When William Gilmore Beymer initially undertook the basic research involved in preparing articles regarding espionage operations conducted by both Union and Confederate forces, he failed to anticipate the “serious difficulty” involved in obtaining the data he needed to prepare his excellent articles.  In his preface to On Hazardous Service, Beymer refers to “hundreds of letters” written to individuals in nearly every state and he mentions frequent trips to Chicago, Boston, and Pittsburgh during which he interviewed participants and witnesses to these essentially undocumented clandestine operations.  He accurately writes that a “bibliography of the books, newspapers, and pamphlets consulted would show a list of hundreds of volumes.”   Readers of his book can only wish that he had chosen to prepare an academic study complete with footnotes and a full bibliography instead of preparing articles initially published in Harper’s Magazine and Harper’s Weekly.  Had Beymer chosen this approach, he would have created a significant contribution to an essentially undocumented aspect of American Civil War history.  On Hazardous Service consists of ten stories, but three of them are personal narratives resulting from interviews conducted by Beymer and correspondence between him and the subject of his story.  “Rowand,” “Phillips,” and “Landegon” resulted from close contact between reporter and his subjects, and in the case of Arch Rowand, the subject of the article proofread the article before it was published.  In the case of “Young,” Beymer also had the assistance of Arch Rowand as a researcher who maintained an active correspondence with surviving scouts such as Joseph McCabe, Henry Chrisman, and John Riley in an attempt to ensure accuracy in Beymer’s articles related to Sheridan’s Scouts. 

      Fortunately, many of the letters written by Arch Rowand and the surviving scouts were preserved by the Rowand family whose sense of the history the old envelopes contained provides a fascinating insight into the activities of Sheridan’s Scouts.  Additionally, much of the correspondence between Arch and Beymer, including copies of letters from the surviving scouts written to Rowand in response to his questions seeking clarification survived and were reviewed for a full study of the Jessie Scouts.  As a result, both sets of scout letters corroborate much of what Beymer wrote in “Rowand” and “Young.”  Additionally, an old article from the National Tribune in Beymer’s personal file contains Landegon’s account of his scouting activities for the Army of the Potomac.   

     The latest research generally focused on Arch Rowand and Henry Young, but additional material was located on other stories in On Hazardous Service.  The article written by B.F. Ward titled “Jack Sterry: The Jessie Scout” was initially published in Jackson, Mississippi, and was also located in Beymer’s correspondence file.  This article goes far in revealing the existence of a clandestine military capability within the Union army as early as 1862.  The meticulous Beymer, however,  used only two sentences from this important source in his article on Young.
     During a period between 1993 and 2006, researchers with Special Forces and Intelligence Community backgrounds were able to repeat portions of Beymer’s research by consulting a large number of letters – some of which had not been seen since Beymer received them – and Military Service Records as well as many of the documents in Philip H. Sheridan’s papers. 

     Two letters written to Beymer following the appearance of his “Young” article were very helpful in opening new research into Lt. Col. Henry H. Young’s disappearance in Mexico along with 12-15 enlisted scouts accompanying him on an ill-fated trip in November, 1866.   This new material will be published separately in a separate study on Union army scouts.

     The following samples of Beymer’s research are provided as examples of the material available as he carefully prepared his ten articles that were subsequently published in On Hazardous Service:

     “Remember you?  Well I should guess yes.  I will mention a little incident that you will remember – the Sunday that we made the raid to Colombia Furnace and captured about 20 prisoners.  I captured the picket on the outpost that we recaptured Stub William’s horse that morning, the Rebs had taken him from us the Sunday before.  You will remember that we came up on a line of Johnnies on the bank of the creek, about 100 of them, and rode into the creek to water our horses.  They asked us who we were; we told them we were Rosser’s men.  “Come ahead,” they answered, “you are all right.”  But as soon as our horses had drank Campbell said, “You go to H—l. We’re Yanks.”  Then they opened up on us and we ran back to a log tobacco shed about 50 yards from them and you and Campbell would dash out into the open and yell at them and draw their fire and in one of those dashes they shot your horse through the thin part of the hock between the two joints.  I remonstrated with you for being so reckless, saying they might get you yet.  You laughed and said they would have to do better than they had done yet.

     “And to think for all these years I never had your name right.  When my wife asked me this morning who my letter was from I answered “Archie Roan, one of the old scouts.  You heard me speak of him often.”  “Yes,” she answered, “but this is not Roan but Rowan,” so if I had ever written to you you could not have gotten the letter.  I regret that I am unable to give you the names of the two men that went through to Grant on foot South of Richmond as I was not with you at that time.  When Maj. Young came to Sheridan’s headquarters in November he brought five infantry scouts with him, Cassady of the 1st R.I. and Abe Atkins, George Kyle, Jim Blair, and _______ Ball, of a Wisconsin regiment.  I think the third Sunday we dashed into Edinsburg and captured Capt. Granstaff’s pickets, Cassady was wounded and captured by the rebs and did not get back that time.  Ball never scouted any so I think that you will find that it was Abe Atkins with either George Kyle or Jim Blair that made the trip, for you know it would be almost impossible to get a cavalryman to start on a trip like that afoot.  In looking over McCabe’s writings I cannot see that he claims to have captured Captain Stumpf or that he mentions him at all but in writing up the capture of Harry Gilmore he has made some errors as you well know he says he was in command and started after night with thirty men.  You will remember that Maj. Young was in command that we started just afternoon and that we had fifteen or sixteen scouts and 300 Michigan Cavalry from Custer’s Brigade.  We left the Michigan men with their blue clothes concealed in the timber until we should need them, that after we crossed the river we divided our party with Nick Carlysle taking part of the men and going to the William’s house as he thought that Gilmore was there and the rest of us went to Randolph’s house where we found Gilmore.  If you was with the group that went to Randolph’s you will remember that in some way the Johnnies caught on to who we were and we had a race for the house and we won.  I saddled Harry Gilmore’s black mare and Capt. Gilmore (Harry’s cousin) bay horse and the rebs were firing on us by the time I had them saddled.  I noticed that the black mare was very speedy and suggested to the Maj. that he let one of the boys take the mare but the Maj. put Harry on his own horse as we rode through the gate into the road the rebs was firing at us from the other side of the road, two jumps of his horse would have taken him, Gilmore, among them.  He made the attempt when I caught his bridle and as soon as I released my hold he tried it again, and I caught his bridle again and threatened to kill the mare if the Maj. did not make him change horses.  Maj. Young then had Jack Riley take the mare and put Gilmore on Jack’s horse and said, “Now are you satisfied?”  I answered, “Yes, my horse can out run that one.”  “Guard him, then,” said Maj.  All of this happened before we got 200 yards from Randolph’s house.  So you see McCabe got this expedition mixed up with some other one as he said we got three miles before the rebs overtook us….

     “It has always been a wonder to me that some one did not write up a history of Sheridan’s Scouts (The Jessie Scouts the rebs called them).  It would be a very interesting book, especially so for you eight old scouts.”1

* * * *

     “I was along with party that captured Capt. Stump.  He was shot but he was not hit with rail or anything else, and he died from his wound, and if it came out in a magazine it was not the truth, and the man that wrote it did not know anything about it, and tell his nephew that it is a lie, and there is no truth in it, for the scouts were gentlemen, and had more principle and were raised better than that, and had the principle of a soldier and a man, and were not beast.”2

* * * *

     “I might say I was the first scout with General Sheridan after he was detailed to command the 5th Military District, which was on august 7th, 1864; on August 14th, I was ordered by General Averill, whom I had been a scout under to report to General Sheridan.  I remained with General Sheridan until the wind up at Appomattox, and then went to the Southwest with him. The letter you quote about General Sheridan writing about one of his scouts was the one he wrote about my old partner Captain James A. Campbell.”3

* * * *

     “I was in a pretty severe fight on Sunday last.  I will give you a few of the particulars.

     “On Saturday night at Nine o’clock fifteen of the scouts and Fifty of the 5th N.Y. Cav. Left this place under command of Maj. Young Com. Scouts with the intention of capturing the Enemies Picket Post at Edenburg.  Distance from this place 26 miles.  At 1 o’clock we passed out outer picketts passing  through New Town and flanking Middletown, Strasburg, Maurrytown, and Woodstock and at little after daylight we struck the Valley Pike at the Narrow Pass and two miles from Edinberg without the Rebs knowing a Yank was within twenty miles of them.  Going at a pretty fast trot thro the town we dashed through and captured the Rebel picket at the bridge just outside of town with  his horse toed to the railing of the bridge.  Leaving a man with him we made for the reserve.  Fred Barry and myself being in front was within twenty yards of the camp, the Rebs being yet asleep in their blankets when Barry giving a yell.  One Reb jumped out of his shelter tent when I let drive at him with my Navy.  He gave up as did the balance of them.  It was the most compete surprise I ever witnessed.  Our capture was one Lieutenant and twelve men.  Now we had a very nice affair of it had we got away with them but we didn’t get away with them.  We were overtaken at Woodstock by two hundred of them.  As soon as they came in sight of us they charged us at Chew’s Run one mile this side of Woodstock.  We repulsed them.  The Major here sent out orders for the main column to push ahead with the prisoners having the Scouts as a rear guard as we were moving along between the run and Maurry Town four miles distance from Woodstock.  There was twenty Rebels dashed off a hill to our right and not twenty yards distance.  Giving a yell they came right on us.  We had it about ten yards distance for a few minutes.  They being reinforces we were forced to fall back.  On coming in sight of the main column they were in full gallop.  When the Rebels charged us from the hill.  There was five of the 5th N.Y. new recruits just ahead of us.  They run like whipped curs and started the main body.  The Maj. sent me to stop them.  I only got them stopped by threatening to shoot the first man that run and I would have done it as I had begged them to stop until I was so hoarse I could scarcely speak.  They showed but little fight when they were stopped.  I never saw such cowards in my life.  We had a running fight for ten miles and we lost all our prisoners.  8 scouts are gone.  One known to be killed, 3 wounded, two mortally and four captured.  Only one of the captured being dressed in full grey.  Have heard he was shot after being taken.  If it is so, the first Rebel we catch will die as sure as there is a hereafter.  Some fifteen of the N.Y. was captured.  One hundred of the Rebels followed us to Fisher’s Hill where the pursuit ended.  I had several very narrow escapes from being shot and captured.  Three times were the Rebels within twenty yards of me, the fleetness of my horse alone saving me.  A graylock would yell out for me to surrender but I couldn’t see the point.”4

* * * *

     “I regret to say, however, that to my knowledge that there is not now living one of that band yet there may a few of the forty yet here whose whereabouts I do not know.  Major H.H. Young, who commanded these scouts, went to Mexico in 1866 to aid Juarez in driving the Imperialist forces from that country.  Some twelve or fifteen of the scouts accompanied him and all were killed there by a detachment Juarez’ army through a mistake, they having been taken for Imperialists.”5

* * * *

     Several of the scouts studied by Beymer remained in the army following Appomattox.  Jim Campbell, for example, was still serving during the Spanish-American War and an article in the Rowand letters reveals another episode in American history witnessed by a member of Sheridan’s Scouts:

     “For the last twenty-five years “Scant” Campbell has been in Indian country, and he is now growing stout because there are no more Indians to chase over the mountains in Big Horn country.  He was with General Terry at the time of the Custer battle on the Little Big Horn in 1876, and was one of the first to go over the field.”6

* * * *

     Interestingly, the pair of old friends had been separated for some time.  Rowand explained the reason in a letter to General Horace Porter:

     “Campbell and I both thought one another dead for twenty-nine years, each believing the other had gone to Mexico and met the same fate poor Young did.

     “Col. Michael Sheridan brought us together three years ago….”7

* * * *

     In the concluding portion of the article on Rowand, Beymer refers to a scene he observed following his interview session with the aging scout:

     “…circle of brilliant light in which he was slowly reopening the little leather case, and with him I seemed to read, graved in the dark bronze, the shining words, “For Valor.”

     General Philip H. Sheridan recommended a medal of honor be awarded to Arch Rowand for his hazardous service.  Sheridan’s recommendation was written in terse, unemotional words normally found in military documents, but more could have been said:

     “I respectfully recommend that a medal of honor be given Private Arch H. Rowand, Jr., 1st West Virginia Cavalry, for gallant and meritorious service as a scout in the Army of the Shenandoah during the late war.

     “During the James River raid in the winter of 1864-’65, Private Rowand was one of two men who went through from New Market, Va., to General Grant, who was then encamped at City Point.

     “He also gave information as to the whereabouts of the rebel scout, Harry Gilmore, and assisted in his capture, besides making several other daring scouts through the enemy’s lines.”8

* * * *

     The recent research concentrated on Sheridan’s scouts, Rowand, Young, and the other enlisted scouts mentioned in Beymer’s articles and much corroboration was found in the process.  Beymer’s work was vague in some parts of his articles, but they are generally accurate.  The articles are a good starting point for anyone interested in pursuing the study of these fascinating, but relatively undocumented soldiers and civilians.

                                                            David L. Phillips
                                                            Leesburg, Virginia
                                                            July 22, 2007


1. Mullihan, G.D., Letter to Rowand dated December 11, 1912.
2. Chrisman, H.K., Letter to Rowand dated October 18, 1909.
3. Rowand, A.H., Letter to Beymer dated December 21, 1908.
4. Rowand, A.H., Letter to Mother dated January 23, 1865.
5. Sheridan, Michael, Letter to Beymer dated December 11, 1908.
6. Undated News clipping in the Rowand letter file.
7. Rowand letter to Porter dated April 21, 1897.
8. Sheridan’s Medal of Honor recommendation was dated February 26, 1873

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