May 30, 2009

Randolph County History

Randolph County and the War Between the States:
An Appreciation
Part Two: The Iron Brigade
(19th Indiana Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Corp, Army of the Potomac)

By Ted Martin

Company E, Delaware County
19th Indiana Flag
Courtesy of Mike and Shirley Pearson

Early Days.  Soon after the surrender of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers from the various states.  Indiana’s quota was 4,458 men.  On April 25, 1861, six regiments containing more than five thousand men were mustered into service, and there were additional volunteers --- enough for three additional regiments --- who were reluctantly returned home.

The realities of war soon made additional calls for volunteers necessary.  The federal government issued several other calls totaling 38,000 men for all of 1861.  It was the July call that led many young men from Randolph County, Indiana to leave family and farm behind and volunteer for service as an Indiana Volunteer.

One letter, found many years after the war, reflects the common patriotism and courage the men of this troubled time carried with them as they left their loved ones behind to fight a war they had no idea they were getting into.

July 15, 1861
Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sister:

As I am about to leave you all, to be absent for some time --- I know not how long --- I thought I would write a few lines and place them where you could find them, that you might know where I am going and why I leave you.

I have enlisted, and am going to stand as one that is for his country.  I am determined to fight for my country.  It seems hard to leave you, but I am very anxious to go and feel it to be my duty, and I say when one wants to go, let him go.

Dear parents and friends, I want you not to trouble yourselves about me.  I am well satisfied that I shall see you all again; but I am going for the time of war, let it be for as long as it may.  I shall send you word when I arrive where I want to go, and I hope you will not be troubled on my account.

I should have went long ago, had it not been for the wheat harvest, and so much work.  I must go now, for I feel I can wait no longer.

Who would not fight for his country?  For one, I love it so much that I am willing to fight and risk my life to preserve the country that our forefathers bought at such great sacrifices.

And so, no more at present.  I leave you all behind, but I remain, yours till,

Adam Juday

Young Adam Juday was just 15 years old when he left his family behind to fight for this country he so loved.  Such was the overall feelings of most of the young men of this era.

The 19th Indiana.  The 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry was officially mustered in on July 29, 1861 at Camp Morton, Indianapolis with companies organized in Randolph, Wayne, Owen, Elkhart, Johnson, Marion and Delaware counties.  Company C was from Randolph County and was many times during the next four years, the Color Company located in the center of the battle formations and carried aloft the Flags of our Nation and the Flags of the Regiment.  This automatically made them instant targets for the enemy.

Soon the men left Camp Morton by train and made their way to Washington D. C. where they erected tents and set about establishing their first camp in the field.  This soon turned out to be a miserable failure.  Tents were erected wherever was convenient and not on high ground and after two solid days of rain, the young men decided they didn’t care to sleep in mud puddles.  This was the very first valuable lesson learned.

Within a few days, they were joined together with the 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, and the 7th Wisconsin to form their first regiment.  On September 11, 1861, the 19th Indiana got their first taste of the horrible effects of war with a small skirmish at Lewinsville, Va.  They were all still merchants and farmers just 44 days before.  Although this was just a very minor skirmish, their eyes were opened wide to the tragedies of death.  From this day, the 19th Indiana was involved in more than 60 engagements, all the way to the end of the war.  Many wouldn’t see their homes again.

They went on to fight in major engagements such as both battles at Manassas, against   Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, Petersburg, and they were present at Appomattox Court House for Lee’s surrender.

“Men of Iron”
They became known as the “Iron Brigade” at the Battle of South Mountain in 1962.  As the men of the Brigade worked their way up the mountain along what is today U.S. Highway 40 at Turners Gap, they were under terrific fire from above from Confederates covered behind walls.  The brigade never wavered, and as General McClellan looked on from the distance, he asked who these gallant men were as they drove Hill’s troops off the mountain.  When he was told who they were, he remarked that these men moved and took fire as if they were made of iron.  Thus began the Iron Brigade.  From this day onward until their demise in the later years of the war, they were used extensively in the most dangerous of circumstances and would go on to gain fame throughout the world as one of the Union Army’s most elite group of men.

When Gen. John Gibbon assumed command of the brigade, he recognized the potential of a very elite group of men.  Men who would fight, not run.  Men who would stand and fight “till hell freezes over if necessary.”  Gen. Gibbon acquired special uniforms for the men.  He got them the tall dress Hardy Hats to wear with pride not in dress but all the time.  They wore long black ostrich plums in these hats.  Their jackets were longer frock coats and not the short shell jackets of the regular army.  And he got them white leggings to wear above their brogans (shoes).  They stood out from the other units not only in their fighting spirit but also in their attire.  They were special indeed.  When the Confederate forces would have to confront these men, they would label them as “those damn black hat fellas again.”  Their reputation was notorious throughout both Armies, as fierce fighters and very strong willed.  Bet you didn’t know Winchester fostered a group of men of this nature for the Civil War did you?  I personally never had any idea that Winchester was as important to the war effort as it was.

The brigade was heavily damaged at the Battle of Antietam in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in September, 1862.  After Antietam, the Indiana and Wisconsin boys were joined by the 24th Michigan to bring the brigade back to full strength, and that was the configuration of the brigade up through the Battle of Gettysburg – their greatest moment.

Remember, these were young guys from right here in Winchester and Randolph County, Indiana.  The sad part of all this fame is the causality rate.  The 19th Indiana suffered the 10th highest causality rate of the entire Army of the Potomac with an enrollment of 1246 men and 199 men killed for an average of 15.9%. The 2nd Wisconsin had the highest causality rate with an enrollment of 1203 men and 238 killed-average 19.7%. And the 7th Wisconsin was the 5th highest with an enrollment of 1630 men and 281 killed-average 17.2%.  The 6th Wisconsin and the 24th Michigan were both just out of the top ten.

Company C, known as the “Winchester Greys”, had an enrollment of 137 men with 20 killed in battle and 15 dying from other causes such as disease for a total of 35 men dying in the war.  Imagine the impact this would have on our community today not to mention what it had in the days of a much smaller population.  Practically every family in Randolph County was affected by the war.

The Battle of Gettysburg.  July 1, 1863, was the most intense day for the men of the 19th Indiana.  This was the day the Iron Brigade pitted forces against some of the best the Confederacy could put on the field at the small crossroads town of Gettysburg, Pa.  They were forced into action twice that day.  The first engagement was against Archer’s Tennessee and Alabama veterans on what is known as McPherson’s Ridge.  They hit Archer so fast and so hard that he had little time to organize against them with the result of the Iron Brigade over-running Archer and actually capturing Gen. Archer as a prisoner of war.  At the time, this was the highest ranking Confederate Officer ever captured in the war.

At this point, the men of the 19th took cover and waited for the next onslaught of Confederate Infantry.  After an hour and a half, they were hit again by three Confederate.  The 26th North Carolina especially hit them almost full on and hit them very hard.  While the 26th hit them in the front, the 11th North Carolina hit them from the left flank and this was more than our boys could take.  They began a slow withdrawal back through McPherson’s Woods, turning to fire after every 20 paces as they went.  Many men went down on both sides as the resolve was the same for each allegiance.  The 26th North Carolina was virtually decimated that day, taking the highest casualty rate of any Confederate unit during the entire war.  But the 19th Indiana and the 24th Michigan were also badly hurt.

The Iron Brigade fell back in order to Seminary Ridge and set-up defenses but could not hold that position as the rest of the Army of the Potomac was not yet up to help them.  They had to fall back on through the Town of Gettysburg and set up a defensive line on Culp’s Hill on the south end of town for the remainder of the three days battle.  Fortunately for the 19th, they were not needed on the battle line for the rest of the fight at Gettysburg.  They had 27 men killed, 133 wounded and 86 missing at Gettysburg. 

Many were torn up so bad that three days later, with the Confederates defeated and withdrawing, bodies recovered from the battlefield could not be recognized as to who they were.  These men are buried as “unknown” in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Many of the fallen were Winchester and Randolph County boys who had such great hopes of hero wishes and gallantry.  Now they would never see their loved ones again Such as it is in every war and all who go serve their country but it seems like we too often forget what war really is.  General Lee stated all so truly at Fredericksburg that it is “good war is so terrible as we would surely grow too fond of it.”

Casualties were so high at Gettysburg that after the battle, the Iron Brigade couldn’t be mustered together as an effective force.  Other units were brought into the brigade to try to strengthen their numbers but these other units were new recruits, not hardened to the rigors of war and not deserving the credibility of the Iron Brigades honor.  Most of the new troops were draftees where all of the older (much older now) men of the original regiment were volunteers.  They merged with other units and carried on to the end of the war, but they were never again the same Iron Brigade.

After the war.
  The former members of the 19th Indiana were mustered out of service on July 12, 1865 at Louisville, Ky.  From this date on until their natural deaths, they remembered the glory they shared with their comrades, but they also recalled the horrors they lived.  Some never regained their old stamina and lived each day one at a time.  However, most came home to Randolph County to pick up where they left off.  Many to marry sweethearts they left behind.  Most built their farms back out of disrepair and prospered in this new Country of Liberty and Unity.  And indeed, all wore the very proud emblem of the Great Union Army’s Iron Brigade.  Some of the very best to serve the Army of the Potomac and the United States were from right here in Winchester and Randolph County.

The 19th Indiana gathered again in Indiana, in August of 1913, on the anniversary of the Brawner Farm fight, to recount that struggle one last time.  The official meeting always began with a reading of the names of all of the comrades of the regiment who had died in the previous year.  The list was growing longer each year and it was a melancholy group of aging veterans who listened to it read.  They spent much of their time talking about patriotism and their love of their country, and they finished their meeting with a tearful rendition of “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.”  They had stood as brothers, now they spent time attending each other’s funerals.

Old Lt. Will Carleton read this poem at a memorial service for his old friend Sergeant Adam Juday.  It can stand as an appropriate epitaph for the men of the 19th, especially those who never returned to the peaceful hills and farms of Indiana.

  Cover them over with beautiful flowers,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours
Lying so silent by night, and by day,
Sleeping the years of their manhood away.

Years they had marked for the joys of the brave,
Years they must waste in the mouldering grave,
All the bright laurels they waited to bloom,
Fell from their hopes, when they fell to the tomb.

Give them the mead they have won in the past,
Give them the honors their future forecast,
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife,
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.*

Gettysburg National Cemetery
The markers shown here are all men from Winchester and Randolph County buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.  Christopher Starbuck is also buried there under the name of UNKNOWN.  Although the men that found him on July 4, 1963 thought they knew who he was, they could not make a positive identification.  Notice the last names of these men.  Their families are a vital part of Randolph County still to this day.

The impact of the Civil War was severe in communities both North and South.  It must be remembered that the population of the United States was much smaller in comparison to today's.  In both battle casualties and sickness, the 19th Indiana lost way too many men in the war with a total of 35 coming from Randolph County alone.  Many families in the county lost more than one son.

One family in particular was the Frederick Miller Family who lived out by Bear Creek just south of Ridgeville. This family had five sons in the army; four belonged to the 19th Indiana Regiment.  Jacob was killed at Antietam; William was killed at Gainsville; Christian was wounded at Antietam; John was severely wounded at Gettysburg and was disabled the rest of his life. The fifth son, Daniel, was in the 69th Indiana and wounded in the left shoulder. 


Treatment of battlefield injuries.  Medical treatment of this time was almost medieval.  As the war progressed, medicine improved dramatically, but not quickly enough to save the lives of thousands from what that today might be considered a minor wound.

Amputation was practiced more often than not.  The main reason for amputation was the size and the velocity of the bullet of the day.  Most were a .54 caliber cone shaped bullet that was fired from a muzzle loaded rifle.  The velocity of the bullet was slow enough that the bullet would enter but not exit the body.  This round is approximately the diameter of a dime and as long as a half dollar.  The bullet would enter the soldier, hit bone, splinter the bone beyond repair, and stay there.  Lead against splintered bone!

It was impossible to reset the bone because it was shattered too badly, so the only way to help or maybe save the soldier was to amputate if the bullet was in one of his limbs.  If it was in his trunk, most of the time he died.  Even after the amputation, many died of infection because of the primitive means of sterilization: There wasn’t any.  A bucket of water thrown on the operation table to wash off the blood and then another wounded soldier was lifted onto the table for whatever was to happen to him.

Amputation of leg being performed at Letterman Field Hospital, Gettysburg, PA
Actual photo, July 9th, 1863**

The Victors in Review

Company H, 19th IN INF on Parade
Remembrance Day, Nov. 19th, 2008
Gettysburg, PA

Roster of the Winchester Greys.  Shown below is the roster of Company C, the Winchester Greys.  This roster tells each man’s name, rank, age, occupation, and what happened to them while they served.  Many say KIA (killed in action) or MIA (missing in action); others were wounded, (WIA) to the extent that it caused life-long difficulties.  Still others died of disease while serving.  Click here for Civil War Roster.

Aftermath & today.  Keep in mind that my story is only talking about the 19th Indiana.  Why?  Because they are my heroes.  They were a special group of young men that were as ordinary in their lives as anyone else.  They joined the Army because of their values and beliefs in the United States.  They were considered westerners or more or less back-woodsmen because of where they were from.  And they were considered a rougher group of men than the easterners because they had to scratch out a lifestyle on the frontier.  Indiana and Wisconsin were indeed still considered a frontier in those days.

As I said above, this was just the men of the 19th Indiana.  There were many more units formed in this general area that drew the enlistment of many more men from Randolph County.  Each has their own story.  The 57th Indiana was instrumental at Stones River, Tennessee.  The 54th Indiana was at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  The 69th Indiana was at Point Royal, Louisiana and Texas.  The 84th Indiana was at Lookout Mtn., Georgia, Nashville, Tennessee and Chickamauga, Tennessee.    The 124th Indiana was with Sherman when he burned Atlanta.

Many of these men are our ancestors and many of us may not know it.  I know that a man by the name of Joel Lock, who belonged to Co. F of the 69th Indiana, is a Great - Great – Grandfather of Rick Crist.  Rick asked me to see what I could find on him because he had heard stories about this man his whole life.  He didn’t know if he survived the war or if he was wounded or killed somewhere.  Well, sadly to say Rick, your Great – Great – Grandfather was killed in action at Chickasaw Bluffs, Mississippi but I still have not found out the date.  I’m still looking and I will find it for you.  My respect for all these Randolph County men is great and I believe their stories should be told.  Not just in a history book but in actual circumstances and under real hardships and I’m sure they would want us to remember what they sacrificed and why they sacrificed.  I’m sure they would want us to understand that freedom isn’t really free at all and these guys paid everything they had for what we have today. 

Gettysburg National Cemetery
Remembrance Day, November 19th, 2008
Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address


*Some information and material used from” Iron Men, Iron Will” by Craig L. Dunn


Special Thanks to teacher, Mrs. Kelly Harris, and her student, Steven, for providing the following link.  It is through the caring and sharing of information, that keeps our history alive.

"Civil War Terminology" -