Major Battles

Cornwall's soldiers fought in dozens of battles during the Civil War. Of those, four had the most impact on Cornwall.

 


Currier and Ives, Battle at Cedar Mountain
(Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)


Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862
At the Battle of Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County, Virginia, Confederate Major General Stonewall Jackson led his troops to victory against the Union army.

Cornwall soldiers with the 5th C.V.I. participated in the Battle of Cedar Mountain. It was the first battle in which Cornwall soldiers died.

5th C.V.I. Casualties at Cedar Mountain
Private Henry Fieldsend was wounded in the thigh on August 8 and died from complications on August 18, 1862; Corporal Crawford Nodine was wounded in the shoulder on August 9 and died from complications on September 3, 1862.

Corporal Thomas Smith was wounded on August 9; his leg was amputated above the ankle and he was discharged on July 30, 1863. Private Thomas Kelly was wounded in the left thigh on August 9, but recovered.

Private William McMurtry and Corporal James Wilson were taken prisoner by the Confederates on August 9; they were paroled on September 13 and returned to duty.

 

 


Kurz & Allison, Battle of Cold Harbor, c. 1888
(Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Battle of Cold Harbor, May 31 – June 12, 1864
The Battle of Cold Harbor was a disaster for the Union army. It began when Union troops led by Major General Sheridan seized the crossroads of Old Cold Harbor. By June 2, the two armies formed a front line that stretched seven miles, from Bethesda Church to the Chickahominy River. The Confederate troops built trenches that helped prevent a Union victory. General Grant later expressed regret for his decisions at Cold Harbor, noting that “no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”

Cornwall soldiers with the 2nd Heavy Artillery and the 11th C.V.I. participated in this battle.

2nd Heavy Artillery Casualties at Cold Harbor
Two Cornwall members of the 2nd Heavy Artillery were killed at Cold Harbor: Quarter Master Joseph Payne was killed in battle, while Private Horace Sickmund was wounded in the knee and was expected to recover, but died from infection.

Others from Cornwall were wounded but survived: Private George Barton, Private John Christie, Private Newton Cogswell, Sergeant Henry Dean, Private John Doherty, Private John Hawver, Private Timothy Leonard, and Private Henry Marshall.

11th C.V.I. Casualties at Cold Harbor
Sergeant Amos T. Allen was wounded on June 4 and died from complications, after his left leg was amputated, on July 6, 1864.

 

Dear Wife & precious Children,
I am still alive but not very well yet since my terrible march. I have been with the Regt but have not tried to do much, only to just keep around. It seems as if I never could get rested, but I guess I shall get along now for my feet have got almost well now. They were dreadfully blistered & that made it more than twice as hard for me. I never grew so poor in my life. Joseph [Payne] was killed the first of June. Many think Col. K was very rash in rushing with his men right into & through 2 lines of Rebel Rifle pits, for they drove the rebs out, but Richmond is not yet taken & how long it will take is yet to be found out. There seems to be a large army of them & they are strongly fortified here & consider this station important as any other they have this side of Richmond, which is 8 or 10 miles from here. ...We have helped to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad and several Engine houses & stations, besides burning a great many houses and other buildings. ...We have been exposed to the Rebel fire of big & small arms ever since the 1st & a great many of our other Regts have been wounded & some killed, but I don’t feel afraid but very little. The hope I have of Heaven is my support.

~ Josiah B. Corban to his wife and children, Near Coal (Cold) Harbor, June 7th, 1864
(Courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society)

 

Battle of Winchester
Kurz & Allison, Battle of Opequan or Winchester, c. 1893
(Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Battle of Third Winchester, September 19, 1864
Also known as the Battle of Opequon, the third Battle of Winchester began as Union General Sheridan’s troops crossed the Opequon Creek and were attacked by Confederate Lt. General Jubal Early’s forces. Casualties were heavy on both sides. The Confederate troops eventually retreated.

Cornwall soldiers with the 2nd Heavy Artillery and the 13th C.V.I. participated in this battle.

2nd Heavy Artillery Casualties at Winchester
Private Henry Peck was killed in battle by a shell injury to his head. Corporal Patrick Troy was wounded in the arm, which was amputated; he appeared to be recovering, but relapsed and died in the military hospital at Baltimore. Private James H. Vanburen, who joined the 2nd C.H.A. as a drummer boy before becoming old enough to serve in the ranks, was wounded in the leg by a shell; his leg was amputated twice before he died. Lieutenant William Cogswell was wounded in the leg and died after it was amputated. Corporal Alfred Benedict was wounded in the ankle on September 19, but survived and received a disability discharge the following June.

13th C.V.I. Casualties at Winchester
Private Ira Davidson was wounded on September 19, 1864 and recovered.

 

 

 


Kurz & Allison, Battle of Cedar Creek, c. 1890
(Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864
Confederate troops led by Lt. General Jubal Early launched a surprise attack on Union troops near Cedar Creek, Virginia. A counter-attack led by Union Major General Philip Sheridan defeated the Confederate troops, securing the Shenandoah Valley from further Confederate offensives.

The battle was part of Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, which was intended to wipe out the Confederate army’s primary source of grain and flour, thus weakening the Confederates by starving them. The Campaign also was planned to secure the Valley and prevent further attacks from that region.

Cornwall’s troops in the 2nd Heavy Artillery and the 13th C.V.I. fought at the Battle of Cedar Creek. The Captain of the 12th C.V.I. later wrote “I never on any battlefield saw so much blood as on this of Cedar Creek. The firm limestone soil would not receive it, and there was no pitying summer grass to hide it.”

2nd Heavy Artillery Casualties at Cedar Creek
Private Elisha Soule was killed by a musket ball shot through the top of his head, leaving a fragment of skull in his cap. He was found that night, still alive but “stripped of everything” of value. Soule died the next morning. Corporal Henry Vaill was shot in the neck and lungs, and died in a hospital weeks later.

Corporal George W. Page was mortally wounded in the neck; Corporal Charles J. Reed was wounded in the chest. Close friends throughout the war, they crawled towards one another in their final moments and were found dead, locked in each other’s arms, when the battle was over.

Others were wounded but survived: Private Charles Bosworth, Sergeant James Parks, and Lieutenant Gad Smith.

13th C.V.I. Casualties at Cedar Creek
The Cornwall members of the 13th C.V.I. fared better than those in the 2nd Heavy Artillery at Cedar Creek, with only two injured: Lieutenant J. Milton Gregory lost his right arm, and Private Alexander Cook was wounded but recovered.


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