Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863
On the 24th Stahel's division moved a few miles to the north, bivouacking near Dranesville, and on the 25th marched to the Potomac, and forded the river at Young's Island Ford, below Edwards Ferry, where the infantry of the First and Eleventh corps were crossing. The regiment went on with the brigade through Poolesville, forded the Monocacy and bivouacked at Licksville, Md. The next day it passed through Crampton's Gap and bivouacked at Rohrersville, and the next reach Frederick City. Here on the 28th General Stahel was relieved of the command, and the division was consolidated into two brigades, which formed the Third division of the Cavalry Corps, under General Judson Kilpatrick. In this re-arrangement the First Vermont, Fifth New York, Eighteenth Pennsylvania and the First West Virginia cavalry constituted the First brigade, under General Elon J. Farnsworth of Illinois, whose merits had just won him promotion from a captaincy to the rank and command of a brigadier general. The other brigade, of four Michigan regiments, was commanded by General Geo. A. Custer, who had been a captain on General Pleasonton's staff till he was promoted to be a brigadier general. With a division commander as restless as Kilpatrick and brigade commanders of such spirit and capacity, there was every prospected that this would be a fighting division, and the expectation was not disappointed.
The regiment was now in good condition, having 840 men reported present for duty and about 600 actually in the ranks. Major Wells had returned from Libby prison, Major Collins had resigned and had been succeeded as major by Captain John W. Bennett, Lieutenant W. G. Cummings succeeding the latter as captain of company D. Lieutenant E. B. Edwards had become captain of company A, vice Erhardt resigned; Lieutenant O. T. Cushman, captain of company E, vice Rundlett, resigned; Lieutenant Frank Ray, captain of company G, vice Bean, dismissed; Lieutenant C. A. Adams, captain of company H, vice Huntoon, honorably discharged; and Lieutenant A. J. Grover, captain of company K, vice Ward, resigned. The spirit of the men was excellent, and all welcomed the more effective, if not more active service, which they expected as a part of the cavalry arm of the Army of the Potomac.
On the 29th Kilpatrick's division, leading the advance of the right of the army, moved by way of Taneytown into Pennsylvania to Littlestown, ten miles southeast of Gettysburg, and keeping on to the northeast, next day at 10 o'clock A. M., marched into the streets of Hanover.
General Stuart, with the larger part of Lee's cavalry, was now in the rear of Meade's army. Having crossed the Potomac between it and Washington, he had pushed on to Westminster, Md., where he lay the night of the 29th, expecting the next day to pass on through Hanover and join Lee in Pennsylvania. Had he succeeded in doing this, he would have supplied the lack of cavalry at this time, to which Lee attributed the failure of his Gettysburg campaign. But at Hanover he struck an obstacle in the presence of Farnsworth's brigade. This was passing through the village, with the First Vermont in advance and the Eighteenth Pennsylvania in the rear. The troops were enjoying the welcome of the citizens and accepting refreshments at the hands of the Hanover ladies, when Stuart's advance, the Second North Carolina, of Chambliss's brigade, charged in upon the Pennsylvania regiment. This broke and scattered, with loss of 86 officers and men. General Farnsworth at once faced about the Fifth New York, which was next to the Eighteenth Pennsylvania, first ordering Preston to send a squadron of his regiment to support a counter charge. For this Preston sent Major Bennett with companies M, Captain Woodward, and D, Captain Cummings. These charged the enemy with the Fifth New York, capturing Lieut. Colonel Payne,*1* commanding the North Caroline regiment, and 20 men, and driving the remainder out of the village. General Stuart, who witnessed this proceeding from a field just outside the village, narrowly escape capture with his staff and guard. This was the first engagement of the war on free soil. General Kilpatrick, in his somewhat magniloquent report of it, says: "The attack [Stuart's] was determined and fierce. The main and side streets swarmed with rebel cavalry. The Eighteenth Pennsylvania was routed; but the gallant Farnsworth had passed from front to rear, ere the shout of the rebel charge had ceased to ring through the quiet streets, faced the Fifth New York about, countermarched the other regiments, and with a rush and a blow struck the rebel hosts in full charge. For a moment and a moment only, victory hung uncertain. For the first time our troops had met the foe in close contact; but they were on their own free soil, fair hands waved them on and bright tearful eyes looked pleading out from every window. The brave Farnsworth made one great effort, and the day was won." There is no doubt that it was a sharp and exciting encounter while it lasted, both for the troops engaged and the citizens of Hanover.
Stuart, after this rebuff, withdrew Chambliss's brigade to the hills south and east of Hanover Farnsworth's brigade followed and formed in front of them as was soon joined by Custer's brigade, which had passed on some three miles when it was recalled by Kilpatrick. As the rest of Stuart's division had now come up, there was for a time a prospect of a general cavalry engagement. The streets of Hanover were barricaded, the citizens assisting. Elder's battery was brought forward and an artillery duel followed, during which the first and second battalions under Majors Hall and Wells supported the battery. The this battalion Was sent to the left of the town and drove back the enemy's skirmishers, which were active and aggressive during the afternoon. Finding that his way was fairly blocked, Stuart now gave up his purpose to force a passage and at nightfall withdrew to the east, marched all night through Jefferson towards York, and making a long circuit to the north by way of Dover and Carlisle, only joined Lee at Gettysburg in the afternoon of the second day of the battle. There can be no question that his repulse at Hanover had an important bearing on the final result of the campaign. In that affair the First Vermont cavalry lost one man wounded and 16 missing.
During the night of the 30th the regiment encamped at Hanover. The next morning the division moved north to Abbottstown, picking up on the way some stragglers from Ewell's corps, which had just crossed that road on its way from York to Gettysburg. Passing on to Berlin Kilpatrick found that Stuart had passed that point two hours before, and, as it would not now be possible to head him off, Kilpatrick halted and bivouacked. This was the first day of the great battle.
Early in the morning of July 2d, Kilpatrick was ordered to General Pleasonton to move to Gettysburg, and starting at once, had reached the neighborhood of the field at two P. M., when he was met by an order to move out to the northeast to prevent any attempt of Lee to turn the right flank of the army, now posted along Cemetery ridge. He accordingly moved out five miles, to Hunterstown, whither Hampton's division had also been sent by Stuart. The latter was first in position and was found posted on a knoll beyond a fork in the road. Here he was charged by Custer with the Sixth Michigan, and driven back sufficiently to enable Pennington's battery to go into position on a knoll near by. The First Vermont supported the battery, while Pennington opened with canister and drove Hampton farther back. The Vermont regiment was then dismounted and deployed as skirmishers in a wheat-field in front of the battery. After an hour's firing, the enemy, whose artillery practice was generally inferior to that of the Union batteries, retired. At eleven o'clock Kilpatrick received orders to move back to the Two Taverns on the Baltimore pike, five miles southeast of Gettysburg. The brigade marched all night, passing very near the left of Ewell's corps which lay in front of Culp's Hill, and arrived at daylight at the Two Taverns. Custer remained back, having, by some mistake, been ordered to report to general Gregg, and it was fortunate for the latter that he did so, as he rendered important aid to Gregg in a furious fight with Stuart next day. At Two Taverns the brigade rested for several hours, and the men got coffee and a little sleep, till at eight A. M. Kilpatrick received orders to proceed to the extreme left and with his own command and Merritt's reserve brigade of regular cavalry to demonstrate against Lee's right flank and prevent any movement from his right around the left flank of the Army of the Potomac. Kilpatrick moved with Farnsworth's brigade up the Baltimore pike for two or three miles, then struck across to the Taneytown road, and thence to the west, passing south of Round Top. Then, turning to the north, shortly after noon, he moved up to the front of Hood's division, stretching from the southwestern base of Round Top to the west across the Emmittsburg road. Preston, with the Vermont cavalry, was in advance, and as they approached the enemy he threw forward two squadrons,*2* dismounted, as skirmishers, supported by a mounted squadron, and drove the enemy's skirmishers back upon his main line. In the course of this operation, Lieutenant Watson, with a few men of company L, drove a party of the enemy from a knoll, with a house on it, to the left and front, which they were holding, perhaps wit the intention of bringing a battery thither Watson, with his men, rode square upon them, through a volley of musketry, and drove them off, though they staid till the revolvers flashed in their very faces. In this skirmish Private George S. Brownell was killed.
The situation in this part of the field was somewhat peculiar. During the sanguinary fighting of the previous afternoon the brigades of Law and Robertson had made their way past the Devil's Den and into the notch between the Round Tops. At the close of that day, Longstreet's troops had been driven back from all other portions of Meade's lines. But here, on the extreme Union left, Law and Robertson held much of the ground they had gained. During Thursday night and Friday morning, they were withdrawn from the notch and extended to their right along the base of Round Top, and almost upon its slope. Above them, on the height, two Union lines, behind breastworks of stone, held them back from any advance. They could not withdraw without exposure to the batteries on the heights above; but the rocky hill side afforded them such protection that they cold stay where they were. While at other portions of the field the opposing lines held each other off at arm's length, here they were near together, and every man on either side who showed head or arm above his rocky shield, was a mark for hostile bullets. At right angles to the main line of Law and Robertson, the First Texas maintained a skirmish line extending to the west across Plum Run and half way across the undulating ground between that and the Emmittsburg road, connecting with a cavalry skirmish line extending across that road and protecting the front of Anderson's brigade, which was the extreme right of Lee's army.
There were two powerful reasons on the part of the Union commanders, for attacking the troops whose position has thus been described. One was to relieve the Union left from the menace of these bodies of infantry entrenched near the base of the citadel of Round Top. The other was to keep Hood from assisting the main Confederate assault on the Union left centre, which Meade expected, and which was in preparation. In furthering these two objects Kilpatrick also hoped to find or make an opening through which he might reach Lee's trains, in the Confederate rear. No infantry being available for the purpose, Meade used his cavalry.
Between one and two o'clock, while the great cannonade on the left centre was in progress, Farnsworth's skirmishers were driving in the opposing skirmishers, until the latter had fallen back to the shelter of Reilly's (North Carolina) and Bachman's (South Carolina) batteries, which, using grape, drove back the Vermont cavalry-men for a short distance.
At three o'clock Merritt's brigade came up and formed on Farnsworth's left. Elder's battery was brought forward, and for two hours there was artillery firing and skirmishing. At five o'clock, in the pursuance of his orders, General Kilpatrick ordered the cavalry attack. Merritt was directed to press Anderson with a dismounted line, while Farnsworth was to charge the enemy in his front. Major Wells had inspected the ground in front, and as he reported that it did not look promising, Farnsworth asked permission, before attacking, to send forward a party to reconnoitre. This was granted with apparent reluctance by General Kilpatrick, and the reconnoissance was made by Captain Woodward, with company M. It disclosed the presence of hostile infantry under Round Trop, and of ample infantry supports for the two Confederate batteries in front. General Farnsworth reported the facts and expressed his opinion that it was a desperate thing to take mounted men into such a place. Kilpatrick replied that the charge must be made and at once, adding that if General Farnsworth did not want to lead it, he would lead it himself. Farnsworth's rejoinder was that he was not afraid to go as far as any man, and that nobody could take his men any farther than he could .wheeling his horse he at once gave his orders for the charge. For this he took Wells's battalion, with the First West Virginia cavalry, Colonel Richmond. Farnsworth placed himself by Wells's side at the head of the column, and led it forward by a wood road through a piece of timber and through an opening in a stone fence into open ground, where it came under the fire of some infantry to the left. Passing on through a field and over a second stone fence, the battalion pierced and scattered a line of infantry, and came into a field swept by Bachman's guns, which had been advanced east of the Emmittsburg road. These opened at short range and emptied many saddles. The cavalry column here became divided. Richmond turned back to the south, and after cutting his way through the infantry which had formed across his path, got back with most of his command whence he started. Farnsworth still kept on.
Meantime Kilpatrick had ordered Preston to support Farnsworth with the remainder of the regiment. Taking the first battalion, commanded by Captain Parsons, and a part of the third battalion under Captain Grover-the rest of the battalion being dismounted and placed behind a stone wall as a support-Preston accordingly followed Farnsworth and Wells over the stone fence, and into the open field, where he encountered an infantry regiment which had moved in to intercept the retreat of the second battalion, and a sharp contest followed. Checked by the fire in his front, Preston obliqued to the right and charged the flank of the opposing line. "The Contest," he says in his report, "became a hand to hand one, in which our sabres were effectually used. The enemy being completely cut up, surrendered in squads and were sent to the rear. Had I had two companies of carbineers at my command, I think I could have held the position and removed my wounded; but being exposed to the fire of the enemy's batteries and sharpshooters I was obliged to fall back." Not many of the enemy who thus surrendered and were sent to the rear, saw fit to go there. Shortly after this encounter the three battalions united. Farnsworth's horse fell, shot under him, but Corporal Freeman of company C gave him his horse, by direction of Major Wells, and he was again in the saddle. As he and the rapidly lessening number of men with him, aiming toward the Devil's Den, neared the Slyder House, the Fourth Alabama, of Law's brigade, which had moved down, left in front, from its position at the foot of Round Top, emerged from the woods along Plum Run and opened a raking fire upon them. Wheeling to the left, they now charged straight toward Reilly's battery. As they came over a swell of open ground between them and this, the Ninth Georgia infantry and Reilly's and Bachman's guns opened fire on them at short range. Beaten back here, they turned to the south, to find that there was no exit where they had entered, the enemy's infantry having closed in behind them. Again turning to the east, they crossed Plum Run, and dashed up the hillside upon the line of the Fifteenth Alabama, which had faced to the rear to receive them. Riding up to this General Farnsworth ordered the men in his front to surrender. The reply was a volley, before which horse and rider went down. By this time formations had become largely lost. Captains Parsons and Cushman fell about this time and near the same spot where Farnsworth fell, both dangerously wounded. Lieutenant Cheney was shot through the body, Sergeant Duncan of company L was killed, and other good men were killed, wounded or captured. The rest scattered and escaped as best they could. Wells and Preston with the larger portion of their commands, fell back to the south. Of the rest, some passed through a gap in the enemy's line and made their way out between the Round Tops. Some passed around the base of Round Top, and came in through the skirmish line of the First Vermont brigade, behind the hill.
The account of this transaction given by General Benning, of Georgia, who witnessed it from the side of the ridge of the Devil's Den, is as follows:
On the last day's fight about two P. M., we heard from the mountain we had taken the day before a great shouting in our rear down the Emmittsburg road. We soon distinguished it to be the enemy's cheer. Very soon the head of a line of his cavalry in that road emerged from the wood, galloping hurrahing and waving their swords as if frantic. Our artillery, which had been thrown forward across the road, opened on them. They rode on. An infantry fire from a wood on their left opened on them. They then turned to their right to escape, taking down a lane. Some men of ours (cooking details) threw themselves behind the stone fence on the side of the lane and opened on them as they came down the lane. They then turned again to the right and entered the field and directed themselves back towards the point where they had first appeared to us. In doing so they had to pass a wood on their left. From this an infantry fire opened on them, and their direction was again changed to the right. The result was that they galloped round and round in the large field, finding a fire at every outlet, until most of them were killed or captured. Every thing passed before our eyes on the mountain side as if in an amphitheatre. Some of the men engaged (Cook's) told me that the prisoners said it was General Farnsworth's brigade, and that they were all drunk. The same men told me that in going over the field for spoils they approached a fallen horse with his rider by his side, but not dead. They ordered him to surrender. Re replied to wait a little, or something to that effect, and put his hand to his pistol, drew it, and blew his brains out. This was General Farnsworth.
Brigadier General E. M. Law, who commanded the division, General Hood having been wounded the day before, made the disposition to receive this cavalry. At very short notice he put the artillery across the road, the Seventh Georgia beside the road in a wood a little beyond the artillery, and the Ninth Georgia in a wood at some distance on the other side of the road and of the enclosed field. These two regiments were all that could be spared from the line of battle, and to spare them was a risk. Lee's baggage and rear were saved. There was nothing else to protect them.
This and other Confederate reports show that the Vermont regiments encountered in this assault at leave five regiments of infantry-the First Texas, Seventh and Ninth Georgia, Fourth and Fifteenth Alabama-and two batteries. That any considerable number of the men who charged with Farnsworth survived so desperate a duty, is explainable only by the fact they were in constant and rapid motion. The loss of the regiment was 12 killed, 20 wounded-two of them mortally, and 35 missing.
The story that General Farnsworth committed suicide by blowing his brains out, rather than surrender, though current on the Confederate side at the time, and stated in various official reports and by several southern writers, had no foundation in fact, and it is time that it ceased to be repeated. He was not the man to commit suicide, though he would fight to the death, and his brains were not blown out by his own or any hand. On this point the evidence of an unimpeachable witness is offered in the statement of Surgeon Edson, who brought in his body, and who says that there was no wound in the head.*3*
General Pleasonton says that Farnsworth's attack "caused the enemy to detach largely from his main attack on the left o f our line." General Kilpatrick says: "I am o the opinion that had our infantry on my right advanced at once when relieved [by the cavalry charge] from the enemy's attack on their front, the enemy could not have recovered from the confusion into which Generals Farnsworth and Merritt had thrown them, but would have rushed back, one division on another, until, instead of a defeat,, a total rout would have ensued." Other similar testimonies to the value of the diversion made by Farnsworth's charge might be cited if space permitted. After the repulse of the cavalry the enemy pushed forward his skirmish line, but it was easily held in check.
On the morning of the 4th, General Kilpatrick received orders to follow Lee. Starting accordingly at ten A. M., the regiment left the battlefield, with the brigade, now commanded by Colonel Richmond, and marched to Emmittsburg, reaching there at three P. M., and then turned west to the South Mountain behind which Lee's trains and columns were moving.
At Monterey, near which place the First West Virginia captured 160 wagons and many prisoners, the Vermont cavalry was detached and sent by Kilpatrick along the ridge of South Mountain to Smithburg and thence to Leitersburg, in hopes of striking there another wagon train. The march was hard, rain fell constantly, many of the horses lost shoes on the rocky mountain roads, and the regiment was diminished nearly one-half by straggling during the night march.
At Leitersburg Preston found that the confederate train had passed two hours before. He secured, however, a hundred prisoners, chiefly cavalry and infantry stragglers, a drove of cattle, and several wagons, and went on to Hagerstown, reaching that point in advance both of Lee's infantry and cavalry. There he learned that the main Confederate train has reached Williamsport, and turning to the southeast he joined Kilpatrick at Boonsboro after an exhausting march of 48 hours' duration, and bivouacked in a ploughed field, at two o'clock on the morning of the 6th. Having established communications with Buford, it was arranged that Kilpatrick should take his division to Hagerstown to hold back Stuart, who was approaching that point by the Greencastle road, while Buford should try to strike and destroy the wagons at Williamsport. Before Kilpatrick reached Hagerstown the two small brigades of Chambliss and Robertson, of Stuart's division, had reached that point, but were driven out by Kilpatrick's advance, of Richmond's brigade. Three companies of the Vermont regiment, D, ?L and A, dismounted, took part in this operation. Leaving Richmond's brigade to hold Hagerstown, Kilpatrick then hastened with his other brigade to assist Buford at Williamsport. Richmond soon had all that he could attend to. Stuart was at hand in strong force, leading the advance of Lee's army, and he at once took measures to clear the Union cavalry from his way. In the preparations to receive his attack, companies L, E. F and I, of the Vermont cavalry were stationed as skirmishers in the village; the rest of the regiment was posted with the rest o the brigade at the rear of the town.
The brigade was soon in a very tight spot. Stuart reinforced Chambliss and Robertson with Jenkins's brigade, which pushed in on Richmond's left flank. Jones's brigade with artillery close in on his right and rear, while in front a body f Iverson's infantry, of Rodes's division, began to crowd upon the troops in the town. These, firing from behind the houses and around corners and falling back slowly from street to street, held back the intruders for two hours or more, but were at last driven out of the village. A party of fourteen Vermonters were cut off from the rest, but dodged into a house and were secreted by a citizen until the 12th, when the Federal troops again occupied the town. Four men were here captured.*4*
The brigade was now united outside the town, and began to retire slowly toward Williamsport. Two regiments with a section of Elder's battery, faced the enemy for a time, while the other two regiments and the other section of the battery selected a position for a stand farther back, when the troops in front withdrew behind them. The brigade thus fell back, fighting, and holding in check a greatly superior force. About two miles from the village, where the First Vermont and Fifth New York were facing the enemy, the latter got into the woods on both flanks, and gave them some sharp fighting. A mile farther back the Vermont regiment was the rear guard, and was twice almost surrounded. Here, near the toll-gate, Captain Grover, with company K, made a charge which beat back the enemy's advance; but his sharp-shooters soon made the place too warm and the regiment retreated, fighting and falling back by squadrons, one squadron making a stand until a second squadron could form in its rear, and then withdrawing and forming farther back. At this point Captain Woodward of company M, was killed, pierced through heart and brain.*5*
Half a mile farther back Preston again made a stand, and then charged the enemy's advance, the men becoming intermingled with the enemy, till they suffered from their own as much as from the Confederate artillery. At one point Captain Beeman was surrounded and ordered to surrender. "I don't see it," he shouted, and by leaping a fence he and most of his squadron escaped. At dusk the brigade met General Kilpatrick returning, the attempt on Williamsport having failed; and the division, turning to the south, marched to Jones's Cross Roads and bivouacked. In the fight at Hagerstown and in the retreat the Vermont cavalry lost five men killed, 16 wounded and 55 missing.*6*
Early in the morning of the 8th, Stuart moved from Hagerstown in order to get possession of Boonsboro Gap and close the pass to Meade's army, now approaching on the other side. In the fight to prevent this, made by Buford and Kilpatrick, the Vermont regiment was held in reserve during the forenoon, and had little to do except that a squadron was sent to level the fences in readiness for retreat, should it become necessary. In the afternoon the sixth squadron, under Captain Cummings, was sent to the extreme right of the line, where it took a position near one of the enemy's batteries, from which the carbineers annoyed the cannoneers considerably. Companies E and I, under Captain Scofield, were next sent forward, and took position near the Hagerstown road and helped to hold back the enemy. The third battalion, under Major Bennett, (companies L, F, K and M), was sent by Colonel Richmond to the right and front of the Hagerstown road, where the men suffered seriously from the enemy's batteries.
The latter part of the afternoon Major Wells's battalion, now reduced to less than 60 men, was ordered to charge down the Hagerstown road. The charge was made with spirit, and sabre cuts were freely given and taken, but the force was not large enough to hold the ground gained, and Wells retired, having inflicted serious injury on the enemy. In this melee Major Wells crossed sabres with a Confederate officer and received a glancing thrust in the side which passed through his clothes and scratched his skin. While so engaged in front he was attacked from behind by a trooper, received a blow across the back, and was in serious danger, when Sergeant Jerome B. Hatch, who was lying pinned to the ground by his horse which had fallen on him, disabled one of Wells's assailants by a shot from his revolver, and Wells beat off the other. Fighting was kept up this with varying success till just at dark the head of Meade's infantry column appeared in the Gap, and Stuart, having gained neither ground nor information, withdrew. That night the regiment bivouacked on the road beyond the Gap, and remained there for the next two days. Its loss at Boonsboro was two killed, eight wounded and five missing.
July 10th, Colonel Sawyer, who had been absent since the 22d of June, rejoined his command at Boonsboro, and that afternoon it moved with the division to the right flank of Meade's army, where the Funkstown pike crosses Antietam Creek. That night and the next day, the First Vermont did skirmish and picket duty on the division front.
On the 12th, Kilpatrick reoccupied Hagerstown without much opposition, and took a position near the seminary, where the men stood in line of battle thirty-six hours without unsaddling. In the afternoon of the 13th Colonel Sawyer, with the First Vermont and some Pennsylvania militia was sent to reconnoitre above the town. The enemy's pickets were encountered on the outskirts of the town, and were driven in by the skirmishers under Captain Cummings and Lieutenant Grant. Then companies I and F, under Captain Scofield and Lieutenant Newton, charged down a road, lined by high fences, till they received a volley from a force of infantry or dismounted cavalry in the edge of a piece of woods skirting the road. Scofield was wounded and taken prisoner, Newton's horse was shot, and 13 men were killed , wounded and missing. Having developed the position of the enemy, the regiment withdrew to Hagerstown.
Early next morning the regiment moved out on the Williamsport road, discovered that Lee had crossed the river in the night, and captured many stragglers. It then moved to Falling Waters with the brigade, but arrived too late to help Custer in his fight with the rear guard of Lee's army, in which the Confederate General Pettigrew was killed. On the 16th the regiment marched with the division from Boonsboro to Harper's Ferry.
In the Gettysburg campaign the loss of the regiment was 19 killed, 63 wounded and 101 missing-an aggregate of 183. Of the wounded men five died of their wounds. Captain Parsons received an honorable discharge in consequence of his wound. Captain Scofield remained a prisoner for twenty months, when, in March, 1865, he was exchanged. Captain Cushman and Lieutenants Cheney, Steward and Caldwell, returned to the regiment as soon as they recovered from their serious wounds.*7*
On the 17th the regiment guarded the bridges, seven miles below Harper's Ferry, by which the infantry was crossing into Virginia. Next day it halted, with the division, at Purcellsville, Va., where the horses were shod, and on the 19th moved to the neighborhood of Ashby's Gap, where the pickets of the two armies again faced each other. On the 20th the infantry of the Third Corps came up, and the cavalry returned to Upperville. On the 21st the Vermont regiment was sent to Snickersville, and on the 22d it occupied Snicker's Gap, remaining there until the night of the 23d. July 24th the regiment rejoined the brigade and marched with it to Amissville. Colonel Richmond having been detached with his regiment, Colonel Sawyer was now in command of the brigade, and the command of the regiment again devolved on Lieut. Colonel Preston. ON the 31st the division moved to Warrenton Junctions, where the brigade was occupied with picket duty, the Eighteenth Pennsylvania and First Virginia being stationed at Stafford Court House and the First Vermont and Fifth New York near the United States Ford on the Rappahannock, with headquarters at Hartwood Church. Here a number of men were sent in to Washington in charge of Major Wells, and were remounted, many horses having given out with the hard service. From this time until September the headquarters of the Third division were at Warrenton, and the regiments in rotation picketed the line of the river. Lieut. Colonel Preston was absent during a portion of this time, leaving Major Wells in command, and companies A, D, K and M, under Major Grover, were detached for duty at the headquarters of the Sixth Army Corps.
On the 20th of August, in a partial re-organization of the division, the First Vermont was transferred to Custer's brigade,(the Second), and Colonel Sawyer returned to the command of the regiment. On the 24th the regiment formed part of a cavalry force which made a reconnoissance to Port Conway, on the Rappahannock, in King George County, returning the same night after a march of sixty-four miles. September 1st the regiment went again, this time with the division, to Port Conway, to which point the Confederates had brought two gunboats, the "Satellite" and "Reliance," recently captured by them off the mouth of the Rappahannock. Kilpatrick moved with his division to King George Court House. The road thence for five miles to Port Conway was narrow, running through dense woods. On entering this, the Vermont regiment was sent to the front, with company I thrown forward as skirmishers. The enemy's pickets were soon seen, and were driven to and across the Rappahannock the two gunboats were found lying on the southern bank of the river, and the enemy were removing portions of the machinery, until they were driven away by the Union sharp-shooters. General Kilpatrick waited a while for the Union gunboats which he was expecting to co-operate with him; but as these did not appear-being detained by low water in the river-he brought forward his batteries, and after shelling the gunboats till they were believed to be rendered useless to the enemy, Kilpatrick returned with his expedition. In these two affairs at Port Conway, which were considered of consequence enough to appear in the official list of engagements, the regiment suffered no casualties.
September 3d the regiment went into camp at Berea Court House, four miles north of Falmouth, and picketed the Rappahannock until the beginning of the campaign south of the Rappahannock, on the 12th of September.
1. Payne was brought in by one of the Vermont boys who captured him in a barn, where he had sought shelter.
2. Companies A, D, E and I.
3. 249 Warren St. , Boston, Mass., June 25, 1888.
Early in the forenoon of July 5, 1863, Surgeon Lucius P. Woods, Fifth New York cavalry, and myself, then Ass't Surgeon First Vermont cavalry, found the body of General Farnsworth upon the wooded spur that connects Little Round Top and Round Top at Gettysburg, and carried it to the hospital of the Third division of the Cavalry Corps.
When found, the body was stripped to flannel shirt and drawers and stockings. There were five bullet wounds upon the body-four in the chest and abdomen, and one high up in the thigh. He had no wound or injury of any sort in the head or face.
In view of these facts is seems improbable at least, that General Farnsworth had any need to shoot himself, though Colonel Oats [of the Fifteenth Alabama], who claims to have see it, was undoubtedly there and has declared that it was suicide. General Farnsworth certainly did not blow his own brains out, nor did any one do it for him.
The current talk at the time, was, that when ordered to surrender by a party of the enemy who covered him with loaded muskets, he called out that he would never surrender to a rebel, and fired his revolver, receiving in return a volley that made suicide unnecessary, if not impossible.
In explanation of this discrepancy of statement, I offer the following: General Farnsworth was described by the rebels as a man wearing a white havelock. The General did not wear one. Captain Cushman of E company-the peer of any man in bravery-did wear a white handkerchief under his cap behind, so that it fell down upon his neck and shoulders. He got a musket ball through the face, from side to side, disfiguring him horrible, though not killing him. He may have been mistaken fro General Farnsworth-but even this cannot explain the declaration of suicide.
P. O'M. EDSON,
Late Ass't Surgeon First Vt. Cavalry.
Hon. G. G. Benedict.
4. Two of these, Silas Kingsley and Samuel Washburn of company D, died in Andersonville prison. Several others who were hidden in houses escaped by donning citizen's clothing, and Private A. H. Curtis, while so dressed, had the distinction of saluting General Lee in person.
5. John W. Woodward was the only son of Chaplain Woodward. He graduated from the University of Vermont in August, 1862, and at once enlisted in the Vermont cavalry, was chosen captain of company M, and showed himself one of the bravest, most spirited and most reliable officers in the command. A few days before his death he received the sad news of the death of his betrothed, a lovely and accomplished girl, who died of typhoid fever. Thereafter he cared little what happened to him; exposed his life more freely than ever, and evidently welcomed a soldier's death. His remains were taken to Vermont, and two grave stones, side by side, in the cemetery in Cambridge, record the close of a mournful romance of real life.
6. "The Vermont cavalry fought most desperately, and I saw men shed tears that they could not do more. We were in a very dangerous position, with the rebel army on three sides, but we cut our way through with the loss of but about 50 men, making 120 which we have lost in about three days. You cannot imagine how desperately our boys will fight."-Lieut. Colonel Preston, in a private letter.
7. The rank and file killed were: Corporal Orris P. Beeman of company B; Joel J. Smith and T. C. Ward of company C; Sylvanus Lund of company D; George W. Everest, Franklin Gould, Oramel Morse and Wesley Watts of company E; Loren M. Brigham of company F; George D. Bucklin, Joseph Buffum, John Sulham and Henry M. Worthen of company H; John Galvin of company K; Sergeant George W. Duncan, Corporal Hiram L. Walker, George S. Brownell and Rufus D. Thompson of company L.
The wounded were: Sergeant Warren Gibbs and Homer E. Bliss* of company A; Sergeant Harmon D. Hall, Corporal Samuel Ufford, Orson T. Bigelow, Eli Hibbard, Hannibal S. Jenne, James M. Lake and Mitchell Sharrow of company B; Corporal Marcus M. Rice, William P. Mason, Jr., James T. Reed and Gilbert O. Smith of company C; Harvey J. Allen and Harrison K. Bard of company D; Sergeants Joseph W. Bailey and Jarvis Wentworth,* Major Gould and Orris F. Kimball* of company E; Corporal Douglass Edmonds of company F; Sergeant John M. Vanderlip and John H. Hill of company G; Sergeants Lensie R. Morgan and Emmet Mather, Corporal George M. Gorton, Willard Crandall, Darwin E. Eames, George J. Everson, George W. Knight, James O. Riley and James Stone of company H; James Greaves, Aaron S. Ober and George S. Spafford of company I; Sergeant Jones R Rice, David S. Dillon, Edwin E. Jones, Charles N. Lapham, Alexander W. Ross and Hiram E. Tupper of company K; Sergeants William L. Greenleaf and Seymour H. Wood, Corporals Robert Pollenger and Ira E. Sperry,* J. A. Fobes, Timothy Keefe, J. Scott Merritt* and Edgar J. Wolcott of company L; and Thomas McGuire and Austin McKenzie of company M.
* Died of wounds.
Source George G. Benedict, "Vermont in the Civil War, 1861-5," (Free Press Association, Burlington, 1888), pp. 592-611.