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United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 21st - MS 562: Transcripts

Transcripts - Box 13: Silas S. Canfield

August 23, 1866

Perrysburg, August 23, 1866

Col. A. McMahan

Dear Sir

Please find affidavit inclosed. No Charge.

Very Respectfully
S. S. Canfield

November 27, 1888

Scotch Ridge Nov 27/88

My Dear Col

Yours of the 24" reached me last evening.

I sincerely thank you for the pains taken; the news is so cheering. You could scarcely have surprised me with better.

Some individuals have been fully sensible of the service done by our Reg't at Chickamauga--among them are Gen Brannon [Brannan] and Col Moses Walker.

Gen Brannon's Aid told me that the Gen said he "never saw men fight like our Regt.

Col Walker at our reunion two years ago at Mt. Blanchard said "In answer to a question which has been asked me to day, I will say publicly what I have said probably fifty times, and that is, the 21st O saved the day at Chickamauga."

He also told us that in a conversation with Longstreet's Medical director the latter said that during the fight, in the afternoon, an Alabama Col rode up to Longstreet, saluted him and said, "Gen let me take a turn in there with my brigade".

"You can take a turn in, but you will take a turn out mighty quick" said Longstreet.

I may have told you the above before but it bears repeating.

I am pleased to know that we are not to be entirely forgotten or left out of the battle of Sept 20/63

I regret to hear your health is so poor.

I had hoped you might live long to see the prosperity of the country you helped to save.

My health is good.

Thanking you again for your kind notice I am
Truly Yours
Col A McMahan S.S. Canfield

June 3, 1889

Scotch Ridge June 3/89
Col. A McMahon

My Dear Col.

Some one had the kindness to send me a copy of the Toledo Commercial, containing an interview with yourself relative to the battle of Chickamauga, which I attribute to you, and for which please accept my thanks.

I am glad you still survive to protest against some of the errors attempted to be perpetuated as perpetuated as history.

At our last annual reunion Comstock,__,[sic] and I were appointed a committee to entreat you to write a history of the Reg't.

We agreed to call on you (in a body) and try to persuade you to undertake the task. I think it would be a pleasant task, if your health and time would permit.

I think there is an error as to the regiments that relieved ours on Snodgrass hill Sunday evening.

I think they were the 2" Minn and 22" Mich. I ordered the regiments up, and that was my understanding at the time, and I have recently corresponded with HM Bayliss [Bayless] of Concord Minn, of the 2" Minn, who writes me his regiment relieved the 24" O Sunday evening on the hill, but says he may be mistaken as to the no. of the Reg't. (The 24" O was in Grose's brigade, Crittendon's Corps.)

I am glad you mention so favorably the 9" O. It is deserving of all the praise you can give it, for attending to the enemy in its front.

Please take into consideration the writing of a history of our Reg't.

I have heard with much satisfaction of your improved health.

Hoping you may live long to see partial justice done to the brave regiment to which we belonged and enjoy the society of your Friends I am
Truly Yours
S.S. Canfield

June 7, 1889

Scotch Ridge June 7/89
Col A McMahon
Toledo O

Dear Col:

Your kind letter of the 5" is at hand.

I write to say I have received all the papers you mention for which many thanks. I cannot see why Lt Vance writes as he does.

Gen Moses Walker in his address to us at our reunion at Mt. Blanchard said Col. Stoughton being detatched from his brigade and division said he would take orders from him (Gen Walker) and I understand we moved from our position at the peach orchard where our line faced east to the one farther west and fronting to the south by Gen Walker's direction.

I think too Col Stoughton was not clear in his mind as to the position he ought to occupy For you recollect he marched and countermarched us under fire. I thought the men were getting somewhat panicky, and I said to Col Stoughton, "if we maneauver these men much longer under fire I fear we will lose control of them". "Give us a position to hold and we will hold it; give us an enemy to charge and we will charge them" "But men will not stand fire from the rear". I said this to him a very few minutes before he gave us the position which we held.

From the foregoing facts I concluded Col Stoughton in part chose his own position.

Col Walker farther said he had been asked that day if he ever said that the 21st saved the day at Chickamauga. He said he would say publicly what he had said probably fifty (50) times privately, that he "believed the 21st did save the day at Chickamauga"

There is no question as to the position we occupied in the line of battle: we were on the right of the third (Col Vanderveer's [Van Derveer]) brigade of Brannon's [Brannan] division, and on the left of Whitaker's brigade of Steedman's division; consequently we were the extreme right when the first charge was made on our line Sunday morning. Had the rebels routed us they would been in Thomas' rear, and nothing could have saved his army. Thomas' head quarters were at Snodgrass' house.

Later Steedman formed on our right with Whittaker's (first) brigade next to our regiment.

By Whose order the 22" Mich and 2" Minn were sent to our support I do not know. The 2" Minn was in Vanderveer's brigade; the 22" Mich was in the third (3) brigade of Steedman's division.

I think they had not been long in our rear until I ordered them to the front.

Capt Alban reported to me that his men were getting out of ammunition and I rode back to order Spafford to send for ammunition immediately. He said he had sent in every direction and could not find any that could be used in our guns.

(While on my way back to the front my horse was shot.) Remembering the mistake made at Stone river by which our Regiment became scattered I ordered each of the Company commanders to send his men to the depression in the ground, where Vanderveer found us, as fast as they were out of ammunition, and we would form there and march together to the rear.

When our line was not stronger that a skirmish line I ordered up the regiments in reserve.

Bayliss writes me that while the Col. Of his regiment the 2" Minn was talking with Gen Thomas it was reported that all the field officers of the 24" (21st) Ohio were killed and there was a shout for the ranking Capt & c.

By this it seems the regiment (2" Minn) came by way of Gen Thomas head quarters, Snodgrass house.

Why Vance should say "This hill was held by the 21" Ohio 89 Ohio and 22 Mich all day against Longstreet's veterans" I can't see for he ought to know better and he ought to know too it is impossible to make any one with knowledge of the situation believe it.

Bayliss was not commander of the 2" Minn and he too belongs to the class who are desirous of telling something when they know nothing. I wrote him, for he advertised in the Blade to tell what became of a boy who was wounded that Sunday afternoon while the 2" Minn was lying in reserve.

The boy was near the 2" and I supposed he belonged to it. Bayliss wrote me he saw the boy on his hands and knees trying to get up--he helped him up up and the boy went to the rear. That is all he knew, but he supposed the boy had his death wound. (he was shot in the left cheek but Bayliss did'nt know where he was struck) and some fond mother had been mourning for him all these days and he wanted to tell her, her darling was killed at Chickamauga. He represented the boy as about twelve years old.

Like yourself I am sorely vexed to read the misapprehensions exaggerated and false statements made about the late war.

Lt Vance must be practicing to become a writer of fiction.

I have wanted to visit you and Toledo for a long time. I have not been in the city since I called on you.

My health is good.

With my best wishes for you and yours I am
S.S. Canfield

P.S. Gen Steedman told me he ordered our reg't retired Sunday evening but [we failed to get-crossed out] the order did not reach us.

June 11, 1889

Scotch Ridge Jun 11/89

My Dear Col

Yours of the 8 and paper are rec'd, and in answer will say I have forgotten if I knew Col. Walker was in arrest.; but I find Col. Connell commanded Walker's brigade at Chickamauga.

My recollection is that Walker did not say that he gave Col. Stoughton orders at Chickamauga but that Col Stoughton said he would take orders from Walker: from which I inferred Walker gave him orders. It seems to me as I recall the past, Capt Alban after the first charge made on us by Hindman's division spoke to me about relieving Co's A & F and I said to him I would do it if I were he. If I am right it was before Col Stoughton was wounded. During the first charge I was with my company: After Col Stoughton was wounded and told me to take his horse and assist you in command of the regiment I was on or near the line during the rest of the day.

But how Vance or any one else could try to get any great glory out of a little thing like that I am unable to see.

I had my way several times in opposition to my superior officer and always thought I was right but I never thought I ought to be considered great because of it.

Did you read Rebel Gen D.H. Hill's account of the battle of Chickamauga published in the Apr. number of the Century 1887?

If you have not it would interest you, and if you wish I can bring it when I come to the city.

He gives a particular account of the fight at Snodgrass hill with maps and illustrations. And characterizes it as "some of the severest fighting" at Chickamauga.

Sorry to hear you are not in good health.

Hoping to see you ere long I am
Very Respectfully
Col A McMahan S.S. Canfield

July 6, 1889

Scotch Ridge July 6/89

Dear Col

Returning home from a visit to my daughter I found your kind letter of the 13 Inst. also the paper from Lt Vance probably the last we shall see from him concerning the battle of Chickamauga.

I do not know how to suitably express my thanks to you for the very great compliment you pay me for the part taken by me in that battle.

I take it to mean that I not only did my duty as I understood it but also that I discharged my duty to the entire satisfaction of my superior officer, whom we all know to be bold, fearless and intrepid--brave sometimes even to rashness and who never failed to admire a fearless discharge of duty in others.

To present you my thanks but feebly express my sense of gratitude and appreciation of your good opinion.

I return herewith corrected list. Transferring Wm R Forrest to the survivors and Thomas Forrest to the list of died and adding Elbridge Wetmore.

Hoping ere long to see you I am as ever
Yours Truly
Col A McMahon S.S. Canfield

P.S. I doubt whether many of the survivors of the 89 O and 22 Mich could be convened. Personal notice would be necessary and addresses hard to get, yet if you think best we will try it.

If I had the address of the officers I would write them (though it would be better for you to do it) and see what we can get from them.

Gen Foraker would give us the 89 addresses but I do not know who to write to of the 22. Think of it S.S.C.

July 18, 1889

Scotch Ridge July 18, 1889

My Dear Col.

Yours of the 16' with article in Cin. Com Gazette of June 11 are at hand.

In writing my recollections of the operation of our Regt on Sunday Sept 20 1863 allow me to say

We left the line we held the night of the 19" early in the morning of the 20" and marched some distance north when we returned to the position we had left but did not remain long, until we started gain marched to Snodgrass hill passing north of his house we took a position in the peach orchard or in front of it our line facing east.

We reached this position about 9 a.m.

About 11 we took another position south and a little west of Snodgrass house and some 40 or 60 rods from it our line fronting the south. We took this position under the enemy's fire and were scarcely in position when we were furiously assaulted by the enemy, I understand Hindmans division. This charge was repulsed by our Reg't alone. There were no troops on our right, and none on our left if it is true as Gen Boynton says "that Van Derveer's whole line went to the crest of the Snodgrass Hill at the same time that Steedman's troops moved to the summit," for it was near 3 p m when Steedman formed on our right, Whitaker's brigade next to our reg't.

When the first charge mentioned above was made I was in command of my company and noticed but little except my duties in connection with my company--later while assisting in the command of the Reg't my opportunities were greater for more extended observation and my attention was directed several times to the conduct of the Reg't on our left which I was told was the 9" Ohio. I saw them charge the enemy twice, gallantly, but they were driven back both times to their original position in the line of battle, and I was near enough to hear them talk in the German language with great animation, each time after their return. I think there is no doubt as to the identity of this Reg't--that the 9" Ohio was on our left (Join next page to this)

I cannot see the propriety of the appellation "flying brigade."

Our Reg't certainly formed no part of a "flying brigade." We fought until the men were out of ammunition, when we were relieved. We were attatched to no temporary command--no officers were over us--no officer gave us any orders after we took position on the Hill fronting south until the order for the last charge; and who gave us our position or by whose order we moved from the peach orchard I do not know.

Gen. B says--"Van Derveer's brigade *** reached Horseshoe Ridge simultaneously with Steedman's division and forming on its left the fought their way to the crest together."

"Soon after the right regiment of Van Derveer's brigade namely the 35" Ohio relieved the 21" Ohio and this latter regiment withdrew behind the crest and rested a brief space from its severe fighting."

There are few things of which I feel more certain than that our regiment was relieved by the 2" Minn and 22" Mich.

I ordered them forward into the fight. H. M. Bayliss [Bayless] of Concord Minn wrote me that the 2" Minn relieved the 24" Ohio but admits he might be mistaken as to the number of the regiment while his description convinces me it was the 2" Minn. That relieved us in part. To settle the question I will write the officers of the 89 Ohio. I do not know where to address any of the 22" Mich.

As to who gave the order for the last charge, I must plead ignorance and make a little confession which may prove me not in line of duty at the time.

When Col. Stoughton's horse was shot I took off the saddle bridle and holsters and laid them down by a tree.

After the regiment had fallen back to the sheltered position, I left and went in search of the holsters with a view of restoring the pistols to the col. And when I returned the Reg't was about ready to move again to the front.

I did not hear the order given nor see the man who gave it unless I saw him going or coming and if I saw him he did not attract my attention.

I think further I would not have known Vanderveer from Lefever

Mahony saw him, heard the order given, and protested against it.

I will see Mahony and if he knows who ordered the charge I will write you again.

Is it not possible you were mistaken in the man or his name?

I do not think Lefever gave you the order in question.

When I ordered the regiments into the fight I called for the commander of the regiment and in each instance he got up from among the men and I said to each in turn--"You will move your regiment forward and occupy the line held by our Reg't or words to that effect: and each in turn called "attention" & c

Who responded to the call as regimental commanders I do not know--I would not give the rank even of either.

I do not htink there is any question as to the movement of the Reg't after it was ordered forward the last time but as you say who is responsible for the order.

Of two things I am certain in my own mind viz; that our position was on right of the 9" Ohio and on the left of Whitaker; and the other is we were relieved by the 2" Minn & 22" Mich.

I may annoy you by thus going over the whole ground and I may not have answered the request made in your letter.

I have mentioned places and hours as I remember them.

My recollection is that Col Stoughton was wounded before or about noon and that we retired from the line of battle about 5 p m. You can compare my recollections with yours.

I will write to some of the 89 O and will see Mahony. I have great confidence in Mahony as cool brave and considerate.

Still hoping to see you soon I am
Very Truly Yours
S. S. Canfield

September 10, 1889

Scotch Ridge Sept 10 /89

My Dear Col.

The 3" inst I wrote you on a postal card that
Robert Forrest
George W. Hathaway
Geo. Myers and
Jno. W. Pember of my Company were wounded at Chickamauga.

The postal was not sent:

Thanks for paper containing address

Lt Patterson was thrown from a buggy and killed Sept 4" inst.

About 5 pm he started with his wife and her grand child for a drive

In passing a show ground the horse took fright and threw him out over the fore wheel. When reached by men near he was unconscious and remained so until he died at 8-30

He leaves no children.

Hoping your health is improving I am
Truly Yours
Col. A. McMahan S S Canfield

MS 562: Introduction | Transcript List
MS 562 Series Description: MS 562: Introduction | 86th O.V.I. Records | Arnold McMahan Papers
MS 562 Abstracts: Part 1 (McMahan Correspondence) | Part 2 (Box 12) | Part 3 (Box 13) | Inventory
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