Narrow Escape Story #79
Interesting War Experiences
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
"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
"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
"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."