The Evening Star, Washington, D.C., July 11, 1907.

Unveiling of Memorial Stone

Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens.


Members of Company K, 150th Regiment Ohio Volunteers.


Address by Mr. W. V. Cox.

History of the Monument by Asa Cannon.

A handful of survivors of Company K, 150th Ohio Volunteers, gathered at the Battle Ground National cemetery shortly before noon today and unveiled a memorial stone to the memory of the dead of their company, who fell at the battle of Fort Stevens, District of Columbia. July 11 and 12. Especially commemorated was the sacrifice of life of Private William E. Leach, the first of the company to fall. He was shot on the skirmish line. July 11.

The ceremonies were opened with prayer by the Rev. James Hayes Laird, first sergeant of Company K. now residing at Hinsdale, Mass. An address was delivered by W. V. Cox, president of the Second National Bank, and the story of the monument, the plan for its erection and how it was carried out, was told by Asa Cannon, former private in Company K, now residing at Lakewood, Ohio.

The monument is a large block of Quincy granite with one side polished, bearing a memorial inscription to the dead of company K. When the assembly was called to order the survivors of the regiment in attendance were Lieut. Col. Frazee of Cleveland, Ohio; Chaplain Laird of Hinsdale, Mass.; Dr. Dwight Burrell of Canandaigua. N. Y.; F. J. McWade of Philadelphia, and Mr. J. C. Cannon of this city. Gen. Thomas M. Vincent. U.S.A., retired, who was prominently identified with the work of the War Department at the time of the battle, was also present. Col. Frazee acted as the chairman of the unveiling exercises.

Mr. Cox's Address.

Chaplain Laird delivered the invocation, and Mr. Cox was introduced as the principal speaker.

“The voluntary offer of 85,000 troops to President Lincoln in April, 1864, by the governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois. Iowa and Wisconsin.” said Mr. Cox, “made it possible to end the civil war earlier than otherwise.

“The 150th Ohio was one of the thirty regiments of that great state that answered promptly to the call, and the quick response should in itself endear the members of this regiment to the patriotic citizens of the country.

“It was a great honor to belong to any Ohio regiment, for officers and men were good soldiers, and at the close of the war the ranking commanders of the Union army were generally from the Buckeye state.

“It was a privilege to belong to Company K, 150th O. N. G., composed, as it was, of college boys from Oberlin; brilliant boys of a serious nature who inspired by a sacred duty, were soldiers from choice, and here where you were encamped you are still remembered as gentlemen.

“When the country's capital was threatened by Gen. Early in 1864 you boys held the place of honor at Fort Stevens, on the crest of yonder hill.

“I rejoice that after forty-three years some of you are able to return, and in peace erect a monument to the memory of your brave companions at a spot on the battlefield that at that time would have been certain death.

“We remember that one of your company, W. E. Leach, was the first Union soldier in this battle to be struck by the deadly minie ball; that your comrades died from disease contracted here in line of duty.

Ten Boy Soldiers Die.

“The records show that ten of the hopeful boy soldiers of your regiment died here; all except one were buried at Arlington. Five of the nine belonged to your company. They were: W. E. Leach, Corp E. A. Ells, E. L. Beach, H. A. Cowles and John Monroe.

“The others were: Corp. W. H. Wyman, Company C; Henry Krum, Company D; A. M. Parker, Company H; Arthur Wight. Company G, and Charles Perkins, whose remains were taken to Cleveland by loving friends.

“I wish that your fallen comrades had been buried in this little cemetery, on ground consecrated by their own blood.

“A tablet placed by Fort Stevens-Lincoln Military Park Association as a temporary marker on the old earthworks says: ‘On July 10, 1864, Fort Stevens was garrisoned by Company K, 150 O.N.G., commanded by Capt. Safford; a portion of the 13th Michigan Battery, by Capt. Dupont, and convalescents from various branches of the service *Lieut. H. L. Turner, numbering in all 209 men.’

“We have been trying to save Fort Stevens from physical destruction, and we feel that the ground should be acquired by the government before the centennial of the Birthday of the Great Lincoln.

*Lieut. Turner, 150 O. N. G., was then but nineteen years old during the war with Spain he was colonel of the 1st Illinois Regiment.

Mr. Lincoln's Presence

“Mr. Lincoln's presence on the parapet was to encourage you young and inexperienced soldiers to do your full duty, and by so doing prevent Gen. Early capturing Washington.

“The capital was saved to the Union!

“What an honor to have fought in the presence of Lincoln, the commander-in-chief!

“What a heritage to transmit to posterity!

“The monument shows what you college boys from Ohio did. It is a lasting tribute to your patriotism and a memorial to the lives of your comrades laid down as a sacrifice for the Union.

“We welcome you to Battleground cemetery, made sacred by the remains of many who fell lighting to save the capital.

“We welcome you to Fort Stevens, where President Lincoln welcomed you, where the state of the nation hung trembling in the balance.

“We welcome you to Brightwood amid peaceful surroundings, trees and happy homes, in great contrast to denuded fields and forests, camps, smoldering ruins of houses, rifle trenches and the bristling abattis of more than forty years ago.

“Welcome to historic and modern Brightwood.”

Reminiscences of the Day.

The Rev. James Hayes Laird, who served as first sergeant of Company K, 15Oth Ohio National Guard, read reminiscences of the battle, as follows:

“Our company was formed in Oberlin at the beginning of the war. It became a part of the Ohio National Guard and continued its drill until called out as “Hundred Days” men, in May, 1864. We then became a part of the 150th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Col. W. H. Hayward, eight companies of which were enlisted from Cleveland, Ohio. Our company was made up largely of students of Oberlin College.

“We arrived in Washington Saturday, May 14, 1864, and were quartered at a place called ‘Soldiers' Rest,’ on ground not far from the site of the new union railroad station.

“Several of us went next morning to a service in the Capitol, at which Rev. Byron Sunderland was the preacher. During the service a message was brought to us that marching orders had come to the camp.

“We moved north from the Capitol in the direction of the Soldiers' Home. As we passed the cemetery the sight of a field of fresh-made graves was rather sobering to men unused to the sweep of war's untimely scythe. Even the colonel thought a song was needed and asked for it from the regiment, but the strain,

“John Brown's body
Lies mouldering in the ground.”

was no more exhilarating than the field of graves.

“Company K was assigned to Fort Slocum.

“May 22 we were removed to Fort Thayer and June 8 to Slocum again. June 15 we went to Fort Bunker Hill, July 4 we were sent to Fort Stevens where we remained until the 31st, after which we were assigned to Fort Saratoga until our return to Ohio, August 12.

“A common soldier is expected to know little more than he sees, so our first intimations that we were likely to have a chance to fight came from the passing of cavalry scouts northward July 9. Singularly enough some of these cavalrymen were led by Gen. A. B. Nettleton, afterward an assistant secretary of the treasury, who had once been orderly sergeant of Company K.

“As these are intended to be personal reminiscences details of the general movements of July 11 and 12 will not be attempted. Sunday, the 10th, about noon, the Black Horse Cavalry escort of the President dashed up to our position, Lincoln hastily left his barouche, entered the fort, and passing from gun to gun, looked out upon the Field it covered. In his long, yellowish linen coat and unbrushed high hat he looked like a care-worn farmer in time of peril from drouth and famine.

“Company K was put in line to salute him as he passed out. His hat was drawn down upon his ear in recognition but he was too anxious to smile at the men.

“In the evening of that hot Sunday we took it kindly to be moved from our board-bottomed bunks in the barracks to bed on the grass in the fort.

Battle Opens.

“When the morning of Monday, the 11th, dawned bright and hot we in the fort seemed to be ‘waiting 'round’ until 10 o'clock, then came the excitement of brattle. The commandant of the fort, standing on the lookout, called loudly, ‘Charge the guns!’ Pointing up the turnpike he added, ‘See that cloud of dust. The enemy will be down upon us in half an hour!’

“There was a scurrying to the magazines with a confusion of calls. ‘I want shell;’ ‘24-pound;’ ‘30-pound;’ ‘I want solid shot,’ etc.

“This was the hour when the Confederate general, Jubal Early, disclosed a force on the 7th street road near the Lay or Carberry house, quite within the range of our guns. This was, as we learned, Rodes' division of infantry flanked by cavalry. Early, it is said, rode in the front, saw the fort, and ordered Rodes to advance and take it. When the guns were charged we had time to see our pickets in the distance firing and falling back. For some of us this was the first powder we had seen burned in battle.

“Wagons loaded with house furniture, chicken coops and excited women, were coming within the lines. Some of our boys with torches stood beside houses near the fort to burn them in case of the enemy's near approach. Some of our picket men came into the defenses and were assigned places at guns, but they were not all there.

“It was asked, ‘Where is Bedient and Hudson, Leach?’ ‘Ah! Leach was wounded. We got him up behind a cavalryman who carried him to Fort Slocum.’ Leach died the 13th. There had been talk among us about a chance to go to the front, but now the front had come to us.

Defense Inadequate.

“We were conscious that our defense was inadequate. We knew little of the reinforcements that were centering in upon us. We did not know that Wright and Emory were near at hand with their tried veterans. Like Elisha's frightened servant, our surprised eyes were soon opened to see men filling the breastworks that united the forts and forming for advances upon the rebels.

“Word came from the skirmish line that ammunition was needed. An old buggy was loaded. Four men were to push it down the pike past the old tollgate house. This was exposure to which few men in that action were called. With sad apprehension I read off the detail, ‘Morgan, Todd van Antwerp,’ and another who cannot be recalled. George K. Nash, late governor of Ohio for two terms, told me not long since that he drew a big breath of relief when I stopped reading, for the next name was his. The boys came back unscathed, but that buggy was riddled, bed and spokes.

“During the battle I was in command of a gun at the angle between the old and new parts of the fort.

“In connection with the separating wall of the parts was a lookout, joined to the wall on its west side and to the parapet on the north or front. A small group of persons stood upon this lookout, which was about ten feet from our gun and perhaps eight feet above it. The central figure was President Lincoln. Near the President was a uniformed man whom we afterward learned was an army surgeon. The party were looking out upon the battlefield. Minie balls were singing about us.

Surgeon Wounded.

“Bedient, hot with excitement, had just come in from the picket line with a bullethole in his hat. Scarce knowing what he said he called out: ‘President Lincoln, you had better come down: the rebels will shoot you.’ A few minutes later I saw the surgeon fall. They picked him up, and drew up his trousers. I could see the blood flowing from the calf of his leg. Those upon the lookout hurried down and disappeared.

“This casualty seems to have occurred in the early afternoon of the 11th. Some of our boys who brought in prisoners said the captured men told them Lincoln was seen from the cupola of a house, was recognized and fired at. He may have been seen through a field glass and recognized on account of his stature and peculiar form.

“About 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the 12th we were told to fire five rounds from the fort, mostly at two houses, the Carberry, or Lay, on the west and the Reeves on the east of the turnpike, about three-fourths of a mile from the fort. For some time before the firing we saw a movement of troops in the grove to the northeast — officers dismounted and men hidden mostly by the shrubbery. It was at the time when Bidwell's detachment of the Sixth Corps was ordered to move toward the rebel lines.

“Soon our lines of men drew out to the open and crept along the slope north westward and lay upon the ground. The time had come for our volleys. A shaking roar went up from Fort Stevens, and also from Slocum on the east and DeRussy on the west. Shell and shot flew over the heads of the prostrate men of our battle line.

Enemy In Disorder.

“The Lay house was soon in flames. The forces of the enemy massed behind it were seen scattering in disorder into the open field beyond. The 6th Corps men sprang to their feet, and in orderly ranks loaded and fired as they charged upon the rebel line. The musketry continued until after nightfall.

“In the darkness I went to the barracks in the rear of the fort. Ambulances were coming in. A man was limping out of one of them. I gave him my shoulder to help him down. As we came into better light I noted that his uniform was gray. He begged that I would not allow his leg to be taken off. ‘I have a wife and six children in Carolina.‘ We stretched the struggling man on the table. ‘No help for you’ Said the surgeon; ‘If it were one of our own soldiers we should do the same; the knee is shattered.’ Sadly I consented to hold the sponge to his face. A stretcher pressed against my limb. I looked down and saw a brave fellow in his last gasp. By the walls dead men were piled like cords of wood. The tables were filled with mangled men under surgeons' hands.

“By 11 that night the conflict ended.

“In the morning of the 13th, Corp. Warner, now known as Dr. Lucien C. Warner of New York city, and I went over to the Reeves house to see the effect of shells he had fired. One, which we could trace to his gun, had passed through the building without exploding, and on Its way cut off the leg of a piano. Patches of tin on the south side or the houses still cover the bullet holes made forty-three years ago.

“One sad ‘after-the-battle’ sight was the men of the gallant 3d Brigade gathering there dead comrades from the field and laying them in their gory garments in a trench cut near our fort. One-fourth of their number, we were told —a quarter of the men of that little brigade— had fallen in the charge upon Early's forces.

Raw Troops, But Brave.

“Our men of Company K were, in a sense, raw troops, yet in this battle they bore the aspect of calm courage. Of this company were the central picket lines when the enemy approached. It thrills me as I recall their soldierly bearing, the ardor of their courage, their stubborn holding of the ground, the caution of their retreat when they found they must fall back I remember the heroism of the plea some of them made to be allowed to enter the ranks of other bodies of soldiers which were advancing to meet the charge of the southern men. Several of them served in this way.

“The years have passed, and every year the significance of the battle of Fort Stevens has grown upon men who have studied it. The purpose of Gen. Early to enter the capital; the means he had to accomplish it; the almost certainty that he could do it; the narrow margin of time by which resisting help came, are thoughts that quicken the heart beat of every lover of his country.

Issue Involved.

“It Is not a light thing to think of the destruction of national records and buildings; the effect upon northern and southern hope; the effect upon the nations, balancing in favor toward the Union or the Confederacy. Much of this hung upon the issue of the battle of Fort Stevens. Men who manned her guns in that crisis may well be remembered by their comrades.

“Along with those who did the more perilous fighting in the open field the nation may fitly perpetuate the memory of those who sent home shell and cannon ball.

“The individual worth of Company K boys has been manifest as the years have gone by. Some of them continued in the war. The private became the captain; the lieutenant was found upon the general's staff; the captain was made a colonel. One was twice chosen governor of his state. In the pulpit, the professor's chair and on the judge's bench, among the men of wealth and worth in business are to be found the boys of Company K.

Contents of the Box

At the close of Mr. Cox's address, Mr. J. C. Cannon told the story of the valor of the regiment, after Chaplain Laird read his paper, and a box was placed in the crypt of the monument and sealed. The box contained record (printed) of service of Company K, photos and autographs of members of company, camp inkstand, personal souvenir of John Munro, blue print of memorial stone and photos of President Roosevelt and Vice President Fairbanks.

The following from Mr. W. V. Cox: “The Defenses of Washington,” second edition, by W. V. Cox. 1907. Success, July. 1900, “When Lincoln Was under Fire,” illustrated. W. V. Cox; “The part John Garrett took in saving Washington from capture by Gen. early.“ Royal Blue Book, July, 1901, illustrated; Senate bill, 6265 by Senator Warner, “To establish a national military park at the battleground of Fort Stevens, in the District of Columbia,” “Fort Stevens-Lincoln National Military Park with maps,” report U. S. Senate, Fiftyseventh Congress, first session, document 433, points of interest and map of the national capital today, 1907; points of historic interest, thirty-sixth national encampment, Grand Army of the Republic, 1902; programs Memorial days at Battleground cemetery, 1900-1907; Flag day program, Fort Stevens, June 14. 1900; collection of Union and Confederate bullets, minie balls, slugs, cartridges, buttons, etc., picked up on the Fort Stevens battlefield, presented by Emery Cox. Brightwood, D. C.; collection of memorial badges worn at Battle Ground cemetery, from Miss Hazel. Cox; collection of pictures, from Mrs. W. V. Cox — President Lincoln (Rice, photographer); night at Fort Stevens, July 11. 1864 showing Lincoln on horseback; Washington in 1864. picture of Lincoln and Gen. Wright at Fort Stevens (James E. Kelly), pictures of Gen. Horatio G. Wright, Gen. Jubal Early, Confederate outpost as appears today. Fort Stevens as it appears today. Early's cavalry at New Windsor, Md., July, 1864, and Washington during war time, souvenir of thirty-sixth annual encampment, G. A. R., 1902; from Col. John McElroy. cartridges, army and navy buttons of United States Army, 1907, pass used during civil war; maps of defenses of Washington 1864; from Theodore S. Cox, copy of Evening Star of July 10 and 11, 1907 and other newspapers.

Exercises Tomorrow.

Members of the Association of Quartermaster Volunteers of the Civil War will tomorrow visit the reservation on the Brightwood road set apart to commemorate that battle, and will review the scenes of that memorable day when the Confederate forces came so near the capital. It has been the annual custom for years for these volunteers to celebrate July 12, but as their ranks are thinning it is expected that the celebration this year will consist only of a visit to the site of Fort Stevens and a recital of their experience forty three years ago. The association was only recently organized in a formal way. It was first proposed at a meeting of eleven of the volunteers, called together by a special notice in The Star, but the number soon grew to fortynine, and the evening of June 17 last that number gathered in the office of K. S. Beresford, 18 F street northwest, and formed a permanent organization. The officers are: President, C. J. Magill; vice president, William A. Clarke; secretary, Joseph Acton; treasurer, R. Beresford; marshal, Henry LeDuc.

The quartermaster volunteers had a most unique part in the defense of the Union and of the capital. They were first called out under “Special Orders, No. 218,” issued from army headquarters. September 2, 1862. The order was as follows:

“By direction of the President, all clerks and employes in the public buildings in Washington will be immediately organized into companies, under the direction of Brig. Gen Wadsworth, and will be armed and supplied with ammunition for the defense of the capital.”

Companies Formed.

Under that order, it is declared, about 2,700 civilians of the District and Alexandria were organized into companies and regiments and were given the necessary arms. The organization was not kept up more than a year; but when it was reported early in July, 1864, that Gen. Early with a large command of troops was marching on the capital the need for these men was recognized. Accordingly, July 9. 1864, Brig Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, quartermaster general, United States Army, ordered that the clerks and workmen employed by the quartermaster department in the District and Alexandria be armed, and late that day these troops were reported to Maj. Henry Halleck, chief of staff, as ready for such service as was required of them. The volunteers were told first to relieve the soldier guards placed over the quartermaster supplies and of the public buildings in the District, thus enabling the soldiers there to go to the front. There were more than enough for that service, and the remainder —about 1,500— were sent to Maj. Gen McCook at Fort Stevens. The men were stationed along a line of rifle pits extending for about a mile between Fort Stevens and Fort Totten. They were posted there the night of July 11 and lay on their arms all night. With other companies that arrived the night of the 11th, including parts of the 6th and 19th Army Corps, there were about 5,000 on the defense line in front of Washington. Gen. Early attacked with a force estimated at about 30,000 men.

A battalion of three companies of quartermaster's men of the depot of Washington were engaged in a skirmish In front of Fort Stevens the 12th. One man was instantly killed, and John Runders, member of Company B, was wounded in the arm.

The quartermaster volunteers fought all day the 12th and remained on duty in the trenches until after the 13th, when the enemy disappeared, and the 14th they were marched back to the city and returned to their regular duties. Their organization was continued, however.

Lauded by Gen. Meigs.

Regarding the service of the quartermaster volunteers at that battle, when the capital of the nation was endangered. Gen. Meigs said in a report soon afterward:

“The whole civil force of the quartermaster's department on military duty on this occasion was about 2,700 men. I have to express my satisfaction with the conduct, of both the soldiers and civilians under my command. Though hastily organized and equipped, they moved promptly at the call of danger. I had no occasion to inflict punishment or administer reproof during the time they were under my observation, and they were useful in the defense of the capital, seriously threatened by a considerable rebel army under skillful and experienced leaders. Those who were on duty in the city relieved at least an equal number of trained soldiers and enabled them to go to the front, while those who were placed in the entrenchments extended the line of battle fully a mile to the right of the center of attack, and by their presence and bearing, standing on the parapets and exposing themselves, perhaps more than more experienced soldiers would have done, they convinced the enemy that the fortifications of Washington were not unmanned.”

The inscription upon the monument is as follows: “Memorial to Com. K. O. N G. I., which took part in the defense of Fort Stevens. D. C., July 12. 1864.” At the close of the exercises Chaplain Laird offered prayer.

It appears from the statement of an eyewitness of the contest between the men of the opposing armies under Gens. Wright and Early that the last man killed was a Mississippi rifleman who had lingered behind the retiring Confederates to get a few shots at the approaching soldiers in blue. While retreating through the Blair Lee grounds near the old mansion he was stricken down by a flying bullet, and crawled into a nearby thicket to die. There his remains were found some time later, and were interred on the spot, a small monument being erected to mark the last resting place of the southern sharpshooter. On each recurring Memorial day loving hands garland the grave of the unidentified soldier with flowers.

Unveiling of Memorial Stone, The Evening Star, July 11, 1907, Page 8. (PDF)