A Mysterious Rider
Chapter 52 (June 15, 1864)
About 3:00 P. M. our second brigade came marching in rear of our skirmishers, going to the left of our line of battle. These boys saw us lying behind trees and of course thinking we were shysters, began yelling at us and asking why we did not go forward to where we belonged. My memory gives the regiment as the 145th New York, of our second brigade, which halted only a short distance in the rear of us when perhaps fifty began calling us cowards, skulkers, shysters, etc., and finally a great, tall Dutch captain came up to us and asked “Who has charge of these men?” The writer told him that he had. Then the captain ordered us forward. I told him that we were obeying the instructions of our officer of-the-day, and furthermore I refused to obey any command from him as we did not belong to his brigade. He drew his sword and threatened to run it thru me if I did not go, all the while his boys kept yelling to their captain to make us move forward. I told him that we would not move an inch, as we were carrying out our instructions from Colonel Craig, of the 147th regiment, who was a better man than he was. Finally he went back to his company, when his Orderly Sergeant came up and he was a perfect gentleman. I told him how we had been out all day and that we were relieved, etc. “Well,” he said, “Why did you not tell the captain?” I said the old fool would not listen to what I said. The Orderly returned to his company, when the yelling ceased. Solly App, who was near me at the time, said, “Schroyer, I thought you was a gonner that time.”
Later on the entire skirmish line advanced, driving the enemy into their works. We skipped from tree to tree and shielded ourselves as best we could until we were close up to their fort and breastworks.
These works were covered with sand bags and the boys were close enough to see the loop holes between the bags, also filed into the port holes of the fort and silenced their artillery. After holding this position for some time, Corporal Fred B. Ulrich was sent out by Colonel Pardee to order the skirmishers back to the regiment. The going back was worse than the forward movement. We finally rejoined the regiment and were drawn up into line of battle and ordered to lie down. While lying in position at this place hugging old Mother Earth as closely as it was possible to do the writer had a very narrow escape of being shot. Three bullets struck not more than three inches from my side and were fired apparently in the same place. Solly App said: “Schroyer, they are coming rather close, you had better move.” As we moved to this place we found Major Moses Veale, who was staff officer for General Geary, lying near a tree, wounded thru his chest. When asked whether we should carry him off he said: “No, for God’s sake go where you are needed, I’ll take care of myself.” Brave old boy he was!
And I am glad to say that at this writing, 1912, he is still an honored citizen of Philadelphia.
Daniel Ehrhart came back from the skirmish line shot thru the shoulder. He was sent to the hospital and died August 16, 1864, and was buried in the National Cemetery, at Nashville, Tenn. John Haas had been detailed to bring up ammunition to the company. He had just gotten back when he got down upon his knees to take off his knapsack, when someone of the company said: “Snapper (as this was his nickname), get down or you will be shot.” We were all down flat upon the ground. Hardly had the word been spoken when a bullet passed thru his chest. He was taken to the rear by Henry Brown, one of our drafted men. We heard that he lived only a short time after he was wounded. We don’t know where he was buried.
Some time after Haas was wounded we moved out of our position a little distance and soon after dark the firing ceased, and we were put to building trenches. Whenever the boys thought that it was necessary they would work like tigers, but when they thought there was not much danger it was hard to keep them at work. When the morning dawned we had works that we felt proud of. Here Solly App had a very narrow escape, although he was slightly wounded in the cheek. Our lines were so close that the skirmishers on both sides were withdrawn and the firing was done directly from the breastworks.
While lying in these works, just to the left of our company-we, being on a little rise,-was a small run and to our left and front was an open field. Our works, also the Rebel works were both in the woods, just along the edge of the open field and the firing was kept up continually. In the afternoon a man wearing a black hat, high top boots, and a gum poncho over him, and mounted on a black horse, came from our rear along the run, out of the woods, and rode to the front and straight toward the Rebel works. We called to him not to go as he was within 100 feet of our company when he passed. He spoke nothing, but only looked at us. Everyone was dumfounded at his daring as we expected him to be shot and we told him so, but he went slowly on, his horse on a walk until he reached the center of the field, when he turned to the left and rode down the field directly between the opposing lines of battle as far as we could see him. In about a half hour later he rode up in rear of our works from the left of the line to where he first came out of the woods, riding on a walk all the while, and who he was or what his mission was remains a mystery to this day. The strange part of it was that neither friend nor foe fired a shot at him while he passed between the lines. All seemed to wonder why a man should take such a risk, and that a man so brave should not be shot.