By: E. A. Paul

The New York Times, August 6, 1863


Sunday, Aug. 2

The miscarriage of several letters intended for the Times, giving accounts of recent cavalry movements, renders a brief resume of their contents necessary.

When marching into Maryland and Pennsylvania, the spirits of the Union troops were buoyant, because they felt that the enemy had placed himself in a position from which it would be impossible to escape without loss of all his materials of war. This accomplished, the war would be practically at an end. How bitterly all were disappointed need not be repeated here. There were not wanting those who professed to believe that this disappointment would tend greatly to demoralize the army, and in such an extent as to undermine all further aggressive operations until a reorganization could be effected. But how different the result? When the order was given to recross the Potomac, the troops moved forward as cheerfully as ever, cracking jokes and singing their marching songs—the most common being the very ones prohibited eighteen months ago by their commanding General, whose stars are now somewhat obscured. Remaining a day behind at Boonsboro, and crossing at Berlin, on my way to the cavalry command at Snicker’s Gap, I passed on the road in two days all of the infantry organizations. It was exceedingly agreeable to find the troops again so cheerful, greeting "Old Dixie" familiarly, and pointing out, as they went along, localities well known to most of them—every town, village and city having its history with some portion of the army.

The cavalry recrossed the Potomac at different points. That under Gen. Gregg harassed the rear of the enemy, while Buford, Custer, and Merritt operated upon their left flank and "interior lines," doing the double duty of annoying the enemy on his flank and at the same time protecting their our immense wagon trains from the raids of bushwhackers, who are to be found everywhere in Virginia. This will always be the case until the Burnside policy is adopted—permitting no man to stray within our lines unless he takes the oath of allegiance. The futile attempts to hold Mosby and his sixty men in check has probably cost the Government, during the last year, quite as much as any single army corps, and still Mosby’s band was as active and destructive today as it was one year ago. The reason of this is quite plain to those familiar with this beat. While he has nominally a small force, no matter how many men he may lose, his command is always full, and then all the male white population of Northeastern Virginia cooperate with him. Citizens do picket duty, act as spies, and a greater or less number of farmers in every neighborhood always have horses ready saddled, and Mosby is regularly informed of every movement made by any body of Union troops, and they also stand ready to take a hand whenever a fight is the order of the day. When any of these citizen soldiers are called to an account, they are equally ready to make oath that they have done nothing to aid Mosby—a majority of them believing such oath not to be binding.

Full justice, as I have already said, in many instances, has been rendered to regiments, and sometimes whole brigades of our cavalry force. The service of which deserve more than a passing notice of the troops thus neglected are the four regiments-First, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh—known as the Michigan brigade, at present commanded by Col. Town of the First—formerly by Gen. Custer. These regiments, taken as a whole, will compare favorably with any cavalry regiments. The officers and men for the most part are those who, by entering the service, made large sacrifices, and who were prompted to the step by as patriotic motives as ever inspired the breast of a true lover of his country. Soldiering with them is not a pastime, a spree, a holiday, but a duty, and men thus animated, whatever they to do is done well.

How such men can dies is illustrated by following incidents: After the fight had closed on the right at Gettysburgh—Friday night, July 3—Lieut. Barse found his brother, Corp. H. S. Barse, of Company E, Fifth Michigan Cavalry, upon the field, wounded in the abdomen. He had him conveyed to the hospital, where Dr. Wooster pronounced the wound a mortal one. Lieut. Barse communicated the intelligence to his brother who, to his surprise, manifested no great emotion. A moment afterward he asked his brother if he desired to send any word through him to their parents, as his duties would require him to leave with his regiment at once. The dying boy raised his eyes calmly until he met the agonized gaze of his brother, and looking at him steadily for moment said, "Yes. Tell Father and Mother that I died doing my duty in a noble cause, and that I contented." The Lieutenant, a soon as he could regain sufficient composure, knowing that his brother was much attached to a young lady, asked him, "Do you wish to send anything to any one else?" "Yes," he replied, "tell Emily the same," and the brothers parted never to meet again this side of the grave. I cannot refrain here from relating a circumstance in connection with this case, reflecting o great credit upon one citizen of Pennsylvania, at least. After the rebel army had recrossed the Potomac, Lieut. Barse obtained permission to take his brother’s body to Detroit. Visiting Gettysburgh, the lowest price for which any person would carry himself and the remains of his brother thirty miles, to a railroad depot, was Sixty Dollars, a sum which he actually paid.

I have space to-day for one more incident of many that have come under my own observation. Peter H. Campan, (not "Campo", as his name appears in the Times official list of July 29) Company D, Seventh Michigan, was mortally wounded at Boonsboro. When his captain called to see him at the hospital, and told him that he was badly wounded, Campan, who was only a boy, said, "Yes, Captain, I know I must die; but Captain," he concluded earnestly, "have I always done my duty?" Such are representative Michigan soldiers.

These regiments participated in most of the battles under Gen. Kilpatrick, during the fifteen days’ cavalry fighting in Maryland and Pennsylvania and I therefore annex the substance of the official reports of the commanders of these regiments.


Headquartes Cavalry,

Second Brigade, Third Division Cavalry Corps

Maj. Brewer, who now commands the regiment, reports it to have been engaged on the 24th July for several hours in the attack on Hill’s column at Newby’s Cross-roads, where seven men were lost. On the 29th ult. the regiment, under Maj. Brewer, made a reconnaissance to Salem and Barber’s Cross-roads, having slight skirmishes at both places, capturing a number of prisoners, and destroying a saw-mill and other buildings belonging to Maj. Williams, who is attached to Mosby’s guerrilla band.


It was Sergts. Alphonso Chilson and James R. Lyon, of the First Michigan, who captured the Forty-seventh Virginia colors, together with a Major and seventy men at Falling Waters. The Forty-seventh was deployed, the Major and forty men were standing together in a hollow, when Sergt. Chilson marched up to the flag-bearer and seized the flag, at the same time Sergt. Lyon ordered the whole party to surrender, which order was very quickly obeyed, the rebels throwing down their arms. Passing them to the rear, Sergts. Chilson and Lyon captured twenty more men of the same regiment, all of whom they safely escorted to the rear. Privates Edward Ives and Edward Clark, in the same battle, captured the colors of the Fortieth Virginia regiment near the pontoon bridge, and while the rebels were destroying the bridge.

Capt. Snyder, who was in the first attack upon Hagerstown, was shot on Potomac Street, the ball entering on the left side of the abdomen, and coming out near the opposite without injuring the intestines. He was engaged with the enemy some twenty minutes and drove them three hundred yards after receiving his wounds, and feeling weak he then dismounted in front of the Franklin Hotel, where he was taken in and kindly cared for by the proprietor, and the citizens generally. A few minutes after this our troops were driven from the town, and not until a week afterward, when the town was taken possession of by Gen. Kilpatrick, was the fate of Capt. Snyder and others known. As our advance guard marched in Capt. Snyder was seen on the hotel balcony. He was doing well at that time, and when the troops moved forward all his most intimate friends bid him good-bye, and congratulated him upon having a "six weeks’ leave of absence wound." He was in good spirits and spoke hopefully of joining the command soon. After leaving him thus, the shock the announcement of his death one week afterward gave his friends can well be imagined. He died of lockjaw.

The Fight on the Mountain

At Fairfield Gap, one squadron, under Capt. Wells, deployed as skirmishers, while the second squadron, Capt. Elliott, of Company C, killed and Lieut. McIlhenny, of Company G, killed, charged. The horse of Lieut.-Col. Stagg, who led the charge, was shot, and falling upon him the Colonel received severe internal injuries. Surgeon Wooster sent him to Washington, but Col. Stagg’s spirits would not permit him to remain there, and accordingly he rejoined the regiment at Berlin. Remaining one night he was again compelled to leave on account of his injuries. The regiment held the Gap for three hours. Company C lost 20 men. One squadron, under Capt. Brevoort and Adjutant Mathews, was in advance of the main column going over the mountain and received the first charge of grape and canister fired by the enemy that dark, stormy night. Capt. Brevoort, with commendable foresight, just before the cannon was fired, placed his men on either side of the road, thereby saving many lives, for when the enemy fired, they aimed their piece as near as they could in the dark at the head of the column. Not a man in the extreme front was injured, while there were several severely injured a little further to the rear.

A Narrow Escape

At the fight at Williamsport, when our line was compelled to fall back hastily, a party of eight men, composed of Lieut. Calerick, Sergt.-Major DeWitt C. Smith, Chief Bugler Rice, of the First Michigan and one man from the Fifth New York, two from the First [West] Virginia, and two from the Sixth Michigan, who had been with the advanced line of skirmishers, found themselves suddenly cut off, and enveloped within the enemy’s line of skirmishers. Just as they had got into a barn-yard, surrounded by a high fence, to escape notice, two or three of the enemy espied them, but as it was nearly dark, they were not recognized—particularly after one of them answered the others that "these are our fellows." Abandoning their horses, the party sallied forth during the night to escape. Running upon the enemy’s pickets at every point, they fell back, and awaited daylight. All the next day the rebels were in sight, and the party remained concealed by a fence between the two wheat fields. At night they made another unsuccessful attempt to get out of the lines, and finally fell in with some citizens, who furnished them citizens’ clothing, and with whom, thus disguised, they remained for nearly a week, until, in fact, our troops again advanced upon Williamsport—the day the rebels recrossed the Potomac. Another party of eight skirmishers, under Sergt. Waterman, was cut off in the same fight. They escaped by taking a round-about route, passing through Louden, Chambersburgh, and Monterey to Hagerstown, where they rejoined their command. In the fight at Gettysburgh Capts. Alexander and Haskell and Lieut. Hickey escaped.



Mosby and his command of bushwhackers have had rich pickings lately among the sutler’s trains. When the Union army had passed on toward the Rappahannock, on its return trip from Maryland and Pennsylvania, the usual swarm of sutlers—most of whom owing to the position of the army—followed on from Alexandria and Washington. Their trains contained from 15 to 50 wagons each, and generally without any other guard than the sutlers and employees. Some of these trains have reached the army without interruption, but a majority have been pounced upon by the loquacious Mosby, who carries away all he can of the useful and destroys the remainder of their loads. Mosby uses a great deal of strategy in the capture of trains. He has a particular penchant for sutler’s goods because he generally runs less risk in attacking them, because not so well guarded, and then Government trains only carry the coarser commodities. Recently he rode half a day with a sutler’s train, between Alexandria and Fairfax Court-house, making himself quite familiar with the business of his traveling companions, and representing himself to be a Quartermaster in some cavalry regiment. When arrived near Fairfax Court-house the train halted. The quondam Quartermaster tied his horse to a wagon and moved off for the alleged purpose of taking a nap. He soon returned, however, with his party, and captured the whole train. Unfortunately for Mosby, but fortunate for the sutlers, one of our cavalry squads soon after started in pursuit, and recaptured all but two or three of the forty or more wagons originally taken.

But Mosby’s career will soon be brought to a close, if the recent order, which compels all citizens residing in that portion of Virginia—east of the Blue Ridge and north of the Rappahannock—to take the oath of allegiance or go outside of our lines, is vigorously enforced. Mosby professes to have only sixty men, but then he has the white population of the district he roams as auxiliaries, to picket towns, roads, act as spies, &c. Remove these agents, and Mosby would soon be forced to seek another field to operate in.


When, on the 30th of June, 1863, the rear of Gen. Kilpatrick’s cavalry division was attacked in the town of Hanover, Penn., the first charge fell upon a remnant of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania cavalry. This command was somewhat scattered, and the rebels, passing through it, came upon the private ambulance of Dr. Wood, chief surgeon of the division. Two soldiers, named Spaulding and Forsyth, occupied this vehicle—both hospital attendants. As the enemy approached, they made a vigorous attack upon the covering of the wagon with their swords—cutting a dozen or more holes in the top—when Spaulding, who was sick, suggested to Forsyth, who was driving, that he (Spaulding) should drive, and the other drive off the assailants with a six-shooter one of the party had. This arrangement was carried into effect; the enemy were driven away, and the worthy surgeon’s traps were saved to the service.


In the same battle, Folger, a private in Company H, Fifth New York cavalry, performed an act of great coolness and daring. He got mixed up some way in the charge upon the Eighteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, not having time to reload his carbine, he picked up a loaded one some person had dropped, shot a horse upon which the rebel Col. Payne was riding, the falling into a tan-vat, and it was with difficulty Folger saved him from drowning. Just at the moment the Colonel was safely out of the vat, his orderly rode up, and presenting a pistol to Folger, ordered him to surrender. Folger hesitated, but looking up the street and seeing the advance of the Fifth in the celebrated charge made at that time, suddenly seized upon his unloaded carbine, and aiming it at Mr. Orderly, in no very complimentary terms, ordered him to surrender or he would blow his brains out. The orderly, completely taken by surprise at this turn of affairs, surrendered without making any resistance, so that young Folger, youthful though he be, by the display of a little coolness and daring in extremes, not only saved himself from capture, but captured a colonel and a private from the ranks of the enemy during the heat of battle.