Co. E of White’s Comanches in Luray (August 1894)

Posted on March 29, 2010 by

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It’s rare that I find something related to Page County in the Civil War in another blog, so when I do, I’m obviously interested. Right away, I recognized that the image of Harrison Monroe Strickler in Scott Mingus’ recent post originated in this reunion photo from 1894.  My gggg-granduncle, Howard Richards, also appears in it, in the back row, ninth from the left. Some might recall that I mentioned him in my Confederate ancestor analysis of Joseph Richards in September 2009.

Beginning with the rear rank and continuing from left to right: George Alva Goyer, William H. Rodgers, Middleton Warfield Yates, George Henderson (Co. B), John Pendleton Grove, Jacob James Dallas Slusher, Jacob C. Kibler, Daniel Kemp, Howard Richards (Co. A), James H. Shenk (Co. D, 7th Va. Cav.), John Robert McCullough, Philip Monroe Kauffman, John W. Grove, James Booton Compton, Joseph C. Ambrose (Co. C), Milton Bowman, Joseph M. Huffman, Franklin Clem, Captain John H. Grabill, Lieutenant Harrison Monroe Strickler, Charles Bailey Fristoe, Milton N. Rhodes, Isaac Newton Jennings (Co. A & D), Samuel B. Bowman, ____ Hutchinson (Co. A), Andrew Jackson Brumback, Joel Moreland, Samuel C. Golladay, John P. Mauck, _______ Rudaciller, James W. Thomas Warren, William Edwin Grayson, John Henry Flinn, Ira C. Bumgardner, William T. Kibler, _______ Rudaciller. Company E had members from both Page & Shenandoah County, Virginia. The original of this photo was presented to 1st Lt. Arthur Ashby Grove by his father John W. Grove who was a member of Co. E, 35th Bttn. Va. Cav.

The original photo that I was able to get this scan from had the following inscribed on the back: “This Battn. was commonly called White’s Battn. and was commanded by Lt. Col. Elijah V. White an excellent officer and gallant soldier and was frequently in history as ‘White’s Comanches.'”This particular photo was also one that was given to Lt. Arthur Ashby Grove by his father, John W. Grove, who was a member of the company. As a sidebar (and related to my WWI interests that I have been mentioning here lately), Lt. A.A. Grove later served in the 116th Infantry, 29th Division, during World War I.

There isn’t a great deal of documentation of the reunion of the battalion in Luray in 1894, but the Page News from that time does shed some light. In addition to the event being a reunion of comrades, it also proved to be a unique event for people who weren’t born until years after the war. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy events was a bread-making demonstration made by Comanche veteran Ira C. Bumgardner. The company quartermaster for Co. E, Bumgardner went through the steps of making bread as he did in the field during the war. “From his start to the finish he was surrounded by an interested a crowd as one could desire, and every motion, from the mixing of the dough to the turning out of the flap-jack from the spider, was watched with more curiosity than any baker could command. And then the eating of it and the comments on its flavor by those who never drew rations were a treat in themselves!”

It should also be noted that Col. White, at the time of the event a minister of the Old School Baptist church, “delighted many” of the Broad Street Baptist Church with an “able and eloquent sermon” on the evening of the first day of the reunion.

Here’s the bulk of the story as reported in the local newspaper:

The reunion of this celebrated and well remembered command, the first since the war, was held in Luray on the 2d and 3, and was the occasion of drawing together one of the largest assemblies seen here lately.

On the first day, Capt. [Richard S.] Parks, one of the brave soldiers of the old 10th [Virginia Infantry],  gave an interesting address, and with his well known eloquence added much to the success of the day.

The Elder John K. Booton, one of the first of the Page boys to go out in ’61, offered a fervent and appropriate prayer.

Its commander, Col. White, the intrepid leader of these brave boys, was present, and of course made a speech. The Colonel surprised his many old friends here by his youthful and unbroken appearance, and though thirty years have passed since he quit the saddle, yet to-day he looks the man he did when at the head of his little column he roamed these hills and valleys as one of the eyes of the army of Lee. With him too was the earnest and impetuous [Frances/Frank] Kilgour, so well remembered by the boys of the battalion, and who for many years had been fighting that enemy of the human race, King Alcohol, and whose voice of eloquence and of appeal has been heard in every village and hamlet of the State. The Major is not a young man any more, but for earnest, vigorous and determined effort he is this day a soldier still, and the good he yet will do for the case of temperance will only be measured by time.

Then, too, Strickler, the Adjutant, and Grabill, one of the Captains of this little band, were present, and both related some incident that recalled the past, and made interesting speeches. The two-days were spent in the woods near town, and so good was the arrangement and perfect the accommodations that the crowd, large as it was, not only had the occasion to enjoy, but did enjoy it.

White’s Battalion was one of the best cavalry commands in the service, and its record embraces some part in all the battles of the late war. As remarked by its Colonel in his speech, it can be said of it what perhaps cannot be said of any other command – it always succeeded in its charges to break through what was charged; and altho’ many times it had afterwards to give back and retreat, yet it never did so until it had gone through the thing charged.

This is certainly a great record for any command to bear, and from it the young men of this day may know what it was to be a soldier and what was expected of them. This reunion will long be remembered by the members present as the first, and to many, perhaps the last for them, and though meeting but once yet the pleasures of that will always be recalled and remain a joy and gladness.

It was indeed a time of reunion – a happy, joyous one, only embittered by the redirection that year by year, some of those who were here will pass away, and before another thirty years passes away all will have been called to answer the last roll call and to join the great majority across the river of time.

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