First Fighting in Pennsylvania
By George W. Wilson
The statement that, Archer's Brigade brought on the fight at Gettysburg induces me to tell of the company that shed the first blood on Pennsylvania soil. It was in the winter of '62 and '63. The 14th Virginia Regiment was formed at Salem, Va., and assigned to Gen. Albert G. Jenkins Brigade of cavalry in May 1863. We were at Tinkling Spring Church, in Augusta County, five or six miles from Staunton, and drilled every day while there. We were inspected by the chief inspector of the C.S.A., who pronounced the 14th Virginia Regiment the second best mounted men in the service. The 14th was made up of ten companies from the valley counties and three companies from Greenbrier County, now West Virginia, and numbered 1,100 men.
The Brigade consisted of the 14th, 16th, and 17th Regiments and Wicher's and Sweeney's Battalions. In June the brigade moved down the valley from Staunton, going in front of General Lee's army, and had several fights with Federal Cavalry before we came to the Potomac River. We led the way to Greencastle, Pa.and went into camp just north of that village on the right of the Harrisburg Pike. On the following morning o portion of our company (twenty or thirty men) was detailed to go toward Harriesburg with orders that if we found Federal Cavalry we were to "toll them in". After going three or four miles, we went up a hill, and just as we got to the top we ran in a company hunting for us. We obeyed orders strictly by drawing them in. The brigade was not ready for such guests that early in the morning. Some of the men were cooking their breakfast and some were still asleep while their horses were out in the clover field. We fell back in good order four abreast. When we got insight of the brigade, the captain J. A. Wilson, saw what the results would be if he let them run into camp shooting and yelling. So just as we neared the camp the captain ordered us to dismount and get over the fence and let our horses run into camp. Besides our pistols and sabers we carried a short Enfield rifle.
The scheme was fine, and every time we would shoot a man or horse would go down. A big fellow charged right up to us riding a magnificent big horse. We put four balls through the man. The horse was also shot. We burried the man near his dead horse. My brother took a ring from his finger which he still had years afterwards. We recaptured a prisoner that we had taken a few days before and who had got away from us. He was shot in the leg and our surgeon amputated it. There were many wounded men and crippeled and dead horses. Their bugler sounded retreat, which they willingly obayed after we finished up with them. those who could go were soon out of sight.
* Letter from-- Confederate Veteran. Vol. XXI. Febuary 1913. No 2. page 70.