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The 1st Connecticut Cavalry Volunteers at Edinburg

The beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the spring of 1862 gave witness to many accounts of cavalrymen, some wearing the gray and others clad in blue, fighting and dying in their own country during the Civil War. One particular body of horsemen came from a small New England state and they made up the I" Battalion, Connecticut Cavalry Volunteers. Just over 300 men in all, these troopers served in the field under the overall command of Union Major General John C. Fremont in 1862.

The very wet and miserable week of June 7, 1862, found the Connecticut Cavalry in the lead as the extreme advance of a Yankee force chasing Confederate General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson and his army. The Confederates. With their wagon trains loaded with plunder from the Federal supply depot at Winchester, VA, were rapidly retreating up the Valley after a brilliant military strike and victory there a few days before. Union cavalry were on their trail and trying to close the gap.

As the rebels hurried up the Valley Pike through Strasburg, heading south to Harrisonburg, their orders were to burn or destroy various bridges that spanned the North Fork of the Shenandoah River or any of its smaller tributaries to deny passage to the closing cavalrymen in blue. On the rainy morning of June 3, 1862, the Union advance cavalry with Company 'C', I" Connecticut, in the lead, pushed south on the turnpike and approached the tiny hamlet of Edinburg, Va. Reining up their horses, the wet and tired Connecticut troopers came upon the handiwork of the Confederate cavalry rearguard.

What twenty-eight year old Captain William S. Fish and the rest of 'C' company saw when they got to the Stony Creek bridge at Edinburg, were only the stone bridge supports protruding out of the turbulent waters. The span had been completely burned away days before. The river was swollen with the heavy rains of the past week but the northern cavalry had to ford the river. Deserted, except for a handful of residents, the village of Edinburg had no one who knew or at least they pretended not to know, where a safer passage existed to cross.

Captain Fish was a determined individual and searching the village, he finally found a man who was familiar with the area, having lived there for some time. The cavalry officer had one of his own men dismount, placed the civilian atop the man's horse and ordered the resident, under the threat of death, to show Fish the best ford he knew. Upon arriving at the safe point', the mounted civilian entered the waters first, followed closely by Captain Fish with pistol drawn. The ford was deep but they made it to the other side. The rest of the company followed and took up the chase once again for the rebels. Fish had one trooper stay behind in Edinburg to direct the main Union column when it came up.

Note: the above composition or account of the Connecticut Cavalry at Edinburg was written by me and is based upon primary information that I have researched and acquired for my own goal of writing the unit's military history. I reserve all tights and permissions to its use.

I also give permission to Mr. Hal Sharpe, 110 Palmyra Rd, Edinburg, Virginia, to use it or any portion of it for his website on "The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley.

Robert B. Angelovich Gettysburg, PA.

return to the Civil War in Shenandoah County