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From The 5th Mich. Cavalry

From The 5th Mich. Cavalry image
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Co. K, FlFTH JIlCIlTOAX CaVAI.KY, i Faikfax Court Hoübb, Vit., January, 1803.) FitiKND Pond : - Having promised to koop you posted as to tbc movoments of our regiment, I now, aftcr the arduous duties of tho Jay, will try and redcora my promÍ3e. About two woeks ago the regiment was startled, but agreeably so, by a coinmand to prepare to move to the "front." All was hurry, aud I must say confusión ; cvery thiug pertainiog to the fiill equipmen-t of a " MountedRifleman " was distributed, and orders given for four days cooked rationa (so I had to fly around to get our company's " grub " ready). Tho saddles had to be packed, and tho men all ready the next morning. We were all up to time, when, after considerable time being spent in wiïlitary movements, the quostion being frequently nsked by the men, " Vil here are we going to ?" the company at 3 o'clock, P. M., were ordered to move, and move we did, but not to the front, but down town to the Government blacksmith shop, whero our horses were all shod, nearly 100, in the short time of ono hour and a half. It ia a great establishment, cmploying 176 men, their pay being $45 per month and board. The foreman told me that they could shoe 1500 horses a day. After thcy were all shod we were marched back to camp fully expoeting to move the next morning. But uo, the gloomy faces of the men soon told the "order" wascountormandcd, though we were strietly enjoiued to have our saddles packed and be ready at any time. Well, day after day passed, and nothing happened to break the monotony of camp life until last week, when we were ordered to clean up and bo ready for inspeetion by Major General Casey. The eventful morning came that fully found us in Copeland's brigade, Casey's división, with the Sixth Michigan Cavalry. - They came over to our parade grounds early in the morning and formed in line to the front, we on their rear in open order. It was a splondid sight to the uniuitiated, to behold near 2,000 mounted men formed in battle array, with glitter - ing sabres, each company's guidon floating gaudily in the breeze. Tho scabbads ringing against the spurs made mnsie that tho horses seemed proud of, by the way they pranced avound. As I cast my eye down the long ranks, I wondered to ms3lf how many of the "poor fellows, now striving to outdo his comrade in making a good appearance, would ever see home again and the dear ones they have left. In i time the bugle proclaimed that the " Old Hero " had come, tho band commeneed playiug, and the General (an old man, by reputation a good soldier though not very graccful in the saddle) with his staff rode along the front and rear of the Sixth, and the same with us, then took his position and the brigade passed in review by him, and tho afiair was finished. I heard ho pronouueed liimself well satisfied with our regiment. We worc thon paraded down and around the city of Washington, and returncd to camp at dusk, well pleased with ourselves and our officers. Since then till Suuday all wasquiot, when Company K was ordered to be ready to start at 7 A JI., Monday, as body guard tbr General Casey. Evcry ono was astir, joy beamed in each man's countenance, and the inquines as to where we wcregoing? were answered by an order from headquarters to take one day's rationa (cooked) and report to General Stouton at Fairfax Court House, and that General Casey would meetus there, and then we were going on a tour of inspection of the several regimeuts of bis división, reaching to the front at Frederieksburg. It is needless to say the boys were rcady. Many of thcra wcro so elated they did not go to bod at all, and as the restrietion of " liglits out" was done away with that night, sorae might be seca paeking up, soino writing to dear ones st home, caeh busy abo ut somothing neecssary for the start. At a quarter to sevon, A. M., the men were all mounted and equipped. It may bo iuteresting to your readers to know what are the equipmonts of a " Mounted Rifleman " and his horse. - First, thcro is tho saddlo (a MoClcllan) with saddlo bags attached, in whieh are carried curry combs, brush, and circingle and any little tliings tho trooper may want to carry on tho back acd front are strappod on. O ur blankets neat; ly folded in your rubber " Taima;" on I the sido, fiistened to rings, is the salfre, ' larictt rppe, and pieket pin, watering bridle and foed bag. A blanket is put on tbc horso nnder tlio saddlc, and with tho curb bridlc and halter finish the horso equipmeuts. The Taan bas around lus waist a largo belt, on which aro his pisto! and holster, box with 42 rounds of rifle cartridge, ditto with 2 of pistol and cap box, while across his shoulder is bung his baversaek, containing his ra tions, consisting of a chunk of boiled salt pork, thrown in with sorao hard tack, a tough kind of square crackers, that need as tough jaws to masticato. Bcsides this there are (for them that aro lueky enougli to have them) a knifc. fork, spoon and cup; across the other shoulder ia the over ïiecdcd canteen, and at the back is slung tbs rifle, th.) wholo making quite a load to carry, but I think much preferablo to the knapsaek (Lincoln hump as our boj's cali thora) of infantry. You could uot get one of them to be transferrcd, they liko this arm of the service so much bcttor. But, sir, I am running off from what I promised. Well, I said the men weru ready. At 7 A. M. we started for the Long Bridge, which wo crossed, tho morning very foggy. On arriviog at the Virginia side v?e woro halted, drawn up in line, and the order to load given, Captain Clakk telling us tbat we wore not in the safest place in the world and to be on the alert. Loading being fiuished we resumed our march. The suh at last penetrates the fog, and the day becomes beautiful and spring-like. Blue birds chirrup and the Meadow Lark's pleasant note is heard, while all along the road are soen myriads of crows, feasticg on the carcasses of the hapless borses that have died and been thrown off the road. Everything on the way plainly indicates the ravages of war; the houses that were once planter's splendid mansions are now taken possession of by the soldiers and are fast going to ruin. Not a fecce did I see all the way to Fairfax, except around a small graveyard. Ir, the road we pnssed numbers of government wsigons, camps, and et guards; iu fact everything is military; did not meet a dozen civilians the wholu distflnoe. We passed Alexandria to the lfift and halted at noon to feed. Our Captain in real military style, worthy of an old campaigncr, threw out his piekets on an eminenoe ovcrlooking the country, all dismounted and man and beast regaled themselves with the fodder thoy had brouglit with them, and washed it down with draughts of good water from a stream close at hand. The meal bcio"1 o ooncludcd the bugle sounded, the piekets were drawn in, the men mounted, and we proeeeded to Fairfax, arriving at 3 P. BI. the Captain reportcd to Gen. Stouton and was ordered to quarter his horses and men. Our tents are pitched on short notiee, our horses put in sheds, and the next thing is provisions for men and beasts. Boon came the order for me and Sumner to draw requisitious and go to Fairfax Station for provisions and feed for the horses. We swallowed some suppcr, had our horses saddled, looked to our arms aud started, the distance being four miles, on a military road, through the pino woods. It was a dreary ride, mueh more so to mon that were not used to the country. Thero were but ."] or i houses the whole distance. Moro than once did I foei for my revolver as I thought I saw the glimpse of some one in the darkness; but on closer examination it proved to be nothing but stumps of trees, we finishcd our mission in safety, and returnod to camp at 10 P. M. We did not see a man except the picket who brought us to a stand by " halt ! " when our business being made known we were allowed to proceed. We slept that night on a bed of piue boughs strewn on the ground in our tents and I must say I nevcr slept sounder at home. The weather up to this time was very pleasant, but in the night it commonced snowing, and on getting up in the morning it was 4 inches deep. Itcontinued all day, and at night was 15 inches decp. This was Tucsday, Junuary 27th. In the cvening 24 prisoners were brought in who, on examination, proved to be 9 of our paroled men, somo desertors, Parson Longstreet, Chaplain of the lat Virginia Cavalry, a fine looking fellow, more of a Captain I lliinh than a Minister, a Lieut. and Sergeant Major of the same Regiment, and somo privates. Their property was soon eonfiseatod by the men, and the prisoners next morning were sent to Washington. Thero aro threo or four secesh brouerht in daily ; thcre are sevcral in the jail hore now. Owing to the inolomency of the woather, we took posessinn of the Episoopal Church, (which was partly deraolished by othere), and toro up tho floor and have got our horses stabled. It m;ikcs good quarters for them. Thi.s is a rogular seocsh hilo. The I houses that niight once havo beon resj..:; t;ible dwcllins aro all torn to pieces ind soldiors quartered in (hcui. The ebels aro said to bo near to us in sovcral lircctions, and picketa the night boforc ast brought in tho news that Stuart utcnded to pny us a visit, but be did not come. I guess ho tbought botter. "We vero all prepared. I foei in 110 danger f surpriso witli sucli cool hended officors as vo havü. You know Capt. CtABK woll cnougli, so it is necdlcss to spoak of lim. The boys all put groat confklence n him. Our firs.t Lieut. W". O. Woktij, of Pontinc, is a young man of cxpcricnce, )cing onc oí tho old Mjcb. lst Cavalry ; we all like him and all look up to him for military instruetion. Licut. White, of our University, well known to the leoplo of Ann Arbor, has verm the conidenco and good will of the men, and ,hcv are not afraid to trust him, Our other offieers are all on good torms with ,he men. As to mysolf I should not ike to be transferred to any othor com5any. Our men are kept continually on the o. Gen. Stoutox sonds for the men to go with every one that comes along. - We have had a s.juad of 12 with the Paymaster all over to the several regiments in this part of the country. So instead of being Body Guard to General Oasey, we are couriers and escorts for every General in the división. Last ni"ht the place was fired in 3 or 4 places, but discovered soon enough to do no damage. #The General's hcadquarters was one of them. It is supposed they were sot on firo by secesh. - The orders are to shoot any one out doors after " taps " that bas not the password, or will not halt promptly. I have to do my writing in a negro slave hut, as the weather is vcry cold, and tbere we can have a good fire. Wo send to Washington for our mail and the boys look for the " Aiious " every week. They come regularly and we are very thankful for them. Homer Moore and Foley, with some others, sick, were left in the city. They are getting well fast. Foley has bis discharge papers and is going home. Joiin Sinclair and all the rest of the Ann Arbor boys are well. The Paymasler bas paid the regiment up to the lst of November, but our company being out here did not get ours, and think we shall have to wait until next pay day, rathcr lough, but can't bo helped. We need it much. - The boys could get many little luxuries if they had he money. I have written more than I expcet:d to, so will close this poor_ letter with respects to all my old friends in Ann Arbor. Yours, CoMMISSARY.