The 94th Ohio Remembers Perryville

The veterans of the 94th Ohio marked the 35th anniversary of the Battle of Perryville by holding their annual regimental reunion on October 8, 1897, in Dayton, Ohio. The significance of the date prompted a flood of memories from the Buckeyes about their first major engagement, and many of the memories centered around the death of Captain John Drury of Co. B. 

    Private George Crane recalled Captain Drury's discouragement with the poor food and hard life of a soldier. "The comrades will also remember what kind of food we had the morning we started out for Perryville," remembered Crane. "It was flour mixed with water and baked on flat Rebel stones out of the creek where we camped. The men were hungry and worn out with the hot afternoon’s march. Captain Drury was very much worked up over the matter and remarked, “If this is the manner in which the soldier is to be treated, I’m ready to be cashiered.”

          "But a little afterwards we had piled our knapsacks in a fence corner and formed line for the fight. Captain Drury had turned his mule over to someone else and was with drawn sword pushing on to battle. It was not but a short while when a Rebel bullet had done the awful work to our dear Captain Drury. The news of his death soon flashed along the line. I got the word from Captain Fred Walton of Co. C. His company and the one I belonged to adjoined and brought me not far from where he was. I chanced to look at one time to my left and saw Captain Walton kneeling down, one knee on the ground, and the other his elbow resting upon it, his face buried in his hand, weeping aloud. I stepped to him at once, wondering if he was hurt. He said in his weeping, “Captain Drury is killed, Captain Drury is killed.”  

    Crane's reminiscences and several others describing Perryville were originally published in the October 14, 1897, edition of the Miami Helmet

Mayor Henry J. Pettit of Troy, Ohio, requested that all businesses in the village be closed on October 23, 1862, in honor of Captain John C. Drury's funeral. The captain, born in Massachusetts in 1820, had been killed in action during the Battle of Perryville and his remains were interred at Rose Hill Cemetery in Troy. 

Sergeant Abraham B. Huston, Co. B read this at the regimental reunion in 1897. He was listed as wounded during the battle and was discharged for disability April 15, 1863 at Columbus, Ohio.

          The men in the ranks are not supposed to know all of the operations of a great army or the locations and work of the different corps and divisions in the time of an engagement as the commanding General knows it, for he must know the whole field if he is to command successfully.

Yet the soldier even while executing the orders of his commanders faithfully in time of battle is not always blind to his surroundings and had experiences that may not be the same as that of his General or of his staff, for no two persons viewing a great painting ever see it exactly the same. The General and his staff have their experiences and the soldier in the ranks has his, and they together make the true history of an engagement and of the campaign.

In the accounts of the operations in the Perryville campaign, some excuse is offered for the scant field service shown by the new regiments of Jackson’s division, and the criticism is made that these regiments have shown but little knowledge of maneuvers and tactics on the field. It is shown that in the fight they were placed by wrong commands at a disadvantage, not being placed as they should have been, with the front rank in front.

I am informed that the disadvantage meant that the 121st Ohio was placed in line for firing with the rear rank in front. This will be understood when you recall the tactics. Marching a column right in front to the north, the first position for a regiment upon halting and fronting would place as here given for the 121st, with their backs to the enemy or to the east. Recall also that the column marched to the battlefield on the old Mackville and Perryville road, the head of the column which was led by Rousseau’s 9th and 17th Brigades and as usual right in front- Colonel Harris and Beatty marching a little south of east. Upon halting and forming the line of battle, all reports show that all of the first corps of General Alexander McCook were deployed north of the Old Mackville and Perryville road. The right of Rousseau’s division rested near the Russell House on the road.

Corporal George S. Dollinger, Co. B, 94th O.V.I.

A little later, the line was moved forward towards the creek about 600 yards, with the right on Beatty’s brigade resting at the point the road crossed Doctor’s Creek. From this point the deployment was made to the left or north on the high hills overlooking the creek. To march by the right flank and face the enemy without a countermarch or “right into line,” would place the rear rank nearest to the enemy and in front in a movement towards the enemy.

The old regiments of Harris’s brigade were placed in line of battle on the left of Beatty’s brigade with the front rank facing the enemy as might be expected with veterans. Then came the order for the 94th Ohio to march north to the support of Terrill’s battery, and again, as would be expected, Colonel Joseph Frizzell gave the command to march by the left flank. Then halting and at the command “front” the front rank was in front, our faces to the enemy and facing east. As such, we learn that the 94th Ohio had none of the trouble spoken of with the 105th and 121st regiments in the matter of tactical position.

During the afternoon in changing places from the woods to the cornfields and when returning to the woods, you will recall that our commander moved us by the right or left flank and at no time did he use such commands as would cause countermarching or movements that upon suddenly halting would place the rear rank toward the enemy. All accounts agree that the fire at Perryville was delivered at short range. Company B was halted nearer the Rebel line than the remainder of this regiment and this is where Captain John C. Drury fell. At any rate, it was found that when the regiment advanced as described in Colonel Frizell’s report that dead men were found at a distance estimated at 20-30 yards from our front.

Fort Smith, Arkansas

September 27, 1897

          I should thoroughly enjoy being with the boys, especially on the 35th anniversary of the battle of Perryville. More than a generation has passed since that day but my recollections of the hurried early morning march to the field, the filing into the woods under the brow of the hill where the leaves and branches from the trees cut down by the balls and shells from the enemy’s guns fell like a shower on our heads. The short rest, the call to attention, the order “forward march,” the charge over the hill into the enemy’s face, their volley in which fell the brave Captain Drury, the gallant Brecount, my friend and other valiant boys. All are vividly before me as I write. How I would like to talk this over with my old comrades but distance and my physical disability prevent. ~ Captain Samuel H. Sherlock, Co. E, 94th Ohio

 Indianapolis, Indiana

October 6, 1897

I shall not forget the Battle of Perryville. Two incidents come to my mind as I write. Just as we were nearing the field of battle, I had dropped back towards Co. B and saw Captain Drury riding on mule back which he had gathered onto because he was completely worn out with the hard march. The comrades will also remember what kind of food we had the morning we started out for Perryville. I remember very well what mine was and I think others fared about the same. It was flour mixed with water and baked on flat Rebel stones out of the creek where we camped. The men were hungry and worn out with the hot afternoon’s march. Captain Drury was very much worked up over the matter and remarked, “If this is the manner in which the soldier is to be treated, I’m ready to be cashiered.”

          But a little afterwards we had piled our knapsacks in a fence corner and formed line for the fight. Captain Drury had turned his mule over to someone else and was with drawn sword pushing on to battle. It was not but a short while when a Rebel bullet had done the awful work to our dear Captain Drury. The news of his death soon flashed along the line. I got the word from Captain Fred Walton of Co. C. His company and the one I belonged to adjoined and brought me not far from where he was. I chanced to look at one time to my left and saw Captain Walton kneeling down, one knee on the ground, and the other his elbow resting upon it, his face buried in his hand, weeping aloud. I stepped to him at once, wondering if he was hurt. He said in his weeping, “Captain Drury is killed, Captain Drury is killed.” The bullets were flying thick at the time.” ~ Private George W. Crane, Co. I, 94th O.V.I.

 Source:

“Twenty-Sixth Reunion of the 94th O.V.I.,” Miami Helmet (Ohio), October 14, 1897, pgs. 5 and 8

Comments

Most Popular Posts

Arming the Buckeyes: Longarms of the Ohio Infantry Regiments

Dressing the Rebels: How to Dye Butternut Jeans Cloth

Bullets for the Union: Manufacturing Small Arms Ammunition During the Civil War

The Vaunted Enfield Rifle Musket

Straw Already Threshed: Sherman on Shiloh

Charging Battery Robinett: An Alabama Soldier Recalls the Vicious Fighting at Corinth

A Fight for Corn: Eight Medals of Honor Awarded at Nolensville

In front of Atlanta with the 68th Ohio

The Legend of Leatherbreeches: Hubert Dilger in the Atlanta Campaign

Federal Arms in the Stones River Campaign