|Unit History Project|
"By mid June 1864 my great grandfather George W.E. Row had already lived through a momentous year. He had been courtmartialed in March for being absent without leave from Company I Sixth Virginia Cavalry and reduced in rank from First Sergeant to Private. During the battle of the Wilderness he fought with his regiment virtually on the front door step of his family home, Greenfield plantation. Greenfield was at that time deserted, as his mother and sister had fled to Hadensville in Goochland County to put distance between themselves and the Union army. George had also taken a watch and pen knife from an adjutant of General George Custer, which he gave to his neighbor Maria Dobyns.
"Another item captured by George that month was this little black memorandum book, which up to then had belonged to a trooper of the 5th New York Cavalry. In the years that followed George used this book to scribble notes in and these have some interest in their own right. But today I want to focus on what was written by that unknown Northern cavalryman. Here I want to acknowledge the work of Deborah Humphries, who annotated and transcribed much of the contents of this book and who in large part deserves the lion's share of credit for today's post.
"The entries begin on January 1, 1864. These early writings consist of poems, homilies, hymns and what not that this soldier wrote to fill up his empty hours in winter camp and perhaps to boost his morale as well. Beginning on March 3 he begins to write of the activities of his regiment as the Union army begins its crossing of the Rapidan River into the Wilderness of Spotsylvania. I will present the diary entries for each day or two days, followed by the transcription."
May 3. Left Stevensburgh 11 1/2 o'clock P.M. Arrived at Ely's Ford Germanna Ford about Sunrise. Made Parker's Store 3 p.m. No enemy seen. Camped for the night. Pickets attacked in the night. [?] for Col. Hammond.
May 5. Remained in camp all day. Heavy Fighting all day but little Artillery firing. Our loss very heavy in killed and wounded. Captured a large number of prisoners.
May 15. [First line erased] ...church on picket at night. The enemy's picket about 30 rods from mine.
May 22. Left Bethel Church for Oxford Crossing in advance of the 6th Corps. Found the enemy in force. Had four men wounded. Co. H two men wounded. B.F. Washburn was shot through the chest. Surgeon reports he cannot live.
May 23. Left Oxford Crossing for Noel's Station on Gordonsville Railroad. Found enemy in force at Anderson's Ford on Little River. Threw some shells but no one hurt. Met Charles Ferguson in 44th New York Vol Infantry.
May 25. At Anderson's Crossing Little River. Saw Gen. Wright, Barkley, Newl and Griffin. No fighting of consequence. Showers in the evening. Gordonsville Railroad track torn up five or six miles.
June 1. Left Hanover C.H. for Ashland Station. Drove the enemy before us as we supposed but when we got there found them in our rear. They tried to take the town but were repulsed with heavy loss. Maj. White mortally wounded. Col. Hammond slightly. Our loss very great. Made our way down Railroad. The enemy charging our rear repeatedly.
June 2. Left camp near Hanover C.H. 5 o'clock P.M. Marched until 2 a.m. Lost my horse by colic. Camp tonight 5 miles from Mechanicsville.
June 6. Left Hawes Shop also known as Salem Church and came to Old Church Hotel. Regt. went on picket. Weather very hot.
June 8. Came to enemy on farm owned by Mr. Ruffin, the man who fired the first gun from Fort Moultrie on Sumter. Very heavy firing in the direction of Richmond all the afternoon and evening.
June 10. Rebels charged on the 18th Penn and drove them in on to 1st Conn. Capt killed of 1st Conn. Two rebs killed.
June 12. Rgt. went out on picket, relieved the 18th Penn. Received orders to withdraw to Allen's Mill about dark. [?] left about daylight.
June 14. Resumed our march at 6 o'clock a.m. to Charles City Court House about 4 miles. Drew 1/2 day's rations and returned to church and went into camp.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History