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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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Excerpts from a Letter from Lt. Wm. W. Parker

Falls Church, June 27, 1864


...Mosby is outside with two or three hundred men & one 12 pounder. The other day he gobbled a party of 40 men of the 16th New York. They had passed a house a few minutes before near Centreville & were stopping to feed. Mosby came on their heels learned that they had just passed. He struck them as the horses were unbridled & everyman had an armful of hay & the whole lot was bagged. The Lieut. ought to be disgraced for his carelessness. Still the men of the 16th won't fight. Mosby has a great advantage. If he is hard put his men scatter all over the country & collect next day if they please. We cant play that game. It wouldnt be so easy to get together again...We had a very interesting raid a couple of weeks ago. We went with a number of ambulances to the Wilderness to bring off the wounded...This extensive town (Centreville) consists of the ruins of one brick tavern...We turned to the right. Everywhere the road was strewed with old knapsacks & all sorts of soldiers gear...Evidences of the fight began to thicken. Here & there a shell or skull from the fight of a year ago. Plenty of dead horses, some of them furnished shoes for our live ones...I am told that one regt. of brigade formed themselves flanked & retreated. They met Gen. Grant who asked where they were going. They told him. He told them they might go back but all communications were cut off, you have got to fight it out sometime...The rebs & yanks lay side by side as they fell. The sun has dried the bodies. Death is not attractive & does not leave a pleasant expression on the countenance when caused by a bullet. We brought off 40 odd wounded...We had a heavy shower last night. The lightning struck the conductor on the church. On the steps the body of one of the 16th NY was lying in a coffin ready for burial. If shattered the coffin to fragments threw the body out & disfigured it...come & make me a visit...there are very pleasant roads...& only a few guerrillas. The latter are mean fellows. They hide in the bushes & give a fellow no chance. One of them French Delaney who was recently shot was a son of Col. Delaney of our army...French arrested his father & sent him to Richmond. When shot he rode and walk 1/4 mile although mortally wounded. Told the doctor if he saw his father to give him his warmest regards & tell him that he had give up the spirit. This guerilla warfare is the meanest imaginable....Wont fight fair and would be better to fight indians for then one takes no prisoners. Now we catch a notorious character he goes to the old capital for a few months & then takes the oath or is exchanged & goes at it again...

Yours sincerely, Wm. W. Parker
1st Lt. Co. H 2 Mass. Cav. 
via Washington.

click here to read excerpts from another Parker letter