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Greenleaf, Charles Henry (d.1864)

First Connecticut Infantry, Rifle Company A, Private
Fifth New York Cavalry, Company D, Second Lieutenant
1861 November-1864 August 9
30 Items

Letters home to family. Greenleaf, having seen prior service in the 1st Connecticut Infantry, was mustered-in a Private on 1 October 1861 and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 27 July 1863. He was wounded in action at Kearneysville Station, VA, on 25 August 1864 and died the next day. Also included are two letters notifying his family of his death dated 27 August 1864, a photograph of Greenleaf, and a letter from The New York Public Library discussing its holdings of materials pertaining to the Fifth New York Cavalry.
Location: Civil War Box II


Letters, etc.
[Edited and transcribed by K. Nolin, M.L.I.S., Assistant Library Director, The Connecticut Historical Society]


November 1861, Camp Scott, letter to his family: ". . . From your affect. son Charley P. S. Dick is well and sends his respects to George [his brother]. Dick is my horse."

There is a drawing of a man on horseback in his letter of 21 December 1861.

24 February 1862, Greenleaf uses the term "doughboy" in reference to an infantry soldier.

20 September 1862, Hagerstown, MD: 'We fell back this side of Sharpsburg and camped.... On our way here we marched through that part of the field where the right wing fought. I have been in the service a year but I never knew what war meant till to day. All along both sides of the road for two miles dead rebels lay piled up like cord wood. They have lain there two days in the sun and are all bloated.... I was also up to one of the hospitals and saw over a hundred arms and legs in the yard."

14 January 1864, letter displays a large ink stain.

26 February 1864: "Kilpatrick is to lead a great cavalry raid in a day or two the object of which is, we hear, to dash into the city of Richmond and liberate our prisoners."

Newspaper clippings with pieces written by Greenleaf: unknown paper, 23 May 1862; 31 July 1863, New York Tribune, describing his division; 6 May 1864, New York Tribune, regarding the Warrenton Junction engagement; 7 May 1864, New York Herald, also regarding the Warrenton Junction fight.

Louis Napoleon Beaudry's Historic Records of the Fifth New York Cavalry, First Ira Harris Guard... (Albany: S. R. Gray, 1865) mentions Greenleaf several times. Page 294: "Sergeant C. H. Greenleaf, May 23, 1862, carried dispatches from Front Royal to General Banks at Strasburg. By bravery and skill, he gave timely notice of Stonewall Jackson's flank movement, whereby he saved General Banks' army, which led the general to recommend him for promotion. He was mortally wounded in action, while in command of company A, fighting bravely." A second edition of this book was also published in 1865. A fourth, enlarged edition was published in 1874.

The New York Adjutant General's report varies in details of Greenleaf's service from the Connecticut Adjutant General's report. The Connecticut report was cited above. The New York report reads: "Age 20 years. Enlisted, Sept. 19, 1861, at Springfield; mustered in as sergeant, Co. D, September 19, 1861, to serve three years; re-enlisted, January 1, 1864; appointed first sergeant, no date stated; mustered in as second lieutenant, March 27, 1864; died, August 25, 1864, from wounds received in action, at Harper's ferry, Va., as Greenleaf, Charles H. Commissioned second lieutenant, August 26, 1863, to rank from July 27, 1863, vice Appleby, promoted." Volume 2, p. 127.

Edited and transcribed byK. Nolin, M.L.I.S., Assistant Library Director, The Connecticut Historical Society]

Camp near Germantown Va Feb 17 [1864]

Dear Sister

I have just returned from a five days scout and every bone in my body aches, and no wonder for I have been in the saddle for five days in succession, only resting six or seven hours each night, when we would halt in the woods, feed our horses build a fire, stick a piece of salt pork on a stick and hold it in the fire till it was cooked. This and a cup of coffee and a few hard tack would make us an excellent supper. After supper sleep is the order of the day or rather night, so we lie down in our overcoats by the fires and sleep till aroused to resume our march. The second day after we left camp we were marching Long about 7 miles beyond Warrenton Junction, our Company being in advance we saw a squad of twenty Rebel Cavalry drawn up in line on a hill on the left of the road.

We were ordered to charge them so drawing our sabres we did charge but they concluded not to wait for us but skedaddled. Then commenced a race that I supposed has never been equaled since John Gilpin rode his famous race from London Town. The Rebs took a course strait across the fields for the woods about two miles distant, and we after them. Now at this time of the year the sacred soil of Virginia is very soft and very stickey, and even in the fields a horse will sink into the mud up to his fetterlocks and when he throws his feet out on a gallop he also throws into the air behind him chunks of mud nearly as big as my cap. So you see any one riding close behind another would get a perfect shower of mud in his face.

As for me I had one eye and the whole of my nose completely buried beneath a piece of mud, and my lips plastered together by another piece.

About half way across the fields were two or three ditches, some of the horses jumped these, and some of them jumped into them, and some of them stopped on the edge and pitched their riders in and still others stumbled and fell in head first riders and all. I cant describe the scene as it was at this moment, horses were running loose without any riders and riders picking themselves up out of the mud without any horses. Caps were flying off in every direction, sabres flashing in the sun, and the men in front firing away with Carbines and revolvers at the Rebs who were about one hundred yards in advance.

My horse cleard the ditches in beautiful style and three others and my self followed after a reb that kept more to the right than the rest. I fired 4 shots from my revolver at him and didnt hit him, he fired at me in return and didnt hit me and as a fair exchange is no robery, it was all right. Finaly thinking I suppose that the bullets were coming too close, he dismounted took off his arms and surrendered. Two more prisoners were taken by the other men, and our horses having already marched twenty miles that day and theirs being fresh the rest of them escaped to the woods, and we resumed our march looking much as if we had been rolled in the mud. That night we reached Hartwood where we found the picketts of the army of the Potomac. The next day we reached Stafford Court House. I saw Eugene House there.

We came back to camp by way of Dumfries. When we reached camp we found with feelings of disgust that the "dead beats" and sick men had been paid and the pay Master gone back to Washington. I also found your letter here it having arrived while I was gone.

I should like very much to have your picture I wish you would send me one Give my respects to Katie Hunt I hope to have a chance to hear her sing sometime. I hope after this long letter you wont think that you are forgotten by

Your Brother

PS. Tell mother that I receive the papers regularly.