Union Cavalry under Devin and Custer route Confederate Forces!
Filed under Battles
Tagged as 1864, August 16, Battle of Crooked Run, Front Royal, Gen. George A. Custer, Gen. Thomas Devin, Gen. Wesley Merritt, Gen. William Wofford, VA
Dear Mr. Patchan,
Much enjoyed reading this account of the battle of Crooked Run. My great-grandfather was a first sergeant in the 6th NY Volunteer Cavalry, and one of the many letters home that he wrote and that have come down through the family describes the action August 16. I thought you might enjoy this soldier’s anecdote from the field. The letter is listed as being written “Camp near Berryville August 27:
We have been up the Valley as far as Front Royal but for some reason have fallen back. Our Div is now picketing in front of this place. I dont know where the Infantry is but presume they are between us and Harpers Ferry. We (1st Div. Cav.) had a pretty sharp fight near Front Royal in which we captured three (3) stand of colors and about three hundred (300) prisoners. There was opposed to us a Div of infantry and a Brigade of cavalry. They crossed the Shenandoah and drove in our pickets. As it happened our Regt. was saddled, having just been relieved from picket, and our company was just marching up to headquarters to get paid off. The paying off had to be postponed and we were ordered right out. There was but one regt. the 4th NY ahead. They were skirmishing pretty sharply when we arrived on the ground. We advanced in line of Battle under artillery fire to their support. We had been out but a short time before it became necessary to charge the enemy. The 1st and our squadrons (the 2nd) charged cavalry and the 3rd and 7th charged Infantry. There our Regt. captured a stand of colors and here I recd a bullet in my watch. It was a bullseye watch, one that I bought off a man who took it from an old secessionist while on the Richmond raid. It had a very thick glass and two thick cases. It was quite a curiosity and I was going to send it to John at the first opportunity. But the bullet that was to put an end to my life found an opponent in the old watch which it could not penetrate. The old watch which had refused before to do duty now took its position over the heart of its owner and recd in its vitals what was meant for myself. I recd no injury except a severe contusion on the left side. It dont trouble me at all and I am doing duty again. Boots and saddles has sounded and I must stop. Send fifty cents worth.” [presumably referring to stamps]
The watch and the bullet–a flattened gray lump of lead– are mounted on a wall in my home, near my great-grandfather’s sabre. I contemplate the watch sometimes and reflect on the fact–for it is a fact–that the watch is the reason I am here to write this. There are other letters that I would be happy to share with you. He enlisted in August 1861 and served through the war and wrote vividly of his experiences, beginning with First Bull Run and culminating at Appomattox, and including Antietam, Gettysburg (the first day); Cedar Creek, Winchester, etc.
Lastly, I have much enjoyed your work, especially the Last Battle of Winchester. I hope to get down from Maine, where I live, to Virginia for one of your events sometime.
Thanks much for sharing this letter. Hope to see you on the battlefield this year.
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