Sketch of Civil War Army & Prison life
From the diary of Charles Milford Gross 1823-1909
Born in April 1823 in Bucks County PA, son of John and Mary Gross. Brought to Ohio in 1837 by his parents. Married in Preble County, Ohio during 1845 to Mary Ann Alloways 1824-1905. Charles was a Carriage maker in Covington Ohio. He and his wife are buried in the Highland Cemetery at Covington, Ohio.
SKETCH OF ARMY AND PRISON LIFE,
CHARLES M. GROSS
(from his own pen)
In August 1862, when the roaring of guns and the rattling of drums were heard in the land, J. C. Ullery, G. W. Miller and myself recruited a company for the 110th regiment O. V. I., and went into camp north of Piqua for instruction and drill, Ullery received the commission of Capt., myself that of First Lieut. and Miller Second Lieut. With that patriotic instinct native to every true born American citizen, we turned our back on home, friends, comfort and everything that life holds dear and exchanged them for the field with all its attendant hardships. It was a new, busy and exciting life, with everything to learn.
September 22nd I received a summons to go home on account of the serious illness of my Father (my mother having died a few years earlier) who died on the evening of that day, and the same evening my youngest son, James Ellsworth, was born (being our fifth child) and when I returned to camp it was with a heavy heart, I can assure you. We remained at Camp Piqua until November 19th, when we bade our loved ones good bye with a feeling that it might be forever, a feeling that was realized by thousands and thousands of our brave boys.
We were taken first to Zanesville, O., thence down the Muskingum River, landing at Marietta, crossing the Ohio River to Parkersburg, Virginia, when we went into camp for a few weeks. From there we were taken to Clarksburg and from thence on to New Creek Station where we remained until about December 20th, when we were put under regular Knapsack drill, as our former soldiering had been principally by railroad. The afternoon that we started from there the snow was sweeping down the valley thick and fast. We marched about fourteen miles, the ground being frozen so hard that it was difficult to drive stakes for our tents. After participating in a delicious army repast, we nestled down on the frozen ground in our tents and soon found ourselves in the land of dreams, a land exempt from hunger, cold or fatigue. Next day we reached Morefield, took possession of the court house, records and all. The boys soon began inspecting the records but before time to retire we received orders to prepare three days rations and be ready to march by midnight. This excited our curiosity, but the time soon arrived and all was confusion and commotion; however the artillery, cavalry and infantry were soon in line, with General Clurrett, a Frenchman, as our leader. The monotony of the night was broken only by the tramp, tramp, tramp of the boys, and rumbling of the heavy artillery over the rocky roads; but as all things have an end, we finally wore the night away and were halted for breakfast, which did not consume a great deal of time, as the bill of fare was not an elaborate one.
The old familiar saying, that "there's no rest for the wicked," applied equally as well to the soldiers when started out on a wild goose chase. The column was headed for the Shenandoah Valley and the commander did not let much grass grow under our feet, as we were on our way to surprise a camp of rebels at Strasburg. We passed a number of picket posts on our way but the pickets had all fled. About five o'clock P. M. we arrived, and the cavalry dashed in through the town, having a running engagement with rear guards of the confederate troops. We were pretty well tired out, as this was our first experience of rough and tumble marching and our French leader had little mercy. We made the best shelter we could out of boughs of trees, and huddled down for the night.
We had hardly closed our eyes when we heard a voice saying, "Captain Ullery, your company is detailed to guard the general's headquarters over in town;" the captain's reply was a few well chosen words, more expressive than elegant, and we reluctantly crawled out and obeyed, cold and tired as we were. It was the latter part of December, and intensely cold, but we soon found the general's headquarters and were put in an old barn which afforded slight protection. About midnight the forces commenced moving past our quarters, going northward towards Winchester, until after awhile it seemed as if we must be left alone, and concluded we had better see the General, so Captain Ullery called upon him and told him that the forces had all passed up the valley. "Get out as quickly as you can and follow," he said, and in less time it takes to tell it, we were in line and going on a retreat gait. In about an hour we overtook some cavalry and felt more comfortable.
In the morning when we overhauled the command they were breakfasting by the roadside, and you can imagine we needed something to satisfy the cravings of the inner man after the trying experiences of the night. After a little rest we took up the march for Winchester, arriving there in the afternoon. The 110th was ordered to the southwest part of the city into a cedar grove, where we cut boughs to make a shelter, as we had no tents with us. Only about half of the 110th was in this march, the balance being left at Morefield in the court house, and it was three weeks before they joined us again. On the next day after our arrival, which was Christmas, Gen. Imboden's forces advanced on us and we were all ordered out for the celebration, but the rebels hesitated, fired a few shots and fell back. They had force enough to have given us hot work but the Frenchman was plucky and remained there two weeks before he was reinforced. Some time in January I was chosen a member of the court-martial and thus avoided a great deal of guard duty, the court-martial lasting six weeks.
In the spring of '62 we received four months' pay, and as there was a large amount of money to be sent home from the boys, Col. Keifer decided to sent one man home from each company with the money, and again fortune favored me, as I was the lucky one chosen from Co. G. We were expecting an attack any day, and it was important that the soldiers' families should have the money. I made my visit home and returned to find everything quiet except scouting up and down the valley to hold the rebel force in check.
General Millroy, now took command of our division, which consisted of about ten or twelve regiments of infantry, several cavalry regiments, batteries, etc., etc., and was then the 3rd brigade, 3rd division, 3rd army corps, army of the Potomac, but was finally embodied in the famous 6th corps. It was said that this fighting corps had an engagement with the rebels one day and were victorious; then the rebels made a forced march to attack some weak point, but to their surprise they were confronted by this invulnerable corps. When the rebels recognized their opponents they remarked, "There is that dam 6th corps again," and the result was, they were routed.
We remained at Winchester during the winter of '62, fortifying all the important points, and taking care of the rebel generals, Imboden and Jones, who were prowling up and down the valley and over the mountains.
I just now remember