Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page Corn Letter #2
Letter (#1) from 2nd. Lt. Silas H. Corn, Company B, 16th OVI
Cumberland Ford, Kentucky, May 1, 1862
to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper
Published May 15, 1862
Web Author's Notes:
The following is a transcription of a letter written by then 2nd. Lt. Silas H. Corn, Company B, to the Holmes County Farmer newspaper. The transcription was kindly provided by website contributor John M. Pierson. Spelling and grammatical corrections were not made.

In this letter Lt. Corn describes the reconnaissance mission from from their campsite at Cumberland Ford (now Pineville), Kentucky, to Rebel-held Cumberland Gap, Kentucky, including the marches, maneuvering and skirmishing with the Confederates.

2nd. Lt. Silas H. Corn
2nd. Lt. Silas H. Corn
newspaper article


From the 16th Regiment.
Cumberland Ford, Ky., May 1, '62.

EDITORS FARMER -- The numerous descriptions of bloody and hard fought battles has no doubt created such a taste in the public mind for gunpowder literature, that nothing short of a recital of heroic deeds and scenes of blood will elicit a perusal. But perchance, after the sensation items have been disposed of and the paper thrown aside as 'old,' some idler, with a view more of killing time - when he should be in the army killing rebels - than of gaining any information or satisfying his literary taste, may chance to light upon my humble effort and learn there from that the 16th Ohio is still in the field and eager to do her country's bidding. Although we have not yet had the opportunity of coping in arms upon the field of battle with that rebellious crew, we have at least had the privilege of trying the valor of our men and the efficiency of our arms; the former has proved to be equal to our most sanguine expectations, and the latter greater than we anticipated.

Before entering into a description of our reconnoiter in force which took place on the 29th ult., let me give you an idea of the strength and composition of the Seventh Division of the Ohio, as I presume I can do so now without it being considered contraband news and condemned accordingly, for, without much doubt, we will have advanced upon the Gap before this reaches your readers. This division is composed of four brigades, divided and generaled as follows: The 1st and 2nd Tennessee, 3d Kentucky, and 49th Indiana form the 24th Brigade, commanded by Acting Brigadier General S. P. Carter. The 25th Brigade commanded by Brigadier Gen. Spears, is composed of 3d, 4th, 5th and 6th Tennessee Regiments. The 26th Brigade, under Col. J. F. DeCourcey, consists of the 16th and 42d Ohio, the 14th and 22d Ky., the 27th Brigade comprises the 33d Indiana and 19th Kentucky. The Division commander is Brig. Gen. Morgan, of Ohio, in whose generalship and bravery we have the greatest confidence. The 9th Ohio and the 1st Wisconsin Batteries, and the 1st Battalion of Kentucky Cavalry are also attached to this Division. With this force at our disposal - although the Tennessee troops are raw and undisciplined - we have no fears as to the result of the approaching engagement at Cumberland Gap, although it is considered a Gibraltar in a military point of view. But to our


On the morning of the 28th we started to the Gap, having orders to reconnoiter the enemy's position on the left and rear as much as possible. The reconnoitering party consisted of Col. Decourcey's Brigade, while Gen. Carter's formed a support, to act in case of an attack. Having traveled about twelve miles, and not desiring to approach any nearer to their works that night, as our object could not be accomplished that day, we bivouacked for the night. 'Twas warm and pleasant and we slept soundly. On the morning of the 29th, having disposed of our indispensable warm coffee, we were again on the march. Col. DeCourcey's Brigade taking a circuitous rout to the left in order to gain the top of the mountain on the left of the Gap, while Gen. Carter proceeded on the Harlan Road to a point previously occupied by our artillery on the 22d of March. The remainder of our march was through woods, over mountains and through hollows, a description of which I will leave for pens more expert than mine. When we had advanced to within about a half a mile of their works, it seemed as if the enemy had determined to give us a warm reception, as they had deployed in considerable force in front and on both our flanks. We immediately deployed Companies C and G of the 16th Ohio to attack those in front, which they did with promptness, driving them in on the double quick. Skirmishing then commenced in good earnest - the enemy firing from their secreted positions on our flanks and from their works in front. Our skirmishers advanced to within about four hundred yards of their works, and taking covering from the felled timber; poured their well directed shots into their works in front and into their skirmishers on the flanks.

Skirmishing was kept up by successive companies from the left of the 16th Ohio, and companies B and G of the 14th Kentucky for about three hours, during which time they were compelled to remain within their works, not daring to expose themselves to our fire for one moment. They succeeded, however, in giving us a few shots of shell and canister, which compelled our main body to take ground to their left, by passing over the ridge of the mountain into Virginia. During all this time Gen. Carter was not idle. In advancing to the point above mentioned they found that it was occupied by the enemy's pickets and a brisk skirmish immediately ensued, in which the enemy were repulsed. We took three prisoners, besides one wounded man. Having accomplished his object, Col. DeCourcey withdrew his forces, and we retired to our place of bivouac the previous, and next day returned to camp. We did not, however, escape without some


In the first attack, Francis M. Barnhill of Co. G was shot through the cheek with a rifle ball. Joseph Robinson, of Co. G, slightly wounded near the eye. Peter Harbaugh, of Co. K, dangerously wounded in the forehead. The casualties of the enemy are of course not known.

It is now to be hoped that our reconnoitering expeditions are over with, and that an attack on the Gap will not much longer be postponed. It is certain that we have now gained all the information concerning their positions and the locality of the ground, that is possible to obtain, and movements now seem to indicate that we will soon make the attack in earnest. As to their strength we know but little worthy of confidence, but are sure that they are using their greatest efforts to obtain reinforcements, and that they have succeeded in obtaining about three hundred Indians - fit allies to such an enemy - whose blood shall pay the penalty of their disloyalty to the Government to whose protection they owe their very existence. But enough for once. More anon. Yours &c.


Letter Index 16th OVI Home Page Corn Letter #2