and Sergeant James Congdon as well as Private John Miller of this same regiment, the Eighth New York Cavalry, were fortunate enough to capture rebel colors in this grand melee.
Rebel flags were also captured in this battle by Privates Peter O'Brien and Warren Carman, of the First New York Cavalry (Lincoln),  and Harry Harvey, George Ladd and Michael Crowley of the Twenty-second New York Cavalry.  All of above mentioned were awarded the Medal of Honor.

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