29 March 2011 by Published in: Union Cavalry 5 comments

JanewayJim Lamason went to the New Jersey State Archives for me to look for information on the role of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry’s role in the fighting on Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg for the new edition of Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 being published by Savas Beatie later this spring. Unfortunately, Jim didn’t find anything useful there, but he did locate a report of the June 9, 1863 Battle of Brandy Station penned by Maj. Hugh Janeway, in temporary command of the regiment at the time, to the Governor of New Jersey. This report is different from the one in the Official Records, so I thought I would share it here. That’s Janeway in the photograph.

Headquarters 1st N.J. Cav.
Rappahannock Station
June 10, 1863

To His Excellency, Joel Parker
Governor of the State of New Jersey

Governor,

I have the honor to report that the Regiment has been engaged in another very severe cavalry fight. On the 8th inst. the Division broke camp at Warrenton Junction and marched to Kelly’s Ford where we bivouacked for the night. The next day (the 9th inst.) at 3 a.m. we crossed the river and moved on Brandy Station. As is normal in times of danger we were in the advance. Meanwhile Genl Buford was fighting hard opposite Rappahannock Station. The object of our movement was to turn the right flank of the Rebels. Col. Wyndham was in command of the 2d Brigade composed of the 1st N. Jersey 1st Md. and the 1st Pa Cavalry and the command of our Regt. devolved upon Lt. Col. Brodrick. Capt. Yorke of Co. I had the advance guard composed of Cos. C & I– he moved his men so carefully that he captured every vidette in the road so that the first intimation that the enemy had of our being in their rear was by seeing the head of our column debouch from the woods.

Col Wyndham moved his troops with such celerity that we were upon them almost before they were aware of our vicinity. The fight lasted four hours and was a continual inception of the most brilliant charges ever made. Every officer behaved with the utmost bravery, coolness and it is impossible for men to behave better than did ours–they proved themselves well worthy of the State from which they come. More cannot be said in their praise.

Lt. Col. Brodrick and Major Shelmire were both wounded and taken while leading one of the numerous charges–accounts of the nature of their capture are so conflicting that I defer sending any statement regarding it till I learn something definite but that they both behaved with the greatest daring and gallantry there can be no question.

Capt. Sawyer Co. K and Lt. Crocker Co. H are also prisoners but not thought to be wounded. Capt. Lucas Co. F Capt. Maulsbury and Adjt Kitchen while in the thickest of the fray had their horses shot out under them–that of Adjt Kitchen fell dead carrying him along with it–his escape seems almost miraculous. When the order was given to retire our Regt covered the rear. I am told that Genl Gregg expressed the greatest satisfaction at the conduct of the Regt. Towards the close of the engagement Col. Wyndham recd a bullet wound in the calf of the leg but we are thankful to know that it will not prove dangerous–he kept the field for sometime after being hit but was finally obliged to give up–he goes to Washington today. We hope he will soon return as he can ill be spared from his command. He also paid the Regt the highest compliments for its steady and dashing charges.

The fight was hand to hand throughout. We had in the engagement four Field officers, 14 line officers and 281 enlisted men. Our loss in killed wounded and missing is at present 3 Field officers 2 line officers and 52 enlisted. This of itself speaks volumes for the bravery of the Regt. The morale of the Regt has been greatly benefitted by yesterday’s work and I am confident that the men will fight better now than ever. Major Beaumont will probably soon return from his present command to assume that of the Regt and will be able to collect further accounts of the capture and wounds of the missing officers than I am now able to do.

I have the honor to be Governor

Very respectfully
Your obdt servt

Hugh H. Janeway
Major Comdg 1st New Jersey Cavalry

Here are a few notes on this report.

Col. Sir Percy Wyndham, the regimental colonel, was in command of the brigade at the Battle of Brandy Station. He was, as Janeway pointed out, wounded in the leg in the melee, and he never commanded troops in the Army of the Potomac again. For my biographical sketch of Sir Percy, click here.

Lt. Col. Virgil Brodrick and Maj. John Shelmire were both mortally wounded in the melee, and both died on the field. Both are buried in the National Cemetery in Culpeper. Capt. Henry W. Sawyer was indeed badly wounded, which led to his capture, meaning that Janeway’s information was incorrect. Sawyer ended up being the center of quite a drama that is the subject of an article I’ve written that will appear in Civil War Times Illustrated later this year.

Thus, the 1st New Jersey Cavalry lost its colonel, lieutenant colonel, senior major, and a squadron commander that day. The regimental command structure was devastated in the fighting at Brandy Station. Janeway was killed in action less than a week before the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. It seems a shame to die so close to the end.

Thanks to Jim Lamason for getting this for me.

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Comments

  1. Thu 31st Mar 2011 at 9:58 am

    Great find by Jim!

  2. Jim
    Thu 31st Mar 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Hi All,
    One correction. I actually found this in the New Jersey National Guard Library in Sea Girt New Jersey. I didnt realize what I had till I went back and reread the OR for the 1st NJ Cavalry at Brandy Station. It dawned on me after the fact which included sending this to Eric what I had found. But this was a treat to find, a special event. There is so much there on not only this regiment, including 3 full folders on Sawyer but all of the NJ regiments that served in the Civil War.
    This was what I think one of those finds that every historian should be fortunate to discover. I am deeply pleased to find and be able to share it..

  3. Jeffman01
    Sat 02nd Apr 2011 at 3:52 pm

    A great tidbit. I just got done posting some data about the 1st Maine Cavalry on a website and their efforts at the Battle of Aldie. Just the mention of a Federal Cavalry unit with the number 1st send shivers into one’s spine when discussing the 1st Delaware, Massachusettes, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan etc. So much depth to the 1st’s likewise on the southern side particularly Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. I knew of the 1st New Jersey…but all this extra data Jim is quite compelling.

  4. Sat 23rd Jul 2011 at 8:02 am

    My wife is a Janeway and Hugh’s grandfather I think it was is their common ancestor. The Janeway’s have a colorful family history, and we enjoyed reading this story. Thanks for posting it!

  5. Neil Chamberlain
    Tue 21st Feb 2012 at 9:13 am

    Great article Eric and Jim. Thanks for sharing. Some of my ggrand uncles served in that outfit. We visited Kelly’s Ford area just yesterday. Hope to see you this year on the circut.

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