"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sunday, May 3, 1863. A skirmish with Mosby. "We are approaching the front"

"At Warrenton Junction (Calverton) on May 3, 1863, 
Colonel John S. Mosby attacked
 the Federal 1st West Virginia Regiment,
 but was forced to flee when 
surprised by 1st Vermont
and the 5th New York Calvary."
'Camp in the field Near Warrenton Junction Va.
" May third 1863

"Well father, I commenced this letter this morning had written five lines & the order came along for Co. A & B to fall in as quick as possible. We did so & under the command of Capt. Savage we marched to Warrenton Junction a distance of about three miles & there I saw a sight that I never see before.

"...one of our boys of Co H came into camp a horse back & said that he had been taken prisoner by mosbys cavalry but by close work had got away & took a horse with him. ... In a few minutes after the man came in . there was another one came in to camp in the same shape, horse and all & about the same time there was a cavalryman from the 1st Vt. who are stationed at Warrinton junction & said that they had (been) attacked by the rebels under Mosby & that they wished for a reinforcement of infantry. 

"So Co.s A & B under the command of Capt Savage started for that place. But before we arrived there they were gone. ...The first Va. had one man killed instantly & from twelve to fifteen wounded. The Rebs had one man killed at the house & when we left the house at three Oclock there were 2 rebels dead & 18 wounded & several of those were wounded mortally & when we left they were fetching in the wounded ones in ambulances that were wounded in their retreat. they stated that there was several dead rebels laid along the road that the rebs took.

"The Rebels were the roughest looking mortals that you ever saw. dirt & rags, rags & dirt. A goodly number o them were citizens & one of them I have seen a great many times in our camp at wolf run Shoals & there was another one that was badly wounded who we saw a harrowing with a yoke of cattle only the night before & all of them were dressed in citizens clothes..." Jabez H. Hammond, West Windsor, age 20, Sgt. Co. A, 12th Regt Letter No. 39

"....A body of cavalry, in the blue uniforms of Uncle Sam's boys, held the Junction, and the bodies of a dozen dead horses strewn around the solitary house at the station told of a sharp skirmish on that spot. Springing from the train, I had hardly taken twenty steps before I came upon the body of a dead rebel, stretched stark and cold, face upward, in coats of rusty brown and pantaloons of butternut. 

"They showed me papers taken from his pockets, showing him to be one Templeman, a well known scout and spy of Mosby's command. Passing on to the house I found lying around it seventeen wounded "butternuts" of all ages, from boys of sixteen to shaggy and grizzled men of fifty years. They lay in their blood, with wounds as yet undressed, for the skirmish ended but a little while before we arrived, some with gaping sabre cuts, some with terrible bullet wounds through face, body or limbs. 

"Four or five rebel prisoners, unhurt, stood by, with downcast faces, but willing to answer civil questions. Close by, covered decently with a blanket, lay the body of a Union cavalryman, shot in cold blood after he had surrendered and given up his arms, by a long haired young rebel, who had received his reward for the dastardly act and lay near his victim, with a bullet wound in his stomach.

"The floor of the house was strewn with wounded men, among them Major Steele of the First Virginia, mortally wounded, and two of Mosby's officers. Their wounds had just been dressed, and the surgeon now began to give attention to the wounded rebels outside." ~ Lieut.  G.G. Benedict, Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of May 4, 1863 in Army Life in Virginia

"Sunday 3rd.  This A.M. off guard & are ordered to Union Mills, our knapsacks being carried in an ambulance. Reached Union Mills & waited about an hour for train & left on it about 11½. Found two Co's K & G. at Catlett's station, & the rest of the reg't about 5 miles below Warrenton Junction. 

"This A.M. (it seems) Capt Mosely with a force of about 150 attacked a party of our 1st Virginia Cav & as they were totally unprepared, as they were engaged in watering their horses &c, they took them prisoners, but as the 5th N.Y. bore down on them immediately they were hardly used & were scattered.

"We took (i.e. the 5th N.Y. & 1st Vt Cav) a Major 2 Capt's, several Lieut's & some 30 Prisoners & wounded. This occurred at W. Junction & as we passed by on the train, we saw Prisoners, dead & wounded, & traces of the fight. We are approaching the "Front"." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow, 113, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"Union Mills, Virginia, May 3, 1863
"Dear Parents,

"We are going down to Bristow Station to stay four days, and relieve the 13th, who are down there now, if the Rebs don't catch us, and I don't much think they will. We came down on the cars, and expect to go back the same way. We are working quite hard down here, doing guard duty on the railroad, and patrolling all over the country, yet we are having a good time, good weather, and a superb country to stay in. I understand that the captain is going to try to get permission to stay four days longer, He thinks that he has got a clue that will enable him to catch a Reb or two...

"Matt Stewart was shot at night before last while on picket. There is no regular force of Rebs about here, only some men detached for scouting service- some say 150 in all. There is once in a while a Union man in the neighborhood, but most of the citizens are either Sesesh openly or sympathize with them.

"The cavalry catch a Reb or two almost every day. A dozen of us went out scouting, and only a little later two Rebs came on the opposite side of the woods and were caught. We can hear cannonading even now, and know that Hooker is at work. We are very anxious to know the result. 

"Mosely's gang of Rebs got thrashed down at Warrenton Junction twelve miles from here. They first caught about fifty of the 1st Virginia (Union) Cavalry with horses unsaddled and turned out to graze, and the men cooking coffee, and charged them. They rallied in a house, as they did not have time to saddle and mount, and there held Mosely's men-110 in all, at bay until they set fire to the house and burst in the doors.

"They sabred the Rebs as they came in, but they had to surrender at last, though not before the 5th NY Cavalry, which was some little distance away, had time to get up, and the tables were turned. 

"The 1st Virginians were all released, three of Mosely's men killed, 25 or 30 taken prisoner, the most of whom were wounded, including two lieutenants and one captain. And Mosely himself was wounded in the shoulder severely enough to make him drop his saber, which the boys picked up. The loss on our side, I believe, was one killed, thirteen wounded. But dinner is ready, and I must go on duty afterward. H.G. Day" ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 3, 1863

No comments:

Post a Comment