656 "COLE'S CAVALRY," FIRST REGIMENT POTOMAC HOME BRIGADE CAVALRY.
Their thorough knowledge of the topography of the country, which became, to a great
extent, the seat of the war in Western Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, rendered
their services to the Union cause invaluable. During the four long years of war from
1861 to 1865, they were almost constantly in the saddle, and from Gettysburg, in Penn-
sylvania, to Lynchburg, on the James, in Virginia, they scouted and fought with untiring
Companies A, C and D occupied the left bank of the Potomac with the Union Armies
in the winter of 1861-2, the Confederate forces occupying the right bank of the same
river. Company B entered on active duty in West Virginia during the same period.
In the early part of January, 1862, General (Stonewall) Jackson, with a Confederate
Army, made a rapid mid-winter march from Winchester, Va., to Hancock, Maryland,
and endeavored to cross the Potomac river at that point. A portion of the old battalion
received a flag of truce and summons to surrender, and they, with a small Union force
under General Lander, gallantly and successfully defended the town and river crossings.
The balance of the battalion arrived during the night of January 7, 1862, having
marched long distances all night, on one of the coldest nights of mid-winter, over the
mountains and through a pitiless snowstorm. The timely arrival also of other Union
forces, including the First Maryland Infantry Regiment, checked Jackson's farther
The Confederate Army soon retired to their winter quarters near Winchester, when
a detachment of "Cole's Cavalry," under Lieutenant Vernon, crossed the Potomac and fol-
lowed them up, to ascertain definitely their whereabouts, numbers, etc., and, although an
effort was made by the Confederate Cavalry to capture this detachment on its return
from Winchester, the skillful pilotage of comrades, who knew every road and bypath,
enabled them to return safely, and inspired that confidence so useful to themselves and
the army in subsequent movements.
On the second day of March, 1862, Cole's Battalion crossed the Potomac river at Wil-
liamsport with Williams' Brigade, of Banks' Division, and, as the advance guard, marched
to Martinsburg, Va.
On the 5th day of March, 1862, the battalion had quite a lively skirmish at Bunker
Hill, Va., with the enemy's cavalry, capturing a number of prisoners.
On the 7th day of March, the battalion had a cavalry fight between Bunker Hill and
Winchester, Va., in which the enemy were finally driven from the field; Captain Cole's
horse was killed under him, private Stull was killed, and privates Keedy and Staley
wounded. This was the first bloodshed in the opening of the campaign of 1862 in the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. This engagement demonstrated to the command their
ability to successfully cope with equal and even superior forces of Confederate Cavalry,
which, at the commencement of the Civil War, was considered superior to the Federal
Cavalry, by reason of the fact that the people in the Southern States were more accus-
tomed to horseback riding and the use of firearms.
General Williams, their Brigade Commander, who had already tested the scouting
qualities of "Cole's Cavalry," deemed the engagement of sufficient importance to issue to
them the following congratulatory epistle :