In Their Own Words
Battle of Chamberlain Run
March 31, 1865
1st N.C. Cavalry
General W.H. Cheek
Wednesday, January 3, 1894
A Graphic Letter of the War
We copy from the Henderson Gold Leaf, the following as showing at once the death rate of the war
and on what slender threads the story of state history hangs. Eighty men killed and wounded in a
single skeleton regiment in a small cavalry fight. And told only in a stray family letter.
Among the eighty were, besides Major McLeod, a dozen or more from Mecklenburg. Who can give
their names? And who can tell the full story of the bloody fight at Chamberlain Run on March 31,
A few days ago, in looking over a lot of old papers and letters for the purpose of getting some
Confederate stamps for a friend, General W.H. Cheek found among others one which we asked
permission to publish. It was a letter written to his wife immediately after the battle of Chamberlain
Run, about one mile west of Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, in which engagement the First North
Carolina Cavalry acquitted themselves with such conspicuous gallantry. The Battle of Five Forks at
the head of the run, was fought the next day by Pickett’s Division.
John and Als, mentioned in the letter, were our townsmen John T. Jones, brother of Mrs. Cheek, and
Als. Cheek, now living in Kentucky, brother of the writer. The letter is brief and characteristic
of many written home from the field of action in those trying times, but it contains much. It is well
to occasionally refresh our memories and call to mind the heroic deeds of the gallant North Carolina
soldiers by bringing to light such letters as these:
1st N.C. Cavalry
April 1, 1865
My Dear Alice:
We had a terrible fight yesterday. I lost eighty men in my regiment. Colonel Cowles was severely
wounded, Major McLeod slightly, Captain Dewey killed, Captain Coleman killed. Thirteen other officers
were wounded, several of whom will die. John and Als were not hurt. Nearly all the brim of my hat was
shot off. My horse (the one I lately bought) was shot twice and killed.
My regiment fought more gallantly than I ever knew it before. We waded a creek waist deep, 75 yards
wide, under heavy fire and drove the enemy from an entrenched position. Will give you full particulars
when I have more time.
General Lee complimented us in the highest terms. The 13th Virginia was on my left and after the fight
gave me three of the most enthusiastic cheers. Boots and saddles sounded.
Goodbye, darling. Send word to ma that Als and I escaped unhurt.
Transcribed by Christine Spencer, September 2008
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