ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.
At this time word was received of the destruction of the regimental trains by Moseby’s guerillas near Berryville, Virginia, while under escort of recruits. This occasioned much embarrassment to officers of the regiment for many years after the war. As company papers and various returns had not been made out for some time and all but three officers were absent from duty with the regiment, it was difficult to comply with the regulations about property and accounts.
On August 12 Merritt resumed the march up the valley and came upon the enemy rear guard at Middletown as it crossed Cedar Creek. The cavalry was soon relieved by the infantry and took no further part in the skirmish. The next day the Reserve Brigade went on a reconnaissance up the valley to Strasburg, where the enemy was found on Fisher’s Hill. When Sheridan heard of reenforcements reaching Early, he decided to retreat up the valley to Winchester. During the movement, the First Cavalry Division acted as rear guard. On August 16, the Confederates attacked this force severely at Cedarville with two brigades of cavalry and one division of infantry. In this engagement the First and Second Brigades held the enemy at bay with their repeating carbines until dark when they withdrew, while the Reserve Brigade was kept in reserve.
In compliance with orders from General Sheridan, the First Cavalry Division began the devastation of the Shenandoah Valley on August 17, between Cedar Creek and Berryville. All livestock was seized and grain and hay destroyed, but houses were spared. General Merritt kept a list of the property destroyed at this time and later in the fall, and it was estimated to be $3,304,672 in value. To offset further the activities of Moseby’s guerillas, the Second Cavalry was ordered, on the 19th, to seize all male civilians of age in the vicinity of Berryville. On the 21st the enemy drove in the pickets of the Third Cavalry Division. In this same attack the First Cavalry Division was attacked while slowly falling back to Charlestown, West Virginia.