1864: John Taylor Radford to John Blair Radford

cavThis letter was written by John Taylor Radford (1838-1864), the son of Dr. John Blair Radford (1813-1872) and Elizabeth Campbell Taylor (1820-1886) of Montgomery County, Virginia. He received a higher education in Moral Philosophy and Political Economy at the University of Virginia. In 1861, he volunteered and entered Confederate service with a captain’s commission with an assignment to Co. K, 24th Virginia Infantry. He further served as a field officer in the 4th Virginia State Line. Radford subsequently became a Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier General Gabriel C. Wharton.

By 9 November 1863, Radford was a lieutenant colonel who was sharing the fortunes of the 22nd Virginia Cavalry. A year later on 12 November 1864, he was killed in the service of his country at Cedarville, Virginia.


Headquarters 22nd Virginia Cavalry
5th Cavalry Brigade
Camp near Brownsburg
June 9th [1864]

My dear Father,

Mr. Denny of the Signal Corps having been ordered to Dublin, I take this opportunity to write a few lines. I wrote a letter to Ma yesterday giving an account of our operations and sent it by mail. I am very well though I have been almost constantly in the saddle since I left home. Gen. [John] McCausland who commands our brigade has been hanging on the flank of Brooks & [William W.] Averell ever since they left Greenbrier. We have had, however, only skirmishing. No heavy fighting. I suppose you have heard of Gen. [William E. “Grumble”] Jones’ defeat and death. ¹ After that event, we could no longer prevent the junction of [George] Crook & Averell with [David] Hunter.

Col. [John Mason] Brown of the 45th [Virginia] & Col. [Buehring H.] Jones of 60th [Virginia] were killed in Jones’ fight with Hunter. After Gen. Jones’ death, his troops became panic stricken & did not fight well. Our brigade is in fine spirits and condition.

If Lee has gained the great victory which has been reported, he can spare us enough troops to enable us to capture Crook & Hunter. It is rumored this morning that Picket & Breckenridge are advancing from Charlottesville to reinforce [John C.] Vaughn & [John D.] Imboden who have the balance of Jones’ command at Waynesboro. Mr. Denny who takes this letter will give you a full account of all these events. He is going off now & I have to close. Give my love to all the household.

Your affectionate son. — J. T. Radford

¹ The Battle of Piedmont was fought June 5, 1864, in the village of Piedmont, Augusta County, Virginia. Union Maj. Gen. David Hunter engaged Confederates under Brig. Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones north of Piedmont. After severe fighting, Jones was killed and the Confederates were routed. Hunter occupied Staunton on June 6 and soon began to advance on Lynchburg, destroying military stores and public property in his wake.

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