Rufus H. Peck.

Reminiscences of a Confederate soldier of Co. C, 2nd Va. Cavalry online

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compelkd to anchor.

Aft:r tiie storm ceased and we could see the light-house, we m.ade the rest
ct oj • journey in safety. We couldn't see at night, of course, but when morn-
ing came we found ourselves in sight of the guns of Fortress xMonroe. We re-
mainc?d here three da^-'s and r.ight^, rs the wind v/as still blowing such a gale
that the ship had to remain anchored.

Whtn v.e arrived at City Point, our exchange point, as we marched ' out,
another boatload of Yanks were marched in to be taken home, and we were
sent on to Petersburg by rail.

Here we were put in a big toVacco ware house, which vi^as hardly suitable
for mules or billy goats, but there wasn't any other convenient place near b3^
There were several very large barrels in the building and I told the boys that
mother said I was always her best child to find out w'hat was in anything sit-
ting around. So I took my pocket knife and began dissecting. To my great

pleasure I found they contained sugar and we soon ate all of the sugar that
tasted good in that barrel.

I talked to a citizen through the cracks of the building and told him that
he'd better help to hunt a place for me for some of the boys had cut a hole in
a barrel in there and had eaten lots of his sugar. The man left and soon came
back with the information that there was a barracks about a half mile distant
that we could occupy that night, so we went over, and such a place as it was.
We had to stay all night as it was so late when we got there, but it was only
a good place for bats and hoot owls He consoled us by telhng us that supplies
would be sent in from Richmond and they were, early in the night

When we got our supplies it proved ahout like the surroundings. Well, we
didn't know what to call it even. C ouldn't think of a name in the Lnglish
Language to call it. it had been bread and meat once, but had been sent from
"God kn >ws where," as the.old woman said about the rail road, and was just
poured into a corner of a box car and was of course, about like hog feed.

We had been locked in the barracks and we just said if we were not taken
out we'd break the old shacK down and go on to Richmond, so we were soon
notified that a train was ready and we gladly got on board for Kichmond.

The cars that took us were cattle cars and the engine must certainly have
had a genuine case of tuberculosis, because it tried faithfully to whistle, but
couldn't make a sound. We would gladly have gone on, or in anything, to get
back, though.

Well, we arrived in Richmond in grand style, of course, and the next morn-
ing took a train for Culpepper C H. When we got to Culpepper C. H., Col.
Munford had orders to make a raid toward Manassas Junction, but we couldn't
go on the raid as our exchange papers hadn't arrived und therefore Col. Mun-
ford had no control of us. He told us to go home for our horses and he would
send our furloughs as soon as he could.

We took the train next morning for Lynchburg and when we were found to
have no furloughs, v^e were stopped there for further orders. We wrote
Col. Munford that we were under, and to send the furloughs on. 1 hap-
pened to have a cousin by the name of Linkus keeping the Washington Hotel,
and he went my security, and in that way i, with two other boys, got to spend
our time with him.

Before I heard from Col. Munford, Gen Devon sent for us to come back
to the soldiers home, that he wanted to send us as guards for some deserters
and Yankees that had been captured in the Western army.

He gave each of us a pistol and when we arrived at Richmomd, the man
Wdo had charge of us handed the papers to Gen. Winder, and we took the Yan-
kees to the Libby Prison and put them in charge of the officials there. When
we went back to Gen. Winder's headquarters, v/ith our deserters, he told the
Serg. to tak ; us a 1 lo Castle 1 hunder. As the deserters had the same uniforms
we had, he naturally supposed we were all deserters, but four of us were the
guards for the others. As I was the oldest of the guards, I, of course, had to
try to explain the case. But when I tried to do so, he told me to hush, that he
wouldn't talk to a deserter, and ordered the Sergeant to take us on.


This the Sergeant refused to do and a fi^eneral racket followed. General
Winder told another sergeant to take all of us, even our sergeant, because he
wouldn't obey him, to Castle Thunder. But he went to a Lieut , who was there
on detached service, and who knew some of us, and had him to come and ex-
plain the whole affair to Gen. Winder.

He accepted the Lieutenant's account, of course, and gave us four guards,
transportation back to Culpepper C. H. He told the sergeant to take the real
deserters on to prison, Castle Thunder, and in the stampede he had caused by
trying to send us all, the deserters had every one gotten away.

When we got back to camp at Culpepper C H., our exchange papers had
arrived and Col. Munford gave us furloughs, so we made a second attempt to
get home for the horses.

When we got to Lynchburg we learned that Gen. Devon had been removed
from office and Gen Colston put in his stead.

We went on to Bonsacks the next day and left the train and took dinner
with Geo. Riley, who had three sons in our command. Mr. Riley was not at
home, but Mrs. Riley sent us to Fincastle on horses.

When our furloughs expired, t took my valuable gray horse back, that I
had captured, about 2 months before I had been captured. Alonza Rinehart,
John Young and William Henderson, were my companions back to camp.




When we left home we thought our command tiad gone ai-ross the Bl'ie
Rirl^^e and were in the valley of Va, But when we got to Fort Republic we
learned they were moving in the direction of Chancellorsvill , so v^e had to re-
cross the Blue Ridge.

Ju-'t about sun down of the day we recrossed. we arrived at a Mrs. Wool-
fork's. There were about 24 other soldiers stopjjing there for supper, also.
Mrs. Vv'oolfork's sm-ih-law, Mr. Poindexter, had been in prison with us at
Washington, just about a month before. He knew the country well mid we
decided to march all night in order to join the command. Just as supper was
ready a citizen who lived nearby and knew we were all there, came in and said
there was a lot of cavalrymen on the LouL-^a Spring road, bat he could not ja..t
tell which way they were aiming to go.

Vv^hile we were eating supper, so:n". of the i-'amily stayed on the front p:>rch
to see if the cavalrymen woull come that way and just when we were about
half through supper, the young lady who stood guard ru.-^hed in and said th ;
cavalrymen had come near enough for her to see the^; v/ere yankeas and .i
couple of them vvhere already dismounting.

The dining room was in the basement and we ail v/ent out at an oast d )or
while the Yankees were coming in on the west side of the huase on t; e u])nci-
floor. We ran and got r>uv horses as rapidly as possible and rode about a mile,
and then Mr. Poindexter and I. wont to a cross road Vj see if we couli hear
anything of them com.ingand to onr vsurprise there was a whole division of
cavalry coming. We had left our two horses with the other 28 men and Vve
just stayed in the heavy pine timber, were v/e knew the Yanke^^s couldn't see
us, until Sloneman's v/hole division passed.

It was fortunate for us that this all took place after d?.rk, for had it been
a couple of hours earlier, the Yankees v/ould have undoubtedly captured us all.
We stayed all night in this pine timber about a mile from Pondexter's liome
and kept on the alert all the tim.e for fear other Yankees were follov/ing.


A fter day-break we started on in the direction of rhancellorsville, but
soon found there were troops moving in front of us. Poindexter and I went in
ahead of the other 28, to see if we could find out who they were and soon found
they were Confederates.

I left h'oindexter and went to them as soon as they halted and found it was
(ien. William Henry Lee's Division. Poindexter went back and told the other
nif-n to come on and we joined Lee's men. He had no rations for his men and
as we had only had a half supper the night before and no breakfast, he told us
to go to a farm house near by and try and get something.

We found the man of the house as kind as any one could be. He was the
father of our present J'ldge, William A. Anderson. He fed all 80 of us and
our horses? also.

We went back to Lee's division after our late breakfast and after a short
.•^narch, overtook Stuneman's division and began fighting his rear men.

He checked the whole division, of course, to protect the rear and we thus
checked his raid I was in the rear line of the battle and didn't see the hotest
of the fight

We were right at a house and as some one brought some prisoners by tak-
ing them to the rear, an old lady came out and saw the blue uniforms and be-
gan crying, andsaid : ''Don't killanyof them blues !" One fellowsaid : '-Pm
going to kill every d — n rascal I can." She just fell down on the ground and
said : "I've got a boy in the blues and I don't want you to kill him." I felt
sorry for her and went to her and told her I was sorry she had a son in the
yankte army "Oh! he is not ayankee," she said, "he is with Mr. Wiser's
folks." They were called the Louisa Blues and the old lady thought any one
havmg on blue clothes might be her boy.

About one o'clock the artillery began firing near Chancellorsvilk, about
three or four miles from us, but Wm. Henry Lee held his position to keep
Stoneman in check.

Shortly after nightfall Jackson was reconnoitering between his men and
Hooker's army, and had given orders to his outposts to fire on the first sound
or man they saw or heard, and they not knowing he was out there, fired on him
and mortally wounded him

The next morning Gen. J. E. B. Stewart took command of Jackson's divi-
sion. Stewnrt began his march that morning and ordered the band to play his
favorite : "The Old Gray Horse Jumped Over the Elephant." He and one of
his aids sang the tune, toother words, though. They were : "Old Joe Hooker
Get Out of the Wilderness."

Stewart followed Hooker and drove him across the Rappahannock. We 30
fellows, who hadn't gotten to our company yet, got supper and breakfast among
the citizens, and Wm. H. Lee sent us on to Orange, C. H. Here we found
some more boys, who like ourselves, hadn't found the command they belonged
to yet. There were about 70 of us by this time. Some of them new men com-
ing in, prisoners returning with their horses, liKe I was, and some coming back
who had been on sick furloughs, etc.

We got rations here and laid down in the woods where the infantry had


been camping and the next morning when we awoke the snow was falling in
tiakes more like biscuits, than snow flakes. If it had bean bisjiiits it w >uM
have had to snow some, or we would have eaten it just as fast it fell.

I was about the first one to wake and I jumped up and shouted "Hurrah
for Jeff. Davis." Campbell, of Co. G. Bedford County, shoated back Hurrah
for H— ." Several fellows had to smile, when Campbell made his reply I told
Campbell I had always heard a bad beginning made a good ending, and when
March came in like a lion it went out like a lamb. He said '"yes, but this is
the; first of May and it is coming in like the devil, and I reckon it will go out
like h -." This caused laughter generally, and everybody was soon up and our
fires started for breakfast.

We went into town after breakfast and orders had come to send all the
men on to Culpepper C. H. Hera we joined our command and found that nv)ne
of our Co., had been killed at Chancellorsville. It had been about six weeks
since I'd been with the Co., only the one night, before I started for my horse,
after being captured.

Norman Hayth was our cook at this time and when the other membei-3 of
mess got back from picket duty one day he had a lot of beef cooked, th it vv;.s
highly flavored with garlic. Not one of the boys in the mess could eat it, but;
mf, so I traded each of them soiile other part of my supper for their beef and
ate all eighc of the rations. They all said I'd die before morning, I told ih nn
I'd come nearer dying from not getting enough beef than too much. Jf)e Shav-
er was sick and we put him in a tent near by and John Q. II. Thrasher was
taking care of him. Well in the night I woke up and the garlic had gotten in
my head so that i was sneezing and gaging and John heard me and haik^oad
to the boys to see what was the matter with that man. They soon found I was
the fellow in trouble, but they all laughed and said that's the man with thi 8
rations of beef. He'll come. Such a time as I had wttli that garlic for a while,
I told them I'd invented a separator to separate the garlic from the meat. By
this time a lot of boys w: s awake and shouting and laughing, soldier like, and
tiie Capt. had to call us to order before the fun stopped. I didn't get sick at
all but the garlic just filled mv h.^ad ahn:)st like an ovcirJase of snuff would ^
I imagine.

The next thing that happened to me of any note was one day another boy
and I decided to go t:) see some young ladies, and we v/ent down to a pond t >
wash and the water was low, so we had dug basins around the edge so the
water Would clear up by the time we needed it, and just as we were abaut
washed and dressed in our very best, a stray bullet came whizzing along and
went right into the muddiest part of the pond and threw mud all over us.
Well, now if ever boys felt like saying Sunday school words, we did then. We
had to give up our trip for that day, any way.

We had fine pasture for our horses and they soon fattened and looked so
nice, that we could hardly realize they were the same animals we'd t)rought
through the winter. We were in camp here until the 20th of June, when the
grand review of the whole army took place at Culpt'pper C. H.

The fences had all been torn away and the infantry, cavalry and urti'le'w

were all stationed, so that Gen. Lee and his aids could review them. After he
had g-one aroimd and seen them all, he took apos^ition and ordered all to march
by him in batcallions. The cavalry passed first, then infantry, then artillery.
The artillery took a position on the heights and fired all the cannons as Gen.
Lee passed by ag-ain.

Gen, Lee had ordered all the cavalry and wag-on horses to be shod, but we
didn't know what was to follow. The ni)^-ht after the review a grand bail
was given in the town. When Gens. Kilpatrick and Buford of the U. S.
army heard the firing of the artillery, ihey sent out scouting parties on all
the roads to see what it meant.

Just at the height of the ball our pickets came in and reported that the
Yankees were coming in on all the roads, which put a sudden stop to gaities
and every man hastened to his post of duty. The cavalry was sent to guard all
th^:- fords on the Rappahannock. Our command was sent to McLean's Ford to
throw up fortiforcations' which we did until daybreak. At daybreak we
found there was a squadron (»f cavalry near us, which we could see over our

Two of the men came down to the ford and watered their horses and I
talked to them across the river as it was a narrow foid. They continued
coming down, by tv/o's until about 8 o'oclock.

At about 9 o'ciocK Gen. Kilpatrick aimed to cross at Kelley's Ford and
was met by Gen Wade flampton. A desperate battle was fought and finally
Hampton succeeded in driving them back across the river.

We were near enough to hear the firing but not near enough to engage
in it. Gen. Stoneman did not attempt to cross where we were, so v/e just
btood guard all day. While this was going on Gen. Lee, with the remainder
of the army, was moving on toward Harpers Ferry.

We were ordered from the f(M-d late in the evening and started in the
direcLion of Mana.sses Junction. We were there on the same side of the
river v.'ith "Stoneman and marching on roads parallel to each other, butneiLher
General knew the others cour.^e until after the camp fires were started.

We vi^ent into camp in the rear ofStoneman's men, and later in the night,
Gen. Kilpatrick's ia-^ii caiip )J in a sci-t of woods just behind us, and a lit.
tie later Gen- Wade Hampton. foll')wing on, got a message from Gen Stewart
that Stonemsn was in front of us and Kilpatrick behind us, and for him to
camp in the woods just behind Kilpatrick and at daybreak to open fire on Kil-
patrick's men and he, Stewart, would have us fire on Kilpatrick's and Stone-
man's men also. This we carried out and completely routed both commands.
They didn't know the other's position and we surprised them so, that all they
could do was to try to get away. We killed and captured a good many, but
they didn't resist us. It >vas just a running fight-

We drove 'them all that day on toward Washington, not stopping to get
food, and wen'", into camp at nightfall.

Stewart and Hmoton crossed the Potomac with their men at Senica Falls


in the night. When G«n. Hooker learned that Lee was going on toward Mary-
land, he took his men and tried to get in front of him, which he did. Eight
packet boats had been sent up with provisions for Hooker's army, and when
they came into the locks not knowing we were there, we turned the wickets
and let the water out and burned the boats We had been marching four days
withcutany provisions at all. so we took v/hat v/e could in ouj haversacks, bt -
fore burning the boats. We tooK the mules, 24 in number, on with us. We
h H'iped the woman and children from the boats and took their furniture out. as
we didn't want to destroy private property. It was hard to do then, with them
all crying like they did, but such is war.

in a short distance from where we crossed the river, we came oh a garri-
son of yankees at a place called West Minster and captured them. all. without
the loss of a man We so completely surprised them that they surrendered
without resistance. We went on to Hanover to capture a garrison there, but
they learned of our coming and resisted us with right heavy loss to both sides.
One of our young men, Walter Gilmore, was shot in the shoulder, as he was
riding between Chas. Price and myself, as we were trying to get him to the
rear, he was shot in the left eye, but we finally got to a house and askfd the
lady of the house to take care of him, while we Went rjn and took the garrison.
I never knew anything more of young Gilmore until the summer of 1911, i met
him at New Port News at a reunion. He told me he was sent to a hospital in
Baltimore by the Yankees and received the kindest of treatment and the best
of medical aid and soon recovered.

We took our West Minster and Hanover prisoners on with us and our next
stop was at Carlisle, Penn All the provisions we had on. this march, except
what some of us got from the boats, was what vve could beg from the citizens.
Some of us nearly starved. Here we destroyed some of the public buildings
in which food for the Yankees was stored. We threw hot shot a mile or so
and wherever these hot bails would strike, they would set fire. Some of our
men who were marching ahead of our Co. had set fire to Thad Stevens' Iron
Works in Penn. and as we passed and sav/ it burning I told the boys that was
a bad move, that the Yankies would soon retaliate and do us more damage than
we could do them, as so much of the fighting was don'3 on southern ground.

We did this shellmg with hot shot at night and continued marching all
night. We still marched all the next day stopping occasionally for a little
while to let our horses graze

About no(in we heard cannonading about Gettysburg. Gen. Lee had ar-
rived Friday July 1st, with his whole army except Jrickett's division, which was
coming from Chambersburg and Hamptons and Stewarts divisions of cavalry
with which I made the trip. Lee had engaged the enemy Saturday and drove
them back, but could not make a general charge, as these three divisions
hadn't arrived. Had these divisions been full numbered there would have been
about 48,000 men. But of course a great many of different companies had
been killed or disabled. P'or instance Co. C. the one to which I belonged, only
had 64 men hearing arms when we left Va. a Co. was supposed to have 100 men,
of course, and the.y were recruited at differant times, bat I remember ^» e only
had 64 then and other companies may have been cut down, also, so it would be
hard to determme just how many men were m these three divisions. However
theae were so many that Lee waited until they arrived to bring on the general
charge. We arrived Saturday evening July 2. As we had been marching so


much and had so little rest sinca June 20, we all laid d )wn in a stubble field
and were soon fast asleep. I tied my horse's halter strap to my gun sling and
just left saddle and all on. and when I awoke the next morning. I was about
30 yds farther down in tha fisld than where I went to sleep. She had just
dragged me on as she ate, but I was too dead asleep to know it. Before we got
to sleep the enemy was firing a cannon every little while and every thing
would be as visable as in day time But it was a dark night and illuminations
made it seem darker, of course, after disappearing, the shells would some time
burst over us, but didn't do us any harm.

Some of the boys heard the cannon all night at intervals, but I was too ex'
hausted to hear a great deal.

At daylight the bugle sounded and we mounted our horses and went out
to join the line of battle before having any breakfast. As our wagon train
wasn't with us, we hadn't had any rations issued since the 20th of June and all
we had was what citizens gave us. There Vv-ere too many of us, for any one
man to get much, so we thought of breaKfast the first thing, when we a-

We Were halted before reaching the line of battle, by Major Mason, one
of Gen. Lee's staff officers, and he called for one Capt. two Serg's two Corpo-
rals and 30 private soldiers.

I was one of the private soldiers called out and Capt. J as. Breckinridge
was the commissiontd officer called out. Major Mason took us then three or
four miles out in the direction of Harrisburg, Penn. Major Mason then told
('apt. Breckinridge to send a reliable soldier to an elevated point near by that
overlooked the Harrisburg road for about a mile.

Capt. Breckinridge told me to go and gave me paper and pencil to keep an
account of the enemy's regimental flags, and peices of artillery that passed the
road. There were lookouts stationed on my right and left to guard me as I
was lying flat and watching the enemy's movement, so could not watch ray-

I began my watching about 9 o'clock and was to leave my post at noon.
It was a sweltering day, a real type of July and you may imagine how sleepy
I got lying flat in that clover field and the rays of the sun just pouring on me.
You see, I'd only had one night's sleep since June 20, and had been marching
day and night and this was July 3 My same old watch that I'd carried when
I waded the Rappahannock, was still keeping good time and you may know I
was glad when it indicated 12 o'clock.

When I went back co the Capt, and gave him the account of what I'd seen
he sent it by a courier right on to Gen. Lee. I remember I counted 100 regi-
mental flags and 70 peices of artillery. Lee had men put on all the roads like
this, so he'd have a knowledge of the size of the army he'd have to fight.

When I got back to the Capt. and gave him the paper, I was as v/et with
perspiration, as if I'd been dipped in the creek. I was so exhausted from hun-
ger and general fatigue that I soon fell asleep and slept for an hour or so, the
cannons firing all the time. At one when the general charge was made, I
awoke though.


Soon we saw a skirmish line coming and they began firing on us, but we
showed a bold front and they not knowing how many there were of us, as there
were some buildings near and we were scattered around and they soon stopped
firing on us. Looking south, we could see the smoke from the artillery and
musketry, boiling up hke a volcano. This elevated position gave us a fine view
of the surrounding country. The roar of artillery was like a continuous peal of
thunder. Our regiment was about a mile from where I was with the few men
who had been sent out with me and in fact our skirmish extended on to us.
but the main part of our regiment was he-.iviiy engaged, but were driven back
by Kilpatrick's regiment. They were fighting, without having had any food
all day and the day before and the horses the same, only what they ate dragg-

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Online LibraryRufus H. PeckReminiscences of a Confederate soldier of Co. C, 2nd Va. Cavalry → online text (page 4 of 10)