Late 19th century painting of the battle of Trevilians Station and of the wounding of Colonel Sackett June 11, 1864. Oil on canvas in giltwood frame. Signed or notated indistinctly lower right. Some repairs and in-painting due to age. Image, 20.25"H x 36.25"W.
Military History Prior to 1865
The 9th New York Cavalry contained two companies from Cattaraugus County. It was mustered into the service October 1, 1861 and, until mustered out in July, 1865, lost 619 officers and men out of a total enlistment of a little less than two thousand. It participated in many battles and skirmishes and lost its colonel, William Sackett, who was killed at Trevilian Station, Virginia, on June 11, 1864.
From the Albany Evening Journal, July 20, 1864:
Another name is added to the list of hero martyrs who have fallen in the service of their country. Col. WILLIAM SACKETT, of the Ninth New-York Cavalry, (son of Hon. W.A. SACKETT,) was mortally wounded in the engagement, under Gen. SHERIDAN, at Pavillion Station, Va., and died on the 14th ult. As he was left behind, the sad intelligence of his decease has but just been received.
Col. SACKETT had seen much service. He entered the army on the 22d of April, 1861, was appointed Major of the Ninth New-York Cavalry in October of the same year, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonelcy in August, 1862, and in March, 1863, became commander of the regiment. He was with Gen. MCCLEELAN in the Peninsula campaign, was in all the cavalry actions of the campaign which followed, was with the army in its advance after the battle of Antietam, and in almost constant conflict with the enemy until after the battle of Fredericksburgh. He participated in most of the cavalry engagements under Gen. HOOKER's command, was in all the principal cavalry actions during LEE's invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania in 1863, and was among the first engaged in the terrible conflict at Gettysburgh, where he performed distinguished service in holding a rebel brigade in check a long time while our forces were getting into position on the crest of the hill. He was active in the cavalry skirmishes which ensued in the latter part of the Summer.
During the present campaign he was with Gen. SHERIDAN in all his brilliant expeditions up to the time when he fell. He died while leading a charge against the enemies of his country -- died, as he wished to die, doing his whole duty. He was brave, he was generous, he was unflinchingly faithful to the cause of the Union. He loved the old flag with a love that was stronger than life, and esteemed it glorious to fall in its defense. He was born in Seneca Falls, and was 25 years of age.
When the great civil war broke out [William Sackett] was practicing law at Albany, N. Y., having a short time previous been admitted to the bar. In December, 1861, he was commissioned Major of the 9th Regiment of New York Cavalry, and taking the field served with credit in several engagements in which that command participated. On June 27, 1862, his immediate superior, Lieutenant- Colonel Hyde, resigned and three days later Major Sackett was commissioned to fill the vacancy. On the 30th of the following May he was advanced to the Colonelcy of his regiment, with rank from March 15, 1863.
It is stated in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" that the cavalry pickets commanded by Colonel Sackett fired the first shot at the battle of Gettysburg. He subsequently led his command, in a gallant manner, in numerous engagements, including the battle of Trevilians Station, fought June 10, 1864. There he received a mortal wound and died inside of the enemy's lines some three days later. The report that he had been severely wounded and was in the hands of the enemy soon reached his wife, who immediately determined to make an effort to reach and care for him, not knowing that he was already dead when the report reached her. The following correspondence, copied from Official Records published by the War Department, tells in most emphatic terms of her devotion.
City Point, Va., July 7, 1864.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate Army,
Mrs. Sackett, the wife of Colonel William Sackett, who was wounded on the 11th of June, near Trevilians Station, Va., is here in deep distress and feeling great anxiety to learn the fate of her husband. Colonel Sackett was left at a house some two miles and a half from the station, in charge of Surgeon Ray, U. S. Volunteers. If you can let me know the fate and present whereabouts of Colonel Sackett you will alleviate the anxiety of his wife and family. I will add that it always has and always will afford me pleasure to relieve the minds of persons in the south, having friends in the north, either by forwarding open letters to them or by ascertaining where they are, their condition, etc. Mrs. Sackett is very desirous that I should ask you for permission to visit her husband if he is still alive. She would not expect to go through Richmond, but would start from Alexandria, by private conveyance, if authorized to do so.
U. S. GRANT,
Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, July 10, 1864.
Lieut-General U. S. Grant, Commanding U. S. Armies,
General:—Your letters with reference to Mrs. Wadsworth and Mrs. Sackett are received. I have directed inquiries to be made for the effects of the late General Wadsworth, and if they can be found will take great pleasure in restoring them to his widow. I have also taken measures to ascertain the condition and whereabouts of Colonel Sackett, and the information you ask shall be conveyed to you as soon as it can be ascertained. I regret, however, that it is not in my power to permit Mrs. Sackett to visit her husband at this time. The reasons that induce me to withhold my consent are applicable to the route she proposes to take, as indicated by you.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.