Number 139. Appomattox Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General J. Warren Keifer, One hundred and tenth Ohio Infantry, commanding Second Brigade

   

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No. 139. Reports of Bvt. Brigadier General J. Warren Keifer, One hundred and tenth Ohio Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.1

HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS
Camp at Burkeville, Va., April 14, 1865

MAJOR: In compliance with orders, I have the honor to report the operations of this brigade on the 2nd instant in the assault upon the enemy’s works and in the engagement in front of Petersburg, Va.

Previous to the 2nd instant my command, with the exception of the One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, occupied the line of works from Fort Fisher to Fort Gregg, inclusive of the forts named, and also Fort Welch, which was about the center of the brigade. The One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania occupied Fort Dushane on the rear line, near the Weldon railroad. The brigade was formed for the assault to the front and left of Fort Welch about 3 a.m., in three lines of battle, with its right resting at an almost impassable swamp and ravine, which separated its right from the left of the Second Division, Sixth Army Corps. The First Brigade of the Third Division was formed upon the left of my brigade. The brigade was formed just in rear of the old entrenched picket-line of the enemy which had been taken from him on the 25th ultimo. Much difficulty was experienced in getting the troops formed, in consequence of the deep darkness and the deep swamp to be passed through, and also from a severe and annoying fire from the enemy. A number of men were killed and a number of officers and men were wounded during the formation of the troops, notwithstanding the troops preserved good order and remained cool and steady. The One hundred and tenth and One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio and Sixth Maryland Regiments were formed in the front line, from right to left, in the order named; the Ninth New York Heavy Artillery constituted the second line; and the One hundred and twenty-second Ohio One hundred and thirty-eighth and Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiments were formed in the rear line, from right to left, in the order named.

The signal to assault the enemy’s works was given, by direction of Major-General Wright at precisely 4 a.m., by discharging a piece of artillery at Fort Fisher. Immediately after the signal was given the troops in the front line moved forward upon the enemy’s outer works, which was held by a strong line of pickets, and captured them, and without halting or discharging a piece, although receiving a heavy fire from the enemy, the whole command moved upon the enemy’s main

works. Not even a temporary check transpired in passing through and over the double line of abatis, ditch, and strong earth-works. A hand-to-hand fight ensued within the main works, in which many gallant officers and men fell killed and wounded. The enemy in our front was soon killed, and wounded, captured, or dispersed. Although the enemy had a large amount of artillery in the works in our front, we suffered but little from it. The whole of his artillery in our front fell into our hands immediately upon entering the works. This brigade assaulted the enemy’s works just to the left (the enemy’s right) of a salient angle in the enemy’s line of works. After gaining an entrance within the works the enemy were still firing over the works to our right and upon the First and Second Divisions of the Sixth Army Corps, but in a few moments he was driven from his entire line of works in front of the corps. This brigade captured 10 pieces of artillery immediately after entering the works, for which it received receipts; also a large number of prisoners, 3 battle-flags and Major General Heth’s division headquarters’ flag. The troops of the brigade were in some confusion after entering the works but the main body was at once directed along the enemy’s fortifications to the left and upon a strong for containing four pieces of artillery, which was soon captured. Although a number of troops of the division were hurried to this fort, yet when attacked by the enemy owing to their unorganized condition, the troops were driven back and the fort taken. At this juncture I directed Major William Wood and Brevet Major Lamoreaux, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, to place in position a four-gun battery, captured from the enemy, which they were prompt in doing, and fired the guns with good effect.

A portion of the One hundred and twenty-second Ohio and One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Regiments, after passing over the works, continued directly forward across the Boydton plank road to a camp of the enemy some distance in the rear of the fortifications, where they captured a large number of prisoners. Some of the troops continued as far to the northward as the South Side Railroad and destroyed the telegraph line and tore up two rails on the South Side road. Upon their return Corpl. John W. Mauk and Private Daniel Wolford, Company F, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, became separated from the other troops. Two mounted men with pistols in their hands rode upon them and demanded their surrender, which was refused. The mounted men told them that other troops were coming upon them. The corporal and private deliberately fired upon the mounted men, the corporal killing one of them, the other escaped. The corporal and his comrade, fearing that others of the enemy were near at hand, retreated to the main body of the troops. From the manner in which it is known that Lieutenant General A. P. Hill was killed, there can be no doubt but what Corporal Mauk killed him. One of General Hill’s staff officers who was near him when he was shot, locates the place of his death at the same place the corporal related that he had shot an officer, before the death of General Hill was known by him.

The main body of the troops of the brigade soon retook the fort from which they had been driven, and with the other troops of the division, swept along the enemy’s fortifications to the left as far as Hatcher’s Run, and small parties of the brigade, with the brigade sharpshooters, crossed it and captured a large number of prisoners.

Twelve pieces of artillery were captured during this movement to the left by the troops of the Third Division. Captain William L. Shaw, with a small party of men, captured a four-gun battery and over fifty pris-

oners near Hatcher’s Run. The prisoners were brought away and the guns were turned over to Brevet Brigadier-General Harris’ brigade, in the Twenty-fourth Army Corps.

As the prisoners were all hastened to the rear, I am unable to approximate to the number captured by this brigade.

From Hatcher’s Run the troops were hastened back to the place where the attack was first made, from whence the division was sent to the right and formed, fronting Petersburg, and upon the left and in support of the Ninth Army Corps.

Particular mention has already been made of the gallantry of officers, but it is due to Colonel M. R. McClennan, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania;Lieutenant Colonel Charles M. Cornyn, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio; Lieutenant Colonel James W. Snyder Ninth New York Heavy Artillery; Major Clifton K. Prentiss, Sixth Maryland Volunteers; Majs. William and Anson S. Wood, Bvt. Major S. B. Lamoreaux, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, that their most brilliant services should be acknowledged here. Majors Wood and Lamoreaux, with men of the Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, were the first to turn and fire the enemy’s guns upon him. Major Prentiss, Sixth Maryland, with a large portion of his regiment, was the first to penetrate the enemy’s works, where, after a most bloody struggle, he fell severely, if not mortally, wounded. Five other officers of the Sixth Maryland were wounded very soon after entering the fortifications. Too much praise cannot be given the officers and men of this regiment.

So nearly at the same time were the colors of the One hundred and tenth Ohio, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania, and Sixth Maryland placed upon the enemy’s works that each claims the honor of being the first.

Captain William D. Shellenberger, One hundred and tenth Ohio, received a severe wound in the arm while advancing upon the enemy’s works. Captain H. H. Stevens, One hundred and tenth Ohio Volunteers, was shot dead after entering the fortifications.

Capts. George P. Boyer, One hundred and tenth Ohio, J. W. Moffatt and C. E. Patterson, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, J. J. Bradshaw, Sixth Maryland, and Charles J. Gibson, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, are among the many who specially distinguished themselves on that day.

Sergt. Francis M. McMillen, Company C, and Private Isaac James, Company H, One hundred and tenth Ohio, and Private Milton Blickensderfer, Company E, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, each captured battle-flags. Private George Loyd, Company A, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, captured Major-General Heth’s division headquarters’ flag. Sergt. Judah Taylor, Company A, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, is reported by his regimental commander as having captured a battle-flag, which he gave up to two officers whose names are not known to him.

The names of many other enlisted men might in justice to them be mentioned. They have already been named in a separate report.

Captain William L. Shaw, acting assistant adjutant-general of this brigade, and other members of the brigade staff deserve special mention for their good conduct. Captain Harrison D. Yarmett, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio Volunteers, who commanded the brigade sharpshooters, was particularly efficient and active. He showed superior skill and judgment.

My orders for the day’s operations were received from and through Brigadier General T. Seymour, who in person accompanied the troops in the assault. Major-General Wright and Brigadier-General Seymour were present with the troops directing the operations of the day.

Copies of regimental reports are herewith transmitted.

A numerical list of casualties is hereto annexed.

I am, major, your obedient and humble servant,

J. WARREN KEIFER,
Brevet Brigadier-General Volunteers.

Bvt. Major O. V. TRACY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Numerical report of casualties in Second Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Army Corps, April 2, 1865.

HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
Camp at Burkeville, Va,. April 17, 1865.

MAJOR; I have the honor as required in orders, to forward the names of enlisted men, who, by their gallantry and good conduct, deserve rewards at the hands of those in authority.

One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.- Sergt. Major Osceola Lewis, who was conspicuous for bravery and meritorious conduct on the 2nd and 6th instant. He rendered most valuable assistance to the command officer of his regiment on the days above named.

Color-Sergt. Charles R. Jones, Company C, for bravery in waving the colors of his regiment in the face of the enemy on the 6th instant, with a vie to encourage the men in the attack.

Corpl. Trustrim Connell, Company I, for gallant conduct and the capture of the battle-flag of the Tenth Virginia (rebel) Infantry.

Sixth Maryland Volunteers. – Sergt. Major Frederick Boltze; First Sergt. John D. Hall, Company B; First Sergt. Whitfield Stansbury, Company C; Color-Sergt. Robert Spence, Company B; Color-Corpl. William J. Brown, Company K; Color-Corpl. Jesse Arnold, Company C, Corpl. John Traver, Private Josiah E. Willhide, and Private George Damuth, Company D; Sergt. John E. Buffington, Company C; Corpl. Henry Cinton, Company F; Sergt. Peter Stone, Company I; Privates Samuel F. Barrett and Albert T. Gregg, Company G; Corpl. Amos Davis, Company H; First Sergt. Samuel Kearney, Company I.

The above-named enlisted men of the Sixth Maryland are each reported by their company and regimental commanders as having been conspicuous, for bravery in the charge on the 2nd instant, and in the battle of the 6th instant at Sailor’s Creek, Va.

Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers. – Corpl. John Keough, Company E, for gallantry in capturing the colors of the Fiftieth Georgia Regiment. Sergts. Horace P. Warfield, Company C, John Larimer, Company H, William A. Rager, Company E, William R. Black, Company G, and William Keller, Company E, are reported by their regimental commanders as having distinguished themselves by their bravery and good conduct in keeping up the men in the battle of Sailor’s Creek, Va.

One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio Volunteers. – Sergt. Major H. S. Moses greatly distinguished himself for valuable services in leading the men to the assault and urging them forward after a temporary repulse from a captured fort, on the 2nd of April, 1865.

Sergt. B. McFarland, commanding Company D, greatly distinguished himself for his coolness and bravery and the vigor with which he led his company to the assault.

First Sergt. Alfred Zartman, commanding Company K, after entering the works pursued some flying rebels and succeeded in capturing a colonel and about one dozen others, whom he sent to the rear.

Sergt. John J. Keiser, Company E, who was one of the first to enter the works on the 2nd instant, and was foremost in the pursuit of the enemy. He captured an officer and a number of men.

Sergt. Francis Cordry, Company E, was conspicuous throughout the whole engagement of the 2nd instant for coolness and bravery, and persevering efforts to urge the men forward.

Color-bearers, Sergt. Samuel Gearing, Company I, and Sergt. Philip Kline, Company G, behaved with gallantry during the engagement of the 2nd instant, and were among the first to plant the colors on the enemy’s fortifications.

The above-named enlisted men of the One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio were omitted from a former report, in consequence of my inability to obtain reports from the regimental commander on account of his absence.

One hundred and tenth Ohio Volunteers. – Private Marcus Bodmer, Company D, One hundred and tenth Ohio Volunteers, has been just reported by the commanding officer of his regiment as being worthy of reward of meritorious conduct in the assault on the 2nd instant, for the following reasons, viz: “In the assault, just as he entered the enemy’s works, he captured a rebel flag, but being in hot pursuit of the enemy, and thinking the flag of but little value, whole important work was going on threw it aside, it only a ‘rebel rag,’ and continued in pursuit of the enemy, of whom it is believed he shot three.”

Privates Richard Netz, Company F, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, Lewis H. Shreeve, Company A, Sixth Maryland, Oliver F. Plank, Company B, and George W. Ickes, Company D, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, mounted orderlies at my headquarters, were each distinguished for gallantry in the battles of the 2nd and 6th instant. They have shown superior gallantry on former occasions. Richard Netz, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, carried the brigade colors at the head of the troops in the attack at Sailor’s Creek, on the 6th instant. I take great pleasure in recommending each for rewards.

I am, major, with high esteem, your obedient and humble servant,

J. WARREN KEIFER,
Brevet Brigadier-General.

Bvt. Major O. V. TRACY,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Sixth Army Corps.

HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
Camp at Burkeville, Va., April 18, 1865.

MAJOR: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to forward a report of movements and operations of this brigade from the 3rd to the 13th of April, 1865, inclusive:

After the movements and operations of the 2nd instant the brigade bivouacked for the night in front of Petersburg, Va. Early on the morning of the 3rd it was ascertained that Petersburg was evacuated on the night previous by the rebel army and reports were received, which proved to be true, that Richmond, the rebel capital, was also evacuated on the same night. About 9 a.m. on the 3rd this brigade, with the division and corps, commenced the pursuit of the enemy by the road in the direction of Burkeville Junction, Va. The pursuit was continued on the 4th and 5th. Just after dark of the 5th instant the brigade went into position on the left of the corps, in two lines, near Jetersville, Va., facing Amelia Court-House, its left connecting with the Fifth Army Corps. The front line threw up slight earth-works.

Early upon the morning of the 6th instant the brigade, with the corps, advanced toward Amelia Court-House, in the vicinity of which it was known that the rebel Army of Northern Virginia had been concentrated. The troops moved forward about three miles, when information was obtained that the rebel army had withdrawn and was then moving around the left flank of our army and in the direction of Burkeville Junction. The troops were marched back by the way of Jetersville and moved upon a road which enabled the corps to strike the enemy in flank. The corps came up with General Sheridan’s cavalry about 3 p.m. of the 6th instant. This brigade was in the advance of the corps; the brigade sharpshooters and the One hundred and twenty-second Ohio Regiment were rapidly deployed as skirmishers, and the other regiments formed in two lines in their rear. Without delay or scarcely a halt for the formation the whole brigade was pushed forward ad directed by Major-General Wright through Brigadier-General Seymour. During the movement I caused two companies of the One hundred and tenth Ohio to deploy to the right to protect the flank. The enemy was moving troops and trains upon a road which extended parallel to our then front. A short distance from the road upon which the enemy was marching a brisk skirmish ensued between my advance and troops of the enemy, but the road was soon gained, and a considerable number of prisoners and wagons captured. The brigade struck the main road upon which the enemy was moving at the junction of a road which led off to the right and at right angles with it. The greater part of the skirmish line-One hundred and tenth Ohio and Ninth New York Heavy Artillery-was ordered to pursue a body of the enemy which had retreated on that road. The enemy also had a section of artillery upon that road, from which they fired shell and canister shot, but without producing much damage. The troops in pursuit soon compelled the artillery to withdraw from its first position to a second. Although the troops had performed a march of over eighteen miles they eagerly pressed forward and were in the act of making a second charge upon the artillery when orders were received purporting to come from Major-General Sheridan to halt and allow the cavalry charge was not made. The section of artillery was very son withdrawn, but it is believed that it was subsequently captured. The Sixth Maryland, Sixty-seventh and One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Regiments were reformed in line across the main road upon which the enemy had been moving, and at once commenced his pursuit. The

rear guard of the enemy was soon overtaken and attacked; it was vigorously pressed for about one mile, to and across Sailor’s Creek. The enemy being cut off from retreat by cavalry, under command of Major-General Custer, were forced to give battle, and for that purpose formed his line behind Sailor’s Creek. The divisions of General Pickett, Kershaw, Custis Lee, and also the Marine Brigade, commanded by Commodore Tucker, the whole under the command of Lieutenant General R. S. Ewell, are known to have participated in the battle. Artillery was brought within range of the enemy and opened a destructive fire upon him. The First Brigade, Third Division, and the First Division, Sixth Army Corps, were soon upon the ground and formed for an attack. Although staff officers were sent to withdraw the part of this brigade that had been sent in pursuit of the enemy upon the other road, only a portion arrived in time to participate in the final engagement, in consequence of the refusal of officers in the Second Army Corps, which had then come up on our right, to allow them to be withdrawn from their front. An attack was ordered to be made by Major General H. G. Wright commanding corps, with the troops already upon the ground. A concentrated artillery fire was directed upon the enemy’s center, under cover of which the troops advanced through and across the swamp, and at once charged up the steep hills upon which the enemy was posted. A severe conflict ensued as the lines of the opposing forces came together. A number of men were bayoneted on both sides. The enemy had a heavy column massed in the rear of his center, with which he charged upon our troops. Owing to the fact that our troops could only be fought in one line, the enemy succeeded in breaking through the center and gaining a momentary success. The troops on the right and left continued the advance until the enemy’s column in the center was enveloped and cut to pieces and captured. The enemy was soon routed at all points, and many general officers and many thousands of prisoners threw down their arms and surrendered. The rebel Marine Brigade fought with most extraordinary courage, but was finally cut off and captured. Commodore Tucker, Commander Hunter, Captain Semmes, and about twenty-five naval officers, with the brigade, surrendered to me.

It is impossible to give the number of prisoners captured by troops of this brigade. Two battle-flags were taken from the enemy during the conflict. Corpl. John Keough, Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania, and Corpl. Trustrim Connell, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania, each captured a battle-flag.

Much gallantry and many acts of distinguished bravery were noticed during the attack. Unusual credit is due the troops for the vigorous manner in which they attacked the enemy, considering the long and tiresome march made on the same day. Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Hill, commanding Sixth Maryland,was captured by the enemy, but soon after persuaded his captors, including a number of officers and men, to surrender to him and come within our lines.

During the entire day’s operations, Colonel M. R. McClennan, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania; Bvt. Colonel O. H. Binkley, One hundred and tenth Ohio; Lieutenant Cols. C. M. Cornym, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, and James W. Snyder, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery regimental commanders, showed great skill, judgment, and bravery. Major William G. Williams, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, commanding Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania was particularly gallant.

Major William Wood, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery while leading his battalion in a charge, received a dangerous wound from a canister shot in the face.

Majs. Anson S. Wood, S. B. Lamoreaux, and Capts. George W. Brinkerhoff, Henry J. Rhodes, and Chauncey Fish, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery; and Capts. George P. Boyer, One hundred and tenth Ohio, Charles J. Gibson,and Moses D. Wheeler One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, John J. Bradshaw, John G. Simpers, and Charles A. Damuth, Sixth Maryland, and Simon Dickerhood, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Regiments, are among the many who did their duty nobly.

Captain Harrison, D. Yarmett, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, commanding brigade sharpshooters, handled his men as skirmishers with great skill and success.

Captain William L. Shaw, One hundred and tenth Ohio, acting assistant-adjutant-general of brigade; Captain J. P. Dudrow, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio; Captain William H. Abercrombie, Sixth Maryland and Second Lieutenant R. W. Cook, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania acting aides-de-camp; and Captain J. W. Jewhurst, Ninth New York Heavy Artillery, serving upon brigade staff-were particularly active, efficient, and brave. Captain T. J. Hoskinson, commissary of subsistence of the brigade, was conspicuous for gallantry upon the field.

Privates Richard Netz, One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, and George, W. Ickes, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania mounted orderlies accompanies me with the advance of the troops in the field attack, the former carrying the brigade flag. Their most commendable conduct should not be forgotten.

The troops were moved from the scene of the battle after dark toward Rice’s Station, and bivouacked for the night about two miles and a half from the battle-ground and about three miles from Rice’s Station. The remnant of the rebel army retreated, via Farmville, across the Appomattox River toward Appomattox Court-House, Va., and was closely pursued. This brigade, with the division and corps, crossed the river at Farmville about 10 p.m. of the 7th, and bivouacked for the night.

The enemy was closely followed on the 8th and 9th of April until about 2 p.m. of the 9th instant, when the troops halted about six miles from Appomattox Court-House, and were soon after informed that General R. E. Lee had surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. The rebel army was then in our immediate front and not to exceed five miles from Appomattox Court-House, Va. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed among the troops upon being informed of the surrender.

Early on the morning of the 11th instant the brigade, with the corps, commenced the march to this place where it arrived on the 13th instant and went into camp.

The One hundred and twenty-sixth Ohio, Colonel B. F. Smith commanding, was detached from the brigade on the night of the 5th of April to guard prisoners, and did not rejoin the brigade until April 15, 1865.

Detailed reports of the operations of regiments are herewith transmitted.

My orders were received from and through Brigadier General T. Seymour, commanding division to whom I beg here to tender my thanks for his uniform courtesy to me.

The once defiant rebel Army of Northern Virginia being utterly vanquished, the troops are in the highest possible spirits at the prospect of an early and universal peace in our country.

I am, major, with high esteem, your most obedient and humble servant,

J. WARREN KEIFER,
Brevet Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Bvt. Major O. V. TRACY,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Sixth Army Corps.

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. 990-999

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