Superior Men (August 20, 1864)

The struggle for control of the Weldon Railroad continues, as Gouverneur Warren retains his hold on that vital line. Theodore Lyman reports.

Dr. Thomas Andrew McParlin, the Army of the Potomac's medical director, in a sketch by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress).

Dr. Thomas Andrew McParlin, the Army of the Potomac’s medical director, in a sketch by Alfred Waud (Library of Congress).

A brigade of cavalry passed last night, coming from Deep Bottom, and reported this morning to General Warren, to cover his flank and rear, and help destroy the railroad. A Lieutenant McKibbin, who once went out with me on a flag of truce, was badly hit in the shoulder yesterday. He is a curious young man and belongs to a very fighting family. Being the son of a hotel-keeper, he joined the army as a sutler; but, at the battle of Gaines’s Mill, as soon as the musketry began, he deliberately anointed his tent with butter, set the whole shop on fire, took a gun and went into the fight, where he presently got a bullet, that entered on one side of his nose and came out under his ear! Thereupon he received a commission in the regulars, where he still remains. . . . There was rain still to-day, making the ground so bad that orders were finally issued that no waggons should go west of the plank road, all stores being sent thence on pack mules. In the morning came a couple of hundred Rebel prisoners, taken yesterday. Among them were a number of their Maryland brigade, quite well dressed and superior men, many of them. They were very civil, but evidently more touchy than the extreme Southerners, who exhibit no feeling at all. These Marylanders, however, were very anxious to say they were fighting hard when taken, which I don’t doubt they were. They had the remains of fancy clothes on, including little kepis, half grey and half sky-blue. There was one officer who was next-door neighbor of Dr. McParlin, our Medical Director, and the Doctor went to see him. General [Seth] Williams has just been in. His great delight is to rub the fuzz on top of my head with his finger, and exclaim: “Wonder what color the baby’s hair is going to be!”

Theodore Lyman’s letter is from Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, pp. 220-1. Edited by George R. Agassiz. Boston, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1922. Available via Google Books.