Gause Surname History
Four Years with Five Armies: Civil War 1861-1865
Isaac Gause enlisted in the Union forces at the age of 17th on October 10, 1861. Being three months shy of his 18th birthday he began to run away from home but was ultimately caught by his uncle. His uncle Elijah Shinn was a devout Quaker and was against fighting. He had cared for Isaac since his parents death three years earlier. However, Elijah understood his nephews adolescent impatience for life and escorted him to the mustering site. Being a good horseman, he chose the Cavalry and was assigned to the Second Ohio. "I left home to see the Union preserved, and anything short of that was no reward for me."
Army of the Frontier
"Preparations now began for a more extended journey and adventures than we had in our wildest imaginations anticipated." The first action Isaac saw was in the pursuit of bushwhackers who were active in the Kansas-Missouri border area. The Second Ohio Cavalry was sent to stop the raids of William Quantrill, who developed a style of guerrilla warfare that terrorized civilians and soldiers alike. Ironically, Quantrills force included Frank and Jesse James who eventually will be related to the Gause family by marriage. Quantrill was always just out of reach of the U.S. Cavalry and as the fighting in the South escalated, troops were being recalled to reinforce troops on the main lines. The war was not going well for the Union and what happened in Kansas and Missouri would be of little consequence if the North lost the war.
Army of the Missouri
The Second Ohio Cavalry was ordered into Kentucky for deployment south into Tennessee, but their orders rapidly changed. General John Hunt Morgan had been raiding the Kentucky countryside attempting to recruit 3,000 troops for the Confederate cause. General Krantz asked for volunteers from the Second Ohio Cavalry to volunteer to stop Morgans raid. Isaac was one of four volunteers. On July 2 to 26, 1863, Morgan violated Confederate General Bragg's instructions not to cross the Ohio River. With the Cavalry in pursuit, Morgan crossed over into Indiana and moved into Ohio, skirting Cincinnati which went into a panic. Pursued by cavalry and militia, he was finally captured near New Lisbon, Ohio, on July 26th - after most of his command had surrendered or had been taken prisoner. Isaac was in the pursuit until the last day when his horse was "no longer any use" and had to be put out to pasture.
Army of the Ohio
After the capture of Morgan, the Second Ohio Cavalry was sent as reinforcements to Knoxville, Tennessee. As the Battle’s of Bulls Gap, Campbell’s Station, Fort Sanders occurred in November 1863, the Second Ohio was kept in reserve for most all of the action. They participated in some skirmishes and picket lines, but never officially saw action in these three engagements. Isaac’s horse was shot out from underneath him. He spent all of his time at the supply depot waiting for another mount and helping wounded from the Second Ohio to the field hospital.
This was the end of the second year of the Ohio troopers three year enlistment. Many had clothing that was in poor shape, hadn’t had a decent meal in months, and moral was low. Newspapers were reporting that the war had to date, decided nothing. Winter was approaching. Military etiquette stated that hostilities be halted until better weather was available. Winter quarters were also a must because of the danger to horses and men in the cold weather. Instead of building winter quarters for the men and horses, the military offered a forty day furlough, $600, and a new uniform to those who would re-enlist until the wars end. Isaac along with most of the Second Ohio Cavalry re-enlisted.
Army of the Potomac
The Second Ohio Cavalry reformed outside of Washington, DC to join Grants Overland campaign. May 1864, the Second Ohio was involved in the Battle of Cold Harbor. Confederate forces were forming at the edge of a scrub brush field to attack the U.S. forces. The Cavalry threw back an attack by the Confederate infantry. Briars and small trees inhibited the cavalry’s speed. Isaac was well in advance of the other troopers when his horse was shot out from underneath him for a second time. This time, however, the horse landed on his leg. He lost his boot, new saddle, straw hat, and pistol he had commandeered from a confederate prisoner, but limped back to the Union line with another wounded solider before being captured. He was awarded the rank of corporal for his bravery on the field that day.
In late June and early July 1864, Lt. General Early's Confederate army used the strategic Shenandoah Valley corridor to terrorize Washington, D.C, defeating U.S. forces at Monocacy, Maryland. Only the diversion of reinforcements from General Grant’s Army of the Potomac, in siege at Petersburg, turned back the Confederate forces from Washington. General Early returned to the Shenandoah Valley and achieved a decisive victory over the U.S. Forces at the Battle of Second Kernstown on 24 July. This victory allowed the Confederate Forces to effectively flanked the U.S. Forces surrounding Petersburg. If Grant moved on Petersburg, Confederate General Early could move on Washington, D.C.
Army of the Shenandoah
Because of this U.S. defeat, General Grant was forced to take action to ensure that the Valley would no longer prove a problem to him And to get the Confederates off his flank. General Philip Sheridan was sent to take total control of the Valley in August of 1864. Assigned to Sheridan’s force was the Second Ohio Cavalry and Corporal Isaac Gause.
On September 13, 1864, the U.S. army was preparing to move on the Confederate forces that captured Winchester, Maryland two months earlier with the victory at the Battle of Second Kernstown. Second Ohio Cavalry was ordered to ride from Berryville outside of Washington, D.C. toward Winchester along the Winchester-Berryville Pike. Their mission was to discover the location of the Confederate Army and attack.
The Winchester-Berryville Pike was an essential road to the control of the Shenandoah Valley. On this day the 8th Regiment of the South Carolina Volunteer Infantry had orders to move down the pike and establish the location of the U.S. Army.
The Ohio Cavalry moved swiftly down the Pike towards Winchester not expecting to encounter the Confederates until closer to Winchester, Maryland. "When the enemy’s line approached they could only be detected through the darkness by the flash of their guns…" Both forces came upon each other and fighting broke out. Many of the troops dismounted and engaged in hand-to-hand combat, including Isaac Gause. The Second Ohio was concentrated on the Pike itself while the eighth South Carolina was spread out in a line perpendicular to the pike in a clump of trees with a ravine to their rear. The first U.S. wave was repelled. Isaac reformed his men and stragglers from other units and lead the charge on the line again. Cut off by breaks in the Confederate line, the commander of the Eighth South Carolina ordered a retreat. Isaac yelled, "For God’s sake, men, do not let them get away, now we have them surrounded and they must surrender!" As the retreat sounded, the make shift unit of the Second Ohio and the Third New Jersey captured the Eighth South Carolina Volunteer Infantry and Isaac captured their battle flag.
For his heroic actions in battle, Isaac Gause was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 19, 1864, in Washington, DC by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The Medal of Honor (also referred to as The Congressional Medal of Honor) is the highest military decoration that can be awarded by the Government of the United States. With the medal, Isaac was offered a commission with the First Kentucky Colored Cavalry by Secretary Stanton. However, Isaac wanted no part of a commission stating, "…my observation is that the officers are on duty all of the time, while the soldiers have relief." He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in the Second Ohio Cavalry.
That winter, the Second Ohio established camp outside of Winchester, Virginia. In March, 1865, the cavalry was reassigned to the third division commanded by Major-General George Armstrong Custer. The troopers set out on the Appomattox Campaign which would eventually bring about an end to the war. At the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House, the cavalry undertook a flank march to turn General Lee’s defenses. "A storm of lead was flying…" Isaac was struck by a minie ball in his left ankle. "…I pulled off my boot, which was full of blood." The fire from the Confederate line was so great, he continued forward so as not to get shot in the back. As the U.S. forces gained the advantage of the high ground, Isaac fell back to the hospital at Dinwiddie Court House. He had too argue to keep the doctor from amputating his lower leg and was eventually was taken to Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia to recover.
The war did not end well for the men of the Second Ohio Cavalry. One day Isaac was moved from the hospital to a secured warehouse in Washington, DC with others from the Second Ohio. They were treated as prisoners for a few days, without explanation. Another group of Second Ohio men were brought to the warehouse and explained that the Second Ohio had lead a riot of soldiers against a plan to send troops up the Red River to seize contraband cotton. "The war having terminated, the men considered their contract fulfilled, and raised a protest, the result of which was a riot…" The country was in shock at the assassination of President Lincoln the military dropped all charges to avoid public outcry.
Company E was sent to Springfield, Missouri for Reconstruction peace keeping. While on guard duty, Isaac guarded Wild Bill Hickok, who had shot a man named Tutt. Isaac and Bill became friends and kept in touch for the next ten years until Wild Bill was shot in the back during a card game in 1876. The Second Ohio was mustered out of service September 11, 1865
When all was done, Isaac Gause rode seventeen different mounts, (Claybank being his favorite and the only horse he named), rode or walked twenty-seven thousand miles, fought in all three theaters of war under some of the most recognized names of the war: Grant, Custer, Meade, Sheridan, Burnside, and Buell, was a hero who had a audience with the Secretary of War, and was arrested as a prisoner by his own country. His last experience of the war left him bitter for the rest of his life. In 1906 he wrote, "…regret that I had ever taken up arms.."
Isaac moved back to Ohio, where he lived for the rest of his life. He never married and settled into life as a beekeeper. He entertained re-enlisting in the cavalry and fighting in the Indiana wars with General Custer, but he was continually bothered by his leg and ankle for the rest of his life.