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Sculpted by Gary Casteel

 

1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

 

On July 3, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Major Charles Capehart helped lead the 1st West Virginia Cavalry in a charge against entrenched Confederate troops.  The charge resulted in severe casualties for the West Virginians, including the death of brigade commander General Elon Farnsworth.  As a result of Farnsworth’s death, Colonel Nathaniel P. Richmond was advanced to brigade commander and Major Capehart took command of the regiment.

 

As Capehart described the events of July 3rd in his official report dated August 17, 1863:

     On the morning of the 3d, we moved up to a point immediately in the rear of the center of the Army of the Potomac, then near Gettysburg.

     At 10 a.m. our brigade (then First Brigade, Third Division) was ordered to move to the extreme right wing of the enemy, and, if possible, hold in check any movement they might make at that point.

     At 3 p.m. we found them in position with infantry, cavalry, and artillery. General Kilpatrick ordered General Farnsworth to make ready to charge them. Everything was in readiness in a moment. The First West Virginia was ordered to the front, and ordered to charge upon them. Col. N. P. Richmond led the regiment, with Maj. Charles E. Capehart and Acting Majors Farabee and Carman, which made one of the most desperate charges during the present rebellion.

     I cannot fail to refer you to the defensive position the enemy had availed themselves of, which is one that above all others is the worst for a cavalry charge--that is, behind stone fences so high as to preclude the possibility of gaining the opposite side without dismounting and throwing them down. The whole ground over which we charged was very adverse in every particular, being broken and uneven and covered with rock. Neither can I fail to bring to your notice that this regiment here charged upon infantry, and still did not falter in any of its movements until it had scaled two stone fences and had penetrated some distance the enemy's lines, which had kept up a continual fire of musketry. The entire regiment was entirely surrounded, when they received an order to return. The First Texas Regiment having occupied the ground over which we advanced, and as that was by far the best way to return, an order was given by Col. N. P. Richmond for the officers and men to cut their way through, which they did, and brought with them quite a number of prisoners. Any one not cognizant of the minutiae of this charge upon infantry, under cover of heavy timber and stone fences, will fall to form a just conception of its magnitude.

     The casualties of the regiment were 5 killed and 4 wounded. Apparently our mission there had been filled, for we withdrew some 3 miles from where the engagement had taken place, and bivouacked in the open field.

 

Following the retreat of General Robert E. Lee’s troops during the evening of July 4th, the Union Cavalry pursued and harried the Confederates along their southward route on Fairfield Road to Monterey Pass while the Union Sixth Corps pursued along the northwest route towards Cashtown, PA, in a driving rainstorm.  The cavalry caught up with the Confederates at Monterey Pass, where a battle ensued.

 

Capehart and the 1st West Virginia Cavalry arrived at Monterey Pass during the peak of the battle chaos, with panicked horses stampeding through both battle lines.  The rainstorm blocked any light from the moon and smoke from the battle made it nearly impossible to see. Fearing his men could be shot by either side in the darkness, or even by their own comrades, Capehart ordered his troopers to draw their sabers so they would be able to identify each other.  Just as General George Armstrong Custer’s horse was shot, Capehart ordered his men to charge into the fray.

 

The men of the 1st West Virginia followed Capehart in the dash down the side of the mountain and into the Confederate line.  Surprised by the daring charge, many Confederates began retreating in total disarray and the remaining began hand-to-hand fighting in the darkness.  By the time the fighting ended, Capehart and his men had captured or destroyed 300 wagons and 15 ambulances, and captured 1300 prisoners, 200 of them commissioned officers, and numerous horses and mules.

 

On April 7, 1898, just three years after his brother, Henry, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving a drowning soldier while under fire, Charles was awarded one of his own.  In addition to the Capehart brothers, 12 members of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry would receive Medals of Honor for their actions during the Civil War.  The Capehart brothers are one set of seven brothers to receive the Medal of Honor.  Charles died on July 11, 1911, in Washington, DC and is buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.

 

This monument was dedicated on September 28, 1898 and is located on the west side of Taneytown Road north of Pleasonton Avenue.

1st West Virginia Cavalry

SKU: 1132
$225.00Price
  • Size:  7 ½” x 4 ½” x 9”

    Weight:  4.1lbs