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Title: Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman - With Custer's Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the Civil War
Author: Kidd, James Harvey, 1840-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: THE AUTHOR]









(All rights reserved)








In preparing this book it has not been the purpose of the author to
write a complete historical sketch of the Michigan cavalry brigade. Such
a history would require a volume as large for the record of each
regiment; and, even then, it would fall short of doing justice to the
patriotic services of that superb organization. The narrative contained
in the following pages is a story of the personal recollections of one
of the troopers who rode with Custer, and played a part--small it is
true, but still a part--in the tragedy of the civil war. As such it is
modestly put forth, with the hope that it may prove to be "an
interesting story" to those who read it. The author also trusts that it
may contribute something, albeit but a little, toward giving Custer's
Michigan cavalrymen the place in the history of their country which they
so richly earned on many fields.

Doubtless many things have been omitted that ought to have been included
and some things written in that it might have been better to leave out.
These are matters of personal judgment and taste, and no man's judgment
is infallible. The chapters have been written in intervals of leisure
during a period of more than twenty years. The one on Cedar Creek
appeared first in 1886; the Gettysburg campaign in 1889; Brandy Station,
Kilpatrick's Richmond expedition, the Yellow Tavern campaign, Buckland
Mills, Hanovertown and Haw's Shop, The Trevilian Raid and some other
portions have been prepared during the current year--1908. While memory
has been the principal guide, the strict historical truth has been
sought and, when there appeared to be a reasonable doubt, the official
records have been consulted, and the writings of others freely drawn
upon to verify these "recollections."

The Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan and H.B. McClellan's Campaigns of Stuart's
Cavalry have been of especial value in this respect; the latter helping
to give both sides of the picture, particularly in the accounts of the
battles of Buckland Mills and Yellow Tavern. Wade Hampton's official
reports were put to similar use in describing the battle of Trevilian

So far as mention is made of individual officers and men there is no
pretense that the list is complete. Those whose names appear in the text
were selected as types. Hundreds of others were equally deserving. The
same remark applies to the portraits. These are representative faces.
The list could be extended indefinitely.

It was intended to include in an appendix a full roster of all the men
who served in the Sixth Michigan cavalry and in the other regiments as
well; but this would have made the book too bulky. By applying to the
adjutant general of Michigan the books published by the state giving the
record of every man who served in either of the regiments in the brigade
can be obtained.

The Roll of Honor--a list of all those who were killed in action, or who
died of wounds received in action--is as complete as it was possible to
make it from the official records. In a very few cases, men who were
reported "missing in action," and of whom no further record could be
found, were assumed to have belonged in the list, but these are not
numerous enough to materially affect the totals.

For the rest, the author cannot claim that he has done justice to either
of these organizations, but he has made an honest effort to be fair and
impartial, to tell the truth as he saw it, without prejudice. How well
he has succeeded is not for him to say. "It is an interesting story,"
said an officer who served with distinction in the Fifth Michigan
cavalry. If that shall be the verdict of all the comrades who read it,
the writer will be satisfied.


CHAPTER                                        PAGE

I A NATIONAL AWAKENING                            1

II AN EVENTFUL WINTER                            12

III RECRUITING IN MICHIGAN                       23

IV THE SUMMER OF 1862                            29

V JOINING THE CAVALRY                            35




IX THE STAY IN WASHINGTON                        79

X FIELD SERVICE IN VIRGINIA                      87

XI IN THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN                   113





XVI THE WILDERNESS CAMPAIGN                     261



XIX HANOVERTOWN AND HAW'S SHOP                  318

XX THE TREVILIAN RAID                           337

XXI IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY                    373

XXII THE BATTLE OF CEDAR CREEK                  403

XXIII A MYSTERIOUS WITNESS                      434

XXIV A MEETING WITH MOSBY                       444


THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN            _Opposite Page 113_

1864                               _Opposite Page 337_

1864                               _Opposite Page 385_


PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR                                  _Frontispiece_

AUSTIN BLAIR                                        _Opposite Page 18_

THORNTON F. BRODHEAD                                        24

JAMES H. KIDD (in 1864)                                     37

JACOB O. PROBASCO                                           41

GEORGE GRAY                                                 51

RUSSELL A. ALGER (in 1862)                                  54

GEORGE A. CUSTER (in 1863)                                 129

GEORGE A. CUSTER (in 1864)                                 132

DAVID MCMUTRIE GREGG                                       139

WILLIAM D. MANN                                            148

GEORGE G. BRIGGS                                           150

LUTHER S. TROWBRIDGE                                       153

CHARLES H. TOWN                                            156

JUDSON KILPATRICK                                          165

AARON CONE JEWETT                                          175

PETER A. WEBER                                             187

CHARLES E. STORRS                                          201

GEORGE A. CUSTER (about 1872)                              211

DON G. LOVELL                                              219

WESLEY MERRITT                                             237

LEVANT W. BARNHART AND WILLIAM HULL                        253

A.C. LITCHFIELD                                            258

ANGELO E. TOWER                                            291

PHILIP H. SHERIDAN                                         297

FITZHUGH LEE AND STAFF (in Cuba)                           313

M.C. BUTLER                                                323

THOMAS W. HILL                                             334

WADE HAMPTON                                               345

MANNING D. BIRGE                                           357

SERGEANT AVERY                                             362

MELVIN BREWER                                              395

CHARLES R. LOWELL                                          411

THOMAS C. DEVIN                                            428







The war cloud that burst upon the country in 1861 was no surprise to
sagacious observers. For many years it had been visible, at times a mere
speck in the sky, again growing larger and more angry in appearance. It
would disappear, sanguine patriots hoped forever, only to come again,
full of dire portent and evil menacings. All men who were not blind saw
it, but most of them trusted, many believed, that it would pass over and
do no harm. Some of those high in authority blindly pinned their faith
to luck and shut their eyes to the peril. Danger signals were set, but
the mariners who were trying to steer the Ship of State, let her drift,
making slight, if any, efforts to put her up against the wind and keep
her off the rocks.

It is likely, however, that the Civil War was one of those things that
had to be; that it was a means used by destiny to shape our ends; that
it was needed to bring out those fine traits of National character
which, up to that time, were not known to exist. Southern blood was hot
and Northern blood was cold. Though citizens of one country, the people
of the North and the people of the South were separated by a wide gulf
in their interests and in their feelings. Doubt had been freely thrown
upon the courage of the men who lived north of Mason and Dixon's line.
The haughty slave owners and slave dealers affected to believe, many of
them did believe, that one southern man could whip five "yankees." It
took four years of war to teach them a different lesson.

It was the old story of highland and lowland feud, of the white rose and
the red rose, of roundhead and cavalier, of foemen worthy of each
other's steel fighting to weld "discordant and belligerent elements"
into a homogeneous whole.

But war is not always an unmixed evil. Sometimes it is a positive good,
and the Nation emerged from its great struggle more united than ever.
The sections had learned to respect each other's prowess and to know
each other's virtues. The cement that bound the union of states was no
longer like wax to be melted by the fervent heat of political strifes.
It had been tested and tempered in the fiery furnace of civil war. The
history of that war often has been written. Much has been written that
is not history. But whether fact or fiction, the story is read with
undiminished interest as the years rush by.

One story there is that has not been told, at least not all of it; nor
will it be until the last of those who took part in that great drama
shall have gone over to the silent majority. It is the story of the
individual experiences of the men who stood in the ranks, or of the
officers who held no high rank; who knew little of plans and strategy,
but bore their part of the burden and obeyed orders. There was no army,
no corps, no division, brigade, or regiment, scarcely a battery, troop,
or company, which went through that struggle, or a soldier who served in
the field "for three years or during the war," whose experiences did not
differ from any other, whose history would not contain many features
peculiar to itself or himself. Two regiments in the same command, two
soldiers in the same regiment, might get entirely different impressions
of the battle in which both participated. Two equally truthful accounts
might vary greatly in their details. What one saw, another might not
see, and each could judge correctly only of what he, himself, witnessed.
This fact accounts, in part, for the many contradictions, which are not
contradictions, in the "annals of the war." The witnesses did not occupy
the same standpoint. They were looking at different parts of the same
panorama. Oftentimes they are like the two knights who slew each other
in a quarrel about the color of a shield. One said it was red, the other
declared it was green. Both were right, for it was red on one side and
green on the other.

On such flimsy pretexts do men and nations wage war. Why then wonder if
historians differ also? In the "Wilderness," each man's view was bounded
by a very narrow horizon and few knew what was going on outside their
range of vision. What was true of the "Wilderness" was true of nearly
every battle fought between the union and confederate forces. No picture
of a battle, whether it be painted in words or in colors, can bring into
the perspective more than a glimpse of the actual field. No man could
possibly have been stationed where he could see it all. Hence it came to
pass that many a private soldier knew things which the corps commander
did not know; and saw things which others did not see. The official
reports, for the most part, furnish but a bare outline and are often
misleading. The details may be put in by an infinite number of hands,
and those features that seen separately appear incongruous, when blended
will form a perfect picture. But it must be seen, like a panorama, in
parts, for no single eye could take in, at once, all the details in a
picture of a battle.

In the winter of 1855-56, while engaged as assistant factotum in a
general lumbering and mercantile business in the pine woods of Northern
Michigan, one of my functions was that of assistant postmaster, which
led to getting up a "club" for the New York Weekly Tribune, the premium
for which was an extra copy for myself. The result was that in due time
my mind was imbued with the principles of Horace Greeley.

The boys who read the Tribune in the fifties were being unconsciously
molded into the men, who, a few years later, rushed to the rescue of
their country's flag. The seed sown by Horace Greeley, and others like
him, brought forth a rich crop of loyalty, of devotion and
self-sacrifice that was garnered in the war.

In the latter part of the year 1860, the air was full of threatenings.
The country was clearly on the verge of civil war, and the feeling
almost as intense as it was in the following April, after the flash of
Edmund Ruffin's gun had fired the Northern heart.

In October, I came a freshman into the University of Michigan, in Ann
Arbor. That noble institution was, even then, the pride of the Peninsula
state. A superb corps of instructors, headed by Henry P. Tappan, the
noblest Roman of them all, smoothed the pathway to learning which a
thousand young men were trying to tread. These boys were full of life,
vigor, ambition and energy. They were from various parts of the country,
though but few were from the Southern States. The atmosphere of the
place was wholesome, and calculated to develop a robust, courageous
manhood. The students were led to study the best antique models, and to
emulate the heroic traits of character in the great men of modern
times. It may be said that nowhere in the land did the fires of
patriotism burn with more fervent heat, during the eventful and exciting
period that preceded by a few months the inauguration of Abraham

The young men took a deep interest in the political campaign of that
year, and watched with eager faces for every item of news that pertained
to it.

The nomination of Abraham Lincoln was a bitter disappointment to the
young Republicans of Michigan. Seward was their idol and their ideal,
and when the news came of his defeat in the Chicago convention, many men
shed tears, who later learned to love the very ground on which the
Illinois "Railsplitter" stood; and who today cherish his memory with the
same reverential respect which they feel for that of Washington.

During that memorable campaign, Seward spoke in Detroit and scores of
students went from Ann Arbor to hear him. He did not impress one as a
great orator. He was of slight frame, but of a noble and intellectual
cast of countenance. His arguments were convincing, his language
well-chosen, but he was somewhat lacking in the physical attributes so
essential to perfect success as a public speaker. His features were very
marked, with a big nose, a firm jaw, a lofty forehead, and a skin almost
colorless. He had been the choice of Michigan for president and was
received with the warmest demonstrations of respect and enthusiasm.
Every word that fell from his lips was eagerly caught up by the great
multitude. It was a proud day for him, and his heart must have been
touched by the abounding evidences of affection.

Seward was looked upon as the embodiment of sagacious statesmanship and
political prescience, but how far he fell short of comprehending the
real magnitude of the crisis then impending, was shown by his prediction
that the war would last but ninety days. His famous dictum about the
"irrepressible conflict" did him more credit.

That same year, Salmon P. Chase also spoke in Michigan. There were
giants in those days. Chase was not at all like Seward in his
appearance. Tall and of commanding figure, he was a man of perfect
physique. He had an expressive face and an excellent voice, well adapted
to out-door speaking. In manner, he appeared somewhat pompous, and the
impression he left on the mind of the listener was not so agreeable as
that retained of the great New Yorker.

At some time during the summer of 1860, Stephen A. Douglas passed
through Michigan over the Central Railroad. His train stopped at all
stations and hundreds of students flocked to see and hear him. He came
off the car to a temporary platform, and for twenty minutes, that sea of
faces gazing at him with rapt attention, talked with great rapidity, but
with such earnestness and force as to enchain the minds of his hearers.
His remarks were in part stereotyped, and he made much of his well-worn
argument about the right of the territories to "regulate their own
domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the
constitution." In manner, he was easy and graceful, in appearance,
striking. He spoke with no apparent effort. Of massive frame, though
short in stature, after the manner of General Sheridan, his head was
large and set off by a luxuriant growth of hair that served to enhance
its apparent size. His face was smooth, full and florid, the hue rather
suggestive. His countenance and bearing indicated force, courage and
tenacity of purpose. I was not surprised when he announced that he was
on the side of the Union, and believe that, had he lived, he would have
been, like Logan, a great soldier and a loyal supporter of Lincoln. He
was a patriot of the purest type and one of the ablest men of his time.

A significant incident of the winter of 1860-61, seems worth recalling.
That period was one of the most intense excitement. What with the
secession of the Southern States, the resignation of Senators and
Members of Congress, and the vacillating course of the Buchanan
administration, the outlook was gloomy in the extreme. There were in the
University a number of students from the South, and they kept their
trunks packed ready to leave at a moment's notice. Party feeling ran
high, and the tension was painful. William Lloyd Garrison came to Ann
Arbor to speak and could not get a hall, but finally succeeded in
securing a building used for a school-house, in the lower part of the
town. Here he was set upon by a lot of roughs, who interrupted him with
cat-calls and hisses, and made demonstrations so threatening, that, to
avoid bodily injury, he was compelled to make his exit through a window.
The affair was laid to the students, and some of them were engaged in
it, to their discredit, be it said. It was not safe for an
"Abolitionist" to free his mind even in the "Athens" of Michigan.
Harper's Weekly published an illustrative cut of the scene, and Ann
Arbor achieved an unenviable notoriety.

One day all hands went to the train to see the Prince of Wales, who was
to pass through, on his way to Chicago. There was much curiosity to see
the queen's son. He had been treated with distinguished consideration in
the East and was going to take a look at the Western metropolis. There
was a big crowd at the station, but his royal highness did not deign to
notice us, much less to come out and make a speech, as Douglas did, who
was a much greater man. But the "Little Giant" was neither a prince nor
the son of a prince, though a "sovereign" in his own right, as is every
American citizen. Through the open window, however, we had a glimpse of
the scion of royalty, and saw a rather unpretentious looking young
person, in the garb of a gentleman. The Duke of Newcastle stood on the
platform, where he could be seen, and looked and acted much like an
ordinary mortal. The boys agreed that he might make a very fair governor
or congressman, if he were to turn Democrat and become a citizen of the
land of the free and the home of the brave.

The faculty in the University of Michigan, in 1860, was a brilliant one,
including the names of many who have had a world-wide reputation as
scholars and savants. Andrew D. White, since President of Cornell
University and distinguished in the diplomatic service of his country,
was professor of history. Henry P. Tappan, President of the University,
or "Chancellor," as he was fond of being styled, after the manner of the
Germans, was a magnificent specimen of manhood, intellectually and
physically. Tall and majestic in appearance, he had a massive head and
noble countenance, an intellect profound and brilliant. No wonder that
he was worshiped, for he was god-like in form and in mind. Like many
another great man, however, it was his fate to incur the enmity of
certain others too narrow and mean to appreciate either his ability or
his nobility of character. Being on the Board of Regents they had the
power, and used it relentlessly, to drive him out of the seat of
learning which he had done more than all others to build up and to
honor. The University was his pride and glory and when he was thus
smitten in the house of his friends he shook the dust from his feet and
went away, never to return. It is a sad story. He died abroad, after
having been for many years an exile from his native land. The feeling
against these men was bitter in the extreme. The students hung one of
them in effigy and marched in a body to the house of the other and
assailed it with stones and missiles, meantime filling the air with
execrations on his head. Both long since ceased to be remembered, even
by name, but the memory of Tappan remains as one of the choicest
traditions of the University, and it will be as enduring as the life of
the institution itself.



It was an eventful winter that preceded the breaking out of the war
between the states. The salient feature of the time, apart from the
excitement, was the uncertainty. War seemed inevitable, yet the
temporizing continued. The South went on seizing forts and plundering
arsenals, terrorizing union sentiment, and threatening the federal
government. The arming of troops proceeded without check, and hostile
cannon were defiantly pointed at federal forts. Every friend of his
country felt his cheek burn with shame, and longed for one day of Andrew
Jackson to stifle the conspiracy while it was in its infancy. One by one
the states went out, boldly proclaiming that they owed no allegiance to
the government; but the leaders in the North clung to the delusion that
the bridges were not all burned and that the erring ones might be coaxed
or cajoled into returning. Concessions were offered, point after point
was yielded, even to the verge of dishonor, in an idle attempt to patch
up a peace that, from the nature of the case, could have been but
temporary, if obtained on such terms. The people of the Northern States
had set their faces resolutely against secession and, led by Lincoln,
had crossed the Rubicon and taken up the gage of battle, which had been
thrown down by the South.

There was, then, no alternative but to fight. All other schemes were
illusive. The supreme crisis of the Nation had come, and there was no
other way than for the loyalty of the country to assert itself. The
courage of the people had to be put to the proof, to see whether they
were worthy of the heritage of freedom that had been earned by the blood
of the fathers. For fifty years there had been no war in this country,
except the affair with Mexico, so far away that distance lent
enchantment to the view. The Northern people had not been bred to arms.
The martial spirit was well-nigh extinct. Men knew little of military
exercises, except such ideas as had been derived from the old militia
system, that in many states was treated by the people rather with
derision than respect, and in most of them was, in the impending
emergency, a rather poor reliance for the national defense. Southerners,
trained in the use of firearms and to the duello, did not attempt to
conceal their contempt for their Northern brethren, and feigned to
believe that north of Mason and Dixon's line lived a race of cowards.

It did not take long to demonstrate that the descendants of the Green
Mountain Boys and of the western pioneers were foes worthy of the mettle
of the men who came from the states of Sumter and Marion, and "Light
Horse Harry Lee." The blood of their heroic ancestry ran in their
veins, and they were ready and willing to do or die when once convinced
that their country was in deadly peril. The people, indeed, were ready
long before their leaders were. Some of the ablest men the North had
produced were awed by their fear of the South--not physical fear, for
Webster and Douglas and Cass were incapable of such a thing--but fear
that the weight of Southern political influence might be thrown against
them. Many of the party leaders of the North had come to be known as
"dough-faces," a term of reproach, referring to the supposed ease with
which they might be kneaded into any form required for Southern use.
They might have been styled very appropriately "wax-nosed politicians,"
after the English custom, from the way they were nosed around by
arrogant champions of the cause of slavery.

Conciliation was tried, but every effort in that direction failed. A
tempest of discussion arose over the "Crittenden compromise
resolutions," the last overture for peace on the part of the North. It
was generally conceded that it would be better to have war than to give
up all for which the North had been contending for so many years. There
was a feeling of profound indignation and disgust at Buchanan's message
to Congress, in which he virtually conceded the right of secession and
denied the power of the federal government to coerce a state. The course
of General Cass in resigning from the Cabinet, rather than be a party to
the feeble policy of the President, was applauded by all parties in
Michigan, and the venerable statesman resumed his old-time place in the
affections of the people of the Peninsula state. Governor Blair voiced
the sentiments of Democrats and Republicans alike, when he practically
tendered the whole power of the state to sustain the federal government
in its determination to maintain the Union. All the utterances of the
"War Governor" during that trying period breathed a spirit of devoted
patriotism and lofty courage. The people were with him and long before
the call to arms was sounded by President Lincoln, the "Wolverines" were
ready to do their part in the coming struggle.

In the evening of the day when Fort Sumter was fired upon, the students
marched in a body to the house of Chancellor Tappan and called him out.
His remarks were an exhortation to duty, an appeal to patriotism. He
advised against haste, saying that the chances were that the country
would be more in need of men in a year from that time than it was then.
The University would put no hindrance in the way of such students as
might feel impelled by a sense of duty to respond to the call for
troops, but, on the contrary, would bid them God speed and watch their
careers with pride and solicitude. The speech was calm but filled with
the loftiest sentiments.

Professor Andrew D. White was also visited and made a most memorable and
significant speech. Standing on the porch of his house, in the presence
of several hundred young men, he declared his opinion that one of the
greatest wars of history was upon us, which he believed would not end in
a day, but would be a protracted and bloody struggle. "I shall not be
surprised," said he, "if it turns out to be another 'Thirty Years War,'
and no prophet can predict what momentous consequences may result from
it, before a Gustavus Adolphus shall arise to lead the armies of the
Union to victory." He made a rousing union speech that was loudly
cheered by the throng of young men who heard it. Dr. Tappan also
addressed an immense mass meeting, and all things worked together, to
arouse the entire people to a high pitch of enthusiastic ardor for the
cause of the Union.

At once, the town took on a military air. The state militia companies
made haste to respond to the first call for three months' service and
were assigned to the First regiment of Michigan infantry, stationed in
Detroit. The ranks were filled to the maximum, in an incredibly short
space of time. Indeed, there were more men than munitions for the
service, and it was more difficult to equip the troops than to enlist
them. The "position" of private in the ranks was much sought. As an
illustration of this: On the afternoon before the First regiment of
Michigan three-months men was to leave Detroit to march to Washington,
my room-mate, William Channing Moore, a member of the Freshman class,
came hurriedly into the room and, aglow with excitement, threw down his
books, and extending his hand, said:

"Good-by, old boy; there is a vacant position in the Adrian company. I
have accepted it and am off for the war. I leave on the first train for
Detroit and shall join the company tomorrow morning."

"What is the position?" I asked.

"High private in the rear rank," he laughingly replied.

Moore was in the Bull Run battle, where he was shot through the arm and
taken prisoner. He was exchanged and discharged and came back to his
class in 1862. His sense of duty was not satisfied, however, for he
enlisted again in the Eighteenth Michigan infantry, in which regiment he
rose to be a captain. He survived the war and returned to civil life,
only to be drowned several years later while fording a river in the

"Billy" Moore, as he was affectionately called, was a young man of
superb physique, an athlete, a fine student, and as innocent of guile as
a child. He is mentioned here as a typical student volunteer, one of
many, as the record of the Michigan University in the war amply proves.

Two other University men, worthy to be named in the list with Moore,
were Henry B. Landon and Allen A. Zacharias. Landon was graduated from
the literary department in 1861. He immediately entered service as
adjutant of the Seventh Michigan infantry--the regiment which led the
advance of Burnside's army across the river in the battle of
Fredericksburg. He was shot through the body in the battle of Fair Oaks,
the bullet, it was said, passing through both lungs. This wound led to
his discharge for disability. Landon returned to Ann Arbor and took a
course in the medical department of the University, after which he
reentered service as assistant surgeon of his old regiment. He survived
the war, and became a physician and surgeon of repute, a pillar in the
Episcopal church, and an excellent citizen. Landon was a prince of good
fellows, always bubbling over with fun, drollery, and wit; and, withal,
a fine vocalist, with a rich bass voice. In the winter of 1863-64, he
often came to see me in my camp on the Rapidan, near Stevensburg,
Virginia, and there was no man in the army whose visits were more

[Illustration: AUSTIN BLAIR]

Zacharias was graduated in 1860. He went to Mississippi and became
principal of a military institute. Military schools were numerous in the
South. It will be remembered that General W.T. Sherman was engaged in
similar work in Louisiana. "Stonewall" Jackson was professor of military
science in Virginia. The South had its full share of cadets in West
Point, so that the opening of hostilities found the two sections by no
means on an equality, in the matter of educated officers. Zacharias came
north, and went out in the Seventh Michigan infantry, in which he was
promoted to captain. He was mortally wounded in the battle of
Antietam. When his body was recovered on the field, after the battle, a
letter addressed to his father was found clasped in his hand. It read as

   "I am wounded, mortally, I think. The fight rages around me. I have
   done my duty; this is my consolation. I hope to meet you all again. I
   left not the line until nearly all had fallen and the colors gone. I
   am weak. My arms are free, but below my chest all is numb. The enemy
   is trotting over me. The numbness up to my heart. Good-by to all.

The reference, in a previous paragraph, to General Cass, recalls the
name of Norval E. Welch, a student of law, who was remarkable for his
handsome face and figure. It is related of him that on an occasion when
he was in Detroit, he happened to walk past the residence of General
Cass, who was then, I believe, one of the United States senators from
Michigan. The latter was so much impressed with the appearance of Welch,
that he called him back and inquired his name, which was readily given.
After a few moments' conversation, Cass asked Welch how he would like to
be his private secretary, and, receiving a favorable response, tendered
him the appointment on the spot. Welch served in that capacity until
Cass went into the Cabinet of President Buchanan, when he came to Ann
Arbor and took up the study of the law. When the Sixteenth Michigan
infantry was organized, he was commissioned major, and was killed when
leaping, sword in hand, over the confederate breastworks at Peebles's
Farm, September 30, 1864. He had, in the meantime, been promoted to the
colonelcy of his regiment.

Morris B. Wells was a graduate of the law department. He went into the
war as an officer of the same regiment with Welch, but was subsequently
promoted to be lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-first Michigan infantry.
He was killed at Chickamauga.

No two men could be less alike in appearance than Norval Welch and
Morris Wells. One was the embodiment of physical beauty, ruddy with
health, overflowing with animal spirits, ready for a frolic, apt with
the foils, dumb-bells or boxing gloves, but not particularly a student;
the other, tall, rather slender, with an intellectual cast of
countenance, frank and manly in his bearing, but somewhat reserved in
manner and undemonstrative. Both were conspicuous for their gallantry,
but the one impelled by that exuberant physical courage which is
distinctive of the leonine type; the other an exemplar of that moral
heroism which leads men to brave danger for a principle. They gave
everything--even their lives--for their country.

The list might be indefinitely extended, but more is not needed to
illustrate the spirit of the college boys of 1861-62.

But the students did not all go. Many remained then, only to go later.
The prospect of danger, hardship, privation, was the least of the
deterrent forces that held them back. To go meant much in most cases.
It was to give up cherished plans and ambitions; to abandon their
studies and turn aside from the paths that had been marked out for their
future lives. Some had just entered that year upon the prescribed course
of study; others were half way through; and others still, were soon to
be graduated. It seemed hard to give it all up. But even these
sacrifices were slight compared to those made by older men and heads of

And there was no need to depopulate the University at once. The first
call filled, those who were left behind began to prepare for whatever
might come. The students organized into military companies. Hardee's
tactics became the leading text-book. There were three companies or
more. These formed a battalion and there was a major to command it. One
company was styled "The Tappan Guard," after the venerable President,
and it was made up of as fine a body of young men as ever formed in
line. Most of them found their way into the federal army and held good
positions. The captain was Isaac H. Elliott, of Illinois, the athlete,
par excellence, of the University, a tall, handsome man and a senior.
"Tom" Wier, a junior, was first lieutenant and the writer second
lieutenant. Elliott went to the war as colonel of an Illinois regiment
of infantry and was afterwards, for many years, adjutant general of that
state. Wier went out in the Third Michigan cavalry and became its
lieutenant colonel. At the close of the war he was given a commission
as second lieutenant in the Seventh United States cavalry, Custer's
regiment, was brevetted twice for gallantry, and after escaping massacre
with his chief at Little Big Horn, died of disease in New York City in



Ann Arbor was not the only town where the fires of patriotism were kept
burning. It was one of many. "From one learn all." The state was one
vast recruiting station. There was scarcely a town of importance which
had not a company forming for some one or other of the various regiments
that were organizing all through the year. Before the close of the year,
aside from the three months men, three regiments of cavalry, eleven
regiments of infantry, and five batteries were sent out, all for three
years. There was little difficulty in getting recruits to fill these
organizations to their maximum standard. No bounties were paid, no draft
was resorted to. And, yet, the pay for enlisted men was but thirteen
dollars a month. The calls of the President, after the first one for
seventy-five thousand, were generally anticipated by the governor, and
the troops would be in camp before they were called for, if not before
they were needed. The personnel was excellent, and at first great pains
were taken to select experienced and competent officers. Alpheus S.
Williams, Orlando B. Wilcox, Israel B. Richardson, John C. Robinson,
Orlando M. Poe, Thornton F. Brodhead, Gordon Granger, Phillip H.
Sheridan and R.H.G. Minty were some of the names that appeared early in
the history of Michigan in the war. Under their able leadership,
hundreds of young men were instructed in the art of war and taught the
principles of tactics, so that they were qualified to take responsible
positions in the regiments that were put in the field the following

I remember going to see a dress parade of the First Michigan cavalry at
Detroit in August. It was formed on foot, horses not having yet been
furnished. It was a fine body of men, and Colonel Thornton F. Brodhead
impressed me greatly because of his tall, commanding figure and military
bearing. He distinguished himself and was killed at Second Bull Run.

Among the other officers was a spare, frail looking man named Town. He
was at that time major and succeeded to the colonelcy after the death of
Brodhead. He always sought death on the battle field, but never found
it, and came home to die of consumption after the war was over. He was a
modern Chevalier Bayard, and led his regiment at Gettysburg in the
grandest cavalry charge of the war. I have no doubt that Meade's right
was saved, July 3, 1863, by the superb courage of Charles H. Town and
his brave followers. History is beginning to give the cavalry tardy
justice for the part it played in that, one of the few great, decisive

[Illustration: THORNTON F. BRODHEAD]

One of the most interested spectators of the parade was the venerable
statesman and Democratic leader, Lewis Cass. He was then seventy-nine
years of age, and few men had occupied a more conspicuous place in State
and Nation. He was not without military experience, having been
prominent in the frontier war of 1811, and in the war of 1812 he served
as an aid to General Harrison. Soon thereafter, he was appointed
brigadier general in the United States army, and was Secretary of War in
the Cabinet of President Jackson. He also served as Territorial governor
of Michigan, under the administrations of Madison, Monroe and John
Quincy Adams. The fact of his resignation from the Cabinet of James
Buchanan has already been referred to. I confess that I was, for the
time being, more interested in that quiet man, standing there under the
shadow of a tree, looking on at the parade, than in the tactical
movements of the embryotic soldiers. There was, indeed, much about him
to excite the curiosity and inflame the imagination of a youngster only
just turned twenty-one.

Obtaining a position near where he stood, I studied him closely. He was
not an imposing figure, though of large frame, being fat and puffy, with
a heavy look about the eyes, and a general appearance of senility. He
wore a wig. The remarks he made have gone from my memory. They were not
of such a character as to leave much of an impression, and consisted
mostly of a sort of perfunctory exhortation to the troops to do their
duty as patriots.

It was with something of veneration that I looked at this man (standing
on the verge of the grave he appeared to be), and, yet, he outlived many
of the young men who stood before him in the bloom of youth. He did not
seem to belong to the present so much as to the past. Fifty years before
I was born, he had been a living witness of the inauguration of George
Washington as first President of the United States. He had watched the
growth of the American Union from the time of the adoption of the
Constitution. He had been a contemporary of Jefferson, Madison, the
Adamses, Burr and Hamilton. He had sate in the Cabinets of two different
Presidents, at widely separated periods. He had represented the
government in the diplomatic service abroad, and had served with
distinction against the enemies of his country. He had seen the
beginning of political parties in the United States and had been a
prominent actor through all the changes. He was a youth of twelve when
the Reign of Terror in France was in full blast, and thirty-three years
of age when Napoleon Bonaparte was on the Island of St. Helena. He had
witnessed the downfall of Pitt and the partition of Poland. He was,
indeed, a part of the dead past. His work was done, and it seemed as if
a portrait by one of the great masters had stepped down from the canvas
to mingle with living persons.

When the young men from the South, who were in the University felt
compelled to return to their homes, to cast in their lots with their
respective states, the students in a body escorted them to their
trains, and bade them good-by with a sincere wish for good luck to
attend them wherever they might go, even though it were into the
confederate military service. The parting was rather with a feeling of
melancholy regret that the fates cruelly made our paths diverge, than
one of bitterness on account of their belief in the right of states to

There was a humorous, as well as a pathetic side to the war. Soldiers or
students, young men were quick to see this. The penchant which boys have
to trifle with subjects the most grave, gave rise to a funny incident in
Ypsilanti (Michigan). There were two rival schools in that town--the
"State Normal" and the "Union Seminary." The young men in these two
flourishing institutions were never entirely at ease except when playing
practical jokes upon each other. Soon after the secession of South
Carolina, some of the Seminary boys conceived the idea of compelling the
Normal people to show their colors. The first-named had put up the stars
and stripes, a thing that the latter had neglected to do. One morning
when the citizens of the town arose and cast their eyes toward the
building dedicated to the education and training of teachers, they were
astonished to see, flying from the lightning rod on the highest peak of
the cupola, a flag of white, whereon was painted a Palmetto tree,
beneath the shade of which was represented a rattle snake in act to
strike. How it came there no one could conjecture, but there it was,
floating impudently in the breeze, and how to get it down was the

I believe that the authorities of the school never learned who it was
that performed this daring feat, but it will be violating no confidence,
at this late day, to say that the two heroes of this daring boyish
escapade, which was at the time a nine-days' wonder, served in the war,
one of them in what was known as the "Normal" company, and are now
gray-haired veterans, marching serenely down the western slope, toward
the sunset of their well-spent lives.



The summer of 1862 was one of the darkest periods of the war. Though
more than a year had elapsed since the beginning of hostilities, things
were apparently going from bad to worse. There was visible nowhere a
single ray of light to illumine the gloom that had settled down upon the
land. All the brilliant promise of McClellan's campaign had come to
naught, and the splendid army of Potomac veterans, after having come
within sight of the spires of Richmond, was in full retreat to the
James. The end seemed farther away than in the beginning. Grant's
successful campaign against Forts Henry and Donelson had been succeeded
by a condition of lethargy in all the Western armies. Notwithstanding
the successes at Pittsburg Landing and at Corinth, and the death of
Albert Sidney Johnston, who had been regarded as the ablest of all the
officers of the old army who had taken service with the confederates,
there had been a total absence of decisive results. McClellan had
disappointed the hopes of the people; Grant was accused of blundering
and of a fondness for drink; the great ability of Sherman was not fully
recognized; and the country did not yet suspect that in Sheridan it had
another Marlborough. Stonewall Jackson was in full tilt in Virginia, and
Robert E. Lee had given evidence that he could easily overmatch any
leader who might be pitted against him. With more of hope than of
confidence, the eyes of the Nation were turned towards Halleck, Buell,
and Pope.

It was a dismal outlook. Union commanders were clamoring for more men
and the Union cause was weak, because of the lack of confidence which
Union generals had in each other. The patriotism of the volunteers,
under these most trying and discouraging circumstances, was still the
only reliance. Big bounties had not been offered and the draft had not
yet been thought of, much less resorted to. War meetings were being held
all over the state, literally in every school house, and recruiting went
on vigorously. During the year 1862, Michigan equipped three regiments
of cavalry, four batteries, two companies of sharpshooters, and fifteen
regiments of infantry, which were mustered into the service of the
United States.

About the time that the college year closed, President Lincoln issued a
call for 300,000 more. This call was dated July 2, 1862, the last
previous one having been made on July 25, 1861--almost a year before.
Under this call, Congressman Francis W. Kellogg, of the then Fourth
congressional district of Michigan, came home from Washington with
authority to raise two more regiments of cavalry. This authority was
direct from Secretary Stanton, with whom, for some reason, Mr. Kellogg
had much influence, and from whom he received favors such as were
granted to but few. He looked like Mr. Stanton. Perhaps that fact may
have accounted, in part at least, for the strong bond of friendship
between him and the great War Secretary. Under similar authority he had
been instrumental, during the year 1861, in putting into the field the
Second and Third regiments of Michigan cavalry. They had made an
excellent record and that, likewise, may have counted to his credit with
the War Department. Be that as it may, Mr. Kellogg went at this work
with his accustomed vigor and, in a very short space of time, the Sixth
and Seventh regiments were ready for muster, though the latter did not
leave the state until January, 1863. The Fourth and Fifth regiments had
been recruited under a previous call.

To show how little things often change the course of men's lives, an
incident of personal experience is here related. The Fifth Michigan
cavalry was recruited under the title of "Copeland's Mounted Riflemen."
One of the most picturesque figures in America before the war was John
C. Fremont, known as "The Pathfinder," whose "Narrative," in the
fifties, was read by boys with the same avidity that they displayed in
the perusal of the "Arabian Nights." Fremont had a regiment of "Mounted
Riflemen" in the Mexican war, though it served in California, and the
youthful imagination of those days idealized it into a corps d'elite,
as it idealized the Mexican war veterans, Marion's men, or the Old
Guard of Napoleon Bonaparte. The name had a certain fascination which
entwined it around the memory, and when flaming posters appeared on the
walls, announcing that Captain Gardner, of the village of Muir, was
raising a company of "Mounted Riflemen" for Copeland's regiment, four
young men, myself being one of them, hired a livery team and drove to
that modest country four-corners to enlist. The "captain" handed us a
telegram from Detroit saying that the regiment was full and his company
could not be accepted. The boys drove back with heavy hearts at the lost
opportunity. That is how it happened that I was not a private in the
Fifth Michigan cavalry instead of a captain in the Sixth when I went
out, for, in a few days from that time, Mr. Kellogg authorized me to
raise a troop, a commission as captain being conditional on my being in
camp with a minimum number of men, within fifteen days from the date of
the appointment.

The conditions were complied with. Two of the other boys became captains
in the Sixth Michigan cavalry; the other went out as sergeant-major of
the Twenty-first Michigan infantry and arose in good time to be a
captain in his regiment.

The government, during the earlier period of the war, was slow to
recognize the importance of the cavalry arm of the service. It was
expensive to maintain, and the policy of General Scott and his
successors was to get along with as small a force of mounted men as
possible, and these to be used mostly for escort duty and for orderlies
around the various infantry headquarters. There was, consequently, in
the cavalry very little of what is known as "esprit de corps." In the
South, the opposite policy prevailed. At the First Bull Run, the very
name of the "Black Horse cavalry" struck terror into the hearts of the
Northern army, though it must be confessed that it was rather moral
influence than physical force that the somewhat mythical horsemen
exerted. Southern men were accustomed to the saddle, and were as a rule
better riders than their Northern brethren. They took naturally to the
mounted service, which was wisely fostered and encouraged by the
Southern leaders, and, under the bold generalship of such riders as
Ashby, Stuart, Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, Rosser, Mosby, and others, the
cavalry of the army of Northern Virginia surpassed that of the army of
the Potomac both in numbers and in efficiency. McClellan says in his
book that he often thought he made a mistake in not putting "Phil"
Kearney in command of the cavalry. There is no doubt about it. Kearney
had just the right sort of dash. If he had been given a corps of horse,
with free rein, as Sheridan had it later on, "Phil" Kearney might have
anticipated by at least two years the brilliant achievements of "Cavalry
Phil" Sheridan. But the dashing one-armed hero was fated to be killed
prematurely, and it was not until 1863, that Pleasanton, Buford, Gregg,
Kilpatrick, and Custer began to make the Union troopers an important
factor in the war; and Sheridan did not take command of the cavalry
corps, to handle it as such, until the spring of 1864. Even then, as we
shall see later, he had to quarrel with the commander of the army in
order to compel recognition of its value as a tactical unit upon the
field of battle. It was to Hooker, and not to Meade, that credit was due
for bringing the cavalry into its proper relation to the work of the
Northern army.

Under the able leadership of such officers as those mentioned, the
Federal cavalry took a leading part in the Gettysburg campaign and those
which succeeded it, and was able to meet the flower of the South on
equal terms and on its own ground. There will be no more honorable page
in the history of our country than that on which will be written the
record of the cavalry of the armies of the Potomac and of the



I finished my sophomore year in June, 1862, and returned to my home full
of military spirit and determined to embrace the first favorable
opportunity to enter the volunteer service. As second lieutenant of the
"Tappan Guard," I had acquired a pretty thorough knowledge of Hardee's
tactics and a familiarity with the "school of the soldier" and "school
of the company" which proved very useful. Most of the summer was given
up to drilling the officers and men in one of the companies of the
Twenty-first Michigan infantry, which was in camp near the town, fitting
for the field. The officers were new to the business, without training
or experience, as volunteer officers were apt to be, and gladly availed
themselves of my help, which was freely given. I was offered a
commission as first lieutenant in that regiment, but my ambition was to
go in the cavalry and it was soon to be gratified.

Late in the month of August my father, coming home from Grand Rapids,
met an old friend on the train who told him of Congressman Kellogg's
arrival in that place and what his mission was. I wanted to be a second
lieutenant and told my father that I preferred that to higher rank in
the infantry. So, the next day, he went down to see the Congressman. His
application for my appointment was heartily seconded by a number of
influential men in the "Valley City," who knew nothing of me, but did it
through their friendship for my father, whom they had known for many
years as one of the most energetic and honorable business men in the
Grand River valley. From 1848, he had been a familiar figure in
lumbering circles and during that period there had been no year when,
from May 1 till snow flew, his fleets of rafts of pine lumber were not
running over the dam at Grand Rapids. With the business men along the
river his relations had been close and friendly. They were, therefore,
not reluctant to do him a favor. Among these I will mention but two,
though there were many others who were equally zealous in the matter.

Wilder D. Foster and Amos Rathbun were two of the best known men in the
metropolis of western Michigan. Mr. Foster was a hardware merchant who
had built up a splendid business from small beginnings in the pioneer
days. He succeeded Thomas White Ferry in the United States Congress,
after Mr. Ferry had been elected to the Senate. Mr. Rathbun, "Uncle
Amos" he was called, was a capitalist who had much to do with the
development of the gypsum or "plaster" industry in his section of the
state. Their influence with Mr. Kellogg was potent, and my father
obtained more than he asked for. He came home with a conditional
appointment which ran thus:

      "Headquarters 6th Regt. of Mich. Cavalry.
      Grand Rapids, Aug. 28, 1862.

   "To Captain James H. Kidd:

   "You are hereby authorized to raise a company of mounted riflemen for
   this regiment on condition that you raise them within fifteen days
   from this date, and report with them at the rendezvous in this city.

      "F.W. KELLOGG, Colonel Commanding."

My surprise and gratification can better be imagined than described. To
say that I was delighted would be putting it mildly.

But the document with the Congressman's signature attached to it was not
very much of itself. I was a captain in name only. There was no
"company" and would not be unless a minimum of seventy-eight men were
recruited, and at the end of fifteen days the appointment would expire
by limitation. On the original document which has been carefully
preserved appears the following endorsement in Mr. Kellogg's

   "The time is extended for raising this company until Tuesday of next

The fifteen days expired on Saturday and Mr. Kellogg kindly gave us four
days extra time to get into camp.

It was, however, no easy task to get the requisite number of men in the
time allowed, after so many men had been recruited for other regiments.
The territory which we could draw upon for volunteers had been very
thoroughly canvassed, in an effort to fill the quota of the state under
Lincoln's last call. But it was less difficult to raise men for cavalry
than for infantry and I was hopeful of succeeding. I soon learned that
three others had received appointments for commissions in the same
troop--one first, one second, and one supernumerary second lieutenant.
The same conditions were imposed upon them. Thus, there were four of us
whose commissions hinged upon getting a minimum number of men into camp
within fifteen days.

The man designated for first lieutenant was Edward L. Craw. Some of
Craw's friends thought he ought to be the captain, as he was a much
older man than myself, though he had no knowledge of tactics and was in
every sense a novice in military affairs. In a few days word came that
Mr. Kellogg wanted to see me. He had been told that I was a "beardless
boy" and he professed to want men for his captains. My friends advised
me not to go--to be too busy recruiting, in fact--and I followed their
advice. Had I gone, the "colonel" would, doubtless, have persuaded me to
change with Craw, since I would have been more than satisfied to take
second place, not having too high an opinion of my deserts.

But there was no time to waste and recruiting was strenuously pushed.
Kellogg must have been stuffed pretty full of prejudice, for I never
came to town that I did not hear something about it. My friends seemed
beset with misgivings. One of them called me into his private office and
inquired if I could not manage to raise a beard somehow. I am not sure
that he did not suggest a false mustache as a temporary expedient. I
told him that it would have to be with a smooth face or not at all. It
would be out of the question to make a decent show in a year's time and
with careful nursing.

Finally, "Uncle Amos" Rathbun heard of it and told Kellogg to give
himself no concern about "the boy," that he would stand sponsor for him.
"Uncle" Amos, though long ago gathered to his fathers, is alive yet in
the memory of hundreds of Union soldiers whom he never failed to help as
he had opportunity. And he did not wait for the opportunity to come to
him. He sought it. He had a big heart and an open hand, and no man ever
had a better friend. As for myself, I recall his name and memory with a
heart full of gratitude for, from the moment I entered the service, he
was always ready with the needed word of encouragement; prompt with
proffers of aid; jealous of my good name; liberal with praise when
praise was deserved; appreciative and watchful of my record till the
end. If he had faults they were overshadowed by his kindness of heart
and his unaffected virtues. When the record is made up, it will be found
with "Uncle Amos" as it was with "Uncle Toby," when he uttered that
famous and pardonable oath: "The accusing angel flew to heaven with the
oath, blushed as he handed it in. The recording angel, as he wrote it
down, dropped a tear upon it and blotted it out forever."

I was the first man to enlist in the embryotic troop and take the oath.
The first recruit was Angelo E. Tower, a life long friend, who entered
service as first sergeant and left it as captain, passing through the
intermediate grades. His name will receive further mention in the course
of this narrative.

The method of obtaining enlistments was to hold war meetings in
schoolhouses. The recruiting officer accompanied by a good speaker would
attend an evening meeting which had been duly advertised. The latter did
the talking, the former was ready with blanks to obtain signatures and
administer the oath. These meetings were generally well attended but
sometimes it was difficult to induce anybody to volunteer. Once, two of
us drove sixteen miles and after a fine, patriotic address of an hour,
were about to return without results, when one stalwart young man arose
and announced his willingness to "jine the cavalry." His name was
Solomon Mangus and he proved to be a most excellent soldier.

[Illustration: JACOB O. PROBASCO]

On one of my trips, having halted at a wayside inn for lunch, I was
accosted by a young man not more than seventeen or eighteen years of
age, who said he had enlisted for my troop and, if found worthy, he
would be much pleased if he could receive the appointment of "eighth
corporal." I was amused at the modesty of the request, which was that
he be placed on the lowest rung of the ladder of rank. The request did
not appear unreasonable, and when the enrolment of troop "E" Sixth
Michigan cavalry was completed, he appeared on the list as second
corporal. From this rank he rose by successive steps to that of captain,
winning his way by merit alone. For a time he served on the brigade
staff, but, whether as corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain or staff
officer, he acquitted himself with honor and had the confidence of those
under whom he served as well as of those whom he commanded. His name was
Jacob O. Probasco.

In the western part of the county our meetings collided with those of
"Captain" Pratt, who had an appointment similar to mine and for the same
regiment. Pratt was a big man--a giant almost--full of zeal and
enthusiasm. He was a Methodist preacher--a revivalist--and did his own
exhorting. He was very fatherly and patronizing and declared that he
would not interfere with my work; that he had plenty of men
pledged--more than he needed--and would cheerfully aid in filling my
quota, in addition to his own. His promise was taken with a grain of
salt and, in the end, I mustered more men than he did, and he had none
to spare. Both troops were accepted, however, and both of us received
our commissions in due time, as the sequel will show.

There was that about "Dominie" Pratt that impressed people with the idea
that he would be a great "fighting parson." He was so big, burly and
bearded, fierce looking as a dragoon, and with an air of intense
earnestness. He was very pious and used to hold prayer meetings in his
tent, conducted after the manner of the services at a camp meeting. His
confidence in himself, real or assumed, was unlimited. Several of the
officers who had seen no service in the field, were talking it over one
evening in the colonel's tent, and conjecturing how they would feel and
act when under fire. Most of them were in anything but a boastful mood,
contenting themselves with modestly expressing the belief that when the
ordeal came and they were put to the proof, they would stand up to the
work and do their duty like officers and gentlemen. Captain Pratt said
little, but, as we were walking away after the conference had broken up,
he placed his arm around my waist, in his favorite, affectionate way (he
had known me from boyhood) and in his most impressive pulpit manner,
said: "Jimmie," (he always addressed me thus) "Jimmie, let others do as
they may, I want to say to you, that the men who follow me on the field
of battle go where death reigneth." As he neared the climax of this dire
prediction, he unwound the arm with which he held me to his side and,
raising it, emphasized his words with a fierce gesture. I confess that I
drew back a step, and felt a certain sensation of awe and respect, as I
beheld in him the incarnation of courage and carnage.

It may or may not be pertinent to mention that the intrepid captain
never led his troop to slaughter; never welcomed the enemy "with bloody
hands to hospitable graves." On account of ill health, he was compelled
to resign in February, 1863, before the regiment marched from Washington
into Virginia. I have always regretted that necessity, because,
notwithstanding his apparent bravado, the captain was really a brave
man, and there was such a fine opportunity in the "Old Dominion," in
those days, for one who really hungered for gore to distinguish himself.
It would have been a glorious sight to see the gigantic captain, full of
the fiery spirit that animated Peter the Hermit when exhorting his
followers to the rescue of the holy sepulcher, charging gallantly at the
head of his men into the place "where death reigneth." There were
several of those places in the southern country.

At the period of the civil war the word "company" was applied
indiscriminately to cavalry or infantry. The unit of formation was the
company. At the present time there is a distinction. A captain of
cavalry commands a "troop." A captain of infantry commands a "company."
A troop of cavalry corresponds to a company of infantry. For the sake of
convenience and clearness this classification will henceforth be
observed in the course of this narrative.

The troop, then, the raising of which has been thus briefly sketched,
was ready on Tuesday, September 16, 1862, to begin its career as a
military unit in the great army of union volunteers. It is known in the
history of the civil war as Troop E, Sixth Michigan cavalry
(volunteers). It was originally constituted as follows:

   James H. Kidd, captain; Edward L. Craw, first lieutenant; Franklin P.
   Nichols, second lieutenant; Ambrose L. Soule, supernumerary second

   Angelo E. Tower, first sergeant; James L. Manning, quartermaster
   sergeant; Amos T. Ayers, commissary sergeant; William H. Robinson,
   William Willett, Schuyler C. Triphagen, Marvin E. Avery, Solon H.
   Finney, sergeants.

   Amos W. Stevens, Jacob O. Probasco, Isaac R. Hart, Benjamin B.
   Tucker, George I. Henry, David Welch, Marvin A. Filkins, James W.
   Brown, corporals.

   Simon E. Allen, William Almy, Eber Blanchard, Heman S. Brown, Shuman
   Belding, Lester A. Berry, George Bennett, George Brown, John
   Cryderman, Edward H. Cook, William B. Clark, James H. Corwin, Eugene
   C. Croff, William W. Croff, Randall S. Compton, Manley Conkrite,
   William H. Compton, Seth Carey, Marion Case, Amaron Decker, Daniel
   Draper, Rinehart Dikeman, Thomas Dickinson, Orrin W. Daniels,
   Matthias Easter, Francis N. Friend, Ira Green, James Gray, George I.
   Goodale, Eli Halladay, Luther Hart, Elias Hogle, George E. Halladay,
   Robert Hempstead, Edmond R. Hallock, Henry M. Harrison, Warren
   Hopkins, John J. Hammel, Miles E. Hutchinson, Luther Johnson,
   Searight C. Koutz, Louis Kepfort, Archibald Lamberton, Martin Lerg,
   David Minthorn, Solomon Mangus, Andrew J. Miller, Jedediah D. Osborn,
   Timothy J. Mosher, Gershom W. Mattoon, Moses C. Nestell, George W.
   Marchant, Edwin Olds, Walter E. Pratt, Albert M. Parker, George W.
   Rall, Frederick Smith, Jesse Stewart, Josiah R. Stevens, David S.
   Starks, Orlando V.R. Showerman, David Stowell, James O. Sliter,
   Jonathan C. Smith, Meverick Smith, Samuel J. Smith, Josiah Thompson,
   William Toynton, John Tunks, Mortimer Trim, Albert Truax, Oliver L.
   VanTassel, Byron A. Vosburg, John VanWagoner, Sidney VanWagoner,
   Erastus J. Wall, Charles Wyman, Harvey C. Wilder, Israel Wall, Lewis
   H. Yeoman.[2]

The troop that thus started on its career was a typical organization for
that time--that is it had the characteristics common to the volunteers
of the early period of the civil war. When mustered into the service it
numbered one hundred and five officers and men. Though for the most part
older than the men who went out later, the average age was but
twenty-eight years. Nineteen were twenty or under; twenty-nine were
thirty or under; eighteen were thirty-one or under. Only nine were over
forty. For personnel and patriotism, for fortitude and endurance, they
were never excelled. But they were not professional soldiers. At first,
they were not soldiers at all. They were farmers, mechanics, merchants,
laboring men, students, who enlisted from love of country rather than
from love of arms, and were absolutely ignorant of any knowledge of the
technical part of a soldier's "business." The militia had been mostly
absorbed by the first calls in 1861 and the men of 1862 came from the
plow, the shop, the schoolroom, the counting room or the office. With
few exceptions, they were not accustomed to the use of arms and had
everything to learn. The officers of this particular organization had no
advantage over the others in this respect, for, save myself, not one of
them knew even the rudiments of tactics. Indeed, at the date of muster,
there were but three officers in the entire regiment who had seen
service. These were Lieutenant Colonel Russell A. Alger, Captain Peter
A. Weber and Lieutenant Don G. Lovell.



It was a raw, rainy day when we took up the march from the railroad
station to the ground whereon had been established the rendezvous for
the regiment. It was a motley collection of soldiers, considering the
record they were to make during the coming years of active service in
the field. All were in citizens' clothes, and equipped with neither
uniforms nor arms. Assembled in haste for the journey, there had been no
opportunity even to form in line or learn to keep step. No two of them
were dressed alike. They were hungry and wet. Few had overcoats, none
ponchos or blankets. Quarters were provided for the night in a vacant
store where the men were sheltered from the rain, but had to sleep on
the bare floor without cots or comforts of any kind. But,
notwithstanding the gloomy conditions that attended this introduction to
the volunteer service, they, in the main, kept up their good spirits,
though some were visibly depressed and looked as if they were sorry they
had come. In less than a year from that time, they had learned to endure
a hundred-fold greater deprivations and hardships with equal minds.

The next morning, breakfast was served in an improvised dining-hall on
the bank of the river which ran hard by. Then there was another march to
"camp," the captain reported for duty to the "commandant," and a sort of
routine of military exercises was entered upon. The officer in command
and his adjutant were also new to the business and haste was made very
slowly while they felt their way along. After a few days the camp was
removed to better ground, which was high and dry, and overlooked the
town. Here the real work of equipping, organizing and training began.

There were twelve troops, each composed of about one hundred officers
and men. The officers were quartered in "wall" tents, but there were not
tents enough, so wooden barracks were built for the men. A hospital was
established in a house near by. This was pretty well patronized, at
first, the exposure making many men ill. There was a guardhouse, also,
but not much use for it. A large portion of each day was given up to
drill. The rivalry among the captains was spirited, for they had been
called together soon after reporting for duty, and informed that they
would be given their respective places in line, by letter, from "A" to
"M," consecutively, according to proficiency in drill upon a certain
date, the two highest places barred, the assignments having been made
previously. As the relative rank of these officers depended upon the
letter given, it may be imagined that they spared no effort of which
they were severally capable. They became immediate students, both in
theory and in practice, of Philip St. George Cooke's cavalry tactics
wherein the formation in single rank was prescribed.

Soon after going into this camp, uniforms were issued and horses also.
The uniform for the enlisted men, at that time, consisted of a cavalry
jacket, reinforced trousers, forage cap, and boots which came to the
knee. Arms, except sabers, were not supplied until after leaving the
state. The horses were purchased in Michigan, and great care was taken
through a system of thorough inspection to see that they were sound and
suitable for the mounted service. In the end, the regiment had a most
excellent mount, both the horses and horse equipments being of the best
that could be procured. The horses were sorted according to color, the
intention being that each unit should have but one color, as near as
practicable. Thus, as I remember it, troop "A" had bays; "B" browns; "C"
greys; "D" blacks; and so on. This arrangement did not last long. A few
months' service sufficed to do away with it and horses thereafter were
issued indiscriminately. The effect, however, so long as the distinction
could be kept up, was fine. It was a grand sight when the twelve hundred
horses were in line, formed for parade or drill in single rank, each
troop distinguishable from the others by the color of the horses.

When the Fifth Michigan cavalry was mustered into the United States
service at Detroit there was one supernumerary troop. This was
transferred to the Sixth Michigan, then forming in Grand Rapids, and
given the letter "A" without competition. This entitled it to the
position on the right flank in battalion formations, and made its
commanding officer the senior captain of the regiment. The officers
were, captain, Henry E. Thompson; first lieutenant, Manning D. Birge;
second lieutenant, Stephen H. Ballard; supernumerary second lieutenant,
Joel S. Sheldon. Before they left the service, Thompson was lieutenant
colonel; Birge, major; Ballard, captain; and Sheldon, regimental
commissary. This troop attracted a great deal of attention from the time
of its arrival in camp for, having been organized some two or three
months, it was fairly well drilled and disciplined, fully uniformed, and
the officers were as gay as gaudy dress and feathers could make them.
They wore black hats with ostrich plumes, and presented a very showy as
well as a soldierly appearance. The plumes, like the color arrangement
of horses, did not last long. Indeed, few if any of the officers outside
of "A" troop, bought them, though they were a part of the uniform
prescribed in the books. Two officers who came to the regiment from the
Second Michigan cavalry, and who had had over a year's experience in the
field, gave the cue that feathers were not a necessary part of the
equipment for real service and served no useful purpose.

One of these two officers I met on the day of my arrival in the
temporary camp. It was that wet, drizzly day, when I was sitting in the
tent of the "commandant" awaiting orders. With a brisk step and a
military air a young man of about my own age entered, whose appearance
and manner were prepossessing. He looked younger than his years, was not
large, but had a well-knit, compact frame of medium height. He was alert
in look and movement, his face was ruddy with health, his eyes bright
and piercing, his head crowned with a thick growth of brown hair cut
rather short. He wore a forage cap, a gum coat over his uniform, top
boots, and appeared every inch the soldier. He saluted and gave the
colonel a hearty greeting and was introduced to me as Captain Weber.

Peter A. Weber was clerking in a store when the war broke out and
entered service as a corporal in the Third Michigan infantry. When the
Second Michigan cavalry was organized he was commissioned battalion
adjutant and had been called home to take a captaincy in the Sixth. By
reason of his experience, he was given the second place, "B". Weber was
a rare and natural soldier, the embodiment of courage and, had not death
interrupted his career, must have come near the head of the list of
cavalry officers. The battle in which he distinguished himself and lost
his life will be the theme of a future chapter.

[Illustration: GEORGE GRAY]

In troop "F", commanded by Captain William Hyser, was Second Lieutenant
Don G. Lovell, one of the three veteran officers. He went out as
corporal in the Third Michigan infantry, was wounded at Fair Oaks,
and again at Trevillian Station while serving in the cavalry. He was
one of the bravest of the brave.

Along in September, before the date of muster, I received a letter from
a classmate in Ann Arbor asking if there was an opening for him to
enlist. I wrote him to come and, soon after joining, he was appointed
troop commissary sergeant. At that time, Levant W. Barnhart was but
nineteen years of age and a boy of remarkable gifts. He was one of the
prize takers in scholarship when he entered the University in 1860, in
the class of 1864. His rise in the volunteers was rapid. Passing
successively through the grades of first sergeant, second and first
lieutenant, he in 1863 was detailed as acting adjutant. While serving in
this position he attracted the notice of General Custer who secured his
appointment by the War Department as assistant adjutant general with the
rank of captain. He served on the staff of General Custer till the war
closed--succeeding Jacob L. Greene. For one of his age his record as
scholar and soldier was of exceptional brilliancy. He was barely
twenty-one when he went on Custer's staff, who was himself not much more
than a boy in years. (Custer was but twenty-six when Lee surrendered at

George Gray, "lieutenant colonel commanding," was a lawyer of brilliant
parts, a good type of the witty, educated Irishman, a leader at the bar
of Western Michigan who had no equal before a jury. He had much
reputation as an after-dinner speaker, and his polished sentences and
keen sallies of wit were greatly enjoyed on occasions where such gifts
were in request. Though generally one of the most suave of men, he had
an irascible temper at times. The flavor of his wit was tart and
sometimes not altogether palatable to those who had to take it. In
discipline he was something of a martinet. He established a school of
instruction in his tent, where the officers assembled nightly to recite
tactics, and no mercy was shown the luckless one who failed in his
"lessons." Many a young fellow went away from the "school" smarting
under the irony of the impatient colonel. Some of his remarks had a
piquant humor, others were characterized by the most biting sarcasm.

"Mr. ----," said he one morning when the officers were grouped in front
of his tent in response to 'officers' call,' "Mr. ----, have you gloves,

"Yes, sir," replied the lieutenant, who had been standing with hands in
his trousers pockets.

"Well, then, you had better put them on and save your pockets."

It is needless to say that the young officer thereafter stood in
position of the soldier when in presence of his commander.

Nothing was so offensive to Colonel Gray as untidy dress or shabby
habiliments on a member of the guard detail. One morning in making his
usual inspection, he came upon a soldier who was particularly slovenly.
Ordering the man to step out of the ranks, the colonel surveyed him
from head to foot, then, spurning him with his foot, remarked: "That is
a--pretty looking thing for a soldier; go to your quarters, sir."

Once or twice I felt the sting of his tongue, myself, but on the whole
he was very kind and courteous, and we managed to get along together
very well.

For a time it was supposed that the colonelcy would go to an army
officer, and it may be recalled as an interesting fact that George A.
Custer was at that very time a lieutenant on McClellan's staff and would
have jumped at the chance to be colonel of a Michigan cavalry regiment.
As has been shown, Philip H. Sheridan, Gordon Granger, O.B. Wilcox, I.B.
Richardson, and other regulars, began their careers as officers in the
volunteer service by accepting commissions from Governor Blair. Custer
was never a colonel. He was advanced from captain in the Fifth United
States cavalry to full brigadier general of volunteers and his first
command was four Michigan regiments, constituting what was known as
"Custer's Michigan cavalry brigade"--the only cavalry brigade in the
service made up entirely of regiments from a single state. A petition
was circulated among the officers, asking the governor to appoint Gray
colonel. We all signed it, though the feeling was general that it would
be better for him to retain the second place and have an officer of the
army, or at least one who had seen service, for our commander. The
petition was forwarded, however, and Gray was commissioned colonel.

Soon thereafter, it was announced, greatly to the satisfaction of all
concerned, that the vacancy caused by Gray's promotion was to be filled
by an officer of experience. Major Russell A. Alger of the Second
Michigan cavalry, who had seen much service in the southwest, was made
lieutenant colonel. Major Alger had gone out in 1861 as captain of troop
"C", of the Second Michigan and had earned his majority fighting under
Granger and Sheridan. In April, 1861, he was engaged in the lumbering
business in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to which place he had removed from
Cleveland, Ohio. He had been admitted to the bar in Cleveland but, even
at that early day, his tastes and inclinations led him in the direction
of business pursuits. He, therefore, came to Grand river and embarked in
lumbering when but just past his majority and unmarried. The panic of
1857 depressed the lumber industry, in common with all other kinds of
business, and the young Buckeye met with financial reverses, as did
nearly everybody in those days, though it is agreed that he showed
indications of the dash and self-reliance that were marked features of
his subsequent career both in the army and in civil life. Doubtless, had
not the war come on he would have achieved success in his business
ventures then, as he did afterwards.

[Illustration: RUSSELL A. ALGER (IN 1862)]

When Lieutenant Colonel Alger reported to Colonel Gray for duty he
appeared the ideal soldier. Tall, erect, handsome, he was an expert and
graceful horseman. He rode a superb and spirited bay charger which
took fences and ditches like a deer. Though not foppish, he was
scrupulous to a degree about his dress. His clothes fitted, and not a
speck of dust could be found on his person, his horse, or his
equipments. The details of drill fell largely to him--Colonel Gray
attending to the general executive management. As a battalion commander
Colonel Alger had few equals and no superiors. He was always cool and
self-poised, and his clear, resonant voice had a peculiar, agreeable
quality. Twelve hundred horsemen formed in single rank make a long line
but, long as it was, every man could hear distinctly the commands that
were given by him.

Weber's voice had the same penetrating and musical quality that made it
easy to hear him when he was making no apparent effort to be heard. At
that time it was the custom to give the commands with the voice and not
by bugle calls.

Under such competent handling the regiment soon became a very well
drilled organization. The evolutions were at first on foot, then on
horseback, and long before the time when it was ready to depart for the
front, the officers and men had attained the utmost familiarity with the
movements necessary to maneuver a regiment on the field.

On Sundays it was customary to hold religious services in the camp, and
many hundreds of the "beauty and the chivalry" of the town came to see
the soldiers and hear the chaplain preach. The regiment would be formed
in a hollow square, arms and brasses shining, clothes brushed, and
boots polished. The chaplain was a good speaker and his sermons were
always well worth listening to.

Chaplain Stephen S.N. Greeley was a unique character. Before enlisting
he had been pastor of the leading Congregational church of the city. He
was a powerful pulpit orator, a kind-hearted, simple-minded gentleman of
the old school, not at all fitted for the hardships and exposure that he
had to undergo while following the fortunes of General Custer's troopers
in Virginia. Army life was too much for him to endure, and it was as
much as he could do to look after his own physical well-being, and the
spiritual condition of his flock was apt to be sadly neglected. He
stayed with the regiment till the end but, in the field he was more like
a child than a seasoned soldier and needed the watchful care of all his
friends to keep him from perishing with hunger, fatigue, and exposure. I
always forgot my own discomforts in commiseration of those of the honest
chaplain. When in camp, and the weather suitable, I always endeavored to
assemble the command for Sunday services, so pleased was he to talk to
his "boys." I believe every surviving Sixth Michigan cavalryman has in
his heart a warm corner for Chaplain Greeley who returned to Gilmartin,
New Hampshire, the place where he began his ministerial work, and died
there many years ago.

While noting in this cursory way the personnel of the regiment it may
be proper to mention the other members of the field and staff.

Cavalry regiments were divided into three battalions, each consisting of
four troops and commanded by a major. Two troops were denominated a
squadron. Thus there were two troops in a squadron, two squadron in a
battalion, three battalions in a regiment. The first major was Thaddeus
Foote, a Grand Rapids lawyer. He served with the Sixth about a year and
was then promoted to be colonel of the Tenth Michigan cavalry. Under
President Grant he held the position of pension agent for Western
Michigan. Elijah D. Waters commanded the Second battalion. He resigned
for disability and died of consumption in 1866. He did not serve in the
field at all. Simeon B. Brown, of the Third battalion was called to the
command of the Eleventh Michigan cavalry, in 1863. The Tenth and
Eleventh were raised by Congressman Kellogg in that year in the same
manner in which he had organized the Second and Third in 1861, and the
Sixth and Seventh in 1862.

Speaking of Major Waters, recalls how little things sometimes lead on to
fortune. After leaving the service he and his brother started a "box
factory," on the canal in Grand Rapids. In the winter of 1865-66 he took
me over to see it. It was a small affair run by water power. The "boxes"
which they manufactured were measures of the old-fashioned kind like the
half-bushel and peck measures made of wood fifty years ago. They were of
all sizes from a half-bushel down to a quart and used for "dry
measure." Before the top rim was added and the bottom put in it was
customary to pile the cylindrical shells one on top of another in the
shop. Looking at these piles one day Waters saw that three of them,
properly hooped, would make a barrel. Why not put hoops on and make them
into barrels? No sooner said than done. A patent was secured, a stock
company organized and the sequel proved that there were "millions in
it." The major did not live to enjoy the fruits of his invention but it
made of his brother and partner a millionaire. The latter is today one
of the wealthiest men in Michigan--all from that lucky beginning.

The first adjutant of the regiment was Lyman E. Patten, who resigned to
become a sutler and was succeeded by Hiram F. Hale who, in turn, left
the cavalry to become a paymaster.

Sutlers were an unnecessary evil; at least, so it seems to me. They were
in some cases evil personified. Many of them went into the business
solely "for the money there was in it," and did not hesitate to trade on
the necessities of the "boys in blue," so that as a rule there was no
love lost, and enlisted men would raid a sutler with as little
compunction as the sutler would practice extortion on them. The sutler's
tent was too often the army saloon where "S.T.--1860--X bitters" and
kindred drinks were sold at inflated prices. There were exceptions to
the rule, however, and Mr. Patten was one of these. The whole sutler
business was a mistake. The government should have arranged for an
issue, or sale at cost through the commissary and quartermaster
departments, of such articles as were not regularly furnished and were
needed by the officers and men. Sutlers sold a thousand and one things
that were not needed and that the men would have been better without.
Spirits and tobacco could have been issued as a field or garrison
ration, under proper restrictions. This was done at times but, whether a
good thing or a bad thing, depends altogether upon the point of view. To
take up the discussion would be to enter into the controversy as to the
army canteen, which is not my purpose.

The medical department of the regiment was in good hands. No officer or
enlisted man of the Sixth Michigan ever wanted for kind and sympathetic
care when ill or wounded. The position of army surgeon in the field was
no sinecure. He had to endure the same privations as the other officers.
He was not supposed to be on the fighting line, to be sure, but had to
be close at hand to assist in the care of those who were, and oftentimes
got into the thickest of it whether he would or not. To the credit of
the profession, be it said, no soldier was ever sick or wounded who did
not, unless a prisoner of war, find some one of the green-sashed
officers ready to minister to his needs. And it often happened that army
surgeons permitted themselves to fall into the enemy's hands rather than
to desert those who were under their care and treatment.

The surgeon was Daniel G. Weare, who gave up a lucrative practice to put
on the uniform of a major in the medical department of the volunteer
army. He was an elderly man with iron grey hair and beard which became
towards the last almost as white as snow. This gave him a venerable
look, though this evidence of apparent age was singularly at variance
with his fresh countenance, as ruddy as that of youth. He looked like a
preacher, though he would swear like a pirate. Indeed, it would almost
congeal the blood in one's veins to hear the oaths that came hissing
from between the set teeth of that pious looking old gentleman, from
whom you would look for an exhortation rather than such expletives as he
dealt in. But it was only on suitable provocation that he gave vent to
these outbursts, as he was kind of heart, a good friend, and a capable
physician and surgeon. The assistant was David C. Spaulding who remained
with us but a short time when he was made surgeon of the Tenth Michigan
cavalry--that is to say, in 1863. Weare staid till the war closed and
settled in Fairport, New York, where he died.

Spaulding was surgeon in charge of the regimental hospital in Grand
Rapids, and on one occasion came to my aid with some very scientific
practice. It happened in this way: It came to my knowledge that a man
who had enlisted with one of the lieutenants and mustered in with the
troop, was not in the service for the first time; that he had enlisted
twice before and then succeeded in getting discharged for disability.
The informant intimated that the fellow had no intention of doing duty,
would shirk and sham illness and probably get into the hospital, where
the chances were he would succeed in imposing on the surgeons and in
getting discharged again; that it was pay he was after which he did not
propose to earn; least of all would he expose his precious life, if by
any possibility he could avoid it.

A close watch was put upon the man, and sure enough, just before the
regiment was to leave the state, he demurred to doing duty, pleading
illness as an excuse. I sent him to the hospital but gave Dr. Spaulding
a hint as to the probable nature of the man's illness, and he promised
to give his best endeavors to the case. About a week, thereafter, the
man came back, and whatever might have been his real condition when he
went away, he was unmistakably ill. His pale face and weak voice were
symptoms that could not be gainsaid.

"Well," said I, "have you recovered and are you ready for duty?"

"No, I am worse than ever."

"Why do you leave the hospital, then?"

"My God, captain," whined the man, "they will kill me, if I stay there."

"But if you are sick you need treatment."

"I cannot enter that place again."

"You prefer to perform your duties as a good soldier, then?"

"I will do anything rather than go there."

He was directed to go about his business and, soon thereafter, I
inquired about the case. Dr. Spaulding said: "I discovered there was
nothing the matter with the man, only that he was playing off, and when
he described his alleged symptoms, I began a course of heroic treatment.
He was purged, cupped, blistered, given emetics, until life really
became a burden and he ran away from the 'treatment.'"

This man never went to the regimental hospital again, but he made no end
of trouble. He was a chronic shirk. He would not work, and there were
not men enough in the regiment to get him into a fight. Soon after the
campaign of 1863 opened in Virginia he was missing, and the next thing
heard from him was that he had been discharged from some hospital for
disability. He never smelt powder, and years after the war, he was to
all appearance an able-bodied man. I believe the Sixth was the third
regiment which he had gone into in the same way. When he enlisted, the
surgeon who examined him pronounced him a sound man, and it was a
mystery how he could be physically sound or physically unsound, at will,
and so as to deceive the medical examiners in either event. He died long
ago and his widow drew a pension after his death as he did before it,
but he never did a day's honest military duty in his life. Peace to his
ashes! He may be playing some useful part in the other world, for all
that I know. At all events, I am glad that his widow gets a pension,
though as a soldier he was never deserving of anything but contempt,
for he would desert his comrades when they needed aid and never exposed
his precious carcass to danger for his country or for a friend.

That is not an attractive picture which I have drawn. I will paint
another, the more pleasing by reason of the contrast which the two

One day a party of sixteen men came into camp and applied for
enlistment. A condition of the contract under which they were secured
for my troop was that one of their number be appointed sergeant. They
were to name the man and the choice, made by ballot, fell upon Marvin E.
Avery. At first blush, he was not a promising candidate for a
non-commissioned office. Somewhat ungainly in figure, awkward in
manners, and immature in mind and body, he appeared to be; while he
seemed neither ambitious to excel nor quick to learn. He certainly did
not evince a craving for preferment. In the end it was found that these
were surface indications, and that there were inherent in him a strength
of character and a robust manliness that only awaited the opportunity to
assert themselves.

He was appointed sergeant but, at first, manifested so little aptitude
for the work, that it was feared he would never become proficient in his
duties, or acquire a sufficient familiarity with tactics to drill a
squad. No one could have been more willing, obedient, or anxious to
learn. He was a plodder who worked his way along by sheer force of will
and innate self-reliance, and governed in all that he did by a high
sense of duty. He never attained first rank as a sergeant while in
camp, but in the field, he sprang to the front like a thoroughbred. From
the moment when he first scented battle, he was the most valuable man in
the troop, from the captain down. In this, I am sure, there is no
disparagement of the scores of fearless soldiers who followed the guidon
of that troop from Gettysburg to Appomattox.

Avery was a hero. In the presence of danger he knew no fear. The more
imminent the peril, the more cool he was. He would grasp the situation
as if by intuition and I often wondered why fate did not make him
colonel instead of myself, and honestly believe that he would have
filled the position admirably, though he reached no higher rank than
that of sergeant. He had, however, made of himself the trusted assistant
and adviser of the commanding officer of his regiment and would have
received a commission, had he lived but a few days longer. From the day
of his enlistment to the day of his death he was not off duty for a
single day; and the command to which he belonged, was in no battle when
he was not at the front, in the place of greatest risk and
responsibility, from the beginning to the end. He was killed by a shell
which struck him in the head, in the battle of Trevillian Station, June
12, 1864. A braver or a truer soldier never fell on the field of battle.

Another excellent soldier was Solon H. Finney, who entered service as
sergeant. He rose to be second lieutenant and was killed at Beaver
Mills, Virginia, April 4, 1865, just five days before Lee surrendered.
Finney was a modest, earnest, faithful man, attentive to his duties, not
self-seeking, but contented with his lot and ambitious only to do a
man's part. It seemed hard for him to go through so near to the end only
to be stricken just as the haven of peace was in sight; but his friends
have the satisfaction of knowing that Solon Finney never failed to do
that which was right and, though he gave his life, it was surrendered
cheerfully in the cause of his country and its flag. He was one of those
who would have given a hundred lives rather than have his country
destroyed--a genuine patriot and a noble man.

With the Washtenaw contingent of troop "F" came Aaron C. Jewett, of Ann
Arbor. Jewett was a leading spirit in University circles. His parents
were wealthy, he an only son to whom nothing was denied that a doting
father could supply. Reared in luxury, he was handsome as a girl and as
lovable in disposition. It was current rumor that one of the most
amiable young women in the college town--a daughter of one of the
professors--was his betrothed. He was graduated with the senior class of
that year and immediately enlisted. Notwithstanding his antecedents and
his station in life he performed his humble duties in the ranks without
a murmur, thus furnishing one more illustration of the patriotism that
animated the best type of young men of that day. Ah! He was a comely
soldier, with his round, ruddy face, his fresh complexion, his bright
black eyes, and curling hair the color of the raven--his uniform brushed
and boots polished to the pink of neatness.

These things together with his modest mien and close attention to his
duties made of him a marked man and, in a short time, regimental
headquarters had need of him. He was detailed as clerk, then as acting
sergeant major and, when early in the year 1863, it was announced that
Hiram F. Hale was to be appointed army paymaster, Jewett was chosen to
succeed him as adjutant, but had not received his commission when death
overtook him at Williamsport, Maryland, July 6. There was grief in the
Sixth of Michigan on that fateful night when it was known that Aaron
Jewett lay within the enemy's lines smitten by a fragment of a shell
while faithfully delivering the orders of his colonel to the troops of
the regiment as they successively came into line under a heavy fire of
artillery. Weber and myself with our men tried to recover the body, but
were unable to do so, a force of confederates having gained possession
of the ground. In a week from that time, Weber himself lay cold in
death, only five miles distant, with a bullet through his brain. That
was in Maryland, however, north of the Potomac and, after we had crossed
into Virginia, Jewett's father succeeded in finding the body of his son
and performed the sad duty of giving it proper sepulture.

All the members of the field and staff of the regiment have been
mentioned, except Quartermaster Charles H. Patten and Commissary Jacob
Chapman. The latter soon resigned. Patten stuck to it till there was no
more clothing to issue. He was a good quartermaster, honest, energetic
and capable, and that is saying a good deal for him. There has been much
uncalled for satirical comment at the expense of the quartermasters.
They were really among the most useful of officers--indispensable in
fact. The man who handled the transportation for a cavalry command had a
position requiring tact, nerve, energy, endurance and ability of a high
order. Mr. Patten was such a man. His wagon trains never failed to reach
the front with needed supplies when it was possible to get them there.
The white canvas of the army wagon was a pleasant sight to the soldier
worn out with marching and fighting; and the quartermaster could always
count on a cordial welcome when he appeared.

October 11, 1862, the regiment was mustered into the United States
service. The mustering officer was General J.R. Smith of the regular
army, a veteran of the Mexican war, in which he received a wound in one
arm, disabling it. He had a slit in his sleeve tied with ribbons--a way
he had, it was thought, of calling attention to his disability, and sort
of a standing apology for being back in Michigan while his associates of
the army were fighting at the front. It was an amiable and pardonable
weakness, if such it may be called, and everybody had a liking for the
old Mexican war officer.

One of my first acts after reaching the rendezvous had been to call on
Colonel Kellogg, who was in his room, up to his eyes in papers and
correspondence. He greeted me cordially, congratulated me on my success,
and assured me that he was my friend, which he proved to be.

"Order your uniform at once," said he, "and go to work without delay."

The result of this interview was that a tailor took my measure for a
suit and, in due time, I was arrayed in Union blue, with shining brass
buttons, bright yellow facings, and the shoulder straps of a captain of
cavalry. No boy in his first trousers ever felt happier or prouder.

Before the brasses had become tarnished or the trimmings soiled I took a
run to Ann Arbor to say good-by to the boys. They were glad to see me,
and the welcome I had was something to remember. They were like a band
of brothers and showed the same interest as if we had been of one

I think the students felt a sort of clannish pride when one of their
number enlisted and thought that the alma mater was doing the correct
and patriotic thing in sending her sons into the army. It was plainly to
be seen that many of them were holding back unwillingly. Indeed, it was
not long till some of them dropped their studies abruptly and followed
the example of those who had already gone. Everybody gave me an
affectionate Godspeed and I was surprised at the number of my friends.



It was on a bright moonlight night in December, 1862, that the Sixth
cavalry of Michigan left its rendezvous in Grand Rapids and marched to
the station to take the cars for Washington. It was like tearing asunder
the ties of years, for those whose lines had been cast even for a brief
time only, in the "Valley City."[3] The hospitality of the people had
been unbounded. Many of the officers and men had their homes there.
Those who had not, took short leaves and made flying visits to their
families to say good-by and arrange their affairs for what might be a
final farewell. The scenes of our sojourn for a few months, where we had
engaged in daily drills and parades, in the pomp and circumstance of
mimic warfare, were to know us no longer. The time for rehearsal had
passed. We were about to enter upon the real stage of action, and do our
part in the mighty tragedy then enacting.

The camp was broken. Tents were struck. Preparations for departure were
made. Adieus were said. Horses were sent away in charge of a detail.
The quartermaster took possession of the equipments. The regiment was
not yet armed, but was to be supplied with all the needed munitions on
arrival in the Capital City.

For some reason, it was deemed best to make a night march to the
station. No notice of this was given to the citizens. The result was
that when we left camp, at 2 a.m., the streets were deserted. The town
was wrapped in slumber. No sound was heard, except the tramp, tramp of
the soldiers, and the roar of the river as it plunged over the dam,
which only served to intensify the stillness.

Through Michigan was a memorable trip. The same scenes with but slight
variation, were enacted at each station. Officers and men alike, were
warmed by the hearty and affectionate greetings, the memory of which
followed them through all the days, and months, and years of their

On to Detroit, Toledo, Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Baltimore, quickly
whirled. Flowers, music, words of cheer, everywhere. "God bless you,
boys," was the common form of salutation. "Three cheers for the old
flag," and "Three cheers for 'Abe Lincoln,'" were sentiments offered
amidst the wildest enthusiasm, to which the twelve hundred Michigan
throats responded with an energy that bespoke their sincerity. Baltimore
was reached in the night, and when marching through the streets, from
one station to the other, the strains of "John Brown's body lies
mouldering in the ground," awoke the echoes in the city that had mobbed
a Massachusetts regiment, and through which Abraham Lincoln on the way
to his inauguration had to pass in disguise to escape assassination.
"We'll hang Jeff. Davis on a sour apple tree," was a refrain in which
all joined, and there was a heartiness about it that none can understand
who did not pass through those troublous times.

But Baltimore was as peaceful as Pittsburg, and no mob gathered to
contest the right of Michigan men to invade southern soil. It was quiet.
There was no demonstration of any kind. The passage of troops had become
a familiar story to the citizens of the Monumental city.

It was the thunder of Burnside's guns at Fredericksburg that welcomed us
to the army of the east. The same sun that saw us bivouac beneath the
dome of the Capitol, shone down upon the Army of the Potomac, lying once
again beaten and dispirited, on the plains of Falmouth. Burnside had run
his course, and "Fighting 'Joe' Hooker" was in command.



There was little about Washington in 1862 to indicate that a great war
was raging. The reference in the previous chapter to the "thunder of
Burnside's guns" was figurative only. No guns were heard. It was Sunday
morning. Church bells pealed out the call for divine worship and streams
of well-dressed people were wending their way to the sanctuaries. The
presence of uniformed troops in such a scene appeared incongruous, and
was the only thing that spoke of war, if we except the white tents and
hospital buildings that abounded on every side.

Rest was welcomed after the long jaunt by rail, and the day was given up
to it, except for the necessary work of drawing and issuing rations. It
was historic ground, made doubly so by the events then transpiring. Few
realized, however, that we actually were engaged in making the history
of the most eventful epoch in the career of the Republic, and the chief
interest of the place seemed to lie in its associations with the past.
The Capitol, with its great unfinished dome, towered above us. The White
House, the Treasury building, the Patent office, Arlington, the former
home of the Lees, Long bridge, Pennsylvania avenue, the Smithsonian
institute, the tree where Sickles killed Key. These and other points of
interest were quickly seen or visited.

And the Washington of 1862 was a very different city to the Washington
of recent years. Where now are broad avenues of concrete pavement, were
then wide streets of mud, through which teams of army mules, hauling
heavy wagons, tugged and floundered. A dirty canal, full of foul smells,
traversed the city where now are paved streets and fine buildings. Where
then were waste places, now are lovely parks, adorned with statues. Rows
of stately trees fringe the avenues, and green lawns dot the landscape,
where in 1862 was a vast military camp, full of hospitals and squalid in
appearance. The man who saw Washington then and returns to it for the
first time, would be as much astonished as was Aladdin at the creations
of his wonderful lamp. Certain salient features remain, but there has
been on the whole a magical change.

Camp was pitched on Meridian Hill, well out on Fourteenth street, near
Columbia college, then used for a hospital, and preparations were made
to spend the winter there. The Fifth Michigan, which had reached
Washington before us, was located on "Capitol Hill," at the opposite end
of the city. We had a fine campground, stretching from Fourteenth street
through to Seventh, well adapted to drill and parade purposes.

A few days after their arrival in Washington, the officers of the Sixth,
under the escort of Congressman Kellogg, went in a body to pay their
respects to President Lincoln, several members of the cabinet and the
general of the army. Full dress was the proper "caper," they were told,
and accordingly they were arrayed in their finest. The uniforms were new
and there is no doubt that they were a gorgeous looking party as they
marched up Pennsylvania avenue wearing shining brasses, bright red
sashes, buff gauntlets, and sabres glittering in their scabbards. Mr.
Kellogg pronounced the "Open Sesame" which caused the doors of the White
House to open and secured admission to the presence of the President.

After being ushered into the "Blue Parlor" we were kept waiting for some
time. Expectancy was on tip-toe, for few if any of the officers had seen
Mr. Lincoln. But no introduction was needed when the door opened and the
President stood before us. That was to me a memorable moment, for it was
the first and last time that I saw Abraham Lincoln. There was no
mistaking the tall, gaunt figure, the thin, care-worn face, the slovenly
gait, as he entered the room. In appearance he was almost as unique as
his place in history is unexampled. But spare, haggard and bent as he
looked, he was yet a strikingly handsome man, for there was on his brow
the stamp of greatness. We saw him as in a halo, and looked beyond the
plain lineaments and habiliments of the man to the ideal figure of the
statesman and president, struggling for the freedom of his country and
the unity of his race, whom we all saw in the "Railsplitter" from
Illinois; and he seemed, in his absent-minded way, to be looking beyond
those present to the infinite realm of responsibility and care in which
he dwelt.

It is the misfortune of Lincoln that his portraits have not been
idealized like those of Julius Cæsar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and
Washington. It remains for some great artist, inspired by the nobility
of his subject, to make those homely features so transparent that his
reverent and grateful countrymen may look through them and see a
presentment of the great soul and beautiful character that irradiated
and glorified them in his life, and which will grow brighter and more
lovely as the fugitive ages glide away.

The officers were introduced, one by one, and Mr. Lincoln gave each hand
a shake as he uttered a perfunctory, but kindly, "How do you do?" and
then turned quickly toward the door, as though his mind was still on the
work which he had left in order to grant the interview, which must have
trenched sadly upon his time.

But he was not to escape so easily, for the Congressman, rising to the
occasion, said:

"Mr. President, these are the officers of a regiment of cavalry who have
just come from my state of Michigan. They are 'Wolverines' and are on
the track of 'Jeb' Stuart, whom they propose to pursue and capture if
there is any virtue in a name."

"Gentlemen," said the President, with a twinkle of the eye, and the
first and only indication of humor that he gave, "I can assure you that
it would give me much greater pleasure to see 'Jeb Stuart' in captivity
than it has given me to see you," and with a bow and smile he vanished.

Although we remained in Washington for about two months, I did not see
him again. He never saw "Jeb Stuart" in captivity, but it was in a fight
with the Michigan cavalry brigade that the dashing raider was killed. So
the remark of the Congressman was not such an idle boast, after all.

When the Seventh Michigan arrived it was put in camp on the Seventh
street side. Colonel J.T. Copeland, of the Fifth Michigan, was promoted
to brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to the command of the
three regiments. The brigade was attached to the division of General
Silas Casey, all under General S.P. Heintzelman, who was in charge of
the Department of Washington, with headquarters in the city. Freeman
Norvell succeeded Copeland as colonel of the Fifth. The department
extended out into Virginia as far as Fairfax Court House, and there was
a cordon of troops entirely around the city.

The prospect was that the brigade would see little, if any fighting, for
a time, as it was not to be sent on to the army at Falmouth. The work of
drilling and disciplining went on without relaxation throughout the
winter months, and when arms were issued, it was found, to the delight
of all concerned, that we were to have repeating rifles.

The muskets or rifles issued to the United States infantry, during the
civil war, were inferior weapons, and a brigade of Michigan militia of
the present period would make short work of a military force of equal
numbers so armed. It is one of the strange things about that war that
the ordnance department did not anticipate the Austrians, Germans and
French, in the employment of the fire-arm loaded at the breech which was
so effective in the Franco-Prussian conflict and, if I am not mistaken,
in the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, also. This made of the
individual soldier a host in himself. The old muzzle-loader, with its
ramrod and dilatory "motions," ought to have been obsolete long before
Grant left the West to lead the Army of the Potomac from the Wilderness
to Appomattox. The Michigan cavalry brigade, armed as it was with
repeating carbines, was never whipped when it had a chance to use them.
In arming the infantry the government was fifty years behind the times.

Possibly the same thing might be said truthfully of the artillery also,
though the union artillerists, notwithstanding the handicap, did such
effective work as would have delighted the "Little Corporal," himself.

The "Spencer" rifle was an invention brought to the notice of the
Ordnance Department about that time. Among the numerous "charges"
brought against James G. Blaine was one that he was interested in the
manufacture of this arm and in the contract for furnishing it to the
government. How much truth there may have been in the assertion I do not
know, but if Mr. Blaine was instrumental in bringing about the adoption
of the "Spencer" for the use of the Federal cavalry, he ought to have
had a vote of thanks by Congress, for a better gun had never been
issued, and if the entire army had been supplied with it the war could
not have lasted ninety days and Mr. Seward would have been a prophet.

The "Spencer" was a magazine gun carrying eight cartridges, all of which
could be discharged without taking the arm from the shoulder. It was
loaded at the breech and the act of throwing out an empty shell replaced
it with a fresh cartridge. Against such arms the old-fashioned
muzzle-loaders, with which the infantry was equipped, were ineffective.
The Michigan men were fortunate in being among the very first to receive
these repeating rifles which, after the first year in the field, were
exchanged for the carbine of the same make, a lighter arm and better
adapted for the use of cavalry.



The stay in Washington though brief, was monotonous. Time hung heavily
on our hands. And yet, it was not devoid of incident. There is, perhaps,
little of this that is worth recounting, of those things, at least, that
appeared on the surface. Had one been able to reach the penetralia--the
inmost recesses--of official and military life, he might have brought
away with him reminiscences that would make racy reading. But this
privilege was vouchsafed to but few, and they the elect. The logic of
war is, learn to obey and ask no questions.

One thing happened which came very near breaking up my troop, and
threatened to destroy the regiment itself. It was at that time difficult
to get recruits for the regulars. Citizen-soldiers preferred the
volunteers. But it was considered important to keep the regiments in the
regular army recruited up to the minimum, at least, and an order was
issued from the War Department permitting regular officers to recruit
from the ranks of the volunteers. It was a bad order, and, as soon as
tested, was rescinded. I had the misfortune first to experience its
effects, and the good fortune to secure its abrogation.

There was in the troop a man who fancied he was slighted when the
non-commissioned officers were appointed and, always thereafter, nursed
his wrath to keep it warm. He was well-educated, but of a surly
disposition and insubordinate. He was made a corporal, but thought his
merits entitled him to something better and never got over the feeling.
Had he gone on and done his duty, like General Grant, in the station to
which he was assigned, he might have risen much higher. As it was, he
never did. This man made the discovery of the War Department order, and
soon there was a cabal which was constantly giving out that they were
independent of my authority and could shake themselves free at any
moment. At first, we did not know what this meant, but it soon leaked
out, though they intended to keep it secret. It was ascertained, not
only that they had the right to go, but that while down town on passes,
eleven men actually had enlisted in the regular army. The recruiting
officer had ordered them to report to him on a certain day which they
arranged to do, thinking that they would be sent to New York harbor, to
garrison forts and escape duty in the field.

When this became known, there was no time to be lost, and Colonel Gray
drew up a paper setting forth that if these men were allowed to go it
would be the end of all discipline in his command and asking that they
be ordered to report back for duty. He well understood the art of
putting things and the petition was brief, pointed and convincing. It
was addressed to the adjutant general of the army, but had to go through
the regular channels and, to save time, he gave me a letter directing
that I take it up in person. In two days, it had been approved by
Generals Copeland, Casey and Heintzelman,--and there was a delay of one
day at that,--due to a staff officer, who acted as a buffer at
Heintzelman's headquarters. Proceeding then at once to the adjutant
general's office, I was referred to Major Williams,[4] assistant
adjutant general, one of the most polished and courteous gentlemen it
was ever my fortune to meet. He was most gracious and kind, assured me
that the request would be granted at once, and told me to go back and
dismiss all further uneasiness about the matter. The next day, the order
was rescinded, once and for all. The eleven men were ordered to report
back for duty, and the regulars did no more recruiting in the

The men were ignorant of what had been done, and on the morning when
they were to leave, they called on me in a body to say good-by. One of
the number, acting as spokesman, assured me that it was on account of no
ill-will toward captain or troop that they had taken the step. It was
done because they believed it would be better for them and, as the act
was authorized, begged that I would not think hard of it, at the same
time assuring me of their lasting friendship. The speaker doubtless
voiced the honest sentiments of all, for it is probable that they
themselves had begun to suspect that they were making a mistake. In
reply, they were assured that no ill-will was harbored, unless it would
be in the "harbor" to which they were going, and they were urged to
write and let us know how they liked New York Harbor, as we would always
feel a warm interest in their welfare.

Then they started, but were halted at the "sallyport," and when they
exhibited to the officer-of-the-day their passes from the regular army
lieutenant, he presented to them the order from the adjutant general.
They came back, looking crest-fallen enough. Thinking that they had been
punished sufficiently, I assured them that if they would do their duty
like men, the matter would be forgotten.

It was a good lesson and, from that time on, no officer ever had the
honor to command men braver, more faithful, or more loyal, than were the
regular army contingent of Troop "E" Sixth Michigan cavalry. They never
had reason to regret the fate that kept them in the volunteers. Several
of them are still living and among my most devoted friends.

At some time during that winter, the Michigan men in Washington had a
banquet in one of the rooms or long hall-ways in the Capitol. It was a
fine affair. There were long tables loaded with viands and decorated
with flowers. The Michigan Senators--Chandler and J.M. Howard--and the
Members of Congress were present, and there was speech-making and
music. Among those who responded to toasts was Schuyler Colfax,
afterwards vice-president, then, I believe, Speaker of the House.
Colfax's remarks, alone, left much of an impression, but I wondered why
he was regarded as a great man. He had a pleasant, smiling face and very
white teeth, but his speech did not strike one as brilliant in any way.

The singing was led by Doctor Willard Bliss, surgeon-in-charge of Armory
Square hospital, located on Fourteenth street, opposite the then
unfinished Washington monument. Bliss went out as surgeon of the "Old
Third,"[5] had already made a place for himself as one of the leading
army surgeons, and his hospital was a model of good management. He was
at Bull Run with his regiment and it was said that he sent a telegram
from Washington to a relative in Michigan, saying: "A great battle
fought; 'Zene' (meaning his brother) 'Zene' and I are safe." The wags
were accustomed to figure out what extraordinary time he must have made
in order to reach Washington in time to send that telegram. But it was
the fashion to guy everybody who was in that battle, unless he was
either wounded or taken prisoner. Bliss, as most men are apt to do,
"went with the crowd." He remained in Washington after the war, making
much money and spending it freely, and achieved notoriety, if not fame,
through his connection with the case of President Garfield, after he was
shot by the assassin, Guiteau.

The camp on Meridian Hill was a pleasant one, and enlivened at times by
the presence of several ladies, among whom were Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Alger,
and Mrs. Sheldon, wives of the colonel, lieutenant colonel and
commissary, respectively. These ladies spent much time in camp, and when
the weather was pleasant lived in tents, which always were delightfully
homelike, and often crowded with visitors. 'Twas but a year or two since
Mrs. Alger's soldier-husband led her to the altar as a bride and they
were a handsome couple, not less popular than handsome. She was a
decided favorite in camp, winning the affections of all by her gracious
manners and kind heart, as she has done since, when presiding over her
hospitable home in Detroit or the mansion of the War Secretary in
Washington. Mrs. Sheldon, who was a niece of Dr. Willard Bliss, followed
her husband to the field and was a ministering angel to many a sick or
wounded soldier in hospital and in camp.

One day a man came to me and wanted to enlist. He said his home was in
the State of New York, but he liked the Michigan men and desired to join
them. He was a bright-looking, active young man and, as the numbers of
the troop had been somewhat reduced by sickness and death, he was
accepted and mustered in as a private. He remained with us until the
morning of the third day at Gettysburg, when, about daylight, he
gathered up a lot of canteens and went, ostensibly, to get them filled.
We never saw him again, and many times when thinking of the
circumstances, I wondered if he was a confederate spy. He was a good
soldier and did not leave to shirk danger, for he had been under fire
and demonstrated his courage. He could hardly have disappeared so
completely unless he went into the enemy's lines, and, if he did that,
must have done it purposely.[6]

There is no doubt that in the early years of the war the enemy's means
of getting information were far superior to ours and there is still less
doubt that not only the army, but Washington, and even the War
Department were filled with spies. Probably no union general ever
succeeded in outwitting these confederate emissaries so completely as
did General Sheridan. He told me in Petersburg, after the fall of
Richmond, that he had Early's spies at his headquarters in Winchester
all through the winter of 1864-65--they having come to him under the
pretense of being deserters--knowing them to be such, but pretending
that he did not distrust them, and in the spring, before the grand
forward movement, he sent them off on a false scent, with wrong
information for their chief--Early. With two of these, in order to keep
up the deception, he was obliged to send one genuine union scout, who
was arrested as a spy, in Lynchburg, and would have been hung, if the
sudden closing of hostilities had not suspended sentence. This man's
name was M.B. Medes, a trooper of the Sixth Michigan cavalry, then on
detached service as a scout at Sheridan's headquarters, and never, since
his miraculous escape, has he been able to talk about the experiences of
that last scout without a fit of nervous prostration. In a letter
written to me several years ago, he said:

   "I don't know why it is, but I can never talk of my adventures and
   narrow escapes while acting as scout and spy, that I do not break
   down completely and shake as though I had a hard chill."



It was toward the last of February, 1863, that the first order to move
came. I had been down to the city and, returning about ten o'clock in
the evening, not dreaming of any change from the usual order of things,
was surprised to find all bustle and confusion, where a few hours before
it had been quiet and serene. The regiment was to march at two o'clock
in the morning, and preparations for departure were well under way.
Three days' cooked rations and forty rounds of ammunition to the man
were to be taken, the sick men and unserviceable horses to remain in
camp, and the tents to remain standing as they were until our return. By
this it appeared that it was to be a raid or reconnoissance, not a
permanent change of station. Everyone was busy getting ready for the
march. Rations were issued, cooked and put in the haversacks; ammunition
was distributed and placed in the cartridge boxes; a small bag of oats
was strapped to each saddle; horses were fed and the men took a midnight
lunch. As for myself, I had the foresight to have a tin cup tied to the
cantle of my saddle and, in addition to the cooked meat and hard bread,
put into the saddle-bags some sugar, and a sack of coffee that my good
mother had sent from home and which was received only a few days before.
It was about as large as a medium-sized shot bag, and the coffee was
browned and ground ready for use. I also took a supply of matches. These
things were of inestimable value during the next few days.

Promptly at the appointed hour, two o'clock a.m., "boots and saddles"
and "to horse" were sounded; twelve troops led their horses into line;
twelve first sergeants called the roll, to which every man not excused
from duty responded; and twelve troop commanders gave the order to
mount; when the regiment, responsive to the bugle call, "forward," broke
into column of fours, moved out into Fourteenth street and headed for
Long Bridge. The night was dark and dismal. The rain began to fall. It
was cold and raw, the air surcharged with moisture, chilling one to the
marrow. But as the troopers wore gum coats or "poncho" blankets and top
boots, they were measurably sheltered from the storm at the same time
that they were exposed to it.

Down through the silent, slumbering city the multitudinous tread of the
iron-shod horses awoke strange echoes, while the splashing rain-drops
and lowering clouds did not serve to raise the spirits. It was an
inauspicious beginning of active service, and typical of the many long
and weary weeks of wet discomfort that the Sixth of Michigan was
destined to experience before the summer solstice had fairly passed. The
points of interest,--the public buildings, the white house, the massive
Greek architecture of the Treasury building, the monument, all these as
they glided like phantoms, through the mist, attracted scarcely a casual
glance. Indeed, it is probable that few in that long column took note
that these had passed at all, so deeply were they absorbed in the
reflections that the time and circumstances produced.

Thus on to the Long Bridge that spans the great water highway between
the Nation's Capital and the "Old Dominion." The tread of a thousand
cavalry horses did not serve to shake its mile of solid superstructure.
It seemed a long journey from one end to the other. Above, the scurrying
clouds, below, the angry river, all around, the drizzling storm, it was
a sorry scene; and a sullen welcome to the soil of Virginia, that was
then as often before and afterwards, a slippery, sticky mud.

Halting at daylight, the column was reinforced a few miles out, by the
Fifth Michigan cavalry. Resuming the march, the two regiments passed
through Alexandria, looking with interest, of course, at the spot where
the chivalric Ellsworth was shot the year before. What a dilapidated
town, its whole face marred and scarred by the ravages of war!

It took till dusk to reach Centerville, and the rain never stopped long
enough to catch its breath, but kept at it, all day long. Such a first
night out as that was! The men slept, or rather stood in the rain all
night for sleep was out of the question. No wood could be procured, so
no fires were built and there was no hot coffee. It was a unique
experience for cavalrymen and they had not yet learned how to forage. I
wandered around in the rain and finally stumbled upon the quarters of
some infantry officers who were stationed near and had a tent and a
fire. They kindly permitted me to stay with them till morning. But for
this, it seemed to me that I should have perished, though the sequel
proved that it was possible to get through a worse night without food or

In the morning at six o'clock, three more regiments, the Fifth New York,
the First Virginia, and the Eighteenth Pennsylvania, joined, and the
force, thus augmented to about two thousand men, pushed on towards
Warrenton, Sir Percy Wyndham in command. This officer was an Englishman,
an alleged lord. But lord or son of a lord, his capacity as a cavalry
officer was not great. He had been entrusted with one or two independent
commands and was regarded as a dashing officer. He had no sooner assumed
command of our force than he started off at a rapid pace through that
part of Virginia that was between Washington and Falmouth--that is, in
rear of Hooker's army, and where there was no enemy, unless it might
have been small bands of guerrillas. During the day he charged through
the town of Warrenton and a few confederate scouts coolly watched the
column from the neighboring hills. They were well mounted and evidently
did not fear capture. Indeed, no attempt was made to capture them, but
away rode Wyndham, as if riding for a wager, or to beat the record of
John Gilpin. He seemed bent on killing as many horses as possible, not
to mention the men. The fact was the newspapers were in the habit of
reporting that Colonel or General so-and-so had made a forced march of
so many miles in so many hours, and it is probable that "Sir Percy" was
in search of some more of that kind of cheap renown. It was a safe
pastime, harmless to the enemy and not dangerous to himself, though
hurtful to horse-flesh.

That night we camped beyond Warrenton and had the first taste of picket
duty. My troop was sent out about a mile beyond the camp and kept on
picket until morning. A line of videttes was posted along the front, and
so keenly did the officers feel the responsibility, that they made no
attempt to sleep but were in the saddle constantly. It would have been a
smart confederate who could have surprised the Michiganders that night.
Every faculty was on the alert. Often we fancied that an enemy was
approaching the line; a foe lurked behind every tree and bush; each
sound had an ominous meaning and the videttes were visited at frequent
intervals to see if they had discovered anything. In that way the night
passed. In the morning everybody was exhausted and, to make matters
worse, many of the men ran short of provisions. Some of them had
neglected to bring the amount ordered; others had been improvident and
wasted their rations. So to the discomforts of cold and wet, were added
the pangs of hunger. The little bag of coffee had proven a precious
boon. Whenever the column would halt for a few minutes, and it was
possible to find anything that would burn, a handful of the coffee was
put into a tin cup of water and boiled. It was surprising how quickly
this could be done, and the beverage thus brewed was "nectar fit for the
gods." When the flavor of that coffee, as it tasted on that trip more
than forty years ago, is recalled, it is with a smack of the lips. The
bare remembrance is more grateful to the palate than is the actual
enjoyment of the most delicate product of the culinary art today.

There were times early in the war when spirits were issued to the
soldiers as an army ration. Though personally I never took a drop of
liquor when on duty during the entire of my army service, yet I am
confident that there were times when a reasonable amount of stimulant
was a good thing. Indeed, there were times when a man was a fool if he
did not take it, assuming that he could get it. Coffee was, however, a
very good substitute, and to the credit of the government be it said the
coffee issued to the Union troops was almost invariably of excellent
quality. They always had it and plenty of it. Such a solace as it was!
There was nothing like it. On the march, when there was a temporary
halt, a thousand fires would quickly blaze alongside the weary column,
and a thousand tin cups would soon be steaming with the fragrant and
delicious beverage. Veterans could build a fire and make a cup of
coffee almost as quickly, and under as discouraging environments, as the
traditional Irishman can light his pipe. It seemed to be done by magic,
and there was no time and no place where the cup of coffee was not
welcome and appreciated.

There is a song, much affected by members of the Grand Army of the
Republic. It is styled "The Army Bean." I could never quite make out
whether it was not intended as a burlesque. There may be enough of
sentiment attached to the army bean to entitle it to the honor of being
immortalized in song, but to me it was an abomination, less poetic in
name and association than the proverbial "sow-belly" bacon, so dear to
the heart of the soldier.

Why does not some poet, filled with the divine afflatus, sing the praise
of the army tin cup and its precious contents--the fragrant coffee of
the camp, and march, and bivouac? Ambrosial nectar fit for the gods. The
everyday and grateful beverage of heroes. Here is a theme for some
modern Horace, as inspiring as the fruity and fragrant wine of which his
ancient namesake so eloquently sang. I doubt if the red wine of the
Horatian odes was more exhilarating to the Roman legionary than the
aroma from his tin cup to the soldier of the Union.

Oh, brimming, steaming, fragrant cup! Never-failing friend of the
volunteer! His solace in fatigue, and his strength in battle. To thee, I

To resume the story at the point at which this digression left it: On
the day following the night tour of picket duty, after having ridden
from one o'clock in the morning till after eight o'clock in the evening,
and the march not yet ended, I became so famished that a piece of raw
fat pork was devoured with more relish than ever before I had eaten an
orange. Our valiant commander, finding that morning that rations and
forage were both exhausted, started for Falmouth, the nearest point at
which supplies could be obtained. Late that Saturday night we bivouaced
with the camp fires of Hooker's army all around. But no forethought had
been taken; no rations were drawn or issued; no wood was supplied; and
after three days' ride through the rain, many not having had a morsel of
food for twenty-four hours, the entire command was forced to lie on the
ground, in pools of water, in the midst of a drenching rain without
food, or fire, or shelter of any kind whatever. It was dreadful, and the
experiences of that night are recalled even now with a shudder. It was
like lying down in the middle of a river. There was no place big enough
to spread a blanket, where there was not a puddle of water, and, all the
time, the rain fell pitilessly, in torrents. The solace of hot coffee
was denied, for there was no fuel. Food was gone. The minutes were
hours. While hunger gnawed at the vitals, a clammy chilliness seized
upon one, making him feel as if every vital organ was in a state of
congestion. How daylight was longed for, and soon after the first
streaks of dawn began to appear, I deserted my watery couch and made
straight across the country toward some infantry camps, and actually
hugged every fragment of an ember that could be found. After a while I
found some soldiers cooking coffee. One of them was taking a cup off the
fire for his breakfast. I asked him for a drink which he surlily

"How much will you take for all there is in the cup?" said I.

He did not want to sell it, but when I took out a half dollar and
offered it to him, he took it and gave up the coffee, looking on with
astonishment, while I swallowed it almost boiling hot and without taking
breath. This revived me, and soon after, I found a place where a meal
consisting of ham, eggs, bread and coffee, was served for a big price
and took about a dollar's worth for breakfast.

By eight o'clock, rations and forage were drawn and issued and men and
horses were supplied with the much needed food. All of Sunday was spent
in Falmouth and the "fresh" cavalrymen took a good many observations as
to how real soldiers conducted and took care of themselves.

Monday morning Sir Percy started by the nearest route, via Acquia Creek,
Stafford Court House and Fairfax, for Washington, arriving there at
eight o'clock Tuesday evening, having been absent just six days,
accomplishing nothing. It was a big raid on government horses, ruining
a large number. Beside that, it made many men ill. It was a good thing
though, after all. The men had learned what campaigning meant and,
thereafter, knew how to provide themselves for a march, and how
important to husband their rations so as to prevent waste at first and
make them last as long as possible.

Some idea of the damage done to horses by such raids as that of Sir
Percy Wyndham, may be gained from the morning reports of officers on the
day after the return to camp in Washington. I find that out of eighty
horses in my troop only twenty were fit for duty, part of which had been
left in camp and did not accompany the expedition. However, they quickly
recuperated, and on the eleventh of March following, we were off into
Virginia once more, this time bringing up at Fairfax Court House, where
we remained a week, encamping by the side of the First Michigan, Fifth
New York, and several other veteran regiments, from whom by observation
and personal contact, much information was gained that proved of great
value during the following months.

In the meantime, the camps in Washington were broken up and all the
regiments were sent across the Potomac. A division of cavalry was
organized, consisting of two brigades. Wyndham was sent to Hooker and
Julius Stahel, a brigadier general who had been serving in Blenker's
division, of Sigel's corps, in the army of the Potomac, was assigned to
command of all the cavalry in the Department of Washington, with
headquarters at Fairfax Court House.

Stahel was a Hungarian, and it was said had been on the staff of Kossuth
in the Hungarian army. He was a "dapper little Dutchman," as everybody
called him. His appearance was that of a natty staff officer, and did
not fill one's ideal of a major general, or even a brigadier general by
brevet. He affected the foreign style of seat on horseback, and it was
"as good as a show" to see him dash along the flank of the column at a
rattling pace, rising in his stirrups as he rode. I have always believed
that had he remained with the Third Cavalry division long enough to get
into a real charge, like the one at Gettysburg, he would have been glad
enough to put aside all those "frills" and use his thighs to retain his
seat in the saddle while he handled his arms. He took great pride in his
messing arrangements and gave elegant "spreads" to invited guests at his
headquarters. I was privileged to be present at one of these dinners and
must say that he entertained in princely style. His staff were all
foreigners, and would have been "dudes," only there were no "dudes" in
those days. Dudes were types of the genus homo evolved at a later
period. They were dandies and no mistake, but in that respect had no
advantage over him, for he could vie in style with the best of them. One
member of his staff was a Hungarian who answered to the name of
Figglemezzy, and only the other day I read a notice of his death
recently in New York. Stahel is still living--one of the very few
surviving major generals of the civil war.[7]

It is a pity we did not have a chance to see Stahel in a fight, for I
have an idea he was brave, and it takes away in an instant any feeling
of prejudice you may have against a man on account of his being fussy in
dress, when you see him face death or danger without flinching. Fine
clothes seem to fit such a man, but upon one who cannot stand fire they
become a proper subject for ridicule. Custer with flashing eye and
flowing hair, charging at the head of his men, was a grand and
picturesque figure, the more so by reason of his fantastic uniform,
which made him a conspicuous mark for the enemy's bullets, but a coward
in Custer's uniform would have become the laughing stock of the army. So
Stahel might, perhaps, have won his way to confidence, had he remained
with the cavalry division which afterwards achieved fame under
Kilpatrick and Custer but, at the first moment when there was serious
work ahead for his command, he was relieved, and another wore the spurs
and received the laurels that might have been his.

Leaving Washington at daylight, we went into camp about five miles out,
expecting to remain there for a time, but had just time to prepare
breakfast when an order came to report to Lieutenant Colonel Alger who,
with the four largest troops in the regiment, was going off on an
independent expedition. That evening we reached Vienna, a little town on
the Loudoun railroad, where we found a small force, including two troops
of the First Vermont cavalry, already on duty. This was our first
acquaintance with the Green Mountain boys, and the friendship thus begun
was destined to last as long as there was an enemy in arms against the
Union. The First Vermont was sometimes referred to as the "Eighth
Michigan," so close were the ties which bound it to the Michigan
brigade. And they always seemed to be rather proud of the designation.

Assuming command of all the forces there, Colonel Alger informed us that
General Stahel had information that the place was to be attacked that
night and that we were there to defend it. Selecting a strong position
on a hill, a camp was started, but no fires were allowed after dark.
Vigilance was not relaxed, but no enemy appeared, and on the following
day we went on a scout through all the region roundabout without
encountering a single armed confederate. The air was full of rumors.
Nobody could tell their origin. Fitzhugh Lee was a few miles away,
coming with a big force. "Stonewall" Jackson had started on another
raid, and any moment might see his gray "foot-cavalry" swarming into the
vicinity. Such stories were poured into our ears at Vienna, but a couple
of days' duty there demonstrated their falsity and we were hurried back
to Fairfax Court House and sent off on a day and night march through the
Loudoun Valley to Aldie, Middleburg and Ashby's Gap in the Blue Ridge
mountains. Two entire regiments, the Fifth Michigan under Colonel Alger
and the Sixth under Colonel Gray, went on this expedition, reaching
Aldie at midnight, in a blinding snow-storm. Remaining out in it all
night without shelter or fire, the next day we made a gallant "charge"
through Middleburg, finding no enemy there but a few of Mosby's men who
fled at our approach. During the day some of them were captured and one
man of troop "C," Sixth was killed. It was evident that Lee's army, no
portion of it, had begun a movement northward, and the two regiments
returned to Fairfax, making a night march while the snow continued to
fall and mud and slush made the going as bad as it could be. At two
o'clock in the morning the column halted and an attempt was made to
build camp-fires, but the logs and rails were so wet that they would not
burn, and all hands stood around in the snow, stamping their feet and
swinging their arms, in a futile effort to keep warm. The march was
resumed at daylight. We were more comfortable when in the saddle, on the
march, than during that early morning bivouac. It was possible to sleep,
when snugly settled in the capacious McClellan saddles, but when
dismounted, sleep was out of the question. There was no place to lie
down and to stand in the snow only aggravated the discomfort. But when
mounted, the men would pull the capes of their overcoats over their
heads, drop their chins upon their breasts and sleep. The horses
plodded along and doubtless were asleep too, doing their work as a
somnambulist might, walking while they slept.

Soon thereafter, Colonel Alger with five troops (troop "B," commanded by
Captain Peter A. Weber, having been added to the four that were with him
at Vienna) was sent to a place called "Camp Meeting Hill," where a camp
was established that proved to be a permanent one. At least, we remained
there until Hooker's army moved northward. This was a delightful place.
The tents were pitched in a grove of large timber on a piece of ground
that was high and dry, sloping off in every direction. It was by the
side of the pike running south from Vienna, two miles from that place,
close to the Leesburg pike and the Loudoun railroad. A semi-circular
line of pickets was established in front of Washington, the right and
left resting on the Potomac, above and below the city respectively. Our
detachment guarded the extreme right of the line. Colonel Gray was five
miles to the left, with the remainder of the Sixth, and the Fifth still
farther away in that direction. About two miles in front of our camp ran
the "Difficult" Creek, a small, deep stream with difficult banks, that
rises somewhere in the Bull Run country, and empties into the Potomac
near the Great Falls above Washington. A line of videttes was posted
along this creek. An enemy could not easily surprise them, as the stream
was in their front. Well out toward this line from the main camp, two
reserves were established, commanded by captains, and still farther out
smaller reserves, under charge of the lieutenants and sergeants. Each
troop had a tour of this duty, twenty-four hours on and forty-eight off.
The "off" days were given to reading, writing and exploring the country
on horseback.

It was a charming region, not much desolated by the war, being rather
out of the beaten track of the armies. Parties of officers often used to
take a run across country to Gray's camp, clearing fences and ditches as
they went. In these expeditions, Colonel Alger was always the leader
with Captain Weber a close second. On one of these gallopades, he and
Weber, who were riding in advance, cleared a stream full of water and
about eight or nine feet wide, but when I tried to follow, my horse
jumped into instead of across the ditch, the water coming up to the
saddle-girths. The two lucky horsemen on the other side halted and had a
good laugh at my expense while steed and I were scrambling out the best
way we could. My horse was a noble fellow and jumped with all his might
when called upon, but lacked judgment, and would leap twice as high as
was necessary, while falling short of making his distance. He rarely
failed at a fence, but ditches were a source of dread to horse and man.

The Difficult Creek duty was a sort of romantic episode in our military
experience--a delightful green oasis in the dry desert of hard work,
exposure, danger and privation. Many pleasant acquaintances were made
and time passed merrily. Just across the pike was a spacious farm
house, occupied by a family who were staunch unionists, and who had been
made to pay well for their loyalty when the confederates were in the
neighborhood. It was said that Lord Fairfax, the friend of Washington,
had at one time lived there. The place had about it an air of generous
hospitality that would have become Colonial days. The officers were
always welcomed, and it was a favorite resort for them when off duty,
partly because the people were unionists, and partly for the reason that
there were several very agreeable young ladies there. One of these, who
lived in Connecticut, was the fiancee of a captain in the First Vermont
cavalry, whose command was stationed there. Another was at home and it
may be surmised that these ladies received the assiduous attentions of
half a score, more or less, of the young fellows, who proved themselves
thorough cavaliers in gallantry as well as in arms. There was no day
when the two ladies might not be seen under the escort of half a dozen
cavalrymen, exploring the country on horseback. On all these excursions
Weber, handsome as he was brave, was a leading spirit, and succeeded in
captivating the ladies with the charm of his manners, his good looks,
his splendid horsemanship and his pleasing address. It was enough to
make one forget the mission that brought him into the South to see him
with two or more ladies by his side galloping gaily over the magnificent
roads for which that part of Virginia was remarkable. Then there were
picnics, lunches, dancing parties and other diversions to fill in the
time. Once one of these parties ventured across the Difficult Creek and
rode "between the lines," going as far as Drainesville--eight miles
distant--in Mosby's own territory. When the lieutenant colonel
commanding learned of this, he reprimanded the officers concerned for
what he was pleased to term an act of "foolhardiness."

While stationed at this place one of the young officers was taken ill
with fever, and our friends across the way had him brought to the house,
where everything that good nursing and kind attention could suggest was
done for him. He was reported very ill and the surgeon said that he was
threatened with typhoid fever. A day or two after his removal to the
house, I called upon him expecting to find him very low. What was my
surprise, on being ushered into a spacious, well-furnished apartment, to
find him propped up on a bed, with a wealth of snowy pillows and an
unmistakable look of convalescence, while two good-looking ladies sat,
one on either side of his couch, each holding one of his hands in hers,
while he was submitting to the "treatment" with an air of undisguised
resignation. It may be noted that this was before the days of "Christian
Science." I felt no anxiety about him after that, and returning
immediately to camp, wrote to his father stating that if he should hear
any rumors that his son was not doing well, to place no reliance upon
them, for he was doing very well indeed. This young officer had the good
fortune to survive the war, and is still living.

During the sojourn at Difficult Creek Governor Blair visited the camp.
He rode over in the morning on horseback and made an odd-looking
appearance in his citizen's suit and well-worn silk hat. He remained all
day, made a speech to the soldiers and after supper took an ambulance
and was escorted by Colonel Alger and myself back to Washington,
fourteen miles away. It was a very enjoyable and memorable ride. The war
governor was full of anecdote and a good talker and his companions
listened with the liveliest interest to what he had to say about
Michigan, her people and her soldiers. He was very solicitous about the
welfare of the troops, and impressed one as an able, patriotic man, who
was doing all he possibly could to hold up the hands of the government
and to provide for the Michigan men in the field. We left him at the
National hotel and early the next morning returned to our posts of duty.

About this time, rumors were rife of a projected movement of Lee's army
northward. Washington and Alexandria alternated in spasms of fear.
Twice, what seemed like well-authenticated reports came from the former
place that Stuart had passed through our lines. Chain Bridge was torn up
and all the negroes in Alexandria were out digging rifle-pits. Our force
was captured repeatedly (without our knowledge) and awful dangers
threatened us, according to Washington authority. These, and many other
equally false reports filled the air. They were probably the result of
logical inferences from the actual situation. The time had arrived when
active hostilities must soon begin, and what more natural than to
suppose that Lee would inaugurate the fray by another invasion of the
North? Among the letters that I wrote to my parents about that time one
or two were preserved, and under date of June 1, 1863, I wrote to my
mother a note, the following extract from which will serve to show that
there was in our minds a sort of prophetic intuition of what was going
to happen. Referring to the false rumors that were not only coming to
our ears from these various sources, but even appearing in the Northern
papers, I said:

   "That Lee will attempt to raid into the North, after the manner of
   'Stonewall' Jackson, is possible, perhaps probable, but when he comes
   we shall hear of it before he wakes up President Lincoln to demand
   that the keys to the White House be turned over to 'Jeff' Davis.
   Besides having an efficient and perfect line of pickets, scouts are
   out daily in our front, so that the idea of the rebel army reaching
   Washington without our knowledge is preposterous. Lee may make a
   rapid march through the Shenandoah Valley, and thence into
   Pennsylvania and Maryland, but nothing would please the Union army
   more than to have him make the attempt."

Three weeks after the date of that letter, Hooker's army was in motion
to head off Lee, who had started to do the very thing thus hinted at,
and there was not a soldier in the federal army of Virginia who did not
feel, if he gave the matter any thought, that the confederate chief had
made a fatal mistake, and rejoice at the opportunity to meet him, since
meet him we must, outside his intrenchments and the jungles of
Virginia. That Stahel's men were willing to do their part was proven by
their conduct in the campaign that followed.

Early in June a thing happened that brought a feeling of gloom into the
little camp. Colonel Norvell of the Fifth having resigned, the officers
of that regiment united in a petition to the governor to appoint an
outsider to the vacancy. Governor Blair selected Lieutenant Colonel
Alger. Indeed, that was probably part of his business on the occasion of
his recent visit. Colonel Alger was ordered to report immediately for
duty with his new command, and left, taking with him the hearty
congratulations and good wishes of all his comrades of the Sixth. But
their regret at losing him was profound. They did not know how to spare
him. It gave him more rank and a larger field of usefulness. Major
Thaddeus Foote assumed command of the detachment.

This reference to the Fifth reminds me of Noah H. Ferry and a night ride
in his company, about the time of Colonel Alger's promotion. I had been
over to Colonel Gray's camp with some message to him from Colonel Alger,
and meeting Major Ferry, who was field officer of the day, he said he
was to start that night and inspect the entire picket line of the
brigade, about fourteen or fifteen miles long and invited me to
accompany him. He would reach the Difficult outpost in the morning,
making an all night ride. I gladly accepted the invitation, both for the
ride and to see the country. Major Ferry then in his prime, was a
strong, vigorous, wholesome-looking man, with a ruddy complexion and
bright eye, a man of excellent habits and correct principles. He told me
that night what sacrifices he had made to go into the army. His business
had cleared that year, $70,000, and with the right sort of management
ought to go on prosperously. His leaving it had thrown the entire
burden, his work as well as their own, upon the shoulders of his
brothers. He had everything to make life desirable,--wealth, social
position, youth, health,--there was nothing to be desired, yet he felt
it to be his duty to give it all up to enter the service of his country.
He talked very freely of his affairs, and seemed to be weighing in the
balances his duty to himself and family. His patriotic feelings gained
the mastery, however, every time, and he talked earnestly of the
matter,--protesting that our duty to the government in its sore strait
ought to outweigh all other considerations. It was clear that a struggle
had been going on in his mind, and that he had resolutely determined to
go on and meet his fate, whatever it might be, and when he was killed a
few weeks afterwards at Gettysburg, I recalled the conversation of that
night and wondered if he had not a presentiment of his coming fate, for
he seemed so grave and preoccupied, and profoundly impressed with a
sense of the great sacrifice he was making. A soldier neither by
profession nor from choice, he wore the uniform of the Union because he
could not conscientiously shirk the duty he felt that he owed the
government, and relinquished fortune, home, ambition, life itself, for
the cause of the Union.

Some time about the middle of June, the picket line was taken up. Major
Foote's detachment was ordered to report to Colonel Gray, and Stahel's
division was concentrated at Fairfax Court House. The rumors of the
movements of armies had become realities. Lee was in motion. The army of
Northern Virginia was trying to steal a march on its great adversary.
Long columns of gray were stealthily passing through the Shenandoah
Valley to invade the North, and to be on hand to help the farmers of
Pennsylvania and Maryland reap their golden harvests.

But the alert federal commander, gallant "Fighting 'Joe' Hooker," was
not caught napping. Lee did not escape from Fredericksburg unobserved.
The army of the Potomac cavalry was sent to guard the passes in the
mountains and see to it that Jackson's and Longstreet's maneuvers of the
previous summer were not repeated, while six corps of infantry marched
leisurely toward the fords of the Potomac, ready to cross into Maryland
as soon as it should appear that Lee was actually bent on invasion of
Northern soil. Hooker's opportunity had come and he saw it. For Lee to
venture into Pennsylvania, was to court destruction. All felt that, and
it was with elastic step and buoyant spirits, that the veterans of
Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, of Antietam and Chancellorsville, kept step
to the music of the Union, as they moved toward the land where the flag
was still honored, and where they would be among friends. All the troops
in the Department of Washington were set in motion by Hooker as soon as
he arrived where they were. His plan was to concentrate everything in
front of Lee, believing that the best way to protect Washington was to
destroy the confederate army. Stahel was ordered to report to General
Reynolds, who commanded the left grand division of Hooker's army, and
who was to have the post of honor, the advance, and to lose his life
while leading the vanguard of the federal army in the very beginning of
the battle of Gettysburg. Thus it happened that we were at last, part
and parcel of that historic army whose fame will last as long as the
history of heroic deeds and patriotic endeavor.

Hooker's policy did not coincide with the views of the slow and cautious
Halleck, and so the former resigned, thus cutting short a career of
extraordinary brilliancy just on the eve of his greatest success. It was
a fatal mistake for Hooker. I have always believed that, had he remained
in command, the battle of Gettysburg would have been the Appomattox of
the Civil War. Such an opportunity as was there presented, he had never
had before. Even in the wilderness around Chancellorsville, where his
well laid plans miscarried through no fault of his own, he was stopped
only by a series of accidents from crushing his formidable adversary.
The dense woods prevented the cooperation of the various corps; the
audacity of Jackson turned defeat for Lee into temporary victory; and to
crown this chapter of accidents, Hooker himself was injured so as to be
incapacitated for command, at the very moment when quick action was

Now the conditions were changed. Jackson, the ablest of all the
confederate generals, was dead, and the army of the Potomac, greatly
reinforced, was to meet the army of Northern Virginia, materially
weakened, where they could have an open field and a fair fight. Every
step that Hooker had taken, from the time when he broke camp in Falmouth
until he, in a fit of disgust at Halleck's obstinacy, tendered his
resignation at Frederick, Maryland, had shown a comprehensive grasp of
the situation that inspired the whole army with confidence. The moment
that Lee decided to fight the army of the Potomac on grounds of its own
choosing, and to fight an offensive battle, he was foredoomed to defeat,
no matter who commanded the federal army. Hooker possessed the very
qualifications that Meade lacked--the same fierce energy that
characterized Sheridan--the ability to follow up and take advantage of a
beaten enemy. With Hooker in command, Gettysburg would have been Lee's

Sunday, June 21, heavy cannonading in the direction of the passes in the
Blue Ridge mountains, proclaimed that the battle was raging.
Pleasanton's cavalry had encountered Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee at
Middleburg and a fierce engagement resulted. Our division left Fairfax
at an early hour, and all supposed that it would go towards the sound of
battle. Not so, however. Stahel, with as fine a body of horse as was
ever brought together, marched to Warrenton, thence to Fredericksburg,
scouting over the entire intermediate country, encountering no enemy,
and all the time the boom of cannon was heard, showing plainly where the
enemy was. We were out three days on this scout, going to Kelly's Ford,
Gainesville, Bealton Station, and traversing the ground where Pope's
battle of the Second Bull Run was fought, returning by the most direct
route to the right of Warrenton. The march was so rapid that the trains
were left behind and a good portion of the time we were without forage
or food. The horses were fed but once on the trip. Rains had fallen,
laying the dust, the weather was charming and it was very enjoyable. One
road over which we passed was lined with old cherry trees of the "Black
Tartarian" and "Morello" varieties, and they were bowing beneath their
loads of ripe and luscious fruit with which the men supplied themselves
by breaking off the limbs. We passed over much historic ground and were
greatly interested in the points where the armies had contended at
different times.




After one day of rest from the fatigues of the reconnoissance referred
to in the previous chapter, at two o'clock Thursday morning, June 25,
the bugles sounded "To Horse," and we bade a final adieu to the places
which had known us in that part of the theater of war. The division
moved out at daylight. The head of column turned toward Edwards Ferry,
on the Potomac river, where Baker fell in 1861. The Sixth was detailed
as rear guard. The march was slow, the roads being blocked with wagons,
artillery, ambulances, and the other usual impedimenta of a body of
troops in actual service, for it was then apparent that the whole army
was moving swiftly into Maryland.

At Vienna the regiment stopped to feed, not being able to move while
"waiting for the wagon;" in other words, until all other troops had
cleared the way for the rear guard. Vienna was not far from Camp-meeting
Hill, so Captain Weber and I obtained permission to ride over and call
on our friends in that neighborhood, intending to overtake the regiment
at noon. This ride took us two or three miles off the road on which the
various commands were marching.

Camp-meeting Hill looked like a deserted village, with no soldiers near
and no sign of war. We found our friends rather blue at the thought of
being abandoned and, as good-by was said, it was with a feeling that we
might never meet again. Weber, gallant as ever, waved his hand to the
ladies as he rode away, calling back in a cheery voice that he would
come again, "when this cruel war is over." Resuming our journey, a
little apprehensive of encountering some of Mosby's men, we were
fortunate enough to meet ten troopers of the First Michigan going across
the country to join the division. Hurrying on through Dranesville, at a
little before noon we overtook the Fifth Michigan cavalry, from whom we
learned that we were up with the advance and that our own regiment was
far in rear. Selecting a comfortable place, we unsaddled our horses and
lighting our pipes, threw ourselves down on the green grass, and for
hours sat waiting while mile after mile of army wagons and artillery
passed. Most of the infantry had gone on the day before, but I remember
distinctly seeing a portion of the Twelfth corps, en route. I recall
especially General A.S. ("Pap") Williams and General Geary, both of whom
commanded divisions in that corps. At six o'clock in the evening we went
to a farm house and had a supper prepared but had not had time to pay
our respects to it when by the aid of my field glass I saw the advance
of the regiment coming. It was the rear guard of a column that was seven
hours passing a given point.

It was after dark when the regiment reached the ford at Edwards Ferry.
The night was cloudy and there was no moon. The river was nearly, if not
quite, a mile wide, the water deep and the current strong. The only
guide to the proper course was to follow those in advance; but, as horse
succeeded horse, they were gradually borne farther and farther down the
stream, away from the ford and into deeper water. By the time the Sixth
reached the river the water was nearly to the tops of the saddles.
Marching thus through the inky darkness, guided mostly by the sound of
plashing hoofs in front, there was imminent danger of being swept away
and few, except the most reckless, drew a long breath until the distance
had been traversed and our steeds were straining up the slippery bank
upon the opposite shore.

Safely across the river, the column did not halt for rest or food, but
pushed on into Maryland. To add to the discomfort, a drizzling rain set
in. The guide lost his way, and it was two o'clock in the morning when
the rear guard halted for a brief bivouac in a piece of woods, near
Poolesville. Wet, weary, hungry and chilled, as they were, it was enough
to dispirit the bravest men. But there was no murmuring, and at
daylight, the march was resumed.

That day (26) we passed the First army corps, commanded by the lamented
Reynolds, and reached the village of Frederick as the sun was setting.
The clouds had cleared away, and a more enchanting vision never met
human eye than that which appeared before us as we debouched from the
narrow defile up which the road from lower Maryland ran, on the
commanding heights that overlooked the valley. The town was in the
center of a most charming and fertile country, and around it thousands
of acres of golden grain were waving in the sunlight. The rain of the
early morning had left in the atmosphere a mellow haze of vapor which
reflected the sun's rays in tints that softly blended with the summer
colorings of the landscape. An exclamation of surprise ran along the
column as each succeeding trooper came in sight of this picture of
Nature's own painting.

But more pleasing still, were the evidences of loyalty which greeted us
on every hand, as we entered the village. The stars and stripes floated
above many buildings, while from porch and window, from old and young,
came manifestations of welcome. The men received us with cheers, the
women with smiles and waving of handkerchiefs. That night we were
permitted to go into camp and enjoy a good rest, in the midst of plenty
and among friends.

On Saturday morning (27) much refreshed, with horses well fed and
groomed and haversacks replenished, the Fifth and Sixth moved on toward
Emmittsburg, the Seventh having gone through the Catoctin Valley by
another road. The march was through the camps of thousands of infantry
just starting in the same direction. Among the distinguished generals
who were leading the advance, I remember, particularly, Reynolds and
Doubleday. During the day it was a constant succession of fertile fields
and leafy woods. Commodious farm-houses on every hand and evidences of
plenty everywhere, we reveled in the richness and overflowing abundance
of the land. There were "oceans" of apple-butter and great loaves of
snow-white bread that "took the cake" over anything that came within the
range of my experience. These loaves were baked in brick ovens, out of
doors, and some of them looked as big as peck measures. A slice cut from
one of them and smeared thick with that delicious apple-butter, was a
feast fit for gods or men. And then the milk, and the oats for the
horses, and everything that hungry man or beast could wish for. Those
were fat days and that was a fat country, such as the Iraelitish scouts
who went over into the land of Canaan never looked upon or dreamed of.

To be sure we had to pay for what we had. Especially after we crossed
over into Pennsylvania among the frugal Dutch was this the case. But
their charges were not exorbitant, and so long as we had a dollar, it
was cheerfully parted with for their food. But it seemed a little hard
for the Michiganders to be there defending the homes of those opulent
farmers, while they, so far from taking up the musket to aid in driving
out the army that was invading their soil, were seemingly unwilling to
contribute a cent, though I may have misjudged them.

It looked odd, too, to see so many able-bodied men at home, pursuing
their ordinary avocations, with no thought of enlisting, while a hostile
army was at their very doors. It looked so to the soldiers who had been
serving in Virginia, and who knew that in the South, every man able to
bear arms was compelled to do so, and that within the lines of the
confederacy, the cradle and the grave were robbed to fill the ranks.
Lee, with a hundred thousand men was somewhere in that region, we knew
and they knew. We were searching for him and the time was close at hand
when the two armies must come into contact, and oceans of blood would
flow, before the confederates could be driven from Northern soil. The
government was calling loudly for reinforcements of short time men to
serve for the immediate emergency. Yet, these selfish farmers would
drive as sharp a bargain, and figure as closely on the weight and price
of an article supplied to the federal troops, as though they had never
heard of war. Indeed, I believe many of them knew little about what was
going on. Their world was the little Eden in which they passed their
daily lives--the neighborhood in which they lived. They were a happy and
bucolic people, contented to exist and accumulate, with no ambition
beyond that; and while loyal to the government, in the sense that they
obeyed its laws and would have scorned to enter into a conspiracy to
destroy it, yet they possessed little of that patriotism which inspires
men to serve and make sacrifices for their country.

On Sunday morning, June 28, 1863, the two regiments, having passed the
night in camp near the Pennsylvania line, resumed the march and passed
through the town of Emmittsburg. It was a little place, with scarce more
than a thousand inhabitants, but with several churches, an academy, an
institute for girls, and a little to the northeast Mount St. Mary's
college, a Catholic institution, founded in 1808. Like everything else,
thereabouts, it had a solid, substantial appearance.

So quiet was it, that it seemed like sacrilege to disturb the serenity
of that Sabbath day. The sanctuaries stood invitingly in the way, and
one could in fancy, almost hear the peal of the organ, as the choir
chanted, "Gloria in excelsis"--Glory be to God on high and on earth
peace, good will to men--and the voice of the preacher, as he read: "And
they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into

But our mission was, if possible, to find out what Lee and Longstreet,
Ewell and Stuart were doing on that holy day. It required no prophet to
predict that it would not be to them a day of rest, but that they would
be more than ever active to carry out the schemes that for the federal
army meant great hurt and mischief. Little that was positive was known
of Lee's movements, but it was reported that he had pushed on north with
his whole army, and was now in dangerous proximity to Harrisburg. His
line of march had been to the west of Hooker's and as he was so far
north, it was evident that we were making directly for his
communications, in rear of his army. A tyro in the art of war could see
that much of the strategy that was going on. Would Lee allow that and go
on to Baltimore, or turn and meet the army that Hooker was massing
against him? That was the question.

Taking the Emmittsburg pike, Copeland with the two regiments pushed on
to Gettysburg. Thus it was, that the Fifth and Sixth Michigan regiments
of cavalry had the honor of being the first Union troops to enter the
place that was destined so soon to give its name to one of the great
battles of history. The road from Emmittsburg to Gettysburg ran between
Seminary Ridge on the left and Cemetery Ridge and Round Top on the
right. It was a turnpike, and as we marched over it one could not help
noticing the strategic importance of the commanding heights on either
side. I remember well the impression made on my mind at the time by the
rough country off to the right. This was Round Top and Little Round Top
where such desperate fighting was done three days later. We passed close
to the historic "Peach Orchard" and over the fish-hook shaped Cemetery
Hill at the bend; then descended into the town which nestled at the foot
of these rocky eminences.

Before we reached the town it was apparent that something unusual was
going on. It was a gala day. The people were out in force, and in their
Sunday attire to welcome the troopers in blue. The church bells rang
out a joyous peal, and dense masses of beaming faces filled the streets,
as the narrow column of fours threaded its way through their midst.
Lines of men stood on either side, with pails of water or apple-butter,
and passed a "sandwich" to each soldier as he passed. At intervals of a
few feet, were bevies of women and girls, who handed up bouquets and
wreaths of flowers. By the time the center of the town was reached,
every man had a bunch of flowers in his hand, or a wreath around his
neck. Some even had their horses decorated, and the one who did not get
a share was a very modest trooper, indeed. The people were overjoyed,
and received us with an enthusiasm and a hospitality born of full
hearts. They had seen enough of the gray to be anxious to welcome the
blue. Their throats grew hoarse with the cheers that they sent up in
honor of the coming of the Michigan cavalrymen. The freedom of the city
was extended. Every door stood open, or the latch-string hung invitingly

Turning to the right, the command went into camp a little outside the
town, in a field where the horses were up to their knees in clover, and
it made the poor, famished animals fairly laugh. That night a squadron
was sent out about two miles to picket on each diverging road. It was my
duty with two troops ("E" and "H") to guard the "Cashtown" pike, and a
very vivid remembrance is yet retained of the "vigil long" of that July
night, during which I did not once leave the saddle, dividing the time
between the reserve post and the line of videttes. No enemy appeared,
however, and on Monday (June 29) the Michigan regiments returned to
Emmittsburg, the first cavalry division coming up to take their place in
Gettysburg. In this way it came to pass that heroic John Buford, instead
of the Fifth and Sixth Michigan, had the honor of meeting the
confederate advance on July first.

Before leaving Gettysburg it was learned that many changes had taken
place.[8] Hooker had been succeeded in command of the army by Meade, one
of the best and most favorably known of the more prominent generals. It
looked like "swapping horses when crossing a stream." Something that
touched us more closely, however, was the tidings that Stahel and
Copeland had been relieved and that Judson Kilpatrick, colonel of the
Second New York (Harris Light) cavalry had been promoted to brigadier
general and assigned to command of the Third division, by which
designation it was thenceforth to be known. He was a West Pointer, had
the reputation of being a hard fighter, and was known as "The hero of
Middleburg." Captain Custer of Pleasanton's staff had also received a
star and was to command the Michigan brigade, to be designated as the
Second brigade, Third division, cavalry corps, army of the Potomac. Of
him we knew but little except that he hailed from Monroe, Michigan, was
a graduate of West Point, had served with much credit on the staffs of
McClellan and Pleasanton, and that he, too, was a "fighter." None of us
had ever seen either of them. General Copeland turned the two regiments
over to Colonel Gray and went away with his staff. I never saw him

The Michigan brigade[9] had been strengthened by adding the First
Michigan cavalry, a veteran regiment that had seen much service in the
Shenandoah valley under Banks, and the Second Bull Run campaign with
Pope. It was organized in 1861, and went out under Colonel T.F.
Brodhead, a veteran of the Mexican war, who was brevetted for gallantry
at Contreras and Cherubusco, while serving as lieutenant in the
Fifteenth United States infantry. He was mortally wounded August 30,
1862, at Bull Run. His successor was C.H. Town, then colonel of the
regiment. He also was severely wounded in the same charge wherein
Brodhead lost his life. There had also been added to the brigade light
battery "M", Second United States artillery, consisting of six rifled
pieces, and commanded by Lieutenant A.C.M. Pennington.

The Third division was now ordered to concentrate in the vicinity of
Littlestown, to head off Stuart, who, having made a detour around the
rear of the army of the Potomac, crossed the river below Edwards Ferry
on Sunday night, June 28, and with three brigades under Hampton,
Fitzhugh Lee and Chambliss, and a train of captured wagons, was moving
northward, looking for the army of Northern Virginia, between which and
himself was Meade's entire army. On Monday night he was in camp between
Union Mills and Westminster, on the Emmittsburg and Baltimore pike,
about equidistant from Emmittsburg and Gettysburg. Kilpatrick at
Littlestown would be directly on Stuart's path, the direction of the
latter's march indicating that he also was making for Littlestown, which
place is on a direct line from Union Mills to Gettysburg.

All day of Monday, June 29, the two regiments (Fifth and Sixth Michigan)
were scouting south and east of Gettysburg. Nor did the march end with
the day. All night we were plodding our weary way along, sleeping in the
saddle or, when the column in front would halt, every trooper
dismounting, and thrusting his arm through the bridle rein, would lie
down directly in front of his horse, in the road, and fall into a
profound slumber. The horses too would stand with drooping heads, noses
almost touching their riders' faces, eyes closed, nodding, but otherwise
giving no sign, and careful not to step on or injure the motionless
figures at their feet. The sound of horses' hoofs moving in front served
to arouse the riders when they would successively remount and move on

On the morning of June 30, Kilpatrick's command was badly scattered. A
part of it, including the First and Seventh Michigan and Pennington's
battery, was at Abbottstown a few miles north of Hanover; Farnsworth's
brigade at Littlestown, seven miles southwest of Hanover. The Fifth and
Sixth Michigan arrived at Littlestown at daylight.

The early morning hours were consumed in scouring the country in all
directions, and information soon came in to the effect that Stuart was
moving toward Hanover. Farnsworth with the First brigade left
Littlestown for that place at about nine or ten o'clock in the forenoon.
The portion of the division that was in the vicinity of Abbottstown was
also ordered to Hanover. The Fifth and Sixth Michigan were left, for a
time, in Littlestown, troop "A" of the Sixth, under Captain Thompson,
going on a reconnoissance toward Westminster, and Colonel Alger with the
Fifth on a separate road.

The Sixth remained in the town until a citizen came running in, about
noon, reporting a large force of the enemy, about five miles out toward
Hanover. This was Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, and to understand the
situation, it will be necessary briefly to describe how Stuart was
marching. When he turned off the Baltimore pike, some seven miles
southeast of Littlestown, he had ten miles due north to travel before
reaching Hanover. From Littlestown to Hanover is seven miles, the road
running northeasterly, making the third side of a right-angled triangle.
Thus, Stuart had the longer distance to go, and Kilpatrick had no
difficulty in reaching Hanover first. Stuart marched with Chambliss
leading, Hampton in rear, the trains sandwiched between the two
brigades, and Fitzhugh Lee well out on the left flank to protect them.

Farnsworth marched through Hanover, followed by the pack trains of the
two regiments that had been left in Littlestown. The head of Stuart's
column arrived just in time to strike the rear of Farnsworth, which was
thrown into confusion by a charge of the leading confederate regiment.
The pack trains were cut off and captured. Farnsworth, however, dashing
back from the head of the column, faced the Fifth New York cavalry to
the rear, and by a counter charge, repulsed the North Carolinians and
put a stop to Stuart's further progress for that day.

In the meantime, when the citizen came in with the news of Fitzhugh
Lee's appearance, "To Horse" was sounded and Colonel Gray led the Sixth
Michigan on the Hanover road toward the point indicated. Several
citizens, with shot guns in their hands, were seen going on foot on the
flank of the column, trying to keep pace with the cavalry, and
apparently eager to participate in the expected battle. When within a
mile of Hanover, the regiment turned off into a wheatfield and, mounting
a crest beyond, came upon Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, with a section of
artillery in position, which opened upon the head of the regiment (then
moving in column of fours) with shell, wounding several men and horses.
Lieutenant Potter, of troop "C" had his horse shot under him. Had Gray
attacked vigorously he would have been roughly handled, probably, as
Fitzhugh Lee was on the field in person with his choice brigade of
Virginians. I have always believed, however, that a larger force with
the same opportunity might have made bad work for Lee.

Colonel Gray, seeing that the force in front of him were preparing to
charge, and aware that one raw regiment would be no match for a brigade
of veteran troops, made a detour to the left, and sought by a rapid
movement to unite with the command in Hanover, Major Weber with troops
"B" and "F" being entrusted with the important duty of holding the enemy
in check while the others effected their retreat. Right gallantly was
this duty performed. Three charges upon the little band were as often
repulsed by the heroic Weber, and with such determination did he hold to
the work, that he was cut off and did not succeed in rejoining the
regiment until about three o'clock the next morning. Colonel Alger with
the Fifth and troop "A" of the Sixth, under Captain H.E. Thompson, also
had a smart encounter with the same force, holding their own against
much superior numbers by the use of the Spencer repeating rifles with
which they were armed.

By noon, or soon after, the entire division united in the village of
Hanover. The First, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Michigan regiments and
Pennington's battery were all on the ground near the railroad station.
The confederate line of battle could be distinctly seen on the hills to
the south of the town. The command to dismount to fight on foot was
given. The number one, two and three men dismounted and formed in line
to the right facing the enemy. The number four men remained with the
horses which were taken away a short distance to the rear.

It was here that the brigade first saw Custer. As the men of the Sixth,
armed with their Spencer rifles, were deploying forward across the
railroad into a wheatfield beyond, I heard a voice new to me, directly
in rear of the portion of the line where I was, giving directions for
the movement, in clear, resonant tones, and in a calm, confident manner,
at once resolute and reassuring. Looking back to see whence it came, my
eyes were instantly riveted upon a figure only a few feet distant, whose
appearance amazed if it did not for the moment amuse me. It was he who
was giving the orders. At first, I thought he might be a staff
officer, conveying the commands of his chief. But it was at once
apparent that he was giving orders, not delivering them, and that he was
in command of the line.

[Illustration: GEORGE A. CUSTER (IN 1863)]

Looking at him closely, this is what I saw: An officer superbly mounted
who sat his charger as if to the manor born. Tall, lithe, active,
muscular, straight as an Indian and as quick in his movements, he had
the fair complexion of a school girl. He was clad in a suit of black
velvet, elaborately trimmed with gold lace, which ran down the outer
seams of his trousers, and almost covered the sleeves of his cavalry
jacket. The wide collar of a blue navy shirt was turned down over the
collar of his velvet jacket, and a necktie of brilliant crimson was tied
in a graceful knot at the throat, the long ends falling carelessly in
front. The double rows of buttons on his breast were arranged in groups
of twos, indicating the rank of brigadier general. A soft, black hat
with wide brim adorned with a gilt cord, and rosette encircling a silver
star, was worn turned down on one side giving him a rakish air. His
golden hair fell in graceful luxuriance nearly or quite to his
shoulders, and his upper lip was garnished with a blonde mustache. A
sword and belt, gilt spurs and top boots completed his unique outfit.

A keen eye would have been slow to detect in that rider with the flowing
locks and gaudy tie, in his dress of velvet and of gold, the master
spirit that he proved to be. That garb, fantastic as at first sight it
appeared to be, was to be the distinguishing mark which, during all the
remaining years of that war, like the white plume of Henry of Navarre,
was to show us where, in the thickest of the fight, we were to seek our
leader--for, where danger was, where swords were to cross, where Greek
met Greek, there was he, always. Brave but not reckless; self-confident,
yet modest; ambitious, but regulating his conduct at all times by a high
sense of honor and duty; eager for laurels, but scorning to wear them
unworthily; ready and willing to act, but regardful of human life; quick
in emergencies, cool and self-possessed, his courage was of the highest
moral type, his perceptions were intuitions. Showy like Murat, fiery
like Farnsworth, yet calm and self-reliant like Sheridan, he was the
most brilliant and successful cavalry officer of his time. Such a man
had appeared upon the scene, and soon we learned to utter with pride the
name of--Custer.

George A. Custer was, as all agree, the most picturesque figure of the
civil war. Yet his ability and services were never rightly judged by the
American people. It is doubtful if more than one of his superior
officers--if we except McClellan, who knew him only as a staff
subaltern--estimated him at his true value. Sheridan knew Custer for
what he was. So did the Michigan brigade and the Third cavalry division.
But, except by these, he was regarded as a brave, dashing, but reckless
officer who needed a guiding hand. Among regular army officers as a
class he cannot be said to have been a favorite. The meteoric rapidity
of his rise to the zenith of his fame and success, when so many of the
youngsters of his years were moving in the comparative obscurity of
their own orbits, irritated them. Stars of the first magnitude did not
appear often in the galaxy of military heroes. Custer was one of the

The popular idea of Custer is a misconception. He was not a reckless
commander. He was not regardless of human life. No man could have been
more careful of the comfort and lives of his men. His heart was tender
as that of a woman. He was kind to his subordinates, tolerant of their
weaknesses, always ready to help and encourage them. He was brave as a
lion, fought as few men fought, but it was from no love of it. Fighting
was his business; and he knew that by that means alone could peace be
conquered. He was brave, alert, untiring, a hero in battle, relentless
in the pursuit of a beaten enemy, stubborn and full of resources on the
retreat. His tragic death at the Little Big Horn crowned his career with
a tragic interest that will not wane while history or tradition endure.
Hundreds of brave men shed tears when they heard of it--men who had
served under and learned to love him in the trying times of civil war.

I have always believed that some of the real facts of the battle of the
Little Big Horn were unknown. Probably the true version of the massacre
will remain a sealed book until the dead are called upon to give up
their secrets, though there are those who profess to believe that one
man at least is still living who knows the real story and that some day
he will tell it.

Certain it is that Custer never would have rushed deliberately on
destruction. If, for any reason, he had desired to end his own life, and
that is inconceivable, he would not have involved his friends and those
whose lives had been entrusted to his care in the final and terrible
catastrophe. He was not a reckless commander or one who would plunge
into battle with his eyes shut. He was cautious and wary, accustomed to
reconnoiter carefully and measure the strength of an enemy as accurately
as possible before attacking. More than once the Michigan brigade was
saved from disaster by Custer's caution. This may seem to many a
novel--to some an erroneous estimate of Custer's characteristics as a
military man. But it is a true one. It is an opinion formed by one who
had good opportunity to judge of him correctly. In one sense only is it
a prejudiced view. It is the judgment of a friend and a loyal one; it is
not that of an enemy or a rival. As such it is appreciative and it is

Under his skilful hand the four regiments were soon welded into a
coherent unit, acting so like one man that the history of one is
oftentimes apt to be the history of the other, and it is difficult to
draw the line where the credit that is due to one leaves off and that
which should be given to another begins.

[Illustration: GEORGE A. CUSTER (IN 1864)]

The result of the day at Hanover was that Stuart was driven still
farther away from a junction with Lee. He was obliged to turn to the
east, making a wide detour by the way of Jefferson and Dover Kilpatrick,
meanwhile, maintaining his threatening attitude on the inside of the
circle which the redoubtable confederate was traversing, and forcing the
latter to swing clear around to the north as far as Carlisle, where he
received the first reliable information as to the whereabouts of Lee. It
was the evening of July 2, when he finally reached the main army. The
battle then had been going on for two days, and the issue was still in
doubt. During that day (2) both Stuart and Kilpatrick were hastening to
rejoin their respective armies, it having been decided that the great
battle would be fought out around Gettysburg. Gregg's division had been
guarding the right flank of Meade's army, but at nightfall it was
withdrawn to a position on the Baltimore pike near the reserve

Kilpatrick reached the inside of the union lines, in the vicinity of
Gettysburg, late in the afternoon, at about the same hour that Hampton,
with Stuart's leading brigade, arrived at Hunterstown, a few miles
northeast of Gettysburg. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when
the Third division, moving in column of fours, was halted temporarily,
awaiting orders where to go in, and listening to the artillery firing
close in front, when a staff officer rode rapidly along the column,
crying out: "Little Mac is in command and we are whipping them." It was
a futile attempt to evoke enthusiasm and conjure victory with the magic
of McClellan's name. There was scarcely a faint attempt to cheer. There
was no longer any potency in a name.

Soon thereafter, receiving orders to move out on the road to
Abbottstown, Kilpatrick started in that direction, Custer's brigade
leading, with the Sixth Michigan in advance. When nearing the village of
Hunterstown, on a road flanked by fences, the advance encountered a
heavy force of confederate cavalry. A mounted line was formed across the
road, while there were dismounted skirmishers behind the fences on
either side. The leading squadron of the Sixth, led by Captain H.E.
Thompson, boldly charged down the road, and at the same time, three
troops were dismounted and deployed on the ridge to the right,
Pennington's battery going into position in their rear. The mounted
charge was a most gallant one, but Thompson, encountering an
overwhelmingly superior force in front, and exposed to a galling fire on
both flanks, as he charged past the confederates behind the fences, was
driven back, but not before he himself had been severely wounded, while
his first lieutenant, S.H. Ballard, had his horse shot under him and was
left behind a prisoner. As Thompson's squadron was retiring, the enemy
attempted a charge in pursuit, but the dismounted men on the right of
the road kept up such a fusillade with their Spencer carbines, aided by
the rapid discharges from Pennington's battery, that he was driven back
in great confusion. General Kilpatrick, speaking in his official report
of this engagement, says:

   "I was attacked by Stuart, Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee near Hunterstown.
   After a spirited affair of nearly two hours, the enemy was driven
   from this point with great loss. The Second brigade fought most
   handsomely. It lost in killed and wounded and missing, 32. The
   conduct of the Sixth Michigan cavalry and Pennington's battery is
   deserving of the highest praise."

On the other hand, General Hampton states that he received information
of Kilpatrick's advance upon Hunterstown and was directed by Stuart to
go and meet it. He says:

   "After some skirmishing, the enemy attempted a charge, which was met
   in front by the Cobb legion, and on either flank by the Phillips
   legion and the Second South Carolina cavalry."

The position at Hunterstown was held until near midnight when Kilpatrick
received orders to move to Two Taverns, on the Baltimore turnpike, about
five miles southeast of Gettysburg, and some three miles due south from
the Rummel farm, on the Hanover road, east of Gettysburg, where the
great cavalry fight between Gregg and Stuart was to take place on the
next day. It was three o'clock in the morning (Kilpatrick says
"daylight") when Custer's brigade went into bivouac at Two Taverns.

The Second cavalry division, commanded by General D. McM. Gregg, as has
been seen, held the position on the Rummel farm on the second but was
withdrawn in the evening to the Baltimore pike "to be available for
whatever duty they might be called upon to perform on the morrow." On
the morning of the third, Gregg was ordered to resume his position of
the day before, but states in his report that the First and Third
brigades (McIntosh and Irvin Gregg) were posted on the right of the
infantry, about three-fourths of a mile nearer the Baltimore and
Gettysburg pike, because he learned that the Second brigade (Custer's)
of the Third division was occupying his position of the day before.

General Kilpatrick, in his report says:

   "At 11 p.m. (July 2) received orders to move (from Hunterstown) to
   Two Taverns, which point we reached at daylight. At 8 a.m. (July 3)
   received orders from headquarters cavalry corps to move to the left
   of our line and attack the enemy's right and rear with my whole
   command and the reserve brigade. By some mistake, General Custer's
   brigade was ordered to report to General Gregg and he (Custer) did
   not rejoin me during the day."

General Custer, in his report, gives the following, which is without
doubt, the true explanation of the "mistake." He says:

   "At an early hour on the morning of the third, I received an order
   through a staff officer of the brigadier general commanding the
   division (Kilpatrick), to move at once my command and follow the
   First brigade (Farnsworth) on the road leading from Two Taverns to
   Gettysburg. Agreeably to the above instructions, my column was formed
   and moved out on the road designated, when a staff officer of
   Brigadier General Gregg, commanding the Second division, ordered me
   to take my command and place it in position on the pike leading from
   York[10] (Hanover) to Gettysburg, which position formed the extreme
   right of our line of battle on that day."

Thus it is made plain that there was no "mistake" about it. It was
Gregg's prescience. He saw the risk of attempting to guard the right
flank with only the two decimated brigades of his own division. Seeing
with him was to act. He took the responsibility to intercept
Kilpatrick's rear and largest brigade, turn it off the Baltimore pike,
to the right, instead of allowing it to go to the left, as it had been
ordered to do, and thus, doubtless, a serious disaster was averted. It
makes one tremble to think what might have been, of what inevitably must
have happened, had Gregg, with only the two little brigades of McIntosh
and Irvin Gregg and Randol's battery, tried to cope single-handed with
the four brigades and three batteries, comprising the very flower of the
confederate cavalry and artillery, which those brave knights--Stuart,
Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee--were marshaling in person on Cress's ridge. If
Custer's presence on the field was, as often has been said,
"providential," it is General D. McM. Gregg to whom, under Providence,
the credit for bringing him there was due. Gregg was a great and a
modest soldier and it will be proper, before entering upon a description
of the battle in which he played so prominent a part, to pause a moment
and pay to him the merited tribute of our admiration. In the light of
all the official reports, put together link by link, so as to make one
connected chain of evidence, we can see that the engagement which he
fought on the right at Gettysburg, on July 3, 1863, was from first to
last, a well planned battle, in which the different commands were
maneuvered with the same sagacity displayed by a skilful chess player in
moving the pawns upon a chessboard; in which every detail was the fruit
of the brain of one man who, from the time when he turned Custer to the
northward, until he sent the First Michigan thundering against the
brigades of Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee, made not a single false move; who
was distinguished not less for his intuitive foresight than for his
quick perceptions at critical moments.

That man was General David McMutrie Gregg.

This conclusion has been reached by a mind not--certainly
not--predisposed in that direction, after a careful study and review of
all the information within reach bearing upon that eventful day. If, at
Gettysburg, the Michigan cavalry brigade won honors that will not
perish, it was to Gregg that it owed the opportunity, and his guiding
hand it was that made its blows effective. It will be seen how, later in
the day, he again boldly took responsibility at a critical moment and
held Custer to his work on the right, even after the latter had been
ordered by higher authority than himself (Gregg) to rejoin Kilpatrick
and after Custer had begun the movement.

[Illustration: DAVID McMUTRIE GREGG]

Now, having admitted, if not demonstrated that Gregg did the planning,
it will be shown how gallantly Custer and his Michigan brigade did their
part of the fighting. Up to a certain point, it will be best to let
General Custer tell his own story:

   "Upon arriving at the point designated, I immediately placed my
   command in a position facing toward Gettysburg. At the same time I
   caused reconnoissances to be made on my front, right and rear, but
   failed to discover any considerable force of the enemy. Everything
   remained quiet until 10 a.m., when the enemy appeared on my right
   flank and opened upon me with a battery of six guns. Leaving two guns
   and a regiment to hold my first position and cover the road leading
   to Gettysburg, I shifted the remaining portion of my command forming
   a new line of battle at right angles with my former position. The
   enemy had obtained correct range of my new position, and was pouring
   solid shot and shell into my command with great accuracy. Placing two
   sections of battery "M," Second regular artillery, in position, I
   ordered them to silence the enemy's battery, which order,
   notwithstanding the superiority of the enemy's position, was done in
   a very short space of time. My line as it then existed, was shaped
   like the letter "L." The shorter branch, supported by one section of
   battery "M" (Clark's), supported by four squadrons of the Sixth
   Michigan cavalry, faced toward Gettysburg, covering the pike; the
   long branch, composed of the two remaining sections of battery "M,"
   supported by a portion of the Sixth Michigan cavalry on the left, and
   the First Michigan cavalry on the right--with the Seventh Michigan
   cavalry still further to the right and in advance--was held in
   readiness to repel any attack on the Oxford (Low Dutch) road.[11] The
   Fifth Michigan was dismounted and ordered to take position in front
   of my center and left. The First Michigan was held in column of
   squadrons to observe the movements of the enemy. I ordered fifty men
   to be sent one mile and a half on the Oxford (Low Dutch) road, and a
   detachment of equal size on the York (Hanover) road, both detachments
   being under the command of the gallant Major Weber (of the Sixth)
   who, from time to time, kept me so well informed of the movements of
   the enemy, that I was enabled to make my dispositions with complete

General Custer says further, that at twelve o'clock he received an order
directing him, on being relieved by a brigade of the Second division, to
move to the left and form a junction with Kilpatrick; that on the
arrival of Colonel McIntosh's brigade he prepared to execute the order;
but, to quote his own language:

   "Before I had left my position, Brigadier General Gregg, commanding
   the Second division, arrived with his entire command. Learning the
   true condition of affairs, and rightly conjecturing the enemy was
   making his dispositions for vigorously attacking our position,
   Brigadier General Gregg ordered me to remain in the position I then

So much space has been given to these quotations because they cover a
controverted point. It has been claimed, and General Gregg seems to
countenance that view, that Custer was withdrawn and that McIntosh, who
was put in his place, opened the fight, after which Gregg brought Custer
back to reinforce McIntosh. So far from this being true, it is quite the
reverse of the truth. Custer did not leave his position. The battle
opened before the proposed change had taken place, and McIntosh was
hurried in on the right of Custer. The latter was reluctant to leave his
post--knew he ought not to leave it. He had already been attacked by a
fire from the artillery in position beyond the Rummel buildings. Major
Weber, who was out on the crossroad leading northwest from the Low Dutch
road had observed the movement of Stuart's column, headed by Chambliss
and Jenkins, past the Stallsmith farm, to the wooded crest behind
Rummel's, and had reported it to Custer. Custer did, indeed, begin the
movement. A portion of the Sixth Michigan and, possibly, of the Seventh,
also, had begun to withdraw when Custer met Gregg coming on the field
and explained to him the situation--that the enemy was "all around" and
preparing to "push things." Gregg told him to remain where he was and
that portion of the brigade which was moving away halted,
countermarched, and reoccupied its former position. The Fifth Michigan
had not been withdrawn from the line in front, and Pennington's guns had
never ceased to thunder their responses to the confederate

Custer says that the enemy opened upon him with a battery of six guns at
ten a.m. Stuart on the contrary, claims to have left Gettysburg about
noon. It is difficult to reconcile these two statements. A good deal of
latitude may be given the word "about," but it is probable that the one
puts the hour too early, while the other does not give it early enough;
for, of course, before Custer could be attacked, some portion of
Stuart's command must have been upon the field.

Official reports are often meagre, if not sometimes misleading, and must
needs be reinforced by the memoranda and recollections of actual
participants, before the exact truth can be known.

Major Charles E. Storrs, of the Sixth Michigan, who commanded a
squadron, was sent out to the left and front of Custer's position, soon
after the brigade arrived upon the ground. He remained there several
hours and was recalled about noon--he is positive it was later than
twelve m.--to take position with the troops on the left of the battery.
He states that the first shot was not fired until sometime after his
recall, and he is sure it was not earlier than two o'clock.[13]

When Stuart left Gettysburg, as he says about noon, he took with him
Chambliss's and Jenkins's brigades of cavalry and Griffin's battery.
Hampton and FitZhugh Lee were to follow; also Breathed's and McGregor's
batteries, as soon as the latter had replenished their ammunition
chests. Stuart moved two and a half miles out on the York turnpike, when
he turned to the right by a country road that runs southeasterly past
the Stallsmith farm. (This road intersects the Low Dutch road, about
three-fourths of a mile from where the latter crosses the Hanover pike.)
Turning off from this road to the right, Stuart posted the brigades of
Jenkins and Chambliss and Griffin's battery on the commanding Cress's
ridge, beyond Rummel's and more than a mile from the position occupied
by Custer. This movement was noticed by Major Weber, who with his
detachment of the Sixth Michigan cavalry, was stationed in the woods
northeast of Rummel's, where he could look out on the open country
beyond, and he promptly reported the fact to Custer.

The first shot that was fired came from near the wood beyond Rummel's.
According to Major McClellan, who was assistant adjutant general on
Stuart's staff, this was from a section of Griffin's Battery, and was
aimed by Stuart himself, he not knowing whether there was anything in
his front or not. Several shots were fired in this way.

Major McClellan is doubtless right in this, that these shots were fired
as feelers; but it is inconceivable that Stuart was totally unaware of
the presence of any federal force in his immediate front; that he did
not know that there was stationed on the opposite ridge a brigade of
cavalry and a battery. Gregg had been there the day before, and Stuart
at least must have suspected, if he did not know, that he would find him
there again. It is probable that he fired the shots in the hope of
drawing out and developing the force he knew was there, to ascertain how
formidable it might be, and how great the obstacle in the way of his
farther progress toward the rear of the union lines.

The information he sought was quickly furnished.

It was then that Custer put Pennington's battery in position, and the
three sections of rifled cannon opened with a fire so fast and accurate
that Griffin was speedily silenced and compelled to leave the field.

Then there was a lull. I cannot say how long it lasted but, during its
continuance, General Gregg arrived and took command in person. About
this time, also, it is safe to say that Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee came up
and took position on the left of Chambliss and Jenkins. The confederate
line then extended clear across the federal front, and was screened by
the two patches of woods between Rummel's and the Stallsmith farm.

A battalion of the Sixth Michigan cavalry, of which mine was the leading
troop, was placed in support and on the left of Pennington's battery.
This formed, at first, the short line of the "L" referred to in Custer's
report, but it was subsequently removed farther to the right and faced
in the same general direction as the rest of the line, where it remained
until the battle ended. Its duty there was to repel any attempt that
might be made to capture the battery.

The ground upon which these squadrons were stationed overlooked the
plain, and the slightest demonstration in the open ground from either
side was immediately discernible. From this vantage ground it was
possible to see every phase of the magnificent contest that followed. It
was like a spectacle arranged for us to see. We were in the position of
spectators at joust or tournament where the knights, advancing from
their respective sides, charge full tilt upon each other in the middle
of the field.

The lull referred to was like the calm that precedes the storm. The
troopers were dismounted, standing "in place rest" in front of their
horses, when suddenly there burst upon the air the sound of that
terrific cannonading that preceded Pickett's charge. The earth quaked.
The tremendous volume of sound volleyed and rolled across the
intervening hills like reverberating thunder in a storm.

It was then between one and two o'clock. (Major Storrs says after two.)
It was not long thereafter, when General Custer directed Colonel Alger
to advance and engage the enemy. The Fifth Michigan, its flanks
protected by a portion of the Sixth Michigan on the left, by McIntosh's
brigade on the right, moved briskly forward towards the wooded screen
behind which the enemy was known to be concealed. In this movement the
right of regiment was swung well forward, the left somewhat "refused,"
so that Colonel Alger's line was very nearly at right angles with the
left of Stuart's position.

As the Fifth Michigan advanced from field to field and fence to fence, a
line of gray came out from behind the Rummel buildings and the woods
beyond. A stubborn and spirited contest ensued. The opposing batteries
filled the air with shot and shrieking shell. Amazing marksmanship was
shown by Pennington's battery, and such accurate artillery firing was
never seen on any other field. Alger's men with their eight-shotted
carbines, forced their adversaries slowly but surely back, the gray line
fighting well and superior in numbers, but unable to withstand the storm
of bullets. It made a final stand behind the strong line of fences, in
front of Rummel's and a few hundred yards out from the foot of the slope
whereon, concealed by the woods, Stuart's reserves were posted.

While the fight was raging on the plain, Weber with his outpost was
driven in. His two troops were added to the four already stationed on
the left of Pennington's battery. Weber, who had been promoted to major
but a few days before, was ordered by Colonel Gray to assume command of
the battalion. As he took his place by my side in front of the leading
troop, he said:

"I have seen thousands of them over there," pointing to the front. "The
country yonder, is full of the enemy."

He had observed all of Stuart's movements, and it was he who gave Custer
the first important information as to what the enemy was doing; which
information was transmitted to Gregg, and probably had a determining
influence in keeping Custer on the field.

Weber was a born soldier, fitted by nature and acquirements for much
higher rank than any he held. Although but 23 years of age, he had seen
much service. A private in the Third Michigan infantry in 1861, he was
next battalion adjutant of the Second Michigan cavalry, served on the
staff of General Elliott, in the southwest, and came home with Alger in
1862, to take a troop in the Sixth Michigan cavalry. The valuable
service rendered by him at Gettysburg was fitly recognized by Custer in
his official report. He was killed ten days later at Falling Waters,
while leading his squadron in a charge which was described by Kilpatrick
as "the most gallant ever made." Anticipating a spirited fight, he was
eager to have a part in it. "Bob," he said to me a few days before,
while marching through Maryland, "I want a chance to make one saber
charge." He thought the time had come. His eye flashed and his face
flushed as he watched the progress of the fight, fretting and chafing to
be held in reserve when the bugle was summoning others to the charge.

The Fifth Michigan, holding the most advanced position, suffered
greatly, Hampton having reinforced the confederate line. Among those
killed at this stage of the battle was Major Noah H. Ferry, of the
Fifth. Repeating rifles are not only effective but wasteful weapons as
well, and Colonel Alger, finding that his ammunition had given out, felt
compelled to retire his regiment and seek his horses. Seeing this, the
enemy sprang forward with a yell. The union line was seen to yield. The
puffs of smoke from the muzzles of their guns had almost ceased. It was
plain the Michigan men were out of ammunition and unable to maintain the
contest longer. On from field to field, the line of gray followed in
exultant pursuit. Breathed and McGregor opened with redoubled violence.
Shells dropped and exploded among the skirmishers, while thicker and
faster they fell around the position of the reserves. Pennington replied
with astonishing effect, for every shot hit the mark, and the opposing
artillerists were unable to silence a single union gun. But still they
came, until it seemed that nothing could stop their victorious career.
"Men, be ready," said Weber. "We will have to charge that line." But the
course of the pursuit took it toward the right, in the direction of
Randol's battery where Chester was serving out canister with the same
liberal hand displayed by Pennington's lieutenants, Clark, Woodruff and

Just then, a column of mounted men was seen advancing from the right and
rear of the union line. Squadron succeeded squadron until an entire
regiment came into view, with sabers gleaming and colors gaily
fluttering in the breeze. It was the Seventh Michigan, commanded by
Colonel Mann. Gregg seeing the necessity for prompt action, had given
the order for it to charge. As the regiment moved forward, and cleared
the battery, Custer drew his saber, placed himself in front and shouted:
"Come on you Wolverines!" The Seventh dashed into the open field and
rode straight at the dismounted line which, staggered by the appearance
of this new foe, broke to the rear and ran for its reserves. Custer led
the charge half way across the plain, then turned to the left; but the
gallant regiment swept on under its own leaders, riding down and
capturing many prisoners.

[Illustration: WILLIAM D. MANN]

There was no check to the charge. The squadrons kept on in good form.
Every man yelled at the top of his voice until the regiment had gone,
perhaps, five or six hundred yards straight towards the confederate
batteries, when the head of column was deflected to the left, making a
quarter turn, and the regiment was hurled headlong against a
post-and-rail fence that ran obliquely in front of the Rummel buildings.
This proved for the time an impassable barrier. The squadrons coming up
successively at a charge, rushed pell mell on each other and were thrown
into a state of indescribable confusion, though the rear troops, without
order or orders, formed left and right front into line along the fence,
and pluckily began firing across it into the faces of the confederates
who, when they saw the impetuous onset of the Seventh thus abruptly
checked, rallied and began to collect in swarms upon the opposite side.
Some of the officers leaped from their saddles and called upon the men
to assist in making an opening. Among these were Colonel George G.
Briggs, then adjutant, and Captain H.N. Moore. The task was a difficult
and hazardous one, the posts and rails being so firmly united that it
could be accomplished only by lifting the posts, which were deeply set,
and removing several lengths at once. This was finally done, however,
though the regiment was exposed not only to a fire from the force in
front, but to a flanking fire from a strong skirmish line along a fence
to the right and running nearly at right angles with the one through
which it was trying to pass.

While this was going on, Briggs's horse was shot and he found himself on
foot, with three confederate prisoners on his hands. With these he
started to the rear, having no remount. Before he could reach a place of
safety, the rush of charging squadrons from either side had intercepted
his retreat. In the melee that followed, two of his men ran away, the
other undertook the duty of escorting his captor back to the confederate
lines. The experiment cost him his life, but the plucky adjutant,
although he did not "run away," lived to fight again on many "another

In the meantime, through the passage-way thus effected, the Seventh
moved forward, the center squadron leading, and resumed the charge. The
confederates once more fell back before it. The charge was continued
across a plowed field to the front and right, up to and past Rummel's,
to a point within 200 or 300 yards of the confederate battery. There
another fence was encountered, the last one in the way of reaching the
battery, the guns of which were pouring canister into the charging
column as fast as they could fire. Two men, privates Powers and
Inglede, of Captain Moore's troop, leaped this fence and passed several
rods beyond. Powers came back without a scratch, but Inglede was
severely wounded. These two men were, certainly, within 200 yards of the
confederate cannon.

[Illustration: GEORGE G. BRIGGS]

But, seeing that the enemy to the right had thrown down the fences, and
was forming a column for a charge, the scattered portions of the Seventh
began to fall back through the opening in the fence. Captain Moore, in
whose squadron sixteen horses had been killed, retired slowly,
endeavoring to cover the retreat of the dismounted men but, taking the
wrong direction, came to the fence about 100 yards above the opening,
just as the enemy's charging column struck him. Glancing over his
shoulder, he caught the gleam of a saber thrust from the arm of a sturdy
confederate. He ducked to avoid the blow, but received the point in the
back of his head. At the same time, a pistol ball crashed through his
charger's brain and the horse went down, Moore's leg under him. An
instant later, Moore avenged his steed with the last shot in his
revolver, and the confederate fell dead at his side. Some dismounted men
of the Thirteenth Virginia cavalry took Moore prisoner and escorted him
back to the rear of their battery, from which position, during the
excitement that followed, he made his escape.

But now Alger who, when his ammunition gave out, hastened to his
horses, had succeeded in mounting one battalion, commanded by Major L.S.
Trowbridge, and when the Ninth and Thirteenth Virginia struck the flank
of the Seventh Michigan, he ordered that officer to charge and meet this
new danger. Trowbridge and his men dashed forward with a cheer, and the
enemy in their turn were put to flight. Past the Rummel buildings,
through the fields, almost to the fence where the most advanced of the
Seventh Michigan had halted, Trowbridge kept on. But he, too, was
obliged to retire before the destructive fire of the confederate cannon,
which did not cease to belch forth destruction upon every detachment of
the union cavalry that approached near enough to threaten them. The
major's horse was killed, but his orderly was close at hand with another
and he escaped. When his battalion was retiring it, also, was assailed
in flank by a mounted charge of the First Virginia cavalry, which was
met and driven back by the other battalion of the Fifth Michigan led by
Colonel Alger.

Then, as it seemed, the two belligerent forces paused to get their
second breath. Up to that time, the battle had raged with varying
fortune. Victory, that appeared about to perch first on one banner, and
then on the other, held aloof, as if disdaining to favor either. The
odds, indeed, had been rather with the confederates than against them,
for Stuart managed to out-number his adversary at every critical point,
though Gregg forced the fighting, putting Stuart on his defense, and
checkmating his plan to fight an offensive battle. But the wily
confederate had kept his two choicest brigades in reserve for the
supreme moment, intending then to throw them into the contest and sweep
the field with one grand, resistless charge.

[Illustration: LUTHER S. TROWBRIDGE]

All felt that the time for this effort had come, when a body of mounted
men began to emerge from the woods on the left of the confederate line,
northeast of the Rummel buildings, and form column to the right as they
debouched into the open field. Squadron after squadron, regiment after
regiment, orderly as if on parade, came into view, and successively took
their places.

Then Pennington opened with all his guns. Six rifled pieces, as fast as
they could fire, rained shot and shell into that fated column. The
effect was deadly. Great gaps were torn in that mass of mounted men, but
the rents were quickly closed. Then, they were ready. Confederate
chroniclers tell us there were two brigades--eight regiments--under
their own favorite leaders. In the van, floated a stand of colors. It
was the battle-flag of Wade Hampton, who with Fitzhugh Lee was leading
the assaulting column. In superb form, with sabers glistening, they
advanced. The men on foot gave way to let them pass. It was an inspiring
and an imposing spectacle, that brought a thrill to the hearts of the
spectators on the opposite slope. Pennington double-shotted his guns
with canister, and the head of the column staggered under each
murderous discharge. But still it advanced, led on by an imperturbable
spirit, that no storm of war could cow.

Meantime, the Fifth Michigan had drawn aside a little to the left,
making ready to spring. McIntosh's squadrons were in the edge of the
opposite woods. The Seventh was sullenly retiring with faces to the foe.
Weber and his battalion and the other troops of the Sixth were on edge
for the fray, should the assault take the direction of Pennington's
battery which they were supporting.

On and on, nearer and nearer, came the assaulting column, charging
straight for Randol's battery. The storm of canister caused them to
waver a little, but that was all. A few moments would bring them among
Chester's guns who, like Pennington's lieutenants, was still firing with
frightful regularity, as fast as he could load. Then Gregg rode over to
the First Michigan, and directed Town to charge. Custer dashed up with
similar instructions, and as Town ordered sabers to be drawn, placed
himself by his side, in front of the leading squadron.

With ranks well closed, with guidons flying and bugles sounding, the
grand old regiment of veterans, led by Town and Custer, moved forward to
meet that host, outnumbering it three to one. First at a trot, then the
command to charge rang out, and with gleaming saber and flashing pistol,
Town and his heroes were hurled right in the teeth of Hampton and
Fitzhugh Lee. Alger, who with the Fifth had been waiting for the right
moment, charged in on the right flank of the column as it passed, as did
some of McIntosh's squadrons, on the left. One troop of the Seventh, led
by Lieutenant Dan. Littlefield, also joined in the charge.

Then it was steel to steel. For minutes--and for minutes that seemed
like years--the gray column stood and staggered before the blow; then
yielded and fled. Alger and McIntosh had pierced its flanks, but Town's
impetuous charge in front went through it like a wedge, splitting it in
twain, and scattering the confederate horsemen in disorderly rout back
to the woods from whence they came.

During the last melee, the brazen lips of the cannon were dumb. It was a
hand-to-hand encounter between the Michigan men and the flower of the
southern cavaliers, led by their favorite commanders.

Stuart retreated to his stronghold, leaving the union forces in
possession of the field.

The rally sounded, the lines were reformed, the wounded were cared for,
and everything was made ready for a renewal of the conflict. But the
charge of the First Michigan ended the cavalry fighting on the right at
Gettysburg. Military critics have pronounced it the finest cavalry
charge made during that war.

Custer's brigade lost one officer (Major Ferry) and 28 men killed; 11
officers and 112 men wounded; 67 men missing; total loss, 219. Gregg's
division lost one man killed; 7 officers and 19 men wounded; 8 men
missing; total, 35. In other words, while Gregg's division, two
brigades, lost 35, Custer's single brigade suffered a loss of 219. These
figures apply to the fight on July 3, only. The official figures show
that the brigade, during the three days, July 1, 2 and 3, lost 1 officer
and 31 men killed; 13 officers and 134 men wounded; 78 men missing;
total, 257.[14]

For more than twenty years after the close of the civil war, the part
played by Gregg, Custer and McIntosh and their brave followers in the
battle of Gettysburg received but scant recognition. Even the maps
prepared by the corps of engineers stopped short of Cress's Ridge and
Rummel's fields. "History" was practically silent upon the subject, and
had not the survivors of those commands taken up the matter, there might
have been no record of the invaluable services which the Second cavalry
division and Custer's Michigan brigade rendered at the very moment when
a slight thing would have turned the tide of victory the other way. In
other words, the decisive charge of Colonel Town and his Michiganders
coincided in point of time with the failure of Pickett's assault upon
the center, and was a contributing cause in bringing about the latter

[Illustration: CHARLES H. TOWN]

About the year 1884, a monument was dedicated on the Rummel farm which
was intended to mark as nearly as possible the exact spot where Gregg
and Custer crossed swords with Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in the final
clash of the cavalry fight. This monument was paid for by voluntary
contributions of the survivors of the men who fought with Gregg and
Custer. Colonel George Gray of the Sixth Michigan alone contributed four
hundred dollars. Many others were equally liberal. On that day Colonel
Brooke-Rawle, of Philadelphia, who served in the Third Pennsylvania
cavalry, of Gregg's division, delivered an address upon the "Cavalry
Fight on the Right Flank, at Gettysburg." It was an eloquent tribute to
Gregg and his Second division and to the Michigan brigade though, like a
loyal knight, he claimed the lion's share of the glory for his own, and
placed chaplets of laurel upon the brow of his ideal hero of
Pennsylvania rather than upon that of "Lancelot, or another." In other
words, he did not estimate Custer's part at its full value, an omission
for which he subsequently made graceful and honorable acknowledgment. In
this affair there were honors enough to go around.

Subsequently General Luther S. Trowbridge, of Detroit, who was an
officer in the Fifth Michigan cavalry, who like Colonel Brooke-Rawle
fought most creditably in the cavalry fight on the right, wrote a paper
on the same subject which was read before the Michigan commandery of the
Loyal Legion. This very fitly supplemented Colonel Brooke-Rawle's
polished oration. In the year 1889, another monument erected by the
state of Michigan on the Rummel farm, and but a hundred yards or such a
matter from the other, was dedicated. The writer of these
"Recollections" was the orator of the occasion, and the points of his
address are contained in the narrative which constitutes this chapter.
Those three papers and others written since that time, notably one by
General George B. Davis, judge advocate general, U.S.A., and one by
Captain Miller, of the Third Pennsylvania cavalry, have brought the
cavalry fight at Gettysburg into the limelight, so that there is no
longer any pretext for the historian or student of the history of the
civil war to profess ignorance of the events of that day which reflect
so much luster on the cavalry arm of the service.

To illustrate the point made in these concluding paragraphs that the
part taken by the cavalry on the right is at last understood and
acknowledged, the following extract from an address given before the
students of the Orchard Lake military academy by General Charles King
the gifted author of "The Colonel's Daughter," and many other writings,
is herein quoted. General King is himself a cavalry officer with a
brilliant record in the army of the United States. In that address to
the students on "The Battle of Gettysburg," he said:

   "And so, just as Gettysburg was the turning point of the great war,
   so, to my thinking, was the grapple with and overthrow of Stuart on
   the fields of the Rummel farm the turning point of Gettysburg. Had he
   triumphed there; had he cut his way through or over that glorious
   brigade of Wolverines and come sweeping all before him down among the
   reserve batteries and ammunition trains, charging furiously at the
   rear of our worn and exhausted infantry even as Pickett's devoted
   Virginians assailed their front, no man can say what scenes of rout
   and disaster might not have occurred. Pickett's charge was the grand
   and dramatic climax of the fight because it was seen of all men.
   Stuart's dash upon the Second division far out on the right flank was
   hardly heard of for years after. It would have rung the world over
   but for the Michigan men. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, New York and
   the little contingent of Marylanders had been fighting for days, were
   scattered, dismounted and exhausted when the plumes of Stuart came
   floating out from the woods of the Stallsmith farm, Hampton and
   Fitzhugh Lee at his back. It was Custer and the Wolverines who flew
   like bull dogs straight at the throat of the foes; who blocked his
   headlong charge; who pinned him to the ground while like wolves their
   comrade troops rushed upon his flanks.

   "It may be, perhaps an out-cropping of the old trooper spirit now
   but, as I look back upon the momentous four years' struggle, with all
   its lessons of skill and fortitude and valor incomparable, it seems
   to me that, could I have served in only one of its great combats,
   drawn saber in just one supreme crisis on whose doubtful issue hung
   trembling the fate of the whole union, I would beg to live that day
   over again and to ride with Gregg and McIntosh and Custer; to share
   in the wild, fierce charge of the Michigan men; to have my name go
   down to posterity with those of Alger and Kidd, Town and Trowbridge,
   Briggs and gallant Ferry, whose dead hand gripped the saber hilt and
   the very grave. To have it said that I fought with the old Second
   division of the cavalry corps that day when it went and grappled and
   overwhelmed the foe in the full tide of his career, at the very
   climax of the struggle, and hurled him back to the banks of the
   Rubicon of the rebellion, to cross it then and there for the last
   time, to look his last upon the green hills of Maryland--nevermore to
   vex our soil until, casting away the sword, he could come with
   outstretched hand and be hailed as friend and brother."



When the battle of Gettysburg was ended and the shadows of night began
to gather upon the Rummel fields, the troopers of the Michigan cavalry
brigade had a right to feel that they had acted well their parts, and
contributed their full share to the glory and success of the Union arms.
They had richly earned a rest, but were destined not to obtain it until
after many days of such toil and hardship as to surpass even the
previous experiences of the campaign.

After a brief bivouac on the battle field, the brigade was moved to the
Baltimore pike whence, at daybreak, it marched to the vicinity of
Emmittsburg. There, on the morning of July 4, the two brigades of the
Third division reunited. The First brigade, under the lamented
Farnsworth, it will be remembered had been engaged the previous day upon
the left flank near "Round Top," under the eye of the division

Farnsworth, the gallant young officer who had been a brigadier general
but four days, had been killed while leading a charge against infantry
behind stone walls. His brigade was compelled to face infantry because
all of the confederate cavalry had been massed under Stuart against
Meade's right. It was intended that Custer should report to Kilpatrick
on the left flank but, as we have seen, he was providentially where he
was most needed, and where his presence was effective in preventing
disaster. The charge in which Farnsworth lost his life was ordered by
Kilpatrick and was unquestionably against the former's judgment. But he
was too brave a man and too conscientious to do anything else than obey
orders to the letter. His courage had been put to the proof in more than
a score of battles. As an officer in the Eighth Illinois cavalry and as
an aid on the staff of General Pleasonton, chief of cavalry, he had won
such deserved distinction that he, like Custer, was promoted from
captain to brigadier general on June 28 and assigned to command of the
First brigade of Kilpatrick's division when Custer took the Second. This
was done in spite of the fact that he was not a graduate of the military
academy or even an officer of the regular army. I knew him before the
war when he was a student in the University of Michigan, and a more
intrepid spirit than he possessed never resided within the breast of
man. It was but a day, it might be said, that he had worn his new
honors. He was proud, ambitious, spirited, loyal, brave, true as steel
to his country and his convictions of duty, and to his own manhood.

He did not hesitate for one moment. Drawing his saber and placing
himself at the head of his command, he led his men to the inevitable
slaughter and boldly went to his own death. It was a pity to sacrifice
such an officer and such men as followed him inside the confederate
lines. The charge was one of the most gallant ever made, though barren
of results. The little force came back shattered to pieces and without
their leader. The cavalry corps had lost an officer whose place was hard
to fill. Had he lived, the brave young Illinoisan might have been
another Custer. He had all the qualities needed to make a great
career--youth, health, a noble physique, courage, patriotism, ambition,
ability and rank. He was poised, like Custer, and had discretion as well
as dash. They were a noble pair, and nobly did they justify the
confidence reposed in them. One lived to court death on scores of battle
fields, winning imperishable laurels in them all; the other was cut down
in the very beginning of his brilliant career, but his name will forever
be associated with what is destined to be in history the most memorable
battle of the war, and the one from which is dated the beginning of the
downfall of the confederate cause, and the complete restoration of the
union. Farnsworth will not be forgotten as long as a grateful people
remember the name and the glory of Gettysburg.

Although General Judson Kilpatrick had been in command of the division
since the 30th of June, at Hanover, many of the Michigan men had never
set eyes upon him until that morning, and there was much curiosity to
get a sight of the already famous cavalryman. He had begun to be a
terror to foes, and there was a well-grounded fear that he might become
a menace to friends as well. He was brave to rashness, capricious,
ambitious, reckless in rushing into scrapes, and generally full of
expedients in getting out, though at times he seemed to lose his head
entirely when beset by perils which he, himself, had invited. He was
prodigal of human life, though to do him justice he rarely spared
himself. While he was not especially refined in manners and in
conversation, he had an intellect that would at times emit flashes so
brilliant as to blind those who knew him best to his faults. He was the
very type of one of the wayward cavaliers who survived the death of
Charles the First, to shine in the court of Charles the Second. He was a
ready and fluent speaker--an orator, in fact--and had the gift of
charming an audience with his insinuating tongue.

As closely as I can from memory, I will draw a pen-sketch of him as he
appeared at that time: Not an imposing figure as he sat with a jaunty
air upon his superb chestnut horse, for he was of slight build though
supple and agile as an athlete; a small, though well-knit form, dressed
in a close-fitting and natty suit of blue; a blouse with the buttons and
shoulder straps of a brigadier-general; the conventional boots and spurs
and saber; a black hat with the brim turned down on one side, up on the
other, in a way affected by himself, which gave to the style his own
name. This completed his uniform--not a striking or picturesque one in
any respect. Save for the peculiar style of hat, there was nothing about
it to distinguish him from others of like rank. But his face was a
marked one, showing his individuality in every line. A prominent nose, a
wide mouth, a firm jaw, thin cheeks set off by side whiskers rather
light in color, and eyes that were cold and lusterless, but
searching--these were the salient characteristics of a countenance that
once seen, was never forgotten. His voice had a peculiar, piercing
quality, though it was not unmusical in sound. In giving commands he
spoke in brusque tones and in an imperious manner. It was not long till
every man in the division had seen him and knew him well. In a few days
he had fairly earned the soubriquet "Kill Cavalry," which clung to him
till he left for the west. This was not because men were killed while
under his command, for that was their business and every trooper knew
that death was liable to come soon or late, while he was in the line of
duty, but for the reason that so many lives were sacrificed by him for
no good purpose whatever.


Well, on the morning of the Fourth, General Kilpatrick sent an order to
regimental commanders to draw three days' rations and be prepared for a
protracted absence from the army, as we were to go to the right and rear
of Lee to try and intercept his trains, and in every way to harass his
retreating columns as much as possible. We were all proud of our new
commanders, for it was evident that they were fighting men, and that
while they would lead us into danger, if we survived it there would be
left the consciousness of having done our duty, and the credit of
accomplishing something for the cause.

It must also be said that a strong feeling of "pride in the corps" had
taken root. Men were proud that they belonged to Kilpatrick's division
and to Custer's brigade, for it must not be supposed that the above
estimate of the former is based upon what we knew of him at that time.
We were under him for a long time after that. This was the first day
that we felt the influence of his immediate presence.

When it was known that Kilpatrick was to lead a movement to the enemy's
rear all felt that the chances were excellent for the country to hear a
good deal about our exploits within the next few days, and nobody
regretted it.

But before the start it began to rain in torrents. It has been said that
a great battle always produces rain. My recollection is not clear as to
the other battles, but I know that the day after Gettysburg the
flood-gates of heaven were opened, and as the column of cavalry took its
way towards Emmittsburg it was deluged. It seemed as if the firmament
were an immense tank, the contents of which were spilled all at once.
Such a drenching as we had! Even heavy gum coats and horsehide boots
were hardly proof against it. It poured and poured, the water running
in streams off the horses' backs, making of every rivulet a river and of
every river and mountain stream a raging flood.

But Lee was in retreat and, rain or shine, it was our duty to reach his
rear, so all day long we plodded and plashed along the muddy roads
towards the passes in the Catoctin and South mountains. It was a tedious
ride for men already worn out with incessant marching and the fatigues
of many days. It hardly occurred to the tired trooper that it was the
anniversary of the nation's natal day. There were no fireworks, and
enthusiasm was quenched not by the weather only but by the knowledge
that the confederate army, though repulsed, was not captured. The news
of Grant's glorious victory in the west filled every heart with joy, of
course, but the prospect of going back into Virginia to fight the war
over again was not alluring.

But possibly that might not be our fate. Vigorous pursuit might
intercept Lee on this side of the Potomac. Every trooper felt that he
could endure wet and brave the storm to aid in such strategy, and all
set their faces to the weather and rode, if not cheerfully, at least
patiently forward in the rain.

I have said that on that memorable Fourth of July there were no
fireworks. That was a mistake. The pyrotechnic display was postponed
until a late hour, but it was an interesting and exciting exhibition, as
all who witnessed it will testify. It was in the night and darkness
lent intensity to the scene.

Toward evening the flood subsided somewhat, though the sky was overcast
with wet-looking clouds, and the swollen and muddy streams that ran
along and across our pathway fretted and frothed like impatient coursers
under curb and rein. Their banks could hardly hold them.

During the afternoon and evening the column was climbing the South
mountain. A big confederate wagon train was going through the gap ahead
of us. If we could capture that, it would be making reprisal for some of
Stuart's recent work in Maryland.

Toward midnight we were nearing the top, marching along the narrow
defile, the mountain towering to the right, and sloping off abruptly to
the left, when the boom of a cannon announced that the advance guard had
encountered the enemy. The piece of artillery was planted in the road,
at the summit, near the Monterey house, and was supported by the
confederate rearguard, which at once opened fire with their carbines. It
was too dark to distinguish objects at any distance, the enemy was
across the front and no one could tell how large a force it might be.
The First Michigan had been sent to the right, early in the evening, to
attack a body of the enemy, hovering on the right flank in the direction
of Fairfield, and had a hard fight, in which Captain Elliott and
Lieutenant McElhenny, two brave officers, were killed. The Fifth and
Sixth were leading and at once dismounted and deployed as skirmishers.
Generals Kilpatrick and Custer rode to the place where the line was
forming, and superintended the movement. The Sixth, under Colonel Gray,
was on the right of the line, the road to its left. At least the portion
of the regiment to which my troop belonged was in that position. I
think, perhaps, a part of the regiment was across the road. The Fifth
formed on the left; the First and Seventh in reserve, mounted. There is
a good deal of guess work about it, for in the darkness one could not
tell what happened except in his immediate neighborhood.

The order "Forward," finally came, and the line of skirmishers advanced
up the slope, a column of mounted men following in the road, ready to
charge when opportunity offered. Soon we encountered the confederate
skirmishers, but could locate them only by the flashes of their guns.
The darkness was intense and in a few moments we had plunged into a
dense thicket, full of undergrowth, interlaced with vines and briars, so
thick that it was difficult to make headway at all. More than once a
trailing vine tripped me up, and I fell headlong. To keep up an
alignment was out of the question. One had to be guided by sound and not
by sight. The force in front did not appear to be formidable in numbers,
but had the advantage of position, and was on the defensive in a narrow
mountain pass where numbers were of little avail. We had a large force,
but it was strung out in a long column for miles back, and it was
possible to bring only a few men into actual contact with the enemy,
whatever he might be. This last was a matter of conjecture and
Kilpatrick doubtless felt the necessity of moving cautiously, feeling
his way until he developed what was in his front. To the right of the
road, had it not been for the noise and the flashing of the enemy's fire
we should have wandered away in the darkness and been lost.

The confederate skirmishers were driven back across a swollen stream
spanned by a bridge. The crossing at this point was contested fiercely,
but portions of the Fifth and Sixth finally forced it and then the whole
command crossed over.

In the meantime the rumbling of wagon wheels could be heard in the road
leading down the mountain. It was evident we were being detained by a
small force striving to hold us there while the train made its escape. A
regiment was ordered up mounted to make a charge. I heard the colonel
giving his orders. "Men," he said, "use the saber only; I will cut down
any man who fires a shot." This was to prevent shooting our own men in
the melee, and in the darkness. Inquiring, I learned it was the First
(West) Virginia cavalry. This regiment which belonged in the First
brigade had been ordered to report to Custer. At the word, the gallant
regiment rushed like the wind down the mountain road, "yelling like
troopers," as they were, and good ones too, capturing everything in
their way.

This charge ended the fighting for that night. It was one of the most
exciting engagements we ever had, for while the actual number engaged
was small, and the casualties were not great, the time, the place, the
circumstances, the darkness, the uncertainty, all combined to make "the
midnight fight at Monterey" one of unique interest. General Custer had
his horse shot under him which, it was said and I have reason to
believe, was the seventh horse killed under him in that campaign. The
force that resisted us did its duty gallantly, though it had everything
in its favor. They knew what they had in their front, we did not. Still,
they failed of their object, which was to save the train. That we
captured after all. The Michigan men brushed the rear guard out of the
way, the First Virginia gave the affair the finishing touch.

The fight over, men succumbed to fatigue and drowsiness. I had barely
touched the saddle before I was fast asleep, and did not awake until
daylight, and then looking around, could not see a man that I recognized
as belonging to my own troop. As far as the eye could reach, both front
and rear, was a moving mass of horses with motionless riders all wrapped
in slumber. The horses were moving along with drooping heads and eyes
half-closed. Some walked faster than others and, as a consequence, would
gradually pull away from their companions through the column in front;
others would fall back. So it came to pass that few men found themselves
in the same society in the morning with which they started at midnight.
As for myself, I awoke to wonder where I was and what had become of my
men. Not one of them could I see. My horse was a fast walker, and I soon
satisfied myself that I was in advance of my troop and, when the place
designated for the division to bivouac was reached, dismounted and
awaited their arrival. Some of them did not come up for an hour, and
they were scattered about among other commands, in squads, a few in a
place. It was seven o'clock before we were all together once more.

Then we had breakfast, and the men had a chance to look the captures
over and quiz the prisoners. The wagons were soon despoiled of their
contents and such stuff as was not valuable or could not be transported
was burned. Among the prisoners was Colonel Davis, of the Tenth Virginia
cavalry, who claimed that he led the charge against our position on the
third. He expressed himself very freely as having had enough, and said,
"This useless war ought to be ended at once."

During the day Stuart's cavalry appeared on our flank and we pushed on
to Cavetown, thence to Boonsborough, harassed all the way by the enemy.
We were now directly on Lee's path to the Potomac. At Smithburg there
was quite a skirmish in which the Sixth had the duty of supporting the
battery. My troop, deployed as skirmishers along the top of a rocky
ridge, was forgotten when the division moved away after dark, and we lay
there for an hour within sight of the confederate camp until, suspecting
something wrong, I made a reconnoissance and discovered that our
command had gone. I therefore mounted the men and followed the trail
which led toward Boonsborough. At the latter place Kilpatrick turned
over his prisoners and captured property.

On the 6th, along in the afternoon, we arrived in the vicinity of
Hagerstown. The road we were on enters the town at right angles with the
pike from Hagerstown to Williamsport, on reaching which we turned to the
left, the position being something like the following diagram:



Lee's reserve wagon trains were at Williamsport under General Imboden.
From Hagerstown to Williamsport was about five miles. We had Stuart's
cavalry in our front, Lee's whole army on our right, and only five miles
to our left the tempting prize which Kilpatrick was eager to seize.
Besides, it was necessary for Lee to reach Williamsport in order to
secure a crossing of the Potomac river.

The advance of his army reached Hagerstown simultaneously with
ourselves, but the skirmishers of the First brigade drove them back to
the northward, and then the Michigan brigade passed through and turned
southward on the pike toward Williamsport. The Fifth Michigan had the
advance and the Sixth the rear. The latter regiment had hardly more than
turned in the new direction when the boom of a cannon in front told the
story that the battle had begun.

General Kilpatrick had been attending to matters in Hagerstown. It was
evident that there was considerable force there and that it was
constantly augmenting. The opening gun at Williamsport called his
attention to a new danger. It looked as though he had deliberately
walked into a trap. In a moment I saw him coming, dashing along the
flank of the column. He was urging his horse to its utmost speed. In his
hand he held a small riding whip with which he was touching the flank of
his charger as he rode. His face was pale. His eyes were gazing fixedly
to the front and he looked neither to the right nor to the left. The
look of anxiety on his countenance was apparent. The sound of cannon
grew louder and more frequent; we were rushed rapidly to the front. The
First brigade followed and to the officer in command of it was assigned
the task of holding back Lee's army while the Michigan brigade tried
titles with Imboden. Buford, with the First cavalry division, was
fighting Stuart's cavalry to the left, towards Boonsborough, and on him
it depended to keep open the only avenue of escape from the position
in which Kilpatrick found himself.

[Illustration: AARON CONE JEWETT]

In a little time the two brigades were fighting back to back, one facing
north and the other south, and each having more than it could attend to.

Pretty soon we arrived on the bluff overlooking Williamsport. Imboden's
artillery had the exact range and were pouring shell into the position
where the brigade was trying to form.

Just before arriving at the point where we were ordered to turn to the
right through an opening in a rail fence, into a field, Aaron C. Jewett,
acting adjutant of the regiment, rode along the column delivering the
order from the colonel. During the Gettysburg campaign Jewett had been
acting adjutant and would have received his commission in a short time.
His modest demeanor and affable manners had won the hearts of all his
comrades. He had made himself exceedingly popular, as well as useful,
and was greatly beloved in the regiment. When he delivered the order the
pallor of his countenance was noticeable. There was no tremor, no
shrinking, no indication of fear; he was intent upon performing his
duty; gave the order and, turning, galloped back to where the shells
were flying thick and fast. When I arrived at the gap in the fence he
was there; he led the way into the field; told me where to go in; there
was no trepidation on his part but still that deathly pallor. As we
passed into the field a shell exploded directly in front of us. It took
a leg off a man in troop H which preceded us and had dismounted to fight
on foot, and I saw him hopping around on his one remaining limb and
heard him shriek with pain. A fragment of the same shell took a piece
off the rim of Lieutenant E.L. Craw's hat. He was riding at my side. I
believe it was the same shell that killed Jewett. He had left me to
direct the next troop in order, and a fragment of one of these shells
struck him in the throat and killed him instantly. As I moved rapidly
forward after getting into the field I did not see him again, and did
not know he was killed until after dark, when we had succeeded in making
our escape by a very narrow chance.

We were moved well over to the right--all the time under a furious fire
of artillery--and kept there until almost dark, fighting all the time
with the troops that were pushed out from Williamsport. In the meantime,
the firing and yelling in rear could be heard distinctly and it seemed
that at any moment the little force was to be closed in on and captured.
Finally, just after dark, it was withdrawn. Those on the right of the
road--the First and Sixth--the Fifth and Seventh being to the left, were
obliged to reach and cross the pike to make their escape. Weber
stealthily withdrew the battalion. He was the last man to leave the
field. When we were forming in the road, after rallying the skirmishers,
the enemy was in plain sight only a little way toward Hagerstown and it
seemed as if one could throw a stone and hit them. We expected they
would charge us, but they did not, and probably the growing darkness
prevented it. In fact, there was manifest a disposition on their part to
let us alone if we would not molest them.

We then marched off into a piece of woods and, the regiment having all
reunited, learned--those who had not known of it before--of Jewett's
death. His body was still where it fell. The suggestion was made to go
and recover it. Weber and his men made an attempt to do so, but by that
time the enemy had come up and taken possession of the field. This was a
terrible blow to all, to be obliged to leave the body of a beloved
comrade; to be denied the privilege of aiding in placing him in a
soldier's grave, and performing the last offices of affection for a
fallen friend.

The death of Jewett was a blow to the regiment the more severe because
he was the first officer killed up to that time. A portion of the
regiment had been roughly handled on the evening of July 2, at
Hunterstown--where Thompson and Ballard were wounded--and the latter
taken prisoner. A number of the rank and file were in the list of
killed, wounded and missing. Enough had been seen of war to bring to all
a realization of its horrors. Death was a familiar figure, yet Jewett's
position as adjutant had brought him into close relations with both
officers and men and his sudden death was felt as a personal
bereavement. It was like coming into the home and taking one of the best
beloved of the household.

After getting out of the Williamsport affair most of the night was taken
up in marching and on the morning of the 7th, the brigade was back in
Boonsborough where, remaining in camp all day, it obtained a much needed
rest, though the Fourth of July rain storm was repeated. Lee's army had
reached the Potomac, and not being able to cross by reason of the high
water, was entrenching on the north side. Meade's army was concentrating
in the vicinity but seemed in no hurry about it. During the day some
heavy siege guns, coming down the mountain road, passed through
Boonsborough going to the front. A big battle was expected to begin at
any moment, and we wondered why there was so much deliberation, when
Lee's army was apparently in a trap with a swollen river behind it. It
did not seem possible that he would be permitted to escape into Virginia
without fighting a battle. To the cavalry of Kilpatrick's division,
which had been marching and countermarching over all the country between
the South mountain and the Potomac river, the delay was inexplicable.
Every trooper believed that the Army of the Potomac had the confederacy
by the throat, at last, and that vigorous and persistent effort would
speedily crush the life out of it.

But no battle took place and, on the morning of the 8th, Stuart's
cavalry which was now covering Lee's front, was attacked in front of
Boonsborough by Buford and Kilpatrick, and a hard battle resulted. Most
of the fighting was done dismounted, the commands being deployed as
skirmishers. Custer's brigade occupied the extreme left of the line, and
I think the Sixth the left of the brigade. The enemy was also on foot,
though many mounted officers could be seen on their line. We had here a
good opportunity to test the qualities of the Spencer carbines and,
armed as we were, we proved more than a match for any force that was
encountered. The firing was very sharp at times, and took on the
character of skirmishing, the men taking advantage of every cover that
presented itself. The confederates were behind a stone fence, we in a
piece of woods along a rail fence, which ran along the edge of the
timber. Between was an open field. Several times they attempted to come
over the stone wall, and advance on our position, but each time were
driven back. Once an officer jumped up on the fence and tried to wave
his men forward. A shot from a Spencer brought him headlong to the
ground, and after that no one had the temerity to expose himself in that

At this stage of the battle (it must have been about eleven o'clock in
the forenoon) a singular thing happened. It is one of those numberless
incidents that do not appear in official reports, and which give to
individual reminiscences their unique interest.

An officer, dressed in blue, with the regulation cavalry hat, riding a
bay horse which had the look of a thoroughbred, rode along in rear of
our line with an air of authority, and with perfect coolness said, as he
passed from right to left, "General Kilpatrick orders that the line
fall back rapidly." The order was obeyed promptly, though it struck us
as strange that such a strong position should be given up without a
struggle. We had not been under Kilpatrick long enough to recognize all
the members of his staff on sight, and it did not occur to any one at
the time to question the fellow's authority or make him show his

The line left the woods and retreated to a good defensive position on a
ridge of high ground facing the woods, the enemy meantime advancing with
a yell to the timber we had abandoned. Then it was learned that
Kilpatrick had given no such order, but the "staff officer" had
disappeared and, when we came to think about it, nobody could describe
him very closely. He had seemed to flit along the line, giving the order
but stopping nowhere, and leaving no very clear idea as to how he
looked. There is but little doubt that he was an audacious confederate,
probably one of Stuart's scouts clothed in federal uniform, who made a
thorough tour of inspection of our line, and then, after seeing us fall
back, very likely led his own line to the position which he secured by
this daring stratagem. The confederates were up to such tricks, and
occasionally the yankees were smart enough to give them a Roland for
their Oliver.

It was presently necessary to advance and drive the enemy out of the
woods, which was done in gallant style, the whole line joining. This
time there was no stopping, but the pursuit was kept up for several
miles. I can hear gallant Weber's voice now, as he shouted, "Forward,
my men," and leaping to the front led them in the charge.

The Fifth Michigan was to our right, and Colonel Alger who was in
command was wounded in the leg and had to leave the field. We did not
see him again for some time, the command devolving upon Lieutenant
Colonel Gould who, in turn, was himself wounded a day or two later, and
Major Luther S. Trowbridge, who did such gallant fighting at Gettysburg,
succeeded to the command.

From the night of the 8th to the morning of the 11th there was an
interval of quietude. The cavalry was waiting and watching for Lee or
Meade to do something and, to the credit of the union troopers, it must
be said that they were eager for the conflict to begin believing, as
they did, that the war ought to end in a day.

July 11, early in the morning, an attack was made on the lines around
Hagerstown, which developed a hornets' nest of sharpshooters armed with
telescopic rifles, who could pick a man's ear off half-a-mile away. The
bullets from their guns had a peculiar sound, something like the buzz of
a bumble-bee, and the troopers' horses would stop, prick up their ears
and gaze in the direction whence the hum of those invisible messengers
could be heard. Unable to reach them mounted, we finally deployed
dismounted along a staked rail fence. The confederates were behind trees
and shocks of grain, at least half-a-mile away. They would get the
range so accurately that it was dangerous to stand still a moment. It
was possible, however, to dodge the bullets by observing the puffs of
smoke from their guns. The distance was so great that the puff was seen
some seconds before the report was heard, and before the arrival of the
leaden missile. By moving to the right or left the shot could be
avoided, which in many cases was so accurately aimed as to have been
fatal, had it been awaited. Once I was slow about moving. The scamp in
my immediate front had evidently singled me out and was sending them in
so close as to make it sure that he was taking deadly aim. I took my eye
off his natural fortress for an instant, when he fired, and before I
could jump, the ball struck a rail in front of me, and passing through
the rail, fell to the ground at my feet.

Most of the men were content to keep behind the fence and try and give
the confederates as good as they sent, aiming at the points whence the
puffs of smoke came. But there was one daring fellow, Halleck by name,
who climbed over the fence and amused himself shelling and eating the
wheat while he dodged the bullets. So keen an eye did he keep out for
the danger, that he escaped without a scratch. While he was there a man
named Mattoon, a good soldier, came up, and seeing Halleck, jumped over
with the exclamation, "What are you doing here?" "Just wait a minute and
you will see," said Halleck. Mattoon was a fat, chubby fellow, and in
just about "a minute" a bullet struck him in the face, going through the
fleshy part of the cheek and making the blood spout. "I told you so,"
said Halleck, who kept on eating wheat and defying the sharpshooters,
who were unable to hit him, though he was a conspicuous target. The
secret of it was he did not stand still, but kept moving, and they had
to hit him, if at all, like a bird on the wing which at the distance was
a hard shot to make.

The entire day was passed in this kind of skirmishing, and it was both
dangerous and exciting. The men had lots of fun out of it, and only a
few of them were shot, though there were many narrow escapes.

On the morning of July 14, the Third cavalry division marched over the
Hagerstown pike, into Williamsport. There was no enemy there. Lee had
given Meade the slip. His army was across the Potomac, in Virginia once
more, safe from pursuit. As he reined up his faithful steed upon the
northern bank of the broad river, the union trooper looked wistfully at
the country beyond. Well he knew that Lee had escaped, like a bird from
the snare, and could march leisurely back to his strongholds. Visions of
the swamps of the Chickahominy, of Bull Run, of Fredericksburg, of
Chancellorsville, passed before his mind as with pensive thought he
gazed upon the shining valley of the Shenandoah, stretching away to the
southward in mellow perspective. He wondered how long the two armies
were to continue the work of alternately chasing each other back and
forth across this battle-ground of the republic. The wide, majestic
river, no longer vexed by the splashing tread of passing squadrons, with
smooth and tranquil flow swept serenely along, the liquid notes of its
rippling eddies seeming to mock at the disappointment of the baffled
pursuer. The calm serenity of the scene was in sharp contrast with the
stormy passions of the men who sought to disturb it with the stern
fatalities of war. The valley, rich with golden harvests, presented a
charming dissolving view, melting away in the dim distance. On the left,
the smoky summits of the Blue mountains marked the eastern limits of
this "storehouse of the confederacy," the whole forming a picture in
which beauty and grandeur were strikingly blended.

But this reverie of the soldier was soon rudely disturbed. Word came
that they were not all across after all. Five miles below, at Falling
Waters, in a bend of the river, was a ford where a portion of
Longstreet's corps was yet to cross on a pontoon bridge. Kilpatrick
started off in hot haste for Falling Waters, determined to strike the
last blow on northern soil. The Sixth Michigan was in advance, two
troops--B and F--under Major Weber, acting as advance guard. Kilpatrick
and Custer followed Weber; then came Colonel Gray with the remainder of
the regiment.

The march from Williamsport to Falling Waters was a wild ride. For the
whole distance the horses were spurred to a gallop. Kilpatrick was
afraid he would not get there in time to overtake the enemy, so he
spared neither man nor beast. The road was soft and miry, and the horses
sank almost to their knees in the sticky mud. For this reason the column
straggled, and it was not possible to keep a single troop closed up in
sets of fours. At such a rapid rate the column plunged through the muddy
roads, Weber and his little force leading.

On nearing Falling Waters, the column turned to the right through a
wood, which skirted a large cultivated field. To the right and front,
beyond the field, was a high hill or knoll on which an earthwork had
been thrown up. Behind the earthwork a considerable force of confederate
infantry was seen in bivouac, evidently taking a rest, with arms
stacked. As a matter of fact, for it will be as well to know what was
there, though the general in command made very little note of it at the
time, there were two brigades--an entire division--commanded by General
Pettigrew, one of the men who participated in Pickett's charge at

On sighting this force, Custer ordered Weber to dismount his men,
advance a line of skirmishers toward the hill and ascertain what he had
to encounter. Kilpatrick however ordered Weber to remount and charge the
hill. At that time no other portion of the regiment had arrived so as to
support the charge.

Weber, knowing no law for a soldier except implicit obedience to orders,
first saw his men well closed up, then placed himself at their head and
giving the order "Forward," emerged from the woods into the open field,
took the trot until near the top of the slope, close to the earthworks,
and then with a shout the little band of less than a hundred men charged
right into the midst of ten times their number of veteran troops. The
first onset surprised and astonished the enemy, who had mistaken Weber's
force for a squadron of their own cavalry. The audacity of the thing
dazed them for a minute, and for a minute only.

Weber, cutting right and left with his saber, and cheering on his men,
pierced the first line, but there could be but one result. Recovering
from their surprise, the confederate infantry rallied, and seizing their
arms, made short work of their daring assailants. In a few minutes, of
the three officers in the charge, two--Weber and Bolza--lay dead on the
field, and the other--Crawford--had his leg shattered so it had to be

The two brave troops were more than decimated, though a considerable
number succeeded in escaping with their lives.

This charge which Kilpatrick in his official report characterized as
"the most gallant ever made," was described by a confederate eye-witness
who was on the hill with Pettigrew and who wrote an account of the
affair for a southern paper several years ago, as "a charge of

[Illustration: PETER A. WEBER]

In the meantime, just as Weber's command was repulsed, the other
squadrons of the regiment began to arrive, and were hurried across the
field to the foot of the hill, and there dismounted to fight, dressing
to the left as they successively reached the alignment and opening fire
with their Spencers at once. But having disposed of the two mounted
troops, the confederates filled the earthworks, and began to send a
shower of bullets at those already formed or forming below.

My troop was the fourth from the rear of the regiment, and consequently
several preceded it on the line. When I reached the fence, along the
side of the field next the woods, I found Lieutenant A.E. Tower, who
since the death of Jewett had been acting adjutant, at the gap giving
orders. He directed me to take my command across the field, and form on
the right of that next preceding. I had ridden so rapidly that only a
few men had kept up the pace, and the remainder were strung out for some
distance back. But taking those that were up, and asking the adjutant to
tell the others to follow, I dashed into the field, and soon found that
we were the targets for the enemy on the hill, who made the air vibrant
with the whiz of bullets. It was hot, but we made our way across without
being hit, and reached the place where the regiment was trying to form,
under fire of musketry from the hill, and getting badly cut up. Reining
up my horse, I gave the order, "Dismount, to fight on foot" and,
glancing back, saw my men coming in single file, reaching to the
fence--probably an eighth of a mile--and the rear had not yet left the
woods. The two leading sets of fours which alone were closed up obeyed
the order and, dismounting to direct the alignment, I stepped in front
of my horse, still holding the bridle rein in my right hand, when a
minie bullet from the hill in front with a vicious thud went through my
right foot, making what the surgeon in Washington afterwards said was
the "prettiest wound I ever saw."

I tried to stand but could not. The foot was useless. Private
Halleck--the same who was eating wheat at Hagerstown a few days
before--jumped to my rescue and helped me off the field.

Back of our position some distance, say 500 yards, was a log house in an
orchard. To this we directed our steps, I leaning on Halleck's shoulder,
and hopping along on the unhurt foot. The most uncomfortable experience
I had during the war I believe was during the passage across the open
field to the orchard. Our backs were to the foe and the whistling
bullets which came thick and fast all about served to accelerate our
speed. I expected every moment to be shot in the back. One poor fellow,
already wounded, who was trying to run to the rear, was making
diagonally across the field from the right. As he was about to pass us a
bullet struck him and he fell dead in his tracks. Halleck succeeded in
getting to the house, where he left me with the remark: "You are all
right now, captain, the boys need me and I will go back on the line."
And back he went into the thickest of it, and fought gallantly to the
end of the engagement, as I learned by inquiry afterwards.

After a little, the confederates drove our line back beyond the house,
and it was, for perhaps an hour, on the neutral ground between friends
and foes. Shells from the opposing batteries hurtled around, and I did
not know what moment one of them would come crashing through the
building. A hospital flag had been displayed above it, which saved it.

Finally, sufficient force arrived to give our people the best of it, and
the enemy was driven in confusion to the river, losing about 1,500
prisoners, one or two pieces of artillery and many small arms. General
Pettigrew was killed by Weber or one of his men. Until the battle was
over I did not know what fearful losses had befallen the regiment. The
total casualties were 33 killed and 56 wounded. The loss in officers was
heavy: Major Weber, killed; Lieutenant Bolza, commanding troop B,
killed; Lieutenant Potter, troop C, wounded and prisoner; Captain Royce,
troop D, killed; Captain Kidd, troop E, wounded; Lieutenant Crawford,
troop F, lost a leg; Lieutenant Kellogg, troop H, wounded and a

The story of "The Michigan Cavalry Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign,"
properly ends with the death of General Pettigrew and Major Weber at
Falling Waters. No more brilliant passage at arms took place during the
war for the union, and it is a pity that some more able historian could
not have written the story and immortalized the men, both dead and
living who had a part in it.[15]



The night following the battle of Falling Waters, July 14, 1863, was a
memorable one to the Michigan cavalry brigade, especially to those who
like myself passed it in the field hospital. The log house into which
the wounded were taken was filled with maimed and dying soldiers,
dressed in union blue. The entire medical staff of the division had its
hands full caring for the sufferers. Many were brought in and subjected
to surgical treatment only to die in the operation, or soon thereafter.
Probes were thrust into gaping wounds in search of the deadly missiles,
or to trace the course of the injury. Bandages and lint were applied to
stop the flow of blood. Splintered bones were removed and shattered
limbs amputated. All night long my ears were filled with the groans
wrung from stout hearts by the agonies of pain, and the moans of the
mortally hurt as their lives ebbed slowly away. One poor fellow,
belonging to the First Michigan cavalry, was in the same room with me.
He had a gun-shot wound in the bowels. It was fatal, and he knew it, for
the surgeon had done his duty and told him the truth. He was a manly and
robust young soldier who but a few hours before had been the picture of
health, going into battle without a tremor and receiving his death wound
like a hero. For hours, I watched and wondered at the fortitude with
which he faced his fate. Not a murmur of complaint passed his lips.
Racked with pain and conscious that but a few hours of life remained to
him, he talked as placidly about his wound, his condition and his coming
dissolution, as though conversing about something of common, everyday
concern. He was more solicitous about others than about himself, and
passed away literally like one "who wraps the drapery of his couch about
him and lies down to pleasant dreams." He died about three o'clock in
the morning and I could almost feel the reality of the flight of his
tranquil spirit.

In striking contrast to the picture thus presented, was one in the room
adjoining. Another trooper also fatally wounded, suffered so keenly from
shock and pain that his fortitude gave way. He could not bear the
thought of death. His nerve appeared to have deserted him and his
anguish of mind and body, as he saw the relentless approach of the grim
monster and felt his icy breath, will haunt my memory till I myself
shall have joined the great army of union veterans who are beyond the
reach of pain and the need of pensions.

My own wound gave little annoyance except when the surgeon ran an iron
called a probe into it, which attempt met with so vigorous a protest
from his patient that he desisted and that form of treatment stopped
right there, so far as one cavalryman was concerned. The wound was well
bandaged and plentiful applications of cold water kept out the

Many of the officers and men came in to express their sympathy. Some of
them entertained me with the usual mock congratulations on having won a
"leave" and affected to regard me as a lucky fellow while they were the
real objects of sympathy.

But the circumstances were such as to repress mirth or anything of that
semblance. The regiment was in mourning for its bravest and best. The
Sixth, having been the first regiment to get into the fight, had
suffered more severely than any other. The losses had been grievous, and
it seemed hard that so many bright lights of our little family should be
so suddenly extinguished.

At daylight I was still wide awake but, even amidst such scenes as I
have described, fatigue finally overcame me and I sank into dreamland
only to be startled, at first, by the fancied notes of the bugle
sounding "to horse" or the shouts of horsemen engaged in the fray. At
last, however, "tired nature's sweet restorer" came to my relief and I
fell into a dreamless sleep that lasted for several hours.

When I awoke it was with a delightful sense of mind and body rested and
restored. The wounded foot had ceased its pain. A gentle hand was
bathing my face with cold water from the well, while another was
straightening out the tangled locks which, to tell the truth, were
somewhat unkempt and overgrown from enforced neglect. Two ladies full of
sympathy for the youthful soldier were thus kindly ministering to his
comfort. As soon as fully awake to his surroundings, he opened his eyes
and turned them with what was meant for a look of gratitude upon the
fair friends who seemed like visiting angels in that place of misery and

It was an incongruous picture that presented itself--a strange blending
of the grewsome sights of war with the beautiful environments of peace.
The wonted tranquility of this rural household had been rudely disturbed
by the sudden clangor of arms. A terrible storm of battle--the more
terrible because unforeseen--had broken in upon the quietude of their
home. In the early hours of the morning it had raged all around them. At
the first sound of its approach the terrified inmates fled to the cellar
where they remained till it passed. They had come forth to find their
house turned into a hospital.

The kindness of those ladies is something that the union trooper has
never forgotten, for they flitted across his pathway, a transient vision
of gentleness and mercy in that scene of carnage and suffering.

It was with a melancholy interest that I gazed upon the pallid face of
my dead comrade of the First, who lay, a peaceful smile upon his
features which were bathed in a flood of golden light, as the hot rays
of the July sun penetrated the apartment. The man in the hall was also
dead. Others of the wounded were lying on their improvised couches, as
comfortable as they could be made.

In the afternoon the ambulance train arrived. The wounded were loaded
therein, and started for Hagerstown, bidding farewell to those who
remained on duty, and who had already received marching orders which
would take them back into "Old Virginia."

The journey to Hagerstown was by way of Williamsport and the same pike
we had marched over on the 6th of the month when Jewett was killed, and
on the morning of the 14th when Weber was riding to "one more saber
charge" at Falling Waters.

Nothing is more depressing than to pass over ground where a battle has
recently been fought. Any veteran will say that he prefers the advance
to the retreat--the front to the rear of an army. The true soldier would
rather be on the skirmish-line than in the hospital or among the trains.
Men who can face the cannon's mouth without flinching, shrink from the
surgeon's knife and the amputating-table. The excitement, the noise, the
bugle's note and beat of drum, the roar of artillery, the shriek of
shell, the volley of musketry, the "zip" of bullet or "ping" of spent
ball, the orderly movement of masses of men, the shouting of orders, the
waving of battle-flags--all these things inflame the imagination, stir
the blood, and stimulate men to heroic actions. Above all, the
consciousness that the eyes of comrades are upon him, puts a man upon
his mettle and upon his pride, and compels him oftentimes to simulate a
contempt for danger which he does not feel. The senses are too, in some
sort, deadened to the hazards of the scene and, in battle, one finds
himself doing with resolute will things which under normal conditions
would fill him with abhorrence.

Men fight from mingled motives. Pride, the fear of disgrace, ambition,
the sense of duty--all contribute to keep the courage up to the sticking
point. Few fight because they like it. The bravest are those who, fully
alive to the danger, are possessed of that sublime moral heroism which
sustains them in emergencies that daunt weaker men.

But, when the excitement is over, when the pomp and circumstance are
eliminated, when the unnatural ardor has subsided, when the tumult and
rush have passed, leaving behind only the dismal effects--the ruin and
desolation, the mangled corpses of the killed, the saddening spectacle
of the dying, the sufferings of the wounded--the bravest would, if he
could, blot these things from his sight and from his memory.

The night in the field hospital at Falling Waters did more to put out
the fires of my military spirit and to quench my martial ambition than
did all the experiences of Hunterstown and Gettysburg, of Boonsborough
and Williamsport. And, as the ambulance train laden with wounded wound
its tortuous way through the theater of many a bloody recent
rencounter, it set in motion a train of reflections which were by no
means pleasing. The abandoned arms and accouterments; the debris of
broken-down army wagons; the wrecks of caissons and gun-carriages; the
bloated carcasses of once proud and sleek cavalry chargers; the mounds
showing where the earth had been hastily shoveled over the forms of late
companions-in-arms; everything was suggestive of the desolation, nothing
of the glory, of war.

It was nearly dark when the long train of ambulances halted in the
streets of Hagerstown. Some large buildings had been taken for hospitals
and the wounded were being placed therein as the ambulances successively
arrived. This consumed much time and, while waiting for the forward
wagons to be unloaded, it occurred to me that it would be a nice thing
to obtain quarters in a private house. Barnhart, first sergeant of the
troop, who accompanied me, proposed to make inquiry at once, and ran up
the stone steps of a comfortable-looking brick house opposite the
ambulance and rang the bell. In a moment the door opened and a pleasant
voice inquired what was wanted.

"A wounded officer in the ambulance yonder wants to know if you will
take him in for a day or two until he can get ordered to Washington. He
has funds to recompense you and does not like to go to the hospital."

"Certainly," replied the voice, "bring him in."

And Barnhart, taking me in his arms, carried me into the house and,
guided to the second floor by the same lady who had met him at the
door, deposited his burden on a couch in a well furnished apartment and
we were bidden to make ourselves at home.

In a little while, a nice hot supper of tea, toast, eggs and beefsteak,
enough for both, was brought to the room by our hospitable hostess, who
seemed to take the greatest pleasure in serving her guests with her own
hands. Later in the evening, she called with her husband and they
formally introduced themselves. They were young married people with one
child, a beautiful little girl of six or eight summers. He was a
merchant and kept a store in an adjoining building. They spent the
evening in the room, chatting of the stirring events of the month and,
indeed, their experiences had been scarcely less exciting than our own.
Hagerstown had been right in the whirl of the battle-storm which had
been raging in Maryland. Both armies had passed through its streets and
bivouacked in its environs. More than once the opposing forces had
contended for possession of the town. Twice the union cavalry had
charged in and driven the confederates out, and once had been forced,
themselves, to vacate in a hurry. It was almost inside its limits that
Captain Snyder, of the First Michigan cavalry, serving on Kilpatrick's
staff, had with the saber fought single-handed five confederate horsemen
and he was lying wounded mortally in a neighboring building. Our kind
host and hostess entertained us until a late hour with interesting
recitals of what they had seen from the inside or "between the lines."

That night after a refreshing bath, with head pillowed in down, I stowed
myself away between snowy sheets for a dreamless sleep that lasted until
the sun was high up in the eastern heavens. Barnhart was already astir
and soon brought a surgeon to diagnose the case and decide what
disposition should be made of the patient. Then the L--s and their
little daughter came in with a cheery "good morning" and a steaming
breakfast of coffee, cakes and other things fragrant enough and tempting
enough to tickle the senses of an epicure. And, not content with
providing the best of what the house afforded, Mr. L. brought in the
choicest of cigars by the handful, insisting on my finding solace in the
fumes of the fragrant weed.

"Do not be afraid to smoke in your room," said the sunny Mrs. L., "my
husband smokes and I am not the least bit afraid that it will harm the

I glanced with a deprecatory gesture at the lace curtains and other rich
furniture of the room, as much as to say, "Could not think of it," and
in fact, before lighting a cigar, I took a seat by the open window where
I sat and puffed the blue smoke into the bluer atmosphere, beguiling the
time the while, talking with these good friends about the war.

That was the very poetry of a soldier's life. For the better part of a
week the two cavalrymen were the guests of that hospitable family who,
at the last, declined to receive any remuneration for their kindness.

The journey to Washington was by rail. In the cars groups of interested
citizens, and soldiers as well, questioned us eagerly for the latest
news from the front, and our tongues were kept busy answering a steady
fire of questions. No incident of the campaign was too trivial to find
willing ears to listen when it was told. The operations of Kilpatrick's
division seemed to be well known and there was much complimentary
comment upon his energy and his dash. The name of Custer, "the boy
general," was seemingly on every tongue and there was no disposition on
our part to conceal the fact that we had been with them.

Arriving at the capital in the middle of the day, we were driven to the
Washington house, at the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and
Four-and-one-half street, where a room was engaged and preparations were
made to remain until the surgeon would say it was safe to start for

[Illustration: CHARLES E. STORRS]

The Washington house was a hotel of the second class but many nice
people stopped there. Among the regular guests was Senator Henry Wilson,
of Massachusetts, afterwards elected vice-president on the ticket with
Grant. He was a very modest man, plain in dress and unassuming in
manner. No one would have suspected from his bearing that he was a
senator and from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts. The colleague
of Charles Sumner, Henry Wilson was at that time one of the ablest, most
widely-known and influential statesmen of his day. Conspicuous among
the anti-slavery leaders of New England, his voice always had been heard
in defense of human rights. His loyalty to the union was equaled only by
his devotion to the interests of the soldiers. He lived a quiet,
unostentatious life, at the hotel, where his well-known face and figure
could be seen when the senate was not in session. He was a man of strong
mentality, of sturdy frame and marked individuality. As chairman of the
committee on military affairs he had been able to make himself extremely
useful to the government in the prosecution of the war, and the soldiers
found in him always a friend. He was very agreeable and companionable,
and did not hold himself aloof from the common herd, as smaller men in
his position might have done. He was seen often chatting with other
guests of the house, when they were gathered in the parlors, after or
awaiting meals. Once, I met him at an impromptu dancing party, and he
entered into the amusement with the zest of youth.

A month in Washington, and a surgeon's certificate secured the necessary
"leave" when, accompanied by Lieutenant C.E. Storrs of troop "B," who
had been severely wounded in one of the engagements in Virginia, after
Falling Waters, I started by the Pennsylvania line, for the old home in
Michigan, stopping a couple of days, en route, at Altoona, to breathe
the fresh mountain air.

Resuming the journey, we reached Pittsburg, to be met at the station by
a committee stationed there for the purpose of looking out for the
comfort of all soldiers who passed through the city, either going or
coming. We were conducted to a commodious dining hall, where a free
dinner, cooked and served by the fair hands of the patriotic ladies of
the "Smoky City," was furnished. It was an experience which left in our
minds a most grateful appreciation of the noble spirit that actuated the
Northern women in war times.

It was scarce two-thirds of a year since, as schoolboys innocent of war,
though wearing the union blue, we had gone forth to try our mettle as
soldiers, and it needs not to be said that there was a warm welcome home
for the veterans fresh from one of the most memorable military campaigns
in all the history of the world. The greetings then and there received
were ample compensation for all that we had done and dared and suffered.
I can never forget how kind the people were; how they gathered at the
railroad station; how cordially they grasped us by the hand; how
solicitous they were for our comfort; how tenderly we were nursed back
to health and strength; how fondly an affectionate mother hung upon
every word as we told the story of the exploits of the boys in the
field; how generously the neighbors dropped in to offer congratulations;
how eagerly they inquired about absent friends; how earnestly they
discussed the prospect of ultimate victory; how deep and abiding was
their faith in the justice of the cause and in the ability of the
government to maintain the union; and how determined that nothing must
be held back that was needed to accomplish that result. For some days
there was a regular levee beneath my father's roof and the good people
of the town gave the union soldier much cause to remember them with
gratitude as long as he lives.

Only in a single instance was anything said that seemed obnoxious to a
nice sense of propriety, or that marred the harmony of an almost
universally expressed sentiment of patriotic approval of what was doing
to preserve the life of the nation--a sentiment in which partisanism or
party politics cut no figure whatever. One caller had the bad taste to
indulge in severe and unfriendly criticism of "Old Abe," as he called
the president. That was going too far and I defended Mr. Lincoln against
his animadversions with all the warmth, if not the eloquence, of the
experienced advocate--certainly with the earnestness born of a sincere
admiration for Abraham Lincoln and love of his noble traits of
character, his single-hearted devotion to his country. I had seen him in
Washington weighed down with a tremendous load of responsibility such as
few men could have endured. I had noted as I grasped his hand the
terrible strain under which he seemed to be suffering; the appearance of
weariness which he brought with him to the interview; the pale, anxious
cast of his countenance; the piteous, far-away look of his eyes; and by
all these tokens he said, as plainly as if he had put it into words;
"Love and solicitude for my country are slowly, but surely, wearing away
my life." I saw shining through his homely features the spirit of one of
the grandest, noblest, most lovable of the characters who have been
brought by the exigencies of fate to the head of human affairs. The
soldiers loved him and they idealized him. He was to them the
personification of the union cause. The day for the discussion of
abstract principles had long gone by. Their ideal had ceased to be an
impersonal one. All the hope, the faith, the patriotism of the soldiers
centered around the personality of the president. In their eyes and
thoughts, he stood for the idea of nationality, as Luther stood for
religious liberty, Cromwell for parliamentary privilege, or Washington
for colonial independence. To blame him, was to censure the boys in blue
and the cause for which they fought. No man whose heart was not wholly
with the Northern armies in the struggle, could rise to an appreciation
of the character of Lincoln.

But the great heart of the North never ceased to beat in harmony with
the music of the union. The exceptions to the rule were so rare as to
scarcely merit notice. The "copperheads" and "knights of the golden
circle" will hardly cut so much of a figure in history as do the tories
of the Revolution.

On the 11th day of October, 1863, after an absence of three months
duration, during which time I had been commissioned major to fill the
vacancy caused by the death of Weber, I took passage at Washington on a
ramshackle train over the Orange and Alexandria railroad to go to the
front again. Storrs, whose wound had healed, joined me and we made the
journey together.

The train reached Bealton Station, north of the Rappahannock river, a
little before dark. The harbingers of a retreating army were beginning
to troop in from the front. The army of the Potomac was falling back
toward the fastnesses of Centerville, the army of Northern Virginia in
close pursuit. Meade, who in July was chasing Lee across the Potomac
back into Virginia, was himself now being hurried by Lee over the
Rappahannock. The tables had been completely turned. The pursued had
become the pursuer.

As usual, the flanking process had been resorted to. Using his cavalry
as a screen, Lee was attempting to maneuver his infantry around Meade's
right and, after the manner of Stonewall Jackson in the Second Bull Run
campaign of 1862, interpose between the federal army and Washington.

Thanks to the vigilance of his outposts, the union commander detected
the movement in time, and was able to thwart the strategy of his able
adversary. Keeping his army well in hand, he retreated to Bull Run,
Fairfax and Centerville.

While this was going on, there was a series of spirited encounters
between the union and confederate cavalry, commanded by Pleasonton and
Stuart, respectively--the former bringing up the rear, and covering the
retreat, the latter bold and aggressive as was his wont.

These affairs, which began on the 9th, culminated on the 11th in one of
the most exciting, if not brilliant, engagements of the war, Kilpatrick
taking a prominent part, second only to that performed by the heroic
John Buford and his First cavalry division.

When the movement began, on the evening of the 9th, Fitzhugh Lee was
left to hold the line along the south bank of the Rapidan river,
Buford's cavalry division confronting him on the north side. Stuart,
with Hampton's division of three brigades, Hampton being still disabled
from the wounds received at Gettysburg, spent the 10th swarming on the
right flank of the confederate army, in the country between Madison
Court House and Woodville on the Sperryville pike. Kilpatrick was in the
vicinity of Culpeper Court House. Stuart succeeded not only in veiling
the movements of the confederate army completely, but on the morning of
the 11th, found time to concentrate his forces and attack Kilpatrick at
Culpeper. Buford crossed the Rapidan to make a reconnoissance, and
encountering Fitzhugh Lee, recrossed at Raccoon Ford, closely followed
by the latter. The pursuit was kept up through Stevensburg, Buford
retreating toward Brandy Station.

When Stuart heard Fitzhugh Lee's guns, he withdrew from Kilpatrick's
front and started across country, intending to head off the federal
cavalry and reach Fleetwood, the high ground near the Brandy Station, in
advance of both Buford and Kilpatrick. The latter, however, soon
discovered what Stuart was trying to do, and then began a horse race of
three converging columns toward Brandy Station, Stuart on the left,
Buford followed by Fitzhugh Lee on the right, and Kilpatrick in the
center. Buford was in first and took possession of Fleetwood. Rosser
with one of Lee's brigades, formed facing Buford, so that when the head
of Kilpatrick's column approached, Rosser was across its path, but
fronting in the direction opposite to that from which it was coming.
Kilpatrick, beset on both flanks and in rear, and seeing a force of the
enemy in front also, and ignorant of Buford's whereabouts, formed his
leading regiments and proceeded to charge through to where Buford was
getting into position. This charge was led by Pleasonton, Custer and
Kilpatrick, in person. Rosser, seeing what was coming, and caught
between two fires, dextrously withdrew to one side, and when the rear of
Kilpatrick's division was opposite to him, charged it on one flank while
Stuart assaulted it on the other, and there was a general melee, in
which each side performed prodigies of valor and inflicted severe damage
on the other. The First and Fifth Michigan regiments were with the
advance, while the Sixth and Seventh helped to bring up the rear.

The rear of the column had the worst of it and was very roughly
handled. The two divisions having united, Pleasonton took command and,
bringing his artillery hurriedly into position, soon had Stuart whipped
to a standstill.

All the fighting in this battle was done on horseback, and no more
daring work was done by either side, on any of the battle fields of the
war, than was seen at Brandy Station. Those who were in it, describe it
as the most stirring and picturesque scene that they ever witnessed;
especially when the three long columns, one of blue and two of gray,
were racing on converging lines toward the objective point on Fleetwood
hill. It must have been a pretty picture: Buford hurrying into line to
face to the rear; the federal batteries unlimbering and going into
position to resist the coming attack; Rosser galloping front into line,
to find himself attacked front and rear; Kilpatrick, with Rosser in his
front, Fitzhugh Lee and Stuart on his flanks; detachments breaking out
of the confederate columns to attack the flanks and rear of Kilpatrick's
flying division; federal regiments halting and facing toward the points
of the compass whence these attacks came; then falling back to new
positions, stubbornly contesting every inch of ground; the fluttering of
guidons and battle-flags, the flash of sabers and puffs of pistol
shots--altogether a most brilliant spectacle.

Stuart was kept at bay until after nightfall, when Pleasonton withdrew
in safety across the river.

It has been claimed that Brandy Station was the greatest cavalry
engagement of the war. Sheridan, who was then still in the west, and
consequently not "there" awards that honor to Yellow Tavern, fought the
following season. Doubtless he was right, for the latter was a well
planned battle in which all the movements were controlled by a single
will. But most of the fighting at Yellow Tavern was done on foot, though
Custer's mounted charge at the critical moment, won the day. Brandy
Station was a battle in which all the troopers were kept in the saddle.
It was, however, a battle with no plan, though it is conceded that
Pleasonton handled his command with much skill after the two divisions
had united. His artillery was particularly effective. Captain Don G.
Lovell, of the Sixth Michigan, the senior officer present with the
regiment, greatly distinguished himself in the difficult duty of
guarding the rear, meeting emergencies as they arose with the
characteristic courage and coolness which distinguished him on all
occasions on the field of battle.

The battle ended about the time our train reached Bealton, so Storrs and
I missed the opportunity of taking part in one of the most memorable
contests of the civil war.

After a night on the platform of the railroad station, we started at
dawn to find the brigade. From wounded stragglers the salient events of
the previous day were learned and the inference drawn from the
information which they were able to give was that the cavalry must be
encamped somewhere not far away. All agreed that it was having a lively
experience. Everything, however, was at sixes and sevens and it was only
after a long and toilsome search, that the regimental quartermaster was
located among the trains. My horse, equipments and arms had disappeared,
but fortunately Storrs found his outfit intact and, having two mounts,
he loaned me one. Selecting from the quartermaster's surplus supplies a
government saber, revolver and belt, thus equipped and mounted on
Storrs's horse, I rode in search of the regiment, which we ascertained
to be in camp in the woods, some distance away from the trains.

When at last found, it proved to be a sorry looking regiment, but a
wreck and remnant of its former self. With two troops ("I" and "M")
absent on detached service in the Shenandoah valley, the Sixth Michigan
started in the Gettysburg campaign, June 21, with between 500 and 600
troopers in the saddle. When Storrs and I rode into that silvan camp, on
that bright October morning, there were less than 100 men "present for
duty" including not a single field officer. Many of the troops were
commanded by lieutenants, some of them by sergeants, and one had neither
officer nor non-commissioned officer. They had been fighting, marching
and countermarching for months, and had a jaded, dejected appearance,
not pleasant to look upon, and very far removed indeed from the buoyant
and hopeful air with which they entered upon the campaign. At one point,
during the retreat of the day before, it had been necessary to leap
the horses over a difficult ditch. Many of them fell into it, and the
riders were overtaken by the enemy's horse before they could be
extricated. Among these was Hobart, sergeant major, who was taken to
Libby prison, where he remained until the next year, when he was

[Illustration: GEORGE A. CUSTER (ABOUT 1870)]

The next thing, was to report to General Custer for duty. It was my
first personal interview with the great cavalryman. He was at his
headquarters, in the woods, taking life in as light-hearted a way as
though he had not just come out of a fight, and did not expect others to
come right along. He acted like a man who made a business of his
profession; who went about the work of fighting battles and winning
victories, as a railroad superintendent goes about the business of
running trains. When in action, his whole mind was concentrated on the
duty and responsibility of the moment; in camp, he was genial and
companionable, blithe as a boy. Indeed he was a boy in years, though a
man in courage and in discretion.

After drawing rations and forage, the march was resumed and, little of
incident that was important intervening, on the 14th the division was
encamped on the north side of Bull Run, near the Gainesville or
Warrenton turnpike, where we remained undisturbed until the evening of
the 18th, when the forward movement began which culminated on the 19th
in the battle of Buckland Mills, which will be the theme of the next



Buckland Mills was, in some sort, a sequel to Brandy Station. The latter
battle was a brilliant passage at arms, in which neither side obtained a
decisive advantage. Kilpatrick was still pugnacious and both willing and
anxious to meet Stuart again. That his mind was full of the subject was
evinced by a remark he was heard to make one morning at his headquarters
on the Bull Run battle ground. He was quartered in a house, his host a
Virginian too old to be in the army, and who remained at home to look
after the property. It was a clear day, and when the general came out on
the porch, the old gentleman accosted him with a cheery:

"A fine day, general!"

"Yes, a--fine day for a fight;" was the instant reply.

In most men this would have sounded like gasconade. In Kilpatrick's
case, it was not so considered. He was credited with plenty of pluck,
and it was well understood that he was no sooner out of one action, than
he was planning to get into another. He ran into one, a day or two
later, which furnished him all the entertainment of that kind that he
wanted, and more too.

Reconnoissances across Bull Run on the Gainesville road disclosed a
considerable force of mounted confederates. When their pickets were
driven in by the Sixth Michigan on the 15th and again by the First
Michigan on the 16th strong reserves were revealed. As a matter of fact,
Stuart was at Buckland Mills with Hampton's division, and Fitzhugh Lee
was at or near Auburn, but a few miles away. They had their heads
together and devised a trap for Kilpatrick, into which he rode with his
eyes shut.

Sunday evening, October 18, the Third division moved out across Bull
Run, Kilpatrick in command, Custer's brigade leading, Davies[16] with
the First brigade bringing up the rear. Stuart's cavalry was attacked
and driven rapidly until dark by the First Vermont cavalry[17] under
Lieutenant Colonel Addison W. Preston, acting as advance guard. Early on
Monday morning, October 19, the march was resumed, the Sixth Michigan in

About midway between Bull Run and Broad Run the confederate rear guard,
a regiment of Young's brigade of Hampton's division, was encountered
which fell back before the advance of the Sixth Michigan making but
slight resistance and retreating across Broad Run, where it was found
that Stuart had taken up a strong position, forming the three brigades
of Gordon, Rosser and Young in line on the opposite side, as if to
contest the crossing.

The stream was deep and difficult, spanned at the pike by a stone
bridge. Its banks were wooded. Stuart stationed a piece of artillery on
the high ground so as to command the bridge and its approaches. A
portion of the regiment was dismounted and advanced to engage the
dismounted confederates across the stream. Captain George R. Maxwell of
the First Michigan, whose regiment was at the time in the rear, rode up
and asked permission to take a carbine and go on foot with the men of
the Sixth who were in front. The permission was granted and, giving his
horse into the charge of an orderly, he was in a few moments justifying
his already well established reputation as a man of courage, by fighting
like an enlisted man, on the skirmish line of a regiment not his own,
thus voluntarily exceeding any requirements of duty.

Custer rode up with his staff and escort, and halted in the road, making
a conspicuous group. Stuart's cannoneers planted a shell right in their
midst, which caused a lively scattering, as they had no desire to be
made targets of for that kind of artillery practice. Fortunately no one
was killed.

Custer then brought up his entire command and formed a line of battle,
the Sixth Michigan in the center across the pike, the Fifth Michigan on
the right, the Seventh Michigan on the left, the First Michigan and
First Vermont in reserve, mounted. After a somewhat stubborn
resistance. Stuart apparently reluctantly withdrew, permitting Custer to
cross though he could have held the position easily against ten times
his number whereas, as the sequel proved, he greatly outnumbered
Kilpatrick. The Seventh crossed at a ford about a mile below, the other
regiments at the bridge. Stuart retreated toward Warrenton. It was then
about noon, perhaps a little later than that. Kilpatrick came up and
ordered Custer to draw in his skirmishers and allow Davies to pass him
and take the advance. Custer massed his command on some level ground,
behind a hill, beyond the bridge, and adjacent to the stream. Davies
crossed the bridge, passed the Michigan brigade, and took up the pursuit
of Stuart. Kilpatrick, with his staff, followed along the pike in rear
of Davies's brigade. As he was moving off, Kilpatrick directed Custer to
follow the First brigade and bring up the rear.

This was the very thing that Stuart was waiting for. It had been
arranged between him and Fitzhugh Lee that he, with his three
brigades,[18] was to fall back without resistance before the two
brigades of the Third division, until they were drawn well away from the
bridge, when Lee, who was coming up from Auburn through the woods to the
left, with the brigades of Lomax, Chambliss and Wickham and Breathed's
battery would swing in across the pike, cut Kilpatrick off from the
bridge, and then, at the first sound of Lee's guns, Kilpatrick was to be
attacked simultaneously by Stuart in front and by Lee in rear, and
thoroughly whipped.

It was a very pretty bit of strategy and came very near being
successful. The plan was neatly frustrated by one of those apparent
accidents of war which make or unmake men, according as they are
favorable or unfavorable.

Custer respectfully but firmly demurred to moving until his men could
have their breakfast--rather their dinner, for the forenoon was already
spent. Neither men nor horses had had anything to eat since the night
before, and he urged that the horses should have a feed and the men have
an opportunity to make coffee before they were required to go farther.

Custer was a fighting man, through and through, but wary and wily as
brave. There was in him an indescribable something--call it caution,
call it sagacity, call it the real military instinct--it may have been
genius--by whatever name entitled, it nearly always impelled him to do
intuitively the right thing. In this case it seemed obstinacy, if not
insubordination. It was characteristic of him to care studiously for the
comfort of his men. And he did not believe in wasting their lives. It is
more than probable that there was in his mind a suspicion of the true
state of things. If so, he did not say so, even to the general
commanding the division. He kept his own counsel and had his way. The
delay was finally sanctioned by Kilpatrick, and the brigade remained on
the bank feeding their horses and making coffee, Davies meanwhile
advancing cautiously on the Warrenton road to a point within about two
or three miles of Warrenton. Stuart made slight if any attempt to resist
his progress.

The Gainesville-Warrenton pike, after crossing Broad Run, is bounded on
both sides by cleared farm lands, fringed about one-third of a mile back
by woods. From the place of Custer's halt it was not more than 500 or
600 yards to these woods. The road runs in a westerly direction and the
brigade was on the south side of it.

There is very little of record from which to determine the time consumed
by Custer's halt. It is a peculiar circumstance that not a single report
of this battle made by a regimental commander in Custer's brigade
appears in the official war records. A similar omission has been noted
in the battle of Gettysburg. Custer made a report and so did Kilpatrick
and Davies, but they are all deficient in details. There is no hint in
any of them as to the duration of the delay. The confederate chronicles
are much more complete. From them it would appear that the stop was made
about noon and that the real battle began at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Memory is at fault on this point for the reason that after coffee and
while the horses were feeding I lay down upon the ground and fell
asleep. Before that some of the men had gone into the adjacent fields
in search of long forage. It was understood that the Seventh Michigan
after crossing at the lower ford was scouting through the country toward
Greenwich and there was no hint or suspicion that an enemy could
approach from that direction without being discovered by this scouting

Finally Custer was ready to move. Awakened by a staff officer I was
directed to report to the general.

"Major," said he, "take position with your regiment about 500 yards
toward those woods remain there until the command is in column on the
pike, then follow and bring up the rear."

The order was given with a caution to be careful, as the Seventh
Michigan had been scouting near Greenwich and might be expected to come
in from that direction. Greenwich is almost due south from Buckland
Mills, whereas Auburn, from which place Fitzhugh Lee was approaching,
lay considerably west of south.

The movement of the two commands began simultaneously. The Fifth
Michigan, Pennington's battery, the First Michigan and First Vermont,
with Custer and his staff leading, were in a few moments marching
briskly in column on the Warrenton pike, which was not very far away
from the starting point. The Sixth Michigan meantime proceeded in column
of fours toward the place designated by General Custer, close up to the
woods. Nothing had been seen or heard of Davies for some time.
Everything was quiet. Nothing could be heard except the tramp of the
horses' feet and the rumble of the wheels of Pennington's gun
carriages, growing more and more indistinct as the distance increased.

[Illustration: DON G. LOVELL]

The Sixth had gone about 250 or 300 yards and was approaching a fence
which divided the farm into fields, when Captain Don G. Lovell, who was
riding by the side of the commanding officer of the regiment,[19]
suddenly cried out:

"Major, there is a mounted man in the edge of the woods yonder," at the
same time pointing to a place directly in front and about 200 yards
beyond the fence.

Captain Lovell was one of the most dashing and intrepid officers in the
brigade. He was always cool and never carried away with excitement under
any circumstances. It is perhaps doubtful whether he could have
maintained his customary imperturbability, if he had realized, at the
moment, just what that lone picket portended.

A glance in the direction indicated, revealed the truth of Captain
Lovell's declaration but, recalling what General Custer had said, I

"The general said we might expect some mounted men of the Seventh from
that direction."

"But that vidette is a rebel," retorted Lovell, "he is dressed in gray."

"It can't be possible," was the insistent reply, and the column kept on

Just then, the man in the woods began to ride his horse in a circle.

"Look at that," said Lovell; "that is a rebel signal; our men don't do

The truth of the inference was too evident to be disputed. Things were
beginning to look suspicious, and in another instant all doubt, if any
remained, was set at rest. The horseman, after circling about a time or
two, brought his horse to a standstill facing in the direction from
which we were approaching. There was a puff of smoke from the muzzle of
his revolver or carbine, and a bullet whizzed by and buried itself in
the breast of one of the horses in the first set of fours.

"There,--it," exclaimed Lovell. "Now you know it is a rebel, don't you?"

The information was too reliable not to be convincing, and the regiment
was promptly brought front into line, which had hardly been
accomplished, when shots began to come from other points in the woods,
and no further demonstration was needed that they were full of

The fence was close at hand, and the command to dismount to fight on
foot was given. The Sixth deployed along the fence and the Spencers
began to bark. The horses were sent back a short distance, under cover
of a reverse slope. The acting adjutant was dispatched to overtake
Custer and report to him that we were confronted by a large force of
confederates and had been attacked. Before he had started, the
confederates displayed a line of dismounted skirmishers that extended
far beyond both flanks of the regiment and a swarm of them in front. A
Michigan regiment, behind a fence, and armed with Spencer carbines, was
a dangerous antagonist to grapple with by a direct front assault, and
Fitzhugh Lee's men were not eager to advance across the open field, but
hugged the woods, waiting for their friends on the right and left to get
around our flanks, which there was imminent danger of their doing,
before relief could come. It did not, however, take Custer long to act.
Putting the Fifth Michigan in on the right of the Sixth, he brought back
Pennington's battery, and stationed the First Vermont mounted to protect
the left flank, holding the First Michigan mounted in reserve to support
the battery and to reinforce any weak point, and proceeded to put up one
of the gamiest fights against odds, seen in the war. Opposed to Custer's
five regiments and one battery, Fitzhugh Lee had twelve regiments of
cavalry, three brigades under Lomax, Owen and Chambliss and as good a
battery--Breathed's--as was in the confederate service.

Before the dispositions described in the foregoing had been completed,
Breathed's battery, which had been masked in the woods to the right and
front of the position occupied by the Sixth Michigan, opened fire with
shell. But Pennington came into position with a rush, and unlimbering
two pieces, in less time than it takes to tell it, silenced the
confederate artillery, firing over the heads of the Sixth Michigan
skirmishers. Fitzhugh Lee pressed forward his dismounted line, following
it closely with mounted cavalry, and made a desperate effort to cut off
Custer's line of retreat by the bridge. This he was unable to do. The
Sixth held on to the fence until the confederates were almost to it, and
until ordered by Custer to retire, when they fell back slowly, and
mounting their horses, crossed the bridge leisurely, without hurry or
flurry, the battery and the other regiments, except the First and Fifth
Michigan, preceding it. The First Michigan brought up the rear.

Fitzhugh Lee was completely foiled in his effort to get in Custer's
rear, or to break up his flanks. Unfortunately, a portion of one
battalion of the Fifth Michigan, about fifty men, under command of Major
John Clark, with Captain Lee and Adjutant George Barse was captured.
Being dismounted in the woods on the right, they were not able to reach
their horses before being intercepted by the enemy's mounted men.

Custer, on the whole, was very fortunate and had reason to congratulate
himself on escaping with so little damage. Davies did not fare so well.
When Kilpatrick found that Custer was attacked, he sent orders to Davies
to retreat. But the sound of firing which gave this notice to Kilpatrick
was also the prearranged signal for Stuart, and that officer immediately
turned on Davies with his entire division, and Davies though he put up
a stout resistance had no alternative finally but to take to the woods
on the north side of the pike and escape, "every man for himself."
Fitzhugh Lee was between him and the bridge, he was hemmed in on three
sides, and in order to escape, his men had to plunge in and swim their
horses across Broad Run. The Fifth Michigan, except Major Clark's
command, escaped in the same way. The wagons, which followed Davies,
including Custer's headquarters wagon containing all his papers, were

At first blush, it may appear that, if the vidette who fired the first
shot, thus divulging the fact of the enemy's presence, had not done so,
the Sixth Michigan would have gone on and marched right into Fitzhugh
Lee's arms. It is not likely, however, that such would have been the
result. Captain Lovell had already seen and called attention to the
picket, declaring that he was a "rebel." The obvious course, under the
circumstances, before taking down the fence and advancing to the woods,
would have been to deploy a skirmish line and feel of the woods instead
of blundering blindly into them.

Fitzhugh Lee made a mistake in halting to dismount. He should have
charged the Sixth Michigan. Had he charged at once mounted as Rosser did
in the Wilderness, with his overwhelmingly superior force at the moment
of his arrival he must certainly have interposed between Custer and the
bridge. He allowed one regiment to detain his division until Custer
could bring back his brigade, and get his regiments into position to
support each other.

Major H.B. McClellan, Stuart's adjutant general, commenting in his
book[20] on this battle, says that "Custer was a hard fighter, even on a
retreat." He also says:

   "Fitzhugh Lee had come up from Auburn expecting to gain, unopposed,
   the rear of Kilpatrick's division, but he found Custer's brigade at
   Broad Run ready to oppose him. A fierce fight ensued."

Major McClellan also quotes Major P.P. Johnston, who commanded a section
of Breathed's battery in the fight, as saying:

   "My battery was hotly engaged. The battle was of the most obstinate
   character, Fitz. Lee exerting himself to the utmost to push the
   enemy, and Custer seeming to have no thought of retiring."

The battle was opened by Wickham's brigade of Virginians commanded by
Colonel T.H. Owen of the Third Virginia cavalry. It was the First,
Second and Third Virginia that led the advance. Pennington gave
Breathed's battery much the worst of it.

The truth is that Fitz. Lee did not find Custer ready to oppose him,
though it did not take him long to get ready, after he was attacked.
Custer with most of his command was well on his way to follow
Kilpatrick. Only one regiment was left behind, and that one
regiment--the Sixth Michigan cavalry--was taken entirely by surprise
when fired upon by the vidette, and was all that Colonel Owen had in
front of him when he arrived and began the attack. It is possible that
ignorance of what it was facing helped the Sixth Michigan to hold on
till Custer could be notified and brought back. And again, it is
possible that Custer was marching more slowly than the writer wots of;
that he suspected the ruse which was being played by his old West Point
instructor,[21] and sent the regiment out there for the express purpose
of developing the enemy, if enemy there was, making a feint of moving
away so as to deceive, but keeping an ear to windward to catch the first
sound of danger. It has always seemed to the writer that General Custer
must have had a motive which did not appear on the surface, in giving
that order. His order was to go 500 yards. Five hundred yards would have
brought us to the woods. If he suspected that there might be an enemy
there, no surer way to find out whether his suspicions were well founded
or not could have been chosen. One thing is certain. He was back in an
incredibly short space of time. It may be that he heard the sound of
firing and was on his way when the adjutant found him.

Fitzhugh Lee followed Custer half way to Gainesville and then withdrew.
Near that place was found a line of federal infantry sent out to support
the cavalry, but it did not advance far enough to get into the fight.

That night, Kilpatrick invited all the officers of the division to his
headquarters and made a sorry attempt at merry-making over the events of
the day. There were milk-punch and music, both of very good quality, but
the punch, palatable as it undeniably was, did not serve to take away
the bad taste left by the affair, especially among the officers of the
First brigade. Custer's men did not feel so badly. They had saved their
bacon and their battery, and the wariness, prudence and pluck of their
young commander had prevented a much more serious disaster than had
actually happened.

It may be of interest enough to mention that Fitz. Lee told the writer,
in Yorktown, in 1881, that Stuart was at fault in stopping to fight at
Buckland Mills; that, under the arrangement with him (Lee) Stuart should
have fallen back very rapidly, without making any resistance whatever,
until he had lured Kilpatrick with his entire division some distance
beyond the bridge. In that event, General Lee would have found the
opportunity he was seeking. But he did not know about Custer's action in
insisting on stopping there. He was much surprised when informed of the
true state of things, since he had felt that Stuart was blameworthy in
the matter. He had supposed that it was Stuart's resistance to the
federal advance which kept Custer's brigade back until his arrival, and
foiled his well planned attempt.



In the month of November, 1863, the army of the Potomac recrossed the
Rappahannock and the army of Northern Virginia retired behind the
Rapidan. General Meade took up the line through Culpeper, placing the
Third division on the left flank with headquarters at Stevensburg.

The advance into Stevensburg was stoutly contested by Hampton's
division, and the confederate cavalry showed that it had not lost any of
its fighting qualities, if its dash and spirit had been somewhat
dampened by the sturdy resistance put up in the recent campaign by the
federal troopers led by Pleasonton, Buford, Gregg, Kilpatrick and

At the time of the "Mine Run" affair, the Michigan cavalry crossed the
Rapidan at Morton's Ford and attacked Ewell's infantry, falling back
after dark to the old position on the north side of the river.

After that episode, the army went into winter quarters. The three
generals--Kilpatrick, Custer and Davies--had quarters in houses, the
rest for the most part lived in tents or huts. The Sixth was hutted in
temporary structures built of logs surmounted by tents. They were
fitted with doors, chimneys and fireplaces--some of them with sashes and
glass and were very comfortable. The winter was a very cold one. There
was some snow, even in Virginia, and the first day of January, 1864, is
still remembered as noteworthy for its extremely low temperature
throughout the country.

While in this camp the Michigan regiments had a visit from Jacob M.
Howard, the colleague of Zachariah Chandler in the United States senate.
He was one of the ablest men who ever represented the state in the
national congress. He had served with high distinction as attorney
general of the state before being elected to the senate. As chairman of
the senate committee on Pacific railroads, he had much to do with
piloting the country through the many difficulties which stood in the
way of the accomplishment of the great enterprise of laying tracks for
the iron horse across the American desert--spanning the continent with
railroads--and reducing the journey from the Missouri river to the
Pacific ocean from one of months to one of days--the most important of
the achievements that followed close on the heels of the civil war. The
senator made a patriotic speech to the soldiers and was cordially

The cavalry picket line was twenty-five miles long, and it was no
child's play to serve as field officer of the day, when every picket
post and every vidette had to be visited at least once each twenty-four
hours. The outer line was along the Rapidan river. The confederate
pickets on the other side were infantry. The union pickets were mounted
and the duty was very wearing on both men and horses. Stuart's cavalry
performed comparatively but little picket duty, and was kept back in
comfortable quarters, recruiting and fitting for the coming spring

During the winter there was very little firing between the pickets.
There was a sort of tacit understanding that they were not to molest
each other. Indeed, officers could ride along the line without fear of
being shot at. When on inspection duty, they at times rode down to the
bank and conversed with the enemy on the other side. The pickets were
suspected of crossing and recrossing and exchanging civilities--trading
tobacco for papers and the like. The word of honor would be given to
allow the federal or confederate, as the case might be, to return in
safety and it was never violated when given. These visits were always in
the daytime, of course, for at night vigilance was never relaxed, and a
vidette was not supposed to know anybody or permit even his own officers
to approach without the proper countersign.

Life in winter quarters was at best dull and it relieved the monotony to
go on picket. The detail as field officer of the day was welcomed,
although it necessitated a ride of forty or fifty miles and continuous
activity for the entire of the tour of duty, both night and day. On
these rides I made the acquaintance of a number of Virginia families,
who lived near the river and within our lines. Of these I can now
recall but two. On the banks of the Rapidan, directly in front of
Stevensburg, lived a man named Stringfellow, who owned a large
plantation, which had been despoiled of everything of value, except the
house and a few outbuildings. Every fence was gone, and not a spear of
anything had been permitted to grow. Mr. Stringfellow was a tall man,
with gray hair, and clerical in garb and aspect. He was, in fact, a
clergyman, and the degree of doctor of divinity had been conferred upon
him--a thing that in those days meant something. Degrees, like brevets,
were not so easily obtained before the civil war period as they have
been since.

Mr. Stringfellow was a gentleman of culture, a scholar and profound
student of Biblical literature. He had written a book, a copy of which
was to be seen in his house, in which he had demonstrated, to his own
satisfaction, at least, that the "institution of slavery" was of divine
origin. It was said that he was a brother of the Stringfellow who became
so notorious during the Kansas troubles, as a leader of the "border
ruffians," who tried to force slavery into that territory, before the
breaking out of hostilities between the states. Living at home with this
Virginia doctor of divinity, was a married daughter, whose husband was
an officer in the confederate army. They were people of the old school,
cultured, refined, and hospitable, though hard put to it to show any
substantial evidences of their innate hospitality, on account of their
impoverished condition, which they seemed to feel keenly, but were too
proud to mention, except when driven to it by sheer necessity. The
federal cavalrymen were always welcome in that house and the officers in
many instances were very kind to them. Indeed, I suspect that more than
once they were spared the pangs of hunger by the thoughtful kindness of
officers who had found shelter in their home and had broken bread at
their table, only to suspect that the family larder had been stripped of
the last morsel, in order to keep up the reputation for Virginia

About five miles farther down the river, in a lonely spot, where a small
tributary of the Rapidan tumbled down a decline, was a water-power on
which was a rude sawmill, where a single old-fashioned "sash saw" chewed
its way lazily through hardwood logs. The mill was tended by its owner
who, with his wife, lived in a house hard by the mill, the only
occupants of the dwelling and the only inhabitants of the immediate
neighborhood. They led a lonely life, and when its monotony was broken
by the arrival of the officer of the day upon his tour of duty, extended
a quiet, but what appeared to be a not over cordial welcome. The man was
a dwarf. He was so low in stature that when he stood, his head came just
above the top of the dining room table. His diminutive stature was due
to a strange malformation. His legs looked as if they had been driven up
into his body, so that there was little left but the feet. Otherwise, he
was like another, with well formed head and trunk. His wife was a
comely lady both in form and in feature, rather above than below medium
height. Both were intelligent and well read, pleasant people to visit
with; but when this man, with the head and trunk of an adult, the
stature of a child and, to all intents and purposes, no legs at all,
toddled across the floor the effect was queer and, taken in connection
with his somewhat solitary environment, it suggested a scene from the
"Black Dwarf." But when one was seated as a guest of these good people
at their hospitable board his physical deformity was lost sight of in
the zest of his conversation.

The winter of 1863-64 was one of hard work for the federal cavalry. In
addition to their other duties, the Michigan regiments were required to
change their tactical formation and learn a new drill. Up to that time,
Philip St. George Cooke's single rank cavalry tactics had been used. The
tactical unit was the set of fours and all movements were executed by
wheeling these units. There was but one rank. For some reason, it was
decided to substitute the old United States cavalry tactics and form in
double ranks. The utility of the change was, to say the least, an open
question, and it necessitated many weeks of hard and unremitting toil on
the part of both officers and men. There was little time for rest or
recreation. Long and tiresome drills and "schools of instruction" made
up the daily routine. In one respect, however, these drills of troop,
regiment and brigade were a good thing. Many hundreds of new recruits
were sent on from Michigan and, being put in with the old men, they were
worked into good soldiers before the campaign opened, and proved to be
as reliable and efficient as the veterans with whom they were
associated. The Sixth Michigan received over two hundred of these
recruits at one time. They were fine soldiers and on the march from the
Wilderness to the James, no inspecting officer could have picked out the
recruits of 1863-64 from those who enlisted in 1862.

At division and brigade headquarters alone was there time for play.
Generals Custer and Kilpatrick had a race course where they used to
devote some time to the sport of horse racing. There were in the
division a number of blooded and speedy animals, and not a little
friendly rivalry was developed in the various commands when the merits
of their respective favorites were to be tested on the turf.

It was while at Stevensburg that General Custer obtained leave of
absence and went home to Michigan to claim his bride. He was married in
February, 1864, to Miss Elizabeth B. Bacon, daughter of Judge Bacon, of
Monroe, Michigan. Mrs. Custer accompanied him when he came back and from
that time on till the end of the war, whenever the exigencies of the
service would permit, she was by his side. He was then but two months
past twenty-four years of age, though he had already achieved fame as a
cavalry officer and general of brigade. He was the youngest officer of
his rank who won any great measure of success. Kilpatrick was more than
three years his senior, although both were graduated from West Point in

Some time after the beginning of the year 1864, there began to be rumors
of some daring expedition that was on foot, to be led by the dashing
general commanding the division. It was about the middle of February,
when a number of statesmen of national prominence came to Stevensburg,
and it did not take a prophet to tell that something of unusual
importance was in the wind, though nothing very definite leaked out as
to what it was. Among the visitors referred to, were Senators Chandler
("Zach."), of Michigan, and Wilkinson, of Minnesota. During their stay,
there was a meeting in a public hall in Culpeper at which speeches were
made by both these gentlemen and where General Kilpatrick demonstrated
that he was no less an orator than a fighter. His speech was the gem of
the evening and stirred up no end of enthusiasm. Hints were thrown out
of an indefinite something that was going to happen. It is now known, as
it was soon thereafter, that Kilpatrick had devised a daring scheme for
the capture of Richmond, which had been received with so much favor by
the authorities in Washington, that he was then awaiting only the
necessary authority from the war department before setting out on what
proved to be an ill-fated expedition.

Late in the month, permission was given and he proceeded to organize a
force of picked men and horses, selected with great care from the
various regiments. The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Michigan and First
Vermont were represented, the Sixth furnishing about three hundred men.
The First Michigan had just re-enlisted at the expiration of its three
years' term of service and was absent on "veteran furlough," so did not
take part, as the officers and men of that fine regiment would have been
only too glad to do, had they been given the opportunity. It was a small
division, divided into two brigades. General Davies led one of them, but
General Custer was taken away and entrusted with the command of an
important diversion designed to attract the attention of the enemy by an
attack on his left flank, while Kilpatrick passed around his right and
by a quick march reached the confederate capital. That portion of
Custer's brigade which went on the raid, as it was called, was commanded
by Colonel Sawyer, of the First Vermont cavalry. Detachments from the
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Michigan were commanded by Captain Hastings,
Major Kidd and Lieutenant Colonel Litchfield respectively; the First
Vermont by Lieutenant Colonel Preston.

Custer's part of the work was successfully accomplished. He created so
much commotion in the direction of Charlottesville, that Kilpatrick was
across the Rapidan and well on his way before his purpose was either
discovered or suspected. It was, however, a fatal mistake to leave
Custer behind. There were others who could have made the feint which he
so brilliantly executed, but in a movement requiring perfect poise, the
rarest judgment and the most undoubted courage, Kilpatrick could illy
spare his gifted and daring subordinate; and it is no disparagement to
the officer who took his place to say that the Michigan brigade without
Custer, at that time, was like the play of Hamlet with the melancholy
Dane left out. With him the expedition as devised might well have been
successful; without him it was foredoomed to failure.

At the Culpeper meeting there was a large gathering of both officers and
enlisted men, attracted thither from various arms of the service by a
natural curiosity to hear what the speakers had to say. There were also
several ladies in the audience. On the platform sat many officers of
high rank. I do not remember who presided, but recall distinctly the
glitter of rich uniforms.

After the speaking had begun, an officer wearing the overcoat of an
enlisted man came in from the wings and modestly took a seat at the back
of the stage. "Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired," he seemed to
shun observation. When, later, he removed his overcoat it was seen that
he wore the dress uniform of a brigadier general. Inquiry disclosed that
he was Wesley Merritt, commander of the Reserve brigade of the First
cavalry division. His brigade consisted of three regiments of
regulars--the First, Second and Fifth United States cavalry--and two
regiments of volunteers--the First New York dragoons and the Sixth
Pennsylvania cavalry. This was a crack brigade and after the opening of
the spring campaign it was closely associated with the Michigan brigade
for the remaining period of the war.

[Illustration: WESLEY MERRITT]

Wesley Merritt, whom I saw then for the first time, was one of the
"youngsters" who received their stars in June, 1863. He was graduated
from the West Point military academy in 1860, at the age of twenty-four,
and made such rapid progress in rank and reputation that he was a
brigadier at twenty-seven. As a cavalry commander he was trained by John
Buford. The latter was rightly called, "Old Reliable," not because of
his age, but for the reason that he rarely if ever failed to be in the
right place at the right moment--solid rather than showy, not
spectacular but sure. His courage and ability were both conspicuous. He
belonged to the school of officers of which Thomas, Meade, Sedgwick and
Gregg were exemplars, rather than to that of which Kearney, Sheridan and
Custer were preeminent types.

Such also was Merritt, an apt pupil of an illustrious teacher, the
lineal successor of Buford. He came by natural selection to be commander
of the First division, and at the last was chief of cavalry of the army
of the Potomac, the capable successor of Pleasonton and Sheridan, a
position for which he was peculiarly fitted by nature, by acquirements,
and by experience. Modesty which fitted him like a garment, charming
manners, the demeanor of a gentleman, cool but fearless bearing in
action, were his distinguishing characteristics. He was a most excellent
officer, between whom and Custer there was, it seemed, a great deal of
generous rivalry. But, in the association of the two in the same command
there was strength, for each was in a sort the complement of the other.
Unlike in temperament, in appearance, and in their style of fighting,
they were at one in the essentials that go to make a successful career.

But, to return to the point in the narrative from whence this digression
strayed, the force that was thus assembled in Stevensburg, somewhat
against the protests, but in compliance with orders from army and corps
headquarters, was brought together with much show of secrecy, albeit the
secret was an open one. As has been seen, the rumor of the projected
movement had been for some time flying about from ear to ear, and from
camp to camp. Its flight, however, must have been with heavy pinions,
for it did not extend beyond the river, where the confederates were
resting in fancied security, innocent of the hatching of a plot for
sudden mischief to their capital.

The composition of the Second brigade has already been given. Its
numerical strength was about 1,800 officers and men. The First brigade
consisted of nine regiments of cavalry and one battery of artillery.
That is to say there were detachments from that number of regiments.
These were distributed equally among the three divisions, as follows:
From the First division, the Third Indiana, Fourth New York and the
Seventeenth Pennsylvania; from the Second division, the First Maine, the
Fourth Pennsylvania, and Sixteenth Pennsylvania; from the First brigade,
Third division, Davies's own command, the Second New York, the Fifth New
York, and Eighteenth Pennsylvania. Ransom's regular battery was assigned
to duty with this brigade. The detachments from the First division were
all consolidated under Major Hall of the Sixth New York; those from the
Second division under Major Taylor of the First Maine. The aggregate
strength of Davies's command was 1,817 officers and men, exclusive of
the artillery. The total strength of Kilpatrick's command was about

The expedition started after dark Sunday evening, February 28, 1864,
with three days' rations. The route selected led toward the lower fords
of the Rapidan. The advance guard consisted of 600 picked men from the
various commands, all under Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, an officer of
Meade's staff who had established a reputation for extraordinary daring
and dash. He had been especially designated from army headquarters to
accompany the expedition. Davies followed with the main body of his
brigade including Ransom's battery. To Colonel Sawyer with the Vermont
and Michigan men fell the irksome duty of bringing up the rear of the
column, the chief care being to keep up the pace, not losing sight of
those in front, of which for a good part of the night there was much

The crossing was made a little before midnight at Ely's Ford, Dahlgren
taking the confederate picket post by surprise and capturing every man.
No alarm was given. The start was thus auspicious. We were within the
enemy's lines and they were not yet aware of it.

There was no halt. The rapid march was continued throughout the night.
It was clear and cold. The order for the march was "at a fast walk," but
every experienced cavalryman knows that the letter of such an order can
be obeyed only by those in advance. The rear of the column kept closed
up with great difficulty. The sound of hoofs in front was the only guide
as to the direction to be taken. Often it was necessary to take the
trot, sometimes the gallop, and even then the leaders were at times out
of sight and out of hearing. At such times, there was an apprehensive
feeling after the touch, which had to be kept in order to be sure that
we were on the right road. This was especially true of the heads of
subdivisions--the commanders of regiments--who were charged with the
responsibility of keeping in sight of those next in front.

The march was not only rapid but it was continuous. There was an air of
undue haste--a precipitancy and rush not all reassuring. Only the
stoical were entirely free from disquietude. Those of us who were with
the extreme rear, and who had not been admitted to the confidence of the
projectors and leaders of the expedition, began to conjecture what it
all meant, where we were going and, if the pace were kept up, when we
would get there, and what would be done when the destination was
reached. All the excitement and enjoyment were Dahlgren's; all the dull
monotony and nerve-racking strain ours.

The head of column reached Spottsylvania Courthouse at daylight. The
tail came trailing in as best it could, some time later. Here, in
accordance with the prearranged plan, Dahlgren with his six hundred
troopers separated from the main body, bearing to the westward and
following the direct road to Frederickshall station on the Virginia
Central railroad, his objective point being Goochland, about twenty
miles above Richmond on the James river. The plan was for Colonel
Dahlgren to cross the river at or near that place, move down on the
south side, and be in position to recross by the main bridge into
Richmond at ten o'clock, Tuesday morning, March 1, at the same moment
when Kilpatrick would enter the city from the north by way of the Brook

But, "the best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft a-gley." General
Sheridan pointed out that such combinations rarely work out as expected,
and that when an engagement with the enemy is liable to take place at
any moment it is better to keep the whole force well together.[23]

In this case for Kilpatrick to divide his force was a fatal error of
judgment. In the light of what took place it is now clear, as it ought
to have been at the time, that the entire command should have been kept
together, on one road. General Custer made the same mistake when he went
to his death at Little Big Horn, in 1876. The combination did not work
out as he expected. It may be entirely safe and proper for detachments
to be sent out to make diversions for the purpose of deceiving the
enemy. This was done when, on approaching Ashland Station, Major Hall
was despatched with a force of about five hundred men to drive in the
pickets in front of that place and make a feint of attacking, leading
the enemy to suppose that this was the main body, while Kilpatrick with
most of his force proceeded without opposition on the road leading to
Richmond. But care was taken that he could reunite at any moment.

It would have been better had Dahlgren continued as the advance guard,
going directly to Richmond by way of one of the bridges of the South
Anna river and the Brook, the main column closely following. In that
way, the general commanding might have had all the parts of his
expeditionary force well in hand, under his own eye, and there need have
been no halting, hesitation, or waiting one for the other. Dahlgren
utterly failed to carry out to fulfilment the part of the plan
prearranged for him to accomplish, and lost his life into the bargain.
And the pity of it is that his life was wasted. Had he died leading a
charge through the streets of Richmond, compensation might have been
found in the glory of his achievement. But he died in an ambush, laid
for him by a small force of home guards and furloughed confederate
soldiers, who managed to throw themselves across his way when, after
admitted defeat, he was trying to make his escape with only a small
portion of his command. He deserved a better fate.

The main body crossed the Po river in the morning of Monday, February
29, and made a halt of fifteen minutes to feed. Thence it pushed on,
Davies's brigade still leading, by way of Newmarket, Chilesburg and
Anderson's bridge across the South Anna river to Beaverdam Station on
the Virginia Central railroad. This point was reached late in the
afternoon, the rear guard not arriving until after dark. Here some
buildings and stores were burned. A train coming into the station,
warned by the reflection of the flames in the cloudy sky, backed out and
escaped capture. A small force of confederates made its appearance but
was easily brushed away. The brushing and burning, however, were done by
Davies's men. The Michigan cavalrymen coming too late for the fair, were
privileged to hover in the background and watch the interesting
performance from a safe distance, leaving it for the imagination to
picture what they would have done if they had had the chance.

This night was cold, raw and rainy, the atmosphere full of moisture
which gradually turned to an icy sleet. This added greatly to the
discomfort of the march, which was resumed after tearing up the track
and taking down the telegraph wires and poles in the neighborhood of the
station. The stop at Beaverdam Station was not worth mentioning so far
as it gave any opportunity to men or horses for rest or refreshment. Out
into the dark night--and it was a darkness that could be felt--rode
those brave troopers. On and on, for hours and hours, facing the biting
storm, feeling the pelting rain, staring with straining eyes into the
black night, striving to see when nothing was visible to the keenest
vision, listening with pricked up ears for the sound of the well-shod
hoofs which with rhythmical tread signaled the way.

The night was well advanced when at last a halt was ordered to make
coffee for the men and give the patient animals the modicum of oats that
had been brought, strapped to the cantles of the saddles. The bivouac
was in the neighborhood of the Ground Squirrel bridge. Davies in his
official report said that he went into camp at eight o'clock in the
evening. That may have been. Davies was at the head of column and, after
the small advance guard, the first to reach the camp ground. It was
fully two hours later when the last of the Second brigade reached the
place. From seven o'clock Sunday evening, till ten o'clock Monday night
there had been no stop to speak of--no chance to cook coffee or feed the
horses--save the brief halt of barely fifteen minutes on the south bank
of the Po river. The men were weary, wet, cold and hungry but there was
no complaining, for they were all hardened veterans, accustomed to
hardship and exposure. They had been schooled to endure the privations
of campaigning with cheerful fortitude.

When, at one o'clock, Tuesday morning, March 1, the march was once more
resumed, it was found that the First brigade still had the lead. As on
the previous day Michigan and Vermont were relegated to the rear. By the
custom of the service it was our turn to be in the advance. The rule was
for brigades and even regiments to alternate in leading. That is because
it is much easier to march in front than in rear. On that morning
Sawyer's command was entitled to be in front and the first in the fray.
That may, however, be looked upon as a trifling matter and not worth
mentioning. Veterans will not so consider it. It was but natural that
Kilpatrick should before all others have confidence in his old brigade
and those officers with whom he had personally served. Davies was a
gallant officer and had some fine officers and regiments with him. There
were none better. It was an inglorious part that was assigned to us.
Still, there was as it turned out not much glory in the expedition for
anybody, least of all for Kilpatrick himself.

The march during the forenoon was along the Richmond and Potomac
railroad, to and across the Chickahominy river, to the Brook turnpike.
Davies advanced along the turnpike toward the city, driving in the
pickets and capturing a few of them. He crossed the "Brook"[24] and
succeeded in getting inside the outer entrenchments, within a mile of
Richmond. From the high ground overlooking the intervening plain it was
almost possible to look into the streets and count the spires on the

The time which it would take to make the ride from the Rapidan to the
"Brook" had been closely calculated. Ten o'clock, Tuesday morning, March
1, had been the hour set when Kilpatrick would arrive and begin the
assault upon Richmond from the north, while Dahlgren attacked it from
the south. The former was on time to the minute. But where was Dahlgren?
He made no sign. There was no way to determine whether he was or was not
carrying out his part of the prearranged plan. Signals did not work.
Kilpatrick was left to his own resources. A condition had developed in
which prompt decision and action were imperatively demanded. There was
no time for delay or careful deliberation. To do or not to do, that was
the question. And there was but one man who could settle it. The
rationale of the raid was a hurried ride, timely arrival, great daring,
a surprise, a sudden charge without a moment's hesitation--success.

Whatever was done must needs be done quickly. It was not conceivable
that Kilpatrick with three thousand men and six pieces of
artillery--Kilpatrick the bold, the dashing cavalryman, the hero of
Middleburg and Aldie--the conceiver of the expedition, who knew in
advance all about the perils he must meet, the chances he must
take--that he would permit uncertainty as to what Dahlgren with but five
or six hundred men and no artillery was doing to influence his own
immediate action. For all that he knew, Dahlgren was already in
position, ready to strike, but awaiting the sound of battle from the
north as the signal to begin.

And yet he hesitated. The object of the expedition, as has been shown,
was to ride into Richmond and liberate the prisoners. It was a daring
enterprise. A courage to execute commensurate to the ability to conceive
was presupposed. So far everything had gone by the clock. Officers and
men alike knew what that forced march of thirty-six hours, without
pause, meant, if it had any rational meaning. Each one had screwed his
courage to the sticking point to follow wherever our gallant commander
led, prepared to share with him success or failure, according to the
event. Indeed, there was safety in following rather than in falling
back. We were far afield in an enemy's country. It was necessary to
"hang together to avoid hanging separately." The goal was in sight. By a
bold and quick forward movement alone could it be reached. An order to
move up into a line of squadron columns was momentarily expected. That a
dash into the city, or at least an attempt would be made nobody doubted.
Anything short of that would be farcical, and the expedition that set
out big with promise would be fated to return barren of results. The
good beginning was worthy of a better ending than that.

Well, some of Davies's advance regiments were dismounted and the men
sent forward deployed as carbineers on foot to feel of the
fortifications and make a tentative attack on their defenders. Some of
Ransom's guns were unlimbered and opened fire at long range. Reply was
made by the enemy's cannoneers, for some of the earthworks facing us
were manned with artillerists.

In the meantime, Sawyer's brigade held on the pike in column of fours,
mounted, anxiously awaiting orders and developments, listened intently
to the desultory firing of the carbineers and the occasional boom of the
cannon in front. There was a growing feeling of uneasiness and
incertitude which began to frame our minds for doubts and fears as to
the outcome.

At length, a staff officer was seen riding slowly from the front towards
the rear. The thought that ran along the column was, "Now the order is
surely coming to move forward at a trot." Not so, however. He had been
directed by General Kilpatrick to notify commanding officers that in
case any of their men should be wounded, they would be obliged to make
their own arrangements for the transportation and care of them, since
there were no ambulances available.

Cheerful intelligence, surely, and well timed to put men and officers
upon their fighting mettle! From that moment, the mental attitude of the
bravest was one of apathetic indifference. Such an announcement was
enough to dampen the ardor of men as brave as those who had been
selected to make up the personnel of this expedition.

Finally, anxious to get some idea of what was going on and what the
outlook, I rode forward to a place overlooking the battle field. Away to
the front, a thousand yards or more, was an open stretch of cleared
fields, across which was a light line of dismounted cavalry skirmishers,
firing away at the defenders of the earthworks. This defensive force did
not appear to be formidable in numbers; nor was it particularly
effective in its fire upon our troops. Along the union line rode Captain
L.G. Estes, adjutant general of the division, his cape lined with red
thrown back on one shoulder, making of him a conspicuous target. He was
exposing himself in most audacious fashion, as was his wont. It looked
like an act of pure bravado. It was not necessary for him to furnish
evidence of his gallantry. His courage was proverbial among the
cavalrymen of the Third division. They had seen him recklessly expose
his life on many battle fields.

This was as near as the expedition ever came to capturing Richmond.
Kilpatrick who, at the start, was bold and confident, at the last when
quick resolution was indispensable, appeared to be overcome with a
strange and fatal irresolution. Davies was recalled and the entire force
was directed to take the road to Meadow Bridge. It was after dark when
we were ordered into camp somewhere between Mechanicsville and Atlee's
Station. When I received the order I inquired if we were to picket our
own camp but was informed that details for that purpose had been made
and it would not be necessary. This quieted my fears somewhat but not
entirely. Precautions were taken against possible surprise and to ensure
speedy mounting and getting into position in the event of an emergency
requiring it. The regiment went into bivouac in line, a little back in
the shadow and away from the fires. Few camp fires were permitted. The
saddle girths were loosened slightly but the saddles were not removed.
Each trooper lay in front of his own horse, pulling the bridle rein over
his horse's head and slipping his arm through it. In this way they were
to get such sleep as they could. In case of a sudden alarm they were to
stand to horse and be ready instantly to mount.

Thinking that in any case it could be got ready while the regiment was
being mounted, I allowed my own horse to be unsaddled and hitched him by
the halter to a sapling in front of my shelter tent which was quickly
pitched, Barnhart, the acting adjutant, and an orderly pitching theirs
by the side of it. Then, removing sword and belt but keeping on
overcoat, boots and spurs, I crawled in with a "poncho" under me, using
the saddle for a pillow.

It was a raw, rainy night, and snow was falling. The bad weather of the
first night out was worse than repeated. It seemed more like Michigan
than Virginia. It was very dark. I do not believe that any man living
could make a map of the camps which the two brigades occupied that
night--the exact locations or even the relative positions of the various
commands. I doubt if the actual participants could point them out were
they to visit the place. I know that at the time I had not the slightest
knowledge on the subject and could not have told which way to go to find
any one of them or even brigade or division headquarters. It looked like
a case of "wisdom consists in taking care of yourself." We were on the
north side of the Chickahominy and, with the bridges guarded, it would
be difficult for the forces with which we had been contending during the
day to get in on our night encampment. At least they could not well take
us by surprise. But this made the position all the more vulnerable from
the north. It was idle to suppose that Stuart's cavalry was doing
nothing. It was as certain as anything could be that his enterprising
horsemen were gathering on our track, urging their steeds to the death
in an endeavor to stop the audacious career of the federal commander.

During the early evening it was known throughout the command that the
general had not given up the hope of capturing the city and liberating
the prisoners. A body of five hundred men led by Lieutenant Colonel
Addison W. Preston of the First Vermont cavalry was to start out from
our camp by the Mechanicsville road, charge in, release the prisoners
and bring them out, Kilpatrick covering the movement with his entire
command. The latter's official report says there were two bodies, one to
be led by Preston, the other by Major Taylor of the First Maine cavalry.
The name of Preston was a guarantee that the dash, if made at all, would
be bravely led. There was no more gallant officer in the whole cavalry

The conditions were such as to make one wakeful and alert, if anything
could. But the danger of yielding for an instant to the allurement of
the drowsiness produced by the long ride without sleep was overpowering.
In an instant after getting under cover of the shelter tent I was
emulating the seven sleepers. It is doubtful if the trump of Gabriel
himself, had it sounded, could have awakened me. The assurance that we
were protected by pickets, and the order to go into camp having been
given unaccompanied by any warning to be alert and on the watch for
danger, had lulled me into such an absolutely false sense of security
that I was for the time dead to all the surroundings. There was firing
among the pickets. I did not hear it. A cannon boomed. I did not hear
it. A second piece of artillery added to the tumult. I did not hear it.
Shells hurtled through the trees, over the camp and the waves of sound
did not disturb my ear. At last partial consciousness returned. There
was a vague sense of something out of the usual order going on. Then I
found that Barnhart and the orderly were pulling me out of the "pup"
tent by the heels. That sufficed. I was instantly wide awake. Barnhart
was ordered to get his horse and mount the regiment. The orderly to
saddle my horse and his own. In a few moments all hands were in the
saddle. The regiment was wheeled by fours and moved a short distance to
the right, more in the shadow and out of range of the shells, and formed
in line facing toward where the enemy was supposed to be, and held there
awaiting orders. No orders to advance came, nor was any brigade line of
battle formed. In a very short time a staff officer came riding fast and
directed me to move out by fours on the road in rear of the alignment
and follow the command which he said had gone and was retreating. He did
not say what road it was nor whither it led. He then rode away. Wheeling
into column the regiment was moved out on the road and, greatly confused
as to the points of the compass, and not hearing or seeing anything of
the column, turned in the wrong direction. The same staff officer soon
overtook the head of the regiment and set us right. We had to
countermarch and, as a matter of fact, were going towards the enemy
instead of joining in the retreat. It was by mistake, however. We had
gone probably an eighth of a mile before being stopped.


The march then led back within sight of the camp which had been vacated.
As we passed that point, far away in the distance among the trees, by
the light of the abandoned fires, could be seen men flitting like
specters through the places where the camps had been. They were
presumably the enemy and apparently bent on plunder rather than
conquest. It was a good time to give them a Roland for their Oliver but
there did not seem to be a disposition to make a concerted attack or, in
fact, any attack at all. Kilpatrick was in full retreat toward Old
Church, abandoning his plan of a midnight attack on Richmond.

The force which made the attack on the camps was led by Wade Hampton
who, as soon as he knew of the expedition, set out on the trail, picking
up odds and ends of confederate cavalry when and where he could. He
marched that day from Hanover Courthouse and says he came in sight of
the camp fires near Atlee's Station and to his right on the Telegraph or
Brook road. He must have been deceived as to the direction, for it is
not possible that any portion of the main body could have been in camp
on either of those roads. The camp he attacked was that of the Seventh
Michigan which bore the brunt of it. This regiment lost a number of
prisoners including the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel

We must have marched at least a mile, perhaps more, when the column was
overtaken. It was moving at a walk on the road leading to Old Church.
Finding myself in rear with no rear guard I detached three troops (A, E
and G) and held them with sufficient interval to cover the retreat. When
there was a halt they were formed in line across the road and facing to
the rear with carbines loaded and at a "ready" to repel any attack,
should one be made. Once when halted the tread of horses could be heard

"Halt! Who comes there?" was the challenge.

"Major Wells and a portion of the First Vermont cavalry," was the reply.

He advanced and was recognized and for the remainder of the night we
jointly looked after the rear until a camping ground was found near Old
Church about daylight the next morning.

An amusing thing happened after Barnhart and the orderly pulled me out
of the tent. The orderly saddled my horse and after buckling on sword
and belt I put my foot in stirrup and proceeded to mount. The saddle
slipped off to the ground. In the excitement he had neglected to fasten
the girths. I put the saddle on again and, making all tight, mounted and
gave the horse the spur, when to my dismay he proved to be still tied to
the tree. It was necessary to dismount, untie and adjust the halter. By
this time it is needless to say I was getting "rattled." But the
precautions taken made it easy to get the regiment into shape and keep
it well in hand. The most regrettable thing about it all was that Sawyer
did not rush his entire brigade to the support of the picket line. Had
that been done, it is more than likely that Litchfield and his men might
have been saved from capture, though I do not know how Hampton found
them when he stole into their camp. If they were scattered about and
asleep it would have been impossible to rally them and get them into
line for effective resistance. On the other hand, had Sawyer with his
other regiments, or Davies with his brigade, or both of them together
made a concerted attack Hampton might have been worsted. But there was
no attempt to make a fight. Hampton's attack caused consternation,
forced a precipitate retreat, and led to the final abandonment of the
objects of the expedition.

In a previous chapter I have sought to show that official reports are
often meager, sometimes misleading. There has always been a good deal of
mystery about this affair. There is mystery still, which careful reading
of the official records does not dispel. Sawyer made no report; or, if
he did it was not published. Few if any of the regimental commanders
submitted reports. The Michigan brigade suffered its usual fate in that

Kilpatrick's report as published says:

   "The command was moved out on the road to Old Church, and placed in
   position and after considerable hard fighting repulsed the enemy and
   forced him back on the road to Hanover Courthouse."

Davies in his official report said:

   "The enemy during the evening skirmished slightly with my pickets,
   and about 12 p.m., attacked the Second brigade in force. My command
   at once mounted and formed, but the Second brigade unassisted
   repulsed the attack and I moved to the vicinity of Old Church."

Davies, it is seen, did not claim to have made any fight. He was ready
and in position, but moved away to Old Church.

Wade Hampton, who led the attack, says:

   "From Hanover Courthouse I marched to Hughes's Crossroads as I
   thought that would be the most likely place for the enemy to cross.
   From that place I could see their camp fires in the direction of
   Atlee's Station as well as to my right on the Telegraph or Brook
   road. I determined to strike at the party near Atlee's and with that
   view moved down to the station, where we met the pickets of the
   enemy. I would not allow their fire to be returned, but quickly
   dismounted 100 men and supporting them with the cavalry, ordered
   Colonel Cheek (of the North Carolina brigade) to move steadily on the
   camp while two guns were opened on them at very short range. * * *
   Kilpatrick immediately moved his division away at a gallop, leaving
   one wagon with horses hitched to it, and one caisson full of
   ammunition. The enemy was a brigade strong here with two other
   brigades immediately in their rear."

From these extracts it will be seen how commanding officers, when they
write their official reports of a night rencounter, are apt to draw on
their imaginations for the facts. The stout fight put up by Kilpatrick,
and the graphic account by Hampton of how he whipped three brigades with
a handful of confederates hastily assembled, are equally mythical.

Davies's report gives a very accurate description of the affair. From
this we find that he picketed toward Richmond and the Meadow bridges,
taking care of the flanks and rear. The slight skirmishing with his
pickets, of which he speaks, must have been with small bodies that came
out from Richmond or which followed him from his position of the day on
the Brook pike. It had no relation to Hampton's attack which was from
the opposite direction and entirely distinct. To Sawyer it was left, it
would appear, to look out for the front--that is, toward Ashland and
Hanover Courthouse. Sawyer sent the Seventh Michigan out on picket, the
outer line advanced as far as Atlee's Station.

When Hampton came in from Hughes's cross roads, he did not stop to
skirmish with the videttes. He did not fire a shot but followed the
pickets into the camp and opened with carbines and two pieces of
artillery at close range. No arrangements appear to have been made to
support the Seventh properly in the event of such an attack, which might
have been foreseen. Sawyer should have reinforced the Seventh with his
entire brigade. And it was equally incumbent on Kilpatrick to support
Sawyer with Davies's brigade if he needed support. Neither of these
things was done. Kilpatrick's artillery made no response to that of
Hampton. The only order was to retreat. Hampton was not far away from
the facts when he said that "Kilpatrick immediately moved his division
off at a gallop." He did not move it "at a gallop." He moved it at a
walk. But he moved "immediately." He did not stop to fight, and morning
found him well on the way to the Pamunkey river. It was an unlucky event
for poor Litchfield. He was held as a prisoner of war very nearly if
not quite until the curtain had fallen on the final scene at
Appomattox. I do not remember that he ever again had the privilege of
commanding his regiment.

[Illustration: A.C. LITCHFIELD]

Kilpatrick's strategy was better than his tactics. His plan was bold in
conception, but faulty in execution. It has been shown that he made a
mistake in dividing his command; that he made another when he failed to
order an immediate attack after his arrival before the city. His
afterthought of sending Preston and Taylor, at midnight, in a snow
storm, and on a night so dark that it would have been impossible to keep
together, to be sure of the way, or to distinguish friend from foe, to
do a thing which he hesitated to do in the daytime and with his entire
force, would have been a more serious blunder than either. Of course, if
Preston had started, it would have been with the determination to
succeed or lose his life in the adventure. That was his reputation and
his character as a soldier. But the services and lives of such men are
too valuable to be wasted in futile attempts. It might have been
glorious but it would not have been war.

To conclude this rambling description. In October, 1907, while attending
the Jamestown exposition I met Colonel St. George Tucker, president of
the exposition company and a well known scion of one of the first
families of Virginia. The conversation turned to certain incidents of
the civil war, among others some of those pertaining to the Kilpatrick
raid. Colonel Tucker was at the time a boy ten years of age. Armed with
a gun he was at a window in the second story of his father's house
ready to do his part in repelling the "vandals" should they invade the
streets of the city. This circumstance sheds light on the real
situation. With the schoolboys banded together to defend their homes,
and every house garrisoned in that way, not to mention the regular
soldiers and the men who were on duty, it is quite certain that Richmond
would have been an uncomfortable place that night for Preston and his
little band of heroes. A man's house is his citadel and boys and women
will fight to defend it.

From Old Church the command moved Wednesday to Tunstall's Station, and
thence by way of New Kent Courthouse and Williamsburg to Yorktown. At
Yorktown the various regiments took transports to Washington and from
Washington marched back to their old camps around Stevensburg, no event
of importance marking the journey. They arrived on the Rapidan about the
middle of the month, having been absent two weeks. The men stood the
experience better than the horses. The animals were weakened and worn
out and the time remaining before the opening of active operations was
hardly sufficient for their recuperation.



In the spring of 1864, the cavalry of the army of the Potomac was
thoroughly reorganized. Pleasonton, who had been rather a staff officer
of the general commanding the army than a real chief of cavalry, was
retired and Sheridan took his place. Kilpatrick was sent to the west and
James H. Wilson, an engineer officer, succeeded him in command of the
Third division. Buford's old division, the First, was placed under
Torbert, an infantry officer whose qualifications as a commander of
cavalry were not remarkable. There were several of his subordinates who
were both more capable and more deserving, notably Custer, Merritt and
Thomas C. Devin. John Buford, the heroic, one of the ablest of all the
generals of division, had succumbed to the exposures of the previous
campaign. His death befell in December, 1863, on the very day when he
received his commission as major-general, a richly deserved reward for
his splendid and patriotic services in the Gettysburg and other
campaigns. His death created a void which it was hard to fill. Gregg was
the only one of the three old and tried division commanders who remained
with the corps.

Of the generals of brigade, Merritt and Devin remained with their old
division. Davies was transferred from the Third to the Second, and
Custer's Michigan brigade became the First brigade of the First
division, the general going with it.

Pleasonton who was sent to Rosecrans, in Missouri, although perhaps not,
like his illustrious successor, a cavalry chief of the first rank, had a
brilliant record, and in the campaign of 1863 had performed most
meritorious and effective service and certainly deserves a high place in
the list of union leaders of that period. In all the campaigns of the
year 1863, he acquitted himself with the highest credit and in many of
the battles, notably at Chancellorsville, Middleburg and Brandy Station,
he was an equal match for Stuart and his able lieutenants. If, in the
readjustment incident to the assumption by General Grant of the chief
command, Pleasonton could have been permitted to serve loyally under
Sheridan, who was his junior in rank, it would, doubtless, have been
better for both of them. He would have been obliged, to be sure, to
crucify his ambition and waive his rank, but his name might have been
linked with those of Gregg, and Merritt, and Custer in the record of
"Little Phil's" picturesque marches from the Wilderness to the James;
from Harper's Ferry to Cedar Creek; and from Winchester to Appomattox.
He left the army in whose achievements he had borne so honorable a part,
and no opportunities for distinction came to him afterwards. Others
wore the laurels that might have been his.

Soon after his arrival, General Sheridan reviewed the cavalry corps on
the open ground near Culpeper. There were ten thousand mounted men in
line, and when they broke into column to pass in review before the
assembled generals of the army, it was a magnificent spectacle. To this
day the writer's blood quickens in his veins and a flush of pardonable
pride mantles his face whenever he recalls the circumstance of one of
Custer's staff coming to his quarters after the parade, to convey with
the general's compliments the pleasant information that General Sheridan
had personally requested him to compliment the officers and men of the
regiment, on its excellent appearance and soldierly bearing on the
review. Only a short time before, General Kilpatrick had sent a similar
message after seeing the regiment at brigade drill. How cheering these
messages were; and how full of encouragement to the full performance of
duty in the trying times that were close at hand! Life is not too full
of such words of cheer, even when we do our best. It is not so much
admiration as appreciation that one craves from his fellow men,
especially from those who are by circumstance placed over him. But envy,
and malice, and a mean, begrudging spirit often stand at the door to
keep it out, when it would fain enter, bringing the sunshine with it.
There was nothing narrow or mean about Sheridan. Conscious of his own
greatness, he was too broad to begrudge recognition to others. When a
subordinate deserved commendation and Sheridan knew it, he always gave

Although the movement of the army of the Potomac, which initiated in
Virginia the campaign of 1864 and resulted in the battle of the
Wilderness, began on May 3, it was the morning of May 4, when the
Wolverine troopers left their camp near Culpeper. The Second and Third
divisions, as has been shown, had the honor of leading the advance and
preceded the infantry, crossing at Ely's and Germanna fords,
respectively, on the day before. The First division bivouacked on the
north side of the river during the night of May 4. At three o'clock on
the morning of May 5, the march was resumed and, crossing at Ely's ford,
it moved to Chancellorsville, and was encamped that night at the
"Furnaces," south of the Orange plank road, about midway between
Wilderness Church and Todd's Tavern, in the rear of the left of the
union lines.

Early on the morning of May 6, "boots and saddles" and "to horse"
summoned the brigade to arms; and at two o'clock a.m., it was on the
march by the Furnace road toward the intersection of that highway with
the Brock turnpike. Gregg was at Todd's Tavern, at the junction of the
Catharpin and Brock roads. Custer was to be the connecting link between
Gregg's division and Hancock's corps. Devin, with the Second brigade,
was ordered to report to Custer. Wilson had been out the previous day on
the Orange plank road and pike, beyond Parker's Store, where he
encountered Stuart's cavalry and was roughly handled. While moving up
in the darkness, we came upon the scattered troopers of the First
Vermont cavalry, which for some time before the redistribution had been
attached to the Michigan brigade, but was then in Chapman's brigade of
Wilson's division. They were moving to the rear, and seemed much
chagrined over their defeat and declared that they did not belong to the
Third division, but were the "Eighth Michigan."

"Come along with us," said their old Michigan companions-in-arms.

"Wish we could," they replied.

Arriving at his destination before daylight, Custer posted his troops so
as to be ready to meet the expected attack. Two troops, one from the
First Michigan the other from the Sixth, commanded by Captain George R.
Maxwell and Captain Manning D. Birge, respectively, were sent well out
on the Brock road to picket the front. The line of battle was formed in
the woods, facing a cleared space, beyond which dense timber served as a
screen to prevent the enemy's approach from being discovered. The right
was held by the First and Sixth Michigan, formed in two lines,
regimental front, the Sixth in rear, the men standing "in place, rest"
in front of their horses. It was prolonged to the left by the Fifth and
Seventh Michigan and Devin's brigade, composed of the Fourth, Sixth and
Ninth New York and Seventeenth Pennsylvania regiments of cavalry. Devin,
however, did not arrive on the ground until the battle was well under
way. The right of the line was "in the air," so far as was at that time
known, the infantry not being in sight.

The open field directly in front extended some 200 yards beyond our
position, to the right, and it was, perhaps, 500 yards across it to the
woods. The timber in which we formed extended from the rear clear around
the right and across the front. In other words, the patch of open ground
was enclosed on three sides, at least, by dense woods. The alignment
faced in a westerly direction, and was back in the timber far enough to
be hidden from the approaching foe. To the right and as it turned out,
somewhat to the rear, lay the army of the Potomac, which had been
battling with Lee all the previous day; and orders had been issued for
the fighting to be resumed at five o'clock in the morning.

Thus we stood, prepared, in a state of expectancy, awaiting the sounds
that were to summon us to battle.

The brigade band was posted near the left flank of the First Michigan.

General Custer, alert and wary, with a portion of his staff and escort,
was out inspecting the picket line.

The horse artillery had not yet arrived.

Every trooper was alert and ready for whatever might come.

The field, of which mention has been made, was bisected by a ravine,
nearly diagonally from left front to right rear, the ground sloping into
it from front and rear. This ravine was to play a prominent part in the
battle that ensued.

Suddenly, the signal came. A picket shot was heard, then another, and
another. Thicker and faster the spattering tones were borne to our ears
from the woods in front. Then, it was the "rebel yell;" at first faint,
but swelling in volume as it approached. A brigade of cavalry, led by
the intrepid Rosser, was charging full tilt toward our position. He did
not stop to skirmish with the pickets but, charging headlong, drove them
pell-mell into the reserves, closely following, with intent to stampede
the whole command.

It was a bold and brilliant dash, but destined to fall short of complete

Rosser had met his match.

When the confederate charge was sounded, Custer was near his picket line
and, scenting the first note of danger, turned his horse's head toward
the point where he had hidden his Wolverines in ambush and, bursting
into view from the woods beyond the field, we saw him riding furiously
in our direction. When he neared the edge of the woods, circling to the
front and curbing the course of his charger as he rode, he bade the band
to play and, with saber arm extended, shouted to the command, already in
the saddle:

"Forward, by divisions!"

As the band struck up the inspiriting strains of "Yankee Doodle," the
First Michigan broke by subdivisions from the right, the Sixth following
in line, regimental front and the two regiments charged with a yell
through the thick underbrush out into the open ground just as the
confederate troopers emerged from the woods on the opposite side. Both
commands kept on in full career, the First and Sixth inextricably
intermingled, until they reached the edge of the ravine, when they
stopped, the confederates surprised by the sudden appearance and
audacity of the Michigan men and their gallant leader; Custer well
content with checking Rosser's vicious advance. Some of the foremost of
either side kept on and crossed sabers in the middle of the ravine.
Among these was Lieutenant Cortez P. Pendill, of the Sixth Michigan, who
was severely wounded among the very foremost. One squadron of the
confederates, possibly a small regiment, charging in column of fours,
went past our right flank, and then, like the French army that marched
up a hill and then marched down again, turned and charged back, without
attempting to turn their head of column towards the place where Custer
was standing at bay, with his Michiganders clustered thick about him.
Pretty soon the confederates ran a battery into the field and opened on
us with shell. Every attempt to break Custer's line, however, ended in
failure, the Spencer carbines proving too much of an obstacle to be

Meanwhile, the Fifth and Seventh had been doing excellent service on the
left, forging to the front and threatening the right of the confederate

But it was evident that our own right was vulnerable, and Custer ordered
Major Kidd to take the Sixth, move it by the rear to the woods on the
right, dismount to fight on foot and, to use his own words: "Flank that

The regiment had become much scattered in the charge, but the "rally"
was sounded, and as many men as could be quickly assembled on the
colors, were withdrawn from the field and, obeying the order with as
much alacrity as possible, in a few moments they were in position and
moving forward briskly through the thick woods. But, they had not
proceeded far, when a strong line of dismounted confederates was
encountered. Both commanders seem to have ordered a simultaneous
movement with a similar purpose, viz: To flank the other and attack his

The two forces met very nearly on the prolongation of the line held by
the mounted men of the First, Fifth and Seventh Michigan, east of the
ravine. The confederate line extended beyond the right of the Sixth as
far as we could see, and it was at once evident that we were greatly
outnumbered, and liable to have the right flank turned at any moment.
The little force stood bravely up to their work, using the Spencers with
deadly effect, and checking the advance of the confederates in their
immediate front. Major Charles W. Deane who was helping to direct the
movement, had his horse shot under him. Seeing that the left of the
confederates were trying to pass around our right flank, the captain of
the left troop was directed to hold on to his position and the right was
"refused" to protect the rear. At the same time an officer was
dispatched to General Custer with an appeal for reinforcements.

The entire of the Second brigade was now up and a battery which arrived
on the field after the withdrawal of the Sixth, had been placed in
position and opened upon the enemy. The battle was still raging in the
field, but General Custer sent the Fifth Michigan, Colonel Russell A.
Alger commanding, and the Seventeenth Pennsylvania, Lieutenant Colonel
J.Q. Anderson commanding, to the relief of the Sixth Michigan.

The reinforcements came none too soon. The confederates, confident in
their superior numbers, were pressing hard and threatening to envelop us

In a solid line of two ranks, with Spencer carbines full shotted, the
two magnificent regiments deployed into line on our right. Then moving
forward, by a left half wheel, turned the tables on the too exultant
foe, and he was forced slowly but surely back. By virtue of his rank
Colonel Alger was in command of the line and, in response to his
clear-voiced order, "Steady men, forward," the three regiments, with a
shout, swept on through the woods, driving everything before them. At
the same time, the mounted men of the First and Seventh charged the
force in their front. The enemy, thereupon, gave way in disorder, was
routed and fled, leaving his dead and wounded in our hands. His repulse
was complete and crushing and we saw no more of him that day. The
Michigan men, with the aid of Devin's New York and Pennsylvania
troopers, had won a signal victory, momentous in its consequences, for
it saved the union left from a disaster much dreaded, the fear of which
neutralized one-half of Hancock's corps during the entire day.

No one who witnessed it, can ever forget the superb conduct of Colonel
Alger and his men when they swung into line on the right of the Sixth
Michigan and turned a threatened reverse into a magnificent victory.

Among the wounded, besides Lieutenant Pendill, already mentioned, were
Captain Benjamin F. Rockafellow, of the Sixth Michigan, and Lieutenant
Alvin N. Sabin, of the Fifth Michigan. All of these officers were
severely wounded and all behaved with the most conspicuous gallantry.

In the meantime, what was the infantry doing? After Rosser was driven
from the field, it was found that there was a line of infantry not far
to the right and rear. Indeed, the left of the infantry line overlapped
the right of the cavalry. Attention was called to the fact when, after
the fight, some of the cavalrymen began to straggle to the rear and
returning, said that the Twenty-sixth Michigan infantry was only a
little way off, and a good many of the men went over for a brief
hand-shake with friends therein.

The Twenty-sixth Michigan was in Barlow's division. They had been
interested listeners to, if not actual witnesses of the cavalry fight.
The contest between the dismounted men of Rosser's and Custer's commands
had been almost, if not quite, in their front and occasional shots had
come their way.

Why did not Barlow, or indeed, Gibbon's entire command, move up at the
time when the Sixth Michigan cavalry was contending alone with a
superior force directly in their front?

The answer to that question is in the sealed book which contains the
reason of Grant's failure in the "Wilderness."

Let us see!

Grant's orders to the corps commanders--Sedgwick, Warren and
Hancock--were to attack Lee's army at five o'clock a.m., May 6.
Longstreet had not arrived but was expected up in the morning, and
prisoners said he would attack the union left. Hancock was directed to
look out for the left. Barlow's division was posted for that purpose.
Hancock's corps was divided into two wings, the right wing under Birney
consisting of the three divisions of Birney, Mott and Getty; the left
wing of Gibbon's and Barlow's divisions under Gibbon. Barlow, as has
been seen, was to look out for the left. "The left" was well looked
after by Sheridan's cavalry for, aside from Custer's two brigades which
were directly in contact with Barlow's left flank, Gregg's division was
posted at Todd's Tavern, still farther to the left.

Sedgwick and Warren attacked Ewell at the hour, but were unsuccessful.
Hancock's assault upon Hill was completely successful, although
Longstreet arrived in the nick of time to save Hill. But Hancock's
attack was with his right wing under Birney, and Longstreet struck the
left of Birney's command. Where were the two divisions of Gibbon, posted
for the very purpose of looking out for Longstreet?

In General A.A. Humphrey's, "Virginia Campaigns," page 40, we read:

   "At seven a.m., General Hancock sent a staff officer to General
   Gibbon, informing him of the success of his right wing, and directing
   him to attack the enemy's right with Barlow's division. This order
   was only partially obeyed. Had Barlow's division advanced as
   directed, he (General Hancock) felt confident that the enemy's force
   would have been defeated. The cause of his failure was probably owing
   to the expected approach of Longstreet on his (Barlow's) left."


   "At 8:30 a.m., Hancock began an attack with Birney's wing and
   Gibbon's division of the left wing."

General Grant, in his memoirs, (pp. 196-197):

   "Hancock was ready to advance, but learning that Longstreet was
   threatening his left flank, sent a division of infantry, commanded by
   General Barlow, to cover the approaches by which Longstreet was

General Sheridan, (memoirs, vol. I, pp. 362-363):

   "On the sixth, General Meade became alarmed about his left flank and
   sent a dispatch, saying: 'Hancock has been heavily pressed and his
   left turned. You had better draw in your cavalry to protect the

And again:

   "On the morning of the sixth, Custer's and Devin's brigades had been
   severely engaged before I received the above note. They had been most
   successful in repulsing the enemy's attacks, and I felt that the line
   could be held. But the despatch from General Hancock was alarming, so
   I drew all the cavalry close in around Chancellorsville."

Grant's memoirs, once more:

   "The firing was hardly begun when Hancock was informed that the left
   wing was seriously threatened so as to fully occupy Barlow. The
   enemy's dismounted cavalry opened on him (sic.) with artillery and
   pressed forward his skirmish line. The rapid firing of Sheridan's
   attack helped to confirm the impression that this was a serious flank
   attack by the enemy. These repeated reports prevented Hancock from
   throwing his full strength into the attack along the plank road."

"The rapid firing of Sheridan's attack" is good. Sheridan is entitled to
the credit of placing Custer where he was. But that is all. Sheridan was
not on the ground to direct the attack in any way; nor was the division
commander on the ground. It was Custer's attack and it was Custer's
victory. The only dismounted cavalry that attacked Barlow was Rosser's
cavalry, and Custer's cavalry was between Rosser and Barlow. The only
artillery with which the dismounted cavalry opened on Barlow was
Rosser's battery and Custer and his men were between Barlow and that
battery. Had Barlow taken the trouble to ascertain what was really going
on in his front, an easy matter, he would have found that, so far from
this dismounted cavalry endangering his flank, they had been driven off
the field in headlong flight, leaving their dead and wounded. There was
never a moment during the entire day (May 6, 1864,) when Barlow was in
the slightest danger of being flanked. His failure to advance, enabled
Longstreet to swing across his front and attack Birney's left, thus
neutralizing Hancock's victory over Hill. If Barlow and Gibbon had
advanced as they were ordered to do, they would have struck Longstreet's
flank and, probably, crushed it.

All of which seems to demonstrate that, in battle, as in the ordinary
affairs of life, imaginary dangers often trouble us more than those
which are real.

The fear of being flanked was an ever present terror to the army of the
Potomac, and the apparition which appeared to McDowell at Manassas, to
Pope at the Second Bull Run, to Hooker at Chancellorsville, flitted over
the Wilderness also, and was the principal cause why that campaign was
not successful.

And then again, General Meade placed too low an estimate upon the value
of cavalry as a factor in battle and failed utterly to appreciate the
importance of the presence of Sheridan's troopers upon his left. Had
Meade and Hancock known Sheridan then, as they knew him a year later,
when he intercepted the flight of the army of Northern Virginia at Five
Forks and Sailor's Creek, there would have been in their minds no
nervous apprehension that Longstreet might reenact in the Wilderness the
part played at Chancellorsville by Stonewall Jackson. As it was, Grant's
strategy and Hancock's heroism were paralyzed by these false rumors
about Longstreet's menacing the safety of the Potomac army by moving
against its left and rear. If such a thing was seriously intended, it
was met and thwarted by Custer and Gregg who, alone and unaided as at
Gettysburg, successfully resisted every effort on the part of Stuart's
cavalry to break through the union lines. The noise of the successful
battle which the union cavalry was waging, instead of reassuring the
federal commanders as it should have done, served only to increase the
alarm which extended to General Hancock and to army headquarters, as
well. If a proper rating had been placed upon the services of the
cavalry all apprehension would have been quieted. Barlow and Gibbon
would have moved promptly to the front as directed, and Hill and Ewell
might have been crushed before Longstreet was in position to save them.

General Sheridan's report gives a very meager and inadequate account of
the cavalry fight in the Wilderness. In his book he dismisses it with a
paragraph. Major McClellan, Stuart's adjutant general, in his "Campaigns
of Stuart's Cavalry," makes no mention of it at all, though he devotes
much space to Rosser's victory over Wilson, on the fifth. That is not
strange, perhaps, in the case of the confederate chronicler, who set out
in his book to write eulogiums upon his own hero, and not upon Sheridan
or Custer. He has a keen eye for confederate victories and, if he has
knowledge of any other, does not confess to it. As for Sheridan, his
corps was scattered over a wide area, its duty to guard the left flank
and all the trains, and he was not present in person when Custer put an
abrupt stop to Rosser's impetuous advance. It is now known that he was
so hampered by interference from army headquarters that his plans
miscarried, and the relations between himself and his immediate superior
became so strained that the doughty little warrior declared that he
would never give the cavalry corps another order. By General Grant's
intervention, however, these difficulties were so far reconciled that
Sheridan was soon off on his memorable campaign which resulted in the
bloody battle of Yellow Tavern and the death of the foremost confederate
cavalier, General J.E.B. Stuart.



The sequel to the false alarm about Hancock's left flank being turned
was that all the cavalry was drawn in to guard the trains and protect
the rear of the army. Custer's brigade moved back to the furnaces where
it remained during the night. The morning of the seventh he was ordered
to resume his position of the day before. Gregg's division was returned
to Todd's Tavern. Before the arrival of Gregg's command the First
Michigan cavalry had a spirited encounter with Fitzhugh Lee, in which
Captain Brevoort, in command of the mounted men, particularly
distinguished himself. There was pretty sharp fighting during the entire
day, mostly on foot, the nature of the ground practically precluding
movements on horseback.

The engagement of the cavalry on the seventh of May is known in history
as the battle of Todd's Tavern. It was made necessary in order to retake
the position surrendered by Meade's order of the sixth. Much blood was
shed and many valuable lives were lost in retrieving the error. In the
events of the two days may be found a good illustration of the rule that
an officer (even a great soldier like Sheridan) must obey orders, right
or wrong. Sheridan must have known that there was no need to withdraw
his cavalry from the left of the army. On the contrary he knew that by
all means it ought to remain where it was. Yet he obeyed and had to
fight an offensive battle to regain what he was thus forced to give
away. The conditions of the two days were reversed. On the morning of
the sixth Sheridan was in possession and Stuart was trying to drive him
out. On the morning of the seventh Stuart was in possession and Sheridan
had to drive him out. The material difference was that Stuart failed,
Sheridan succeeded. Sheridan outgeneraled Stuart in both offensive and
defensive tactics. The names of the respective chiefs are given here
but, on the sixth the actual fighting of the union forces was directed
by Custer and Gregg, of the confederates by Rosser and Fitzhugh Lee; on
the seventh, by Gregg, Merritt and Custer for the federal side, by
Fitzhugh Lee on the part of the confederates. Gregg and Custer stood
together in the Wilderness as they had done at Gettysburg. At Todd's
Tavern Merritt, Davies and Devin were added to the combination. And it
was one that neither Stuart, Fitzhugh Lee nor Hampton was ever able to

At night the First and Second divisions were encamped in the open fields
east of Todd's Tavern, and in front of the positions held by them during
the previous two days. Mounted pickets and patrols guarded the front and
it soon became apparent that a movement of both armies was in progress.
From front and rear came significant sounds which the practiced ear had
no difficulty in interpreting. Grant, breaking off successively from his
right, was passing by the rear to the left, concentrating around Todd's
Tavern for a forward movement in the morning towards Spottsylvania
Courthouse. The principle involved was to maneuver Lee out of the
Wilderness into more open country by threatening his communications.
Once again his strategic plans were thwarted by the faulty manner in
which the tactics of the movement were executed. Sheridan had planned to
seize Spottsylvania with his cavalry and his orders were for all three
divisions to move at daylight with that end in view. Wilson was to lead
and be followed up and supported by Merritt and Gregg with the First and
Second divisions. We shall see how Wilson was successful in carrying out
his part of the plan, but how the others were stopped by orders from
Meade, thus preventing the accomplishment of a well conceived enterprise
and neutralizing two-thirds of the cavalry corps just when it was about
to open the way to victory.

By his peculiar tactical night movement Grant held his line of battle
intact except as the various corps broke successively from right to rear
to march to the left. Thus Hancock's corps, though on the extreme left,
was the last corps to move.

Lee, quick to divine the purpose of his adversary, moved his army by the
right flank on a parallel line. All night long the ears of the alert
cavalrymen could catch the indistinct murmur of troops moving with
their impediments which, coming from both front and rear, bespoke the
grand tactics of both commanders and presaged a great battle on the
morrow. The "pop," "pop," "pop," of the carbines along the line of
videttes was well nigh continuous, showing the proximity of the enemy's
prowling patrols and scouts, and the necessity of constant vigilance. So
closely did the confederates approach the outposts that there was
unceasing fear of an attack and neither officers nor men were able to
obtain much rest. To sleep was out of the question. The First Michigan
was held in readiness to make a mounted charge, while the other
regiments were under orders to deploy dismounted, in case the attack
which was looked for should be made. The officers of the First could be
heard encouraging and instructing their men, keeping them alert and
prepared for battle.

From the time of the organization of the Michigan brigade, the First
regiment had been designated as distinctively a saber regiment, the
Fifth and Sixth for fighting on foot, as they were armed with Spencer
rifles, and the result was that with them, dismounting to fight when in
contact with the enemy in the early part of their terms of service
became a sort of second nature. The First had a year's experience with
the cavalry before the others went out, and it was in a saber charge at
the Second Bull Run battle that Brodhead its first colonel was killed.
The First Vermont, like the First Michigan, was a saber regiment and
went out in 1861. When this regiment was attached to the brigade, Custer
had three saber regiments, and it fell to the lot of the Fifth and Sixth
Michigan to be selected more often than the others, perhaps, for
dismounted duty. It often happened, however, that the entire brigade
fought dismounted at the same time; and sometimes, though not often, all
would charge together mounted. Owing to the nature of the country, most
of the fighting in Grant's campaign from the Wilderness to the James was
done on foot. In the Shenandoah valley campaign in the latter part of
the year 1864, the reverse was the case and at the battles of Tom's
Brook, Winchester and Cedar Creek the troopers in the command for the
most part kept to the saddle throughout the engagements.

When Custer wanted to put a single regiment into a mounted charge he
generally selected the First Michigan, because it was not only older and
more experienced but had many officers who possessed both great personal
daring and the rare ability to handle men in action, keeping them well
together so as to support each other and accomplish results. This
regiment was not excelled by any other in the army for that purpose. The
Seventh was an under study for the First. The Fifth and Sixth worked
well together on the skirmish line or dismounted line of battle and had
no superiors in this kind of work. That they were pretty reliable when
called upon mounted also, is shown by the conduct of the Sixth in the
Wilderness and of the Fifth at Trevillian Station. It is only necessary
to mention the gallantry of the Seventh at Hanovertown and at Yellow
Tavern to demonstrate that it was an apt pupil of the First. All the
officers and all the men of the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh took off their
hats and gracefully yielded the palm to the First. It is doubtful if
there was another regiment in the federal cavalry service which
contained so many officers highly marked for their fearless intrepidity
in action. The circumstance of their talking to their men before an
expected engagement was characteristic. They were always ready to face
the peril and lead their men.

Later in the evening, away to the left where the infantry was going into
bivouac a union band began to play a patriotic air. This was the signal
for loud and prolonged cheering. Then a confederate band opposite
responded with one of their southern tunes and the soldiers on that side
cheered. Successively, from left to right and from right to left this
was taken up, music and cheering alternating between federals and
confederates, the sounds receding and growing fainter and fainter as the
distance increased until they died away entirely. It was a most
remarkable and impressive demonstration under the circumstances and
lingered long in the memory of those who heard it.

Though the fighting on the 5th, 6th and 7th had been for the most part
favorable to the union troopers, it was disjointed and, therefore,
neither decisive nor as effective as it might have been. Sheridan
believed that the cavalry corps should operate as a compact
organization, a distinct entity, an integral constituent of the army,
the same as the other corps. He looked upon his relation to the general
in command as being precisely the same as that of Hancock, Sedgwick or
Warren, and insisted that orders to the cavalry should be given through
the cavalry corps commander just as orders to the Second corps were
given through General Hancock. He could not bring himself to consent to
be a mere staff officer dangling at the heels of General Meade, but
conceived himself to be an actual commander, not in name only but in

Proceeding on this theory he issued orders to the various division
commanders to move at daylight on the morning of May 8, and cooperate
with each other under his personal direction in a plan which he had
devised to seize Spottsylvania Courthouse in advance of Lee's infantry.
They were to advance on converging roads in such a manner as to arrive
successively but to support each other and open a way for the infantry
columns. Wilson crossed Corbin's bridge, charged through the town
driving out some of Fitzhugh Lee's cavalrymen and pursuing them several
miles beyond. Merritt and Gregg made a good start and if they had been
allowed to proceed would have had no difficulty in accomplishing what
Sheridan desired to have them do. But without notice to Sheridan, Meade
countermanded the orders to those two officers directing them to halt
at the bridges and not cross. The result was that Wilson was isolated,
Merritt's cavalry became inextricably entangled with Warren's infantry,
so that neither one of them reached Spottsylvania, as they were both
expected to do, Gregg was neutralized, Wilson's safety jeoparded,
Sheridan's combinations broken up without his knowledge, and the way was
left open for Lee's infantry, so that Anderson with Longstreet's corps
took advantage of the situation and drove Wilson out and took
possession--thus paving the way for Lee to form a defensive line there
instead of farther south, probably inside the defenses of Richmond. Then
it befell that a series of bloody battles had to be fought to regain
what was thus foolishly surrendered; to regain what indeed might have
been held with slight loss, if Sheridan had been let alone, and
permitted to have his way. If he had been given a free hand, and
assuming that Warren, Burnside, Sedgwick and Hancock would have carried
out their part of the program with the same zeal and skill displayed by
Sheridan, it is certain that the battle of Spottsylvania with its
"bloody angle" would never have taken place.

The affair was a fiasco, but for that no blame can be attached to either
Sheridan or Grant, unless the latter be considered blameworthy for not
directing the movements in person instead of leaving the tactics of the
battle to be worked out by Meade.

Once more, as in the Wilderness, the cavalry was drawn in. The entire
corps was massed in rear of the infantry and rendered inert. Sheridan
with his ten thousand troopers was held idle and inactive while Warren,
Sedgwick and Burnside were given the task of defeating Lee's veteran
army without Sheridan's help. All his plans were rendered nugatory. He
became satisfied that his efforts were useless. About noon he went to
Meade's headquarters and they had an interview which is one of the
famous historical episodes of the civil war. He told Meade that,
inasmuch as his plans were to be interfered with, his orders
countermanded, thus destroying the efficiency and usefulness of the
cavalry corps, he must decline to give it further orders and General
Meade could take it and run it himself, as he evidently desired to do.
He kept his poise, however, sufficiently to intimate that he would like
an opportunity to take his corps and go out after Stuart, since he
believed he could whip Stuart in a fair fight if he could have a chance.
Meade reported this conversation to Grant who told Meade to let him go
and try. Grant had confidence enough in Sheridan to believe that he
would make his word good.

The outcome of this was that the entire corps was ordered that very
afternoon to concentrate at Alrich's, on the plank road leading to
Fredericksburg, and be prepared to start at daylight on an expedition
around Lee's right flank, into the enemy's country. It was to be a
second edition, only on a much larger scale, and under a very different
commander, of the Kilpatrick raid, an account of which was given in a
previous chapter. The route selected was very much the same. But,
unlike Kilpatrick and others who had led cavalry expeditions up to that
time, and whose idea was to ride rapidly through the country and avoid
the enemy as much as possible, never fighting unless forced into it
unwillingly, Sheridan went out with the utmost deliberation, looking for
trouble--seeking it--and desiring before every other thing to find
Stuart and fight him on his native heath. The confidence which he
manifested in himself and in the prowess of his command was of its own
kind, and a distinct revelation to the army of the Potomac, in which it
had long been a settled article of belief that Stuart was invincible
and, indeed, up to that time he had been well nigh so, as Sheridan
points out in his memoirs.

In the meantime, the battle was raging around Spottsylvania. Lee's army
was getting into position, his various corps concentrating and
intrenching, and making every preparation for a new base and a stout
resistance. Grant's plans had all miscarried, thus far. Still, he had
taken up his bridges and resolved to fight it out on that line. It was
already evident that there was to be no more retreating. The officers
and men of the army of the Potomac made up their minds that they had
crossed the Rapidan and the Rappahannock for the last time and that Lee
would never be permitted to make a permanent halt outside the
intrenchments of Richmond.

When the long column was marching along the rear of the army, the
sounds of the battle going on could be distinctly heard. Hundreds of
wounded men were coming from the front, mostly so slightly injured that
they were helping themselves off the field to a place of safety where
they could receive needed treatment. It filled us with astonishment to
see the number of them. The official records show that Grant lost more
than ten thousand men in the series of battles around Spottsylvania. It
seemed wicked to take ten thousand men well mounted and equipped away
from the army at such a time as that. Queer ideas Meade had. And queerer
still that Grant should have yielded to him in a matter of such vital
importance. And the men that Sheridan was taking away, were the very
same troops with whom he broke Early's flank at Winchester; and who
stood like a stone wall in the way of Early's advance at Cedar Creek
after two corps of infantry had been routed, only a few months later.
Just imagine for a moment what might have been the result if Sheridan
had been permitted to make the same use of his cavalry in the Wilderness
or at Spottsylvania which he made of it at Winchester and Cedar Creek.

We camped at Alrich's for the night. And it was Sunday night. It will be
remembered that the Kilpatrick expedition left Stevensburg on Sunday
night. Three days' rations were drawn and issued to the men. There was
but one-half of one day's ration of grain for the horses. So it was
settled that our animals would have to depend on the country for their
forage. The force thus assembled consisted of three divisions--about
ten thousand troopers--under Merritt, Gregg and Wilson--seven brigades
commanded by Custer, Devin, Gibbs, Davies, Irvin Gregg, McIntosh and
Chapman. These were all veteran officers, often tried and never found
wanting. Of these brigade commanders, two, Custer and Davies, held the
rank of brigadier general; Devin was colonel of the Sixth New York;
Gibbs of the First New York dragoons; Gregg of the Sixteenth
Pennsylvania; McIntosh of the Third Pennsylvania; Chapman of the Third

There were six batteries of artillery, all regulars but one--the Sixth
New York independent--Captain J.W. Martin. Pennington was still with the
Third division, as was the First Vermont cavalry also. The four Michigan
regiments were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Peter Stagg, Colonel
Russell A. Alger, Major James H. Kidd and Major Henry W. Granger,

The movement began at an early hour. The start was made long before
daylight. General Custer, who was to lead, ordered that the Sixth
Michigan move out first and thus it fell to my lot to be in the van at
the outset of that historic expedition. A guide was furnished, with
directions that the route taken be by the plank road to Tabernacle
church, thence to the Telegraph road running from Fredericksburg to
Richmond, then due south toward Thornburg. The long column wound its way
slowly out of the wilderness on a single road, marching by fours,
Merritt in front, Gregg in rear, Wilson in the centre--seven brigades
and six batteries--beyond doubt the most superb force of mounted men
that ever had been assembled under one leader on this continent, and a
more formidable body of horse than had been seen in that war on either
side, up to that time, or was ever seen afterwards. The column when
stretched out like a huge snake was thirteen miles in length, so that
when the last of Gregg's regiments turned south on the Telegraph road,
the head of Custer's brigade must have been nearing Chilesburg.

The night was clear and quiet; the air was soft and refreshing. To the
right the two great armies were sleeping. There was no note of bugle, no
boom of cannon, no crack of rifle to disturb the tranquility of the
night. As the dawn approached the baying of dogs in the distance gave
notice that the echoes of the march would soon reach the ears of the
enemy's outposts.

But the morning was far advanced, the head of column well on its way
past the right flank of Lee's army, when the first hostile patrols were
encountered. At a crossroad leading to the right a small force of
cavalry made its appearance. It was put to flight by Captain Birge with
troop A. At this point troop E, Captain A.E. Tower, was sent to the
front as advance guard, Sergeant M.E. Avery with eight men going ahead
with orders to charge any enemy that appeared on the road, the troop to
follow him closely and the regiment to support the troop. General Custer
with his staff and escort rode close up to the rear of the regiment.
Behind him came the other Michigan regiments, Devin's and Gibbs's
brigades, then Chapman, McIntosh, Irvin Gregg, and Davies in succession.
Davies was to look out for the rear. Thus the latter, who led the
Kilpatrick expedition, found his position reversed on this. The
responsibility was great and he met it with his accustomed courage and
ability. Davies was one of the few men who early in the war found his
niche and stuck to it. He was an ideal general of brigade; and he kept
his place as such without a check until the war closed.

[Illustration: ANGELO E. TOWER]

To those of us who had been with Kilpatrick but a short two months
before the contrast presented by a mental comparison of Sheridan's
manner of conducting a march with that of his predecessor was most
marked and suggestive. This movement was at a slow walk, deliberate and
by easy stages. So leisurely was it that it did not tax the endurance of
men or horses. There was a steadiness about it that calmed the nerves,
strengthened self-reliance, and inspired confidence. It was a bold
challenge for the confederates to come out and fight a duel to the
finish. That they would be compelled to take up the gage thus thrown
down there was no shadow of doubt.

The advance guard was kept active in the pursuit of confederate scouts
and pickets, small bodies of whom were constantly appearing in front or
hovering on the flanks. Before reaching the point where the road
leading to Beaver Dam was to be taken, the guide, either by ignorance
or design, misled Avery and his men and took them to the eastward. Avery
suspecting something wrong put a halter around the guide's neck and
started to swing him up to the limb of a tree. He immediately discovered
his mistake and a trooper was sent with word to take the other road, who
reached the intersection just as the head of column did, so there was
not a moment's delay. Avery soon came in with a squad of prisoners who
with the guide were turned over to the provost guard. After reaching
Chilesburg we were on the same road over which we marched with
Kilpatrick and needed no guide. The confederate prisoners looked with
astonishment upon this big body of cavalry which had stolen into their
territory like a thief in the night, unexpected and unannounced.

During the day, as long as I had the advance, Captain Craig Wadsworth of
Sheridan's staff rode by my side to represent and report to his chief.
No very important incident happened, but the weather was pleasant, the
air was exhilarating, the companionship was congenial, and there was
sufficient of excitement to make it interesting. Things were kept
moving, and it was very enjoyable, as service with the advance of a
marching column always is.

Late in the afternoon we passed Chilesburg and the country began to have
a familiar look. It was not yet dark when we crossed the North Anna
river at Anderson's bridge and the First division prepared to bivouac
on the south side. Gregg and Wilson went into camp for the night north
of the river.

After crossing the river, Custer was ordered to proceed with his brigade
to Beaver Dam station. Here the First Michigan was given the advance,
Major Melvin Brewer with one battalion as advance guard. The Sixth
followed the First. Otherwise the order of march was the same as during
the day. A mile or so before reaching Beaver Dam, Brewer came upon
several hundred union prisoners who were being hurried under the escort
of confederate infantry to the station, where trains were waiting to
convey them to Richmond. His appearance, of course, resulted in the
release of the prisoners, those of their guards who did not succeed in
escaping by running away in the woods being captured. The engineers
began to sound their locomotive whistles, as a signal for the
confederate escort to hurry up with their prisoners, and Brewer followed
by the First and Sixth dashed into the station before the presence of
the Michiganders was suspected, taking them by surprise and capturing
the two locomotives with their trains. In a few minutes Custer with the
entire brigade was on the ground and it was found that, besides the
trains, he had captured an immense quantity of commissary, medical, and
other stores belonging to Lee's supply departments and which included
nearly all his medical supplies. Everything that could not be carried
away was destroyed. While this destruction was going on some
confederates made their appearance in the adjacent woods and opened
fire but they were driven away without much trouble. This must have been
a very severe loss to the confederates.

The brigade then marched away and rejoined the division, every trooper
having his horse loaded to the limit with such supplies as he thought he
could use. General Merritt in his official report refers to this
destruction of property as a mistake and characterizes the action as
"gaucherie." It is, however, quite certain that the only way to have
saved the supplies for issue to the corps would have been to move the
division to Beaver Dam that night, for Stuart was concentrating his
force at that point and might have been able to reclaim a portion of
them if they had not been destroyed. At all events, Custer was on the
ground and Merritt was not. Custer's action must have been approved by
his judgment.

Early on the morning of May 10 the march was resumed by the Negrofoot
road toward Groundsquirrel bridge across the South Anna river. It was
even more leisurely than on the day before. Flankers were thrown out in
both directions. The long column of fours thus proceeded slowly by the
road while to the right and to the left, about 500 yards out, were
parallel columns of flankers, marching by file, thus assuring that
should the enemy attack either flank, it was only necessary to wheel by
fours in that direction to be in line of battle with a very strong line
of skirmishers well out in front.

But Stuart did not attack. He seems on that morning to have begun to
comprehend Sheridan's plan which was no doubt then sufficiently puzzling
but, as we can see now, very simple. In a word, a slow and steady march,
straight toward the confederate capital, all the time in position to
accept battle should Stuart offer it. If he should not, to hold to the
unyielding tenor of his purpose, and with exasperating persistence
continue to invite it. Stuart had turned off toward the east and was
making a forced march with Fitzhugh Lee's division, consisting of the
brigades of Lomax and Wickham, Gordan's brigade still hanging on to the
rear of Sheridan's column. Our column made the march of eighteen miles
to Groundsquirrel bridge without molestation and camped there that night
on the south side of the river. Stuart after a much longer march went
into camp at Hanover Junction. At one o'clock in the morning May 11 he
moved out toward Yellow Tavern, arriving there at about ten o'clock in
the forenoon, before Sheridan's advance, which was headed in the same
direction, made its appearance. Stuart had thus by a long and hard march
brought his command where it could interpose between the Union cavalry
and Richmond. He seems, however, to have been halting between two
opinions--whether to form squarely across Sheridan's front or to hold
his position on the flank until near enough to Richmond to be within
reach of reinforcements from the troops that were being hurried into the
city from the south to aid in the defense. He appears to have chosen
the latter alternative, for he formed his command in a line running
north and south, facing west, Wickham on the right, Lomax on the left
with batteries near both his right and left flanks. The left of his line
crossed the Telegraph road in front of Yellow Tavern where was quite an
elevated piece of ground on which across the road was a battery well
stationed and well manned. His men, however, must have been pretty well
exhausted by the long march.

Yellow Tavern, which gave its name to the battle that ensued, is a
hamlet at the junction of the Telegraph and Old Mountain roads, about
six miles north of Richmond, where the first named road coalesces and
becomes the Brook Turnpike, as I understand it. The Old Mountain road
comes down from the northwest, the Telegraph road from the east of
north. Sheridan struck the former at Allen's Station on the
Fredericksburg railroad and followed it to Yellow Tavern. The Reserve
brigade reached that place a little before noon and finding Stuart in
possession immediately began skirmishing. Devin came up next and was put
on the line to reinforce Gibbs. When Custer's brigade came up pretty
sharp skirmish firing could be heard in front. Merritt was in charge and
the battle was on. Stuart had dismounted his entire force and formed
them in a very strong defensive position on a commanding ridge beyond
the tavern. Merritt had dismounted a portion of Gibbs's and Devin's
commands and was feeling of Stuart's position. Custer's regiments as
they successively arrived were massed mounted in column of battalions
on the right of the road, in a field, thus clearing the road. The march
that day had been an easy one, the rest the night before had been
complete, and never were men and horses in better condition or spirits
for battle than were Sheridan's troopers.

[Illustration: PHILIP H. SHERIDAN]

Then there was an anxious pause. Glancing back I saw that we were at the
rear of the division. Down the road about 100 yards a column of cavalry
was approaching very slowly. Something at the head of the column
attracted my particular attention and in a moment I made out that it was
a general's battle flag. But I did not recognize it as one that I had
seen before. There were a good many staff officers and a pretty large
escort. As they came opposite the regiment, the officer at the head
looked back and saw that the flag was hanging limp around the staff,
there not being air enough stirring to make it float out. He noted this
and said to the color bearer, "Shake out those colors so they can be
seen." The voice was mild and agreeable. The color-bearer did as
directed and the general looked our way with a keen glance that was
characteristic and took in every detail. Then instantly I knew who he
was. I saluted and said, "Men, General Sheridan," and they gave him a

That was the first time I had seen Sheridan except as I "looked toward"
him when passing in review. One may do a good deal of service, even be
in many skirmishes and battles without getting a good look at the corps
commander, much less the commander of the army. There was nothing about
Sheridan's appearance at first glance to mark him as the principal
figure in the scene. Except for the fact that he rode in front one might
have mistaken one of the other officers for chief. But close inspection
easily singled him out. He was well mounted and sat his horse like a
real cavalryman. Though short in stature he did not appear so on
horseback. His stirrups were high up, the shortness being of leg and not
of trunk. He wore a peculiar style of hat not like that of any other
officer. He was square of shoulder and there was plenty of room for the
display of a major general's buttons on his broad chest. His face was
strong, with a firm jaw, a keen eye, and extraordinary firmness in every
lineament. In his manner there was an alertness, evinced rather in look
than in movement. Nothing escaped his eye, which was brilliant and
searching and at the same time emitted flashes of kindly good nature.
When riding among or past his troopers, he had a way of casting quick,
comprehensive glances to the right and left and in all directions. He
overlooked nothing. One had a feeling that he was under close and
critical observation, that Sheridan had his eye on him, was mentally
taking his measure and would remember and recognize him the next time.
No introduction was needed.

It would be as difficult to describe the exact physical traits that
marked Sheridan's personality as to make a list of the characteristic
mental attributes that distinguished him from others. There were
perhaps no special, single, salient points. At least none were
abnormally developed. In making an estimate of the man it was the
ensemble of his qualities that had to be considered. He had to be taken
"all in all." So taken, he was Sheridan. He was not another, or like
another. There was no soldier of the civil war with whom he fairly can
be compared with justice to either. As a tactician on the field of
battle he had no equal, with the possible exception of "Stonewall"
Jackson. In this respect he to my mind more nearly resembled John
Churchill, the great duke of Marlborough, than any other historical
character of modern times of whom I have any knowledge. If he had not
the spark of genius, he came very near to having it. This is a personal
judgment put down here, the writer trusts, with becoming modesty and
with no desire to put himself forward as a military critic.

Sheridan was modest as he was brave, reticent of his plans, not inclined
to exploit his own merits, and he did not wear his heart or his mind
upon his sleeve. His inmost thoughts were his own. What impressed us at
this first sight of him was his calm, unruffled demeanor, his freedom
from excitement, his poise, his apparently absolute confidence in
himself and his troops, his masterful command of the situation. He rode
away toward the front as quietly as he had come from the rear, with no
blare of bugles, no brandishing of swords, no shouting of orders, no
galloping of horses. In his bearing was the assurance that he was going
to accomplish what he had pledged himself to do. He had found Stuart and
was leisurely going forward to see for himself, to make an analysis of
his adversary's position, and, so far as necessary, to give personal
direction to the coming conflict. But he was in no hurry about it and
there was in his face and manner no hint of doubt or inquietude. The
outcome was to him a foregone conclusion.

Such was our chief and such was the beginning of the battle from which
dates his fame as a cavalry leader and independent commander of the
first rank.

Merritt and Custer were already at the front. Experience taught us that
sharp work was at hand. It was not long delayed. The order came from
General Custer for the Fifth and Sixth to dismount to fight on foot. The
First and Seventh were held in reserve mounted. Not having visited this
battle field since that day I am unable to give a very accurate
description of its topographical features and shall not attempt to do
so. The published maps do not throw a very clear light upon the matter,
neither do the official reports. I am in doubt as to whether the
Telegraph road and Brook turnpike are synonymous terms after passing
Yellow Tavern or whether the former lies east of the latter. As I have
shown, Stuart's line ran along the Telegraph road, the right north of
Half Sink, the left on a hill near Yellow Tavern. My authority for this
is McClellan. Lomax held the left and had two pieces of artillery
posted "immediately in the road;" one piece behind them "on a hill on
the left." This would make his line extend due north and south and our
approach to attack it must have been from the west. Devin in his report
says Stuart was driven off the Brook pike to a position 500 yards east
of it. Whether that was at the beginning or near the close of the
engagement is not quite clear. If the former, then the line referred to
by Major McClellan could not have been on the Brook turnpike. I shall
have to deal in general terms, therefore, and not be as specific and
lucid as I would like to be in describing Custer's part in the battle.

Just where the Michigan regiments were posted at the time they were
ordered into the fight I cannot say. They came down toward Yellow Tavern
on the Old Mountain road and I have no recollection of crossing the
pike. It seems to me that they must have been west of it. We were moved
across the road, from where stationed when Sheridan came up, and
deployed in the woods, the Sixth on the right of the Fifth. The line
advanced and presently reached a fence in front of which was a field.
Beyond the field, and to the left of it were woods. In the woods beyond
the field were the dismounted confederate cavalry. Skirmishing began
immediately across the field, each line behind a fence. After a little,
Captain Bayles of Custer's staff came from the right with an order to
move the Sixth by the left flank and take position on the left of the
Fifth. Just as he was giving this order a great shout arose to the left
and, looking in that direction, we saw that the entire of the Fifth
cavalry was climbing the fence and starting for a charge across the
field. The Sixth instantly caught the infection and, before I could say
"aye, yes or no," both regiments were yelling and firing and advancing
on the enemy in the opposite woods. "You can't stop them," said Bayles.
I agreed and in a moment had joined my brave men who were leading me
instead of my leading them.

The wisdom and necessity of Custer's order was, however, immediately
apparent. Some confederates lurking in the woods to the left, opened
fire into the flank of the Fifth Michigan, which for the moment
threatened serious consequences. The line halted and there was temporary
confusion. Quicker than it takes to tell it, Custer had appeared in the
field mounted. One of Alger's battalions changed front and charged into
the woods on the left and the two regiments advanced and drove the enemy
clear through and out of the woods in front. Barring the temporary
check, it was a most gallant and successful affair, for which Custer
gave the two regiments full credit in his official report.

The line was then reformed with the Sixth on the left of the Fifth. At
that time this was the extreme left of the First division and of the
line of battle as well, the Third division not yet having become

It was then found that the force with which we had been fighting had
retreated to their main line of battle, along a high ridge or bluff. In
front of this bluff was a thin skirt of timber and a fence. Here
Fitzhugh Lee's sharpshooters were posted in a very strong position
indeed. Between the ridge and the edge of the woods where our line was
halted was a big field not less than four hundred yards across, sloping
down from their position to ours. To attack the confederate line in
front it would be necessary to advance across that field and up that
slope. It looked difficult. The confederate artillery was stationed to
the right front on the extreme left of their line. We were confronted by
Lomax's brigade. Beyond the right of the Fifth Michigan, Custer had the
First Michigan, Colonel Stagg; the Seventh, Major Granger; and First
Vermont, Lieutenant Colonel Preston; all mounted. They were across a
road which ran at right angles with the line of battle, and in the
direction of Lomax's battery.

As soon as our line appeared in the open--indeed, before it left the
woods the confederate artillery opened with shell and shrapnel; the
carbineers and sharpshooters joined with zest in the fray and the man
who thinks they did not succeed in making that part of the neighborhood
around Yellow Tavern an uncomfortably hot place, was not there at the
time. It was necessary to take advantage of every chance for shelter.
Every Wolverine who exposed himself was made a target of. Many men were
hit by bullets. The artillerists did not time their fuses right and most
of the damage was done to the trees behind us, or they were on too high
ground to get the range. The line gradually advanced, creeping forward
little by little until it reached a partial shelter afforded by the
contour of the ground where it sloped sharply into a sort of ditch that
was cut through the field parallel with the line of battle. Here it
halted and the battle went on in this manner for a long time, possibly
for hours. In the meantime, Chapman's brigade, of Wilson's division, had
come into position on the left of the Sixth Michigan, thus prolonging
the line and protecting our flank which till then had been in the air
and much exposed. Off to the left, in front of Chapman, the lay of the
land was more favorable. There were woods, the ground was more nearly
level. The confederate position was not so difficult of approach and
gradually his left began to swing forward and threaten the right flank
of Lomax's position or, more accurately, the confederate center.

Thus for several hours the lines faced each other without decisive
results. At length Sheridan determined upon an assault by mounted troops
supported by those on foot. To Custer was assigned the important duty of
leading this assault. It was toward four o'clock when Sergeant Avery who
had as quick an intuitive perception in battle as any man I ever knew,
and whose judgment was always excellent and his suggestions of great
value, called my attention to what appeared to be preparations for a
mounted charge over to the right where General Custer was with his
colors. "They are going to charge, major," said Avery, "and the instant
they start will be the time for us to advance." That is what was done.
The regiment forming for the charge was the First Michigan. Two
squadrons under Major Howrigan led the vanguard. The bugles sounded,
"forward," "trot," "charge." Heaton's battery farther over was served
with splendid effect. Custer's staff passed the word along for the
entire line to advance. There was no hesitation. The Fifth and Sixth and
Chapman's regiments sprang forward with a shout. There was a gallant
advance up the slope. Fitzhugh Lee's men held on grimly as long as they
could, but there was no check to the charge. Howrigan kept on till he
was among the guns sabering the cannoneers, capturing the two pieces in
the road with their limbers and ammunition. In a few minutes Custer and
Chapman were in possession of the ridge and the entire line of the enemy
was in full retreat. Back about 500 yards the enemy attempted to make a
stand and the Seventh Michigan was ordered to charge. This charge led by
Major Granger resulted in his death. He was killed just before he
reached the enemy's position, causing a temporary repulse of the
regiment, but the entire line came on and the enemy was put to flight in
all directions.

Stuart was mortally wounded while trying in person with a few mounted
men of the First Virginia cavalry to stem the tide of defeat which set
in when the First Michigan captured the battery. There is a controversy
as to how he met his death. Colonel Alger claimed that Stuart was
killed by a shot from one of the men on his dismounted line. Captain
Dorsey, of the First Virginia, who was riding with Stuart at the time,
quoted by Major McClellan, says that he was killed by a pistol shot
fired by one of the men who had been unhorsed in the charge on the
battery and who was running out on foot. In that case it must have been
a First Michigan[25] man who, very likely, paid the penalty of his life
for his temerity. It does not matter. One thing is certain. Stuart's
death befell in front of Custer's Michigan brigade and it was a Michigan
man who fired the fatal shot.

Stuart was taken to Richmond, where he died, leaving behind him a record
in which those who wore the blue and those who wore the gray take equal
pride. He was a typical American cavalryman--one of the very foremost of
American cavaliers and it is a privilege for one of those who stood in
the line in front of which he fell in his last fight to pay a sincere
tribute to his memory as a soldier and a man.

It fell to that other illustrious Virginian--Fitzhugh Lee--to gather up
the fragments and make such resistance as he could to the further march
of the union cavalry.



Daylight, May 12, found the entire corps concentrated south of the
Meadow bridges, on the broad table-land between Richmond and the
Chickahominy river. Sheridan still kept his forces well together. Having
accomplished the main purpose of the expedition--the defeat of
Stuart--it remained for him to assure the safety of his command, to
husband its strength, to maneuver it so as to be at all times ready for
battle, offensive or defensive as the exigency might demand.

The next stage in the march of his ten thousand was Haxall's Landing, on
the James river, where supplies would be awaiting him. By all the
tokens, he was in a tight place, from which all his great dexterity and
daring were needed to escape with credit and without loss. His plan was
to pass between the fortifications and the river to Fair Oaks, moving
thence to his destination. Its futility was demonstrated when Wilson's
division attempted to move across the Mechanicsville road. It was found
that all the ground was completely swept by the heavy guns of the
defenses, while a strong force of infantry interposed. Reinforcements
had been poured into Richmond, where the alarm was genuine, and it was
clear that an attempt to enter the city or to obtain egress in the
direction of Fair Oaks would bring on a bloody battle of doubtful issue.
Either course would at least, invite discomfiture. To return by the
Brook turnpike or Telegraph road, even if that course could have been
considered as an alternative, was alike impracticable. The cavalry force
which had been trailing the command all the way from the North Anna
river still maintained a menacing attitude in that direction. The only
gateway out, either to advance or retreat, was by the Meadow Bridge,
over the Chickahominy, unless fords could be found. The river had to be
crossed and, owing to the recent rains it was swollen.

All the signs pointed to a sortie in force from the fortifications. The
defenders emboldened by the hope, if not belief, that they had Sheridan
in a trap; inspired by the feeling that they were fighting for their
homes, their capital and their cause; and encouraged by the presence at
the front of the president of the confederacy--Jefferson Davis--were
very bold and defiant, and even the lower officers and enlisted men knew
that it was a question of hours at most when they would march out in
warlike array and offer battle. Sheridan decided to await and accept it.
Indeed, he was forced to it whether he would or not, as the sequel

He sent for Custer and ordered him to take his brigade and open the way
across the Chickahominy at the Meadow bridges. Where work was to be done
that had to be done, and done quickly and surely, Custer was apt to be
called upon. The vital point of the entire affair was to make absolutely
sure of that crossing, and Sheridan turned confidently to the "boy
general" as he had done before and often would do again.

The Michigan men were just beginning to stretch their limbs for a little
rest--having fought all day the day before and ridden all night--when
called upon to mount. They had not had time to prepare their breakfast
or cook their coffee, but they rode cheerfully forward for the
performance of the duty assigned to them, appreciating highly the honor
of being chosen.

The road leading to Meadow bridge descended to low ground and across the
river bottoms. The wagon road and bridge were at the same level as the
bottoms. Some distance below was the railroad. The grade for the track
must have been at least twenty feet above the level where it reached the
bridge which spanned the river. So the approach by the railroad was
along the embankment.

When Custer reached the river he found that the bridge was gone. The
enemy had destroyed it. The railroad bridge alone remained. A force of
dismounted cavalry and artillery had taken a position on the other side
which commanded the crossing. Their position was not only strong but its
natural strength had been increased by breastworks. Two pieces of
artillery were posted on a slight hill less than half a mile back. In
front of the hill were the breastworks; in front of the breastworks
woods. A line of skirmishers firing from the edge of the woods kept the
pioneers from proceeding with the work.

But Custer could not be balked. His orders were imperative. He was to
make a crossing and secure a way for the entire corps to pass "at all
hazards." He ordered the Fifth and Sixth Michigan to dismount, cross by
the railroad bridge on foot and engage the enemy. The enemy's artillery
swept the bridge, and as soon as it was seen that the Michigan men were
climbing the railroad embankment to make the crossing they trained their
pieces upon it. Yet the two regiments succeeded. The Fifth led, the
Sixth followed. One man, or at most two or three, at a time, they
tip-toed from tie to tie, watching the chance to make it in the
intervals between the shells. Though these came perilously near to the
bridge none of them hit it, at least while we were crossing. They went
over and struck in the river or woods below. It looked perilous, and it
was not devoid of danger, but I do not remember that a single man was
killed or wounded while crossing. It may have been a case of poor
ammunition or poor marksmanship or both. The worst of it was the nature
of the ground was such that our artillerists could not bring their guns
to bear.

Once over, the two regiments deployed as skirmishers and advancing with
their 8-shotted Spencers, drove the confederate skirmishers back through
the woods and behind their breastworks, where we held them until a
bridge was built, which must have been for two or three hours. The
skirmishing in the woods was fierce at times, but the trees made good
cover. It was here that Lieutenant Thomas A. Edie, troop A, Sixth, was
killed by a bullet through the head. No attempt was made to assault the
breastworks. The confederates behind them, however, were kept so fully
occupied that they were unable to pay any attention to the bridge
builders, who were left unmolested to complete their work. This was the
work which the two Michigan regiments were sent over to do and they
accomplished it successfully--something for which they never received
full credit. At one stage of this fight my attention was attracted to
the coolness of a trooper, troop A, Sixth, who was having sort of a duel
with a confederate. The latter was lying down in his works, the former
behind a tree. When either one exposed any portion of his anatomy the
other would shoot. Some of the confederate's bullets grazed the tree.
The Michigan man would show his cap or something and when the other
fired, step out, take deliberate aim and return the shot, then jump
behind his natural fortress and repeat the maneuver. Finally the
confederate ceased firing and there was little doubt that a Spencer
bullet had found its mark. Making my way to the tree I asked my man his
name. His coolness and courage had much impressed me. "Charles Dean," he
replied. "Report to me when the fight is over," I said. He did so, and
from that day until the war ended he was my personal orderly. A better,
braver soldier, or a more faithful friend no man ever knew than Charles
Dean, troop A, Sixth Michigan cavalry.

After the completion of the bridge the entire division crossed over. The
Seventh Michigan, two regiments from Devin's brigade, two from
Gibbs's--which with the Fifth and Sixth Michigan made seven in all were
put on the line as reinforcements and an assault ordered. The entire
line advanced and even then it was no child's play. The confederates
fought well but were finally driven out of their works and routed.
Pursuit with dismounted men was useless. As soon as the horses could be
brought over the First Michigan and two of the Reserve brigade regiments
were sent in pursuit mounted, but were too late, most of the
confederates having made good their escape.

While this was going on, Gregg had a hard fight with the strong force of
infantry and artillery which came out full of confidence to crush
Sheridan. By a brilliant ruse he took them by surprise and whipped them
so thoroughly that they retreated within their inner fortifications,
completely discomfited, and Sheridan remained on the ground most of the
day with no one to molest or make him afraid. Gregg's fight was
characteristic of that fine officer who never failed to fill the full
measure of what was required of him. Indeed, it was one of the most
creditable actions of the war and one for which he never received full
credit. The feeling throughout the First division, at the time, I know,
was that the superb courage and steadiness of Gregg and his division
had extricated Sheridan from a grave peril. The same Gregg who, with the
help of Custer's Michigan brigade, saved the Union right at Gettysburg,
stood in the way and stopped a threatened disaster before Richmond.


After Gregg's repulse of the infantry, Custer's success in opening the
way across Meadow bridge and Merritt's rout of Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry,
the Second and Third divisions remained unmolested for the rest of the
day on the ground of the morning's operations, the First division going
to Gaines's Mills.

General Sheridan tells a story of two newsboys who came out after the
fight, with Richmond papers to sell. They did a thriving business and
when their papers were disposed of desired to return to the city. But
they were so bright and intelligent that he suspected their visit
involved other purposes than the mere selling of papers, and held them
until the command was across the river and then permitted them to go.
There is an interesting coincidence between this story and the one told
to the writer by St. George Tucker, of Richmond, and which appears on
page 259 of this volume.

Late in the afternoon the entire corps moved to Gaines's Mills and went
into camp for the night.

The march from Gaines's Mills to the James river was uneventful. When
the head of the column, on the 14th, debouched on Malvern Hill, a
gunboat in the river, mistaking us for confederate cavalry, commenced
firing with one of their big guns, and as the huge projectiles cut the
air overhead the men declared they were shooting "nail-kegs." The signal
corps intervened and stopped this dangerous pastime.

Three days were taken here for rest, recuperation, drawing and issuing
forage and rations, shoeing horses, caring for and sending away the sick
and wounded, and in every way putting the command on a field footing
again. It was a brief period of placid contentment. Satisfaction beamed
from every countenance. Complacency dwelt in every mind. The soldiers
smoked their pipes, cooked their meals, read the papers, wrote letters
to their homes, sang their songs and, around the evening camp fires,
recalled incidents, humorous, thrilling or pathetic, of the march and
battle-field. There was not a shadow on the scene.

On the 17th the camp was broken and we marched by way of Charles City
Courthouse, across the Chickahominy at Long bridge to Baltimore
Crossroads, arriving there on the evening of the 18th when another halt
was made. May 19, I was sent with the Sixth Michigan to destroy Bottom's
bridge and the railroad trestle work near it. My recollection is that
this was accomplished.

The next morning General Custer was ordered with his brigade to Hanover
Courthouse, the object being to destroy the railroad bridge across the
South Anna river, a few miles beyond. This necessitating a ride of more
than twenty miles, an early start was made. The Sixth was given the
advance and it proved to be one of the most pleasant experiences of the
campaign. The road led past Newcastle, Hanovertown and Price's; the day
was clear, there was diversity of scenery and sufficient of incident to
make it something worth remembering. No enemy was encountered until we
reached the courthouse. A small body of cavalry was there, prepared to
contest the approach of the advance guard. The officer in command of the
advance did not charge, but stopped to skirmish and the column halted.
Foght, Custer's bugler, rode up and offered to show me a way into the
station from which the confederates could be taken in flank. Accepting
his suggestion, I took the regiment and dashed through the fields to the
left and captured the station, which brought us in on the left and rear
of the force confronting the advance guard. Seeing this they took to
flight, the advance guard pursuing them for some distance. A quantity of
commissary stores were captured here, some of which were issued to the
men, the balance destroyed. The railroad track was torn up and two
trestles destroyed where the railroad crossed the creek near the
station. Custer moved his brigade back to Hanovertown and encamped for
the night. The next morning he returned to Hanover Courthouse and,
sending the First and Fifth ahead, left the Sixth and Seventh to guard
the rear. They advanced to near the South Anna river and found the
bridge guarded by infantry, cavalry and artillery, which, en route from
Richmond to Lee's army, had been stopped there for the exigency. Custer
decided not to take the risk, as he learned that a force was also moving
on his flank, and returned leisurely to Baltimore Crossroads.

One incident of the first day seems to me worth narrating. The brigade
bivouacked on a large plantation, where was a colonial house of generous
proportions. It fronted on a spacious lawn, which sloped from the house
to the highway and was fringed with handsome old spruce and Austrian
pines. In front and rear the house had broad porches. A wide hall ran
through the center of the house from one porch to the other and on
either side of the hall were well furnished rooms of ample size. In
rear, in an enclosure as broad as the house, was a well kept flower
garden. It was a typical southern home of refinement and comfort. There
were several ladies. The men were, of course, in the army. General
Custer with several of his officers called upon the ladies to pay his
respects and assure them of protection. He was received with quiet
dignity and refined courtesy and for an hour chatted with them about the
events then transpiring. They knew all the confederate cavalry leaders
and he was greatly interested in what they had to say about them. Before
his departure he left with one of the ladies a piquant and chivalric
message for his "friend Rosser," which she promised to deliver
faithfully. Custer and Rosser, in war and in peace, were animated by
the same knightly spirit. Their friendship antedated and outlived the
war. The message was received and provoked one of a similar tenor in
reply. He took especial care that no harm was done to the place and
marched away leaving it as good as he found it.

Upon our return it was found that the Second and Reserve brigades by the
most extraordinary activity and skill had succeeded in restoring the
bridge across the Pamunkey at White House on which the entire corps
crossed over May 22. May 24, Sheridan reported to General Meade at
Chesterfield station, on the Richmond and Fredericksburg railroad, north
of the North Anna river, opposite Hanover Station. The two days' march
from Aylett's was hot and dusty, and marked by nothing worth recalling,
unless it be that the road after the cavalry had passed over it was
dotted at regular intervals with the bodies of dead horses, the order
having been that when horses gave out and had to be abandoned they must
be shot.



June 26 the First and Second divisions, followed by Russell's division
of the Sixth corps started down the north bank of the Pamunkey river to
secure the crossings, Grant having determined on another movement by the
left flank, and to throw his entire army across into the territory
between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy. Feints were made that day at the
fords near Hanover Courthouse, but after dark both Torbert and Gregg,
leaving a small force on duty at each of these fords respectively,
quietly withdrew and made a night march to Dabney's Ferry opposite
Hanovertown, the First division leading. At daylight Custer in advance
reached the Ferry and the First Michigan under Colonel Stagg gallantly
forced the passage, driving away about one hundred cavalrymen who were
guarding it and making a number of them prisoners. The entire division
then crossed and moved forward through the town.

General Custer directed me to take the road from Hanovertown and push on
in advance toward Hanover Courthouse. We had gone but a mile or so when,
in the midst of a dense wood, a force which proved to be dismounted
cavalry was encountered, strongly posted behind temporary earthworks
hastily thrown up. The regiment was dismounted on the right of the road,
the First Michigan, following closely, went in on the left and the two
regiments made a vigorous attack, but met with a stubborn resistance and
did not succeed in carrying the works at once. A band was playing in
rear, indicating the presence of a brigade, at least.

Noticing that a portion of the enemy's fire came from the right, I sent
the sergeant major to the rear with word that the line ought to be
prolonged in that direction. The non commissioned officer returned and
reported that the message had been delivered to the brigade commander,
but that it was overheard by the major general commanding the division,
who exclaimed with a good deal of impatience: "Who in ---- is this who
is talking about being flanked?" I was mortified at this and resolved
never again to admit to a superior officer that the idea of being
flanked had any terrors. But General Torbert, notwithstanding, did
reinforce the line with a part of General Devin's brigade in exact
accordance with my suggestion.

Custer, however, did not wait for this, but, taking the other two
regiments of his brigade (the Fifth and Seventh Michigan) made a detour
to the left by way of Haw's Shop, and came in on the flank and rear of
the force which the First and Sixth, with Devin's help were trying to
dislodge from its strong position, and which held on tenaciously so
long as it was subjected to a front attack only. But, as soon as Custer
made his appearance on the flank, the enemy, Gordon's brigade of North
Carolinians, abandoned the earthworks and fled, the First and Sixth with
Devin's regiments promptly joining in the pursuit.

Custer's approach was heralded by an amusing incident. The band that had
been challenging us with its lips of brass stopped short in the midst of
one of its most defiant strains, and the last note of the "Bonnie Blue
Flag" had scarcely died on the air, when far to the left and front were
heard the cheery strains of "Yankee Doodle."[26] No other signal was
needed to tell of the whereabouts of our Michigan comrades, and it was
then that the whole line moved forward, only to see as it emerged into
the open, the Tar-heels of the South making swift time towards Crump's
Creek, closely followed by Custer and his Michiganders. The latter had
accomplished without loss by the flanking process what he had tried in
vain to do by the more direct method.

The charge of the Fifth and Seventh Michigan, commanded by Captain
Magoffin and Major Walker respectively, and led by General Custer in
person, was most brilliant and successful, the Seventh continuing the
pursuit for about three miles. First Sergeant Mortimer Rappelye of troop
C, Sixth, and one of his men were killed at the first fire. Rappelye
was in command of the advance guard and had been slated for a commission
which he would have received had he lived.

That night the cavalry encamped on Crump's Creek. The next day the army
was all over and Grant had taken up a new line extending from Crump's
Creek to the Totopotomoy. Still, he was uncertain of what Lee was doing
and it became necessary to find out. This led to what was one of the
most sanguinary and courageously contested cavalry engagements of the
entire war--the battle of Haw's Shop--in which Gregg and Custer with the
Second division and the Michigan brigade, unassisted, defeated most
signally, two divisions under the command of Wade Hampton in his own
person. Indeed it is not certain that it was not even a more notable
victory than that over Stuart on the right flank at Gettysburg. It was
won at a greater sacrifice of life than either Brandy Station or Yellow

After the death of Stuart, though so short a time had elapsed, the
confederate cavalry had been reorganized into three divisions, commanded
by Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and W.H.F. Lee, the first named being the
ranking officer. His division had been largely reinforced, notably by a
brigade of South Carolinians under M.C. Butler who, after the war, was
the colleague of Hampton in the United States senate. This brigade
consisted of seven large regiments, numbering in all about four
thousand men. It was a brigade that honored the state which produced
Sumter, Marion, the Rutledges and the Hamptons.

All this cavalry had joined the army of Northern Virginia and was in
position to cover the movements which Lee was making to confront the
army of the Potomac. Sheridan's corps, now that it had returned to the
army, was once more somewhat dispersed. Wilson was still north of the
Pamunkey, covering the transfer of the several infantry corps and
guarding the fords. The First division, as we have seen, led the
crossing on the 27th and was covering the front and right of the
infantry along Crump's Creek. Gregg, who had followed Torbert, was at

On the morning of May 28, Gregg was sent out by Sheridan to discover the
movements of Lee, who was skilfully masking his designs behind his
cavalry. Gregg had advanced but a short distance beyond Haw's Shop when,
in a dense wood, protected by swamps, behind breastworks of logs and
rails, and with batteries advantageously posted, he found the enemy's
cavalry dismounted and disposed in order of battle. He promptly
attacked, notwithstanding the disparity in numbers and in position,
Davies going into action first, followed by Irvin Gregg, and the entire
division was quickly engaged. Gregg was resolute, Hampton determined,
and for hours the battle was waged with the most unyielding bravery on
both sides. The list of killed and wounded was unexampled in any
other cavalry contest of the Civil war, aggregating in the Second
division alone two hundred and fifty-six officers and men. Davies's
brigade lost twenty-three officers. The First New Jersey cavalry had two
officers killed and nine wounded. The enemy's losses were even greater.

[Illustration: M.C. BUTLER]

It was an unequal contest--one division against two, two brigades
against four--with the odds in favor of the confederates. Hampton who,
in the beginning, maintained a posture of defense, began to assume a
more aggressive attitude and showed a disposition to take the offensive.
In the afternoon, towards four o'clock, he brought up Butler's brigade
to reinforce the center of his line. These troops were armed with long
range rifles and many of them had not been under fire before. This was
their first fight. They came on the field with the firm purpose to win
or die, and preferred death to defeat or surrender, as the sequel

Then, and not till then, it began to look as though the hitherto
invincible Gregg might have the worst of it. There was danger that the
center of his line would be compelled to yield. It was in front of this
new and valorous foe that the First New Jersey suffered its fearful
losses. The attack was such that only the bravest men could have
withstood it.

At this critical juncture, Sheridan ordered Custer to the front to
reinforce Gregg. It was time. The Michigan men were having a rest,
thinking it was their turn for "a day off." But, as in the "Wilderness"
and at Meadow Bridge, they were instantly in the saddle and en route.
Marching by fours along a country road, hearing the sounds, but not yet
within sight of the conflict, lines of federal infantry were seen
marshaled for action, and a knot of officers of high rank gazing toward
the front. Passing to the right of these, the column turned to the right
into the road leading past Haw's Shop, and through the woods where the
two lines were fiercely contending, and which road bisected the
battle-field. An impressive scene came into view. Beyond the wood, less
than a mile away, which extended on both sides of the road, one of
Hampton's batteries was firing shell with the utmost rapidity. These
shells were exploding both in the woods and in a broad plain behind them
and to the right of the column as it advanced. Hundreds of non
combatants were fleeing to the rear across this open space. The woods,
like a screen, hid the battery from view. Only the screaming and
exploding shells could be seen. When the head of the Michigan column
came into their line of vision, the confederate cannoneers trained one
of their guns on the road and the shells began to explode in our faces.
A right oblique movement took the column out of range.

Gregg's men had been gradually forced back to the very edge of the
woods, and were hanging on to this last chance for cover with bull dog
tenacity. The enemy were pressing them hard and, apparently conscious
that reinforcements for them were coming, seemed to redouble their fire
both of artillery and small arms. It was a fearful and awe inspiring

Custer lost no time. Massing the brigade close behind Gregg's line of
battle he dismounted it to fight on foot. Every fourth man remained with
the horses which were sent back out of danger. The line formed in two
ranks like infantry. The Sixth was to the right, its left resting on the
road; the Seventh to the left, its right on the road. The First formed
on the right of the Sixth, the Fifth on the left of the Seventh. The
time for action had come. It was necessary to do one thing or the other.
No troops in the world could have been held there long without going
forward or back.

Custer, accompanied by a single aide, rode along the line from left to
right, encouraging the men by his example and his words. Passing the
road he dashed out in front of the Sixth and taking his hat in his hand,
waved it around his head and called for three cheers. The cheers were
given and then the line rushed forward. Custer quickly changed to the
flank but, though thus rashly exposing himself, with his usual luck, he
escaped without a scratch. Christiancy, his aide, had his horse shot
under him and received two wounds, one a severe one through the thigh.

Gregg's men permitted the Michigan men to pass. In a moment the
Wolverines and the Palmetto men were face to face and the lines very
close. Michigan had Spencers. South Carolina, Enfields. Spencers were
repeaters, Enfields were not. The din of the battle was deafening. It
was heard distinctly back where the infantry was formed and where Grant,
Meade, and Sheridan anxiously were awaiting the event. The Spencers were
used with deadly effect. The South Carolinians, the most stubborn foe
Michigan ever had met in battle, refused to yield and filled the air
with lead from the muzzles of their long range guns as fast as they
could load and fire. The sound of their bullets sweeping the undergrowth
was like that of hot flames crackling through dry timber. The trees were
riddled. Men began to fall. Miles Hutchinson, son of my father's
foreman, who had left home to go to the war with me, fell dead at my
side. "Jimmie" Brown, the handsome and brave sergeant, dropped his piece
and falling, died instantly. Corporal Seth Carey met his fate like a
soldier, his face to the foe. A member of troop H, shot through the
breast, staggered toward me and exclaiming, "Oh, major," fell literally
into my arms, leaving the stains of his blood upon my breast.

This strenuous work did not last long. It may have been ten minutes from
start to finish--from the time we received the South Carolinians' fire
till the worst of it was over and they began to give way. But, in that
brief ten minutes eighteen brave men in the ranks of the Sixth Michigan
had been either killed or mortally wounded; and as many more were
wounded but not fatally. The enemy suffered even more severely. The
brigade lost forty-one killed--eighteen in the Sixth; thirteen in the
Fifth; five in the First and five in the Seventh. The losses of the
Fifth in officers and men wounded but not fatally were larger than those
in the Sixth, the total of killed and wounded aggregating something like
fifty in the regiment. The First, though it did not meet with so sturdy
a resistance in its immediate front, was able to work around the flank
of the enemy, thus materially aiding in breaking their spirit and
putting them to rout.

Some of the South Carolina men exhibited a foolhardy courage never seen
anywhere else so far as my knowledge extends.

"Surrender," said Sergeant Avery to one of them who had just discharged
his piece and was holding it still smoking in his hands.

"I have no orders to surrender, ---- you," returned the undaunted

He surrendered, not his person, but his life. Such a fate befell more
than one of those intrepid heroes. It was a pity but it was war and "war
is hell." The enemy's line, at that time, had been driven beyond the
woods into a clearing where was a house. While crossing a shallow ravine
before reaching the house it was noticed that shots were coming from the
rear. An officer with a troop was ordered back to investigate. It was
found that at the first onset the regiment had obliqued slightly to the
right, thus leaving an interval between the left flank and the road in
consequence of which about fifteen confederates had been passed
unnoticed. Some of them had the temerity to begin giving us a fire in
the rear. They were all made prisoners.

The force in front was driven from the field, leaving their dead and
wounded. Eighty-three dead confederates were counted by those whose duty
it was to bury the dead and care for the wounded in the field and woods
through which the Michigan men charged. Those who were killed in front
of the Sixth Michigan were South Carolinians from Charleston and
evidently of the best blood in that historic city and commonwealth. They
were well dressed and their apparel, from outer garments to the white
stockings on their feet, was clean and of fine texture. In their pockets
they had plenty of silver money.

In this engagement, as well as in that at Hanovertown the day before,
the Fifth Michigan was commanded by Captain Magoffin, Colonel Alger
having remained at White House for a few days on account of illness.
Colonel Stagg and Major Alexander Walker led the First and Seventh,

General Sheridan narrates that when he called upon Mr. Lincoln in
Washington the president made a facetious reference to General Hooker's
alleged fling at the cavalry, when he asked: "Who ever saw a dead
cavalryman?" It is perhaps doubtful whether Hooker uttered so pointless
a saying, devoid alike of sense and of wit. If such a question was ever
seriously propounded by him or by any one else, its sufficient answer
could have been found upon the battle field of Haw's Shop. And not there
alone. The First Michigan cavalry had sixteen killed including its
colonel at the second Bull Run and twelve at Gettysburg. The Fifth
Michigan lost fifteen killed at Gettysburg; the Sixth Michigan
twenty-four at Falling Waters and the Seventh Michigan twenty-two at
Gettysburg--all of these before General Sheridan had that interview with
Mr. Lincoln in the White House. This record was enough of itself, to
render the cavalry immune to ironical disparagement. If there were any
honest doubts as to the efficiency and fighting qualities of the Potomac
cavalry, they were dissipated by the campaign of 1864. After Todd's
Tavern, Yellow Tavern, Haw's Shop, Cold Harbor and Trevilian Station no
slurring remarks aimed at the cavalry were heard. Its prestige was
acknowledged in and out of the army by all those who had knowledge of
its achievements and were willing to give credit where credit was

An all night march followed the battle, after the dead had been buried
and the wounded cared for. The morning of May 29 found the two divisions
in the neighborhood of Old Church and thence in the afternoon of May 30
Custer and Merritt marched out toward Cold Harbor, the Reserve brigade
in advance, to reinforce Devin, who was having a hot fight at Matadequin
Creek with Butler's South Carolinans, posted on the opposite side in a
strong position. The entire division became engaged, the fighting being
mostly dismounted and the opposing force was driven in great confusion
from the field. The Sixth Michigan was held in reserve mounted and
expected to be ordered in for a mounted charge but for some unexplained
reason the order did not come. The First, Fifth and Seventh were in the
thickest of it and rendered excellent service. The pursuit was kept up
for several miles and the enemy retreated to Cold Harbor, leaving his
dead and wounded on the field, as at Haw's Shop. Butler's men behaved
with great gallantry, but were ready to surrender when the logic of the
situation demanded it. They made no such resistance as in the former

May 31, in the afternoon, the First division advanced on Cold Harbor,
Merritt in advance, on the road leading from Old Church. Custer followed
Merritt. Devin was sent by another road to the left with the intention
of having him attack in flank the force which the other two brigades
were engaging in front. The Sixth Michigan moved by a country road to
make connection between the First and Second brigades. Gregg's division
followed Torbert as a reserve and support but did not become engaged.

Cold Harbor was a very important strategic point, as can be seen by a
glance at the map, roads radiating from it in all directions. It was
strongly held by Hampton's and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, supported by a
brigade of infantry. They had thrown up breastworks of rails and logs,
and made preparations for a stout resistance.

I reached the intersection of the country road with the left hand road
before Devin appeared. My orders being to connect with him, I awaited
his arrival, sending a few men out to keep watch in both directions.
When Devin's advance came up they saw these men and appeared to be
suspicious of them, and did not advance very promptly. As soon as I
could I gave them to understand who we were and what we were there for.
Devin then moved along the main road and the Sixth deployed through the
woods until touch with its own brigade was obtained.

In the meantime, a hard fight was in progress. Torbert, not hearing from
Devin, changed his plans and attacked the enemy's left flank with the
Reserve brigade and the First and Fifth Michigan. This was most
skilfully and successfully done. The flanking movement was led by the
First and Second United States, and the Fifth Michigan, still under
Captain Magoffin. The final blow was struck by Major Melvin Brewer with
one battalion of the First Michigan, whose charge mounted at the
critical moment decided the fate of the field. The enemy who had been
putting up a very hard fight did not await this charge but threw down
their arms and fled, the pursuit being followed up to a point a mile and
a half beyond the town. The Sixth took little part except to fill the
gap between Custer and Devin. The latter found the confederate right
flank too strong to circumvent, and added one more to the long list of
lost opportunities.

Thus, Cold Harbor, the key to the maneuvers of the two armies, came into
possession of the Union cavalry, but there was no infantry support
within ten miles, the result having been unexpected by Meade, and
Sheridan decided that it would not be safe for his command to try to
hold it, unsupported. He, however, notified the general of the army what
he had done and withdrew his cavalry after dark to the position of the
night before. Grant, realizing the importance of the capture, directed
Sheridan to return and hold Cold Harbor at all hazards, until the
infantry could get up. The march was retraced and, reaching the position
before daylight, the breastworks which the enemy had thrown up were
brought into service, strengthened as much as possible and the division
dismounted placed in line behind them. Ammunition boxes were distributed
on the ground by the side of the men so they could load and fire with
great rapidity. This was a strong line in single rank deployed thick
along the barricade of rails. Behind the line only a few yards away were
twelve pieces of artillery equally supplied with ammunition. The brigade
was thus in readiness to make a desperate resistance to any attack that
might be made. The only mounted man on the line was General Custer, who
rode back and forth giving his orders. The Sixth was lying down behind
the rails and directly in front of the artillery, the pieces being so
disposed as to fire over our heads. I do not remember any other
engagement in which so many pieces of artillery were posted directly on
a skirmish line with no line of battle behind it and no reserves. It was
an expedient born of a desperate emergency.

In front of the line was open ground. Two hundred yards to the front
were woods. In the woods the confederate infantry was in bivouac.
Kershaw's division was in front of the Michigan brigade. Before the
first streaks of dawn began to appear in the east, their bugles sounded
the reveille, and there was immediate commotion in the confederate
camps. So close to us were they that the commands of the officers could
be heard distinctly. Soon after daybreak an attack was made on the right
of the line. As soon as the enemy emerged from the woods General Custer
ordered all the twelve pieces of artillery to fire with shell and
canister which they did most effectively. So furious was the fire that
the confederate infantry did not dare to come out of the woods in front
of Custer's left where the Sixth was, the artillery and the fire from
the Spencers from behind the rails keeping them back. An attempt was
made to charge the part of the line where the First Michigan was posted
but each time it was repulsed. Here Captain Brevoort, one of the
bravest and best officers in the brigade, was killed. Captain William M.
Heazlett, another fine officer, was wounded. They both belonged to the
First Michigan.

During the progress of the engagement, when the first attempt of
Kershaw's infantry to come out of the woods had been repulsed, and there
was a temporary suspension of the firing, General Custer riding along
the line, in rear of the artillery, noticed that several of us who were
lying down behind the barricade, were directly in front of one of the
brass pieces. Though these pieces were firing over our heads, they were
very nearly, if not quite, on the same level as the barricades. He, with
characteristic thoughtfulness, called my attention to the danger of
remaining where we were and I moved away from in front of the gun to a
position in front of the interval between two of them, directing the
others to do likewise. The three men who were with me were Lieutenant
William Creevy, Corporal John Yax, and private Thomas W. Hill of troop
C. Hill moved to the right when I moved to the left, but Creevy and Yax
were slow about it. The very next time the gun was fired, there was a
premature explosion, which killed Yax and wounded Creevy. Hill was a boy
only seventeen years of age, one of the recruits of 1863-64. He survived
the war and is now cashier of the Cleveland national bank, of Cleveland,
Ohio, and one of the most influential and respected business men of that
city. Another one of those young recruits of 1863-64 was A.V. Cole,
corporal in the same troop as Hill. He was badly wounded in the
action at Haw's Shop, May 28. For many years he was adjutant general of
the state of Nebraska.

[Illustration: THOMAS W. HILL]

This line was successfully held, a most meritorious performance, by the
cavalry until nearly noon, when the Sixth corps came on the ground and
relieved it.

Never were reinforcements more cordially welcomed. Never did the uniform
and arms of the infantry look better than when the advance of the Sixth
corps made its appearance at Old Cold Harbor. In solid array and with
quick step they marched out of the woods in rear of the line, and took
our places. The tension was relaxed and for the first time since
midnight the cavalryman drew a long breath.

This was the beginning of the intimate association of the First cavalry
division with the Sixth corps. So close a bond did it become that its
hold was not released until the war closed. It was a bond of mutual
help, mutual confidence and respect. The Greek cross and the cross
sabers were found together on all the battle fields of the Shenandoah
valley and we shall see how at Cedar Creek they unitedly made a mark for
American valor and American discipline unexcelled in all the annals of
war. There, side by side, Wright and Ricketts, Getty and Wheaton stood
with Merritt and Custer in the face of an enemy flushed with success,
and refused to be beaten until Sheridan came on the field to lead them
to victory.

The division then moved back near Old Church and went into camp. June 2
went into camp at Bottom's bridge, where we remained skirmishing with
cavalry across the river. June 6 found the First and Second divisions in
camp at Newcastle Ferry on the Pamunkey river, in readiness for what is
known in the records and in history as the Trevilian raid, conducted by
General Sheridan in person.




The contents of this chapter constitute the latest contribution of the
author to the literature of the events recorded in this book. Much of
that which has gone before and all of what follows was written many
years ago. But in this final draft, every line has been revised. Time
and the ripeness of years have tempered and mellowed prejudice; the
hasty and sometimes intemperate generalizations of comparative youth
have been corrected by maturer judgment; something of ill-advised
comment and crudity has been eliminated. Many of his conclusions and
even the accuracy of some of his statements of fact, he realizes fully,
may not remain unchallenged; yet it has been his honest endeavor and
purpose to give, so far as in him lies, a truthful and impartial recital
of those salient memories that remain to him of the stirring experiences
of the youthful days when, as a boy he "followed the fortunes of the boy
general" in the campaigns of 1863-64, in the great civil war.

The outlines of the sketches herein made have been drawn from the
official "records of the rebellion" which have been carefully consulted;
the details for the most part have been taken from the storehouse of a
somewhat retentive memory; something of color and atmosphere necessarily
has been left to the imagination. It is a picture that he would present,
rather than a dry recital of dates and places, or a mere table of
statistics. The importance of these things need not be lessened by
seeking to give them an attractive form.

The writer must confess, also to an ambition to contribute something,
albeit but a little, toward giving to the Michigan cavalry brigade the
place in history which it richly earned; so that it may receive in its
due proportions the credit which it deserves for the patriotic and
valiant services rendered on so many battle fields. And especially does
it seem to be to him a duty to do this for the regiment in which it was
his privilege and good luck to serve.

This ambition, however, was nearly stifled, soon after its birth, by an
experience very galling to the pride of a well meaning, if sensitive and
fallible historian.

It was something like twenty years ago that a paper on the battle of
Cedar Creek, prepared with conscientious care and scrupulous fidelity to
the facts as the writer understood them, was mailed to General Wesley
Merritt, with the request, couched in modest and courteous phrase, that
he point out after having read it any inaccuracies of statement that he
might make a note of, as the article was intended for publication.

The distinguished cavalry officer replied, in a style that was bland,
that he had "long since ceased to read fiction;" that he no longer read
"even the Century war articles;" that an officer one month would give
his version of things which another officer in a subsequent number of
the same magazine would stoutly contradict; and that he was heartily
tired of the whole business.

General Merritt was, however, good enough to give in detail his reasons
for dissenting from the writer's account of a certain episode of the
battle, and his letter lent emphasis to the discussion in one of the
early chapters of this volume concerning men occupying different points
of view in a battle. This particular matter will be more fully treated
in its proper place. One must not be too sure of what he sees with his
own eyes and hears with his own ears, unless he is backed by a cloud of

Moreover this was notice plain as holy writ, that no mere amateur in the
art of war may presume, without the fear of being discredited, to have
known and observed that which did not at the time come within the scope
of those who had a recognized status as professional soldiers and find
its way into their official reports. Indeed, a very high authority as
good as told the writer in the war records office in Washington that no
man's memory is as good as the published record, or entitled to any
weight at all when not in entire harmony therewith.

It is evident that this rule, though perhaps a proper and necessary
one, to protect the literature of the war against imposition and fraud,
may very easily bar out much that is valuable and well worth writing, if
not indispensable to a fair and complete record, provided it can in some
way be accredited and invested with the stamp of truth.

It was quite possible for brigade and even regimental commanders, not to
draw the line finer still, to have experiences on the battle field of
which their immediate superiors were not cognizant; nor is it necessary
to beg the question by arguing that all commanding officers were allowed
to exercise a discretion of their own within certain limits.

Official reports were oftentimes but hastily and imperfectly sketched
amidst the hurry and bustle of breaking camp; or on the eve of battle,
when the mind might be occupied with other things of immediate and
pressing importance. Sometimes they were prepared long afterwards, when
it was as difficult to recall the exact sequence and order of events as
it would be after the lapse of years. Some of the "youngsters" of those
days failed to realize the value their reports would have in after years
as the basis for making history. Others were so unfortunate as to have
them "lost in transit" so that, although they were duly and truly
prepared and forwarded through the official channels, they never found
their way into the printed record.

Attention already has been called to the absence of reports of the
commanders of the Michigan cavalry brigade regiments for the Gettysburg
campaign. General George B. Davis, U.S. army, when in charge of the war
records office in Washington, told the writer that he had noticed this
want and wondered at it. He could not account for it. A like misfortune
befell the same regiments when they participated in the Kilpatrick raid.
Only a part of their reports covering the campaign of 1864, including
the Trevilian raid, were published. In this respect the Sixth Michigan
suffered more than either of the others. Not a single report of the
operations of that regiment for that period, appears in the record,
though they were certainly made as required. General Custer's reports
cover that regiment, of course, as they do the others in the brigade,
but it is unfortunate that these are not supplemented by those of the
regimental commander. Until the volumes successively appeared, he was
not aware of this defect; nor did he ever receive from any source an
intimation of it, or have opportunity to supply the deficiency. Hence,
it appeals to him as a duty to remedy, so far as it can be done at this
late day, the omissions in the record as published of this gallant

From the beginning to the end of the campaign of 1864, in Virginia--from
the Wilderness, May 4, to Cedar Creek, October 19--except for a single
month when he was in command of the brigade, the writer was present with
and commanded the Sixth Michigan cavalry. Not a single day was he
absent from duty, nor did he miss a battle or skirmish in which the
regiment was engaged. Reports were made, but as we have shown they did
not find their way into the war department. No copies were retained, so
there is a hiatus in the record. There are numerous cases of a similar
kind. Some officers, there is reason to believe, were smart enough to
seek and were given the opportunity to restore the missing links.

The Trevilian raid resulted from the seeming necessity of drawing the
confederate cavalry away from the front of the army of the Potomac while
the movement of the latter from the Chickahominy to the James was in
progress. Sheridan was ordered to take two divisions and proceed to
Charlottesville, on the Virginia Central railroad. Incidentally he was
to unite there with the force operating under General Hunter in the
direction of Lynchburg. He decided to take the First and Second
divisions (Gregg and Torbert). Wilson with the Third division was to
remain with the army, taking his orders directly from General Meade.

As we have seen, the expeditionary force, before making the start, was
at Newcastle Ferry, on the south bank of the Pamunkey river. Three days'
rations to last five days were ordered to be taken in haversacks; also
two days' forage strapped to the pommels of the saddles; one hundred
rounds of ammunition--forty on the person, sixty in wagons; one medical
wagon and eight ambulances; Heaton's and Pennington's batteries; and a
pontoon train of eight boats. The brigade commanders were: Custer,
Merritt, Devin, Davies and Irvin Gregg. In the Michigan brigade there
had been some changes since Cold Harbor. Colonel Alger had returned and
resumed command of his regiment. Major Melvin Brewer, of the First
Michigan, had been promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to
command of the Seventh Michigan, his appointment dating June 6.

There is a certain something about the events of that war that makes
them stand out in bold relief, like architectural images on the facade
of an edifice. They throw all other recollections of a lifetime into the
shade. As I sit at my desk writing, with memory at elbow as a prompter,
it is difficult to believe that today (May 7, 1908) it lacks but one
short month of being forty-four years since those preparations were
making on the banks of the Pamunkey river for a cavalry expedition in
some respects more strenuous, more difficult than any which had preceded
it. Yet those incidents are burned into the memory, and it seems that,
after all, it may have been but yesterday, so deep and lasting were the
impressions then produced. As the well focused optical image is
transferred to a sensitized surface, reproducing the picture, so were
those scenes fixed in the mind with photographic certainty, to be
retained as long as memory lasts, somewhat faded by time, it may be, but
complete in outline if not in details.

The campaign of the previous month had been a hard one for the cavalry.
Aside from the fact that he was leaving one third of his force behind,
Sheridan's corps had been decimated. A large number of his troopers had
been killed and wounded, or rendered hors de combat in other ways. The
horses had suffered terribly and many of them had been shot. So only
about half the number of mounted men fit for duty that followed the
colors of the cavalry corps out of the Wilderness, May 8, marched across
the Pamunkey on the pontoon bridge, June 6. Readers who have followed
this narrative through the preceding chapters will readily understand

Sheridan's plan[27] was to move along the north bank of the North Anna
to a point opposite Trevilian Station, on the Virginia Central railroad;
then cross the North Anna by one of the bridges or fords, and by a rapid
movement capture the station, destroy the railroad from Louisa
Courthouse to Gordonsville, and proceed thence to Charlottesville, where
the expected junction with Hunter was to be made. If this plan should
succeed, the two forces thus united were to advance on Lynchburg and do
what, as a matter of fact, Sheridan did not accomplish until the spring
of 1865. Instead of marching to Charlottesville, Hunter went the other
way, and that feature of the expedition was a failure. Breckinridge's
corps of infantry was sent to Gordonsville, the confederate cavalry
succeeded in interposing between that place and Trevilian Station and
Sheridan advanced no farther than the latter point.

[Illustration: WADE HAMPTON]

Sheridan's march began on the morning of June 7. Passing between the
Pamunkey and the Mattapony rivers, he reached Polecat station on the
Richmond and Potomac (Fredericksburg) railroad the evening of June 8,
and encamped there for the night. The next day the march was resumed,
passing through Chilesburg to the North Anna, and along the bank of that
river to Young's Mills, where the entire command bivouacked. June 10, he
journeyed to Twyman's store and crossed the North Anna at Carpenter's
Ford, near Miner's bridge, between Brock's bridge and New bridge,
encamping for the night on the road leading past Clayton's store to
Trevilian Station.

In the meantime, as soon as Sheridan's movement was discovered two
divisions of confederate cavalry (Hampton's and Fitzhugh Lee's) under
Hampton--the latter's division commanded by Butler--started by the
direct road between the Annas for Gordonsville, for the purpose of
intercepting Sheridan. Breckinridge timed his movements to make his line
of march parallel with that of Sheridan. Hampton, having the shorter
distance to cover, although he started two days later than his
adversary, was able to anticipate the latter in arriving, and was
between Gordonsville and Trevilian Station the night that Sheridan
crossed the North Anna. Fitzhugh Lee at the same time was near Louisa
Courthouse, the two confederate commanders thus being separated by a
distance of some six or seven miles on the evening of June 10. The
federal cavalry was all together and in position favorable for
preventing a union of the confederate forces by a sudden movement in the
morning. Both commanders were looking for a battle on the following day
and had made their plans accordingly.

Hampton had with him the three brigades of Rosser, Butler and Young;
while the other division consisted of the brigades of Lomax and Wickham.
It will thus be seen that, while the federal commander had a much
smaller force than that which followed him on the raid of the previous
month, his opponent was able to meet him with nearly twice the relative
strength with which Stuart confronted him at Yellow Tavern. In other
words, while Stuart fought him with the three brigades of Lomax, Wickham
and Gordon (Hampton not being present) the latter at Trevilian Station
had five brigades, including the big South Carolina brigade which fought
so gallantly at Haw's Shop. More than that, Breckinridge's infantry was
behind the cavalry, ready to reinforce it, if needed.

Sheridan's camp was in the woods north of Clayton's store, and extending
eastward as far as Buck Chiles's farm, Gregg on his left, Torbert on the
right. His plan was to advance on Trevilian Station, at an early hour on
the morning of June 11, by the direct road from Clayton's store. It was
given to Gregg to look out for Fitzhugh Lee, who was expected to come
into the action from the direction of Louisa Courthouse.

Hampton planned to advance from Trevilian Station with his own division
and attack Sheridan at Clayton's store. Lee was to take the road from
Louisa Courthouse to the same point and form on Hampton's right. A
glance at the map will show that the two roads intersect. Still another
country road runs from Louisa Courthouse to Trevilian Station.

Sheridan formed his line of battle with Merritt on the right, Devin to
Merritt's left, Custer and Gregg, en echelon, still farther to the left.
Custer covered the road toward Louisa Courthouse. The Seventh Michigan
picketed that road during the night. At a very early hour the pickets of
that regiment were attacked by Lee's advance. The First Michigan was
sent to reinforce the Seventh. One brigade of Gregg's division was also
sent out to meet Lee. The other one was formed on Devin's left. Sheridan
then advanced and attacked Hampton instead of awaiting his attack.

Hampton moved from Trevilian Station with the two brigades of Butler and
Young, Butler on the left. Rosser was sent to guard a road farther to
the left, protecting that flank. Thus Rosser was isolated when the
battle began and Hampton came into action with but two brigades on the
line. Fitzhugh Lee was headed off by the First and Seventh Michigan and
Gregg's brigade, so that, instead of coming to Hampton's assistance as
intended, he was finally compelled to take the road leading directly to
Trevilian Station instead of the one to Clayton's store. It will be seen
later that he arrived there at an opportune moment to prevent the
complete destruction of Hampton's division.

The entire country between the North Anna river and the railroad was
covered with timber and a dense undergrowth, except where there were
occasional patches of cleared farm lands. When Torbert with his two
brigades came into contact with Hampton, his line was found strongly
posted in woods so dense that it was difficult to make headway against
the defense. From the start, however, Sheridan was the aggressor and
Hampton was forced to fight a defensive battle.

In view of the rule laid down by General Sheridan himself (quoted in a
footnote on page 241) a criticism might be made on the tactics of the
battle. But whether the error, if it was an error, should be laid at the
door of the chief of cavalry or of General Torbert there is no way of
finding out, though there is reason to believe that the former left the
tactics on the field to be worked out by the division commanders. Custer
was ordered to take a country road and pass around the flank to the rear
of the enemy confronting Torbert. The exact location of this road was
unknown and Torbert states in his report that he was under a
misapprehension about it; that it did not come out where he supposed it
did; and that Custer by taking it lost touch with the other brigades
which he was not able to regain until it was too late to accomplish the
best results.

Such "combinations rarely work out as expected" and Custer should have
been put into action on the left of the line of battle; should have
advanced with the division, keeping touch to the right, all the brigades
in position to support each other. Then, by directing the entire
movement in person, it is probable that Sheridan might have thrown his
left forward, completely enveloping Hampton's right and crushing it
before there was any possibility of receiving reinforcements. In that
event, this turning movement would have been Custer's part of the
battle, his regiments would have been kept together, under his eye, and
well in hand for a combined movement at the right moment. Complete
success must have followed.

The road which Custer took leaves the North Anna river at New bridge,
and runs to Trevilian Station. It crosses the Louisa Courthouse and
Clayton store road east of Buck Chiles's farm. It intersects the direct
road from Louisa Courthouse to Trevilian Station at a place designated
on the map as "Netherland."

When Custer started out in the morning the chances were that he would
have a hard fight with Fitzhugh Lee at the outset. But it has been shown
how, by the interposition of the First and Seventh Michigan and one of
Gregg's brigades, that officer was obliged to abandon the plan of
reaching Clayton's store and take the other road. So Custer, being
relieved from pressure in that direction, started with the Fifth
Michigan in advance, followed by Pennington's battery, to carry out his
orders to get in Hampton's rear, at or near Trevilian Station. The
advance guard was led by Major S.H. Hastings, one of the most daring
officers in the brigade. At some point beyond the crossroads, east of
Buck Chiles's farm, the exact location being a matter of great
uncertainty, upon which the official reports shed no light whatever,
Hastings discovered a train of wagons, caissons, led horses and other
impedimenta, which he reported to the brigade commander and received
orders to charge upon it, the charge to be supported by the entire
regiment under Colonel Alger. This charge resulted in the capture of the
outfit, but was continued for a long distance beyond the station, this
being necessary in order to head off the train, which made a desperate
effort to escape in the direction of Gordonsville. Custer's order to the
Fifth did not contemplate continuing the pursuit beyond the station,
since he was supposed to make a junction there with the other brigades
of the First division. But those two brigades were still fighting with
Hampton, and the Fifth Michigan was directly in the latter's rear.

When this tumult arose in his rear, Hampton immediately recalled
Rosser's brigade posted to protect his left flank, thereby leaving the
way open for this foray around his right. Rosser, coming quickly upon
the scene, not only intercepted Alger's retreat, but proceeded to
contest with the Fifth Michigan the possession of the captures which
that regiment had made.

But, I am outrunning my story:

The charge of the Fifth Michigan left Custer's front uncovered, and a
force of confederates which belonged to Young's brigade and had probably
been looking out for Hampton's right flank and rear, threw itself across
his path and boldly challenged his right to advance. This was not a
large body of troops, probably the Seventh Georgia cavalry, but it made
up in audacity what it lacked in numbers. At that time--immediately
after the charge of the Fifth Michigan--and before Rosser had begun his
interference, Custer had with him only his staff and escort, and behind
them was Pennington's battery which had no opportunity to come into
action. The situation was apparently critical in the extreme.

The only available regiment at the time to throw into the breach was the
Sixth Michigan and that was just starting to move out of the woods where
it had been encamped during the night. It was not supposed then that the
battle was joined and, indeed, the expectation was that the march was to
be a continuation of that of the previous day, although the picket
firing in the early morning indicated the close proximity of the enemy.
But that had been the case for a morning or two before. Before mounting,
the officer in command had thoughtlessly acceded to the request of a
brother officer to ride a spirited and nervous black horse belonging to
the latter, as he expressed it, "To take the ginger out of him." In
place of the regulation McClellan saddle the horse was equipped with one
of those small affairs used by jockeys in riding race horses. This had
been picked up en route. Horse and saddle certainly made an attractive
looking mount, but not such an one as a cavalry officer with a sound
mind would select for close work on the battle line. The narration of
these circumstances will enable the reader to judge of how little the
subordinate officers knew of the real impending situation. It can be
stated with absolute certainty that the officers of the Sixth were
innocent of any knowledge of the fact that Custer had started out for a
fight, up to the moment when they were ordered to mount and move out of
the woods into a road running along the east side.

The commander of the regiment, mounted as described, and leading the
column of files, not having yet formed fours, on account of the woods
and brush, had barely reached the edge of the woods by the road, when a
member of the brigade staff brought the order to, "Take the gallop and
pass the battery." It is probable that this order was sent at the same
time that the Fifth was sent forward to capture the train. Custer of
course supposed that the Sixth was in column of fours in the road behind
the battery. The commanding officer of the Sixth had moved out in
compliance with orders and knew nothing about the conditions in front.
The command, "Form fours, gallop, march" was given and a touch of the
spur sent the black steed flying toward the front, followed as quickly
as possible by the leading squadron of the regiment. A regimental staff
officer remained to repeat the order to the other squadrons as they came
into the road, successively.

Approaching the crossroads, the conditions were revealed as described in
a previous paragraph. Custer and his escort were exchanging shots with
their revolvers, at short range, with the confederates in their front.
The most remarkable coolness and courage were being displayed on both
sides. The enemy certainly was commanded by an officer of resources who
realized to the fullest extent the responsibility resting upon him to
delay our further advance as long as possible. Custer never lost his
nerve under any circumstances. He was, however, unmistakably excited.
"Charge them" was his laconic command; and it was repeated with

Looking back to see that the leading squadron was pretty well closed up
I gave the command, "Draw sabers" and, without waiting to form front
into line, or for the remainder of the regiment, the column of fours
charged straight at the line of confederates, the black horse leading.
In a moment we were through the line. Just how it was done is to this
day more or less of a mystery. The enemy gave way--scattered to the
right and left--and did not await the contact. On down the road, one
hundred, two hundred--it may have been five hundred--yards, but not more
than that, at breakneck speed, the charge continued. Then it was seen
that there was no enemy in front of us. Where was the enemy?

Custer says in his report that Alger's orders were to stop at the
station. The single word "charge" comprehended his order to me. Nothing
was said about stopping. No warning was given that the Fifth had already
charged and was ahead of us. Nor did I know it. The order had been
obeyed to the letter. The enemy had apparently been dispersed. At all
events he had disappeared from our front. At such times the mind acts
quickly. The obvious course was to halt, rally, reform, see what was
going on in rear, rejoin the brigade commander, get the regiment all
together, for work where we were most needed. Finding that both hands
were required to curb the excited steed which, up to that moment had not
allowed another horse to come up with him, I returned my revolver to the
holster and, when his speed began to slacken, and Captain Vinton,
commander of the charging squadron, came alongside, gave the command,
"Halt" which was twice repeated. My horse swerved to the right and, when
brought to a standstill, was a little way in the woods. The clatter of
hoofs behind had told me that I was followed, and I supposed it was by
my own troopers. Not so, however. Vinton either did not hear, or was too
much "under the influence of a pardonable excitement and zeal" to heed
the order to halt, and continued on down the road to and beyond the
station, where he overtook the rear of the Fifth and proceeded to assist
in the endeavor to bring away the captured property. He was attacked by
Rosser who made a lot of his men prisoners. The detachment that went
with him did not rejoin the regiment until late in the afternoon and
then less the men who had been captured.

The word, "Surrender" uttered in imperious tones saluted my ear and,
glancing over my left shoulder to find whence it came, I found that a
well mounted and sturdy confederate officer had come up from my left
rear and, addressing me in language both profane and apparently designed
to cast reflections on my ancestry, declared that if I did not comply
instantly with his polite request he would complete the front cut on my
head. His men circling around in front with their carbines in the
position of "ready" seemed to hint that they considered his demand a
reasonable one and expressed a purpose to assist in enforcing it. Now,
it is a maxim that no cavalry officer may surrender so long as he is not
unhorsed. But in the situation in which I found myself there did not
seem to be an available alternative. I surrendered, gave up the black
horse and the jockey saddle, and never saw either of them afterwards.
After the experience described I was glad to be rid of them on most any
terms. Several others were captured at the same time and in the same
way. One of them after being dismounted tried to run away but was
quickly brought to a halt by a shot from a confederate's gun which
wounded him.

It appears that when we went through their line the rascally
confederates rallied and, leaving Custer's front charged our rear.
Custer says in his report that after "the Sixth Michigan charged the
rebels charged that regiment in rear." When he wrote that report he had
forgotten that it was only a portion--less than a third of the Sixth
which charged. Two-thirds of the regiment was still back where he was
and not yet in the action. There were two squadrons, one commanded by
Captain Manning D. Birge, the other by Captain Don G. Lovell in reserve.
In using the term squadron here I mean what in the civil war was known
as a battalion (four troops). Vinton's squadron did not all take part in
the charge.

Four confederate cavalrymen undertook the duty of escorting myself and a
young Sixth cavalryman who had been trapped in the same way to the rear
through the woods. Anticipating that our attack would be followed up, we
managed to delay our guards as much as possible, and had gone not more
than a hundred yards when a yelling in the road proclaimed that the
curtain had risen on the second scene of our little drama. Custer had
ordered Birge to charge. Birge's advance put the confederates to flight,
what there were left of them. The noise of the pursuit disconcerted our
captors so that we took the chances and made our escape under cover
of the thick undergrowth. They fired at us as we ran but did not succeed
in making a hit. Fortunately Birge directed his course through the woods
out of which the enemy had come and into which they had gone in their
flight. In a minute we met him coming with a squad of men. He was
greatly rejoiced to find that he had rescued me from my disagreeable
predicament and, looking back across the years, I can see and freely
acknowledge that to no man on this earth am I under greater obligations
than to Manning D. Birge. But for his approach it might not have been
possible for us to successfully make our break for freedom. That was the
only time I ever was a prisoner of war and then only for about ten
minutes. Custer, referring to my capture, says that I was rescued by a
charge of my own regiment led by Captain Birge.

[Illustration: MANNING D. BIRGE]

Bidding Birge to follow my late captors I hurried out to the road and
thence to the crossroads from which we had started so short a time
before. Custer was still there. His battery was there. Most of the Sixth
was halted there. My recollection is that the First and Seventh about
that time joined Custer, after finding that Fitzhugh Lee had withdrawn
from their front looking toward Louisa Courthouse. Birge's charge had
cleared the road of the enemy, for the time being. Custer ordered that a
rail barricade be thrown up across the road leading to the right, from
which direction the attacks had been made on him. Putting the men of
Vinton's and Birge's squadrons who were available at work, Lovell's
squadron of four troops which was intact and well in hand under as good
an officer as there was in the brigade, was posted in line mounted,
parallel with the road, and behind a screen of timber, in readiness to
repel any further attack.

In a few minutes Sergeant Avery, one of the men who had gone with Birge
in pursuit of the enemy from whom I had escaped, came in with a
confederate prisoner splendidly mounted. Avery with cocked revolver was
making his prisoner ride ahead of him and thus brought him in. Receiving
orders to dismount, the man gave the horse a caress and with something
very like a tear in his eye said:

"That is the best horse in the Seventh Georgia cavalry."

The horse, with Avery's consent was turned over to me to take the place
of the captured black. He proved to be a prize. Handsome as a picture,
kind and well broken, sound, spirited but tractable, with a glossy coat
of silky luster, he was a mount that a real cavalryman would become
attached to and be proud of. I rode him and he had the best of care
until he succumbed to the cold weather and exposure near Winchester in
the winter following. He was a finely bred southern horse and could not
endure the climate.

Birge was not so fortunate. When he went after his prisoners he caught a
Tartar, or came very near it. The barricade was only partially
completed, when yelling in front,--that is in the road leading to the
right,--caused every one to look in that direction. Birge and a few of
his men were seen coming at full speed with what looked like a good big
squadron of the enemy at their heels. Mounting the Seventh Georgia
horse, I rode around the barricade and into the field where Lovell was
with his battalion. He had been placed there for just such an emergency.
Birge did not stop until he had leaped his mare over the barricade. When
the confederate column came up, Lovell surprised them with a volley
right in their teeth, which sent them "whirling" back into the woods out
of which they had come.

This was the end of the fighting at that point. Taking with him the
Seventh, under Lieutenant Colonel Brewer, and the battery Custer then
moved on toward Trevilian Station, leaving the First under Lieutenant
Colonel Stagg and the Sixth to bring up and look out for the rear. The
affray at the crossroads had occupied less time than it takes to tell
it. In giving the story it has been difficult to steer into the middle
course between a seeming desire to give undue prominence to one's own
part in the action, on one hand, and affectation of undue modesty, on
the other. The only course appeared to be to narrate the incidents as
they befell and leave it to the kind reader to judge the matter on its
apparent merits.

When Custer approached the station he found Rosser in his way on his
front and right flank. Fitzhugh Lee, coming from Louisa Courthouse, also
attacked his left flank. For a time there was a melee which had no
parallel in the annals of cavalry fighting in the civil war, unless it
may have been at Brandy Station or Buckland Mills. Custer's line was in
the form of a circle and he was fighting an enterprising foe on either
flank and both front and rear. Fitzhugh Lee charged and captured a
section of Pennington's battery. The Seventh Michigan led by Brewer
recaptured it. Fragments of all the regiments in the brigade rallied
around Custer for the mounted fighting, of which there was plenty, while
the First and Sixth dismounted took care of the rear. Custer was
everywhere present giving directions to his subordinate commanders, and
more than one mounted charge was participated in by him in person.

Torbert's attack with Merritt's and Devin's brigades was at length
successful in routing Hampton, whose men were driven into and through
Custer's lines. Many of them were made prisoners. An officer and twelve
men belonging to the Seventh Georgia cavalry, making for the rear as
they supposed, came into the arms of the Sixth Michigan skirmishers at
one time. The officer gave up his revolver to me and it proved to be a
very fine five shooting arm of English make.

In the final stages of the battle, Gregg concentrated against Fitzhugh
Lee, Torbert effected his junction with Custer, and the latter was
extricated from his difficult and dangerous predicament, after
performing prodigies of valor. The lines changed front and the
confederates were driven across the railroad, Hampton towards
Gordonsville, Lee to the eastward. The two did not succeed in coming
together that night, and Lee was obliged to make a wide detour in order
to reunite with his chief on the afternoon of the next day, Sunday, June

The entire command encamped on the battle field in the neighborhood of
Trevilian Station for the night. The next morning Gregg was set at work
tearing up the railroad toward Louisa Courthouse. The First division was
given a rest until the afternoon when, at about three o'clock, although
it was Sunday, the order came for the First division to proceed in the
direction of Gordonsville. In the meantime, the forces of Hampton and
Lee had united and, as will be seen, had planned to stop Sheridan's
further progress at all hazards. There is some reason to believe that a
part of Breckinridge's infantry had come out from Gordonsville to
reinforce Hampton. Such was the impression at the time, and one at
least, of Sheridan's commanders, states in his report that he was
confronted by infantry. The writer is of the opinion that the "infantry"
was Butler's dismounted cavalry which, when in a good position as they
were that day, could do as good fighting as any infantry in the
confederate service.

The Michigan brigade moved out first and the Sixth had the advance. The
order was to proceed to a certain point named and then halt until the
division closed up. Memory does not recall what the place was, but is
quite clear as to that being the specific direction given by General
Custer to the officer in command of the advance regiment. We had gone
but a short distance, not more than a mile or two at most, when the
advance guard reported the enemy entrenched across the way. Skirmishing
began at once between our mounted men in front and dismounted
confederates behind breastworks of considerable strength. A squadron was
deployed and Sergeant Avery was directed to make his way far enough into
the woods to find, if possible, what we had in our front. He came back
in about ten minutes and reported that the breastworks in our immediate
front were thoroughly manned, and that he had seen a column of at least
a thousand men moving into the entrenchments on the enemy's right, in
front of our left flank. He was sent back to give Custer this
information, and the general came up and ordered the entire regiment to
be dismounted to fight on foot. The Sixth was put in on the right of the
road and directly thereafter the Seventh was sent in on the left. It did
not take long to demonstrate that two regiments were not enough and the
First and Fifth went into the action on the right of the Sixth. Then
Torbert reinforced the line with the Reserve brigade and a portion of
the Second, all under Merritt. The entire division became engaged.
Several assaults were made upon the confederate line but without
success. They were in each instance repulsed. Fitzhugh Lee got in on the
right flank of the division and inflicted severe damage upon the Reserve
brigade. We have never been able to understand why, if it was intended
to break the enemy's line, Gregg's division was not brought into the
engagement to protect that flank. General Merritt in his report
intimates that he had to do more than his share of fighting; that when
the Reserve brigade advanced to the assault on the right it was supposed
that the attack would be pressed on the left; that it was not so pressed
and that his brigade suffered unduly on that account. This is another
case of a man being unable to see all that is going on in a battle. The
Michigan brigade was on the left of the line. It was the first brigade
engaged. It began the fight and stayed in it till the end. Harder
fighting has rarely been done than that which fell to the Michigan men
in that battle. Several attempts were made to drive the enemy from their
front. The First Michigan especially made a charge across an open field
in the face of a terrible fire from behind breastworks, going half way
across before they were repulsed. When the First Michigan could not
stand before a storm of bullets, no other regiment in the cavalry corps
need try. That is a certainty. The losses in killed and wounded were
very severe, as will be shown in a table printed at the end of this

[Illustration: SERGEANT AVERY]

The fighting continued till ten o'clock that night, when Sheridan
decided to withdraw and abandon the expedition. It is worthy of remark
that the entire division was unable to advance one inch beyond the place
where the advance guard first encountered the enemy and where Sergeant
Avery made the reconnoissance which revealed to General Custer the true
situation. Poor Avery was killed while doing his duty as he always did
in the very front of the battle in the place of greatest danger. Captain
Lovell and Lieutenant Luther Canouse of the Sixth were wounded; Captain
Carr, and Lieutenants Pulver and Warren of the First Michigan were
killed, and Captain Duggan and Lieutenant Bullock of the same regiment
wounded. Captains Hastings and Dodge of the Fifth were wounded; also
Lieutenant Colonel Brewer of the Seventh was wounded on the eleventh.

The casualties in the two days' fighting at Trevilian Station were very
severe. The losses in killed and died from wounds received in the action
aggregated in the brigade forty one, as follows:[28]

   First Michigan                            13
   Fifth Michigan                             8
   Sixth Michigan                            17
   Seventh Michigan                           3
   Total                                     41

Of prisoners lost there were in all two hundred and forty-two,
distributed as follows:

   First Michigan                            39
   Fifth Michigan                           102
   Sixth Michigan                            58
   Seventh Michigan                          43
   Total                                    242

Of those who were captured and held as prisoners of war, eighty-eight
died in southern prisons--most of them in Andersonville--as follows:[29]

   First Michigan                            12
   Fifth Michigan                            35
   Sixth Michigan                            26
   Seventh Michigan                          15
   Total                                     88

The battle of Trevilian Station practically ended the fighting which was
done by the Michigan brigade in the campaign from the Rapidan to the
James. Sheridan's retreat was skilfully conducted but was not especially
eventful. A tabulated statement of the losses in the command, beginning
in the Wilderness, May 6, and ending at Trevilian Station June 12, is
appended hereto. By losses I mean killed in action or died of wounds
received in action. It is not possible to give a reliable statement of
the wounded, reports of regimental commanders being very deficient in
that particular. The table is compiled from the official records in the
office of the adjutant general of Michigan and is believed to be
approximately correct:

                        First   Fifth    Sixth   Seventh
                      Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Total

   Wilderness             2        3        4       --      9
   Todd's Tavern          3       --       --        1      4
   Beaver Dam Station     1       --       --       --      1
   Yellow Tavern         14        7        3        9     33
   Meadow Bridge         --       --        2       --      2
   Hanovertown           --       --        3       --      3
   Haw's Shop             5       13       18        6     42
   Old Church             2       --       --        1      3
   Cold Harbor            5        1        1        3     10
   Trevilian Station     13        8       17        3     41
                       ----     ----     ----     ----    ----
   Total                 45       32       48       23    148

Recapitulation--Killed and died of wounds, the Rapidan to the James:

   First Michigan                            45
   Fifth Michigan                            32
   Sixth Michigan                            48
   Seventh Michigan                          23
   Total                                    148

In General Merritt's official report[30] for the period May 26 to June
26, he makes the following statement:

   "The losses in killed and wounded, (in the Reserve brigade,) are
   annexed in tabular statement. As they number more than the loss of
   the entire rest of the command they sufficiently attest the severe
   services of the brigade."

When General Merritt says "the entire rest of the command" we shall
assume that he means "the entire rest" of the First division. We have no
desire to make invidious comparisons, and have avoided doing so
throughout these recollections. The Reserve brigade was a fine brigade
and always fought well, and never better than at Trevilian Station and
in the battles immediately preceding that engagement. To prove that his
comparison was not warranted it is necessary only to refer to the
official records. On page 810 of the same volume,[31] appended to the
report of General Torbert, for the same period covered by General
Merritt's report, we find:

    Reserve Brigade--
      Officers killed               6
      Officers wounded             17
      Officers killed and wounded       23

    Reserve Brigade--
      Men killed                   57
      Men wounded                 275
                                 ----  332
    Total officers and men killed and wounded   355

    Second Brigade--
      Officers killed                   2
      Officers wounded                 15
      Officers killed and wounded            17
    Second Brigade--
      Men killed                       42
      Men wounded                     163
      Men killed and wounded                205
      Total officers and men killed and wounded  222

    First Brigade--
      Officers killed                   3
      Officers wounded                 12
      Officers killed and wounded            15

    First Brigade--
      Men killed                       62
      Men wounded                     192
      Men killed and wounded                254
      Total officers and men killed and wounded  269
    Total killed and wounded First and Second Brigades  491
    Total killed and wounded Reserve Brigade            355

The Reserve brigade comprised five regiments, two of volunteers and
three of regulars. The Michigan brigade consisted of four regiments, of
course, all volunteers. One third of the losses in killed and wounded at
Trevilian Station in the Reserve brigade were in the single regiment,
the First New York dragoons. My authority for this is still the official
records. See page 186 of the volume already quoted and referred to in
the footnote. Close analysis, therefore, shows that there are
inconsistencies in the official records, and unguarded statements in the
official reports.

The rest of the month of June was consumed in the return march to the
army. Owing to the necessity of caring for a large number of wounded and
of guarding several hundred prisoners, to say nothing of an army of
colored people of all ages and of both sexes who joined the procession,
it was necessary to take a tortuous course which traversed the
Spottsylvania battle ground, touched at Bowling Green, followed the
north bank of the Mattapony river, reaching King and Queen Courthouse
June 18. From this place the sick, wounded and prisoners were sent to
West Point. On the 19th we marched to Dunkirk, on the Mattapony river,
which was crossed on a pontoon bridge and thence to the Pamunkey,
opposite White House. June 21, the entire command crossed the Pamunkey
at White House and marched the next day (June 22) to Jones's bridge on
the Chickahoming. June 25 reached the James river and on the 28th
crossed that river to Windmill Point. From here the First and Second
divisions were sent to Reams's Station to the relief of the Third
division under Wilson which had run into a situation similar to, if not
more serious than that which Custer faced on the 11th at Trevilian.
Finding that officer safe, we returned to Lighthouse Point and settled
down--after having fought and marched for fifty-six consecutive
days--for a period of rest and recuperation. During the entire march
from Trevilian to the James, Hampton hovered on the flank of Sheridan's
column, watching for a favorable opportunity to inflict a blow, but
avoiding a general engagement. In crossing from the Pamunkey to the
James, Sheridan was charged with the duty of escorting a train of 900
wagons from the White House to Douthat's Landing on the James. General
Gregg was entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the right
flank, which placed him in the post of danger, and the brunt of the
fighting as well as the greater part of the honors of the movement fell
to his share. Indeed, General Sheridan in his official report, written
in New Orleans a year after the war closed, gave Gregg credit for saving
the train.

The time from July 2, when we returned to Lighthouse Point on the James
river, to July 26 was quiet and uneventful. Many hundred convalescent
wounded and sick men returned from hospital to duty; many also who had
been dismounted by the exigencies of the campaign returned from
dismounted camps. A fine lot of new horses were received. During the
month the condition of the animals was very much improved, good care and
a plentiful supply of forage contributing to the result. The duty
performed was to picket the left flank of the army, the Michigan
regiments connecting with Crawford's division of the Fifth corps.

The story of the participation of the cavalry with the Second corps in
the movement to the north side of the James, which began on the forenoon
of July 26, has been so fully and so well told by General Sheridan in
his reports and in his memoirs that nothing is left to be added. In fact
there is little, if anything, in the part taken by any portion of the
force taken across by Sheridan and Hancock to differentiate it from that
played by the whole. The object of the movement was to draw the enemy's
attention away from the lines around Petersburg preparatory for the
explosion of the mine which was to take place on the 30th. In this it
was successful. General Lee mistook the attack on his left for real
instead of a feint, and detached enough troops to meet it to not only
assure the success of the attack on Petersburg, if it had been made with
determination, but to seriously menace the safety of the two corps
engaged in the movement. General Sheridan truthfully says that, "The
movement to the north side of the James for the accomplishment of our
part of the plan connected with the mine explosion, was well executed,
and every point made; but it was attended with such anxiety and
sleeplessness as to prostrate almost every officer and man in the

This was the last incident of importance connected with the services of
the First cavalry division with the army of the Potomac in the year
1864. August 1, Sheridan was ordered to the Shenandoah Valley and
selected the First and Third cavalry divisions to go with him.

Since this is in some sort a personal narrative it may be of interest to
mention that while at Lighthouse Point I received my commission as
colonel and, July 9, was mustered out of the United States service as
major--with which rank I had been commanding the regiment--and was
mustered in in the new grade. The promotion, which was unsought, was due
to a request made to the governor, signed by all the officers of the
regiment serving in the field, and recommended by General Custer. On the
original petition, on file in the adjutant general's office in Lansing,
is an endorsement in the general's own handwriting.[32]



When Grant sent Sheridan to take charge of things in the Shenandoah
Valley, and close that gateway to the north, he gave him one corps of
infantry (Sixth) and two divisions of cavalry (First and Third) from the
army of the Potomac. The Michigan cavalry brigade, still commanded by
General George A. Custer, was a part of that force. It embarked on
transports at City Point, Virginia, August 3, 1864, and proceeded to
Washington, D.C., thence by the way of Poolesville, Maryland, to
Halltown, Virginia, in front of Harper's Ferry, arriving there August
10, in time to join in the advance of the new army of the Middle
Military Division,[33] under its new commander.

Gregg with the Second division was left behind, under the immediate
direction of General Meade, and thus, much to their regret, the Michigan
men parted finally with that fine officer and his superb command, with
whom they had been associated so intimately and honorably at Gettysburg,
Haw's Shop, and in many other places. When they rejoined the army of
the Potomac, in the spring of 1865, he had retired from the service.
They never saw him again but, from the eventful days of 1863 and 1864 to
the present time, they have never ceased to respect him as a soldier and
a man; and he always had their entire confidence as a commander of

Sheridan wanted Early to cross into Maryland or to fight him in and
around Winchester, but was in the dark as to his adversary's intentions
or movements, so at daylight, August 11, he started a reconnoissance in
force. Custer led the way across the Opequon creek, toward Winchester,
and soon ran into Early's infantry. A sharp fight followed which showed
that Early was retreating up the valley. Ransom's regular battery,
attached to the brigade, was charged by confederate infantry, which was
met and repulsed by a countercharge of one battalion of the Sixth
Michigan cavalry led by Captain James Mathers, who was killed. Sheridan
had left the gateway via the fords of the Potomac river open, but Early
was too foxy to take the lure. He was getting away as fast as he could
to a place of safety.

The pursuit was instantly taken up and the next day (12th) found us up
against infantry again at Fisher's Hill, between Cedar Creek and
Strasburg, a position impregnable against direct assault. For three days
we remained face to face with Early's infantry, constantly so close as
to draw their fire and keep them in their intrenchments.

On the 16th we marched to Front Royal. Sheridan had information that a
force of infantry and cavalry had been despatched from Richmond to
reinforce Early and, incidentally, to strike Sheridan in flank or rear,
if he could be caught napping. The force consisted of Kershaw's division
of infantry and Fitzhugh Lee's division of cavalry, all commanded by
General R. H. Anderson. The route by which they were supposed to be
approaching was through Chester Gap and Front Royal. If they could have
reached the Shenandoah river and effected a crossing undiscovered, a
short march would have brought them to Newtown, directly in rear of our

Custer crossed and marched through Front Royal but no enemy was found.
He then recrossed and took position on commanding ground half a mile or
so back from the river, and ordered the horses to be unsaddled and fed
and the men to cook their dinner. Headquarters wagons were brought up,
mess chests taken out, and we were just gathering around them to partake
of a hastily prepared meal, when Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, which had
stealthily approached the ford, charged across and made a dash at our
pickets. Major H.H. Vinton, of the Sixth Michigan was in command of the
picket line and promptly rallying on his reserves, he courageously met
Lee's attack and checked it. That dinner was never eaten. Custer's
bugler sounded "to horse." As if by magic, the men were in the saddle.
Custer dashed out with his staff and ordered the Fifth Michigan
forward, to be followed by the other regiments, I supposed he would
charge in the direction of the ford, where Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry was
still contending with the Sixth Michigan. He did nothing of the kind.
Moving diagonally to the left, he reached the crest overlooking the
river just in time to surprise Kershaw in the act of crossing. The Fifth
Michigan deployed into line in fine style and opened such a hot fire
with their Spencers, that the head of Kershaw's column was completely
crushed. Every confederate who was across was either killed or captured.
Many of those who were in the water were drowned and those on the other
side were kept there. Just then, Devin's brigade came up, and helped to
drive the cavalry across the river. The prisoners, all infantry,
numbered from three to five hundred.

This rencounter at Front Royal was one of the most brilliant affairs of
the war and it illustrated well the marvelous intuition with which
General Custer often grasped the situation, in an instant of time. He
did not anticipate Kershaw's movement or he would not have given the
order to unsaddle. It was a surprise but he was alert, and equal to the
emergency. He was as bold to act as his perceptions were keen, and the
incident recalls the intrepidity with which he met Rosser in the
Wilderness under somewhat similar circumstances. Had he charged the
cavalry, Anderson would have effected a crossing, and in a very short
time might have had the Michigan brigade at such disadvantage that it
would have required all of Custer's boldness and skill to extricate it.
Custer divined that the dash of Lee's advance was a mask for the
infantry, and by a movement that would have done credit to Murat or Ney,
caught Kershaw astride the river and trapped him completely. The
behavior of the Fifth Michigan was never more "superb." I do not believe
that a single regiment, on either side, at any time, during the entire
war, performed a more brilliant deed. Major Vinton and his detachment
also earned especial praise by interrupting without aid, the first onset
of Fitzhugh Lee's advance. The First and Seventh Michigan supported the
Fifth in a most gallant manner. General Custer had a lock of hair shot
away from his temple and Lieutenant Granger of his staff was killed.
Lieutenant Lucius Carver of the Seventh also lost his life in the

After this fight it was found that Sheridan had begun a retrograde
movement down the valley to take a defensive position in front of
Halltown. The brigade brought up the rear, the Sixth Michigan acting as
rear guard.

From the 16th to the 25th of August, it was marching and
countermarching, picketing, reconnoitering and skirmishing, continually.
Both armies were maneuvering for position and advantage. Anderson's
reinforcement had joined Early and, with the esprit of the Army of
Northern Virginia, was constantly pushing close up to our lines and
harassing us. The Michigan brigade was mostly engaged with infantry and
did not once, I believe, come into contact with the confederate cavalry.
It was a lonesome day, indeed, when their mettle was not put to the
proof in a skirmish with either Kershaw or Breckinridge. But one
incident occurred to break the monotony. A part of the Fifth Michigan
sent out to destroy some buildings supposed to contain supplies, was
surprised by Mosby's command and fifteen men were killed outright. They
were caught in a field where escape was impossible and shot without
mercy. The Sixth was sent out to reinforce the Fifth and we searched far
and near for the dashing partisan but did not succeed in coming up with
him. He departed as swiftly as he came and made his escape to the

Sheridan had, in his turn, been reinforced by Wilson's division of
cavalry (Third) and, on the 25th, Torbert[34] was sent out with
Merritt's and Wilson's divisions, to hunt up Fitzhugh Lee, who was
reported to have gone in the direction of the fords leading into
Maryland. At or near Kearneysville, a small force of cavalry was
encountered which was driven rapidly along the road toward Leetown.
Nearing the latter place, the inevitable infantry was found and it
turned out to be Breckinridge's corps, going north along the Smithfield
and Shepherdstown pike. Shepherdstown is on the Potomac river, opposite
Sharpsburg and the Antietam battle ground.

It never will be known what Breckinridge was intending to do, for he
turned on Torbert and did not resume his journey. The collision was a
complete surprise to both parties, but Early's design, whatever it may
have been, was disarranged, the movement was discovered and, though the
cavalry had rather the worst of it, the information gained was worth all
it cost. If Early had been contemplating an invasion of Maryland, he
relinquished the design and did not revive it.

Torbert, finding that he had more than he could handle, fell back toward
Halltown, leaving Custer with his brigade for a rear guard. Custer,
coming to a piece of woods south of Shepherdstown, neither the enemy nor
our own cavalry being in sight, halted and had his men dismount to rest,
they having been in the saddle since early morning. We were all sitting
or lying down with bridle reins in hand, taking our ease with more or
less dignity, when a small body of confederate horse made its appearance
in the direction of Shepherdstown. The brigade mounted and started in
pursuit but had hardly been put in motion when a line of infantry
suddenly appeared in the woods we were vacating and opened fire upon us.
The confederate horsemen were driven away by the First and Seventh and,
when General Custer rallied his brigade to confront the new danger, he
found that Breckinridge had intercepted his retreat in the direction
the rest of the cavalry had gone, and was closing in with a line that
threatened to envelop the brigade. In a few moments, the enemy's right
and left flanks began to swing in towards the river and he found himself
face to face with two alternatives: To cut his way through, or fall back
and take the risky chance of fording the river, with Breckinridge close
at his heels. Of course there was no thought of surrender and Custer was
not much given to showing his heels. Torbert left Custer to shift for
himself. So far as I ever was able to learn, he made no effort to save
his plucky subordinate and the report that the Michigan brigade had been
captured was generally credited, in and around Harper's Ferry.

Custer, with surprising coolness, put his brigade into line, the Sixth
on the right, the First, Fifth and Seventh to the left of the Sixth, the
battery in the center, with backs to the river and faces to the enemy,
and presented so bold a front that the infantry did not charge, but
moved up slowly, maneuvering to get around and obtain possession of the
ford in rear. Custer had the men cheer and dared them to come on. With
characteristic audacity, he actually unlimbered his pieces and gave them
a charge or two right in their teeth; then limbering to the rear he took
successive new positions and repeated the performance.

While holding one of these points, a squadron of the First New York
dragoons, of Devin's brigade, which also in some way had been separated
from its command, was driven in from the right, and, riding up to where
I was, the commanding officer, Captain Brittain, saluted and said:

"Colonel, I am cut off from my own regiment and wish to report to you
for duty."

"Form your men to the right," I said. "It looks as if your aid would be
very acceptable."

"I have no cartridges. We have shot them all away."

"You have sabers."

"Yes, and by ---- they are loaded," he retorted, as he brought his men
front into line on the right.

Captain Brittain survived the war and came to Michigan to live. He often
has sent me kindly reminders of his remembrance of the circumstances as
narrated above. For many years he had a home in Wexford county, and I
last heard of him as prospering on the Pacific coast.

At that moment, the thing had a critical look. We were inside a
horseshoe of infantry, the extremities of which very nearly reached the
river. We had to go through that line, or through the river, or
surrender. Breckinridge's line was in plain sight, not a half mile away,
in the open and moving up in splendid order. So far as I am informed,
Custer was the only man in the command who knew that there was a ford
and that we were making for it. The rest were screwing their courage up
to the task of breaking through. I never have ceased to admire the
nerve exhibited by Captain Brittain, when I told him it looked as if
that was what we would have to do. He was an excellent officer and
belonged to an excellent regiment.

"My sabers are loaded."

The greatest coolness was displayed by General Custer and his entire
command. There was not a hint of weakness or fear in any quarter. The
brigade, at each falling back, ployed from line into column and deployed
into line again, as if on parade, with Breckinridge and his corps for
the spectators. Every movement was at a walk. There was no haste--no
confusion. Every officer was on his mettle and every man a hero.

Presently, Custer finally withdrew his battery, then the regiments one
at a time, and slipped away into Maryland before the enemy realized what
he was doing.

The delicate duty of bringing up the rear was entrusted to Colonel Alger
with his own regiment and the Sixth. I was ordered to report to him. The
battery crossed first, then the First and Seventh, the brigade staff and
general commanding.

The two regiments stood in line, watching the enemy closing in closer
and closer until this was accomplished. Then Colonel Alger told me to
go. He followed leisurely and, as the Fifth and Sixth were marching up
the Maryland bank, a line of confederates came up on the other side, and
so astounded were they to see how we had escaped from their grasp, that
some of them actually cheered, so I have been informed. They had been
deceived by the audacity of Custer and his men in the first place and by
the cleverness with which they eluded capture in the second.

The battle of Shepherdstown was the last in which Colonel Alger was
engaged. While the brigade was lying in camp on the Maryland side
awaiting orders, he was taken sick and was sent to hospital by order of
the brigade surgeon. He was assigned to special duty by order of
President Lincoln and did not rejoin. The esteem in which he was held by
General Custer and the confidence which that officer reposed in him to
the last moment of his service in the brigade is amply evidenced by the
selection of him to lead the attack on Kershaw at Front Royal and to
bring up the rear at Shepherdstown. The coolness and ability of the
officers and the intrepidity of the men in the Michigan cavalry brigade
were never more thoroughly tested than in those two battles. Custer was
the hero of both and Alger was his right arm. At Meadow Bridge, at
Yellow Tavern and in all the battles of that eventful campaign, wherever
they were associated together, wherever the one wanted a man tried,
true, trained and trustworthy, there he would put the other. No
misunderstandings that arose later can alter the significance or break
the force of these cold facts.

In the battle of Shepherdstown Captain Frederick Augustus Buhl, of the
First Michigan was mortally wounded, dying a few days later. He was a
Detroit boy, and a classmate of mine in Ann Arbor when the war broke
out. I was deeply grieved at his death as I had learned to love him like
a brother. He was conspicuous for his gallantry in all the engagements
in which he participated, especially at Front Royal and Shepherdstown.

For two days the brigade was lost. For a time the report of its capture
was generally credited. That it escaped, no thanks were due to General
Torbert, the chief of cavalry. It is not likely that he knew anything
about what a predicament he had left Custer in. The latter was, as
usual, equal to the emergency.

I must pass now rapidly over a period of nearly a month, devoted, for
the most part, to reconnoitering and retreating, to the eve of the
battle of Winchester.

September 18, about 8 o'clock in the evening, I went to headquarters to
consult Dr. Wooster, brigade surgeon, about the condition of my health.
I was very feeble, unable to eat, my eyes and skin the color of certain
newspapers during the Spanish-American war. The doctor told me I must go
home and insisted on making out a certificate of disability, on which I
might obtain a "leave of absence." General Custer and most of his staff
were present. I recall the circumstances very well, for a conversation
in which the general asked me confidentially certain questions, was
incautiously repeated by some one who was present and returned to vex me
after many years. I returned to my own camp about nine or half past
nine, much cast down over the doctor's diagnosis of my case. I mention
all this to show how secretly the preparations for the eventful next day
had been made. Not a word was dropped during my long interview with the
general and his staff to arouse the suspicion that the army was about to
attack Early. Yet, at midnight, orders were received to be ready to move
at two o'clock in the morning. Before that hour, horses were in line
saddled, the men ready to mount. My cook made a cup of tea and a slice
of toast. I drank half of the tea but could not eat the toast. At three
o'clock I mounted my favorite saddle horse "Billy" and by order of
General Custer, led my regiment in advance of the division, toward
Locke's Ford on the Opequon creek. Nothing was said, but every one knew
that the army was in motion and that great things were in store for us.


We neared the ford about daylight. There was a faint hope that the enemy
might be taken by surprise and the ford captured without resistance, as
it was a difficult crossing when bravely defended. In this, however, we
were doomed to disappointment, for an alert foe was found awaiting the
attack. Indeed, they must have known of the federal approach. Halting an
eighth of a mile back and out of sight, Custer directed me to dismount
the regiment and move in column of fours through a ravine at right
angles with the creek. This ravine ran out at the top, where it reached
the edge of a plowed field. This field extended some 100 or 150 yards to
the crest overlooking the ford. Along the crest were fences,
outbuildings, and the farm house. Thence, there was an abrupt descent to
the bed of the Opequon Creek. This side hill slope consisted of cleared
fields divided by fences. The hill where the house and barns were, also
sloped off to the left. The road to the ford skirted the hill to the
left till it reached the bank, then ran parallel with the creek to a
point about on a line with the farm house, where it turned to the left
and, crossing the stream, took a serpentine course up the opposite
slope. This latter was wooded and dotted on both sides of the road with
piles of rails behind which were posted infantry sharpshooters.

The leading files had barely reached the summit, at the edge of the
plowed ground, when the enemy opened fire on the head of the column of
fours, before the regiment had debouched. There was momentary confusion,
as the sharpshooters appeared to have the exact range. The regiment
deployed forward into line under fire, and with General Custer by my
side we charged across the field to the crest. Custer was the only
mounted man in the field. Reaching the houses and fences, the Sixth
proceeded to try to make it as uncomfortable for the confederates as
they had been doing for us. General Custer had gone back to direct the
movements of the other regiments which were still under cover in the

The charge prostrated me. I succeeded in getting across the field,
cheered on by the gallant Custer, who rode half way, but then fell down
and for a minute or two could not stand on my feet. I suppose my pale
face and weak condition made a very fair presentment of a colonel
demoralized by fright. It was a case of complete physical exhaustion.
While it is probably for the most part moral rather than physical
courage that spurs men into battle, it is equally true that good health
and a sound body are a good background for the display of moral courage.
If any of my friends think that jaundice and an empty stomach are a good
preparation for leading a charge across a plowed field in the face of an
intrenched foe I hope that they never may be called upon to put their
belief to the proof.

Custer then sent orders to engage the enemy as briskly as possible and
directed the Twenty-fifth New York[35] followed by the Seventh Michigan,
to take the ford mounted. The attempt was a failure, however, for the
head of the New York regiment after passing the defile around the left,
when it reached the crossing, instead of taking it, kept on and,
circling to the right, came back to the point from which it started;
thus, in effect, reversing the role of the French army which charged up
a hill and then charged down again. The Seventh Michigan having received
orders to follow the other regiment, obeyed and did not see the mistake
until too late to rectify it, much to the chagrin of that gallant
officer, Lieutenant Colonel Brewer, who commanded it, and who later in
the day, laid down his life.

The First Michigan was then ordered up to make the attempt. That
regiment moved in column down the road to the foot of the hill at the
left and halted. Two squadrons, commanded by Captain George R. Maxwell,
an officer of the most undoubted courage, were detailed as an advance
guard to lead the charge. Some minutes passed and the sharpshooters
began to annoy the mounted men of the First. Major Howrigan, of that
regiment, thinking that the Sixth ought to occupy the attention of the
enemy so completely as to shield his men from annoyance, galloped up to
where I was, and excitedly asked if we could not make it hotter for

"They are shooting my men off their horses," he shouted. As he halted to
deliver this message, a bullet struck the saddlebag in rear of his left
leg. Reaching back he unbuckled the strap, lifted the flap, and pulling
out a cork inserted in the neck of what had been a glass flask,
exclaimed: "Blankety blank their blank souls, they have broken my whisky
bottle." Saying which, he wheeled and galloped back through a shower of
whistling bullets.

General Custer then sent orders by a staff officer for the Sixth to
advance dismounted and support the charge of the First. The Seventh was
also brought up mounted to charge the ford at the same time.
Preparations for this final attack were just about completed when it was
discovered that the confederates were leaving their cover and falling
back. Lowell had effected a crossing at another ford and was threatening
the flank of the force in our front. The Sixth moved forward with a
cheer. All the regiments advanced to the attack simultaneously, and the
crossing of the Opequon was won. A sharp fight followed on the other
side with Early's infantry in which a portion of the First Michigan led
by the gallant Captain Maxwell made a most intrepid charge on infantry
posted in the woods behind a rail fence.

The cavalry soon had the force opposed to it fleeing toward Winchester,
but making a stand from time to time, so that it took from daylight in
the morning until nearly three o'clock in the afternoon to cover the
distance of three or four miles between the crossing of the Opequon and
the outskirts of the town after which the battle has been named, though,
perhaps, it is more correctly styled "The battle of the Opequon."
Breckinridge's infantry and Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, the same gallant
adversaries who hustled us over into Maryland in such lively fashion
during the previous month, stood in the way and made vigorous efforts to
stop our progress. It was a case of hunted turned hunter and the
Wolverines more than balanced the account charged up against
Breckinridge for the affair at Shepherdstown, August 25. To borrow an
illustration from the Rugby game, the cavalry kept working around the
end for gains until a touchdown and goal were scored at five o'clock in
the afternoon.

The battle was fought along the Martinsburg pike, the enemy being
flanked or driven from one position to another until all the brigades of
Merritt's and Averell's[36] divisions, which had been converging toward
a common point, came together about a mile out of Winchester.

As that place was approached, the signs and sounds of a great battle
became startlingly distinct. The roar of artillery and the rattle of
small arms saluted the ear. Within sight of the fortifications, around
that historic town, a duel was raging between the infantry of the two
armies. The lines of blue and gray were in plain sight off to the left.
Puffs of smoke and an angry roar told where the opposing batteries were
planted. Dense masses of smoke enveloped the lines. From the heights to
the front and right, cannon belched fire and destruction.

The Union cavalrymen were now all mounted. The Michigan brigade was on
the left of the turnpike; to its left, the brigades of Devin and Lowell;
on the right, Averell's division of two brigades--five brigades in
all--each brigade in line of squadron columns, double ranks. This made a
front of more than half a mile, three lines deep, of mounted men. That
is to say, it was more than half a mile from Averell's right to
Merritt's left. At almost the same moment of time, the entire line
emerged from the woods into the sunlight. A more enlivening and imposing
spectacle never was seen. Guidons fluttered and sabers glistened.
Officers vied with their men in gallantry and in zeal. Even the horses
seemed to catch the inspiration of the scene and emulated the martial
ardor of their riders. Then a left half wheel began the grand flanking
movement which broke Early's left flank and won the battle.

When the Michigan brigade came out of the woods, it found a line of
confederate horse behind a stone fence. This was the last stand that
Fitzhugh Lee, who commanded Early's cavalry, attempted to make. Indeed,
it was here, probably, that he received the wound which rendered him
hors de combat. General Wickham succeeded him. In the stone fence there
were places where the stones had fallen or had been thrown down, making
openings through which horses could pass one, or at most two, at a time.
The Union cavalrymen made for these openings, not halting or hesitating
for an instant. The fence was taken and breaking through they put to
flight the confederate cavalrymen who did not stop until they found
refuge behind their infantry lines.

The union line was broken up too. The country for a mile was full of
charging columns--regiments, troops, squads--the pursuit taking them in
every direction where a mounted enemy could be seen. The cavalry
disposed of, the infantry was next taken in hand. Early's lieutenants,
finding their flank turned, changed front and tried hard to stem the
tide of defeat. The brigade became badly scattered. Custer with a
portion of it charged right up to a confederate battery, but failed to
get it, not having force enough at that point. The portion of the
command with which I found myself followed Lee's cavalry for a long
distance when, reaching the top of a slope over which they had gone in
their retreat, we found ourselves face to face with a strong line of
infantry which had changed front to receive us, and gave us a volley
that filled the air with a swarm of bullets. This stopped the onset for
the time, in that part of the field, and the cavalry fell back behind
the crest of the hill to reform and, to tell the truth, to get under
cover, for the infantry fire was exceedingly hot. They were firing at
just the right elevation to catch the horses, and there was danger that
our cavalrymen would find themselves dismounted, through having their
mounts killed.

As my horse swerved to the left, a bullet struck my right thigh and,
peeling the skin off that, cut a deep gash through the saddle to the
opening in the center. The saddle caused it to deflect upwards, or it
would have gone through the other leg. At the moment I supposed it had
gone through the right leg. Meeting General Custer I told him with some
pride that I was wounded and needed a surgeon. Not finding one I
investigated for myself and found that it was one of those narrow
escapes which a pious man might set down to the credit of providence or
a miracle. The wound was not serious and I proceeded to assist in
rallying as many men of the regiment as possible to report to General
Custer who was preparing for what proved to be the final charge of the
battle. This was made upon a brigade of infantry which was still
gallantly trying to make a stand toward Winchester and in front of a
large stone house. The ground descended from Custer's position to that
occupied by this infantry. Custer formed his men in line and, at the
moment when the enemy began a movement to the rear, charged down upon
them with a yell that could be heard above the din of the battle. In a
brief time he was in their midst. They threw down their arms and
surrendered. Several hundred of them had retreated to the inside of the
stone house. The house was surrounded and they were all made prisoners.

This charge, in which the Michigan brigade captured more prisoners than
it had men engaged, was for perhaps an eighth of a mile within range of
the batteries on the heights around Winchester, and until it became
dangerous to their own men, the artillery enfiladed our line.

A fragment of one of those shells struck my horse, "Billy," in the nose,
taking out a chunk the size of my fist and he carried the scar till the
day of his death (in 1888). This last charge finished the battle. Early
retreated through Winchester up the valley and nothing was left but to
pursue. Sheridan broke Early's left flank by the movement of the cavalry
from his own right. It was the first time that proper use of this arm
had been made in a great battle during the war. He was the only general
of that war who knew how to make cavalry and infantry supplement each
other in battle. Had the tactics of the battle been reversed,--that is
to say, if Sheridan had moved against Early's right flank instead of his
left,--nothing could have prevented the capture or destruction of
Early's army, as his retreat would have been cut off. But the way to the
south was left open, and Early escaped once more to Fisher's Hill, where
he was found the next day with the remnant--a very respectable
remnant--of his army.

It may be of interest to some of my medical friends to remark here in
passing, that the battle of Winchester cured my jaundice. After crossing
the Opequon I began to be ravenously hungry, and begged and ate hardtack
until there was some danger that the supply would be exhausted. The men
soon saw the situation and when one saw me approaching he would "present
hardtack" without awaiting the order. So I went into the mounted part of
the engagement with a full stomach and in more ways than one with a
"better stomach for a fight."

I regret that it is impossible to give a complete list of casualties in
the brigade. In the appendix to this volume may be found a roll of honor
of all those who were either killed or died of wounds received in

[Illustration: MELVIN BREWER]

Of the officers, Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Brewer was mortally wounded.
The bullet which killed him coming from the stone house in which the
confederates had taken refuge. Colonel Brewer went out in the First, of
which regiment he had risen to be a major. With that rank he was
assigned to command the Seventh and only in the previous June had been
promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was an officer modest as he was
brave; cool and reliable on all occasions. Lieutenant Albert T. Jackson,
of the First, killed early in the action, was a young officer of much
promise. Captain William O. North of the Fifth, who lost his life in the
melee near Winchester, was also a most excellent officer. Captain A.S.
Matthews, of the First was wounded. The casualties on the whole were not
so numerous as in some other less historic engagements, most of them
befalling in the attacks on infantry, early and late in the day.
Breckinridge's infantry seems to have fired low when resisting the
mounted cavalry, for the havoc among horses was very great. I find by my
official report made to the adjutant general at the time, that seven
officers in the Sixth alone had their horses shot, and there is no
reason to suppose that this record exceeded that of the other regiments.

For the next three days, the brigade was in front of infantry at
Fisher's Hill, so close to their lines as to draw their fire and keep
them in their intrenchments.

On the 22nd, Torbert was sent to Milford in the Luray Valley, taking
Wilson's and Merritt's divisions. His orders were to break through one
of the passes in the Massanutten mountains and come out in rear of
Early's army when Crook's flanking movement on the other side would have
driven the confederates out of the strong position at Fisher's Hill.
Crook's attack was completely successful and Early was soon "whirling up
the valley" again. Torbert made a fiasco of it. He allowed Wickham, who
succeeded Fitzhugh Lee after the latter was wounded, with, at most, two
small brigades, to hold him at bay and withdrew without making any fight
to speak of. I remember very well how the Michigan brigade lay in a safe
position in rear of the line listening to the firing and was not ordered
in at all. If Custer or Merritt had been in command it would have been
different. When Sheridan found that Torbert had retreated, he gave him a
very peremptory order to retrace his steps and try again. Custer,
followed by Lowell, was sent to the front and in the forenoon of the
24th Wickham's troopers were scattered in flight and the way opened for
Torbert to carry out his instructions. Even then the march was
leisurely, and the two big divisions arrived in Newmarket on the 25th
only to find that it was too late. Early had escaped again.

On the 26th at Harrisonburg, Custer assumed command of the Second
division in place of Averell and I succeeded to the command of the

On the same day, the brigade was ordered to Port Republic and seeing a
wagon train on the other side, the Sixth and Seventh were sent across
the south fork of the Shenandoah river to attack it. It turned out to
be Kershaw's division, which had been shuttle-cocked back and forth
between Lee's army and the valley all summer and which, once more on the
wing to reinforce Early, was just coming from Swift Run Gap. The two
regiments were driven back, but retired in good order and recrossed the
river. Sheridan then withdrew to Cross Keys, hoping to lure Early to
that point, but was unsuccessful. The next day Port Republic was
reoccupied and the brigade established a picket line extended thence to
Conrad's Ferry, a distance of twenty miles.

While occupying this position, the discovery was made that there were
several good grist-mills along the river that were also well stored with
grist. There were plenty of men in the brigade who were practical
millers, and putting them in charge, I had all the mills running very
early in the morning, grinding flour and meal which the commissaries
were proceeding to issue to the several regiments, according to their
needs, and we all flattered ourselves that we were doing a fine stroke
of business. This complacent state of mind was rudely disturbed when,
about seven o'clock (the mills had been running some two hours, or more)
General Merritt accompanied by his staff, dashed up and, in an angry
mood which he did not attempt to conceal, began to reprimand me because
the mills had not been set on fire.

The fiat had gone forth from General Grant himself, that everything in
the valley that might contribute to the support of the army must be
destroyed before the country was abandoned. Sheridan had already decided
on another retrograde movement down the valley and it was his purpose to
leave a trail of fire behind, obeying to the letter the injunction of
the general in chief to starve out any crow that would hereafter have
the temerity to fly over the Shenandoah valley. The order had gone out
the day before and the work was to begin that morning. Custer was to
take the west and Merritt the east side and burn all barns, mills,
haystacks, etc., within a certain area. Merritt was provoked. He pointed
to the west and one could have made a chart of Custer's trail by the
columns of black smoke which marked it. The general was manifestly
fretting lest Custer should appear to outdo him in zeal in obeying
orders, and blamed me as his responsible subordinate, for the delay. I
told him, with an appearance of humility that I am sure was unfeigned,
that those mills would never grind again, after what had passed.

The wheels were not stopped but the torch was applied and the crackling
of flames intermingled with the rumbling of the stones made a mournful
requiem as the old mills went up in smoke and General Merritt's loyalty
was vindicated.

It was a disagreeable business and--we can be frank now--I did not
relish it. One incident made a lasting impression on the mind of every
man who was there. The mill in the little hamlet of Port Republic
contained the means of livelihood--the food of the women and children
whom the exigencies of war had bereft of their natural providers and,
when they found that it was the intention to destroy that on which their
very existence seemed to depend, their appeals to be permitted to have
some of the flour before the mill was burned, were heartrending. Worse
than all else, in spite of the most urgent precautions, enjoined upon
the officers in charge, the flames extended. The mill stood in the midst
of a group of wooden houses and some of them took fire. Seeing the
danger, I rode across and ordered every man to fall in and assist in
preventing the further spread of the flames, an effort which was,
happily, successful. What I saw there is burned into my memory. Women
with children in their arms, stood in the street and gazed frantically
upon the threatened ruin of their homes, while the tears rained down
their cheeks. The anguish pictured in their faces would have melted any
heart not seared by the horrors and "necessities" of war. It was too
much for me and at the first moment that duty would permit, I hurried
away from the scene. General Merritt did not see these things, nor did
General Sheridan, much less General Grant.

The army began to fall back on the 6th of October, the cavalry bringing
up the rear, as usual, Merritt on the valley pike, Custer by the back
road, along the east slope of the Little North mountain. The work of
incineration was continued and clouds of smoke marked the passage of
the federal army. Lomax with one division of cavalry followed Merritt,
while Rosser with two brigades took up the pursuit of Custer on the back
road. The pursuit was rather tame for a couple of days but the sight of
the destruction going on must have exasperated the confederate troopers,
many of whom were on their native heath, and put them in a fighting
mood, for on the 8th they began to grow aggressive and worried the life
out of our rear guard. The Michigan brigade had the rear. The Seventh
was sent ahead to see that nothing escaped that came within the scope of
Grant's order; the Fifth acted as rear guard; the First and Sixth in
position to support the Fifth if needed. The pike formed the main street
of the little town of Woodstock, the houses coming close to it on either
side. On nearing that place, it was found that a fire started in some
small barns and haystacks in the outskirts, had caught in the adjoining
buildings and the town was in flames. Dismounting the two regiments, and
sending the lead horses beyond the village, orders were given to have
the fires put out. The men went to work with a will, but were
interrupted in their laudable purpose by Lomax, who charged the rear
guard into the town, and there was some lively hustling to get to the
horses in time. The brigade was then formed in line in a good position
facing Woodstock and awaited, indeed invited attack by the confederates.
Lomax, however, kept at a respectful distance until the march was
resumed, when he took up the pursuit again. Thus it went, alternately
halting, forming and facing to the rear, and falling back, until Tom's
Brook was reached late in the afternoon. Then General Merritt directed
me to send one regiment to reinforce Custer, who was being hard pressed
by Rosser on the back road, and take the others and drive Lomax back.
The Seventh was sent to Custer and the First, Fifth and Sixth, the Sixth
leading, drove the cavalry that had been annoying our rear at a jump
back to Woodstock, a distance of about six miles. By that time, Lomax
had his entire division up and when we started to fall back again, gave
us a Roland for our Oliver, following sharply, but always declining the
invitation to come on, when we halted and faced him. It was particularly
annoying to the Fifth which brought up the rear and distinguished itself
greatly by the stubborn resistance which it offered to the attacks of
the enemy. Captain Shier's squadron of the First, supported the Fifth
with much spirit.

On the morning of the 9th, Sheridan told Torbert to go out and whip the
cavalry that was following us or get whipped himself. It was a short job
and the battle of Tom's Brook is regarded as one of the humorous
incidents of the war. With slight loss, in a very brief engagement,
Rosser and Lomax were both routed and the pursuit of the latter on the
pike was continued for about twenty miles. The battle known in history
as that of "Tom's Brook," was facetiously christened "The Woodstock
Races," and the confederate cavalry cut little figure in Virginia
afterwards. The Michigan brigade had a prominent part in the battle,
being in the center and forming the connecting link between the First
and Third divisions. In the opening attack the confederate center was
pierced by the mounted charge of the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Michigan,
assisted by the Twenty-fifth New York. The First being on picket during
the previous night had not returned to the command. I believe I am right
in claiming that the first impression made on the enemy's line of battle
was by these regiments, though the line was rather thin, for the reason
that the heaviest part of Rosser's force had been massed in front of
Custer and on the pike, making the center an especially vulnerable
point. When the flight began, they took to the roads, and the Michigan
men being in the woods did not get very far into the "horse race," as it
was called. The First, coming from the picket line, trailed the leaders
along the pike and managed to get a good deal of sport out of it with
very little danger.

I must now pass over the few intervening days to the crowning glory of
the campaign, The Battle of Cedar Creek.



The engagement which took place in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, on
the nineteenth day of October, 1864, will take its place high up in the
list of the decisive battles of history. Like Blenheim and Balaklava,
Cedar Creek will be remembered while literature lasts. One of its
dramatic incidents furnished the theme for the poet's song, and
"Sheridan's Ride," like Horatius, will remain until the imagination can
no longer be thrilled by the recital of the record of heroic deeds. Thus
doth poesy erect monuments, more enduring than bronze or marble, to the
memory of the brave.

Yet, the events of that day have been greatly misconceived.[37] The
imagination, inflamed by the heroic verse of Read, and unaided by the
remembrance of actual personal experiences in the battle, sees only the
salient points--Gordon's stealthy march along the Massanutten mountain;
the union troops, in fancied security, sleeping in their tents; the
absence of their great leader; the morning surprise; the rout; the mass
of fleeing fugitives; the victors in exultant pursuit; Sheridan's ride
from Winchester; the magic influence of his arrival on the field, in
arresting the headlong flight of the panic stricken mob; the rally; the
reflux tide of enthusiasm; the charge back into the old camps; the
glorious victory that succeeded humiliating defeat.

With all due allowance for poetical license, the conception of this
battle which long ago became fixed in the public mind, does a cruel
injustice to the gallant men who were maimed or killed on that hard
fought field. Enveloped in the mists of receding years; obscured by the
glamour of poetry; belied by the vivid imagination of stragglers and
camp-followers who, on the first note of danger, made a frantic rush for
Winchester, seeking to palliate their own misconduct by spreading
exaggerated reports of disaster, the union army that confronted Early at
Cedar Creek, for many years made a sorry picture, which the aureole of
glory that surrounded its central figure made all the more humiliating.

It is due to truth and justice that every detail of that famous fight
should be told, to the end that no undeserved shadow may rest upon the
fame of the men and officers who took part in it--no unjust stain upon
their record.

History, so called, has been misleading. It is true that Sheridan's
narrative sheds much new light upon his part in the battle, and General
Merritt, one of the leading actors, wrote a paper upon it for the
Century series though I doubt if it has been generally read, or if
read, effective in modifying preconceived notions. An idea of that which
has been written in the name of history may be gained from an extract
taken from the American cyclopedia (vol. xvi) which says:

   "He (Sheridan) met the fugitives a mile and a half from town,
   (Winchester), and with a brigade which had been left in Winchester,
   moved upon the enemy, who had begun to intrench themselves."

The absurdity of such "history" ought to be self evident. Imagine, if
you can, a brigade of infantry following Sheridan on his wild ride of
"twenty miles" and then rushing to attack an army which, according to
the tradition of which I have spoken, had just whipped four army corps.
Of course, the statement is an absurd one. No brigade came from
Winchester. No brigade could have come from Winchester; and had such a
thing been possible, it would have constituted but a slight factor in
the contest.

There were in the federal army on that eventful morning, seven brigades
of infantry (the Sixth corps) seven brigades of cavalry, not to mention
one division (Grover's) of the Nineteenth corps, (four brigades), making
eighteen brigades in all, that were neither surprised in their camps,
nor in the slightest degree demoralized at any time during the progress
of the battle; and which had forced Early to stop short in his headlong
career of victory long before the famous black charger brought his fiery
rider to the field. The Eighth corps which was surprised was a small
corps of only five brigades, and although after Kershaw's onset,
conducted by General Early in person, it was practically eliminated,
there was a fine army left which, crippled as it was, was fully equal to
the task of retrieving the disaster, and which, as the event proved,
needed only the guiding hand of Sheridan to put it in motion and lead it
to victory.

It is not, however, the purpose of this paper to give all the details of
that great battle, but to narrate what a single actor in it saw; to make
a note in passing of some things that do not appear in the official
records, that are not a part of the written history of the war; some
incidents that are important only as they throw light on that which is
bathed in shadow, though having for one of Custer's troopers an interest
in themselves; to do justice to the splendid courage displayed by the
cavalry, especially the Michigan cavalry, on that occasion; to pay a
tribute of admiration to the gallantry and steadfastness of the old
Sixth corps; and to the courage and capacity of the gallant Colonel
Lowell, who was killed.

Cedar Creek is a small stream that rises in the Blue Ridge, runs across
the valley, at that point but four miles wide, and pours its waters into
the Shenandoah near Strasburg. It is very crooked, fordable, but with
steep banks difficult for artillery or wagons, except where a way has
been carved out at the fords. It runs in a southeasterly course, so that
its mouth is four miles or more south of a line drawn due east from the
point where it deserts the foot-hills on the west side of the valley.
The valley, itself, is shut in between the Blue mountains, on one side,
and the Massanutten, a spur of the Great North mountain, on the other.
It is traversed, from north to south, by a turnpike road, a little to
the left of the center, which road crosses Cedar Creek between
Middletown and Strasburg.

On the night of October 18, 1864, the federal army was encamped on the
left bank of Cedar Creek, Crook's Eighth corps on the left flank, east
of the pike and nearly in front of Middletown; Emory's Nineteenth corps
to the right and rear of Crook and west of the pike; then, successively,
each farther to the right and rear, the Sixth corps, temporarily
commanded by General James B. Ricketts; Devin's and Lowell's brigades of
Merritt's (First) cavalry division; the Michigan cavalry brigade; and
last, but not least, Custer with the Third cavalry division. All faced
toward the south, though posted en echelon, so that, though Crook was
some three or four miles south of Middletown, a line drawn due east from
Custer's camp, intersected the pike a little north of that place. For
this reason, Early's flanking movement, being from the left through the
camp of Crook, could not strike the flank of the other corps,
successively, without shifting the line of attack to the north, while
the Sixth corps and the cavalry were able to confront his troops, after
their first partial success, by simply moving to the left, taking the
most direct route to the turnpike. The position which the Michigan
cavalry occupied was somewhat isolated. Although belonging to the First
division, it was posted nearer the camp of the Third.

The brigade consisted of the four Michigan regiments and Captain
Martin's Sixth New York independent horse battery. The First Michigan
was commanded by Major A.W. Duggan, a gallant officer who was wounded at
Gettysburg; the Fifth by Major S.H. Hastings; the Sixth by Major Charles
W. Deane; the Seventh by Lieutenant Colonel George G. Briggs, the latter
officer having only just been promoted to that position. The New York
battery had been with us but a short time, but Captain Martin and his
lieutenants ranked among the best artillery officers in the service.

For a few days, only, I had been in command of the brigade. General
Custer, who had led it from the time he was made a brigadier, in June,
1863, was promoted to the command of the Third division and, hastily
summoning me, went away, taking his staff and colors with him. I was
obliged while yet on the march, to form a staff of officers as
inexperienced as myself. It was an unsought and an unwelcome

For two or three days before the battle, our duty had been to guard a
ford of Cedar Creek. One regiment was kept constantly on duty near the
ford. The line of videttes was thrown out across the stream, connecting
on the left with the infantry picket line and on the right with Custer's
cavalry pickets. The Seventh Michigan was on duty the night of October
18, the brigade camp back about a mile from the ford.

No intimation of expected danger had been received--no injunction to be
more than usually alert. It was the habit of the cavalry, which had so
much outpost duty to perform, to be always ready, and cavalry officers
were rarely taken by surprise. Early's precautions had been carefully
taken and no hint of his purpose reached the union headquarters, and no
warning of any immediate or more than usually pressing danger was given
to the army.

But, somehow, I had a vague feeling of uneasiness, that would not be
shaken off. I believe now and have believed, for many years, that there
was in my mind a distinct presentiment of the coming storm. I could not
sleep and at eleven o'clock, was still walking about outside the tents.

It was a perfect night, bright and clear. The moon was full, the air
crisp and transparent. A more serene and peaceful scene could not be
imagined. The spirit of tranquility seemed to have settled down, at
last, upon the troubled Shenandoah. Far away, to the left, lay the army,
wrapped in slumber. To the right, the outlines of the Blue mountains
stood out against the sky and cast dark shadows athwart the valley.
Three-quarters of a mile away the white tents of Custer's camp looked
like weird specters in the moonlight. Scarcely a sound was heard. A
solemn stillness reigned, broken only by the tread of the single sentry,
pacing his beat in front of headquarters. Inside, the staff and brigade
escort were sleeping. Finally, a little before midnight, I turned in,
telling the guard to awaken me at once, should there be firing in front,
and to so instruct the relief.

I cannot give the exact time; it may be I did not know it at the time;
but it was before daylight that the sentinel awoke me. Not having
undressed, I was out in an instant, and listening, heard scattering
shots. They were not many, but enough to impel me to a quick resolve.
Rousing the nearest staff officer, I bade him have the command ready to
move at a moment's notice.

In an incredibly short space of time, the order was executed. The tents
were struck, the artillery horses attached to the gun carriages and
caissons, and the cavalry horses saddled. No bugle call was sounded. The
firing grew heavier, and from the hill where Custer was, rang out on the
air the shrill notes of Foght's bugle, telling us that our old commander
had taken the alarm. Rosser had attacked the pickets at the fords and
was driving them in. He had done the same on one or two mornings before,
but there was an unwonted vigor about this attack that boded mischief.
The federal cavalry had, however, recovered from their earlier habit of
being "away from home" when Rosser called. They were always "in" and
ready and willing to give him a warm reception. He found that morning
that both Merritt and Custer were "at home." In a moment, a staff
officer from General Merritt dashed up with orders to take the entire
brigade to the support of the picket line. Moving out rapidly, we were
soon on the ground. The Seventh Michigan had made a gallant stand alone,
and when the brigade arrived, the enemy did not see fit to press the
attack, but contented himself with throwing a few shells from the
opposite bank which annoyed us so little that Martin did not unlimber
his guns.

[Illustration: CHARLES R. LOWELL]

A heavy fog had by this time settled down upon the valley. The first
streaks of dawn began to appear, and it soon became evident that the
cavalry attack upon the right flank was but a feint and that the real
danger was in another quarter. Far away to the left, for some time,
volleys of musketry had been heard. With the roll of musketry was
intermingled, at intervals, the boom of cannon, telling to the practiced
ear, the story of a general engagement. The sounds increased in volume
and in violence, and it was no difficult matter to see that the union
forces were falling back for, farther and farther to the left and rear,
were heard the ominous sounds. From the position we occupied no infantry
line of battle was to be seen.

Soon after the Michigan brigade had taken its position at the front,
Colonel Charles R. Lowell rode up at the head of the Reserve brigade.
Colonel Lowell was a young man, not much past his majority, and looked
like a boy. He was a relative of James Russell Lowell, and had won
distinction as colonel of the Second Massachusetts cavalry. He had
succeeded Merritt as commander of the Reserve brigade. He had a frank,
open face, a manly, soldierly bearing, and a courage that was never
called in question. He was a graduate of Harvard, not of West Point,
though he had been a captain in the Sixth United States cavalry.

Colonel Lowell informed me that his orders were to support the Michigan
men if they needed support. No help was needed at that time. I told him
so. The enemy had been easily checked and, at the moment, had become so
quiet as to give rise to the suspicion that he had withdrawn from our
front, as indeed he had. A great battle was raging to the left, and in
response to the suggestion that the army seemed to be retreating, he

"I think so," and after a few moments reflection, said:

"I shall return" and immediately began the countermarch.

I said to him: "Colonel, what would you do if you were in my place?"

"I think you ought to go too" he replied and, presently, turning in his
saddle, continued: "Yes, I will take the responsibility to give you the
order," whereat, the two brigades took up the march toward the point
where the battle, judging from the sound, seemed to be in progress. How
little either of us realized that Lowell was marching to his death. It
was into the thickest of the fight that he led the way, Michigan
willingly following.[38]

A startling sight presented itself as the long cavalry column came out
into the open country overlooking the battle-ground. Guided by the
sound, a direction had been taken that would bring us to the pike as
directly as possible and at the same time approach the union lines from
the rear. This brought us out on a commanding ridge north of Middletown.
This ridge as it appears to a participant looking at it from memory,
runs to and across the pike. The ground descends to the south a half
mile, or more, then gradually rises again to another ridge about on a
line with Middletown. The confederate forces were on the last named
ridge, along which their batteries were planted, and their lines of
infantry could be seen distinctly. Memory may have lost something of the
details of the picture, but the outlines remain as vivid, now as then.
The valley between was uneven, with spots of timber here and there and
broken into patches by fences, some of them of stone.

The full scope of the calamity which had befallen our arms burst
suddenly into view. The whole battle field was in sight. The valley and
intervening slopes, the fields and woods, were alive with infantry,
moving singly and in squads. Some entire regiments were hurrying to the
rear, while the confederate artillery was raining shot and shell and
spherical case among them to accelerate their speed. Some of the enemy's
batteries were the very ones just captured from us. It did not look like
a frightened or panic stricken army, but like a disorganized mass that
had simply lost the power of cohesion. A line of cavalry skirmishers[39]
formed across the country was making ineffectual efforts to stop the
stream of fugitives who had stolidly and stubbornly set their faces to
the rear. Dazed by the surprise in their camps, they acted like men who
had forfeited their self-respect. They were chagrined, mortified, mad at
their officers and themselves--demoralized; but, after all, more to be
pitied than blamed.

But all these thousands, hurrying from the field, were not the entire
army. They were the Eighth corps and a part of the Nineteenth only, a
fraction of the army. There, between ourselves and the enemy--between
the fugitives and the enemy--was a long line of blue, facing to the
front, bravely battling to stem the tide of defeat. How grandly they
stood to their work. Neither shot nor shell nor volleys of musketry
could break them. It was the old Sixth corps--the "ironsides" from the
Potomac army, who learned how to fight under brave John Sedgwick.
Slowly, in perfect order, the veterans of the Wilderness and
Spottsylvania were falling back, contesting every inch of the way. One
position was surrendered only to take another. There was no wavering, no
falling out of ranks, except of those who were shot down. The next
morning, one passing over the ground where those heroes fought, could
see where they successively stood and breasted the storm by the dead men
who lay in line where they had fallen. There were two or three lines of
these dead skirmishers. The official record shows that the Sixth corps
on that day lost 255 men killed and 1600 wounded.

The two brigades had reached a point where the entire field was in view,
and were in position to resume their relation to the line of battle,
whenever the scattered fragments of the army could be assembled and
formed for an organized resistance to the enemy.

In the meantime it had been decided to mass all the cavalry on the left
of the line, opposite to where it had been in the morning. The order
came from General Merritt to continue the march in that direction, and
the long column led by Lowell turned its head toward the left of the
Sixth corps[40] and formed on the other side of the pike. Moving
across, parallel with the line which had been taken up by that corps,
the cavalry was exposed to a galling fire of artillery. One shell took
an entire set of fours out of the Sixth Michigan. Not a man left the
ranks. The next set closed up the gap. Custer was already there, having
been transferred from right to left while the two brigades of the First
division were out on the picket line. Crossing the pike, we passed in
front of his division. It was formed in line of brigades, each brigade
in column of regiments, mounted. It is needless to say that they were
faced toward the enemy. Custer, himself, was riding along the front of
his command, chafing like a caged lion, eager for the fray. Devin, with
Taylor's battery had been there for some time and, under the personal
direction of General Merritt, had been most gallantly resisting the
advance of the victorious enemy. The Michigan brigade took position in
front of Custer, Martin's battery next the pike. Lowell with the Reserve
brigade was stationed still farther in advance toward Middletown. The
Sixth corps made its final stand on the prolongation of the cavalry
alignment and from that moment the attacks of the enemy were feeble and
ineffective, the battle resolving itself, for the time being, into an
artillery duel in which Martin's battery took a prominent part.

It could not have been much later than nine o'clock when the two
brigades of cavalry arrived. Their coming was opportune. Who can say how
much it had to do in stopping the further progress of Early's attack?
It is now known that Early dreaded a flanking movement by the body of
horse which he saw massing in front of his right flank. The gallant
Lowell, who so bravely did his duty and who exhibited in every stage of
the battle the highest qualities of leadership, a few hours after his
arrival on the left laid down his life for the cause he so valiantly
served. He was killed by a bullet from the gun of a sharpshooter in
Middletown. He did not live to make a report and the story never has
been told officially of how he marched from right to left at Cedar

Sheridan had not yet come up, but after his arrival, which he states in
his memoirs was not later than ten o'clock, Custer was moved to the
right flank, arriving in time to thwart a threatened flanking movement
by Gordon and Kershaw. It is evident that every strategic attempt of the
enemy, save the morning surprise, was checkmated by the union cavalry
and, it must be remembered, that it was the absence of cavalry on the
left which rendered the morning surprise possible.

The First division was now all together with General Merritt personally
in command. A part of Lowell's brigade, dismounted, was posted well to
the front, the Michigan brigade, mounted, in its rear. While in this
position, having occasion to ride up into the battery to speak to
Captain Martin, a sharpshooter in Middletown took a shot at us. The
bullet narrowly missed the captain and buried itself in my horse's
shoulder. Unlike the shell at Winchester, this wound disabled the old
fellow, so that he had to go to the rear and give way to a temporary
remount,--furnished by the commanding officer of the First
Michigan,--much to the regret of the old hero, for he was a horse who
loved the excitement of battle and relished its dangers.

Thus, for perhaps an hour (it may have been more) we stood in line
inviting attack. But the enemy, strongly posted behind fences and piles
of logs, with two ravines and fences separating us, seemed anxious to
"let well enough alone." Then Merritt rearranged his line. Devin's
brigade was posted next the pike, Lowell in the center, the Michigan
brigade on the extreme left. Martin's battery took position in an
orchard, on a rising point, which commanded the entire front and sloped
off to the rear, so that only the muzzles of the pieces were exposed to
the enemy's fire. Directly in front was a section of a battery which
Martin several times silenced but which had an aggravating way of coming
into action again and making it extremely uncomfortable for us. The
First, Sixth and Seventh were formed in line of squadron columns, the
Fifth a little to the rear as a reserve and support. A strong line of
mounted skirmishers held the front. The left was thrown somewhat
forward, menacing the confederate right.

Soon after the formation was complete and probably not far from eleven
o'clock, General Merritt with his staff came along inspecting the line,
and halting near Martin's battery, he expressed the most hearty approval
of the dispositions that had been made. While he was still talking, a
round shot from one of the enemy's guns ricochetted and nearly struck
his horse. He was very cool and gave his view of the situation in a few
encouraging words.

"The enemy," said he, "is almost as much surprised as we are and does
not know what to make of his morning's work and in my opinion, does not
intend to press his advantage, but will retreat as soon as a vigorous
assault is made upon his line."

These are, I am sure, almost the precise words uttered to me by General
Merritt before Sheridan came up. At least, if he was with the army at
the time, certainly General Merritt did not know it. They show what was
the feeling in that portion of the army which was not surprised, and
which did not fail, from the moment when the first shot was fired in the
early morning, to the last charge at dusk, to keep its face to the foe.
General Merritt also suggested, though he did not order it, that I send
a regiment to feel of the confederate right flank. He had an impression
that it might be turned. The Seventh Michigan was sent with instructions
to pass by the rear to the left, thence to the front, and attempt to get
beyond the flank of the enemy, and, if successful, to attack. After an
absence of about an hour, it returned and the commanding officer
reported that he found a line of infantry as far as he deemed it
prudent to go. The force in front of the cavalry was Wharton's
(Breckinridge's) corps, reinforced by one brigade of Kershaw's division.
Early's fear of being flanked by the union cavalry caused him to
strengthen and prolong his right. Rosser's cavalry, for some reason, did
not put in an appearance after the dash in the morning.

There was a lull. After the lapse of so many years, it would be idle to
try to recall the hours, where they went and how they sped. There was no
thought of retreat, slight fear of being attacked. All were wondering
what would be done, when cheering and a great commotion arose toward the
right. "Sheridan has come; Sheridan has come; and there is to be an
advance all along the line," sped from right to left, as if an electric
battery had sent the message, so quickly did it fly.

Sheridan did not pass to the left of the pike where the cavalry was, but
dashed along in front of the infantry for the purpose of letting the
army know that he was there and give it the inspiration of his presence.
History puts in his mouth the words: "It is all right, boys; we will
whip them yet; we will sleep in our old camps tonight." I was not near
enough to hear and do not pretend to quote from personal knowledge, but
whatever may have been his exact words, the enthusiasm which they
aroused was unmistakable. The answer was a shout that sent a thrill
across the valley and whose ominous meaning must have filled the hearts
of the confederates with misgivings. This was the first intimation we
had that Sheridan was on the ground, though he says in his memoirs, that
it was then after midday and that he had been up about two hours.

But the Sixth corps needed no encouragement. Nobly had it done its duty
during the entire progress of the battle. Sheridan and his staff,
therefore, busied themselves reforming and posting the Nineteenth corps
and strengthening the right where Custer was to be given the post of
honor in the grand flanking movement about to begin.

An ominous silence succeeded. Even the batteries were still. It was the
calm that precedes the storm. To those on the left, it seemed that the
dispositions were a long time in making. When one has his courage
screwed to the sticking point, the more quickly he can plunge in and
have it over the better. The suspense was terrible.

The Michigan brigade had ample time to survey the field in its front.
First, the ground descended abruptly into a broad ravine, or depression,
through which ran a small creek. Beyond the top of the opposite ascent
was a wide plateau of rather level ground, then another ravine and a dry
ditch; then a rise and another depression, from which the ground sloped
up to a belt of timber stretching clear across the front, almost to the
pike. In the edge of the timber was the enemy's main line of battle,
behind piles of rails and logs. Half way down the slope was a strong
skirmish line along a rail fence. Behind the fence, on a knoll, was the
battery, which had annoyed us so much. The brigade was formed with the
First Michigan on the right, the Seventh on the left, the Sixth and
Fifth in the center, in the order named. Each regiment was in column of
battalions, making three lines of two ranks each. Martin's battery was
to continue firing until the cavalry came into the line of fire.

At length, the expected order came. The bugles sounded, "Forward."
Simultaneously, from the right to the left the movement began. At first,
slowly, then faster. It was a glorious sight to see that magnificent
line sweeping onward in the charge. Far, far away to the right it was
visible. There were no reserves, no plans for retreat, only one grand,
absorbing thought--to drive them back and retake the camps. Heavens,
what a din! All along the confederate line, the cannon volleyed and
thundered. The union artillery replied. The roll of musketry became
incessant. The cavalry crossed the first ravine and moving over the
level plateau, came into a raking fire of artillery and musketry.
Pressing on, they crossed the second ravine and ditch. The slope was
reached and, charging up to the rail fence, the first line of hostile
infantry fell back. But the cavalry had gone too fast for the infantry.
Sheridan says faster than he intended, for his intention was to swing
his right wing and drive the enemy across the pike into the arms of the
left wing on the east side; the too swift advance of the First cavalry
division frustrated the plan. The brigade next to the pike, exposed to a
galling crossfire, wavered and slowly retired. The entire line then gave
way and retreated rapidly, but in good order, to the first ravine, where
it halted and reformed. In a short time the charge was again sounded.
This time the fence was reached. The right of the Sixth Michigan was
directly in front of the battery, as was also the First Michigan.
General Merritt, who was riding by the side of Major Deane, said:
"Major, we want those guns." "All right, we will get them," gallantly
responded the major, and through and over the fence rode the brave
cavalrymen. The First Michigan made a dash for the battery, but it was
not ours this time for, seeing that the Sixth corps had received a
temporary check, the cavalry once more fell back to the nearest ravine,
and whirling into line, without orders, was ready instantly for the last
supreme effort, which was not long delayed. The charge was sounded. The
infantry responded with a shout. This time the cavalry pressed right on
up the slope. The enemy did not stand to meet the determined assault but
gave way in disorder. The line pushed into the woods and then it was
every regiment for itself. The First, under Major Duggan, charged toward
the pike, but Devin, being nearer reached the bridge first. The Seventh,
under Lieutenant Colonel Briggs, charging through a field, captured,
seemingly, more prisoners than it had men. The Sixth, under Major
Deane, who knew the country well, did not pause until it reached
Buckton's Ford, on the Shenandoah river, returning late at night with
many prisoners and a battle flag for which Private Ulric Crocker, of
Troop "M," received one of the medals awarded by act of congress. The
Fifth, under Major Hastings, charged down a road leading to one of the
fords of the Shenandoah, Major Philip Mothersill, with one battalion,
going so far that he did not rejoin the command till the next day.[41]

Thus ended the battle of Cedar Creek. Darkness, alone, saved Early's
army from capture. As it was, most of his artillery and wagons were

It is needless to tell how Sheridan broke Early's left by an assault
with the Nineteenth corps and Custer's cavalry at the same moment of the
last successful charge upon his right. It was a famous victory, though
not a bloodless one. Of the gallant men who went into the fight that
morning on the union side, 588 never came out alive. Three thousand five
hundred and sixteen were wounded. Early did not lose so many but his
prestige was gone, his army destroyed and, from that moment, for the
confederacy to continue the hopeless struggle was criminal folly.

Cedar Creek was the ending of the campaign in the Shenandoah valley.
There was some desultory skirmishing, but no real fighting thereafter.

Among the wounded were Captain Charles Shier, jr. and Captain Darius G.
Maynard, both of the First Michigan cavalry. Captain Shier died on the
31st of October. He was wounded in the charge on the confederate
battery. Captain Shier was as gallant an officer as any who periled his
life on that famous battle field; and not only a fine soldier but a
polished scholar and an accomplished gentleman as well. He was a
distinguished son of the state of Michigan and of the noble university
which bears its name. In his life and in his death he honored both.
Massachusetts remembers the name and reveres the memory of Charles
Lowell. Mothers recite to their children the circumstances of his heroic
death, and in the halls of Harvard a tablet has been placed in his
honor. Charles Shier is a name which ought to be as proudly remembered
in Michigan and in Ann Arbor as is that of Charles Lowell in
Massachusetts and in Cambridge. But fate, in its irony, has decreed that
the nimbus which surrounds the brow of a nation's heroes shall be
reserved for the few whom she selects as types, and these more often
than otherwise idealized types chosen by chance or by accident. These
alone may wear the laurel that catches the eye of ideality and
furnishes the theme for the poet's praise. Others must be content to
shine in reflected light or to be forgotten. The best way is to follow
William Winter's advice and neither crave admiration nor expect
gratitude. After all, the best reward that can come to a man is that
intimate knowledge of himself which is the sure foundation of
self-respect. The adulation of the people is a fugitive dream, as
Admiral Dewey knows now, if he did not suspect it before.

In the original manuscript of the foregoing chapter, written in the year
1886, Lowell was represented as marching "without orders" from right to
left with his own brigade and the Michigan brigade. In the text the
words "without orders" have been omitted. This is not because my own
recollection of the events of that day is not the same now as then, but
for the reason that I am reluctant to invite controversy by giving as
statements of fact things that rest upon the evidence of my own
unsupported memory.

After the manuscript had been prepared, it was referred to General
Merritt with a request that he point out any errors or inaccuracies that
he might note, as it was intended for publication. This request elicited
the following reply:

      "West Point, December 2, 1886.

      "General J.H. Kidd,
          "My Dear General:

   "So much has been written as to the details of the war that I have
   stopped reading the war papers in the best magazines, even. An
   officer writes one month what is to him a truthful account of events
   and the next month that account is contradicted by three or four in
   print with dozens of others who content themselves with contradicting
   it in talk. The account you send me of Cedar Creek is not more
   accurate than the rest.

   "The morning of the attack Lowell's brigade had been ordered to make
   a reconnoissance on the 'Middle road.' This order was given by me the
   evening before. The picket line of the First brigade was attacked
   before the Reserve brigade moved out, and Lowell was ordered to hold
   his brigade in hand to help the First brigade if the attack was

   "Soon after, the fighting on the left of our army was heavy, as shown
   by the artillery fire, and stragglers commenced coming across towards
   the back road. These were stopped and formed as far as possible by my
   headquarters escort--the Fifth U.S. cavalry. About this time Devin's
   brigade (my Second) was ordered to the left of our line to cover and
   hold the valley pike.

   "About ten o'clock, the remainder of the First division was moved to
   the left of the infantry line and disposed so as to connect with the
   infantry and cover the valley pike. This was soon done, the Second
   brigade (Devin's) occupying the right, the Reserve brigade (Lowell's)
   the center, and the First brigade (Kidd's) the left of the division
   line of battle.

   "This is the account of the first part of the battle taken from my
   report written at the time. The movement of Lowell's brigade and your
   own by agreement, and without orders, was impossible. We had all been
   posted where we were as part of a line of battle, and any soldier who
   took a command without orders from one part of a line to another
   subjected himself to the penalty of being cashiered, as such action
   might jeopardize the safety of an army.

   "The principle of marching to the sound of battle when you are
   distant and detached and without orders that contemplate the
   contingency is well defined, but for a commander to leave without
   orders one part of a line of battle because there appears to be
   heavier fighting at another is all wrong and could not be tolerated.

   "I should be glad to renew our acquaintance and talk over the war,
   though as I have intimated I am sick of the fiction written with
   reference to it.

      "Truly yours,

      W. MERRITT."

General Merritt in his letter omits one clause in his quotation from his
report written at the time which seems to me to have an important
bearing upon this question. The clause is as follows:

   "The First brigade was at once ordered to the support of its picket

Or to quote the passage in its entirety:

   "About 4 a.m. on the 19th an attack was made on the pickets of the
   First brigade near Cupp's ford, which attack, coupled with the firing
   on the extreme left of the infantry line, alarmed the camps, and
   everything was got ready for immediate action. The First brigade was
   at once ordered to the support of its picket line, while the Reserve
   brigade, which had the night before received orders to make a
   reconnoissance on the Middle road, was ordered to halt and await
   further orders. This brigade had advanced in the execution of its
   reconnoissance to the picket line, and subsequently acted for a short
   time with the First brigade in repelling the attack of the enemy,
   feebly made on that part of the field. Soon after moving from camp
   the heavy artillery firing and immense number of infantry stragglers
   making across the country to the Back road from our left, showed that
   it was in that direction the heavy force of the enemy was advancing.
   The Fifth U.S. cavalry attached to the division headquarters was
   deployed across the field and, together with the officers and
   orderlies of the division staff did much toward preventing the
   infantry going to the rear. About the same time the Second brigade
   (General Devin) was ordered to move to the left of the line, cover
   and hold the pike, and at the same time deploy men in that part of
   the field to prevent fugitives going to the rear."

[Illustration: THOMAS C. DEVIN]

The rule about moving toward the sound of battle is succinctly stated by
General Merritt in his letter and does not admit of controversy. But I
may in all fairness call attention to the conditions that existed at the
time when it was asserted that Colonel Lowell took the responsibility to
move his brigade from the picket line to the rear, if not to the left,
and order the First brigade to follow. The division line of battle of
which the three brigades had been a part had been broken up. There was
no division line of battle. The First brigade had been ordered to
reinforce its picket line. The Reserve brigade which on the night before
received the order to make a reconnoissance in the morning was held to
support the First brigade and had "advanced as far as the picket line."
Devin's brigade had been ordered to the valley pike to hold it and
"deploy men to prevent fugitives going to the rear." May it not then be
said with truth that he was "distant and detached" and "without orders
that contemplate the contingency?" The enemy that attacked "feebly" had
disappeared. There was in sight no picket line either of the enemy's or
of our own. There was visible no line of skirmishers or of battle. The
"fighting on the left of our army as shown by the artillery fire" was
not only "heavy," as described by General Merritt, but indicated
clearly by the sound that the army was falling back. Lowell's movement
was under the circumstances entirely justifiable. That he moved from the
picket line to the rear voluntarily, and that he took the responsibility
to order the Michigan brigade to follow, is as certain as that when the
moon passes between the earth and the sun it causes an eclipse.

The march from the picket line to the pike was continuous. There was no
halting for formations of any kind. It is quite possible, however, that
the staff officer who conveyed the order from General Merritt found
Lowell in motion in the right direction and delivered the order to him
to cover the movement of both brigades. I do not remember receiving any
order except the one from Lowell until after reaching the pike.

One more point and this subject, which has been given more space perhaps
than it ought to, will be left to the reader. General Merritt's report
takes up the matter of arranging the division line of battle with the
formation at "about ten o'clock," with the Second brigade on the right,
next to the pike, the Reserve brigade in the center, and the First
brigade on the left. That was some time after the arrival of the two
brigades. The first position taken by the First brigade was next the
pike in rear of Lowell and Devin. Martin's battery was posted originally
close to the pike and it was while there that my horse was shot. I still
believe that it was not much after nine o'clock when we first formed on
the left of Getty's division. The subsequent rearrangement of the line
is referred to in the text and was exactly as described in General
Merritt's report.

The following table of killed and wounded in the Michigan cavalry
brigade in the Shenandoah Valley campaign is compiled from the official
records in the office of the adjutant general of Michigan:

                         First    Fifth    Sixth   Seventh
                        Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Total
   Winchester             16        8        7        8       39
   Shepherdstown           1        5        1        0        7
   Middletown              1       --       --       --        1
   Smithfield              2        4        2        3       11
   On Picket               1       --       --       --        1
   Cedar Creek             3        5        6        2       16
   By Mosby's Men         --       18       --       --       18
   Front Royal            --        2       --        2        4
   Newtown                --        4       --       --        4
   Tom's Brook            --       --        1        1        2
   Berryville             --       --       --        1        1
                        ----     ----     ----     ----     ----
   Total                  24       46       17       17      104

Recapitulation--Killed and died of wounds, Shenandoah Valley:

   First Michigan                                     24
   Fifth Michigan                                     46
   Sixth Michigan                                     17
   Seventh Michigan                                   17
   Total                                             104

The following table of killed and wounded in the First cavalry division
in the battle of Cedar Creek is taken from the official war records:[42]

   First Brigade--
     Officers and men killed                                    10
     Officers and men wounded                                   43
     Officers and men killed and wounded                        53

   Second Brigade--
     Officers and men killed                                     3
     Officers and men wounded                                   16
     Officers and men killed and wounded                        19

   Reserve Brigade--
     Officers and men killed                                     9
     Officers and men wounded                                   27
     Officers and men killed and wounded                        36

   Total killed and wounded, First Brigade                      53
   Total killed and wounded Second and Reserve Brigades         55

It is thus seen that the First brigade lost in killed and wounded within
two of as many as both the other brigades--almost fifty per cent of the
entire losses of the division.

Custer's division of two brigades lost 2 killed and 24 wounded.

Powell's division of two brigades lost 1 killed, 8 wounded.

In other words, while the entire of the Second and Third
divisions--four brigades--lost but 35 killed and wounded, the Michigan
brigade alone lost 53 in this battle. Thirty-four per cent of the entire
losses killed and wounded in the cavalry corps were in this one

These figures give point to the statement of General Merritt in a
communication to the adjutant general of the First cavalry division,
dated November 4, 1864, that the list of killed and wounded in a battle
is presumptive evidence of the degree and kind of service performed.[44]
General Merritt also gives the Michigan brigade credit for "overwhelming
a battery, and its supports," in other words capturing the battery.



In the latter part of the winter of 1864-65 I was detailed as president
of a military commission, called to meet in Winchester to try a man
charged with being a spy, a guerrilla, a dealer in contraband goods, and
a bad and dangerous man. The specifications recited that the accused had
been a member of the notorious Harry Gilmor's band of partisans; that he
had been caught wearing citizen's clothes inside the union lines; and
that he was in the habit of conveying quinine and other medical supplies
into the confederacy. He was a mild mannered, inoffensive appearing
person who had been an employe of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad
company. He appeared under guard, before the commission, at its daily
sessions, accompanied by his counsel, a leading attorney of Winchester,
whose learning and ability were not less pronounced than was the quality
of his whisky, samples of which he, at irregular intervals, brought in
for the solace, if not for the seduction of the court. It was no more
like the article commonly called whisky than Mumm's extra dry is like
the pink lemonade of circus time. It had an oily appearance, an
aromatic flavor, and the lawyer averred that there was not a headache in
a barrel of it, though he was the only one who ever had an opportunity
to test the truth of the statement and there is no doubt that he knew.

The prisoner exhibited a surprising degree of sang froid considering the
grave crimes with which he was charged, the penalty of conviction for
any one of which was death. This attitude of the accused puzzled the
commission not a little, for he acted like either a very hardened
criminal, or a man who was both conscious of innocence and confident of
acquittal, and he did not look like "a very bad man."

The case was on trial when the army moved. General Sheridan seemed to
lay much stress on the matter for he refused the request of the
president of the commission to be relieved in order to rejoin his
regiment. A personal letter from General Merritt to General Forsythe,
chief-of-staff, making the same request was negatived and an order
issued directing the commission to remain in session until that
particular case was disposed of and providing that such members as
should then desire it, be relieved and their places filled by others.

During the progress of the trial the commission was informed that a very
important witness had been detained under guard, by order of General
Sheridan, in order that his testimony might be taken. On the witness's
first appearance it was noticed that the guard detail was very careful
to give him no opportunity to escape. He proved to be a person of most
noticeable appearance. Rather above than under six feet, well-built,
straight, athletic, with coal-black hair worn rather long, a keen,
restless black eye, prominent features, well-dressed, and with a
confident, devil-may-care bearing, he was altogether, a most striking
figure. His name was Lemoss; his testimony to the point and unequivocal.
He acknowledged having been a guerrilla, himself. He had, he said, been
a member of Gilmor's band and of other equally notorious commands. He
had deserted and tendered his services as a scout and they had been
accepted by General Sheridan. He swore that he knew the prisoner; had
seen him serving with Gilmor; and knew that he had been engaged in the
practices charged.

After this witness had given his testimony the court saw no more of him,
but he left a very bad impression on the minds of the members and there
was not one of them who did not feel, and give voice to the suspicion
that there was something mysterious about him which was not disclosed at
the trial. When news of the assassination of the president came to
Winchester, all wondered if he did not have something to do with it and
the name "Lemoss" was instantly on the lips of every one of us. He had,
in the meantime disappeared.

When I met General Sheridan in Petersburg, after the surrender, and he
inquired what disposition had been made of that case I told him of the
distrust of the principal witness and that it was the unanimous opinion
of the commission that the witness was a much more dangerous man than
the prisoner. The general smiled and remarked, rather significantly I
thought, that he kept Early's spies at his headquarters all winter,
letting them suppose that they were deceiving him, and that before the
army moved he had sent them off on false scents. The inference I drew
from the conversation was that Lemoss was one of those spies and that
the trial was a blind for the purpose of keeping him where he could do
no harm, without letting him know that he was under suspicion. Nothing
more was said about the matter, and I presume that, at the time, General
Sheridan did not know what had become of Lemoss.

Soon after the grand review, my regiment was ordered to the west and,
while en route to Leavenworth, Kansas, I stopped over night in St.
Louis. When reading the morning paper at the breakfast table, I came
upon an item which was dated in some New England city, Hartford or New
Haven, I think, stating that a man by the name of Lemoss, who had been a
scout at Sheridan's headquarters in the Shenandoah valley, had been
arrested by the police in the city in question and papers found on his
person tending to show that he had been in some way implicated in the
plot to assassinate President Lincoln. This recalled to my mind the
surmises in Winchester on the day of the event and also the hint thrown
out by General Sheridan in reply to my question in Petersburg. I cut
the slip out, intending to keep it, but before my return to the states a
long time afterwards, had both lost it and temporarily forgotten the
circumstance. It was not until many years had elapsed and I began to
think of putting my recollections of the war into form for preservation,
that all these things came back to my mind. I have often told the story
to comrades at regimental or army reunions. The conjectures of the
members of the military commission; the suggestion of General Sheridan
that Lemoss was a confederate spy; and the newspaper clipping in St.
Louis; all seemed so coincident as to form a pretty conclusive chain of
evidence connecting the Winchester witness with the conspiracy. I never
learned what was done with him after the arrest in New England.

Recently, when consulting Sheridan's memoirs to verify my own
remembrance of the dates of certain events in the Shenandoah campaign,
what was my surprise to find that the purport of a passage bearing
directly upon this subject had entirely escaped my attention on the
occasion of a first reading soon after the book appeared.

On page 108, volume 2, appears the following:

   "A man named Lomas, who claimed to be a Marylander, offered me his
   services as a spy, and coming highly recommended from Mr. Stanton,
   who had made use of him in that capacity, I employed him. He made
   many pretensions, was more than ordinarily intelligent, but my
   confidence in him was by no means unlimited. I often found what he
   reported corroborated by Young's men, but generally, there were
   discrepancies in his tales which led me to suspect that he was
   employed by the enemy as well as by me. I felt however, that with
   good watching, he could do me very little harm and, if my suspicions
   were incorrect, he might be very useful, so I held on to him.

   "Early in February Lomas was very solicitous for me to employ a man,
   who, he said, had been with Mosby, but on account of some quarrel had
   abandoned that leader. Thinking that with two of them I might destroy
   the railroad bridge east of Lynchburg, I concluded after the Mosby
   man had been brought to my headquarters, by Lomas about 12 o'clock
   one night, to give him employment at the same time informing Colonel
   Young that I suspected their fidelity and that he must test it by
   shadowing their every movement. When Lomas's companion entered my
   room he was completely disguised but on discarding the various
   contrivances by which his identity was concealed he proved to be a
   rather slender, dark-complexioned, handsome young man, of easy
   address and captivating manners. He gave his name as "Renfrew,"
   answered all questions satisfactorily, and went into details about
   Mosby and his men which showed an intimacy with them at some time. I
   explained the work I had laid out for them, * * * * * They assented
   and it was arranged that they should start the following night.
   Meantime Young had selected his men to shadow them and, two days
   later, they reported my spies as being concealed in Strasburg without
   making the slightest effort to continue on their mission. On the 16th
   of February, they returned and reported their failure, telling so
   many lies as to remove all doubt as to their double-dealing.
   Unquestionably, they were spies, but it struck me that through them I
   might deceive Early as to the time of opening the spring campaign. I
   therefore, retained the men without even a suggestion of my knowledge
   of their true character. Young, meantime, kept close watch over all
   their doings."

General Sheridan then, after giving a summary of the scattered locations
of the various portions of Early's army continues as follows:

   "It was my aim to get well on the road before Early could collect
   these scattered forces and as the officers had been in the habit of
   amusing themselves during the winter by fox-hunting, I decided to use
   the hunt as an expedient for stealing a march on the enemy and had it
   given out that a grand fox-chase would take place on the 29th of
   February. Knowing that Lomas and Renfrew would spread the
   announcement south they were permitted to see several red foxes as
   well as a pack of hounds which had been secured for the spurt and
   were then started on a second expedition to burn the bridges. Of
   course, they were shadowed, and two days later were arrested in
   Newtown. On the way north, they escaped from their guards when
   passing through Baltimore, and I never heard of them again, though I
   learned that, after the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, Secretary
   Stanton strongly suspected his friend Lomas of being associated with
   the conspirators and it then occurred to me that the good-looking
   Renfrew may have been Wilkes Booth, for he certainly bore a strong
   resemblance to Booth's pictures."

There is no doubt that "Lemoss," the witness, and the "Lomas" of General
Sheridan's narrative, were one and the same person. When he wrote the
account from which the foregoing is an extract, General Sheridan had,
probably, forgotten about leaving the spies in Winchester under guard
where they remained until he was well on his way towards Appomattox.
After giving his testimony, Lomas and Renfrew were sent north under
guard by General Hancock, Sheridan's successor as commander of the
Middle Military Division, and making their escape as explained in
Sheridan's narrative, Wilkes Booth, alias Renfrew, was able to carry out
his part of the plot. It is, also, quite probable that Lomas's part in
the conspiracy was to assassinate either General Sheridan or Secretary
Stanton, but, that the scheme was interrupted by the detention of the
two spies in Winchester coupled with the unexpected opening of the
spring campaign. It is likely that the arrest of the two conspirators
led to a postponement of the date of the assassination and that the
scope of the plot as originally conceived in the fertile brain of Booth,
was very much abridged. There was never in my own mind a particle of
doubt, from the moment we heard the news of the president's death, that
the man Lomas or Lemoss had something to do with it. The fact that he
was on terms of intimacy with Secretary Stanton and contrived to be
stationed at Sheridan's headquarters, seems to point conclusively to the
part he was to play in the tragedy. At that time, Sheridan was
considered, perhaps, the most dangerous enemy the confederacy had to
fear and his name must have been high up in the list of those marked by
the conspirators for assassination.

An amusing incident occurred as this trial neared its close. The defense
asked to have William Prescott Smith, master of transportation of the
Baltimore and Ohio railroad, summoned as a witness. His residence was
Baltimore and he was summoned by wire, the telegram bearing the name of
General Hancock, commander of the department. Mr. Smith did not want to
come to Winchester and urged the commission to go to Baltimore. Failing
to secure acquiescence in that proposition, he suggested as a
compromise, that the commission meet him half-way by going to Harper's
Ferry. This was agreed to and on the appointed day, the commission took
passage on a special train consisting of a locomotive and one passenger
coach taking along the prisoner and a guard. Harper's Ferry was reached
a little after dark and a messenger from Mr. Smith met us with the
compliments of that gentleman and a request that we proceed to his
private car. The invitation was accepted and the party was received by
the railroad magnate with every manifestation of welcome and a courtesy
that seemed to be entirely unaffected. It was found that the most
generous and thoughtful provision had been made for our comfort. The
colored chef prepared a dinner which would have tickled the palate of an
epicure, much more those of a quartet of hungry officers directly from
the front. There were champagne and cigars in abundance of a quality
such as would have been good enough had General Hancock himself been the
guest. The host was courtesy itself, an excellent raconteur, a good
fellow, and a gentleman. He could not have treated the president and his
cabinet with more distinguished consideration that that with which he
honored that little party of volunteer officers.

Late in the evening his testimony was taken and he gave the prisoner a
very good character. We slept in his car and in the morning had a
breakfast that suitably supplemented the elegant dinner. Some more
choice cigars, and then Mr. Smith's private car was attached to an
ingoing train and he departed for Baltimore. At the very last moment
before his train started, Mr. Smith said:

"Pardon me, gentlemen, but it is too good a joke to keep and I am sure
that you will appreciate it now better than you would have done last
night. When you wired me to come, you know, General Hancock's name was
signed to the telegram. I supposed I was to entertain him and don't mind
telling you, frankly, that the dinner was provided with especial
reference to his supposed partiality for the good things of life. I
don't mean to say I would not have done the same thing for you. I
certainly would now that I know you, but, all the same, please say to
the general that I expected him and regret much that he was not one of
the party so that I might have had the pleasure of entertaining him as
well as yourselves. And, by the way, he continued, when I urged you to
come to Baltimore it had been arranged that the mayor and a large number
of prominent citizens of the city were to meet you at a banquet to have
been given at the Eutaw House in honor of General Hancock."

The refined courtesy of the gentleman was something that has been rarely

Mr. Smith was a thoroughbred.



At the time of the surrender of Lee and the fall of Richmond about the
only confederate force in the Shenandoah Valley was Mosby's band. The
last of Early's army had been swept away by Sheridan's advance, led by
Custer, and for the first time since 1860, that beautiful valley was
free from the movements of armed forces confronting each other in
hostile array. The bold and dashing partisan was, however, capable of
doing much mischief and it was thought best by General Hancock to treat
with him and see if he would not consent to a cessation of hostilities
and, possibly, take the parole. Accordingly, an agreement was made to
meet him at Millwood, a little town a few miles distant from Winchester
and near the mountains. General Chapman, a cavalry officer, was selected
to conduct the negotiations and with an escort of two regiments left
early on the morning of the day designated for the rendezvous agreed
upon. Not yet having been relieved from duty there I readily obtained
permission to accompany the expedition. I was early in the saddle and
joining a party of staff officers, struck across country, arriving at
about the same time as the escort which took the main road.

The region to which we were going was one of the favorite haunts of
Mosby and his men and it produced a queer sensation to thus ride
peacefully through a country where for four long years, the life or
liberty of the union soldier caught outside the lines had been worth not
a rush, unless backed by force enough to hold its own against an enemy.
There never had been a time since our advent into this land of the
philistines (a land literally flowing with milk and honey) when we could
go to Millwood without a fight, and here we were going without
molestation, right into the lair of the most redoubtable of all the
partisan leaders.

But Mosby's word was law in that section. His fiat had gone forth that
there was to be a truce, and no union men were to be molested until it
should be declared off. There was, therefore, no one to molest or make
us afraid. No picket challenged. Not a scout or vidette was seen. The
country might have been deserted, for all the indications of life that
could be heard or seen. The environment seemed funereal and the ride
could hardly be described as a cheerful one. Each one was busy with his
own thoughts. All wondered if the end had really come, or was it yet
afar off? Lee had surrendered but Johnson had not. Would he?

The chief interest, for the time being, however, centered in the coming
interview with Mosby, under a flag of truce. If he could be prevailed
upon to take the parole there would not be an armed confederate in that
part of Virginia.

It had been expected that he would be there first but he was not and his
arrival was eagerly awaited. The escort was massed near a large farm
house, the owner of which was very hospitable and had arranged to give
the two commands a dinner.

The officers were soon dispersed in easy attitudes about the porches and
lawn or under the shade of friendly trees, smoking and chatting about
the interesting situation. Eager glances were cast in the direction from
which our old foe was expected to come, and there was some anxiety lest
he should fail to meet the appointment after all. But, at length, when
the forenoon was pretty well spent, the sound of a bugle was heard. All
sprang to their feet. In a moment, the head of a column of mounted men
emerged from a woody screen on the high ground, toward the east, as
though coming straight out of the mountain, and presently, the whole
body of gray troopers came into view.

It was a gallant sight, a thrilling scene, for all the world like a
picture from one of Walter Scott's novels; and to the imagination,
seemed a vision of William Wallace or of Rob Roy. The place itself was a
picturesque one--a little valley nestling beneath the foot-hills at the
base of the mountains whose tops towered to the sky. Hills and wooded
terraces surrounded it, shutting it in on all sides, obstructing the
view and leaving the details of the adjacent landscape to the

Mosby evidently had arranged his arrival with a view to theatric
effect--though it was no mimic stage on which he was acting--for it was
to the sound of the bugle's note that he burst into view and, like a
highland chief coming to a lowland council, rode proudly at the head of
his men. Finely uniformed and mounted on a thorough bred sorrel mare,
whose feet spurned the ground, he pranced into our presence. Next came
about sixty of his men, including most of the officers, all, like
himself, dressed in their best and superbly mounted. It was a goodly
sight to see.

General Chapman advanced to meet the commander as he dismounted and the
two officers shook hands cordially. There were then introductions all
around and in a few moments, the blue and the gray were intermingling on
the most friendly terms.

It was difficult to believe that we were in the presence of the most
daring and audacious partisan leader, at the same time that he was one
of the most intrepid and successful cavalry officers in the confederate
service. He was wary, untiring, vigilant, bold, and no federal trooper
ever went on picket without the feeling that this man might be close at
hand watching to take advantage of any moment of unwariness. He had been
known in broad daylight, to dash right into federal camps, where he was
outnumbered a hundred to one, and then make his escape through the
fleetness of his horses and his knowledge of the by-roads. On more than
one occasion, he had charged through a union column, disappearing on
one flank as quickly as he had appeared on the other. His men, in union
garb, were often in our camps mingling unsuspected with our men or
riding by their side when on the march.

We were prepared to see a large, fierce-looking dragoon but, instead,
beheld a small, mild-mannered man not at all like the ideal. But, though
small, he was wiry, active, restless and full of fire.

"How much do you weigh, colonel?" I asked as I shook his hand and looked
inquiringly at his rather slender figure.

"One hundred and twenty-eight pounds," said he.

"Well, judging from your fighting reputation, I looked for a two hundred
pounder, at least," I replied.

His spare form was set off by a prominent nose, a keen eye and a sandy
beard. There was nothing ferocious in his appearance but when in the
saddle he was not a man whom one would care to meet single-handed. There
was that about him which gave evidence of alertness and courage of the
highest order.

It was astonishing to see officers of Mosby's command walk up to union
officers, salute and accost them by name.

"Where did I meet you?" would be the reply.

"There was no introduction. I met you in your camp, though you were not
aware of it at the time."

Major Richards, a swarthy-looking soldier, remarked to me that he was
once a prisoner of the Fifth and Sixth Michigan cavalry. He was captured
near Aldie, in the spring of 1863, and made his escape when the Michigan
regiments were on the march back to Fairfax Court House, in the night,
when his guards were not noticing, by falling out of the column and
boldly ordering his captors to "close up" as they were coming out of a
narrow place in the road when the column of fours had to break by twos.
In the darkness and confusion he was mistaken for one of our own
officers. After he had seen the column all "closed up" he rode the other

After awhile the farmer called us in to dinner and the blue and the gray
were arranged around the table, in alternate seats. I sat between two
members of the celebrated Smith family. One of them, R. Chilton Smith,
was a relative of General Lee, or of his chief-of-staff, a young man of
very refined manners, highly educated and well bred. He sent a package
and a message by me to a friend in Winchester, a commission that was
faithfully executed. The other was the son of Governor, better known as
"Extra Billy" Smith, of Virginia; a short, sturdy youth, full of life
and animation and venom.

"Mosby would be a blanked fool to take the parole," said he, spitefully.
"I will not, if he does."

"But Lee has surrendered. The jig is up. Why try to prolong the war and
cause further useless bloodshed?"

"I will never give up so long as there is a man in arms against your
yankee government," he replied.

"But what can you do? Richmond is ours."

"I will go and join 'Joe' Johnston."

"It is a question of but a few days, at most, when Sherman will bag

"Then I will go west of the Mississippi, where Kirby Smith still holds
the fort."

"Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Thomas will make short work of Kirby

"Then, if worst comes to worst," he hotly retorted, "I will go to Mexico
and join Maximilian. I will never submit to yankee rule; never."

I greatly enjoyed the young man's fervor and loyalty to his "cause" and,
in spite of his bitterness, we took quite a liking to each other and, on
parting, he was profuse in his expressions of regard and urged me
cordially not to forget him should fortune take me his way again.

A day or two later, I was ordered to Petersburg, and soon thereafter,
was in Richmond, Johnston having, in the meantime, surrendered. In the
evening of the day of my arrival, after having visited the points of
interest, Libby prison, the burnt district, the state house, etc., I was
in the office of the Spotswood hotel where were numbers of federal and
confederate soldiers chatting pleasantly together, when I was saluted
with a hearty:

"Hello; how are you, colonel!" and, on looking around, was surprised as
well as pleased to see my young friend of the Millwood conference.

I was mighty glad to meet him again and told him so, while he seemed to
reciprocate the feeling. There was a cordial shaking of hands and after
the first friendly greetings had been exchanged I said:

"But what does this mean? How about Mexico and Maximilian? Where is
Mosby? What has been going on in the valley? Tell me all about it."

"Mexico be blanked" said he. "Mosby has taken the parole and so have I.
The war is over and I am glad of it. I own up. I am subjugated."

The next day I met him again.

"I would be only too glad to invite you to our home and show you a
little hospitality," said he, "but your military governor has taken
possession of our house, father has run away, and mother is around among
the neighbors."

I assured him of my appreciation of both his good will and of the
situation and begged him to be at ease on my account. He very politely
accompanied me in a walk around the city and did all he could to make my
stay agreeable.

I never saw him afterwards. When in Yorktown in 1881, I made inquiry of
General Fitzhugh Lee about young Smith and learned that he was dead. I
hope that he rests in peace, for although a "rebel" and a "guerrilla,"
as we called them in those days, he was a whole-hearted, generous, and
courageous foe who, though but a boy in years, was ready to fight for
the cause he believed in and, in true chivalrous spirit, grasp the hand
of his former adversary in genuine kindness and good-fellowship.

One other incident of the Millwood interview is perhaps worth narrating.

A bright eyed young scamp of Mosby's command mounted the sorrel mare
ridden by his chief, and flourishing a roll of bills which they had
probably confiscated on some raid into yankee territory, rode back and
forth in front of the lawn, crying out:

"Here are two hundred dollars in greenbacks which say that this little,
lean, sorrel mare of Colonel Mosby's, can outrun any horse in the yankee

The bet was not taken.




Following is a list of those killed in action, or who died of wounds
received in action in the four regiments which constituted the Michigan
cavalry brigade, commanded by General George Armstrong Custer, in the
civil war of 1861-65. It constitutes a veritable roll of honor:


Adams, William, Private           H     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Alcott, Richard, Private          L     Cedar Mountain        August 9      1862
Altenburg, William, Corporal      B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Andrus, John, Private             K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Anson, Elisha B., Sergeant        E     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Babcock, Edwin H., Private        K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Bachman, Robert, Sergeant         G     Appomattox            April 9       1865
Banker, Edward S., Private        C     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Barney, Lorenzo J., Private       A     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Bartlett, Orrin M., Lieutenant    H     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Bateman, Cyrus A., Corporal       M     Shenandoah Valley     August 11     1864
Battison, William, Sergeant       H     Piedmont              April 17      1862
Bell, Charles S., Private         E     Todd's Tavern         April 7       1864
Beloir, Michael, Sergeant         B     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Bentley, Augustus W., Corporal    I     Gettysburg            July 3        1864
Brown, Dexter, Corporal           E     Yellow Tavern         June 11       1864
Blount, Lemuel K., Private        A     Yellow Tavern         June 11       1864
Bovee, John S., Sergeant          F     Gettysburg            July 3        1864
Brevoort, William M., Captain     K     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Brewer, Charles E., Private       A     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Brodhead, Thornton F., Colonel          Bull Run              August 30     1862
Bucklin, Lyman D., Private        C     Unknown               May 13        1863
Buhl, Augustus F., Captain        C     Shepherdstown         August 25     1864
Butler, Abner K., Private         F     Middletown            April 4       1862
Byscheck, John, Private           C     Dinwiddie Courthouse  March 30      1865
Campeau, Eli, Private             K     Unknown               Died July 3   1865
Carr, Alpheus W., Captain         I     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Chatfield, William H., Private    B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Chilson, Alphonso W., Sergeant    I     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Chittenden, Adelbert, Private     G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Cicotte, David, jr., Private      C     Winchester            February 23   1865
Clarke, John R., Private          K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Cole, Benjamin, Chief Bugler            Winchester            September 19  1864
Colles, David W., Private         I     Unknown               May 26        1865
Crawford, Charles C., Private     M     Todd's Tavern         May 7         1864
Crosby, Henry, Private            E     Unknown               Died June 1   1864
Cummings, George W., Private      A     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Cunningham, Barnabas, Private     A     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Davis, Joseph, Private            I     Unknown               Died June 20  1864
Davison, Joseph, Private          G     Unknown               Died April 7  1865
Dibble, Darius, Private           L     Cedar Mountain        August 9      1862
Dorsay, John, Private             B     Appomattox            April 9       1865
Durkee, Robert, Private           K     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Eagle, Ellwood, Private           H     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Eastman, Oscar A, Sergeant        I     Winchester            September 19  1864
Eaton, William O, Private         H     Accident              October 28    1862
Edgerton, George W, Private       L     Beaver Dam            May 9         1864
Elliott, William R, Captain       C     Fairfield Gap         July 4        1863
Ellis, Henry, Private             L     Cedar Mountain        August 9      1862
Ensign, Leroy, Private            M     Winchester            May 4         1862
Fisher, Peter, Private            E     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Follett, Irving B, Sergeant       L     Winchester            September 19  1864
Foss, Andrew, Private             I     On Picket             December 14   1864
Frost, Joel, Corporal             L     Cedar Mountain        August 9      1862
Falcher, John, Private            K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Gillett, George M, Corporal       B     Hagarstown            July          1863
Gordon, Alexander, Corporal       H     Winchester            September 19  1864
Graves, Benjamin F, Private       A     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Grimes, Micah, Private            M     Unknown               Died
                                                              September 2   1864
Handy, Lucius F, Private          F     Todd's Tavern         May 7         1864
Hart, Lorenzo, Corporal           L     Dinwiddie Courthouse  March 30      1865
Hicks, Charles Eugene, Private    F     Fort Scott            January 12    1863
Hobbs, David, Private             B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Hoffman, Peter, Corporal          B     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Hough, Albert or Robert, Private  H     Unknown               Died April 8  1865
Hovey, Henry, Private             A     Unknown               Died June 18  1864
Hughes, Patrick H., Corporal      E     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Hutton, Thomas, Private           C     Snicker's Ferry       March 26      1862
Hymen, Ralph, Private             I     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Iott, Harrison, Private           I     Harper's Ferry        August 31     1864
Irwin, H. II., Private            F     Unknown   Died        September 5   1864
Irwin, Stephen, H., Sergeant      I     Old Church            May 30        1864
Jackson, Albert T., Captain       F     Winchester            September 19  1864
Jackson, William, Private         K     Rapidan River         September 14  1863
Jacob, Henry, Private             A     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Jacobs, George A., Private        I     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Jayne, William H., Sergeant       G     Unknown               Died September
                                                              23            1863
Kidder, Hiram O., Private         A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Keferly (Keferle) Frank, Private  H     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Kilbride (Kilride) William,
  Private                         H     Piedmont              April 17      1862
Kling, Henry, Private             G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Kroop, Albert, Private            H     Unknown               Died April 8  1865
Lambert, Jacob, Private           K     Unknown               Died June 16  1864
Lewis, Lewis J., (Lucius) Private K     Unknown               Died June 15  1864
Long (Lozo) Henry, Private        I     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Longdo, Jeremiah, Private         B     Unknown               Died June     1864
Lyon, James B., Sergeant          L     Unknown               Died June 4   1864
McDermott, James, Corporal        A     Bull Run              August 29     1862
McElheny, James S., Captain       G     Fairfield Gap         July 4        1863
Manuel, Peter, Private            K     Unknown               Died July 29  1864
Marshner, Frank A., Private       A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Martin, David, Private            C     Fairfield Gap         July 4        1863
Mathews, Samuel M., Private       A     Indians               August 13     1865
Merriam, John G., Private         K     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Michaels, William H., Private     C     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Miller, John, Private             E     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Moran, Thomas, Private            A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Morse, Sidney G., First Sergeant  M     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Moss, Daniel B., Sergeant         A     Dinwiddie Courthouse  March 30      1865
Murray, Elias M., Private         M     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Nesbit, James, Private            L     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Orth, Adam, Private               A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Owen, Perry, Private              F     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Phelps, Ralph Z., Battalion
  Adjutant                              Accident              April 1       1862
Pierce, Henry C., Sergeant        B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Piper, Leo, Sergeant              C     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Pixley, John, Private             K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Power (Tower) Mortimer F.,
  Private                         C     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Pulver, Andrew J., Lieutenant     A     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Price, William H., Private        L     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Ransom, William W., Sergeant      K     Unknown               Died August 3 1864
Reed, Charles D., Private         K     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Rennan, Frederick, Private        E     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Reynolds, Samuel W., Private      F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Rhoades, Willard, Q. M.  Sergeant B     Centerville           November 6    1863
Robertson, William, Sergeant      I     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Robins, Charles H., Private       A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Robinson, George W., Lieutenant   A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Rose, William L., Com. Sergeant   G     Unknown               Died December
                                                              25            1864
Rush, Thomas, Private             K     Unknown               Died July 13  1864
Ryder, Alfred G., Corporal        H     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Saulsbury, Charles, Private       K     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Sawyer, Henry O., Private         I     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Schintzler, Leonard, Private      H     Old Church            May 30        1864
Shanahan, Thomas, Corporal        H     Fountaindale          July 4        1863
Shaughnessy, William, Private     B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Shier, Charles, jr., Captain      K     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Sitts, Charles, Private           L     Fairfield Gap         July 4        1863
Smith, Marcus, Private            I     Accident              May 20        1864
Snyder, Charles F., Captain       F     Hagarstown            July 6        1863
Stanley, Henry C., Private        F     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Stewart, William, Private         C     Winchester            September 19  1864
Sterling, Richard, Hospital
  Steward                               Unknown               Died November
                                                              6             1864
Teebles, William H.,
  Private                         C     Brentsville           June 7        1863
Thomas, Abel, Private             H     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Thomas, Benjamin, Private         B     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Thomas, Cassius M., Private       M     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Thomas, Samuel H., Private        C     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Truesdale, Lewis B., Sergeant     K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Vance, George, Private            K     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Vandecar, Thomas H., Private      L     Unknown               Died May 26   1865
Vashaw, John, Private             K     Bull Run              August 30     1862
Warren, Robert S., Lieutenant     C     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Waterman, W. E., First Sergeant   H     Unknown               Died June 20  1864
Watson, Colbert R., Sergeant      L     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Welch, Jay Michael, Private       A     Winchester            August 11     1864
Welton, Ransom W., Private        E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Wescott, James M., Private        K     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Whitney, Ambrose, Private         H     By Accident           March 7       1862
Whitney, George C., Lieutenant    F     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Wideroder, John C., Private       F     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Wilcox, Alonzo W., Sergeant       H     Brentsville           June 7        1863
Wilcox, Philip, jr., Private      L     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Williams, Isaac, Private          K     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Winfield, George D., Corporal     D     Salem                 April 1       1862
Warwick, William, Private         K     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Wieg, Orren, Private              L     Falling Waters        July 14       1863


Ackerman, Hiram, Corporal         A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Allen, Nelson A., Private         D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Allison, George S., Private       B     Winchester            September 19  1864
Alverson, Thomas J., Private      G     Winchester            September 19  1864
Anderson, Alfred C., Private      D     Boonesborough         July 8        1863
Atherholt, Peter, Private         F     Winchester            September 19  1864
Axtell, Benjamin F., Captain      F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Ball, William, Private            M     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Barbour, Frank A., Sergeant       A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Barse, Horace S., Corporal        E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Beebe, Henry C., Corporal         A     Morton's Ford         November 27   1863
Bemis, Andrew J., Private         K     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Benning, John, Private            F     Unknown               Died August 7 1865
Bishop, Abraham, Private          B     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Bliss, Henry G., Private          I     Raccoon Ford          September 16  1863
Brennan, William, Sergeant        B     Monterey Gap          July 4        1863
Brink, Simeon L., Private         B     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
Brown, Clifton E., Private        A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Brown, William, Private           H     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Buell, John, Private              K     Gettysburg            July 3        1864
Burdick, Reuben, Private          I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Burnett, Henry, Corporal          D     Shepherdstown         August 29     1864
Burson, Joseph, Private           L     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Busley, Levi, Private             M     Richmond              March 1       1864
Cathcart, Albert J., Private      B     Unknown               Died July 5   1864
Chapman, Edward, Private          E     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
Chart (Chant), Private            G     Salem                 October 23    1864
Clark, Frederick, Private         F     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Clark, Henry, Private             M     Dinwiddie Courthouse  April 4       1865
Clyde, Charles B., Private        M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Colf, Levinas, Private            K     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Comte, Victor E., Wagoner         C     Unknown               Died July 11  1864
Connor, James, Private            A     Morton's Ford         November 27   1863
Corcelins, Frederick, Private     K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Corser, Augustus F., Private      C     Stevensburg           October 30    1863
Coston, Peter, Private            M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Craft, Charles, Private           M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Day, Alpheus  G., Corporal        E     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Dean, Henry J., Private           D    Yellow Tavern          May 12        1864
Decker, George R., Private        K    Trevilian Station      June 11       1864
Dell, Martin V., Private          H    Trevilian Station      June 11       1864
Derwin, Lewis, Private            C    Winchester             September 19  1864
Dockham, Reuben K., Sergeant      C    Unknown                Died June 18  1864
Duffey, James, Corporal           F    Falmouth               August 4      1863
Eggleston, Andrew J., Sergeant    K    Unknown                Died July 1   1864
Essler, Samuel K., Private        C    Berryville by
                                         Guerrillas           August 19     1864
Evans, Andrew R., Private         A    Gettysburg             July 3        1863
Felt, John, Private               H    Trevilian Station      June 11       1864
Ferry, Noah H., Major                  Gettysburg             July 3        1863
Fox, Josiah, Sergeant             M    Trevilian Station      June 11       1864
Friday, Adolph, Private           F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Gale, Henry D., Corporal          C     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Garvelink, Herman, Corporal       I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Gibbs, Levi, Private              G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Gillett, William H., Corporal     K     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Granger, Edward G., Lieutenant    C     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Gudith, John D., Corporal         D     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Hammond, Smith (Noble S.)
    Sergeant                      G     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Hanly, Richard, Private           E     Middletown            August 15     1864
Harmon, Allen M., Lieutenant      B     By Accident           April 20      1863
Henry, Alfred A., Private         C     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Hichler, George, Private          E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Hicks, George H., Corporal        I     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Higgins, Charles W., Private      D     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Hill, Philip H., Corporal         E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Hirner, Louis, Private            I     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Hobbs, Levant, Sergeant           C     Unknown               Died June 6   1864
Hodge, Milton, Private            K     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Huff, John A., Private            E     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Jackson, Andrew T., Private       A     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
James, Aaron B., Sergeant         H     Newtown               November 12   1864
Johnson, Julius C., Private       D     Newtown               November 12   1864
Kennedy, Philip, Private          H     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Kennicut, James C., Private       I     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Kent, Francis P., Private         G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Lewis, Eaton, Private             M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Little, John M., Private          M     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Lusk, John F., Sergeant           K     Winchester            October 19    1864
Lutz, John G., Private            C     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
McChusen, J. B., Private          G     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
McCormick, William J., Private    D     Dinwiddie Courthouse  April 1       1865
McCrary, Calvin, Private          M     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
McGuire, John, Private            F     Appomattox            April 8       1865
McIntyre, John D., Private        C     Brandy Station        October 12    1863
Maguire, Christopher, Private     I     Yellow Tavern         May 12        1864
Mann, Harvey W., Corporal         I     Shepherdstown         August 25     1864
Marshall, Norton C., Sergeant     I     Hanovertown (?)       May 27        1864
Mather, Zelotes H., Sergeant      M     Boonesborough         July 8        1863
Meyer, George W., Private         M     Luray                 September 24  1864
Miller, Daniel F., Sergeant       L     Unknown               Died June 14  1864
Mills, James F., Private          M     Richmond              March 1       1864
Morgan, Isaac C., Private         E     Newtown               November 12   1864
North, William O., Captain        F     Winchester            September 19  1864
Notting, John, Private            I     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
O'Brien, Anthony, Private         A     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
O'Brien, John, Private            A     By Guerrillas         December 2    1864
O'Brien, Matthew, Private         A     Loudon County         November      1864
Olaphant, David, Captain          B     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Osborn, Isaac C., Private         M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Perkins, Isaac, Private           A     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Phelan, Thomas, Sergeant          L     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Phillips, Edward H., Sergeant     H     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Prouty, Wallace, Private          E     Newtown               November 23   1864
Purdy, Robert, Private            H     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Ragan, Alexander, Corporal        C     Appomattox            March 31      1865
Rathburn, Chauncey J., Private    D     Hanover               June 30       1863
Reed, Arthur, Private             H     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Roberts, Ephraim, Sergeant        E     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Rockwell, Floyd, Private          L     Ashby's Gap           July 21       1863
Rockwell, William H., Corporal    I     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Roe, Alva, Private                B     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Russell, Major W., Private        M     Summit Point          September 5   1864
Ryan, Michael, Private            K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Ryder, Stephen, Sergeant          D     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Scates, Charles, Private          A     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Shafer, Absalom B., Private       C     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Shattuck, Oscar, Private          K     Boonesborough         July 8        1863
Shrontz, Mortimer J., Sergeant    M     Smithburg             July 5        1863
Sickman, Simon, Private           F     James City            Died November
                                                              1             1863
Skeels, Squire E., Sergeant       M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Skinner, Irwin M., Private        G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Smith, Joseph W., Private         H     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Smith, Stephen, Private           B     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Spencer, Lucien H., Private       A     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Sprague, Almerin, Private         H     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Stewart, Harrison C., Private     E     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Taggart, Robert G., Private       H     Winchester            September 19  1864
Taylor, David P., Corporal        I     By Accident           March 27      1863
Tenney, Wayland, Corporal         H     Winchester            September 19  1864
Todd, Andrew, Private             F     Newtown               November 12   1864
Tuller, Calvin, H., Private       H     Shepherdstown         August 25     1864
Van Bree, Garrett, Private        L     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Vicory, William L., Private       M     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Warner, Oliver M., Private        C     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Warren, Milan S., Private         K     Newby's Crossroads    July 24       1863
Watkins, Jarius, Corporal         M     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Wire, George, Private             M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Whirehead, Richard H., Sergeant   A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Withington, Hiram A., Corporal    M     Berryville by
                                          Guerrillas          August 19     1864
Wixsom, George, Private           I     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Wood, Edwin W., Sergeant          A     Shepherdstown         August 25     1864
Wood, Fletcher, Sergeant          A     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Wright, Francis M., Corporal      M     Unknown               Died September
                                                              10            1864
Yoek, George, Private             E     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864


Andrus, James L., Sergeant        H     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Avery, Marvin E., Sergeant        E     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Bacon, Truman J., Private         F     Falling Waters        June 14       1863
Barber, George, Private           E     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Barnes, Augustus M., Private      D     On Sultana Explosion  April 26      1865
Barnum, Andrew, Private           A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Bass, Nathan B., Private          E     Woodstock             October 8     1864
Batson, Charles, Private          B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Beckwith, George, Private         C     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Bolza, Charles E., Lieutenant     B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Bowman, Lewis, Private            B     Battle Mountain       July 24       1863
Briggs, George, Private           F     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Brockway, William F., Corporal    H     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Brockway, William M., Private     H     Rapidan River         September 16  1863
Brown, George F., Private         I     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Brown, James W., Sergeant         E     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Brownell, George H., Private      K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Buck, Charles, H., Private        D     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Burden, John, Private             B     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Burns, James, Private             D     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Butler, Edward, Private           M     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Campbell, Duncan, Private         M     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Campbell, William P., Private     C     Winchester            September 19  1864
Carey, Seth, Corporal             E     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Curliss, William, Private         G     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Chandler, George B., Private      D     Somerville Ford       September 16  1863
Chase, Albert, Teamster           L     Somerville Ford       September 16  1863
Clark, George, Corporal           G     Boonesborough         July 11       1863
Clark, Joshua P., Private         F     Muddy Branch          July 21       1864
Cole, Osmer F., Captain           G     By Indians            August 31     1865
Coon, Alexander H., Private       A     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Cox, Charles W., Private          C     Hunterstown           July 2        1863
Cranston, Thomas C., Private      C     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Cryderman, John, Private          E     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Daily, William H., Sergeant       D     Hanovertown           May 27        1864
Day, John, Private                F     Washington            April 27      1865
Decker, Almeron, Private          E     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Dexter, Dallas, Private           M     Waterford             August 8      1863
Dixon, William G., Private        C     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
Dudley, Jerry, Private,           I     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Earl, Benjamin F., Private        I     Somerville Ford       September 16  1863
Edie, Thomas A., Lieutenant       A     Meadow Bridge         May 12        1864
Edwards, William H., Private      E     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Eldridge, Marvin J., Private      C     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Elmore, Byron A., Private         B     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Fairbanks, Forrest, Private       D     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Farrell, Thomas, Private          M     Harper's Ferry        August 17     1863
Fay, George W., Private           H     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Finney, Solon H., Lieutenant      E     Beaver Mills          April 4       1865
Foe, James, Private               C     Hatcher's Mills       April 4       1865
Foote, Martin W., Private         C     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Francisco, James K., Sergeant     K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Galusha, Sears E., Corporal       G     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Gooch, Horace N., Private         B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Griffith, Gilbert D., Private     B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Gross, Charles H., Private        M     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Hanna, John, Private              A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Harding, Ira C., Private          D     Somerville Ford       September 16  1863
Harrison, Henry M., Private       E     High Bridge           April 6       1865
Hart, Horace, Corporal            D     Hanover               June 30       1863
Hawkins, Oscar J., Private        K     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Hayes, William O., Private        C     By Indians            September 13  1865
House, Martin, Private            M     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Hughson, Franklin, Private        K     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Hulet, James H., Private          K     On Sultana Explosion  April 26      1865
Hutchinson, Miles E., Private     E     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Ingersoll, George B. W., Sergeant G     Shepherdstown         August 28     1864
Inman, Elisha, Private            K     By Guerrillas         December 4    1864
Jewell, Leander, Sergeant         A     Hanovertown           May 27        1864
Jewett, Aaron C., Acting Adjutant       Williamsport          July 6        1863
Johnson, Warren E., Private       I     Seneca                June 11       1863
Johnson, William W., Private      M     Unknown               Died October
                                                              11            1864
Jolly, Toussaint, Private         I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Jones, Levi F., Private           D     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Kelsey, Ira, Private              K     Newby's Crossroads    July 24       1863
Kilbourn, Joseph, Private         C     Winchester            September 19  1864
Kirkby, Henry, Private            I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Krauss, Charles C., Private       A     Hunterstown           July 2        1863
Larime, Joseph, Private           C     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Livingston, Albert, Private       C     Thornton Gap          July 24       1863
Livingston, Monroe, Private       F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Lorsey, Charles, Private          B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Lyons, James, Private             F     Unknown               July 30       1864
McClure, Alexander, Private       C     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
McDonald, Jeremiah, Private       F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
McLean, Peter, Corporal           G     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Martin, Alonzo R., Private        B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Mathers, James, Captain           L     Winchester            August 11     1864
Mayfield, Oakland W., Private     B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Morre, Ezra P., Private           A     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Mosher, Merritt, Corporal         A     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Morrison, Edwin M., Private       K     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Moulthrop, Albert, Private        I     Tom's Brook           October 9     1864
Neal, Flavius J., Private         B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Nellins, John, Private            H     Winchester            November 18   1864
Onweller, William, Private        B     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Otis, Albert, Private             D     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Patten, George T., Sergeant       B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Pelton, Francis, Private          B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Perkins, William, Private         E     Beaver Pond Mills     April 4       1865
Pixley, Austin, Private           A     Drowned               June 15       1864
Potter, Harvey B., Sergeant       B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Powers, Wesley, Private           I     Seneca                June 11       1863
Pray, Stephen, Private            C     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Provin, James J., Private         M     Smithfield            February 5    1864
Rappelye, Mortimer, Sergeant      C     Hanovertown           May 27        1864
Rodder, John, Private             I     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Richardson, Francis D., Private   F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Rider, Carlos, Corporal           D     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Rogers, Frederick V., Private     G     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Rogers, Remus, Private            B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Roney, Charles E., Private        C     Dinwiddie Courthouse  April 9       1865
Rossell, Abram, Private           D     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Royce, David G., Captain          D     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Ruckel, George, Private           I     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Sliter, Josiah T., Private        B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Smith, Jonathan W., Private       K     Newby's Crossroads    July 24       1863
Soule, John W., Corporal          D     Boonesborough         July 8        1863
Stafford, Ananias, Private        D     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Stanton, Andrew, Private          K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Stowe, Stephen L., Sergeant       B     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Streeter, Seth, Private           H     Unknown               Died August 2 1863
Sweet, Lorenzo D., Private        I     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Telling, George, Corporal         D     Boonesborough         July 8        1863
Trager, George, Private           F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Tucker, Ephraim, Private          D     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Tucker, Harvey, Sergeant          C     Wilderness            May 6         1864
Tuttle, Milo, Private             M     Waterford             August 8      1863
Von Helmerich, Frederick, Private I     Seneca                June 11       1863
Wadeweitz, Frederick, Private     I     Meadow Bridge         May 12        1864
Ward, Erastus E., Private         F     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Weber, Peter A., Captain          B     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Whalen, David, Private            I     Seneca                June 11       1863
Wheaton, Henry F., Private        H     Unknown               February 2    1865
White, William C., Private        D     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Wightman, George H., Sergeant     L     Unknown               Died September
                                                              1             1864
Williams, Edward L., Sergeant     I     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Williams, John D., Corporal       I     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Winters, John, Private            H     Accident              July 28       1864
Yax, John, Corporal               C     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Yeoman, Lewis H., Private         E     Brandy Station        October 11    1863


Adams, Oscar H., Corporal         A     Trevilian Station     June 12       1864
Adams, William H., Private        D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Armstrong, Harrison, Private      F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Baker, George, Private            B     Killed by Indians     August 5      1865
Bedel, Harlin, Corporal           F     Five Forks            April 1       1865
Bedel, James T., Private          F     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Bouchard (Bershall), Eli, Private K     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Brewer, Melvin, Lieutenant Colonel      Winchester            September 19  1864
Brickwell, Edward J., Private     A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Brownell, Horace R., Private      A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Bush, Christian, Corporal         D     Winchester            September 19  1864
Bush, Frederick, Corporal         D     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Carver, Lucius, Lieutenant        M     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Chapman, Frank, Private           A     Richmond              March 1       1864
Cheesman, Jeremiah, Private       F     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Church, Benjamin, Sergeant        C     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Churchill, Alfred W., Corporal    G     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Clark, Edgar A., Private          A     By Accident           July 5        1865
Clark, Jonas, Private             K     Richmond              March 1       1864
Cochran, Harlan B., Sergeant      F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Cochran, William J., Corporal     I     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Campau, Peter, Private            D     Boonesborough         July          1863
Cook, Elliott A., Sergeant        C     Robinson River        October 8     1863
Cooper, Eugene, Private           F     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Cornell, Llewellyn C., Private    B     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Crampton, P. H., Private          G     Hagarstown            July 6        1863
Croman, William, Private          E     Brandy Station        October 11    1863
Dann, Daniel, Private             K     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Diehl, Henry, Private             C     Salem Church          June 2        1864
Delamater, Martin R., Corporal    G     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Dumphrey, Edwin, Sergeant         A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Edwards, William, Private         C     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Filbern, Owen, Private            I     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
Finch, Robert, Private            E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Firman, Josiah B., Corporal       H     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Fisher, Mathias, Bugler           B     Berryville            September 4   1864
Fordham, Albert, Corporal         D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Fox, William H., Corporal         M     Winchester            September 19  1864
Granger, Henry W., Major                Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Guio, Henry, Corporal             F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Haines, Henry, Private            D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Hall (Hull), William, Private     M     Buckland Mills        October 19    1863
Hamel, Harrison, Private          K     Winchester            September 19  1864
Haskins, James, Sergeant          B     Duck Pond Mills       April 3       1865
Hassart, Andrew, Private          B     Winchester            September 19  1864
Hasty, Robert, Private            I     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Heinck, John, Saddler             A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Hoag, Robert, Private             F     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Hopkins, Horace, Private          E     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
House, Barnum B., Private         E     Old Church            May 23        1864
Jackson, Orlando D., Private      D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Jessup, Charles H., Private       F     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Karcher, Jehial, Private          D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Keller, Henry H., Private         B     Todd's Tavern         May 7         1864
Kisner, Samuel, Private           C     By Accident           July 18       1863
Koster, Frederick, Private        H     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Laird, William J., Sergeant       B     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Lake, John W., Private            A     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Larrue, Hiram J., Private         B     By Guerrillas         March 28      1864
Long, Edward, Private             B     Winchester            September 19  1864
Lundy, George W., Private         H     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
McClure, Ralph, Private           H     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
McComber, William, Private        C     Cold Harbor           June 4        1864
McDonald, John J., Sergeant       C     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
McLaine, Alexander, Private       E     Marselas              May 22        1863
Martin, Francis D., Private       H     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Matchett, Noel, Private           A     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Mead, Joseph L., Lieutenant       L     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Mercer, Thomas, Private           F     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Milbourn, John L., Corporal       D     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Miller, Jacob L., Private         C     Unknown               Died June 21  1864
Mills, Harry, Private             H     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Miner, Charles E., Sergeant       F     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Moll, Cornelius, Private          F     White Ford            September 22  1863
Motley, Thomas, Private           G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Nay, Harmon, Private              E     Hagarstown            July 6        1863
Nichols, William H., Private      H     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Nolan, Arthur D., Sergeant        I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
O'Brien, William H., Sergeant     A     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Olin, Oscar O., Private           M     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Page, Truman, Bugler              F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Parks, Allen C., Private          A     Cedar Creek           October 19    1864
Paule, Jacob, Sergeant            F     Yellow Tavern         May 11        1864
Perkins, Myron H., Sergeant       B     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864
Ploof, Dewitt C., Private         K     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Pomeroy, David H., Private        L     Trumble Run           June 9        1864
Ralph, Oscar S., Corporal         F     Falling Waters        July 14       1863
Richards, William H., Private     H     Emmittsburg           July 4        1863
Robinson, James B., Teamster      E     Tom's Brook           October 9     1864
Shafer, Charles F., Private       A     Winchester            September 19  1864
Smith, Alonzo, Private            C     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Smith, Eli, Private               K     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Smith, Perry W., Private          H     Hagarstown            July 13       1863
Spear, Truman, Private            G     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Stearns, William A., Sergeant     B     Cold Harbor           June 1        1864
Stephens, Charles, Private        K     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Taber, Winfield S., Sergeant      M     Culpeper              September 13  1863
Thompson, Henry, Private          D     Smithfield            August 29     1864
Treat, Gordon, Private            K     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Vancourse, Henry, Private         K     Front Royal           August 16     1864
Van Duzer, Charles E., Private    M     Unknown               September     1864
Van Ness, George E., Corporal     M     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Walters, Nelson, Private          A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Whittaker, William S., Private    B     Trevilian Station     June 11       1864
Wilcox, Charles, Corporal         A     Gettysburg            July 3        1863
Williams, Squire, Corporal        I     Haw's Shop            May 28        1864


   First Michigan Cavalry                         157
   Fifth Michigan Cavalry                         144
   Sixth Michigan Cavalry                         141
   Seventh Michigan Cavalry                       106
           Total                                  548


[Footnote 1: Quoted from "Michigan in the War."]

[Footnote 2: The original roster of the regiment may be found in
appendix "A" to this volume.]

[Footnote 3: Grand Rapids, Michigan, so named on account of its location
in the heart of the valley of Grand river. Also known as the "Furniture
City," referring to its chief industry.]

[Footnote 4: Robert Williams, a Virginian, grandson of James Williams,
of the Virginia line in the Revolution. He married the widow of Stephen
A. Douglas.]

[Footnote 5: Third Michigan infantry. It served three years, and was
then reorganized as the "New Third."]

[Footnote 6: Since the above was written I have become satisfied that
this man was really taken prisoner and that he died as such in the
Confederate prison at Andersonville. His name appears on one of the
markers in the national cemetery there.]

[Footnote 7: September, 1907.]

[Footnote 8: Official Records, Series 1, Vol. XXVII, Part III, page

[Footnote 9: The Michigan cavalry brigade was the outgrowth of the
reorganization of the Federal cavalry that followed Lee's invasion of
the North and Hooker's consequent movement into Maryland. It consisted
originally, as has been shown, of three regiments--the Fifth, Sixth and
Seventh. They were all organized in 1862, spent the winter of 1862-63 in
camp on Meridian and Capitol Hills, Washington, D. C., and during the
spring months of the latter year, were engaged in doing outpost duty in
Fairfax County, Va., within the defenses of Washington. They were,
therefore, in the language of another, "fresh from pastures green" when
General Hooker, en route to Maryland in June, 1863, picked them up in
passing and made them a part of that grand Army of the Potomac which, on
the battle-field of Gettysburg, won a renown as lasting as history

The commanding officer was Brigadier General J.T. Copeland, a Michigan
man, promoted from the colonelcy of the Fifth. The battalion commanders
were, respectively, Colonels Russell A. Alger, George Gray and William
D. Mann. The first had seen service in the Second Michigan as captain
and major, under Colonels Gordon Granger and P.H. Sheridan; the last in
the First Michigan, under Brodhead and Town. Colonel Gray was appointed
from civil life, and was having his first experience of "war's rude

[Footnote 10: Custer in his report mistook the York for the Hanover

[Footnote 11: General Custer mistook the Low Dutch for the Oxford road.]

[Footnote 12: A letter from General Gregg to the writer says: "There is
no conflict between your recollection and mine as to the events of that

[Footnote 13: A possible solution of this difficulty has come to my
mind. It is this. That Custer originally wrote "1 o'clock" and that in
copying the "1" and the "o" were mistaken for "10," and o'clock

[Footnote 14: In this connection it may be stated that Colonel Fox's
history of the casualties in the war shows that there were 260 cavalry
regiments in the service of the Union. Of these, the First Michigan lost
the largest number of men killed in action of all save one--the First
Maine. In percentage of killed, in proportion to numbers the Fifth and
Sixth Michigan rank all the rest, not excepting the two first named, and
it must be remembered that the Fifth and Sixth went out in 1862 and did
their first fighting in the Gettysburg campaign. They stand third and
fourth in the number killed, being ranked in that respect by the First
Maine and First Michigan alone. The four regiments in the Michigan
brigade during their terms of service lost twenty-three officers and 328
men killed; eight officers and 111 men died of wounds; nine officers and
991 men died of disease--a grand total of 1470 officers and men who gave
up their lives during those four years of war.--J.H.K.]

[Footnote 15: It may be proper to state that during the Gettysburg
campaign the Michigan brigade lost thirty officers killed and wounded,
whose names are here given.


First Michigan--Capt. W.R. Elliott, Capt. C.J. Snyder, Lieut. J.S.

Fifth Michigan--Major N.H. Ferry--1.

Sixth Michigan--Major P.A. Weber, Capt. D.G. Royce, Lieut. C.E. Bolza,
Acting Adjutant A.C. Jewett--4.


First Michigan--Capt. D.W. Clemmer, Lieut. E.F. Baker, Capt. A.W.
Duggan, Capt. George W. Alexander, Capt. H.E. Hascall, Capt. W.M.
Heazlett, Capt. G.R. Maxwell, Lieut. R.N. Van Atter--8.

Fifth Michigan--Col. R.A. Alger, Lieut. Col. E. Gould, Lieut. T. Dean,
Lieut. G.N. Dutcher--4.

Sixth Michigan--Lieut. George W. Crawford; Capt. H.E. Thompson, Capt. J.
H. Kidd, Lieut. E. Potter, Lieut. S. Shipman--5.

Seventh Michigan--Lieut. J.G. Birney, Lieut. J.L. Carpenter, Lieut. E.
Gray, Lieut. C. Griffith, Capt. Alex. Walker--5.]

[Footnote 16: Brigadier General Henry E. Davies, formerly colonel Second
New York cavalry, assigned as permanent successor of Farnsworth, killed
at Gettysburg.]

[Footnote 17: Attached to the Michigan brigade.]

[Footnote 18: Rosser, Young and Gordon.]

[Footnote 19: Since reporting for duty, October 12, I had been in
command of the regiment.]

[Footnote 20: Campaigns of Stuart's Cavalry.]

[Footnote 21: Fitzhugh Lee was Custer's instructor in West Point before
the war broke out.]

[Footnote 22: Kilpatrick's Report, Official Records, series I. vol.
XXXIII. p. 133.]

[Footnote 23: "Unless the separate commands in an expedition of this
nature are very prompt in movement, and each equal to overcoming at once
any obstacle it may meet combinations rarely work out as
expected."--Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, vol. I, p. 373.]

[Footnote 24: A small stream crossing the turnpike and after which the
historical pike was named.]

[Footnote 25: On page 813, Vol. XXXVI, Series I, Part 1, of the War
Records, in the report of General Merritt appears the following: "A
charge made, mounted, by one regiment of the First brigade, (the Fifth
Michigan)." The words in parenthesis should be the First Michigan. It is
a pity that the official records should thus falsify history.]

[Footnote 26: I am not positive that these were the particular tunes the
bands played.]

[Footnote 27: Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, Vol. I: page 417. Also
Records, Series I, Vol. XXXVI, part 1.]

[Footnote 28: Taken from the official records in the office of the
adjutant general of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan.]

[Footnote 29: Taken from the official records in the office of the
adjutant general of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan.]

[Footnote 30: Official Records, Series I, Vol. XXXVI, part I, page 851.]

[Footnote 31: Official Records, Series I, Vol. XXXVI, part I, page 810.]

[Footnote 32:

   "Headquarters 1st Brig. 1st Div. Cavalry Corps,
   June 3, 1864.

   To His Excellency
   Governor Blair,

I most cheerfully and earnestly recommend that the foregoing petition
may be granted. Major Kidd has commanded his regiment for several
months. He has distinguished himself in nearly all of the late severe
engagements of the corps. Michigan cannot boast of a more gallant or
efficient officer than Major Kidd, and I am confident that his
appointment as colonel of the 6th would not only produce entire
satisfaction in his regiment, but would serve to increase the already
high but well earned fame of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade."

   "Very respectfully, etc.,
   Brig. Gen'l Comdg."]

[Footnote 33: The title given to the department over which Sheridan was
to have supreme command, and which included West Virginia.]

[Footnote 34: Torbert had been created "chief of cavalry," and Merritt
assigned to command of the First division. Colonel Charles R. Lowell,
Second Massachusetts cavalry succeeded Merritt in command of the Reserve

[Footnote 35: Attached temporarily to the Michigan brigade.]

[Footnote 36: Second division of cavalry from West Virginia, General
W.W. Averell.]

[Footnote 37: Written in 1886.]

[Footnote 38: The only order I had received at the time was to support
the picket line with the entire brigade. See General Merritt's report,
Official records, Vol. XLIII, series I, part I, page 449.]

[Footnote 39: The Fifth United States cavalry, General Merritt's escort.
General Merritt's report.]

[Footnote 40: General Sheridan's report states that it was Getty's
division of the Sixth corps only that was in this position when he came
up--that the other divisions were farther to the rear but were brought
up to the alignment.

"On arriving at the front, I found Merritt's and Custer's divisions of
cavalry, * * * and Getty's division of the Sixth corps opposing the
enemy. I suggested to General Wright that we would fight on Getty's
line, and that the remaining two divisions of the Sixth corps, which
were to the right and rear about two miles, should be ordered up, * *
before the enemy attacked Getty."--Sheridan's report, Records, Vol.
XLIII, part I, page 53.]

[Footnote 41: "The First brigade, in column of Regiments in line, moved
forward like an immense wave, slowly at first, but gaining strength and
speed as it progressed, overwhelmed a battery and its supports amidst a
devastating shower of canister and a deadly fire of musketry from part
of Kershaw's division, at short range from a heavy wood to our left.
Never has the mettle of the division been put to a severer test than at
this time, and never did it stand the test better. The charge was made
on an enemy well formed and prepared to receive it with guns
double-shotted with canister."--General Merritt's official report,
Records, Vol. XLIII, Part I, page 450.]

[Footnote 42: Records, Series I, Vol. XLIII, part I, page 136.]

[Footnote 43: Records. Series I, Vol. XLIII, part I. pages 136-37.]

[Footnote 44: Records. Series I, Vol. XLIII, part I. page 453.]

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