Sunday, January 06, 2013

Martin V. Wert

Martin V. Wert was born in Fountain County, Indiana, July 17, 1841, his parents being Henry and Isabelle Wert. The principal part of his life prior to his entry into the army was spent on the farm. He attended the county schools, and graduated in the Fountain County High School in 1860.

October I, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company B, Tenth Indiana Infantry, and served with that organization until September 5, 1864, at which time he was transferred to Company B, Fifty-Eighth Indiana Infantry, serving in that organization until November 1, 1864, at which time he was honorably mustered out of the service, having served three years and one month. His company received the brunt of battle at Perryville, being on the left of the regiment and suffered the heaviest loss of any company in the regiment, of four killed and seven wounded. After- the regiment left Tuscumbia, Ala., in July, 1862, and stopped for a few days near Huntsville, Ala., Lieutenant Snyder, M. V. Wert and Fleet Martin, Company B, with two men from each of the other companies of the regiment, and ten men from the Fourth Kentucky, ten from the Tenth Kentucky and ten from the Fourteenth Ohio, were detailed to take a special train of ten cars and get 500 bales of cotton at Decatur, Ala., some forty miles down the Tennessee River. The men were told to take sixty rounds of ammunition and one day's rations.

They were given to understand that they must not be captured. They were to be ready to start at 3 o'clock a. m., which was before daylight at that time. They were also told that 500 of our cavalry had gone to the same place, starting at noon the day before, and that a heavy wagon train had gone with the cavalry. The men started, got the cotton on the train, running very slow and making no noise on the way there, but on the way back the engine and soldiers made plenty of noise.  The detail arrived safely with the cotton. They saw large numbers of the "Johnnies" at a distance and used plenty of ammunition on them. A large force of our cavalry was scattered at points along the line which saved the detail from being killed or captured. They pressed in a large number of  "darkies" to handle arid load the cotton, throwing out pickets in all directions on all roads to prevent a surprise, but the pickets were not attacked until on the way back, when squads of Confederate cavalry would be seen at some distance away. They fired on the train, but a few shots from the Enfield rifles would soon drive them out of sight. This raid was widely reported in the papers at the time and strongly condemned by the rebel press. The brigade wagon master, W. K. Harris, Company B, Tenth Indiana, had been sent with the cavalry to gather in the cotton and he stated he was glad we came for it because he did not believe he could have returned to the army without being captured.

M. V. Wert, who had charge of the squad from the Tenth Indiana and was posted on one of the roads on the outskirts of the town while the cotton was being loaded. He also had charge of one car of cotton on the return and made a barricade of cotton bales at the car doors for protection. It required a great deal of tact and courage to carry out the orders given. On another occasion he was selected for a very perilous and hazardous job, which was to take a large drove of cattle from Marietta to Atlanta in the early part of September, 1864. The distance was some 25 or 30 miles. The detail consisted of some 300 men. They were two days getting through, being compelled to skirmish with the rebels the whole distance. At times it looked as though the enemy would capture the bunch, but our cavalry came out and cleared the road the emainder of the way to Atlanta. When the regiment returned home Wert was transferred to the Fifty-Eighth Indiana, with which command he served the remainder of his three years, being discharged November 1, 1864.

After the close of the war he learned the carpenter trade and moved to Crawfordsville in 1870. and has been in the contracting business ever since; was elected to the Common Council of the city of Crawfordsville for the term of two years in 1901 ; was elected Mayor of Crawfordsville for four years, taking his office January 1, 1910, and is at the present time occupying that position. He was elected First Lieutenant, Company D, First Regiment, Indiana National Guard, in August, 1887, serving in this organization three years. This company was transferred to the Second Regiment. I. N. G.. and assigned as Company I. ; was elected Captain of this company for three years ; was again appointed Captain, of the Company M, Second Regiment, I. N. G., May 24, 1897, by Governor Mount. At the outbreak of the war with Spain his regiment was sent to the front April 26, 1898, serving until the war ended. He was a number one soldier and a first-class citizen, honored and respected by all, a hero of two wars.

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