“J. B. Wasson, an old timer and an old soldier, died last night at his home at Shoemaker,” New Mexico, reported the Las Vegas Optic on December 1,1900. James Buchanan Wasson, nearly 72 years of age, was an old timer and yes, an old soldier. He was one of the original volunteers of an independent Colorado company that came to be known as Company “B,” Second Regiment, Colorado Volunteer Cavalry.-Las Vegas Optic, Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Wasson died at his Cherry Valley home near Shoemaker, New Mexico, the evening of November 29, 1900. He was laid to rest next to his wife Cleta, who preceded him in death. Their burial site is in the Cherry Valley Cemetery.
James Buchanan Wasson, or James B. Wasson as he signed his name, was the great grandfather of my wife, Carol Jean (Doneff) Mahan.
The story of the marches and battles that Wasson and Colorado’s first volunteer company had in the War of the Rebellion is exciting to read and appreciate. From their first battle at Valverde, New Mexico, to the final shots fired at Newtonia, Missouri, the entire Civil War experience of this particular company and its regiment is one of heroism. “Their noble deeds will ever live in the page of history,” reported the Rocky Mountain News on March 12, 1863.
In 1909, at the unveiling of “a dismounted cavalryman,” a statue on the grounds of the State Capital in Denver, Colorado, the following comments were presented. “The Second regiment under Col. Jim Ford became a tornado when the border land of Missouri and Kansas was invaded … Some day a historian will write of the men and boys of Colorado and the Rocky mountains in the early ‘60s and will tell what they did in the bloody conflict that we call the Civil War – will tell how their valor saved half a continent to the Union, the richest half, in precious metals and fertile acres.”-The Denver Post, July 25, 1909.
To tell that story, the material that follows has been compiled from numerous sources, such as letters, diaries and records of the participants and observers, along with newspaper accounts and military reports. It is not a novel but a story of historical accuracy. Many of the quotations are from the United States War Department publication, the War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The Official Records were published in Washington, D.C., between 1880-1901 and contain 128 volumes. They will be referred to in this writing as “OR” along with series, volume and page numbers. Numerous other quotations included are from military documents, gleaned from Company, Regimental and Post Records located in various collections across the country and at the National Archives, Washington, D.C. Three additional accounts are also of merit to those interested in the Colorado Volunteers. They are, Bloody Trails Along the Rio Grande, a diary of Alonzo F. Ickis, a private in Company “B.” Three Years and a Half in the Army, written by Ellen Williams, the wife of the bugler in Company “A.” The third was, “The March of the First, Being a History of the Organization, Marches, Battles and Service of the First Regiment, of Colorado Volunteers.” It was published in 1862 as a pamphlet and expanded in book form in 1863. Ovando J. Hollister, a private in the First Regiment of Colorado Volunteers, is credited as the author of both publications. A reprint was published in 1949 with the title, Boldly They Rode.
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