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NP: July 18, 1864 Detroit Free Press: From the Michigan Cavalry Brigade

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of articles from the Detroit Free Press.  His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.


In the Field, July 8

We have just completed one of the heaviest cavalry expeditions which are on record. For the first time since we crossed the river have we had our tents pitched, and a dirtier lot of fellows you never saw. The dust on the road anywhere is from six to ten inches deep, and I have many times seen it so thick upon the faces of the men that it was impossible to tell the white from the black. None of you at home have any idea of cavalry service. That which we had last year, excepting perhaps the Kilpatrick raid, was only a play day to that which we have just gone through. The 1st Michigan Cavalry alone have lost 14 of its best officers out of 21, and the 1st Vermont has lost 22 out of about 30 amongst the number. Col. Preston, of whom Custer is said to have remarked when he passed his body as it was carried to the rear, “There lies the best regimental cavalry commander that I ever knew.”

The 7th Cavalry has not suffered so severely as the rest, our loss being only 4 officers and about 100 men. You must not think that the regiment by this comparatively small loss has been spared any share of the fight. The men have done well, never have men done better.

There are now about 300 men in the regiment, and everything is in good working order. The men fight better this summer than they ever have before. We have never been worsted but once. Colonel Town is very ill, I am sorry to say. The day before yesterday he was not expected to live. He gave his saddle and eagles to Colonel Stagg yesterday, and declared his intention to leave the service at all events. We shall miss him in this brigade very much. Lt. Col. Stagg will very well fill his place. His is much liked by the command, and is in high favor at headquarters.

Mrs. Custer has honored our brigade with her presence, and is now resting in our midst with feelings of perfect security. She and her gallant husband are occupying a large wall tent on a splendid elevation of ground from which they can not only see the entire camp, but have a fine view of the James River. We are 12 miles in the rear of the army on the river, and the sound of those old 32 pounders are always in our ears.

I suppose the people at home begin to get anxious at the delay again; but do not get excited; you will have to restrain yourselves yet for several days. Petersburg and Richmond will be taken. This army must accomplish its purpose this time, should it take a year. Should we try to get away, we could not without a destruction of property never known before. Hence it is fight or die, and the Army of the Potomac is going to take Richmond or pass into oblivion. People may talk about McClellan, but had he been supported as Grant now is we would not now be lying in ten inches of the finest kind of dust.



  1. “From the Michigan Cavalry Brigade,” Detroit Free Press, July 18, 1864, p. 1 col. 5
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