History of the 35th Battalion Virginia Calvary 1864
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- January 2nd--The brigade march into the Moorefield Valley to secure cattle for the army, but was shortened due to inclimate weather and bad roads.
- January 28th--With Gen. Jubal Early now in command of the Valley district and Gen. Rosser's Brigade the main cavalry unit after Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's return to the Army of Northern Virginia, gen. Early moves out from his camp at New Market for another raid into West Virginia. Along with Rosser's Brigade of Cavalry, Early took a brigade of infantry, a couple partisan ranger units and a four-gun battery.
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- January 30th--Gen. Rosser's cavalry, along with the 35th and two pieces of artillery arrive at Moorefield ahead of the struggling infantry. As they reach the top of a high overlook, the brigade sights a large wagon train on the road from New Creek on their way to supply the Petersburg Garrison. One artillery shot stops the wagon train and a charge from the cavalry drive off the guards. This action captured ninety wagons with all their contents included among them were a few suttler wagons.
- February 1st-- Gen. Rosser's brigade moves down Patterson Creek, damaging Federal communications along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and collecting cattle for the army. Company A, under the command of Lt. Ben Conrad, attack the Patterson Creek Station causing fifty-two Federal casualties and capturing the garrison there.
Federal forces close in on the Confederate position, causing the cavalry to drop back to Moorefield with the 35th leading the way. Little opposition is encountered due Rosser's Brigade eluding Union Gen. Averell.
Now at Moorefield, Gen. Early moves out for the Shenandoah Valley. Gen. Rosser is now responsible for 300 head of cattle, 90 captured wagons, and 250 prisoner. The 35th acts as rear guard for the column in Moorefield as Gen. Averell's cavalry charges the town, making the 35th drop back until Lt. Conrad Charges the head of the union force driving it back. Lt. Col. White has his horse shot from under him and avoids capture by taking the horse given him by Prvt. John Clendenning, who also escapes.
- February 5th--The 35th arrive into its Shenandoah Valley camps.
- February 6th--Capt. Myers leads squad to guard the mountain pass at Brock's Gap. Lt. Col. White leads the main body of the 35th to Weyer's Cave, where he organizes a courtmartial to try the men of Companies A and C for desertion. The charges were reduced to absence without leave and the men were sentenced to double duty for month.
- February 7th-28th--The battalion rests for the remainder of the month until Col. Judson Kilpatrick and Col. Ulrich Dahlgren start a raid on Richmond. The Capitol digs in and calls go out to veteran troops to come to their aid.
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- February 29th--Gen. Rosser receives orders to quickly move to Richmond. The 35th quickly assembles and moves out with the brigade and marches throughout the night in freezing rain.
- March 1st-4th--The 35th and the brigade reach Charlottesville around midday and continue through Gordonsville and on toward Hanover Junction, reaching it on March 4th .
- March 5th--The brigade reaches Richmond and goes into camp six miles away. A halt was called when nobody knew the whereabouts of Col. Kilpatrick. Information is received that Col. Dahlgren had been killed, and that Col. Kilpatrick had turned to the east.
- March 7th--The 35th and the brigade start back to the Shenandoah Valley going into camp at Brownsburg, Rockbridge County for a few days, before moving out again to a new camp near Natural Bridge.
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- March 31--The 35th arrive into their new camp and went into winter camp now that they were finally prepared for it at winter's end.
- Early/Mid April--The month was spent resting and recuperating with the only problem being a shortage of food for the men and horses. Gen. Lee orders the rations cut to one-quarter pound of meat and one pound of meal per day for the men and only seven ears of corn per day for the horses.
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- April 25th--The 35th moves it's camp to Waynesboro, Augusta County. All of the 35th extra baggage accumulated during winter quarters were stored at Waynesboro in order to be ready for the upcoming campaigns. Lt. Col. White disbands Company D and the men are absorbed into the other companies. The men in Company D that were from Maryland were transferred into Company B, being that company was formed by Marylanders.
- May 1st--The 35th moves out for the Blue Ridge mountains and Eastern Virginia where Gen. U. S. Grant is moving toward the Rapidan river.
While on the move to Richmond, the column makes camp in Greene County. The 35th had severe problems with discipline and following orders within Company F. Capt. Marcellus French inheritted the company and tried to bring some resemblance of order and discipline to it. When the battalion went into camp in Greene County, Capt. French issued orders that no one was to leave camp without permission. The order was immediately disobeyed by one soldier who stayed out all night and when he returned in the morning remarked disrespectively to the Captain, when he questioned him. Immediately Capt. French struck the soldier over the head with his sabre, knocking him to the ground. The company became furious with this and even proposes an attack on Capt. French. When Capt. French hears of this he immediately appears before the men and issues a challenge to take on any of them. This act of fearlessness cools the hostilities and no one accepts the offer. The discipline improved immensely and Company F eventually becomes one of the best in the battalion.
- May 3rd--The 35th goes into camp at Wolfton in Madison County.
- May 4th--The 35th move through Orange Court House and make camp at Union Church along the Plank Road. Gen. U. S. Grant crosses the Rapidan River as Gen. Lee moves his army to the southeast in order to cut him off.
- May 6th--As the morning dawned the sounds of boots and saddles are heard. Gen. Rosser sends a message to Lt. Col. White to send his leading squadron to him. Lt. Col. White orders Capt. Myers and Company A to report to Gen. Rosser. Gen. Rosser orders to Capt. Myers were thus,"Myers, move your people down this road and run over everything you come to. I'll send a pilot with you." Capt. Myers moves his men out across the Po River, followed closely by the Lt. Col. White and the rest of the "Comanches". Beyond the Po was one of the Chancellor plantations at the edge of the Wilderness, at which the 35th moves to the left entering into an open pine area. Lt. Col. White receives orders to press the Federals and drive them as far as possible. The "Comanches" now run into the Federal pickets of Gen. George Custer and open fire. Gen. Custer formed his four regiment dismounted in a ravine west of the Brock road, where awaited the four regiments of Col. Thomas Devin's Brigade.
Gen. Custer had ridden out to his pickets when the firing started, and out of the woods riding like Hell's Fury came the "Comanches" literally riding over everything in sight. They rode into the left flank of the Federals in columns of four, breaking through the 6th Michigan and then turn about and run over them again. The fire from the 5th and 6th Michigan, armed with spencer repeating rifles, were too much for the 35th and were compelled to fall back with heavy losses.
Gen. Stuart's Horse Artillery arrive and the battered troopers of the 35th were able to withdrawal.
One third of the battalion, already under strength, were casualties in this action. Prvt. Henry Moore was killed at the deepest penetration of the charge; Prvt. William Hugh Thompson succumbed to wounds nine months later;1st Lt. Adjutant Richard T. Watts was captured while trying to save the battalion's records from his horse after it was shot. Lt. Col. White had another horse shot from under him.
The 35th moves back to its camp at Shady Grove that night.
- May 7th--The fighting now mostly over except for scattered action keeps the 35th on alert. Lt. Col. White leaves Capt. Frank Myers, with his company, to hold the bridge over the Po River and moves out with the remainder of the battalion to capture federal horses. Capt. myers has a minor skirmish at the bridge and the colonel returned empty handed.
- May 8th--Federal infantry had infiltrated around Todd's Tavern. Gen. Hampton orders Gen. Rosser to attack the right rear of the Federal force as Gen. Hampton would make a frontal assault.
Lt. Thomas White of Company C is chosen to lead the sharpshooters into the dense woods in an attempt to move the Federals along. After establishing a line, a fight breaks out in which the enemy force in front of him drop back to the head waters of the Ny River. Lt. White accomplishes his mission but is killed while directing his line.
NOTE: The 35th and "Laurel Brigade" becomes a part of Gen. Wade Hampton's cavalry division. Gen. Hampton introduces the 35th to new types of tactics, where in thick covered terrains such as the Wilderness they would use their horses to quickly move from one area to another and dismount, fighting on foot with their carbines. This tactic would be more effective than the hard riding four-man frontal attack.
- May 16th- 27th--The battalion, now very much depleted in man power, reorganizes the less than one hundred fifty men and horses into the following: Capt. Frank Myers will command companies A and C; and Capt. Marcellus French will command companies B, E, and F, giving the battalion two squadrons. The rations were scarce and much of this time is spent in seeking pasture for the horses.
With the pressure that Gen. Grant put onto the army, federal stragglers became plentiful and became the prey of the 35th. Lt. Sam Grubb with a squad from Company C captured hundred stragglers, but being deep in enemy territory and little chance of getting them out decide to shake them down and release them instead. The results were about a dozen broken brass watches, a hundred pocket books containing about five hundred photos and two dollars in five cent notes plus sutler tickets.
The 35th with the rest of the army moves out toward Richmond to get in front of Gen. Grant near Hanovertown.
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- May 28th--The cavalry clashes with Gen. D. M. Gregg's Federal cavalry division as they crossed the Pamunkey River and move out onto the Hanover C. H. road. Gen. Hampton under orders to ascertain if the Federals had crossed the Pamunkey River, is met by the enemy pickets at Haw's Shop. Here they dismounted and the brigades of Generals Wickham and Rosser receive the attack of two Federal brigades along the road from Aenon Church. The 35th supports Chew's battery of horse artillery. The battle rages for more than two hours with devastating fire of both carbine and artillery before they are forced to withdraw.
Of the casualties of the 35th was Lt. Strickler of Company E, who received a serious but not fatal wound to the knee.
- June 10th--Gen. Hampton moves to block the junction of Gen. David Hunter and Gen. Sheridan's Cavalry that were moving on their way to join up and destroy the Virginia Central Railroad.
- June 11th--Gen. Hampton's cavalry battles the Federal brigades of Generals Henry Davies and J. I. Gregg while Gen. Rosser's brigade is guarding the road to protect Gen. Hampton's left. During the fighting, Gen. Custer moves around Gen. Hampton's right flank and gets into the Confederate rear, capturing caissons, horses, and ambulances. As Gen. Custer moves off with the captured property, Gen. Rosser is ordered up to do battle. Chew's battery opens fire on Gen. Custer's column and manages to slow it down as Gen. Rosser arrives and forms for battle. With the 11th Virginia in front on the right and the 35th Battalion in front on the left, the Michigan brigade was totally taken by surprise. Gen. Custer falls back to the protection of some trees as Gen. Fitz Lee comes up from the east and Gen. Butler from the north retaking much of the captured goods. Stopping to reform his forces, Gen. Rosser orders another charge by Lt. Col. White, but it is called to a halt by Gen. Hampton.
The 35th moves back to reassemble before rejoining the brigade when a barrel of apple-jack was found and there with a few Confederates trying to fill their canteens. A crowd of spectators gathered, drawing the attention of a gunner who burst a shell into the crowd mortally wounding Prvt. William Edwards; Sgt. Edward Bennett lost a leg and Bugler Prvt. Crone Phillip suffered a severely lacerated arm.
Gen. Rosser is wounded an the command of the brigade is passed to Col. Dulaney of the 7th Regiment. The 35th dig in and establish a defensive position in case the Federals attack in the morning.
- June 12th--In the morning the two forces stood in place with no engagements until noon. Gen. Fitz Lee arrives and goes into position on Gen. Hampton's right. At mid-afternoon Gen. Sheridan attacks the dug in and dismounted Confederates. The 35th is placed on the extreme right of the line and was not engaged except from Gen. Sheridans sharpshooters.
At sunset, Gen. Sheridan breaks off the attack and falls back to recross the North Anna River. The attempt to destroy the Virginia Central railroad is abandoned.
- June 13-17th--Lt. Col. White leads his men in search of food. Their main diet consist of a few crackers and a little meat, while the horse had only sparse grass until corn was found on the following day.
- June 18-25th--The 35th Battalion spends their time scouting and skirmishing with federal units in the vicinity.
- June 26th--Gen. Hampton moves his cavalry to Drewry's Bluff across the James River, causing much distress in the ranks of the 35th as they had heard rumors of abandoning Virginia and not operating along the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Valley. They were overwhelmed in knowing that their mission was to go after the Federal brigades of James H. Wilson and August Klatz that had been raiding south and west of Richmond.
As the "Laurel Brigade" moves in pursuit, the 35th breaks off from the brigade and goes through Petersburg, as the brigade moves around Petersburg to avoid the bombardment of the city. The division reaches the supply depot at Stoney Creek and take on rations and corn. In the evening they catch the raiders near Sappony Church, who attempt to break out but where thrown back.
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- June 29th--At dawn, Gen. Hampton attacks the front of the Federal line and the 35th attack the rear. The Federals line breaks under the pressure and the Federals are sent scattering as the 35th yelling like their name (Comanches) pursue the federals through pine forests. Some of the Federals escaped over an unguarded bridge that crossed the Nottoway River.
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- Early July--With Gen. Early heading into Maryland and closing in on Washington by the 10th. Excitement grew high in company B which was made up mostly of Marylanders, who immediately took off for their homes that had been for along time behind enemy lines. With Gen. Early opening the way, they could visit their family and friends without fear of the enemy. The return to the battalion after the operation was over with the excuse that companies A and C got to go home the winter before.
The 35th go into camp along the Nottoway with plenty of fish , wild game, vegetables, and fruits. The 35th is able to relax for most of July.
- Early August--Lt. Strickler returns to Company E for duty from his wound.
- August 18th--The Federal Fifth Corps strikes the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, destroying over a mile of track at Globe Tavern. The railroad was the important connecting link of the Confederate supply line with the deep south. With this section destroyed a supply depot is setup at Stoney Point in order to unload the railcars and transfer the freight to mule trains. The 35th is sent to guard these trains with their main purpose being to aid in stopping the Union's grip on the railroad.
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- August 25th--The 35th are involved in the battle for Ream's Station, guarding Wyatt's Crossing about a mile away and then giving a show of exaggerated strength by marching and counter marching. That night they relieve the infantry in the fortifications.
August finished out with continued action along the railroad.
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- SEPTEMBER 11th--By order of Gen. Hampton, Maj. Ferneyhough commanded a select group of men from the 35th to behind enemy line and get the latest newspapers.
- SEPTEMBER 13th--Gen. Hampton gives orders to cook three days rations. Extra ammunition was issued and weapons were checked. Rumors floated about the unit that they were headed back to the Valley.
- SEPTEMBER 14th--Word had made it to Gen. Hampton that Gen. Grant has been bringing in herds of cattle for the Federal troops to eat and had them pastured behind the Union lines encircling Petersburg and that it was possible to capture them for the Confederates. Gen. Hampton with the division of Gen. Rooney Lee, an engineer company and the brigades of Gen. James Daring and Gen. Rosser with the 35th, number around two hundred and fifty men at this time, in column. The area between the Rowanty Creek, Nottoway River and Blackwater Swamp restricted the columns to few roads due the swampy land.
- SEPTEMBER 15th - 16th--The column of 3500 troopers reach the Blackwater Swamp at the now destroyed Cook's Bridge after a 20 mile march. As the bridge is being repaired by the engineers, Gen. Hampton reveals their mission to take 2500 head of cattle at the Union corral. Gen. Rosser's Brigade is selected to go for the cattle with Gen. Rooney Lee's division and Gen. Dearings brigade flanking them to provide protection for there progress.
Gen. Rosser's men move up the Wall's Road headed for Coggins Point where it is thought that the cattle were grazing. At Sycamore Church the 12th Virginia Cavalry under Major John L. Knott runs into the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry armed with sixteen shot Henry repeating rifles. Though surprised by the 1st District of Columbia, the 12th Virginia rallied and charged to drive back the enemy. A strong abatis had been thrown across the road that the cavalry could not cross. The 12th Virginia dismount and attempt to clear the obstruction from the road. Seeing this Gen. Rosser dismounted the 7th Regiment and sent them through the woods to their aid. This drove the Federals from their position and capture four sutler wagon filled with pickle cigars, candy, sardines and a few bottles of champagne. The 12th was followed by the 11th Virginia and the 35th Battalion. The enemy is captured before they could mount and escape, or before they could communicate with the guard of the cattle. This barrier now taken care of, left only herd guards supported by one squadron of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry in their way. With their unwillingness to surrender, Gen. Rosser sent in the "Comanches" shouting "Come down on them, White!". With that, the 35th charged shrieking and howling into the guard and then unexpectantly into the cattle that had been moved to a pasture closer to the Confederates than known at that time. Gen. Rosser's Brigade soon had the stampeding cattle under control and on their way south toward Cook's Bridge over the Blackwater.
The 35th was sent ahead to Ebenezer Church to block the Jerusalem Plank Road, where the Federals were expected to intercept the cattle. The Federal Cavalry now recovered from the shock send Gen. Henry Davies' Brigade down the Jerusalem Plank Road where the 35th were waiting.
Gen. Gregg's Division with Gen. Davies' Brigade in the lead, strike the 35th Battalion a mile north of Ebenezer Church. The 35th are badly out manned and Lt. Col. White keeps his men under cover while moving his flag from place to place, maintaining a constant fire. The battalion are forced back about a mile but hang on until Gen. Rosser arrives with the remainder of the brigade which eventually falls under the pressure until Gen. Dearing and then Gen. Lee's division move up to stop the enemies advance. The Confederates prevailed and the herd moved through safely.
- SEPTEMBER 17th--Gen. Hampton and the cavalry arrive in the morning and turn over 2,468 head of cattle to Lee's commissary.
- SEPTEMBER 26th--Orders are given to the 35th Battalion and Rosser's Brigade to move back to the Valley.
- SEPTEMBER 27th--The "Laurel Brigade" and the 35th Battalion move out in the morning. Gen. Rosser and his staff go on ahead by rail leaving Col. Richard Dulaney of the &th Virginia in charge of the brigade. Lt. Col. White came down with a fever and was hospitalized, leaving Capt. Frank Myers in charge of the 35th.
NOTE: In September, Gen. Hampton becomes displeased with Maj. Ferneyhough, but it is not known why. With the displeaser of his general, Maj. Ferneyhough resigns his commission on Sept. 21, 1864.
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- OCTOBER 5th--The 35th Battalion march through Burkeville Junction and Prince Edward Court House in order to cross the James River at Lynchburg, then over the Blue Ridge Mountains through Lexington and Staunton to go into camp at Bridgewater. Upon reaching Bridgewater, they saw the Valley in flames as Gen. Grant had ordered Sheridan to destroy all the food and forage. Gen. Sheridan took it upon himself to order the destruction of the whole Valley when his favorite officer Lt. John R. Meigs, son of the Union Quarter Master General, was shot within the Union lines near Harrisonburg.
- OCTOBER 6th--Gen. Rosser had been given temporary command of the wounded Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's division allowing Col. R. H. Dulaney to command the "Laurel Brigade". Gen. Rosser starts in pursuit of those responsible for the burning, but is only able to catch up to a few who were immediately shot.
- OCTOBER 7th--The brigade overtakes Gen. Custer's men at Mill Creek, near Mt. Clifton. With Gen. Custer's men heavily posted at the fords, Gen. Rosser orders Col. Dulaney to cross the creek to the right of them and attack. One squadron of the 7th Virginia wheels to the right to strike the enemies flank, Capt. Myers with the 35th Battalion charge a force on the hill above the stream and drive them back. Col. Dulaney halts Capt. Myers at the top despite the pleas from the battalion.
Capt. Myers orders another charge with pistols and sabres. The 35th, in their now famous style of hard riding at the enemy yelling and shrieking, break the Federal line.
NOTE: The 35th paid a price in manpower with this charge. Most notably, Capt. Frank Myers is seriously wounded. With the war taking it's toll on the officers of the 35th, Lt. Nick Dorsey is now placed in charge of the battalion through seniority
With the Confederate Cavalry nipping at the heels of the retreating Federals, Gen. Sheridan orders his chief of cavalry, Gen. A. T. A. Torbert, to destroy the Rebel cavalry or be destroyed himself. Gen. Torbert orders the divisions of Generals Custer and Merritt to attack the Confederates early in the morning on October 9th.
- OCTOBER 15th - 19th--Lt. Col. White returns to duty from the Charlottesville Hospital on the 15th. The 35th are immersed in scouting and picket duty until the 19th.
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- OCTOBER 19th - 31st--Gen. Early attacks Gen. Sheridan at Cedar Creek. Gen. Early's infantry battles the Union infantry, the 35th is skirmishing with the Union cavalry. Gen. Sheridan starts to drive Gen. Early back, when this happens Gen. Rosser calls off the cavalry attack and falls back to his camps.
With the devastation of the Valley so complete that it could not support itself, Lt. Col. White is sent into Loudoun and Fauquier Counties to collect cattle for the army.
- NOVEMBER 4TH--Gen. Rosser is recommended for promotion to Maj. General. With Col. Dulaney out indefinitely due to wounds, it was possible that Lt. Col. White could be recommended for the promotion to General. A recommendation was sent to Gen. Lee by ex-Governor John Letcher and high placed civilians for the promotion, but all proved in vain as Gen. Lee did not like Lt. Col. White's brand of discipline and the fact their were over a hundred full Colonels in front of him in line for promotion.
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- NOVEMBER 26th--Gen. Rosser in command of his own brigade and Gen. Paynes Brigade, make a raid into the Moorefield Vallet to gather cattle and sheep for Gen. Early's army. While on the way back to the Shenandoah Valley they raided the Union supply station at New Creek on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The 35th saw very little action in this raid.
- DECEMBER 15TH--The 35th moves through Brock's Gap on an independant raid into West Virginia heading for the Moorefield-Petersburg Valley in search of supplies. Bushwackers, bad weather, and a section of the area already stripped of supplies makes the raid unproductive.
- DECEMBER 21st-22nd--The 35th spend two days sleeping in the snow without food or forage.
- DECEMBER 23rd--The 35th move through Brock's Gap toward the Shenandoah Valley. Upon returning to their camp, the 35th faced a new problem which was starvation. With Gen. Sheridans burning of the Valley and all hay or grain destroyed, the snow now covered the grass that was left and would have given a little relief to the horses. Food for the horses are rationed at six pounds of wheat straw per horse each day, which did nothing to allow them to gain their strength or for the heavy campaigning that the 35th endures.
Lt. Col. White pleads with Gen. Early to allow them to go and forage but is refused.
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- DECEMBER 27th--In the days preceding this date, it was a handful for the officers to hold their men who grew more restless each day. On the 27th, Lt. Col. White goes into Staunton to try to get the companies released to go home. While Lt. Col. White was in Staunton trying this, the companies of A, B, C, and F decide to take matters into their own hands and leave. The only company to stay are the men of Company E.
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