August 1864 Letter by Colonel Robert F. Taylor, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry - Evades Rebels on Their Way to Burn Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

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August 1864 Letter by Colonel Robert F. Taylor, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry - Evades Rebels on Their Way to Burn Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

325.00

Item No. 7212962

An interesting August 1864 letter written by Colonel Robert F. Taylor of the 1st New York Veteran Cavalry. Writing to his wife, Taylor described traveling with a small detachment from Cumberland, Maryland, to join his regiment in Virginia. The group had traveled about fifty miles, Taylor wrote, “when I run right into the enemy on their way to Chambersburg. I endeavored to flank them but next morning we ran into them again & again we had to get out of the way & the third time we came very near being captured. I might say almost a providential escape.” Unbeknownst to Taylor, the Rebel cavalry had burned the town of Chambersburg after the citizens had failed to pay a ransom. The country was swarming with Rebel cavalry, and Taylor had difficulty finding a way through to Union lines. He believed the only way he made it was that the citizens mistook his ragged band for Confederates. “I thanked my stars that I had been taken for a reb…but our trouble did not cease here.” Taylor was thankful for his narrow escape! The letter reads, in full:

August 4 1864

Dear Beloved Wife
Again I sit down with heavy heart to write you a few lines. My anxiety increases daily. It is now over two months since I heard from you except through Frank whom I saw at Harpers Ferry. Do not Dear Jane fail to write me at your earliest convenience and address to Harpers Ferry. I am in hopes if I ever meet my regiment to find several awaiting me there.

When I last wrote you I was about starting from Cumberland to join my regt a little. The most difficult task I ever undertook. I had proceeded about (50) fifty miles when I run right into the enemy on their way to Chambersburg. I endeavored to flank them but next morning we ran into them again & again we had to get out of the way & the third time we came very near being captured. I might say almost a providential escape. The people along the road took us to be rebels. They could not believe that such a small squad of men could or dare attempt to travel through a country so thickly infested with the enemy. I had only (5) five men with me. Consequently we were unable to procure anything to eat. Every person said if you will go on we will give you a piece of bread & butter. The hotel at which we stopped could not furnish anything under an hour, which probably saved me and my little band from capture for I concluded to go to some farm house to one side where my horses could eat and rest and where I myself could lie down and rest for it was then ten (10) o’clock and I had been in the saddle from (3) three. Again we started and in less than one hour after I left the hotel the rebs had taken possession of the town. I thanked my stars that I had been taken for a reb ever in my life. But our trouble did not cease here. The news that the enemy were approaching had preceded us. The people [that] had determined to defend their homes and firesides had turned out armed with rifles, shot guns, pistols and all manner of arms and had taken up a position on the road directly in my front, but seeing us advance quietly they thought they would not fire until fully satisfied what our intentions were, which I found little trouble in doing, the leader being an old soldier of 22d P.V. Cav which once belonged to my brigade. I told him my story & he took me to his house, left the men at some of the other houses, and took care of me all that day and night, for I had concluded to remain until I was sure which the devils had taken, which I did next day and again started for my command which as been more difficult to find than the rebels a devilish site.

We arrived here yesterday only to learn that no one knew in what direction the regiment or division had gone or when they would return. I have received order to remain here until I do have or for further orders. You can better imagine that I can describe how I am enjoying myself. No place to go and and dare not leave for fear some order might come and not find me. The next letter direct to Harpers Ferry. I think I will get it. I shall write you again before I leave here & let you know which way I go. Frank said he would write to Mary and tell her to let you know that I was safe. He is well.

Hoping this will find you & the children all. I remain as ever
Your Affect. Husband
R. F. Taylor
Col. 1st NY Vet. Cav.

The letter was written on all four pages of a stationery sheet preprinted for the Frederick, Maryland Subsistence Office. It measures about 5 1/4” x 8” and is in excellent condition. Very minor foxing and toning. Creased where originally folded.

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