First New York Dragoons Casualties of Officers and Men

REGIMENTAL HISTORY

of the

First New York Dragoons,

With a  List of

Names, Post-Office Address, Casualties of Officers and Men,
and

Number of Prisoners, Trophies, &c. Captured
From Organization to Muster-Out.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by J. R. THORP, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the District of Columbia.

WASHINGTON, D. C.
GIBSON BROTHERS, PRINTERS.
1865.

THE DRAGOONS

The brave Dragoons! The brave Dragoons!

God bless the home that gave them birth!

That land has gained a fairer fame

Than any other land on earth.

Hail! Hail, ye heroes! Fill the bowl!

And proudly greet these sons of Mars!

Fill high the bowl! Give thrice three cheers

For every valiant hero’s scars!

They come from Dixie’s boasted land;

Bring laurels for each hero’s brow,

And let them feel, (though ever loved,)

We fly to greet and bless them now.

We know how boldly they have fought,

And won full many a bloody field;

Ho! Cheer we then the brave Dragoons,

Who forced the traitor foe to yield!

Come maid and matron, sire and son,

From mansion, hall, and cottage, come—

And come with song and joy and wine

To welcome every hero home.

Bring flowers to wreathe each battle blade—

Bring garlands for their scars and wounds;

And let the very hills unite

In cheers to greet the brave Dragoons!

C. J. FOX

Rochester, June 20, 1871

REGIMENTAL HISTORY

The month of July, 18G2, will ever be remembered for the circumstances at Harrison’s Landing of McClellan’s disastrous campaign on the Peninsula. A gigantic effort had been put forth and had resulted in a signal failure.

The call for more men to fill up the decimated regiments and to create an army adequate to the task of hurling back the hitherto resistless tide of rebellion was imperative. Thanks to the patriotism of the nation, in those dark hours, that call was not unheeded.

Whole regiments sprang into existence as if by magic. At this time the 130th New York Volunteers was organized. The Regiment was made up of the sturdy yeomanry of Allegheny, Wyoming and Livingston-men who took the field, not for their monthly shilling, not from a mere love of personal adventure, but from a stern sense of duty. At the suggestion of General McClellan, Alfred Gibbs (a class­ mate at West Point) was made Colonel and commandant by the Governor of the State of New York. He brought with him the experience of twenty years’ since in the Regular Army.

Lieutenant Colonel ‘Thomas J. Thorp and Major Rufus Scott had fought side by side in the hotly contested Battles of the Peninsula campaign, and both had received wounds. A large number of the newly organized regiments were ordered to Suffolk, Va. Here was to be collected an offensive army to threaten the approach to the rebel capital from the south, and eventually to affect its investment on that side. The 130th New York Volunteers arrived on the 13th of September.

A camping ground had been selected for the Regiment in the immediate vicinity of the Dismal Swamp. The hospitals in town were soon filled with sick, and notwithstanding the most skillful medical treatment many fell victims to the fatal malaria of the swamps. The Regiment, nevertheless, was rapidly perfected in military discipline.

Reconnaissance in large force were pushed as far as the Black Water, which, however, generally failed to develop any considerable force of the enemy in that quarter. In one of these expeditions the celebrated Pittsburgh Battery was recaptured from the enemy in a spirited engagement at Bethlehem Church. During these marches the strength and endurance of the men was sorely. tested. Oftentimes a hundred miles of burning sands were traversed. with three days’ rations carried in haversacks, and straggling was unknown. In order that Suffolk might with safety be made a base of supplies for future operations, immense earthworks were thrown up, which completely emironed the town; pending their completion, autumn and early winter wore away. Large details for picket duty became necessary, for the country was infested with guerillas.

On the 30th of January, 1863, the Regiment was aroused at the hour of midnight to take part in a secret expedition, commanded by General Corcoran. The troops, numbering eight thousand in all, with a proper proportion of cavalry and artillery, were soon moving noiselessly over the road leading to Carsville. After a rapid march of ten miles the enemy’s vignettes were driven in upon the main force, commanded by Geo. Roger A. Pryor, encamped at Deserted Farm.

Then ensued an artillery duel which, for prec1s1on and rapidity of firing, has seldom been equaled, Nair surpassed, in the experience of those who participated.

A dozen guns or more on either side were worked with a zeal which gave promise of annihilation to either party.

The pyrotechnic display, in the mid-night darkness, possessed all the elements of sublimity and terror. By the fitful light of bursting shells could be seen the ghastly features of the dead and dying, and the ground strewn with slain horses, while riderless ones galloped over the field, tramp­ ling under foot friend and foe.

At the commencement of the engagement the infantry were held in reserve, save those ordered to support the artillery, and but little effort was made by General Corcoran to flank or dislodge the enemy, all attention being absorbed by the terrific combat of the artillerists.

The morning dawn witnessed the exciting spectacle of the rebel army in full retreat, with the whole Union force close upon its heels, and from whose clutches it only escaped by the passage of the Blackwater and the destruction of the bridge. This battle, though costly in life and limb, was invaluable in the confidence it gave the men in their ability to stem the torrent of battle without demoralization. Their courage was put to a still further test. On the 11th day of April, Longstreet appeared before Suffolk with an army variously estimated at forty thousand men. And now the wisdom of Major General Peck became manifest in the careful attention he had given to the defense of Suffolk. Ascending a signal tree of great altitude, Longstreet beheld a formidable line of earthworks confronting his army in every direction and surmounted by a hundred guns of large caliber. From the number of encampments visible, it might be inferred that General Peck commanded an army but little inferior to his own in numbers.

After an investment of the town for twenty days, with repeated failures to break through the Federal lines, he raised the siege and hastily decamped, though not in time for the rear of his army to escape severe punishment. During the siege, a successful sortie resulted in the capture of a six-gun battery, together with the Cannoniers.

Untoward events at Fredericksburg compelled the abandonment for the time of operations menacing Richmond and its communications from the south, together with the withdrawal of the troops from Suffolk. Passing by unimportant incidents, we next find the 130th New York Regiment on board transports, en route for Yorktown. Lee’s army has assumed an offensive attitude and is already moving on Maryland and Pennsylvania. An army of twenty-five thousand men, under the immediate command of Major General Keyes, is started up the Peninsula—the manifest purpose of the expedition being a diversion in favor of the Army of the Potomac, which, weakened by two hard-fought battles at Fredericksburg and by the expiration of terms of enlistment, is in danger of being overpowered by the Army of Northern Virginia, superior in numbers and elated by partial success. Keyes’ command is moved with great celerity up the Peninsula, notwithstanding the wretched condition of the roads due to frequent rains and travel of the previous year. Halting a day at White House for supplies, Keyes pushes on to Bottom’s Bridge, where his army is brought to a stand. Col. Spear, with the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, dashes up to Hanover Court House and captures Brig. Gen. W. H. F. Lee, one hundred prisoners, and a large number of army wagons. Aside from this brilliant exploit, our success was unimportant.

While the Battle of Gettysburg is being fought and won, the army on the Peninsula is lying idle, and the golden opportunity is lost. We record only with feelings of sorrow the fact that the plan of the campaign, magnificent in its conception, miserably failed in its execution. The troops on the Peninsula are now ordered to join the Army of the Potomac, which has just covered itself with glory at the Battle of Gettysburg. By unparalleled feats of marching, through mud and constant rain, the army arrives at Yorktown on the noon of the third day from the reception of the order. Transports are in readiness to convey the troops to Washington, and in two days the 130th N. Y. disembarks from the cars at Frederick, Md., the balance of the brigade having been ordered to New York City to assist in quelling the riot. Lee’s army, though sorely punished, has recrossed the Potomac at Falling Waters.

By a forced night march, the 130th New York overtakes the Army of the Potomac at Berlin and is assigned to duty at Army Headquarters, under the command of Brigadier General Patrick, Provost Marshal General. It shares in the exciting race of the two armies, on parallel roads, as far as Warrenton, Va., when this regiment, whose soldierly conduct while on foot has elicited special commendation from Generals Peck, Sykes, and finally, Meade himself, is transferred into the mounted service by special orders from the War Department, bearing the date of July 27th, 1863, and by the Governor of the State of New York is designated as the 1st Regiment of Dragoons, New York State Volunteers. Temporarily withdrawn from the Army of the Potomac, the regiment is ordered to Manassas, where it is allowed only a month to adapt itself to the cavalry service. To this end, Col. Gibbs, himself a cavalry officer, bends his whole energies. Drills of eight hours a day are instituted, together with nightly recitations from the tactics by the officers and non-commissioned officers.

By a singular coincidence, the instruction received here is soon to be tested in the fiery ordeal of battle, on the very drill-ground. On the 13th of October, the regiment, while on its way to rejoin the Army of the Potomac, encounters the corps trains, the teamsters urging the jaded mules to their utmost speed with whip and voice, for the army is falling back from the Rapidan to the defenses at Centreville.

The 2nd Corps turns on the enemy, too closely pursuing, and at Bristoe Station inflicts a terrible blow, strewing the ground with corpses, capturing a battery and many prisoners. After a rest of two days, the army resumes the offensive and is again ready to deliver battle. The Reserve Cavalry Brigade takes the lead, Col. Gibbs commanding, his own regiment having the advance of the brigade. Crossing Bull Run on the night of October 17th, it encounters the enemy’s cavalry on the plains of Manassas. Jets of flame, leaping from pistol and carbine, light up the horizon and reveal the presence of the dusky foe in line of battle. Notwithstanding the great disparity in numbers, the leading squadron returns the enemy’s fire, pouring in volley after volley in rapid succession, with accompanying shouts of defiance. Meanwhile, the other squadrons, one by one, come into line, and the rattle of small arms becomes incessant. The horses, fretting under the restraint of the bit and unused to the din of battle, are controlled with the utmost difficulty. The enemy, sheltered by earthworks thrown up by Beauregard in 1861, still maintain their position. A charge is necessary to dislodge them: the word is given, and the line advances at a pace continually accelerated until it reaches its climax in the charge. The enemy gives way—driven to Bristoe Station, and four miles of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad are saved from destruction.”

The Army of the Potomac moved steadily forward, rebuilding the destroyed portions of the railroad; at Rappahannock Station, it gathered up a thousand prisoners, drove the army of Lee over the Rappahannock, over the Rapidan, and went into winter quarters in its former position. The winter of 1863-64 was consumed in frequent reconnaissance and the usual routine of picket duty.

A new order of affairs was inaugurated in April 1864, for Grant controlled and directed all movements of the armies of the United States. Let us now follow the fortunes of a single regiment—the 1st New York Dragoons—so far as it is identified with the operations of the cavalry under Major General Sheridan. In May 1864, the regiment crossed the Rapidan, four hundred strong—the Rebellion arrogant, defiant, and full of vitality. Every section of Virginia had been visited; her fairest fields had been drenched with the blood of heroes, horse and horseman had slaked their thirst in every considerable stream in the state. In May 1865, this regiment appeared again on the banks of the Rapidan, one-half of its number slain or disabled, the Rebellion utterly crushed in the dust.

The first engagement, which occurred on May 7th at Todd’s Tavern, was of the most sanguinary character. At 3 P.M., the regiment was dismounted and moved across the country for more than a mile at the “double quick,” when the enemy was met. With a terrible yell, the Dragoons went to work, loading and firing the Spencer carbine with the utmost rapidity and deadly effect. The air seemed filled with leaden missiles from either side. For a while, the issue was doubtful, as the support came up tardily; but still the desperate, though unequal conflict, was kept up with unabated fury. Night closed in upon the scene. Over eighty of the Dragoons lay on the ground either killed or severely wounded. The support arrived, and the day was won. An Aid-de-Camp, who witnessed the affair, remarked to General Sheridan: “I never saw men fight with such desperate valor as did the 1st New York Dragoons; the men fought like demons.”

On the morning following, the battle was renewed with great fury. The enemy was dislodged from his first line of works and driven on to Spotsylvania. The cavalry were then relieved by Warren’s Corps and got in readiness for “Sheridan’s Raid to Richmond.” A gallant officer, Captain Ash of the 5th U.S. Cavalry, lost his life while leading the infantry into battle. On the morning of the 9th, General Sheridan set out with twelve thousand cavalry, intending to interrupt the enemy’s communications with his rear. At Beaver Dam, on the eve of the same day, he destroyed a locomotive, a train of cars, and several miles of the Virginia Central Railroad, together with ten days’ rations for Lee’s entire army. At Yellow Tavern, on the 11th, he fought Stuart’s cavalry, killed their leader, and passed within the first line of the defenses of Richmond. Halting until midnight, Sheridan’s column was again in motion, heading for Mechanicsville.

At daybreak, the men, reeling in their saddles for want of sleep, were suddenly aroused by the explosion of torpedoes under the feet of the horses. At Meadow Bridge, for a while, the enemy disputed the crossing of the Chickahominy, but were driven off by Gibbs’ and Devin’s Brigades; Gregg opened with his artillery and scattered the militia hovering about his rear. Near Mechanicsville, a spirited affair occurred in which the 1st New York achieved an important success without the loss of a man. It happened in this way: A regiment of the brigade was sent forward mounted but, being hard pushed by the enemy, was obliged to fall back. Closely followed by the exultant foe, Lieut. Col. Thorp observed the situation and hastily gave the command to his men, “Prepare to fight on foot.” They quit their horses, went forward at a run, discharging their carbines at every leap and shouting vociferously.”

The enemy, surprised at the suddenness of the onset, hastily retired with a loss of fifty prisoners. Crossing the Chickahominy again at Bottom’s Bridge, Sheridan procured supplies at Haxall’s Landing on the James and, crossing the Pamunkey at White House, rejoined the Army of the Potomac at Chesterfield Station. Grant was on the point of executing a flank movement, and Sheridan was ordered to proceed with pontoons to Hanover Town, bridge the Pamunkey at that point, and hold it until the arrival of the infantry. He carried out his instructions without serious opposition at the river, crossed his cavalry, and engaged the enemy sharply at Hawe’s Shop on the 28th, where General Gregg suffered heavy losses. The rebel cavalry, after making a slight stand at Old Church, were driven towards Cold Harbor. Meanwhile, Lee hurried forward Anderson’s division of infantry to this point, and his whole army followed in their footsteps.

Sheridan pitted his dismounted cavalry against this division of infantry, and the afternoon of the 31st was consumed in heavy skirmishing. As a result of the day’s work, the enemy was forced out of their breastworks and driven a mile beyond, with a loss of several hundred prisoners in addition to the killed and wounded. During the night, Sheridan received orders to hold the ground already gained at all hazards. His men, though supperless, slept soundly from excessive weariness, still grasping the bridle reins. At three o’clock the following morning, the men were aroused from their slumbers and, without waiting to prepare the morning meal, were put on the line. Each brigade was assigned its own front, which it had to hold in any emergency. Lieut. Col. Thorp established a defensive line on the crest of a hill, in front of which was a heavy belt of timber. Fence rails were hastily piled up as a shelter for the men, forming a slender barricade co-extensive with the front of the brigade. Scarcely was this work completed, and the men closely disposed behind it, when a brigade of South Carolina troops, six regiments in all, emerged from the woods in front of the barricade in three lines of battle.

Gibbs’ men lay quietly behind the barricade, reserving their fire until the enemy was only fifty yards off, when they greeted them with a terrific volley from the carbines of the dismounted troops, throwing the first line into consternation and compelling the remaining two lines to lie down or skulk behind the trees to avoid the terrible shower of leaden hail. A second time they formed and advanced with a similar result. Again a third time, only to be driven back in wild disorder. To add to the horror of the scene, the woods took fire from exploding shells thrown by Williston’s Battery, and the shrieks of the rebel wounded were first heightened, then stifled by the flames. The 6th Corps, coming up to assist the cavalry, was already in sight and was greeted with lively demonstrations of joy from the men, with the novel accompaniment of music from the band of the 1st N. Y. Dragoons, which had been discoursing national airs with great gusto during the entire engagement. The cavalry, having been relieved by the infantry at Cold Harbor, saw Sheridan taking the 1st and 2nd divisions, crossing the Pamunkey, and setting out on a second raid with instructions to cut the Virginia Central R. R. near Gordonsville and, if possible, cross the Blue Ridge and join Hunter moving on Lynchburg. Directing his course westward via Aylett’s and Childsburg, he struck the railroad at Trevillian Station on June 11th, where he fought the whole of the enemy’s cavalry, routing them with heavy losses, including six hundred prisoners. In addition, he destroyed four miles of railroad. On the second day, his further progress westward was checked by Early’s infantry, brought by railroad from Gordonsville. Charge after charge was made with almost superhuman valor to dislodge them from a position taken up behind a railroad embankment, but without success.”

“Sheridan’s loss is severe—the casualties in the 1st N. Y. Dragoons alone amount to eighty-eight killed and wounded. Lieut. Col. T. J. Thorp, while desperately fighting at great odds, is overpowered and taken prisoner. Sheridan retires during the night, bringing off his prisoners and most of his wounded. His return march is associated with much suffering on the part of the prisoners and wounded men. No rain has visited the country for thirty days. The road is filled with minute particles of dust, as in wintertime with mud, to the depth of four inches. The line of march can be determined at a great distance by an immense cloud of dust completely enveloping the column and hiding man and horse. Many of the prisoners fall out by the roadside by utter exhaustion; the remainder are carried through on horseback, regiments being dismounted from time to time for this purpose. At West Point, on the York River, transports are in readiness to convey the wounded to hospitals. Sheridan, rejoining the Army of the Potomac, is sent to the assistance of Wilson’s division of cavalry returning from the destruction of the Danville Railroad. Sheridan turns about at Ream’s Station, goes into camp at Light House Landing, and is allowed a whole month to recruit his animals and reclothe his men.

A demonstration north of the James, at Deep Bottom, together with an ineffectual effort to take advantage of the explosion of the mine and charge into the city of Petersburg with his cavalry, concludes the operations of Sheridan with the Army of the Potomac for the year 1864. Events transpiring in the Middle Military Department call for a commander and additional troops. The 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions are hurried to Washington on transports; thence to Pleasant Valley, Md. Sheridan now moves up the valley with three corps of infantry—the 6th, 8th, and 19th—and has at his disposal three divisions of cavalry—Merritt’s, Wilson’s, and Averill’s. Early retires from Maryland, falling back on Fisher’s Hill. Two days previous to its occupation, while Sheridan’s cavalry are endeavoring to cut off the retreat of Early, the 1st New York Dragoons encounter a division of infantry at Newtown and maintain alone for an hour an unequal contest, with the loss of thirty men. Early, having received reinforcements at Fisher’s Hill, Sheridan declines battle and withdraws his army to the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry.

After several weeks spent in maneuvering, he succeeds in bringing on a general engagement at Winchester on the 19th of September. Let us briefly recall some of the incidents of this terrible battle, which resulted in a disastrous defeat to Early and left four thousand of our dead and wounded on the field. The morning of the 19th opened with the heavy roar of artillery and rattle of musketry, for Sheridan, crossing the Opequon, has hurled upon the army of Early three corps of infantry. Wilson’s division of cavalry is on the left flank, while Averill is at work on the extreme right. Merritt’s division is held in reserve until 3 P.M. The battle, raging with the utmost desperation, is still undecided, and our infantry are sorely pressed. At this critical moment, Merritt is ordered to charge with his entire division. ‘To horse!’ is sounded, and regiment after regiment is rapidly deployed in line of battle. Fortunately, the conformation of the country is favorable to cavalry movements, for, with the exception of a few ditches and dilapidated stone walls, which can easily be cleared at a leap, there are no obstructions. Steadily, the line advances in the direction of Bunker Hill, and now the pace is rapidly increased from a walk to a trot, from a trot to a gallop, and still the formation is as carefully preserved as though the men were passing in review. The division and brigade commanders ride in front of the line, while battle flags and guidons are gayly floating on the breeze, and bugles continually sounding the advance. Midway on the field, the enemy’s cavalry come out to meet the advancing column; but after the first shock of battle, they disappear as does the morning mist before the rising sun—nor halt until night and darkness overtake them many miles from Winchester. Now ensues a scene which language can but feebly portray, and which may well be called the Carnival of Death. Suddenly upon the vision of the Rebel infantry flash four thousand sabers, glittering in the sunlight, while the solid ground is shaken by the tread of the approaching column. From a combative force, they are quickly converted into a crowd of demoralized fugitives. On the part of Merritt’s men, there is a feeling of supreme exultation as, rising in their stirrups, they ride straight at the doomed horde, dealing blows lustily about the head and ears of the devoted wretches. Conspicuous in the charging column could be seen a tall officer (a returned prisoner of war) mounted on a handsome black charger, with the visor of his cap reversed, wielding his saber remorselessly—the impersonation of a fiend. Scores of the Confederates threw themselves upon the ground and in piteous tones sued for their lives; others stood as if rooted to the ground with terror, still grasping their muskets. Here and there, a single cavalryman could be seen bringing to the rear a squad of prisoners; their eyes dilated with terror, their lips covered with foam from utter exhaustion. In their anxiety to secure prisoners, many of the men passed by battle flags, the capture of which is regarded highly honorable. In this manner, the 1st New York and other regiments of the brigade gathered up more by far than their own number. Only a few men were missing from the 1st New York Dragoons at night, and the bodies of these were found and buried on the most hotly-contested ground and far to the front, by those who followed after for that purpose. A long score of wrong and injustice was on that day wiped out in blood, for, when the sun went down, scarcely a saber, I ween, was sent home to its scabbard bloodless.

Events immediately following the Battle of Winchester are vividly impressed upon the memory of those who participated: the hurried flight of Early to Fisher’s Hill, the masterly strategy of Sheridan by which his army is dislodged with the loss of twenty-three pieces of artillery and thirteen hundred prisoners, and the retreat kept up while the rear-guard of the rebel army is constantly harassed by a small portion of Devin’s Cavalry Brigade, consisting of detachments of two regiments. Every town on the route is the scene of a battle and a Federal victory. The pursuit is kept up for more than a hundred miles, when Sheridan is reluctantly compelled to desist for want of supplies. Returning, he carries out the instructions from Grant: ‘To make the Valley (once the Eden of America) a desert,’ as an effectual barrier to future raids into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Dividing his cavalry into detachments, every plantation is visited, and only the dwelling escapes the torch. As on former occasions, his line of march was indicated by heavy clouds of dust; so now it is marked by volumes of flame leaping from barn and storehouse. With reckless audacity, Early, having gathered up reinforcements, makes his appearance again in rear of the retiring army. His cavalry hovering too near are run back by Merritt and Custer from Tom’s Brook, a distance of twenty-five miles, with the loss of their entire train and all their guns save one.”

Sheridan halts his army midway between Middletown and Strasburg, while Early settles down on Fisher’s Hill. With the precedent of terrible defeat at Winchester, will the latter again offer battle? The sequel is too well known to need repetition in the main, and we confine ourselves to a few words in relation to the part sustained or witnessed by the cavalry in the battle of Cedar Creek on the 19th of October. The ‘assembly’ is sounded at daylight in Merritt’s and Custer’s Divisions, and whole regiments are deployed with drawn sabers to arrest the flight of fugitives from the 8th and 19th Corps. The thunder of artillery and rattle of musketry follow close upon the heels of the stragglers, accelerating their flight. Although the 6th Corps makes an obstinate resistance, the entire army is forced back two miles beyond Middletown, when Sheridan appears on the field, having just come up from Winchester. Never before did so much depend upon one man. The two divisions of cavalry have just been massed on the left of the pike preparatory to a charge, which shall either break the enemy’s lines and interrupt the pursuit, or result in overwhelming disaster. The charge is deferred for several hours while the scattered infantry are returned to their commands. Dismounted cavalrymen are put on the skirmish line and arrest the refluent tide of battle.

Two hostile lines of battle now confront each other, stretching across the entire valley. Sheridan, confident of his ability to convert defeat into victory, proceeds to carry into execution the plans he has already formed. Custer with his division is sent to the extreme right with instructions to hurl his cavalry upon a limited portion of the enemy’s line and affect it with a panic, when upon a given signal, Sheridan with the rest of his army, will cause this panic to communicate itself along the whole of the enemy’s lines. The plan, simple in its conception, was successful beyond the expectation of the commanding general himself. At 3 P.M., the battle is renewed with unwonted fury. The 1st Division has the right while the infantry occupy the center. The decisive moment for the charge has been indicated. The 6th Corps goes forward with an impetus characteristic of a determination to win the day. The other corps vie with it in impetuosity. The enemy opens on the charging column with fifty pieces of artillery, filling the air with flying missiles. With wonderful precision, shells are thrown into the solid masses of advancing infantry and, exploding, scatter and lift up mangled corpses high in the air. In another place might be seen a headless cavalryman still clinging to his saber with a death grip.

Only once does the line falter, when subjected to a scathing fire of musketry from the enemy posted behind a stone wall. The survivors push on, and with the bayonet drive the opposing force from the wall. The enemy no longer makes a stand. The men, alike indifferent to the threats and entreaties of their officers, seek safety only in flight. A miserable rabble, they plunge into the stream, and, crossing, hurry on through Strasburg towards the mountains, with Sheridan’s cavalry close upon them. Over forty guns, together with a large number of army wagons abandoned on the road and in town, fall into the hands of the cavalry. Devin’s Brigade, having the advance, is occupied until midnight in securing these trophies. The ground over which the battle has been fought presented a sad spectacle, for the loss on both sides was severe. By the side of the road leading to town lay a wounded Confederate, a fair-haired youth, who had arranged his bed as if for sleep. Alas! for him, it was the sleep that knows no waking. His features, wonderfully pale, seemed strangely beautiful in repose. The battle of Cedar Creek terminated the important engagements of the year. The cavalry, however, are allowed but little rest or relaxation. Expeditions are organized, reconnaissances made, and swollen streams forded, far into winter.

The expedition to Gordonsville, which resulted in the capture of two pieces of artillery by the Dragoons, will be remembered for the severity of the cold, by which the feet of many of the men were frozen. At length, a brief respite is allowed the cavalry. The 2nd Brigade goes into camp for a month at Lovettsville, Va. On the 24th of February, 1865, the brigade is again ordered to take the field. On the second night out, the 1st New York bivouacs in an open field near Winchester, while a shower of rain drenches them to the skin. Usually at night, the horses are made fast to a stake driven in the ground; unfortunately, at this time, the ground was frozen so that the stake could not be driven, and the men were compelled to lie down in front of the horse with the reins attached to the wrist. Some soldiers gave vent to their feelings in expressions of discontent, while others preserved a moody silence.

Sheridan, leaving Winchester with ten thousand cavalry, arrives at Staunton in four days; defeats and captures the remnant of Early’s army at Waynesboro; crosses the Blue Ridge at Rock Fish Gap. The authorities at Charlottesville come out to meet him, with the surrender of the town. Destroying the railroads meeting at that point, he continues his march to the James River. All the locks of the canal are ruined for a distance of seventy miles. Already he has left behind him five thousand horses floundering hopelessly in the mud. The long marches by day and night along the James will not be soon forgotten by those who shared them, nor the amusing spectacle of negroes flocking to the banks of the river to gaze upon Sheridan and his followers with as much curiosity as was manifested by the aborigines at the Landing of Columbus.”

Sheridan, having replaced in part the loss of his animals with mules and farm horses, turns about and destroys the Virginia Central Railroad from Frederick’s Hall to Beaver Dam; burns the bridges at Taylorsville and Hanover; destroys the railroad again at Ashland, and returns to the Army of the Potomac via White House and Deep Bottom. The 5th Corps and Gregg’s Division of cavalry having been added to Sheridan’s command, he makes a demonstration upon the South Side Railroad, and on the 1st of April wins the memorable and decisive victory at Five Forks after a day of fighting of the most obstinate character. Who shall recount the repeated charges of the dismounted cavalry, rushing upon the enemy’s works in the face of a storm of shot and shell, rending and felling the largest trees of the forest? The days of the rebellion are already numbered. Passing by the battles of Sutherland Station, Amelia Court House, and Sailor’s Creek, with the immense capture of prisoners and munitions of war, we find Sheridan on the eve of the 8th of April at Appomattox Station, having intercepted Lee’s retreat to Lynchburg with his cavalry, and having his infantry close at hand, after two days of hard marching almost entirely without food.

The gallant Custer captures at the station three trains of cars and locomotives, besides twenty-five pieces of artillery taken from the train. Lee halts his army for the night at Appomattox Court House. On the morning of April 9th, the dismounted cavalrymen are withdrawn from the skirmish line and mounted up for a charge. Several corps of infantry are slowly encircling Lee’s army, and a hundred cannon frown upon him from the surrounding heights. Upon Lee is forced the alternative of surrender or annihilation. Already the cavalry are moving on him, and the fighting becomes more and more animated, when suddenly the stillness of the Sabbath succeeds the roar of artillery, and an aid-de-camp rides along the line communicating the joyful news of the surrender of Lee and his entire army. The announcement is greeted by the tired cavalrymen with tumultuous cheering, which is caught up and repeated again and again by corps after corps. Here let the record stop—with a tear for the fallen, and a lively feeling of gratitude on the part of those whose lives have been marvelously spared during three years of terrible war.

LIST OF ENGAGEMENTS IN WHICH THE FIRST NEW YORK DRAGOONS (130TH N. Y. VOLS.) PARTICIPATED.

Column 1Column 2
Deserted House, Va., Jan. 30, 1863.Shepherdstown, Va., Aug. 25, 1864.
Siege of Suffolk, Va., April 11 to May 3, 1863.Smithfield, Va., Aug. 28 and 29, 1864.
South Quay, Va., June 12, 1862.Opequan Mills, Va., Sept. 19, 1864.
Franklin, Va., June 13, 1863.Winchester, Va., Sept. 19, 1864.
Baltimore X Roads, Va., July 4, 1863.Mount Jackson, Va., Sept. 23, 1864.
Manassas Plains, Va., Oct. 17, 1863.New Market, Va., Sept. 25, 1864.
Culpeper C.H., Va., Nov. 20, 1863.Port Republic, Va., Sept. 26, 1864.
Stannardsville, Va., Feb. 23, 1864.Cross Keys, Va., Sept. 28, 1864.
Todd’s Tavern, Va., May 7, 1864.Tom’s Brook, Va., Oct. 8, 1864.
Spottsylvania, Va., May 8, 1864.Woodstock Races, Va., Oct. 9, 1864.
Anderson’s Bridge, Va., May 10, 1864.Strasburg, Va., Oct. 14, 1864.
Yellow Tavern, Va., May 11, 1864.Cedar Creek, Va., Oct. 19, 1864.
Meadow Bridge, Va., May 12, 1864.Newtown, Va., Nov. 12, 1864.
Mechanicsville, Va., May 12, 1864.Bloomfield, Va., Nov. 9, 1864.
Hawe’s Shop, Va., May 28, 1864.Liberty Mills, Va., Dec. 22, 1864.
Old Church, Va., May 30, 1864.Gordonsville, Va., Dec. 23, 1864.
Cold Harbor, Va., May 31 and June 1, 1864.Dinwiddie C.H., Va., March 31, 1865.
Trevillian Station, Va., June 11 and 12, 1864.Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865.
Darby Town, Va., July 21 and 28, 1864.Sutherland Station, Va., April 2, 1865.
White Post, Va., Aug. 10, 1864.Amelia Court House, Va., April 6, 1865.
Newtown, Va., Aug. 11, 1864.Sailor’s Creek, Va., April 6, 1865.
Kearneysville, Va., Aug. 25, 1864.Appomattox Station, Va., April 8, 1865.
 Appomattox C.H., (Lee’s Surrender,) April 9, 1865.

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LIST OF PRISONERS, GUNS, TROPHIES, &c.,

CAPTURED BY THE FIRST N. Y. DRAGOONS, (130TH N. Y. V.)

CategoryQuantity
Prisoners1,531
Army Wagons and Ambulances40
Pieces of Artillery19
Caissons21
Artillery Horses210
Animals of Drought160
Battle Flags4

REPORT OF CASUALTIES

IN THE FIRST NEW YORK DRAGOONS (130TH N. Y, VOLS.) SINCE ITS ORGANIZATION.

CategoryQuantity
Officers killed in Battle4
Enlisted Men Killed in Battle115
Officers Wounded in Battle24
Enlisted Men Wounded in Battle160
Died of Disease – Officers1
Died of Disease – Enlisted Men80

I certify that the above statements are correct, according to Regimental Record.

T. J. THORP,

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