Wednesday, December 26, 2012

John Lindsey MacDonald, 7th., Michigan Cavalry.

Push to enlarge.
John Lindsey MacDonald. 

Co. "A."
Scriven, Minn.

Born at Rochester, Monroe County, N. Y., March 20th, 1849; enlisted at Flint, Genesee County, Mich., Feb. 18th, 1865, as Private in Co. "A," 7th Michigan Cavalry; mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, December 15th, 1865, and honorably discharged.
By J. L. MacDonald

In March, 1865, I was one of a squad sent into Loudon Valley, Va., to capture some Rebel officers that were reported to be at Leesburg. We reached there at night and made a capture of a few prisoners. The next morning we started on our return to Harper's Ferry. Comrade Hammond of Co. "A" and myself decided to make a tour of inspection on our own account; we had not gone more than two miles when we saw a Rebel officer coming toward us finely mounted. We wanted him and horse; he anticipating our intention rode up to a large farm house, dismounted and entered in great haste. We dismounted, keeping our horses between us and the house and succeeded in reaching his horse and leading him off. We had not gone far when several shots were fired after us, but we kept on our course until we came to a cross-road, where we met a colored woman who informed us that Mosby's men, under command of Captain White, were in pursuit of our detachment.
We put spurs to our horses and were soon at the bridge near Waterford. There we met a young Quaker lady whom we knew and who informed us that Mosby's men were in possession of the town and entreated us not to go through, but there was no other way for us to go. We could see through  a thin fringe of trees that lay between us and the town of one street, several men moving about. We decided to take a desperate chance and dash through by forcing our horses to their greatest speed and firing our carbines as we went. Everybody got off the street for us, but as soon as they recovered from their surprise several volleys were fired after us. On looking back we saw mounted men after us and a desperate race was kept up for a few miles, when they gave up the chase and we soon reached Harper's Ferry. The Provost General on learning of the fine horse we had captured ordered his guards to take him from us, notwithstanding my protest and the risk we had incurred to possess him.

On July 5th, 1865, our Regiment broke camp on the Big Blue River in Kansas. We began our march about three o'clock in the morning, as we had to reach Fort Kearney on the Platte River, which was nearly forty miles ahead of us, before we could go into camp again, as there was no water for ourselves or horses until we reached the Platte. The day was extremely hot and our canteens were soon empty ; we rode all day in that terrible heat and our sufferings and thirst became unbearable. About three p. m. we came to a ranch where there was a well and my Company broke ranks for it. I was one of the first to reach it, and in lowering the bucket it got caught on some timbers. I got on the rope to go down and unfasten it while comrades held the windlass. I had gone down but a few feet when the rope broke, letting me fall to the bottom, a distance of over one hundred feet. There was only about two feet of water. I was unconscious for a time, but the cold water no doubt brought me too, when I discovered that my comrades had lowered a rope which I tied around me and was hauled up and assisted to mount my horse; I rode with great difficulty to camp, and suffered for many days after.

In about a week after the accident we reached Julesburg, Colo. Ter., where on a very dark night I was put on picket. Was relieved at midnight and went to my quarters and Was soon fast asleep, but was soon disturbed by firing from the picket and the hurried command to fall in. In my crippledcondition I was prevented from moving fast and could not find my carbine, my Company was in line and I becoming desperate drew my sabre and took my place. The darkness prevented the officers knowing my sad predicament, so I escaped censure.

In August, 1865, I was one of a detail of eight men sent to guard a supply train from Fort Halleck to Bridgers Pass, Wyoming. On our return trip we had just gotten through Rattle Snake Pass when we noticed a cloud of dust rising to our right, which we concluded was caused by a herd of buffalos moving in that direction. We had gone but a few miles when we discovered our mistake, as we now realized that a large band of warriors were aiming to intercept us before we could reach Fort Halleck. We urged our horses to their utmost speed, but the Indians were fast gaining on us. My horse began to give out and I was falling to the rear and the Indians coming nearer every moment. It began to look hopeless for me, but I pushed on and reached the top of a ridge in view of the Fort, about a mile away, which gave me courage and my horse seemed to be inspired by my feelings and plunged forward as if he had received new life; in a few minutes I was quite near the Fort and safe.

No comments: