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Narrow Escape Story #79
Interesting War Experiences

Submitted by Shirley Reed

Thursday, 17 May 1888 Ironton Register
JOHN A. JONES was going to Cincinnati on his way to take his place, on the U.S. Grand Jury, and stopped at the REGISTER office to get a paper to read on his way down. The REGISTER was coming out of the press, at the time, and we handed him one, and he took a seat to give its smiling pages a glance before he took his departure.
"I see you are yet running the 'Narrow Escapes;" said he; "a good thing and I am interested in them."
"Well, I believe, we haven't had one from you yet," said the REGISTER man, at the same time grasping his pencil to begin. "You were in the army, I remember."
"Yes," said John-"four years, and saw a good deal of service, but nothing personally romantic."
"In no tight places then?"
"Yes indeed;" he said-"in several. I was in the toe of the horse shoe at Chickamanga, and was in Turchin's bloody charge; I was at Antietam, and crossed the bridge in that historic attack on the res.; I was in Second bull Run, and at South Mountain; and at Lynchburg."
"Well, you are the very man I want," said the reporter-"pick out a close call and begin."
"But to come down to the really tightest place I was in during the war, I would leave all those familiar battlefields and tell of a fight we had at Kernstown, in the Shenandoah Valley, in the Summer of 1864. Several of the boys have told you incidents of that fight, and so it seems by general consent to have been a very hot place.
"Sure it was," said the reporter-"our troops had been driving the rebs. down the valley, but when they got as far as Kernstown, they met Early's whole army and he put a stop to our fun, and sent our little force hurrying, scurrying back into Maryland."
"Yes; the appearance of Early's army rather surprised us;" said Mr. Jones-"we had formed in line of battle and were advancing, expecting to drive the rebs. as usual. I remember it all well as if it were yesterday. Our regiment, the 36th Ohio, was clear on the left, and our company on the left of the regiment, and only two men on the left of me, and they got left and I didn't, but I had a very close call, and that was what I was going to tell you about. I never saw a hotter place in any of the noted battles. Well, we advanced that morning, the 24th of July, in fine style. Our flank was protected with a little squadron of cavalry, but we didn't anticipate that it would have much to do. The ground there is rolling, and after passing across a little knoll and over a stone fence, we advanced through a clear field. We could see the rebels in the skirts of the woods in front of us and felt sure there would be a right smart brush, but did not suppose it would be as smart as it turned out. Just as the rebs. opened out on us, we discovered that the line extended far to our left, and kind of curved around us. Thus we became subject to a cross fire of the enemy. The cavalry was the first to discover the hornet's nest, and they came back in awful confusion, and then the rebs. poured it into us. It was a fearful hot place. The two men that were on my left were wounded-Elisha Cotton, who died afterwards, and Phillip Wagoner. You probably remember Wagoner. He got over his wound and was afterward tried in this county for killing his Uncle Adam Wagoner, just at this side of the Gallia county line, about 10 years ago, and was sent to the penitentiary. Just by my side John Jeffries, who was shot at Mission Ridge, was wounded. A little romance hangs to his name, too. He got well and long after the war was sent to the penitentiary for shooting at Colonel Montgomery, of Gallia county, and after he was liberated, was killed by Montgomery, who was acquitted because he did it in self-defense. But this is all aside.
"Singular though, that the two men on your left should be wounded, get well, come home, and be sent to the penitentiary. We hope that is not your 'narrow escape,' John," said the reporter.
"Oh, no," said he laughing-"I had no trouble keeping out of the O.P., but I don't see how I missed getting shot under that cross fire... Men tumbled all around me. Eighteen of our forty men were killed or wounded there in ten minutes. Of course, we retreated; obliquely to get from the cross fire, and when we got back a short distance, we attempted to make a stand to protect some artillery. And there, while engaged in firing I was disabled for a while by a spent ball striking me just above the wrist, and paralyzing my arm for some minutes. But beyond a black spot and a brief numbness, I suffered no inconvenience. We were driven from there and got as far back as Bunkers Springs that night, and the next day, took to our heels and got into Maryland; but we left many a thousand men behind killed or captured."
"I do not believe in all the war there were so many close calls as in the days from the 20th to the 24th of July, 1864, in the Shenandoah valley, and I don't wonder so many of the boys pick out some experience there and then as the most impressive of their lives. Mine, while not romantic, is to me more vivid than anything I encountered in Tennessee or Virginia."


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