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.
R. E. LEE, General.
A short time previous to his death, Colonel Sackett was awarded by Congress the honorary rank of Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers.
—Weygant, The Sacketts of America