Newton Baker’s Life in the Famed First Virginia Cavalry – 1861-1865 (3 of 4) (The First Virginia Cavalry participated in more than 200 engagements).
Each generation rebels against the former. The Bakers of Maryland, Shepherdstown and finally Martinsburg – muddled thru traditional inter-generational discords like a schooner pitching through high seas. Elias Baker one-upped a father who deserted his children by being a good father. His son, antsy nineteen-year-old Newton D. Baker rebelled against his doting father, a soon-to-be appointed federal postmaster in Shepherdstown, by riding off and enlisting in Company F of the First Virginia Cavalry – Confederate – following the recent example of a figurative avalanche of nine of his blood cousins into that same company. Still more cousins would enlist.
Life in a wartime saddle matured him for four years: battles, imprisonment, routine heroics, his wounding, having a fine bay mare shot from under him, (and later, a suspiciously extravagant compensation package for this lost horse offered by a cousin with clout), and, finally, coming home. Bearing witness to so many in need of medical care begat Newton’s post-war calling as a doctor. He finished training, was mentored by Shepherdstown neighbor and physician, John Quigley, who transferred his practice to the young up-and-comer.
But burgeoning ambition called away the next son of a Baker – Newton D. Baker Jr. Reading voraciously and eschewing the stethoscope and his father’s beckoning practice, off Junior went to Cleveland – joking that he was being a carpetbagger invading the Northern states – ascending a skyward ladder to heights of acclaim unprecedented for the Bakers. He was the progressive mayor of Cleveland; then, after more promotions, President Woodrow Wilson approached his fellow Virginian and appointed Newton D. Baker, Jr. to be our Secretary of War, managing the best he could the American role in the calamitous First World War. Today we have the Newton D. Baker Veterans Hospital in Martinsburg to his fond memory.
In part 3, we see Newton’s days of thigh-high mud, long rides, freezing cold, and deepening comradeship, from the vantage point in the saddle beside him, so to speak.. His first baptism of fire at Manassas was in a horseback charge with his company, in the shadow of the wielded saber of their commander, Captain William Morgan of Shepherdstown. We join here the regiment the sobering next day, Monday, July 22, 1861 with abandoned human forms across a terrain, their agonies frozen at mid-gesture. But there were also incredible amounts of food, drink, spurs, sabers, and smart clothes that quickly found their way upon the persons of Morgan, Newton and every soldier seeking to become presentable again to any ladies whom they hopefully might encounter. Chivalry in clothes of dirty rags fails.
STRANGE IS A WHISPERING BATTLEFIELD THE NEXT DAY:
Wrote another 1st Virginia cavalryman of July 22nd:
The battlefield immediately after a battle is always an interesting and instructive study for a soldier . . On this occasion I saw the field about nine o’clock and all of our dead had been removed. But the dead of both sides and the wounded enemy were still there, which gave a pretty fair idea of the action.
I had always felt a horror at taking anything from the dead, not that I thought it was wrong, but I disliked touching them. That morning, however, as I rode through a little grove of pines there lay, with his head covered by an oilcloth, the body of a handsomely dressed Federal officer, and buckled to his neat boots were an elegant pair of spurs. Oh, how I did want those spurs! Then I could get them without touching the body, for there was only one buckle to undo at the instep.
Mine were good, strong cavalry spurs, but how coarse they looked after seeing these. I looked all around – no one in sight – it must be done – I could not leave such spurs as those to fall into the hands of the infantry burial party who would be along to bury him. So down I sprang from my horse and began taking them off. “What are you doing there?” said the officer in a weak voice, pulling the oilcloth from his face. I felt the hot blood rush to my cheeks and turning my face quickly aside, so he could not recognize me again, jumped on my horse and galloped away. I ought to have offered to do something for him but I felt so ashamed at having been caught, I could not. – Blackford, p. 44.
NEWTON BAKER’S LONG TRAIL THROUGH WAR:
1. WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1861: SKIRMISH AT LEWINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – Driver, p. 19.
2. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1861 – SIX MILES SOUTH OF THE FAIRFAX COURTHOUSE – PROMOTIONS ALL AROUND:
The promotion of J.E.B. Stuart to brigadier general, involved a formal reorganization and expansion of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. Captain Morgan was reaffirmed as commander of Company F, Shepherdstown Troop, with full regimental strength of 185 men, eight of whom, in time, would be killed in action, ten more from disease, in addition to thirty-one woundings, and twenty-four would become prisoners of war. – Driver, p. 24; pp. 124-133; Blackford, p. 52.
3.TUESDAY – DECEMBER 10, 1861 – CENTERVILLE, VA.:
November and early December had very “pretty weather.” Baker was sent on December 10th to Gainesville Station to the west on the Manassas Gap Railroad for the last two weeks of the year at Gainesville Station, where huge quantities of wheat flour and other “booty,” nicked from the defeated Federal armies, was being stored. Some was “liberated” to accompany the punch, eggnog, turkey and oysters that the soldiers were devoured for Christmas. J. E. B. Stuart’s trademark was to make festivities and music mandatory.- Confederate Service records (NARA); Driver, p. 24, pp. 26-27, p. 28.
4. MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 1862 – MANASSAS, COUSIN MCQUILKIN FALLS ILL, DIES.
As weather cooled and became foul, men and horses in the camp weakened and became ill, including William Morgan’s younger bother, “Jack” and Newton Baker’s cousin William H. McQuilkin. His pneumonia worsened over five months and he died January 6th, 1862 at Manassas. – Confederate Service record; Driver, pp. 23.
5. JANUARY-FEBRUARY, 1862 – BAD WEATHER:
“During the time we were engaged in meeting this advance demonstration on Manassas, the weather was very bad – snow and sleet and rain – and we had to bivouac in it all. . . . the severest I passed during the war.” They made for themselves brush shelters that were repeatedly deluged by drooping pine trees releasing their accumulations of snow on them and their camp sites. – Blackford, p. 60.
6. SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 1862 – DRIVEN FROM CENTERVILLE, VIRGINIA, TO WARRENTON, TO BEALTON:
Newton Baker and his many cousins did their turns on picket facing the 1st New York Cavalry to the north toward Falls Church. Come spring Gen. Johnston ordered the army to move further south with Stuart’s men guarding against the Federals pressing to their rear. To keep it all from being recovered by the Federals, a mountain of bacon and barrels of wheat had to be destroyed.
Our regiment destroyed eight hundred barrels of flour stacked on the platform . . , by knocking in the tops of the barrels and scattering the flour over the ground. – Driver, p. 30
William Blackford wrote that huge piles of bacon “as high as a house” were burned. “The flames did have a curious look, a sort of yellow and blue mixed.” Clothing that could have dressed many of the cavalrymen for the entire war was torched. – Blackford, p. 60.
7. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12- MARCH 19, 1862 – DESTROYING BRIDGES AND TRESTLES EN ROUTE TO CAMP AT WARRENTON JUNCTION: – Driver, p. 30
8. ABOUT MARCH 20 to 26, 1862 – THE FIRST VIRGINIA AT BEALTON, VA. CAMP:
9. THURSDAY, MARCH 27, 1861 – SKIRMISH AT CEDAR RUN, VA, just north of Warrenton.:
Six federal regiments arrived at Cedar Run then camped at Warrenton Junction. – Driver, p. 31;
. . . six regiments without seeing either end of the column; six regimental colors were counted. They were marching across the fields parallel to the railroad and in view of it. I immediately sent the First Virginia Cavalry (Jones) down to observe the enemy and report. . . – Stuart, p. 402.
They have baggage, say 450 wagons; scarcely any cavalry visible then. They are spreading about on Cedar Run to find fords. . . . – Stuart, p. 406.
He (the Federals) made a great to-do crossing and re-crossing Cedar Run, firing artillery at a few vedettes, and the like, and has actually made 3 miles with his advance guard. . . . – Stuart, pp. 406-407.
Wrote John Singleton Mosby to his wife, Pauline, of confronting these Federals while crossing the Run:
My dearest Pauline:
. . . Although I do not belong to that Company (Blackford’s), being on the regimental staff, I went with them into the fight. . . The appearance of the enemy when they crossed Cedar Run was the most magnificent sight I ever beheld…. We let them [advance guard of cavalry] cross, when, dismounting, we delivered a volley with our carbines which sent them back across the deep stream in the wildest confusion. One fellow was thrown into the water over his head; and scrambling out, ran off and left his horse; another horse fell, rose, and fell again, burying his rider with him under the water. We ceased firing, threw up our caps, and indulged in the most boisterous laughter. . . – Mosby, pp. 108-109.
April 21, 1862 1st Va. Cav. 5 miles north of Yorktown
Alfred Waud (1828–1891) Link back to Creator
Title rebels from Yorktown Sunday morning
Date 1862 April-May
Medium drawing 1 drawing on tan paper : pencil and Chinese white ; 24.2 x 33.7 cm. (sheet).
10. FRIDAY, MAY 9TH, 1862 – SKIRMISH AT SLATERSVILLE, VA.:
(An account from the perspective of the 6th U.S. Cavalry):
At 3 PM, From 6th U.S. Cavalry – A portion of Capt. Lowell’s Squadron consisting of 55 men and Capt. Sander’s Company of 32 men, were ordered to find and cut off men in the 1st Virginia Cavalry. After a scout of the 1st Virginia, secreted in nearby woods spotted them and called for cavalry, Captain Lowell used a Jeb Stuart tactic of galloping then ordering a charge at the portion of the 1st Virginia – even if outnumbered. The report said: “the column was put to the gallop, and on reaching the open was ordered to charge, led by Capt. Lowell; the impetuosity and gallantry of the men and officers to perform this order, was only equaled by the rapidity of the enemy’s retreat.” Tried twice more on new contingents of First Virginia cavalrymen, Lowell’s bold tactic worked only for so long because the 1st Virginia at the scene numbered 400, close to the official number of 437 men in the 1st Virginia when William Fitzhugh Lee was recently made their commander. – Driver, p. 33; Source: National Archives, RG 391: Records of the US Regular Army Mobile Units, 6th Cavalry, Regimental Letters Sent 1861-1864, Vol. 1 of 12, NM-93, Entry 814.
10. FRIDAY, MAY 30TH – A FLATTERING OBSERVER ARRIVES FROM GERMANY TO CAMP – BROOK CHURCH, VA.:
Heros Von Borcke, a fresh-from-Germanic-lands military man eluded the blockade on the high seas and came to Americae. He would become a colorful fixture on Stuart’s staff throughout the war. He gives his compelling fresh take on the men of 1st Virginia. Their horses were worn out too.:
Von Borcke arrives in Richmond to search for the 1st Virginia and Stuart himself:
We trotted out of the city, and across the wooded plain through which runs the Brook turnpike, passing the extensive fortifications and the long lines of the Confederate army. With the liveliest interest I looked upon these masses of warrior-like men, in their ill-assorted costumes, who had come with alacrity from the Carolinas, from distant Mississippi and yet more distant Texas, from sunny Florida, from fertile Georgia, from Alabama, land of mountain and canebrake, from the regions of Louisiana, to imperil their lives in the defense of their much-loved South . . . Brigade after brigade we saw awaiting the summons to the battle which was so soon to come.
It was no easy matter to find General Stuart, who, as commanding officer of the outposts, was anywhere along the extended lines, and the sun was near its setting when we reached the camp of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. Here I presented myself for information to the officer in command, Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, who assured me that it would be next to impossible to find General Stuart that night, and kindly offered me the hospitality of his tent. As threatening thunder-clouds were driving up the western horizon, and I was much fatigued by my day’s ride, I gladly accepted the invitation. The camp was a novelty to me in the art of castrametation.
The horses were not picketed in regular lines as in European armies, but were scattered about anywhere in the neighboring wood, some tethered to swinging limbs, some tied to small trees, others again left to browse at will upon the undergrowth. In a very short time I was perfectly at home in the Colonel’s tent, where the officers of his regiment had assembled, and where the lively strains of the banjo alternated with patriotic songs and animated discourse.
During the evening a supper was served which, under existing circumstances, was really luxurious, and one of the chief dishes of which consisted of the eggs of the terrapin found in a creek near the camp by Colonel Lee’s negro servant, who was at once head-cook, valet, and steward. I am sure that no work of art from the kitchen of the Cafe Riche could have been more gratifying to my hungry appetite than these terrapin’s eggs taken out of a Virginia swamp and cooked upon the instant in a cavalry encampment.
Soon after supper we retired to rest, but little sleep came to my weary eyelids; for a terrible hurricane, accompanied by thunder and lightning, raged throughout the night, the peals of thunder shaking the earth, and the flashes of lightning almost blinding one with their incessant vivid glare. I was awake and fully dressed the next morning when, with the first glimpse of the sun breaking through the battered clouds, the trumpet sounded to saddle, and Colonel Lee informed me he had just received marching orders. He added that he should start in fifteen minutes, and my best chance of meeting General Stuart was to ride with the regiment. It was marvelous to see how readily these unmilitary-looking troopers obeyed the orders of their colonel, and with what discipline and rapidity the breaking up of the camp was managed. I suffered the whole regiment to pass me, that I might observe more narrowly its composition. The scrutiny called forth my admiration. The men were all Virginians, whose easy and graceful seat betrayed the constant habit of horseback exercise, and they were mounted mostly on blooded animals, some of which the most particular “swell” in London would have been glad to show off in Hyde Park. Looking back across three eventful years to that morning’s march, I realize how little it was in my thought that my lot should be knit so closely with that of these brave fellows in fatigue and in fight, and that I should have to mourn the loss of, alas! so many who afterwards fell around me, in battle. – Von Borcke, pp. 18-21.
11. FRIDAY, JUNE 13-SUNDAY, JUNE 15 – CAMP AT MORDECAI FARM; THE FIRST VIRGINIA CAVALRY JOINS STUART AND 1,200 HORSEMEN FOR A BOLD RIDE AROUND FEDERAL GENERAL MCCLELLAN’S ENTIRE ARMY:
At 2 am on June 12, Stuart’s men were awakened in their Henrico County camps at Mordecai Farm (Bryan Park) and at Kilby’s Station. Taking largely from 1st & 9th Va. regiments, J.E.B. Stuart launches a 1,200 cavalrymen ride around Federal General McClellan’s Army.
Stuart wrote in his report (excerpted to highlight actions by the 1st Virginia Cavalry): For full report, Click Here.
I undertook an expedition to the vicinity of the enemy’s lines on the Pamunkey with about 1,200 cavalry and a section of the Stuart Horse Artillery. The cavalry was composed of portions of the First, Fourth, and Ninth Virginia Cavalry. The second named, having no field officer present, was, for the time being, divided between the first and last mentioned, commanded, respectively, by Col. Fitz. Lee and Col. W. H. Fitzhugh Lee; also two squadrons of the Jeff. Davis Legion, commanded by Lieut. Col. W. T. Martin, the section of artillery being commanded by First Lieut. James Breathed.
Although the expedition was prosecuted farther than was contemplated in your instructions I feel assured that the considerations which actuated me will convince you that I did not depart from their spirit, and that the boldness developed in the subsequent direction of the march was the quintessence of prudence.
. . . Upon reaching the vicinity of Hanover Court-House I found it in possession of the enemy; but very little could be ascertained about the strength and nature of his force. I therefore sent Col. Fitz. Lee’s regiment (First Virginia Cavalry) to make a detour to the right and reach the enemy’s route behind him, to ascertain his force here and crush it, if possible; but the enemy, proving afterward to be 150 cavalry, did not tarry long, but left . . . We crossed the Totopotomoy, a strong position of defense, which the enemy failed to hold, confessing a weakness. In such places half a squadron was deployed afoot as skirmishers till the point of danger was passed.
On, on dashed Robins, here skirting a field, there leaping a fence or ditch, and clearing the woods beyond, when not far from Old Church the enemy made a stand, having been re-enforced.
The only mode of attack being in column of fours along the road, I still preferred to oppose the enemy with one squadron at a time, remembering that he who brings on the field the last cavalry reserve wins the day. The next squadron therefore moved to the front under the lamented Captain Latane, making a most brilliant and successful charge with drawn sabers upon the picketed ground, and, after a hotly-contested hand-to-hand conflict, put him to flight, but not till the gallant captain had sealed his devotion to his native soil with his blood. The enemy’s rout (two squadrons by one of ours) was complete; they dispersed in terror and confusion, leaving many dead on the field and blood in quantities in their tracks. Their commander, Captain Royall, was reported mortally wounded.
Several officers and a number of privates were taken in this conflict, and a number of horses, arms, and equipment, together with five guidons. The woods and fields were full of the scattered and disorganized foe straggling to and fro, and but for the delay and the great encumbrance which they would have been to our march, many more could and would have been captured.
Col. Fitz. Lee, burning with impatience to cross sabers with his old regiment, galloped to the front at this point and begged to be allowed to participate with his regiment (the First Virginia Cavalry) in the discomfiture of his old comrades, a request I readily granted, and his leading squadron pushed gallantly down the road to Old Church; but the fragments of Royall’s command could not again be rallied, and Colonel Lee’s leading squadron charged without resistance into the enemy’s camp (five companies), and took possession of a number of horses, a quantity of arms and stores of every kind, several officers and privates. The stores as well as the tents, in which everything had been left, were speedily burned, and the march resumed. . . the prisoners, 165 in number, were transferred to the proper authority; 260 horses and mules captured, with more or less harness, were transferred to the quartermaster’s departments of the different regiments, and the commands were sent to their respective camps. The number of captured arms has not been as yet accurately ascertained.
A pole was broken, which obliged us to abandon a limber this side of the Chickahominy.
The success attending this expedition will no doubt cause 10,000 or 15,000 men to be detached from the enemy’s main body to guard his communication, besides accomplishing the destruction of millions’ worth of property and the interruption for a time of his railroad communication.
The three commanders (the two Lees and Martin) exhibited the characteristics of skillful commanders, keeping their commands well in hand and managing them with skill and good judgment, which proved them worthy of a higher trust. Their brave men behaved with coolness and intrepidity in danger, unswerving resolution before difficulties, and stood un-appalled before the rushing torrent of the Chickahominy, with the probability of an enemy at their heels armed with the fury of a tigress robbed of her whelps. The perfect order and systematic disposition for crossing maintained throughout the passage insured its success and rendered it the crowning feature of a successful expedition. – The Official Record of the War of the Rebellion; Series I, Volume XI (11) in three parts; Part I. Reports. Chapter XXIII (23). Report No. 21 Report of Brig. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, C. S. Army, commanding in Cavalry Brigade, pp. 1036-1040.
12. JUNE 22, 1862 – CAMP AT BROOK CHURCH, VIRGINIA:
13. MONDAY, JULY 6 – SUNDAY, JULY 19, 1862 – VON BORCKE HUNTS SQUIRREL, LOVES NATURE; CHAPLAIN LANDSTREET PREACHES TO THE ATTENTIVE, BUT TIRED.:
13A. JULY 6TH, 1862 VON BORCKE GOES TO THE WOODS NEAR CAMP ON THE CHICKAHOMINY RIVER, VA.:
About dusk of the 6th – It was a beautiful night, the air was full of the fragrance of the wild-flowers and forest-blossoms, and myriads of fire-flies glittered in the surrounding darkness. . . We occupied ourselves now chiefly with fishing and shooting, as had the Indians of these woods and streams two hundred years ago.
The Chickahominy afforded us abundance of perch and cat-fish, which were welcome additions to the supplies of our mess-table; but taking the fish was attended with many discomforts and difficulties. From the peculiar formation of the river-banks, high and densely skirted with trees, we were forced to wade about in the shallow stream, where we were vigorously attacked by the most voracious horse-leeches, which fastened themselves on our exposed legs in such numbers as to make it necessary to go ashore every five minutes to shake them off. The small hare of Virginia darted about in every direction in the fields and thickets; but shooting the grey squirrel, which was quite new to me, afforded me the best sport; and from the great agility of the animal, it was by no means so easy a matter as one might suppose. The foliage of the hickory, in which the grey squirrel has his favorite abode, is very dense, and the active little creature knows so well how to run along the opposite side of the limb from the gentleman with the gun, that one must be as much on the alert as his game to fire exactly at the moment when it is in sight and unprotected. The grey squirrel is smaller than the red or fox squirrel, and as it subsists principally on chestnuts and hickory-nuts, its meat is very delicate. I had some repugnance to eating them at first, as disagreeably suggestive, in their appearance, of rats; but I soon learned to appreciate the game, and it became one of my most highly valued dishes.
On the 18th, about noon, as I had just returned from one of my little shooting expeditions, General Stuart having gone off to Richmond on duty,
I found Captain Fitzhugh engaged in entertaining an Englishman, Lord Edward St Maur, who had given us the pleasure of being our guest for the day. As our mess supplies were limited, I was not a little concerned as to the materials for a dinner; but William, our negro cook, hearing that I had two squirrels in my gamebag, undertook to make a pie of them, and did this so successfully that I had the satisfaction to find the pate highly relished by my lord, who said he had never tasted anything better in his life.
13B. SERVICE WITH CHAPLAIN LANDSTREET:
On Sunday the 19th we had divine service in camp. The officiating clergyman was the Rev. Mr Landstreet, chaplain of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, and the spot was an open place in the midst of the primitive forest. I was deeply impressed by the peculiar solemnity of the scene. It was indeed a striking picture, — hundreds of bearded warriors lying about on the grass, and listening with the utmost attention to the eloquent words of the preacher, beneath the green dome formed by the interlacing branches of the gigantic trees over their heads. – Von Borcke, Heros from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, October, 1865. “Part II Memoirs of the Confederate War for Independence, by Heros Von Borcke, Chief of Staff to General J.E.B Stuart.” Vol. XCVIII. Edinburg, London, UK: William Blackwood & Sons. Print p. 402.
Weather: warm and dry
14. AFTER SEPTEMBER 10, 1862, FREDERICK, MD. – CIVIL WAR ARTIST ALFRED WAUD “CAPTURES” THE FAMED FIRST VIRGINIA CAVALRY.:
Being detained within the enemy’s lines, an opportunity occurred to make a sketch of one of the two crack regiments of the Confederate service.
They seemed to be of considerable social standing, that is, most of them – F.F.V’s, (First Families of Virginia) so to speak, and not irreverently; for they were not only as a body handsome, athletic men, but generally polite and agreeable in manner. With the exception of the officers, there was little else but homespun among them, light drab-gray or butternut color, the drab predominating, although there were so many varieties of dress, half-citizen, half-military, that they could scarcely be said to have a uniform. Light jackets and trowsers with black facings and slouched hats, appeared to be (in those cases where the wearer could obtain it) the court costume of the regiment. Their horses were good; in many cases, they told me, they provided their own. Their arms were the United States cavalry saber, Sharps’ carbine and pistols. Some few of them had old swords of the Revolution, curved, and in broad, heavy scabbards. Their carbines, they said, were mostly captured from our own cavalry, for whom they expressed utter contempt – a feeling unfortunately, shared by our own army. (NOTE: Jeb Stuart and Alfred Pleasonton were cadets at the same time at West Point and a source of some of the strong enmity between them.-JS) Finally, they bragged of having their own horses, and, in many cases, of having drawn no pay from the Government, not needing the paltry remuneration of a private. The flag represented in the picture is the battle flag. White border, red ground, blue cross and white stars. – Waud from Harpers’ Weekly, September 27, 1862, p. 612, p. 618.
[The 1st Virginia Cavalry at a halt]
Waud, Alfred R. (Alfred Rudolph), 1828-1891, artist
loc.gov 20 February 1999 Web. 25 May 2013.
15. SEPTEMBER 12-16, 1862 – FREDERICK, WASHINGTON COUNTIES, MD; BERKELEY & JEFFERSON COUNTIES, VA. – THE FIRST VIRGINIA CAVALRY GUARDS WAGON TRAINS, WATCHES FLANKS AND PROVIDES A PICKET IN JEFFERSON COUNTY AFTER THE MAIN BATTLES – FOR COMPANIES F FROM SHEPHERDSTOWN & COMPANY B FROM MARTINSBURG, AND . . . A CHANCE TO VISIT HOME.:
Newton D. Baker’s cousin, William Martin Lemen (1831-1903) of Company B and son of his mother’s sister, Margaret Billmyer Lemen (1807-1869), wrote down the itinerary for the First Virginia during the campaign in Maryland and sent it to the battlefield historian, Ezra Carman, on May 7, 1897. – Carman, Clemens, p. 386, footnote.
Lemen wrote that the 1st Virginia separated from Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade at New Market, stayed there on picket until Wednesday, September 10th and headed to Maryland, commanded by Tiernan Brien. The First Cavalry then was assigned to scouting, picketing and watching for any appearance of Federal-supporting militias from across the border with Pennsylvania. – Driver, p. 46.
On the 14th, they concentrated in Hagerstown, while the rest of Fitzhugh Lee’s brigade arrived at Boonsboro and defended the retreat of Confederate infantry from off the Catoctin Mountains. – Ibid, pp. 46-47;
Lemen wrote Carman that the First then “followed the trains” crossing the Potomac at Williamsport until daybreak of the 15th. After camping the next night at Hainesville (Falling Waters) they went to Shepherdstown Ford, probably taking what is called the Bedington/Scrabble/Turner/Billmyer Road route or the Bedington/Greensburg/Swan Pond route that Generals Lee, Stuart, and Jackson were using at that time. – H.L. Snyder, Shepherdstown Register, September 22, 1921, September 22, 1927, July 31, 1924; Clemens, footnote, p. 386.
Some of the 1st Cavalry re-crossed into Sharpsburg to help Pelham’s Battery on Nicodemus Hill in the morning battle on September 17th. – Lemen; Driver, p. 47.
16. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 10-11 PM – DAYLIGHT FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th – PACK HORSE (BLACKFORD’s, BOTELER’s) FORD – BECOMING A PICKET NEAR HOME:
The First Virginia leads in replacing the exhausted men on picket for Gen. Jubal Early’s division east of Sharpsburg, allowing Early’s men to join the slow line of men and wagons crossing into Virginia, being the last Confederate division to cross At daybreak, the First recrosses, too. – Volume XIX – in Part I. Operations in Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. September 3-November 14, 1862 (Vol. 19, Chap. 31), p. 972.
17. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1862 SHEPHERDSTOWN VICINITY:
NEWTON BAKER, HIS MANY COUSINS; WILLIAM MORGAN AND HIS TWO BROTHERS – HAVE A REST, WHILE PICKETING – AND VISITING THEIR HOMES AND FAMILIES; EXCEPT NEWTON – WHOSE FATHER WOULD NOT SPEAK WITH HIM – YET. – Driver, p. 47; Kenamond, pp. 21-22.
18. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1st, 1862 – SHEPHERDSTOWN TO MARTINSBURG – MORGAN AND THE FIRST VIRGINIA TANGLE WITH PLEASONTON’S FEDERAL CAVALRY.:
October 1st – Weather: Fine. Shepherdstown-Opequon-Martinsburg-Reconnaissance and Skirmish:
While staying at the Bower of the Dandridge family with most of his staff, Jeb Stuart got sudden word, possibly from William Morgan among others, the Federal Gen. and Cavalry Commander, Alfred Pleasonton – an bitter rival of Stuart’s since their West Point days – had crossed at Shepherdstown with 700 men and battery, drove the pickets back, including the First Virginia men at Shepherdstown. His force pressed on towards Martinsburg taking the road through Winebrenner’s Crossroads.
Col. Tiernan Brien commanded the First Virginia in the lead of a response force as it worked its way north on what is today Route 11. But Brien gave orders vastly misunderstood so that all but two squadrons of his force had veered off into a field instead of a majority assisting the First Virginia to lead a charge down Route 11. When Gen. Stuart arrived he was incensed that the First Virginia did not charge and couldn’t find Brien. Realizing that an attack by a tiny fraction of the intended force on the Federal position was untenable, Stuart re-arranged positions, ordered through distant intermediaries a charge from different directions on Pleasonton’s position. Even though Stuart’s men were quite outnumbered, Pleasonton’s men turned about and returned to Shepherdstown and then across the river into Maryland.
While Stuart’s men succeeded in deterring further fighting while outnumbered, Pleasonton in his final report of the skirmish scorned any claims by Confederate Generals that the retreat of his force was, if anything, casual if not guarded. – Pleasonton, Report, Official Record.
Taking stock, Stuart accepted Brien’s resignation the next day.
He would in just a few days be a star performer at hijinks in a planned ball at The Bower, posing as a Pennsylvania Farmer and on his arm a huge, simpering gaudily dressed “Wife”, who in fact was Heros Von Borcke but soon thereafter Tiernon Brien was backing working his farm as a civilian. – Von Borcke, p. 205
Stuart promoted Col. John Drake to command the First Virginia and William Morgan, was promoted to major because Company F was in the leading the charge “the sabers leapt rattling from their scabbards, and dashed forward at a full gallop down the turnpike.” – Drake, p. 48; Von Borcke, p. 192.
Morgan’s son later wrote of a scene that well fits William Morgan picketing as per orders in the vicinity of Shepherdstown and his home of Falling Springs at the time Pleasonton’s force crossed into the town and crashed the picket Morgan was on.
The sudden appearance of Pleasonton’s men “driving back the picket” may have looked like his recorded account:
. . . my Father decided to fill up the time by getting in touch with his home and while wandering around I was greatly surprised to see my Father rapidly approaching; I ran to call Mother, but Father, warning me to watch, had scarcely gone into the house when I heard the clanking of saber and spurs, together with the rapid beating of horses feet upon the hard ground and I saw three Yankees approaching and almost reaching the gate leading into our yard; I called “Father!” who quickly sprang upon his horse, and riding rapidly, easily cleared the gate but the Yankees had seen him and were in hot pursuit, calling to Father to halt and firing their pistols; I ran after them screaming “You shall not shoot my Father!” But to my amazement I saw the Yankees returning at a furious gallop, passing by me they soon went the same way they had come. Bewildered, I ran on and on through the woods, thinking to find my brave Father dead or badly wounded. . . I returned to Mother, who was upon her knees in prayer to the God of battles for my Father’s protection.
We may surmise that Morgan made his way either to Stuart’s headquarters with news of the invading cavalry or towards the scene of fighting at Martinsburg after assembling his Shepherdstown men on picket, such as the Lemens and Newton Baker.
Many years later, this son, Augustine C. Morgan had a chance encounter with a man in Hagerstown who in fact remembered him and the incident. He told Augustine that his Father , using a classic Stuart ruse, dramatically turned and charged the pursuing Yankees, convincing them that Morgan was leading a larger counter-charge. he was alone. – Morgan-Getzendanner, pp. 3-4.
The Impossible Autumn (Pt. 4) – 1862, Jefferson County, Va. by Jim Surkamp
civilwarscholars.com 20 June 2011 Web. 24 January 2016. More.
19. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1862 – DEPARTURE FROM THE BOWER AND THE AREA:
As Gen McClellan’s full army began to cross into Virginia at Shepherdstown, Williamsport and Harpers Ferry, all the re-assembled and rested Confederate Army moved away towards Clarke County and Snickers Gap to fight another day.
Heros Von Borcke wrote:
Our long and delightful sojourn now drew rapidly to its close. Guest after guest departed, and every day the indications of a speedy departure became plainer. At length, on the 29th of October, a hazy, rainy autumn day, the marching orders came, and the hour arrived for the start. A number of the Staff did not fail to indulge in the obvious reflection that nature wept in sympathy with us at the separation. With heavy hearts indeed, we left the beautiful spot, and bade adieu to its charming, kindly inhabitants. Silently we rode down the hill, and along the margin of the clear Opequan stream, musing on the joyous hours that had passed away — hours which those few of our dashing little band of cavaliers that survived the mournful finale of the great war, will ever hold in grateful remembrance. – Von Borcke, pp. 322-323.
20. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3 – SALEM, VA. ENCAMPMENT: – Driver, p. 50.
Weather: quite cool
21. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1862 – “SNOWED ALL DAY”: – Driver, p. 50; Thomas W. Colley, Museum of the Confederacy.
Weather: light snow cleared, total eclipse of the moon, windy and cold
22. WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1862 – CAMP AT CHANCELLORSVILLE, VA.:
Weather: pleasant in the morning, afternoon – rain
23. JANUARY, 1863 – 1st VIRGINIA REDUCED TO A HUNDRED MEN AVAILABLE, HORSES NEED FODDER AND HAY.:
Wrote Thomas W. Colley: There is no sign of winter quarters. Our brigade is here for the purpose of getting forage. It is impossible for us to get any fodder for hay. Corn is all we can get for our horses. – Driver, p. 54; Colley diary.
Weather: misting snow, then cold and windy
24. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1863 – “COMMENCED SNOWING ON THE 17th . . . IT SNOWED ABOUT 10 OR 12 INCHES AND RAINED ALL DAY ON US.” – Colley, Driver, p. 54.
Weather: sunny day
25. TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 1863 – KELLY’s FORD, VA. – 3,100 FEDERAL CAVALRYMEN UNDER GENERAL WILLIAM AVERELL AVENGE MANY RAIDS BY FITZHUGH LEE’S BRIGADE OF SOME 600 MEN, INCLUDING MORGAN’S COMPANY F OF THE FIRST VIRGINIA.:
“The remaining sharpshooters of the brigade under the very efficient officer, Major (W.A.) Morgan, First Virginia,” were ordered to a point on the railroad where the road turns toward Kelly’s half a mile from the railroad bridge.” Fitz Lee continues: “The report . . . I received was to the effect that the (enemy) had succeeded in crossing capturing 25 of my sharpshooters, who were unable to reach their horses.” – Official Report, Fitzhugh Lee report p. 61.
– Official Record, Operations in Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. January 26-June 3, 1863. Part I Vol. 25, Chapter 37. Reports – March 17, 1863 – Engagement at Kelly’s Ford. p. 47 Averell Report.
pp. 60-63 Fitz Lee Report.
Weather: very pretty
Weather: very nice spring day
26. SUNDAY, MAY 31, 1863 – SMITHFIELD, VA. – NEWTON BAKER, A COUSIN, AND TWO OTHER “LOCAL BOYS” IN THE FIRST VIRGINIA ARE CAPTURED AND HUSTLED OFF TO FORT MCHENRY, THEN QUICKLY EXCHANGED.:
One source records that Elias Baker, Newton’s father, spoke with his son only once during the war years. It is possible he met his son at the prison and was taken back to Shepherdstown. From there Newton Baker is listed as being present in his unit for July, 1863 meaning he may have participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, by following the northbound Confederate forces as they passed through Shepherdstown – Kenamond, pp. 21-22.
It was a good time to adapt a reconnaissance to include slipping home and getting a fresh horse, visiting family and sweethearts before returning to the main Confederate encampment near Culpeper Courthouse.
Newton was on horseback in Smithfield where lived Alexander Evans’ sweetheart and future wife – Harriot Lowndes Scollay (1843-1911). With Newton and Evans were George Lucas from Shepherdstown and Newton’s cousin John James Lemen, whose family awaited at Millbrook, their home opposite Billmyer’s Mill west of Shepherdstown. – Longacre, p. 61; 1860 Census; Jefferson County Clerk.
The war’s Official Report includes no account of a military engagement on May 31st near Smithfield. But armies were stirring – the Federals controlling the ground north of the Rappahannock River. Rumors were flying that Lee’s Confederate Army was preparing to take the war across the Rappahannock and the Potomac and even into Pennsylvania, to what would become the Battle of Gettysburg in July. Commanded in early 1863 by Col. John Drake, the First Virginia fought in nearly 200 engagements from 1861-1865. – National Park Service Unit Histories Database.
HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 28, 1863. General S. WILLIAMS, A. A. G., Army of the Potomac: The following dispatch from General Gregg, at Bealeton: A scouting party, just in from Sulphur Springs, reports Stuart camped 4 miles from Culpeper, on the road to the Springs; Fitzhugh Lee, W. H. F. Lee, Hampton, and Field at Jefferson. **Rebel scouts numerous about Warrenton and the Springs. The force is represented as being very large. I think it advisable to send Bufords command that is available, some 900 men, and battery, to re-enforce Gregg, should Major-General Hooker consent, particularly as Buford reports rather poor grazing at Dumfries, while on the upper route it is good, and supplies easily obtained. The cavalry at Washington should be moved farther down, on the Orange road. The rebels always mean something when their scouts become numerous. A. PLEASONTON, Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry Corps. – Official Report; Series 1 – Volume 25 (Part II) Chapter 37. p. 536.
Finding themselves surrounded by Federal cavalrymen, likely of the Third Cavalry Division, and unable to charge through the enemy, the four young men were captured. But a bare five days later, the foursome, who had been transferred – apparently by the Winchester-Potomac line at nearby Summit Point connecting at Harpers Ferry with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Fort McHenry – where they were processed and moved to Fort Monroe, where Baker was exchanged June 3rd and the others June 5th. They made their way back to their army as it headed north to Gettysburg. – Confederate Service Records.
From Confederate Service Records, and Compilation in Robert J. Driver’s 1st Virginia Cavalry:
LUCAS, GEORGE R.: b. 8/4/40. enl. Co. F. Martinsburg 6/19/61 as Pvt. Present until absent on detached service 2/62. POW Smithfield 5/31/63. Sent to Ft. Monroe. Exch. 6/5/63. Present through 8/64. KIA 1/13/65. “The Virginia Free Press”: 9 Nov. 65: “George R. Lucas killed in Berkeley County Jan. 20, 1865, aged 25 years.” bur. Elmwood Cem. Shepherdstown, W.Va. – More:
Residence: Millbrook – Willoughby Lemen
LEMEN, JOHN JAMES ALEXANDER: b. Va. 11/19/39. 5’7″. fair complexion, dark hair, grey eyes. Farmhand, Charles Town PO, Jefferson Co. 1860 census. enl. Shepherdstown Co. F. 4/18/61 as Pvt. 1st Virginia Cav. Present until captured 7/6/61. Exch. Present 9/62. Captured Smithfield 5/31/63. Sent to Ft. Monroe. Exch. 6/5/63. Present until absent sick in Richmond hospital 8/24/64. Released 6/30/64. d. 1/10/71. bur. Elmwood Cem. Shepherdstown, W.Va. – Service Record; Snyder, p. 48. 1860 Census.
Residence: Scollay Hall, Middleway (post-war)
EVANS, ALEXANDER MASON, JR.: b.: 10/30/42. enl Pvt Co. F. Shepherdstown 5/5/61. detached with the baggage guard 3-4/62. Cap. 5/31/63 Smithfield. Exch. after Ft McHenry 6/5/63. Surrendered Appomattox 4/9/65. served as scout for Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and captured and escaped three times. d. 10/16/89. bur. Episcopal and Masonic Cem. Middleway, W.Va.
Weather: fair, wind from the east
Newton Baker was on detached service for much of late 1863 and early 1864.
27. TUESDAY, AUGUST 16, 1864 – CEDAR CREEK, VA. – FEDERAL COMMANDER PHILIP SHERIDAN ORDERS DESTRUCTION ‘SOUTH OF A LINE FROM MILLWOOD TO WINCHESTER’:
In compliance with instructions of the lieutenant-general commanding, you will make the necessary arrangements and give the necessary orders for the destruction of the wheat and hay south of a line from Millwood to Winchester and Petticoat Gap. You will seize all mules, horses, and cattle that may be useful to our army. Loyal citizens can bring in their claims against tbe Government for this necessary destruction. No houses will be burned, and officers in charge of this delicate, but necessary, duty must inform the people that the object is to make this Valley untenable for the raiding parties of the rebel army. – Sheridan to Brig. Gen. A.T. A. Torbert, Chief of Cavalry, Middle Military Division. Official Record, Series 1 – Volume 43 (Part I) Chapter LV. p. 43.
28. MONDAY, AUGUST 15th – FRONT ROYAL, VA. – FITZ LEE’s BRIGADE WITH FIRST VIRGINIA ARE ORDERED TO ASSIST JUBAL EARLY AGAINST GEN. SHERIDAN.:
YOUNG DEWITT CLINTON GALLAHER OF THE FIRST VIRGINIA AND FROM SHEPHERDSTOWN WROTE IN HIS DIARY:
August 15th – In camp near Front Royal. Had a meal at a Mr. Buck’s. Enjoyed it. Hear the Yankee Cavalry are in the neighborhood. We had expected this. General Jubal T. Early, then in command in the Valley, had but few cavalry and had appealed to General Lee to send him some, as Sheridan’s Cavalry had been running over the few cavalry that Early had. Hence Fitz Lee’s old Brigade (ours) was sent to him.
Tuesday, August 16th – The Yankees came up and we attacked them. We were badly managed and were repulsed at Guard Hill with some loss; went into camp of the previous night.
Weather: cloudy off & on, but warm
Wednesday, August 17th – Some of us got a girl at the big mill near Luray to make us some real coffee. Very fine. Brucie Trout was the girl and she was very pretty and kind to us.
Thursday, August 18th – (at Wood’s Mill on the Berryville Pike – Driver, p. 96) – Marched to within 6 miles of Winchester on the Plank Road. We had a scrap with Yankee Cavalry below Winchester on the Berryville Road. It rained in torrents and we got soaked through and through. Horrible night we had! Hungry-wagons not up with us – fearfully tired. – Gallaher, p. 10.
29. THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 1864 – SPOUT SPRING, FREDERICK COUNTY, VA. – NEWTON BAKER’S OWN HORSE IS KILLED IN A SKIRMISH ON THE BERRYVILLE PIKE. LATER A COUSIN WITH CLOUT IN THE REGIMENT LATER PROCESSES PAPERWORK TO COMPENSATE HIM WITH $3,300, AN INFLATED AMOUNT FOR A SINGLE HORSE. – Official Record.
Spout Spring, Va. 1864 – Driver, p. 96; Confederate Service Records.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 18-SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 1864 – Encamped at Berryville, frequently skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry. – Itinerary First Federal Cavalry Division Commanded by Bvt. Maj. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert, U.S. Army.
The Confederate States To N. D. Baker
1864 For Thoroughbred 1 Bay Mare valued at $3,300.00; killed in an engagement on the 19th day of August 1864 near Berryville, Va.
I hereby certify that N. D. Baker brought into service one Thoroughbred Bay mare on the 28th day of July, 1864 which was appraised by a regularly appointed board at the time of mustering with service at the sum of thirty-three hundred dollars and that it was the private property of said N. D. Baker as by the records in my keeping.
Notarized? my hand, this the 20th day of February, 1865 –
signed J. M. Billmyer (James Martin Billmyer), (illegible) Sgt, 1st Va. Cav. 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment Company F.
I certify that the above account is correct and just and that the horse was killed in an engagement with the enemy on the 19th day of August 1864 at or near Berryville, Va. – Confederate Service Records, Newton D. Baker. – Service Record, Newton D. Baker, p. 26.
30. MONDAY, AUGUST 22nd – AUGUST 31st, 1864 – JEFFERSON COUNTY, WV GALLAHER CONTINUES:
Monday, August 22nd – On the march I went to a man’s house named Kanode, who was a friend of my mother’s family. Got a “snack” there. In camp at a church in Leetown (Jefferson County). Rains very hard. In the suburbs of Leetown, Dr. Gregg Gibson, a cousin of Amelia, my brother William’s wife, lived in the old Tucker home. A beautiful old colonial house, with a grove of “ancestral” trees around it, and with an immense garden with a vine clad brick high wall all around it, radiant with flowers and beautiful shrubbery. Here, my sister-in-law just married in that house was staying. Her old home was in the vicinity and William had taken advantage of our troops being in possession there temporarily and had gone down and married Amelia. I called to see her. You can imagine the pleasure and surprise that visit was! I got off for a visit to Mr. Abel’s that night and slept in a BED! Met some girls from the Luray Valley named Lionaberger (“Linaberg” ? – JS). An old friend, Joe Crane had married one of the them. – Gallaher, p. 10.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 1864 – LEETOWN, WV TO WILLIAMSPORT, MD – Rejoin my command at Leetown, which had been inactive for several days, and in camp. Marched through Martinsburg and encamp at Falling Waters on the Potomac River, and nearly opposite Williamsport, Md. Here we found many old “union” farmers (sympathizers with the North) and we helped ourselves to their orchards and fine hay (for our weary horses).
THEY CAMP AT THE PROPERTY OF NEWTON’s UNCLE WILLOUGHBY LEMEN WEST OF SHEPHERDSTOWN.:
Friday, August 26, 1864 – We drive the Yankees across the Potomac and shell the town of Williamsport across the river. We watered our horses in the Potomac, the same we had ridden from the “Wilderness” in May, then to Richmond, Petersburg and in the many fights all summer. We made no attempt to cross into Maryland but rode to Shepherdstown about 20 miles away, where I saw some relatives and many old friends. Went into camp at Billmyer’s Mill about two miles from town where we camped for the night.
Wednesday, August 31, 1864 – My horse “Don” which I had ridden from May all through our marches and fights becoming lame from a disease common in the army called the “greasy fool” starting from the scratches caused by going through so much mud and such hard services. We lay out in a big field nearly all day grazing our horses and taking it easy, as the enemy showed no disposition to attack us for which we were ready. Took some flour to a Miss Dawes who lived nearby and she baked it for me. – Gallaher, p. 11.
Weather: pretty & fair
31. BATTLE OF FISHER’s HILL, VA. SEPTEMBER 22, 1864 – NEWTON BAKER FALLS WOUNDED IN THE THIGH, ENDING HIS CAVALRYMAN’S DAYS. – Driver, p. 148.
“. . . fell back on Luray Pike (after) fighting all day” – Captain William Trussell, Co. A., 1st Va. Cavalry, in his diary, Museum of the Confederacy; Driver, p. 99.
4 PM – Federal General George Crook’s Corps moved along North Mountain to outflank Early and attacked about 4 pm. The Confederate cavalry offered little resistance, and the startled infantry were unable to face the attacking force. The Confederate defense collapsed from west to east as Sheridan’s other corps join in the assault.
Battle-fields of Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek, Virginia. 22 Sept. 1864. 19 Oct. 1864. Prepared by Bvt. Lt. Col. G.L. Gillespie, Major of Engineers, U.S.A., From Surveys made under his direction By Order of Lt. Gen. P.H. Sheridan, and under the Authority of the Hon. Secretary of War and of the Chief of Engineers, U.S.A. 1873. baylor.edu 9 May 1997 Web. 28 October 2012.
Sheridan on October 6th commenced moving down the Valley. (Federal Gen. A.T.A) Torbert with his three divisions of cavalry and one brigade of U.S. Regulars, numbering not less than ten thousand men, was ordered to stretch his command from mountain to mountain, drive off all stock, burn mills, barns, shops, in fact everything except private dwellings. Grant in his order to Sheridan said it was not “desirable” to burn private dwellings, but that “the Valley must be made a barren waste.” Then came the most disgraceful scene that man was ever permitted to see – ten thousand vandals turned loose to plunder and burn whatever they could lay their hands on, from mountain to mountain the torch was applied. A cloud of smoke from a thousand burning buildings hung like a pall over our ill-fated Valley. (Confederate General Thomas) Rosser now took command of the cavalry, and as the Yankees retired down the Valley Rosser pressed hard upon them. The fighting continued for three days with intense fury.
The fire devil rallied his legions and retired, burning and plundering as he went. The lurid flames of burning buildings, the charging columns of Rosser and Munford as they madly dashed through smoke and fire, was a scene that would have appalled the bravest. But the hellish work was done, the Valley lay in ashes. – Billmyer letter, Driver, pp. 101-2
1. NEWTON BAKER’S “MOST” DIVIDED CLAN (Pt. 1 of 4) by Jim Surkamp
2. NEWTON BAKER “SEES THE ELEPHANT” MANASSAS, VA (Pt. 2 of 4) by Jim Surkamp
3. NEWTON BAKER’S LIFE IN THE FAMED FIRST VIRGINIA CAVALRY 1861-1865 (Pt. 3 of 4) (above) by Jim Surkamp
4. NEWTON BAKER’S REMARKABLE SON (Pt. 4 of 4) by Jim Surkamp
References and Image Credits for this post are included at the end of Post 4.