Everett W. Anderson, Co. K, 4th Pennsylvania Reserves

Researched and Written by Douglas Mooney

Everett Wesley Anderson was born on July 12, 1839 in Schuylkill Township, Chester County. The sixth of nine children born to Joseph Everett and Rebecca M. (nee Workheizer) Anderson, he grew up on the family farm outside Phoenixville and developed a reputation as a passionate horseman and a hard-riding foxhunter. These skills, in particular, would one day serve him well during the Civil War.

At the outbreak of the war, Everett volunteered for service in the army, and was mustered into Company K, 4th P.R.V.C. in Harrisburg on July 17, 1861. His enlistment papers describe his as being 20 years of age, standing 5 feet 7 ½ inches tall, with a “sandy” complexion, sandy hair, and blue eyes. After being outfitted and completing initial training at Camp Washington, in Easton, the Regiment moved south to Maryland, and then to Camp Pierpont, in northern Virginia. Sometime in the fall of that year Anderson seriously injured one of his arms. While the exact nature and circumstances of the wound is unknown, it was severe enough to make him unfit for duty, and ultimately to get him discharged from further military service. In letter to his wife written in early December 1861, Lt. Nathan A. Pennypacker of Company K noted that, “Everett Anderson’s discharge is in Washington being approved, and I suppose will be here soon. His arm is useless.” Writing again a few days later, Pennypacker further stated that, “Anderson’s arm was worse than the Dr. thought it was, and he did not attend to it as it should [have] been.”

Everett received his discharge from Company K on December 16, 1861, and afterward returned home to recuperate. He spent the next 10 months recovering from his injury, but finally seems to have regained full use of his arm and once again felt the need to volunteer his services to the army. On October 9, 1862 Everett re-enlisted, this time in Company D of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry [also known variously as the Anderson Cavalry, Anderson Troop, Buell’s Guards, and the 160th Pennsylvania Volunteers], under the command of Colonel [later General] William J. Palmer. On March 1, 1863, Anderson was transferred to Company M of the 15th Cavalry and received a promotion to Corporal, and on June 9th of that same year was promoted to Sergeant. With the 15th Cavalry, Anderson saw action in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama, and was involved in the battles of Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, among others.

His most notable service with the 15th Cavalry occurred in January 1864, when his unit engaged the enemy at Crosby’s Creek, Tennessee. At the tail end of that encounter Anderson was responsible for capturing Confederate Brigadier General Robert B. Vance and members of his staff. In recognition of this action, on December 3, 1894 Anderson was awarded this nation’s highest decoration – the Congressional Medal of Honor. The citation for his CMOH read in full: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Everett W. Anderson, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 14 January 1864, while serving with Company M, 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, in action at Crosby’s Creek, Tennessee. Sergeant Anderson captured, single-handed, Confederate Brigadier General Robert B. Vance during a charge upon the enemy.” A more detailed account of his exploits in capturing General Vance is provided below:

After the battle of Chickamauga, the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry was sent out to the Sequatchie Valley to forage for the relief of the Army of the Cumberland, penned up at Chattanooga. On the 14th of January, 1864, while campaigning along the French Broad River, word was received that General Robert B. Vance had captured a wagon train of Union supplies at Sevierville, besides 200 infantrymen and numerous Union citizens, and that he was retreating towards Ashville. Colonel William I. Palmer, commanding the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, started after Vance, whose passage being blocked by large trees thrown across the road by Northern sympathizers, was soon overtaken. Colonel Palmer detailed a party of twenty men to charge through the enemy’s rear, which was done successfully, and then the general charge followed, resulting in a total surprise of the enemy and the recapture of all the property. A small squad commanded by Sergeant Everett W. Anderson, of Company M, was looking after the wounded, and thereby became scattered. Thus it happened that Sergeant Anderson, while dismounted and caring for the wounded, had his attention called by a comrade, to the approach of five Confederates. Quickly mounting his horse, Anderson wheeled about and faced General Vance, two aides and two orderlies. Covering the General with his revolver, Anderson demanded their surrender. Seeing that his captor was fingering the trigger of his gun suggestively, General Vance threw his revolver to the ground, at the same time objecting to surrendering to an enlisted man. He said that he would surrender only to a commissioned officer. Anderson thought differently, however, and completed the capture of the five men before his comrades had reached the prisoners and their keeper. News of a capture brought Colonel Palmer to the scene, and saluting, he extended his hand with: I am happy to meet you, General Vance.” The reply of the prisoner was: “Much more so than I am, under the circumstances.”

Anderson was mustered out of the 15th Cavalry on June 21, 1865, and returned home to Chester County. In 1868 he married a local girl named Sarah Ann Williams, and in subsequent years established a fine large farm in Charlestown Township, just outside of Phoenixville. After the war, he regularly attended reunions of the 15th Cavalry in Philadelphia and Colorado Springs, and at one such event was praised by his former commanding officer, Col. Palmer, as “the most recklessly daring man he had ever seen.” Anderson remained in the Phoenixville area until his death, at age 77, on Febrary 4, 1917. He is buried next to his wife in Morris Cemetery in Phoenixville.


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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.