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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

News From The Past

Colorado Springs Telegraph
October 5, 1921

 

 

Winner of Congressional Medal of Honor
in Civil War Wrote Story before Death

Dockum Funeral Held Today; Story of Exploit is Told

Winner of Congressional Medal of Honor in Civil War Wrote Story Before Death, Telling of Stirring Days; All G.A.R. and Allied Bodies Turn Out for Funeral

Before Warren C. Dockum, Colorado Springs Civil war hero, who died Sunday night, was stricken with paralysis, he sat down and wrote the story of his exploits for the G.A.R. records in this city. This was carefully preserved and "The Telegraph" was given permission of the family to present the document today. Mr. Dockum is the only Civil War veteran in the state with the Congressional Medal, and his decoration in the presence of President Lincoln, was one of the few that the emancipator ever attended. The funeral of Mr. Dockum is being held this afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from the Fairley mortuary, the Rev. Samuel Garvin officiating. The G.A.R. and affiliated orders are in charge. 

Mr. Dockum's story follows:

"My father died in New Haven, Conn., at the age of 87 and my mother died at the same place at the age of 79. If they were alive today, they would have 32 grand and great-grandchildren. I was the seventh one of the flock and at the age of 17, I with three of my school chums ran away from school and enlisted in Company E, Sixteenth New York volunteers. We were sent to Albany, and there we were put thru the drill of transformation of a school boy to soldier ready for the field of battle. After drilling one week we would go to the commanding officer and ask when he was going to send us to the front, fearing that the war would soon be over and we would never see a battle. 

"He would say, 'Don't worry, you will get there soon enough to get all the fighting you want.' At last our turn came and 450 of us landed in Balemare at 8 o'clock in the evening. After a supper of black coffee, bread and meat we made our beds on the sidewalk. 

"In the night a telegram came to forward all troops to Harper's Ferry as soon as possible. At 4 A.M. we were loaded into box cars and whirled away to Harper's Ferry with two locomotives. We arrived there at 2:30 P.M. and thence went by formed march to the battlefield of Antietam. We arrived there at 6 o'clock tired and hungry with not a thing to eat. After some red tape we got a ration of hardtack and salt pork, but there was not a frying pan in the bunch. However we cut large slices of pork and broiled it over the coals and with the appetite of youth it was a feast for kings. 

"But the battle of Antietam was on and the next morning we received our guns, 60 rounds of ammunition and three days' rations and then went to the front. It was then that I wished I was at home in my little bed. 

"It was a hotly contested battle and the day was ours. From that time on I was in every engagement in which my regiment participated up to and including the battle of Chancellorsville in which I was wounded in the leg by a shell and taken prisoner. The same day Stonewall Jackson was shot. As we passed by the house where he lay wounded, a little boy came out and told the officer in command of the prisoners that Stonewall was dying. The officer said, 'Tut! Tut! He is better than a dozen dead men.' 

"I was taken to Richmond and placed in the old tobacco warehouse commonly known as Libbey Prison. There we received a small loaf of baker's bread and a small piece of meat for 24 hours ration. We had city water for coffee. There were 300 of us prisoners. We remained in Libbey prison about six weeks and then were transferred to Belle Island which is close to Richmond. While there I felt for the only time in my three years' service that I would never see my Mammy again. We had white sand for a bed, our shoes for a pillow and the blue dome of heaven for a cover. Our rations were the same as in Libbey prison excepting that we had river water instead of city. 

"At the end of six weeks on the island we were exchanged and after marching a day we reached a steamboat landing and there, lo and behold, were five steamboats, each with Old Glory flung to the breeze. There was a hearty welcome to the returning prisoners and such a yell went out of those 3,000 throats as would make the welkin ring. As we were counted and passed on to the boat 100 waiters with quart cups of hot coffee and a large slice of bread and boiled ham as large as a man's hand came to us saying, 'Don't eat too much, you can have some more in three hours.' We didn't do a thing to that lunch and had five of them that day. Many of the boys were weak and sick from overeating, but there were doctors who tenderly cared for them. 

"We landed at Fort Monroe and from there the wounded were sent to the hospital at David's Island, N.Y. harbor. I remained there until I was in shape to return to my regiment. When I arrived General Grant was in command of all the United States forces and there was something doing all the time. I will not enter into the details of the various engagements, as it would take too long. Suffice it to say that we fought a three days' battle at Petersburg, having captured three forts at one charge and taking possession of Petersburg the morning of the third. 

"On our way to the city, President Lincoln came along riding a large brown horse and holding his stove pipe hat in his hand. He had a broad grin on his face. He did not seem to have any fear, as he had a loyal body guard of 75,000 troops. 

"After taking possession of Petersburg we pulled out for Richmond. We had marched about five miles when he learned that Richmond was evacuated and Lee was on the retreat to Farmville, N.C. We pulled out after him by forced marches and overtook his army at Sailor Creek. There he made a stand in the timber on elevated ground. Grant and Sheridan were there to direct that fight. We charged the hill twice and were repulsed with considerable loss. At the third charge we broke their line in the center.


 

"At that charge I captured a battle flag of the Savannah Volunteer guards, and old organization of 1802. The flag was new and this was the first battle it had been in. My colonel told me to take the flag with me wherever I went. The next day I was ordered by General Grant to carry the flag at the head of the army. Then I wished I had never seen the flag. 

"After crowding Lee for a few days more we had him well boxed up and he surrendered. Then I was sent to Washington to present the flag to Edwin M. Stanton, secretary of war. I arrived in Washington four days after Lincoln was assassinated and he lay in state at the capitol. I took the flag to the secretary of war and as I handed it to him the tears rolled down his cheeks. He said, 'Our president has been assassinated and the city is in an uproar. You go to a hotel and wait until further orders.' He wrote on a card to the landlord saying, 'Take good care of this young man. (Signed) Edwin M. Stanton.' He also gave me a pass to go anywhere in the city. 

"Four days later I was ordered to report at the war office at 9 o'clock. I arrived there to the minute in my old army clothes just as I had come off the battlefield with the exception of having polished my buttons and brushed my shoes. On entering the war office I saw that the room was full. The president's cabinet and their wives, many officers and their wives and several young girls were there. The secretary of war introduced me as the young man that captured the flag which he held in his hand. They all came forward and took my hand and made some nice remarks. Then the secretary made a little talk and then asked me to tell how I captured the flag. Our corps adjutant general spoke up and said he was an eye witness to the capture and perhaps he could tell the story better than the young man. The secretary said, 'Very well.' 

"The adjutant told of the battle, that three of us had started to get the flag and that two were killed. Then a little girl presented me with a large bouquet. The secretary told me to report to him the next morning at 9 o'clock. After getting out on the sidewalk I would look at my old clothes and then look at the bouquet and was really ashamed to carry it along the street. However I went to my hotel and as soon as I could I gave it to the landlord's little daughter.

"The next morning I reported at the war office. The secretary would always shake hands with a private and treat him royally but was very gruff with officers. He asked me if I would like to have a furlough and go home. I told him I would like to go but that I had no money. He asked me how much I would want and I told him it would take $100. He said, 'You shall have it,' and then wrote a card 'Pay the bearer, W.C. Dockum, $100. (Signed) Edwin M. Stanton..' He then wrote on another card, 'Pass bearer, W.C. Dockum anywhere he wants to go.' He told me to go and to have a good time and to report to him in 30 days. 

"I fixed myself ;up and pulled out for New York state. The first conductor that I showed my pass to said, 'Go where you damn please, young man.' It proved good on all lines of travel. 

"Thirty days later I reported to the war office. At that time Sherman's army was on the way home and he was to pass in review in front of the White House. A grandstand was erected in front of the White House for the president and other notables. Stanton had treated me so nicely I was getting quite checky and told him that I would like to have a seat on the grandstand to view the parade. He said, 'You shall have a good seat,' and gave me a ticket. 

"The United States Congress gave me a Medal of Honor for capturing the flag, which I have at the present time. 

"A few days later my regiment came to Washington and I joined them. We went to Albany and were mustered out. On arriving home the citizens gave all the returned soldiers a banquet and dance. 

"Soon after I went to New Haven where I made some money. Then I put out for Kansas, and bought a ranch and went into the stock business. I was caught there in the grasshopper year. I sold out and went into the cattle business in Dickens County, Texas 130 miles from the nearest town. Neighbors were 75 miles away. There I established my Texas ranch surrounded by millions of acres of find grass land in a beautiful valley. There was not a living human being except 23 Indians and three white men who were working for me. The next year the stock men had heard of that country and they poured in there with their large herds of cattle from 5,000 to 20,000 in a bunch and took up the country for 40 miles around. Then I got busy and put up a store and established a postal route of 130 miles. I was appointed postmaster and also got the mail contract which I hauled out one in 10 days on my freight wagons for $1,700 a year. 

"In nine years the country was quite well settled and we organized the county. I was elected county judge and by virtue of that office I was county superintendent of public instruction with five counties attached for judicial purposes. We built a $10,000 court house and a $5,000 jail. 

"A little later, I lost my beloved wife. She was a fine musician, a beautiful singer and altogether a lovely woman. Texas then had no charm for me and my two sons, Charles and Chester, and myself took up a stock ranch on Turkey Creek, 20 miles east of Colorado Springs in the state of Colorado. 

"My son Charles is married and has three children and my son Chester is married and has two children. My daughter Grace married Dr. E. Hadley. They have two children and are living in Colorado Springs.

Respectfully, 
Warren C. Dockum, E. 
16th N.Y. Volunteers and Co. H., 121st N.Y. Volunteers

 

 

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