Category Archives: Guerrilla & Bushwhackers

1863: Andrew Thomas Leopole to Mary Louise Entler

Most accounts of the Captain refer to him by the name of Andrew Leopold but his signature in this letter appears to read, “Andrew Thomas Leopole”

This letter was written by Capt. Andrew Thomas Leopole, a native of Sharpsburg, Maryland, who enlisted 20 April 1861, in Co. F, 1st Virginia Cavalry. He was then transferred to Co. D of the 12th Virginia Cavalry and promoted to lieutenant. After fighting with the 12th Virginia Cavalry and suffering three wounds at the Battle of Second Manassas, Andrew was ordered by General J. E. B. Stuart to join Capt. Redmond Burke on “detached service.” Their duty was to remain in the Potomac River area between Berryville and Shepherdstown to find conscripts, carry mail between homes and soldiers, steal horses and watch the movements of the Federal army. In carrying mail, Andrew was also abled to determine the names of, and whereabouts of, able-bodied men not enlisted in the Confederate army. After Captain Burke was killed by Unionists in late November 1862, Andrew swore vengeance on the Unionists in Jefferson county as this letter attests.

About a month after this letter was written, Andrew and a group of his men visit Shepherdstown and Sharpsburg where Andrew kills a citizen in each place, and though they escape, they are now wanted men and he was eventually captured at Castleman’s Ferry on 21 April 1863 and placed under arrest for the murders. Northern newspapers called him “a guerrilla chief and spy and murder of the blackest die.” He was held in the prison at Fort McHenry in Baltimore where he was eventually tried for the murder of the two citizens. Though he claimed he was no guerrilla, the jury rejected his defense and he was hanged on 12 May 1864, President Lincoln choosing not to overturn the sentence. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery at Shepherdstown (see Find A Grave, “Capt. Andrew Laypole”].  While he was in irons. Lt. Leopole gave the following statement to the staff of Gen. Robert H. Milroy at Winchester, Va.:

Hometown Sharpsburg, Maryland. Enlisted in Confederate service two years ago in 1st Regiment Virginia (Rebel) Cavalry and remained  in that regiment until (J.E.B.) Stuart’s appointment as brigadier. About a month after the Battle of First Manassas, became ensign of the brigade, continued until last May (1862) when transferred to 12th Virginia Cavalry as third lieutenant. Continued until after the  Battle of Sharpsburg when promoted to first  lieutenant of Co. D. Captured 24 November at Shepherdstown. Remained prisoner until 6 January 1863 when exchanged. Reported to Gen. Stuart and until 13 January acting as  chief of couriers. On 14 January left for Castleman’s Ferry in command of 70 men and remained until captured with six of my men. My business was to observe the movement of Federal forces and report to Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. Am tired of fighting and wish to take the oath of allegiance and retire to Ohio. I have always stood high with General Stuart, enjoyed  his confidence, and when at his headquarters ate at his table. — Andrew T. Leopole.  (The statement transmitted to Maj. Gen.  C. Schenck, in Baltimore. Official Records,  Series 1, Vol. 25, Part 2, pages 252-53)

Another source spells Andrew’s surname Leopold and gives the following (long) story of his life under the title of Andrew Leopold’s Forlorn Hope on YouTube. Mary Louise Entler, the recipient of this letter, is also mentioned in this story. She corresponded with Andrew and might also have been charged with being a spy had Federal authorities elected to go after her.

[This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Snicker’s Ferry (in the glorious reign of Jeff Davis)
February 14, 1863

Miss Mary L. Entler

I wrote you a few lines to let you know that I am out of the reach of the invaders. They followed us to Battletown where my company was stationed at the time. When we got in camp, there was but twenty men in camp & I got them all mounted & followed them as far as Charlestown & there they had twenty more men & we was compelled to fall back to our former position on account of their reinforcements & when we got to Snicker’s Ferry we was reinforced by the rest of my squad and followed them again and captured six and killed four and wounded nine of the Yankees. And then we started for camp. We rested well there when Padda commenced talking about Shepherdstown.

Miss Mary, I heard that you showed the other letter that I sent you. Don’t show this one if you please for I don’t want the Union people to find out that I am coming back for when I come, we want to take them on surprise & I will bring a plenty of men to clean up all of the Yankees that is at Kearneysville and Duffield’s Depot.

I am living now for the avenge of Capt. [Redmond] Burke 1 & for the ladies of the noble place of Shepherdstown & for the great and loved country of the Southern Confederacy so by the grace of God, if [I] am killed, I die in a good cause and die for the Ladies and for the country which gave birth to me so you know how I feel in this cause.

When I come to town, I will come to see you if I have time. We have plenty of money & of everything to eat and drink. That canteen of whiskey we got there we drank before we got to camp. The next time I come I will bring you that candy that I have here for you. When I come through town, I throwed a stone against Mr. Green Grant’s window & then he skedaddled from town at a double quick time.

Miss Mary, you will please remember me to Miss Emma and to all of the secesh ladies of Shepherdstown and if you get to Sharpsburg, please go to Mr. Hebb & tell him to send word to Morgan Miller’s and tell them that I am well and killing all the Yankees that lays in my power.

So I must end my few lines as you don’t like to read long letters. So give my love to all my friends but don’t forget that lady on Main Street and to Uncle Joe and to Sissa and to the rest of the family.

From Capt. Andrew Thomas Leopole

Command Burke Avengers

P. S. With many regards to your future health and happiness. I remain the most profound respect your only friend. Don’t forget to answer.

1 Capt. Redmond Burke led the company that Andrew served in. Capt. Burke was killed in a skirmish in Shepherdstown on 25 November 1862 and Andrew was taken prisoner by the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. Andrew was imprisoned but a short time and then was paroled. He apparently afterward was elevated to his captain’s position.

1863-64: William H. Van Iderstine to Phebe (Birdsall) Simon

These letters were written by 19 year-old Pvt. William H. Van Iderstine (1844-1920) of Co. D, 13th New Jersey Infantry. William enlisted on 11 August 1862 and was with his regiment at Antietam five weeks later. He was wounded in the hand in action before Atlanta on 30 July 1864 and was sent to the XX Corps Hospital where his hand was amputated. He recovered at a hospital in Nashville, TN, and the Ward Hospital, Newark, NJ. He was discharged 30 January 1865.

William was the son of Jeremiah P. Van Iderstine (1822-1896) and Catherine K. Birdsall (1822-1855). After the war he married Hattie Bannister (1837-1918) and worked in South Orange, New Jersey, for the firm of T. Van Iderstine & Sons, boots and shoes.

William wrote the letters to his aunt, Phebe (Birdsall) Simon (1830-Aft1890), the wife of John K. Simon who served in the 5th New Jersey Infantry (Part of the Jersey Brigade). John enlisted on August 19, 1861, and mustered in as a sergeant in Co. D on August 22. He was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on May 26, 1862 and later promoted to 1st Lieutenant on May 19, 1863. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in May 1864. He mustered out of the service on September 7, 1864.

The firs three letters were all written in the days and weeks following the Battle of Gettysburg in which the 13th New Jersey played a relatively minor role, losing 1 killed and 20 wounded out of the 360 men brought to the field. The regiment reached this battlefield at 5 p.m. on 1 July 1863, and with the brigade went into position on the north side of Wolf Hill. During the night, they occupied a position in support of Battery M, First N.Y. Artillery. July 2, in the morning, they held a position near Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, they marched to relief of the Third Corps near Round Top. At night they returned to right of the army. July 3, they occupied a position supporting the Second Massachusetts and Twenty-seventh Indiana in their charge on Confederate flank. In the evening, they moved to extreme right to support of Gregg’s Cavalry. In the weeks that followed, they pursued Lee’s army to Manassas Gap and on to Kelly’s Ford.

The fourth letter was written from Tennessee after the regiment was sent to the western theatre to join Sherman’s army for the Atlanta Campaign in 1864.

13th New Jersey Monument at Gettysburg

Letter 1

Addressed to Mrs. John K. Simon, 107 Warren Street, Newark, New Jersey

Camp of the 13th Regiment N. J. Vols.
In Snicker’s Gap, Va.
July 22, 1863

My Dear Aunt,

It is now some time since I have written to you but it is not because I have not thought of you but because my time has been very limited and the chances for writing letters very few.

Since we left the old camp at Stafford Court House, we have seen some pretty hard times. We have marched upwards of four hundred miles and been engaged in one of the largest battles of the war–viz: Gettysburg. I will not say much about it now as doubtless you have learned the full particulars from the daily papers. At one time on the march from Pennsylvania we made over 50 miles in two days.

I have not see Uncle John since I saw him at Littlestown, Pa. He came to see me when at or near Williamsport but I was on picket. I will tell you of the place where I was on picket at some future day. We have just received notice that a mail will leave and the Quartermaster is now gathering the letters so I must close for the present. I am now acting as company clerk. I am well. Please write.

Yours as ever, –Wm. H. Van Iderstine

The Quartermaster says there will be no mail today so I will write a few more lines.

We came here the night before yesterday and we may stay here today but I am not sure. All that I have now is what I have on, a piece of tent, rubber blanket, haversack, and canteen. I threw my knapsack away at, or rather before, the Battle of Gettysburg, although I did not have much in it. I saved my bible and needle-case which I carry in my haversack. I shall be glad when we get in camp again for I think we have done enough marching for the last two months for one campaign. But never-the-less, if it would end the war, I would be willing to march as much more. The sun is very hot out here now which makes the marching so much harder.

The New Jersey Brigade is somewhere ahead and I may get a chance to see Uncle John in a day or two, yet there is no certainty about it as one day we may be near each other and the next far away.

We are having some good news from Vicksburg, Morris Island, &c., and I hope before this letter reaches its destination the “Stars and Stripes” may wave over the walls of Fort Sumter and over the City of Charleston.

God grant that this cruel war may soon be ended and that sweet peace, happiness, and prosperity may again be spread throughout our land.

Remember me to all the folks and to Grandma. I write the letter out. Don’t know when I shall get a chance to mail it. Yours affectionately, Wm. H. Van Iderstine

Please don’t fail to write soon.

Letter 2

Camp of 13th N. J. Vols.
Kelly’s Ford, Va.
August 6th, 1863

My Dear Aunt,

Your kind and very welcome [letter] was received a short time ago. I was glad to hear from you and to learn that you were all well at home. At present I [am] well but am pretty well worn-out from the fatigue of the present campaign. We are now encamped at Kelly’s Ford—the place where we crossed the Rappahannock River last spring when we went to Chancellorsville. I hope we will stop here for week or two that we might get recruited up a little.

The weather is very hot out here now and has been for about a month past. I am now acting as company clerk which position I like very well and it gives me an opening for something better.

Our captain is acting Major and I suppose he will get it before long. Lieut. James L. Carman, a brother to the Colonel [Ezra A. Carman], is now acting as Captain. I was selected by the Adjutant when at Warrenton to serve as clerk of a Regimental Court Martial which kept me pretty busy for portions of two days.

I have no more to say at present except to be remembered to all the folks and friends and I remain your affectionate nephew, — Wm. H. Van Iderstine

Letter 3

Camp 13th N. J. Vols
Kelly’s Ford, Va.
August 23rd 1863

My Dear Aunt,

I take the pleasure again of writing you a few lines to inform you that I am well and hearty. I hope these few lines may find you all well at home. I was agreeably surprised to find, or rather learn, that Uncle John had the good fortune to get home on recruiting service.

You must excuse me for not writing more often since we have been in camp as I have been very busy in company the company books and making our reports, returns, rolls, &c. &c. The year is up the 20th of this month and the clothing accounts must be balanced which I am busy with now and as soon as I get through with that, pay rolls are to be made out so that I am kept busy. I don’t have to do any duty but attend dress parade & answer roll call if not engaged at that time.

Three regiments of our brigade left us a few days ago. The length of time that they are to be gone or their destination I cannot tell at present. Some think they are bound for New York City, others that they have gone on the transports to Yorktown on the Peninsula. On their leaving, Col. E. A. Carman took command of the remaining three regiments. If I had been half smart, I might have had the position as clerk, I think.

I think something of accepting a commission in a colored regiment. What think you? If Uncle John is there, just ask his opinion on the subject.

It is now Saturday night and tomorrow will be Sunday and we expect to have a sermon preached (for the first time I believe in about 6 months quite) by the chaplain of the 107th New York in our brigade. We have some very excellent prayer meetings here three or four times a week and our labors have not been in vain for some have come from darkness into light and others are serious and ask to be prayed for. For the last few days we have had a missionary from or belonging to the U. S. Christian Commission with us in our prayer meetings. Our meetings are attended by a large number—sometimes as high as 100 or more. The 107th New York, attached to our brigade, also have a goodly number of christians in it who take an active part. Sometimes we go to their meetings and at other times they come to ours. Though surrounded by vice and sin of all kinds, we have many precious seasons of praying and singing praises to God. I hope soon to hear the lips that now use profane language to be turned to sing the praise of God.

It is now after tattoo and I must close by asking you to remember me & our meetings in your prayer to our Heavenly Father,

If Uncle John is home, let him see this and when you write again, let him know where he is that I may meet him. Ask him to excuse me for not writing. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain yours affectionately, — W. H. Van Iderstine

P. S. Please excuse the haste in which this letter was written and remember me to all the folks — W. H. V. I.

N. B. Aunt Phebe, won’t you please send by mail the soft felt hat I left home as soon as possible. It will cost but about 25 cents and it will be a great comfort out here in the hot sun. — W. H. V. I.

Letter 4

Camp 13th N. J. Vols.
Duck River, Tennessee
January 15, 1864

Dear Aunt,

I thought tonight since I had nothing to do I would write you. It has ben some time since I have heard from you but I know that you would if you had the time.

We are still encamped at Duck RIver. Since I last wrote you, we have had some very cold weather down here and I doubt not you have in Jersey. The citizens say it is the coldest weather they have experienced in twenty-five years. It was so cold on New Years Day as to freeze the ink in my pen while I was making out a report for the Adjutant (f it had not been of importance, I would not have written). I was as near the fire as I could get without burning so you can imagine how cold it was.

A sad affair occurred near Tullahoma (a village about 9 miles south of this place and where we were encamped about two weeks before coming here). Four men and a Lieutenant were caught, their hands tied behind them, and deliberately shot—or rather 3 men shot. The officer ad one man escaped by jumping into the river and swimming across. They were shot at several times and the man wounded. The officer and one man belonged to the 27th Indiana (our Brigade). The War Department has issued an order taxing the citizens living within ten miles of the place to the amount of $10,000 dollars for the support of the families of the men who were shot. After the guerrillas shot them, they threw them in the river. What an act for civilized people. Can God prosper such a people? I should think not.

I have been writing for the Adjutant’s Office for nearly two weeks but it is only temporarily. I may be there only a day or two more or a week. I got to work at 9 a.m. and get through at 4.30 p.m. I have a good tent to be in and a warm fire to write by and everything “handy.”

I received a letter from Uncle John about a month ago and have written him twice since. I received a box from home and in it some cake, &c. from you. It was relished very much. I feel very grateful for them. Also a tipet [a hat] from Grandma for which I returned my thanks.

I understand that the Colonel has given permission for a house to be built for to hold prayer meetings and church in. We have not had any prayer meetings in a long time in consequence of the cold weather but if we get the house built, we will no doubt have meetings two or three times a week. Oh how I would like once more to attend the prayer meeting held at Halsey St. Church. I can now see better than ever how important are class and prayer meetings to a Christian.

I will close for the present and remain as ever yours affectionately, — Wm. H. Van Iderstine

Please write as soon as possible.

1862: Elmore Yocum Warner to the Sandusky Register

Rev. Elmore Yokum Warner

This letter was written by Elmore Yocum Warner (1833-1886), the Chaplain of the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC). Elmore accepted his commission on 11 December 1861 and remained with the regiment until 1 August 1862 when he resigned and returned to his home in North Fairfield, Huron county, Ohio. [Note: the regimental roster erroneously recorded his name as “Edward” rather than “Elmore.”]

Warner’s letter is obviously just a draft of a letter that he addressed to the “Register.” This was undoubtedly the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register which had previously published a couple of his other letters, one in January 1862 calling upon citizens to donate books for a traveling library in the regiment, and another one written from Jeffersonville, Indiana, in March 1862 as the regiment readied itself for a march into “Secech Land,” saying, “We are near enough to know something of the beating of the Secesh pulse, which we believe grows fainter every day, and will soon cease to beat forever—leaving the ghostly carcass of Secession prostrate—a stench, and yet a valuable lesson to the world.

If Warner ever sent a final copy of this draft to the newspaper editor, I could not find it among the on-line issues of the paper. Perhaps he thought best not to send it, or maybe the editor decided the chaplain’s sentiments didn’t not seem very charitable—especially since Warner apparently was the recipient of charity from a secesh family when he fell ill in March 1862.

An obituary for Warner published in the Wayne County Democrat on 14 July 1886 said of him:

“This well-known minister of the North Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and son of the late Rev. Jesse Warner, was born in Wayne County, July 3, 1833, and died in Norwalk, Oh., July 6, 1886, aged 53 years. Mr. Warner, after a faithful use of the educational advantages furnished by the common schools, entered the Ohio Wesleyan University and while he did not complete the course, he did lay the foundation of a respectable scholarship, which enabled him to pursue so intelligently his future studies in connection with his ministry that, subsequently, the Faculty and Trustee of the University felt justified in conferring upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. He was married in 1857 to Maria Lee, of Huron county, who survives, with five children, one of whom is also a minister, and represents the third generation of the same line in succession in the same Conference. During the Civil War, Warner served as chaplain of the 3rd Ohio Cavalry and was on the field of Shiloh; but the exposure in the service being too severe for a constitution not naturally robust, he secured his discharge, but had already laid the foundation of the disease to which, after heroic struggle for years, he had, at last, to yield….”

At least one other letter of Warner’s is known to exist which is housed in the collections at Western Michigan University Archives. The letter was written on 24 March 1862 (two weeks before the Battle of Shiloh) and is summarized as follows by the curator:

It is filled with general news. He talks about that the regiment may be on the way further south. Warner had been sick but felt better. He had stopped at the house of a widow and five daughters who helped him even though all their friends had been in the Confederacy. He reported that the ladies, “…don’t know anything about cooking.” He stated that he had not heard from her in almost four weeks and “…give me at least the scratch of your pen…” The small addition dated March 27 states that Warner is homesick and wants to go home to see his wife.

See also: Solomon Shoman, Troop I, 3rd Ohio Cavalry (Union/3 Letters)

Three troopers from the 3rd Ohio Cavalry and two dressed in Civilian clothes; the civilian at right almost looks like he could be Rev. Warner. (Library of Congress)


Headquarters 3rd Ohio Cavalry
Woodville, Alabama
July 18, 1862

Dear Resister,

We are now with two battalions of one regiment about twenty miles northeast from Huntsville near Woodville Station on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. We came here for the purpose of ferreting out some guerrilla and bushwhacking bands who infest the mountains in this vicinity. Lieut. Col. [Douglas A.] Murray is in command, Col. [Lewis] Zahm having gone home on leave. The first battalion under command of Major Foster is with the division near Winchester.

Much hard scouting has been done by the men over a rough mountainous country, scarcely passable for cavalry. A great many prisoners have been taken, some of whom confess to belonging to the bushwhackers. There are several companies of these desperadoes as near as we can discern who are ranging through these mountains shooting down straggling soldiers and Union men adn watching every opportunity of pouncing upon trains and small parties of troops. A man by the name of Harris was captured the other day who confessed to having been one of the party who captured four sutler teams a few days since with all the goods and to have participated in eating & drinking some of these stores. One of the teams belonged to Mr. Drennan, sutler of the 64th Ohio Volunteers. A force is going out today who think they have track of the wagons and teams.

Two or three nights ago our pickets were attacked by a small force but were almost immediately repulsed by the watchful sentinels. The alarm was instantly given in camp and although the men were mostly asleep, it was but the work of a minute for them to get out in line ready to receive the enemy. The general desire was to see them come and I think from the position we hold that our men would have cordially received a force even greatly superior to our own but they chose not to come.

I do not think that there is any considerable force anywhere in this region of country but the guerrilla warfare has fairly opened and the manner in which it is carried on is disgraceful to any civilized nation and the villainy and deception practiced [by] them is without a parallel. Nearly all claim to be Union men in our presence, but when inquired of among the bushwhackers, they know nothing and never ever heard of such things. When we go to find those who do engage in this work, we find them quietly working in their fields apparently as innocent as the unborn but no sooner do we leave them than they join the gang again. They can lie and put on the most perfect air of innocence of any persons I ever saw. I don’t believe the devil in hell can begin to match them.

Quite a number of persons have been shot recently in this neighborhood by these pretended Union men. While we were encamped at Decatur, two men from Co. A were bringing in three prisoners when they were fired upon from the bushes, killing one of them—Jacob Bauman. The other made his escape into camp. One of the prisoners was said to be killed [and] the other two escaped. Such are almost daily occurrences.

Now the question arises then, [how] ought we to deal with such villains and murderers? I need not answer this question. All true loyal hearts will unite in saying deal severely with them—punish them as their crimes deserve. Let me propound a few other questions which your readers may have to think of. Is it right while passing through a country like this to afford every protection to the property of those who have brought upon us this cruel war—who have done and are doing all in their power to sustain and carry it on to the bitter end?

Is it right after our soldiers have been on a hard march in the heat and dust to compel them to stand guard over the premises of those who would take their life if they dared and if perchance that soldier who thus gives protection, when hungry, should take a few onions, apples, or a chicken, even if he should be arrested and punished in a brutal savage manner?

More, is it right to place our brave soldiers upon half rations and give or sell the other half to secessionists? Yet all these things are done. Knowing this, what should be the voice of the people? What should they demand? I leave them to answer and to say whether it is for this purpose they have given up their loved ones.

We had hoped that ere this, this dreadful war would have been brought to a close but still it lingers and will until rebels and secessionists are treated as they deserve. May that change in the conduct of this war for which we have so long looked soon come, that we may again hope for an end of these things.

Yours truly, – E. Y. Warner