Private Horace Hall
Co. E, 1st Vermont Cavalry
Horace Hall was born in Springfield, Vermont on September 21, 1841, the third of ten children of Hiram and Lucy Ann (Goodell) Hall. He was raised on the family farm and educated in Springfield’s one-room schoolhouse.
He was 19 years old when the Civil War began and a strapping young man: 5 feet 10 inches tall with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Like so many Vermonters, he swiftly rallied to the Union cause. He enrolled at Royalton, Vermont in September, 1861 in Vermont’s first (and only) cavalry regiment; he was most likely already comfortable in the saddle since his military records show him to have furnished his own horse.
The new regiment drilled for several months on a field just north of Burlington and departed, 966 men strong, on trains southward on December 14. It spent a relatively quiet winter near Annapolis, Maryland but in the spring of 1862 moved to the Shenandoah Valley where it saw its first action followed later that year at Second Bull Run.
Private Hall’s military records show him present and fit for duty throughout his service; this fact, coupled with the distinguished record of the 1st Vermont Cavalry, suggests that he saw significant action. It took part in 76 battles and skirmishes and, of the 258 regiments of cavalry in Union service; it stood fifth in losses of killed and mortally wounded.
In 1863 the 1st Vermont engaged Confederate Col. John Singleton Mosby and played a significant role in the Gettysburg campaign, suffering 183 casualties. The regiment played a role in Farnsworth’s charge on the last day at Gettysburg as well as Dahlgren’s raid on Richmond in early 1864.
While in winter camp at Stevensburg, Virginia in December, 1863, Private Hall reenlisted as a “Veteran Volunteer” for a new term of three years, thereby earning a bounty of $402 as well as a one month furlough to return to Vermont which he did in January, 1864. Following General Ulysses S. Grant’s appointment as head of the Union forces, its cavalry was re-organized under Gen. Philip Sheridan. The new commander of the cavalry’s Third Division (in which the 1st Vermont was placed) was Gen. James H. Wilson.
The 1st Vermont crossed the Rapidan River on May 4. At the beginning of the Battle of the Wilderness, Private Horace Hall was among the very first to give his life. Around 5 o’clock on the morning of May 5, a cavalry detachment was sent west along the Orange Plank Road to ascertain the location of Confederate troops. From that road, the 1st Vermont moved southwesterly from Parker’s Store to an area in the vicinity of Craig’s Meeting House. Here at about 8 a.m. they were met by a significant Confederate cavalry force under Gen. Thomas Rosser of Virginia.
The 1st Vermont held off the Virginians for some time, even enduring a cavalry charge. By early afternoon the appearance of a larger Confederate force caused the Union cavalry to fall back. Four men of the 1st Vermont were killed one of whom was Private Hall. Private Hall in all likelihood was buried in an unmarked grave on the battlefield; a cenotaph in his honor sits with his family in a peaceful cemetery in North Springfield, Vermont.