1863: John F. Gettys to William Worst

This letter was written by Private John F. Gettys (1832-1864), Co. F, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry (a.k.a. the “Irish Dragoons). A little over a year after his enlistment, Gettys was among the 127 troopers in his regiment at Jefferson, Virginia, on 12 October 1863, that were overpowered, cut off from the division, and compelled to surrender. All the prisoners were dismounted at the time of their capture. The prisoners were taken to Richmond where they were all imprisoned in the Pemberton Building, opposite Libby. Later, some were taken to Libby Prison and some were taken to Andersonville. According to regimental records, Gettys died while a prisoner at Richmond, Va., on 10 March 1864.

John F. Gettys was from Neuville, Pennsylvania, according to his enlistment papers but he was enumerated in the 1860 US Census in North Newton, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. John was married to Sarah J. Yontz and had two or three children prior to his enlistment. John’s sister, Clarissa Gettys (1833-1911), the daughter of John and Mary (Weaver) Gettys, married William Worst (1826-1896) sometime prior to the 1860 US Census and resided in North Newton as well. William Worst—the recipient of this letter—was the son of Daniel Worst (1799-1849) and Susanna Zeigler (1804-1884).

See also—1862: John F. Gettys to William Worst on Spared & Shared 9.

John Gettys’ 1863 Letter and an image of Peter Fisher of Co. G. wearing the uniform of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry (a.k.a. the “Irish Dragoons”). [Image courtesy of Matthew Fleming, Civil War Faces]


Winchester, Virginia
April 22, 1863

Dear Brother-in-law, Mr. William Worst,

I sit down to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present, hoping you are the same.

Yesterday we went out on a scout. We went about sixty miles. Started about 3 o’clock in the morning through the Valley between two mountains and then was attacked just before we crossed the mountain opposite of Woodstock. We shot two rebel pickets there and then on top of the mountain there shot two more of them. That made four. Then we got his hat—it is a good one—a rebel hat. Then we marched on through Woodstock.

One brigade went to Strasburg on this side of the mountain. Went up the Strasburg Pike, then we met at Strasburg and in Woodstock we captured some more there. And then came down towards Strasburg and between the two places we met about one hundred rebels and we made a [charge] on them and they wouldn’t stand the charge. They skedaddled and run like forty and the Bloody Thirteenth made them get up and dust. We run them this time and about seven of them killed and two of Virginia Cavalry killed and none of our company hurt.

Came on in [to] Strasburg and we camped just this side of Strasburg. It rained all that night. We laid down in a little pine woods on the bare ground. I had my overcoat on and I laid on it and my gum blanket on top and then slept middlen—well, a little—not much. Got up at daylight and started home 18 miles from there.

The [men] is all well. Captured lots of arms too and three wagons and burnt one house down—a rebel barber—a large house. The 13th didn’t run this time. We made them git, I tell you. You ought to of been here to seen them run. It would of made you laugh. It was a two-day’s scout for us.

Write soon. Nothing more but remain your friend, — John Getty, 13th Cav.

To William Worst and Clarissa Worst


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