Letter written by former Major Frank S. Bond, Aide-de-campe on the staff of Major General William S. Rosecrans, from NY. Bond is responding to a request from Louis Garesche who is writing a biography of his father, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, who was Rosecran’s Chief of Staff. Bond was with Garesche on the day of his death. He was riding behind the Lieutenant Colonel and Major General Rosecrans when they came within range of Confederate artillery near Stones River. Lieutenant Colonel Garesche was hit in the head with a Hotchkiss Shell. The Lieutenant Colonel’s body was originally buried in the field, but was disinterred a few days later so the remains could be sent to Nashville. Unfortunately Bond is unable to provide information in regards to a headboard marking Garesche’s grave. He directs Garesche to a Major Skinner if he has any more questions, as Skinner was also present when Lieutenant Colonel Garesche died.
58 West 23rd Street, New York.
January 2nd, 1885
Louis Garesche Esq.,
P. O. Box, 550, Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir: –
I am in receipt of your letter of December 28th, asking for any information I may have as to the circumstances attending the death of your father, the late COL. Julius P. Garesche.
My knowledge concerning the death of that gallant officer is limited to what I saw. I was attached to General Rosencrans Staff as Aide-de-Camp, and was riding just behind your father at the time he was shot. General Rosencrans and Col. Garesche were riding together, then came Maj. Skinner and myself, then the other members of the Staff, and after them a few Orderlies and an Escort Company.
While riding across a cotton-field, we came within range of two or three batteries of Artillery, posted upon an elevation on the opposite side of Stone River. The Commanding Officer of the Battery seeing a General Officer with Staff within easy range, brought his guns to bear upon us, and for a short time we were under a very heavy Artillery fire.
Among the guns in the Battery, were some Rifled Cannon, carrying what is known as the “Hotchkiss Shell,” having a conical
solid head. The solid part of one of those Hotchkiss Shells struck your father squarely on the temple, carrying away all that part of his head above the chin.
For an instant I did not realize what had occurred, as the body preserved its equilibrium in the saddle while the horse continued in motion at rather a fast walk, but it very shortly leaned towards the left, taking the horse out of the line, and then fell from the saddle to the ground.
I immediately looked for the Sergeant of the Orderlies, whose place was on the side of the column near to where I was riding, but he had also been shot in the thigh, probably by one of the bullets from the same shell when it exploded.
I then called an Orderly, pointed out the body, and told him to see that it was cared for, so that it could be found after the battle, and then rode alongside of Gen. Rosencrans and told him what had occurred, that Col. Garesche was killed. The Gen. was at the time so much engrossed in watching the movements of the enemy that he was not aware that his Chief of Staff had been struck.
In the evening, or next day, it was reported that the body had been buried on the field, near where he fell, in or near what was reported as a private burying ground.
A few days afterwards, the body was disinterred, I was
present at the time, and helped to identify it, by the blanket in which it had been wrapped, and by his chin and goatee, the balance of his face having been carried away by the shot. The remains were then sent to Nashville.
These are my recollections of the matter. I shall never forget the shock and impressions made upon my by your father’s death, and the sight of his apparently headless body maintaining its pose in the saddle for a few seconds after he was killed.
I knew Col. Garesche but slightly. I had been presented to him by Gen. Rosencrans, two or three days before the advance of our army from Nashville that resulted in the battle of Stone River, but as the army was under marching orders, no opportunity was offered for social intercourse among the Officers.
I recollect his demeanor as being calm and cool on the morning of the battle, and that he took from his pocket a small religious book, and spent a few moments in reading it, while we were dismounted for a few a moments, quite early on that or the preceding morning. This unusual incident in my limited experience among Staff Officers, impressed itself very distinctly upon my memory.
In reply to your question as to the head board, I can only say I have no distinct recollection as to it, other than the report that a mark had been placed at the spot where he was first buried. I think that two or three bodies were disinterred be-
fore we found the right one, but when it was found, it was identified beyond all question, both by myself and others who were present.
Among those with whom Col. Garesche was associated, when I knew him, he was esteemed a most brave and gallant Officer, and always a courteous and pleasant gentleman, and I well know the regard and esteem in which he was held by his Commanding Officer Gen. Rosencrans, as well as by all others of his Staff, most whom had known him longer than I.
That the fortunes of war should have removed from so responsible a position, a soldier so capable and so useful as was Col. Julius P. Garesche, is one of those mysterious events occasionally occurring, that lead one to almost doubt the wisdom of an Over-ruling Providence.
I would suggest, that, if you have not already done so, you write a note to Major Skinner, now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, who at the time was Judge Advocate on Ge. Rosencrans’ Staff, as he can perhaps give you additional information, having been, as I was, a witness to the manner of your father’s death, and he will of course be able to correct any errors in this statement, which is made altogether from memory after more than 20 years since the occurrence. If I recollect rightly, Major Skinner was looking directly at Col. Garesche when he was struck.
I believe I have answered all the inquiries of your letter.
I am very glad to know that Biography of so gallant an Officer is in course of preparation. If intended for general circulation, I shall be greatly obliged if you will let me know where a copy can be obtained.
Frank S. Bond
Frank Stuart Bond was born in MA on February 1, 1863. He was living in NY when he enrolled in Company B of the 10th CT Infantry as a 1st Lieutenant on March 27, 1862. He was formally appointed Major, A.D.C. on General Rosencrans’ Staff March 11, 1863 but was already serving in that capacity during the Battle of Stones River. He resigned November 18, 1864 and lived in NY and CT. He died February 26, 1912 and is buried in New London County, CT.
Julius Peter Garesche came from Cuba. He was appointed to the US Military Academy at West Point, NY in July of 1837. He graduated 16th in his class and became a 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th US Artillery on July 1, 1841. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant June 18, 1846; brevetted Captain November 9, 1855; brevetted Major May 14, 1861; promoted to Major August 3, 1861; and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel July 17, 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Stones River by a Hotchkiss Shell to the skull December 31, 1862. His son Louis Garesche published the Biography of Lieutenant Colonel Julius P. Garesche in 1887.