Award winning author Dan Masters has been actively engaged in Civil War research for the past 18 years. With a focus on Ohio infantry regiments and documenting the thousands of letters contained in Ohio's newspapers during the Civil War, he founded Columbian Arsenal Press in 2017 with the mission of ensuring that these incredible accounts were made available to a wider audience.
My personal journey of discovering the Civil War began with the receipt of my great-great-great grandfather's discharge certificate more than 20 years ago. Private James Morrow of Co. H, 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry served three years with the Army of the Cumberland- the more I learned about his service, the more I became intrigued about how it was that the ordinary foot soldiers of the Civil War actually fought the war. Generals and admirals may direct battles, but it is upon the extrordinary endurance and courage of the men in the ranks that battles and wars are won.
I view my role as a writer as introducing the reader to the main characters of the scene, providing context to what occurred, and then letting the participants describe their experiences in their own words. The fact is that none of us alive today have a true living knowledge of the Civil War experience; we rely on the recorded word of those that were there to impart some sense of the times and events.
General William Tecumseh Sherman may have said it best in 1865 when he told a rapturous crowd in Columbus, Ohio "I can tell you nothing new about the war, can describe no new scenes in our long campaigns for, from Columbus to Portsmouth, from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, you will find in every house and every hamlet a bluecoated boy who marched and has told the story better than I can do it, because he saw it inside and outside."
By giving voice to the common man, we ensure that their sacrifices are remembered, honored, and given their due place in our history. Our mission at Columbian Arsenal Press is to give voice to those long silent voices who saw the war "inside and outside."
I will be making a presentation "Intro to War: the 183rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee" to the Zanesville Civil War Roundtable Monday, October 22, 2018 at 7:30 P.M. The round table meets at the Stone Academy Museum, 115 Jefferson St., Zanesville, OH.
Tuesday night October 30, 2018, I will be hosting a writer's workshop at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library at 206 Broadway St., Findlay Ohio, 45840. The event runs from 6:30-7:30 P.M. and is entitled "Quotes that Pop: Suggestions for Historical Writing." The workshop will be held in the Blanchard Room. More details will be posted at: https://www.findlaylibrary.org/
Columbian Arsenal Press will have a table set up at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library Author's Fair on November 10, 2018. More details to come.
Sherman's Praetorian Guard has been awarded the 2017 Center for Archival Collections Local History Publication Award for Independent Scholarship. I will be making a presentation at BGSU on Tuesday November 13, 2018 at the William T. Jerome Library on the BGSU campus. More details to be posted here: https://www.bgsu.edu/library/cac.html
On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, I will be making a presentation entitled "Alfred E. Lee and the 11th Corps at the Battle of Chancellorsville" to the Cuyahoga Valley Civil War Roundtable at 6105 Riverview Rd., Peninsula, Ohio.
On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, I will be giving a talk to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable in Gahanna, the topic of which will be the "21st Ohio Infantry at the Battle of Stones River."
On Tuesday June 11, 2019, I will be presenting a talk at the Clyde Museum in Clyde, Ohio discussing the wartime experiences of two residents who served in the 72nd Ohio Infantry: Medal of Honor recipient Charles H. McCleary and Clyde's first mayor, John McIntyre Lemmon.
Author Dan Masters was a guest on Fred Lefebvre's morning show on WSPD 1370 AM Toledo on Thursday May 25, 2017 at 8 A.M. Here are the links to the podcast of this interview:
Roy Wilhelm referenced Sherman's Praetorian Guard in his recent column in the Fremont News Messenger of April 5, 2018.
I am working on a battle letters compendium featuring hundreds of accounts from Ohio soldiers tentatively entitled "Adrift in a Sea of Blood." The manuscript is complete and this looks to be an exciting title once released.
Future projects include a collection of wartime letters from William A. Brand of the 66th Ohio Infantry, regimental histories from both the 57th and 67th Ohio, Launcelot Scott's memoir of life in the 18th Ohio Infantry, and a volume devoted to telling the story of Ohio at Stones River.
The study of the Civil War is a neverending but most pleasant journey through the libraries, historical societies, museums, cemeteries, backroads, and forgotten spaces of America. I'll recount a few highlights of this experience as time permits.
If you're looking for a speaker to discuss the Civil War, particularly with a focus on Ohio's contribution, please feel free to contact me. My specialty is the war in the western theater, but with thousands of pages of accounts in my collection, I can develop a presentation to meet nearly any request for a specialized topic.
Please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mother, father, brother, sister, wife, sweetheart, keep that bundle sacredly! Each word will be historic, each line invaluable. When peace has restored the ravages of war, and our Nation's grandeur has made this struggle the most memorable of those conflicts by which ideas are rooted into society, these pen pictures of the humblest events, the merest details of the routine life led in winning national unity and freedom will be priceless. Not for the historian's sake alone, do I say, keep those letters, but for your sakes who receive them, and ours who write them. The next skirmish may stop our pulses forever, and our letters, full of love for you, will be our only legacy except that of having died in a noble cause. And should we survive the war, with health and limb uninjured or bowed with sickness or wounds, thos letters will be dear mementos of dangers past, of trials borne, or privations suffered, or of comrades beloved.
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Alfred Emory Lee, an aspiring attorney recently graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, resolved to do his part to restore the Union. Lee enlisted in Co. I of the 82nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in November 1861 and so begins this incredible journey through the Civil War. Lee was commissioned as an officer and wrote home frequently, leaving a fascinating record of the lengthy list of battles in which his regiment participated, including McDowell, Cross Keys, Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, (where Lee was severely wounded and captured on the first day of the battle), Wauhatchie, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, Culp’s Farm, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, Savannah, Averysboro, and Bentonville. Alfred E. Lee’s Civil War draws from Lee’s copious wartime correspondence and his post war writings to present a detailed and insightful portrait of the war as fought both east and west.
Camp of the 82nd Regt. O.V.I.,
Six miles north of Falmouth, Virginia May 11, 1863
We broke camp at Stafford on Monday morning April 27th. The men were heavily loaded, having eight days’ rations, 60 rounds of cartridges, and a change of clothing to carry, in addition to their guns and equipment. Yet full of confidence and good spirits, they traveled well and on Tuesday evening reached the Rappahannock at Bremen’s Ford. The most powerful glasses could discover but few traces of the enemy on the other side and preparations were at once made to cross. About 12 o’clock at night the 82nd steadily tramped over the pontoons and found itself on the right bank of the Rappahannock. We continued marching until about 3 o’clock in the morning.
On Wednesday our corps continued its advance, and evening found us on the bank of the Rapidan. The Rebels were building a bridge here and were captured, bridge and all. They only had a few timbers raised and our pontoons had to be laid, which was accomplished with trifling opposition. About midnight the 82nd crossed the roaring torrent, moved upon the heights of the right bank and waited for the day.
On Thursday the army commenced its advance down the plank road towards Fredericksburg. On Friday there was considerable skirmishing with the enemy, but no general engagement on our flank (the right) of the grand army, though I believe there was very severe fighting on the left. We were under arms most of the day Friday and Friday night.
On Saturday morning, the sun dawned clear and beautiful and though we all looked for a general engagement, everything was comparatively quiet. There were a good many random volleys of musketry and some cannonading, but with that exception the day wore away quietly. About 3 P.M. it was announced to us that the enemy were retreating; that one of our brigades was following them, capturing their train and securing many prisoners. Our men were jubilant over the good news, talked of marching to Gordonsville on the morrow, cheerfully ate their frugal supper, and began to think of preparing for one quiet night’s rest after so many of sleepless watchfulness. While seated on the ground with my two lieutenants (1st Lieutenant John H. Ballard and 2nd Lieutenant Thomas J. Abrell) eating our evening meal, Captain George H. Purdy (Co. I) came to us and jovially remarked about our good living, smiled, and walked away. Alas, it was the last smile, the last word from him to me on this earth.
About half an hour afterwards we were startled by some random musket shots on our right. Almost immediately there followed the most terrific, the most tremendous, the most deadly volley of musketry that in all of my war experience I ever heard. The Rebels instead of retreating had turned our right flank and in heavy force had stolen up within a few paces of our unsuspecting lines. It was a complete surprise. Our men flew to arms and stood waiting for orders and watching the result of the dreadful conflict on our right. Soon troops of stragglers swarming from the woods indicated but too plainly that our lines were broken. The Rebels followed them closely into the open field. All was now hurry and confusion. We were ordered this way and that, changing position every minute, yet doing nothing decisively. Oh, for a Napoleon at that critical juncture! He would have had but five minutes, but even in that time he might have made dispositions that would at least have covered our retreat if not checked the enemy. The German regiments, of which of corps is unfortunately chiefly made up, acted any way but bravely. Many of them threw away their arms and ran without scarcely firing a shot.
Our own regiment, although comparatively cool and determined, narrowly escaped disorganization in the hurry and confusion. It was decided at length to move our regiment to the rear and post it behind a slight earthwork that had been thrown up during the day. I rallied my company while moving up toward the entrenchment, got every man in his place and filed my men into the ditch in good order. The air was now darkened with the smoke of battle, bullets, shells, and canister shot sung, whistled, and howled about our heads and the enemy were coming on pell-mell, driving before them a herd of cowardly Germans, some of whom every moment were paying a dreadful penalty for their want of pluck. I got my company into the ditch without a man being hurt except one sprightly little German whom I had sent to Captain Purdy’s company to equalize it. He, poor boy, was killed before reaching the embankment. Captain Purdy was also struck down dead at about the same moment and was left where he fell. We had no sooner got our position in the breastwork than hundreds of our stragglers came swarming over us in their efforts to escape. Of course we had to withhold our fire until they had passed. They had no sooner done so than I gave the word to my men to commence firing and they went at it not only with a will but with coolness and deliberation. Hardly a man but seemed perfectly resolved to stay there and die rather than run. The breastwork was very frail, being only about two and a half feet high and so thin that the bullets went through it. Yet there we intended to stay.
But alas, though the enemy was checked in front of us, our flanks were left entirely exposed and the enemy came right down on our right and left. Three minutes more and would have to die in our places or be captured. Colonel James S. Robinson saw the danger and ordered a retreat. It was an awful moment. Between the breastwork and the woods in our rear, a distance of about 150 yards, we were entirely exposed to the fire of the enemy. Yet there was no alternative- we had to run for life or be taken. Previous to the order to retreat, I had but two men hurt- the little German above referred to and one sergeant- but ere we passed that 150 yards, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas J. Abrell and one man was killed and ten were wounded. The carnage was sickening. I saw men dropping all around me- saw faces streaming with blood-but let me not rehearse the sad details.
The Dutch had all run, and though we had checked the enemy sufficiently to give them ample time to form a new line of battle for us to rally behind, yet none was formed and there was no alternative but to continue our retreat until we had fallen behind the lines of the 2nd and 3rd Corps. Thus the 82nd was the last regiment to leave that bloody field. We left it not because we were demoralized, not because we were cowardly (for there is no better fighting material in the Army of the Potomac), but simply because we had three things to choose: death, a Richmond dungeon, or a retreat. Perhaps we ought to have taken one of the first two rather than the last, and I have since heard many regrets that we did not, but would it not only have aggravated the disaster? Had the German regiments fought at all, had they stood firmly upon our flanks as we expected they would, in short had they rendered us any assistance worth naming, I have no doubt at all but the enemy would have found himself unable to pass the breastwork and would have been driven back in confusion.
But the men who have always made themselves notorious in the army by their thieving and straggling were not the men to depend on in the hour of danger as we found out to our sorrow. About 8 P.M. our regiment was rallied in an open field by the clear moonlight. But alas, how many vacant places there were in our ranks. My own company, I can say with sorrow and pride, suffered more than any other in the regiment and I have good reason to believe hurt the enemy some. The Rebels, not satisfied with the defeat of the 11th Corps, came pouring down in heavy masses upon the lines of the 2nd and 3rd Corps. Crazed with whiskey and intoxicated with success, they seemed determined to break our lines regardless of the cost. But as well might they have dashed against the rock of Gibraltar. This night battle was indescribably, grandly, and awfully terrible. No language of mine can give you any adequate idea of it. The bellowing of scores of cannon vomiting fire and smoke against the moonlit sky, the shrieking shells, the howling of canister, the constant and tremendous roaring and rattling of musketry and intermingled in an awful discord that seemed supernatural and made one think himself suddenly sunk to the lowest depths of pandemonium. Three of four times the Rebel tide came surging down upon our lines and as often it was rolled back by our brave hearts with awful slaughter. After a while, the storm of battle lulled and ceased for the night.
Early next morning (Sunday), the 11th Corps was moved to the extreme left and posted behind entrenchments. We had hardly got our positions when the battle commenced again in front and on the right. The 11th Corps was not engaged. The fighting was mostly done in the midst of a thick forest which was soon fired by the artillery. The wounded not carried off must have either suffocated or burned. For hours the bellowing of artillery and the roaring of musketry was deafening. General Hooker, placing himself at the head of the Gibraltar Brigade of the 2nd Corps (it includes the 4th Ohio Infantry) went in and drove the enemy, captured colors, and made himself a beau ideal hero. The Army of the Potomac loves Hooker as it never loved McClellan. He is our man and must lead us. About noon the battle lulled again and there was no more fighting save picket skirmishing.
The Rebels meant to drive us into the river and failed. We had held our position and beaten them back. For three days and nights our regiment was kept under arms, and often was summoned to arms expecting to go out and meet the enemy. Rebel bullets would sometimes come rattling about our ears in our bivouac. On Tuesday evening a cold, chilling rain set in. Our clothes were saturated with water, yet we could have no fire. I sank upon the ground and slept but soon awoke shaking as though I had an ague. When the morning dawned cold, damp, and cheerless, we were tramping through the mud on our way back to the left bank of the Rappahannock. On Wednesday evening we reached one of the old cantonments of our army near where I am now writing. How it rained! There was no room to lie down, so I sat by the fire and nodded the night away. Next day we went into camp where I now write and that night I had the first good night’s sleep I had had for 11 days.
Our troops never fought better than they did in the battles I have been describing. I speak of the army generally. To any who inquire after Captain Purdy, please give the circumstances of his death as I have detailed them. He was a brave man, a true patriot, and a fast friend. If at any future time it can be done, I will endeavor to secure his body and have it sent to his friends if they desire it. The citizens of Delaware ought to give him a monument.
Winner of the 2017 Center for Archival Collections Local History Publication Award
Sherman's Praetorian Guard is a collection of fascinating Civil War letters from Captain John McIntyre Lemmon of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Capt. Lemmon served for nearly fours years, first with the 90-day 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, then for the remainder of the war with the 72nd Ohio. Enlisting as a Private in Co. B, Lemmon kept up a regular correspondence with the Fremont Journal, carefully documenting the service of his regiment as it fought under Gen. William T. Sherman for much of the first two years of the war. The regiment saw its first action at Shiloh where it earned its sobriquet as "Sherman's Praetorian Guard," then took part in the Vicksburg campaign. Left behind to garrison Memphis, Tennessee, the regiment re-enlisted in January 1864 and faced its greatest challenges in the final year of the war, campaigning against Forrest in northern Mississippi, Price in Missouri, and Hood in Tennessee. Capt. Lemmon left an incredible account of his experience, the letter below being one fine example.
Fort Pickering, Memphis, Tennessee November 24, 1862
The quiet of the army of the district of Memphis is broken. The same old scenes of hurry, bustle, and confusion are being reenacted on a grand scale. Everybody is getting ready to move- we know not where. Orders have been repeatedly read to us to the effect that ‘all troops in the district of Memphis should immediately prepare for field service.’ To that end, baggage must be reduced to the amount limited in the order from the general in chief; the number of teams must be cut down to six to each regiment; and particular attention paid to the condition of the arms and accoutrements of the men.
But all the time the 72nd was kept busily at work putting up barracks for winter quarters; hence we flattered ourselves that we were to remain for the winter at Fort Pickering. Latterly a large force of troops has been assembling at this point which, with the old regiments of Gen. Sherman’s division, were reorganized into new brigades and divisions and Sherman becomes a commander of a corps de armee of the divisions. The First, commanded by Brig. Gen. Denver, the Second by Brig. Gen. Smith, the Third by Brig. Gen. Lauman. The Fifth Brigade, composed of the 72nd Ohio, 93rd Indiana, the 93rd and 114th Illinois, and the 32nd Wisconsin regiments is commanded by Col. R.P. Buckland and forms part of the Third Division. Our orders are to be ready to march early Wednesday morning (November 26), the three divisions by as many roads but all going the same general direction. Our destination we do not know and it’s useless to guess. Suffice it to say that we are entering upon an active winter campaign under able and skillful leaders. We confidently expect to rid the great valley of traitors and armed insurrection. We know our enemy and have learned how to deal with him. He shall feel us in the future as he has not felt us in the past. We move onward with the utmost confidence of success and complete victory. The move in light, marching order, the sick and those who are unable to march are left here in the hospital or on garrison duty. There is little doubt that it will be vast benefit to the morale of the troops to leave the vicinity of Memphis, for the city presents about as full a hell of vices and crimes as any city under national control. Drunkenness has become, among the class who have latterly infested the city-soldiers, sailors, boatmen, and civilians- the general condition, and sobriety the exception. It is a thing of little moment in Memphis if a man be shot or stabbed on the street. Thieving and plundering are matters for emulation. Law and order are made a mockery. Crime triumphantly defies punishment. But the worst feature of city evils, as connected with the camp, is the facility with which liquor may be obtained. Nothing, either, will so swiftly and surely demoralize an army. What can be expected, when half the officers of the regiment nightly hold high carnival over the intoxicating glass? Officers who have not the manhood to refuse strong drink in excess but will revel in the delirium of daily drunkenness, are very certain to soon lose control of their men, to neglect all their duties, and thus to create by their own violations of law and order, a total disregard for discipline. Here then, where officers have very many of them acted thus criminally, it is not strange that one should hear wishes expressed by private soldiers that the army might leave the place and by so doing, cure a monstrous evil.
There is a novel race for Congress going on in this, the 10th Congressional district of Tennessee. How many candidates there are I cannot exactly state. I saw five only clambering for one stand last night. One run for the Rebel Congress last summer and was beaten; another was a staff officer in the Rebel service; still another was employed by Isham Harris in gathering up rifles and shotguns to arm Rebel soldiers. They are now amusing themselves by abusing one another for having been Rebels and aiding the Confederate cause. It is flattering, no less than gratifying, to notice that orders are issued that horses and mules, wagons and forage, shall be seized as the army advances for the use of the national forces. They are receipted for by brigade quartermasters and when the owner shows that he was a true Union citizen, a loyalty voucher is given him and he will get pay for his property. It is probably, needless to say, that there will be few whose property will have to be paid for by government, as loyalists are few. There appears to be a feeling of enthusiasm among the troops at the prospect of more active service and all are ready and cheerful for the work before them. The readers of the Journal shall be informed of our operations as speedily as I can transmit you the news. They must remember, however, that on a march, the facilities for writing and sending letters are few.
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Camp Drake, Murfreesboro, Tennessee April 6, 1863
I must apologize to you for not answering your letter sooner. In fact, I had not over two hours per day to myself to do so, and those two hours were taken up by me in the enjoyment of the various pastimes which abound so plentifully in camp at the convivial gatherings subsequent to an army pay day!
We have at length recovered some from the saddening scenes of the battle of the cedars on Stone River; no longer is the fierce booming of the cannon heard, or the direful rattle of musketry, no longer do the fiery war horses gallop past in mad fury, and no longer do panic stricken soldiers with distended eyeballs skedaddle over the corn and cotton fields from insatiate Seceshdom; no longer is heard the hoarse voices of the great captains and giant colonels urging on us on to glory and renown, the victory or death. Scenes of blood no longer meet out gaze; the bloody wounds, the gaping gashes and distorted visages, the livid and ghastly countenances of the unburied dead, the gory pools of clotted gore have all passed away and now a serene tranquility and calm repose marks the spot where so many yielded up their souls to God and reddened with crimson tide the sanguine field of Murfreesboro.
Moved back from our advanced position on the Shelbyville Turnpike, and we are now snugly ensconced in the immediate front of the breastworks and fortifications commanding this noted and historic town. The entire Army of the Cumberland, an army that has never yet experienced defeat, is stretched along for miles in three parallel lines so that when reveille’s shrill bugle notes arouses us from slumber in the morning, three living walls of bristling bayonets present a formidable barrier to any force the grease-encased chivalry can hurl at us. In all my knowledge as a soldier or citizen, in all the various incredible spectacles which have met my sight the last few years, there is none equal to our line of battle these fine, balmy, and refreshing morns of spring. Imagine, Jack, a line of battle on an open plain of which you can see neither beginning nor end, then conceive that line three deep of armed impetuous hosts willing and anxious for the next grand battle in which they see the solution of our country’s troubles. The whole capped off by thousands and thousands of snow white tents and cedar groves and you can form some estimate of the awful grandeur, sublime beauty, and grimaced paraphernalia of the moving panorama each day enacted in this locality.
Our company and regimental parade grounds are kept as clean as any business house in Lancaster, the debris has all been removed and were it not that we know that a few miles further on death awaits many a poor soul, we would think ourselves fairy spirits of a brighter realm on a brief visit to the ‘vale of tears.’
Notes of preparation are, however, beginning to be heard; the signs of the time augur important events. Convalescents are coming to their regiments; citizen soldiers are taking the places of soldier clerks and confiscated contrabands the places of teamsters; all detailed men are ordered to their companies while straggler and deserters come pouring back to us on every train. In the meantime, hard bread, bacon, beans, sugar, coffee, rice, and salt form a perfect tower near the railroad depot and if it is not quite as high as the Tower of Babel, it must be nearly so while I am confident that confusion of tongues is no better. Here in one conglomerated mass can be seen in the course of an hour English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Prussian, Russian, Polish, Swedes, Persians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Germans, and Hollanders together with the indomitable progressive Yankees, all vying with each other as to who can make the most noise, make and render confusion still yet more confounded. This babelism is confined, however, to the dark browed sons of Ethiopian nativity and eastern Tennessee refugees whom the government has employed at the military depot of supplies.
Light battalions have been formed in various brigades of this department to be composed of three of the very best men in each company of a regiment of each brigade. Charley Grandlienard, Billy Heberly, and George Myers received the honor, by ballot of their comrades from our company- a compliment to them and us. I was placed in the battalion as quartermaster sergeant by Major Stafford, but Hooker saw Langdon, Langdon saw Parrott, Parrott saw Johnson and the result of their combined seeing was that I was ordered back to the regiment and tomorrow I report for duty to Colonel Applegate of General Hooker’s staff!i
How is your wound getting Jack? When will you be back to the regiment? It will be our pride and delight to clasp you once more by the hand and welcome you back to your country’s service, knowing as we do, that the blows you strike are struck from patriotic feelings-not that dastardly love of country seen only in the almighty dollar.
And now in conclusion, dear Jack, let me hope that the beams of peace may shed their heaven-lent rays on us all before the pass of another month and that you and I and the many other impulsive hearts that have stood with their breasts to the foe to guard our country from irretrievable ruin may meet around the social boards at home to rejoice over the dispelling of war’s alarms and a Union made more stout and refined by having passed through the ordeal of fire and blood.
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Saturday morning, July 9, 1864, dawned with a balmy sky following the night’s rain. The fertile Maryland countryside with its rich pastures and wheat fields awoke that morning to the presence of two armies heading for a collision along the meandering banks of the Monocacy River. The weather of late had been abnormally hot and dry, which helped the local farmers pull in the season’s wheat crop. The temperature quickly hit 90 degrees, where it remained the rest of the day. However, a bracing breeze from the west helped take some of the edge off the oppressive heat and humidity.
That same refreshing breeze brought the ominous sounds of Early’s men and wagons moving into Frederick. At his headquarters near the Junction, General Lew Wallace finalized his dispositions for the fight he was sure was coming later that morning. Late on July 8th, Wallace had been reinforced by two brigades of Ricketts' division and was awaiting the arrival of a third. Perceiving the greatest threat as being on his left, and lacking the cavalry to effectively guard all of the fords, he placed the bulk of his veterans to cover his left and left center. He sent a portion of Clendenin’s 8th Illinois Cavalry to guard the Worthington McKinney ford, while other portions were sent out to cover points farther south. With the ultimate aim of covering the Georgetown Pike, which he was now convinced was Early’s objective, he posted Colonel William Truex’s 1,750-man brigade about a mile south of his headquarters at the Junction, facing west with its left anchored on the Araby farm. At his center, he placed Colonel Matthew McClennan’s 1,600-man brigade along the east bank of the Monocacy, extending from the Georgetown Pike bridge to just short of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad trestle facing to the northwest.
The ground in the front of both brigades was hidden by dense brush and undergrowth on the banks of the river, with high corn along the bottomland obscuring a clear view. Three 3-inch rifled cannon from Alexander’s battery were placed between the two brigades on a knoll overlooking the bridge. Continuing north, Wallace placed his lone 24-lb. howitzer atop a ridge near the eastern blockhouse behind the iron Baltimore and Ohio railroad trestle and concentrated his reserve force of the 11th Maryland and three companies of the 144th Ohio along the ridge. Under General Erastus B. Tyler’s direction, the remaining three guns of Alexander’s battery were placed just beyond the ridge. Three companies of Colonel Charles Gilpin’s 3rd Maryland Potomac Home Brigade were placed at Crum’s Ford about midway between the Junction and the Jug Bridge on the north.
To constitute his right, Wallace sent the green 149th Ohio to guard the Baltimore Pike (National Road) crossing, while the 100 mounted men of the 159th Ohio were sent to Hughes Ford on his extreme right. General James B. Ricketts expressed some concern that Tyler’s largely untried force was given the important assignment of covering the army’s line of retreat, particularly the stone bridge. Wallace replied that he had confidence both in Tyler and his men. “Tyler is a man of intelligence and brave. He has been in the war from the beginning and understands the need for the bridge to us as clearly as we do. I rely upon him.” The front was a broken line extending about three miles, but both major avenues across the Monocacy were well covered and Wallace was certain that he could delay Early at least until midday.
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Original regimental battleflag of the 72nd O.V.I. This flag was captured at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862.