When the Civil War started Vincent A. Witcher enlisted and was elected as a Captain. It is uncertain whether he was elected captain of the 34th Virginia Cavalry or the 21st Virginia Cavalry, since the 34th later became the 21st. The Yankees in West Virginia were supposedly terrified of running into him and his band of semi-partisans due to his locally well documented acts of violence. At Gettysburg, now Lt. Col. Vincent A. Witcher was 26 years old. He later claimed that of the "432" men he took in to action at East Cav Field only "96" came out. He was a prolific post-war writer and his rather boastful letters in the Bachelder Papers are well documented. His men called him "Clawhammer" because of the black swallowtail coat that he wore into battle. He was known to be a fierce fighter and ruthless in battle.
From an old letter . . . "I commanded the 34th Virginia Cavalry. I was at the Battle of Gettysburg, and out of 432 men, lost all but 96. Was sent to Eastern Tennessee and participated in all campaigns there. After Lee, I surrendered and was introduced to President Davis by Gen'l Jno C. Breckenridge, as the bravest of the brave, the truest of the true.
I am a farmer. On a good farm, and am 69 years old. Never held a Civil office, and told the President two years ago, wanted Elective or appointed. I have been for many years dissatisfied with both the centralizing tendencies of the Republicans, and the demagogary and insincerity of the Democrats, who seem to have no great underlying principles. Hence I am allied with the Populist and am a member of both the National and State Committees. Feel little interest any way. . .
He moved to Utah after the war "to get away from those damn Yankees". He joined the Mormon Church and practiced law in Salt Lake City, but eventually returned to Pittsylvania County, Virginia where he bought a farm and retired. He died at his home in Riceville in 1912.
Nathaniel Newbill Witcher
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