Every now and again, I like to feature unknown and forgotten cavalrymen. This is one of those opportunities.
Seymour Beach Conger was born in Plymouth, Huron County, Ohio on September 25, 1825. His brother Everton Judson Conger was born in Montorse, Pennsylvania on April 25, 1834. With the coming of war in 1861, the Conger brothers both ended up with commissions in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry (USA), which later became known as the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry. Only one squadron (2 companies) of the 3rd West Virginia typically served with the Army of the Potomac.
By the fall of 1862, Everton was a captain and Seymour was a lieutenant. On October 25, 1862, Everton led 30 troopers on a scouting expedition in the vicinity of Bristoe Station on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, and was badly wounded. The next day, Capt. Ulric Dahlgren led a mission to try to find out what had happened to Everton Conger, and Dahlgren found Conger with four serious wounds. Dahlgren made it back, reported Everton Conger’s location, and the captain was located and brought back safely.
After recovering, Everton Conger ended up receiving a commission in the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry, serving as its lieutenant colonel. In that capacity, Conger worked closely with Lafayette Baker, the regimental colonel and head of Lincoln’s secret service. After Lincoln’s assassination, Everton Conger led the cavalry expedition that ultimately captured David Herrold and that brought John Wilkes Booth to bay, so that Boston Corbitt could fire the shot that killed Booth. Conger lived to the ripe old age of 82, dying on July 12, 1918.
Even though he was only 31 years of age when he caught Booth, 63-year-old Harrison Ford is set to play him in a feature film that is supposed to be released in 2007 titled Manhunt. While I’m a big fan of Ford, I’m very skeptical about his ability to play a man half his age convincingly. We shall see. At the same time, it is kind of exciting to see a good Civil War story being given the “star” treatment. I just wish that they had chosen someone closer to Conger’s age to play him.
After Everton Conger was wounded, his brother Seymour received a promotion and ended up commanding the squadron of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry that was part of Col. Thomas C. Devin’s First Cavalry Division brigade. In that role, Conger’s men performed good duty at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. On August 7, 1864, Seymour Conger died of combat wounds suffered in action.
The Conger brothers are largely forgotten to this day. I’m glad that Everton’s role in bringing Booth to bay will be played up in Manhunt. Because there was only a single squadron of the 3rd West Virginia attached to the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, Seymour never got much of a chance to make a name for himself, but his service was dutiful and competent.
Here’s to two horse soldiers who are deserving of recognition.Scridb filter