After the creation of the 18th US Infantry on May 3, 1861 nearly 20 months would pass before the regiment lost its first man killed in action. During this time the 18th US actively campaigned through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Yet the Army of the OhioÆs path seemed predestined to keep the regiment out of the fighting. At both Mill Springs and Shiloh the 18th US arrived shortly after the fighting had ended. Then during the Siege of Corinth the regiment took part in an assault that found the Confederate positions empty as Beauregard had withdrawn his army during the night. The following pursuit of the rebel army resulted in a brutal campaign that ended with the Battle of Perryville. Here the 18th US occupied a position which afforded it an excellent view of the fighting. For two hours the regiment watched as the left wing of the Federal army fought unsupported. The 18th US and other potential re-enforcements, remained inexplicably idle, while the command structure of Buell Æs Army of the Ohio failed to act decisively. Private Robert Kennedy of C/2/18 described the action as "àone of the grandest sights I ever saw. Fireworks such as few can describe filled the air as the musketry, firing along both lines, with shells flyin g in the air and bursting, scattered fire in all directions. The sight was magnificent but very dangerous." During this time Corporal Bernard Connelly B/3/18 was struck severely in the leg by shellfire. Connelly died several days later; the first battl e related death of the regiment. In accordance with the armyÆs methods of record keeping in the Civil War Connelly was classified as having died of wounds (DOW). Only men who died on the field were classified as being killed in action (KIA). Outside of his immediate friends ConnellyÆs solitary death probably made little impact on the regiment as deaths to disease and accidents were fairly common. The news of his fate would also have to catch up with the regiment as the army was once again on the move back towards Nashville.
After returning to Tennessee Sergeant Amos Flegeal C/2/18 wrote home to his family saying that I "àhave been in the service 15 months and fancy I know as much about military affairs as the common run of our shoulder strapped gents." FlegealÆs con fidence was not uncommon and while not yet tested in battle the 18th US was certainly a veteran unit that recognized the signs of an impending fight. 2nd Lieutenant Henry Freeman 2/18 who would win the medal of honor for his actions at Stones River wrote after the war: "While we had done no hard fighting, we had interviewed our friends the Rebels often enough to have learned the difference between the spat of a bullet that hits and the sip of one that misses." On the morning of December 31, 1862 the 18t h US now part of the Army of the CumberlandÆs Brigade of Regulars moved forward along the Nashville pike towards the ominous sounds of a major battle. In his post war memoir Private Robert Kennedy tells of a disturbing incident that occurred on that cold and violent day: The night before the battle, Corporal Thomas Long, my messmate, dreamed that he was the first man killed in the regiment, and that he would never fire his gun. On seeing the sunrise he said, "Bob, this is the last time I shall see the s unrise". As we fell into battle line, I informed Captain Denton of [the] CorporalÆs strange presentment. The Captain went back to him and said, "Long, do you think you will be shot today?" He answered, "Yes, Captain, IÆll never fire my gun." The Capta in said, "Long if you think that, fall out and go to the hospital." He said, "No, Captain, IÆll die like a man, right with the company." We marched down the pike about a quarter mile and formed our lines of battle. There we lay on the ground. We had no t lain there more than five minutes until a ball went through Corporal BartlettÆs right arm and struck Corporal Long above his left eye. He rolled over and never spoke.
For Captain Ansel B. DentonÆs C/2/18 and the rest of the 18th Regulars the next few hours would be the most costly of the war. Following the Regular BrigadeÆs dramatic and unsupported stand in the cedars, the Confederates aggressively moved to th e edge of the woods and poured a telling fire into the cotton field across which the regulars were withdrawing. Denton sensing the danger yelled, "For GodÆs sake men, get back to the railroad or we will all be killed." Sergeant Flegeal was one of the ma ny men hit and left on the field. Upon retiring to the relative safety of the railroad, Captain Denton could only account for ten men from his company. One of these was Private Kennedy, who pleaded with the reluctant officer to be allowed to return to S ergeant Flegeal. Kennedy had promised Flegeal that if he fell he would return his personal effects to his family in Maryland. It was a promise he was determined to keep. Denton finally agreed and Kennedy made a dramatic run under fire across no-mans-la nd. He found Flegeal who was mortally wounded, the bullet having traversed from his upper left to lower right breast. The sergeant admonished his friend for his dangerous actions while Kennedy removed his gold watch, wallet, and silver-mounted revolver. Kennedy then put a knapsack under FlegealÆs head, covered him with a blanket and placed a canteen next to his body. Flegeal "àbegged me to leave him and to get back to a place of safety, saying if I did not, I would be killed. I started to run back to the railroad, and then I realized the danger I was in. I thought the whole rebel army was shooting at me. The balls were plowing into the earth on all sides of me. If ever a man ran for his life I did then." Kennedy gave FlegealÆs effects to Captain Denton who sent them to the sergeantÆs mother several weeks after the battle. Flegeal was last seen being loaded into an ambulance that evening and was never heard from again. KennedyÆs compassionate and bold action is likely to have been the cause of a n unfortunate event. Amos Flegeal undoubtedly died of his wounds in the post battle chaos to a medical system overwhelmed with thousands of casualties. Kennedy had unknowingly removed the sergeantÆs identification. So when Sergeant Amos Flegeal joined the regimentÆs first man killed in action Corporal Thomas Long for his final roll call, he became one of the many unknown burials from the battle of Stones River/Murfreesboro. A total of 102 men from the 18th US were killed in action or died of wounds as a result of the action on New YearÆs Eve 1862, the regiments first major engagement.
Robert Kennedy went on to make Corporal and fought at Chickamauga in two days of almost continuous combat. Before he was captured on September 20, 1863 near Kelly Field he had fired over 200 rounds of muzzle loaded ammunition, changing rifles sev eral times as they became fouled. He was sent to Danville, Virginia where he escaped and was recaptured before being sent to Andersonville. Corporal Robert Kennedy C/2/18 lived to the age of 92 and his memoir is arguably the best civil war account of an y enlisted man in the 18th U.S. Infantry.
The primary source for this information is Major Mark W. JohnsonÆs book That Brave Body of Men, The Civil War Campaigns of the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th U.S. Infantry Regiments, Regular Army, a title forthcoming from Savas Publishing Company.
Thomas Crew 18th U.S. Infantry Reenactor Regular Brigade Society
Sergeant Rowland W. Evans
First Combat Color Bearer of the 18th U.S. Infantry's 1st Battalion
Rowland W. Evans a farmer from Franklin County, Ohio enlisted on October 22, 1861, at the age of 21 in the 18th U.S. Infantry. Lieutenant William J. Fetterman signed up Evans and over 30 other men from a recruiting stand set up in a country store in New Albany, Ohio. On October 31, 1861 the town held a big festival in the recruitÆs honor before they departed for Camp Thomas, the 18th U.S. regimental depot just north of Columbus, Ohio. Evans was assigned of Company F, 1st Battalion and on July 2 , 1862 he was promoted to sergeant, shortly after that he became the color bearer for the 1st Battalion. While Sergeant Evans was not the first man to carry the regimentÆs colors, he was the first man to carry them into combat. He carried the first bat talionÆs national flag into every battle the regiment fought in during the Civil War except for its last at Jonesboro, Georgia, where he was wounded in the right arm. Just prior to the Battle of Jonesboro his stint as color sergeant ended as the result o f disciplinary action. During the course of the war Sergeant Evans saw 12 members of the color guard fall around him in defense of the flag he so proudly carried. At Chickamauga Sergeant Evans carried the 1st BattalionÆs flag off the field under the mos t difficult of conditions following a severe prolonged engagement in which the 2nd BattalionÆs flag was lost. During the chaos following the battle, prisoners from the 18th U.S. located the lost flag, tore it from its staff, ripped it into pieces, and th en carried it hidden in their clothes to southern prisons.
Evans survived the war and returned to Ohio where family and friends painted a large battle flag on the side of a barn near the town of New Albany, to honor him and several of his relatives that had also served with distinction in the war. The ba rn belonged to Alexander Doran, an Ohio veteran who was married to EvansÆ sister Cynthia. Rowland Evans had carried an Ambrotype photograph of Cynthia Doran and her infant son Perry, in his breast pocket throughout the war, he returned the photograph to Perry Doran, when the boy turned ten years old. The country store recruiting post is today a restaurant operated by a descendant of Rowland Evans. The barn also remains in the family and was restored for the fourth time in 1999, at which time the battle flag was completely repainted. The barn has come to represent more than just the actions of a few courageous men. It now represents a communityÆs legacy of pride in all those who have served their county since Evans first carried the colors of the 18t h U.S. in combat.