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THE SIXTH REGIMENT INDIANA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

From Roll of Honor written by David Stevenson, Librarian of Indiana, published by the author in Indianapolis, 1864


The booming of the cannon that battered Sumpter's walls had scarcely died away, when, with lightning speed its reverberations were transmitted to a slumbering and startled nation. The call to arms was sounded, and thousands, anxious to wipe out the stains of traitor hands, rallied around our nations emblems of liberty--the Stars and Stripes. None responded more promptly than Indiana, the Queen of the brave north-west. The sixth was the first regiment organized in the State. It was in rendezvous at her Capital, on the twentieth of April, 1861, less than a week after Sumpter had fallen into rebel hands.
 Hagerman Tripp of North Vernon, Jennings county, was among the first to offer his services. He reported a company of one hundred and sixteen men, having raised it in a small inland town, in the short space of thirty-six hours. Other companies, among them Crittenden's and Harrison's, were as speedily raised. The regimental organization was not completed unti the twenty-seventh of April The following is the roster, as prepared by Adjutant General Noble.
  Field and Staff Officers -- Colonel, Thomas T. Crittenden, Madison: Lieutenant Colonel, Hiram Prather, Vernon; Major, John Gerber, Madison; Adjutant, George W. Wiley, Madison; Regimental Quartermaster, Josiah H. Andrews, North Vernon; Surgeon, Charles Schussler, Madison; Assistant Surgeon, John B. Davis, Vincennes.
  Company A. -- Captain, Philemon P. Baldwin, Madison; First Lieutenant, Samuel Russell, Madison; Second Lieutenant, Isaac Stephens, Madison.
  Company B. -- Captain, Augustus H. Abbett, Columbus; First Lieutenant, Allen W. Prather, Columbus; Second Lieutenant, William C. Wheeler, Orleans.
  Company C. -- Captain, Charles Childs, Washington; First Lieutenant, R. W. Meredith; Second Lieutenant Alanson Solomon.
  Company D. -- Captain, Thomas J. Harrison, Kokomo; First Lieutenant, Thomas Herring; Second Lieutenant, William R. Phillips.
  Company E. -- Captain, Rufus Gale, Madison; First Lieutenant, John T. Hendricks; Second Lieutenant, William Hamilton. 
  Company F. -- Captain, Will C. Moreau, Knightstown; First Lieutenant, Robert Allison; Second Lieutenant, John Cole.
  Company G. -- Captain, Hagerman Tripp, North Vernon; First Lieutenant; Josiah C. Andrews; Second Lieutenant, George W. Kendrick.
  Company H. -- Captain, Fielden A. Jones, Seymour; First Lieutenant, Stephen Story; Second Lieutenant, Calvin B. Trumbo.
  Company I.  -- Captain, John D. Evans, Noblesville; First Lieutenant, John F. Longley; Second Lieutenant, George A. Wainright.
  Company K. -- Captain, Alois O. Bachman, Madison; First Lieutenant, George W. Wiley; Second Lieutenant, William T. Doys.

  The large majority of the members of this regiment resided within the bounds of the Third Congressional District. The regiment was fully equipped with arms, and hoosier grey uniform, and remained at Indianapolis under almost constant drill, until the thirteenth of May, when upon receiving marching orders, it started for Western Virginia. Passing through Cincinnati, it stopped for the night at Camp Dennison, where its members were the guest of the Sixth Ohio, the gallant "Guthrie Greys." In the morning the regiment renewed its journey through the "Buckeye State." At every station the trains were hailed, and edibles of every description furnished to the passing soldiery. The choice viands were accompanied with boquets of flowers, fresh from the hand of Ohio's fair daughters. While memory remains true to her trust, they will never be forgotten by the members of the Sixth Indiana. How different the reception when, at Parkersburg, the Ohio border was passed and the Hoosier feet struck Virginia soil. A black pall seemed to hover over the city. There the Hoosier soldiers recieved no smile of welcome, no friendly hand-grasp, but were confronted with scowling countenances, and haughty stand-off airs. The streets were quiet as the city of the dead, and the few who were in them, seemed to stalk along like "ghosts of the dammed." Companies A, D and K were left here under Capt. Baldwin, to disperse a rebel organization at St. Mary's. The rest of the regiment went by rail to Webster, which place they reached on the evening of June second; here they were joined by portions of the First Virginia, Seventh Indiana, and Fourteenth Ohio. Hard crackers were now first issued to the troops. The night was dark and stormy. In a drenching rain, company after company formed, and filed away through the darkness, to surprise a rebel camp at Phillipi, fourteen miles distant. Silently they wended their toilsome way up the mountain, carrying heavy knapsacks through mud and mire. The long night hours passed slowly and heavily, and morning dawned upon our wearied troops, near the enemy's encampments. Many, fatigued and exhausted, had dropped out by the way side. But Hark! the boom of the cannon rings out merrily upon the morning air. It is the first sign of the war. It rouses the weary, and animates the laggards now; new energies are roused within them. The heights above Phillipi, overlooking the quiet villiage-hid away among the hills-are reached at last. What a scene meets the eye! a scene which painters would rejoice to witness. The "God of Day" had not yet risen from his slumbers. The tints of morning had just begun to dispel the gloom of night. A dense fog was rising like a curtain from the villiage. Barnett's Cleveland Battery now belches forth her loud thunder. Federal troops rush down the hill and dash over the bridge that spans a branch of the Monongahela, Tygart's Valley River. They enter the villiage. The quick volley of musketry rattles-the rebels hurriedly and rapidly retreat--men almost naked and daughters of chivalry frantic en dishabile, fly down the Beverly pike, and clamber up the mountain sides, endeavoring to flee from the wrath of an outraged nation. From a hotel window where lately a rebel flag had waved, the stars and stripes now gaily float. The court house campus is filled with Union soldiers, who, with great relish, discuss a smoking breakfast which had been prepared for rebel palates. The doors of the jail are now unbarred, and men whose only crime had been love of the old Government, are set at liberty.
  On the outside of the court house square stood several wagons filled with rebel property, which now fell a prey to the victors. Many articles never seen among Quartermaster's stores, nor mentioned in army regulations, were appropriated by our troops in anticipation of the confiscation act afterwards passed by Congress. Owing to a want of proper co-operation, most of the enemy escaped toward Laurel Hill, and were not persued. A small garrison was here left, and the Sixth, with the rest of the brigade, marched back to Grafton, where Gen. Morris, the commander of the brigade, establlished his headquarters, to watch the "drift of events." Every thing bid fair for a quiet time; no armed organization of the rebels was near. The Sixth went into camp on a high bluff north of the city. Gen. Morris had no cavalry, and to obviate this deficiency, Capt. Tripp, of Co. G, was put in command of a party of volunteer scouts. An order was given on the Quartermaster for a dozen horses and revolvers. The scouts were from the Sixth regiment, and consisted of the following persons.
  Capt. Tripp, in command; Capt. James, Co. H; Lieut. Allison, Co. F; Lieut. Longley, Co. I; Lieut. Hendricks, Co. E; Lieut. McKeehan, Co. G; Ord. Johnson, Co. D; Corp. Elligham, Co. K; Corp. Potts, Co. H; Sergt. Boxley, Co. F; Wm. Lower, Co. F; H. L. Burge, Co. G; L. T. Patterson, Co. G.
  The equipments, though the best the country afforded, were very inferior, consisting of broken bridles, and worn-out saddles. Away sped the light-hearted party, ready alike for fun or hard service, none knowing their destination. The orders given the Captain were queer for war times. He was to reconnoiter the country, watch the movements of the enemy, and mingle as much as possible with the inhabitants, and enlighten them respecting the purposes of the Federals in the prosecution of the war. Their minds had been poisoned by the cunning leaders of the rebellion, who took advantage of their prejudice against slavery--for Western Virginia was opposed to that institution--and told them the Union army intended to free the slaves and settle them in Western Virginia. It was important these erroneous opinions should be removed. So this little band started on its mission. They visisted Pruntyville and the adjacent country, penetrated the enemy's lines to Tunnelton and St. George, in Tucker country; from thence they proceeded to Cranberry Summit, on Laurel Mountain; thence to Kingstown, conversing freely with the principal citizens. At St. George, they met a staunch Unionist, an old acquaintance of the Captain's, in the person of the hotel-keeper-a Mr. Tate- who had formerly resided in Jennings county; from him much valuable information was received. Three and a half miles distant was a regiment of rebel cavalry. Captain Tripp, with his scouts, visited the most prominent rebels in the vicinity, and gave them their choice, either to take the oath of allegiance, or be placed in arrest. The little band knowing-from their proximity to the rebel cavalry-that they were on dangerous ground, moved at nightfall up the mountain, to prevent capture, and be in a position for defense in case of attack. They afterwards learned their caution was well timed. A party of rebels visited the town that night to capture them; but the birds had flown. Thus these scouts traveled from house to house, and from villiage to villiage/ Many of the citizens, ignorant of the purposes of the Federal army, fled at their approach. The clatter of their horses hooves down the little valley made, and the sight of their uniform, made houses tenantless-caused men and women to collect their families, and clamber up the rough mountain sides, to hide among the rocks and caverns. So much for the fear of Federal soldiers entertained at the commencement of the war, but the people who inhabit Western Virginia-a country as beautiful as the eye ever rested on. Her fertile valleys-limpid streams-her rock-ribbed mountains and flowery vales, make her the "Switzerland of America." One day, as the scouts were passing through a little valley at the base of Laurel Mountain, they espied a hamlet-rode up, and inquired for the master of the premises. The mistress told them he had been absent for five days-she knew not where. Dinner being upon the table, she invited the party to dine. They cheerfully accepted the offered hospitality, dismounted, and were in the act of providing hay for their jaded animals, when one of the party, in plunging the pitchfork into the mow, scratched a limb of the owner, who had been reported as absent, but who now sprang to his feet, and stood trembling in the presence of the surprised scout. The affighted rebel expected immediate death, and asked for a few moments with his family. When he heard his fate, and the terms upon which he could still enjoy "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," he was wild with delight. Joyfully he took the oath, and has ever since been a staunch Union man. This little band traveled in seven days more than a hundred miles-conversed with many of the principal citizens of fourt counties, commenced the organization of a Union company at Kingstown, and passed around several rebel camps, without loss of life, or serious accident. After spending a day at camp, they made another trip to St. George, where they remained over night, and administered the oath to several refractory citizens. While there, Capt. Jones, Lieut. Longly, and Sergts. Boxley and Patterson, were sent to administer the oath to a leading rebel, who at first refused to take it, but finally consented, deeming it more prudent to swear loyalty to government than be a prisoner in the Federal camp. How he kept his oath the sequel will show. After the route of the enemy at Carrick's Ford, the Federals, in returning to Laurel Hill, passed through St. George, at which place Capt. Jones was in the rear of the brigade, in charge of a wagon train. On a former occasion, his operations in this vicinity had made him a "marked" man. As the train was passing through a defile of the mountains, it was fired upon by bushwackers, and Capt. Jones, now Lieut. Colonel of the Thirty-Ninth-whose name is on Gen. Rosecrans' "Roll of Honor"- received a severe wound. A detachment under Major Gerber and Lieut. McKeehan were sent back to punish the guilty offenders, but all search for them proved unavailing. The old rebel, to which Capt. Jones had previously administered the oath, boasted publicly that he had wounded the Captain. A Federal scout, named "Blackhawk," secreted himself near the old rebel's home, and remained there eight days, waiting for an opportunity to punish him, but he did not return.  After the return of the scouts from the second trip to St. George, they received a reinforcement of thirty-eight men, and were ordered to Oakland, thirty-three miles distant, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The had procured a special train for shipment, when the order was contermanded, and they were sent to Phillipi, to which place Morris' brigade had moved. On arriving at Phillippi, Capt. Jones was ordered to go down to Laurel Hill road, until he encountered the pickets, and found the position of the enemy. The Captain and his men gaily dashed five miles along the winding turnpike to a point where they received information that the enemy's pickets were close at hand. They now moved more cautiously, and passed the supposed line without molestation. They proceded eight or nine miles and found no enemy. The Captian then concluded he would go to Laurel Hill or find the enemy. He determined to dash through the rebel pickets, and cut them off from the main body. The ranks were closed, and a long strip of dark woods galloped through; but no enemy was yet visible. Fears were entertained that he had evacuated. Bealington, one mile from Laurel Hill, lay at the base of the hill below the party. Down the southern slope the troops gaily sped, with their faithful "navies" in their hands, and were just slacking their pace, preparing for a charge over the bridge, when the rebel volley came. Horses shrank back on their haunches, girths broke, and rider and horse lay floundering in the road. After the shock, back plunged the horses, and a general stampede seemed inevitable. A few of the horses had stood the fire, and the Captain ordered Lieuts. McKeehan and Longley to rally the men and move over the bridge. The order was quickly executed. The rebel pickets, taking advantage of the temporary shock caused by their fire, escaped through the darkness. The object of the expedition having been accomplished, the party returned to camp. Not one of them was hurt. The enemy aimed too high; several received shots through their hats. The loss was three horses and one man missing, and twenty-one saddle girths broken. The horse equipments were all procured from the farmers, and could not stand the severe test to which they had been subjected. At dawn of day, the  party reached Phillippi, where our own pickets informed them they were all supposed to be killed or captured, and that one man, and three riderless horses, had passed them, occasioning great alarm in camp. Such proved to be the case. The troops were all under arms. The streets of Phillipi, and the bridge, were barricaded. The scout who was in the rear had seen the men and horses fall as the volley came, and supposed "he was all that escaped to tell the tale." The scouts were warmly welcomed back, and shouts rent the air, as they passed by the different regiments to their camp, on the hill north of the village. They now entered on the most arduous duties of the trooper. They furnished all details for Morris' headquarters, and sent daily detachments to the front to watch the movements of the enemy, besides throwing out videttes on several roads leading to Phillipi. For twenty two days they were kept almost constantly in the saddle, scouring the country in every direction, and bringing the General most valuable information. On one dark and rainy night, Captain Tripp, accompanied by six men, took the Meadowville road, running south-east from Phillippi, penetrated the enemy's lines, confiscated several fine horses--the property of a noted rebel sympathizer--and returned with them to camp, having passed the rebel pickets without detection. A few videttes were daily thrown out a distance of seven miles from camp, on Laurel Hill road, near where the enemy's cavalry picketted in force; on this road there were several Union men, who gave notice of the movements of the enemy. A dwelling, known as Thompson's house, upon this road, was a disputed point, but was occupied by our scouts at dinner hour, one eating while the others kept guard. Several amusing and spirited chases occured in this vicinity. Rebel citizens displayed great tact in their efforts to ascertain our movements. The following will serve as a illustration. An old man at Thompson's who was by our men considered harmless, on account of his extreme old age, used to sweep the roads, at different points, so that he might inform the enemy how many Federal troops had passed during the night. When caught in the act, he said it was through mere curiosity. He was, however, henceforth regarded as capable of aiding the rebels, and appropriately admonished not to repeat the operation.
  On another night, all the scouts, and four companies of the Ninth Indiana infantry, were sent out to watch the enemy, who were reported advancing. The infantry, under command of Lieut. Col. Dunn, or the Ninth, were halted near Thompson's. The scouts dashed ahead, drove in the pickets near Col. Elliott's, at Bealington, went to within a mile of the enemy's camp, and heard the "long roll" beat on the arrival of their pickets; soon the rattling of the artillery wagons; the officers distinctly heard. The Captain had but dropped sentinels on all the cross-roads to notify him of any attempt that might be made to cut him off from his infantry reserve. In this state of affairs, it was found prudent to retire. The command to fall back was executed without loss. Next morning all were safe within our own lines. Such were the scenes witnessed, and such were the duties performed, by these fearless Hoosiers, for more than thirty days--days of ceaseless vigilance and unremitting toil. Horse and rider were inseparable. The country they traversed was entirely unknown to them, and full of dangers. Their march lay over rough mountains, and through dense valley-jungles, that gave every advantage to the enemy's secret ambushcade. Their ceasless labors and brilliant exploits, resulting in so much good to this little army, isolated from all commands, were attended without the loss of a man, and reflect much credit upon the skill and daring of the commander and his men.
  On the fourth of July they were relieved, and returned to their regiments, receiving warm thanks from their brigade commander, for the able and successful manner in which they had discharged their duty.
  Lieut. Col. Prather, of the Sixth, was left in command at Webster, for the purpose of forwarding supplies, in which work he was actively engaged until the close of the campaign.
  The forces under Morris soon moved to Laurel Hill; after two days brisk skirmishing, the rebels evacuated their position, and were hotly pursued, overtaken, and completely routed at Carrick's Ford. The main body of the rebels escaped, having fled toward Romney. The march from Laurel Hill to Carrick's Ford was one of the hardest on record; though the men were on short rations, they bravely pressed forward through drenching rain and rivers of mud. After a march of forty miles, they overtook the enemy, who, on leaving Laurel Hill, had started several hours in advance of them. Morris now returned with his brigade to Laurel Hill, and the three months compaign was virtually ended. The baggage captured from the retreating foe was collected, and the troops marched to Grafton. They returned to Indianapolis in the latter part of July. Who does not remember their bronzed features, and veteran-like appearance, as they marched through our Capital. Only one man of the Sixth was killed. The regiment was discharged on the second of August, and returned to their homes, where they received the warm congratulations and thanks of their neighbors and friends.

Also a LINK to
THE ONLINE BOOK
History of the Sixth Regiment
Indiana Volunteer Infantry
by
Charles C. Briant
of
Versailles, Indiana
Late Captain Co. K, Sixth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry
written in 1891


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