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100 Years Ago

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Raymond, Mississippi

Many smaller engagements were interspersed among the major battles. These skirmishes hardly drew attention in the newspapers of the time or the history books that followed. However, the results were just as deadly for those who took part in them. One such skirmish involving Shelby County soldiers of the 20th Ohio occurred outside of Raymond. The men who were there would never forget.

Osborn Oldroyd had just been appointed Fifth Sergeant of Company E of the 20th. It was May 12, 1863, and Oldroyd was 20 years old. The following account is taken from his diary, published in 1885.

The 20th was placed in the lead of a column heading toward Raymond. Going cross country, the men had just slid down the bank of a creek seven feet high and were in the water when the Confederates launched a surprise attack. The 20th had nowhere to go in retreat. Oldroyd  recalled: "For two hours the contest raged furiously, but as man after man dropped dead or wounded, the rest were inspired the more firmly to hold fast their places and avenge the fallen. The creek was running red with precious blood spilt for our country."

Sgt. Oldroyd watched as his bunkmate, Sgt. John Waddell, was killed by a shot to the head. After the Lieutenant and the orderly sergeant were killed, Oldroyd found himself in charge of what was left of his company. Col. Manning Force, the commanding officer of the 20th, recalled in memoirs after the war: "I remember noticing the forest leaves, cut by rifle balls, falling in thick eddies, still as snow flakes."

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Reinforcements eventually arrived. Roll call provided the grim news. Out of 32 Company E soldiers who began the skirmish, only 16 survived. Oldroyd (shown below) recorded in his diary: "I am very sad on account of the loss of so many of my comrades, especially the one who bunked with me. (He) had been to me like a brother...He has fallen; may he sleep quietly under the shadows of those old oaks which looked down upon the struggle of today."

Union scout C. L. Ruggles was with the 20th at Raymond. His journal reports the 20th losses as 69 killed, 341 wounded, and 30 missing. Death was no respecter of age. The dead at Raymond from the community included 39 year-old Oliver Bogart and James Knox, who was just 18.

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Sgt. Osborn Oldroyd

'Civil War' segment written in July, 1998 by Rich Wallace


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