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The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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The Skirmish at Arcola, Virginia

From contributor Tom Evans, we offer these two transcripts.  The first tells of a veteran's discovery of two graves, and the second, Colonel Lowell's own words on the engagement that put them there. Finally, a footnote that corrects Captain Vaill's note.* 

Arcola, Loudon Co., Va.
Nov. 29 1865

To the Governor of The State of Massachusetts


            Since the close of the war, I came to this place and purchased the farm from which I now write.  On taking possession of the place I found in the front yard the graves of two soldiers the names of which had become so nearly obliterated as to be unintelligible.  A few days since however I happened to look at the head board during a rain storm when I discovered that the names, etc. had become perfectly plain.  I have now seen the former proprietor of the place who informed me that they were killed near the house in a most gallant charge on Mosby’s command.  I well remember the gallant and daring affair and so will you Sir, when I add that it was in the effort of a Sergeant and four men to take from Mosby the thirty supply wagons he captured near Fairfax in July 1863 that these men fell.  They were buried here by the order and personal supervision of the lamented Lowell and here they can remain but duty to our fallen brave and especially to my brother cavalrymen prompts me to make an appeal to you for a more Christian burial for these men or that their present resting place be so marked that they shall not be at once forgotten.

The inscription on the rough board that now marks the double grave is as follows:    

Charles Raymond

H.B. Little

2nd Mass Cavalry

Killed July 31, 1863

I am Governor
Very Truly
Your Obdt. Servt.
John G. Vaill
Late Capt. 5th N.Y. Cav.
P.O. Address
Aldie, Loudon Co., Va.

Letter courtesy of the late John E. Divine, Leesburg, Va.



Centerville, Aug. 9, 1863.

After I reached camp at Fairfax Station, I was busy all the evening with parties after Mosby, who again made his appearance capturing wagons, -- we retook them all, but didn’t take Mosby, who is an old rat and has a great many holes; on Friday moved camp to Centerville, and am not half established yet; my tents are not here.  Did I write you, that in our skirmish with Mosby tem days ago, we lost two more killed and two wounded, also two prisoners, but we followed him so far that we recaptured these and eight others whom he had taken from a Pennsylvania regiment.  I dislike to have men killed in such “inglorious warfare” as Cousin John calls it, -- but it’s not a warfare of my choosing, and it’s all in a day’s work.

  From Life and letters of Charles Russell Lowell  


*The name on the board Charles Raymond is in error. This is Peter Renard now buried in Plot 10413 Arlington National Cemetery.
Hazen D. Little is now buried in Plot 10305 Arlington National Cemetery.