Casualties in the Battle of Rivers Bridge -- The
The Horrid Results of Every Battle
Diary of Lt. Col. Oscar L. Jackson, 63rd Ohio Infantry, from The Colonel's
Diary (Sharon, Penn.: N.p., 1922), pp. 177-178:
February 3rd. . . .
9:00 P.M. Again at the hospital I see the horrid results of every battle.
Men mutilated in every shape conceivable, groaning, begging for assistance
and gasping in death. Many of our wounded will have to lie all night in
that horrid swamp, it being impossible to find them and carry them out on
the narrow foot bridge that has been made. Many have had their heads
propped up out of the water where they lay to keep them from drowning.
Many censure General Mower, commanding our division (the 1st Division,
17th A.C.) for shoving his men against the enemy in such a place, even
after he knew the crossing had been made by the other divisions, which he
did know, as I was present when a staff officer reported it. He ordered
Lieutenant Harrison with a company of the 63rd Ohio to charge along the
causeway and with an oath told him not to stop until he got into the
enemy's fort. He [Harrison] started, but finding his men being swept off
by the enemy's artillery, moved them off the causeway into the water, when
finding Colonel Parks of the 43rd Ohio, he received orders from him not to
try to go any farther as it was madness. General Howard is said to have
criticized the whole of Mower's operation, but it is Mower's style.
Died From Loss of Blood
Memoir of Sgt. John A. Moore, 3rd South Carolina Cavalry, from "A
Glance at the Long Ago," Bamberg Herald, April 20, 1905:
I note, in my pocket roll of Co. "C," 3rd S.C. Cavalry, which I carried at
the time and still have, opposite the name of John B. Woods, "wounded,
February 2, '65." He was shot in the leg in a skirmish with the Yankees,
just below Broxton's Bridges, and died that night of exhaustion from loss
of blood. Dr. Kirkland, our surgeon, said, "he believed he could have
saved him if he only had some whiskey." Woods was buried at Rivers'
Bridges, where he died. He was a good soldier--one that could be depended
upon in any emergency.
During the fight the next day . . . our troops were forced to abandon
their position to prevent being taken in the rear by the enemy. One of our
squads . . . rode right in among the Yankees. Cox and Jim Floyd were
captured. Corp'l Ed. Robinson and Spilliards escaped by a bold dash.
Robinson received a bullet though the folds of his blanket rolled behind
his saddle and into his haversack, where it wadded up in a pair of woolen
Floyd lived to get home after the war, but Cox, poor fellow, died in a
Bang! I Got it in the Neck
Letter of Capt. Ephraim Wilson, 10th Illinois Infantry, to his wife,
from Memoirs of the War, by Captain Ephraim A. Wilson, of Co. "G",
10th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry, In One Volume (Cleveland: W. M.
Bayne Printing Co., 1893), pp. 407-413:
Officer's Hospital, Beaufort, S.C. Feb. 9, 1865.
I was wounded at a place called River's Bridge . . . where we were forcing
the rebels out of a position they had taken up on the opposite side of the
stream. ...On the opposite side they were strongly intrenched. In order to
effect a crossing of the stream we were obliged to fall trees across. My
Company was the first to cross. As soon as the tree was cut I sprang upon
it and crossed and ordered the men to follow. In a moment our whole
Company were safely over, and in another they were deployed as skirmishers
and were engaging the enemy fiercely. ...I had only fairly got my Company
deployed and nicely to work, when bang! I got it in the neck, and fell to
my knees in water to my waist. I quickly pulled myself to my feet and took
a hurried inventory of the damage done me. The blood was gushing out of my
wound in great streams and running into my boots. Knowing that I could not
stand this loss of blood very much longer, I sent word of my mishap along
the line up to the Orderly who was on the right, requesting him to come
and take command. On his arrival I wished the boys God-speed and safety,
and tottered back to the log over which we had just crossed and struck out
for the shore. The balls were flying thick and fast, and if I had been so
unfortunate as to be hit again by the enemy, or had fallen off the log in
that deep river it would have been all day with me, as I was so crippled
in my arms I could not swim. From the river I moved back to where the
Regimental Surgeon was stationed and he staunched the flow of blood, then
waded back three miles to the field hospital, in water from knee-deep to
the waist. ...they wanted to give me an anesthetic, but I said, "Go ahead,
I can stand it." And so I did, but it hurt me frightfully, just the same,
to have that great scraggly minie ball cut out of my back.
Left for Dead
Memoir of Capt. Benjamin S. Williams, 47th Georgia Infantry, from "A
Confederate Soldier's Memoirs," Charleston News, March 8, 1914:
At Rivers' Bridge, in the hottest of the fight
in the afternoon [Feb. 3, 1865], Capt. Thompson--Joe--went down, a minie
ball striking him on the left cheek under the eye and crushing though,
came out near the angle of the jaw on the right side of his face. The
young captain was left for dead, and was so reported in our "report" of
the battle. At our first stop near Branchville, S.C., I kept my promise
and wrote to my good friend, Old Col. Thompson, a long letter of
condolence and sympathy, informing him of the death of his son, my friend
On my first visit to Savannah, after the war, in the fall of 1865, while
on my way to call at Col. Thompson's home, I met Capt. DeWitt Bruyn,
captain of Company E, of my regiment, and told him of my intended visit
and expressed my dread of the meeting the family on account of Joe's
death. Bruyn threw his arm around my shoulder and said: "About face and
march with me only a block. I want to show you some one and then you can
pay your visit to Col. and Mrs. Thompson."
We halted at the open door of an office and Bruyn said: "Go in." I stepped
in, a man wheeled about toward me and I stood face to face within five
feet of Joe Thompson, ex-captain of Company C, 47th regiment, Georgia
volunteers, who had been "killed" at Rivers's Bridge. His face was
disfigured and his speech affected, one eye gone, but--there he was. The
young captain had, before our retreat, regained consciousness and, one of
the favored, had been cared for and removed. He reached Augusta, Ga., and
from there, finally, Savannah, and in the chaotic condition of all things,
was in his home rapidly recovering when my letter describing his
death--reached his family. He had married his pretty sweetheart, Miss
Lizzie Gannon, and years after Joe told me that when at home, if feeling
kind of blue and reminiscent, he would get out of a safe-keeping place my
letter of condolence to his father and read it aloud to his wife and
Thirty Years of Suffering
Letter of Frances M. Cherry, from the pension record of Pvt. Edgar W.
Cherry, 32nd Wisconsin Infantry, wounded February 3, 1865 at Rivers
Bridge, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.:
Oct., 12, /97
Hon: Commissioners of Pensions:
I wish to have my pension case reopened as I am satisfied that my husband
died of his army service just as much as though he died in his bed. He
went in to the army in perfect health at the age of twenty-eight, leaving
me with two little children. After he came out he never saw a well day;
his right eye was put out, his nose shot off, so that he was always
obliged to breath through his mouth, which brought on lung trouble. He had
frequent hemorrhages and spells lasting two weeks at a time that he could
only speak in a whisper. While at the hospital at Madison Wis., the
doctors gave him chloform which drove him crazy, so they had to lock him
in the operating room for the night with nothing on but cotton drawers and
this was in April and he was afterwards three hours at one time and two
hours in another, under the surgeon's knife with out taking any opiate
whatever. He never recovered from the exposure or shock. His brain was
never just right after that. After thirty years of suffering he died
leaving me without any means of support. I send two physicians
certificates. What more proof do I need to get?
I hope you will give my case your earliest attention, as my little pension
is all the support I have.
Frances M. Cherry
#113 Park Place N.E.
My husband served in the Co., A. 32nd Wis., Infantry.