NT: April 25, 1889 National Tribune: Piedmont and Fort Gregg

   

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in Siege of Petersburg

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.

Piedmont and Fort Gregg

EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: I was not fortunate enough to read the communication of W.H. Hardwick on the battle of Piedmont, June 5, 1864, but from the answers of comrades I can get a very good idea of what he has written.  He is certainly mistaken when he asserts that they had no artillery in position, for I distinctly remember that while we were in position threatening the rebel right wing, our company lost one gallant soldier (Jos. R. Lyons), killed by a missile thrown by a rebel cannon.  Our Adjutant also lost his black mare that day by a rebel shell.  He is also wrong when he says: “If their right wing had stood as firm as their left and center, Hunter might have had reason to change his mind in regard to the advance on Lynchburg.”  My recollection is that their center gave way first.  We were taken to their extreme right, intending to charge there, but our brigade was finally withdrawn from there, leaving only a skirmish-line, and marched back through the woods and up a small ravine, screened from the view of the rebels, until we were only a short distance from their works near the center of their line.  The First Brigade had made two magnificent charges, driving the rebels into their works on the first charge, but failing to dislodge them in the second.  Our brigade (the Second) had just got into position, when Lieut. Meigs rode in front of our line and told us if we would hold out for five minutes the day was ours.  How quickly his words were verified, for it was not five minutes until we were inside of their works.  I think that our regiment (the 12th W. Va.) was first inside of their works, crossing at an angle in their line; not that we were more anxious to go in than others, but from the nature of the formation of the line we were nearer to the enemy’s position when the charge was made.

I also take exceptions to the assertion of Comrade Sheifley, in your issue of March 14, that his regiment (the 116th Ohio) alone took about 500 prisoners.  If his regiment had been alone they would have taken very few prisoners.  Of the 1,100 prisoners taken at that time the credit of their capture belongs equally to every regiment engaged in the fight, for they all did their duty in the positions in which they were placed.  As well might I assert that I alone captured 100 of them, for I had at least that many under my charge for a few minutes.

The only time I have seen that claim equalled was shortly after the charge, when a half dozen infantrymen had corraled four or five hundred prisoners in a field near the breastworks.  A company or two of cavalry came charging around them, and claimed the capture of the whole business.

I would also like to say a few words in regard to the capture of Fort Gregg.  When Gen. Butler started on his expedition to capture Fort Fisher the division taken from the Arm of the James was replaced by a division of the Army of West Virginia, and in the reorganization which took place afterward they were known as the Independent Division, Twenty-Fourth Corps, and the white heart of the Second Division was given them as a corps badge.  The charge which resulted in the capture of the fort was made by one brigade of the First Division and Second Brigade of the Independent Division.  I think the records will verify this statement.–S.B. Jenkins, Co. I, 12th W. Va., Chattanooga, Tenn.1

Source:

  1. Jenkins, S.B. “Piedmont and Fort Gregg.” National Tribune 25 April 1889. 4:2.

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