May 19, 2012

Sypher Dispatches: The Rogersville Expedition

Location: Rogersville, AL 35652, USA
Area of operations near Rogersville, Alabama
(Source: Library of Congress, U.S. Coast Survey, A. D. Bache, Supdt., 1865)
(View magnifiable extract of map here)

Fourth and fifth letters in the grand tour of Lancaster journalist J. R. Sypher.  Read an introduction here.

I'm not sure if any of the Lancaster County Regiment soldiers would have believed in when they left home in October 1861, but over seven months later they were entering Alabama without taking a single casualty in battle.  While the main elements of the Union and Confederate forces were maneuvering to the west in what would develop as the Siege of Corinth (Mississippi), General Negley's division under command of General Ormsby Mitchell was pushing forward into Alabama from camp at Pulaski, Tennessee.

On the morning of May 13, four regiments of infantry, several companies of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery under command of General Negley left camp, and after a day's worth of marching arrived in Rogersville, Alabama, a town just north of the Tennessee River.  Shortly after their arrival and just as the Lancasterians had started bathing in a stream that fed into the Tennessee River, an alarm came in and the regiment double-quicked it to Lamb's Ferry four miles away.  The cavalry and artillery arrived just in time to fire parting shots at a couple rebels retreating across the river, and a couple daring men of the 79th Pennsylvania succeeding in burning a ferry boat.  [WTC Diary]
On May 14, detachments scouted up and down the river.  On May 15, the regiment had a little more excitement with another trip to Lamb's Ferry (downstream?).  Corp. William T. Clark of Company B, 79th Pennsylvania, recorded:
When we arrived at the shore, 20 or more Rebels were seen on the opposite side. A few shot, and shell scattered them in every direction. We drew lots to see who would go over with the boat, when John Cramer, Fred Offlebach were drawn from our squad. They burned one large ferryboat, brought 2 flats, 2 dugouts and one large boat across with them.
Read more details in two letters by J. R. Sypher dated May 14 and May 15, 1862.

From the May 21, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

From the May 24, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

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