On Friday, the 1st of June, troopers from the 9th Va Cav Co D galvanized with other units at Cynthiana, Kentucky to attack Federal units in the vicinity. Members who participated were: Sergeant Barry, Corporal Harry, and Troopers Amos, Mark S, and Charlie. We were attended by Company Nurse Elaine and convalescent trooper Hank. Besides our five riders, there were 27 other troopers and officers in our force.
That first day, activities were confined to troopers infiltrating the town during the evening to “socialize” with the inhabitants and learn the disposition of vital supplies.
On the following morning, we forded the river below the dam and began our ride into an area of town where we expected to find Federal infantry. The river water was at the bottom of our stirrups on this crossing; we crossed safely although several of the other riders had problems negotiating the muddy bank and the underwater hole on the river’s south side.
We wound our way through field margins, on farm roads and past both inhabited and abandoned buildings on our 4-mile journey, expecting to run into infantry pickets at any time. There was one picket post with upwards of 10 soldiers. The skirmish in high brush and undergrowth was fierce and, to some degree, confusing but our leaders guided our positioning and fire to successfully rout the picket.
In another mile we came into an area of hay field that had recently been mown and collected. As we entered the fenced fields, we came upon infantry guarding a passage over a narrow part of a lake. We were confined to either attacking a cross the well defended bridge or, at the other end of the lake, crossing the bog and climbing a short but steep hill into the fire of infantry behind solid barricades. At some expense of life and limb, we finally succeeded in getting several troopers past the barricades and across to hit the bridge defenders from the rear. From then on we were across this major obstacle and pushing the infantry. It was a long, slow process however to get their commander to admit he had no options but to surrender his remaining force.
We took some time for a noon meal using the resources of the townspeople who, it was plain to see, were glad we had relieved them of the oppressive burden of the Union force. During this time we collected our wounded and relieve ourselves of the accumulated weight of the previous 24 hours’ groceries.
In the afternoon we pulled ourselves into formation to take stock of loses which were amazingly light compared to the amount of infantry fire we had taken that morning. We exercised our horses and ourselves in a display of tactical prowess for the accumulated townsfolk then rode back toward our camp.
During the time we had been away, the river had risen some 8 to 10 inches even though the day was clear with no sign of rain in our area. In this crossing, everyone’s boots were wetted and, although everyone made the crossing successfully, Corporal Harry’s horse Tiny mis-stepped into the aforementioned hole and went in, her whole head going underwater. Rider and horse recovered relatively easily although Tiny was no longer content to just follow the others, making her crossing at a faster pace than the line she had been following.
Nurse Elaine and her beau led the company dancers at the evening festivities.
After another quiet, pleasant evening and night, we broke camp and, following another route to get into the town, took up position on the hill where the Federal infantry had deployed the day before. After some short period of time our commander had the inclination to send us forward as dismounted skirmishers. As we approached to point near the lake where the infantry had held us the day before we encountered fresh Federal infantry already across the lake. And they were in much greater numbers than the previous day. We gave ground slowly but then the Federals appeared in force on our right flank. Our efforts to refuse the right failed. The officers, who were still mounted, left the field and the rest of us fought on until overrun and forced to surrender. Trooper Sopko went down fighting, taking many with him as he relieved the dead or wounded of their revolvers and fought to the last.
Afterward we were allowed to collect our skirmishers and retreat back toward the cars that were to take us off to the northern prison camps, each of us taken to a separate and individual hard labor camp with some of the most sever task masters known.
Special thanks to Trooper Hank who assisted the camp details, participated in support of our troopers at the battle and drill scenarios, and provided a horse even though he was not riding himself.
YHS, Cpl. Harry Moloney