Obituary Found for PVT Seeley E. Mensch

Finding a few new sources regarding the Action at Greenbrier River seems to have opened the floodgates, as I’ve now also discovered an obituary for Private Seeley E. Mensch, who was mortally wounded in the ambush. The obituary, posted on his Find a Grave page, contains a detailed account by a surgeon of the 14th Indiana Regiment who tended to Mensch’s wounds.

I had difficulty finding information about Pvt. Mensch because The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. 1 misspelled his name “Seelay C. Minch”. Although he was referred to as Mensch or Mench in the newspaper articles, I assumed the Official Roster had the correct spelling. I guess there’s a lesson somewhere in there.

According to the surgeon, who was probably Joseph G. McPheeters of Bloomington, Indiana, the seven-man patrol from Burdsall’s Dragoons were fired on from a bluff while grazing their horses near a creek. One of the survivors returned to camp and a wagon and body of soldiers from the 14th Indiana returned to the ambush site.

Seeley Mensch was shot through the small of his back, paralyzing his leg. The surgeon didn’t think he would live, and Mensch reportedly told him, “Doctor, I am not afraid to die–I am prepared to die. There is only one thing I regret–being shot in the back, but we did not know we were so near an enemy.”

Mensch died at 3:30am on the 20th of July and was buried in a temporary grave. He was later re-interred in Grafton National Cemetery in Grafton, West Virginia.

It’s incredible how much information I’ve been able to find about this small Civil War action in Pocahontas County. In contrast with the Skirmish at Bowman’s Place, which has wildly conflicting accounts, the descriptions of what happened have been mostly consistent across every newspaper article. I’m fairly confident I can piece together an accurate narrative.

2 thoughts on “Obituary Found for PVT Seeley E. Mensch

  1. You might find this article of interest: THE FOURTEENTH INDIANA REGIMENT ON CHEAT MOUNTAIN
    Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 29, No. 4 (DECEMBER, 1933), pp. 350-371 (22 pages)

    It is a series of letters from July 1861 to October 1861.


    1. Great find, thank you! He does briefly mention this incident, says it happened “18 miles east.” Cheat Mountain summit was 8 miles away from them, so the ambush was about 10 miles east of there, which is fairly consistent with what I’ve read elsewhere. I believe the ambush happened somewhere north of Durbin, WV.


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