Bledsoe’s in the Civil War

(Southwest Virginia)
From: Ed Johnson <>


May 11, 2011


              During the Civil War eleven Bledsoe’s from Lee and Scott Counties Virginia enlisted in the 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion and subsequently was re-designated the 25th Regiment Virginia Cavalry.  From the time of activation during the late summer and fall of 1862 through the surrender in April 1865 the Bledsoe’s fought during the campaigns in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  While no Bledsoe’s are identified by name you can follow their travels and battles by the companies they served with (see roster at the end of document).

              The primary source for this summary is The 25th Virginia Cavalry by Dobbie E. Lambert which is part of the Virginia Regimental Historical Series.  Additional information was obtained from A Guide to

Military Operations by Lee A. Wallace.


Organization and Lineage



              The 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion Companies A, B, C, D, E and F were activated August and September 1862.  Companies G and H were activated during November 1862 and Company I activated

April 1863. Company K was formed in March 1864 from Logan’s Mounted Howitzer Battery.  Company K served as a light mountain howitzer battery.

              Prior to June 1863 the 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion was also known as 27th Battalion Partisan Rangers or Trigg’s Partisan Rangers.

              On July 8, 1864 the 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion was re-designated the 25th Regiment Virginia Cavalry.   The reason for change was that the 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion had 8 companies

and 1st Lieutenant B.P. Deyerle’s Detachment of Artillery.  With the addition of Captain George T. Lyle’s Company K the requirement of 9 companies was met to form a regiment.  Numerical designation was probably changed to avoid confusion between the two units??


27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion


            Within weeks of activation in September the 27th VA Cav was involved in the invasion of Kentucky with only minimal training, equipment and provisions.  Only Companies A, C, D and E

participated.  Company B was available and it is documented that they were short of weapons.  Companies F, G, H, I and K were not yet formed.

              In September 1862 Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall’s force of about 5,000 was advancing through Pound Gap (Wise Co, VA) on the Kentucky-Virginia border.  The plan was to

to support Major General Kirby Smith’s (CSA) invasion of Kentucky by securing southeastern Kentucky.


The 27th VA Cav start was less than impressive.  About 250 of the 400 members deserted during the first month this coupled with not enough horses and weapons posed severe problems

for its commander Lieutenant Colonel Henry Edmundson.  The remaining 150 men of the 27th VA Cav did not play a significant role in this campaign.  The ones who did participate gained valuable combat experience.

 Brigadier Marshall’s force crossed the KY-VA border around September 10, 1862 and by September 13, 1862 they were in Whitesburg, KY.  Their route of march had them in West Liberty,

KY on September 15, 1862 and in Owingsville, KY by September 27, 1862.  The 27th VA Cav saw little action during this time.  Marshall’s force remained in the Mount Sterling, KY until early

October 1862.

 By October 10, 1862 all southern troops began retreating back towards Virginia and Tennessee.  It is noted that on October 17-18, 1862 the 27th VA Cav was with Lieutenant

Colonel Robert Trigg the Commander of the 54th VA Inf at Owingsville, KY and moved with them back to Virginia.

              When the 27th VA Cav returned to Virginia in late October 1862 they completed their organization with the addition of Companies F, G, H and I.  During the fall the 27th VA Cav continued

their equipping and training through December 1862.

              The Confederate situation in Virginia required that General Robert E. Lee reduce his forces facing Union forces to the north.  Additional units were to be brought into Richmond, VA to defend against Union troops.  General Marshall was directed to provide two regiments and the 29th (Moore’s) VA Inf and 54th (Trigg’s) VA Inf.

              The 27th VA Cav was dismounted and brought along on the campaign as part of the 54th VA Inf. The horses were returned to soldiers homes or government corrals for the winter due to a shortage of forage in eastern Virginia and limited railroad cars to transport them.

              On December 16, 1862 the 27th VA Cav boarded trains in Wytheville, VA and headed for Petersburg, VA .  Upon arrival they were attached to Brigadier Raleigh E. Colston’s Brigade and the

handed off to Brigadier General Roger Pryor’s Brigade.


NOTE 1:  Company B was not in Petersburg, VA.  Still lacking weapons they were sent to Camp Green   Hill in Lee County, VA.   There is an area called Green Hill near Dryden, VA.          

NOTE 2:  During the time that the 27th VA Cav was assigned the 54th VA Inf under Colonel Robert Trigg  they were called Trigg’s Partisan Rangers or 27th Battalion Partisan Rangers??

NOTE 3: There was one reference to 27th VA Cav being referred to as 27th Virginia Mounted Riflemen


              While the majority of the 27th VA Cav was in eastern Virginia Company B under Captain Samuel Larmer was still in Lee Co, VA rounding up deserters and training new recruits.  The activities

of Captain Larmer and Company B during late December 1682 and early 1863 deserve special attention.

              On December 25, 1862 Union General Samuel Carter moved against the Confederate forces in east Tennessee and southwest Virginia with approximately 1000 troops.  The first part of this raid took part in Lee Co, VA passing about 5 miles east of Jonesville, VA.  His presence was so unexpected that by moving at night he nearly passed through undetected.  A few of his men went into Stickleyville, VA.  These troops gave warning to Union presence.   General Carter later stated “a number of rebel soldiers belonging to Trigg’s battalion (???) came within our lines, supposing we were their friends and were captured”.   The 27th VA Cav roster reveals that 13 men were captured in Lee Co, VA on December 29, 1862.


              Captain Larmer was located at Pattonsville in Scott Co, VA and immediately notified General Marshall in Abingdon, VA that a Union force was marching on Bristol, VA.  Carter’s

objective was the railroad (location not listed).  The Confederate forces were spread over 60 square miles and without horses could not offer a reaction.

              General Carter succeeded in reaching Tennessee and destroyed a portion of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (location not listed) began making his way back to Kentucky via Lee

County, VA on January 2, 1863.  Just as they reached Jonesville, VA Larmer’s (Co B 27th VA Cav)) and Staley’s  companies  (not stated but probably from 64th VA Inf) occupied high ground at Hunter’s Gap (near Ben Hur, VA). They began skirmishing Jones’s force and were routed by the 2nd Michigan Cavalry.

              Back in Southhampton County the portion of the 27th VA Cav with General Pryor’s Brigade was active in occupying the Blackwater River Line (near Franklin, VA).  The swampy conditions of the area and the sickness incurred plus the desertion rate contributed the depletion of the 27th VA Cav.              

On January 25, 1863 Pryor’s Brigade crossed the Blackwater River on a foraging expedition

with the ‘partisan rangers” being held in reserve.    On January 29, 1863 a portion of the 27th VA Cav under Major Sylvester McConnell was ordered to a position approximately one mile behind the

Confederate line with a section of artillery under Captain Martin (possibly Captain S. Taylor Martins Battery of Virginia Artillery???).  The Union forces attacked about 3PM and three hours later Pryor’s brigade was flanked and retreated by echelon.  Pryor regrouped and re-crossed the Blackwater River towards Franklin, VA.  The 27th VA Cav did not have any casualties during this fight.

              During early February 1863 the 27th VA Cav ordered to report to General Marshall at the Lee County Courthouse in Jonesville, VA.  The next muster was taken on February 28, 1863. The 27thVA Cav “was dispersed as they returned to gather their horses”.

              General Marshall sent a small force into Kentucky on February 14, 1863 with the 27th VA Cav following in the middle of March.  The route is difficult to trace and furthest point of advance is unknown.  Their return route was through Manchester, KY (Clay Co); Cumberland Ford (now Pineville, KY) and Harlan County Courthouse (Harlan, KY) without the loss of a single man via Cranks Gap (near Hubbard Springs) back to Lee Co, VA.

              Upon return to Lee Co, VA they resumed picket duty and patrolling the Kentucky border throughout the spring and summer of 1863. The 27th VA Cav was noted as being in Harlan, KY during mid to late April 1863 paroling prisoners.

              In April 1863 Company I was formed and became part of the 27th VA Cav.  By this time the term partisan rangers ceased to being used.

              During June 1863 the Union pressure on Harlan Co, KY forced the Confederate forces to pull back through the gaps along the Kentucky-Virginia border.  In early July 1863 a Union

raid was conducted against southwest Virginia and by July 11, 1863 the Union raiders were back in Kentucky.

              In late August 1863 Confederate forces were being transferred to Cumberland Gap to reinforce their garrison.  Union General Ambrose Burnside had advanced into east Tennessee after capturing Knoxville, TN on September 1, 1863.  Burnside sent a column northward to attack the southern flank of Cumberland Gap.  Meanwhile another Union force was approaching from the north.

              The 64th VA Inf, a unit closely associated with the 27th VA Cav would join several other units under General John W. Frazer to defend Cumberland Gap.  Eight days later General Frazer was forced to surrender Cumberland  Gap.


The 27th VA Cav avoided the catastrophe while many of the 64th VA Inf were captured and imprisoned.  A number of the 64th VA Inf refused to surrender and fought their way to the east.   

The 27th VA Cav was split into two separate units.  One under Major Sylvester McConnell included Companies B, G and H.  The remainder under Lieutenant Colonel Henry Edmundson (Companies A, C, D, E and F) continued to operate in Lee Co, VA.  Company I was detached during this time for unknown reasons.


NOTE: Both McConnell’s and Edmundson’s elements were reported as 27th VA Cav in reports.


               Confederate operations against Cumberland Gap were consciously aware that Burnside had a force of about 12,000 men in the area and could strike at any time against southwest Virginia.

              From camps in Lee and Scott counties, Edmundson’s began using the 27th VA Cav as a raiding force ambushing the columns that supplied Cumberland Gap.

              Prior to leaving southwest Virginia the 27th VA Cav (McConnell’s force) was assigned to Colonel George Hodge’s Kentucky Brigade.  They met below Knoxville, TN in mid-August 1863 and

were assigned to General John Pegram’s Cavalry Division.

              On September 2, 1863 Hodge’s Brigade was in Athens, TN and September 3, 1863 they were in Charleston, TN on the right bank of the Hiwassee River.  On September 4, 1863 Hodge’s Brigade received orders from General Nathan Bedford Forrest to picket the roads leading to four previously identified fords on the Hiwassee River and provide early warning of enemy forces.

              The following day Hodge’s Brigade engaged Union forces on the Cleveland (TN)-Dalton (GA) Road south of Cleveland, TN near Bridge Hill.  The 27th VA Cav attacked and drove a wedge between the two Union forces and cutoff their retreat.  When a Union infantry company appeared to its rear

McConnell’s force wheeled and killed the Union captain and captured his entire company.  

              During the Battle of Chickamauga September 19-20, 1863 Hodge’s Brigade was in the vicinity. They acted as “command and observation” and were prepared to counter any move against General Braxton Bragg’s flank.

On September 30, 1863 General Forrest ordered Scott’s and Hodge’s Brigades to report to General Joe Wheelers headquarters.   During the early morning hours of October 3, 1863 Wheeler’s force set off southward through Tennessee’s Sequatchie Valley.  The 27th VA Cav crossed the Tennessee River at Cotton’s Fort and proceeded west towards Murfreesboro, TN. Skirmishing with the Union cavalry along the way.  Hodges’s Brigade helped drive the Union pickets into town.  The 27th VA Cav was assigned the task of tearing up the surrounding railroads and burning crossties.  The southern cavalryman then turned towards Pulaski, TN.

              The 27th VA Cav was involved in a heavy skirmish at Farmington, TN on October 7, 1863.

General Wheeler was unable to coordinate a cohesive defense and was forced to retreat.  The retreat turned into a rout.  General Hodges attempted to form a defense but was forced to withdraw.  On October 9, 1863 Hodges Brigade crossed the Tennessee River at Muscle Shoals having lost one-third of his brigade.

              On October 31, 1863 Major McConnell conducted a muster at Gunthersville, AL.  Only Company B and G’s roster has survived.  Company B had 41 and Company G had 29 present.

              On November 18, 1863 Major McConnell was listed as commanding a detachment of cavalry near Nickajack Pass (state unknown).  He stated that he had only 75 men.  On December 15, 1863 Hodge’s Brigade received orders to return McConnell and his remaining men to the Department of Southwest Virginia.  Muster on December 31, 1863 showed that Company G was at Saltville, VA.  They were given a well-deserved furlough after the campaign in Tennessee.


January and February 1864 found Company G on furlough probably due to their physical condition, lack of weapons and horses???   Around February 20, 1864 a scout from

Company I 27th VA Cav located the 11th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment (US) and two infantry companies at Wyerman’s Mill about 5 miles east of Cumberland Gap.  This information was passed

to Brigadier General  William E. (Grumble) Jones who was the brigade commander.

              General Jones using Company G 27th VA Cav as guides for his Brigade slipped them between the Union forces and Cumberland Gap.  Most of the Jones Brigade attacked from the West while the 34th Virginia Cavalry attacked from the east.  The 11th TN Cav (US) suffered 13 KIA, many wounded and 256 POW.  They captured 8 wagons, 100 horses plus many blankets and overcoats.  One of the infantry companies managed to escape.  General Jones losses were minimal.

              During March through May 1864 the 27th VA Cav had only minimal contact with the Union forces in southwest Virginia.  The Jones Brigade was used to harass Union forces who attempted to destroy the salt works at Saltville (VA).


NOTE: This action is not to be confused with The Battle of Saltville on October 2, 1864 resulting in a Confederate victory


              On May 9, 1864 the Jones Brigade was rushed to Wytheville, VA.  He was ordered to stop General William Averell’s Union force from capturing and destroying the train depot.  General John Hunt Morgan’s Cavalry was shadowing General Averell.  He drove them into a trap at Crockett’s Cove about 8 miles north of Wytheville, VA where Jones’s Brigade inflicted heavy losses.  After a 4 hour fight the Union force withdrew under the cover of darkness losing 114 KIA.  Jones’s Brigade and the 27th VA Cav casualties were minimal.

              Brigadier William E. (Grumble) Jones in May 1864 was promoted Commander of the Department of Southwest Virginia.  Shortly upon assumption of command Union General

David Hunter began his campaign southward down the Shenandoah Valley.   General Robert E. Lee ordered Brigadier Jones “Get all the available forces you can and at once to Imboden’s

assistance to defend the valley”.   Jones began moving by train all available forces towards the Shenandoah Valley.

              The 27th VA Cav arrived in small detachments rather than as an organized unit when they arrived in Staunton, VA June 3-4, 1864.  They were formed into provisional brigades under

Colonels Jones and Brown.  No records survives on what brigades the companies of the 27th VA Cav were assigned to.  All companies of the 27th VA Cav were represented during the Battle

of Piedmont.  Jones and Browns brigades were placed across the path of General Hunter’s line of march just north of the Village of Piedmont (several miles northeast of Staunton, VA).

              On June 5, 1864 General Hunter attacked the Confederate force head on and simultaneously attempted to flank Imboden’s and Vaughn’s brigades to the east.  The outnumbered Confederates were overrun by General Hunter’s force.  Brigadier General William E. (Grumble) Jones while riding forward to stop Hunter’s attack was shot through the head and died instantly.  Most of the 27th VA Cav companies were near the front with their respective brigades during the final assault.

              After the Battle of Piedmont the 27th VA Cav was scattered and probably attached themselves to various cavalry units that were harassing General Hunters force attacking towards Lynchburg, VA  June 6-18, 1864.  No records exist during this period for the 27th VA Cav.


General Jubal Early attacked General Hunter on June 18, 1864 and the following day he began retreating back up the Shenandoah Valley.  General Early immediately began a pursuit with his

cavalry harassing Hunter’s rear.

              Sometime in late June 1864, the 27th VA Cav regrouped and was assigned to General Bradley Johnson’s Brigade???

              General Jubal Early began attacking northeast up the Shenandoah Valley towards Washington, DC.  By July 6, 1864 the 27th VA Cav was near Leetown, VA near the Virginia-Maryland border.

              Johnson’s Brigade was given the task of sweeping to the north and east cutting communications between Baltimore and Washington D.C.  He also was to liberate Confederate prisoners being held at Point Lookout, Maryland.  After arriving near Baltimore, Johnson received word that two corps of General Ulysses s. Grant’s was off loading in Washington with the mission of destroying General Jubal Early.  On July 12, 1864 General Early began pulling back into Virginia.  The 27th VA Cav was with Johnson’s Brigade during this raid and was part of the rear guard for Early’s retreat.


NOTE: On July 8, 1864 Special Order No 159 issued by the Adjutant and Inspector General that the 27th Virginia Cavalry Battalion was re-designated the 25th Regiment Virginia Cavalry.

             Lieutenant Colonel Henry Edmundson continued in command.


25th Regiment Virginia Cavalry


              General Early rested July 16-18, 1864 near Leesburg, VA and headed for Snickers Gap (10 miles west of Leesburg, VA) with Johnson’s Brigade covering the right flank.  The 25th VA Cav continued to conduct scouting and rear guard actions on the retreat westward towards Winchester, VA.  During this time Johnson’s Brigade was active on the road to Front Royal.  They made contact with Union forces of General George Crook resulting in him losing 1200 men, 70 wagons and 12 cannon.  Johnson’s Brigade along with other Confederate Cavalry began a pursuit northward towards the Potomac River.

              On July 25, 1864 Johnson’s Brigade was in a sharp action with Union forces near present day Martinsburg, MD.  Johnson’s Brigade spent July 26-27, 1864 tearing up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

              Generals McCausland and Johnson were ordered to their brigades on a raid towards Chambersburg, PA with McCausland commanding the operation.  Johnson’s Brigade crossed the Potomac at McCoy’s Ferry (about 7 miles west of present day Williamsport, MD).  They skirmished all the way to Mercersburg, PA.  General Johnson ordered Colonel Peters 21st VA Cav into Chambersburg with the 25th VA Cav following.  McCausland ordered Chambersburg burned and when the fires were out of control headed west towards McConnellsburg, PA before sundown on July 30, 1864.  McCausland

ordered a move towards Hancock, MD then southwest to Bevansville, MD on the WV-MD border arriving around 3 AM where they unsaddled and fed their mounts.  At sunrise they advanced east

towards Cumberland, MD.  With McCausland being the leading brigade engaged the enemy.  It was then decided to withdraw to Virginia and arrived in Old Town, MD  on August 2, 1864 (about 8 miles southeast of Cumberland, MD).  The Union forces had occupied a hill on their path of march.   General Johnson immediately attacked with the 25th VA Cav with Company G (Captain Thomas Gibson) and the 8th VA Cav.  Johnson’s other units built a bridge over a canal flanking the Federals.  80 men of the 53rd Ohio Infantry Regiment along with its regimental colors were captured.  On August 4, 1864 the 25th VA Cav was in New Creek, MD.


Several days later found the 25th VA Cav in Moorefield, MD when they were overrun by Union Cavalry throwing the camp into a panic.  Company G (Captain Thomas Gibson) and Colonel Peter’s 21st VA Cav were ordered by General Johnson to form a line which they held for a short time.  Captain Gibson was wounded during the battle and along with Colonel Peters they were captured.

              The 25th VA Cav casualties at Moorefield, MD were few because they were able to “scramble to safety”.  Compared to other Confederate cavalry units the 25th VA Cav escaped major damage. After Moorefield the 25th VA Cav had less than 200 men.  On August 31, 1864 the 25th VA Cav was in Winchester, VA.

              During September 1864 the 25th VA Cav was still in the northern Shenandoah Valley and regularly skirmishing with Union troops.  Early October 1864 found the 25th VA Cav continuing to skirmish with Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley.  On October 8, 1864 Johnson’s Brigade was part of an attack against a Union cavalry force near Edinburg, VA which was forced to retreat.

On the morning of October 9, 1864 Johnson’s Brigade was attacked at Tom’s Brook, VA by Devlin’s Brigade (US).   Johnson fared well in the dense woods but when forced to withdraw into a clearing they were no match for the Union troops using Spencer repeating rifles. They were forced to retreat all the way to New Market, VA resulting in a decisive defeat for the Confederates.

              On October 17, 1864 General Jubal Early’s force conducted a reconnaissance of the Union camp on Cedar Creek, VA (about 3 miles east of Strasburg, VA).  Using a little known trail Early moved over 10,000 men to attack 35,000 unsuspecting Federal troops.  On the night of October 18, 1864 they began their march arriving near the southeast corner of the Union camp under cover of darkness.

              The attack began at reveille and the attack rolled like a tidal wave through the enemy camp. The Union forces were so staggered by the sudden assault that it seemed the Confederate might have  a decisive victory.  Unfortunately, the attacker stopped to pillage the well-stocked camp.  The Confederates lost the momentum and Early lost control of his men.  In the late afternoon General

Phillip Sheridan rallied his troops and routed the Confederate forces.  One of General Early’s staff wrote “Thus one of the most brilliant victories of the war turned into one of the most disgraceful


Johnson’s Brigade and the 25th VA Cav were near Front Royal, VA and did not participate in this debacle.  They were in isolated earth works being pressured by General Phillip Sheridan’s

cavalry.   While the action “was intense” they were able to defend and eventually the Union cavalry withdrew.  Johnson’s Brigade remained at Front Royal until November 10, 1864.

              By the end of 1864 the 25th VA Cav could hardly be called a regiment.  Lieutenant Colonel Edmundson resigned due to “health reasons” and Major Warren Hopkins assumed command.  He was promoted to Colonel on January 19, 1865.  Most of the men were without horses, pistols or carbines.  They were poorly clad, malnourished, mentally and physically exhausted. 

              The 25th VA Cav was attached to Brigadier General John Imboden’s Brigade as part of the reorganization of Confederate cavalry.  Other units of Imboden’s Brigade were the 18th VA Cav,

23rd VA Cav and the 62nd VA Cav.  The brigade was still part of Lunsford Lomax’s Division.  During late November and December “there was much skirmishing and low intensity fighting”.  During this time the 25th VA Cav fought on foot, performed picket duty and with remaining horse mounted soldiers scouted the Lourey Valley (northeast of Lynchburg, VA) where they were located.


In January 1865 the 25th VA Cav returned to southwest Virginia and placed on furlough until March 1, 1865. 

The 25th VA Cav was supposed to rendezvous at Estillville (now Gate City) in Scott Co, VA on February 28, 1865. Whether the unit assembled as planned is unknown.  There is no indication that the 25th VA Cav took to the field again as a regiment.


NOTE:  Most of Companies B, E and G surrendered en masse at Cumberland Gap on April 25, 1865. 


                                                                    Company A


 1. Campbell Bledsoe- Enlisted Co A in Scott Co, VA on August 16, 1862 on 1909 Scott Co, VA pension list


Company B


 1. Abraham Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Lee Co, VA on August 19, 1862. Paroled April 29, 1865

 2. Austin Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Scott Co, VA on August 19, 1862 on 1909 Lee Co, VA pension list

 3. David D. Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Scott Co, VA September 28, 1862 widow on 1909 Scott Co, VA pension list.

 4. Elias Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Lee Co, VA August 19, 1862 widow on 1909 Lee Co, VA pension list

 5. George W. Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Scott Co, VA August 19, 1862

 6. Huston Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B UNKNOWN

 7. Newton Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Scott Co, VA August 19, 1862

 8. Thomas L. Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B in Scott Co, VA September 28, 1862 Contacted fever unable to serve

 9. Thomas W. Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B August 19, 1862 in Lee Co, VA.  Transferred to 8th VA Cav June 1863

10. Winder Bledsoe-Enlisted Co B August 19, 1862 in Lee Co, VA.  Paroled April 29, 1865


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