I believe the evidence is clear that Timothy C. Grover not only fought in the Civil War on the Blue coat side (yes, the Yankees do win!) and is credited with an important ‘kill’ during a significant fight at Kelley’s Island in the Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia region. If we were to categorize the role or military position today, I would suggest Tim would be a sniper or other forward-deployed operator. Read the account below and see what you think. There are several sources for this belief; all reputable.
Before I go further with the discussion, I need to tell you that each of the accounts I bring to our story are taken from reliable sources; all have references. If not, just ask, I’ll add the details!
The C&O Canal Association article written by Mr. Gary M. Petrichick, “The War in Cumberland”, taken from The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, by the United States War Department, 1880 (an official record) says this about the skirmish:
Title: The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 – Volume 2, Chapter IX, Operations in MD., PA., VA., and W. VA., page 134
Author: United States. War Dept., John Sheldon Moody, Calvin Duvall Cowles, Frederick Caryton Ainsworth, Robert N. Scott, Henry Martyn Lazelle, George Breckenridge Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph William Kirkley
JUNE 26, 1861.—Skirmishes at Frankfort and on
Patterson’s Creek, W. Va.
Reports of Col. Lew. Wallace, Eleventh Indiana Infantry.
GRAFTON, VA., June 28, 1861.
The following dispatch from Colonel Wallace is so gratifying, that I send it to you entire:
Cumberland, June 27.
General McCLELLAN: I have been accustomed to sending my mounted pickets (thirteen men in all) to different posts along the several approaches to Cumberland. Finding it next to impossible to get reliable information of the enemy yesterday, I united the thirteen and directed them, if possible to get to Frankfort, a town midway between this place and Romney, and see if there were rebel troops there. They went within a quarter of a mile of the place and found it full of cavalry. Returning, they overtook forty-one horsemen, and at once charged them, routing and driving them back more than a mile, killing either of them and securing seventeen horses. Corporal Hayes, in command of my men, was desperately wounded with saber cuts and bullets. Taking him back, they halted about an hour, and were then attacked by the enemy, who were re-enforced to about seventy-five men. The attack was so sudden that they abandoned the horses, and crossed to a small island at the mouth of Patterson’s Creek. The charge of the rebels was bold and confident, yet twenty-three fell under the fire of my picket close about and on the island. My fellows were finally driven off, scattering, each man for himself and they are all in camp now; one, Corporal Hayes, of Company A, wounded, but recovering; one, John C. Hollinbeck, of Company B, dead. The last was taken prisoner and brutally murdered.
Three companies went to the ground this morning, and recovered everything belonging to my picket except a few of the horses. The enemy were engaged all night long in boxing up their dead. Two of their officers were killed. They laid out twenty-three on the porch of a neighboring farm house. I will buy my poor fellow to-morrow.
I have positive information, gained to-day, that there are four regiments of rebels in and about Romney, under a Colonel McDonald what their particular object is I cannot learn. The two Pennsylvania regiments are in encampment at the State line, about nine miles from here waiting further orders. They have not yet reported to me. They hesitate about invading Maryland.
The report of the skirmish sounds like fiction, but it is not exaggerated. The fight was really one of the most desperate on record, and abounds with instances of wonderful daring and coolness.
Colonel Eleventh Regiment Indiana Voluneteers.
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN,
Lieut. Gen. Winfield Scott.
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH REGIMENT, INDIANA,
Camp McGinnis, June 27, 1861.
SIR: Yesterday a mounted picket of mine of thirteen men, on the road to Frankfort, attacked a company of rebels, forty-one in number, chased them a couple of miles, killed eight of them, and captured seventeen horses. Returning from the skirmish, they were in turn attacked by the enemy, re-enforced to seventy-five men, and driven to a kind of island in the neighborhood of the mouth of Patterson’s Creek, where they made a stand and fought till dusk, killing and wounding a large number, when they escaped with the loss of one man, John Hollinbeck, Company B, killed, and Corporal David Hayes, Company A, wounded. The bodies of twenty-three rebels were laid out on the porch of a farm house near the scene of the last engagement. Eight dead bodies (rebels) were left on the railroad track, where the first encounter took place. Hayes is doing well. His hurts are a saber cut on the head and two bullet wounds on the body.
I would simply say of this skirmish, that it was one of the boldest, most desperate, and fortunate on record, abounding with instances on the part of my scouts of rarest coolness, skill, and courage. What makes it most singular is that, for a considerable portion of the time, it was a hand-to-hand fight, carried on with pistol, saber, bayonet, and fist. One man, Louis Farley, killed six rebels; another (Grover) killed three; David Hayes, the wounded corporal, killed two, and received all his wounds while in hot pursuit at the very tails of the rebels’ horses. Among the dead of the enemy are a Capt Blue and two lieutenants.
Hollinbeck, the only man of mine killed, was severely wounded, then taken prison, and then brutally murdered by his captors.
All my men bear marks of the contest; some in bruises and cuts, others in bullet-holes through their clothes and equipments.
Colonel Eleventh Regiment Indiana.
Maj Gen Patterson
“Grafton, VA, June 28
TO COL. LEW. WALLACE: — I congratulate you upon the gallant conduct of your regiment. Thank them for me, and express to the party how highly I honor their heroic courage, worthy of their French namesakes [Zouaves]. I more than ever regret that you are not under my command. I have urged Gen. Scott to send up the Pennsylvania regiments. I begin to doubt whether the Eleventh Indiana needs reinforcements.
GEO. B. McClellan,
Maj. Gen. U.S. Army.”’
Now, friends, that’s just the ‘end’ of the story. Let me back up and bring you in from the beginning.
The most impressive account I found details (however so briefly) Timothy C.’s action in “Indiana’s Roll of Honor,” Volume I, History of Regiments, Chapter III, author David Stevenson, Librarian of Indiana (1864), starting on page 103 and following (extracted below).
THE FIGHT AT KELLEY’S ISLAND
Col. Wallace had been accustomed to send his mounted scouts to different posts along the several approaches to Cumberland [Maryland]. There were only thirteen of these scouts; but they were picked men, who, from much practice, had become accustomed to their peculiar duty. The following are their names and companies:
Company A – D.B. Hay, E.H. Baker.
Company B—Ed. Burkett, J.C. Hollenback.
Company C – Tim Grover, James Hollowell.
Company D – Thos. Brazier.
Company E – Geo. W. Mudbargar.
Company F – Lewis Farley.
Company H – Frank Harrison.
Company I – P.M. Dunlap.
Company K – Robt. Dunlap, E.P. Thomas
On the twenty-seventh of June, the Colonel found it impossible to get reliable information of the enemy. Uniting the scouts in a body, he gave them in charge of Corporal D.B. Hay, with directions to proceed to a little town on the pike from Cumberland to Romney, named Frankfort, and ascertain if rebel troops were there.
Hay was sharp, cunning and bold—the very man for the business. Filling their canteens and haversacks, the brave men strapped their rifles on their backs, and started on their mission. Their horses were of the class now known as condemned. Hay’s was the only good one. He had some reputation as a racer, and went by the name of “Silverheels.” His rider had captured him in a scuffle a few days before, and prized him highly as a trophy…
A rumor passed through the camp that morning, that Hay was going to have a fight before he returned. His procedure was certainly that of a man in search of a fight. He took the turnpike to Romney, and never drew rein, until from a little eminence, he looked down into the straggling village of Farankfort [WV]. The street was full of infantry. The horses picketed about indicated a large body of cavalry. Most men would have been anxious, after that sight, to return to camp quickly as possible, not so Hay and his comrades. Sitting on their horses, they cooly (sic) made up their estimate of the enemy’s number and when they were perfectly agreed on the point, turned about, and rode leisurely away. On the return, they took another road very much broken, and which, threading among the hills, after many devious windings, finally brought up to the track of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The taking of this road was a mere freak of fancy. It was by no means the shortest to camp, nor was its exploration of any probable use; yet it led to a fight; and if the scouts had known that beforehand, it is not likely they would have changed their course.
Three or four miles from Frankfort, while descending a mountain side, after turning a sharp elbow in the road, the men came suddenly upon a party of rebel cavalry. Each instinctively drew his bridle rein, and for an instant halted. Rapidly they commenced counting.
“Forty-one of them, boys!” cried Hay, turning in his saddle. “What do you say? Will you stand by me?”
“Go in, Dave,” was the unanimous vote.
It took but a moment to unsling their rifles.
“Are you ready?” asked Hay.
“All ready,” they replied.
“Come on, then,” shouted the leader. “The best horse gets the first man!”
With the last word they were off.
It happened the rebels themselves were going in the same direction. They were also somewhat below them in the descent of the road. With his usual shrewdness, and quick as thought, Hay grasped his advantage of position. An abrupt declivity on the left of the narrow road, made it impossible for the enemy to form a line. Neither could the rebels turn and charge up hill. The must go on to escape. If they stopped, “Silverheels” would go through like a thunderbolt.
The rebels head the shout, and, in surprise, halted and took a look. The sight, under ordinary circumstances, would have been interesting to them. Not seventy-five yards behind, they saw Hay and his party galloping down the decline at break neck speed; their glace rested briefly on the little jackets, and big grey breeches, on the short, brown rifles shaken menacingly over the scarlet tipped capts, and on the straining horses; their ears recognized the yell of pursuit; and then they began a retreat that soon took the form of a promiscuous fox chase, except that the shouts which momentarily neared them, had little likeness to the joyous halloo of hunters.
Hay led the pursuit; Farley was next; the others followed as best they could; not one hung back. It is to be doubted whether, in his best days, “Silverheels” had made better time. A short distance from the foot of the hill he overtook the rebels. Just before the collision, Hay rose in his stirrups and fired his rifle into the party. He was so close that to miss would have been an accident. Swinging the weapons round his head, he hurled it at the nearest man; and the next moment, with drawn pistol, plunged furiously amidst them. They closed around him. The pistol shooting became sharp and quick. Hay received one wound, then another, but for each one he killed a man. When his revolver was empty he drew his sabre bayonet. The rebel Captain gave him from behind a heavy cut on the head. Still he sat his horse, and though weakened by the blow, and half blind with blood, he laid out right and left. He fared illy enough, but it would have been worse if Farley had not then came up and pitched loyally into the melee. Close at his heels, but singly or doubly, according to the speed of their horses, rode all the rest. The rebel Captain was shot before he could repeat his sabre blow. Farley was dismounted by the shock of the collision. He clinched a foeman in like situation, a struggle ensued, he was thrown, but his antagonist was knocked down by young Hollowell before he could use his victory. Farley caught another horse. The eager onset relieved Hay, and again started the rebels who, in their flight, took to the railroad. Not a moment was allowed them to turn upon their pursuers. Over the track helter skelter they went. Suddenly they came to a burnt culvert. It was too late to dodge it; over or into it they had to go. Eight men were killed in the attempt to cross it. Hay in close pursuit, saw the lead just as it was unavoidable. “Silverheels” in his turn cleared the culvert, but fell dead a few yards beyond. The chase ended there. When his comrades crossed over, they found Hay sitting by his horse crying like a child, on account of the death of “Silverheels.”
The scouts then proceeded to collect the spoils. When they were all in, the nett proceeds of the victory were seventeen horses, with their equipments, and eleven dead rebels, three on the hill-side, and eight in the culvert. Hay re-mounted himself, and started with the party for Cumberland. It may be imagined with what satisfaction the brave victors pictured to each other their triumphal entry into camp. After going a few miles, Hay became so faint from loss of blood, that he had to be taken out of his saddle. The dilemma in which they now found themselves was settled by sending two of their number to a farm house for a wagon; meantime they laid their leader in the shade, and brought water for him from the river. While they were thus nursing him back to strength, a fire was suddenly opened upon them from a hill on the left. This was a surprise, yet their coolness did not desert them. Hay bade them put him on a horse and leave him to take care of himself. They complied, clinging painfully to the saddle, he forded the Potomac and was safe. The others could probably have saved themselves, but in a foolish effort to save their horses, they lost the opportunity. Farley then became leader.
“Let the horses go, and give the rebels thunder,” was his simple emphatic order.
The fire, thickening on them, was then returned. Years before Farley had lost one of his eyes; the sound one, however, was now admirably used. He saw the rebels were trying to surround the party, and would succeed if better cover was not soon found. Behind them ran Patterson’s creek. The ground on its opposite shore was scarcely higher than that which they occupied, but it was covered with rocks washed naked by the flowing stream. Farley saw that to get there would be a good exchange.
“It’s a pretty slim chance, boys,” he coolly said, “but it wont (sic) do to give in or stay here. Let’s make a rush for the big rocks yonder, and get the creek between them and us.”
The rush was made; under a sharp fire, they crossed the creek and took shelter behind the bowlders (sic). Ten of them were there, but, to use their own language, they were all “sound as new fifty cent pieces, and not whipped by a long sight.”
Peering over the rocks, they counted over seventy rebels on foot making at full speed for the creek, evidently with the intention of crossing it. Each one felt the trial had come.
“Look out, now, and don’t waste a cartridge. Recollect they are scarce,” said Thomas.
“Yes, and recollect Buena Vista*,” said Hollowell.
The first rebel entered the creek before a gun was fired, so perfectly calm were those ten men. Then crack, crack, in quick succession went the rifles, scarcely a bullet failing its mark. The assailants recoiled, ran back, and finding cover as best they could, began the exciting play of sharpshooters. This practice continued for more than an hour. The sun went down on it. About that time a small party of horsemen galloped down the road, and hitching their horses, joined the enemy. One of the newcomers made himself conspicuous by refusing to take the ground. Walking about, as if in contempt of the minnies which were sent whistling round him, he gave directions which resulted in another sudden dash for the creek. Again the rifles went crack, crack, in quick succession, and with the same fatal consequence; but this time the rebels had a leader; men were seen to fall in the water, but there was no second recoil; the obstructions were cleared in the face of the rifles, and with much cursing and shouting the attacking party closed in upon the Zouaves**.
The fight was hand to hand. No amount of courage could be effective against the great odds at such close quarters; nevertheless, all that was possible was done. Night was rapidly closing upon the scene; over the rocks, and through the tangled thicket, and in the fading twilight, the struggle for revenge and life went on. There was heroism on both sides; that of the Zouaves was matchless, because it was in no small degree the prompting of despair.
Farley found himself again engaged with the leader of the rebels, a man of as much strength as courage; Hollowell saved his life at the cost of his rifle, but snatching the dead man’s pistols, he resumed the fight. The pistols were brought into camp, and next morning presented to the young hero by the Colonel.
Thomas killed two by rifle shots; while loading a third time, he was struck by a pistol ball on the side of the temple, and fell senseless. A man in the act of striking him with a sabre, was shot through by Grover, and died on Thomas. It was dark when Thomas recovered; hearing no sound of fighting, he pushed off the dead body from him, secured his rifle, and hid himself in vines and bushes.
There are some final details, but this is how this fight ended.
By five o’clock the day after the fight the scouts were all in camp. They straggled in one by one. Citizens and soldiers turned out to receive them. Never did returning heroes have more sympathizing and admiring audiences. Thomas showed the kiss of the bullet on his temple baker wore the cap of a rebel—his own had been shot off his head. Dunlap had three bullet holes through his shirt. Hallowell exhibited his captured pistols and broken rifle. Farley yet retained the handle of his sabre-bayonet, shivered in the fray. Several of the men testified to his killing six enemies with his own hand. Not a man but had some proofs of the engagement, such as torn clothes and bruised bodies. But Hay was the hero. Three ghastly wounds entitled him to the honor.
Their final escape had been effected in the same manner. Finding themselves overpowered and separated, each one, at the first opportunity, had abandoned the battle ground, which proved to be Kelly’s Island, at the mouth of Patterson’s creek, and plunging into the river succeeded in crossing it.
Col Wallace officially reported the fight to Gen Patterson, (see above) and the latter wrote the following general order and published it to his army:
HEADQUARTERS DEP’T OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Hagerstown, June 30, 1861
General Orders, No. 29 – The Commanding General has the satisfaction to announce to the troops a second victory over the insurgents by a small party of Indiana Volunteers, under Col. Wallace, on the twenty-sixth instant. Thirteen mounted men attached to the regiment attacked forty-one insurgents, killing eight and chasing the rest two miles. On their return with seventeen captured horses, they were attacked by seventy-five of the enemy, and fell back to a strong position, which they held till dark, when they returned to camp, with the loss of one man killed and one wounded.
The commanding general desires to bring to the attention of the officers and men of his command the courage and conduct with which this gallant little band of comparatively raw troops met the emergency, bur turning on an enemy so largely superior in numbers, chasing him severely, and gathering in retreat the fruits of victory.
By order of
Major Gen Patterson.
J.F. Porter, Assistant Adjutant General.
How cool is that???!!!
- * “Remember Buena Vista” is the Battle Cry or Motto of The Eleventh Indiana Regiment of Zouaves and alludes to the poor treatment Indiana troops had received at the hands of Jefferson Davis during the Mexican War
- **Zouaves was their type of uniform fashioned after the French Zouaves, infantry regiments first raised in Algeria in 1831.