Chester White Papers

Chester White was born in 1838 and lived with his family at Tate, Ohio.1 On October 10, 1861 White enlisted in Company L, 2nd Ohio Cavalry Regiment. On January 27, 1862 the regiment was sent to the Missouri-Kansas border for scouting duty. About a month later, the regiment participated in its first skirmish. On February 22, a scouting party consisting of 120 men from the regiment was attacked by William Clark Quantrill in Independence, Missouri.2 The engagement lasted fifteen minutes, and resulted in one death and three wounded from the 2nd Ohio Cavalry, while Quantrill suffered fourteen casualties. From May 25 – July 8, the regiment served on an expedition into Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma. In June 1862, they engaged Stand Waite and the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles.

after we thought we had them surrounded the Battery was brought into position and then crash – went into the camp – the bursting shells and mud shot and such screeching and yelling as went up from that camp you never heard – for by the way it was the camp under the command of Standwathy [Stand Watie] a half-breed Cherokee who had about 700 of the painted devils with him – while the shelling was going on an orderly came from the Gen ordering us around to the place that the major spoken of above, did not occupy as the Indians were in full retreat but before we could get there through the brush they had gone into Coffee’s camp we pursued them there but the whole force had left there we pursued them but our horses were wearied and so we returned to the camp with 40 prisoners – we stationed our pickets and laid down to sleep at 2 o’clock in the morning
Chester L. White Letter to Daniel H. Wright, June 14, 1862

White became separated from his regiment, and was forced to struggle through rattlesnake infested brush and then a swamp in order to return to camp. “I got entangled in the d – dst place I ever got into nothing but Grapevines – rattlesnakes and wood-ticks – after trying for about an hour to get out I finally succeeded in doing so by jumping my horse down a perpendicular bank 15 feet into a swampy creek where I was not much better off than before.”3

After only five months in service on March 10, 1862, White was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. White told his cousin in the letter the pros and cons with his new promotion, “I am now acting 2d Lieut but it is not so nice as you might imagine – have to sport “store clothes” but no Lieut’s pay to back it.”4

Before returning north, the 2nd Ohio Cavalry helped capture Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. That fall, the regiment joined General James Blunt’s campaign into northwestern Arkansas. They participated in skirmishes at Carthage, Cow Skin Prairie, Wolf Creek and White River. And in December 1862, the 2nd Ohio Cavalry received orders to Columbus, Ohio and remained there until March 1863. That summer the regiment served in Kentucky and Tennessee.5

In February 1865, the 2nd Ohio Cavalry joined the Army of the Potomac with Sheridan’s cavalry, at Petersburg, entering the campaign that closed the war. They were at Appomattox Station on April 8 and Appomattox Court House on April 9. After witnessing Lee surrendered his army and an expedition to Danville, the 2nd Ohio Cavalry marched to Washington, D.C. for grand review in May. On May 27, they received orders to St. Louis, Missouri and were on duty in the Department of Missouri until they were mustered out on October 12, 1865.6

Although this is a small collection, consisting of only one letter from Chester White to his cousin, it reveals the difficult duty men faced in the Trans-Mississippi Theater and represents the significant role the 2md Ohio Cavalry played during the War.

Contributed by the Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College

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  1. 1860 United States Census; Census Place: Tate, Clermont, Ohio; Roll: M653_944; Page: 274; Image: 355; Family History Library Film: 803944.
  2. History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio, (Philadelphia: Williams Brothers, 1878), pages 47- 48.
  3. White, Chester L. Letter to Daniel H. Wright. 14 Jun. 1862. White (Chester L.) Papers, 1862, 2005.055. Pearce Civil War Collection, Narvarro College, Corsicana, Texas.
  4. White, Chester L. Letter to Daniel H. Wright. 14 Jun. 1862. White (Chester L.) Papers, 1862, 2005.055. Pearce Civil War Collection, Narvarro College, Corsicana, Texas.
  5. Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, vol 1 (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Press, 1994), 1473 – 1474.
  6. Dyer, Compendium of the War, 1473-1474.