No. 147. Report of Bvt. Major Andrew Cowan, First Battery New York Light Artillery, commanding Artillery Brigade.1
HDQRS. ARTILLERY BRIGADE, SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
Burkeville, Va., April 15, 1865.
I have the honor to forward the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the operations of the army during the campaign which has resulted in the surrender of the principal army of the rebellion:
On April 1 instructions were received from headquarters Sixth Corps that the corps would assault the works of the enemy at 4 a.m. on the following morning, and five batteries of the brigade were designated to assist in the assault, viz: Battery E, Fifth U. S. Artillery, Lieutenant J. R. Brinkle, commanding; Third New York Independent Battery, Bvt. Major W. A. Harn commanding; Battery H, First Rhode Island Artillery, Captain C. Allen, jr., commanding; First New York Independent Battery, Bvt. Captain O. R. Van Etten commanding; Battery G, First Rhode Island Artillery, Bvt. Major G. W. Adams commanding. Lieutenant Brinckle was ordered to report to Brigadier-General Seymour, Brevet Major Harn to Brevet Major-General Getty, and Captain Allen to Brevet Major-General Wheaton for orders. The First New York Independent Battery and Battery G, First Rhode Island Artillery were held in reserve. At about 10 p.m. instructions were received from General Wright to open fire on the enemy’s lines with all the batteries, which was accordingly done, and a moderate fire kept up for about
three hours. At 2 a.m on April 2 the batteries selected to accompany the assaulting column were relieved from their positions in the works and massed near Fort Fisher. Bvt. Major G. W. Adams was detailed, with a detachment of twenty men, to advance with the assaulting column, to take command of and turn the enemy’s guns should the assault prove successful, the men being furnished with equipments for that purpose. A section of Captain Allen’s battery, under Lieutenant Walter M. Knight, advanced with General Wheaton’s division in front of Fort Welch and opened fire on the enemy, doing good service. When the assault was found to have been successful Major Adams, with his detachment of cannoneers, succeeded in turning some of the guns of the enemy on their retreating columns, doing good execution and assisting to demoralize them materially. Casualties, 2 enlisted men wounded.
The Third New York Battery, under Major Harn, and a section of Battery G, First Rhode Island Artillery, under Lieutenant Rich, were placed in position with the advance of the Third Division, and opened a severe fire on a point which the enemy still held, succeeding in silencing one of their batteries. The Third New York Battery advanced with the Second and Third Divisions to a point where the Twenty-fourth Corps formed a junction with the Sixth, and rendered efficient service in driving the enemy. The works of the enemy in that direction having been all carried or abandoned the troops moved in the direction of Petersburg, the Third New York Battery accompanying the Second Division, taking several positions as the enemy retreated and assisting materially in driving them from their positions. Casualties, 2 enlisted men wounded, 1 horse killed. Battery H, First Rhode Island Artillery, Captain Allen, also advanced with the troops, rendering efficient service in driving the enemy, and in one instance being exposed to an enfilading the which he was unable to return, the enemy having rifled guns, and the distance being too great for smooth-bores. Captain Allen’s loss was 3 men killed, 6 wounded, and 10 horses killed.
After the enemy’s works were carried the reserve batteries were moved out in front of our works. At the request of General Gibbon a section of First New York Battery, under Lieutenant Sears, was placed in position under the fire of a rebel battery, and after firing some 70 rounds succeeded in silencing it. The whole battery was then moved up on the Boydton plank road toward Petersburg, and took position near the Whitworth house, opening fire on the enemy’s infantry under severe fire from sharpshooters. The battery also opened on one of the enemy’s forts, to which they replied occasionally without damage. The fire was continued until dark, expending 611 rounds ammunition, and losing 2 men wounded and 2 horses disabled.
Battery E, Fifth U. S. Artillery, Lieutenant Brinckle, moved with the Third Division after the works were carried, and took position in front of rebel works known as Fort McGraw and Battery 45, firing rapidly. Lieutenant Brinckle reports the officers and men for his command as performing their batteries faithfully.
Battery G, First Rhode Island Artillery, Brevet Major Adams, advanced with the corps toward Petersburg, engaging the enemy at different times with good effect, with the loss of 1 officer and 2 enlisted men wounded. Battery A, First New Jersey Artillery, Captain A. N. Parsons, took part in the fire upon the enemy’s lines on the night of April 1 from the works on our line.
All the batteries of the command were in position and intrenched on the night of the 2nd of April, with instructions to open fire on the enemy at 5 a.m. the following morning, but the enemy having evacuated the brigade moved with the corps on the River road.
Nothing of importance occurred until April 6, when the enemy was met at Sailor’s Creek. All the batteries of the command were in position here, and the natural position for artillery being good, a most effective fire was kept up until the enemy was routed. Prisoners stated that it was the most terrific fire that they were exposed to. So many killed and wounded from the fire of artillery has seldom been seen in this was in so small a space. Battery E, Fifth U. S. Artillery, in this engagement had 2 men slightly wounded. The brigade then proceeded to within a few miles of Appomattox Court-House, and on the 9th of April had the honor of firing four salutes of thirty-six guns each in honor of the surrender of General R. E. Lee. On April 11 moved toward Burkeville, arriving there on the 13th.
The roads on the whole route from Appomattox Court-House to this point were in an awful condition, and consequently many horses of the brigade are rendered temporarily unserviceable.
The following batteries of the brigade took some part in the operations which resulted in the capture of Petersburg and Richmond, but they having been ordered to City Point, it is impossible to include them in this report: Battery H, First Ohio Artillery, Captain S. W. Dorsey; Third Vermont Battery, Captain R. H. Start; Fourth Maine Battery, Captain Charles W. White; Battery E, First Rhode Island Artillery, Lieutenant E. K. Parker.
The officers and men have behaved splendidly throughout the campaign. During the operations after the capture of the enemy’s works April 2, the Third New York Battery, Battery H, First Rhode Island Artillery, and First New York Battery advanced from point to point with the skirmish lines of the Second Division, keeping up a severe fire upon the enemy, harassing him greatly, and preventing him from reforming his lines of battle. The batteries were maneuvered very handsomely, and their commanders are entitled to special credit for their meritorious services on that occasion. All have endeavored to do their utmost to aid in achieving the glorious successes of our corps.
I removed from the works captured April 2 twenty guns, viz: Seven light 12-pounders, brass (“J. R. A.,” maker); three light 12-pounders, brass (U. S.); two 12-pounder iron guns (“J. R. A.,” maker); three 24-pounder howitzers (U. S.); three 3-inch rifled (“T. T. S. L.”); one 3-inch Blakely (—); one 10-pounder Parrott (“J. R. A.”); also, nine caissons. These guns and caissons were sent to City Point April 3, in charge of Captain Start, Third Vermont Battery.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Major, Commanding Artillery Brigade, Sixth Corps.
Bvt. Major C. H. WHITTELSEY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Army Corps.
- 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. 1009-1011 ↩
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