The Romney Expedition: A Concluding Incident “Worthy of Notice”

Postscript to a Series

I couldn’t find the right place to add this in the previous posts, but it was so entertaining that I wanted to include it somewhere. The story is included in the 1889 The Civil War in Song and Story. The 8th Ohio Regiment fought outside Romney before the Union forces retreated, so this is almost certainly on the timeline during the 1862 winter Romney Expedition.


While the National forces were standing under the enemy’s fire, on the day of the battle at Romney, Va., and the shot and shell were flying in every direction around us, a little incident occurred which is worthy of notice.

Capt. Butterfield, of the Eighth Ohio regiment, (being one of the ranking Captains,) acted as Major upon the occasion, and was obliged to ride an old sorrel horse, which had been used as a team horse, and required both spurs and whip, which the Captain had provided himself with, the latter cut from a tree, and about five feet long. It was found that our small six-pound guns would not reach the enemy’s battery, and Col. Mason ordered Capt. B. to bring forward a brass twelve-pounder, which was in the rear.

Off sped the old sorrel and his brave rider, and in a few moments up came the gun. Its position was assigned, and made ready for the match, but the Captain came dashing back in front of the gun, and the smell of powder, or something else, had made the old sorrel almost unmanageable, for in trying to wheel him from the front of the gun, the more the Captain applied the whip and spur, the more the old sorrel would not go. This kept the gunners in terrible suspense, for much depended on that shot.

Finally, the Captain finding his efforts to move his stead fruitless, he sang out, at the top of his voice, “Never mind the old horse; blaze away;” and, sure enough, they did blaze away, and it proved a good shot, for it caused the rebels to limber up their battery, and take to their heels. At that moment, orders came to charge, and off dashed the old sorrel, frightened at the discharge of the gun, which had scorched his tail, and mingled in the charge. He was lost to view until he arrived in the town, where he was brought to a halt, and the Captain, standing in his stirrups, with his cap flying, cheered for the glorious victory that had been achieved.

A momentary glorious victory…but perhaps a personal victory for the Captain who managed to stay on that stubborn horse?

2 Responses to The Romney Expedition: A Concluding Incident “Worthy of Notice”

  1. Having grown up on a working cattle ranch with some onery horses, that is a great story and so true to unwilling horses. We had a famously lazy half Percheron wagon horse Billy who was always doing everything he could to do as little as he could. That horse worked harder not to work than any other horse on the ranch.

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