Calhoun County in the Civil War from 1927
By Louis E. Ayers


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 5/19/1927.

(Continued from last week)

Then we went to Maryland Heights, where we rested a day or two.  Then we recrossed the Potomac to protect the B. & O. railroad.  Then we went back into the Valley where we had spats almost every day.  The next real hard engagement we were in was fought July 24, 1864, just above Winchester, where we were defeated and driven back down the valley.  Then pretty soon we had the indecisive battles of Kernstown and Berryville, where two or three thousand men, Northern and Southern, were killed.

Whispered orders were given to follow the men to the right.  We went about three miles and went into camp in a much safer position.  This was just before daylight, after we had ceased firing and had laid on our arms, in close probably to the enemy most of the night.

We stayed hereabouts until Sept. 19, 1864, when a severe battle was fought.  Dick Rogers, my left-hand man was hit on the shoulder with a piece of shell and knocked to the ground unconscious.  We all thought that he was killed.  But late in the evening, in the very last of the battle, he came up.  Henderson Hunt, my right-hand man, was shot through the brain and instantly killed.

That was the last battle of Winchester and we gained the victory.

At Fishers Hill we had a severely contested little battle on the 22nd of Sept.  I was in the front line until I was struck on the thigh with a piece of shell.  It did not cut but bruised me so that I had to use my gun for a walking stick.  I hobbled along and managed to keep up.  We gained the victory.

On the 13th of October, our brigade was sent out on a reconnaizance.  Two men of my company were seriously injured.

We fought the battle of Cedar Creek October 19, 1864.  This was not the Cedar Creek of the Little Kanawha, mentioned previously, but Cedar Creek, Va., a tributary of the Shenandoah.  Early in the combat, I received two scanning shots across the thighs, which did me no serious damage.  Soon afterwards, in the early dawn of day, I received a musket ball just in front of my right ear which brought me to the ground but did not render me unconscious.  This badly shattered my jaw bone but did not pass on through my head.  It must have been a spent ball.  The Union army retreated.  The Confederates passed over me, but did not tread on me or hurt me in any way.  I got desperately sick and thirsty.  A straggling Confederate, a young man, came sauntering by.  I asked him to take my canteen to the creek and get me some water.  He told me he had just come from the creek and that he had filled his canteen and that he would trade his full canteen, which was an old one, for my empty canteen which was new.  I was glad to get the water on such terms and am grateful yet to the boy in gray who did what he could to alleviate my misery under such dire circumstances.  There was a large rock a little distance from me which I staggered hard to reach to keep the artillery and cavalry from passing over me.  Just then a stalwart confederate soldier came passing by with long strides.  I begged him to take me to the rock.  He replied that he could not carry me.  I began to pull up by his clothes, and told him that if he would help me a little I could walk.  So he put his arm around me and assisted me to the rock.  I am still thanking that big hearted, big bodied boy in gray yet today.  Just as we reached the rock, a ball whizzed by, over and near our heads.  My benefactor tore loose from me as quick as he could and broke for shelter under the banks of Cedar Creek.  Balls went by thick and fast.  Many of them struck the rock near me.  Another young man, seriously wounded, lay near me.  We chatted considerably with each other.  We raised upon our elbows and listened to the hard fighting down the valley.  As the noise grew nearer, we knew the Yanks had rallied and the Rebs were retreating.  This gave us great relief as we so much dreaded a southern prison.  As the retreating army drew near, my companion said, "We had better die again."  So we pretended to be much worse than we really were--we possumed.

We were picked up the next evening.  That is, the evening of the next day.  Two days and a night, sweltering among the dead, dying and wounded on the battle-field, without food and little water.  I was taken to a dressing station a mile or two away.  Three or four days afterwards I was loaded on a wagon starting to Martinsburg after provisions.  The jolting of the wagon on the macadamized road made my head hurt wonderfully bad.  While halted in Winchester, I begged the driver to help me out.  He refused.  I undertook to get out myself.  He held me for awhile, then let me loose.  I managed to scramble out at the rear unaided.  With great difficulty I crawled into concealment where I remained until the wagons had all gone on.  I then crawled into a tent where wounded soldiers were being cared for.  But there was no room for me in there.  I lay on the floor with my feet to the fire until I was better provided for.  In a few days another train of wagons came along and I had another shaking up to Martinsburg, where I remained a few days.  Then I was sent via Baltimore, Md., Little York, Pa., to Grafton, W. Va., selected by me to save much traveling.

I suffered a sight until the ball was extracted from my jaw on the 9th of April.  And one hundred and seventy two days that chunk of lead kept company with scraps of bone in my face.  Dr. Miller removed it at solicitation.  I objected to Dr. Sherman.  I had seen him operate on others, and fancied him to be unnecessarily cruel.  I was discharged on account of this wound, about the 1st of June 1865.