Monday, May 23, 2011

Schuylkill County at the Battle of Chickamauga

Schuylkill County cavalrymen, members of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry open the Battle of Chickamauga, Ga. And the first men killed in the fight are two men from Schuylkill County.

On the morning of September 18, 1863 Captain Heber Thompson of the Seventh Pa. Cavalry was ordered to lead a reconnaissance of 100 men toward Ringgold Ga. with orders to proceed to that place and make contact with Union General Granger. Before arriving at Ringgold Captain Thompson and his detachment met the confederate advance about three miles from Reed's Bridge on the Pea Vine Creek and fired into the rebel infantry and opened the famed battle of Chickamauga about 5:30 A.M.
Captain Thompson's small detachment held off over 4,000 infantry and three batteries of artillery. Captain Thompson held this position until 10:00 A.M. Credit was given to the men of the Seventh Pa. Cavalry for opening the battle of Chickamauga. Interestingly Schuylkill Countian Pvt. John Ward was the first Union soldier killed in the battle.

Reeds Bridge

A Illinois regiment that was sent to burn the bridge noticed the body of a dead cavalry man and also his horse. The body was probably that of Owen Brennan, who was struck by a cannon ball while the regiment was charging Longstreet’s men on the other side of the bridge. Brennan was on horse back when he was struck; also John Ward was killed in this charge. Ward was a splendid horseman according to Sgt. Samuel Winn, and always took delight in breaking to the saddle spirited horses. The horse that Ward was mounted on this day was also a spirited animal and became excited while under fire and ran ahead of the detachment in the charge and John Ward was struck by a ball from a confederate sharpshooter. Both Ward and Brennan were from the west end of the county and are buried in the National Cemetery in Chattanooga.

Miners Journal Oct. 26, 1914
Pennsylvania At Chickamauga and Chattanooga 1897

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