The "Bloody Seventh Ohio" at Cross Lanes

The little-remembered Battle of Cross Lanes, Virginia was fought in the early morning hours of August 26, 1861 between nine companies of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and three regiments of Virginians under the command of Brigadier General John Floyd. The 7th Ohio had previously held Cross Lanes, a strategic crossroads that allowed easy control of several fords on the Gauley River, but had been ordered to join General Jacob Cox’s forces at Gauley Bridge on August 20th. This uncovered the fords and Cox getting word that the Confederates were moving back into the area, ordered Colonel Erastus B. Tyler to re-occupy Cross Lanes with his regiment. Unbeknownst to General Cox, Floyd’s troops numbering roughly 3,000 men had already moved into the area and occupied the fords and when the 7th Ohio arrived at Cross Lanes. Floyd wasted little time in attacking this small Federal force.

It was a fierce little fight, and a very costly one for the Buckeyes- they lost 118 casualties, 99 of them being captured out of the roughly 750 engaged. The Confederates drove the survivors into the mountains in the two separate groups, one numbering about 200 men arrived at Gauley, and a second group of 400 men arriving at Charleston. The Confederate held the fords and would do so for a few more weeks until they were driven away as a result of the Battle of Carnifex Ferry on September 10, 1861.

The proud rooster emblem of the 7th Ohio Infantry adorns their regimental monuments at Antietam and Gettysburg.

The Buckeyes, raised in the Western Reserve region of northeastern Ohio and priding themselves as the Rooster Regiment (some wore brass roosters on their hats), were armed with a mixture of weapons, eight companies possessing M1822 .69 caliber altered from flintlock smoothbore muskets while the flank companies (A and B) were armed with the superb imported English-made .58 caliber P1853 Enfield rifled muskets. The converted smoothbores had already been a cause of complaint, a newspaper article stating that “the [conversion] work was so miserably done that the plugs fly out, the tubes have become loose, and in short they are dangerous and liable to produce great injuries by explosion.”

Dawn of August 26, 1861 found the Roosters stretched out along the road [now the Summersville Lake Road] from Gauley and occupying Cross Lanes. Company F had been left several miles behind to guard the regimental wagon train. At the crossroads, Co. A covered the road leading directly to Summerville, Co. C to their left rear covered the road to Elk River, while Co. K on the right covered the road to Carnifex Ferry [now the Whitewater Road]. The remaining six companies lay stretched along the road southwest of the crossroads in the following order: D, H, G, B, I, and E at the rear. Co. E’s position lay close to an intersection with another road that led to the Gauley River. Substantial hills lay to the right and left of the column with cleared farmland surrounding the crossroads. The hills were heavily forested and rocky.

Colonel Erastus B. Tyler
7th O.V.I.

“Between four and five in the morning, orders were given to the companies to breakfast and be ready to move,” reported Colonel Tyler. “While partaking of the hard bread and some beef which we took from the secessionists [Tyler’s men had captured a wagon and several cattle the night before from Floyd’s scouts] the alarm guns of our pickets were heard and in less than five minutes we were fired upon by at least 2,500 muskets. We were soon in line of battle and found we had an overwhelming force to contend with,” he wrote.[1] Sergeant George Ketchum recalled that he was idly cooking his breakfast over a fire “with an ear of corn on one stick and a piece of meat on the other. When we were called to our senses by the sound of rapid musketry on the extreme right. We dropped our sticks and got into line mighty quick.”[2]

Floyd had at his disposal four regiments of infantry: the 22nd, 36th, 45th, and 50th Virginia, along with a total of five cavalry companies, and two artillery batteries. Only three of the infantry regiments saw serious action, the 22nd Virginia being at the rear of the marching column and not getting on to the field before the Federals had fled the scene. Floyd marched directly from Carnifex Ferry towards Cross Lanes and encountered Co. K deployed in a skirmish line blocking his path. The 45th Virginia was sent straight down the road towards Co. K, the 50th Virginia was sent to the right to flank them and drive off Co. A which was on the road to Summerville, and the 36th Virginia under Colonel John McCausland was sent up a parallel road on the left with the aim to get in the Federal rear.
Map of the Battle of Cross Lanes from the Itinerary of the 7th O.V.I.
Sergeant Elias W. Morey, Co. D

The action developed quickly; once Floyd’s column opened fire on Co. K, Companies A and C fell back from their covering positions and arrayed themselves in line atop the hill to the right of the road and tried to hold off the charging 45th Virginia. It didn’t work for long. “Our company maintained its position until we had fired eight or ten rounds,” wrote Sergeant Elias W. Morey of Co. C. “When he saw that we were overpowered by the numbers of the enemy and they having nearly gained both of our flanks, Captain [Giles Shurtleff] gave the order to retreat. Eight of our men were left wounded on the field and three more were slightly wounded but retreated with the company, myself among the number. I was hit by a musket ball on the head, the ball just grazing the skull. The wound bled profusely but I suffered little inconvenience.” Lieutenant Thomas Sweeny had a good view of the action on the hill from his vantage point along the road. Company C “had scarcely formed when they discovered a regiment of rebels coming over a hill on the double quick one-eighth of a mile distant. As soon as they formed on the hill they opened a deadly fire on our forces which was returned with good effect.” Rebel artillery rolled into action and once it opened fire, “our forces scattered in all directions into the woods.”[3]

Corporal William D. Shepherd, Co. D

Companies D and H ran up the road to try and hold the crossroads against the 50th Virginia which was swooping around to take the position. “Immediately upon clearing the covering of the woods we were saluted by a volley from the Rebels,” wrote Corporal William D. Shepherd of Co. D. “We countermarched, and by order of Captain Dyer took cover under a fence, Captain Dyer and Lieutenant Weed all the time standing in the road and constantly exposed to the raking showers of bullets from the enemy who were concealed under cover of the woods on our right.” Once Captain Dyer saw the Federal line on the hill collapsing, he directed his men to head for the hills to their left. “After getting over the fence, we jumped into long grass, an unmown meadow. It was in this long grass that our brave captain fell. He was shot in the left side just above the belly by a musket ball and lived but a few moments. A part of the meadow was planted with corn and through this we passed, then up a hillside until we reached the woods,” Shepherd wrote.[4] 

Chaplain Frederick T. Brown, 7th O.V.I.

Chaplain Frederick T. Brown was approaching the crossroads on horseback when he saw the 50th Virginia deploy. “We saw we were surrounded, or nearly so, and by a force greatly superior to our own. The cross firing and the whistle of Minie bullets about us and over us was not the most pleasant music I have heard, and our horses evidently thought the same for they were nearly frantic and unmanageable with fright. Our destruction or the capture of the entire regiment seemed inevitable,” he wrote.[5]

As the Confederate attack in the center drove off the companies on the hill and at the crossroads, over on the Confederate left the 36th Virginia had been rapidly moving to get in the Federal rear. “The 36th advanced immediately in double quick time over fences, through fields and forests towards its point of destination,” wrote one its soldiers. “But the Colonel was misled by his guide and instead of arriving at the point intended, he found himself right among the Yankees, his regiment marching by flank directly behind them. Note now the predicament in which he was suddenly thus placed: marching by the flank perpendicularly to the enemy’s line of battle exposed it to a cross fire without any dispositions for returning it.”[6]

As Companies A, C, and K fell back from the hill, the Federals waded right into the 36th Virginia stretched out in column along the road. The three companies of Buckeyes barreled into Co. E of the 36th, and in the melee that followed managed to capture the flag and flag bearer of Co. D of the 36th Virginia. “As they passed, they took a man prisoner with the flag of the Boone Rangers,” commented a soldier in the 36th. “The man who was taken was waving the flag to his company and was unarmed- a trophy without any honor attached to its capture.”[7]

Corporal Llwellyn R. Davis of Co. A
Later Lieutenant Colonel of 187th O.V.I.

Corporal Llewellyn R. Davis and Corporal Edward T. Kelley of Co. A captured this flag and sent it home as a war trophy. The flag was described as “made of red cambric and white muslin with eleven stars in the upper corner” and was sent to A.J. Stone of Newburgh, Ohio.[8] Sergeant William A. Howe stated that it was Davis who actually demanded the colors from the color-bearer and then shoved the flag into his blouse “as we had about all we could do to take care of ourselves” at that time.[9] The Confederates fought fiercely, one soldier of the 36th Virginia in particular. “He got surrounded by the enemy but getting behind a tree, he dared them to take him in. One fire at him, cutting his cartridge box off and almost instantly another one shot the lock off his musket. He drew his revolvers and killed both while wounding several others,” wrote one Virginian.[10]

Colonel Tyler and his six companies along the road soon had their hands full. “We sprang into line at the first fire and began to advance to where the firing was to assist Co. K at the outpost,” remembered Private Alonzo C. Jones. “We had not gone far when we found plenty to do right there for there was a line of men not 100 feet from us in the bushes advancing towards our rear. We made one fire when the colonel rode up and ordered us to retreat across the fields which we did under a heavy fire of the enemy’s musketry, gaining the top of a hill where we rallied, but seeing ourselves outnumbered, we retreated into the woods.”[11]

Sergeant Martin M. Andrews, Co. C

Sergeant Martin Andrews of Co. C fell back into the woods “each man for himself. There was much confusion for a time. I crawled through the thick laurel, got behind a tree and loaded my gun. The enemy followed us to the edge of the woods but apparently did not enter the thickets, keeping up a sharp firing on us from the fields. The company soon got into a semblance of order and Captain Shurtleff led us toward the river.” We few hours later, the company emerged near the road when they ran into Confederate cavalry. “A ringing command of ‘Halt!’ came from the enemy. Those of us who were far enough away to be out of sight each quickly prepared to fight, but the boys at the head of the column were already in the power of the Rebs and fifteen including the captain were captured at once. Lieutenant Baker called out ‘Skedaddle! Which command the enemy did not seem to understand, and by the time they were ready to fire on us, those of us who were not prisoners were scattered again in the thickets.”[12]

The 7th Ohio’s hold of Cross Lanes was broken, and the Confederates converged on the camp along the road and commenced looting the few wagons there while continuing to take potshots at the retreating Federals. Confederate cavalry pursued the Buckeyes and scooped up dozens of prisoners. The regiment broke into numerous fragments, but eventually coalesced around two commanders: Colonel Tyler and Major John Casement. Tyler led his men through the mountains for miles in the direction of Gauley Bridge and reached there several days later. It was gloomy encampment of roughly 200 men, a far cry from the 750 that had been in line at Cross Lanes. Word soon reached them that Major Casement with 417 men had arrived safely at Charleston, and the great rejoicing was felt in camp.
Regimental colors of 7th O.V.I.

Casualties were hardly uniform across the companies. The heaviest casualties fell upon Co. C (30) which was most hotly engaged upon the hill and lost quite a few when Shurtleff stumbled onto the Confederate cavalry, Co. E (26) not far behind, and Co. K (18) which had started the engagement. The regiment lost 118 men in total: 2 killed, 2 missing, 15 wounded, and 99 captured. It was a bloody introduction to war for a regiment that became known as the “Bloody Seventh.” The heavy casualty lists of Cross Lanes would be dwarfed in the next year by losses in the battles of Kernstown, Port Republic, and Cedar Mountain. By the time of Antietam, scarcely 150 men of the 7th Ohio remained in the ranks.

Casualty List for the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Cross Lanes, Va.
Rooster emblem worn as cap device or on coats by members of the 7th Ohio Infantry
(Heritage Auctions)

Band:3 captured, Total:3

Fife Major Harry Wood, captured

Fifer Eli E. Gill, captured

Drummer Horace Huntoon, captured

Company A: 2 wounded, 8 captured, total: 10

Corporal Frank Dutton, wounded in both thighs, captured, and discharged for wounds in October 1862

Corporal Francis Williams, captured

Private John Bandle, captured

Private Carlos A. Burroughs, captured

Private Theodore Burt, captured

Private Evan Evans, captured

Private Thomas Shepley, wounded and died of wounds September 2, 1861 at Carnifex Ferry, Va. Private Andrew J. Scoville, captured

Private Myron H. Whaley, captured

Private Richard L. Wilsdon, captured

Company B: 7 captured, total: 7

Sergeant E.R. Stiles, captured* (id unclear)

Private Daniel T. Boyle, captured

Private Charles L. Chapman, captured

Private James McCabe, captured

Private George C. Robinson, captured

Private George W. Williams, captured

Waiter John Raferty, captured

Company C: 7 wounded, 23 captured, Total: 30

Captain Giles H. Shurtleff, captured

First Lieutenant Judson N. Cross, wounded

Sergeant William W. Parmenter, captured and died while prisoner of war November 1, 1861 at New Orleans, La.

Sergeant Elias W. Morey, captured

Corporal Stephen M. Cole, wounded

Corporal Isaac F. Mack, captured

Private William H. Baird, captured

Private William Biggs, captured and died while prisoner of war October 17, 1861 at New Orleans, La.

Private O. Foster Bodle, captured

Private John M. Burns, captured

Private Henry D. Clayhorn, captured

Private Joseph H. Collins, wounded and died of wounds August 27, 1861

Private Edward F. Curtis, captured

Private John W. Finch, captured

Private Addison M. Halbert, captured

Private Albert Hubbell, captured

Private Burford Jenkins, severely wounded in right arm (broken) and died of wounds September 6, 22, or 30, 1861

Private Lewis J. Jones, wounded

Private Seldon B. Kingsbury, captured

Private Emory C. Newton, captured

Private Irving A. Noble, captured

Private Hobert G. Orton, wounded and discharged for wounds in October 1862

Private Albert Osborn, captured

Private Alexander Parker, captured

Private Edward C. Root, captured

Private William H. Scott, captured

Private Henry G. Sheldon, wounded and discharged for wounds in July 1863

Private Edwin R. Smith, captured

Private David J. Thompson, captured

Private Lucius V. Tuttle, captured

Private Leroy Warren, captured

Private Willard W. Wheeler, captured

7th O.V.I. Regimental Association

Company D: 1 killed, 9 captured, Total: 10

Captain John N. Dyer, killed in action

Corporal Newton K. Hubbard, captured

Private Charles Carroll, captured

Private Alexander Dodge, captured and died while prisoner of war April 24, 1862 at Salisbury, N.C.

Private Seymour Gill, captured

Private James A. Rubicon, captured

Private John Shelby, captured

Private Alfred E. Smith, captured

Private John Smith, captured

Private Perry H. Smith, captured

Company E: 1 killed, 3 wounded, 22 captured, Total: 26

First Leiutenant Arthur T. Wilcox, captured

First Sergeant George C. Ketchum, captured

Sergeant William Merriam, severely wounded in left arm which was amputated, captured, discharged October 1862

Sergeant Franklin F. Willcoxson, captured

Corporal Jesse G. Turner, captured

Private John Bark, captured

Private William F. Bartlett, captured

Private Reuben Beers, captured

Private Lyman M. Blakesley, captured

Private Robert W. Blakesley, captured

Private James M. Butler, captured and died while prisoner of war December 27, 1861 at New Orleans, La.

Private William Cherry, captured

Private Edson B. Cross, killed in action

Private Thomas S. Curran, severely wounded in right leg which was amputated, captured,  discharged November 1862

Private George K. Downing, captured

Private Zebah Fox, captured

Private William Gibbs, captured and died while prisoner of war December 1861

Private John Hann, captured

Private William Hutchinson, wounded and discharged for wounds March 1863

Private Edward Kennedy, captured

Private Henry Kizer, captured and died while prisoner of war December 28, 1861 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Private John Shetters, captured

Private Francis Stillwell, captured

Private James Stinson, captured

Private George W. Sweet, captured

Private Charles Webber, captured

Company F (Guarding wagon train)

Company G: 1 missing, 2 captured, Total: 3

Private Samuel Balls, captured

Private Michael Hetlick, missing in action

Private Lloyd G. Logue, captured

Company H: 2 captured, Total: 2

Private Jacob A. Mohler, captured

Private Erastus C. Palmer, captured

Company I: 1 missing, 8 captured, Total: 9

Corporal Charles Berrett, missing in action

Private Charles Basine, captured

Private John Nicholas Friedenburg, captured

Private Daniel H. Johnson, captured

Private James Johnson, captured

Private Ferdy Larkin, captured

Private Morgan Llewellyn, captured

Private James Snyder, captured

Private George V.W. Thompson, captured

Company K: 3 wounded, 15 captured, Total: 18

Sergeant Adolphus Rohlman, captured and died while prisoner of war November 13, 1862 (1862?) at New Orleans, La.

Private Henry Ackerman, captured

Private Simon Beil, captured

Private John Doll, wounded and died of wounds September 10, 1861 at Cross Lanes, Va.

Private Engelbert Fenz, captured

Private Tobias Flabbig, captured

Private John Geissler, wounded and died of wounds August 28, 1861 at Cross Lanes, Va.

Private Emil Glauser, captured

Private Gustave Greenwald, captured

Private John Habbey, captured* (id uncertain)

Private Charles Haerkel, captured

Private Andrew Malichus, wounded and discharged for wounds October 1861

Private Christian Oetinger, captured

Private Solomon Renz, captured

Private John Smith, captured

Private Charles Stahl, captured

Private John Wiegand, captured and died while prisoner of war September 13, 1861 at Cross lanes, Va.

Private Julius Wolf, captured


Band: 3

A: 10

B: 7

C: 30

D: 10

E: 26

F: 0

G: 3

H: 2

I: 9

K: 18

Total: 118

Breakdown: 2 killed, 2 missing, 15 wounded (5 died of wounds, 3 were also captured), 99 captured

[1] “Letter from Colonel Tyler,” Cleveland Morning Leader, September 10, 1861, pg. 3
[2] “The Seventh Ohio at Summerville,” National Tribune, May 3, 1883, pg. 7
[3] “Statement of Lieut. Sweeny,” Cleveland Morning Leader, September 4, 1861, pg. 4
[4] Wilson, Lawrence, editor. Itinerary of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1864. New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1907, pgs. 91-92
[5] Wilson, op. cit., pgs. 75-76
[6] “The Battle of Cross Lanes,” Richmond Enquirer, September 10, 1861, pg. 2
[7] “The Battle of Cross Lanes,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, September 5, 1861, pg. 2
[8] “Secession Flag,” Cleveland Morning Leader, September 10, 1861, pg. 4
[9] Wilson, op. cit., pg. 86
[10] “A hero in the Battle of Cross Lanes,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, September 3, 1861, pg. 2
[11] Letter from Private Alonzo C. Jones, Tiffin Weekly Tribune, September 20, 1861, pg. 3
[12] Wilson, op. cit., pgs. 81-82


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