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Chapter 23:

  • Start after Stoneman.
  • -- I am reported killed. -- headquarters near Orange Court-house. -- Stonewall Jackson's death. -- Reorganisation of the army. -- headquarters once more at Culpepper. -- great review of the cavalry corps. -- great cavalry battle at Brandy Station, 9th June 1863.

Whilst the bulk of our army was marching in the direction of Fredericksburg, General Stuart and his Staff started with Fitz Lee's brigade towards Spotsylvania Court-house, where we arrived late in the evening, and our regiment went into bivouac. Quite close to the camp was Mr F.‘s plantation; here, during the winter, I had been a frequent visitor, and in consideration of the hardships and fatigues we had already undergone, General Stuart acceded to my friend's invitation to make his house our headquarters for the night. Accordingly the supper-hour found us all assembled round Mr F.‘s hospitable and well-furnished board, the honours of which were done by the pretty young ladies of the family; and under these advantageous circumstances we once more relished the comforts of life with a zest which only soldiers feel after the privations of a rough campaign. It seemed that I had but just lain down to sleep when I heard Stuart's voice in the morning calling me up to ride with him to General Lee's, [405] whose headquarters were fixed in the old spot near Fredericksburg. Here we first heard of Stoneman's raid in the direction of Richmond. Leaving one of his brigades to occupy William Lee's command, the General, with a body of several thousand cavalry, had crossed the Rapidan, struck the Richmond-Gordonsville Railway at Louisa Court-house, and, pushing to within four miles of the Confederate capital, had taken a multitude of negroes and horses, capturing, besides, a number of trains, and several hundreds of our wounded soldiers on their way to the hospitals. Both our lines of railway communication having been damaged, and the telegraph wires cut, it was not till unfortunately late that we received this disastrous news. In the hope there might yet be a chance of cutting off the retreat of the Federal raiders, our Commander-in-Chief ordered Stuart to set out at once in pursuit of them; and a few hours later we were making our way through the woods with Fitz Lee's brigade in the direction of Gordonsville. After marching all night, we learned at daybreak that the whole Federal raiding force, turning from Richmond towards the White House, had crossed the Pamunkey river, and was now entirely beyond our reach. This, of course, completely altered the plans of our General; and as we were then not far from Orange Court-house, where our trains had been ordered to assemble, and we were sure to find supplies both for man and beast, thither, after a short rest, it was determined to march. None more than myself welcomed the order to halt, for the only charger I had now left was completely broken down, and my servant Henry, leading a Yankee horse I had captured after Chancellorsville, was still far off. Badly off as I was in this particular, I was delighted to hear of a magnificent horse for sale at a plantation in Louisa County; and permission having been readily granted me by General Stuart, I set off thither, accompanied by one of our couriers as a guide, and a few hours later the command [406] continued its march towards Orange. On reaching my destination, I found the animal far exceeded all my expectations. He was a tall thoroughbred bay, of beautiful form and action, and the price demanded being comparatively cheapnamely, a thousand dollars--I at once concluded the bargain; and after spending the rest of the day and the night beneath Mr T.‘s hospitable roof, I rode off towards Orange just as the first cheerful beams of the morning sun were darting through the fresh green masses of the gigantic chestnuts and beeches which hemmed round the plantation, happy in the consciousness that the fine animal curvetting under me with such elastic steps was my own. As, en route, I had to pass by the little village of Verdiersville, where, it will be remembered, I had such a narrow escape in August ‘62, I stopped to pay my respects to the kind lady who had so courageously assisted me in my retreat. I had never failed to do so whenever chance brought me to the neighbourhood, and always found myself received with the most cordial welcome. On this occasion, however, I was not destined to meet the same kind of reception; for, instead of the cheerful greeting to which I had been accustomed, the old lady, as soon as she caught sight of me, turned suddenly pale, and, with a loud shriek, fled into the house. Puzzled beyond measure at so extraordinary a proceeding, I pressed for an explanation, when a Richmond paper was handed to me and my attention directed to a paragraph commencing, “Among those who fell at the battle of Chancellorsville we regret to report the death of Major von Borcke,” &c. Here followed a flattering estimate of my personal qualities, and a minute account of my death. My amiable friend was so firmly impressed with the fact of my demise, that when I accosted her she believed it was my ghost; and even during our subsequent interview I found some difficulty in persuading her of my identity. The rumour of my having been killed spread over the whole country, and [407] was accepted as true by every part of our army where I had not been seen since the battle, and the regret expressed at my loss, and manifest pleasure exhibited by both soldiers and citizens to know me still among them, administered not a little to my self-esteem. Beside the many letters of condolence and offers received by Stuart on my account, greatly to his amusement, a request was despatched by Governor Letcher to General Lee to have my body forwarded, and claiming the privilege of having it interred with all the honours of the State of Virginia. To this demand, General Lee sent the following characteristic reply: “Can't spare it: it's in pursuit of Stoneman.”

Our headquarters were established on one of the hills forming a semicircle round one side of the beautiful little valley in which the pleasant village of Orange Court-house is situated, and we overlooked the town, as well as a great part of the rich country around it, clad in the fresh bright verdure of May. The weather was perfect; provisions of every sort were abundant, and men and beasts were rapidly recovering from the fatigues and privations of the late rough campaign. Orange enjoys an enviable renown for the beauty of its women; and in the female society which it afforded we took every opportunity our duties permitted to pass a few agreeable hours, which were sometimes devoted to dancing and sometimes to horseback excursions. A cloud soon came over our happiness, however, in the sad news of the death of our beloved Stonewall Jackson, who expired on the 9th, partially from his wounds, but more directly from pneumonia, the result of a severe cold which he caught on the night when he was struck, and which the treatment he insisted on adopting rendered thus fatal. 1 Few men have ever been more [408] regretted-few more respected by foe, no less than friend, than was Stonewall Jackson; and his soldiers grieved over his death as though they had been bereft of a father. To me it was a sad blow to lose at once a kind and dear friend and a leader for whom I felt the heartiest admiration. Brought so frequently into contact with this great soldier in the field of battle or in camp, where he often shared his blankets with me when I had come to him late at night, bringing in my reports, or applying for orders, I had every opportunity of estimating, both in its grandeur and in its familiar traits, his noble and generous character. Jackson had certain whimsical peculiarities which exhibited themselves in his manner and in his dress, but most of the stories current at the time, turning upon his eccentricities, were entire fabrications. He was a sincerely pious man, but without a taint of Puritanism, and enjoyed the pleasure of life and a harmless joke as much as anybody. His conversation was lively and fascinating, and he would often chime in with us in our merry talk and laughter round the camp-fires. For General Lee his admiration and affection were alike unbounded; and, in the native modesty of his character, he as persistently undervalued his own services. Concerning these he would often say, “All the credit of my successes belongs to General Lee; they were his plans on which I acted, and I only executed his orders.” But General Lee knew full well how to appreciate the great military qualities of his lieutenant, and the value of his assistance; and when the news reached him of the hero's death, he exclaimed, “It would have been better for the country if I had fallen rather than Stonewall Jackson.” The [409] sad intelligence was officially communicated to his mourning army by the Commander-in-Chief in the following order, dated the 11th:

The daring will and energy of this great and good soldier, by a decree of an all-wise Providence, are now lost to us; but while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God, as our hope and our strength.

Let his name be a watchword for his corps, who have followed him to victory in so many fields. Let officers and soldiers imitate his invincible determination to do everything in the defence of our beloved country.

R. E. Lee.

According to his wish, Jackson's remains were buried at Lexington, Virginia, where in his simple grave he now sleeps, while his memory lives fresh in the hearts of all who knew him, and both hemispheres regard him as the greatest of those who fell for their principles in this gigantic civil war.

The remaining weeks of the beautiful month of May passed away in quiet, so far as regards any interruption on the part of the enemy; but were actively employed in preparations for the summer campaign, and in reorganising our whole army, the ranks of which were rapidly filled by the return of the absentees, and strengthened by the arrival of numerous reinforcements-Longstreet having been recalled with his two divisions from North Carolina, and several brigades joined to these from Beauregard's army. The army of Northern Virginia was now divided into three equal and distinct corps, each numbering about 20,000 men. Longstreet commanded the 1st corps, consisting of Hood's, McLaws's, and Picket's divisions; Ewell the 2d, consisting of Early's, Rodes's, and Johnson's divisions, formerly under Jackson's [410] command, and now committed to this general in accordance with a request made by Stonewall on his deathbed, in his solicitude for the welfare of his veterans. The 3d corps was placed under the command of A. P. Hill, and was formed of Anderson's, Pender's, and Heth's divisions. The cavalry, which had also been strengthened by several new brigades from the South, was formed into a separate corps of three divisions, commanded by Hampton, Fitz Lee, and William Lee. About the 18th of May, General Lee, who had continued to confront the enemy at Fredericksburg, began gradually to shift the position of his troops towards Gordonsville and Orange. The cavalry had to give place to the infantry, and on the 20th we received orders to march to Culpepper Courthouse, where we established our headquarters, close to the old camping ground, stationing our divisions nearer the river, which was again closely picketed. Our tents were pitched in a beautiful spot, overshadowed by magnificent hickory and tulip-poplar trees, and surrounded by broad clover fields, where our horses were richly pastured, and through which the pretty little river “Mountain Run” rolled its silver waters between picturesque banks, and afforded us the chance of a magnificent cool bath, and plenty of sport with the rod and line. Our cavalry were in the highest spirits, and were kept in constant and salutary activity by incessant drilling and other preparations for the impending campaign. Hundreds of men flocked in daily from their distant homes, bringing with them fresh horses. General Robertson had joined us with his splendid brigade from North Carolina, as also had General Jones, with his command from the valley of Virginia; and nearly all the men of Hampton's division had returned from South Carolina and Mississippi. Our horse-artillery, under command of Pelham's successor, Major Berkham, had been augmented by several batteries, and the old ones had been supplied with fresh horses, so that altogether we now possessed [411] a more numerous and better equipped force then ever before.

We all looked with pride upon this magnificent body of troops; and as a review had been ordered for the 5th of June, all the commencement of the month we were busy preparing for that important event. Invitations having been sent out to the whole circle of our acquaintances far and near, the hotels of the town, and as many private houses as had any accommodation to spare, were got ready for the reception of our guests, many of whom, after all, we had to put under tents. Among those we expected on this occasion, was General Randolph, the former Secretary of War, a warm friend of Stuart's and mine, and to whom it will be remembered I was indebted for so much kindness on my first arrival in Richmond. Gladly eager to give him a proof of my esteem, and the sense I had of his kindness, I started off on the morning of the 4th for Gordonsville, to meet our friend on his road, and I had the pleasure of bringing him by special train into Culpepper with all honours, our battle-flag floating from the locomotive. Every train that afternoon brought in fresh crowds of our guests, and we all assembled at the station to receive them, and forward them to their destination by the ambulances and waggons we had got prepared for that purpose. In the evening there was a ball at the Town Hall, which went off pleasantly enough, although it was not, in the language of the reporter, “a gay and dazzling scene, illuminated by floods of light streaming from numerous chandeliers,” for our supply of light was limited to a few tallow candles; and when the moon rose, we were glad to avail ourselves of her services by adjourning to the spacious verandah. As the morning of the 5th dawned bright and beautiful, we completed our preparations, and gave the last touch to our arms and equipments; and about eight o'clock General Stuart and his Staff mounted their horses and made [412] for the plains of Brandy Station, which that day were for once to be the scene, not of a battle in all its sanguinary tumult, but of a military spectacle comparatively peaceful in character. Our little band presented a gay and gallant appearance as we rode forth to the sound of our bugles, all mounted on fine chargers, and clad in our best accoutrements, our plumes nodding, and our battle-flag waving in the breeze. I myself had on a uniform new from head to foot; and the horse on which I was mounted seemed to me in the very perfection of beauty as it danced with springing step upon the turf, its glossy coat shining like burnished gold in the morning sun. As our approach was heralded by the flourish of trumpets, many of the ladies in the village came forth to greet us from the porches and verandahs of the houses, and showered down flowers upon our path. But if the smiles and patriotic demonstrations of the daughters of old Virginia were pleasant and flattering to us as mortal men, not less grateful to our soldiers' hearts were the cheers of more than 12,000 horsemen, which rose in the air as we came upon the open plain near Brandy Station, where the whole cavalry corps awaited us, drawn out in a line a mile and a half long, at the extreme right of which twenty-four guns of our horse-artillery thundered forth a salute. About ten o'clock the marching past commenced. General Stuart had taken up his position on a slight eminence, whither many hundreds of spectators, mostly ladies, had gathered, in ambulances and on horseback, anxiously awaiting the approach of the troops. The corps passed first by squadrons, and at a walk, and the magnificent spectacle of so many thousand troopers splendidly mounted made the heart swell with pride, and impressed one with the conviction that nothing could resist the attack of such a body of troops. The review ended with a sham charge of the whole corps by regiments, the artillery advancing at the same time at a gallop, and opening a rapid [413] fire upon an imaginary enemy. The day wound up with a ball; but as the night was fine we danced in the open air on a piece of turf near our headquarters, and by the light of enormous wood-fires, the ruddy glare of which upon the animated groups of our assembly gave to the whole scene a wild and romantic effect.

Our army having been all this while slowly approaching Culpepper, division after division, on the 7th we marched by order of General Lee, who was now among us, closer to the Rappahannock, taking up our headquarters on the heights near Brandy Station. Next day the cavalry corps had the honour of being reviewed by our Commander-in-Chief, but this time the spectators were no longer ladies, our fair visitors having departed, but the whole of Hood's division, amounting to about 10,000 men, who were present as lookers-on, at their own request. No sooner was the review over than a courier galloped up with the report that the enemy had made his appearance in strong force on the river. This called us at once to the front with several brigades, and for a time we were in momentary expectation of a serious engagement. After some demonstrations, however, at the different fords, which were promptly met by our pickets, the Yankees disappeared again, and our troops marched back to their camps. On my return to headquarters I found, to my intense disgust, that my negro servant Harry having, against orders, turned two of my horses and Kitt my mule loose, they had straggled off, and every effort to find them had till then failed. To lose my steeds thus, on the very eve of active operations, was a serious affair; horses were stolen daily, and among the thousands of animals assembled around us, it was a difficult matter to find them again. I was the more put out, as by bad luck I had been splendidly mounted, having, besides my new purchase, which was still left me, two fine chargers — a stout bay which I had from Major Berkham, the chief of our [414] horse-artillery, in exchange for my captured Yankee horse, and my old black, which was now in fine condition. All the rest of the day was spent in further efforts to discover the stray animals, till at last I returned late at night, tired and out of humour, to the camp.

After a few hours' sleep I was awakened about day-break by the sound of several cannon-shots. In an instant I was on my legs, and stepping out of my tent I distinctly heard a brisk firing of small-arms in the direction of the river. An orderly shortly afterwards rode up, reporting that the enemy, under cover of the fog, had suddenly fallen upon our pickets, had crossed the river in strong force at several points, and pressed forward so rapidly that they had come upon Jones's brigade before the greater part of the men had had time to saddle their horses. It was fortunate that the sharpshooters of this command, seconded by a section of our horse-artillery, were enabled by a well-directed fire to impede the movements of the attacking foe, so as to give our regiments time to form, and by falling back some distance to take up a position further to the rear. It was evident, both to General Stuart and myself, that the intentions of the Federals in this movement were of a serious character, and that they were determined on making a further advance, although we differed in opinion as to the best way of opposing resistance to them. The General wished to march with his whole force against the enemy, and fight them wherever he might meet them. My proposal was to place the greater part of the corps and our 24 guns on the heights, and wait there till the designs of the Yankees, who were still hidden by the woods, and their numbers, should be more clearly disclosed, and then, by offering a feint with a few of our advanced brigades, to draw them towards us. As no favourable position for their artillery would be found in the plains, our guns would play with great effect on their dense ranks when they emerged into the open before us, and [415] for once our horsemen would have a chance of showing their superiority over the hostile cavalry by a united charge of our whole force. But Stuart's ardour was impatient of delay; and being, besides, under the impression that to allow the enemy to proceed further would let them know too much of the position of our infantry, which it was our duty to cover, he resolved to move at once against the advancing foe, and gave me orders to ride to the front and rapidly reconnoitre the state of affairs, while he would follow as quickly as the troops could be brought into action. Major Berkham had hastily placed some of his batteries in position upon an eminence which I had just passed, and was reaching a patch of wood where Jones's men were engaged in a sharp skirmish with the Federals, when in overwhelming numbers they made a sudden dash upon the most advanced regiment of that brigade, which broke in utter confusion, carrying everything with them in their flight. A scene of disgraceful stampede ensued-single horsemen galloped off the field in all directions, waggons and ambulances which had been detained to carry off camp utensils rattled over the ground, while with loud shouts of victory a dense mass of Federal horsemen broke froth from the woods. At this critical moment Berkham opened a rapid fire, throwing such a shower of canister and grape at close range upon the pursuing host, that they recoiled and retired again into the forest, thus affording an opportunity of rallying and re-forming our demoralised troops. Just as the confusion was at its height, my eye alighted on my little mule Kitt, on which one of the waggoners was mounted, and was passing me at full speed. The temptation to recover this valuable piece of property was not to be withstood, even under the exciting circumstances of the occasion; and quickly overtaking the fellow, I ordered him to give up my property, but the fear of falling into the hands of the enemy so possessed the poor devil that he begged to be [416] allowed to bring it back to me at headquarters. Thinking, however, it was only a just punishment on him to let him make good his escape by the aid of his own legs, I made him dismount, and sent Kitt to the rear by one of the couriers who accompanied me, where Henry greeted the return of his favourite with every mark of delight. All our brigades having now arrived from the more distant camps, our line of battle, nearly three miles in length, could be regularly formed; and along the woods which border the Rappahannock the multitudinous firing of our dismounted sharpshooters sounded like the rattle of musketry in a regular battle. We held our ground tolerably well for some time, but it soon became evident that the enemy were in far superior numbers and supported by infantry, large columns of which were reported by William Lee, who commanded on our extreme left, to be crossing the river. Towards this point I was sent by General Stuart to watch the movements of the enemy, with orders to send a report every quarter of an hour by one of the body of couriers whom I took with me. William Lee's brigade was placed on a ridge of hills, with its skirmishers on the river-bank and along a formidable stone fence running across an open field, over which the Federals advanced in strong numbers, but were again and again repulsed as soon as they came within range of our sharpshooters, who were well seconded by the accurate firing of one of our batteries on the heights. Buried in the deep grass, William Lee and I lay close to our guns watching the progress of the battle, when we were startled by a heavy cannonade in our rear, apparently in the direction of our headquarters at Brandy Station. Thither I hastened off at once, promising General Lee to send him information as soon as I had discovered the state of affairs. From some stragglers who galloped past me as I approached the station, I gathered, in a confused way, that the Federals were in our rear. To this report I gave little credit, but on [417] emerging from the forest I found that they had only spoken the truth, for there a sight awaited me which made the blood run cold in my veins. The heights of Brandy and the spot where our headquarters had been were perfectly swarming with Yankees, while the men of one of our brigades were scattered wide over the plateau, chased in all directions by their enemies. Seeing one of our regiments still in line, but already swerving and on the point of breaking, I rode up to the Colonel, who seemed to have lost all presence of mind, and threatened to arrest him on the spot, and to prefer a charge of cowardice against him, if he did not at once lead his men on to the attack. This had the desired effect, and with a faint cheer the regiment galloped forward against the enemy; but two hostile regiments starting to meet us, the space we were charging over diminished with increasing rapidity, until at last, when only a hundred yards apart, our disheartened soldiers broke and fled in shameful confusion. Carried along for a moment by the torrent of fugitives, I perceived that we were hastening towards an opening in a fence which had been made to facilitate the movements of our artillery, and, soon outstripping the rest by the fleetness of my charger, I reached the gap, and placed myself in the centre, calling out to them that I would kill every man who tried to pass me, and knocking over with the flat of my sabre two of those who had ventured too near me. This had the effect of arresting the flight for a time, and I then managed to rally round me about a hundred of these same men whom, on this identical ground, I had, on a previous occasion, led to victory. “Men!” I shouted, “remember your previous deeds on these very fields; follow me-charge!” and, putting spurs into my charger's flanks, the noble animal bounded forth against the Federals, who were now close upon us, but whose lines, by the length of the pursuit, had become very loose. The very same men, however, who had fought so gallantly with me before had lost [418] all self-confidence, and after following me a short distance, they turned again to flight, abruptly leaving me quite alone in the midst of the charging foe. A great hulking Yankee corporal, with some eight or ten men, immediately gave chase after me, calling on me to surrender, and discharging their carbines and revolvers in my direction. Not heeding this summons, I urged my horse to its highest speed; and now turning to the rear myself, and clearing the fence at a part where it was too high for them to follow, I soon left my pursuers far behind. I had not galloped many hundred yards further, however, when I overtook Captain White of our Staff, who had received a shot-wound in his neck, and was so weak as scarcely to be able to keep himself up in the saddle. Having to support my wounded comrade, whom I was determined to save, retarded my pace considerably, and several times the shouts and yells of the Yankees sounded so close at our horses' heels that I gave up all hope of escape. Suddenly, however, the Yankees gave up the pursuit, and I was enabled to draw bridle after a very exciting run. A courier happening to pass, I left Captain White in his charge, and hastened once more to the front, full of anxiety as to the final result of the conflict. To my great astonishment, as I rode on I could see nothing of the enemy; and, by the time I had reached the plateau of Brandy, I found the state of affairs had taken an entirely altered aspect. Instead of a menacing host of Federals, their dead and wounded thickly strewed the ground: one of their batteries, every horse of which had been killed, stood abandoned; and to the right, far away, a confused mass of fugitives were seen closely pursued by our men, over whose heads our artillery were throwing shell after shell on the retreating foe. I was not long in meeting with General Stuart, whom I found directing the operations from the highest part of the plateau. I was informed by him that the portion of Federal cavalry which had rendered our position [419] so critical had consisted of two brigades, commanded by General Perry Windham, an Englishman in the Yankee service, who, by taking a circuitous route along an unguarded bridle-path, had succeeded in taking us in the rear, so causing all the confusion and panic which had very nearly decided the fate of the day. But just when the danger was at the highest and the stampede in full career — namely, at the very crisis I was unfortunate enough to witness — the Georgia regiment of Hampton's old brigade, under its commander, the gallant Colonel Young, and the 11th Virginia, under Colonel Lomax, had come up to the succour, and, throwing themselves with an impetuous charge on the temporary victors, had completely routed and driven them to flight, many killed and wounded, as well as prisoners, besides a battery, being left behind. General Windham himself was shot through the leg during the short melee, and had a narrow escape from capture; and several colonels and other officers were among the dead. The flight of the Federals had been so sudden and headlong that it gave rise to a number of odd incidents, among which may be recalled an accident which befell one of their buglers, who, in the blindness of his hurry, rode straight up against an old ice-house, breaking through the wooden partition, and tumbling headlong, horse and all, into the deep hole within. The horse was killed on the spot, but the rider escaped miraculously, and was hauled up with ropes amidst shouts of laughter from the by-standers at so ridiculous an adventure of battle.

The greater part of our corps was now placed along the ridge, in exactly the position I had recommended in the morning, whilst further on, in the plains below, were arrayed in line of battle many thousand Federal cavalry, supported by two of their divisions of infantry, whose glittering bayonets could be easily discerned as they deployed from the distant woods. Meanwhile our Commander-in-Chief had arrived at [420] the scene of action, and a division of our infantry had come up to our support, which was still in the woods about a quarter of a mile to the rear, but quite in readiness to act when necessary. The time was now about four in the afternoon, and the fire, which in our immediate front had gradually slackened to a desultory skirmishing of the dismounted sharpshooters, but supported by a regular cannonade, grew hotter and hotter on the left, where William Lee, who had given up his original position soon after I left him, was slowly falling back before the enemy, turning and giving battle whenever too closely pressed by his pursuers. This splendid command could just be seen emerging from the woods on our left, where Jones's brigade was drawn up to support it, when Stuart, thinking the time had come for an aggressive movement, sent me off to order the two brigades to move forward in a united charge upon the pursuing enemy. Feeling that prompt action was necessary, I rode down the hillside with incautious speed, and my horse, broken down by the excessive exertions of the day, stumbled and rolled heavily over with me. Stuart, believing that horse and rider were struck down by a cannon-ball, ordered some couriers to my assistance, and was just sending off some one else with the orders I was charged with, when the animal regained its legs, and, vaulting quickly into the saddle, I started off again faster than before. About fifty yards further, coming upon very broken ground, my horse fell again, so contusing my leg that I fancied at first it was broken; but as the eyes of many hundreds of my comrades were on me I proudly fought against the agony I suffered, and, with difficulty remounting, I continued my ride, and in a few minutes was, without further accident, at the point of destination. Lee's and Jones's men received the order to charge with loud cheers-the former moving forward to the attack in such magnificent style that an enthusiastic shout of applause rose along our [421] lines on the heights, whence the conflict could be plainly witnessed. The enemy received us with a shower of bullets. General William Lee fell wounded in the thigh. Colonel Williams was shot dead at the head of his regiment, and many other officers fell killed and wounded. But nothing could arrest the impetuous charge of the gallant Virginians; and in a few minutes the Federal lines were broken and driven in disorderly flight towards the river, where the fire of several reserve batteries, posted on the opposite shore, put a stop to the pursuit. This success on our left decided the fate of the day. About dusk, the main body of the Federal cavalry, seeing their right flank now entirely exposed, commenced a retreat under protection of their infantry, and by nightfall the whole of the hostile force had once more recrossed the Rappahannock. Thus ended the greatest cavalry battle ever fought on the American continent, about 2,000 men being engaged on our side, and about 5,000 on that of the Federals, besides the infantry support; and the combat lasted from daybreak till nightfall. The loss of our opponents was very severe in dead and wounded, and a great number of officers fell, among whom was a brigadier-general, several colonels, besides many other of subordinate rank. About 400 privates and 40 officers were captured, and a battery of four guns already mentioned. The victory was a dearly-bought one on our side, and numbers of those who but a few days before had gaily attended the review, were now stretched cold and lifeless on the same ground. Among those whose death we mourned, was the gallant Colonel Hampton of the 2d South Carolina, brother of General Hampton, and Colonel Williams of the 2d North Carolina; General William Lee, Colonel Butler, and many other officers of rank, were among the wounded. Our Staff had suffered very severely: Captain White wounded, Lieutenant Goldsborough taken prisoner, and the gallant Captain Farley killed. Poor Farley! after [422] innumerable escapes from the perils into which his brilliant gallantry led him, his fate had overtaken him at last, and he died as heroically as he had lived. While riding towards the enemy, side by side with Colonel Butler, a shell which passed clean through their horses, killed both these, shattered at the same time one of Butler's legs below the knee, and carried off one of Farley's close up to the body. When the surgeon arrived he naturally wished to attend first to the Captain as the more dangerously wounded, but this the brave young fellow positively refused, saying that Colonel Butler's life was more valuable to the country than his own, and he felt he should soon die. Two hours afterwards he was a corpse. We passed the night at a farmhouse close to the battle-field; but in spite of the fatigues of the day I could find no rest, and passed the best part of the night bathing my injured leg, which was very swollen and painful, with cold water.

I did not allow this, however, to prevent my accompanying General Stuart on the following morning on a ride towards the river and over the plains, which presented all the appearance of a regular battle-field. Principally was this the case in the immediate neighbourhood of our old headquarters, where the ground was thickly strewn with carcasses, on which hundreds of turkey buzzards had been gorging themselves, and were lying about in numbers. In one spot, a few acres broad, where the cavalry had charged close up to a fence held by our skirmishers, I counted as many as thirty dead horses struck down by the bullets of our sharpshooters. On our return to headquarters, which in the mean time had been transferred to the shade of an oak grove a mile further to the rear, and close to a fine plantation possessed by a Mr Bradford, my negro Henry met me with an air of triumphant exultation, having with untiring energy, backed by cunning adroitness, succeeded in recovering one of my two missing horses — the stout bay. The illegitimate appropriator of the [423] poor beast had frightfully disfigured it to avoid detection; its beautiful mane and tail were hacked short, but the sharp eyes of the negro had not be baffled by this villanous trick. I had been the subject of General Stuart's raillery apropos of my lost horses, but ere long I was enabled to turn the laugh against him, for two of his best horses went astray and were lost in the same way, nor were they recovered for months after. Large numbers of the enemy being still on the other side of the river and displaying considerable activity, we expected that the late unsuccessful reconnaissance in force would be shortly renewed, and on the 3th we were even called to our saddles by an alarm. It proved a groundless one, however; and the following days passed without further active demonstration on the part of the Federals.

1 The immediate cause of Jackson's death is not generally known. I received the particulars of it from Dr McGuire, who attended the General, and who told me that, against his urgent dissuasion, he had insisted on treating his cold by the application of wet blankets, which so aggravated its severity that, weakened as was his system by loss of blood and the shock of amputation, this imprudence became fatal.

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