Following the Battle of Fishers Hill, at one point in the campaign to pursue the rebels, the 22nd Pa Cavalry was put under the command of General George A. Custer. This only lasted for a period of a few days.
Gen. Kelly again ordered Capt. Hart to take 100 men to Moorefield with orders to scout that neighborhood thoroughly. Let them take a wagon in 10 days rations and hard bread, sugar, coffee, and salt, and depend on the country or forage and cattle. The General had already sent a scout from here to Petersburg orders to go to the mouth of the Seneca. Therefore Capt. Hart will watch the country toward Brock’s gap and Wardensville.
The next day June 1 Capt. Hart and Lieut. Gibson and 75 pick men well mounted and with a wagon in 10 days rations started for Moorefield.
June 4 the rumor reach our camp that Captain Hart's command was in danger of attack by superior enemy force.
The Scout mission under Capt. Hart had now been out for four days. Major work in our camp at Greenspring run became anxious about the safety of Capt. Hart and the scouts. The previous night he had dreamed Capt. Hart and the men were surrounded and would be killed or captured. Waking from the dream he could not dismiss the subject from his mind and although attaching no significance to the dream his uneasiness grew until he went to headquarters and told the commander of his anxiety about the safety of Capt. Hart in the scouting mission and asked permission to take a force out to reinforce Capt. Hart. His request was granted he was ordered to take all available men from camp at being about 30 together with a mountain howitzer and 10 days rations this expedition was also accompanied by Capt. Chessrown and Lieut. Boyle.
Following his dream and chasing after Captain Hart, Major Work’s force reach Springfield at night and the next day proceeded through Romney and Greenland gap, a distance of 40 miles. Here he was reinforced by a detachment of infantry from the Ohio National Guard. Capt. Hart had been in that vicinity that very afternoon, and had moved on toward Moorefield. Major Work rose before daylight the next morning, June 6, and proceeded in the direction of Moorefield expecting to overtake Capt. Hart whom he knew could be not far in advance. Hart had camped on the ridge and also a broken camp early that morning and moved on; crossing over the ridge and going down the long hill towards the river. (This was at Timber Ridge Old Fields, W.V.) The road led to timber, thick brush on either side. At a bend in the road where the bank on the upper side is high and covered with thick undergrowth, a large force of McNeil’s men lay in ambush waiting for the approach of Hart’s command, which they had been trailing the previous day, and had learned would march to Moorefield that very morning. They waited until Hart’s unit was almost fully abreast when they fired, killing three men instantly, mortally wounding another and wounding eight others besides killing three horses and moaning more than a dozen other horses. The forward part of the column were Capt. Hart and Lieut. Gibson were, moved ahead to get out of range while the latter end of the column turned and rushed back. Capt. Hart’s horse was wounded by two shots but ran to the foot of the hill. Gibson’s saber was shot loose from his belt and a number of men had their clothing cut with bullets. About 20 men escaped to the front but these became very scattered. Seeing this some 18 to 20 of the enemy who were mounted charged down upon our men no doubt expecting to capture them one by one. Lieut. Gibson rallied 6 or seven of the men and met the charge putting them to the fly and killing at least one man. Just at this critical moment the howitzer with Major Work in his command, opened fire dropping shells into the brush where the rest of the rebels were concealed, driving them from their position and causing great surprise. They were not aware that another Yankee force was in the vicinity.
Major Work’s command came upon the trail and met some of Hart’s men who reported that their column had been ambushed and cut into just a short distance ahead. Major Work led his column down the road at double quick and soon came upon the dead and wounded men at the bend in the road. He dismounted some of the cavalry and sent them with Chessrown to reconnoiter, and when the latter located the enemy, the howitzer was brought an action with the result mentioned before. The arrival of Major Work reinforcement at that critical moment saved Capt. Hart’s command from capture or destruction.
All of this seemingly came from a dream and a man thinking he had endured a premonition of an ambush.
At Ashby's Gap our artillery attempted to go into position on the knoll above the river but failed and then we fell back to an elevation where the guns commanded the ford, a spirited artillery duel took place. We were drawn up in a line across the road; artillery being on the left, on higher ground so high the enemy could not elevate their guns to reach ours and so they directed their fire at us instead. Their first two shells passed over our heads one of them bursting in the rear, a piece of which struck John Iams passing under the shoulder blade and through his jaw knocking out a lot of teeth. The other shell did not burst, and Capt. Hart pick it up and set it into the fork of an apple tree. A third shell went right in front of us, but it also did not burst. We moved to a safer possession much to our satisfaction. Our gunners then seemed to get better aim and then soon drove the enemy guns from their position.
Today the double span of highway 7 just to the east of Berryville, Va. crosses the Shenandoah where the 22nd Pa Cavalry attempted twice to cross. On attempt at night om 17 July, 1864 was repulsed and a larger attempt on July 18, 1864 with 75 men in the morning was also repulsed. This was the day of the Battle of Castleman's Ferry.
This picture was taken from the public boat ramp beneath the highway 7 bridge right on the east bank where the 22nd would have sat in their saddles just before starting into the river.
At midnight Major Work took a small detachment and tried to cross the ford, they had no more than entered the river when a volley was poured into them, wounding one of the men, John Saunders, of Company E, who died a few days afterward. Major Work was obliged to retreat. He reported the position and probable strength of the enemy, expressing the opinion that they were there in strong force. The next morning at daylight, he was ordered to take 75 men of his command and cross the river, the order stating that he would find only a heavy picket there. He called the officers together and read the order, pointing out what we all knew - the impossibility of executing the order. Our duty, however, was to obey, so the command was given. He divided his men into three companies of 25 each, to proceed as follows: Major Work with 25 men was to cross at the main ford; Lieut. Crago with 25 men to cross 100 yards above the ford; while Capt. Chessrown was to cross with the other 25 men 100 yards below the main ford. The object of this reconnaissance was to find out what was on the other side of the river.
We started, but just as we got into the river the enemy opened on us with their batteries, and we retreated as rapidly as possible. How we ever got out alive is a mystery to me, but strange to say, none were killed and not many wounded. The only explanation of our escape was that the enemy aimed too high. Several of those injured were struck by branches of trees that were cut by the cannon fire and fell upon them. Lieut. Regester was badly hurt by his horse falling on top of him. How he escaped with his life is almost miraculous, as it seemed the entire command passed over him as he lay beneath his horse. He escaped with a badly bruised leg, which troubled him as long as he lived.
After returning to the point where we started, Lt. Crago was sent to report the matter to General Crook, whom he found sitting on a log surrounded by a number of flashily dressed young officers, but the old warrior, wearing a common blouse, looked like a private among them. Crago told him that he had been sent by Major Work, who had attempted to cross the river. General Crook responded, “You didn’t cross, did you?” He then remarked that he had witnessed our attempt, and that we had done all that men could have done under the circumstances.