On May 11, 1864, the brilliant Confederate cavalry leader J.E.B. Stuart clashed against forces led by Union General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in Virginia. Cavalry fought against cavalry as Lee’s and Grant’s armies raced for Richmond. Custer fought with distinction. Stuart was wounded, and he died the next day.
“‘I can scarcely think of him without weeping,’ said Lee, who recognized Stuart for what he was — a consummate cavalier, forever seeking glory on horseback.”
Smithsonian Civil War, Inside the National Collection (2013), p. 204.
Below the mass of fast-decaying corpses, the convulsive twitching of limbs and the writhing of bodies showed that there were wounded men still alive and struggling to extricate themselves from the horrid entombment. Every relief possible was afforded, but in too many cases it came too late.”
1.) Smithsonian Civil War, Inside the National Collection (2013), p. 204.
Horace Porter, Campaigning with Grant (1897), pp. 110-111.
May 15, 1864. Pvt. Darius Priest, of the Vermont Second, was wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness, which was fought May 5-7, 1864, in central Virginia. Both sides suffered heavy casualties in that first battle of Grant’s 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign. On May 15 from Fredericksburg he wrote his wife in Mount Holly, Vermont: “I am alive but all the boys that you know are either dead or wounded. Some of the wounded are very bad . . . don’t fear for I will live a long time yet. Will and Steph are very bad off but they will get well.”
Two days later, he wrote again from a hospital in Washington, D.C.: “I arrived here at three o’clock this morning. I left Allen, Will and Stephen at Fredericksburg. I can’t tell when they will get away from thare . . . Fifty of our company have been shot since the fifth of May so there is but ten left in the company now . . . I have shot eight of the devils and killed one with my bayonet. Some of our boys have knocked out their brains with the butts of their guns. I believe we have lost all human feeling whatever, for to step on a dead man or to kneel in pools of blood and lean over the dead bodyes of our own men will get used to it after while . . . I may possibly come to Vermont soon and I may not for six months. I shall not go to the front again at any rate.”
The Battered Stars, One State’s Civil War Ordeal During Grant’s Overland Campaign, Howard Coffin. Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press, 2002. pp. 201, 205-206.