1864, widely separated Union elements were assembling as General
David Hunter continued to move south through the Shenandoah Valley
in the direction of Lynchburg as a part of General Ulysses Grant’s
combined offensive against the Confederate forces in Virginia. Due
to the lack of communications between the dispersed forces in the
new state of West Virginia and Hunter’s army in the Shenandoah
Valley, scouts were used as couriers. In this letter to his
father, Arch describes some of the difficulties experienced by two
of his friends from Company K, 1st West Virginia Cavalry, Ike and
scouts had nicknames and Arch was called “Barefoot,” Ike
was “Spike,” and J.R. Harris was known as “Lasses.” Neither
of the Harris brothers survived the war.
June 17, 1864.
Lewisburg, [West] Va. – Camp near
J.R. Harris captured.
near Lewisburg [West] Va.
My Dear Father
of the 15th inst., was received on Saturday last at this place. I
was very glad to hear from you. I also received one from Mother
and two from Ace. He did not mention the names of my old cronies
killed in the Battle of the Wilderness. I wrote to you immediately
on my arrival at this place. We were here eight days before
our mail came to us and received a month’s mail at one time. I
believe we will leave here in the morning. Gen’l Crooks
with his Infantry force started to-day. I believe he will try
and join Gen’l Hunter. Two of his scouts came through from
Strasburg in the Valley to-day. Ike Harris of Co. K being one
of them. J.R. Harris, his brother and a sergeant in Co. K, was
captured by the Rebels with the captain of Gen’l H.’s scouts. Ike
and Pardner had a rough time of it coming through being ordered to
surrender twice, each time had to leave their horses and take to the
woods. On Friday last I was detached as a scout to Gen’l
Averill one more of Co. K. was also detached there were six out of
the regiment. I returned from my first trip last night being
out two days . Had a good view of Reb pickets at Jenkins ford
on the Greenbrier River. My duty is a dangerous one I know, but
a soldier’s life is always in danger. Capt. McCoy of the
Regiment returned to-day says Capt. Rowand is in Charleston will be
with command in a few days. I wrote Mother to-day will also write
Ace. Love to all.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies Reports