Hiram B. Short: He Fought in the Civil War …

Hiram Short was an American Civil War soldier. He enlisted at the start of the war and continued to serve until the end. Born to Joel Short and Nancy Jane Riggs on January 18, 1824, in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In September of 1846, at 22-years-old, he married Eliza Jane McCoy in Botetourt, Virginia. They lived together in Botetourt until the start of the Civil War.aaa 1850 U.S. Federal Census

When the fighting broke out in 1861, Hiram answered the call. He was already 37-years-old when he enlisted as a Private in the Union Forces of West Virginia. Altogether, he served with the 9th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company B; the 10th West Virginia Infantry Regiment, Company C and Company A; and the 1st West Virginia Veteran Infantry, Company C. His initial enlistment date is the 21st of December, 1861. This was only six months after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, which started the war. Tensions were high before this, however.

 9th West Virginia Infantry Regiment Enlistment

9th West Virginia Infantry Regiment Enlistment

In the 1860 presidential election, Republicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, opposed the expansion of slavery into US territories. Lincoln won, but before his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln’s inaugural address declared his administration would not initiate civil war. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy. A peace conference failed to find a compromise, and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on “King Cotton” that they would intervene; none did and none recognized the new Confederate States of America. Hostilities began in April, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, a key fort held by Union troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for each state to provide troops to retake the fort; consequently, four more slave states joined the Confederacy, bringing their total to eleven. The Union soon controlled the border states and established a naval blockade that crippled the southern economy. For this, Hiram leaves his wife and family, and goes to war. At this time, West Virginia had joined the Union, but not all West Virginians agreed with their state’s position. In this same family line, another ancestor living in West Virginia joined the war, but on the side of the Confederacy. This truly was a war of brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and family against family. Hiram, however, was fighting on the side of the Union.

1st West Virginia Vet. Infantry Regiment Enlistment

1st West Virginia Vet. Infantry Regiment Enlistment

The first battle Hiram saw was the first battle of Winchester, in the Frederick and Winchester Counties of Virginia. It has also been called Bowers Hill Battle, and was part of Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. There were a total of 22,500 soldiers fighting on the 25th of May, 1862, in this battle, 16,000 of which were Confederate soldiers. After skirmishing with Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s retreating army at Middletown and Newtown on May 24, Maj. Gen. T.J. Jackson’s division continued north on the Valley Pike toward Winchester. There, Banks was attempting to reorganize his army to defend the town. Ewell’s division converged on Winchester from the southeast using the Front Royal Pike. On May 25, Ewell attacked Camp Hill, while the Louisiana Brigade of Jackson’s division outflanked and overran the Union position on Bowers Hill. Panic spread through the Federal ranks, and many fled through Winchester. Banks’s army was soundly defeated and withdrew north across the Potomac River. This was a decisive battle in Jackson’s Valley Campaign for the Confederates. The estimated casualties of this battle totaled 2,419, the Union lost 2,019 men and the Confederates lost only 400. Hiram made it through this battle, and was next seen at the second Battle of Winchester.

After the Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, Lee ordered the II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, under Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, to clear the lower Shenandoah Valley of Union opposition. Ewell’s columns converged on Winchester’s garrison commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy. After fighting on the afternoon of June 13 and the capture of West Fort by the Louisiana Brigade on June 14, Milroy abandoned his entrenchments after dark in an attempt to reach Charles Town. “Allegheny” Johnson’s division conducted a night flanking march and before daylight of the 15th cut off Milroy’s retreat just north of Winchester at Stephenson’s Depot. More than 2,400 Federals surrendered. This Confederate victory cleared the Valley of Union troops and opened the door for Lee’s second invasion of the North. This was the second battle of Winchester.

Next, Hiram fought in the Battle of Droop Mountain. This battle was located in Pocahontas County, Virginia, and was part of Averell’s Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. It took place on November 6, 1863, and pitted commanders Brig. Gen. William W. Averell of the Union against Brig. Gen. John Echols. In early November, Brig. Gens. W.W. Averell and Alfred Napoleon Alexander Duffié embarked on a raid into southwestern Virginia to disrupt the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. While Duffié’s column destroyed military property en route, Averell encountered and defeated a Confederate brigade under Brig. Gen. John Echols at Droop Mountain. The Union columns reunited at Lewisburg the next day but were in no condition to continue their raid. After this battle, Confederate resistance in West Virginia collapsed. There were 526 total casualties in this Union victory. Again, Hiram is alive and on to the next fight.

The next fight was the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, in Pulaski County. This was part of the Crook-Averell Raid on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, and took place on May 9, 1864. The Union was led by Brig. Gen. George Crook, while the Confederates were led by Brig. Gen. Albert Jenkins. Approximately 10,000 men fought, and of those an estimated 1,500 were lost. On May 9, Crook’s three brigades (6,100 men) on a raid into southwestern Virginia encountered a patchwork Confederate force under Brig. Gen. Albert Jenkins at Cloyd’s Mountain. Fighting was furious and hand-to-hand. Casualties were heavy for the size of the forces engaged: Union 10%, Confederate 23%. Jenkins was mortally wounded. Crook afterwards joined forces with Averell, who had burned the New River Bridge, and the united column withdrew to Meadow Bluff after destroying several important railroad bridges. This was a Union victory.

1890 Veterans Schedules

1890 Veterans Schedules

During the Battle of Cove Mountain, in Wythe County, Brig. Gen. William W. Averell, Union commander, and Brig. Gen. William. E. Jones, Confederate commander, met again on May 10, 1864. Brig. Gen. W.W. Averell’s raiders encountered a brigade under William “Grumble” Jones near Cove Mountain. After delaying the Union advance, the Confederates withdrew. The next day, Averell reached the New River Bridge on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, which he burned. 300 men died in this battle. Then on May 15, 1864, Hiram fought in the Battle of New Market in Shenandoah County, Virginia. This was part of the Lynchburg campaign. On this day, 10,365 men were engaged in battle, with just over 6,000 for the Union. In conjunction with his Spring offensive, Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant ordered Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel to move up the Shenandoah Valley along the Valley Pike with 10,000 men to destroy the railroad and canal complex at Lynchburg. At New Market on the 15th, Sigel was attacked by a makeshift Confederate army of about 4,100 men commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge. At a crucial point, a key Union battery was withdrawn from the line to replenish its ammunition, leaving a weakness that Breckinridge was quick to exploit. He ordered his entire force forward, and Sigel’s stubborn defense collapsed. Threatened by the Confederate cavalry on his left flank and rear, Sigel ordered a general withdrawal burning the North Fork bridge behind him. Sigel retreated down the Valley to Strasburg and was soon replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter. 1,300 men lost their lives in this battle. Of the 840 Union soldier lost in this Confederate victory, Hiram was not one.

1890 Veterans Schedule

1890 Veterans Schedule

During the Battle of Piedmont in Augusta County, June 5-6, 1864, principal commanders Maj. Gen. David Hunter, Union, and Brig. Gen. William E. Jones, Confederate, faced off with 14,000 total soldiers. The Union supplied 8,500 men while the Confederates only brought 5,500. After replacing Sigel in command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, Maj. Gen. David “Black Dave” Hunter renewed the Union offensive. On June 5, Hunter engaged the Confederate army under “Grumble” Jones north of Piedmont. After severe fighting, a flanking movement made by Thoburn’s brigade turned Jones’s right flank. While trying to stem the retreat of his soldiers, Jones was killed. The retreat became a rout. More than 1,000 Confederates, including 60 officers, were captured. Jones lost three guns. Hunter occupied Staunton on June 6 and, after a pause to await the arrival of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s column, began to advance on Lynchburg, destroying military stores and public property in his wake. The estimated casualties during this battle were 2,375 total; the Union lost 875, but was the victor.

Next, Hiram was in the Battle of Lynchburg, Virginia, on June 17-18, 1864. From Lexington, Maj. Gen. David Hunter advanced against the Confederate rail and canal depots and the hospital complex at Lynchburg. Reaching the outskirts of town on June 17, his first tentative attacks were thwarted by the timely arrival by rail of Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s II Corps vanguard from Charlottesville. Hunter withdrew the next day after sporadic fighting because of a critical shortage of supplies. His line of retreat through West Virginia took his army out of the war for nearly a month and opened the Shenandoah Valley for a Confederate advance into Maryland. 44,000 men fought, and 900 died in this Confederate victory. In the second Battle of Kernstown on July 24, 1864, Hiram fought again. This was part of Early’s Raid and Operations against the B&O Railroad. 44,000 troops came to the battlefield, but 1,800 would not leave alive. Believing that Early’s army was no longer a threat in the Valley, Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright abandoned his pursuit and ordered the VI and XIX Corps to return to Washington, where they were to be sent to Grant’s “army group” before Petersburg. Wright left Brig. Gen. George Crook with three divisions and some cavalry to hold Winchester. Under orders to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Grant, Early marched north on July 24 against Crook. After an hour of stubborn resistance at Pritchard’s Hill, the Federal line collapsed and Crook’s divisions streamed back in disarray through the streets of Winchester. Col. James Mulligan commanding Crook’s 3rd Division was mortally wounded. Rutherford B. Hayes commanded a brigade against John C. Breckinridge’s wing. Crook retreated to the Potomac River and crossed near Williamsport on July 26. As a result of this defeat and the burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30, Grant returned the VI and XIX Corps and appointed Sheridan as commander of Union forces in the Valley. This was another Confederate victory.

Then, September 3-4, 1864, Hiram was in the Battle of Berryville. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s divisions marched south from Halltown, reaching Berryville on September 3. Happening upon elements of Brig. Gen. George Crook’s corps going into camp, Maj. Gen. R.H. Anderson’s (Kershaw’s) division attacked with limited results. During the night, Early brought up his entire army but by daylight found Sheridan’s position too strongly entrenched to assault. General Early withdrew after dark behind Opequon Creek. This inconclusive battle cost 500 lives. After Kershaw’s division left Winchester to rejoin Lee’s army at Petersburg, Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early renewed his raids on the B&O Railroad at Martinsburg, badly dispersing his four remaining infantry divisions. On September 19, Sheridan advanced toward Winchester along the Berryville Pike with the VI and XIX Corps, crossing Opequon Creek. The Union advance was delayed long enough for Early to concentrate his forces to meet the main assault, which continued for several hours. Casualties were very heavy. The Confederate line was gradually driven back toward the town. Mid-afternoon, Crook’s (VIII) Corps and the cavalry turned the Confederate left flank. Early ordered a general retreat. Confederate generals Rodes and Goodwin were killed, Fitzhugh Lee, Terry, Johnson, and Wharton wounded. Union general Russell was killed, McIntosh, Upton, and Chapman wounded. Because of its size, intensity, and result, many historians consider this the most important conflict of the Shenandoah Valley. It happened on September 19, 1864, when Hiram was 40 years-old. In total 54,440 men engaged with the Union bringing 39,240 of them. The Union claimed this victory.

The Battle of Fisher’s Hill, in Shenandoah County, happened on September 21. This was only two days since Hiram last saw battle. Early’s army, bloodied by its defeat at Opequon (Third Winchester) on September 19, took up a strong defensive position at Fisher’s Hill, south of Strasburg. On September 21, the Union army advanced, driving back the skirmishers and capturing important high ground. On the 22nd, Crook’s Corps moved along North Mountain to outflank Early and attacked about 4 pm. The Confederate cavalry offered little resistance, and the startled infantry were unable to face the attacking force. The Confederate defense collapsed from west to east as Sheridan’s other corps join in the assault. Early retreated to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, opening the Valley to a Union “scorched earth” invasion. Mills and barns from Staunton to Strasburg were burned in what became known as the “Burning” or “Red October.” Of the engaged 38,944 men, the Confederates only supplied 9,500. However, of the 1,763 total estimated dead , the Confederates supplied 1,235.

At dawn, October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of the Valley under Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early surprised the Federal army at Cedar Creek and routed the VIII and XIX Army Corps. Commander Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan arrived from Winchester to rally his troops, and, in the afternoon, launched a crushing counterattack, which recovered the battlefield. Sheridan’s victory at Cedar Creek broke the back of the Confederate army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln rode the momentum of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley and Sherman’s successes in Georgia to re-election. On March 30, Lee shifted reinforcements to meet the Federal movement to turn his right flank, placing Maj. Gen. W.H. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry divisions at Five Forks and transferring Pickett’s division from the Bermuda Hundred front to the extreme right. Warren pushed the V Corps forward and entrenched a line to cover the Boydton Plank Road from its intersection with Dabney Mill Road south to Gravelly Run. Ayres’s division advanced northwest toward White Oak Road. On March 31, in combination with Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s thrust via Dinwiddie Court House, Warren directed his corps against the Confederate entrenchments along White Oak Road, hoping to cut Lee’s communications with Pickett at Five Forks. The Union advance was stalled by a crushing counterattack directed by Maj. Gen. Bushrod Johnson, but Warren’s position stabilized and his soldiers closed on the road by day’s end. This fighting set up the Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1.

With Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1, Grant and Meade ordered a general assault against the Petersburg lines by II, IX, VI and XXIV Corps on April 2. A heroic defense of Fort Gregg by a handful of Confederates prevented the Federals from entering the city that night. Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was killed trying to reach his troops in the confusion. After dark, Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. Grant had achieved one of the major military objectives of the war: the capture of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond, the Capitol of the Confederacy. This was the Battle of Petersburg on the 2nd of April, 1865, and was part of the Appomattox Campaign. Hiram fought directly for Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on this day. Almost 8,000 men lost their lives there. Four days later, Hiram was in the Battle of Rice’s Station. Maj. Gen. John Gibbon, of the Union, went up against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Longstreet’s command reached Rice’s Station, its farthest point south, where it was blocked by Union XXIV Corps. After some skirmishing, Longstreet withdrew over the High Bridge during the night toward Farmville. Few men lost their lives during this skirmish. However, Hiram was about to help the Union secure their victory at Appomattox. Early on April 9, the remnants of John Broun Gordon’s corps and Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry formed line of battle at Appomattox Court House. Gen. Robert E. Lee determined to make one last attempt to escape the closing Union pincers and reach his supplies at Lynchburg. At dawn the Confederates advanced, initially gaining ground against Sheridan’s cavalry. The arrival of Union infantry, however, stopped the advance in its tracks. Lee’s army was now surrounded on three sides. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9. This was the final engagement of the war in Virginia, and the final battle for Hiram.

1880 U.S. Federal Census

1880 U.S. Federal Census

Hiram Short returned home to Spencer, Roane County, West Virginia after the surrender of Lee. He worked as a farmer, while his eldest son, Preston, worked as a Teacher and his younger sons worked on the farm. Hiram and his family continued to live in Spencer. On the 19th of July, 1902, Hiram passed away in Spencer. He was buried in the Short Cemetery in Spencer. His grave is marked with a Union Civil War headstone.



How am I related to Hiram B. Short?

Hiram is my 3rd Great Grandfather:

Hiram was the father of Jennette “Nettie” Short.
Jennette was married to Peter Niday. They were the parents of Ona Pearl “Lillie” Niday.
Ona married Early Edward “Earl” Webb. They were the parents of Thurman Casto “Pete” Webb.
Thurman was the father of Diana P. Webb.
Diana married William Kenneth Morrison, and they are my parents.


One thought on “Hiram B. Short: He Fought in the Civil War …

  1. Hello,
    I am also a descendant of Hiram Short. His son James Preston Short (m: Louise Knotts) brought in my Great Grandfather Harley Short. It says Harley was his nephew on the earliest census (1910) and every census after he is listed as the son of James Preston. I believe my great grandpa Harley was actually born to a Rosa Short and Thomas Jackson Harris. But Rosa died a couple months after Harley was born. And whatever relation Rosa was to James Preston ( rosa is hard to find info on), James took in Harley (Harris) as his own. All of these people I mention are also buried at the Short Cemetery in Spencer. I find it very interesting that James Preston’s father Hiram fought for one side and his father in law Absalom Knotts fought for the other. Thank you for your research and information. – Daniel Short


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