Image from "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" first published in 1887.

Not unlike the troop train sent from Montgomery to Chehaw Station on July 18, 1864.



An Action of Rousseau's Raid on the Montgomery & West Point R.R. in Macon County, Alabama.

July 18, 1864

Newspaper accounts transcribed from the originals in the collections of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Casualty information extracted from individual Confederate service records held by the National Archives.

Selma Morning Reporter

July 23, 1864

Vol. 6, No. 226


Correspondent to the Montgomery Mail

Near Chehaw, Tuesday, July 19, 1864.

Dear Mail: Thinking that a letter concerning yesterday's fight near this place at Beasley's Tank, some forty miles from the city, might prove interesting to your readers, I proceed to drop you a line, promising, however that I am giving but the experience of one of the participants of things occurring under his own eye. At Chehaw, some mile and a half this side of the tank, definite information was received that the enemy was at Camp Watts. The company of Tuscaloosa Cadets, some forty in number, were sent up the road as skirmishers. The train then proceded to the tank and the troops commenced disembarking. They had not all got off before the ringing of musketry showed that the enemy had been found. Our forces saw the pickets of the enemy on the hill, on which stands Mr. Beasely's gin house, and were preceding up the railroad to flank them, when suddenly they found themselves almost entirely surrounded by the enemy, hidden in the swampy ground, who, unseen poured in the lead at the distance of twenty steps. Here it was that Lieut. Bethen, of Capt. Walthall's company, Lockhart's Battalion, fell pierced through the head. It is some satisfaction, however, to know that the Yankee, whose aim was so unerring, was in turn shot dead, and now lies buried where he fell. Our troops maintained themselves gallantly, driving the enemy on at the gin house. The Yankees had earlier in the morning prepared themselves for the event of a fight, and by the aid of negroes impressed for the service, had let down the fence so as to allow the passage of cavalry, and by drawing the rails together, made pens (if I may be allowed the expression) for their sharpshooters. These, however, they were unable to occupy. They fell back to the wood slope on the eastern side of the field, and supported by reinforcements, drew up for the fight. Our troops, in line of battle, moved across the field some two hundred yards, up to, or nearly to, the woods in which the Yankees were concealed. While doing so, they were exposed to the fire of he enemy, who advanced to the edge of the coppice. The fight here was kept up some half an hour, when our forces, in good order, fell back, the enemy not daring to follow. The fighting here closed, and the enemy having the advantage of being mounted, soon took to their horses and left. As to the forces engaged on both sides, conjecture as to that of the enemy, is of course the only method left. A prisoner taken in the afternoon, reports their force engaged at two thousand - the remaining two thousand being engaged in destroying the railroad, in which work they were aided by the labor of some two or three hundred negro men, women and children impressed for the very work. Our strength was not exceeding six hundred, and no estimate of the Yankees is made under these figures. The Yankees were picked men, armed with Spencer revolving rifles, shooting seven times, a pair of revolvers and sabres - while our men, or rather boys so young were most of them, had but the smooth and minie musket, and had never been under fire before. But I am not apologizing for the latter - they need it not - but merely giving facts from which an impartial judgment may be made up. Our loss in killed, wounded and missing, I should think, near seventy. But some seven or eight are all that I can learn were captured. The loss of the enemy I am unable to give. Most of their loss was in the first fight; in the last one they were so well protected that we must have had more killed and wounded than they. Some half a dozen of their dead have been found; their wounded they removed - one of the latter to badly to be retrieved, is now at Beasley's, shot through the breast and mouth. At Camp Watts some five of their wounded were found yesterday afternoon. Persons cognizant of the facts, report these Yankees as a genteeler act than one would imagine. They certainly conducted themselves in a manner entirely different from that of their other raiding parties. Beyond the injury to the railroad and the destruction of Government property, they did no damage except taking horses and mules. The prisoners state that the object of the expedition was the destruction of the Coosa river bridge, and that Rosseau subsequently headed southwards intending to do all the injury he could to the railroad - that they had no idea of getting out, and confidently expected to be captured.

Selma Morning Reporter

July 27, 1864

Vol. 6, No. 227

Our Forces in the Fight at Beasley's Farm.

Our forces in the fight at Beasley's Farm with the Rousseau raiders on Monday last, says the Montgomery Advertiser, consisted of the Lockhart Battalion, the conscripts from Camp Watts, under Capt. Ready, and the State Cadets from the University. All of them bore themselves most gallantly, fighting as if they were accustomed to such work, although it was the first time they were ever under fire. The State Cadets deserve all the praise bestowed on them, doing credit to themselves and the training they have received. Still the battalion and the conscripts did their whole duty; evincing much coolness and courage under fire of the raiders. The lists of casualties will show that the latter, as well as the Cadets, confronted the foe and suffered considerably. The loss of the Cadets was two wounded; that of the battalion, forty-eight killed and wounded; and that of the conscripts fifteen wounded and seventeen missing. Capt. Walthall's company of reserves lost the most.


Tuskegee, Alabama

July 28, 1864

Vol. 16, No. 8


The raiding party that passed through Talladega some two weeks since struck the Montgomery and West Point Railroad near Notasulga on Sunday the 16th inst., and were met on Monday by the forces from Montgomery and Camp Watts under command of Col. Lockhart, and Majors Thomas and Ready, where quite a spirited battle was fought in Mr. Beasley's field, two miles above Chehaw depot and about six miles north of Tuskegee. The raiders were driven back at first, when they were reinforced and returned, and were driving our brave boys back, when a company of nearly one hundred mounted men from Tuskegee and vicinity, under command of Col. Withers, C.S.A. [Maj. Gen. Jones M. Withers], suddenly deployed on the left flank of the enemy, which he took to be the advance of a heavy cavalry reinforcement, and retreated, and thus the day was saved. The infantry, composed of mere boys mostly, commanded by Col. Lockhart, among whom were about 30 or 40 cadets from Tuskaloosa, fought like veterans, as their list of killed and wounded will attest. There were not more than two hundred and fifty of them, and they lost about 10 killed and 38 wounded, some of them mortally. Majors Ready and Thomas acted most gallantly. On the whole, it was quite creditable that only six hundred militia held in check and drive back not less than twenty-five hundred or three thousand picked troops of the Federal army, and that saved the most important bridges on the road. The raiders continued their depredations on the Rail Road until Tuesday evening, tearing it up from Beasly's tank to Opelika, a distance of over twenty miles. Meanwhile Gen'l Clanton's command of Cavalry, numbering about 200, came up with the enemy between Loachapoka and Auburn, but they were jaded and not sufficiently strong enough to venture an attack. Gen'l Clanton had followed them from Greensport, where he had a considerable brush with them, but was overpowered by numbers. The depots at Notasulga, Loachapoka, Auburn and Opelika were all destroyed, containing government supplies. We are gratified at the spirit manifested by our people. We really did not know that so many men could be marshalled in so short a time. Let this raid into the very heart of Alabama arouse our people to organize at once. If every county will do its duty, we can easily protect ourselves from all similar movements of the enemy. There should be arms and ammunition deposited in every county. Our citizens are organizing, and we trust that in ten days or less, there will be a force in Macon, Montgomery, Russell, Chambers, Tallapoosa and Coosa sufficient to utterly demolish any force that my venture upon such another expedition. Again we say, organize! Organize!! The soil of our county has been baptized in blood; let its cry be heeded by all.


July 27, 1864

Vol. 29, No. 42

Sunday Morning, July 24, 1864.

Instead of finding fault with the management of affairs during the recent raid on the Montgomery & West Point Railroad, we have reason to congratulate ourselves that everything passed off so well. It seems to be forgotten that there was no command, and no organized forces out of which to make a command, when the enemy's advance threatened Montgomery. Maj. Gen. Withers had been only a sort of bureau head for what are called the Reserve Forces of Alabama, and even of this nominal command he had previously been deprived by an order to turn these forces over to Maj. Gen. Maury at Mobile. When, therefore, the alarm was sounded that Rousseau's raiders had actually passed Talladega, moving in the direction of Montgomery, we were not only without troops for its defense, but without anyone authorized to command, except the Governor, and he had no regular militia, in consequence of the acts of Congress putting the men into Confederate service and disorganizing the system. In this emergency reliance had to be placed on the volunteer spirit, and such companies accessible by railroad as commanders at other points might spare for the occasion. The people met to organize for their defense, at their insistence General Withers volunteered to command them and it does appear to us that no reasonable man could expect, under the circumstances, more prompt or efficient preparations than were made. At the repeated and earnest request of Gen. Withers, Gen. Maury finally consented to lend him Davidson's Battalion, and these, with Ready's Battalion, a small company of Cadets, and the local companies and convalescents in the hospitals, constituted the entire available force. All except Davidson's Battalion had to be armed and provided for; artillery and artillery horses to be had; scouts to be sent out, and the whole set in motion only after a few hours notice; set in motion, too, against a deliberately planned and splendidly appointed expedition of the enemy, composed of picked men, with the finest arms and outfit the Yankee service could afford. And notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which he labored, Gen Withers succeeded in saving forty-two miles, the larger and better portion of the Montgomery & West Point Railroad, and also the important bridge and trestle work over the Uphaupee and Red Hill Creeks. Is it not more wonderful that so much should have been done with such limited means at hand, than that so few accidents should have happened? The raid of Rousseau, which we have just escaped, was a timely warning, which should not go unimproved either by the people or the authorities. The people should regard this only as the forerunner of others far more dangerous and destructive in character. Let no one be deceived by Rousseau's pretended regard for private property and the rights of citizens. This only means the he wants to make good arms with you, so that in future you and your property may be made to observe the purposes of an unscrupulous foe; he wants our negroes, provisions and stock kept undefended until the larger armies of the enemy shall come to take them. The authorities, too, should remember that this section of country is invaluable to the Confederacy and its armies, and should put it at once in the best defensive position possible to meet future raids, or incursions of the enemy. We are glad to see some steps already taking this direction. The people owe it to themselves to give the authorities united and cordial support in the discharge of their duties


Also known as Davidson's Battalion

A part of the 1st Alabama Reserves which was later organized as the 62nd Alabama Infantry.

Eight companies of Lockhart's Battalion were organized from mid to late 1863 by the authority of Brig. Gen. Pillow who commanded the Confederate Bureau of Conscription for Alabama, Tennessee & Mississippi. The enlistees were boys 15-17 years old otherwise exempted from conscription. Their responsibilities were to guard public property and perform Provost Marshall duties along the rail lines in the interior of Alabama. Only five companies took part in the skirmish at Chehaw Station.

The battalion was named in honor of Lt. Col. Harrison Claiborne Lockhart [1828-1878]. Lockhart was a member of the Tennessee State Legislature from 1859-1863 and had seen action at Fort Donelson as Lt. Col. of the 50th Tennessee Infantry. A native of Stewart County, Tennessee he was a lawyer by trade. On August 18, 1863 he was given responsibility for the "Camps of Instruction and Conscripts for the State of Alabama" which placed him in charge of Camp Watts at Notasulga and Camp Buckner at Talladega. Newspaper accounts suggest his presence on the field at Chehaw Station but it is unclear exactly what role he played in directing Confederate forces. His closest immediate superior in the field appears to have been Maj. Gen. Jones M. Withers.

Tactical control of Confederate forces at Chehaw Station was maintained by Major Bryan Morel Thomas [1836-1905], a Georgian, of Maj. General Withers' staff. Although all accounts of the skirmish speak of him as being a Major at the time he actually already held the rank of Colonel of a cavalry regiment. Thomas was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy, Class of 1858, a veteran of the prewar U.S. Army and the Battle of Shiloh. Later on he would be promoted to Brigadier General during the Mobile Campaign and command his own brigade of Alabama Reserves. While General Jones Mitchell Withers (West Point Military Academy, Class of 1835) is mentioned as being on the field near the end of the action he does not appear to have been present during the initial fighting, but nearby in Tuskegee gathering militia reinforcements. Interesting side note in that Thomas later married General Withers' daughter, Mary Jones Withers, on November 14, 1864 in Mobile.

At Chehaw Station, "Lockhart's Battalion" was commanded by Major James Lafayette Davidson [1837-1896]. Davidson was a twenty-seven year old farmer from Bibb County. Davidson had commanded Company F, 11th Alabama Infantry earlier in the war and was present at the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia. He resigned July 5, 1862 due to sickness. Shortly thereafter he was appointed Captain at the Camp of Instruction at Talladega where he initially organized a company of boys for the battalion. This battalion is sometimes found referred to as "Davidson's Battalion" in period accounts. The companies of Lockhart's Battalion that fought at Chehaw Station were armed with .69 cal smoothbore muskets. Surviving clothing receipts indicate some uniform issues were made from the Post of Selma in the Spring of 1864.

During the Mobile Campaign after most of the boys had reached the legal age of conscription the name of the organization was changed from the 1st Alabama Reserves (by then ten companies) to the 62nd Alabama Infantry Regiment.

Major Davidson's Report On The Action Of July 18, 1864

Hd. Qrs. Lockhart's Batt'n Near Chehaw, Ala

July 23rd 1864

Maj. B. M. Thomas

Comdg Troops Near

Chehaw, Ala.


In accordance with instructions I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Battalion [unreadable section] and in the action of the 18th July 1864 at Beasley's Farm near Chehaw, Ala. When the enemy's pickets opened on our Scouts, the several companies of the Battalion were disembarked from the cars and formed as speedily as possible. Co. E, Capt. Walthall, was thrown across and to the left of the railroad in our front. Co. B, Capt Yniestre, was ordered to dislodge the enemy from the gin house to our front and right, and Capt. Donahoo, Co. G was deployed on his left. Co's A and D being held in reserve. Almost simultaneously these three companies deployed as skirmishers and engaged the enemy. He was quickly driven from the gin house, and line of fence in rear of it. His entire line falling back about 400 yards. Discovering a large body of cavalry immediately in our front, Capt Ward, Co A was ordered to move by the left flank obliquely to the left and under cover of a thick woods and attack them in flank. Before however he could reach destination, the enemy withdrew and disappeared from our front. Continuing to advance I had nearly reached the line last occupied by the enemy over a half mile form the point where the engagement first commenced when I received orders to halt. The entire battalion was deployed except one company held in reserve and remained in line until about 3 o'clock p.m. The most serious loss of the morning was the death of 1st Lt. Bethea, Co. E, who was shot through the head in the early part of the action. Several men were wounded but none seriously. About 3 o'clock Maj. Ready was ordered to advance his battalion that was deployed and I was ordered to hold my position in reserve about sixty paces in rear of his line. He had advanced several hundred yards, and had nearly reached the crest of a hill covered with thick brushwood when the enemy fired. His line wavered and finally broke in confusion bringing back a small part of my line to the rear in its retreat. It is due to Maj Ready to state that he, and a part of his men, acted with great gallantry. The enemy now pressed forward with great vigor and at the same time under cover of the railroad embankment completely flanked and enfiladed my left. Captains McCaw and Walthall, (D&E) here sustained the brunt of the enemy's attack. Pressed in front and flank these gallant officers and brave men bore long and well the fire of overwhelming numbers. [Illegible] Capt McCaw was severely wounded in both thighs and the great portion of the line was driven back. A number of the men together with Capt Walthall and Donohoo were so overwhelmed by the enemy that they had to remain for a time under cover of a marsh to avoid capture. In accordance with orders the entire line was then reformed at the gin house after it was discovered that the enemy did not intend to renew the attack. The battalion was ordered back to the long bridge. It is with pleasure that I state that officers and men behaved with the steady courage of veteran soldiers. I enclose herewith a list of the casualties.

Very Respectfully,

Your Obt. Servant

J. L. Davidson

Maj. Commanding



Co. A was recruited from Bibb County.

Muster roll states: "This company was engaged in a heavy skirmish with Yankee Raiders on the 18th July 1864 on the Montgomery and West Point Railroad."


Private Columbus P. Lee. Enlisted 11/17/63 at Talladega, Ala.

Private J. M. Roach. Age 17. Enlisted 11/17/63 at Talladega, Ala.


"Tom Watts Cadets" - so named for the Governor of the State of Alabama, Thomas H. Watts.

Co. B was recruited from Calhoun, St. Clair and Randolph Counties.


Private S. A. Autwell, Age 17. Enlisted 12/05/63 at Talladega.

Private Johnathan D. Carmichael, Age 17. Enlisted 12/05/63 at Talladega.

Private S. I. Wilkerson, Age 17. Enlisted 12/05/63 at Talladega.

Private W. E. Williamson, Age 17. Enlisted 12/05/63 at Talladega. Per 1894 Confederate Veteran's Pension applied for in Clay County, Alabama he was "shot through the left leg" at "Chehaw Bridge".


"Stonewall Cadets"

Co. D was recruited from Perry County.


Cpl. Robert Henry Tubbs, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private James Files, Age 15. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Charles M. Oxford

Private James P. Pulley, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma. Died of wound 22 July 1864 at Camp Watts Hospital per death certificate completed by Surgeon S. H. Stout in the collections of the University of Texas.


Captain James A. McCaw - while 2nd Lieutenant he was drill master at the Camp of Instruction at Talladega.

3rd Cpl. Moses Winn, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Frank M. Bazemore, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Thomas S. Boggs, Age 17. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Samuel H. Bufford. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma. Residence: Elyton, Ala.

Private Edward S. Carroll, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private James M. Hanby. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Leander Hayes. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma. Per 1911 Confederate Veteran's Pension application made in Chilton County, Alabama he was born about 1848.

Private William Hunt, Age 17. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private Louis Smith, Age 17. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma.

Private James Watts. Enlisted 5/16/64 at Selma.


Private Abner M. Coleman, Age 16. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma. Paroled in the field.

Private Sharp D. McDonough. Enlisted 03/20/64 at Selma. Paroled in the field.

Private Nathan Rayfield. Enlisted 12/22/63 at Selma. Paroled in the field.


Co. E was recruited from Calhoun and Talladega Counties.

Muster roll states: "Lost one commanding officer and 3 privates killed and 12 privates and on noncommissioned officer severely wounded."


1st Lt. Theodore Bethea. Elected to office January 18, 1864.

Cpl Elias F. Ritch. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega.

Private James H. Davis. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Died of wound at Camp Watts Hospital 22 July 1864 per death certificate completed by Surgeon U. R. Stout in the collections of the University of Texas.

Private James K. P. Davis. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Muster roll states: "Died at his home in Randolph County, Alabama August, 1864." Unclear if this individual died of a wound received at Chehaw Station or died of sickness.

Private John Hudson. Enlisted 02/01/64 at Talladega. Muster roll states "mortally wounded". Died August 20, 1864.

Private Marcus L. Odel. Enlisted 02/01/64 at Talladega.

Private Albert Suddeth. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Muster roll states: "Died at St. Mary's Hospital, Montgomery, Ala. August 4, 1864." Unclear if he was mortally wounded at Chehaw Station or died of sickness.


1st Cpl. Johnathan H. Hardy, Age 16. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Listed as a resident of Randolph County, Alabama on the 1860 U.S. Census.

Private Thomas Taylor Derrett, Age 16. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Listed as a resident of Randolph County, Alabama on the 1860 U.S. Census. Died of wound at Camp Watts hospital 07/21/64 per death certificate completed by Surgeon U. R. Jones. Original in the Samuel H. Stout collection, University of Texas.

Private Monroe Pinkney Norton, Age 17. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Applied for a Confederate Veteran's Pension in 1895 in Limestone County, Alabama. Stated he was "wounded in right shoulder by ball" at Chehaw Station.

Private William T. Powers, Age 17. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega.

Private William L. Roberts, Age 17. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Arm amputated as result of wound received at Chehaw Station.

Private James R. Simpson, Age 17. Enlisted 02/01/64 at Talladega.


Private William A. Lester. Enlisted 01/18/64 at Talladega. Paroled in the field.


Co. G was recruited from Talladega County.


1st Lieutenant William Edwards. Age 24.

3rd Sgt. Alfred C. Wright, Age 17. Enlisted 01/28/64 at Talladega.

1st Cpl. J. Vann Hall, Age 16. Enlisted 01/28/64 at Talladega.


Private Henry Mitchell, Age 18. Enlisted 01/28/64 at Talladega. Paroled in the field.

Private John Thomas, Age 16. Enlisted 01/28/64 at Talladega. Paroled in the field.


This formation was comprised of individuals attached (and the dedicated camp cadre notwithstanding I use that word loosely) to the Camp of Instruction near Notasulga known as Camp Watts. Given the lack of detailed records and turnover of personnel at the camp it is difficult to ascertain exactly who most of the enlisted men were or where they were conscripted from. Camp Watts was commanded by Major Edward Sims Ready [1830-1875] of Wetumpka. Six feet three inches tall, Ready was formerly Captain of the Wetumpka Light Guard, Co. I, 3rd Alabama Infantry, Rhode's Alabama Brigade. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Turner's Gap, Maryland on Sept 14, 1862 and paroled home. It was determined that due to his injury he would be unable to return to active service and he was assigned to the Conscript Bureau in Alabama. He was appointed Major in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States on May 30, 1863 and given command of Camp Watts. As camp commander Ready also supervised the various county conscript enrolling officers of his district. His immediate superior in the Alabama Bureau of Conscripts was Lt. Col. Lockhart. When Rousseau's cavalry appeared on the railroad to the east of the camp in overwhelming force Major Ready withdrew his men from the camp west along the railroad until he could rendezvous with reinforcements from Montgomery. He likely had something less than two hundred men at his disposal. Camp Watts was burned by the Federals but the post hospital continued in operation. According to newspaper accounts Ready's Battalion, despite a lack of resources, the nature of its organization, and the disappearance of no less than seventeen men during the fight [presumed to have run off], provided reasonably good service on the defence at Chehaw Station. This was in large part attributable to the leadership and no doubt stern discipline provided by Major Ready and other officers under his command.

An Alabama conscript's ten day furlough from Camp Watts.


This list is from "The Montgomery Weekly Advertiser", July 27, 1864, Vol. XXIX, No. 42

University of Alabama Cadet Private Robert James McCreary - gunshot through right lung.

University of Alabama Cadet Private William R. Gilmer - wounded in knee.

Note: The University of Alabama Cadets who fought at Chehaw Station were individuals who happened to be in the Montgomery area on furlough [in between academic terms] at the time of the raid. They were organized into a company at the request of the Governor. They were not a company of cadets sent from Tuscaloosa per se.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - J. M. Atchley - wounded in the "foot slight." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - C W Bland - wounded in "leg slight." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - J. W. Chestnut- wounded in "mouth slight." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - J. J. Guill - wounded in the "side slight." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - J. G. Gripet - wounded in "bowels mortally." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - E. M. Hollis - wounded in "both hips." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - H. Jones - wounded in "abdomen severe." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - Lieutenant Johnson - wounded in "face severe." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - C. C. McCrea - wounded in "hip slight." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - ? McCray- wounded in "left shoulder." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - ? Fulmer - wounded in "right shoulder." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - William Reeves - wounded in "knee severe." Unable to further identify this individual.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - H. C. Terry - wounded in leg. Died of wound at Camp Watts hospital 09/25/64 per death certificate completed by Surgeon U. R. Jones. Original in the Samuel H Stout Collection, University of Texas.

Ready's Battalion of Conscripts - Charles T. Brook - Muster roll of Capt. Moore's Company of Alabama Reserves also states: "Wounded at Chehaw on 18 inst. & since reported dead." Also listed as having died of wound at Camp Watts hospital 07/24/64 per death certificate completed by Surgeon U. R. Jones. Original in the Samuel H Stout Collection, University of Texas.


Vol. VI, No. 226

July 23, 1864


"The rumor that one piece of artillery was captured from us by the enemy in the fight at Beasley's is incorrect. The piece, the only one carried on the field, was safely brought away, and is now in the city [Montgomery]. Another, to the effect that one piece had been spiked, grew out of the fact that it was carried up in a foul condition. This piece was never carried out to the field."




August 10, 1902

Vol. 29, No. 46

On June 20, 1864, Gen. W. T. Sherman, from Kennesaw Mountain, while engaged in pressing General Johnston back upon Atlanta, issued an order to Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau to select 2500 good cavalrymen for a raid upon Decatur, Alabama, having for an objective point the West Point and Montgomery Railroad at Opelika, but as far as possible to avoid decisive battles. He was to travel light, having no wagons, and only two light Parrott guns, carrying stores on pack mules.

On July 9, 1864, Sherman ordered Rousseau to move at once, and Rousseau did move with as fine a body of cavalry as the Federal Army could muster. To met this incursion into the very heart of food-producing country of the Confederacy, endangering railroad communication with the army defending Atlanta, strange to say, very little provision had been made. It seems to not have occurred to the home authorities that to fight, soldiers and horses must be fed. General Clanton, with two cavalry regiments, poorly equipped and poorly drilled, was in the vicinity of Talladega. Major Hardie, with a battalion of reserves (old men) and Lockhart's battalion, afterwards the Sixty-second Alabama Regiment, consisting of eight companies of boys enrolled at seventeen years of age, who had had about six months of drill and post guard duty at Selma, Alabama, were the only available troops to met the raiders. This battalion of boys, not exceeding 500 in number, had for some reason been sent to Pollard to met a foe not nearer than the Gulf. Hastily summed to Montgomery, without halting, they were transferred to the West Point and Montgomery Railroad, and forwarded east on a freight train. A guard was placed on the tender to protect the engineer and to give warning of the presence of the enemy. The nature of the service was not made known further than that the enemy was to be found and attacked. The battalion was poorly armed with old muskets that had been rifled to carry chamber ounce balls, and which would carry scarcely more than one hundred yards. This, too, when in the arsenal at Selma, there were splendid Enfield rifles, capable of carrying eight hundred yards.

It was Sunday, July 18, a bright, beautiful, hot day, a hot sun without a cloud, and a day almost without a breeze. The train of cars carrying the boys at first moved rapidly, but nearing the bridge over Ufaupee Creek, just beyond Chehaw Station, we crept slowly over the creek when the engine ran its nose into the Yankees, concealed in brushwood and behind a fenced graveyard. The attack of the engine was sharply resented by the hidden foe, opening fire from their concealed position, near Beasley's tank. A shot rang out from the right of the railroad track, the ball striking the box car between the legs of Dave Scott who, with several comrades, was sitting on top of the car. The boys were immediately unloaded and the companies rapidly formed. Capt. J. L. Walthall, commanding the left company, deployed and advanced eastward along the railroad in skirmishing order. He had scarcely uncovered the train of cars when the enemy in ambush gave him their full fire at close range, killing First Lieutenant Bethea of Montgomery. He was killed by a man concealed behind the iron fence around a grave. This man paid dearly for his successful shot. The boys filled his body with lead. As fast as the movement could be made, the several companies were rapidly marched to the right to a gin house on a hill top in an old field. Major Thomas, of the staff of General Withers, afterwards a brigade general, was directing the movement, while [Major] J. L. Davidson was in immediate command. Arriving at the gin house, Company B, Captain Yniestra, was moved down a fence row, as it were, hand over hand, firing at a troop of cavalry in the open field about 400 yards in front. The shot falling short, our fire making no impression on the Federals, who in their saddles coolly returned it, their balls falling among, about and beyond the boys.

To reach the enemy Company A was permitted to move obliquely at a double quick over the fence into the woods, and then facing the left to enter the cover of a corner of timber reaching into the field. By this time the enemy, without haste, moved diagonally across the field and disappeared into a wood covered hill. Firing for the time ceased. East of the gin house there was a substantial rail fence, at right angles to the railroad track, and approaching within a short distance to it. East of the gin house, the field inclined into a deep valley, in part covered by the old field persimmons. On the right, there was a well -worn road extending eastward. On the left, near the railroad, it was swampy, with a thick covering of willows. A line of skirmishes of the entire battalion was formed with the right Company A, resting on the public road, and the left, Company D, Captain McCaa, reaching to and across the railroad. Captain Walthall, Company E, was immediately on the right of Captain McCaa, the other companies filling the interval. This made our line of battle east of the fence and gin house, resting in the open valley and about one-half mile in length, the men being deployed at about five paces distant, one from another. In the road on the right of the battalion was a small field piece manned by a squad of University of Alabama cadets, gathered by General Watts, while passing through Montgomery, and hurried forward to the scene of action. If there were others, this writer did not see them. The skirmish occurred about 9:00am and the skirmish line had been formed with the expectation that the attack would be renewed. No explanation was ever made why we were not formed behind the fence on the hill where there was some protection, or in the wood-covered hill to our front, which afforded an admirable cover for skirmishers.

It must have been after 12 m. when from the wood-covered hill without any notice of the presence of the concealed riflemen, a heavy well-directed fire from along our front. Promptly this attack was met by a heavy fusillade from our old muskets, making a great uproar, the balls, however, not reaching the enemy. The Federals fired rapidly from their concealment, but because our skirmishers were lying down, did not do much execution, their balls cutting through the persimmon bushes over our heads, occasionally falling among us. Looking to the left, the writer saw the railroad track covered with blue blouses, at a run to turn our left flank. This movement had the intended effect. As the result of well-directed fire at short ran, our left gave way and sought the cover of the fence and of the willow copse. The flanking movement soon spent its force while the battle raged hotly on our right. The fire in our front soon ceased, and a bugle call was heard it was supposed the enemy had withdrawn. At this point a body of mounted militia from the direction of Tuskegee, well clad in brown linen, bravely rode on the field and dismounted at the gin house, and down behind the fence that crossed the field in our rear. When well sheltered by the fence the militia raised a great shout, challenging the enemy to renew the battle.

In the meantime, Company A's skirmishers assembled on the right resting on the road. It was then seen that the horses attached to the artillery wagons, becoming frightened, had turned over the cannon into a gully by the road, and had kicked loose. The cadets, whose duty it was to man the gun, were under the cover of a fence in the edge of the timber. If the gun had been in battery on the hill, a few well-directed spherical case shots against the enemy's center and left would have been worth a company of cavalry. Having been ordered to change position to the left of the battalion to protect the railroad and prevent another flank movement, Company A counter-marched towards the gin house on the hill. Company A guarded the railroad until late in the day, when it was ascertained that there was no enemy in our immediate front, and was then moved back to the bridge over Ufaupee Creek, guarding it during the night. On the day following we followed the enemy along the line of smoking ruins left in their wake.

As the result of the battle, Captain Walthall have five killed, including Lieutenant Bethea, and about five wounded. Company D, Private Files was killed, Captain McCaa severely wounded, and Privates Winne, Hunt, Craig, Beasley and Tom Smith were wounded. The other companies averaged about two each wounded. The loss may then be approximately given at six killed and twenty wounded.


The shame of it all was that five hundred brave boys, almost without offensive weapons, were sent to attack 2300 veteran cavalry well-armed with Spencer rifles and commanded by one of the most skillful and enterprising cavalry generals in the Federal Army; selected for the particular service, and this, too, when the ordanance officer at Selma had on hand an ample supply of Enfield rifles. When in the presence of the enemy we were directed by an officer on somebody's staff of whom we had never heard, and who showed his inexperience by placing the boys in a most exposed position in an open field, while the enemy occupied a wood-covered hill. Private Tom Wells killed two of the enemy on the railroad, while that flanking column was dashing forward to turn our left. One of these was found after the battle with his brains oozing out from a shot through the head. One of the boys attempted to remove a silver cup fastened to his belt when he begged that it not be taken from him, as it was a gift from his mother. To this reply that it could do him no good, as he could live only a few minutes longer, he said: "You don't think this little thing will kill a man."

William Hunt, while in the act of giving water to his wounded Captain McCaa, was wounded by a ball striking his thigh and breaking it. When the Yankees came up to where he and his Captain were lying, a large red-headed man with a big beard, after looking him over, said "it was a damned shame to be shooting at a lot of boys." Captain Walthall, who so bravely held his place, though his company suffered severely, when the flanking movement was made, seeing a Federal creeping through the brush to get a shot undertook to do some stalking to head off his enemy. Just when he raised his pistol to fire, he was observed by a company of advancing men, one of whom ordered him to halt and surrender. Running to cover a short distance to the rear, he got behind a tree where a ball passed through his boot, causing the blood to flow. He sat down by Private Derrett, who was bleeding to death from a wound through the femoral artery. With the blood of the dying boy he freely covered his leg and hands, and when the advancing party came up, Derrett was dead and the captain was nursing his leg in such a way to indicate that it was crushed. The man who assumed leadership said to his comrades, "leave him alone, men. He is done for." Just then the bugle sounded the recall, when the captain's lame leg greatly aided his flight to the rear.

On July 19, Rousseau finished his work of destruction, and without further molestation, reported to his commander at Marietta, Ga. With a small body of cavalry well commanded, the enemy could have been greatly harassed and the destruction of valuable property and much-needed supplies prevented.


At Ten Islands, below Greensport, he was met by the Sixth and Eight Alabama Cavalry, under General Clanton. These he swept out of his way, killing fifteen, including the acting adjutant general, and capturing the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major of the Sixth Alabama Cavalry. He rapidly moved on Talladega, where he destroyed all stores gathered there, including the depot.

As to the operations of July 18, 1864, he reported as follows: "At the same time Major Baird, of the Fifth Iowa, was sent with a detachment of his regiment and the Fourth Tennessee Cavalry to Chehaw Station, twelve miles south of Loachapoka, to commence destroying the road there, and work back northward. Later, information reached us from Major Baird that he had a superior force of the enemy near Chehaw Station, directed Colonel Harrison to send the Eighth Indiana forward to his support, which was promptly done. Colonel Harrison himself proceeding forward with the regiment, and an advance was again made. The enemy stubbornly contested the ground, but were driven back by Major Baird, until they gained shelter in a ravine, (except on the railroad, we were in an open field), where they maintained their position until a detachment of the Eighth Indiana, sent by Colonel Harrison, turned their left flank and gained their rear, pouring a heavy fire from their Spencer rifles, whilst Major Baird assailed them in front, when they fell back in confusion, leaving about forty dead on the field. Official reports of our casualties have not been received, but the loss was small, not exceeding three killed and eight or ten wounded. The loss was principally sustained by the detachment of the Fifth Iowa, under command of Major Baird, which was directly in front of the enemy, and behaved gallantly."

From this report, Major Baird, with his Fifth Iowa, and Fourth Tennessee, was engaged by Companies A and B. Company A did not leave the skirmish line until all firing had ceased, and was ordered to take position on the left. No doubt the long skirmish line persuaded Colonel Harrison that he was in the presence of a large reserve force in rear of the skirmishers. There was no confusion except where the left companies were flanked, and these only retired to the position they ought to have occupied all day. We remained to bury the dead, slept in the rear of the line of battle, and followed the enemy the next day. Four Federals were found dead near the railroad where Colonel Harrison made his attack with the Eighth Indiana. Major Baird was on the wood-covered hill and if his loss was in proportion to Colonel Harrison's, the enemy's loss in killed and wounded was greater than ours. There was one cadet badly wounded.

After the battle we marched to West Point, Ga., and then returned to Pollard. We never saw General Clanton and his cavalry brigade, though we were informed that after General Rousseau had disappeared, he was on the line of the destroyed railroad. If, while we were fighting, Colonel Harrison, with his Eighth Indiana, and Major Baird, with his Fifth Iowa and Fourth Tennessee (Union), Clanton could have struck Rousseau at Notasulga or Auburn, Rousseau would have made a different report to his commander.

D. M. Scott of Selma, a veteran of Lockhart's Battalion and the skirmish at Chehaw Station wrote the following to Thomas M. Owen, Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History on July 1, 1910.

"There was not a man of this Regiment of military age when he entered the service outside of the officers, whom we elected from men that had seen service already. It was purely patriotism that actuated these boys, all under military age to enter the service, as not one of them would have been required to do so, under the conscript act or military law. As for myself, I was just a little over fifteen years of age when I volunteered in Company A, of Lockhart's Battalion were State Troops and could not be sent outside of the State. The Battalion was organized in 1863, and I had the honor to be the youngest soldier in the battalion. In 1864, by vote of the Regiment, they were mustered into Confederate States service as the 62nd Alabama, and while they were not in a great many fights, it was not their fault that they were not born early enough to have taken a more active participation in the fighting during the war. Lockhart's Battalion fought the first fight on Alabama soil during the war, this fight was near Chehaw Station, where with less than six hundred men, and a hand full of Cadets from the University of Alabama, we fought General Rousseau's raiders who were sent out from Sherman's Army, near Atlanta, to cut off Johnston's communications with Montgomery. This raid was turned back by this hand full of men at Chehaw Station, and General Rousseau told our old friend, Joel Barnett of Montgomery, after the war, that if he had known at the time of the fight, what he knew afterwards, that he would never have fired a shot at the boys, but would have flanked them with his superior force, and gone to Montgomery and burned the public works and the public works in Selma, and would have reported to Sherman near Atlanta. Major Thomas who was commanding all of the forces at Chehaw Station, and a member of General Withers' staff, was made a Brigadier General for this little fight we had at Chehaw Station. He deceived the Yankees thoroughly, by the disposition of his forces, that Rousseau thought he was fighting only a skirmish line, of a heavy line of reinforcements in the rear. Major Thomas had the conductor and engineer of the train that was fired on while we were still on it, go back to Franklin Station, below Chehaw, and about every hour would come up to Chehaw Station blowing the whistle with vengeance. Major Thomas had all of the boys set up a yell when the whistle was blown, and Rousseau thought we were getting reinforcements all the time, when the fact was that we had no reinforcements whatever, nearer that Mobile, 225 miles distance."

Copyright 2019