Search billions of records on

    34th Virginia Cavalry (CSA)

    "Wanted to bring to your attention to what is probably the most distinguished confederate unit in West Virginia history. The 34th Virginia Cavalry's core company, Company A, was formed in Wayne County. Several other companies were also formed in West Virginia. Here is the section from my book, Buchanan County Men in the Civil War, about the 34th:

    "The 34th Virginia Cavalry came into being in September, 1861. Early in the war, the 34th operated mostly in the region between Grundy and Piketon (Pikeville). Many times, the 34th won the distinction of being the advance guard on operations involving numerous units, including the Confederate armies advance into Pennsylvania. The 34th fought an engagement within 2 miles of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in late June, 1863. The 34th then fell back and occupied the city of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before being called to Gettysburg. The East Cavalry Battlefield is generally credited as a Union victory because the goal of the Union Cavalry to delay Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's Cavalry on July 3rd was accomplished. On the morning of the 4th of July, 1863, it was Lt. Col. Vincent Addison Witcher of the 34th VA and General Stuart who walked the battlefield. The Western Virginia men of the 34th, along with only a portion of the rest of the Brigade, had fought the 1st New Jersey, 3rd Pennsylvania, 5th Michigan, and the 7th Michigan led by newly promoted Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The 5th Michigan was armed with the 7 shot Spencer repeating rifles. Witcher later wrote: "…the 34th Battalion, which had alone rallied with me, opened upon the 5th Michigan, sweeping down its ranks with a most deadly fire, killing its Major, capturing its colors, and covering the ground with the killed and wounded men and horses of the 5th Michigan…I was within 30 yards and saw the Major fall, a gallant and heroic man he was…" General Stuart said "the 34th had made the worse massacre of Alger's command and had piled more dead and wounded men and horses on as little space as he had ever seen on any field." The 34th had dismounted that morning with 332 men. After the war, Witcher wrote: "I shall never, no never, forget that eventful night when accompanied by one courier, my Adjutant Edwards and Sergeant Major, both being wounded, I full of grief and bitterness, rode to the barns in our rear and saw with tears in my eyes, my brave fellows from away over the mountains in West Virginia, laid out in windrows, torn and bleeding. I shall never forget that night or the next mornings parade when I could muster but 96 enlisted men. Brave fellows, not a slave holder among them."

    The 34th was also given the honor of leading Lee's Army back into Virginia.

    "The Virginians, and they were almost all that, whether from the counties of Southwest Virginia or the mountain counties of the new state of West Virginia, left knowing they had fought with honor."

    Graciously Submitted by Steve Coleman

    Return to Wayne County home page

    Return to Wayne County West Virginia Civil War Links