It all started back on the fifth day of April, 1981. I was hunting Athens High School in Athens, Alabama not far from Huntsville. I remember hunting under a row of large sycamore trees and receiving a signal which I thought was going to be a silver quarter. After digging down four inches I retrieved an object in the shape of a shield. On the back was a clasp which crumbled to pieces from being in the ground so long. It had to be made of silver because it came out of the ground so shiny. On the front I could make out the letters: C. Myers above a "B" with crossed swords with IV.V.C and War of 1861. At the time I only guessed that it was a civil war relic. As the photograph shows, it cleaned up very well for using just a toothbrush and water.
During the winter of 1981 I wrote to Treasure magazine along with a rubbing and they identified it as a Civil War Identification Tag. It was sold by jewelers to departing serviceman and available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials. As the conflict dragged on into succeeding years and casualties mounted beyond anyone's worst nightmares, the legend (War of 1861) on the shield probably became a haunting reminder of that naiveté for the soldier who owned it and we would guess, often brought a grim smile to his face. In 1982 edition of Treasure, a relic hunter from Tennessee wrote about what a rare find it was and that it was valued around $125. Again in July of 1982, a Phil Myers wrote to Treasure to have them forward a letter to me. Phil thought it might have belonged to his great-grandfather Cyrus Myers, a civil war veteran. Phil could never come up with positive evidence and correspondence was lost over the years. Well Phil, your guess was exactly right. His name was Cyrus Myers!
My research actually got started by accident. I was reading a chapter in the Information Please Almanac 1985 titled "Executive Departments and Agencies", not exactly your number one bestseller type of reading. But, in there I noticed a paragraph under the General Services Administration (GSA) describing its activities. The National Archives and Records Service was listed as one of their activities. Since it included their address I wrote them a letter along with a rubbing asking for any information on this soldier. Approximately six weeks later I received a response and it was overwhelming to say the least. The soldier was identified as Cyrus Myers of Company B, 4th Volunteer Cavalry from Pennsylvania. A Yankee from my home state. They also sent me a copy of his enlistment papers. Now I had some background information on this soldier.
Cyrus was born August 15th, 1846 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. He was a laborer and signed a Declaration of Recruit on 29 February 1864 in the city of Meadville, Pennsylvania. He was 18 years of age, had hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion. His height was 5 feet 8 inches. His enlistment officer was a Capt. D. L. Dickerson, the Provost Marshal of the 20th District, Pennsylvania. His examining surgeon was S.S. Bates also from the 20th district. The National Archives also informed me that his military record and the record of the 4th Volunteer Cavalry was available for a price of $5.00 each. Total was $11.68 with shipping and handling. I sent off for the rest of his record that afternoon. Again, about six weeks later I received the documents.
On the 2nd of March 1864, Cyrus Myers was mustered in the Union Army and life as a recruit began. The 4th Volunteer Cavalry Commander was a Col. S.B.M. Young. B Company Commander was a Capt. James H. Grenite. Exactly 24 days later Cyrus was admitted to a hospital for typhoid and pneumonia. His medical record list his age as 17. It also lists a relative named Nelson Myers of Middle Lancaster. His father perhaps? He returned to duty on 15 July 1864. What a way to start out military life! For some reason his name appears on the Descriptive List of Deserters on 2 July 1864. No reasons are listed as to why but it is obvious that he was in the hospital. During this time period his company was camped at Turkey Run Station near Warrenton, Virginia. This was during January and February of 1864. In March and April his company moved to Muntien Run, Virginia and during May and June they were located at Prince George Court House, Virginia. During July and August of 1864 they are listed as being "Camped in the Field", no location given. Cyrus Myers is now among them.
The company muster roll for October, November, and December 1864 shows station of company as "Before Petersburg, Va." This would place Cyrus in the Eastern Theater, Siege of Petersburg. The Record of Events as recorded by a copyist named Calloway state: On the 1st of December 1864 this company was with the Regiment at the action of Stony Creek, Va. and in the engagement had 1 sergeant killed and 2 corporals wounded. The company was with the Regiment on General Warren raid on the Weldon Railroad in December. No casualties, distance traveled 200 miles. During January and February of 1865 the company muster roll shows station of company at the same location...before Petersburg, Va. The record of events as again recorded by copyist Calloway state: "During the months of January and February the company was in the engagement of Hatchers Run, Va. the average distance traveled with scouts and pickets 100 miles".
Listed in the Civil War Almanac under the date 7 February 1865 it states: "In the third day of action around Hatchers Run, south of Petersburg, Union troops fall back from the Boydton Plank road after Confederate reinforcements arrive on the scene. In three days, the Union troops have succeeded in extending their lines to Hatchers Run at the Vaughan Road crossing. the movement cost the North 1512 casualties. Southern casualties during the action are unreported." Cyrus Myers is still with us.
The company muster roll for March and April of 1865 again shows them near Petersburg and Calloway again writes in the record of events: "During the months of March and April the company was engaged in the campaign which commenced at Dinwiddie Court House March 31, 1865 and ended at Appomattox Court House by the surrender of General Lee and the army of Northern Virginia. Casualties 2 men wounded." On April 9th, General Lee surrendered and the rest is history. Cyrus Myers is now a veteran of the Civil War.
Cyrus Myers appears on the Company Muster out Roll. He is listed as a Private and still only 18 years old. His muster out date is 1 July 1865. Military service for Cyrus is now completed. So now I have a Civil War Identification tag with all the documented history that goes with it. Funny thing is, I cannot figure out how his I.D. tag ended up in Athens, Alabama. The furthermost south his company traveled was Virginia, which was a long way from Meadville, Pa. when you are on foot. No record of events were supplied for March through July of 1865 so it could be anyone's guess. Recent correspondence with his family also indicates that Cyrus was never in Alabama, making it even more of a mystery. Cyrus moved to Cherry Fork (Adams County) Ohio after the war and passed away on January 3rd, 1905.
Chronology of Events for Pvt. Cyrus Myers.
History of the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry.
A special thanks to Ann Williams (Cyrus's Great Granddaughter) and Beverly Schwartzkopf (Cyrus's Great-Great Granddaughter) for providing information on Cyrus.
NOTE: I did find this interesting piece of information. Eugene B. Beaumont, Major and Assistant Adjutant General, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Mississippi entered service at Wilkes Barre, Pa. Birth: Luzerne County, Pa. If Major Beaumont enlisted in Luzerne County, he would have been in Company M, 4th Cavalry. He received the Medal of Honor. Citation: At Harpeth River, Tenn., 17 December 1864; at Selma, Ala., 2 April 1865. Obtained permission from the corps commander to advance upon the enemy's position with the 4th U.S. Cavalry, of which he was a lieutenant; led an attack upon a battery, dispersed the enemy, and captured the guns. At Selma, Ala., charged, at the head of his regiment, into the second and last line of the enemy's works. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. This could certainly explain how Cyrus Myers identification tag wound up in Athens, Alabama. Selma is about 180 miles due south of Athens.
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