History of the 35th Battalion Virginia Calvary 1865
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- January 1st--The companies of the 35th head home. Company F crosses over the Blue Ridge Mountains. to its native Albermale County. Companies A, B, and C, had reach Harrisonburg, where Capt. Myers receives a telegram from Lt. Col. White that permission has been given for them to continue on home. Company E finally leaves to take refuge in Powell's Fort Valley which was a safe spot in the Massanutten Mountains.
- January 3rd--Companies A, B, C under the command of Capt. Myers arrive in Loudoun County. Lt. Chiswell of Company B, "The Maryland Exiles", had his headquarters near the potomac River, which he uses to make raids into Maryland to capture horses.
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- January 17th--Lt. Col. White collects about 80 men, plus some from other commands and attacks the camp of the 6th New York Cavalry. The sudden attack created confusion within the camp, allowing the Confederates to capture more than one hundred men and horses. The 6th New York recovers and drives off the Confederates, recapturing some of the property.
Claims differ between the two sides on the results. Gen. Devin of the 6th New York reported that two were killed and five were wounded with a loss of eight horses and the Confederates claimed that they brought out fifty horses and a dozen prisoners. This would be the last action of Lt. Col. White's men until March.
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- February 28th--Gen. Rosser's recommendation as Major General is confirmed. His replacement in command of the "Laurel Brigade" is now Brigadier General James Dearing, an ex-artilleryman.
- March 6th--Orders are sent out for the battalion to reassemble.
- March 17th--All company commanders now have in their possession a copy of the assembly order.
- March 21st--Companies A, B, and C leave Loudoun County to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia in front of Petersburg. Lt. Boyd Barrett is left in Loudoun County to round up stragglers and follow later. Company E from Powell's Fort and Company F from Albermale move out from their winter Quarters.
- March 25th--The men of the 35th arrive at Atlee's Station, north of Richmond, to join the rest of the brigade.
- March 26th--The brigade leaves Mechanicsville and marches through Richmond to camp near Manchester on the Petersburg Road. The 35th are in position on the south side of the James River where a report reaches them that Gen. Sheridan was crossing the river below them.
- March 27th--The 35th Battalion march through Petersburg to go into camp beyond the city. Evidence of heavy fighting is all around them as they learn that the enemy lines are within two miles of the city. They are shocked to see how the situation has deteriorated since their departure in September.
- March 28th--The 35th Battalion move south to Stoney Creek where they meet W. H. F. Lee's division of cavalry. They were now back in the area where they started on the cattle raid six months earlier.
Generals Mud and Sheridan's became the enemy with hunger. The food was supplemented with shad from the Nottoway River. The enemy were a different problem. Rain was continually swelling the Stony Creek until it is only fordable by swimming.
the battalion now numbered only around eighty men, since all the men that left for home have not arrived yet, have been constantly in the saddle. The men were tired from lack of sleep and the horses were worn out from battling the mud and swimming the Nottoway River and Stony Creek.
- March 30th--Gen. Dearing sends the 35th to hold the Stage Road to Dinwiddie court House, while Gen.. Fitzhugh Lee was driving the Union Cavalry back on Dinwiddie Court House. The 35th ride all night in the rain, but do not reach their assigned position until near daylight. Capt. Myers is ordered to mount up and head for the railroad. They march through the rain, mud, and again have to swim the Stoney Creek to reach their destination.
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- March 31st--Gen. Sheridan is driving the Confederate cavalry back toward Five Fork. the divisions of Gen. Rosser and W. H. F. Lee attempt to turn the Federal flank. the attempt fails and the Confederates withdrawal to the junction at Five Forks.
- April 2nd--The 35th meet with another day of disaster and defeat as they are driven from the South Side Railroad. They are near the Appomattox River battling to keep the Union cavalry from the wagon trains, when the receive the news that Petersburg has fallen. The wagon train would be their main focus for the next week as it tries to fall in line for the retreat. The 35th camp that night near Namozine Church. The losses for the 35th for the past days included Lt. Strickler of Company E, with severe wounds; Lt. Chiswell of Company B, with severe wounds; and Sgt. Alonzo Sellman of Company B, who will be out for the duration of the war.
- April 3rd--A day of retreating and fighting for the 35th as they become the rear guard for the army as they reach Amelia County.
- April 4th--Today is another day of retreating and fighting as they struggle to reach Amelia Court House and the promise of rations. The hardest blow for the 35th came in the news that Richmond has fallen. The column makes a short stop for the promised ration, allowing the Federals to put more pressure on the 35th. The promised rations were not coming, and the delay at Amelia Court House for the collections from the countryside on produced a little corn meal for the men and nothing for the horses.
Lt. Col. White divides his battalion into two squadrons, one will be led by Capt. Frank Myers and the other by Capt. Marcellus French.
- April 5th--The 35th moves at daybreak, still serving as the rear guard for the army. Around noon they are ordered to the front to drive off the enemy. The fighting starts around 4 P.M. and continues until the darkness sets in as they turn northward near Jetersville, then turn west toward Amelia Springs where they go into camp.
- April 6th--The "Laurel Brigade" moves out early in the morning with a squadron of the 35th Battalion under the command of Capt. Myers in the lead and the other squadron of the 35th under Capt. French left behind as pickets. Pressure put on the men of Capt. French by the advancing Federal caused them to withdraw and move on to catch up to the remainder of the battalion. The 35th will endure some of the hardest fighting that they have seen in the entire war.
While the 35th is struggling from its Amelia Springs camp, Gen. E. O. C. Ord, commander of the Federal Army of the James, sets out to destroy bridges over the Appomattox River. The destruction of these bridges will seriously hinder the retreat of ther Confederate Army. Gen. Ord sends two infantry regiments, the 123rd Ohio and the 54th Pennsylvania, supported by a squadron from the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry to destroy High Bridge. The bridge carries the South Side Railroad across the Appomattox River four miles below Farmville.
The cavalry divisions of Generals Rosser and Munford are sent in pursuit of the Federal regiments. Shortly after 12 P.M. the Confederate cavalry overtakes the Federal infantry near Watson's Farm. The "Laurel Brigade" charges the infantry and drives it back, but the Federals rally and strike back. The two forces now lock in deadly combat, often hand to hand. In fifteen minutes, many officers are taken out of action from wounds. Gen. Dearing receives a mortal wound as does his counterpart, Col. Washburn of the 54th Massachusetts; Gen. Theodore Read of Gen. Ord's staff is killed along with three company grade officers. Several veterans of the 35th go down in the fighting; Ben Leslie, one of the original members of the 35th is killed; Corporal Rodney Matthews is seriously wounded and captured. Capt. Frank myers leads the 6th Virginia Cavalry to the top of a steep, rocky hill and begins the rout of the Federal as other units come to the aid. Lt. Col. White leads the remnants of the "Laurel Brigade" up the bluff, then sends his "Comanches" in for the kill. As the 35th charge the defeated Federals, the enemy threw down their weapons and surrendered. Nearly eight hundred men surrendered to the Confederate force, with six flags and an ambulance. High Bridge was now safe for Gen. Lee's retreating army.
The wounded were collected from the battlefield and brought to the Major Watson house and the dead were buried. The mortally wounded commander of the "Laurel Brigade", had been brought in earlier that day. Lt. Col. White goes to see Gen. Dearing. Gen. Rosser is seated beside Gen. Dearing and as Lt. Col. White walks in, Gen. Dearing holds Gen. Rosser's hand and points to the brigadier stars on his collar, turns to Gen. Rosser and whispers, "I want these to be put on his coat."
Lt. Col. White was now the commander of the "Laurel Brigade", although there was no promotion to a higher rank. Capt. Myers is put in command of the 35th Battalion, now the size of a large company.
The weary 35th reaches the main army after dark and lays in line of battle that night.
- April 7th--The 35th move out at daybreak and continue the retreat as the cavalry act as rear guard for Gen. Longstreet's corps as they move toward Farmville. The 35th fight the Federals in the streets of the town as they try to prevent the Confederates from crossing the river. The 35th act as rear guard for Gen. Rosser's division as they get across the Appomattox River, barely escaping capture themselves.
Union Gen. George Crook's cavalry division had crossed the river to attack the Confederate wagon train as Gen. Rosser's division shows up just in time to get between the Federals and the wagon train. Gen. Gregg's Federal brigade moves in to attack the train as Lt. Col. White's brigade arrives to turn the advance and drive them back to the main body. this action allows Gen. Rosser's division to come into position and hold the line until other cavalry units arrive in support and drive the Federals back across the river to Farmville. the attacks of General's Rosser and Fitzhugh Lee were so vigorous that Gen. Gregg is captured. That night Lt. Col. White keeps his men in line of battle as the wagons kept moving.
- April 8th--The brigade move out at day break leaving the 35th to act as the rear guard and impede the enemy. All morning long the 35th destroys bridges and everything else they could to stop the enemy from advancing. The 35th divides into two squadrons with Capt. Myers commanding one squadron in the lead and Capt. French commanding the other, bringing up the rear. During the morning, Lt. Col. White goes to Capt. French's bivouac and issues his orders for the day: Capt. French will remain in place until all had moved forward, then become the extreme rear guard for the army.
Capt. French moves out on to the road that the brigade had taken earlier. His column descended a slope to cross a stream be ascending the rising ground on the other side. Sending the squadron on, Capt. French stops to await the sight of the approaching Federal army. With him are Lt. Charlie James and Corp. Terrell. The wait was short a long line of Federals appear and Federal skirmisher of the Second Corps emerge from the woods. As Capt. French watches the Federals approach, a Federal trooper dashes from the woods with a white flag of truce, calling out "flag of truce". Capt. French calls out to him to bring it over and the trooper informs him that Gen. Seth Williams of Gen. Grant's staff wants to deliver a dispatch to Gen. Lee. Capt. French tells him to stop the advance and to bring the dispatch.
The caution shown by Gen. Williams in making contact with the Confederate army was due to his flag of truce bearers being fired upon. Gen. Williams had tried to make contact with Capt. Myers before, but each time they had been fired on and three had been shot. Capt. Myers had not seen the flag until the flag bearer was falling in a burst of fire.
Gen. Williams of Gen. Grant's staff approaches Capt. French and in and angry tone states,"Captain, you have fired on my flag of truce and three men have been shot trying to deliver it." Capt. French denies that it was their party who had fired on the flag. Gen. Williams hands the message to Capt. French saying it is a message from Gen. Grant to Gen. Lee. Capt. French promises to deliver the letter to his division commander, Gen. Rosser. With the formality out of the way, Gen. Williams pulls out a flask and gives the two officers a drink. In the meantime while Capt. French's party is talking to Gen. Williams, they are surrounded by the Union lines. they borrow Gen. Williams' flag of truce to start on their mission with Corp. Terrell carrying the flag. Capt. French catches up to Capt. Myers, who sends him on to Lt. Col. White, who in turn orders him to Gen. Rosser. By 10 A.M. the letter is delivered.
This letter was the second letter to Gen. Lee relative to the surrender arrangements. The 35th Battalion had the honor of passing on through their lines an important link in the advancement of peace.
That night the weary 35th Battalion take their saddles of the horses for the first time in days and get some rest.
- April 9th--At daybreak, the cavalry corps take position on the right of the infantry at the Lynchburg Road, a short distance from Appomattox Court House, with Gen. Rosser's division in the center. The Cavalry attacks shortly after sunrise, with Lt. Col. White leading the "Laurel Brigade", breaking through the enemy lines and reaching the Lynchburg Road. White flags of truce were everywhere, revealing that it was the end. Not waiting to surrender, Capt. Myers, with the 35th Battalion and Dan Hatcher, with the &th Virginia Cavalry, rode out together. This was to be their last charge, as Gen. Lee awaited his meeting with Gen. Grant, the 35th was heading for Lynchburg.
Capt. Myers long awaited promotion dated for February 17, 1865 is handed to him by Gen. Rosser, which hands back to the general and requests that he return it to the Confederate States War Department. A mark in his diary states "I have no use for any commission now. I wish I had never held one."
- April 15th--Maj. Frank Myers, if the rejected commission still applies, led a small group of Company A as they headed back to Loudoun County. They would be on the road for five days, finally reaching Loudoun County on the 15th. The war is not over for these men, since they did not receive their paroles from Appomattox which was a requirement of the terms of surrender.
While some sought their paroles other required time to make the decision. The men from Abermarle went to charlottesville to seek their paroles, the men from the Valley of Company E went to Staunton, New Market, and Winchester. Company C, (the "Maryland Exiles") went to Conrad's and Edward"s Ferry.
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- April 24th--Maj. Myers leads a group of men to Harper's Ferry to finally receive their paroles.
- MAY - EARLY SUMMER--Bodies of the brave men are brought home from battlefields for reburial in their native areas. Reverend S. S. Rozel, conducts many of these committment services.
Captains Myers, Chiswell, Dowdell, Anderson, Grabill, and French would now put their energies into rebuilding their own communities. Lt. H. M. Strickler, a Methodist Minister, would serve his church for forty years.
- MAY 8th--Lt. Col. White receives his parole at Winchester. The war for the 35th and Lt. Col. White is now over.
To review the post war years of Lt. Col. White, click on to the guideon carrier to lead the way.
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