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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saturday, May 30, 1863. Mosby burns a supply train


"Dear Parents: When we are moving about the time flies away so rapidly that we can scarcely keep track of the rapidly flying weeks. Nine months ago yesterday - August 29th- we went to Ludlow and organized our company. Therefore according to law and order our time was out yesterday, but it seems we must stay a while longer. Well we are good for it. If we don't see any harder times than we have seen thus far. 


"Immediately after arriving here we went to work to get us some boards and build us some first class summer houses. Indeed we have got the best quarters now that we have ever had, considering the season of the year, though they would not be so good for winter use. The table that our cooks use for giving out rations etc. was once the counter to an old store, and there is one or two shanties built entirely of green window blinds and several composed of good panel doors, painted and grained, which makes them all the better for soldiers' use. 

"We do not expect to stay here more than a fortnight anyhow. We will then either go back to Union Mills or else got to Occoquan where the 13th now is. They say that 'tis a splendid country down there so that if we do have to march down we will get partly paid for our travel. The grass is up now about as high as it usually is in Vt. at the 20th of June or 1st of July, and the clover has been in blossom this long time.

"Give my thanks to Dr. Scott for a copy of the Bellows Falls Times sent to me, and tell little Charlie that the "drummers" are out now trying to learn to drum as well as he can. ... 

"Uncle Joe is at Catlett with his company. You will remember that Popes wagon Train was surprised and burned there last August by Stuarts Cavalry and many of his papers captured. Companies E, H, C, and D and F are here and B, I, and N, at Catlett, and A and G at Manassas Junction." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of May 30, 1863


While private Day is at Bristoe writing home, a unit of the 15th Vt. is detailed to guard a supply train carrying forage to Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock:
"On the 30th of May a supply train of ten cars loaded with forage for the cavalry at Rappahannock Station left Alexandria. At Union Mills it took on a train guard of twenty-five men, detailed from the Fifteenth regiment under command of Lieutenant Hartshorn of company E of that regiment. Chaplain Brastow of the Twelfth accompanied the train as a passenger.
 "In the neighborhood of Catlett's Station, Major Mosby, with 50 or 60 men, was lying in wait for the train. He had obtained from General Stuart a mountain howitzer to assist his operations against the railroad trains, and, proud as a boy with a new top, he took it to a favorable spot, put it in position behind a screen of bushes about a hundred yards from the track, removed a rail sufficiently to derail the train, and taking his men under cover, awaited the train. It approached at a good rate of speed, ran off from the track and came to a halt. Mosby's first shell crashed through a car.
"His second shot went through the boiler of the locomotive. The engineer, train-men and guard waited for no more; the latter fired a few shots, one of which killed one of Mosby's horses; and springing from the cars, made their escape into the woods near by. Mosby's men at once surrounded the train, pillaged a car loaded with sutlers' supplies, and setting fire to the hay in the rest, destroyed the train and started back for the mountains."
 ~ 2 George Grenville Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War 436-37 (Burlington Vt 1888).
Back at Union Mills, Pvt. Barlow celebrates a birthday and at Occoquan Lt. Palmer experiences a peaceful night:

"Saturday May 30th 1863. My Birthday & the first one I have ever spent away from home. To-day completes my 21st year & brings me to my majority. Five weeks more, if my life is spared, & I hope to see Parents, friends & home. Tho' not especially tired or weary of my service, yet it is not a congenial one, by any means, & there is joy in the thought of home, sweet home. As we were all here, yesterday & I feared some one might be away to-day, I procured a few things in the eatable line, to answer for my birthday. Drills as usual to-day. Charles Thacher still quite sick. Cleaned my gun in P.M." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 123-4, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"May 30. On pickets. The night is really splendid. The blue bay of Occoquan, many feet below us, gives back the shining moon and stars, the air not uncomfortable hot, and just wind enough to stir the luxuriant foliage of oaks near our post. Then there is the noise of the river to the right of us, (here it empties itself into the bay,) dashing against huge rocks; of the whippoorwill, singing its own name, by turns, all night, and often imitated by the soldiers; and of yelping curs, and now and then, loud baying, barking blood-hounds, disturbed in their kennels."  ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment, The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

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