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[503] strongly supported by a strong force of cavalry. The Harris Light gallantly charged up into the woods where the rebels were posted, but were driven back by superior numbers. The First Vermont, consisting of two battalions, numbering about one hundred and fifty men, under command of Major Wells, now gallantly advanced to charge under a heavy fire from the enemy's battery. The Harris Light promptly rallied, and both regiments charged into the woods and drove the rebels further toward the Cedar Mountain road. Our loss here was the heaviest of any during the day. General Custer, while leading the First Vermont, was wounded in the leg by the bursting of a shell, which also killed his horse, and the Harris Light sustained some loss, the extent of which I have been unable to learn. The rebels now formed just beyond the woods, where they had a battery in position. The Fifth New-York and one battlion of the First Vermont charged upon the battery, but were repulsed, the rebels returning to the woods in great force, but were driven out the second time, whereupon they retreated for the Rapidan, closely pursued for four miles by General Buford, when operations for the day ceased.

Our casualties on this day were three killed and forty wounded. On the fourteenth the cavalry advanced to the Rapidan, and found the enemy strongly posted at the respective fords on the other side of the river. In the fight the day previous the rebels were commanded by General Stuart--his force consisted of Fitzhugh Lee's and Wade Hampton's divisions of cavalry and five batteries.


Another account.

The following private letter from one who accompanied the Second New-York cavalry in the advance upon Culpeper, gives the following particulars of the skirmishing:

near Rapidan River, Va., Monday, Sept. 14, 1863.
Kilpatrick's division moved Saturday morning. We arrived at Kelly's Ford in the evening, and lay by our horses in marching order during the night. Between three and four there came up one of the most drenching showers I ever experienced. The rain fell in torrents, and we were soon standing in pools of water. At day-light we crossed, capturing the enemy's picket. Our advance was rather slow and cautious till we reached the forest bordering on the old Brandy-Station battle-field. Here we first struck the enemy in some force. A rapid charge ensued. The First brigade, under Colonel H. E. Davies, which had the advance, kept it throughout the day, led the charge at a gallop. We soon emerged on the old Brandy Station battlefield. Here the sight was grand in the extreme. The Second New-York cavalry (Harris Light) had the advance of the brigade, and were charging over the plain, supported by the other regiments, Colonel Davies leading every thing. Off in the distance we could see Generals Gregg and Buford bringing up their columns at a gallop. In the far advance charges were being made, and skirmishers were circling over the hills like the advancing waves of a flood-tide. Prisoners and wounded began to come in. The plain was soon cleared of the enemy, and soon our force disappeared in pursuit. Now commenced a running fight, till we reached the vicinity of Culpeper — the Harris Light still keeping the advance, and giving the enemy not a moment's rest. Whenever they made the slightest pause, an impetuous charge from this regiment would start them again. For two miles before reaching Culpeper, the Harris Light was exposed to a very severe artillery fire, as great trees broken off and shattered clearly proved. The enemy finally planted their guns up a high hill, at the entrance of the town. It was a very commanding position. The enemy must be dislodged, and that right speedily, too. The Harris Light were ordered by General Davies to do the work. Major McIrwin led the charge, accompanied by Captains Downing and Mitchel, and Lieutenant Jones, and supported by two batteries. General Custer, whose irrepressible gallantry led him far ahead of his command, came up and went with them. Down the hill they went at a gallop — a perfect avalanche of shot and shell crashing above them, and ploughing the ground around them. Dressing the line for a moment at the foot of the hill on which the battery was, they charged up with such impetuosity that every thing gave way before them. With great rapidity they dashed around in the rear of the guns, and in a moment they were ours. After the guns were captured, General Custer came up, armed only with his riding whip, compelling many a man to surrender at discretion. Captain Mitchel ordered a rebel to help limber up the guns. He replied with perfect coolness that he was not going to help the Yankees capture their guns. He again received the order and again refused. Mitchel then drew his sabre and said: “Now do as you are ordered.” This final pointed argument prevailed, and the rebel said: “Well, if I must, I suppose I must.”

Perhaps the incident contains a moral. Captain Mitchel then rallied the men and charged through the town, which in a few minutes was ours also. We would have captured a train of cars loaded mainly with contrabands, but General Custer's flank movement was delayed by a deep and almost impassable ravine. At one point Captains Hasty and Mitchel fought the enemy, they having five to our one. After taking Culpeper, we drove the enemy till night — Kilpatrick's division encamped on Stony Mountain, on the extreme left. We had a hospital at Brandy Station and Culpeper. While at the latter place, Doctor Hackley, the Division Surgeon, requested him to find some bed-ticking, if possible, for the wounded. I was fortunate enough to discover within twenty yards of the hospital a lot of stuffed mattresses and ticking, and abundant provisions for the hospital. It was a rebel storehouse, a sort of sanitary commission. A young lady in town had her leg taken off by a

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Mitchel (5)
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