Jenkins' Brigade in the Gettysburg campaign.
[from the Richmond Dispatch, April 5, 1896 extracts from the Diary of Lieutenant Hermann Schuricht, of the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry.
June 15, 1863.—Fatigued, but hopeful, and encouraged by the result of our glorious battle of yesterday, at Martinsburg, Virginia
, we were called by the sound of the bugle to mount horses.
As early as 2 o'clock in the morning we advanced towards the Potomac
We reconnoitered first to ‘Dam No. 5,’ and, returning to the road to Williamsport, Maryland
, we rapidly moved to the river.
, we took possession of Williamsport
, and were received very kindly by the inhabitants.
Tables, with plenty of milk, bread, and meat, had been spread in the street, and we took a hasty breakfast.
Soon after this we rode towards Hagerstown, Maryland
, where we arrived at noon, and were enthusiastically welcomed by the ladies.
They made us presents of flowers, and the children shouted, ‘Hurrah for Jeff. Davis
The ladies entreated us not to advance into Pennsylvania
, where we would be attacked by superior forces.
However, we sped on, and when we came in sight of Greencastle, Pennsylvania
, General Jenkins
divided his brigade in two forces.
My company belonged to the troops forming the right wing, and pistols and muskets in hand, traversing ditches and fences, we charged and took the town.
The Federal cavalry escaped, and only one lieutenant was captured.
After destroying the railroad depot, and cutting the telegraph wires, the brigade took up its advance to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
No other Confederate cavalry force seems to co-operate with our brigade, numbering about 3,200 officers and men. Our vanguard had several skirmishes with the retreating enemy.
On the road we found several partly burned wagons, which they had destroyed; and at 1 o'clock at night, we entered the city of Chambersburg
, and on its eastern outskirts we went into camp.
June 16th.—Early in the morning our pickets were attacked by the Federals
, but the enemy was repulsed, and we made some prisoners.
A railroad bridge and telegraph connections were destroyed by our men. General Jenkins
ordered the storekeepers to open their establishments, and we purchased what we needed, paying in Confederate money.
The inhabitants had to provide rations for the troops and we fared very well, but their feelings toward us were very adverse.
However, a number of them, belonging to the peace-party, treated us kindly, especially were the Germans in favor of peace.
Many inhabitants had fled in haste from the city, but owing to the suddenness of our approach, clothes and household utensils were left scattered in the streets.
I was ordered, with part of my company, to move this unprotected property safely into the houses of its probable owners.
At 9 o'clock at night General Jenkins
had his brigade alarmed, to see how soon the troops would be in readiness for action, and was much pleased with the result.
June 17th.—Early in the morning the citizens were ordered by the general to give up all weapons, and we received about 500 guns of all sorts, sabres, pistols, etc. The useful arms were loaded on wagons and the others were destroyed.
About 1 o'clock news
reached headquarters of the advance of a strong Yankee force, and consequently we evacuated the city and fell back upon Hagerstown, Md.
June 18th.—My company on picket, and I am officer of the day. Nothing of the enemy.
June 19th.—The company was ordered to Waynesborough, Pa.
, to capture horses and cattle in the neighborhood for our army.
A powerful thunder-storm surprised us at night, and we took refuge on a large farm.
The proprietor was obliged to furnish us with rations for ourselves and our horses.
June 20th.—We succeeded in capturing a number of horses and some cattle.
At noon we came to the farm of an old Pennsylvania German
He was scared to death at catching sight of us, and shouted ‘O mein Gott
, die rebels!’
I soon reassured him, telling him that no harm should result to him if he furnished us with a dinner and rations for our horses, and we were well cared for. A Federal cavalry regiment passed in sight of the place, fortunately not discovering our presence, and I concluded to march with my command to Lestersburg, Md., where the citizens furnished us with supper.
We camped for the night in an open field, midway between Lestersburg and Hagerstown
A dangerous section.
June 21st and 22d.—The 14th Virginia Cavalry Regiment readvanced towards Chambersburg, Pa.
, but Co. D, in charge of Captain Moorman
and Major Bryan
, of Rhodes
' Division, was detailed to proceed to the South Mountain
to capture horses, of which about 2,000 had been taken there by farmers and industrial establishments to hiding places.
We again passed through Lestersburg and then entered on the mountain region.
It proved to be a very dangerous section for cavalry movements.
At 1 o'clock at night we came to Use's Iron-Works.
, upon demand, furnished provisions, but as we discovered on the following days, secretly informed the farmers and troops of our approach.
June 23d.—At dawn we moved on by roads to Caledonia Iron Works, catching only twenty-six horses and twenty-two mules, the great bulk having been moved on upon Mr. Use
's messages of warning.
We obliged the overseer of the place to provide us with rations, and about 2 o'clock in the afternoon we advanced with forty of our men in pursuit of the Yankee
guard and the horses in the
direction of Gettysburg
About two miles beyond the Caledonia Iron Works
we discovered the road to be blockaded, just where it entered into dense woods.
called the officers together for consultation, and an attack was resolved upon.
I was ordered with nine men to approach the blockaded place and to clear it. I directed four men to approach the barricade to the right of the road, where they were protected by bushes, while I took the open field to the left with the others.
There were about twenty-five men awaiting us, lying in ambush, but they disappeared in a hurry as we drew near.
We quickly removed the obstructions, and as soon as the road was clear Captain Moorman
charged, with twenty-five men, in pursuit of the Yankees
I followed him with my squad as soon as our horses were brought up. The Federal infantry took refuge behind a company of Union cavalry hiding in the woods, and the troopers turned their horses' heads when we rushed upon them.
We were frequently fired upon in our pursuit, and one private, Amick
, was mortally wounded.
, recognizing the dangers of further advance, ordered us to break off the pursuit, and we slowly returned to the Caledonia Iron Works
Having passed the buildings we were again fired upon from ambush.
This section of Pennsylvania
seems to be full of ‘bushwhackers.’
we met our rear-guard, in charge of the captured horses, and required the citizens to feed men and animals.
During the night we marched by way of Funkstown
Twice we came very close to strong cavalry detachments of the enemy, but escaped their attention.
June 24th.—We rejoined the regiment at Chambersburg
June 25th.—Captain Moorman
reporting sick, I took command of the company, and was ordered to Shippensburg
We camped several miles beyond this place, in the direction of Carlisle
We had several encounters with the enemy.
June 27th.—The entire brigade moved on to Carlisle
, and after some skirmishing with Pennsylvania
militia on horse we passed the obstructions and fortifications, and occupied the city at 10 o'clock. About 3 o'clock General Ewell
's Corps arrived.
We advanced towards Mechanicsburg, Pa.
, and camped during the night about five miles distant from the town.
Our pickets were attacked several times.
June 28th.—After some skirmishing with the Federal
cavalry we occupied Mechanicsburg
, and upon requisition were treated by the citizens to a delicious dinner.
Probably the frightened people gave
up to us the meals prepared for their own table.
Thus, greatly gratified and reinvigorated, we advanced towards the Susquehanna river
, and about four miles from Harrisburg
, the capital of Pennsylvania
, we took position on a dominating hill.
's Battery, belonging to our brigade, came up, and the artillery fire with the enemy ensued, lasting until nightfall.
took position on Silver Springs turnpike, a road parallel to the Carlisle-Harrisburg turnpike
, and I was ordered with my company to select a place of concealment east of Mechanicsburg
, in order to protect our connection with Carlisle
June 29th.—In the morning I received orders to meet General Jenkins
and to act as his escort.
We reconnoitered to the right of the Harrisburg turnpike
, charged on the enemy's outposts, and viewed the city of Harrisburg
and its defences.
This was the farthest advance made by any Confederate troops during the campaign.
During the following night I again received orders to be in ambush, although I and my command were nearly exhausted by constant and exciting service.
To hold the town.
June 30th.—Early in the morning I was ordered to report with my company at headquarters, and General Jenkins
directed me to proceed at once with my company and one cannon of Jackson
's Battery to Mechanicsburg
, to hold this town until ordered otherwise, and to destroy the railroad track as far as possible.
I could learn nothing definite concerning the army and General Lee
, I was told, occupied Carlisle
, and General Early
—with the latter was White
's Cavalry—while General Imboden
's Brigade protected our line of communication with Virginia
Greatly flattered to be entrusted with an expedition, properly belonging to an officer of higher rank, I started my command to Mechanicsburg
, and when we came in sight of the town I dispatched a patrol to reconnoitre.
A small company of Federal cavalry had just occupied the place, but retreated upon our approach.
Without delay I marched into town and posted my pickets.
The place appeared to be evacuated by the inhabitants; they all kept indoors.
I posted my command on an elevation east of the town, overlooking both the railroad and the turnpike, and ordered my men to demolish the railroad track.
We were repeatedly interrupted in this work by the reappearance of Yankees, and had to keep up a lively skirmish all day. We also observed many and demonstrative people in the
woods, some distance to our right, and I ordered Lieutenant Jackson
to warn them off by some shots.
At sunset a courier was sent from headquarters ordering me to leave Mechanicsburg
after dark and fall back to Carlisle
There we met Jenkins
' Brigade, and Captain Moorman
rejoined his company and took charge of it. The entire command continued then to march to Petersburg, Pa.
, where we arrived about 2 o'clock in the morning.
We encamped there, but expecting an attack, our horses were held saddled and our arms ready to hand.
July 1st.—At daybreak we were again in the saddle and on the road to Gettysburg
During the forenoon we heard heavy cannonading from that direction, and soon we learned that the two hostile armies had met unexpectedly.
The Federal troops were finally defeated, but the loss on both sides was heavy, and that of the Union
army the most severe.
, the commanding general
, was among the dead, and thousands of prisoners were taken by our victorious troops.
July 2d.—In the morning we advanced into the valley between Seminary Ridge
and the mountain range held by the Union
' Brigade was posted in a piece of woodland, part of yesterday's battlefield, in sight of the seminary and the city of Gettysburg
Both armies had been reinforced and concentrated during the night.
, with the main force of our cavalry, was not at hand, and for want of cavalry the defeated Federals had not been pressed, and still held and fortified the eminence, above Gettysburg
, controlling the valley.
Our forces were in possession of the town.
We were wondering at the silence prevalent, only in long intervals the report of a gun was heard.
resolved to reconnoitre, and I was of his companions.
Arrived on top of a hill our party attracted the enemy's attention, and we were fired upon.
A shell exploded among us, wounding the General
and his horse.
The hours dragged on wearily, until in the afternoon twenty-seven Confederate batteries opened fire on the enemy's lines.
The Federal artillery replied at once, and soon the rattling noise of the fire of small arms joined in the terrible accord of battle.
Several infantry regiments en route for the bloody field passed by our position, and I was struck by the composure and determination the men displayed.
The contest lasted until 9 in the evening, but scanty reports came to us respecting the course of the battle.
At 9 o'clock our brigade was ordered back some miles towards Petersburg
Hungry and fatigued, I slept while in the saddle, but suddenly awoke, hearing
my name called by the adjutant of the regiment.
The brigade had just met General Stuart
, who, with his cavalry corps had, after severe engagements with the Federal
cavalry at Hanover
, brought with him 200 wagons, and 1,200 horses and mules, captured in the vicinity of Washington city
, and, after having repulsed the enemy's attack, he now wanted an officer to inform Generals Gordon
, and Early
that he did no longer require any of the reinforcements he had asked for. I was selected to carry these messages, and all the directions regarding the headquarters of said generals, General Stuart
could give, was: ‘You will find them somewhere on the left wing of our army; numerous men wounded in to-day's battle will cross your way, and they can tell you.’
I galloped off, and soon met many suffering victims of the bloody struggle.
Finally emerging from a dark forest, a wide field, brilliant in the moonshine, was before me, and I observed a very slender line of soldiers in a hollow, within 200 yards of the enemy's sharpshooters.
‘Where will I find General Gordon
I enquired from an officer, who came to meet me. Pointing to a line of soldiers stretched on the ground, and holding their muskets in their arms, he replied in a most mournful voice: ‘This is what is left of it.’
A few minutes later, General Gordon
approached us, returning from an inspection of his scattered command, and I delivered to him General Stuart
‘It is lucky for General Stuart
,’ he answered, ‘that he does not require the regiments asked for. I have none to spare.’
Under similar discouraging circumstances I was received at Gettysburg
by Generals Heth
, and several times on my way thither, the sharp whistle of a bullet sent after me by some Yankee outpost, touched my ear. Gettysburg
impressed one like an enormous hospital—and a Yankee surgeon told me that there were about ten thousand of their wounded within our lines.
About half past 1 in the morning I arrived at the camping place of my regiment.
The third day.
July 3d.—At 4 o'clock in the morning we mounted horses and, through fields and on by-roads, advanced to our extreme left, attempting to flank the enemy's army, and to cut off its way of retreat.
Our sudden attack on their rear was a success, nearly fifteen minutes passed before they replied to the discharge of our artillery.
For nearly an hour, the air was alive with shells—we lost men and horses, and finally we changed position and dismounted to charge the enemy on foot.
General Fitzhugh Lee
commanded our left wing, Generals
and William H. F. Lee
, our centre, and Jenkins
' Brigade formed the right wing.
My company was ordered to the extreme right on the slope of a hill.
Our opponents poured a rain of bullets and shells on us, but were forced slowly to fall back.
We lost heavily —Lieutenant Allan
, of our regiment was killed at my side.
In the evening, General Hampton
charged upon the Union
cavalry, they could not withstand his attack, their line broke, and they fell back.
It was a day of triumph for the Confederate cavalry, but unfortunate for the main force of our army, ended this third day of the battle.
The roar of cannon, and the rattling volleys of infantry fire had told us that desperate fighting was carried on along the entire line.
The results and details of the struggle were not, however, positively known to us when we moved back towards Hunterstown
and encamped on fields and meadows.
July 4th.—At daybreak I was ordered to take charge of all members of the regiment, whose horses were not in marching condition and needed shoeing.
There were about forty men to follow me and we started to find the field forges, but in vain.
We were sent from place to place, and at last I was told that they had been ordered to join the wagon train on the Chambersburg
road, and move to the rear.
This was the first information I received of the retrogade movement of our army.
I resolved then to try Gettysburg
, and passing the house where our wounded general was quartered, I enquired about his health, and also if Gettysburg
was still in our hands.
The general's adjutant laughed at my doubt, and we rode on. We repassed the first day's battlefield and ascending the road to the city, we suddenly saw a large column of Blue-Coats before us. We were only about 100 yards apart, and I commanded to halt.
Observing another large body of Federal infantry coming down hill on our left, I ordered my men to turn back.
Coming to the foot of the hill, I met Adjutant Fitzhugh
on his way to Gettysburg
He doubted our observation and I offered him our escort.
When we came to the brow of the road—from where the lines of the Federals
could be plainly seen—we halted.
They had not advanced, evidently not knowing what to make of our approach, but a gun was fired on us from the top of the hill above the city, and we all turned again.
The adjutant hastened to remove our general to some place of safety.
Following the road to Petersburg
, we met General Stuart
and his staff.
He enquired where we came from, and if the Yankees
were moving on, and upon my report, he turned off towards Cashtown
There was no escort to protect him, but he declined to have ours,
seeing the condition of our lame horses.
I took the same road and in a village we discovered a blacksmith shop.
We helped ourselves and had the horses quickly shod.
Fortunately we were not molested by the enemy.
At night, stormy weather set in and we took refuge in a large barn.
July 5th.—In the morning we rode to Cashtown
, where I met General Fitzhugh Lee
, and then we marched by way of Summits, the place of our engagement of June 23d, to Greencastle
The enemy attacked General Lee
, but was repulsed with heavy loss.
At 12 o'clock at night we met General Imboden
's brigade, in charge of the wagon-train.
The road was in a sorry condition, on account of the rain, and cut up by the wagons, some of which had to be left behind.
and at Greencastle
the train was attacked by Federal cavalry, but they were repulsed without being able to do much harm.
All our men discussed our serious defeat at Gettysburg
, its causes and probable consequences, and all seemed to agree that the disadvantage arising from our extended line was the cause of the disaster.
Our army surrounded the Union
army in the shape of a horseshoe, and, therefore, reinforcements could not, in case of need, be promptly rendered by one part to the other.
The enemy, on the other hand, had the advantage of a concentrated, hilly position, which we were unable to take, after the success of the first day's battle had failed to be followed up, thus allowing the defeated army time to fortify and be reinforced.
All regret the loss of the brave soldiers, estimated at from 15,000 to 20,000.
July 6th.—In search of Jenkins
' Brigade, I marched to Hagerstown
, Md. I was enjoying a delicious dinner at the Washington Hotel
when one of my troop informed me that the enemy was in town.
I called my men together; we heard the shooting between some cavalry of the Wise Legion
and the Yankees
in the streets, and we hastened to assist the small Confederate force.
We came too late.
, commanding, had his horse killed, and was taken prisoner, and his men were falling back.
Fortunately, a regiment of Confederate infantry entered the city at this critical moment, and we proceeded to drive the Yankees
out of the city.
They were in strong force, and skirmishing was kept up until half-past 5 o'clock, when Jenkins
' Brigade came to our succor.
The Union cavalry retreated, but surprised our wagon-train at Williamsport
, and destroyed a number of wagons.
We encamped near Hagerstown
July 7th.—Captain Moorman
reporting sick, I took command of Co. D, 14th Virginia Cavalry.
We marched towards Sharpsburg
, and had some skirmishes with the enemy, who left several dead, wounded and prisoners in our hands.
It was a reconnoitering movement.
On our advance we passed an interesting group—Generals Robert E. Lee
About three miles from Sharpsburg
our course of march was changed, and we advanced towards Boonsborough
About five miles from this village, we encamped.
The rain poured down and the creeks and the Potomac
began to rise.
July 8th.—Early in the morning I received orders to report with my company at General Robert E. Lee
The General was already waiting, and instructed me to leave half the company with him, and to take the van with the other half.
He also directed me to attack the enemy's outposts whenever I should meet them, and to send a messenger to him in such an event.
We had not advanced far when we saw a Federal vidette, and charged upon it. We surprised the whole outpost, killing two.
I sent word at once to General Lee
, and waited further instructions.
About 9 o'clock heavy cannonading was heard in the direction of Boones-borough, and soon after I received order to advance to the field of action.
The enemy made up a very strong force of cavalry, artillery and infantry.
General Fitzhugh Lee
attacked the left wing of the Federals
, General Jones
their centre, and Jenkins
' Brigade was to fight the right flank.
At 10 o'clock, and about two miles from Boonesborough
, we came under the enemy's fire.
We dismounted, and the whole brigade charged on the enemy's position behind stone fences and in the woods, yelling almost like Indians
We drove them back about a mile, and held our ground, in spite of a terrible carnage of bullets and shells.
At 7 o'clock I received order to slowly fall back, when the enemy made desperate efforts to cut us off in a defile near Antietam bridge, but got out of the scrape unhurt.
The field of action was the historical ground known as the battlefield of Sharpsburg
, or, as the Federals
term it, Antietam
On our side several officers and men had been killed.
I lost three men, and my uniform jacket showed a bullet-hole.
When we fell back we had only two cartridges left for every man. The aim of this engagement was to ascertain the position and strength of the Federal
forces which are reported to concentrate at Frederick City.
Another great battle seems to be imminent.
July 9th.—At 7 o'clock in the morning our cavalry force again
advanced towards Antietam
, and lively skirmishing ensued.
We fell back, fighting constantly.
At 5 o'clock in the evening we were reinforced by a regiment of infantry, and our assailants were repelled.
These bloody engagements, surely, are but preludes of battle.
A report is current that Major-General D. H. Hill
is bringing on two divisions from Virginia
reported for duty, and took command of our company.
During night we camped near the day's position.
July 11th.—At daybreak we again advanced about half a mile, to protect the infantry, throwing up a long line of zigzag rifle ditches and abattis.
At noon we fell back to the rear of the infantry, and were ordered to the right flank of our line of battle, which, I am told, is to be commanded by General Longstreet
Passing the double row of rifle-ditches, we saw several batteries of artillery bringing up their guns.
The right flank of our army occupies a range of hilly woodland, and I think it is a strong position.
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon Jenkins
' Brigade is drawn up in line of parade, and first an order of General Robert E. Lee
was read, complimenting us on our good services before and during the battle of Gettysburg
, and expressing his confidence that we will render similar good service in the impending battle.
This was followed by the reading of a circular of General Stuart
, stating that the cavalry, after having successfully checked the advance of the enemy, would be posted at the flanks of the army to take very active action in the coming battle.
Any task entrusted to his men they are expected to fulfil, and officers and men must impress upon their minds that no wavering or giving way can possibly take place during the coming struggle.
These very serious communications were received by the men with that firmness and cheerfulness characteristic of Southern soldiers.
All of us were aware of the dangers surrounding us-the Potomac
swelled by the heavy rains of the last few days, impeding our retreat, and the enemy's forces much larger than our decimated and almost exhausted regiments.
During the afternoon silence prevailed along the entire line, but about 7 o'clock in the evening the enemy advanced to reconnoitre our position.
Our artillery kept strictly silent.
Full of alarm.
July 12th.—The day was full of alarm and excitement.
The news of the surrender of Vicksburg
had reached us, and a report was circulated that a strong Federal army was concentrating at Winchester
, to cut off our retreat.
It was also stated that the Federal
cavalry had destroyed the pontoons, brought up from Richmond
for bridging the Potomac
, and that our supplies of provisions and amunition were giving out. At three o'clock in the afternoon, our brigade received orders from General Fitzhugh Lee
, to proceed to our left wing, between Hagerstown
, and there we remained for the rest of the day and the following night, ready for action.
July 13th.—At daybreak we marched to the centre of our line of fortifications, reaching on the right to the Potomac
, and on the left to the hills about one mile from Antietam
We were ordered to dismount, leaving every fourth man in charge of the other's horses, and we took the places of the infantry in the rifle ditches.
The retreat of the army to Virginia
had begun, the enemy hesitating to give battle.
July 14th.—At 3 o'clock in the morning, Captain Moorman
instructed me to call in at about 5 o'clock, our outposts, but to keep up the camp fires and quietly withdraw to Williamsport
, where I was to ford the Potomac
Everything was carefully done according to orders, but without my knowing then that I was in command of the last Confederate troops leaving Maryland
. General Fitzhugh Lee
was awaiting us on the bluffs on the Virginia
side with his division, and Federal cavalry and artillery appearing on the Maryland
side after I had safely crossed the river, we marched on towards Martinsburg
A war letter.
As bearing directly upon the contents of the above, the republication of the following letter is timely:
(correspondence of Richmond Enquirer.)