The Schroeder Books
CAVALRYMAN IN WAR AND LOVE:
War Letters of Brevet Major General William Wells and Anna Richardson
By Elliott W.
Published by SCHROEDER
PUBLICATIONS 2007. Hardcover with
dust jacket, 544 pages, index, more than 55 photos and maps.
William Wells has the distinction of being
one of the few men to rise from the rank of private to brevet major general.
Through Wells’ letters, the reader will become familiar with the inner
workings of one of the most successful cavalry regiments in the Civil
War—capturing 39 cannon, three flags, and 1,000 prisoners in the course of 73
engagements. This new primary
source material is appealing to those with various interests in the Civil War
outside Wells and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.
Wells’ was captured by Confederate Colonel John Mosby on March 17,
1863, near Herndon, Virginia. Wells was a prisoner of war for seven weeks, spending most of
that time at Libby Prison. At
Gettysburg, Wells and General Elon Farnsworth rode side by side into the
ill-fated July 3, 1863, dash into the Confederate right flank, for which Wells
earned the Medal of Honor in that “gallant and futile charge.”
Wells and the regiment also served valiantly in Grant’s 1864 Overland
Campaign and at Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley on October, 19, 1864.
By the last year of the war he was a brigade commander and Major General
George Armstrong Custer’s right hand man.
This book not only gives new insight to Custer through Wells’ eyes, but
other Civil War figures such as Farnsworth, Wilson, Mosby, and Kilpatrick.
first, the letters are written to Wells’ parents and friends until mid-1863
when he commenced writing to “Friend Anna” Richardson. At the time Wells was
25 years old. Anna responded positively.
The reader can see the relationship develop to the point of marriage in
these letters. In one of Wells’
first letters, he relates how he was almost captured for a second time, but was
able to escape only after the loss of his horse and wallet that contained $125.
Anna writes of her memories of the short time they had together.
The letters compel the reader to see what is written next in this budding
relationship and their longing to be together.
a furlough home in January 1865, Wells and Anna became engaged during a sleigh
ride—the only time they were together since the commencement of their
correspondence. In 1865, Wells
commanded a brigade that consisted of the 8th New York, 15th
New York, 3rd Indiana, and 1st Vermont.
In the engagement at Waynesboro, Virginia, on March 2, the brigade
captured 15 battle flags while eliminating Confederate General Jubal Early’s
command. Two days later Anna
received a ring, and on March 8, she scrawled her vows in a letter to Wells. At the Battle of Five Forks, Wells wrote Anna that his
clothes had six holes made by bullets and that he was hit by a spent piece of
shell. On April 3, Wells’ brigade
routes the Confederate Brigade of General Rufus Barringer at Namozine Church.
At Appomattox Station on April 8, Wells’ men were in the thick of the
fight capturing a large number of Confederate soldiers and cannon.
Then, at Appomattox Court House on April 9th, his men were
engaged in some of the last fighting that fateful day when the truce flags are
sent out by Lee’s army.
the Appomattox Campaign, Wells was commissioned a full brigadier general and
took command of the division, and he mustered out of service on January 15,
1866, and married Anna three days later.
|A Vermont Cavalryman in War
and Love: The Civil War Letters of Brevet Major General William Wells and
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