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Members of the Monroe County Company

This company was mustered into the United States service by Colonel Churchill of the regular army on June 22, 1846, and on the 8th or 9th of July took a steamboat for New Orleans, where it landed on the battlefield just below the city on the 15th, and was immediately transferred to ocean vessels and started to Point Isabella at the mouth of the Rio Grande, at which point the boat arrived in three days, when a storm came up which blew the vessel out to sea where it remained eight days, buffeting the waves. Nearly everybody on board suffered from sea-sickness, but the vessel finally landed in safety, I have not been able to get the name of this ship. The regiment was in Taylor's army, participated in the battle of Buena Vista and companies A and B under the direct command of Major Gorman brought on and closed the battle.

After the expiration of its term of enlistment the company came home by steamboat to Madison, then by the old Madison and Indianapolis road to Columbus and from there marched to Bloomington. On its return a big barbecue was given in Dunn's Woods, now the College Campus. Speeches were made. Every man was made a hero and a general glorious time was had. Long trenches were dug in which great quantities of wood were placed which was fired. Cattle and sheep, furnished by the farmers of the community, were butchered and barbecued over the roasting coals.

The members of this company were:

John M. Sluss captain
Henry R. Seall first lieutenant
Allen Crocker second lieutenant
Isaac S. Buskirk first sergeant
William C. Foster sergeant
James Frits sergeant
Edward J. Pullen sergeant
Robert K. Nelson corporal
Daniel Iseminger corporal
Dudley Rogers corporal
Richard Radcliff corporal
William B. Crocker musician
E. F. Harney musician.
Privates:
Owen Adkins
Oliver Adkins
John M. Armstrong
W. G. Applegate
Benjamin Bruner
William Boyd
William Campbell
James A. Dale
James I. Davis
Christopher C. Fleener
Garlin F. Fleener
James Fleener
John B. Givens
Robert W. Graham
William H. Harvey
Adam Hunter
William L. Hardesty
Samuel G. Jamison
William Johnson
John Knight
John Duncan
B. Langewell
Thomas Langewell
Isaac S. Leabo
James Little
William Lamkins
William J. Lake
John Martin
Elijah Morgan
Thomas McNaught
Trayless Mize
James Matlock
John Nuckles
John Osborne
Joseph W. Pullen
John Phillips
William Rowe
Addison C. Smith
Sylvester Stongar
Strother Stongar
Robert Strong
Leonidas P. Skirvin
Simpson S. Skirvin
John H. Strain
L. R Thompson
Austin Truit
Samuel S. Taylor
Solon O. Whitson
Numa M. Whitson
Richard G. Walker
Morris L. Baker
George A. Buskirk.
Privates discharged:
Joseph Thomas
Solomon Langewell
Solomon May
John A. Dale
William McPhetridge
Phillip H. Smith
William Cox
Samuel Sexton

In the organization there was considerable rivalry for position. Governor Dunning, Captain John M. Sluss, Colonel James S. Hester and Captain Frank Ottwell all wanted to be captain. Sluss was elected. Governor Dunning got an appointment as sutler and none of the others went. Willis A. Gorman was a popular young Democratic politician, who had been a member of the legislature, enlisted among the first, was accused of military aspirations which he denied, took the position of orderly sergeant and in the organization of the regiment was elected major. He served with great distinction, before the expiration of his term came home and was elected colonel of the Fourth regiment. He afterwards was elected to Congress, was appointed governor of Minnesota Territory by President Buchanan, was colonel of the First Minnesota regiment in the Civil War and got to be a brigadier general.

Captain John M. Sluss was a large man, a Kentuckian, who had moved here from the Blue Grass part of the State, was an exceedingly popular man, returned and lived to a good old age, honored and respected by everybody as an honest, conscientious. Christian gentleman and a good soldier.

Lieutenant John Eller was a brother of Henry and George Eller, and an uncle of John T. Eller, a very popular man and sheriff of the county at the time he enlisted. He died October 4, 1846. The boat on which his body was being brought home sank in the Mississippi River July 29, 1847, just below Baton Rouge and his body was never recovered, Henry R. Seal was promoted to first lieutenant from the ranks. He was subsequently a merchant at Ellettsville. Aquilla Rogers was a second lieutenant but resigned. Thomas Rogers was promoted from third lieutenant, died May, 1847, and Allen Crocker was promoted to second lieutenant.

A great, many of this company subsequently acquired considerable distinction both in military and civil life. Isaac Buskirk, who succeeded Colonel Gorman as orderly sergeant, was a captain in the Tenth Indiana cavalry. Edward J. Pullen, a duty sergeant, was a colonel in the Confederate army. Daniel Iseminger, a corporal, was a captain in an Iowa regiment and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in command of the regiment.

Private John M. Armstrong was a captain of Company K of the Fourteenth Indiana and served during the Civil War. James I. Davis, a private, was the first man wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista. He lived south of town near Smithville and was the father of Mrs. John P. Foster and died within the last few years. Private E. E. Heney was a colonel of an Iowa regiment in the Civil War. Private Thomas McNaught was colonel of the Fifty-ninth Indiana in the Civil War was brevetted brigadier general and now lives in Spencer, a hale and hearty octogenarian. Austin Truitt at the Battle of Buena Vista tore the flag which had been presented to the company by Miss Markle, from the staff, stuffed it in his bosom and carried it back seven miles to Saltillo. George A. Buskirk was a prominent man in this community, was common pleas judge, state agent, member of the legislature, founded the First National Bank of Bloomington, acquired the greatest fortune of any man in the county at that time and died at the age of forty-five. Private Morris L. Baker was captain of Company A of the Third Iowa cavalry in the Civil War, serving over two years. At the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas he was ordered to charge with his own and another company went into ambush by which his command suffered terribly. Captain Baker and General McNaught are the only living members of the Monroe Guards, who left Bloomington for Mexico on June 15, 1846. John Service, Israel Winkler, Robert Black, John Turner, Lieut. John Eller, John Moore, Robert A. Givens, Benjamin Adkins, Lieut. Thomas Rogers, and Randolph Sloan died of disease, William B. Holland, James M. Buskirk and David I, Stout were killed at the Battle of Buena Vista.

On the 19th of April, 1847, the secretary of war called for additional volunteers "to serve during the War with Mexico unless sooner discharged," of which one regiment was assigned to Indiana. On the 24th of the same month Governor Whitcomb issued his call "to the brave, enterprising and patriotic citizens of our State to respond to the call." By instructions of the adjutant general the companies, as soon as organized were to report to "Old Fort Clark" near Jeffersonville. Immediately upon receipt of the governor's call the organization of another company was begun in this county which was completed and reported to the governor on May 30, 1847. The company was named the "Rough and Ready Guards," was officered by Captain Daniel Lunderman, William McPhetridge, first lieutenant, Barton Acuff and Thomas A. Reynolds, second lieutenants, and became Company G of the Fourth Indiana, commanded by Colonel Willis A. Gorman. I can find very little of the details of the organization of this company. It was presented with a flag by the ladies of Bloomington, but who made the presentation speech, I am unable to say. The company, after being organized, marched to Columbus, took a train there to Madison and presumably went from there by boat to Jeffersonville. On the 28th of June, 1847, the Fourth Indiana left Jeffersonville for New Orleans on three steamboats. Captain Lunderman's company going on the steamboat "Franklin." The regiment went from New Orleans to the mouth of the Rio Grande and was a part of General Scott's army and with him went to the City of Mexico. The regiment returned to Madison, was mustered out July 16, 1848, came by rail to Columbus and then marched home on foot.

A list of the men in this company is as follows:

Daniel Lunderman captain
William McPhetridge first lieutenant
Barton Acuff second lieutenant
Thomas A. Reynolds second lieutenant
David Skillman first sergeant
James Eson sergeant
Charles G. Corr sergeant
Archibald F Umpstaddt sergeant
Truman Buckles corporal
Henry Baugh corporal
John W. Day corporal
John Sullivan corporal Columbus
C. Mershon drummer
Robert Laudrum fifer.
Privates:
Edward Armstrong
George Armstrong
Henry A. Bailey
Jackson Bales
James Bales
Stephen Bales
John Baugh
James Bean
George H. Butler
Morgan Carter
John Chaffee
Lewis Crarey
Robert Daniels
James R. Dearmin
Joel Deckard
Jonas Devenport
Jesse Elsett
John A. Garrett
John Glessner
Abraham Goodnight
Elijah Havvons
Silas B. Hovions
William Hovions
Valentine Heans
William Hunt
Daniel Jacobs
John Jones
Wiley Jackson
Stephen Lindley
George Marshall
William Mattock
John McWaught
Andrew J. Mefford
John Miller
Alexander Moberly
Thomas Pickle
James Richardson
Young I. Robinson
Harmon I. Rockett
Hamilton Slough
Daniel Spencer
Lawson Summitt
George Smith
Caleb H. Stone
James Thompson
William H. Virt
James M. York
David Wooster
John McClure
Samuel Bonsall
C. S. Chipman
John Neal
Jonathan Bruison
Benjamin F. Welts

No man of this company was killed in battle although several died of disease. The deaths were William Dawson, Isaac Peterson, William Blair, Hiram Carter, Solomon M. Grunt, Joel Hancock and Henry B. Wilson.

Captain Lunderman was a brother-in-law of Colonel Gorman. Both married daughters of Ellis Stone, a pioneer of Monroe County, who lived in a brick house just south of the Indianapolis Southern Railroad about two miles west of the city. He there owned a large body of land and raised a large family. Caleb H. Stone, a private of Lunderman's company, was a son of Ellis Stone and a brother-in-law of both Colonel Gorman and Captain Lunderman. In the early fifties Captain Lunderman took a body of men from this vicinity and went overland to California, taking with him a drove of cattle. He was a captain of the Twenty-second Indiana regiment in the Civil War, for years a justice of the peace in this city, living on College avenue just north of Third street.

William McPhetridge, first lieutenant, had been a private in Captain Sluss's company, was discharged, came home and assisted Lunderman in raising his company. Barton Acuff lived and died in Ellettsville. Charles G. Corr, a duty sergeant, was for a long time a prominent citizen of Washington Township and lived and died a few years ago in this city. George H. Butler, a private, was a captain in the Civil War.

I have not been able to learn of a single man of this company now living. After making very exhaustive investigation and making many inquiries of the old citizens, I have been unable to learn anything with reference to the circumstances of the organization or anything pertaining to the company, except what I find in print.

In the spring of 1847 Congress authorized the organization of the 16th Regulars which was almost wholly recruited in this State and in Kentucky. It was largely a political organization commanded and officered almost wholly by Democratic adherents of President Polk's administration. Company D was recruited largely from this county. James Hughes, afterwards judge of the circuit court, a member of Congress, a judge of the court of claims, and an all around Democratic politician, was first lieutenant, and the officer who did most of the recruiting. Colonel Richard Owen afterwards colonel of the Sixtieth Indiana and from 1863 to 1879 a professor in the State University, was captain of the company. While the company was being recruited, the men boarded at "Bob Farmers" on the south side of the Public Square where the Allen Block now stands. At one time in order to stimulate recruiting Judge Hughes marched the men to Finley's Mill in Brown County, where they remained about ten days being boarded by the farmers in that locality. The men would be formed in a line, the flag unfurled, the drum beat, the fife played, the men marched and counter-marched, but the military spirit was not rampant and but few recruits were obtained in that locality.

The company was filled in about a month, was marched to Columbus, then taken by rail to Madison, then by a boat to Newport, Kentucky, where on May 12, 1847, they started to Mexico, going by boat to New Orleans, then by sailing vessel to the mouth of the Rio Grande and by boat from there to Monterey. Their campaigning was not hard, the most of the time being on detached duty, guarding prisoners. They returned home August 12, 1848. I have not been able to get a list of the men in this command. I have been able to get the names of the following, who, nearly all, lived in Salt Creek and Polk Townships: Coleman A. Carter, Jack Wampler, Silas D. Chandler, Robert Rutherford, William Rutherford, Elisha Maples, Benjamin McFarland, Calvin McFarland, Noah Cox, Hiram T. Sherrall, Solomon C. Payne and Jesse Devers; the last was drowned in the Rio Grande. Solomon C. Payne of Paynetown and Hiram T. Sherrall of Bloomington, both veterans of the Civil War, are the only members belonging to that company now known to be living. Dr. Jerry Wooden of Gosport was in the same regiment but in another company.

Of almost three hundred men who went from Monroe County to the Mexican War, I now know of but five men living. General McNaught, Captain M. L. Baker, Solomon C. Payne, Hiram T. Sherrall and Granville Jackson.

To me it is sad that these men who left their homes and their firesides to go into a foreign country to an inhospitable climate, to the burning sands of the Rio Grande and Mexico to fight the battles of their country, to maintain the dignity of their flag, whose bravery, sufferings, and fortitude added so much to the material wealth of the country, who by their valor and patriotism added an empire, should almost wholly be forgotten. What would this country have been without the effects of the Mexican War? Gold taken in a single year from the territory acquired by this conflict would many times pay the expense of the short and decisive campaigns.

It cannot be charged to these men that they went with a mercenary spirit. Their compensation was $7.00 per month. At the time of enlistment they were required to furnish their own clothing with the promise that it would subsequently be repaid. Much has been written of the glories and achievements of the soldiers in the War with Mexico. O'Harra, a Mexican soldier from Kentucky, wrote the immortal lines which will be found in enduring form in every national cemetery throughout the Union:

On fame's eternal battlefield
Their silent tents are spread,
While glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

Index

Source: Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. XII March, 1916

Indiana AHGP

 

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