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The Civil War Memoirs of a Virginia Cavalryman

Lt. Robert T. Hubard Jr.

Written by Robert T. Hubard and edited by Thomas P Nanzig

Publication Year: 2007

A witness who brings remarkable life and color to the Civil War in the East.
    Robert Hubard was an enlisted man and officer of the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia (CSA) from 1861 through 1865. He wrote his memoir during an extended convalescence spent at his father’s Virginia plantation after being wounded at the battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. Hubard served under such Confederate luminaries as Jeb Stuart, Fitz Lee, Wade Hampton, and Thomas L. Rosser. He and his unit fought at the battles of Antietam, on the Chambersburg Raid, in the Shenandoah Valley, at Fredericksburg, Kelly’s Ford, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, and down into Virginia from the Wilderness to nearly the end of the war at Five Forks.
    Hubard was like many of his class and station a son of privilege and may have felt that his service was an act of noblesse oblige. Unlike many of his contemporaries, however, he was a keen observer and a writer of unusual grace, clarity, humor, and intelligence. The editor has fleshed out his memoir by judicious use of Hubard’s own wartime letters, which not only fill in gaps but permit the reader to see developments in the writer’s thinking after
the passage of time. Because he was a participant in events of high drama and endured the quotidian life of a soldier, Hubard’s memoir should be of value to both scholars and avocational readers.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xix

Such was the description penned by one brother of another during the American Civil War. Like so many other young Virginians of the era, Robert Thruston Hubard, Jr., was bound to do his duty as he understood the priorities of ancestors: God, family, state, and nation. But adherence to his religious beliefs, his kin, and his Commonwealth of Virginia left no room in Hubard for duty to the Federal government of 1861. As a ...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

The first time I threaded a filmed copy of Robert Hubard’s handwritten manuscript onto a library microfilm reader, I realized that this young Virginian’s memoirs were very special. Hubard’s colorful and engaging descriptions of his war years in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry, a unit very familiar to me from earlier regimental research, were both enlightening and entertaining. ...

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Editor’s Note

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pp. xxv-xxvi

The ledger book into which Robert T. Hubard, Jr., entered his Civil War experiences contained somewhat more text than appears in this edited account. Hubard was interested not only in relating his own service actions and those of his regiment but also in documenting other military campaigns that affected the course of the war. Although Hubard’s accounts of such campaigns as Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga ...

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pp. 1-4

The following record of events, so far as they were connected with the personal experiences of the writer, does not claim completeness (even as to that experience) for, begun (as it is) on the 21st of July 1865, much that is now forgotten is necessarily omitted, and there are doubtless some inaccuracies as to dates, etc. But in reference to direct operations and positive historical statements there will be, it is confidently believed, few ...

Year 1: 1861

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1. “Three Cheers for the Southern Flag!”

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pp. 7-14

The State of Virginia, having been eminently conservative, did not at once follow the lead of the impulsive State of South Carolina; but chose rather to first exhaust every means of settling the difficulties which had arisen and restoring harmony. At the election of members to the State Convention, the Union candidates—generally representing their opponents as “unconditional secessionists” and themselves ...

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Correspondence, 1861

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pp. 15-24

... Since I saw you we have had one little skirmish in which we killed or took prisoners thirty of thirty-three which we have at last ascertained from their confessions. I had but little share in the fight save in frightening them by the charge. I took no prisoner and had but one shot which was at long range with a carbine whose lower sight ...

Year 2: 1862

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2. “The Rapid Decline of Martial Spirit”

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pp. 27-31

On the Peninsula we had not been idle during the fall and winter. Besides a tolerably strong line of advances works from a point on the York River via Bethel to Young’s mill and thence to James River, Yorktown and Gloucester Point were strongly fortified by water batteries, bastion forts, field redoubts, rifle pits, a series of bastion forts and redoubts connected ...

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3. “Our Little Peninsula World”

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pp. 32-43

Our little Peninsula world had now become a real “Theater of War.” [George B.] McClellan had advanced from Fort Monroe with 120,000 men and on the 11th April, Brigadier General Magruder withdrew all his little force behind his Yorktown and Lee’s Mill line of works and stood ready to defend them. On the 12th a strong column of “blue jackets” ...

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4. “The Enemy Were Worsted”

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pp. 44-56

What effect Hancock’s slight success might have had if Johnston had fought another day at Williamsburg, I cannot tell you. But as Johnston was trying to retreat to Richmond without a fight, and as that great commander well knew the danger of delay with bad roads before him and flanked by the rivers, the army retreated before daylight of the 22nd.1 ...

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5. “A Little Stream of Limestone Water”

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pp. 57-65

Now that Richmond had been relieved by the defeat of McClellan first and again by the recent defeat of the same army recruited and heavily reinforced, the government resolved to try the bold expedient of invasion. I do not know whether Lee advised it or not. Jackson was certainly in favor of it. In Virginia Lee’s army had accomplished so much he might very naturally believe it capable of accomplishing almost anything. It is ...

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6. “Stuart Set Out on a Raid”

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pp. 66-73

Immediately after the battle of Sharpsburg it became evident that some general policy must be adopted to ensure the efficiency of our cavalry. Under Brigadier Generals [John] Buford, Bayard, and others and under the management of Major General Pleasanton, the Federal cavalry was improving greatly in efficiency. Stuart’s raids had taught the enemy the necessity of keeping up a strong cavalry force to protect ...

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Correspondence, 1862

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pp. 74-76

... We have had stirring times. “Richmond has been conquered at Fredericksburg and occupied by the army from Suffolk and the Rebel army of the East is crushed.” (Herald) Many criticisms will be passed on our glorious Lee. His name will be lightly spoken of by many. But I assure you he has acquitted himself nobly. ...

Year 3: 1863

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7. “One of the Best Cavalry Fights of the War”

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pp. 79-87

Our brigade now marched via Bowling Green to Mangohick Church in King William County and went into camp. We didn’t build huts but had about ten tents to a company to which we built wooden chimneys, got straw to put on the ground for our beds, and made ourselves tolerably comfortable. ...

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8. “Our Brigade Advanced to Aldie”

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pp. 88-106

The morning of the 1st of May dawned upon us through the clouds and fog. But gradually the vapors arose and floated away and the lessening clouds were at length parted asunder by the dissolving rays of the sun and a warm, pleasant May day breathed its sweet influence upon us. Lieutenant General Jackson passed by us as we lay about in our roadside camp awaiting orders and presently I was called upon by my colonel to ...

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9. “To Gain Kilpatrick’s Rear at Buckland”

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pp. 107-116

While we were at Fredericksburg the Army of Northern Virginia lay quietly in camp along the south bank of the Rapidan, General Meade’s forces being mostly beyond Culpeper Court House. Our life now was quite monotonous for a month. One division of Yankee cavalry were in camp about two miles from Falmouth and picketted the river opposite ...

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Correspondence, 1863

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pp. 117-128

... Your letter by Phil Grigg reached me yesterday and was highly gratifying although you seem, as usual, inclined rather to discourage any attempt on my part to obtain promotion. In all kindness and reverence, I would like to ask if it had not occurred to you that your sons are too little inclined naturally to rely on themselves and to push themselves, and do we not need a spur to encourage our ambition ...

Year 4: 1864

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10. “Boys, You Have Made the Most Glorious Fight” [Including Image Plates]

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pp. 131-146

Matters were now very gloomy, the prospects of the Confederacy were very doubtful and many had despaired since the battle of Gettysburg and fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Our currency was in a hopeless condition of depreciation. Our population had furnished nearly as many soldiers as it could naturally bear and the conscript laws therefore availed but little and the tax and impressment laws had nearly stripped ...

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11. “A Furious Charge Was Made Upon Our Line”

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pp. 162-183

We fell back to the Ashland Road and retreated over the Chickahominy across Half Sink Bridge, the retreat being covered by the 1st and 3rd Virginia Cavalry. Lomax’s Brigade lost heavily and ours considerably. The former lost two or three guns, I forget which.1 The gallant captain of artillery, [Major James] Breathed, was twice sabred that day but killed ...

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12. “We’re Off for the Valley”

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pp. 184-192

The weather was now extremely hot. The drought which began about the middle of May still continued, causing the roads to be dusty in the extreme.1 Wilson’s raiders so damaged the Danville & Southside Railroads that Lee’s army was for several weeks destitute of rations and our commands were subsisted on the coarsest corn-meal I ever saw. The rations ...

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13. “Tattered Flags Sporting in the Breeze”

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pp. 193-206

The morning was clear and cool, the booming of artillery at day-break was our only reveille. Without food for man or beast we saddled, mounted, formed, and moved off to Winchester by sunrise. Passing through town, we took the northeastern road towards Jordan’s Springs and dismounted on the hill beyond Mill Creek where our four-gun battery was placed so as to bear upon the Berryville Pike along which the enemy was advancing. 1 ...

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Correspondence, 1864

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pp. 207-210

... I wrote a hasty note to Pa some few days ago and have had no time to write since. Yesterday we crossed to the Richmond side of Chickahominy and went into camp. I had the good fortune to get hold of some clean clothes and take a bath which I very much enjoyed. We left camp early this morning and came across here to the “Darby Road” leading to Charles City and about five miles ...

Year 5: 1865

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14. “A Spectacle of Monstrous Absurdity!”

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pp. 213-220

I am already quite weary of my task. Each succeeding day makes it more sad and painful to dwell upon the scenes, particularly the closing scene of our grand, noble but, alas, fatally unsuccessful struggle against powerful human odds and Divine destiny. It was God’s will that all which we held sacred and dear should, for the time at least, be lost to us. ...

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pp. 221

December 3, 1866—I now close my journal or record of the war of 1861–1865. It is, of course, very imperfect but will serve its purpose of preserving for future reference the little incidents in my humble military career. And these may in after years be interesting to me or to those who come after me. ...

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Correspondence, 1865

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pp. 222-224

Your brother Lewis arrived this evening. Father being quite unwell and having written a good deal today, I have insisted on writing this letter for him. So you must not feel slighted at his not writing. I will do my best to represent him. I have feared that you might feel strongly of our not writing to you and attribute it to a want of regard for you— though I felt satisfied that if you would reflect a moment about the ...

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Postwar Correspondence

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pp. 225-227

... I am sure the pleasure would have been mine to have met any of my old comrades of the 3rd Va. Cavalry who were kind enough to have hunted for me at the (Burton Hotel, Danville) at the last reunion. I had been quite sick before leaving home and was induced to enjoy the hospitality of a friend in a private home &, hence, was cut off from mixing with many old comrades I would have loved to meet ...

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pp. 228-230

Sent to receive medical care at Farmville, then onward to his father’s Buckingham County plantation north of that town, Robert Hubard enjoyed the rare luxury of recovering in his own house in a region of Virginia that had been spared the hard hand of war. According to Hubard’s concluding paragraph, his war memoirs were completed on 3 December ...

Appendix A: Eyewitness Accounts of Bagley Shooting Incident

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pp. 231-232

Appendix B: Carter Account of Chambersburg Raid

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pp. 233-234


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pp. 235-284


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pp. 285-291


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pp. 293-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381981
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817315306

Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hubard, Robert Thruston, 1839-1921.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories
  • Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
  • Soldiers -- Virginia -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Cavalry operations.
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Virginia Cavalry Regiment, 3rd.
  • Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
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