Aged Veteran Remembers Civil War in 1931

(09/03/2001)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 9/3/1931.

Civil War Veteran Relates Experiences

The following article taken from a recent issue of the Clarksburg Exponent relates the Civil War experiences of Benjamin Franklin Fredrick, who enlisted in Federal service from Ritchie county and who now resides in Tucker county where he is said to be the sole remaining Union veteran.

"Mr. Fredrick lives at Bretz, on the outskirts of Parsons and treats all visitors in a friendly fashion, seeming to enjoy relating his early days.  Mr. Fredrick was born at Athens, Ohio, June 24, 1844, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Fredrick.  He came to this state in early boyhood when this section was all known as Virginia.  He told how his grandfather had paid 25 cents an acre for 300 acres of land on Grass Run near the waters of the Hughes river in Ritchie county.

Hearing the call of the colors at the opening of the war when he was only 17 years old he enlisted in Company G, 10th West Virginia regiment under the command of Capt. J.H. Ewing, who was killed at the battle of Opicken, east of Winchester.

"'The first battle I was in was the battle of Droop Mountain,' Mr. Fredrick said.  'Here we drove the Confederates back to Lewisburg.  We then came to Beverly where we pitched our tents for a short time.  All the time we were there we were kept busy.  We went from Beverly to Strawsburg in the Shennadoah valley and then on to Winchester, and camped there awhile.  We were called from there to Martinsburg, but failed to meet any of the Confederates.  Our company was then sent to Halltown where John Brown was hanged.  Going on to Snigger's Gap, we met the enemy and had a few skirmishes.'

Enemy Too Strong

"The veteran said Snigger's Gap was where the enemy proved too strong for them, and the company he was in was re-inforced by the 6th and 19th Corps.  'Here is where we drove the Johnnies back up the Shenndoah to Fisher's Hill,' Mr. Fredrick said and laughed heartily as he recalled the incident.  'We charged them at this place and our troops fell back to Harrisonburg.  From there we went to Martinsburg and sent the two other corps back to Washington.  We followed up General Early and met him in the battle at Kerenstown, where General Mulligan was killed.'

"'From there we fell back to Bunker Hill and encountered the enemy forces and crossed the river into Sheperdstown, after three days of fighting.  Our troops then went back to Snigger's Gap and were re-inforced by the 6th and 19th Corps again.  Here we charged the enemy, but were forced to retreat, swimming through the Shennadoah river red with blood of my comrades.'  Mr. Fredrick said this was one of the most horrible scenes he had ever witnessed.

"'After this battle,' he said, 'we fell back to Fredricksburg, Md., and later on the 19th day of Sept., 1863, we fought two and one-half hours over a stone fence.  The enemy retreated to Fisher's Hill and we had to charge this place again.  We routed them out of that and our company fell back to Cedar Creek.  The enemy followed us up and were in camp around Strawsburg, our troops camping on the east side of Cedar Creek.'

"Mr. Fredrick then told of a day the troops all remembered for many day.  'There was our surprise at Cedar Creek at 4:00 in the morning when the enemy suddenly reached our lines. forcing us back to Newton.  There we held them in check until Gen. Sheridan and the 8th Corps came to our rescue or we might all have been wiped out.  When he came up, the enemy turned their coats, and by sunset we had lost the most of Early's army, recovered our captured men, most of Gen. Early's artillery, sending him to Richmond as we termed it almost barefooted.  That was the last fighting done in the Shenandoah valley.'

Spends Christmas in Washington

"Christmas day he was in Washington, D.C., where his army took a transport to the Permuda front near Richmond, on the James River.  There they were ordered to put their winter headquarters, and being kept busy making a number of charges on the Confederates.

"'Finally we were ordered south of Permuda,' Mr. Fredrick continued, "where we met Gen. Fitzhu Lee and his crack Southern cavalry.  While we were engaged in bitter fighting, Gen. Sheridan appeared from the rear and the rebels fled.  We went across the James River and marched out in full view of the enemy's lines. We stopped around the hill until the next morning when we charged their breastworks and took several of their fortifications.  Then we fell back on Gen.Grant's left where Sheridan was watching Johnson.  We went to Hatcher's Run where we laid overnight.'

Left for Dead

"The turning point in the war came for Mr. Fredrick at the battle near Hatcher's Run.  'On the second morning we were ordered to prepare for a charge.  Our troops made ready and charged the breastworks in front of Petersburg.  There I was wounded severely in my left shoulder, and left for dead among a pile of dead soldiers for several days.  Before I was hit, I saw the white flags going up at Petersburg and knew our troops had won the victory.  The noise of artillery was deafening and seemed to shake the earth.  After being hit, I lapsed into unconsciousness.  When I came to, I saw a doctor going about among the dead, and asked him to help me.  He had me taken to a surgeon's tent.  You could see my left lung from the hole made by the shell.  They sent me to a hospital at Pint Rock and from there to McClellan's hospital.  There I was treated and kept until well.'

"Then came a happy day in the veteran's life.  'One morning the doctor came to the ward I was in and said, 'Soldier, I have something to tell you.  This morning Gen. Lee surrendered to Grant.'  Many of us laughed, others cried with joy and several shouted.  My first thoughts were of going home.  I got my pay and was able to start back to my home the last of July, 1865.  I got home in time to see them make up the cane and molasses.'

"When asked if he was in this section of West Virginia very much, he said, 'Yes indeed, I sat along in these hills two or three days at a time eating a bite among the trees during lulls in the fighting.'  He told how this section was all a vast wilderness then.

Was Oil Field Worker

"After the war, he went into the oil fields in Wood and Ritchie counties.

He was married in Ritchie county to Miss Elizabeth Collins.  'I came to what is now Parsons, the day President Garfield died,' the veteran fighter said, 'and have lived in this neighborhood ever since.'

"Mr. Fredrick lives here with his wife, who is almost 87.  They have three boys and three girls living, besides a great number of grandchildren.  One boy, Ed, lives in Ritchie county and is conductor on the Baltimore and Ohio from Parkersburg to Grafton and Cumberland.  George lives in Calhoun county.  There are three girls, all married.

"When asked if he knew Dr. J.W. Bosworth, the 96-year old veteran at Phillipi, Mr. Fredrick replied that he knew him well.  He is the last remaining soldier of the Civil War in this county."


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