Monday, October 1, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1861

The Cleveland Morning Leader announces that Capt. Joel F. Asper of Company H, 7th Ohio Volunteer infantry, will be in town tomorrow to recruit enlistees for “the crack regiment of Ohio.” Unmentioned is the fact that at this early stage of the war, the 7th is also one of Ohio’s most shot-up regiments. Late in August, the regiment, under the command of Col. Erastus B. Tyler of Ravenna, Ohio, had been assigned picket duty near Cross Lanes (also known as Kessler’s Cross Lanes), in the Kanawha region of western Virginia. Acting independently (and therefore unable to support one another), the regiment’s several companies took up positions on neighboring hills. Early on the morning of August 26, Brig. Gen. John B. Floyd’s larger force of Confederates surprised and overwhelmed the scattered units of Ohioans as they were making their breakfasts. Routed, the battered Ohio regiment disintegrated in retreat, half its surviving members finding their way to Union forces at Gauley, the other half to the vicinity of Charleston. In post-war accounts, the regiment was said to have suffered at least 120 men killed, wounded, or captured, but a modern estimate published by the National Park Service estimates there were 245 Union losses to 40 Confederate. Hoping to whip up recruits for his depleted ranks, Captain Asper calls the 7th “the bravest and bully regiment of Ohio.”

Can anyone supply more information about the fight at Kessler's Cross Lanes on Aug. 26, 1861? Was Colonel Tyler ever disciplined for positioning his troops so poorly?

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