Monday, July 23, 2012

Andrew Pray, 7th., Michigan Cavalry.

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Andrew Pray,Sergeant Co. "D."
Dimondale, Mich.

Born January 4th, 1845, in Superior Township, Washtenaw County, Mich. ; enlisted at Grand Rapids, Mich., November 12th, 1862, as Private in Co. "D," 7th Michigan Cavalry; promoted to Corporal in 1863, and to Sergeant in 1864; taken prisoner March 2nd, 1864, on Kilpatrick's Raid, escaped the same night of capture; mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, October 28th, 1865, and honorably discharged.

Remarks : On the 10th day of November, 1862, in company with C. H. Holmes and William Bell, I left Windsor Township for Kalamo to enlist under George McCormick.  On arriving there we found that McCormick had gone to Grand Rapids. Holmes and I then started on foot for Grand Rapids, getting as far as Portland the first day. The next morning we took the stage to Lyons and from there took the cars on the D., G. H. & M. R. R., arriving at Grand Rapids in the evening; enrolled our names in Co. "D," 7th Michigan Cavalry, and were mustered into the U. S. service on the 13th day of November, 1862. I think I walked much farther to enlist than I would have done one year later.

By Andrew Pray.

The night of March 2nd, 1864, after the first attack by the Confederates, while on the Kilpatrick Raid to Richmond, Lieutenant Sessions sent me with four men to the left and across a road along a fence at the edge of a clearing to hold them back on that side of camp. We had not been there long when I heard firing in our rear and suggested to the boys that we had better get out of there and make a run for camp. In the woods where our horses were we could see men about our camp fires and supposed they were our men until we were right among them, and they invited us to surrender. There were three Rebs hitched to me, one hold of each arm, and the third had hold of my coat in front. The one in front unbuckled my sabre belt and he and the one that had hold of my right arm began quarreling over my revolver and let go of me. I had my carbine on my shoulder and I raised it up with my right hand over my head, when the Johnnie that still had hold of me said, "You have a gun, too, have you ?" and let go of me.  I said, "Yes, sir," and turned and ran for where I supposed my Regiment was.

The three with some others took after me, hollering "Halt !" Seeing a line of skirmishers at the lower edge of our camp, I thought they were our men until I was within two rods of them, when one of those following me shouted, "There goes a Yankee, shoot him." Then I saw what I was up against, but was too frightened to stop. The skirmishers, even facing the same way I was running, and I ran between two of the Rebs, who cut loose at me. I was running down the hill and they firing high was all that saved me that time. After I got to the bottom of the hill and away from the light of the camp fires and in the timber I saw the reflection of water in a ditch.  I gave a leap for the other side, struck a grape vine with my head and went back into the ditch casouse, sitting down in the water nearly up to my shoulders. I crawled out on my hands and knees and found it was an old fence row with a road running along near it. I took to the middle of the road I ran about half a mile and caught up with the rear guard of our command.

From there on for about three miles I was putting in my best efforts, part of the time I was head of our rear guard and part of the time between the two lines. The roads were a muddy slush and I got so tired out that I would stub my toe and fall full length in the mud. I finally got a lead horse from a darky and rode it until I caught up with my Regiment, which had gone into camp. I was so played out when I got to camp that I laid down by the first fire I came to.  I had lost everything I had to wear or cover up with, as all I had left was pants, boots and jacket. When daylight came and we were ordered to move I was so sore and lame I could not move myself. The boys of my company picked me up and put me onto a stray horse they had caught and without saddle or bridle, having only a halter, I rode through to Yorktown. When the command went into camp the boys would take me off the horse and when they moved again they would load me on again. I absolutely had no use of my legs.  The associations of such times and the hardships passed together and endured are what makes us comrades to-day.

By Andrew Pray.

Early on the morning of April 9th, 1865, when we started on the advance there were just five of Co. "D" present for duty, four Sergeants and one Corporal. The Corporal held the horses and the Sergeants went to the front to fight on foot.  We drove the Rebel skirmishers back over a long hill and the four of us then stopped in the point of a flat-iron shaped piece of timber and lay in fence corners surrounding it. The Rebel lines began to advance and we were so busily engaged trying  to keep them out of our neck of the woods that we did not notice they were getting around to our left and rear and into the woods. The first we knew the woods was full of them. They commenced firing at us from the flank, then we began to look for the rest of our skirmish line, but they were all gone, so we struck out across an open field to our right and rear.

It was about half a mile back to the top of the hill and running up hill was not easy work for a dismounted Cavalryman. The Rebel skirmish line that was in front of us was advancing and those in the woods pecking at us from our right, but running up hill was helping us out, as they were all shooting low. The minnie balls and gravel were flying around our feet and as Charlie Holmes said as he and I were making our best time side by side, "Sandy, this makes a fellow pick up his feet mighty quick, don't it." George Ferris and Al. Shotwell were better on foot or had better wind than Holmes and I, for they reached the top of the hill first, but they did not have to wait long for us.

When we got to the top of the hill we saw our Infantry coming out of the woods.  moved over towards them out of range of the Rebel line that came to the top of the hill, but when they saw our Infantry advancing, turned about and went back. We waited until our Infantry came up when we went back to the top of the hill with  them. Shotwell and I retired to the shade of a tree to rest, thinking we would see an Infantry battle. Ferris and Holmes went back with the skirmishers to get a little revenge for the run they had given them, but we were all disappointed, as the skirmishers had not reached the foot of the hill when the flag of truce came out and there was a happy time along the whole line. We then went over to our right to our command and horses.

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