Friday, January 16, 2009
Bernard Reilly A Cavalry Trooper
Bernard Reilly With the 7th Pa. Cav.
LT. BERNARD REILLY
Ber Reilly as he was known by the men who served with him is one of Schuylkill County’s greatest cavalry soldiers. The U.S. cavalry is my most favorite of all the branches of the military, especially during the Civil War and the Indian Wars.
This sketch is to honor one of Schuylkill’s famous cavalrymen Bernard Reilly.
Reilly served during the Civil War as one of the First Defenders, a member of the famed Washington Artillerist of Pottsville. He later became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry from November 18, 1861 to July 1, 1863, when he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant of the same regiment. Reilly wrote many interesting letters to the Pottsville Miners Journal during the war. He resigned his commission on April 21, 1864, when he returned to civil pursuits. He was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga.
I sometimes wonder what drove Reilly to reenlist in the U.S. Cavalry once again. His close friend and comrade from the Washington Artillery Captain Edward Lieb, may have been an influence in his joining the 5th U.S. cavalry. As Lieb was still serving with the regiment. But be it as it may on May 4, 1868 four years later Ber Reilly was appointed as a Second Lieutenant in the famed “Dandy Fifth” 5th U.S. Cavalry. And was soon promoted to First Lt. on March 1, 1870.
He joined the 5th at Washington on the 8th of September and was stationed there until March 1870. He was then transferred to the frontier and served at ft. D.A. Russell, Wyo. And Ft. McPherson, Neb. Having occasional periods of field service , until November 1871, when he accompanied the first detachment of the regiment , by way of San Francisco and the Gulf of California , to Arizona and arrived at Camp Grant in January 1872 where he was stationed until the following October.
He was on leave of absence until January 1874, when he once again rejoined the regiment at Camp Apache and participated in the Apache campaign f 1874. Reilly was promoted in the Pinal and Santa Teresa Mountains campaign. Near old Camp Pinal, near Pinal Creek he was mentioned in the official dispatches. He was also involved in seven different minor affairs, during the month of April, in the same area.
On the 23rd of October 1874 he commanded an expedition to the canon of the Chevlon’s Fork of the Little Colorado River, where he inflicted sever punishment on a band of renegade and predatory Indians. During this time period he was twice nominated by the U.S. Senate to be a Brevet Captain, to date from April 1, 1874, for gallant conduct in action with the Apache Indians at Apache Creek.
From April 1874 to February 1875, Reilly served at Camp Apache and the San Carlos Agency, commanding Indian Scouts and performing the duty of commissary and Quartermaster officer. In Late February he was on sick leave, he later rejoined his regiment at Fort Lyon, Col. and then proceeded to Fort Gibson, I.T. where he arrived on the 9th of September and served as adjutant of his company. In June of 1876 he proceeded top Cheyenne and participated in the Sioux War in Northern Wyoming, Dakota and Montana and was engaged in the affairs near the South Branch of the Cheyenne River and at the famous War Bonnet Creek, Slim Buttes fight at Slim Buttes, Dakota Territory.
During this fight Ber Reilly was with the famous Scout Buffalo Bill Cody, and incidentally Cody referred to Reilly in his book as one of my friends and my attorney who always helped me in times of need. My Friend Ber Reilly of the 5th U.S. Cavalry. Another interesting aspect of this time period after Bill Cody resigns as Chief of Scouts; another Schuylkill Countian takes his place. “Captain Jack Crawford” from Minersville.
After the expedition against the Indians in Wyoming in October 1876, Reilly was stationed at Fort D.A. Russell until 4 June 1878 when he resigned his commission and went to practicing law in Topeka, Kansas.
This is a letter written By Reilly During the Civil War, written to the Pottsville Miners Journal.
Pottsville Miners Journal
March 22, 1862 From the 7th Reg. PA Cavalry, Col. G. C. Wynkoop, Commanding Camp Wood, Mumfordsville,Ky March 6, 1862 EDITORS MINERS' JOURNAL: We are getting nearer the enemy gradually, having marched 50 miles during the last week, and such a march. The famous retreat from Moscow hardly equaled it. We left Camp Thomas, Bardstown, Thursday, Feb. 27th. That day's march was rather pleasant. We made 18 miles, camping in a delightful spot, within 200 yards of the place that President Lincoln learnt his alphabet. Friday we laid over getting our horses shod. Saturday, March 1st, we started off in a storm of rain and sleet. This day's march was a terrible one, as the rain froze as it fell, nearly freezing some of the men. We made 18 miles, and pitched our tents at 3 P.M. This night we lost a man of Company A, named John Canfield, of Mount Carmel. He died from exposure during the march. We was buried early next morning. This was a melancholy scene. It was done in a drenching rain. We started on the march as soon as he was buried. This day's march even worse than the day before as it rained in torrents all day. We only marched three miles this day, we couldn't march any further on account of the roads. We went into camp at 5 P.M., half the train being stuck fast. Some of the companies had no tents so they stood around fires, one of the worst nights I ever remember seeing. Monday we started off again in a snow storm. This day's march was a scene, as the men learned by the night be fore’s experience, not to trust the baggage wagons. So the Sibley tents, sibley stoves, picket ropes, mess pans, kettles, & c., were strapped to the horses' backs. There was many a laughable scene, as sometimes, some poor fellow's load would slip around on the horse, which would set the animal kicking, and it would be quite some time until they could quiet him. We marched 6 miles this day, going into camp at 2 P.M. Tuesday we started again, carrying our camping utensils the same as the day before. We marched 12 miles this day, and reached this place at 4 P.M., some of our teams not getting in until Wednesday night. So the wisdom of carrying our tents as we did is very apparent. We are camped on a hill over looking you can imagine from that what kind of place it is. We are expecting carbines and revolvers, and when they arrive, the 7th will be fully equipped and armed as any Cavalry Regt. in the service, and an honor to the old Keystone State. B. R.
Pottsville Miners Journal
March 29, 1862 From the 7th Reg. Pa. Cavalry, Col. G. C. Wynkoop Commanding Bowling Green, Ky. March 14, 1862 EDITORS MINERS' JOURNAL: We left Munfordsville Tuesday, March 11th, and at 9 A. M., crossed the Green River. We marched all day Tuesday, and bivouacked within one mile of the celebrated Mammoth Cave. Of course we visited it. We walked over there, and after looking at the Hotel, which the rebels completely robbed, proceeded to see the elephant. We each paid one dollar entrance for a guide. After procuring him and getting good lamps, we proceeded. We were in the cave some seven hours. We could only go some tight miles, as the river in the cave was to high, so we had to content ourselves crossing the River Styx. The curiosities in the cave are well worth seeing, but they have been described so often and by such good writers, that I will not attempt to describe them. We had quite an interesting march from Munfordsville, as the 3rd Ohio Cavalry received marching orders at the same time we did, and the tug was, who should have the lead. They had four hours start of us, as they were on the other side of the river, encamped, and it takes fully four hours to cross the Green River at Munfordsville. We marched all day, until 9:30 P.M., passing the 3rd Ohio, as they lay in camp, at 7 P.M. We bivouacked, (as our teams did not catch up) all night. The 3rd passed us the next morning at 9, as we were waiting for our baggage train. We got started at 1 P.M. and passed the 3rd at 9 P.M., who were in camp. We camped two miles further on. We started at 2 A.M., yesterday morning and marched thirteen miles, before daybreak, thus leaving our opponents 15 miles in our rear, having caught them napping. We arrived in Bowling Green six hours to cross the pontoon bridge here, as the rebels destroyed all the bridges. We are camped very near the principal works of the rebels and have been all through them. They are extensive and strong. They command the surrounding country, for miles. The scenery from there is beautiful. The town is deserted, and might be called the city of the dead, as there are some four thousand rebels buried here, who died during the rebel reign over the country. We leave for Nashville, Tenn., this afternoon. We expect to march there in four days, and will keep ahead of the 3rd Ohio. You will hear from me again from Nashville. B. R.
Reilly is buried in Charles Baber Cemetery Pottsville, Pa.