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Fine Images and Documents
20325 General William Averell CDV waist up view of Averell in
uniform. After the capture of Fort Sumter, Lt. Averell made a risky
solo journey across the country to the New Mexico Territory with a
message to summon his old mounted rifle regiment back east to join
the fighting.Averell first saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run. In
August 1861, he was appointed colonel of the 3rd Pennsylvania
Cavalry regiment, which he led through the Peninsula Campaign and
the Seven Days Battles. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Averell
a brigadier general of volunteers on September 26, 1862 to rank from
that date.During the Battle of Fredericksburg, Averell commanded
the Cavalry Brigade of the Center Grand Division of the Army of the
Potomac. He ascended to division command—the 2nd division of the
Cavalry Corps—on February 12, 1863. His division fought the first
engagement in which Union cavalrymen claimed victory against their
Confederate counterparts, the Battle of Kelly's Ford on March 17,
1863. At a time when Lt. Gen. Jubal Early had invaded Maryland and
defeated a series of Union commanders, Averell proved to be the only
Union commander to achieve victory against the Confederates in the
Shenandoah Valley. He routed Confederate Maj. Gen. Stephen D.
Ramseur at the Battle of Rutherford's (Carter's) Farm on July 20,
inflicting 400 casualties and capturing a four-gun battery, in spite of
Averell's being significantly outnumbered. When Brig. Gen. John
McCausland burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to the ground on
July 30, Averell tracked him down at Moorefield, West Virginia.
Using intelligence gathered from his scouts, Averell routed
McCausland in a sunrise attack upon the Confederate camp capturing
hundreds of prisoners and another four-gun battery. During the
Valley Campaigns of 1864 against Early, Averell fought under Maj.
Gen. Philip Sheridan. He was relieved of command following a dispute
with Sheridan about Averell's actions at the Battle of Fisher's Hill.
This incident truly devastated him and he could not hide his misery. A
staff officer wrote "I saw General Averell sitting in front of his tent ...
He was dreadfully depressed and broken. I believe he started for the
rear within a few moments after we left him, and never was employed
again during the war." Back marked E&HT Anthony from Brady’s
National Portrait Gallery, New York. $185