KENYONS IN BLUE
Harper's Ferry to Appomattox
A Tribute To The Kenyon Men of Marion, New York
By Ronald J. Reid
On June 23, 1863, Friend Kenyon, long time resident of Marion, was captured by
rebel forces along with the small Union garrison at Brashear City, Louisiana.
On June 23, 1863, George Kenyon, youngest son of Friend Kenyon, probably spent
the night in the hospital at Centreville, VA. Because two days later, on June 25,
when his Regiment moved out on their march to Gettysburg, he was left behind sick
in the hospital at Centreville.
On June 23, 1863, Jonas Kenyon, the third son of Friend Kenyon was living in
Syracuse with his wife Rosanna and 4 sons and he would be enlisting in the Union
cavalry in 11 days.
On June 23, 1863, Sylvester Kenyon, oldest son of Friend Kenyon was living in
Lewanee County, Michigan, with his wife and daughter having left Marion in about
1849. He would be enlisting in the Michigan artillery 6 months later.
This is an account of the Civil War travails that
these Kenyon men did encounter or may have encountered during their service in
the Union cause. Items of a personal nature come from their military service
records and other genealogical research. Items of a historical nature come from
a myriad of Civil War sources. Integrating the personal with historical is where
a great deal of care was taken not to stretch probability and possibility into
Friend Kinyon moved his young wife and family to
Marion, Wayne Co., New York in 1835 from Canajoharie, Montgomery County, the
hometown of his wife Nancy Anna Garlock. It was here they raised their 8
children and Friend worked as a carpenter and joiner. (1) When Friend Kinyon
enlisted in the New York Volunteer Infantry on August 22, 1862, he was about 62
years of age. Very far removed from the 44 years of age that he had to profess
in order to be accepted into the ranks of the Union. (2) Friend also had to get a
new set of teeth so the Army would take him. (5) Age doesn't necessarily put bounds
on patriotic fervor but it will become a factor during the marches through the
swamps and bayous of the Louisiana delta. Friend had a light complexion, light
hair and blue eyes and was 5'-5" tall. (2) Not a big man in physical stature but
obviously one tough senior citizen.
Friend was enrolled as a Private in Company D, of the
160th NY Volunteer Infantry. The men for this unit were recruited primarily from
Marion, Sodus and Williamson. (3) The men were formally mustered into the service
on Nov 21st, 1862, in Auburn, N.Y., and embarked via steamship to New Orleans,
Louisiana on December 4, 1862 as part of General Bank's Expedition. (4) (Maj.Gen.
Nathaniel P. Banks) The 160th Regiment was part of the Second Brigade, Brig.
General Godfrey Weitzel Commanding.
Their first action after arriving in New Orleans began
on January 7, 1863, first traveling by river boat, then rail car, then foot up
the Bayou Teche with orders to destroy a rebel gunboat named the "Cotton". (5) In
the end the rebels destroyed their own gunboat on Jun 15, 1863, rather than risk
its capture by the attacking Union forces. Satisfied with this measure of
success General Weitzel retired the 2nd Brigade to Thibodeaux near the Opelousas
River where he made his headquarters until February 8, 1863. (6)
From Thibodeaux the 160th Regiment was moved to
Brashear City which is on Berwick Bay near Grand Lake and the junction of the
Atchafalaya River and Bayou Teche. Field operations were conducted in this area
throughout February and March of 1863 and then General Banks arrived in Brashear
City with two more Divisions containing approximately 18,000 additional troops.
On April 11, 1863, Gen. Banks began his second run up the Bayou Teche by ordering
Gen. Emery and Gen. Weitzel to cross the Atchafalaya and head up the left bank of
the Bayou Teche. (7) Gen. Weitzel and the 2nd brigade, which included the 160th
regiment, attacked and captured Fort Bisland on April 12 & 13, 1863. (8) The rebel
forces continued to be pushed northward by Gen. Banks' command through New
Iberia, Vermillionville and they reached Opelausas on April 20, 1863. Conquest of
the "Teche" brought large quantities of goods and materials under Union control
and General Banks paused to consolidate his gains and rest his men. However, the
Confederate General Taylor was determined to demonstrate to the Yankees that the
Southern Army was not defeated. (7) It was this determination that led to the
capture of Private Friend Kinyon.
Some 500 rebels which included elements of the 2nd,
4th, 5th and 7th Texas Mounted Cavalry and the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry (10, 12) moved
stealthily towards Brashear City bringing cannons that they placed on the Berwick
side of the Atchafalaya River. Under the cover of darkness, the confederate
troops crossed the Atchafalaya river in flat bottom boats, pirogues and even
sugar coolers. At dawn on the 23 of June, 1863, the rebel cannon began shelling
the union positions in Brashear City. The rebels who had landed during the night
stormed through the town with the rebel yell announcing their arrival. The Union
forces were taken completely by surprise and were so confused that they
surrendered after a brief resistance. (9) This Confederate victory resulted not
only in the capture of Private Friend Kinyon but approximately two million
dollars worth of Union supplies fell into rebel hands. (10)
In the Battle of Brashear, the Confederates lost only
3 men killed and eighteen wounded while Union losses were forty-six killed, forty
wounded and over a thousand captured. (9)
A prisoner exchange was conducted over the next couple
of weeks and Private Kinyon and his comrades were paroled between the 24th and
29th of June 1863 at Brashear City. (11)
Private Friend Kinyon was marked "Present" with
Company D during July and so we might assume he was part of the "Donaldsonville
Expedition". Gen. Weitzel's Division, which included the 160th Regiment, along
with Gen. Grover's Division were loaded aboard transports and sent down the
Mississippi from Port Hudson to Donaldsonville. The intent was for these two
Divisions to fight their way down the Bayou LaFourche disposing of infiltrated
rebels as they went. (7)
However, on the morning of July 13, 1863, at Koch's
Plantation, 6 miles from Donaldsonville, they ran into the same troops that had
captured Private Kinyon some three weeks before. The Texas cavalry regiments
attacked shortly after sunrise and drove the Union Divisions into a retreat in
which they abandoned 3 of their cannons. The blue divisions lost 50 killed, 223
wounded and 186 captured. The Texans lost 3 killed and 30 wounded. (13)
The 160th was placed in garrison duty at Thibodeaux
and Brashear City until the unsuccessful Sabine Pass expedition was mounted on
September 2, 1863. The reinforced Division which included the 160th NY Regiment
never got off the transport boats after the confederate artillery sunk two of the
four gunboats accompanying the troop transports. (7)
The strain of soldiering in the heat and pestilence of
the hostile bayou environment began to take its toll on 62 year old Private
Kinyon. During November and December of 1863 Friend Kinyon was sick in the
hospital at Franklin, Louisiana, while the 160th was stationed at New Iberia.14
In January the 160th was moved to Franklin and Private Kinyon was listed as
"Present" during January and February of 1864. This marks the end of Private
Kinyon's active involvement with the 160th NY Infantry as he was transferred to
the Invalid Corps (Veterans Reserve Corps) on March 15, 1864. The muster roll
indicates that he was hospitalized for 8 months for chronic diarrhea and
Rheumatism. Chronic diarrhea was the typical bane of the average soldier caused
by parasites and viral infection easily obtained in the fetid waters of the
bayous. Normally a nuisance to the healthy man but it could and did kill many
men whose immune systems were ravaged by the filthy conditions of war. Although
Rheumatism can affect people of any age, it is generally reserved for the "old
soldiers" and can be intensified by poor diet, infections, and the hard work ones
joints are subjected to while soldiering.
The actual certificate of disability for discharge
from the army and into the VRC was signed on April 18, 1864, by J.B.G. Baxter,
Surgeon, US Vols in charge at the Barracks US Gen. Hospital, New Orleans, LA.
The certificate lists Pvt. Kinyon's age at enlistment as 44 but acknowledges this
"falsehood" by stating; "I certify, that I have carefully examined the said
Friend Kinyon and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier
because of chronic Rheumatism & old age - Is 65 years old - Is not fit for the
invalid Corps - Is not entitled to a pension." But evidently he did remain in
the VRC because eight months in the hospital, as stated in his service record,
would bring the time line to November of 1864. There is a Muster Roll in
Friend's service record for Company K, 3rd Regiment of the Veterans Reserve
Corps, dated Nov 7, 1864, but this time in Washington D.C. The record is
presently blank from then until Friend Kinyon's mustering out which is shown on
his service record as November 1, 1865 at Savannah, Georgia.
Friend Kinyon died on February 9, 1886, in Marion NY,
no doubt from achieving the advanced age of about 84. There is some confusion
over the year of his birth due to inconsistencies in various census and
documents. We have not been able to determine the cemetery in which he was
George Kenyon was the youngest son of Friend and Nancy
Anna Kinyon and was born in 1840. (28) However, he was the first of the family to
enlist at the age of 22 on July 23, 1862. (22) The 111th New York Infantry Regiment
was formed of men from Cayuga and Wayne Counties and the men of Company A came
primarily from Marion, Ontario, Palmyra and Walworth. (15) George was enrolled as
4th Corporal in Company A and the Company Descriptive Book describes him as 5
feet 9-1/2 inches in height with a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark brown
hair. He listed his occupation as a "Cooper".
On Friday evening, July 25, two days after George
enlisted, a swearing in ceremony was conducted in the chapel of the Marion
Collegiate Institute. At this time more than thirty of the sons of Marion had
enlisted in response to the President's late call for troops. The ceremony was
opened by George Kenyon, Glover Eldridge and James West singing a patriotic song.
George and 14 other volunteers were sworn into the service of their country in
what was described as an impressive ceremony. (5)
On August 21, 1862, the 111th New York Volunteers left
Cayuga County by rail cars to begin the first leg of their journey. On the 22nd.
they transferred in Albany to barges for the trip down the Hudson River. The
steamer Ohio took their barges into tow and headed for New York Harbor. Upon
arrival in New York they transferred boats, boarding a steamer which took them to
Amboy, New Jersey, where they were provided with rail transportation. From Amboy
they proceeded through Philadelphia to Baltimore. In Baltimore the regiment
received orders to board another train that would take them to Harper's Ferry,
Virginia, arriving on August 26, 1862. The entire trip took six days and must
have been quite an eye-opener for some of the men who had never been more than a
few miles away from home. (16)
The 111th, along with the 126th New York Infantry, was
assigned to the strategically located garrison at Harper's Ferry where they began
receiving their training. Harper's Ferry served as a key base of supply for
Union operations in the Shenandoah Valley, and served to protect the Chesapeake &
Ohio Canal and Baltimore & Ohio Railroad - important Union transportation
corridors. (17) Three weeks after their unit formation the new recruits found
themselves surrounded by a rebel force twice their size and in the command of
General Stonewall Jackson. It is noted in several accounts that the Union
defenders fought well under the circumstances but the Garrison Commander Col.
Miles Dixon had no choice but to surrender.
On the morning of September 15, the Union commanders
at Harpers Ferry held a council of war. Surrounded by a force twice the size of
their own and out of long range artillery ammunition, the officers unanimously
agreed to surrender. At around 9:00 a.m., white flags were raised by Union troops
all along Bolivar Heights. Minutes later, a stray Confederate shell exploded
directly behind Colonel Dixon Miles, mortally wounding the Union commander.
Brigadier General Julius White, second in command, made the final arrangements
for the Union surrender. (17) The men did not deserve the reputation they acquired,
but they had no way of combating the slur against them. They were taunted with
the derogatory nickname of "The Harper's Ferry Cowards."
The captured men were paroled that same day by the
Confederates (27) but were marched, under Federal guard, to Annapolis, MD. Under
the existing rules of exchange, these parolees cannot rejoin the army until they
are properly exchanged for Confederate prisoners taken in battle. The units
losses at the Siege of Harper's Ferry from the 12th to the 15th of September
5 enlisted men killed
6 enlisted men wounded
36 officers captured or missing
934 enlisted men captured or missing (18)
The parolees were taken from Annapolis to Chicago by
train where they became guards at the Camp Douglas Prison that housed Confederate
prisoners of war. Camp Douglas was the Northern version of Andersonville.
"Civilian doctors, who inspected Camp Douglas on April 5, 1863, called it an
extermination camp. They drew an unrelenting picture of wretched inmates without
a change of clothing, covered in vermin, in wards reeking with filth and foul
air, and blankets in rags..." (19) The prisoner exchange was completed on November
23 of 1862 and no doubt the 111th was relieved to depart the Camp Douglas area.
It was shortly after this on December 8, 1862 that George Kenyon was promoted
from Corporal to 5th Sergeant. The 111th was eventually assigned to the Army of
the Potomac and designated the 3rd Brigade of Hays' 3rd division, II Corps with
Col. George L. Willard in command of the Regiment. For the next six months the
Regiment was ordered to Washington, D. C., and duty in the defenses of that city
and at Centreville, Va., until June, 1863. Centreville was a strategic
crossroads and set astride the turnpike to Washington D.C. and the location of
the famous battle of Bull Run the year before.
During the time from December of 1862 until April of
1863, George was promoted to 4th Sergeant and then to 1st Sergeant. But he was
not going to be able to lead his men into the battle of Gettysburg because when
the Regiment began their march to Gettysburg on June 2522 he was left at
Centreville being sick and in the hospital. (22) Although the Company Muster Roll
has George marked "present" during the month of July, the Regimental Return has
him marked "absent" for July. It was probably some of both. But since the
Battle of Gettysburg was fought on July 1, 2 and 3 we have to assume that he was
still in the hospital at Centreville and was unable to participate with his
comrades in the redemption of the "Harper's Ferry Cowards."
In their two days of fighting at Gettysburg, the 111th
NY sustained a casualty rate of 71.7% with a fatality rate of 24.4%, the highest
fatality rate of any federal regiment that participated in the battle. (20) I am
confident in saying that there was no question in the minds of the men of the
111th that the stigma of Harper's Ferry was gone and the denigrating sobriquet
would never be applied to them again. However, Sergeant George Kenyon would have
to wait for future battles in which to exhibit his mettle and there would be an
ample number of those.
After Sgt. Kenyon rejoined the 111th they engaged in
several smaller campaigns from August to December of 1863 including that of
"Bristoe Station, VA" in which the 111th lost 26 men, killed, wounded and
missing. The winter campaign of the army ended about December 2, 1863 with the
inconclusive "Mine Run Campaign" which resulted in the loss of 30 missing men. (3)
As both Armies entered their winter quarters, it was
time to regroup, resupply and recruit more soldiers. On the 31st of January
1864, Sgt Kenyon was assigned to detached duty from the 111th in order to return
home "after recruits". (22) This recruiting assignment was no doubt preferred duty
in which George was able to spend the months of February and March of 1864 around
the home hearth in Marion. This was to be the last time he would see his home
The Company Morning Report for April 17, 1864, shows
that George has rejoined his Regiment3 just in time for the new Union Army
commander, Ulysses S. Grant, to order the beginning of his Wilderness Campaign.
During the heavy fighting in month of May, 1864, Sgt Kenyon and the 111th
participated in many actions that include such notable names as The Wilderness,
Spotsylvania, Po River, the Bloody Angle, North Anna and Cold Harbor and other
lesser known engagements. (3) The Battle of the Wilderness was particularly
devastating to the Regiment as they lost 63 men killed, 89 wounded and 11
After the battle at Cold Harbor ended on June 12th,
the 111th marched with Hancocks II Corps who were leading the Army of the Potomac
across the James River to Petersburg where Lee's army lay entrenched awaiting
their arrival. The fortifications around Petersburg stretched from the
Appomattox River east of Town, all the way around to the same river west of town
and consisted of 55 numbered batteries or redoubts connected by long lines of
Overall command of Confederate forces at Petersburg
was in the hands of P.G.T. Beauregard. As dawn broke on the fateful day of June
16, 1864, the 14,000 men of Beauregard's rebel forces could have prevailed over
the XVIII Corps of Gen. Smith and the II Corps of Gen. Hancock. However, late on
the morning of the 16th Gen. Grant arrived with Burnside and IX Corps and that
gave the Union about 50,000 men with which to attack.
The Union forces were arranged with the XVIII Corps on
the right along the river and the IX Corps on the left astride Baxter Road. In
the center of the line was the II Corps of Hancock with the 111th NY Infantry
Regiment. Gen. Grant ordered the attack to be made at 6 PM.
As the attack developed the IX Corps on the left and
the XVIII Corps on the right engaged the rebels only lightly without a major
effort. Only Hancocks II Corps captured some of the redoubts and pressed the
Union line up close to Beauregard's center. But they failed to breach the rebel
defenses. It was probably during this attack that Sgt George Kenyon received his
wound on June 16, 1864. (3) On the Company Morning Report for June 17, 1864, Sgt.
Kenyon was marked "sick". Sgt Kenyon was subsequently transported to a hospital
in Philadelphia where he died from his wound on June 23, 1864. (3)
George was brought home for burial in his hometown of
Marion and a photograph of his tombstone has been graciously applied to the Wayne
County web page.
When George Kenyon was wounded at the battle before the Siege of Petersburg,
his older brother Jonas Kenyon was in bivouac on Otter Peak in western Virginia
during a march towards the Battle of Lynchburg. When George died of his wounds
in a Philadelphia hospital on June 23, 1864, Sgt. Jonas Kenyon had just finished
fighting a 6 day rearguard action as a result of the Union defeat at Lynchburg.
Jonas was the third child of Friend and Nancy Kinyon
and was born in 1827 in Canajoharie, Montgomery County. He was about 8 years
old when he moved with his family to Marion in 1835 with Friend's in-laws, Jacob
and Maria Garlock. Jonas was a tailor by profession and probably apprenticed in
Marion since various census indicate that several of the family's immediate
neighbors in Marion listed their occupations as tailors. Marion may have been
"overstocked" with tailors and Jonas felt that the city of Syracuse would offer
more opportunities for a young man. The 1855 NY State census indicates he came
to Syracuse in 1847 at the age of 20.
Jonas Kenyon enlisted with the 15th New York Cavalry
on July 4, 1863, at Syracuse and was 36 years old. The Company descriptive Book
indicates he was 5 feet 10-1/2 inches tall with a dark complexion, blue eyes and
dark hair. On August 29, 1863, Jonas was promoted to Sergeant and placed in
Company A22 and the regiment boarded the train for Staten Island. From there
they went to Camp Stoneman which was south of Washington DC to receive their
clothing and sabers and cavalry training. (23) Their training was complete by
January and their first deployment in the war was to Harper's Ferry. Ironically
the same location of his youngest brother's first deployment and subsequent
capture by the Confederate forces of Stonewall Jackson.
During the cold and wet months of February and March
and April, the 15th Cavalry moved to Burlington W. Va. and conducted scouting
missions around the area. But on April 24th 1864, they moved to Winchester, Va.,
where 15,000 Union troops were gathering under the command of General Franz
Sigel. The army moved south to Front Royal, Va., and then Woodstock with the
intent of pushing the rebels out of the Shenandoah Valley. (23)
On May 14th, 1864, Capt Auer of Company A and a
detachment of the 15th made initial contact with the rebels north of New Market.
On the morning of May 15th, the Union forces engaged the rebels and the battle of
New Market began. After an all day battle the Union forces retreated with 1000
killed, wounded and missing. The retreat was kept up all night with the 15th
Cavalry acting as rear guard. The 15th lost 21 men. (23)
General Sigel was replaced and the army reorganized
under General Hunter. The army began a second advance down the Shenandoah Valley
defeating rebel forces at Piedmont, Stauton and Waynesboro Va. On June 11th the
march to Lynchburg began thru Buchanan and over Otter Peak. The battle of
Lynchburg was joined on June 18th against the entrenched troops of Gen.
McCausland. The Union losses were a 1000 killed and missing and the 15th NY
Cavalry lost 32 men killed, wounded and missing during their action on the left
of the line. (23)
The Union retreat from Lynchburg began on the June
18th and continued all day and all night on the 19th, 20th and 21st and finally
ending on the 23rd of June at Sweet Sulphur Springs just over the West Virginia
border. The 15th NY Cavalry fought the rear guard action day and night until the
retreat was completed.
Next they marched to Charleston, then Parkersburg W.
Va., then to Martinsburg W. VA. From the 10th thru the 22nd of July, 1864, the
regiment made their way to Winchester in a great arc from Martinsburg to Bolivar,
Harper's Ferry, Hillsboro, Paris, Ashby Gap, Snickers Gap and Berryville with
skirmishes and actions along the way that produced 20 men wounded and missing.
The effective strength of the unit was down to less than 125 men. (23)
On the 24th of July, 1864, Confederate forces under
Jubal Early drove up the Valley Pike and struck the Union forces at Kernstown and
broke the Union center. And so began a 60 mile retreat from Winchester, Va.,
through Martinsburg, W. Va., and across the Potomac River to Williamsport, Md.
Once again the Fifteenth Cavalry was in the rear guard action for the next two
days until they reached Williamsport and received their first sleep. The 15th
lost 15 men killed wounded and missing during this action. (23)
It was after this defeat that General Phil Sheridan
was put in overall command of the Department of West Virginia.
From July 27 to August 18 of 1864, the 15th NY
continues on patrols and having skirmishes in the area around Winchester in an
effort to stem the guerilla activities of Col. Mosby. But the regiment only had
an effective mounted force of 75 men and the rebels were showing up in greater
force. It had become so reduced in numbers that active operations had to
cease. (23) The muster roll for July and August show that Jonas Kenyon was
"present" and still a Sergeant with Company A.
The few remaining men were transported to Cumberland ,
MD., arriving at the remount camp on Sept 3, 1864 and pitched camp. Thus ended a
long and tedious campaign which commenced on May 9th and the regiment had
traveled over 3000 miles and had been engaged in over twenty battles and
While in the remount camp the 15th NY Cavalry was
assigned to the Second Brigade, Third Division, commanded by General George
Armstrong Custer. The Division was ordered into winter quarters at Winchester,
VA., at the end of December. From then until the 26th of February, 1865 it was a
time of rest, getting new equipment, cold picket duty and parades.
The 3rd Division moved out on February 27th, 1865,
with new Sharps carbines, sharpened sabers, 5 days rations and under their new
Division commander Gen. Custer and new Army of the Shenandoah commander Gen.
Sheridan. (23) The men of the 15th NY Cavalry Regiment were retracing their steps
up the Shenandoah Valley that they had taken in retreat some 8 months before.
However, this march would take them all the way to Appomattox.
On March 1, 1864, Gen. Sheridan's forces approached
the entrenched rebel forces at Waynesboro. General Custer's Third Division led
the Union advance. Custer discovered a small gap in the rebel line and at 3:30
P.M. ordered three dismounted regiments to attack the enemy's left flank. One of
these dismounted regiments was the Fifteenth New York. The rest of the division
made a mounted frontal attack, and the Confederate line broke. In the wild charge
through the town, Custer's division captured all of the Confederates except
General Jubal Early and his staff. (24) The official records indicate that 2,500 US
forces and 1,600 CS forces were engaged that day. In the words of Chauncy
Norton, "The 15th with two other regiments were sent to operate on the flanks of
the enemy and contributed materially in bringing about a glorious victory." (23)
For a regiment that had gotten very good at providing rear guard actions this
must have been a much more gratifying battle even though it was minor in scope.
And the men of the 15th were already admirers of the hard charging General Custer
and his red necktie which they would take as their own.
From March 4th until March 31st the three Divisions of
Gen. Sheridan's cavalry made their way east and then south to the area south of
Petersburg, VA. Jonas Kenyon was now fighting at the same place his youngest
brother George received his mortal wound almost a year hence. General Sheridan
was undertaking a flank march to turn Gen. Robert E. Lee's Petersburg defenses. A
steady downpour turned the roads to mud, slowing the advance. With Union
infantry approaching from the east, Confederate Gen. Pickett withdrew away from
Petersburg before daybreak to entrench at the vital road junction at Five Forks.
General Lee ordered Pickett to hold this intersection at all hazard. (25) This
vital intersection and adjacent railroad was Lee's avenue of retreat to the
On April 1, while Sheridan's cavalry pinned the
Confederate force in position, the V Corps under Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren attacked
and overwhelmed the Confederate left flank, taking many prisoners. The three
brigades of Sheridan's cavalry where lined up across from the rebel
entrenchments. Custer's brigade with the 15th NY on the far left; Merritt in
the middle and Devon on the right. The intent was to use primarily dismounted
cavalry in the center to charge the rebel line so that it seemed this was the
primary attack while the V Corps infantry swung around the right side and rolled
up the enemy line. Mr. Norton writes, "the Second Brigade was ordered to the
front, the 15th in the advance. The brigade charged the works twice, but were
repulsed both times. At this juncture Gen. Sheridan and staff rode on the field.
His presence acted like a charm. Custer rode out in front of his men and gave the
signal, and away they went with a rush and a yell to the lively strains of a band
of music. They were met with a withering fire from the enemy, but nothing could
check them, and over the breastworks they went and the victory was ours.
Pickett's infantry was annihilated, and he was shorn of his command. His cavalry
scattered in every direction. Our troops encamped for the night in the abandoned
works. This was a glorious day for the men of the Third Division, for to-day
they proved once more their title as being the "fighting division". (23) The 15th's
casualties were 5 killed, 27 wounded and 5 missing. (26)
Loss of Five Forks threatened Lee's last supply line,
the South Side Railroad. The next morning, Lee informed Jefferson Davis that
Petersburg and Richmond must be evacuated. (25) Many historians consider this
battle final blow to the Confederacy.
Gen. Sheridan's 3 brigades of cavalry began to chase
and skirmish with and generally harass the retreating rebels. From April 2nd to
April 8th they passed through such places as Namozine Church, Amelia Courthouse,
Jetersville, Sailor's Creek, and Prospect Station. April 9, at about 8 a.m. the
15th New York struck camp and moved with the Third Cavalry Division upon a line
almost parallel with the enemy's line for a distance of about one mile and a
half, part of this time under fire of the enemy's artillery, to a point opposite
and near Appomattox Court-House, when a flag of truce of the enemy made its
appearance in front of our column, which soon returned to the enemy's lines after
having a conference with Major-General Custer. A skirmish with Hampton's cavalry
on the right now took place; we drove the enemy. Our loss on the morning of the
9th was 1 killed and 3 wounded. (26) This is Col. Coppinger's terse account of the
last battle before the surrender of Lee's. But for a much more detailed, vivid
and personal account of that morning, you must read "THE LAST CHARGE MADE IN THE
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC; THE LAST SHOT FIRED, AND THE LAST UNION SOLDER WOUNDED, by
Albert O. Skiff, Capt. Co. A, 15th N.Y. Cav. This is contained on the web site
of the 15th New York Regiment under the "Communications from Comrades".
http://www.15thnewyorkcavalry.org/chapter_all.htm You should note that Capt.
Skiff is the commander of Company A that morning which is Jonas Kenyon's company.
Chauncy Norton writes "Again the flag of truce
appeared when all tumult ceased and the announcement was made that Lee was about
to surrender. The news soon spread from regiment, and from thousands upon
thousands of throats went up cheer after cheer. The men danced, hurrahed and
hugged each other in their delight, for they knew that their trials and
privations as a soldier were nearing the end." (23)
General Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern
Virginia at Appomattox did not mean that hostilities immediately cease
everywhere. On April 10th the Fifteen began marching back to the east with the
intent of joining General Sherman's fight against Confederate General Joe
Johnston. They had crossed the Roanoke River in North Carolina when on April
28th they heard that General Johnston had surrendered to General Sherman so they
turned around and went back to Petersburg, VA. Custer's Third Division remained
in Petersburg until May 10th when they headed for Washington City. Mrs. Custer
(Libby) joined them on the march on May 12th and the men were looking forward to
arriving in Washington City.
The grand review was held in Washington on May 23. In
Mr. Norton's words, "As the Third Division was generally in advance in the field,
so on this great occasion it was given the post of honor. Pennsylvania avenue was
packed from one end to the other with a dense mass of humanity, the troops
received a perfect ovation at every step." (23)
On June 23rd the 15th New York and the 6th New York
Cavalry were consolidated into the 2nd Provisional Cavalry. Shortly after that
men began to be mustered out. Mr. Norton mentions that on June 27th some of the
officers and non-commissioned officers and privates from each company were
mustered out and left for home. Whether Jonas was mustered out at this time is
doubtful but Jonas certainly got a furlough and was home in time for the 1865
State Census of New York and that was conducted around June 28th.
Jonas and his wife Rosanna and all four boys were
living together again in a dwelling with three other families as recorded in this
census. Jonas still lists his occupation as "Army" so he was probably only home
on leave. The final mustering out of the 15th New York Volunteer Cavalry
occurred on August 9, 1865, in Louisville, Kentucky. Based on the microfilm
record from the War Department, it indicates that he was mustered out with the
rest of the unit on August 9, 1865.
When Sylvester Kinyon enlisted in the 6th Michigan
Heavy Artillery on December 22, 1863, his father Friend was lying sick in the
hospital at Franklin, Louisiana and his younger brother Jonas was undergoing
cavalry training at Camp Stoneman outside Washington, D.C. and his youngest
brother George was in winter quarters and an experienced war veteran. Sylvester
was 39 years and 5 months of age (29) when he enlisted in Hudson, Michigan, with the
actual mustering-in taking place on January 4, 1864 in Detroit, MI.
Sylvester was born in 1824 and most probably in
Canajoharie, Montgomery Co., NY, even though he listed Wayne County as his place
of birth in his military records. He was 11 years old when the family moved to
Marion, NY. He left Marion in about 1849 and moved to Madison in Lewanee Co.,
Michigan with his wife Eliza and infant daughter Ellen. (30) Sylvester was a
shoemaker by trade and was 5 foot 6-1/2 inches tall with grey eyes, black hair
and a dark complexion. (22, 30) Sylvester was paid in advance a "premium" bounty
of $62.00 for enlisting which is about the same as $884 in today's purchasing
The 6th Michigan was originally and infantry unit but
in the summer of 1863, prior to Sylvester's enlistment, the regiment received the
thanks of Gen. Banks for gallant and efficient services during the siege of Port
Hudson, LA., and was by his orders, on July 10, 1863, converted into a Regiment
of Heavy Artillery, however, it was to retain its Infantry number, and to have
the organization pay and equipment prescribed by law for troops of the Artillery
arms. Order approved by Secretary of War July 30, 1663. The regiment was ordered
to garrison duty at Port Hudson, La., till March of 1864. (32, 33) It was at this
time that 257 men re-enlisted and they start for Michigan on veteran furlough.
It was probably during this time at Port Hudson that Private Sylvester Kinyon
joined the unit since he was marked "Present" on the Company K muster rolls from
January until June of 1864. It is doubtful that Sylvester went on the furlough
due to his recent enlistment but after 30 days leave the rest of the Regiment
returned to Port Hudson on May 11th, 1864.
During that spring of 1864, Sylvester was doing
garrison duty 150 miles north of New Orleans and his father was in the hospital
in New Orleans. On the 18th of April, Sylvester's father Friend Kinyon was
receiving his final medical examination and discharge in New Orleans but
apparently remained in New Orleans until November. I cannot help but wonder if
they knew where each other was.
On June 6, 1864, the Regiment was moved up the
Mississippi River to a small town of Morganza which is about 25 miles northwest
of Baton Rouge. Here they were placed in garrison duty as infantry until June 24
when they were again sent up the Mississippi River to Vicksburg where they served
as engineers. (33) Serving as engineers meant that they supplied the muscle and
sweat to repair and maintain the bridges, railroads, and fortifications necessary
to keep the Union army supplied with the tools of war. They remained in
Vicksburg until July 23, 1864, at which time they were sent another 100 miles
north to the confluence of the White River and the Mississippi River and then
another 25 miles north to the town of St. Charles, Arkansas. In 1862 some Union
transport ships had been shelled by Confederate forces on the St. Charles bluffs
but those positions were taken at that time by Union forces. The 6th Michigan
Heavy Artillery regiment remained at St. Charles only about a month and we must
assume they continued their garrison or engineer duties since no battles were
being waged in these areas to the best of my knowledge.
On July 24, 1864, the Regiment was order to Mobile
Bay, Alabama. It was two weeks later on August 5 that Admiral Farragut's Union
fleet of eighteen ships entered Mobile Bay and received a devastating fire from
Forts Gaines and Morgan and other points. It was this battle in which the Admiral
uttered the famous phrase "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead". After passing
the forts, Farragut forced the Confederate naval forces, under Adm. Franklin
Buchanan, to surrender, which effectively closed Mobile Bay. By August 23, Fort
Morgan, the last big holdout, fell, shutting down the port. (25) And on that day
the Company K of the 6th Michigan Heavy Artillery Regiment was ordered to
garrison duty in the captured Fort Morgan and they would remain there the next
seven months until March 31, 1865. At that time Company K was detached from
garrison duty and sent to Baldwin County, Alabama to set siege to Spanish Fort.
On March 17 Union forces moved up the east side of
Mobile Bay. and with 45,000 troops initiated the siege of Spanish Fort on March
27. They prepared elaborate siege lines and emplaced dozens of batteries. When
Company K and A of the 6th Michigan HA arrived they were divided up on each end
of the Union lines. We don't know which company was on which end but they each
had four 10 inch mortars. (34)
The constant shelling of the Union batteries wore down
the Confederates and destroyed their works faster than they could be repaired. On
April 8 the Federals delivered a devastating bombardment with ninety guns,
including those of USN Rear Admiral Henry K. Thatcher's six ironclads. The 8th
Iowa broke through the Confederate line north of the fort, but the Confederate
counterattack slowed the Federals until darkness ended the battle. With his
escape route threatened, CS Brigadier General Randall L. Gibson evacuated the
garrison after dark along a treadway only eighteen inches wide and about 1,200
yards long. The Confederates made their way to Mobile, and the Federals occupied
Spanish Fort early the next morning. (24)
While the Federals were occupying Spanish Fort on
April 9, another battle was being fought just north of there at Fort Blakely.
The fort was garrisoned by about 3,800 men under CS Brigadier General St. John R.
Liddell, defending its nine redoubts. At 5:30 P.M. on Sunday, April 9-the day
that CS General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox-the Federals stormed
forward over a front more than two miles long. They charged at a full run through
abatis, fields of mines, and heavy gunfire. Their numbers were overwhelming, and
they quickly broke through the Confederate defenses. (24)
The 6th Michigan HA was relocated from their siege
positions at Spanish Fort to Fort Blakely for garrison duty and remained there
until April 20 at which time they were moved back to their old garrison position
at Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay. During all this moving around, Pvt. Kinyon lost a
tompion and was charged 2 cents for it. A tompion is the sort of cork or stopper
that goes in the muzzle of the 10 inch mortar to keep out foreign objects and
water. The Regiment was ordered to New Orleans on July 9 where they remained
until they were mustered out of the Union Army on August 20, 1865.
From Private Kinyon's muster-out roll, it indicates
that he had drawn $22.59 on his clothing account since February and was due
$6.82. It also indicates that his bounty paid was $180 but he was still due
$120. However, he also lost a double mosquito bar and had to pay $2.00 for that
item. A mosquito bar is the term for mosquito netting. But he certainly went
home to Michigan with a pocket full of money.
Where his home was located in 1865 is unclear. It was
in Lenawee County but whether it was the town of Madison as in the 1850 census,
or in Hudson where he enlisted is not known for sure. But by 1870 he had moved
north with his wife and daughter to the town of Lowell in Kent County where he
passed away on the 18th of December, 1881, at the age of 59 of heart disease. (35)
We can never understand the motivations that led these men to suffer the
perils they endured. But every generation from theirs to ours has tried to make
sense of it all and, I submit, will continue to do so. In my opinion, the most
accurate emotions we can glean from their times are the songs they sang and the
poems they wrote. They marched off to war to songs such as the Battle Cry of
Freedom with its stirring lyrics of "rally round the flag boys" and the "the
Union forever, hurrah boys, hurrah . But it was very short time hence that the
more often sung song was "Tenting on the old Campground" which asked "Give us a
song to cheer, - Our weary hearts, a song of home - And friends we love so dear".
And a truly melancholy song for those more sanguinary times in the battle maybe
a verse or two of "Just Before the Battle Mother".
"Just before the battle, mother,
I am thinking most of you,
While upon the field we're watching
With the enemy in view.
Comrades brave are 'round me lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God
For well they know that on the morrow,
Some will sleep beneath the sod."
(one verse to end on)
The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)
By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray
1. U.S. Census, 1850, 1870, 1880, and Regimental Descriptive Book
2. Regimental Descriptive Book, 160th Regiment, New York Infantry, NARA
3. Frederick Phisterer's New York State in the War of the Rebellion.
4. "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" by Frederick H. Dyer (Part 3)
5. "Military History of Wayne County", by Lewis H. Clark, c. 1883.
6. Stellar-one.com, Michael Goad
7. "The Civil War Narrative - Fredericksburg to Meridian", Shelby Foote
8. General Orders, HDQRS, Department of the Gulf, No. 25, New Orleans, Feb 9, 1864.
9. "War on the Lower Teche", by Roger Busbice
10. Regimental Journals, John Stavinoha, Theresa Jach [website no longer there in 2011]
11. Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records, NARA, Misc Roll, Vol. 381
12. Reports of Brig. Gen. Thomas Green, HQ First Cavalry Brigade, June 30, 1863.
13. "The Opposing Forces at Port Hudson", by Richard B. Irwin Lt. Gen. Assistant Adjutant General, U.S.V.
14. Combined Service Record, Hospital Muster Roll, USA Hospital, 19 Army Corps
15. "New York in the War of the Rebellion", 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
16. "Introduction to the 111th New York Volunteers, Ken Verneron, 1997
17. "Stonewall's Brilliant Victory: The Siege & Capture of Harper's Ferry", by Dennis Frye.
18. "111th NY Infantry Official History" by John F. Walter, July 1996.
19. "Camp Douglas" by C.B. Pritchett Jr.
20. "A Light Caress" narrative by Paul R. Martin III, May 1996.
21. O.R., part 1, 475. The official report for the 111th estimates the casualties from the action on the 2nd at "185 men killed and wounded in less than twenty minutes, out of about 390 taken into the fight." The losses for the 111th were more than double any regiment in the brigade."
22. Combined Service Record, NARA
23. "The Red Neck Ties" or History of the Fifteenth New York Volunteer Cavalry by Chauncy S. Norton.
24. Houghton Mifflin Co., Civil War Battle Guide
25. The National Park Service, CWSAC Battle Summaries
26. Report of Colonel John J. Coppinger, Fifteenth New York Cavalry, Official Records of the Union Army, page 1139
27. Memorandum From Prisoner of War Records for Cpl. Geo. Kenyon, NARA
28. US Census, 1850, Wayne Co., NY
29. Declaration of Recruit, 22 Dec 1863, Combined Service Record, NARA
30. 1850 US Census, Madison, Lenawee Co., MI, printed page 411
32. The National Park Service, Soldiers and Sailors System
34. http://memory.loc.gov/ Browse Through for Civil War Map
35. Michigan Department of Community Health, GENDIS
Back to Wayne County Military Section
Copyright © 2004 - 2011 Ronald J. Reid
Wayne County NYGenWeb
A County Site of the USGenWeb Project
All Rights Reserved.