Virginia Cavalry
Company A - White’s Battalion

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Elijah V. White

Formed in December 1861 by Elijah V. White in Loudoun County, Virginia, the 35th eventually consisted of six companies of cavalry, enough for “battalion” status but not the required ten for “regiment” status according to regulations. They were known as “White’s Rebels”, “White’s Guerillas” and later as the “Comanches” . Five companies were from Virginia and one from neighboring Maryland. The original company, Company A,is the unit our group portrays. White was originally commissioned to raise a company for “border service generally” and this would be a source of irritation later when they would be brigaded with the regulars against their wishes. When not serving with the main army the 35th was involved in the bitter warfare that divided residents of  Loudoun County in the mixture of pacifist Quakers, pro-Union citizens versus secessionists. When mustered into the regular army, the 35th were frequently granted leave to return to Loudoun to seek forage and new mounts, and while at home often engaged the Federals in the area, including their locally raised nemesis, the Loudoun Rangers.   In addition, one of White's men, John Mobberly, broke off from the unit and formed a semi-independent guerrilla command that terrorized northwest Loudoun County during the later years of the war.

The 35th’s first assignment was border service in Loudoun County aiding Maj. General D.H. Hill who was in command there. The 35th briefly joined with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry,  raiding the Union garrisons in Loudoun. They were then assigned to Gen’l Richard Ewell and participated in Jackson’s Valley Campaign in 1862. White incurred the wrath of the Cavalry commander Gen’l J.E.B. Stuart and was on detached service for the Army of Northern Virginia’s Maryland Campaign.  The 35th played a conspicuous part in the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863 and saved Stuart from certain defeat. They charged the oncoming Federal horsemen gaining valuable time and then formed a key part of the defensive position near St. James Church, helping to fend off a series of charges by Union cavalry there.

Within a few days after Brandy Station, the 35th was left with the army as the only cavalry as Gen’l Stuart was raiding in the enemy’s lines with the majority of the Cavalry Brigade. After entering Pennsylvania on June 23, Ewell assigned the 35th to the division of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, to screen the advance into Maryland and Pennsylvania, and to conduct a series of raids against Federal supply lines. White led a daring attack on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad depot at Point-of-Rocks, Maryland, in which he defeated his old nemesis, the Loudoun Rangers, seized and burned supply wagons, and captured a trainload of supplies intended for the Union garrison Gettysburg on June 26. White's men routed Union militia home guard cavalry near Marsh Creek and became the first Confederate troops to enter the borough.  They were part of an expeditionary force under the command of Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon that departed Gettysburg for York County, Pennsylvania, with a goal of capturing the town of York and seizing important Susquehanna River crossings. White's battalion destroyed scores of railroad bridges and conducted a successful raid that seized the important railroad and telegraphic center at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania. Elements of the battalion were among the first Confederate troops to reach the Susquehanna at Wrightsville, Penn, on June 28th, skirmishing with the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry before turning westward, where the 35th performed scouting and flank protection duty during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Later in 1863, the 35th was re-attached to the famed "Laurel Brigade," serving again directly under General Jones in the Mine Run and Bristoe campaigns. In 1864, the 35th was again active in the Loudoun Valley, as well as supporting the Army of Northern Virginia during the Overland Campaign and subsequent actions. In September 1864, the 35th accompanied Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton on his famous Cattle raid, where they played a key role in driving off the Federal cattle guards and securing the cattle.

In April 1865, the battalion was the rearguard as the Army of Northern Virginia retreated towards the Appomattox River. After the mortal wounding of Gen’l Dearing, Colonel White became the last commander of the “Laurel Brigade”. Just prior to Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, members of the 35th served as couriers delivering General Ulysses S. Grant's surrender terms. Lt. Colonel White and the 35th did not surrender with the rest of the army, but instead rode around enemy lines and returned to Loudoun County, where they disbanded.