August 2020

Battle at Cloyd's Mountain - The Other Stories

Jacob Bradford's widow remarries; Mentions of other ancestors in the battle; Killed in Battle - living to tell the tale

By Bobbi Spiker-Conley

There was a lot of information that did not make it into last month’s introduction of Jacob Bradford and the Battle at Cloyd’s Mountain. It was no less interesting. It simply didn’t fit there.  So we are dedicating this edition of the Spiker Gazette to sharing some of those other stories we uncovered during our research. The first few are of a genealogical nature. The rest are a mix of the humorous and the unbelievable.

If the topic interests you and you’d like to learn more, we’ve included links to Additional Reading at the bottom of this page. 

The “Witness Oak” has grown by the bank of Back Creek at the foot of Cloyd’s Mountain for more than 500 years.

A year-and-a-half after Jacob Bradford’s death at Cloyd’s Mountain, his widow, Nancy, married Eli Cline. Together they had three children — Laura Frances, William E., and Eli M. Cline. In 1885 their eldest, Laura Frances (our 2nd great-aunt on Grandpa Jake’s maternal side,) married William Forest Spiker (our 2nd great-uncle on Grandpa Jake’s paternal side.)  The union makes Laura Frances (Cline) Spiker our 2nd great-aunt on two sidesof the family tree.

In a November 1901 letter to the editor of the National Tribune (view article here,) Thomas Gray Zinn (our 1st cousin 3x removed) endorsed the Honorable Anthony Smith to a seat in Congress. He wrote that Smith, a soldier in Company F of the 14th West Virginia, “fired the first shot in the battle of Cloyd Mountain, VA., and was taken prisoner in May, 1864.” 

Sailor Michael Zinn (our 2nd cousin 3x removed) also joined the 14th WV Infantry but was attached to Company B. He was captured at the battle at Cloyd’s Mountain and sent to Andersonville Prison. He arrived there on June 9. He died there on September 25. Two of his brothers, William Henry and George Harrison Zinn joined the 4th WV Cavalry.

Among the Union soldiers who fought at the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain were two future United States Presidents: Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes and Major William McKinley. Colonel Hayes considered Major General George Crook to have been the best general he had known. He developed a regard and friendship for him so profound that he named a son, George Crook Hayes, after him.

During the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad expedition, Crook’s army had marched 270 miles through 11 counties in 21 days. Seventeen rugged mountain ridges and countless streams, heavy storms and bad weather, impeded their progress for 16 days. During the entire return trip, the march was made without regular rations.

From our story last month, recall that Confederates Albert Jenkins, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Smith, and Major Thomas Broun had been wounded in the battle and were taken to the nearby Guthrie residence for care. The Southern Historical Society Papers published “Major Thomas L. Brown’s Recollection of the Battle,” excerpted here in part:

Sir, — The reports of the Confederate officers about this battle are published in the War Records, Washington D.C., 1891, Vol. 38, part 1.

I was a volunteer aide on Colonel Beuhring Jones’ staff, of the Sixtieth Virginia Regiment, and was assigned to duty just where it turned out the battle was most hotly fought…A mini ball passed through me and knocked me nearly off my horse…General Jenkins, Major Tom Smith and I went into the fight together, and were at its close, taken off the field at the same time together in ambulances and left at Guthrie’s house…

A squad of Yankee cavalry with surgeon were sent to Guthrie’s dwelling house the day after the battle to make prisoners of us. They paroled Jenkins and Smith, but after examining my wound pronounced me dead, as in the opinion of their surgeon, I was bound to die that night, and I was then published in the newspapers as “killed in battle.”

[Other reports describe his injury thus: “Major Broun was shot in the abdomen, the Minie ball striking him near the joint of the right hip bone and coming sideways at the left hip joint, lacerating at the point the lining of the bowels, which there protruded.” — Major Broun was “shot through the bowels.” — Broun was “practically disemboweled.”]

…I was removed on a litter the Sunday following the battle…by the kindness of David McGavock, aided by his negro man, to Mr. McGavock’s home, where I lingered for several months critically ill…

It is now nearly forty-five years since I was wounded and published as “killed in battle,” and yet I am decidedly alive, having a wife, three children and six grandchildren living, and much interested in my daily work, though eighty-five years old.

Yours sincerely,
Thos. L. Broun

What Broun failed to mention was what had happened to him at the end of the war as a result of this error:

According to the Confederate Veteran, a Federal doctor examined the three wounded officers at the Guthrie residence. Jenkins and Smith were immediately paroled. But the doctor said to his clerk – in the presence of Major Broun – ”Report him dead, for he will die to-night.” Of course, Broun did not die, but he was officially reported as killed in the battle.

This error-in-fact created great difficulty when he applied for parole at the end of the war.

“It was understood that [Colonel John S.] Mosby’s command would not be paroled, but treated as outlaws.” So when “Major Broun went to General [Samuel S.] Carroll’s headquarters to be paroled,” the Federal officers placed him under arrest and questioned him “very closely as to where he was wounded and to what command he belonged.”

General Carroll consulted with his staff (see photo) and all agreed that “Major Broun was certainly killed at Cloyd’s Mountain, Va.” They suspected the man was one of Mosby’s outlaw guerillas masquerading as a Confederate officer trying to escape.

“After discussing what should be done with the crippled officer, General Carroll” reversed himself, declaring that Broun was what he represented himself to be “and gave him his parole.” Allegedly, “Carroll, members of his staff and Broun then drank several glasses of wine to his speedy recovery.”

From The Newark Advocate, October 1, 1893 an article titled “A Horse’s Tail Keeps a Newark Man out of an Army Prison” grabbed my attention.  Baggage Master Matt Riegger related the following war experience, in part as follows:

“Yes, it was twenty-nine years ago just after the battle of Cloyd Mountain which had been waged all the afternoon. I was at that time a bugler but I had also to help carry off the dead and wounded from the field after each engagement. Jenkins of the Confederate army, had retreated to the Doublin [sic] depot of the Virginia and Tennessee railroad and we were carrying to the hospital the wounded from the burning woods. I was returning after having taking Captain Channel (of Utica) to Cloyd’s house and was about 300 yards from the woods. There I met

Comrade George Krepp

who now lives in Franklin’s addition in this city. A minute later I saw a dozen Union cavalrymen approaching and realizing the danger of our remaining there surrounded by the rebels I called to Krepp to come on if he didn’t want to be taken prisoner. At that time Morgan’s men were not a quarter of a mile away. Krepp was tired after the long struggle and said, ‘I don’t care, I can’t go any further.’ I threw him a ‘good bye’ then just as the cavalrymen dashed along. I called to one asking if I might grab hold of

His Horse’s Tail.

No objection was made and away I flew at a rapid rate. We had gone but a little distance when the rebels began to fire at us. The horses quickened their speed and I held to the tail which made rather rapid traveling on foot for me. The chase lasted several miles and the horses did not stop until we had passed

Over Six Miles

of ground. I was so exhausted by that time having carried a knapsack, a horn and haversack besides myself that I fell down almost dead at the end of the run. Well, I afterwards learned that within fifteen minutes after I had started Krepp was captured and along with the others who remained behind was carted

On to Libby Prison

where he served one whole year. The company I belonged to was E. of the Twelfth Ohio Regiment. Seventeen men were killed or wounded in the first volley of the little skirmish I have just told you about.”

In 1916, numerous newspapers declared “Preacher Celebrates his own Death.”  The stories were referring to Rev. Reuben B. Mundy (of the 23rd Ohio, Company C) announcing he “has celebrated the fifty-second anniversary of his death, and he still lives to tell the tale.” During the battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, Mundy was so severely injured that he and others were “carried from the battlefield as dead.  Twelve hours later when he was to have been buried, a soldier passing his body noticed his breast expand, and upon examination it was found he was still breathing. He was rushed to a hospital and recovered in a few weeks.”

On May 10, an artillery duel commenced at the New River railroad bridge. Colonel Sickel’s 3rd Brigade formed a skirmish line by the river bank, but the remainder of Colonel Hayes’ 1st Brigade was under cover in a wooded area. One of the few casualties incurred by either side took place when a soldier under Hayes refused to take refuge in a depression at the north end of the bridge. Hayes is quoted as telling the following story. ”There was a large limestone sink hole in which I ordered the men to lie down. All obeyed promptly except one dismounted cavalryman who in a pert and saucy way turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you get off your horse and hide too?’ On repeating the order, the cavalryman replied, ‘I’ll get down when you do.’ Just as I was insisting on his obeying the order, a shell burst near us – the cavalryman was fatally and shockingly wounded and was then discovered to be a woman. She died almost instantly.”

On June 9, 1864, Joseph T. Webb, surgeon of the 23rd Ohio (and Hayes’ brother-in-law) described the scene in a letter to his brother. “Not far from me was what I supposed to be a young boy, a shell burst by his side killing him instantly. I went up to him, and found instead of a young boy, a woman, who had been with the 5th [West] Va Cavalry for some time; she was known to but a very few.”

Captain Russell Hastings, who served with Hayes and Webb in the 23rd Ohio, wrote in his memoirs, “A soldier in a West Virginia Regiment received a severe wound in the shoulder from a piece of shell. On our surgeon (Dr. Webb) dressing the wound, he found the soldier to be a woman. Such cases were not infrequent in our army.”

Private James J. Wood of the 34th Ohio Infantry also recorded the discovery in his diary, writing “She fought bravely in battle yesterday.”

The identity of the woman was never discovered.

Bounty-jumpers were men who enlisted in the army, collected the bounty for joining, then deserted before reaching the front lines. Some would take advantage of men trying to hire substitutes (which was legal at that time,) taking their money but not taking their places. Recalling the tale of one particular bounty-jumper to reporters, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes began by saying, ”The case was a remarkable one on account of the coincidences which led this deserter to his fate.”

A soldier from the 12th Ohio wrote to the Beloit Daily Call, ”During the winter of ‘62 and ‘63, the Twenty-third Ohio was quartered at Charleston, W.Va…Some rebel deserters came into Charleston and were confined in guardhouse for a time. They were offered release providing they would enlist in our army. They did this, a portion, if not all, enlisting in the Twenty-Third.”

Concerning that time at Charleston, Captain Hastings said, “The 23rd Ohio Regiment received one hundred recruits from Ohio, mostly ‘bounty-jumpers’ and that class. We were sorry enough to be compelled to receive them, but much to our joy nearly all disappeared by desertion within the following two weeks.”

Addressing the reporters, Colonel Hayes continued, “In the fall of 1863 he came in rebel uniform into the Union line in the Kanawha valley, claiming to be a Union man who had been forced into the rebel army. Subsequently he enlisted in Company D, Twenty-third Ohio. Soon after…he deserted, taking with him arms and equipment, with watches and pistols which he stole from his comrades.” 

“Pursuit was made,” the soldier from the 12th OH wrote, “but they failed to catch them, and nothing more was heard of them for more than a year.

“In July ‘64, the three[-]years men were mustered out and the remainder of the Twelfth [OH] and Twenty-third [OH] were consolidatedunder the name of the Twenty-third, the members…forming three companies…, and having their own officers.” Later the newly formed group “went into camp on the Monocasy river near Frederick, Md., where we lay several days to recruit up. While there a batch of recruits and substitutes numbering something like 100 came from Ohio and joined us, and we were distributed among the companies of the Twenty-third. Among this batch was the young man referred to above, who, it seems, after leaving the Twenty-third at Charleston, went back to the rebel army, and with others was captured at Crook’s battle of Cloyd Mountain.”

True. ”On May 9, 1864 at the battle of Cloyd mountain,” Hayes told the reporters, the man “was taken prisoner, with arms in his hands, fighting in the rebel ranks. A few days afterward he was recognized by men of the Twenty-third regiment, who were detailed to guard the prisoners taken at Cloyd mountain. Finding he was discovered, he managed to escape in the night.

“On the 4th of August 1864, a large number of recruits were brought to the Twenty-third regiment from Ohio, while the regiment was camped at Monocasy Junction. Among them this rebel deserter and bounty jumper was discovered. The deserter had chosen the Twelfth Ohio, but before his arrival the Twelfth and Twenty-third had been consolidated.”

The correspondent from the 12th OH summed it up, “The Twelfth having ceased to exist, [the bounty-jumper] was by a singular fate assigned to the very company he had deserted from.”

The man, identified as Isaac Whelton, was immediately put under guard. He was brought before the court, found guilty, and sentenced to be executed by firing squad.

Additional Reading

Be sure to come back next month to learn about Company F of the 14th WV Volunteers.


  • Submitted by Melanie Spiker Fouse – So happy for my granddaughter, Tayler! After missing out on so many of the fun times her senior year, they finally held her Senior Prom last night (Aug 22, 2020.) Guess who got Prom Queen?