Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Story By Eather, Eathen, Eathan E. Wlikerson 4th.. Ohio Cavalry.

The following story was taken from the history of the fourth Ohio Cavalry, written by Lucien Wulsin, late private Co. A., Published 1912.

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The man who accompanied Captain George Leonard, of Company A, on his trip from Selma to Mobile, Ala., was Corporal Eathan Wilkerson, Company A, of Morrowtown, Warren County, Ohio. He entered the service of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry February 27, 1864, and had been with the regiment a little over a year when he had the unique experience of accompanying the messenger of peace down the river. His account of the episode is as follows :

"We left Selma on April 10, 1865 ; went to Montgomery, Ala., thence to Columbus, Ga., and on to Macon, where we arrived on the evening of April 21. They held us out of the town that night. The next morning, early, we started into the city, and Captain Leonard rode out of the ranks, called the sergeant of the company, then called me, and then eight other men, and ordered us to report at the general s headquarters.

The men who made the trip from Macon to Mobile and return were :

Captain George \V. Leonard, Sergeant Albert Hopping, Corporal John C. Williams, orporal William A. Straider, Corporal Eather Wilkerson, Private Milton Brown, Private Frank Cnnningham, Private Stephen Pierson, Private David Thailor, and a rebel officer.

We had no uniforms, having been without any communication with the army since the 16th of December. They could not furnish us that day with uniforms, but the next morning we procured blue clothing. We then took a train that afternoon and went from Macon, Ga., to Eufaula, Ala., arriving there on Sunday morning. From there we went to Montgomery eighty-four miles by way of Union Springs ; from there to Selma by land, fifty miles on horseback, arriving at Selma about ten or eleven o clock in the forenoon. We were right with the rebels from the time we left Macon until we reached Selma.

The morning after our arrival the captain ordered us out and we got into a boat, having with us a rebel general from Lee s army. We went down the river about eight o clock in the morning. I saw an awful smoke down the river, and soon a gunboat turned the curve, and the name Cincinnati w r as on it. There was a man on top of the boat who told us to go back to the city; we went back. We had horses in the stable. The captain came and called to us. I asked him what he wanted. He said: "Leave everything that you have and come with me." We went down to the gunboat and got on this vessel, which was a Union gunboat.

I had been wounded on April 2 at Selma. When we got to Mobile the captain said : "You don t feel like walking, I will leave you here with the sanitary commission." To the guard at the door he said: "Here is a boy I want to leave. The captain w r as gone one night, and when he came back we took the same vessel to Selma. There were one hundred and thirty men and six guns on the boat. We left there about one o clock in the night and got to Selma about ten A. M. of the third day, a distance of three hundred miles. By that time our forces had command of Selma the Thirteenth Army Corps and two divisions of the Sixteenth, Breirson's Cavalry.

Leaving Selma we returned by the same route and arrived at Macon about May 10, having been on the road since the 22d of April. At this time I was entirely ignorant of the nature of our expedition, or as to what the captain did during the time that he left me with the sanitary commission at Mobile. Most of the army at that time was uninformed as to the true state of affairs. For instance, before we got to Montgomery, Ala., we met a rebel captain and he told us Lincoln was dead and Lee had captured Grant's army. 

This was on the return from Selma, and we knew no better until we got to Macon. Our captain, I learned later, had sealed dispatches from General Sherman, but he never spoke of the surrender of Lee to us. This news was all sealed and sewed up in his coat. All along the way we met Confederates. They showed us no disrespect because of the flag of truce. We did not try to make any special camping place; when night came we stopped. Of course, our horses were not very good, being worn out, and so we did not travel fast.

There is a little incident that happened at Eufaula on Sunday morning that illustrates the condition of the times. The rebel captain and the mayor wanted our captain to visit the Sunday school. They said they had never seen a Yankee and wanted to see one. He was gone three or four hours. The town was filled with Confederate soldiers. We got rations and horse feed from them, we took our own coffee, as they did not have any in that country.

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