previous next

[577] every locality — just enough, the whites said, to raise crops for the local population to consume. Only about one million dollars' worth of this kind of property was brought away. Many of the negroes and negresses gave out on the long marches, and were left on the road. One squad of stout-limbed and stout-hearted women marched for two days with the command, and were finally rewarded by reaching General Butler's lines, where they have some rights that white men are bound to respect under the present regime.

Only a few cattle were seen on the whole march. Every thing large enough for beef has been confiscated for the use of the army. The same may be said of horses. The few to be seen — except here and there an exception — are poor in flesh and in spirit. Not more than three hundred horses were obtained probably throughout the whole command — all having been pressed into the rebel service.

Several prisoners taken in front of Richmond while our cavalry was engaged within the defences of that capital, state positively that General Bragg was on the field during the action, and was furious at the audacity of the Yankees. The panic in Richmond was undoubted. Citizens who left the city at eight o'clock and were taken into custody between ten and eleven o'clock, said that they heard nothing of the approach of our forces. It is believed that they first knew of the presence of a cavalry force by a messenger who went across the fields soon after crossing Brook Creek.

All things considered, no better weather could have been asked for the consummation of the object of this raid. The first night, Sunday, was cloudy; the next day there was no sun, so that the column could not be seen at a distance by the enemy. That night there was a slight fall of rain, refreshing to the horses, and doing the men of the command no particular harm, as it was not very cold. Tuesday night was the only really disagreeable time — just when the camp was shelled — then there was a fall of rain which gradually turned into sleet, and subsequently snow. The mud was deep, nevertheless the command had to move on through the mud and slush six inches deep to a defensive position some ten miles distant. If it was disagreeable for the men on horseback, let the reader imagine how much more disagreeable it was for a hundred or more dismounted men, whose horses had been shot or stampeded in the night-attack. Bravely did these dismounted troopers plod on through the mud, hour after hour, mile after mile. All the led horses were brought into requisition — a few stray animals were picked up in the morning, so that nearly all of the dismounted were remounted the next day. Wednesday, for the first time, the sun shone forth — never at a more welcome moment — making every one forget the hardships they had undergone, and the perils by which they were then surrounded. The bottomlands of the broad Pamunkey never looked more tempting, and the whole command was halted thereon, and neighboring corn-cribs and farmhouses furnished food for horses and men.

Up to this time, (Wednesday evening,) no one knew of the approach of a force from General Butler's department, and the first intimation of it was when Lieutenant Whitaker, with a small detachment, went out to burn Tunstall Station and destroy the railroad-track, and found that the station was in flames, and that a Union force had preceded. Thursday morning, a few miles south of the railroad, the advance met Colonel West's command. The gratification of the troops at meeting such a force so unexpectedly can only be imagined by those who have been similarly situated.

Near New-Kent Court-House a brigade of colored troops was standing at ease in column by regiments, and certainly no troops ever made a better first impression. Cheers filled the air, given with a cordial good — will by both commands.

The Peninsula seems to be almost entirely abandoned by all its former residents, and given over to bushwhackers and roaming bands of lawless men. North of Williamburgh, bushmen hang upon the flanks and rear of any column of troops that may pass, to pick up stragglers, secure horses, and not unfrequently, apparently, for the sole purpose of gratifying a morbid spirit of revenge, firing into a column indiscriminately, with no hope of securing any immediate advantage thereby. Occasionally a poor family is found at home, but they manifest no particular feeling either for or against the Union cause. Their sons and brothers capable of bearing arms are in the rebel service, and therefore it is supposed their sympathies are in that direction. The locality between Burnt Ordinary and New-Kent Court-House is particularly obnoxious on account of bushwhackers. On Tuesday last, four colored soldiers of Colonel West's command, were captured in this vicinity, and one was shot through the arm. I have before recorded the experience of General Kilpatrick's command while passing through the district indicated.

The rebels have evidently obtained a supply of railroad-iron from some source within the last year. The writer hereof, while on General Stoneman's raid, in the spring of last year, had his attention particularly called to the condition of the tracks of several roads. It was badly worn and peeled off in many places, so as to be dangerous for cars to be run at any great speed. Since that time these roads have been relaid, at several points, certainly, with a first quality of T rail, and several piles of new rails were destroyed last week by our troops, laid by the road-side for use when necessary. All the cars seen, were next to worthless.



An account by a participant.

Yorktown, Va., March 7, 1864.
For some time I had noticed indications of a movement, being situated as I am, (acting Quartermaster Sergeant in the Division Ordnance Department,) all ordnance stores being drawn


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (1)
Tunstall (Virginia, United States) (1)
Silver Creek (Kansas, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Esquire West (2)
J. A. Butler (2)
Walker C. Whitaker (1)
Stoneman (1)
Sergeant (1)
Kilpatrick (1)
C. P. Bragg (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 7th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: