"June 1. We have received the news to-day of the rebel raid at Catlett's Station, a few miles west of here, resulting in the destruction of a train of cars, and the loss of thirty or forty men. Still warm here." ~ John C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp 121 (1864)
|Lt. Col. Charles Cummings|
“Catlett’s Station”, Va. June 1st, 1863
"We live well here as we can buy eggs, butter milk, and veal, and our men have brought into camp one of two “Virginia rabbits” known in Vermont as pigs. The water here is poor enough hard and brackish. I have sighed for a good drink of our Brattleboro water several times; it would taste much better than whiskey ever did. By the way I have not seen a drop of liquor since we have been in this camp, nor have I drank a pint during the last three months. But I mean to have some just as soon as I can get it, for something is needed to reduce this detestable water. For two weeks I have not chewed any tobacco, for I am heartily sick of the odious stuff that we have had, however, I smoke some.
"We are now practically cut off from visiting Washington, for all passes to go there must go through regimental, brigade, division and corps commanders and come back again through the same devious channels before they can be of any use.
"We have had one or two night alarms but they don’t amount to much. Saturday May 30th was, however, an eventful day with us. We have three daily trains from Alexandria, one of which stops along the road the other two generally 1st and 2nd, go on to Bealton and the Rappahannock with supplies for our troops there. Well as the first team arrived within about 2 1/2 miles from here, the rebels under Mosby numbering 125 cavalry and a howitzer manned with 20 artillerists, it was destroyed in this way.
"The road here passes through a piece of woods and the rebels besides planting their artillery then concealed in the bushes had torn down the telegraph wire, taken out all the spikes that held one rail and fasten one end of the wire around the loose rail with the other end running out into the woods. The train came along unsuspectingly and just before the engine reached the place the rail was suddenly pulled out of place and the engine ran over safely on the next rail but the tender was thrown off the track so as to stop the train.
"A shower of carbine balls was directed to the engineer who jumped off the opposite side of the train. There shells were fired from the howitzer one of which passed though the smoke stack, exploding there, one through the safety value stack and one through the tender. 25 men from the 15th Vermont under Lt. Hartshorn were on the train as a guard, but they took to their heels.
"The rebels then destroyed the engine as much as possible, and burned ten of the twelve cars all of which were loaded with forage, cavalry supplies, etc, and then made their escape. The Vermont cavalry pursued within half an hour, came up with Mosby captured his guns and some prisoners.
"I heard the firing, saw the train burn, at later the smoke and suspected mischief, but as my duties were here I could not go away and going could have done no good. If the rebs had come this way they would have met with a warm reception. With 25 men I could have charged upon the gun and captured it and all the men who did not run. Mosby is a darling brave fellow indeed." ~ Lt. Col.Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters June 1, 1863. VHS.