Records Related to Augusta County Regiments

From: JAS. W. FORSYTH, Chief of Staff.
February 16, 1865.

James Forsyth reports to Union General Phil Sheridan on February, 1865, conditions in the Shenandoah Valley. He discusses movement of Confederate troops in the Staunton area, and the overall sentiment in favor of peace in the Valley.

Cmdg. Middle Military Division, Eutaw House, Baltimore, Md.:

February 16, 1865.

Deserters to the number of ten, most of them belonging to the First Virginia Cavalry, came in last night. They report that the Second and Third Virginia Cavalry left some time last week for Richmond, and that the First and Fourth Virginia Cavalry had orders to march for Richmond on last Saturday. The above-named regiments composed Wickham's old brigade. Payne's brigade was stationed at Swoope's Depot, seven miles west of Staunton, and had also received marching orders for Richmond. These troops marched to their destination; did not go by railroad, Wickham's old brigade assembled at or near Orange Court-House before marching. The horses of the rebel cavalry reported in a wretched condition. Imboden's cavalry are in Hardy County. One of these deserters, George P. Burtner, First Virginia Cavalry, is from Keezletown. He is a miller; has been in the service some time, but never served with his regiment. He has during the winter (his regiment being disbanded) been grinding wheat for Wharton's division. The last issue made was about one month ago, and it took nine barrels of flour to make a ration, would make the division 2,205 strong. The men questioned by me, George P. Burtner and Peter Bonds, are smart, intelligent men, and I am convinced told the truth. Peter Bonds has been forage master for Gen. Fitz Lee since the breaking out of the war. He says that the people and soldiers think that Virginia will be evacuated, and the soldiers belonging to the cavalry are very much disgusted at being ordered back to Richmond; and he says he knows that a great number of them will not go, but will either come North or go into the mountains and swamps. The artillery that was at Fishersville and Staunton has been sent off, and the hospital at Harrisonburg was ordered to be broken up. This order, however, was countermanded. Both these men say that they think Wharton's division has also gone to Richmond. As stated above the last issue of flour made to this division was one month ago. The rebels in the Valley were very hopeful when the Peace Commissioners started North from Richmond, and they reported that they would have peace at once, and so on up to thirty days; bon-fires were burning and salutes fired in this fond expectation. These peace rumors and reports were telegraphed by signal to Millwood and other points in the Valley. I have been thus particular in the foregoing because these men are the most intelligent, truthful, and reliable men that I have seen. All quiet here. Snow melting very fast. Fitz Lee's and Early's headquarters were at Staunton; Rosser's was at Swoope's Depot.

Chief of Staff.

Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 46, Serial No. 96, Pages 572-573, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.

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