Found!(?) Union soldiers hung by Mosby’s command

Posted on August 28, 2011 by

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Not as if I was really looking for them, but it appears the find has fallen in my lap… at least, I think it can be considered a find.

Spending time, like I do, in the Winchester and Staunton National cemeteries, as well as with pertinent documents and publications (the Roll of Honor stands as a must-have when doing work in these cemeteries) associated with the two cemeteries, I’ve come across some interesting information that isn’t revealed when just walking among the stones, especially when walking past the stones of the unknown. Among the most interesting finds was the notation “hung by Mosby”, associated with three graves of unknowns in Winchester. One of these three, incidentally, also had the annotation “___ Ohio vols”.

The "Ohio vols" soldier "hung by Mosby" is seen at the top of this inset from the Roll of Honor

Being relatively comfortable in my knowledge of Mosby’s Rangers, and aware of the complicated affair that involved the shooting of Lt. Charles McMaster, and then, the brutal executions that followed in Front Royal, on September 23, it seemed to make sense that these three Union soldiers “hung by Mosby”, were the soldiers who were hung on November 7, 1864, in retaliation for what happened at Front Royal. Granted, I was working with limited data, and, for all I know, these three may have indeed suffered the actual fate of hanging, but the events (perhaps separate from each other) may have been mistakenly attributed to Mosby. Still, my “gut” sense remains that these three were the three hung by Mosby’s men.*

Close-up on the image used in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker in Rectortown, showing the 27 Union soldiers assembled to draw lots for the execution. The twenty who did not end up among those destined for execution were soon on their way to POW camps.

Though familiar with the execution in Beemer’s Wood, on Grindstone Hill (just a little less than a mile west of Berryville, on the road to Winchester), I didn’t recollect the names, and turned to two books in my collection; one being Jeffry Wert’s (…and still with a personal note scribed by Jeff, for my contributing a photo of William H. Chapman. I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since then!), and the other written by Hugh C. Keen and Horace Mewborn, for the Virginia Regimental Histories Series.

From Jeff’s book, I was able to narrow down to four possibles among the three victims of the hanging… a “Sgt. Dodge”, from the 1st Vermont Cavalry, Frank L. Hooker and George or Wallace Prouty, of the 5th Michigan Cavalry, and an unnamed individual from either the 4th West Virginia or 23rd Ohio. From my find (mentioned above) in the annotations in the Roll of Honor, I was pretty sure that one must have been from the 23rd Ohio. At this point, it was time to dive into service and pension records…

After a little research in 3-Fold and the NPS Soldiers and Sailors database, I realized that Hooker couldn’t be among the lot, as he later applied for, and received a disability pension. Additionally, there was no George Prouty in the 5th Michigan, but only Wallace, in Co. E. So, I was now down to Dodge, Prouty, and the unnamed Ohio soldier.

Of the 13 "unknown" markers in Section 20 (an all-Ohio section) of the Winchester National Cemetery, this is one of those under which may rest the the Ohioan hung by Mosby's command.

My work in the records for Dodge was complicated, as there are about five men with that surname in the 1st Vermont. I narrowed down to about two, and, decided to turn to to the Mosby book by Keen and Mewborn. In this book, the senior ranking of the five Dodge men from the 1st Vermont, Cpl. Miles H. Dodge, had been ruled out, owing to the fact that he applied for a pension in 1888. None of the others seems to make sense.

In the end, (although Prouty seems likely to be among the unknowns in the cemetery, his Bible being found in his pocket with his name in it) I may not be any closer, really, to knowing the names of the three who were hung, but, I do remain convinced that, whatever their names, Winchester National Cemetery appears to be their final resting place.

The other two Union soldiers "hung by Mosby" (a Michigan man and a Vermont or West Virginia man???) rest under two of these stones in Section 34, in Winchester National Cemetery.

Update: Also in Winchester National is this soldier who has the annotation “shot by Mosby”, though it must have been from an incident other than the one that occurred on 11/7/64.

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