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Monday, June 23, 2014

The Sixth New York on the Ride- May 24- May 31 1864

We return to the Sixth New York Cavalry and their crisscrossing of Central Virginia during May and June of 1864 . . .

We last left them as they headed north over the Pamunkey . . .

From Cold Harbor to Tunstall's Station

May 24th- Left Dunkirk Ferry (or ford) at 9 a.m. and taking the direction of Hanover Junction, passed Hebron Church and Concord and to the Bowling Green road, bivouacking near Polecat River after a hard, dry, dusty march.
May 25th- Moved out early and marched to Chesterfield Station, at which point we crossed the railroad and encamped three miles to the northwest. Supply train arrived via Port Royal, twenty miles distant. Mail that had been accumulating for nearly a month reached us at this point, bringing gladness and joy to the heart of many a weary trooper. A very heavy rain-storm coming up every one and everything was thoroughly soaked. General Torbert, having returned to duty, now took command of the division (First).
May 26th- Moved at noon and marched via Chesterfield and Concord Church and Lee's woods on toward Mangohick, and at 8.30 p.m. halted about twelve miles south from Chesterfield and about two miles from Mangohick. After a short halt to rest the horses, moved on again, marching all night, and halted at daybreak at Hanovertown Ferry on the north bank of the Pamunky for a short rest and sleep.
May 27th- At 7 a.m. three boatloads of Custer's men were thrown across the river, who after a little skirmishing, cleared the opposite bank of the enemy. The pontoon bridge was then thrown across and the First Division crossed over Found Gordon's Confederate brigade about a mile from the river, which we drove over the road, the Second Brigade capturing about thirty of the Third North Carolina Cavalry. The prisoners were fine looking fellows, well dressed and clean -such an unusual thing that it was noticeable. We rested on the field at night, weary from the tiresome march of upward of thirty five miles.
May 28th- All quiet through the night. No bugle calls allowed. All moves made in silence. The Sixth Corps moved up and relieved our skirmish line, and we moved to the support of Gregg, who was fighting on our left at Salem Church. The artillery fire was very sharp. We drove the enemy although our losses were heavy in carrying a strong position. Were relieved by the Second Division, Second Corps, about dark, and went into camp near the bridge
May 29th- At 9 a.m. a foraging party of the Sixth New York discovered a large force of the enemy's cavalry moving to our left at a double quick. The party returned at once to camp, and making a report, the brigade was ordered farther to the left, where it found Gregg's division and Custer's brigade already engaging the enemy. It formed and remained in line of battle until the enemy fell back, forced by our cavalry. At 4 p.m. we moved farther to the left of our line parallel with the Pamunky River, where we halted about six miles from the river, and bivouacked, the Sixth New York going on picket for the night.
May 30th- In readiness to move at 4 a.m. At nine o'clock marched to Old Church and threw out a line of pickets. Those of the Seventeenth Pennsylvania on the Cold Harbor road were attacked in force about noon. The balance of the brigade was brought up dismounted and advanced, and soon our whole front was a line of fire and smoke. The Third Brigade coming up, the two brigades were soon engaged and the enemy was being forced back when, suddenly, our left for some reason gave way, causing the whole line to fall back a short distance to a good position, where it formed. At that moment Custer's brigade came to our aid, and with a rush and a yell that made the hills and woodland resound, the "Wolverines" charged the "greybacks," pouring deadly volleys from their "seven shooters, which caused the enemy to break and fall back in precipitate flight, while the whole line rapidly idly pursued in the direction of Bottom's Bridge. The enemy consisted of Butler's South Carolina Brigade and Hampton's Legions. Halted for the night about seven miles from Bottom's Bridge. Speaking about the "seven shooter" carbines reminds me that a Confederate officer captured asked me if we sat up all night to load our guns to shoot at them in the daytime. Lieut. Jno. W. Blunt wounded in thigh James Wright and Harry G. Cooper, Company I, wounded; George Andrews Company K, killed.
May 31st- "Boots and saddles" at 2.30 a.m. and prepared for an attack. The weather was very warm and the roads were many inches deep with dust. At 4 p.m. the brigade moved out in connection with Merritt's and Custer's and gave the enemy battle in the vicinity of Cold Harbor. The Sixth New York was held in reserve to charge, if a favorable opportunity presented itself. The fighting was very severe until dark, when the enemy retreated, leaving us in possession of their earthworks on the Meadow Bridge road, about five miles from the bridge and eight miles from Bottom's Bridge. At dark we built barricades along the road and at ten o'clock fell back about three miles and stood to horse all night.

-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      

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