Old Times on the Upper Mississippi: Recollections of a Steamboat Pilot from 1854-1863

By George Byron Merrick | Go to book overview

Chapter XXVII
At Fort Ridgeley

The officer in command of the battery when it left Fort Ridgeley was Captain and Brevet Major John C. Pemberton, U. S. A. He had won his brevet by gallant services in action at Monterey and Molino del Rey. He accompanied the battery as far as Washington, where he resigned (April 29, 1861), and tendered his sword to the Confederacy. He was rapidly promoted until he reached a major-generalcy in that army, and had the distinguished honor to surrender his army of thirty thousand men at Vicksburg to Major General Ulysses S. Grant, July 3, 1863. Pemberton was born in Pennsylvania, being appointed to the army from that state, so that he had not even the flimsy excuse of serving his state in thus betraying his country.

The battery was known as the Buena Vista Battery, or still better as Sherman’s. But Major Sherman, although long its commander, was not with it at the time we transferred it down the river. Major Sherman rendered distinguished service during the war, and retired (December 31, 1870) with the rank of majorgeneral. Two other officers were with the battery—First Lieutenant Romeyn Ayres, and Second Lieutenant Beekman Du Barry. The battery was known in the Army of the Potomac as Ayres’s Battery, and under that name won a wide reputation for efficiency. Ayres himself was a major general of volunteers before the close of the war, and Lieutenant Du Barry was (May, 1865) brevetted lieutenant-colonel for distinguished services.

At the time of our visit there was a large number of Indians encamped on the prairie in front of the fort—estimated at seven or eight hundred by those best versed in their manners and customs. They had come down from the Lower Sioux Agency, sixteen miles farther up the river. They were alive to the situation, and on the

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