The following is Part V in a series of articles written in 1993 and published in this “Looking Back with Lloyd Mathews” section of The Southwest Times. The series, entitled The Battle of Cloyd’s Farm and the Skirmish at New River Bridge, May Ninth and Tenth, 1864: A series of newspaper articles written about the only Civil War action taking place in Pulaski County, Virginia, will be re-published this winter to commemorate the anniversary of this important battle.
In this the 150th Anniversary year since the battle, the Pulaski Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, the New River Rifles, and the 1st Stuart Artillery are honored to invite you to living history and reenactments on the actual battlefield, April 5th and 6th, 2014. For information: www.battleofcloydsmtn.org
The Virginia Civil War History Mobile will be located at the New River Valley Fair Grounds on April 4th and 5th, with the 4th being a day for the local schools. Event parking will be at the fairgrounds, and there will be bus transportation to the battlefield. Bus tours of the local historical sites will be available on Saturday the 5th from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.
Battle of Cloyd’s Farm: Part V
Sometimes letters paint a clearer picture of war scenes than the stoic account of an official reporting to superiors. One of the few letters I have been able to find describing the Battle of Cloyd’s Farm was one written by James S. Peery of Tazewell, Captain in the 45th Confederate Regiment, to his sweetheart and fiancé, Miss Maria Witten. It was written from New River Bridge on May 18, 1864, nine days after the battle. The letter reads as follows:
“I suppose you have written to me long since, but your letter did not come to hand, on account of the Yankees. No doubt you have heard of our late defeat near Dublin which I am sorry to tell you was a very bad one. Our regiment left Saltville last Sunday week about dark for Dublin, about 7 o’clock in the morning, marched out to the battleground near Mr. Cloyd’s, about four miles from Dublin, and placed in line of battle. We had not remained long until we saw the Yankee bayonets glittering on the top of Cloyd’s mountain.
“We soon made us a kind of fortification out of some rails, which gave us a little protection. We remained in this position I suppose about an hour when they engaged our whole line with an overwhelming force. We fought them until they came up in 20 yards of our line. Finding we could not stand, (we) retreated back to a little hill, where we remained for a short time. From there a great many of our men scattered in every direction. After we were completely routed they charged upon us with their cavalry but fortunately about 500 of Gen. Morgan’s men came to our assistance from Saltville. They placed themselves in ambush and repulsed their cavalry with great slaughter, but as soon as their infantry came up our men were compelled to fall back.
“Next morning found us on the other side of New River bridge. After a very heavy artillery duel we retreated back to Christiansburg and from there to within 5 miles (of) Salem. The Yankees did not pursue any longer after we crossed New River. Our loss is very heavy in our regiment. We had about 40 killed dead on the field and 100 wounded in our regiment besides about 30 captured. I went into the fight with about 34 men in my company and had 12 killed and wounded. Rich. R. Peery (was) among the killed. Sgt. A. J. Corell slightly wounded in breast, Sgt. A. N. Thompson severely in shoulder, J. O. Corell badly wounded but not dangerous is about all the Tazewell boys in my company that were wounded. Lt. Thomas B. Thompson was captured and taken away to Yankeedom. Poor Bent. I am so sorry for him. I know he dislikes to be a prisoner so much.
“I have several men in my company missing and I am afraid they are killed or captured. Well, as it is still raining and no prospect of it ever stopping and shelter will not admit letter writing, (I) will not write any more this time. The Yankee loss is estimated at about 600 killed and wounded. They left 75 wounded at Dublin. They were so badly wounded they could not haul them. I want you to write me soon.”