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History of Cambria County, V.2

HISTORY OF CAMBRIA COUNTY. 401
directed the 54th Regiment and the 123d Ohio, with four companies from the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry, to proceed to the High Bridge and destroy it, to prevent Lee crossing the Appomattox or using it for railroad purposes. The regiments were small, as there were not over eight hundred men in the entire expedition. They started immediately, but a short distance from the bridge they came into contact with Lee's advance pickets. After a brisk skirmish the pickets were driven back, but when less than a mile from the High Bridge the little command was almost surrounded by Gen. Rosser's division of cavalry, with Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry corps and Longstreet's corps of infantry in support. A reference to the detailed reports shows that Gen Washburn, who was in command, made a gallant attempt to break through to reach the High Bridge that he might carry out Gen. Grant's direct order.
    Making charge after charge and fighting until there was not a single officer to lead the little squad of cavalry, and being completely surrounded, they at last surrendered. Gens. Washburn and Reed were mortally wounded. It was a magnificent effort. The men were taken back to Longstreet's corps, and were the 1,000 prisoners to whom Gen. Lee referred in his conversation with Gen. Grant while in the McLean House agreeing upon the articles of surrender, three days thereafter. During their captivity each of the men received only a cup of cornmeal and a piece of bacon about two inches square.
    The following is a list of members of Company A, 54th Pennsylvania Infantry, taken prisoners at High Bridge, Va., April 6, 1865, written by First Sergeant David R. Bryan, at Sailor's Creek, soon after his capture:
    Capt. John L. Decker, 1st Lieu. John McCune, 1st Sergt. David R. Bryan, 2d Sergt. William Stearn, 4th Sergt. Edgar P. Ditzler; Corporals Joseph Shaffer, George S. Attic, F. S. Dysart, William Helsel, William Keiper and John McBride.
    Privates: Peter Albright, Aaron Bennett, Martin Boyer, Josiah Bittner, William J. Cauffield, John Davis, George W. Fowler, Allen L. Garwood, James H. Harker, John F. Helsel, Goswin Keiper, David McKinney, Franklin Penrod, Joseph Schrenk, Charles W. Riley, Charles Barkley, Thomas Brenn, Jacob Bowman, Jacob R. Callihan, Michael Carr, Charles Donohoe, John Fisher, Daniel Good, Charles Hauck, Jacob James, William Lightner, Daniel McAvoy, Charles E. Smith, John W. Thomas, Jacob Hemminger, Henry Brauck, John L. Benfer, Samuel Bowman, David Callihan, George S. Duncan, William Edmunds, John H. Fisher, John Hissong, William T. Jones,


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Created: 26 Mar 2003, Last Updated: 30 Mar 2008
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors