Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Dearest Wife

Today at Brandy Station, May 6, 1863

From Gordonsville, Philip Powers wrote a letter to his wife. Powers spends most of the letter describing General George Stoneman's raid through central Virgina and how the Rebels responded. It said, in part.

"I think it exceedingly doubtful of this ever reaching you, but I must write a line to let you know where and how I am. …I was just contemplating a trip to Warren [County]with a view of getting to Clarke [County] when the Enemy crossed the Rappahannock and drove us from Culpeper. I need not give you any details of the late military operation further than to say that the Enemy's Cavalry have gotten between this point and Richmond cut the R.Road at Louisa [illeg.] and other points below, penetrated to James River, and are running wild over this country plundering and robbing -- unfortunately we have but one brigade of Cavalry, a few infantry, and two Batteries here, Genl. Stuart being somewhere below towards Fredericksburg.[Stuart is of course leading Stonewall Jackson's Corps at Chancellorsville after Jackson and then his senior Division Commander A.P. Hill were wounded] And the force is by no means sufficient to oppose the Enemy, as they have some 14000 Cavalry. However Gen. Lee has gained a glorious victory at Fredericksburg, driven the Enemy across the Rappahannock, and Their Cavalry must leave at once if they can.

I am hoping my dear wife from day to day that the tide of war may bring me nearer to you, and enable me to see you once more, but now that I am regularly enlisted in the Army again I have no freedom of action, and must bear and endure with what patience and fortitude I can command. And have to beg of you my love to comfort me, by exhibiting also that degree of Christian resignation which I know will be vouchsafed to you -"

Stoneman and his forces were no where near 14,000; but, did cause damage and consternation in the region, but nothing that could not be repaired. Stoneman would become a scapegoat for the failed campaign and while on medical leave (he suffered from severe hemorrhoids -not good as he was in the cavalry) he would be replaced by General Alfred Pleasonton.

Philip Powers, who served with Stuart on the frontier before the war, would hold the rank of Sargent Major early in the war, and be offered (but refused) a commission as a Major and Quartermaster on Stuart's staff. He enlisted again in Company G, 1st Virginia Cavalry in late April 1863. He served throughout the war and surrendered at Appomattox. He postwar life included time as a member of the Virginia Legislature.

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