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NP: January 3, 1894 Raleigh News Observer Chronicle: Battle of Chamberlain Run, March 31, 1865

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Christine Spencer, September 2008. I came across this article originally at the excellent North Carolina in the Civil War web site, run by Diane Siniard.  Diane was kind enough to grant me permission to use this transcription here at the Siege of Petersburg Online.  This transcription is copyrighted by Diane and may not be reused without her express written consent.  Diane has a Siege of Petersburg page at her site as well.  The article can be found at this direct link: http://nccivilwar.lostsoulsgenealogy.com/ownwords/battlechamberlainrun.htm

[In Their Own Words

Battle of Chamberlain Run

March 31, 1865

1st N.C. Cavalry

General W.H. Cheek]

A Graphic Letter of the War

We copy from the Henderson Gold Leaf, the following as showing at once the death rate of the war and on what slender threads the story of state history hangs.  Eighty men killed and wounded in a single skeleton regiment in a small cavalry fight.  And told only in a stray family letter.

Among the eighty were, besides Major McLeod, a dozen or more from Mecklenburg.  Who can give their names?  And who can tell the full story of the bloody fight at Chamberlain Run on March 31, 1865?

A few days ago, in looking over a lot of old papers and letters for the purpose of getting some Confederate stamps for a friend, General W.H. Cheek1 found among others one which we asked permission to publish.  It was a letter written to his wife immediately after the battle of Chamberlain Run, about one mile west of Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, in which engagement the First North Carolina Cavalry acquitted themselves with such conspicuous gallantry.  The Battle of Five Forks at the head of the run, was fought the next day by Pickett’s Division.

John and Als, mentioned in the letter, were our townsmen John T. Jones, brother of Mrs. Cheek, and Als. Cheek, now living in Kentucky, brother of the writer.  The letter is brief and characteristic of many written home from the field of action in those trying times, but it contains much.  It is well to occasionally refresh our memories and call to mind the heroic deeds of the gallant North Carolina soldiers by bringing to light such letters as these:

1st N.C. Cavalry
April 1, 1865

My Dear Alice:

We had a terrible fight yesterday.  I lost eighty men in my regiment.  Colonel Cowles was severely wounded, Major McLeod slightly, Captain Dewey killed, Captain Coleman killed.  Thirteen other officers were wounded, several of whom will die.  John and Als were not hurt.  Nearly all the brim of my hat was shot off.  My horse (the one I lately bought) was shot twice and killed.

My regiment fought more gallantly than I ever knew it before.  We waded a creek waist deep, 75 yards wide, under heavy fire and drove the enemy from an entrenched position.  Will give you full particulars when I have more time.

General Lee complimented us in the highest terms.  The 13th Virginia was on my left and after the fight gave me three of the most enthusiastic cheers.  Boots and saddles sounded.

Goodbye, darling.  Send word to ma that Als and I escaped unhurt.

Your devoted Husband2

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: William H. Cheek appears to have been in command of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry on March 31, 1865.  Further research is needed.
  2. “In Their Own Words. Battle of Chamberlain Run.” Raleigh (NC) News Observer Chronicle. January 3, 1894, p. ? col. ?
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