Boots and saddles

by Sarah Webb. 0 Comments

In February 1864 three-fourths of Cole’s original volunteers had already reenlisted and were issued a 30 day furlough. By March 1864, Frederick City greeted Cole’s Cavalry with great fanfare and reception. Maryland’s Governor Augustus Bradford personally commended Cole and asked him to raise two additional battalions with four companies each to make a full regiment. Cole was then promoted to Colonel. Men and boys flocked to the recruiting station flying on the pomp and circumstance of Cole’s reputation and recent battle victory over Mosby in January.

John Trout answered the call on February 29, 1864, and received a $600 bounty. Two hundred twenty-five dollars were payable in cash upfront for a term of 3 years. He was assigned to company H under Captain Benjamin F. Hauck.

Union cavalry volunteers were not required to provide their own horses. It’s not clear at this time if John Trout had his own horse, or if he was provided one. Based on the family’s census records in 1860, it is doubtful John Trout provided his own horse. Additionally, the 1860 Maryland agricultural records are not easily accessible, so I have been unable to confirm those enumeration details. That item will remain on my to-do list.

Even without John Trout’s pension records (SO FAR - that’s another story!), I can tell from his compiled military service records if he was present during roll and approximate his movements with company H.

After the 30 day furlough, it took a while to recruit the new battalions. Recruitment and enlistment occurred between February and April 1864. Cole’s new recruits had to be mounted and equipped. New recruits traveled to Camp Stoneman, a cavalry depot in Giesboro, Maryland just south of Washington, DC. (Some 200,000 horses rotated through this cavalry depot throughout the war!) While waiting for the entire regiment to be equipped, soldiers who were already mounted (the Veteran Battalion) were sent to the front.

 photo CampStoneman_zpsa3670c47.jpg

Stables at Camp Stoneman

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

If John Trout did provide his own horse, he would have been sent along with this group. There was a disastrous battle at New Market, Virginia on May 15th where Union troops suffered heavy losses.

Based on the History and Roster of Maryland’s Volunteers 1861-1865, most of Cole’s soldiers – including new recruits - were then assigned to General Hunter to protect supply trains in Virginia. This regiment fought battles in Piedmont (June 5); Tye River (June 12); Lexington, (June 13); Buchannon (June 14) and Lynchburg (June 17 & 18). Although I can’t confirm if John Trout fought at these battles, he was present at roll in April, May and June 1864 according to his compiled military service records.

Part of Cole’s regiment remained in Martinsburg. By July, they joined Mulligan’s Brigade of Infantry and engaged in a skirmish against rebel raiders in Leetown. The bugler sounded “boots and saddles” - the call to mount - and the Union troops were able to repulse the enemy.

C. Armour Newcomer, in his retelling of Cole’s Cavalry battles, says of the new soldiers during this battle:

Cole’s new battalions were under fire for the first time at Leetown and they behaved most admirably, forming a line of battle in face of an artillery fire with promptitude that would have done credit to older veterans.”

Cole’s Cavalry or Three Years in the Saddle, p. 129 

This incident on July 3, 1864 may indeed have been John Trout’s first battle. Either way, between March 1 and July 3, he would have had to acclimate to the long stretches of boredom and drills of camp life peppered with the adrenaline and danger of battle. Unfortunately, the Battle of Monocacy still awaited him!

And…. it was there his battlefield service was cut short!

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