Number 193. Appomattox Report of Bvt. Brig. Gen. Charles H. T. Collis, One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Independent Brigade

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 193. Report of Bvt. Brig. Gen. Charles H. T. Collis, One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Independent Brigade.1

HEADQUARTERS INDEPENDENT BRIGADE,
April 19, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that in obedience to orders from headquarters, Army of the Potomac, my command moved from City Point to Meade’s Station on the morning of the 2nd of April, arriving at that

point at 1 p. m., where I met, it and relieved Colonel Tippin, who was in command during my absence. It consisted of four regiments of infantry, as follows: Sixty-eighth and One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Twentieth New York State Militia, and Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers . From Meade’s Station I moved to the Avery house and reported to Major-General Parke, whom I found in Fort Rice. I was ordered by General Parke to move to fort Sedgwick and report to General Griffin. Arriving at Fort Sedgwick at 2 p. m. was ordered by General Griffin to move my command as judiciously as possible into the front line held by his troops, and avail myself of the first opportunity to force the line the enemy then held. While forming my brigade in the picket-line in front of Fort Sedgwick I discovered that some of our troops on our right of Fort Mahone were breaking and falling back in confusion under a heavy fire of musketry. I immediately charged with my command and succeeded, under a fierce artillery and musketry fire, in driving back the enemy and reoccupying the line. Fort Mahone was still held by the enemy and I made suppositions t pass to its rear and assault in reserve. This position I communicated in writing to General Griffin, and asked that a brigade might be ordered to support me. At about 4.30 p. m. I received permission in writing from General Griffin to make the assault and was informed that Hamblin’s brigade of the Sixth Corps, was moving up to my support, and that the Two hundred and eighth and Two hundred and ninth Pennsylvania Regiments would also support men.

Having completed my arrangements and being about to move forward I received a communication from General Griffin directing me not to assault, as upon consultation it was deemed imprudent at present, but to strengthen my left and hold fast to what I had. I immediately countermanded the orders for assault and occupied my time during the remainder of the day in throwing up an entrenched line on my left flank, from Fort Mahone towards Fort Sedgwick. This work was performed by the Sixth-first Massachusetts (Colonel Walcott), under a severe fire from the sharpshooters in Fort Mahone.

At 2 a. m. on 3rd instant the enemy’s fire having ceased and a staff officer from General Hartranft’s headquarters (I believe) having informed me that deserters gave information of the evacuation of the line, I assaulted Fort Mahone, but found it deserted. I at once moved forward toward Petersburg in line of battle, the Zouaves being deployed as skirmisher, and notified General Parke of my movements, requesting that the troops on my right and left be directed not to fire upon my troops. At 4 a. m. I received an order from General Parke not to be too day hasty, as a general advance was ordered for 5 a. m. I then halted until daylight at which time I found that troops on my right and left were pressing forward. My skirmishers were then thrown forward at double-quick, and I resumed my forward movement arriving at Petersburg shortly after 5 a. m., my skirmishers being the first troops in the city from the west end.

The One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers found in the hands of the enemy a U. S. national flag belonging to some regiment unknown, which flag I now have in my possession. Arriving at Petersburg and hearing that Campbell’s brigade across the Appomattox River was on fire I pushed forward at double-quick with the Sixty-gushing the flames the bridge fell in about fifteen minutes after our arrival.

At 10 a. m. I received orders from General Parke to return to City Point with my command, at the same time receiving his warm congratulations and thanks for the gallant behavior of my brigade.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the admirable conduct of my officers and men, and when it is taken into consideration that they marched from City Point to Fort Sedqwick without a halt, and were then thrown against the enemy during a retrograde movement of some ol our own troops, I congratulate myself upon being a participant in the work.

The First Massachusetts Cavalry, of my brigade, was on picket duty at Prince George Court-House.

I attach hereto a list of casualties.*

Respectfully submitted.

CHARLES H. T. COLLIS,
Brevet Brigadier-General.

Colonel GEORGE D. RUGGLES,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

ADDENDA.
HEADQUARTERS INDEPENDENT BRIGADE,
April 21, 1865.

Colonel G. D. RUGGLES,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

COLONEL: In reply to your letter of the 18th instant asking that I “present at the earlier moment practicable the names of officers of my command who, in my judgment, have by meritorious services in the recent campaign rendered themselves worthy of promotion to the rank of major-general and brigadier-general, as well as of those of all grades who for the same reasons are held by me as deserving of promotions by brevet,” I have the honor to transmit the following recommendations:

1. Colonel Charles F. Walcott, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be promoted to brigadier-general by brevet for gallant and meritorious service rendered on the 2nd of April in the assault on the enemy’s works west of the Jerusalem plank road.

2. Lieutenant Colonel E. W. Stone, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to the rank of colonel by brevet for gallant and meritorious services rendered upon the same occasion, and for his energy and perseverance in constructing a covered way near Fort Mahone under a severe fire of the enemy.

3. Major James G. C. Dodge, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be lieutenant-colonel by brevet for gallant and meritorious services in leading his regiment on the 2nd instant against the enemy’s works (the regiment being left in front.) This officer has been twice wounded in action and, although a cripple, has insisted upon remaining in the service, notwithstanding advice to the from his physicians. His character upon the occasion referred to was of the most conspicuous character. The conduct of the three officers above-mentioned came under my immediate observation and I can safely say had great influence upon our success.

4. Captain Benjamin C. Shermer, One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be major by brevet for meritorious conduct in taking charge of his regiment during the absence of his superior officers,

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*Embodied in table, p. 590.

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reorganizing it and turning the works of the enemy so as to adapt them to our own defense.

5. Captain Alfred S. Newlin, One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be major by brevet for gallant services rendered the brevet brigadier-general commanding as acting aide-de-camp. This officer after the brigade had occupied the enemy’s main line organized and brought up to its support the fragments of several regiments of the Ninth Corps. He has in previous engagements been distinguished for his gallantry.

6. First Lieutenant and Quartermaster James Hartley, One hundred and fourteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be captain by brevet for gallant and meritorious services in the assault on the rebel works in front of Petersburg on Sunday, April 2. Though by reason of his position as quartermaster not called upon to take an active part in the operations nor to participate in the assault, he yet did both, and by his coolness and bravery rendered essential services to the commanding officer of his regiment and myself. So marked were his services that they were made the subject of a general order from these headquarters.

7. First., Lieutenant Benjamin Vaughan, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be captain by brevet for gallant conduct in refusing to leave the field after receiving a severe wound through the right shoulder early in the action, and remaining with his command for several hours thereafter and until the enemy’s fire had ceased.

8. First. Lieutenant Edward H. Morrill, Sixty-first Massachusetts, Volunteers, to be captain by brevet for gallant conduct in promptly leading his command into a very dangerous position near Fort Mahone, which the regiment was ordered to occupy and hold at all hazards.

9. First. Lieutenant Henry W. Howard, Sixty- first Massachusetts volunteers, to be captain by brevet for gallant conduct in superintending the construction under fire of a line of works to cover the left flank of the line captured from the enemy and for his fearless conduct in very rapidly leading a line of skirmishers along the enemy’s works to feel their position on the night of the 2nd and 3rd of April, at a time when it was unknown whether or not the line was still held by the enemy.

10. First Lieutenant Henry T. Johns, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be captain by brevet for taking the regimental colors from the color sergeant, who had fallen from exhaustion, and gallantly keeping them in their proper position.

11. Second Lieutenant Frank. T. Palmer, Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be first lieutenant by braver for meritorious conduct in relieving Lieutenant Morrill from the dangerous position which was held by the left of the regiment when Lieutenant Morril had exhausted his ammunition, and for the remarkable bravery and energy which he displayed in holding the position.

12. First. Lieutenant Isaac P. Gragg Sixty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, to be captain by brevet for gallant conduct in carrying orders along the line.

13. Captain Michael Fulmer, Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, to be major by brevet for gallant services in leading his command in an assault until severely wounded in the head near the ditch of the enemy’s works.

14. Captain M. Snyder, Twentieth New York State Militia, to be major by brevet for gallantly leading his during the temporary absence of his colonel in the assault on the enemy’s works on the Jerusalem plank road on 2nd instant.

I have the honor to recommend that all these appointments, if approved by the major-general commanding, take effect from April 2, 1865.

Respectfully submitted.

CHARLES H. T. COLLIS,
Brevet Brigadier-General, 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. 1091-1095

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