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 "fact".

    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 buried.

    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 1863, were;

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 and family.

    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 missing. (3)

    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 entrenchments.

    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 skirmishes. (23)

    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 south.

    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". 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 power. (31)

    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., 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. Browse Through for Civil War Map
35. Michigan Department of Community Health, GENDIS

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