Campaign Life
Lt.-Col. Henry Harrison Young

Aid-De-Camp to General Sheridan


Chief of His Scouts

Jacob H. Martin
Sidney S. Rider

"Oh! how beautiful their faces
As they left the fireside
And went drifting from our kisses
At the turning of the tide;
How the bugles' silver snarling
Drowned the women's last good-bye,

And the drum-beat hushed their foot-falls

As they marched away to die!"

Campaign Life


After the lapse of a generation, as we read the story of the Great Rebellion, it seems almost like fiction, or the tale of another age. The deeper colors of those dark days of the nation's peril have faded, and the services of those who saved the Republic are well-nigh forgotten. Yet each year the broken and ever-thinning ranks of the veterans, as they gather to grasp once more the hands of comrades who stood beside them on the field of battle, recall again to memory the thousands of every age, every pursuit and rank in life, who gave up their professions and occupations and severed the tenderest ties, that they might at the call of duty hasten forth to the untried experiences and stern realities of camp and field, and, perchance, offer their lives at last a sacrifice upon the altar of their country.  The records of the struggle are fraught with instances of personal daring and intrepidity which well entitles the American volunteer soldier to rank beside the heroes of any nation. While the larger states contributed heroic sons, whose fame and brilliant services will ever be held in grateful remembrance, Rhode Island may feel all a mother's pride that she gave many of the most gallant spirits whose blood ever stained a battlefield. It is just and fitting that the record these heroes made by their toils, endurance and achievements, should be put into permanent form and transmitted to posterity. In these pages we propose to give a brief sketch of the military career of one of the bravest and most venturesome officers in the Union service, Henry Harrison Young, who, though not so widely known to his countrymen as those in high command, through his heroism and indefatigable labors, which were continued with unabated zeal until the rebellion was crushed, won for himself the admiration and confidence of the brilliant Sheridan, and the hearty applause of the entire army.

            No attempt will here be made to fully write his life, but simply to group together some incidents of his military career, gathered from every available source, and making free use of much that has already been published. We do not dwell upon his services in the early part of the war, connected, as they were, with the history of the Second Rhode Island regiment, which has been so ably written by its historian, the Rev. Augustus
Woodbury, who was the brave chaplain of the First Rhode Island Volunteers. We have made free use of such portions of his narrative as seemed best for our purpose. He was the eldest son of Nelson and Nancy Young.

He was born in Mendon, Massachusetts, February 9, 1841. A child of slender physique, but handsome, and high-spirited from his boyhood; he early manifested great interest in all military mattes, and later expressed a strong desire to be educated at West Point and enter upon a military career, but did not succeed in obtaining an appointment. He was very young when his father died, but his manly care and extreme solicitude for the welfare of his widowed mother and little sister, in the years that followed, was but the germ of that generous, unselfish nature which stamped the man, and characterized his whole career.

He was a quick, intelligent youth and stood well in school; it so happened that most of his classmates were older that himself, but his close and persistent attention to his studies enabled him to maintain his equality with the older boys, and to win favorable comments of his teachers. He left school at an early age to begin mercantile life, but two years after, at his mother's request, he entered Schofield's Commercial College and completed a course of study, preparing himself as an accountant; he graduated with honor, and soon after received a situation as bookkeeper and cashier with the well-known firm of Lippit & Martin, Providence, Rhode Island, where he remained until he entered the army. This experience was afterwards of value to him in his various army positions, and his accounts and military papers were often referred to as models of neatness and accuracy.

Entering the Army

When the war broke out the young hero was among the first to answer his country's call.  Through the influence of friends he had hopes of a commission, and at Lincoln's call for 75,000 men, he determined to enter the service.  With his sister, a child of ten years, driving for him, and a book of tactics open on his knee, he went from house to house, through the villages of Blackstone valley, stopping in public places and calling a crowd around his carriage, he harangued them with such patriotic ardor that in one day he enlisted sixty-three men. His list of recruits was presented to Colonel John S. Slocum, who was then organizing the Second Rhode Island, but declined for the reason that many more men had offered to enlist than were needed to answer that call. He was much disappointed at the result of his labor in raising recruits, but his persistent zeal and gallant bearing soon attracted the interest of Colonel Slocum, who soon procured him a commission as second lieutenant of company B, in the Second Rhode Island, then under his command.

Some of the men that Young had enlisted were subsequently placed in different regiments, many of them finally becoming enrolled in the Second Rhode Island.  He had considerable acquaintance with the history of warlike achievements, and his fancy was captivated by any daring exploit. Referring to his efforts to raise a company, he related an incident of the Revolutionary war, about the famous Daniel Morgan, who, "immediately after the Battle of Lexington, in less than a week, enrolled ninety-six men, the nucleus of his celebrated rifle corps, and marched them into Boston." How far this example may have influenced his mind, can only be conjectured.

The company under his command went into camp on Dexter Training Ground, Providence, R.I., June 8, 1861, being compelled to occupy a bare, comfortless old building, the tents not having been prepared; the men, fresh from home comforts, grumbled considerably and were getting disorderly. The officers had departed for the
better accommodations accorded them in virtue of their superior rank, when Lieutenant Young stepped in to see how the men were getting on before joining his brother officers for the night; he took in the situation at a glance; this was the introduction to army hardships. "Come on, boys," said he, "We'd better turn in," and rolling himself in his blanket he lay down on the hard floor.  The murmurs were hushed -- the men, abashed, followed his example, and soon all was quiet.

Throughout his whole army life he never lost sight of the welfare and comfort of his men and never failed to share their hardships.  The next day he was officer of the guard, and was ordered to have the flag halliards rove; no one caring to take the risk, he volunteered to do it himself, and, climbing to the top of the pole, secured the rope amid the cheers of the crowd below.  There was an immense throng of visitors, and he was ordered to clear the ground; nothing daunted at his military skill, he deployed his men at intervals and drove the crowd successfully outside, much to the amusement of the colonel.

Young apologized for his awkwardness to his commander, who complimented him very highly, saying, "It was as well as he could have done it himself, but not just as he would have done it."

Up to this time he had never shouldered a musket, and took his first practical lesson in the manual of arms under Sergeant James H. Warner, of the Providence Light Infantry, better known afterwards as Captain Warner, of the Providence police.  An eye witness says: "I can remember how small he looked, his sword trailing on the ground, his slight figure so full of fire and energy."  An old soldier who saw him at Bull Run said he was surprised to see such a boy in command of a company of big men.

When first introduced to Captain John Wright, of company B, whose second lieutenant he was, he was a pale, slender youth, fresh from an office; quite a contrast to the robust physique of his superior officer.  "What does that young man expect to do in the army?" queried the captain of another officer. "He will be flat on his back after the first march." It proved quite the contrary.  The captain was stricken down with disease before the battle of Bull Run, and Lieutenant Young, one of the youngest officers in the service, led the company heroically through that bloody battle.

Such confident anticipations of victory had possessed the public mind, that, when the news of the defeat, and what seemed then like overwhelming disaster, came flashing over the wires, the whole North was stirred to its inmost depths.  Who can forget the tidings of July 22, 1861, or the sad scenes witnessed on our streets?  Waiting throngs, with anxious faces, eagerly sought the latest dispatches, for all had dear ones to hear from; and when among the fallen heroes came the names of Slocum, Ballou, Prescott, Tower, Smith, and others well known, intense grief pervaded the whole community. It was like "the cry of blood on the field of Lexington and Concord that
rang through the land," and roused the public heart to still higher courage and determination, and with stronger faith in the ultimate future.

During the summer of 1862 a hospital for sick and wounded soldiers was established at "Portsmouth Grove." Lieutenant Young's mother, hearing that some of the members of his company were there, went from Providence with a party of friends, well supplied with dainties to distribute among the invalids.  She sought out the men of company B, made inquiries as to their health, their treatment and army life, and finally of their lieutenant, then in the field. "Do you like him?" asked one of the visitors; the answer came in a flash: "Like him, ma'am! there was never anybody like him; the men would lay down their lives for him any day!"

A long period of quiet succeeded the battle of Bull Run, broken by the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns, in which Young, with his regiment, experienced some of the hardest service of the war.

Battle of Fredericksburg

At the battle of Fredericksburg, December 11, 1862, when General Burnside prepared to cross the Rappahannock, there was some unaccountable delay in sending him the pontoons, which gave the enemy time to prepare a stout resistance. The riverbank was well guarded and the enemy ready to give us a warm reception. The laying of the bridges was a perilous task, and the crossing of them after they were laid, still more so. The moment had come which would test the nerve and daring of the bravest men. Who would have the honor of taking the lead? General Devin's brigade was selected; the Second Rhode Island was on the right, the post of honor as well as danger; three companies were to advance. Colonel Frank Wheaton selected I, K and B, the latter commanded by Captain Young. On they went for the bridge, the whole division eagerly watching them; they dashed across at the double-quick with wild cheering, deployed instantly on the other side and charged gallantly up the river bank -- the rest of the regiment speedily followed. Captain Young, with his company, were the first to cross the Rappahannock at any point, and received the heartiest applause.

The battle proved to be a disaster to our side, and during the night of the 15th, General Burnside silently withdrew his entire army.

Incidents After the Battle

On the 25th of January, 1863, General Burnside was relieved of the command, and General Joseph Hooker appointed in his place. The winter and the early spring passed away without any important movements in Virginia. A number of raids were made by the rebel cavalry. Says Greely: "Lee reports that Captain Randolph, of the Black Horse cavalry, by various raids into Fauquier county, captured over two hundred prisoners and several hundred stand of arms; and that Lieutenant Mosby, (whose name now makes its first appearance in a bulletin,) has done much to harass the enemy; attacking boldly on several occasions and capturing many prisoners." One or two minor cavalry exploits, recited by Lee, read too much like romance to be embodied in sober history; yet such was the depression on our side in Virginia, such the elation and confidence on the other, such the very great advantage enjoyed by the rebel raiders in the readiness of the white inhabitants to give them information and even to scout in quest of it, throughout that dreary winter, that nothing might be asserted of Rebel audacity or Federal imbecility is absolutely incredible. In a rebel raid within our lines, General Stoughton, a young Vermont brigadier, was taken in his bed, near Fairfax Court house, and, with his guards and five horses, hurried off across the Rappahannock. Some one spoke of the loss to Mr. Lincoln, next morning. "Yes," said the President, "that of the horses is bad; but I can make another general in five minutes."

Captain Young was serving as inspector-general of the Second brigade. He was continually chaffing under the dull restraints of ordinary camp life, studied carefully every move of the enemy, frequently going long distances outside our lines. He once saved one of our supply trains by discovering a movement of rebel raiders and promptly sending reinforcements to the guard who would undoubtedly have been surprised and routed. Captain Young writes at this period: "It is sad horses and forage are scarce in the South, but their cavalry seem to be in pretty good condition, and are raiding all around us with considerable success; we need some bold stroke on this side to enspirit the army."

Captain Young seldom referred to his own exploits except in a facetious vein, as if to be shot at was a very amusing experience. In a letter from camp at Warrenton, in 1863, he writes: "I went out the other day with two of our boys, all mounted on mules, on a little expedition over the mountains. We advanced some six miles outside of our picket lines, and found ourselves among the guerrillas; after we had crossed what is called Carter's Run, we were fired upon, and had a pretty hard scrabble in getting away; one of our boys lost his mule and equipments. As soon as the firing commenced, the mule balked and would not stir a step, and he was so hard pressed he had to take to the woods afoot, but came in, finally, all right, and on his way back had the good luck to capture somebody's stray horse. I shall explore that section again at an early day. A scout's life is a dangerous one, to a certain extent, but I don't know, after all, that it is more so than a great many other positions. It is quite exciting, sometimes, at all events."

Marye's Hill and Salem Heights

General Hooker, during the ensuing months, having perfected the discipline and organization of his army, now felt prepared to strike a decisive blow. He crossed the Rappahannock April 30, 1863, with a large force, above Fredericksburg, and moved rapidly on Chancellorsville. Sedgwick, with the Sixth corps, also made a successful
crossing below, and made a vigorous effort to form a junction with Hooker, but the latter general had been himself attacked and disastrously repulsed, leaving Sedgwick in a perilous position. At daylight, on the 3rd of May, he found himself in front of the enemy's works on Mayre's Heights. "The position could not be turned on either flank, and a direct assault was imperative. On, steadily up the hill went our columns, men and officers falling on all sides, every foot of their progress obstinately disputed and marked with blood." At last they reached the works and carried everything before them. General Early withdrew his command to a range of hills beyond, called Salem Heights, and a bloody battle ensued, in which the Second Rhode Island, under Colonel Horatio Rogers, fought with a steadiness and gallantry that proved of signal service.

Captain Young was assistant adjutant-general for Colonel W.H. Brown, of the Thirty-sixth New York, who was in command of the brigade, and, fearlessly exposing himself, was seriously wounded and borne from the field. In an account of the battle he says: "Captain Young followed me into the thickest of the fight, and was of great service.
When you wished an order carried to any part of the field, he did not look about for the safest route, but took the most direct one, no matter how the bullets whistled; he was always ready to dash through the hottest place, to cheer on a wavering regiment or to rally a disorganized one. While the battle was at its height he discovered a wounded soldier of the Second Rhode Island in such a position that he was exposed to the fire of both sides; leaping from his horse, amid a shower of bullets, he was himself wounded in the arm, but dragged the poor fellow to the shelter of a tree; it was but the work of a moment, yet amid the noise and confusion of battle, seemed wonderfully cool and deliberate."  But all this desperate fighting was fruitless. Sedgwick, with the Sixth corps, re-crossed the Rappahannock on the 5th, and on the 8th, with the rest of the army, returned to its former camp.

In June, General Lee effected a crossing of the Potomac and was advancing into Pennsylvania. On the 28th, General Hooker was relieved, and General George B. Meade appointed to his place. The battle of Gettysburg ensued, in which the Second was conspicuous and materially aided in contributing to the success.

Grant in the Field

General Grant assumed command of the armies of the United States, March 17, 1864, and fixed his own headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, with which he soon opened a vigorous campaign, in which the Second Rhode Island participated in some of the hardest and most bloody battles of the war, and won encomiums for its valorous deeds. Its term of enlistment had now expired. Of the eight hundred men who had gone out to war in June, 1861, a little more than one-fourth marched from the lines at Cold Harbor on the morning of the 5th of June, 1864, to return home.

Captain Young had followed the fortunes of his regiment with unflagging devotion; when others availed themselves of hard-earned furloughs, he remained. "I am going to see this thing out," he said, and he did. He was with then at Bull Run, Siege of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights, Salem Heights, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and subsequently with Sheridan in many pitched battles and numerous conflicts with the enemy.

The re-enlisted veterans and new recruits remained in the field, with a battalion organization, and were designated as the Second Regiment. Captain Young was the senior officer and command would devolve upon him, but he was absent at the time on staff duty, which he much preferred. The command accordingly fell to Captain Elisha H. Rhodes, in whose hands the old reputation was well-sustained and fresh laurels gathered on many a hard fought field.

First Experience at Scouting

At the close of the Shenandoah campaign, Young was serving on the staff of Colonel Oliver Edwards. He did considerable scouting for that officer, particularly at night, and hunted Mosby in company with the famous Captain Blazer, who commanded a company of Union scouts.

Young had devised a very ingenious plan for the capture of Mosby, and was confident of success; he watched long and patiently for an opportunity to put his plan in execution, but when the opportune moment arrived his design was frustrated by some of our cavalry driving Mosby out of his position. The night, however, was not passed entirely without success, for Young continued on his scout and captured a noted guerrilla near Romney, while he was in bed. This man had heretofore escaped capture, and was reported to carry thirty-six shots about his person.

At one time in a little village near Winchester, he found a rebel recruiting office in full blast; he approached with easy confidence, told a plausible story, inveighed a little against the Yanks, and finally enlisted, swearing to appear at the appointed day; the day came; true to his oath, the captain came also, but with a few picked men, and captured the whole concern. An examination of the books and papers revealed the fact that a small quantity of arms were temporarily stored in the neighborhood. That night, with a small squad of men, he started again, hoping to secure the guns, but found the alarm had been given and the enterprise was abandoned.

Scout Duty

He now attracted the attention of General Sheridan by a daring exploit which transferred him at once to the active and adventurous service in which he subsequently earned marked and enviable distinction.  Sometime in the early autumn, while the brigade was at Winchester, the enemy made a detached movement around the right of our army, threatening Winchester and Hancock.  The object of the expedition was somewhat obscure, and Sheridan could gain no accurate or satisfactory information from the scouts he sent out; he applied to Colonel Edwards, instructing him to use every endeavor to penetrate the design of the movement, and placing the secret service fund at his disposal. Captain Young at once volunteered to obtain the required knowledge, and asked only for a picked detail of three picked men and four rebel uniforms; putting himself and his little detachment into the gray costume, and stealing quietly out of the city, he made his way into the enemy's lines, and by his tact, adroitness, and the skillful management of his resources, gained full particulars, and in less than twenty-four hours' time, was back again with his report. The whole matter was immediately laid before Sheridan, who at once claimed his services. "I must have that man," said he, "I have been looking for him for the last two years."

Captain Young was promoted to Major and transferred to Sheridan's staff, November 14, 1864. Here he became Chief of Scouts.  Sheridan authorized him to select from the army one hundred picked men, of whom he was to have sole command, going whithersoever he would and acting entirely to his own discretion. They were a fine body of men and selected with great care for this peculiar service.

This adventurous, perilous and exciting duty was exactly suited to a man of his iron nerve and indomitable will.  He was peculiarly endowed by nature for the active and hazardous service which he subsequently entered upon; with a sanguine temperament which no reverses could discourage, with wonderful powers of endurance, a restless activity always on the alert, and a constitution which loss of food or sleep never seemed to make less vigorous, he would tire out the more robust and hardy men who worked with him.

His scouting parties were exceedingly well organized and of the greatest service to Sheridan to the close of the war. As an officer of Sheridan's staff says: "As a general rule, scouts are perfectly worthless, being usually plausible fellows who go out to the picket-line, lie all night under some tree and come back to headquarters in the morning and lie there, giving wonderful reports about the enemy, fearing no contradiction."They swagger frightfully, where small towns are occupied and there are any natives to astonish; then they turn out in full uniform of the enemy -- being surrounded by friends -- and with two pistols in the belt and one in each boot, these walking arsenals walk into everything that does not belong to them and help themselves.

"Young's men were managed differently and proved of great service, being much more afraid of the general and the major than they were of the enemy, for the former had a way of cross-examining fatal to a lie, and as the major was constantly off in the enemy's country himself, his men were never certain that he had not followed them. ~It is no use trying to stump his eye,' a scout would say.

"These men had been with Young on several successful expeditions and in some desperate fights; they had taken Harry Gilmor out of his bed, confiscating the pistols under his pillow, without disturbing his command. In the Shenandoah valley they had swept through the picket-line of the enemy and cut their way through the reserves, losing several killed and wounded in the attempt; they knew the major and each other and the major knew them, and they had that mutual confidence which is vital to a party of this sort.

"Major Young's men dressed in the Confederate uniform, habitually mingled with the people, told them the news and got the news in return from them; cursed the Yankees and drank stirrup cups of applejack to their discomfiture, warned the host against their own coming, then rode away while one of their number slipped quickly back through unfrequented paths and communicated the latest from the front to the general commanding."

At night, while the troops rested, Young and his men would be miles away in every direction, and during the following day would be met at every cross road possessed of the best intelligence from the right and left.  The scouts were well paid for this hazardous work, and often received a bonus for special acts of daring and good service, while the major was compensated by his chances of distinction and the general's good opinion.  He grew to be well known in the sections where the army campaigned, and those who acknowledged a curiosity to see anything in the shape of a Yankee would ask to have Young pointed out.

General Edward's Letter

The following letter from General Oliver Edwards may be given at this point to illustrate by a special instance, already alluded to, not only the character of Major Young, but also the nature of his hazardous enterprises. General Edwards writes:

"I was well acquainted with Major H.H. Young from early 1861 to the end of his life. He served on my staff from the Wilderness campaign to November, 1864. He possessed ability for a large command. In battle he was quick as thought to notice everything of importance, and as a staff officer was invaluable to his general in battle, in camp or on the march. He was one of the few men who loved danger and who sought it as a recreation as well as a duty, and was one of the warmest-hearted men I ever knew. In the autumn of 1864 a large force of infantry and cavalry from Early's army moved around Sheridan's right and demonstrated upon Winchester, VA., which post I then commanded. I sent a dispatch to Sheridan to that effect, and received a reply that he was aware of the
movement but that all has scouts had failed entirely to find the objective point; the secret service fund was at my disposal, and he wished me if possible to find out what the movement meant. After sending out my professional scouts, with no avail, I consented, on his urgent appeal, to allow Major Young to attempt the duty, and gave him a detail of two men, clad in Confederate cavalry uniform. Major Young started immediately and joined the rebel column under Breckinridge and Lomax, and spent several hours with them. He ascertained the movement was a feint on Winchester, with Hancock, Md., the objective point. Their aim was to capture the ballot-boxes at that republican center, and save the state from Lincoln for McClellan, but found that Sheridan had so disposed his
command that they would soon be cut off, and the foray was abandoned. Major Young rode down three sets of horses, traveled the distance and obtained the information in less than twenty-four hours. I reported the result of this daring scout and masterly management to General Sheridan. Sheridan said: `I have been looking for that man for two years; I want him; will make him major on my personal staff and chief of scouts; he may chose one hundred men from my command and arm them as he desires.' I told him I had almost rather lose my right arm than to part with Major (then Captain) Young, but I would urge him to accept the offer, as he could do far more effective service with him than me. I reported the offer to Major Young and he decidedly refused to leave me, and
not till after the most urgent representations of how much more good he could do for the cause he loved so well, did he consent to accept General Sheridan's offer. His career with that general was a brilliant one. His bold capture of Harry Gilmor, his capture of the rebel General Barringer and his staff behind their own lines in the Battle of Five forks, the unequaled ability with which he furnished Sheridan with unerring information of the
details concerning Lee's army and its intentions in the last campaign, enabled Sheridan to successfully cut off Lee's last line of retreat, and is a matter of history.

"Sheridan, in his official reports, gives Major Young more credit for his splendid gallantry and execution that to any other officer mentioned."Major Young's record during the war, if the details could be gathered, would be of more interest than any romance of war ever written. I shall always remember him with pride and affection."

Attempt to Capture General Early

Another officer who served with Sheridan, says: "After the capture of Generals Kelly and Crook by the rebels, Young, with a few of his men, went to Staunton, where General Early, commanding the rebel force in the valley, had his headquarters, and remained there some days, carefully studying the chances of capturing Early and bringing him into our lines. "Young made the acquaintance of some of Early's headquarters guard, and on two occasions took the place of the sentry on post at Early's door while the genuine rebel went to see his sweetheart.

"He told me he could have taken Early prisoner, but the distance from Staunton to our outlying pickets was so great (fifty-five miles) that in the pursuit which would have ensued he would probably have been obliged to let him go or shoot him, and he did not think it would be `humane warfare' to do the latter, and no use to make the attempt if he had to do the former, so, after spending nearly a week in Staunton, he gave up the idea
and returned to our lines.

"I regret I cannot recall any other of Young's exploits, they were many; he was a very gallant fellow, and just suited for `chief of scouts,' and rendered very important service during the entire war."

Captures and Escapes

In 1864, in the Shenandoah valley, Christmas morning broke cold and gray, the ground was covered with snow to a great depth, and the sharp gusts of wind lifted and drifted the sparkling crystals. All the camps were early astir, and out in the biting cold the soldiers hurried to and fro, exchanging Christmas greetings as they went. They seemed inspired with the spirit of childhood, and met the day with all its zeal and enjoyment. Notwithstanding the cold and discomforts of camp life, that was a happy day in the army. It was spent in as broad a latitude of fun and frolic as army rules, stretched to the last degree of elasticity, would permit.

That brave and bronzed little army had not been forgotten in the North, and thousands of boxes had been forwarded by friends to give the soldiers a happy reminder of "the day all of the year," and to cheer him with remembrances from home. Yet with the relaxed discipline, the vigilant Sheridan did not forget his picket lines, and the indefatigable Major Young is selected to see that all are on alert. Says a writer:

"Night closed over a merry camp, and the sound of laugh, song and story went round and round, while the rude wind blew its gusts of snow against the white tents. Notwithstanding this hilarity in the camp the pickets were all posted, and there was no want of care for the safety of the jolly companions behind the outposts.

"Halt! Who goes there? shouted a trooper of the Second Massachusetts cavalry, upon a sorrel horse, at the extreme front of the lines.

"A friend,' came the reply from a half-frozen cavalryman, struggling through the blast and fitful gusts of snow that well-nigh numbed him.

"Advance, and give the counter-sign,' replied the trooper.

"The cavalryman advanced, but, when he was within speaking distance, the watchful brought his carbine to bear upon him, and demanded the countersign.

"`I haven't it,' he relpied. `I am Major Young, General Sheridan's chief of scouts. I have been away from camp for several days, and therefore haven't the password for to-day.'

"`I'll have to take you prisoner until the relief comes round,' said the sentinel, and he ordered him to dismount.

"The officer demurred, and called attention to his half-frozen condition, but the picket was too good a soldier to take anything for granted, so he kept him off his horse, the most of the time covered with his carbine, until the relief came round. He was then escorted to the reserve and the officer in command sent him under guard to the headquarters of the regiment. The colonel recognized him as Sheridan's chief of scouts, and there was a hearty laugh when the officer related his excuse for being out that General Sheridan had ordered him to visit the picket- lines to see that there was no want of watchfullness after the Christmas jollification. His experience with the Massachusetts cavalryman convinced him that there was no necessity for the inspection."

If the army rested for a brief space in camp, Major Young was constantly reconnoitering the enemy. Near Winchester, where he was pretty well known by the confederates, having made the capture of one or two noted guerrillas in that neighborhood, he advanced, late one afternoon, many miles beyond our picket-line, to ascertain the strength of a body of cavalry, he supposed to be Mosby's men, and was about to return, when the sharp clattering of hoofs was heard, and, emerging from a turn in the road, almost close upon him, came rushing down a squad of perhaps a dozen of the rebel cavalry. The major was a superb horseman, and rode that day on a little gray horse, a special favorite, on which he placed great reliance, for by its matchless speed and noble work it had several times extricated him from positions of extreme peril. It was an exceedingly hot day, and the little gray had been ridden hard for some hours, but seemed to take in the situation and started off with wonderful swiftness; but an occasional bullet, whistling past his ears, convinced the major that the distance was not widening between him and the pursuers; some of them, at least, had horses equal to his own; watching his opportunity, he spurred his horse and leaped a high stone wall which ran along the road for some distance, and bounded a large enclosure on three sides, with a clump of woods stretching a long distance on the other. Two of the pursuers followed, clearing the wall at a bound; the others, either unable to follow or thinking to head him off where he would again appear, kept on swiftly and were soon enveloped in a cloud of dust far beyond. There was not a moment to lose; he turned and charged fiercely upon the two, who, now separated from their comrades and startled by such unexpected audacity, gave one or two ineffective shots, then turned and soon regained the road. He now made for the woods, a few hundred yards away, and concealed himself and horse as well as he could, not going far into the woods, wisely concluding that they would not hunt for him so near the spot where they had left him. Night was rapidly approaching, and with it came one of those sudden tempests which sometimes comes on a bright day. The drenching rain dampened the ardor of the search. After waiting some hours, he led his horse out to the road as quietly as possible and made a dash for camp, which he reached safely without hearing anything more from the enemy.

It was subsequently ascertained from a prisoner brought into camp, who had been one of the pursuing squad, that they had proceeded to a point below the woods wgere they supposed he must emerge, keeping also a sharp lookout upon the roads. The darkness soon became impenetrable, the rain poured in torrents and the officer in command injured himself severely by striking his head against a low-hanging branch, and the pursuit was abandoned, much to the chagrin of the party.

Gives Orders to a Rebel Party

A staff officer, en eyewitness, states that upon one occasion on the battlefield, a rebel battery had gained a strong position up a steep, rocky acclivity, being sheltered by the formation of the ground and some fallen trees, was doing considerable damage and threatened to be a serious obstacle to a movement of our troops, which had just been ordered. It seemed impossible for the brigade to take up the position desired without the sacrifice of many lives, and if gained, looked as though it might be untenable, after all. Major Young had brought the order, and his quick eye soon discerned the difficulties in the way, and he resolved to make an effort to remove that battery without loss. Donning a rebel uniform and taking a circuitous route, he soon reached the ground, dashed up to
the officer in command with an order purporting to come from the rebel general, whom Young knew to be in the field, ordering him to move his battery, which he accordingly did. The major said he had no difficulty whatever in reaching the objective point, but from a sudden change in position of the enemy, had to remain much longer within their lines than was agreeable, under the circumstances.

His Coolness

Major Young was not only a man of unwavering courage, but was gifted with an imperturbable coolness, which was a great safeguard in the most critical situations. His frank, ingenuous manner and quiet way allayed suspicion and deceived the enemy when within their lines, where at one time he spent nearly two weeks, boarding as a confederate invalid near Winchester; he made several acquaintances and succeeded in obtaining the exact information he sought, which was a valuable aid to his commander. Says Woodbury: "In the peculiar service in which he was engaged during the last year of the war he had no superior in our northern armies." He had a variety of disguises and seldom repeated the same role. On one occasion, when about to start on what seemed a
particularly perilous undertaking, the idea suggested itself of testing his disguise within out own lines before starting. Stealing quietly out of camp, he assumed the uniform of a rebel colonel and soon allowed himself to be captured by some men of his own brigade. Very much elated, they placed him under strict guard, marched him into camp and delivered him up as a great prize.

The prisoner requested an interview with the commander, and being taken to headquarters, he most mysteriously disappeared. Some hours after, Major Young, who was supposed to be out on a scout, was seen about camp, but the rebel officer, though anxiously watched for, was never heard from again. It was a matter of widespread
speculation for a long time, why there should be such at headquarters in regard to his escape.

Capture of Colonel Gilmor

One of Major Young's most brilliant exploits was the capture of Colonel Harry Gilmor, who was noted for his rebel raids. Gilmor was a brave fellow, reckless and full of love of hazardous exploits. At that time he was engaged in the same guerrilla-like warfare that Mosby had pursued, and was no mean antagonist. He had with him the flower of the
Maryland troops and was undoubtedly very influential with the youth of his state in inducing them to enlist.

Sheridan regarded his capture as of great importance, because of its severing the last link that existed between Maryland and the Confederacy. In his official report he highly commends Major Young for the capture. Rhode Island has always been justly proud of the capture, during the Revolutionary war, of General Richard Prescott, by Colonel William Barton, and it may be regarded as a glorious coincidence, that, during the Rebellion, a similar capture should have been made by a Rhode Island officer. Such acts of personal daring and heroism always excite admiration even if they do not materially affect important issues.

Barton undertook a perilous enterprise, which, for its successful execution, required good judgment, nerve and daring, and well did he accomplish it. If the capture had no immediate effect upon the issue of the struggle, it served to excite the spirit and morale of our soldiers throughout the whole army.

Major Young, in the severest winter weather, started with twenty of his scouts, traveling in close proximity to the enemy; the night was snowy as well as extremely cold, and the enemy's pickets must have housed themselves in some comfortable hut in the mountains.  All along the way they encountered stragglers from their lines, making many prisoners, which they were obliged to take with them. Gilmor, having from three to four hundred men in his neighborhood, the utmost secrecy, promptness and courage were necessary to ensure success; the slightest blunder might prove fatal to the whole enterprise, as well as to the men themselves.

An officer with Sheridan, writes: "Some few hours before the capture, a small party of scouts suddenly appeared at the house of a friend of Gilmor's, representing themselves as Confederate soldiers from the picket post at Lost River, to warn them that the enemy was at Wardensville.

"In this way they gained all necessary information.

"That night a squad of cavalry guarded the river banks where the heroic band crept stealthily to the house where Gilmor was sleeping; the door was opened swiftly and quietly and five men with drawn pistols and in confederate uniform, passed in. Reaching his room and softly approaching the bed of the sleeping colonel, the pistols under his
pillow were at once secured, their owner being then aroused.

"`Are you Colonel Gilmor?' asked Major Young.

"There was no reply. The question being repeated, backed by a loaded pistol at the silent officer's head, he was disposed to be a little more communicative.

"`Yes, and who in the devil's name are you?'

"`Major Young, of General Sheridan's staff,' was the clear response.

"`All right, I suppose you want me to go with you?'

"`I should be glad to have your company to Winchester,' was the reply, `as the general wishes to consult you about some important military matters.'

"The colonel was requested to be lively, and, seeing the folly of resistance, complied with as good grace as possible.

"He was hurried out, mounted, and with his cousin, who had been passing the night with him, put under guard and conducted to where the cavalry were stationed, when the whole column wheeled and started for Moorefield.

"The captor and captive became quite good friends during this journey; both Gilmor and Young were brave-spirited and adventurous, and, in his book published after the war, the former speaks warmly of his captor's courtesy and kindness.

"The major requested Colonel Whittington, who was in command of the cavalry, to make Gilmor over to him and let him push on to Winchester; the colonel refused, and Young left with his men.

"Gilmor, in his narrative, says: `I felt my hope return, now that the lynx-eyed major had taken his departure, and was busily concocting different schemes for his escape, when back through the snow dashed four of Young's scouts to guard me to Big Capon, where we camped, and also found the major waiting. We were quartered in the house of a man named Bean, whose son had served with me. It was about eleven P.M., when, after a good supper, we all lay down on the floor around the fire; Major Young, with five or six men, besides the colonel, surgeon, one lieutenant, my cousin and myself. One of the scouts, who had deserted my command sometime before, sat in a chair between my head and the door with a cocked pistol in his hand; I soon discovered that the whole party was very sleepy.

"`The scouts had been drinking freely of apple brandy, and I determined not to sleep a wink, but watch my chance.

"`In less than an hour every man was snoring loudly, including the sentinel at the back door and the scout who sat at my head with his pistol in his lap.

"`The host was inside the circle of feet, standing before the fire, quietly scrutinizing each sleeper. I made a slight motion to attract his attention that he might see that I was awake.  I made signs to him that I should try to escape, and pointed to the chamber door in an inquiring manner, to know if I could get out in that way; he became very pale, knowing what peril he would be in should he aid in my escape.

"`I was personally a stranger to our hast, but thought he intended to help me. I thought my chance of escape good and was anxious to try it, knowing the colonel would march at daylight, when the door opened and in walked the colonel's orderly, who took his stand by the fire and did not wink his eye, until at dawn we were called to breakfast.'

"They reached Winchester at noon, when Gilmor was separated from the other prisoners and handcuffed.

"There were about twenty-five cavalry ready to act as escort to Stevenson's Depot, where they were to take the cars for Harper's Ferry.

"Gilmor says: `Major Young had seven or eight of his scouts with him, and informed me they would conduct me to the fort where I was to be confined. I guessed at once that Fort Warren was to be my prison, and soon after the major conformed my suspicion.

"`From first to last he was as kind as it was possible for him to be, but at the same time he watched me like a hawk, and was always ready to draw his revolver.

"`He told me frankly that he would not trust me far, for he knew I would take desperate chances of escaping.

"`He did not iron me, as he had been ordered, neither did he ask for my `parole of honor,' but I did not make a movement that was not quickly seen."

At Harper's Ferry large crowds had assembled to catch sight of the rebel prize; it looked a little squally, and some threatened violence.  Major young, perfectly cool, waved them aside with his revolver at full cock, whispering to Gilmor: "In case of attack, take one of my pistols and shoot right and left, they will have to walk over my dead body before they touch you." One man ventured too far, and was hurled back with such force by the stalwart young officer, as to convince the mob that it was out of the question to trifle with one of Major Young's prisoners.

As they proceeded they were met by Major Nigel, who came in nine miles from Baltimore to warn them of the great excitement there. The major informed Gilmor he should have arms, adding, laughingly: "I should enjoy a skirmish amazingly, I think you and I could whip a small crowd by ourselves."

"They spent the night in Major Nigel's office; Young provided a good supper, and after a capital breakfast next day, left for New York, reaching there same evening, traveled all night and arrived in Boston at seven A.M. on the 10th of February, 1865. The major accompanied his prisoner to the United States hotel, where they breakfasted with a large crowd staring at them, and then escorted him to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, not losing sight of his charge until the gates were securely closed upon him

Gilmor says: "I had struck my last blow for the South." He was released July 24th, 1865.

In one part of Gilmor's narrative he speaks of arriving at a certain point, during the war, and being very much surprised to find quite a delegation of ladies to meet him. They had heard through one of Young's scouts that Gilmor was on the way, and, so accurate was the information given, not only as regarded his movements, but those of the whole army that he had not the slightest doubt but that the major had been all through the confederate lines.

Sketch of Gilmor

A private letter from one, formerly of Sheridan's staff, dated May 5th, 1879, says, in speaking of Young’s exploit: "Gilmor belongs to one of the old and prominent Maryland families. He was well-educated, moved in the best circles of Baltimore, and for a while was in the banking house of William Fisher & Sons, as clerk. He was known as a rather fast, muscular sort of fellow, a frequenter of engine houses in the old volunteer fire department times, and a member of political clubs.

"He was a pronounced rebel, and when he raised his cavalry company to go South, a great many of the young rebels joined him, and he continued the most active efforts to bring Maryland into the Confederacy.

"When General Early crossed the Potomac, in July, 1864, and invaded Maryland, threatening Baltimore and Washington, a party of raiders under Gilmor came within four miles of Baltimore, burned the house of Governor Bradford, and, passing north of the city, cut the Philadelphia and Baltimore railroad, captured two trains of cars and Major-General W.B. Franklin, who was a passenger on one of the trains. During the confusion of the night the general succeeded in making his escape near Reisterstown.

"Since the war, Gilmor discipline of the police force, and did good service during the railroad riots of '77.  We append a letter of recent date written by Colonel Gilmor, referring to his capture by Major Young.

Letter From Gilmor

"I have a very lively recollection of my short but eventful acquaintance with Major Young, and, although as a result thereof, I was obliged to spend over six months in Fort Warren, Boston harbor, yet it gives me pleasure to testify to the kind treatment I received at all times while in the custody of Major Young. He was a bold, fearless cavalry soldier, a man of remarkable talents for the duty he was selected to perform, possessing the qualities of quick discernment, good judgment and great self-reliance, rapid execution of plans made to suit circumstances as they presented themselves. Those are the essential qualities of a good scout. We never know when or where to look for him, and yet we know that he or some of his best men were constantly inside our lines. I have known him to pass our pickets on an old farm-horse with collar and hames and a sack of corn, as if on his way to mill, fool our pickets, and go out again without being suspected.

"After my return from Fort Warren, I married a lady from Pensacola, Florida, and went to Mississippi to plant cotton, which I followed for nearly five years; afterwards, returning to Baltimore, my native place, was soon afterwards elected by the legislature to be one of the police commissioners. My term of office having expired, I am living here quietly with my family, wife and four children."

His Last Campaign

After leaving his prisoner safely in Fort Warren, Major Young immediately rejoined Sheridan in the field and participated with him in the active campaign that speedily followed.  It will be remembered, that having utterly destroyed Early's command at Waynesboro, destroyed the James River canal and the Lynchburg railroad, and done inestimable damage to the rebels in other quarters, Sheridan came back by way of the White House, on the Pamunkey, crossed to the south side of the James, formed a junction with the army of the Potomac, March 27th, and took a prominent part in the decisive assault upon Lee's army. President Lincoln was visiting the army at that time, and witnessed the crossing of the James by Sheridan's splendid cavalry.

Says Woodbury, alluding to the arrival of the cavalry: "What was of more special interest to the Second Rhode Island, was the fact that with Sheridan came Major Young, who had won an excellent reputation, and even renown, throughout the army, as chief of scouts, and had become so valuable to Sheridan that he could not be spared from that general's command."

His Last Campaign

General Sheridan saw that the day had come for a final and successful struggle. On the 29th of March, 1865, at the head of his magnificent command, animated by the best spirit, and possessing the entire confidence of every man who followed, he rode out from his camp in pursuit of the enemy, and by his important and valorous deeds, added fresh laurels to the fame already won. Young's scouts take the lead, and were riding rapidly in all directions, fearlessly penetrating into every move of the enemy and giving Sheridan the most valuable information.

Sheridan's cavalry at this time numbered about 10,000 men, and were in a high state of discipline. They had been trained to dismount and fight on foot, and were always ready for any exigency, and so accustomed to victory that they never faltered when moving on the enemy.

April 2nd, 1865, Richmond and Petersburg were evacuated, and it was a large army in full retreat along the Appomattox. Wits were called into play, for pursuit must be speedy, and yet conducted with caution, lest the broken fortunes of the confederacy be mended by one false move of ours.  The point General Lee would in all probability try to gain, was Danville, and this must be prevented.

"General Sheridan was master of the situation. `Turn his flank; head him off; attack him,' said he, `never mind the rear of his column; never mind the stragglers, but get to the head and front; stand across his path and cry, "no thoroughfare," and let the enemy fight for the right of way.'

"Having solved that problem to his satisfaction, the general proceeded to demonstrate it to the army, to the public, and to General Lee.

"Flankers and scouting parties of cavalry were constantly bringing in scores of prisoners from the woods on either side; prisoners who would throw down their arms at sight of blue uniforms and respectfully request to be captured; they were lost from the main body of their army; they were hungry and tired, and if there was a Confederacy to sustain, they could not find it in the woods, and gave it up, also, for lost."

The Scouts Are Everywhere

"The line of march was parallel to General Lee's, along the Appomattox river. His army moving on both flanks from Petersburg and Richmond, evidently pushing for Amelia Court House, on the Danville railroad, south of the Appomattox. At night the army camped along Deep Creek. While the command was asleep, the restless Major Young, with a few of his scouts, took a ride with the enemy's cavalry, which was moving off towards Amelia Court House, and kindly assisted General Barringer, who commanded the rebel brigade, in finding a comfortable camp-ground.

"Young managed to lead him off a little from his troops, and then persuaded him, with pistols, to surrender, and brought him and his staff safely to headquarters.

"At daylight, on April 4th, the command was again on the road; separating now into three columns, for the covering of a wider territory -- Merritt and McKenzie striking off to the right toward the Appomattox , following the enemy, who had retreated before them the previous night from the ford at Deep Creek; Crook making for the Danville railroad, at a point between Jetersvile and Burke's Station, some ten miles south of Amelia Court House, thence to advance toward Jetersville along the railroad; and the Fifth Corps, under Griffin, moving out for Jetersville, a station five miles from Amelia Court House, in the direction of Burkesville Junction.

"The Fifth Corps marched rapidly all day, and the head of the column reached Jetersville about five P.M., a march of some sixteen miles; a long and tiresome one, however, when the condition of the roads was taken into consideration; it adds much credit to the troops retreating and pursuing, for it is one thing to march an army over a turnpike and another to drag it through Virginia mud.

"Before reaching Jetersville, two or three of the staff with a small mounted escort went off to the left to get on to the Danville railroad and learn the news, if there was any.

"At Scott's Mill, on West Creek, they were filling their empty grain-bags, when a scout of Young's, passing that way, rode up to say that the rebel army was at Amelia Court House and advancing down the railroad. He was a little premature in his report, but proved to be correct in regard to Lee's position.

"This information was immediately sent over to Sheridan, who was moving with the Fifth Corps, and then the party left the mill and trotted on toward the railroad.

"Squads of soldiers in gray, some with guns and some without, were wearily straggling on to Danville, and here and there could be seen a mounted man, armed and equipped, listlessly joining them from a wood path, slouching in his saddle like a tired trooper, and apparently with no object in life but to have company in shirking the calamities hanging over General Lee and those who remained with him.

"As the staff party neared the railroad these mounted men became evidently uneasy, and made furtive signs to prevent its closer approach; but they made no hostile demonstration and seemed to urge the footmen to move on, as if they were satisfied that the strangers were friends. Then one or two of the gray riders cautiously advanced across the fields and a couple of men in blue went out to meet them.

"When they came within earshot, the gray dragoons said: `Keep back out of sight; we are Major Young's men. The major’s down the road apiece and has a whole corral of Johnnies.' The blue men laughed, and, riding off into the woods, soon caught sight of Major Young in a little thicket by the side of the railroad, his horses tied to the trees and a score of his men with cocked carbines imposing silence on a regiment of prisoners, and bagging the unsuspecting game which his mounted decoys were leading in.

"The major seemed very much amused as he told the news, and expressed an eager desire for two or three hundred cavalry with which to surprise a lot of rebel horsemen that he knew of down the road, but lacking these, was entertaining himself as best he might."

Throughout his career as scout he was always on the alert, always working, bringing in the most important information, and often at favorable opportunities, and in a very persuasive manner, would induce men and, even officers, to transfer themselves from the rebel to the Union lines.

We need not follow the history of this last campaign in which Sheridan played so important a part and Major Young had such active participation, but subjoin Sheridan's last dispatch, which proved conclusive, as General Lee was compelled to surrender the next morning, April 9th, 1865.

Sheridan's Last Dispatch

Cavalry Headquarters, April 8, 1865
9.20 P.M.
Lieutenant -General U.S. Grant
Commanding Armies United States.
General: -- I marched early this morning from Buffalo Creek and Prospect Station on Appomattox depot, where my scouts had reported trains of cars with supplies for Lee's army. A short time before dusk, General Custer, who had the advance, made a dash at the station, capturing four trains of supplies, with locomotives; one of the trains was burned, and the others run by him towards Farmville, for security. Custer then pushed on towards Appomattox Court House, driving the enemy, who kept up a steady stream of artillery, charging them repeatedly, and capturing, as far as reported, twenty-five pieces of artillery and a number of prisoners and wagons. The First Cavalry division supported him on the right. A reconnaissance sent across the Appomattox reports the enemy
moving on the Cumberland road to Appomattox Station, where they expect to get supplies. Custer is still pushing on. If General Gibbon and the Fifth Corps can get up to-night, we will, perhaps, finish the job in the morning. I do not think Lee means to surrender until compelled to do so.

(signed) P.H. Sheridan

This was the last of Sheridan's dispatches, as Lee was compelled to surrender the next morning, April 9th, 1865.

Mexican Service

Immediately after Lee's surrender, Lieutenant -Colonel Young accompanied Sheridan to his command in the southwest. He was as active and successful as ever, but after a brief term of service as a volunteer aid with Sheridan, he entered into the employment of the Mexican Patriot Government, and was engaged for a time in raising recruits for service against the troops of Maximillian. * * In one of his expeditions in the winter of '66-'67, he and his party were attacked while crossing the Rio Grande; since then nothing definite has been heard from or of him. The matter was taken up, and thorough investigation made, but without any satisfactory result. A letter from General Sheridan, stated, that report said, "Colonel Young had been seen alive and well in Monterey," but it was never corroborated. Whether he perished in the fight at the Rio Grande, or languished within the walls of a Mexican prison, will ever be shrouded in mystery.


Many years have passed; yet, in a distant, quiet town, a devoted and heart-broke mother still watches wearily for the coming of her son. Each night, as the daily stage rumbles through the street, this mother scans eagerly with her fast-fading eyes, the face of each new comer, and the welcome which ever awaits him in her saddened heart, is again, and yet again unspoken. Well may we appropriate the language of President Lincoln, addressed to a mother whose sons fell fighting on the field of battle: -- "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming, but I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom."

Headquarters, Mid. Mil. Div.,
Nov. 16, 1864.
Special Orders, No. 85

* * * * * * * * *
7. Major H.H. Young, Second Rhode Island Vols., is hereby assigned to duty as
additional Aide-de-camp on the staff of the Major-General Commanding, and will be
obeyed and respected accordingly.
By command of Maj. GEN. SHERIDAN
(Signed) C. Kingsbury, Jr.
Asst. Adjt. Gen'l.


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