In the spring of 1864, before Grant
, who now commanded the Union
army, began his forward movement, General Sedgwick
made a reconnoissance in force in the direction of Madison Court-House, and was met by A. P. Hill
In the collision which ensued Second Lieutenant Marshall James
, one of the most gallant officers of the Black Horse
, with a small detachment, greatly distinguished himself.
In the latter part of April the cavalry corps marched to Fredericksburg
and took position on the right of the Army of Northern Virginia.
In May they broke camp to meet Grant
's advance from Culpepper
into the Wilderness
by way of Germanna ford.
On the 4th and 5th of May were fought the battles of the Wilderness
, after which Grant
commenced upon Richmond
his celebrated movement by his left flank.
The Black Horse engaged in the desperate fighting which lasted for several days, in which the cavalry was employed to stem the torrent of Grant
's advance until the infantry could be marched around to his front.
During these engagements the Black Horse
lost heavily in killed, wounded, and prisoners.
Among the latter was a young Englishman by the name of Alston
, who had crossed the sea to join this command.
He was as gallant, in army phrase, as they make them, and true to the cause for which, he had staked his life.
While in prison his friends in England
sought to procure his release, and the Federal
authorities were willing to set him at liberty upon condition of his returning home and taking no further part in the war. But Alston
would not consent to be separated from his comrades.
He was, in due course of time, exchanged, but died in Richmond
before he could rejoin his command.
On Sunday, May 8th, the Southern
cavalry were driven back to a position near Spottsylvania Court-House, where they formed a thin screen, behind which the infantry was concealed.
The enemy advanced in full confidence of encountering only the force they had been driving, from cover to cover, since earliest dawn, but they were met by a murderous fire from a long line of battle, which sent some cf them to the rear, but stretched most of them on the field.
The day after the battle of Spottsylvania Court-House
, Captain A. D. Payne
ordered two of his chosen scouts to report for duty to the general commanding.
They were directed to approach as near Chancellorsville
as possible and report whether the troops that had been stationed at that point had been moved toward Spottsylvania Court-House, and to discover, if possible, at what point Grant
was concentrating his army.
The scouts, being entirely unacquainted