With furloughs over, the men of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry returned to service in April 1864 to find that they were now in the Army of the Potomac. This was the fifth army that Isaac Gause mentions in his book, "Four Years in Five Armies."
The veteran troopers also welcomed new recruits. Gen. Grant, who had won battles in the Western theatre, was now in command, planning campaigns in the east.
Gen. Burnside with his 9th Corps, was sent to Annapolis, Md., for a secret expedition. Burnside requested the 2nd OVC to remain with him and the troopers were very enthused.
At Camp Parole near Annapolis, troopers who had been captured at Greenville, Tenn., were exchanged. They were, as Isaac said, "in a pitiable condition."
Arriving at Annapolis, they learned that Burnside's expedition was uncertain and that they were his only cavalry regiment.
Col. Kautz had tried to requisition mess kits for the men but it would take an order from the War Department, which had to apply to all the cavalry corps. Isaac and the rest of the troopers had acquired cooking utensils for four men, which made up a mess. This was done at their own expense.
An example of other dangers occurred on their way to Annapolis by B&O train. The men were in box cars, Logan Moore was sleeping in front of the door and was missing. Later, a dispatch explained that he had been picked up unconscious under a bridge by railroad workers. He must have fallen through the door, which was not bottom-fastened, and fell 20 feet below the bridge.
Gen. Jacob Cox was chief of staff for Major General Schofield, and he handled administrative details, making sure each division was coordinating with other divisions, so they could move harmoniously. He also supervised the organization of equipment and supplies, and consulted with the medical director as to hospital work and sanitary conditions.
Cox - the former superintendent of the Warren school system and future governor of Ohio - had always wanted military command, so when Schofield offered him to keep this position or to be a division commander, Cox chose the division commander. He believed that there were no better men in the 23rd Corps, many he had served with previously.
On April 3, Gen. Cox was assigned to the 3rd Division and ordered to move to Bull's Gap to replace Gen. Stoneman, who was to go to Kentucky to prepare the Cavalry Corps for active service.
The corps headquarters was a shingle building built as a hotel for the railway station. There was no furniture but it served as shelter for their office work.
On April 6, 1864, a party of 40 women and children came up the railway to be sent through the lines under a flag of truce. These women were hoping to join their husbands, who were in Confederate service. Since it was raining, everyone sheltered in the shingle headquarters building, for they had no tents or camping equipment.
The rain soaked the roads to mud and it was several days before they could be transported by wagons. Another group followed, and they experienced more delay in meeting friends and escorts. However, they bore all, suffering cheerfully with hopes of reuniting with their husbands.
At this time, word was passed that Gen. Longstreet had abandoned plans to stay in East Tennessee and was rejoining Gen. Lee's Army in Virginia.
Gen. Cox had experienced feuds and divisions among loyal Union people and others sympathetic to the Confederates in West Virginia, but the division between loyalists and Confederate sympathizers in the Holston Valley of Tennessee seemed very bitter. The loyal mountaineers were persecuted. In retaliation, the home-guards hanged bridge-burners, and others died in prison for no other crime but disloyalty to the Confederacy.
Col. Emerson Opdycke returned to the 125th OVI after his furlough home in Warren. He brought a letter from Gen. Cox's wife, Helen Clarissa Cox, which he gave to Gen. Hascall since he would see Cox before Opdycke.
In letters to his wife from Tennessee, Opdycke said that the regiment was still waiting for furloughed soldiers to return. The journey was slow for they all had to march from Nashville, as there was no other transportation.
Arriving in Chattanooga, he borrowed horses and toured the battlefields of Missionary Ridge and Look Out Mountain, noting that the scene from the mountaintop was spectacular. He stood on the very spot where a Confederate signal man had signaled to his army that the Union Army was coming.
Word arrived of Gen. Cox's division command. Gen. Hascall had praised Cox, saying that he was very thorough and never at fault. Opdycke was glad to hear other officers praise Cox, for he also held him in high regard.
He also wrote that a fine cabin had been built for him, with a mortared chimney, a clapboard roof and a window, with a good door and shelves. He closed a letter saying the view showed the snow-capped Smoky Mountain Range, which caused others to note how beautiful the scenery was in this part of the country.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.