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The Comanches A History of White's Battalion, Virginia Cavalry

The Comanches
A History of White's Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
Title: The Comanches A History of White's Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
Release Date: 2018-09-12
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Transcriber’s Note:

The few minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Pleasesee the transcriber’s note at the end of this textfor details regarding the handling of any textual issues encounteredduring its preparation.

Corrections are indicated using an underlinehighlight. Placing the cursor over the correction will produce theoriginal text in a small popup.

The front cover image has been enhanced with title page information,and, so modified, is placed in the public domain.

Corrections are indicated as hyperlinks, which will navigate thereader to the corresponding entry in the corrections table in thenote at the end of the text.

The front cover image has been enhanced with title page information,and, so modified, is placed in the public domain.

White’s Battalion, Virginia Cavalry,
C. S. A.
Written by FRANK M. MYERS. Late Capt. Co. A, 35th Va. Cav.

Approved by all the Officers of the Battalion.

174 and 176 Baltimore Street.

Entered, according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Exeter, Loudoun Co., Va., Dec. 2, 1870.

Captain F. M. Myers:

Dear Sir,—We, the undersigned, officersof the Thirty-fifth Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, C.S.A.,having examined the MSS. of your history of the same,do most heartily endorse the said history, and must congratulateyou upon the graphic manner in which you haverelated the story of their deeds of daring, their trials andsufferings for the “Lost Cause.”

Most respectfully, your old comrades and companionsin arms,

Late Lieut.-Col. Thirty-fifth Va. Cav.
Late First Lieut. Co. B, White’s Bat.
Late Second Lieut. Co. A, Thirty-fifth Va. Cav.
Late Captain Co. B, White’s Battalion.
Late Second Lieut. Co. B, Thirty-fifth Va. Cav.
Late First Lieut. Co. A, White’s Battalion.
Late Captain Co. C, Thirty-fifth Va. Cav.
Late Capt. and A.Q.M., Thirty-fifth Va. Cav.


To the Members of the Thirty-Fifth Virginia Cavalry:

The following pages have been prepared under many and greatdifficulties, and while they exhibit the history of the command wewere so proud of in the dark days of the war for States Rights andthe old Constitution, they are very far fromfrom presenting a fullhistory of our Battalion.

Almost all the papers relating to the operations of the“Comanches,” whether belonging to the field and staff or to companyofficers, were lost at the surrender of the army, in consequenceof which I have been compelled to draw nearly all that isrecorded from my own memory, assisted materially by Col. White,in the account of the “battle of Brandy Station,” and of the raidsin Fairfax and Loudoun in 1863.

To Mr. John O. Crown I am under obligations for the use of hisMSS., giving an account of the operations in the autumn of 1862,and of the last winter of the war, and to Lieuts. J. R. Crown andE. J. Chiswell for much that is interesting in the history ofCompany B; to the former especially, for a report of his fightwith Cole’s battalion in Maryland, and of his capture by the samecommand in 1863.

The lists of killed and wounded for Company B were preparedby Lieut. Chiswell; for Company C, by Capt. Dowdell; for CompanyE, Lieut. Strickler, and for Company A, by myself.

From Company F, I regret exceedingly that I have not beenable to obtain any information whatever.

As for the manner of the work, while I am free to confess thatthe story is by no means well told, yet, the men of the Battalionwho, by education and talent, were well qualified for the task ofpreparing it, would not, and it has thus fallen to my lot to writethis history; and, such as it is, I submit it to your judgment forapproval or not, as you may decide; but among its faults I claimthat violations of the "historian’s religion"—truth—will not be6laid to its charge; and the thoughts, feelings, and impressions,unbiassed by the warpings of after events, have been presented asfar as possible.

It is a story altogether of the past, and, as soldiers of the “LostCause,” we have nothing to do with the efforts of politicians, Northor South, to galvanize the Confederacy into spasmodic action, andthen cry—

"There’s life in the old land yet."

There is no attempt either to conceal or parade the grief we, asConfederate soldiers, felt at the furling of the “conquered banner.”

“For though conquered, we adore it,
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it.”

But while we do love so dearly the battle-flag of “Dixie,” weregard it only as the emblem of the “storm-cradled nation thatfell,” and as the winding-sheet of its dead and buried glory, overwhose gloomy tomb the brave, true-hearted men of the southlandhave raised a monument of noble deeds, which will defy malice,oppression, and time.

We know that the Southern Confederacy is dead, and all itsmourning lovers ask is permission to bury their dead reverently.

“Hushed is the roll of the Rebel drum,
The sabres are sheathed, and the cannon are dumb,
And fate with pitiless hand has furled,
The flag that once challenged the gaze of the world.”

But the fame of its soldiers deserves to live on the pages of history,and, if I have aided in rescuing from oblivion the story of thegallant deeds performed by the men that followed Col. Elijah V.White through the bloody years of that desolating war, I amsatisfied.


Loudoun County. Va., Nov. 27, 1870.




In commencing the story of the brave deedsperformed during the dark days of the greatcivil war in America by the gallant band knownas "White’s Battalion," it will be proper to givea short sketch of the man who, as chief of the“Comanches,” gave to the Thirty-fifth Battalion,Virginia Cavalry, its existence, and led itthrough so many campaigns, battles and raids, tooccupy a place in the history of the war second tono command of its numbers, and distinguishedunder the special notice of such men as “Stonewall”Jackson, Richard S. Ewell, J. E. B. Stuart,William E. Jones, Thomas L. Rosser and thegallant Butler of South Carolina; besides receivingthe highest encomiums from the greatest cavalrycommander since the days when Murat ledthe squadrons of Napoleon—General Wade Hampton—andof Robert E. Lee, before whose fame themost splendid garlands of glory that wreathe thebrows of the noblest men of earth in all time,pale as does the silver moon-beam before theradiant rays of the noon-day sun.

8Elijah V. White was born near Poolsville, MontgomeryCounty, Maryland, on the 29th of August,1832, and continued at his father’s home until hewas sixteen years of age, when he was sent toLima Seminary, Livingston Co., N. Y., to be educated.Here he remained for two years, at theexpiration of which he attended Granville College,in Licking Co., Ohio, for two more years,when he returned to his home in Maryland.

During the war in Kansas, in 1855 or ’56, hewent to that territory, and joining a company fromMissouri, took an active part in the troublesthat then threatened to overthrow the pillars ofthe old Constitution in the terrible maelstrom ofabolitionism that afterwards swept away theirfoundations.

After the Kansas war closed, young White camehome, and shortly afterwards bought a farm onthe south bank of the Potomac, in Loudoun county,Virginia, where he took up his residence in 1857,and on the 9th of December of the same yearmarried Miss Sarah Elizabeth Gott.

At the first signal of war, given by John Brownat Harper’s Ferry, in October, 1859, White wasa Corporal in the Loudoun Cavalry, a companythen commanded by Capt. Dan. T. Shreve, withwhich he took part in the scenes of excitementthat followed this mad attempt of Northern fanaticismto sweep the twin scourges of fire and bloodover the South. At the breaking out of the war9in 1861, White was still a member of this company;but owing to a change of its officers, which,to a great extent, damaged its efficiency, he leftit and attached himself to the company of Capt.Frank Mason, in Ashby’s Legion, with which heserved until the autumn of that year, being engagedprincipally in scouting, much of which hedid under the orders of Col. Eppa Hunton, who,during the summer, commanded in Loudouncounty. On one of his scouts for Col. Hunton, inMaryland, he captured the first Yankee prisonerof the war in the person of one Costine, of Gen.McCall’s staff. When Gen. Evans took commandin Leesburg, “Lige White,” as he was familiarlyknown, reported to him, and the night before thefight at Bolivar, the General asked “Lige” "ifhe didn’t want some fun," at the same time informinghim that Ashby intended to attack Gearyon the following morning; whereupon “Lige”started at 9 o’clock, reaching Ashby’s camp justas that commander was marching out to make hisdemonstration on Harper’s Ferry. In this brilliantaffair he bore his full share, and when itwas over returned on a furlough, to Loudoun, tomake necessary arrangements for leaving hisfamily in as comfortable circumstances as possible,while he followed the fortunes of the battleflag of Dixie. Early on the morning of the 21stof October, while driving to Leesburg from Mr.Henry Ball’s, in a buggy, with Miss Kate Ball,10he heard the firing of the opening fight at Ball’sBluff, and hastily returning to Mr. Ball’s, hemounted his horse and reported at once to GeneralEvans for duty.

The General, who was somewhat the worse forwhiskey, gruffly asked him what he could do; towhich “Lige” replied that he could scout, couldcarry dispatches, or could go into the ranks andfight. After a few moments of study, Evans exclaimed,“Well, sir, go to the front and fightlike hell and damnation;” and “Lige” rode offand reported to Col. Hunton, who was the actualcommander in this battle.

The Colonel requested White to remain withhim and scout for him during the day; and

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