OR LI P1: Report of Colonel Richard N. Batchelder, U. S. Army, Chief Quartermaster Army of the Potomac, of operations June 30, 1864, to June 30, 1865

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 107)

Report of Colonel Richard N. Batchelder, U. S. Army, Chief Quartermaster Army of the Potomac, of operations June 30, 1864, to June 30, 1865.1

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE ATLANTIC,
OFFICE OF CHIEF QUARTERMASTER,
Philadelphia, Pa., September 15, 1865.

GENERAL: In compliance with General Orders, Numbers 39, from the Quartermaster-General’s Office, I have the honor to submit the following report as chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865. The report for the previous year of the operations of the Second Army Corps and Army of the Potomac, while chief quartermaster, was transmitted on the 15th of September, 1864. On the 1st of July, 1864, the Army of the Potomac lay before Petersburg, confronting the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Lee. The long and wearisome march from the Rapidan, the sanguinary battles of that campaign, and the continued operations before Petersburg had produced no decisive results. On the 1st of July, 1864, the Army of the Potomac numbered as follows: Commissioned officers, 5,237; enlisted men, 109,011; private horses, 4,044; public horses, 29,564; mules, 21,171; ambulances, 755, and army wagons, 3,777; being 90,685 infantry, 17,370 cavalry, and 6,194 artillery. The unit of organization for the ambulance trains was by corps; for the supply and ammunition trains by divisions. Seven wagons for supplies and three for ammunition were allowed for every 1,000 men present armed and equipped for duty, being ten days’ rations and 100 rounds of ammunition per man. The intrenching tools, consisting of 1,000 each of axes and spades and 300 picks, were required to be kept at corps headquarters. The most of July was devoted by the army in strengthening the line of intrenchments from the Jerusalem plank road to the Appomattox with redoubts and siege batteries. In the meantime the attention of officers of the Quartermaster’s Department was given to the general improvement of the trains, which were held in readiness at all times for any immediate operations of the army. A large force of the construction corps was engaged in repairing the railroad from City Point. Corduroy roads were also built from the several commands to the main roads, and thence to City Point, where all supplies were obtained. On the 26th of July the line of defense was held by Fifth and Ninth Corps. The Second Corps, with two divisions of cavalry under the command of General Hancock, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom, where the enemy’s works were carried; four guns and several prisoners captured. The trains belonging to the commands accompanied under cover of darkness. This demonstration on our part drew to the north side of the river a large portion of Lee’s army, presenting a favorable opportunity for exploding the mine that had been prepared by the Ninth Corps under one of the enemy’s batteries. To this end preparations were

made, General Hancock withdrawing under cover of darkness on the night of the 29th from the north side of the James, accompanied by his trains. On the morning of June [July] 30, at 4.30 a. m., everything being ready, the mine was exploded, and immediately the Ninth Corps made an assault on the enemy’s works in front. The enemy, however, rallied his troops at the point of attack and rendered further efforts of no avail. During these operations the trains of the whole army were loaded, hitched up, and awaiting events of the day. During the month of July the Sixth Army Corps was ordered to Washington and was followed by General Sheridan with the First and Third Divisions of the Cavalry Corps. On the 14th of August the Second Corps and Second Division of Cavalry, under the command of General Hancock, again crossed to the north side of the James at Deep Bottom, on pontoon bridges, their trains accompanying, under cover of darkness. The Fifth Corps was now relieved by a portion of the Ninth, and for the time massed in the rear. From this position the Fifth Corps moved to the left, for the purpose of destroying the Weldon railroad, near Globe Tavern. In this they were aided by a portion of the Ninth Corps. The enemy now beginning to mass his troops, the remainder of the Ninth Corps was sent to their aid, arriving in time to participate in repulsing the enemy. Heavy rains now set in, rendering it impossible to forward supplies by the ordinary method. Recourse was had to the pack-mules, which were required to be kept by each division. During these operations the main trains remained loaded with the prescribed amount of supplies and ammunition in their respective parks. The Second Corps having withdrawn from the north side of the James, moved on the 22nd to the left of the line of works at Reams’ Station, on the Weldon railroad, followed the next day by the Second Division of Cavalry, and were successful in destroying several miles of railway, but on the 25th the enemy appeared in force and checked further operations. They now charged upon our troops with great fury, causing considerable loss on our side, and nine pieces of artillery fell into the enemy’s hands. Until the month of October nothing worthy of note occurred along the lines. During the intervening time the railroad was completed along our lines from City Point, thus giving ample means to provide for the wants of the army. Depots were located at convenient points, and officers of this department placed in charge to promptly and properly distribute the supplies to the various commands. In order to secure system and dispatch daily estimates of forage were required to be made upon the chief quartermaster of the army, and requisition by him was made upon the principal depots at City Point for the different stations upon the road. Monthly estimates for all the stores required for the use of the army were made in the same way, thus securing such articles as were required for immediate use, and providing against any accumulation. On the 1st day of October a portion of the Second, Fifth, Ninth Corps, and Second Division of Cavalry, under their respective commanders, made a demonstration on the extreme left, near Poplar Springs Church. Hard fighting ensued and the enemy driven from his position. On this reconnaissance the troops took four days’ rations and sixty rounds of ammunition upon the person. All the trains were loaded with six days’ rations and forage to their utmost extent, hitched up ready to move on immediate transportation allowed with the troops was one-half of the ambulances, spring wagons, and pack-mules belonging to headquarters. On the 27th of October another demonstration was made on the left, with a view of extending our lines. Portions of the Second, Fifth, and Ninth Corps, and the Second Division

of Cavalry moved early in the day. While the Fifth and Ninth Corps confronted the enemy, the Second Corps and cavalry, under the command of General Hancock, crossed Hatcher’s Run, on the Vaughan road. The Fifth Corps then moved up the stream, with the view of connecting with the Second Corps, but were unable to do so. The enemy taking advantage of our position, came down upon our troops with great impetuosity, but were repulsed with great loss. On the 28th all the troops returned to their former camps. During these operations the wagons, containing intrenching tools, the ammunition, hospital stores, and forage, that were to accompany the troops, remained parked in a secure place, waiting the developments of the demonstration at Hatcher’s Run. Four days’ rations and sixty rounds of ammunition were taken upon the person, one-half of the cavalry small-arm ammunition and forty rounds of infantry were taken in wagons. One-half of the ambulances, one medical and one hospital wagon to each brigade, one forage and one battery wagon to every twelve guns, and such pack animals as were required to carry the rations of officers, accompanied the troops. The cavalry took no forage trains whatever, each cavalryman being required to carry sufficient forage to last during the operations. The general trains of the army were loaded with the prescribed amount of supplies and ammunition, and moved to City Point, within the fortification. All artillery animals in the inclosed works, not required, were sent to City Point to the Artillery Reserve ammunition train. The depots upon the line of railroad were broken up and, to meet any emergency that might arise, all the employes of the quartermaster’s department belonging to the general trains, with the exception of one man to every three teams, were organized, armed, and equipped for duty, and placed under competent officers. By this arrangement a brigade of 2,724 men was obtained, and such were the preparations made and precautions taken by this department during the operations of the army that no special guards were required for the wagon trains. During the first week of December the Sixth Army Corps, commanded by General Wright, returned from the Shenandoah Valley, the transportation being shipped from Alexandria to City Point, Va. On the 25th of March the enemy concentrated his troops in front of the Ninth Corps, made a sudden and unexpected attack, and succeeded in breaking through the lines at Fort Stedman. They, however, were soon repulsed and driven back with great loss to his intrenchments, the works retaken, and many prisoners captured. Preparations now commenced for the most brilliant and successful campaign of the war. The transportation of the whole army was in a perfect state of readiness, the wagons repaired, animals recuperated, and everything complete. On the 29th of March the Second Division of Cavalry was detached from the Army of the Potomac and joined the other two General Sheridan, who was to co-operate with the Army of the Potomac in its movements. The Army of the Potomac at this time numbered as follows:

LIPart1Pg0258Table1

The Second and Fifth Corps moved from their works to the left, the Sixth and Ninth Corps occupying their line. The troops were supplied with four days’ rations and fifty rounds of ammunition upon the person, eight days’ supplies for men and animals being taken in the supply and sixth rounds per man in the ammunition trains. The Fifth Corps moved westerly to the junction of the Old Stage and Vaughan roads, supporting the Second Corps. The latter, taking the Vaughan road, crossed Hatcher’s Run and communicated with the Fifth Corps. The Sixth and Ninth Corps remained in their line of works before Petersburg, the surplus artillery being placed in their rear. The ammunition train of the Artillery Reserve did not accompany the troops, but remained in park at City Point. All the sick were removed to the depot field hospital at City Point. The supply trains of the Second and Fifth Corps not accompanying the troops remained in park near Hatcher’s Run. Each corps had five four-gun batteries, one battery wagon, intrenching tools, and half the ambulances, one medical and one hospital wagon to each brigade, and one with forage for each division ammunition train that accompanied the troops. The remaining ambulances were parked with the general trains of the Second and Fifth Corps. Twelve wagons, with twenty rounds of ammunition per man, were taken with each division. On the 30th the trains of the Fifth Corps moved to the north side of Gravelly Run, the other trains moving on the Vaughan road. Heavy rains now set in and continued unceasingly for forty-eight hours, rendering the roads impassable for heavy trains and artillery, the trains of the Fifth Corps being fifty-six hours in making the distance of four miles. During the day the enemy made an attack upon the Fifth Corps, forcing them back, and then immediately turned upon the cavalry, which retired to the vicinity of Dinwiddie Court-House. The Fifth Corps moved to the support of the cavalry, reporting to General Sheridan, and succeeded in checking the farther advance of the enemy. The ambulances of the Sixth Corps were used to convey the wounded of the cavalry to the railroad, from whence they were conveyed to City Point Hospital. ON the morning of the 2nd of April an attack was made along the front line, which was broken by the Sixth Corps pressing rapidly forward, cutting the enemy’s line in the center, forcing a part back into Petersburg, and drove the balance up the line of the South Side Railroad, where they were closely followed by the Second Corps. All the available ambulances were sent to convey the wounded to the hospitals. During the night Richmond and Petersburg were evacuated by the enemy, the Second and Sixth Corps following the retreating army, giving them no time to rest or intrench. The trains, replenished with the prescribed amount of supplies, moved toward Burke’s Station, on the Cox road, at such a distance as would not embarrass the movements of the troops. On the 4th of April heavy rains set in, rendering the roads almost impassable for heavy teams. Men were detailed from the several commands to corduroy the roads and otherwise aid in moving forward. On the 6th the enemy still continued his retreat, the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps pursuing by the Richmond and Danville Railroad toward Deatonsville. At Salem [Sailor’s] Creek the enemy endeavored to make a stand, but were soon driven by the Second Corps across the creek to the Appomattox, capturing 350 wagons, which were burned, and about 1,500 prisoners. On another portion of the line the Sixth Corps also attacked and drove the enemy, capturing several thousand prisoners, and continued the pursuit toward Farmville. The empty supply wagons were

used to convey the wounded of their respective corps to Burke’s Station. On the 7th the pursuit was still kept up with renewed vigor, the and destroying wagons, caissons, and stores along the line of march. Our forces, losing no time, moved to the enemy’s right, left, and center, keeping him constantly compelled to defend his trains, and on the 9th had so completely surrounded him that when the head of his column reached Appomattox Court-House the cavalry and Fifth Corps were there to confront him. All hopes to extricate his army having fled, General Lee accepted the terms offered, and surrendered all the forces known as the Army of Northern Virginia. The formal surrender took place on the 10th of April. All the ordnance stores resulting from the surrender were taken possession of by the chief of ordnance at army headquarters, and were transported to Burke’s Station by the quartermaster’s department of the Army of the Potomac. All the quartermaster’s property received from the surrender was turned over to the chief quartermaster Army of the James. The reports of the chief quartermasters of the several corps of the army will give in detail their operations during the year. Immediately after the surrender all the transportation of the army moved to the vicinity of Burke’s Station. The Ninth Corps guarded a portion of the line of railroads to Petersburg until the 20th of April, when it was detached from the Army of the Potomac and ordered to Washington, D. C. On the 23rd of April the Sixth Corps, and twelve days’ marching rations and the full amount of ammunition, with a pontoon train, started for Danville, where they arrived on the 27th. On the 2nd day of May the Army of the Potomac started on its homeward march for Washington, arriving at Richmond on the 4th and 5th of May. On the 6th the whole army (save the Sixth Corps) passed in review at Richmond, and moved directly for Washington with the trains, by way of Hanover Court-House, Fredericksburg, Fairfax Court-House, arriving near Fort Albany on the 11th of May. The Sixth Corps, returning from Danville by the same route, arrived a few days later. Soon after the arrival of the army before Washington orders were received from the War Department to muster out a large portion of its troops. Accordingly, on the 28th of June, that portion of the army not mustered out was converted into the provisional corps, commanded by General Wright, and the Army of the Potomac ceased to exist. I should fail doing justice to many worthy officers serving in the Army of the Potomac did I not acknowledge their signal ability on every occasion during the late campaign and the interest and zeal they have ever manifested in the performance of the duties devolving upon them, nor should I fail to acknowledge the ready and unceasing co-operation I have received in my official position from the chief quartermaster of the Armies operating against Richmond–Major General Rufus Ingalls. Accompanying this report will be found a table showing the distance traveled daily by the Army of the Potomac as indicated by the odometer, and a statement of the amount of public money received, transferred, and remaining on hand during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865.

Respectfully submitted.

R. N. BATCHELDER,
Colonel and Chief Quartermaster, Army of the Potomac.

Table of distances traveled by the Army of the Potomac daily, as indicated by the odometer.

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Statement of public money received, transferred, and remaining on hand during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865.

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Respectfully submitted.

R. N. BATCHELDER,
Colonel and Chief Quartermaster, Army of the Potomac.

Major General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

[40, 42, 46.]

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume LI, Part 1 (Serial Number 107), pp. 256-261

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