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Friday, May 30, 2014



Beginning of hunting season: New Kent, 8,358 BC

        Petrified Remains Are Discovered Under State Road In New Kent County.

          [Special to The Times-Dispatch.]
WEST POINT, VA., May 11.-While digging on the main State road in New Kent County, about nine miles west of Plum Point. Jerry Jacobson, of Plum Point, unearthed the bones of what appeared to be a mastodon. The bones were found in a blue sandy marl, about eighteen inches under the surface, and were completely petrified.
Mr. Jacobson brought one of the spinal column bones to West Point. It was six inches wide and ten inches thick.

-Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 12,1916

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feeding Sheridan II


                OFF YORKTOWN, May 20, 1864-12:30.

Colonel Biggs, quartermaster at Fort Monroe, informs me that General Sheridan's command is at White House without supplies. He requests me to convoy transportation as near to them as possible. I have informed him I will go as far as West Point, but no farther without orders from you, as I am quite sure the Pamunkey River is filled with torpedoes. We leave this p.m. with Mystic in company, leaving a boats crew to do guard duty at this place while absent. Will return with the transports as soon as General Sheridan receives his supplies.
     Respectfully, etc.,

                    CHAS. A. BABCOCK,
                        Lieutenant, Commanding.
Rear-Admiral LEE.

Report of Lieutenant-Commander Babcock, U.S. Navy, regarding expedition to White House, Pamunkey River, convoying transports for the army.

                        U.S.S. MORSE,
                    Off Yorktown, Va., May 24, 1864.

SIR: I respectfully report that. having telegraphed to you on the 20th instant at the request of Colonel Biggs, quartermaster at Fortress Monroe I was about to proceed up the river to West Point with this vessel and Mystic for the purpose of convoying transports with supplies for Major-General Sheridan's command, who were encamped at White House Landing, and who were greatly in need of them. At 7:30 p. in. the same evening got underway with this vessel, three transports, a schooner, and Mystic bringing up the rear, and proceeded up the river. Arrived at West Point at 10:30 p.m.; found the wharf entirely destroyed by fire since the recent expedition to that place. One of the transports having on board a cavalry guard of 30 men, ordered her close in to the beach and sent boats crews from this vessel to assist in landing the cavalry; succeeded in doing so without any accident, swimming the horses on shore with a line attached to them. The cavalry guard immediately proceeded up the peninsula for the purpose of communicating with Major General Sheridan, informing him that 11 had arrived at West Point with two gunboats and four transports with forage and subsistence for his command. At 1 p.m. on the 21st instant the cavalry guard returned to West Point with a colonel from Major-General Sheridan, urgently requesting me to proceed as far up the river as possible, as his command were suffering for want of forage and subsistence, and not being able to cross the bridge at White House Landing without previously repairing it.
I immediately determined to proceed to White House, if possible; got underway with the transports and Mystic and proceeded up the Pamunkey River. Found no impediments or obstructions in the river. When up to Cumberland Bar, it being very low water, and the Mystic, on account of her draft, not being able to cross the bar, left her there and proceeded on with the transports, giving Acting Master Wright orders to follow when possible. When abreast of Indian Town had a great deal of trouble in passing up the river on account of the very low tide. At 9:30 p.m. succeeded in reaching the White House safely with the transports. I immediately communicated with Major-General Sheridan, informing him of my arrival. On Sunday, the 22d instant, two transports arrived from Fortress Monroe with pontoons for the army, but by this time General Sheridan's command had succeeded in repairing the bridge and did not need them. On the evening of the 22d instant Acting Master Wright came up the river in his boat and reported to me that in trying to come up the river he had run hard aground on Indian Town Bar. Immediately sent the steamer & are to her assistance, giving orders to Acting Master Wright that when afloat he should remain there in deep water until further orders from me. On Sunday evening received on board this vessel for delivery to military authorities at Yorktown. by request of Major-General Sheridan, 7 prisoners of war (2 officers and 5 privates) and 2 deserters from General Butlers army, all captured the day previous by General Sheridan's command.
At 11 a.m. on the morning of the 23d instant, the army being on the move and transports being all discharged, gave them orders to get underway and proceed to Yorktown. When within sight of the Mystic, ordered her to get underway and take the lead, bringing up the rear with this vessel.
All arrived safely at Yorktown at 10:30 p.m. last night, and delivered the prisoners to the military authorities on shore.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                    CHARLES A. BABCOCK,
                Lieutenant-Commander and Senior Officer Present.
Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE,
    Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Hampton Roads.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feeding Sheridan I

As Sheridan and the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac crossed the Chickahominy and headed toward White House Landing, efforts were set in motion to secure him food and forage, as well as pontoons. That that was no simple request to fill will readily become apparent.

                                        FORT MONROE, VA., May 20, 1864-6 p.m.
                                                                                 (Received 6.50 p.m.)

Your dispatch received. General Sheridan's command is at the White House; wants pontoon train, rations and forage. Train is at Bermuda Hundred; have sent for it. Don't know if it can be spared. Asked Captain Babcock, commanding fleet in York River, to escort stores to White House. He replied could go to West Point, but on account of torpedoes in Pamunkey was dangerous to go farther. Sent two days forage to him- all I had at the depot. Five days forage was called for. Expect Sheridan will come to West Point. Our boats suitable for ferrying are kept with the army up the James River. Have just received dispatch from General Butler, asking for 1,500 axes in great haste. We have none on hand; 1,000 are due on requisitions. Will you have 1,500 sent at once? Colonel Shaffer telegraphs have no uneasiness about us; we are all right.

                    HERMAN BIGGS,
                Chief Quartermaster.



             FORT MONROE, May 20, 1864.
Colonel SHAFFER:
General Sheridan's command is at White House. Have sent to me for fifteen pontoons and five days supply of rations and forage. Have sent the rations and one days forage (all I have) to West Point. Captain Babcock, U. S. Navy, at Yorktown, says gun-boat will escort supplies as far as West Point, as it is dangerous to go up the Pamunkey. You have at least thirteen days supply of forage, in grain, at Bermuda Hundred, and I have written to Colonel Fuller to send me schooner with 10,000 bushels of grain; two days supply for General Sheridan's horses. Suppose more than fifteen pontoons will be needed at West Point.

                    HERMAN BJGGS,
                Lieutenant-Colonel and Quartermaster.



                 BERMUDA, May 20, 1864.

                Chief of Staff:

The following is a copy of a letter just received from Lieutenant-Colonel Biggs:
I inclose herewith copy of a dispatch received from Lieutenant-Colonel Howard, quartermaster Cavalry Corps. I have sent about 6,000 bushels oats, which is all I- have. This is little more than one days supply for the corps. Please communicate with General Butler, and send me a schooner with about two days supply for them, say 10,000 bushels. The schooner F. Merrin or Ida Jones. There should be vessels in to-day laden with forage, but all will not answer, rely on this. If they come in, however, I will forward them up the river at once. You have now at least twelve days supply of grain at Bermuda Hundred.
The following is a copy of Colonel Howard's dispatch to Colonel Biggs:

                    FORT MAGRUDER, VA, May 19, 1864.
I have just arrived at this place on my way to Fort Monroe for the purpose of procuring five days forage for 12,000 animals, 65,000 rations of subsistence, and a pontoon train of fifteen boats. Will you please arrange so that I may be enabled to take them immediately on my arrival to White House, on the Pamunkey?
I have sent the schooner, as requested, to report to Colonel Biggs, as we have a full supply of forage here.

                        C. E. FULLER,
                    Lieutenant-Colonel and Quartermaster.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1- Volume 36 (Part III)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Unknown Dead

A Memorial Day post . . .

Union Soldiers Interred in Richmond National Cemetery, VA

Division: F
Section: 1

No. 5621
(76 to 148)

73 unknown
These bodies were interred in an triangular enclosure, at Bottom's Bridge, where the New Kent road crosses the Chickahominy river. No. 76 was No. 1 grave on the southwest corner of the triangle and the rows followed the hypotenuse.

-Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers who Died in Defence of the American Union, Interred in the National  Cemeteries and Other Burial Places ...
Vols 16-17

United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1868

Saturday, May 24, 2014


New Kent County Historic Commission presents WWII Freedom Calls NK
Saturday, June 7
Exhibits: -Honoring the men & women who served during WWII -Victory Garden -WWII ear military tents, vehicles, equipment & uniforms -Fort Lee Military Band -USO type dance 6-8 PM -Presentations, special guests & more!

12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
New Kent Historic School Grounds & Gym
11825 New Kent Highway New Kent, VA 23124
 (804) 932-3155
Free and open to the public

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sheridan at Baltimore Cross-Roads

                                                                                       May 21, 1864.
Major-General BURNSIDE: 
No news except that Sheridan is on his way back. Last heard from at Baltimore Store.

                                                                                     JNO. A. RAWLINS,
                                                                                                Chief of Staff.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1- Volume 36 (Part III)

Map of area of operations, LOC

 Using the history of the Sixth New York Cavalry we follow the Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac as it re-enters New Kent . . .

May 16th- In the afternoon the Second and Third Brigades, under Colonel Devin, started on a reconnoissance up the James River to Chapin's(sic) Bluff, about six miles, and about three miles out met a small force of the enemy; captured an officer and a few men and dispersed the rest. After following them about three miles and discovering no large force, returned, after dark without loss.
May 17th- Orders were received to be in readiness to march at eleven o'clock, but order being countermanded, the horses were unsaddled. At 7.30 p.m. "boots and saddles" again sounded, and at nine o'clock the column moved out and marched down the river about twenty miles, and halted for breakfast about daylight of the 18th. A hard night's march, sleeping in the saddle and waking in the morning minus cap or hat.
May 18th- Moving out soon after daylight the regiment took the lead of the corps and crossing the Chickahominy at Jones Bridge, moved up the north side of that river to Baltimore Crossroads and encamped on the Baltimore and Richmond pike, three miles from New Kent C.H., and seven miles from White House. There were frequent heavy rain,s swelling the streams and keeping the roads in a perpetual state of mud.
May 19th- In bivouac at the crossroads, waiting, resting, sending out scouting parties, and enjoying the delightful rain and mud.
May 20th- Reveille at 3 a.m. Sheridan having decided to cross the Pamunky River at White House, had sent to Fortress Monroe for pontoons. While waiting for these he sent Custer up the river to destroy the railroad bridge across the South Anna at Hanover Station, and the Second and Third Divisions to Cold Harbor to demonstrate in the direction of Richmond, as far as Mechanicsville, and cover Custer's movements. The Ninth New York was sent with Custer, the rest of the brigade remaining at the crossroads.

-History of the Sixth New York Cavalry: (Second Ira Harris Guard) Second Brigade -- First Division -- Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865
 Compiled by Hillman Allyn Hall, William B. Besley, Gilbert Guion Wood
 Blanchard Press, 1908       

Thomas C. Devin, Commanding officer 6th NY Cavalry


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Action at Jones' Bridge- Forty-second Cavalry

 Fresh information as to what Confederate unit was displaced from Providence Forge by the First United States Colored Cavalry. It was the hard luck Forty-second Battalion Virginia Cavalry.
Here, the Daily Examiner is more merciful than when it described the affair at Charles City Courthouse from the previous December . . .

Information was also received last night that Liuetenant-Colonel ROBBINS, commanding Forty-second battalion of Virginia cavalry, at Forge's bridge, on the Lower Chickahominy, had been driven back by a force of the enemy's cavalry.- The position he held was indefensible, and he was induced to retire more by consideration of prudence than by the enemy's demonstration.

- Richmond Daily Examiner: May 6, 1864

Bridge Repairs- Sheridan on the Chickahominy.

                Haxalls, May 16, 1864.

Brig. Gen. D. McM. GREGG,
                Commanding Second Cavalry Division:
The major-general commanding directs that you send one regiment and the pioneers of your division to Jones' Bridge over the Chickahominy and repair said bridge. You will send this detail without delay. If you require them, more tools can be sent you from these headquarters.

                        JAS. W. FORSYTH,
            Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Staff.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 36 (Part II)

 Colonel James W. Forsyth went on to command the 7th Cavalry and was the commander of U.S. forces at the Wounded Knee "Massacre." He retired from active duty in 1906.

In this well-known photograph from the Peninsula Campaign, General Fitz-John Porter(he of the indomitable stare) confers with his staff. Lieut. George Custer reclines with the dog while Capt. Forsyth sits on the trunk on the left enjoying a pipe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Lady of the Peninsula - Sheridan on the Chickahominy.

Summit Station, Dispatch Station and Bottom's Bridge in relation to each other

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch . . .
 We give below two letters furnished by correspondents, one of them a lady, describing the conduct of the marauders under Sheridan before arriving at, and after leaving Richmond. They show the character of the war which is being waged against us:

To the Editor of the Dispatch:
Amongst the farms that suffered most during their late trip was that of Mr. Alfred Winston, on the Mountain road, in Henrico county. This fine farm has been entirely dismantled of fencing and crops; nearly all the former was burnt. The fine wheat and clover crop was completely destroyed by their horses, which they kept on the place during the whole day and night. They had all their artillery and wagon train parked on the premises. The dwelling they used as their division hospital, and in the passage they performed all their amputations, scattering cut off limbs indiscriminately over the yard. They stole from the family two fine gold watches and chains, one pair ladies' bracelets, and several smaller articles of jewelry; all the money in the house; also all bonds, receipts, and in fact every paper they could find. The wardrobes and bureaus were opened and their contents scattered over the rooms — not the smallest drawer was left unsearched. Every article of provision and horse teed was taken. They defaced the carriage by tearing off the silver mountings and cutting up the trimmings. They killed all the fowls and several hogs. They also pilfered the negroes of every particle of jewelry and clothing; also took with them two fine mules. This I think may be taken as a fair specimen of the way in which the people of this neighborhood were treated by the vandals.

New Kent County, Summit Station,
May 15th, 1864.

To the Editor of the Dispatch:
If you feel disposed, you can give this a space in your columns, which have so often entertained us. We had heard the Yankee raiders were at Dispatch Station and were expecting them, but such an indescribable feeling came over us when we saw them leaping the enclosure, and in a second surrounded the house with pistols cocked to face five defenseless women; our smoke house, fowl-houses, collars and closets seemed to fly open by magic. They must have pick-locks attached to their fingers; every part of the place completely sacked, and not an article of food left; everything taken that they could carry off — butter taken and given to their horses, cows milked, calf killed and every fowl, even sitting hens, with their eggs, along with sick chickens that even hogs refuse.--No entreaties availed, or touched their conscience — it was like idle words. When taking the last piece of bacon, we begged for some; they replied "no, it is the only plan we can subdue you"--when my sister had life enough left to say, "no never," The most humiliating thing they ordered was her trunk to be opened which they searched effectually. [ Daguerreotypes ] and combs they pocketed, and indeed everything were taken. They were very anxious to hear the news, and offered boastingly $500 for a Richmond paper — said we were dreadfully whipped; they were just from Richmond; the citizens fought them; saw "old Jeff." running with his budget on his back; the city being surrounded, he did not know which way to take. Finding we did not credit this, they told us they were surrounded three times, and served badly in the rifle-pits, where they were carried by their guide, for which he was shot. The servants shared our fate; their clothes and provisions were stolen. We appealed to an officer, and found him a rude, ignorant, plebeian, unfeeling creature, having no control over his men and no respect for ladies. At night we supped on guard-house fare — bread and water; but even that was choking. Our hearts were bursting.--No place was sacred, not even my mother's sick chamber, which we denied admittance to. A man, searching for the harness, even turned up the bed she was on, and pulled me off, and the touch of his hand I can never forget. I told him "to desist; his touch was contaminating." He replied, "Well, I don't like it myself," and dragged the harness out with a most defiant air, and went off with the carriage, he said, for a legless officer. But the keenest blow of all was, when we hoped all were gone, two came back and took our mules, that had done us so much hard service all this winter and spring. We plead, with tears, but nothing availed. Our neighbors shared the same late. None were spared.

A Lady of the Peninsula.

- The Daily Dispatch: May 20, 1864

Monday, May 19, 2014

"They Burn Bottom's bridge"- Sheridan on the Chickahominy.

The departure of the raiders from around Richmond — they Burn Bottom's bridge.
On Thursday evening, about sundown, the forces under Sheridan, which have been before the city for several days, commenced their movement down the Peninsula. A good many horses which had been tired out they shot, leaving the carcases on their camping ground. Blankets were torn into strips, and accoutrements burnt. The Meadow bridges were rebuilt, and the tressel work over the railroad bridge across the Chickahominy was covered with hewn logs so as to admit the passage of horses over it.
Upon crossing he destroyed the bridges, marched up to Mechanicville, and then struck into the range of hills formerly occupied by McClellan as a camping ground.--Their train of wagons was about a mile long. Thursday night they camped about seven miles below the city, and yesterday they reached Bottom's bridge, which they burnt. Before reaching this bridge they drove in our pickets at New bridge, and burnt that. They then continued on their way down towards the river.
The prisoners of this party, of whom thirty-one were brought in yesterday, represent that it was a picked command, intended for the capture of the city, and seem at a loss to account for the failure to assault the works.
It is more than probable that Sheridan has gone to the river to cross over and join Butler, as the road he has taken will bring him to the river in the vicinity of City Point.

-The Daily Dispatch: May 14, 1864

Arrival of prisoners.
--Ninety-six Yankee prisoners were received at the Libby on Saturday evening from Hanover Junction. They were captured at Beaver Dam, Spotsylvania Court-House, and other places in Northern Virginia. Among them were in Northern Virginia. Among them were the following commissioned officers: First Lieutenants R. Sweetman, 5th U. S. cavalry; John A. Goodwin and E. S. Wilson, 1st Massachusetts cavalry; Second Lieutenant R. P. Wilson, 5th U. S. cavalry. Two prisoners, captured at Bottom's bridge, and connected with the late raiding party above Richmond, were brought in yesterday.

-The Daily Dispatch: May 16, 1864

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Out of supplies for my men and animals"- Sheridan Retires Over Bottom's Bridge.

 After the Union victory at Yellow Tavern . . .

                Camp at Bottoms Bridge, Va., May 14, 1864,

    Fortress Monroe, Va.:
SIR: I am now marching from this point to Harrison's Landing to communicate with Major-General Butler. I am out of supplies for my men and animals, and have a large number of wounded. Make arrangements to supply me at once at Harrison's Landing, unless they have already been made. Forward the inclosed dispatch to Major-General Meade, through the War Department, by telegraph, without delay. There should not be a moments delay in sending me rations and forage. I have 14,000 animals and 12,000 men.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                    P.H. SHERIDAN,
                Major-General, Commanding.

 -The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 36 (Part II)

Map by Hal Jespersen,

To give you some idea of what Sheridan had been up to, as well as the full scope of the movements of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac and how they intersect with this locality, I've included an itinerary of the Sixth New York Cavalry(T.C. Devin's brigade, A.T.A. Torbet's division) . . .

 May 9th- Reveille at 3 a.m. and at daylight started toward the Fredericksburg railroad and via Massaponax Church to Beaverdam Station arriving there about dusk. Had moved around by the right and rear of Lee's army occasionally stirring up his outposts, crossed the rivers Ny, Po, Ta, and Mab and arrived at Childsburg about five o'clock, capturing a few prisoners and wagons. After resting an hour we moved on, fording the North Anna River at Anderson's Bridge (which had been destroyed) to within two miles of Beaverdam Station on the Richmond & Gordonsville Railroad. About 9 p.m. the Sixth New York and Seventeenth Pennsylvania, with detachments from Custer's brigade, made a dash at the station releasing several hundred Federal troops recently captured, who were about to be transferred "on to Richmond" by rail. We overpowered the guard and turned them over to their former prisoners. As we approached the station our attention was attracted by the moving of the rebel trains Custer's brigade was sent to capture the cars and destroy the depot. Two regiments (Sixth New York and Seventeenth Pennsylvania) of Devin's brigade, under Lieutenant colonel Crocker (Sixth New York), were sent to operate north of the station, while Custer worked on the south side. We captured and destroyed three locomotives and several trains of cars, and a large quantity of provisions- flour, bacon, etc.- said to have been sufficient to supply Lee's army for three days- all of which we destroyed Also captured a number of wagons and teams. We burned the station, and cars and tore up the track for a long distance the fire from the ties, cars and buildings making a line of lurid light along the evening sky. Went into bivouac at 1 a.m. on the 10th.
May 10th- Left Beaverdam Station at daylight and marched to Negrofoot, passing through a most beautiful country, skirmishing on the way with Wade Hampton's division, who had succeeded in capturing a scouting party from the regular brigade. At sundown crossed the South Anna River on Ground Squirrel Bridge, and went into bivouac on the south bank on the Widow Cross plantation, the Seventeenth Pennsylvania holding the bridge. The command unsaddled the horses, built fires and prepared supper, although the enemy was hovering about and watching our movements We were now about twenty miles from Richmond Lee's army was on the retreat, with Meade in pursuit. We had destroyed nearly ten miles of the enemy's railroad, with depots, cars and wagon trains, and cut off his communications and supplies for some days.
 May 11th- As we were moving out at 5.30 a.m. we were attacked by a small force of the enemy, which we drove back causing but a short delay. Lieutenant colonel Anderson (Seventeenth Pennsylvania) after crossing his regiment over destroyed the bridge. Moved forward, First Division in advance, and halted at Glen Allen, destroying the Fredericksburg & Richmond Railroad. Soon after found the enemy on Brook turnpike and Ashland road- pretty strong on our left. As the column approached the enemy's position, Devin's brigade was in the advance. The Ninth New York dismounted in an open field, and other regiments of the Second, together with the Third Brigade, dismounted and formed to the right and left of the Ninth New York, extending the line over a mile supported by Custer's brigade, mounted. During this engagement at and around Yellow Tavern, the fighting was very sharp and severe, each and every man being called upon to show the mettle of which he was made. Captured two guns and about 150 prisoners. It was here that the Confederate General, J.E.B. Stuart, was mortally wounded, and it was believed it was in front of the line of the Ninth New York Cavalry. At about 4 p.m. the Sixth New York was at Brook Bridge, three and one-half miles from Richmond, holding it against the enemy; and one squadron, Troops D and K, held the first line of the enemy's works in front of Richmond, the regiment having charged down Brook pike and carried the outer works with feeble resistance, being the first Union regiment to get so close to the Confederate Capitol. At dusk one squadron, under Major Hall, made a reconnoissance to the Virginia Central Railroad, less than two miles from Richmond, and after a slight brush captured two couriers with dispatches from General Bragg to General Stuart. The ringing of bells and whistling of the engines were plainly heard. The squadron returned in safety to the regiment. At midnight the cavalry moved noiselessly to the railroad, the heavy rain making the movement difficult and disagreeable. The men and horses were rapidly failing under the strain.
May 12th- About 3 a.m., as the command moved, forward Wilson's division in advance the horses feet came in contact with wires that exploded a number of torpedoes near the second line of works. Several horses having been killed and several men wounded by these exploding shells, the rest were removed by the aid of the prisoners who were ordered up for that purpose The owner of one of the neighboring houses having been reported by the prisoners as the principal person who had engaged in planting these shells. General Sheridan directed that some of them be placed in his cellar and arranged to explode if the enemy's column should come that way, while the man and his family were taken along as prisoners and held until after daylight. At daylight, as we advanced to cross the Chickahominy swamp at Meadow Bridge, the enemy opened upon us with artillery, keeping up a brisk fire for three or four hours while the division was repairing the bridges across the swamp. The Second Division Wilson's had been led astray before daylight by a guide to the fortifications of Richmond and was shelled most furiously. The Sixth New York was dismounted and sent forward to drive the enemy from the bridge to clear the way for crossing but was driven back in a hurry. The enemy was in a strong position with artillery to dispute our passage Several regiments were then dismounted and sent to its support and the enemy was forced back beyond the swamp. At ten o'clock the brigade crossed the bridge and drove the enemy back for some distance, a drenching rain setting in during the engagement. Two small newsboys with commendable enterprise came through the lines well supplied with the Richmond papers and did a thriving business. They were so intelligent and observing and their mission evidently involving other purposes than the sale of newspapers they were held until the cavalry crossed the Chickahominy and were then released. Halted at Mechanicsville and got dinner. Then moved on via Brandy Branch meeting the same force we had been fighting in the morning. The First Division in the advance attacked them and captured a number and then moved to Gaines Mills which still retained many ghastly signs of the former strife halted unsaddled our weary horses and bivouacked for the night.
May 13th- Marched to near Bottom's Bridge without annoyance and bivouacked for the night, with plenty of rain and no rations
May 14th- Marched via Dispatch Station to Bottom's Bridge, which we crossed at noon, and thence on to Malvern Hill arriving about 4 pm, where we received a warm welcome from our gunboats, which, from their position about two miles off Haxall's Landing threw a few shells among us before we could make ourselves known to them. Here we halted for rest and supplies, rations and forage having given out on the 11th and men and horses were HUNGRY. Foraging parties were immediately sent out and man and beast were soon well provided for. Here good news reached us from the Army of the Potomac. Many prisoners and guns had been taken, and Lee was retreating, with Meade in close pursuit.
May 15th- A small supply of rations and forage reached the command by transports. About daylight the camp was aroused by the booming of heavy guns, which proved to be General Butler's attack on Fort Darling.


-History of the Sixth New York Cavalry: (Second Ira Harris Guard) Second Brigade -- First Division -- Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865
 Compiled by Hillman Allyn Hall, William B. Besley, Gilbert Guion Wood
 Blanchard Press, 1908       


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Action at Jones' Bridge(Providence Forge)- The First United States Colored Cavalry

Gilmer map from VHS collection

 Wherein Frederick W. Browne describes how the 1st United States Colored Cavalry took Jones' Bridge .  . . . twice.

Having served over two years in a good, hard-fighting infantry regiment, and being encamped at Newport News, Va., holding the dignified rank of Sergeant, I one day met our little fighting Major John G. Chambers who asked me if I would like a commission in the 1st U. S. Colored Cavalry, then forming at Fort Monroe, to which I made answer that I would, and two or three days thereafter I received an order, mustering me out of the service and also an order to report to Colonel Garrard for duty as an officer of the new regiment. Early the next morning, going down to the wharf to embark for Ft. Monroe, I showed to the sentry on the wharf (as my authority for leaving) the order mustering me out. He looked it over and said in a home-sick way, “I would give $800 for that paper.” I reported to Colonel Garrard, and for the first time saw this officer with whose reputation as a brave and efficient Major of the 3d N. Y. Cavalry I had been well acquainted in the Department of North Carolina. This regiment, being the first colored cavalry regiment, had in its ranks a rather better class of men than the infantry regiments had; some being from the North and some being the outlaw negroes who, in slavery times, had been able to maintain their liberty in the swamps of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina. The regiment was officered largely from the 3d N. Y. Cavalry, and they were a thoroughly efficient and capable corps of officers. The regiment was soon filled, mounted and equipped, and constant drill soon made it have the manner and bearing of soldiers. Every one knew that the Campaign of 1864 meant business, and therefore all was in readiness when about May 1st orders came to move. We marched out through Hampton, of which not one house was left except the little old stone church which is still standing there. Through Big Bethel, the scene of one of the earliest disasters of the war, to Yorktown, memorable for its two sieges in two wars, and thence on to Williamsburg, passing between Yorktown and Williamsburg our infantry who, much to our surprise were marching very hurriedly back to Yorktown. We learned afterward they were put on board transports at Yorktown and sent up the James to City Point and Bermuda Hundred. The next day we went up the Peninsula, passing 6 and 12 Mile and burnt ordinarys, camping at night at New Kent Court House. I commanded the picket that night on the Bottoms Bridge Road and the enemy’s scouts were against us all night, keeping matters well stirred up. The next morning we turned South and met the enemy at Jones Ford on the Chickahominy. They were in an earthwork across the Ford and we opened on them with our howitzers in front and deployed as to cross in front, but a force was sent to the right up stream who managed to cross, and, coming down on the opposite side of the river, took the enemy in flank and soon drove them away from the ford. Killing some and capturing some of the enemy, and having some killed and wounded, our movement having been a feint to make the enemy believe that Butler’s Army of the James, as it was afterward called, was moving up the Peninsula, having been accomplished, we returned to Williamsburg, arriving there the next day, where, to our astonishment, we met an order to go back at once and cross the Chickahominy at Jones Ford, sometimes called Jones Bridge, and proceed to Harrison’s Landing, which we at once did, again fighting our way across at Jones Ford. Steamers were lying at the wharf in front of the old Westover mansion, and, going on board, we were soon thereafter landed at Bermuda Hundred and passing out took the advance of Butler’s Army, being at the time the only cavalry he had.

-My Service in the United States Colored Cavalry
Paper of Frederick W. Browne, Second Lieut. 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry
of Cincinnati, Ohio,
Read before The Ohio Commandery of The Loyal Legion,
March 4, 1908.

MOLLUS Massachusetts Civil War Photographs- USAHEC

 The (unfortunately watermarked) photograph of Col. Jeptha Garrard, commander of the First USCT Cavalry.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

More naval affairs- May 1864

Report of Lieutenant. Commander Babcock, U. S. Navy, of cooperation with the army in the occupation of West Point, Va., April 30-May 1, 1864.

                    U. S. S. MORSE,
            Off West Point, Mattapony River, May 2, 1864.
SIR: I respectfully report that, having telegraphed to you on the evening of the 29th ultimo that some troops were about to proceed from Yorktown to West Point, and that Major.General Smith requested the aid of the gunboats to cover his landing and protect them while at this point, when, on the morning of the 30th, I received your communication by the Shawsheen, I was ready then to proceed up the river. For some reason unknown to me the transports were not ready to leave Gloucester Point until late in the afternoon of the 30th. At 4 a. m. on the morning of the 1st instant got underway, followed by four transports, carrying some 2,500 troops. The Shawsheen during the night having been obliged to haul her fires for slight repairs to her boiler, I left her at Yorktown with orders to follow as soon as possible. After being underway the General Putnam arrived from Hampton Roads; communicated with her, ordering her to bring up the rear. Arrived at West Point at 9 a. m. and came to anchor off the wharf, covering the landing of the troops who were disembarking from the transports. The troops at once marched out some 2 miles and took possession of the intrenchments which were thrown up by General Gordon some twelve months since. I then stationed the General Putnam and Shawsheen in different positions in the Pamunkey River for covering our troops and resisting any attack which might be made by the enemy. Proceeded with this vessel into the Mattapony River, taking a station where my guns would sweep the whole plain before the intrenchments. While lying in the Pamunkey River picked up three refugees from Richmond in a canoe; turned them over to Colonel Henry, commanding army forces at this place.
Not needing further the services of the Shawsheen, ordered her to proceed to Hampton Roads and report to you. I send by her a torpedo which had drifted down the river, and was picked up on the beach at Yorktown by Patrick McCall (seaman), one of my gigs crew, on the 29th ultimo.

              I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Lieutenant-Commander and Senior Officer Present.

Acting Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE,
    Comdg. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Hampton Roads.

-Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I - Volume 9: North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (May 5, 1863 - May 5, 1864)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"The marauders who are in New Kent"- May 1864

The Peninsula.
There is no movement of importance to report on the Peninsula. The latest intelligence brought by a gentleman who yesterday morning left a point in New Kent, 22 miles from Richmond, confirms the report that there are no troops as high as that. The marauders who are in New Kent and vicinity were negro cavalry. They captured Mr. Ball, a citizen, and carried him off. They also visited Rural Shades, and destroyed the dwelling-house there. The residence of Theodore Lacy was burnt, and the dwelling of Allen Rome, in Gloucester, was also destroyed.

-The Daily Dispatch: May 9, 1864.

This may very well be Elijah Ball, 55 and a magistrate. He owned Ropers Neck and Windsor Shades on the north shore of the Chickahominy, both of these farms would be on the route of Union forces moving from Diascund Bridge to Jones Bridge.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Action at Jones' Bridge(Providence Forge)- May 1864

FORT MAGRUDER, May [7], 1864.
Capt. A. F. PUFFER, Aide-de-Camp:
I tried the Chickahominy yesterday at Jones Bridge after a sharp skirmish, during which a party of dismounted colored cavalry crossed above the bridge and captured the enemys camp. The position was seized; the bridge was found to be entirely destroyed and no timber near to rebuild it with. The ford has been arranged so as to have sides almost perpendicular, and is very deepover a horses head. The men, from want of experience, lost most of their forage. I did not hear any guns on James River; therefore thought the army could not have gone up. Finally concluded to return, get more provisions and forage, go back quickly and better prepared to repair the crossing. This I will do, unless otherwise directed, and effect a junction with the general. The colored cavalry behaved splendidly. I do not want any better troops.

                    R. M. WEST,
                        Colonel, &c.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 36 (Part II)

Friday, May 9, 2014

"It is ascertained from a source deemed worthy of credit"- May 1864

the enemy on the Peninsula
From information derived from persons who reached the city by the York River yesterday, we learn that the enemy have advanced a cavalry force to New Kent C. H., within six miles of the York River Railroad, and drove in Col. Shingler's pickets. The force at West Point having completed the repairs to the wharf are busily engaged rebuilding the railroad in this direction.
It is ascertained from a source deemed worthy of credit that the enemy have a force of six thousand men at Williamsburg, and that the negro troops from Gloucester Point have all been sent to Burnside.
A deserter, who reached the city yesterday evening from the Yankee army on the Peninsula, states that it is generally under stood among the troops that Richmond is to be attacked by a combined movement of several different columns and a fleet of gunboats and turreted monitors.

-The Daily Dispatch: May 6, 1864.

The movements on the Peninsula.
The Yankee force which has been at West Point for a week broke up their camp on Thursday, and when last heard from were marching in the direction of Old Church, in Hanover county. They number about 4,000. It is said that Gen. Butler is with this force, though from other sources we hear that he is with Baldy Smith on the other side of the river.
They have advanced up to the bridge which crosses the Chickahominy river.
In King William county, the force named burned the dwellings of Col. Hill and Mr. Sanford, and ravished a negro woman, besides committing other outrages of a similar fiendish character.

-The Daily Dispatch: May 7, 1864.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Expected at West Point- May 1864

Guy Vernor Henry

                   AND GLOUCESTER POINT,
                        Yorktown, Va., May 1, 1864.

Colonel SHAFFER,
    Chief of Staff, Fort Monroe:
The following is from Col. G. V. Henry, commanding brigade, Tenth Corps, at West Point, this morning:
My command landed at 10 a. m. to-day. The inhabitants say we have been expected for two or three weeks. The impression is that 40,000 or 50,000 are to march toward White House. Am building a good dock with material I have brought, and desire to keep up this impression. If not contrary to your views, would like to keep up the impression.

                    G.V. HENRY,
                Colonel Fortieth Massachusetts Volunteers.

I have sent word to Colonel Henry that as soon as he feels his position secure he can make the reconnaissance, but not to go too far.

                    WM. F. SMITH,

                             West Point, Va., May 2, 1864.

Lieutenant Colonel FLOYD,
    Commanding Third New York Volunteers:
COLONEL: The colonel commanding directs that you will march your command to the front 8 or 10 miles upon the main road, collecting all the information of the enemy possible. You will go in light marching order with one days rations in haversacks, and use the utmost caution, scouring the country thoroughly. In case of an attack you will send immediately to these headquarters, reporting as near as possible the force in your front, and fall back slowly until you join the main body of troops. You will return to camp to-night, and upon your arrival report in person to the colonel commanding.
    Very respectfully, yours,

                    F.W. WEAVER,
                 Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

A couple of digressions . . .

Col. G.V. Henry from the Arlington National Cemetery website . . .

Born at Fort Smith, Indian Territory (now Arkansas), March 9, 1839, he graduated from West Point on May 5, 1861 and served throughout the Civil War and Indian Wars as Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier General in the Regular Army.
He received successive brevets for gallantry in various battles and was breveted Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for gallantry at Rose Bud, Montana, where he was shot through the face while fighting Indians. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 5, 1893 for his Civil War Service at the battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 where he was serving as Colonel, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
He was later Colonel of the all-black 10th U.S. Cavalry and was commanding Fort Assinniboine during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He served as military governor of Puerto Rico following that war.
He died at his home in New York City on October 27, 1899 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

. . . and his Medal of Honor citation for actions some thirty days after landing at West Point. . .

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Guy Vernor Henry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 June 1864, while serving with 40th Massachusetts Infantry, in action at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Colonel Henry led the assaults of his brigade upon the enemy's works, where he had two horses shot under him.
General Orders: Date of Issue: December 5, 1893

. . . while this Medal of Honor was awarded to a drummer of the 40th Massachusetts, William Lord, just two weeks before that . . .

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Musician William Lord, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 16 May 1864, while serving with Company C, 40th Massachusetts Infantry, in action at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia. Musician Lord went to the assistance of a wounded officer lying helpless between the lines, and under fire from both sides removed him to a place of safety.
General Orders: Date of Issue: April 4, 1898

 . . . the officer he rescued? Lt.Col. Eldridge G. Floyd, commanding the Third New York