In the following pages of this chapter, will be found the history of each company from its enlistment, until the organization of the regiment, including incidents of interest, in some cases conflict with the enemy, sketches of officers, and a roster of the Company, containing the rank of each officer and man, and his individual record. It is not claimed that these company histories are complete and full or absolutely correct in all the details, as it is feared that such is not the case in some, at least, of the companies. Nearly two years were devoted by the Historian to searching for the facts, but he was not always successful in securing them. The muster out rolls, as published in the Adjutant General's report of the state of West Virginia, were used as a basis, but were found to be imperfect, and officers and men were then asked to correct the rolls so far as it was possible. Scores of corrections were made of men who were killed, had died or were wounded, and the proper credit given after the names on the rolls; but after all the effort, the record is incomplete, and must so remain. Those who could give the information desired, are dead or beyond the reach of the writer, and the facts can not now be ascertained. This is greatly regretted, as doubtless many comrades in reading the book will find omissions in their own cases, and will wonder why the proper credit has not been given them. Weeks of anxious effort were cheerfully and freely given by the writer to make the record of each of his comrades perfect, and he could do no more.
The company histories will be found one of the most interesting parts of the entire work. They clearly show the patriotism that animated the men, and their readiness to hurry to the defense of their country. All were volunteers, who entered the service without promise of reward, and had no mercenary motives whatever in the course they took. Their one anxiety was to defend the flag of their country, and aid in quelling the causeless rebellion that threatened the very life of the nation. It was a regiment of comparatively young men, the average age being about twenty-four years, a large number of them being but boys of eighteen, while a few reached the age of forty. They were young, active, strong and intelligent, the making of a splendid regiment, and their work for three years fully confirmed all that was expected of them.
An endeavor was made to secure individual sketches of the officers, and it was mainly successful. In a few cases it will be noticed that the sketch is absent, but it is because of the absolute impossibility of securing it. Hundreds of letters were written to find the whereabouts of certain officers, but they were not found, nor could any intelligent record be had of their lives. In most cases where an officer was promoted to the field, the sketch will be found in the regimental organization. These sketches will be found very valuable and interesting. They are often a history of themselves. After reading some of them, especially of men from West Va., it will not be difficult to understand whence came their intense love of their country and its institutions. Our officers, as a rule, were brave and efficient, and measured up well to the standard of patriots and heroes. It would be a source of great gratification were the histories of these men more complete and full, and if the lives of the brave men of the regiment could also be printed in these pages, but it was not possible. The large majority of the brave old comrades have answered to the last roll call, and many of them have left no record of their lives or life work. It is hoped that the following pages of this chapter will be found measurably free from errors, and as complete as the lapse of 26 years will permit.
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