Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 1861: Charles Butts & the "NJ Company," 11th PA Cavalry Regt.

Charles W. Butts, of Belvidere, was one of the guests of honor in Washington Borough on August 3, 1861, after returning home from three-months enlistment in the 2nd NJ Militia.  Sharing the honor at the celebration were Abram Depue, of Belvidere, and Washington residents John Longstaff, Joseph W. Johnston, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta.

After resting at home in Belvidere for a short time, Butts decided to form his own cavalry company.  He learned that "General Harlan" (Colonel Josiah Harlan) was forming an independent volunteer cavalry regiment in Pennsylvania and was enlisting companies from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.  Harlan had 20 years of military experience, including service in India during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1858.  Butts contacted Harlan and received authorization to form a New Jersey company. 

Harlan's Cavalry soon became the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment.  First Lieutenant Butts'  "New Jersey Company" became Company I.  Butts set up his enlistment tables in Belvidere, Blairstown and Hope.  

One of the first men to join Butts' company was Jacob P. Wright, of Belvidere.  Other Warren County men who joined the "NJ Company" were: Corporal Jacob B. Anderson, of Belvidere; Saddler Gideon C. Angle, of Belvidere; Corporal (later Sgt.) Henry D. Bray, of Belvidere; John Brink, of Belvidere; James M. Clayton, of Belvidere; John P. Dickey, of Belvidere; Alfred L. Hann, of Hope;  John H. Robeson, of Belvidere; William L. Slack, of Columbia; and  George G. Wright, of Belvidere.

Alfred Hann was killed at Front Royal, VA in September 1864 by a Confederate guerrilla named Smith from Mosby's Rangers.  Smith was hanged by Company I under orders of General A. T. A. Torbert.  Smith was one of three Mosby's Rangers hanged by Federal troops.

Warren County men who joined the "NJ Company" at later dates were: Milo G. Doud, of Belvidere, March 1864; James Slack, of Columbia, February 1864 (died at Point of Rocks, VA on July 21 1864); Bugler Alfred VanScoten, of Belvidere, January 1864; Chaplain J. Addison Whittaker, principal of the Belvidere Seminary for Young Ladies, February 1862; and Alonzo R. Wright, of Belvidere, February 1864.     Joining other companies were William Fisher, of Phillipsburg, Company H, January 1864; and William H. Marlatt, of Hackettstown, Company F, June 1864. 

Some of the men of Butt's cavalry company wrote letters to family and to Belvidere newspapers.  Some of these letters will be quoted in later editions. 

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

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