The Army of the US Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief

Twenty-First Regiment of Infantry

By Capt. Fred. H. E. Ebstein

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The Twenty-first Regiment of Infantry was called into existence by Presidential order of May 4, 1861, confirmed by Act of Congress of July 29, 1861, as the Second Battalion of the Twelfth Regiment of Infantry. Although Major Richard S. Smith and other officers were appointed and assigned to the battalion soon after, it was not until May, 1862, that the organization of the first four companies was accomplished at Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor. These companies, namely, A, Captain Anderson, B, Captain Dallas, E, Captain Quimby, and G, Captain Pennington, were at once despatched to the field and arrived, May 26, at Harper's Ferry, where they, together with several companies of the Eighth Infantry, were formed into a provisional battalion under Captain Thomas G. Pitcher, Eighth Infantry. The very next day the battalion received its baptism of fire in a skirmish on the picket line with " Dick " Taylor's Brigade of Jackson's Corps. At Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862, the battalion opened the fight as skirmishers, and later covered the retreat, meeting with heavy loss. Captain Pitcher having been wounded early in the action, the command of the battalion fell to Captain Thomas M. Anderson. When the army fell back to the line of the Rappahannock the companies were engaged in skirmishes at Rappahannock Ford, Sulphur Springs and Waterloo Bridge. About this time Companies C, Captain King, and D, Captain Dunn, which had been organized at Fort Hamilton, joined the battalion, which from this time on formed a separate organization under Captain Anderson. From Waterloo Bridge a forced march was made to Warrenton junction, where a large amount of abandoned property was destroyed and another skirmish took place. The battalion was present at the battle of Bull Run (second), but was not actively engaged-and at Chantilly. When the army retired to the Potomac the battalion formed the rear guard, fighting all day against rebel cavalry and artillery. The following month the battalion joined the First Battalion and both became part of the First Brigade (Buchanan), Second Division (Sykes), Fifth Army Corps (Porter). Thereafter both battalions served together and participated in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam and Snicker's Gap. At Fredericksburg the battalion covered the retreat of the 5th Corps, and was the very last to recross the river.

In the fall of 1862 Companies F, Captain Putnam, and H, Captain Franklin, were organized but remained in garrison at Fort Hamilton.

In March, 1863, owing to their reduced numbers, Companies B, E and G were broken up, and the enlisted men transferred to Companies A, C and D. These companies, together with those of the First Battalion, which had been in like manner consolidated, then formed one organization, although


retaining their distinct battalion designations. They participated, under command of Major Smith, in the battle of Chancellorsville, and under command of Captain Dunn, in that of Gettysburg.

Companies F and H, Captain Franklin in command, were part of the force sent to quell the draft riots in New York City, July 13 to 20, 1863, and had encounters with the rioters in 2d Avenue, 22d Street and other places, killing many. These two companies, in September, 1863, were sent to the field, and with the remainder of the battalion were present in the actions at Bristoe Station, October 14, Rappahannock Station, November 7th and Mine Run, November 27.

In the campaign of 1864 the battalion took part in the battles of the Wilderness and Laurel Hill, May 8 to 13, sustaining heavy loss. It was further engaged near Spottsylvania Court House, May 14 and exposed to fire of artillery and sharpshooters May 13 to 19 while in trenches and on picket. May 22 and 23 it crossed the North Anna River, engaging and repulsing the enemy, and on the 29th and 30th was skirmishing at Tolopotomoy Creek. June 1 to 5 it was engaged in skirmishes near Bethesda Church and swamp north of the Pamunky River, and June 17 it arrived in front of the enemy's works at Petersburg. The battalion was again in action on June 18 at Petersburg, on the 21st on Jerusalem plank road and on the 30th before Petersburg.

War Department orders of July 30, 1864, disbanded Companies A, C, D, F and H and transferred the enlisted men to the 1st Battalion. The other companies having previously been disbanded, the 2d Battalion here ceased to exist as an organization and so remained unorganized until September, 1865, when Companies A and B were again formed at Fort Hamilton. By the end of December the battalion had been completely reorganized and its eight companies, in command of Captain Thomas M. Anderson, were serving at Camp Winthrop, near Richmond, Virginia.

The Act of Congress approved July 28, 1866, transformed the battalion, by the addition of two new companies, into the Twenty-first Regiment of Infantry. Regimental headquarters were established at Petersburg, Virginia, and the following were appointed field officers of the new regiment: Colonel George Stoneman, Lieutenant-Colonel S. S. Carroll, Major Dickinson Woodruff. The latter, in regimental orders dated Petersburg, December 9, 1866, assumed command of the new organization, the company officers of which were;

Captains: Thomas S. Anderson, Thomas S. Dunn, Henry R. Putnam, Walter S, Franklin, Henry E. Smith, Robert L. Burnett, Evan Miles, W. McC. Netterville.

First Lieutenants: Madison Earle, Thomas L. Alston, E. B. Knox, George H. Burton, George G. Greenough, V. M. C. Silva, William Crosby, Alfred S. Newlin.

Second Lieutenants: John F. Cluley, Thomas E. Lawson, B. H. Rogers, Thomas F. Riley, Thomas Rafferty, E. W. Stone.

Companies I and K were organized at Petersburg in January, 1867, and Captains W. P. Wilson and W, McK. Dunn, Jr., appointed to command them.


During the next two years the regiment remained in Virginia (then the First Military District), engaged in the varied duties pertaining to the reconstruction period. The companies were for the greater part of the time in temporary camps in different portions of the State. Thus, companies occupied Richmond, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Winchester, Yorktown, Farmville, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Huguenot Springs and Fort Monroe during the period named.

Under the Act of Congress, approved March 3, 1869, the Thirty-second Regiment was consolidated with and became part of the Twenty-first. The former (which had originally been the third battalion of the Fourteenth Infantry) was stationed in Arizona and thither the Twenty-first was ordered to proceed. The regiment left Richmond April 12, 1869, and was forwarded from Omaha in two battalions to San Francisco over the then just completed Union and Central Pacific Railroads, being the first troops that made the transcontinental journey entirely by rail. The regiment remained at the Presidio, California, until June, when the various companies were put en route for their stations in Arizona and the consolidation thus finally completed. At this time the regiment numbered 1180 in enlisted men. The officers were:

Colonel George Stoneman, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Wheaton, Major Milton Cogswell, Adjutant George H. Burton, Quartermaster John L. Johnston.

Company A.-Captain Patrick Collins, 1st Lieut. T. F. Riley, 2d Lieut. John M. Ross.

Company B.-Captain Henry E. Smith, 1st Lieut. B. H. Rogers, 2d Lieut. W. L. Sherwood.

Company C.-Captain W. H. Brown, 1st Lieut. W.- McK. Owen, 2d Lieut. E. B. Rheem.

Company D.-Captain Thomas S. Dunn, 1st Lieut. J. H. Purcell, 2d Lieut. James Riley.

Company E.-Captain Evan Miles, 1st Lieut. V. M. C. Silva.

Company F.-Captain H. R. Putnam, 1st Lieut. R. Pollock.

Company G.-Captain R. L. Burnett, 1st Lieut. W. T. Dodge, 2d Lieut. E. R. Theller.

Company H.-Captain R. F. O'Beirne, 1st Lieut. J. F Cluley, 2d Lieut. F. H. E. Ebstein.

Company I. -Captain W. McC. Netterville, 1st Lieut. G. W. Evans, 2d Lieut. James Calhoun.

Company K.-Captain George M. Downey, 1st Lieut. J. F. Lewis, 2d Lieut. W. J. Ross.

Regimental Headquarters were located at Drum Barracks, California, and the companies were distributed to Camps Reno, Goodwin, Verde, Bowie, Lowell, McDowell, Date Creek and Crittenden, all in Arizona. During the three years following, the regiment was actively employed in scouting after Indians, escorting mails, building wagon roads and erecting public buildings, all of the above-named posts having been constructed or reconstructed entirely by the labor of the troops. As an illustration of the danger attending the escorting of the United States mails it may be mentioned that no


less than fifteen enlisted men of the regiment were killed at divers times by attacks from Indians while on this duty. In April, 1870, Company A, under Captain Collins, overtook and attacked a party of hostile Apaches near Pinal Creek, killing eleven and capturing four. The following month Company B had an encounter with a party of Apaches in Tonto Basin, killing several. In July Lieut. Cluley, with a detachment of Company H, surprised a hostile rancheria near Date Creek, killing two Indians. The following November Companies A, E, G and I established a camp in the Pinal Mountains, remaining there until July, 1871. In the latter month, while on the march to Camp Bowie, Company G, Lieut. Theller commanding, had an engagement with the Indians and repulsed them, after a sharp fight, with a loss of 15 killed and a number wounded. The troops lost 1 killed and 3 wounded. Colonel Stoneman was retired August 16, 1871, and Colonel Robert S. Granger succeeded him.

In 1872 the regiment was transferred to the Department of the Columbia and distributed to stations as follows: Headquarters and B, C and I, Fort Vancouver, Wash. Terr.; A, Camp Harney, Oregon; D, Camp Warner, Oregon; E, Fort Colville, W. T.; F, Fort Klamath, Oregon; G, Fort Lapwai, Idaho; H, Camp San Juan Island, W. T., and K, Fort Boise, Idaho.

Hardly had the regiment reached its new stations when hostile acts of the Modoc Indians in southern Oregon called into the field the available troops in Oregon, Washington and California. A battalion consisting of Companies B and C (to which Company I and a portion of Company F were subsequently added), under command of Major Edwin C. Mason, left Fort Vancouver, December 3, 1872, for field service. The battalion had to march a distance of 250 miles to reach the Lava Beds, a rugged and much broken stretch of volcanic rock formation located on the banks of Tule Lake, in southern Oregon, in which the Modocs under "Captain Jack" had, after barbarously murdering the unprotected settlers of that region, taken up an impregnable position. Lieut.-Col. Frank Wheaton was in command of the troops sent to subdue these turbulent Indians. On January 17, 1873, he attacked the Modoc stronghold with his entire force, consisting, besides Major Mason's battalion, of several troops of the First Cavalry and some companies of Oregon and California volunteers. Owing to the rough nature of the ground to be passed over, the inaccessibility of the Indian position and the prevalence of a thick fog, the attack was unsuccessful and the troops were forced to withdraw. The small battalion of the Twenty-first (Company I had not yet joined) lost in killed 5 and in wounded 8 enlisted men. The following officers participated in the engagement: Lieut.-Col. Wheaton, Major Mason, Captain Burton, Lieutenants Boyle, Ross, Rheem and Moore. Additional troops were hurried forward, but it was not until after the treacherous murder of Brig.-Gen. E. R. S. Canby in a peace council that active operations were resumed. On April 11 First Lieutenant William L. Sherwood, while receiving a flag of truce, was treacherously fired upon, receiving two wounds, of which he died a few days later. The battalion was engaged in a skirmish April 12, and in the three days' fight which resulted in driving the Indians from their stronghold, April 17. After the final capture of the hostiles the troops were returned to their posts by way of


Forts Klamath, Warner, Harney and Walla Walla, making a march of 634 miles. The battalion had been in the field eight months.

On December 10, 1873, Colonel Granger was retired from active service, and was succeeded by Colonel Alfred Sully, an officer of long and distinguished service.

During the three years following, the regiment performed the usual garrison duties with various changes of station of the different companies. Thus companies were in garrison at Forts Townsend, Walla Walla, Stevens and Canby at divers times. Company B garrisoned Fort Wrangel, Alaska, when that post was re-occupied.

In consequence of the sudden outbreak of the Nez Percés Indians in Idaho in June, 1877, the greater portion of the regiment was promptly ordered into the field. First Lieut. Edward R. Theller, who was attached to a command sent from Fort Lapwai upon the first report of massacres of citizens by the hostiles, was killed in action at White Bird Cañon, Idaho, June 17. The companies of the regiment rendezvoused at Fort Lapwai, whence they took the field June 22 as part of the column under command of General O. O Howard. The battalion was commanded by Captain Evan Miles and consisted of Companies B (Captain Jocelyn, Lieut. Bailey), C (Captain Burton, Lieut. Williams), D (Captain Pollock), E (Lieuts. Pierce and Farrow), H (Lieuts. Haughey and Duncan), I (Lieut. Eltonhead). Major Mason, Lieutenants Ebstein (R. Q. M.), Fletcher and Wood served as staff officers to Genral Howard, and Captain Spurgin commanded a company of hired skilled laborers employed in clearing the difficult mountain trails from fallen timber. The battalion was engaged in action July 11 and 12 at the Clearwater River, where the hostiles, who fought with skill and the utmost obstinacy for two days, were finally driven from their position with heavy loss and compelled to abandon their camp filled with their effects—blankets, buffalo robes and provisions. The loss of the battalion was eight enlisted men killed and Lieutenant Williams and thirteen men wounded. The pursuit of the fleeing Indians was at once taken up and continued with the briefest intermissions for needed rest, from northern Idaho across the continent to within a day's march of the British boundary, where they were finally overtaken by and compelled to surrender to a command under Colonel (now General) Nelson A. Miles. The pursuit of the Nez Percés, under Chief Joseph, stands unequalled in our military annals for distances marched, privations incurred and obstacles encountered and overcome, by foot troops, in pursuit of a wily foe amply supplied with horses and bent upon escape. From the 22d of June to the 10th of October the battalion was on the march.

From Fort Lapwai, Idaho, through the rugged country of the Salmon River, crossing torrents, climbing mountains and threading rocky defiles; over the Lolo trail into Montana, groping through fallen timber and dense undergrowth; through the Bitter Root valley, past the Big Holes to Henry Lake; thence to the Yellowstone River and through the great national park; struggling through the forests and the almost impassable cañons of Clark's Fork, crossing with difficulty the Musselshell, marching through Judith Basin to the Missouri River and beyond this river to the vicinity of Bear Paw Mountain—this was the march of the battalion, a distance of


1632 miles. With insufficient clothing and camp equipage, frequently on reduced rations, the battalion in its march crossed three times the chain of mountains which constitute the great continental divide, and it may be noted, to the credit of the regiment, that during the five months of this trying field service not a single desertion occurred among the enlisted men of these six companies.

Between July 27th and October 10th the battalion had marched, including all halts and stoppages, 1321 miles—or an average Of 17.61 miles per day during 75 consecutive days. The troops returned to their stations on the Pacific coast via the Missouri River, Omaha and San Francisco, reaching Vancouver Barracks early in November.

The outbreak of the Bannocks and Pi Utes in June, 1878, called the entire regiment (except Company F) into the field. A detachment of 75 men under Captain Patrick Collins was dispatched at once from Fort Boise to the scene of trouble in southern Idaho. Meanwhile the companies from Vancouver Barracks (B, D, G, H and I) were marching from Umatilla, Oregon, in the direction of Boise City. These were subsequently joined by Companies E and K from Camp Harney. Captain Evan Miles commanded the battalion. Two foot batteries of the Fourth Artillery, under Captain Rodney, and one troop of the First Cavalry under Captain Bendire were added to Captain Miles' command. With this force Captain Miles succeeded in overtaking the hostiles—after a forced march of 35 miles in one day—engaging them on July 13th near Umatilla Agency, Oregon, and putting them to flight. The following officers were present in this engagement: Captains Evan Miles (commanding), Downey, Jocelyn, Spurgin, Boyle, Lieutenants Haughey, Ebstein, Rheem, Cornman, Duncan, Eltonhead, Farrow and Shofner.

After the action at Umatilla the battalion, under Captain Miles, formed part of Colonel Frank Wheaton's command and was occupied in guarding and operating along the Walla Walla-Boise stage road. The battalion was at this time mounted on Indian ponies and remained a mounted command to the close of the campaign in August, when the companies were returned to their posts.

Colonel Sully died at Vancouver Barracks, April 27, 1879. He was succeeded by Colonel Henry A. Morrow, a gallant and meritorious soldier.

Transferred in June, 1884, to the Department of the Platte, the regiment was assigned to stations as follows: Headquarters and C, E, F and G to Fort Sidney, Nebraska; B and I to Fort Steele, D and H to Fort Bridger, A to Fort McKinney, and K to Fort Russell, Wyoming. During July and August, 1885, Companies B, C, F, G, I and K, under command of Major Pearson, were in the field in southern Kansas during a threatened outbreak of the Cheyennes and formed part of Colonel Morrow's command of infantry and cavalry in camp at Crisfield, Kansas. In the fall of the same year Companies C, D and H were in the field at Rock Springs, Wyoming, during the anti-Chinese riots at that place. Companies B, F, I and K, in 1836, established and afterwards were part of the garrison of Fort Duchesne, Utah. In August and September, 1887, Headquarters and five companies under Colonel Morrow were in camp of instruction near Kearney, Ne-


braska; the other five companies under Major Andrews in a similar camp in Strawberry Valley, Utah. For the first time in twenty years the entire regiment, in command of Lieut.-Col. Poland, was assembled for field manoeuvres at Camp George Crook, near Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in the summer of 1889.

During the Sioux outbreak in the winter of 1890-91 the regiment was in the field. Lieut.-Col. Poland, in command of Companies A, C, E and G, was ordered to Rosebud Agency, South Dakota, where they remained in camp during the inclement winter. Major Andrews, with companies B, D, F and H, went from Camp Douglas, Utah, to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, where they encamped. Toward the end of January, 1891, the companies (with exception of Company G, which remained at Rosebud Agency) returned to their posts.

Colonel Henry A. Morrow died at Hot Springs, Arkansas, January 30, 1891, and was succeeded by Colonel Richard F. O'Beirne, who, however, did not live to join, as colonel, the regiment he had left in 1879 as a captain. He died in New York City, February 24, 1891. Colonel Joseph S. Conrad was appointed to the command of the regiment as of the latter date, but after a brief period of duty with his new command, died at Fort Randall, South Dakota, December 4, 1891, while on an inspecting tour. The regiment thus lost by death three of its commanders in the brief space of eleven months.

Colonel Horace Jewett succeeded to the command of the regiment and is its present head. In the spring of 1892 Headquarters and five companies were transferred to the Department of the East, and at this date (May, 1892) the regiment is distributed as follows: Regimental Headquarters and Companies A, C and E at Fort Niagara, New York; B and H at Fort Porter, New York; F and I at Fort Randall, South Dakota; G, Fort Sidney, Nebraska.

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