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Glimpses of Soldiers' Lives: Edward Cary

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Private Edward A. Cary of Company I, 44th Virginia Infantry Regiment with his sister, Emma J. Garland née Cary
Private Edward A. Cary of Company I, 44th Virginia Infantry Regiment with his sister, Emma J. Garland née Cary
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.32599

Edward Cary, an 18-year-old from Drake's Branch in Charlotte County, Virginia, enlisted with the 44th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate army on May 8th, 1861, as the American Civil War was barely beginning. He fought in an engagement at Rich Mountain, West Virginia, and the battle of Greenbrier River, West Virginia, where a four-hour fight drove the Confederates back to their entrenchments and left six dead. 

Front Royal Va.--The Union Army under Banks entering the townFront Royal Va.--The Union Army under Banks entering the town. Drawing by Edwin Forbes, 1862 May 20.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.20502

October 3rd, 1861, the day of the Greenbrier River battle, was also the day that Cary’s brother William, who had also enlisted with the regiment, took leave to recover from illness at home.

The regiment avoided conflict until the next May and early June, when it fought in a string of battles throughout Virginia.  First was at McDowell, Virginia, on May 8th, when the regiments attempted to plant a battery on Bull Pasture Mountain but were driven back until nightfall and lost 75 men. 

A confrontation two weeks later at Front Royal saw more success for the Confederate forces, as they were not fooled by a Union ploy to give the false appearance of greater strength.  Though the retreating Union troops burned the nearby river’s bridges, the Confederate cavalry soon crossed and captured most of the force.

On June 2nd, 1862, the regiment faced a skirmish at Strasburg, then were overcome at Woodstock and lost many men, along with their fort, to the Union army.

Massanutten Mountain, near Strasburg, Va., looking S.W. Massanutten Mountain, near Strasburg, Va., looking S.W. Drawing by Edwin Forbes, 1862 July 4.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.20498

The Battle of Port Republic began six days later.  The first day saw some success for the Confederates, including Cary’s regiment, who were first driven back by Colonel Samuel Carroll’s Union troops, but then returned in force and caused a Union retreat.

The next day, the Confederates attacked the Union troops under James Gavin, and succeeded in capturing their batteries.  The Confederates turned the captured guns onto the Union troops, who fell back for four or five miles until reinforcements arrived.  Perhaps it was during this resurgence that Edward Cary fell.  He was one of just two Confederate soldiers killed.

His brother William had returned to the regiment just a month earlier, on May 15th.  He would remain with it, despite three periods of hospitalization, at least until September of 1864, when his name fades from the record.

Sources:

“Edward A. Cary.” Soldier Data. The American Civil War Research Database.. http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/cwdb/cwdb.object.details.aspx?handle=person&id=200346036 External link [subscription resource - access inside Library of Congress buildings]

"44th Virginia Infantry Regiment (Confederate)." Regiment Data. The American Civil War Research Database. http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/cwdb/cwdb.object.details.aspx?handle=regiment&id=200803 External link [subscription resource - access inside Library of Congress buildings]


Compiled by: Ann Tyler Moses, Liljenquist Family Fellow, 2012. Last updated 2012 July.
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  November 7, 2012
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