Compiled by Linda Cunningham Fluharty First West Virginia Cavalry Monument, Gettysburg
Third West Virginia Cavalry Monument
[Photo by Linda Fluharty.]
First West Virginia Cavalry Monument, Gettysburg
Third West Virginia Cavalry Monument
This is NOT meant to be a comprehensive discussion of the Gettysburg Campaign. This writer knows essentially NOTHING about ANY Civil War battle; my focus is generally the individual soldiers and their families. - There are thousands of sites that can provide the details of the tragic events at Gettysburg.
There were only four West Virginia (Union) regiments represented at Gettysburg. They were: Battery C, 1st West Virginia Light Artillery, under Capt. Wallace Hill; 1st West Virginia Cavalry (10 companies), under Major Charles Capehart and Col. N. P. Richmond; 3rd West Virginia Cavalry, Companies A & C, under Major Seymour Conger; 7th West Virginia Infantry, under Col. Jonathan H. Lockwood.
The deaths that occurred at Gettysburg, as well as most other deaths of West Virginia Union soldiers in the Civil War, can be found in this writer's book, Civil War West Virginia - UNION LIVES LOST.
The deaths of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry soldiers, including those that occurred at Gettysburg, are presented on THIS PAGE of this website.
Don't miss the story and images of Lt. Hiram Robinett who lost his arm as a result of a wound sustained at Gettysburg; he died in 1868. Another Lieutenant wounded in the Gettysburg campaign was Thomas Maxwell Carroll.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
No. 367. -- Report of Maj. Charles E. Capehart,
First West Virginia Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST WEST VIRGINIA CAVALRY,
Near Hartwood Church, Va., August 17, 1863.
SIR: In compliance with an order emanating from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following as the report of the First West Virginia Cavalry, from the beginning to the end of the late campaign in Maryland and Pennsylvania:
On June 24, in compliance with an order from division headquarters, this regiment (under command of Col. N. P. Richmond), together with the First Vermont and Fifth New York Cavalry, which formed the Third Brigade, Third Division, Twenty-second Army Corps, Department of Washington, left their camp at Fairfax Court-House, Va., and moved to Edwards Ferry; thence to Poolesville, Crampton's Gap, and Frederick City, Md., where the division was reorganized. Major-General Stahel was relieved of the command of the division and Brig. Gen. J. Kilpatrick assigned in his stead. Col. O. De Forest was relieved of the command of the brigade and Brigadier-General Farnsworth assigned to command it.
On June 29, we moved from near Frederick, and on the 30th met and repulsed the enemy at Hanover, Pa. The First West Virginia was in the advance of the brigade, and had passed through the town, when the Eighteenth Pennsylvania (which was now attached to the brigade), which was at the time marching in the rear, was attacked by both cavalry and artillery.
This regiment, First West Virginia, by order formed in line of battle, and charged back through the town, driving the enemy's cavalry back to their artillery and to the cover of the woods. Lieut. M. Carroll, Company F, was severely wounded; Sergeant [George] Collins, Company L, and Sergeant [Garrett C.] Selby, Company F, were killed, and 4 others badly wounded, and I officer (Lieutenant Wheeler, Company E) and 17 men taken prisoners.
On July 1, we marched to Abbottstown; thence to Berlin and a point 10 miles beyond, and moved back on the night of the same day, not finding any of the enemy.
July 2, we marched from Abbottstown to Oxford; thence to Hunterstown, and picketed the front of the enemy's left wing.
On the morning of the 3d, we moved up to a point immediately in the rear of the center of the Army of the Potomac, then near Gettysburg.
At 10 a.m. our brigade (then First Brigade, Third Division) was ordered to move to the extreme right wing of the enemy, and, if possible, hold in check any movement they might make at that point.
At 3 p.m. we found them in position with infantry, cavalry, and artillery. General Kilpatrick ordered General Farnsworth to make ready to charge them. Everything was in readiness in a moment. The First West Virginia was ordered to the front, and ordered to charge upon them. Col. N. P. Richmond led the regiment, with Maj. Charles E. Capehart and Acting Majors Farabee and Carman, which made one of the most desperate charges during the present rebellion.
I cannot fail to refer you to the defensive position the enemy had availed themselves of, which is one that above all others is the worst for a cavalry charge--that is, behind stone fences so high as to preclude the possibility of gaining the opposite side without dismounting and throwing them down. The whole ground over which we charged was very adverse in every particular, being broken and uneven and covered with rock. Neither can I fail to bring to your notice that this regiment here charged upon infantry, and still did not falter in any of its movements until it had scaled two stone fences and had penetrated some distance the enemy's lines, which had kept up a continual fire of musketry. The entire regiment was entirely surrounded, when they received an order to return. The First Texas Regiment having occupied the ground over which we advanced, and as that was by far the best way to return, an order was given by Col. N. P. Richmond for the officers and men to cut their way through, which they did, and brought with them quite a number of prisoners. Any one not cognizant of the minutiae of this charge upon infantry, under cover of heavy timber and stone fences, will fall to form a just conception of its magnitude.
The casualties of the regiment were 5 killed and 4 wounded. Apparently our mission there had been filled, for we withdrew some 3 miles from where the engagement had taken place, and bivouacked in the open field.
On the morning of July 4, Col. N. P. Richmond was placed in command of the brigade, vice General Farnsworth, who had been killed in the engagement of the previous day. Maj. Charles E. Capehart took command of the regiment, and assigned Captains Farabee and Carman as acting majors.
At 10 o'clock we moved down the enemy's left to Emmitsburg; thence up through a mountain gap to Monterey Springs, where quite a body of the enemy were found guarding a wagon train. The Second Brigade (General Custer) had been deployed as skirmishers, and had engaged them (the enemy)for an hour, when Major Capehart received an order to report with his regiment to General Kilpatrick, then at Monterey house. On his doing so, General Kilpatrick ordered him to report with his regiment to General Custer, who was at that time engaged with the enemy a half mile in advance. On his reporting to General Custer, he (Major Capehart) was ordered to charge upon the wagon train, and, if possible, take it. Major Capehart immediately informed his officers and men of the duty which devolved upon them. The charge was ordered, and, with a whoop and yell, the regiment dashed down upon the train. The night was one of inky darkness; nothing was discernible a half dozen paces ahead. As the advance came up to the train, they received a heavy volley of musketry, which at once showed the exact position of the enemy. Onward they dashed, and a hand-to-hand conflict ensued. The scene was wild and desolating. The road lay down a mountain side, wild and rugged. On either side of the road was a heavy growth of underbrush, which the enemy had taken as a fit place to conceal themselves and fire from upon us. The road was interspersed with wagons and ambulances for a distance of 8 miles, and the whole train was taken--300 wagons, 15 ambulances, together with all the horses and mules attached. The number of prisoners taken was 1,300, including 200 commissioned officers. The casualties of this regiment were 2 killed and 2 wounded.
The only assistance Major Capehart had was 40 men of the First Ohio Cavalry, under command of Captain Jones. With but two exceptions, the officers and men acquitted themselves as true and brave soldiers.
July 5, we moved to Smithsburg, and, while resting there, the enemy appeared with artillery. This regiment was ordered to guard a mountain pass, and in the evening was called in, and joined the command, and marched to Boonsborough.
July 6, we marched from Boonsborough to Hagerstown, where a part of the regiment--one squadron--was ordered to charge the town. After this was executed, two squadrons were ordered to the right of the town as skirmishers, but held their position but a little time, as the enemy advanced in superior numbers.
In the engagement we lost 2 killed, 4 wounded, and 14 missing. The superior numbers of the enemy caused us to fall back on the Williamsport road. Here this regiment brought up the rear, and supported Battery E, Fourth Regular Artillery. The enemy charged this battery four different times, and were repulsed as often. Finally their superiority of numbers caused us to withdraw, via Antietam Creek, to Boonsborough, arriving there on the morning of the 7th.
On the 8th, the enemy advanced from Hagerstown, and we became engaged with them, and fought until evening. This regiment supported Battery E, Fourth Regular Artillery.
July 9, Colonel N. P. Richmond was relieved of the command of the brigade, and the regiment, by order, went to Frederick City, Md., for the purpose of doing provost duty and arresting all stragglers, and to form a stragglers' camp. The regiment remained here until July 16, when we left and moved to Berlin; thence to Purcellville, Va., where we joined the brigade.
On the 19th, we moved to Upperville.
On the 22d, to Piedmont.
On the 23d, to Amissville, arriving there in the evening. This regiment was ordered on picket at Gaines' Cross-Roads. Immediately after leaving, we met the enemy, and drove them to within half a mile of the cross-roads, where we met them in force. Major Capehart ordered the regiment to charge, which it did, but we were repulsed by infantry and cavalry. Here we had 2 of our men wounded. Our picket line was finally established within three-quarters of a mile of the cross-roads, where we remained until the evening of the 24th, when we were relieved.
We then moved back, and went into camp at Amissville. Remained there until the 30th, when we moved to Warrenton Junction, and on the evening of the 31st the regiment was ordered on duty to Stafford Court-House, Va.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
CHARLES E. CAPEHART,
Major, Comdg. First West Virginia Cavalry.
Capt. L. SIEBERT,
A. A. G., First Brig., Third Div.
CAMP NEAR GETTYSBURG, PA.,
July 5, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventh West Virginia in the late engagement near Gettysburg:
About 8 a.m. on the 2d instant, under the command of Colonel Carroll, the Seventh West Virginia, with the Fourteenth Indiana, Fourth and Eighth Ohio Volunteers, were massed in front of the enemy and near their center. About 4 p.m. the Seventh West Virginia and Fourteenth Indiana changed position on the left of the enemy's right center, where we remained but a short time, when the Seventh West Virginia was ordered back, and placed to protect the Fourth U.S. Artillery, where we remained under heavy fire from the enemy's batteries until about 8 o'clock, at which time, in connection with the Fourteenth Indiana, we were ordered to the right of Cemetery Hill, in support of Battery L, First New York Artillery, and on arriving there we found the battery about to be taken charge of by the enemy, who were in large force; whereupon we immediately charged upon the enemy, and succeeded in completely routing the entire force and driving them beyond their lines, capturing a number of prisoners, and removing their dead and wounded in order to establish our line on the line previously occupied by the enemy.
Among the prisoners captured was the colonel of the Seventh Virginia Volunteers, and colonel and major of the Twenty-first North Carolina Volunteers.
Having established our lines, we remained at this position during the night and the day and the night of the 3d.
From 6 a.m. until about dusk on the 3d, we lay under heavy fire and cross-fire from the enemy's batteries. We had brisk skirmishing in our front during the time we occupied that position. During the whole engagement the field was contested with a spirit of determination on our side to gain the victory.
Our loss is as follows: Lieutenant-colonel wounded; 5 enlisted men killed; 42 enlisted men wounded, and 13 enlisted men missing--a list of the same having previously been forwarded.
My officers and men behaved with admirable coolness and undaunted courage, and deserve well of their country.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
J. H. LOCKWOOD,
Lieut. J. G. REID,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
BERLIN HEIGHTS, MD.,
July 17, 1863.
SIR: In compliance with your order of the present date, requiring a detailed report of the action my battery took in the late battle of Gettysburg, I have the honor to tender the following: On Thursday, July 2, about 4.30 p.m., the Third Brigade was ordered to the front. Arrived there, my battery was immediately ordered into position on Cemetery Hill, where it remained until the afternoon of the 5th instant.
Shortly after engaging the enemy, I had the misfortune to lose Stephen J. Braddock, one of my cannoneers, and on Friday afternoon Charles Lacey, a driver, fell, mortally wounded. Both were excellent soldiers, and fell at their posts. James Loufman and John Hill were slightly wounded, but have fully recovered. My loss in horses was 5. I expended 1,120 rounds of ammunition.
Finally, I think I have just cause to feel proud of the part my men sustained during the entire terrible engagement.
All of which is most respectfully submitted.
Your obedient servant,
Capt., Comdg. Battery C, First W. Va. Vol. Arty.
Capt. C. H. WHITTELSEY,
CAMP NEAR HARTWOOD CHURCH, VA., September 5, 1863.
SIR: In accordance with instructions this day received from division headquarters, I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the First Brigade, of this division, in the various actions in which this division was engaged, from June 28 to July 9, at which latter date I was relieved from command of the brigade and ordered upon detached duty:
The First Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps--composed of the following regiments: First West Virginia, Col. N. P. Richmond; First Vermont, Lieutenant-Colonel Preston; Eighteenth Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel Brinton; Fifth New York, Major Hammond; and Battery E, Fourth U.S. Artillery, Lieutenant Elder, commanded by Brigadier-General Farnsworth, U.S. Volunteers--marched from camp near Frederick, Md., on the morning of June 29, and encamped for the night near Littlestown, Pa.
On the morning of June 30, the brigade moved in the direction of Hanover, where the advance of the column arrived about noon of the same day without encountering the enemy, who, from reports of the citizens, was supposed to be quite near our line of march and upon our right flank.
As the Eighteenth Pennsylvania, which was in rear of the brigade, was entering the town, the enemy's cavalry made a dash upon it, opening the same time with their artillery, which was posted in a wood about half a mile from the town. Owing to the suddenness of the attack, the regiment was thrown into some confusion, and forced back upon the main column, throwing that also into confusion, and for a few moments the enemy evidently had a decided advantage, but at this point General Farnsworth, with great coolness, reformed the command, and charged, driving the enemy out of the town and into the woods in rear of their battery. After some skirmishing, the enemy withdrew, leaving us in possession of the town, near which we encamped until the day following.
The brigade lost in this action: Commissioned officers, 2 killed, 2 wounded, and 3 missing; enlisted men, 8 killed, 60 wounded, and 86 missing.
This brigade was not engaged with the enemy during the two days following--July 1 and 2--but in the afternoon of July 3, having passed in rear of our forces, then engaged with the enemy near Gettysburg, Pa., General Farnsworth was ordered to charge the enemy's right, which he at once did, making one of the most desperate, and at the same time most successful, charges it has ever been my lot to witness, and during which that gallant officer (General Farnsworth) was killed while in the thickest of the fight. In the death of Brigadier-General Farnsworth this brigade suffered an almost irreparable loss, as a more gallant officer or perfect gentleman cannot, in my opinion, be found.
The brigade lost in this action: Commissioned officers, 3 killed, 4 wounded, and 2 missing; enlisted men, 17 killed, 26 wounded, and 55 missing.
As senior officer of the brigade, I was assigned to command of the same by General Kilpatrick on the morning of July 4, and was ordered to move at once with my command, following the Second Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Custer, in the direction of Emmitsburg, Md., passing which place we entered a mountain pass, during the passage of which the brigade of General Custer had quite a spirited skirmish with the enemy, this brigade not being engaged until it reached the summit, after passing which we charged upon a long wagon train of the enemy, capturing nearly the entire train, together with a large number of prisoners.
The brigade lost in this action 1 commissioned officer killed, and enlisted men, 1 killed, 1 wounded, and 6 missing.
On July 5, I marched my command to Smithsburg, when we were attacked by the enemy during the afternoon of the same day, my command not being engaged, with the exception of Elder's battery, which fired a few rounds with good effect. The enemy soon retired, and, in accordance with orders received, I marched my command to near Boonsborough, where I halted, and encamped for the night.
On the morning of July 6, I was ordered by General Kilpatrick to take the advance with my brigade, and move on Hagerstown. When near that place, I ordered two squadrons of the Eighteenth Pennsylvania and one of the First West Virginia to charge into and through the town, which they did in a most gallant manner, driving the enemy, in superior force, through and out of the town with heavy loss to them (the enemy), capturing at the same time the colonel of the Tenth Virginia (rebel) Cavalry. The enemy, receiving heavy re-enforcements, rallied and drove our men back through the town, and were in turn forced to fall back. About this time a battery of the enemy, posted on an eminence about half a mile in rear of the town, opened fire upon us, doing, however, no damage. Lieutenant Elder's battery immediately went into position, and fired several rounds at this battery, one of which blew up a caisson or limber-chest of the enemy. For two or three hours we contested the possession of the place most desperately, but were at last compelled, by the vastly superior force of the enemy, to fall back, which we did in good order for a distance of about 2 miles, fighting over every foot of the ground, retiring two regiments and two guns, and holding the enemy in check with two regiments and two guns until those retiring again took position.
After fighting in this manner for an hour or more, the enemy pressed my command so closely as to throw it into considerable confusion, and one of the guns must have been lost but for the fierce determination with which Lieutenant Elder and his men fought this piece, assisted by a few gallant officers and men of the several regiments who rallied in support of the piece. Four different times did the enemy charge this piece, which was placed upon the pike, and as often were they repulsed with heavy slaughter, Lieutenant Elder pouring his canister into their ranks with most deadly effect. So close was the conflict, that No. 1 of the piece, turning his sponge-staff, knocked one of the enemy from his horse.
Too much credit cannot be given to Lieutenant Elder for the splendid manner in which he fought this piece; and the men of his battery are also deserving of special mention for their bravery and good conduct under fire, and their superior discipline both in camp and upon the march.
The enemy, meeting so warm a reception at every fresh attack upon us, finally drew off the most of his force, and I retired with my command in tolerable order in the direction of Boonsborough, marching about 5 miles, and halting for the night.
The brigade lost in this action 2 commissioned officers killed, 3 wounded, and 7 missing; 12 enlisted men killed, 41 wounded, and 201 missing. The majority of casualties in this engagement were occasioned by the fire of the enemy's infantry, who, posted in almost every house, poured in a most destructive volley upon our men as they charged through the streets.
On July 7, I returned with my brigade to Boonsborough, and went into camp near that place until the next day, when the enemy attacked us in heavy force. Soon after the attack, I received an order to move out the pike and take a position about the center of our line of defense, with which order I proceeded at once to comply.
Upon arriving at the point indicated, I found the enemy in strong force in my immediate front, under cover of a thick piece of woods and large rocks. I immediately deployed one regiment (Eighteenth Pennsylvania) dismounted as skirmishers, and advanced them at double-quick upon the enemy's position, and at the same time ordered one section of Elder's battery to take position and shell the woods, which they did most effectively. About this time one gun of Pennington's battery (M, Second U.S. Artillery), commanded by Lieutenant Clarke, came up and went into position, and by my orders also opened fire upon the woods, from which the enemy soon began a precipitate retreat. I then ordered the First Vermont to charge down the pike, which they at once did, and, taking the gun commanded by Lieutenant Clarke, the Fifth New York and First West Virginia started on the left of the pike in pursuit of the fleeing enemy, who made such excellent time that it was impossible for me again to engage him; so, withdrawing my command, I returned to camp.
The brigade lost in this action 2 enlisted men killed, 5 wounded, and 2 missing.
A full statement of the losses sustained by the several regiments of this brigade in the various actions heretofore mentioned is herewith annexed, marked A.
On the morning of July 9, Col. O. De Forest, Fifth New York Cavalry, having reported for duty, I was relieved from command of the brigade, and ordered with my regiment to Frederick, Md., on provost duty.
It is impossible that I should be able at this late date to make a very full report of the movements of the brigade, especially as there are no regimental reports before me from which to refresh my recollection as to the exact part taken by the several regiments composing the command.
The officers and men, with some few exceptions, behaved themselves in the various engagements in the most praiseworthy manner, and I consider it my duty to make special mention of Lieutenant-Colonel Preston, First Vermont; Lieutenant-Colonel Brinton, Eighteenth Pennsylvania; Major Hammond, Fifth New York, and Major Capehart, First West Virginia, all of whom displayed in the most decided manner that gallantry and coolness so requisite in an officer. Lieutenant Elder has been referred to elsewhere in this report.
All of which is most respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. P. RICHMOND,
Col. First West Virginia Vol. Cav.,
Formerly Comdg. First Brig., Third Div., Cav. Corps, Army of the Potomac.
Lieut. L. G. ESTES,
A. A. G., Third Div. Cav. Corps.
Report of Casualties in the First Brigade, Third Division, Cavalry Corps,
from June 29 to July 9, 1863.
K Killed. M Missing.
--Officers.--- Enlisted men.
Command. Date. K W M K W M
5th New York Cavalry, Major Hammond commanding:
Hanover, Pa June 30 2 1 .... 2 24 13
Gettysburg, Pa July 3 .... .... .... 1 1 6
Monterey, Pa July 4 .... .... .... .... .... 4
Hagerstown, Md. July 6 .... .... 4 .... 6 75
Boonsborough, Md. July 8 .... .... .... .... 1 1
18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Brinton commanding
Hanover, Pa June 30 .... .... 2 4 30 50
Gettysburg, Pa July 3 .... .... .... 1 5 8
Hagerstown, Md. July 6 1 .... 2 7 19 69
Smithsburg, Md. July 5 .... .... .... .... 5 ....
1st Vermont Cavalry, Col. E. B. Sawyer commanding:
Hanover, Pa June 30 .... .... .... .... .... 8
Gettysburg, Pa July 3 .... 1 1 13 18 35
Hagerstown, Md. July 5 1 1 1 .... .... 11
Hagerstown, Md. July 6 .... 1 .... 4 13 48
Boonsborough, Md. July 8 .... .... .... 2 4 1
1st West Virginia Cavalry, Colonel Richmond commanding:
Gettysburg, Pa July 3 2 3 1 2 5 5
Monterey, Pa July 4 1 .... .... 1 1 1
Hagerstown, Md. July 6 1 2 1 .... 1 9
Hanover, Pa June 30 .... 1 .... 2 6 15
Battery E, Fourth U.S. Artillery, Lieutenant Elder commanding:
Gettysburg, Pa July 3 .... .... .... .... .... 4
Hagerstown, Md. July 6 .... .... .... 1 2 ....
Total .... 8 10 12 40 141 363