Ch 1: I Volunteered (06/05/1861 - 07/11/1861)
June 5, 1861
On the 5th of June in the little town of Scotland Greene Co., Indiana: I volunteered in defense of the most sacred rights of freedom and humanity. Yes! I volunteered to fight and if necessary to die for that flag that flitted through the smoke of battle in Bunker Hill, New Orleans, Buena Vista and Fort Sumpter.June 6, 1861
I left my Parents, Brothers and Sisters and "Sweet-Hearts" for Bloomfield and from there to the seat of war. Never shall I forget the last lingering look that I cast towards seven others that had volunteered with me, put up for the night. The friends of the Union gave us a hearty reception. I return my sincere and heart felt thanks for the kindness bestowed upon me by Mr. Cavins likewise Mizo Cavins.
June 7, 1861
We started for Terre-Haute where Cap. Cavins Company embarked one week before. He did not have his company quite full and was recruiting up. We arrived within fifteen miles of the city that day and put up for the night. We came into camp the next day about noon.
June 8, 1861
We were sworn in the same evening. Here we were drilled every day, Sunday excepted, eight hours per day.
June 30, 1861
The last of June we were removed to Indianapolis.
July 4, 1861
There was a great demonstration at the capitol city and we were marched up to the arsenal and received our Muskets (sic).
July 5, 1861
We took our departure from Hoosierdom to the old dominion.
When we passed through Muncie Town we received the heartiest welcome that it has ever been my good fortune to obtain. When we came to that beautiful little town as soon as the cars stopped there came the tug of war for the cars were immediately filled with delicious cakes, pies and all sorts of sweat meats, smoking tobacco, etc., etc., etc.
Colonel Kimball thanked them for their kindness. Before night we passed into Ohio at Union City.
Midnight we passed through Columbus, the capitol of Ohio. I was very sorry that I could not see it in day light.
Next morning about sunup, we crossed the Licking River at Zanesville. Here is where the hilly country set in.
July 6, 1861
In the evening we crossed the Ohio at Bellair into the Old Dominion. At almost every house we passed in Virginia that evening we were cheered and I almost fancied myself back in Indiana. We passed several tunnels and several towns that night.
July 7, 1861
Early in the morning we found ourselves at Grafton. There were several secesh prisoners here. At 10 O'clock we came to Clarksburgh. There were several other regiments here at this place. We started for the seat of war in Western Virginia. We traveled 7 miles at night and camped about 10 O’clock.
July 8, 1861
A little before daylight we took up a march and went 18 miles. The heat was very oppressive.
July 9, 1861
We arrived at Buchanan.
July 10, 1861
We took up our line of march and reached Middlefork Bridge and camped for the night.
The Sunday before there was a very severe skirmish took place here between 56 union men and about 300 rebels. There was one union man killed and several rebels. The rebels were routed.
July 11, 1861
Battle of Rich Mountain
We came to Rich Mountain a little before that battle commenced. There was about 10,000 United States troops here. The rebels were stationed on a high hill three miles east and had batteries erected. Accounts of their strength are different. Some say 2500 and I expect it is true. They were posted on each side of the road in a very commanding position. There was three or four of our regiments commenced the attack.
Our 14th Regiment was drawn out in line of battle for four hours to be ready if they should need us on the hill. We could see the smoke and hear the report of arms.
When the morning dawned the rebels were fleeing or had fled for they were many miles away.
We hastily took down our tents and started in pursuit. They left about fifty or sixty baggage wagons and 140 horses which we took of ours. About 200 were killed of the rebels and 20 or 30 of ours. We took several hundred prisoners.
Next installment: Cheat Mountain
Image Captions and Citations
- Owen Thomas Wright. At 19 years of age, Owen Thomas Wright volunteered to defend "the most sacred rights of freedom and humanity" on June 5, 1861. As a member of the 14th Indiana Volunteers, Company D, Owen was among the first to volunteer for a full enlistment term of three years.
- E.H.C. Cavins. When the war broke out Elijah H. Cavins recruited a company in Bloomfield. As the most prominent citizen in town, Cavins became captain of what would become Company D, Owen’s company.. The son of Judge Samuel Cavins, Elijah (who went by his initials, E. H. C.) was a Greene County attorney. Cavins and his wife had two children when he went to war. Owen’s captain distinguished himself as a capable leader. By the end of the war, Cavins earned the rank of major. (History of Green & Sullivan Counties).
- Bellair, Ohio. Owen crossed the Ohio River here on July 5, 1861 to enter Virginia, also known as the Old Dominion. (Leslies Weekly).
- Grafton, Virginia. Grafton served as McClellan’s headquarters during the fight to free western Virginia from Confederate control.
- Middlefork Bridge, West Virginia. Owen camped at Middlefork on his way to the rebellion. Portrayed here is the skirmish Owen referred to in his July 10 entry.
(Leslie’s Weekly, courtesy of West Virginia State Archives).
- Battle of Rich Mountain. Held in reserve at the Battle of Rich Mountain Owen and his companions got a taste of battle that made them "eager to test their punk." (West Virginia State Archives).