The 9th Cavalry Regiment was formed in January, 1862, using the 1st Battalion Virginia Cavalry as its nucleus. Its companies were from the counties of Stafford, Caroline, Westmoreland, Lancaster, Essex, Spotsylvania, Lunenburg, King William, King George, and Richmond. Spotsylvania contribute Company E affectionately called the “Mercer Cavalry.”
It fought in the Seven Days’ Battles, the conflicts at Gainesville, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Dumfries, Rapidan Station, Brandy Station, Upperville, Hanover, Gettysburg, Williamsport, Funkstown, Culpeper Court House, Bristoe, Mine Run, The Wilderness, and Todd’s Tavern. Later it skirmished around Richmond and Petersburg, then was active in the Appomattox operations. One of Spotsylvania’s own, Charles Chewning kept a journal. The Journal was transcribe by Richard Armstrong and is reprinted here in its entirety from the collections of the Spotsylvania County Museum. The staff has added additional photos to help the reader. We have also added to the postscript at the end. Enjoy!
THE JOURNAL OF CHARLES R. CHEWNING,
COMPANY E, 9TH VIRGINIA CAVALRY, C.S.A.
SPOTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE MARCH 27, 1862
I begin this journal on this 27 day of March in the Year of our Lord 1862. I have been accepted into the service of our State today by Captain Crutchfield in Fredericksburg. He has placed me with several of my neighbors in the Ninth Cavalry as I have a fine hourse. I am to meet him at Boulevare on the first day of the next month. May God preserve and protect me through the time coming.
Charles R. Chewning circa
BOULEVARE APRIL 2, 1862
This morning we were sworn in as solders in the Ninth Cavalry Company E, a great day for all of us. Our spirits are high and we all look grand in our new gray uniforms. I was given a fine gray wool coat and pants with two white cotton shirts. I am glad Captain Crutchfield told me to bring Pa’s old rifle seein’ as there are none of those fine muskets we have heard about for us.
The area around
served both sides as a
camp area throughout the
BREA CHURCH APRIL 3, 1862
We are camped here for five days hoping to see some action but we drill and learn soldiering all day. There is a lot to learn and I am doing fine, our sargent says, one day we may make passable soldiers.
BREAD CHURCH APRIL 17, 1862
My first fight was today when we stoped some Federals who were comin doun the road. We fired several shots at them then moved off as there were a lot more of them than us. I rode with Jim Shorts wagon until we crossed the river then back to camp with Dick Todd.
The Colonel Lee referred to
in the diary was William
Henry Fitzhugh Lee, the
second son of General
Robert Edward Lee
FALMOUTH APRIL 18, 1862
We had a nite shootout with some Federal horsemen just north of town. I hid behind a big stump and we all fired at once into them as they came into the clearing. This is the first I shot someone as I saw two of them fall and go down. They came back a while later and we shot at them again making them ride back ingreat haste. After they had gone I picked up a fine new rifle that loads from the back and a leather box full of bullets. This is finer than Pa’s old rifle, shorter and easier to use ahorse. We rode back to the bridge where our boys are burning cotton and boxes. We were told to burn the bridge after crossin it so we soaked it with coal oil then set it alight. It sore did burn pretty.
MASSAPONAX CHURCH APRIL 19, 1862
We hoped to camp here for awhile but Captain Beverly told us to be
ready to move if the Federals cross the river. I am learning well my duties and am full of pride over our shootouts of the last few days.
GURNEY STATION APRIL 20, 1862 We elected Mister Lee as our Colonel today. He is a good man and knows what to do when it comes to fightin. Sargent Wright has been drilling us all afternoon and he has orders to keep it up until our new Colonel is satisfied that we know how to fight real good
HAMILTON CROSSROAD MAY 24, 1862
We have been on picket duty for nearly a month now. We ride back and forth looking for Federals but no one has seen any. I went home the day afore yesterday. Pa seems poorly, I fret for him but Ma says he will get along fine.
GURNEY STATION MAY 25, 1862
We rode south in a great rush late last nite leaving patrol duties behind us. We are still in high spirits as we have been told there will be more action ahead.
ASHLAND MAY 26, 1862
We camped just out of town giving me a chance to see Aunt Louise for a fine dinner. She gave me some cornbread to take back with me and some jam. I never knew I had so many friends when I rode in camp.
ASHLAND MAY 27, 1862
We rode hard for Slash Church where a great battle is agoin but we turned back when we heart we was too late. They say our boys took a goodly beatin this time, I wish we could have made it.
MECHANICSVILLE MAY 30, 1862
We can hear a great battle to our front but no orders for us to join in. I never heart such a friteful racket all day and night. We all wish we could push forward and get in our licks but we just set and watch, no one seems to know why.
MECHANICSVILLE JUNE 11, 1862
We have been riding around a lot but there is not a Federal close enough to fight with. We came here to fight but we just muddle around in these thick woods.
RICHMOND JUNE 12, 1862
General Stewart has a great raid planed so we left before dawn today. I have never see so many troopers at once, we must make a grand sight. Our regiment is given a great honor as we ride in the lead. If there are Federals, we can get at them first.
OLD CHURCH JUNE 13, 1862
We made our first great charge here today. We formed up in the wood and charged across a large field. You should have seen them Federals run for home and mother .After the fight I took a fine pistol off a dead officer. He had a belt with a lot of small leather boxes full of caps and bullets and even one with a small powder flask. From a dead horse I got a nice blanket and sadlebags, now I can throw away my old ripped quilt and sleep warm these chill nites. Then we reformed to march on I heard Bill Latane was killed. he was our healer and will be sorely missed by us all.
RICHMOND JUNE 16, 1862
We are finally back very tired sore and hungry. We fought the Federals at three places and thrashed them soundly each time. We came back with full bags of good eats and a lot of badly needed equipment. Some of our boys found a Federal supply post and brought off all they could carry.
MORDECAI FARM JUNE 17, 1862
We rested all day and sorted out our share of the booty, we are now ready for anything the Federals care to throw at us. I have a new pair of high boots, they are a little big but my old shoes had more holes
We rode out in a great hurry yesterday morn with no breakfast to meet General Jackson we are told. I wish I could stop by Aunt Louise but I have picket duty. Some of her cornbread would be just fine now.
POLE GREEN CHURCH JUNE 26, 1862
General Jackson and his boys arrived last evening so today we rode out early this morn to clear any Federals out of the way. They say great happenings are doing doun near Yorktown and Jacksons boys are as eager as us to into the fight.We had a harsh time of the ride with trees down and all the bridges burn out. At Totopatomay Creek we rode against some Federals who was hiding behind a lot of logs but they would not run. GeneralJacksons boys called up with some guns and chaced them off finally,
TOTOPATOMAY CREEK JUNE 27, 1862
Today we were in our first great battle with the Federal shells falling like rain. We charged across a corn field to stop them from shooting up our own guns. I was apaled at the terrible carnage wroght by our boys, everywhere were bodies and parts of bodies but the stench was the worst. We can still smell it so on one is very hungry just tired.
WHITE HOUSE PLANTATION JUNE 29, 1862
We rode in this evening just at dusk. The Federals have gone leaving mountains of supplies behind. Before they left they burnt Colonel Lee’s fine house to the ground along with all the out buildings. I do not know why they would do such a terrible thing, Colonel Lee is a very fine man and comes from a well respected family. With all these supplies we plan to eat right well for a while to come. We turtled over the two cannons we found to Captain Pelham who came here with us. He will put them to good use I know.
FORDGE BRIDGE JUNE 30, 1862
We rode with great haste to the river when a report came in saying there was a big barge stuck in the mud: When we got there Captain Pelham was shoot ing at some Federal guns on the other bank. The range was too far for our carbines so we greatly enjoyed watching the cannoneers going about their business of destruction.
MELVERN HILL JULY 1, 1862
We have rode many a hard mile today. We heart Little Mac is to give up at Gains Mill but it was just a story some folks have been telling around. It is raining torrents everything is mud and mire. There is another great battle to our east with the hole sky afire but we are not seem to be needed, we just watch and wate. I talked to some wounded boys from Georgia and they say we are really punishing them bad.
NANCE SHOP JULY, 1862
We advanced to here looking for fleeing Federals but have seen nothing but our boys. They tell of a great battle with the Federals losing scores and scores at every turn. Will they never overcome their madness and go home.
ATLEE STATION JULY 28, 1862
With the Federal Army gone back north we are left with picket duty again, a dreary and dull task. We are told we are now in General Fitzhugh Lee Brigade, he is kin to our own Colonel Lee I hear. Along with us is several other regiments including the Fifth Cavalry. Jim Borne rides with them and it would be heartily good to see him again. I wonder if he still rides that big bay Pa sold him last year.
HANOVER AUGUST 3, 1862
We thought picket duty was done when we rode here in great haste but nothing happens. We drill and parade but our camp is very nice beside a clear stream full of fat brown trout, There is plenty of big shade trees to be under when we come in tired and hungry.
BOWLING GREEN AUGUST 4, 1862
We rode after some Federals up in Caroline bringing back eleven, they gave up without even a shot when we showed ourselves. Our prowes are most widespread it seems as they came from Vermont.
MASSAPONAX AUGUST 6, 1862
A grand little fight was had by all with the federals leaving in great haste abandoning a dozen wagons full of grain and beet. We sent them to Ashland with the compliments of the Ninth.
RAPIDAN RIVER AUGUST 19, 1862
We cross the river today where I had my first hurt. Old Mike slipped on a wet rock and I fell on some sharp stones cutting my arm right deep. Tom Ballard pulled me out and tended my arm. At first I feared it was broke but Tom says no as he was a doctor student before the war.
RICHARDS FORD RAPPAHANAK RIVER AUGUST 20, 1862
I am full of pride as Captain Crutchfield had great praise for me and several of our boys when we caught six Federals down by the river this morn. We was coming out of heavy brush and near rode over them. I do not know who was more surprised us or them but they threw down their guns. One of them was from New Jersey and he gave me a big bag of coffee beans for some tobacco. He was a fine fellow and I was sorry he had to go to a prison camp but that is better than being killed.
MANASSAS AUGUST 28, 1862
Today I fear I nearly lost my life at Centerville. We charged some Federal cavalry at the crest of a small hill causing them to rush back down the pike. I had emptied my pistal into the fleeting mass of men ahead seeing all my shots strike home when this Federal officer rushes at me with his sword. Before I could get away he struck me hard on the left leg cutting all the way to the bone and knocking me to the ground. I pulled out Pa’s old horse pistol and shot him dead before he could strike me again. Old Mike ran off as I fell leaving me to fend for myself. I could not walk good so I picked up his sword that was still wet with my blood to use as a cane but the blade kept bending when I leaned on it. I unhooked his belt and put the sword in its holder which kept it straight. With this I made it back to Old Mike who was eating grass on the side of the road. The pain was almost too much to bear but I made it finally. I set on a log and rested as I was dizzy and sick at my stomach until Tom Jenkins came along and helped me up. He rode with me to Manassas where we found a surgeon who bandaged my leg up proper. Tom sat with me till dark and brought me some warm soup and bread. He took Old Mike back to camp as the doctor says for me to stay put.
MANASSAS AUGUST 30, 1862
My leg hurts awful but the blood has stoped coming through the bandage. The surgeon says he will not have to take the leg off as it is a clean wound but very deep and A chaplin came by and read me several Psalms which was a great comfort. Tom came back with Old Mike to take me back to camp which was only a few miles away near Bull Run. We both feel I would heal better among my friends and away from the horrors of that hospital.
MANASSAS AUGUST 31, 1862
Our boys are moving off again so Tom took me back to the hospital but it was full from the battle they had here I saw a surgeon who rebandaged my leg and gave me a leave paper to go home to mend. I thanked Tom for all his help and told him I would pray for his safe return.
FREDERICKSBURG SEPTEMBER 3, 1862
It was a long and painful ride but I went as far as here with the amblence train. A surgeon this noon opened the wound to clean it out and sewed it shut. He sent a man to tell Pa I was here and for him to come to fetch me home for rest.
SPOTSYLVANIA SEPTEMBER 4, 1862
Pa and Uncle Jake came in the wagon so I could travel easier. Ma was so worried and relieved at the same time she cried all day. Elizabeth Marie came over to help with the cooking and chores. My leg feels on fire but Elizabeth Marie says it is all right that her brother Jim had the same wound and he healed
LEETOWN SEPTEMBER 25, 1862
The surgeon in Fredericksburg has given me permission to return to camp duties here with my regiment. I have been assigned clerking which is well and good. I can sit at a table and there is very little walking. Our boys are doing picket rounds along the river and there is little fighting. My leg is still paining but the surgeon in town says it should heal in time if I take my care.
LEETOWN SEPTEMBER 26, 1862
A great stir in camp has been caused by a Federal balloon floating over the river. Everyone went out to look but as it was not causing us any harm we made great sport of it. It must be wondrous to float through the air like that free as a bird.
LEETOWN OCTOBER 9, 1862
My leg is giving me great pain and is very swelled. The surgeon says the mussles are ruptured and not healing properly.He gave me a potion to put on it to help the swelling and pain. My duties I still maintain but they are so dull and drole.
CULPEPER NOVEMBER 8, 1862
Captain Crutchfield sent me with our supply wagons to the cavalry depot with orders to help set up a supply base for the winter months. I fear I shall never ride again as my leg causes me great distress but my clerking duties keep me busy and from harms way.
FREDERICSKBURG NOVEMBER 19, 1862
We moved here yesterday to the big Army Supply Depot south of the town. This pleasures me as I can go see my family and Elizabeth Marie. I am assigned clerking in the ordnance section which is very busy with returns and exchanges being brought ” for the winter from all the nearby camps.
FREDERICKSBURG DECEMBER 12, 1862
A great Federal army is gathered across the river and they are shooting at the town with big guns. General Lee has arrived with his Army and i s getting ready to fight. Many of the clerks are going into the line so I have reported to the old Ninth at Massaponax. I can not ride well but I may be of help to my friends.
HAMILITON CROSSROAD DECEMBER 13, 1862
I had witness to great happenings as a great battle is fought on our left. The cannon blasts and musketry is a constant roar filling the air with noise and smoke. To our front Major Pelham and Colonel Walker work their guns ceaselessly and several of our boys are helping bring wagons forward with ammunition for them. We are not directly engaged but we are ready and alert for any Federals who try to get around to the hill at our rear.
FREDERICKSBURG DECEMBER 15, 1862
The great battle is over with the Federals re crossing the river and staying on their side. There is much rejoicing among our men as a great victory was won these past days. I have returned to my clerking when the Ninth road away. I truely wish I was able to go but it would seem I am to be lamed for life.
FREDERICKSBURG DECEMBER 22, l862
I have seen the surgeon bout my leg, he says it will have to be reopened to drain as there is much black blood and inflamation.
SPOTSYLVANIA DECEMBER 29, 1862
I am home, my leg is greatly painful after being worked on. I am in great fear I will not be able to walk again.
SPOTSYLVANIA MARCH 9, 1863
My leg is as healed as it will get I am told. I can walk slowly but with a bad lip. I wrote to Colonel Lee telling him my problem but asking him if I can still stay with the Ninth even as a clerk.
BRANDY APRIL 9 , 1863
I have returned to my beloved Ninth to see Colonel Lee in answer to my letter. He received me with great courtesy but my pleas are to be unrewarded. I am told to go home to heal properly. I head home with a heavy heart in the morn.
SPOTSYLVANIA MAY 13, 1864
The Ninth is camped only four miles away so again I reported with a plea to rejoin. My leg is better but I still walk with a heavy limp. I heard General Stewart is dead, a great loss to us all. Our grief is real and deeply felt.
GYLER FARM, SPOTSYLVANIA MAY 14, 1864
I am again in battle as I am assigned as a horse guard for our boys while they fight afoot. I hear the battle but see nothing. I long to go forward into line of battle with my friends but my orders are to stay behind
SPOTSYLVANIA MAY 17, 1864
The Ninth is moving away south and I am left behind again. My leg prevents me from carrying out any duties I have been told.
RICHMOND AUGUST 31, 1864
I have traveled to Chimborage Hospital to have my leg operated on in hopes of returning to duty. Dr. Porter said they can do great things in medicine now and I am in high hopes.
CHIMBORAGE HOSPITAL, RICHMOND SEPTEMBER 4, 1864
The fine doctors here operated on my leg yesterday and I am told everything went well. The pain is back as if I was branded but with Gods help I will endure this also.
CHIMBORAGE HOSPITAL, RICHMOND SEPTEMBER 22, 1864
A Major Reting came to see me today saying I was to report to General Gardner for duty on his staff. Upon reporting I was greatly pleased to learn I have been made a Lieutenant and will be on the commissary staff for the prison commission.
Richmond December 20, 1864
My duties are so monotonous I could scream but I pull on ahead. I hope to go home for Christmas to see my family and Elizabeth Marie. We plan to marry in the spring.
SPOTSYLVANIA DECEMBER 25, 1864
I am home for our Lords Day but there is so little food as to make it a dreary time. Pa is so ill with the flux I fear for his life. elizabeth Marie set the date for the first Sunday in June if I can be home. Pastor Anders has concented to join us then.
RICHMOND JANUARY 12, 1865
I have been back a week but there is not too much work. There is no food I can obtain anywhere and even our gracious General is depressed and anxious. The fighting rages everywhere around the city, day and nite. I do not believe we can hold together much longer.
RICHMOND FEBRUARY 22, 1865
We are out of everything, there is no food and no medicine. All my clerks have been assigned to the home guard forces for use in the defence at Petersburg. Only Lieutenant Morrison and I are still with General Gardner. How long must we endure this hell of hunger and fear I do not know but something must happen soon.
RICHMOND APRIL 1, 1865
I have been assigned to leave with the government records train to Danville in the mcrn. What we will do I do not know. I still have my revolver and I keep it with me expect the Federals any moment now.
RICHMOND APRIL 2, 1865
We are leaving Richmond for the last time, I fear, but Colonel Jones says the way is still clear and we can get out. We shall see. This poor train is so over loaded it can hardly move, but moving we are.
DANVILLE APRIL 5, 1865
We have arrived at this misserable little town to find there is no fuel or food. Our fate awaits us here whatever it will be. There is much talk of making a stand then firing the train when it is hopeless. I await my time in Quiet desperation.
DANVILLE APRIL 10, 1865
General Lee has surrendered at Appomattox we were told by a Federal officer who came in under a white flag. It is over at long last. I shall give thanks at the little church on the corner tonight to thank God for sparing me when so many of my friends have perished. My heart is heavy with grief and my soul is in termoil over the great tragedy which has befallen us.
DANVILLE APRIL 11, 1865
General Gardner said to go home as best we can as there is no longer any reason to stay. It was a tearful farewell I received from the Old Gentleman. I shall miss him truely.
SPOTSYLVANIA APRIL 17, 1865
I am home safe at last. It was a trying journey north but I fell in with several boys from this area doing the same as I. God grant us the peace we do so sorely need.
After the war Charles became proficient in harness making, and entered into a business partnership with the local blacksmith at Spotsylvania Court House.
He married his long-time sweetheart , Elizabeth Marie in the local Methodist Church on June 24, 1866. Charles became a proud father on April 11, 1869 when Charles Jr. was born. A second child, a daughter named Elizabeth, was born on January 4, 1872.
Charles and Elizabeth Marie live the remaining years of their lives in Spotsylvania, Virginia, Charles passing away on November 23, 1907 , followed by Elizabeth exactly one year later.
Their son Charles Jr. was killed in action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War
Charles lies at rest in the Cemetery at Zion
church near the Courthouse (Photo Courtesy