Number 114. Appomattox Report of Colonel Oliver Edwards, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry, commanding Third Brigade

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 114. Report of Colonel Oliver Edwards, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1

HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
April 7, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the late operations:

The command moved from its camp on the night of the 1st, at 10.30 o’clock, and massed in front of Fort Fisher, where the brigade remained some time waiting for the Second Division to get into position. I then moved outside the works, marching left in front, and formed on the right of the First Brigade, Second Division, twenty-five paces echelon, in three lines, with an interval of 300 paces between each line, in the following order, from right to left: First line, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts and Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers; second line, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Second Rhode Island Volunteers; third line, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers. I caused a skirmish line of seventy-five Spencer rifles (all volunteers) to be deployed along my brigade front, and twenty axmen, selected from the pioneer corps. I also distributed a sufficient quantity of axes along the first line, to be used in case of axmen had trouble in removing the obstructions. The command was severely harassed by the fire of the enemy’s skirmishers while forming. At 4 a. m. the line moved forward, taking up the double-quick after passing the ravine in my front, and stormed the fort in my front, together with a portion of the works on its left, successfully carrying them, capturing 10 guns, 3 battle-flags, and large number of prisoners. I then directed a fire to be opened on the right and left flanks, for the purpose of sweeping the front of the First and Second Brigades and as much of the Second Division as possible. I caused the One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers to change front forward on first company, and to sweep the front on my right, which they accomplished, connecting with the One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers, of the Second Brigade. My skirmishers at once pushed on to the South Side Railroad, cut the telegraph wire and tore up a portion of the track, losing heavily undoing so. I then reformed my lines on the edge of the woods in rear of the position we had taken, the Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers in the meantime destroying Mahone’s division hospital, some distance in advance, on the right of the plank road. I then moved to the left along the Twenty-fourth Corps front a distance of about two miles and a half and halted. I was then ordered to move back in the direction of Petersburg. My brigade skirmished toward the city for a distance of two miles, where we formed a connected line with he First Brigade, on my left, and the Second Division of the Second Corps, on my right. During this advance, and while forming my lines, the command was exposed to a severe and at times to an enfilading fire from the enemy’s batteries, advantageously posted. As soon as my lines were formed I received orders to throw up a rifle-pit, covering my front, which was completed before dark. During the night the city was evacuated.

In the several marches my brigade participated in common with the rest of the division.

To loss of the brigade in the assault on the 2nd instant was about 192 killed and wounded.

On the 6th my brigade led the division, following in rear of the Third Division. About 3 p. m., while in the vicinity of Little Sailor’s Creek, I received orders to push forward with all possible dispatch and to form

my line in column of regiments on the high ground overlooking the marsh known as Little Sailor’s Creek. The regiments came up on the double-quick and formed in column as follows: Fifth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Eighty-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Forty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, One hundred and nineteenth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, with the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers in column of wings in the road perpendicular to rest of the line. The formation being changed, I ordered the left wing of the Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers to be put on the left of the Fifth Wisconsin, forming the first line, and the right wing to connect with the left of the Forty-ninth, forming the second line, and the One hundred and nineteen [Pennsylvania and] Second Rhode Island Volunteers to move forward in line in rear of the second line, and the Thirty-seventh in rear of them, retaining its first formation. I moved across the creek in this order without waiting for the Third Division, and formed one line, from right to left, as follows: Fifth, Eighty-second, One hundred and nineteenth, Forty-ninth, Second, and Thirty-seventh. After passing the creek I halted the line, which had become somewhat broken by the passage of the creek, and reformed it under the crest of the hill in my front. As soon as the line was reformed the brigade moved rapidly forward and soon became heavily engaged with the enemy. At this time I was deprived of the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, on which I depended for holding my left; the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, losing its connection with the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, on which I depended for holding my left; the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, losing its connection with the Thirty-seventh and being exposed to severe fire from the left flank and our own batteries, were thrown into disorder and obliged to fall back, and by so doing partially exposing the left flank of the Forty-ninth, which was also thrown into disorder, but soon rallied. The Fifth, Eighty-second, and One hundred and nineteenth, though exposed to a heavy flank fire from the enemy, posted not thirty yards from them, maintained their ground, and after a severe contest and losing heavily, drove the enemy from their position. The Thirty-seventh Massachusetts advanced at the same time with the brigade, driving the enemy slowly, but soon found both flanks exposed and a column of the enemy coming in on their left. Their left was thrown back to meet this attack, which they admirably repulsed. By this time they discovered the enemy on their right flank and some 100 yards in the rear. The regiment faced about, and a desperate hand-to hand fifth ensued. The enemy were finally forced back and they taken in flank; their line being swept by the fire of the Spencers they surrendered. Amongst the captures were Brigadier General Custis Lee and a rebel stand of colors. Lieutenant-General Ewell and staff surrendered the brigade, the number I cannot accurately state. The brigade advanced until they came up with the cavalry, on the road leading to Rice’s Station, where I halted, and soon received orders to move back to the division, which I did, and went to camp for the night.

My loss was severe, amounting to 343 killed and wounded.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the conduct of the brigade; with a few exceptions it was all that I cold wish. A report of the officers and men who were particularly deserving of promotion has already been forwarded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

O. EDWARDS,
Colonel, Commanding.

Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel GEORGE CLENDENIN, Jr.,
Asst. Adjt. General, First Division, Sixth Army Corps.

ADDENDA.
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
April 10, 1865.

Major GEORGE CLENDENIN, Jr.,
Asst. Adjt. General, First Division, Sixth Army Corps:

MAJOR: In compliance with orders from headquarters Sixth Army Corps, of April 3, 1865, I have the honor to forward a list of commissioned officers in my command who particularly distinguished themselves for gallantry and meritorious services on the 2nd and 6th of April, and who I would recommend for promotion; also the names of enlisted men, including those who captured colors, who, by their conduct on that day, are entitled to receive medals.

Colonel Thomas S. Allen, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, to be brevet brigadier-general, for gallantry on April 2; to be brigadier-general, for bravery and meritorious services at the battle of Little Sailor’s Creek, April 6, 1865.

Colonel Isaac C. Bassett, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brigadier-general, for gallantry on April 2 and 6.

Lieutenant Colonel E. H. Rhodes, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, to be brevet colonel, for gallantry at the assault on enemy’s works April 2.

Lieutenant Colonel Gideon Clark, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet colonel, for gallantry in leading his regiment at the assault on enemy’s works April 2 (wounded).

Lieutenant Colonel James R. Neiler, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet colonel, for gallantry and meritorious services on April 2 and 6.

Major William C. Gray, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for gallantry and meritorious service April 2 and 6.

Major William Clark, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for gallantry and meritorious services on April 2 and 6.

Bvt. Major E. A. Landell, captain, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, brigade inspector, to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for meritorious services in being one of the first in the enemy’s works April 2, and also to be brevet colonel for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Little Sailor’s Creek, April 6.

Captain Thomas G. Colt, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general, to be brevet major, for marked gallantry April 2, 1865, and to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for meritorious services at battle of Little Sailor’s Creek, April 6, 1865.

Captain W. A. Wiedersheim, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp, to be brevet major, for distinguished services and marked gallantry on April 2 and 6.

First Lieutenant J. W. P. Roberts, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain for meritorious services April 2 and 6.

Captain Albert Ivers, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet major, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6 (wounded).

Captain William H. Knight, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet major, for gallantry and meritorious services April 6 (wounded).

First Lieutenant and Adjt. B. Theo. Northrop, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6 (wounded).

First. Lieutenant James Colwell, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6 (wounded).

Captain H. C. Warner, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet major, for gallantry at the assault on enemy’s works April 2.

First Lieutenant and Actg. Adjt. D. S. Hassinger, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6.

First Lieutenant James Dutton, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6.

Captain Henry Curran, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, to be brevet major, for conspicuous and marked gallantry April 2 and 6.

Captain Archibald Hopkins, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, to be brevet major, for conspicuous gallantry April 2; to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for distinguished services April 6.

Captain J. C. Robinson, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, to be brevet major, for distinguished services April 2 (wounded).

Captain Jonas A. Champney, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, to be brevet major, for bravery and meritorious services April 2 and 6.

First Lieutenant and Adjt. J. S. Bradley, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for conspicuous gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6 (wounded).

First Lieutenant William C. Morril, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for conspicuous bravery on April 2 and gallantry in capturing a general officer April 6.

Bvt. Major F. W. Wombacker, captain, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet lieutenant-colonel, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6 (wounded).

Captain William H. Byers, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, to be brevet major, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6.

First Lieutenant and Adjt. J. B. Downing, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry and meritorious services April 2 and 6.

First Lieutenant and Actg. Adjt. F. S. Halliday, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, to be brevet captain, for gallantry on the 2nd and 6th of April (wounded).

Second Lieutenant John K. Dorrance, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, to be brevet first lieutenant, for gallantry on the 2nd of April, 1865 (wounded).

ENLISTED MEN.

Private William Railton, Company E, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, for gallantry in being one of the first in the enemy’s works April 2.

Color-Sergt. William J. Babcock, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, and Color-Corpl. Thomas Parker,* and Corpl. Maurice O. Hearn, Second Rhode Island Volunteers, for being first in the enemy’s works April 2.

Sergt. Samuel M. Bolton, Company C, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, for conspicuous bravery in the assault on April 2.

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*Awarded a Medal of Honor.

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Corpl. Richard Welch, Company E, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts, Volunteers, for conspicuous bravery April 2, 1865, capturing a stand of colors and shooting a man at the guns, and for conspicuous bravery on the 6th of April.

Private Charles A. Taggart, Company B, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, for capturing a stand of colors from enemy April 6.

Corpl. S. J. Dean, Company E, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, for conspicuous services April 2.

Corpl. Patrick Kelly, Company E, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteers, for bravery and bayoneting a rebel soldiers in act of shooting his commanding officer April 2, 1865.

Private William McCue, Company B, Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, capturing a staff of colors April 2, 1865.

Sergt. George W. Johnson, Company K, and Sergt. William Ployd, Company B, Private Lewis J. Dunlap, Company F, Private Samuel Winterbottom, Company A, One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, for being the first to enter the enemy’s works and securing two pieces of artillery April 2, 1865.

Color-Sergt. Henry Entriken and Color-Corpl. John T. Hall, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, for conspicuous gallantry April 2 and 6.

Corpl. August Franz, Company A, Sergt. A. Q. Smith and Sergt. F. T. Smith, Company B, Sergt. Angus Cameron and Drummer George Deverney, Company C, Orderly Sergt. James Young, Company D, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, Sergt. R. H. Langton, Company F, Corpl. A. B. Day, Company G, and Sergt. R. Elwell, Company K, for distinguished service April 2 and 6 in rallying the men and among the first to enter the enemy’s works and killing the gunners at their guns.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

O. EDWARDS,
Colonel, Commanding.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 941-945

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