No. 21. Reports of Major General Andrew A. Humphreys, U. S. Army, commanding Second Army Corps.1
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
April 10, 1865.
GENERAL: On the night of Thursday, the 6th instant, I made a brief report* as to the result of the operations during that day, when the Second Corps, after discovering the enemy in retreat, through Amelia Sulphur Springs, in the direction of Deatonsville, and receiving orders to move in that direction, pursued the enemy rapidly, driving
*See Humphreys to Webb, 7.30 p. m. April 6, Part III.
him by constant combat over twelve miles, through a country where forests with dense undergrowth and swamps alternated with cultivated fields, capturing and destroying over 300 wagons (ambulances included), taking 5 pieces of artillery, several flags, and about 1,000 prisoners. Night put an end to the pursuit at Sailor’s Creek, where the last fight occurred and where the chief captures were made. The pursuit was renewed the next morning, 7th instant, at 5.30 a. m., and the rear of the enemy overtaken (General Barlow, Second Division, leading) at High Bridge, just as he had find the common road bridge over the Appomattox, and as the second span of the railroad bridge was burning. A considerable force of the enemy was drawn up on the heights bridge, but were quickly driven skirmishers attempted to hold the bridge, but were quickly driven from it, and the troops crossed over. High Bridge was saved with great difficulty, with the loss of four spans. The redoubt forming the bridge-head on the south side of the river was blown up, and eight pieces of artillery in it abandoned to us, together with ten pieces of artillery in the works on the north side. A strong column of the enemy moved off along the railroad in the direction of Farmville, while another moved in a northwest direction. I sent General Barlow, commanding Second Division, toward Farmville, three miles distant, and moved with Miles and De Trobriand on the road running northwest, intersecting the stage road from Farmville to Lynchburg at a point about four miles form Farmville and four miles from High Bridge. General Barlow found Farmville in the possession of a strong force of the enemy, who were burning the bridges there and covering a train of wagons moving toward Lynchburg. He attacked, and the enemy soon abandoned the town, burnt over 130 of the wagons, and joined the main body of Lee’s army, who were entrenched in a strong position at the intersection of the Lynchburg and High Bridge road, where the other two divisions of the Second Corps arrived soon after General Barlow reached the vicinity of Farmville.
Seeing our approach the enemy opened their artillery upon us with some effect. Our skirmishers advanced at once and drove in those of the enemy and developed their position. The troops and artillery were quickly formed for attack, but the enemy’s position was too strong and too well entrenched to admit of a front attack, and an effort was made to take it in flank, but their flanks were found to extend beyond ours. General Barlow was then ordered up, and learning form prisoners that sent to the commanding general of the army, with the suggestion that another corps should attack from the direction of Farmville at the same time that the Second attacked. While awaiting the arrival of Barlow the enemy was observed to shorten his right flank, and some firing being hear in the direction of Farmville (which was supposed to be the Sixth Corps advancing), I contracted my left and extended my right (the length of a division front), hoping to envelope his left flank. An attack was then made from Miles’ right, which was repulsed with considerable loss, the entrenchments and position being found as strong here as at any other point. Upon the arrival of General Barlow he was placed on the right of Miles, but it was dark by the time he got into position, an further attack was postponed. As was expected, in the morning the enemy was found to have abandoned the position during the night.
I regret to report that Brigadier General Thomas A. Smyth, commanding brigade, Second Division, a gallant and highly meritorious officer was mortally wounded at Farmville. Brigadier-General Lewis, command-
The pursuit was resumed at 5.30 a. m. of the 8th, on the route to Lynchburg, by the Cumberland Court-House and Appomattox Court-House road. Four pieces of artillery was abandoned by the enemy on the route and fell into our hands.
At New Store the enemy’s cavalry pickets were come across. A halt of about two hours was made at sunset, and the march resumed with the object of coming up with the enemy, but finding no probability of doing so during the night, and the men being much exhausted for the want of food and from fatigue, and head of the column was halted at midnight. The rear did not get up until morning, and the supply train of two days’ rations later. As soon as they could be issued the troops moved forward again at 8 a. m. and at 11 a. m. came up with the enemy’s skirmishers about three miles from Appomattox Court-House, where they remained during the day under the flags of truce. Frequent halts were made to give and received communication form and for the lieutenant-general commanding the Armies of the United States, under flags of truce.
Nothing could be finer than the spirit of the officers and men during the whole operations. The division commanders are especially entitled to my thanks-Major-General Miles, Major-General Mott, Major-General Barlow, Brigadier-General De Trobriand, as also the commander of the Artillery Brigade.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
P. S.-The total result to the Second Corps since the commencement of the campaign is 34 guns, 15 flags, about 5,000 prisoners, and the capture or destruction of over 400 wagons (including ambulances), with their contents.
A. A. H.,
Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Virginia, April 21, 1865.
GENERAL: I have to submit, for the information of the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac, the following report of the operations of the Second Army Corps during the campaign just closed:
In conformity to the orders and instructions from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac of the 27th and 28th of March, the corps moved at 6 a. m. on the 29th with the artillery, ammunition, rations, and trains prescribed, crossed Hatcher’s Run and took position covering the Vaughan road with its right resting within supporting distance of the Twenty-fourth Corps (which had taken the place of the Second Corps in the entrenchments extending to the Vaughan road crossing of Hatcher’s Run), and its left thrown back to the vicinity of Gravelly Run, about half a mile form the Quaker road. The Second Division was on the right, the Third Division in the center, and the First Division on the left, each division having one-third of its force in reserve. At about 8.30 or 9 a. m. communication was established from the
Vaughan road crossing of Gravelly Run with Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, at the intersection of the old stage and Quaker roads, about a mile distant, on the south side of Gravelly Run. A mounted reconnoitering party was sent up Gravelly Run to the Quaker road, while the line of battle was being formed, who drove the enemy’s cavalry pickets and followed them up the Quaker road beyond the old saw-mill, until they met the enemy’s infantry pickets entrenched. As soon as the line was formed skirmishers were thrown forward and the enemy’s pickets, thinly established, driven from an entrenched line, afterward found to extend from near the Crow house, on Hatcher’s Run, to the vicinity of the Quaker road. A reconnoiter party was sent along this entrenched line to the Quaker road at the saw-mill. The advance of the line of battle and skirmishers was stayed, by direction of the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac, until further orders. At about 4 p. m. I was informed by him that the Fifth Corps was advancing up the Quaker road, and was directed to advance my line of battle and connect wit it. The whole line was moved forward at once and connection formed, but rapidly broken, owing to the dense forest and undergrowth. Upon receiving a dispatch from General Webb, dated 4.50 p. m., informing me that General Griffin had been attacked by two divisions of the enemy and directing me to support Griffin’s right, if needed, I rode to that quarter, sending the necessary instructions, and at a few minutes before 6 p. m., while near General Warren’s right, I received another dispatch from General Webb, dated 5.40 p. m., informing me General Warren would attack at 6 p. m., and desiring me to support the advance of may whole line was continued until dark, through dense forest, undergrowth,a n swamp, the connection with General Griffin, who advanced along the Quaker road, being made and broken constantly. The enemy’s skirmishers were driven in before us, but no main line was encountered, when darkness put a stop to our progress.
At 6 a. m. on the 30th the advance was resumed, Hays’ division on the right being supported by Turner’s division, of the Twenty-fourth Corps. The enemy was driven inside his entrenchments along Hatcher’s Run and the White Oak road, this position being attained at about 8.30 or 9 a. m. The right of the corps (General hays’ right) rested on Hatcher’s Run, near the Crow house and the enemy’s redoubt in that vicinity. Turner’s division, of the Twenty-fourth Corps, took post along Hatcher’s Run connecting with the old intrenchments which were occupied by the Twenty-fourth Corps. The left of the corps connected with the Fifth Corps near the Boydton plank road in the vicinity of Mrs. Rainey’s. The line of battle was extended in front of the enemy’s entrenchments, and was pressed as closely to them as practicable without assaulting. The left, on he Boydton plank road, was subsequently advanced in conjunction with the Fifth Corps so as to include the whole of the Dabney Mill road. The skirmish line was pressed close up against the enemy’s works during the whole day, developing their character and condition. The enemy’s artillery along our front kept up a pretty constant fire upon our skirmishers as theirs were pressed back. With great difficulty, owing to the rain of the night before and during the day, guns were brought up to our right and to our left. The orders for the day were completely carried out. Strong working parties were put upon the roads, which had become impassable for artillery and wagons. Turner’s division, of the Twenty-fourth corps,
By daylight of the 31st I had, in accordance with orders from the headquarters of the army, occupied the position of the Fifth Corps along the Boydton plank and Quaker roads, with Miles’ division, and had rearranged Mott’s and Hays’ divisions. Owing to the condition of the roads and country no further operations were called for during the day. But between 11 and 12 a. m. Crawford’s and Ayere’s divisions, of the Fifth Corps (the former on he white Oak road and the latter in supporting distance), became engaged with the enemy. Being informed by a staff officer form Major-General Warren that they were being pressed back and needed support, I ordered General Miles to throw forward two of his brigades and attack the enemy, and subsequently to follow it up with his whole division, at the same time extending Mott’s left to maintain the connection and give support. This order was complied with in the promptness and most spirited manner. The brigades of General Madill and General Ramsey, supported by that of Colonel Nugent, advanced rapidly to the attack, struck the enemy in flank and drove him back into his entrenchments, with severe loss killed and wounded and one flag and many prisoners, and occupied the White Oak road. The enemy’s entrenchments here occupied a strong position on the crest of a long slope, with wide slashingss in front and abatis covering the ditch, with artillery at short intervals. De Trobriand’s brigade, of Mott’s division, was put in position to strengthen Miles, and subsequently McAllister’s brigade was extended to the left to perfect the connection. During the day General Mott made an attempt to carry the redoubts and entrenchments covering the Boydton road crossing, but without success. General Hays likewise attempted to carry the Crow-house redoubt, but was prevented by the heavy slashing, which was impossible for any large number of troops. Our line being too much extended, Miles’ left was contracted, drawing in from the White Oak road. The advance line thus occupied was slightly entrenched, artillery put in position in it, &c. The remaining batteries of the corps were brought up during the day.
Our loss during the day’s operations was:
I regret to report the loss of that distinguished young officer, Major Charles J. Mill, of the adjutant-general’s department, who was killed by a cannon shot while serving with me.
During the night orders were received to withdraw to the line occupied in the morning, General Warren having been directed to join Major-General Sheridan is the direction of the Five Forks. This order was carried into effect before daylight of the 1st of April.
During the day (1st of April) close examinations were made with a view to the assault of the Crow-house redoubt. The batteries of the Twenty-
fourth Corps intended to cover the assault were not prepared until night, Toward dusk I was instructed to throw forward my left, Miles’ division, so as to hold the White Oak road and prevent the enemy from sending re-enforcement to their troops at Five Forks, where Sheridan, with the cavalry and Fifth Corps, was attacking them. This was at once carried out, Miles’ left, across that road, being supported by one of his brigades in reserve. Mott kept up connection with the rest of the line by a single rank.
An order was received during the evening the evening to assault the Crow-house redoubt at 4 a. m. of the 2nd instant, at which time an assault would be made by the Army of the James, by the Sixth, and by the Ninth Corps. I in my judgment, I could effect a lodgment. In the event of being successful I was to throw forward my command in the direction of the Boydton road, and endeavor to communicate with the troops on my right and look out for my left.
The examinations in the vicinity of the Crow-house redoubt having rendered it highly probable that a column of fours could be led along the edge of the bank of Hatcher’s Run to the redoubt having rendered it highly probable that a column of fours could be led along the edge of the bank of Hatchers’ Run to the redoubt, General Hays was ordered to assault the redoubt in that manner at 4 a. m., without the use of artillery. The other division commanders were directed to feel the enemy closely at the same time, and if any chance offered to assault.
At 9.15 p. m. I received a dispatch from the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac informing me General Sheridan had routed the enemy west of Dinwiddie Court-House, had captured several batteries, over 4, 0000 prisoners, and several trains. To prevent re-enforcement being sent to the troops he had encountered I was directed to feel at once for a chance to get through the enemy’s line, and if one was found to assault immediately and push forward. This order, with suitable instructions, was communicated to the division commanders. At 9.30 p. m. the order was modified by a communication from the guidance, by which I was advised to push every reserve from my left, and if the enemy were found breaking from my front to push directly froward; if the enemy could not be broken then Miles’ division should be sent down the White Oak road to Sheridan. A subsequent dispatch fixed the hour for Miles to move to Sheridan. A subsequent disproved by that time I had not broken the enemy’s lines or started them. Generals Miles and Mott attacked and drove in the enemy’s picket-lines, but the entrenchments, the heavy slashing in front of which I have before described, did not offer assailable points. The enemy were found to be vigilant, and opened heavily with their artillery. Such being the condition of affairs in my front, General Miles moved down the While Oak road to join General Sheridan, between midnight and 1 o’clock, in accordance with the views of the commanding general of the army of the lieutenant-general. Communication with the cavalry along that road had been previously opened by General Miles with a detachment from my escort. As soon as Miles’ division was well out of the way, leaving the advanced picket-line as it was established, I disposed the two divisions on the line held by the three the day previous.
About 2 a. m. of the 2nd instant I received an order suspending my attack upon the Crow-house redoubt, in consequence of the absence of one of my divisions (Miles’), and was directed to hold myself ready to take advantage of anything that might arise in the operations of the
remainder of the army. General Mott and General Hays were instructed accordingly, and directed to keep up constant attacks upon the enemy’s pickets, beginning at 4 a. m., and to take advantage of any chance that occurred. About 6 a. m., having been informed by General Webb that both General Wright and General Parke had carried and held portions of the enemy’s lines, I directed General Hays to try and carry the Crowhosue redoubts and General McAllister captured the enemy’s entrenched picket-line in his front, under the fire of their artillery as well as musketry, and about 8 a. m. General Hays carried the Crow-house redoubt and the work adjoining it one the enemy’s right, capturing three pieces of artillery and a large part of the garrisons. The enemy’s artillery fired but once upon the assaulting party General Hays immediately extended to his left in the enemy’s works.
At 8.30 a. m. Major-General Mott reported to me that the enemy in his front were moving quickly to our left inside their entrenchments, and subsequently that they were withdrawing their artillery form the redoubts. I ordered him to press forward on the enemy and attack. At 9 a. m. I received intelligence from General Miles that he was on his return and about two miles form the position he had occupied the night before on the White Oak road. I had previously been informed from the headquarters of the army that Major-General Sheridan would move at daylight and sweep the White Oak road and all north of it down to Petersburg.
Believing that General Wright’s and General Ord’s troops had cut off from Petersburg all the enemy’s force to our left of the point where Wright had penetrated their works, I directed Mott to pursue the enemy by the White Oak and Claiborne roads leading to Sutherland’s Station, on the South Side Railroad, Hays to follow Mott, and Miles to enter their works by the White Oak road and take the Claiborne road. From Miles’ position on the White Oak road he would probably lead. I expected by this movement to close in on the rear of that portion of the enemy’s troops cut off from Petersburg, while Sheridan would probably strike their flank and front. Upon the arrival of the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac upon the ground these orders were changed-Mott and Hays were ordered to move on the Boydton plank rod toward Petersburg and connect on the right with Wright’s corps, the Sixth; and Miles was instructed to move forward Petersburg by the first right-hand fork road after crossing Hatcher’s Run and connect with the other divisions.
These orders having been given, I rode over to Miles’ division, which I overtook on the Claiborne road, about a mile beyond Hatcher’s Run, meeting also General Sheridan in that vicinity. Upon learning from the later hat he had not intended to return General Miles’ division to my command, I declined to assume further command of it, and left it to carry out General Sheridan’s instructions, whatever they might be. It had just got in contact with the enemy’s rear.
I rejoined, as rapidly as possible, my other two divisions, and about 2.30 p. m., while putting them in position in front of Petersburg, near Rohoick Creek, was informed by the major-general commanding the army that General Miles needed support, and was directed to take one of my divisions for that purpose, leaving the other to report to General Wright until my return. Taking the Second Division, I moved rapidly as possible by the Cox road toward Sutherland’s Station, expecting, if the enemy were still in front of Miles, to take them in flank. Upon nearing the
station, however, I found that General Miles had, at about 3 o’clock, made a third and successful assault, striking the enemy’s left flank and driving him out of his breast-works, taking one flag, two guns, and 600 prisoners. Brevet Brigadier-General Madill and Brevet Brigadier-General MacDougall, commanding Third and First Brigades,* were among the wounded, the former severely. Captain Clark’s battery (B), First New Yersey, rendered great assistance in the assault by keeping up a vigorous and well-directed fire upon the enemy.
Our loss on the 1st and 2nd of April was:
About 10 p. m. I received orders to report to Major-General Sheridan. A pontoon train was sent at the same time.
During the morning of the 3rd instant I received orders to move out the River road, following the Fifth corps, and to leave the pontoon train at Sutherland’s Station with the cavalry trains, under the guard of one of my brigades. A brigade of the Second Division was detailed for this purpose. By some singular misapprehension of orders the Second Division had moved back toward Petersburg early in the morning without my knowledge. Staff officers were sent to find and bring it up to the command. While on the River road the route was changed to the Namozine road. General Mott rejoined me at the Namozine fork. A bridge was built by the Second Corps over Namozine Creek, adjoining the bridge of the Fifth Corps, which proved of great assistance to the troops following. The corps encamped for the night near Winticomack Creek, close to the Fifth Corps, the Second Division about three miles in the rear, near Namozine Church. Toward sunset I received a communication from Major-General Webb, chief of staff, informing me that, under instructions from the lieutenant-general, Major-General Meade resumed command of the Second Corps, and directed me to report my position and condition of supplies. IN reporting my place of halt for the night to Major-General Sheridan I informed him of the receipt of this communication. In reply I was informed that General Sheridan had received no instructions from the lieutenant-general in regard to my corps,s but that he should consider it under Major-General Meade’s orders. It was added for my information that a force of the enemy was in position that evening on the other side of Deep Creek, and a large wagon train of theirs parked there; that General Sheridan would move early the next morning, with the cavalry and Fifth corps, upon the direct road to the Richmond and Danville road,
*MacDougall succeeded Madill in command of the Third Brigade after the latter was wounded.
which it intersected about midway between Amelia Court-House and Burke’s Station. I at once replied that I should follow the Fifth Corps closely, and reported accordingly to Major-General Meade. An order from Lieu tenant-General Grant, dated Sutherland’s Station, April 3, was subsequently received during the evening, directing me to report thereafter to Major-General Meade, but to follow on the morrow the route of march designated for use by Major-General Sheridan.
The corps moved on the morning of the 4th at 6 a. m., keeping close on the Fifth Corps. The rains had rendered the roads almost impassable for wagons. By directions from army headquarters a brigade of the First Division was detailed to work upon the road back toward Sutherland’s Station, while another of the Third Division was placed upon the road in advance. At 11 a. m., when about three or four miles from Deep Creek, Custer’s and Devin’s divisions of cavalry and Gregg’s brigade of cavalry entered the road I was on. coming from the right, and blocked the way until 7 p. m., by which time I had only reached Deep Creek. Under orders from the major-general commanding I began to move, about 1 a. m. of the 5th, for Jetersville, on the Danville road, but about one mile and a half beyond Deep Creek found the road blocked by the same cavalry that had obstructed it during the day. It was after 8 a. m. before the road was cleared. Advantage was taken of the enforced halt to distribute rations, of which the men stood in much need. The head of the corps reached Jetersville about 2.30 or 3 p. m. The First and Second Divisions were put in position on the left of the Fifth Corps; the Third Division was massed on its right. The detached brigades reached the divisions to which they belonged during the evening.
In compliance with orders from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, directing the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps to advance at 6 a. m. of the 6th on the enemy, at Amelia Court-House, and attack him if found in position—the Fifth Corps to move along the railroad, the Second Corps on its left—the Second Corps began to move at 0 a. in., the Second Division 1,000 yards from the railroad, the First Division 1,000 yards on its left, the Third Division following the First Division. A strong skirmish line, with supports, was kept in advance and on the flanks. The movement was made by compass, about east twenty-two degrees north. The broken and forest character of the ground caused a northerly deviation from that course, and brought the First Division, at about 8.30 or 9 a. m.,near Flat Creek, about a half or three-quarters of a mile beyond the cross-road leading to Amelia Sulphur Springs and about three or four miles out from Jetersville. Detachments from my escort, reconnoitering on the left, under Captain Hobensack, at this moment brought me word that a column of the enemy’s infantry, with a train of wagons, was visible in the open country beyond the creek, moving westerly. Riding to the open ground on Flat Creek, I saw a column of infantry about one mile and a half distant and some wagons moving in the direction stated. A portion of the column—I had no means of knowing how much—had entered the forest; about a strong brigade was visible. General Miles at once brought up some artillery, and opened upon them. I directed General Mott, who was up to the Amelia Sulphur Springs road, to send a brigade across and feel the enemy, and immediately reported what I had observed and done to the headquarters of the army. I could not tell whether it was the rear of Lee’s army in retreat or merely a guard to the trains, but the attack of Mott’s brigade would soon develop that. I could not abandon the advance upon Amelia Court-House without further information.
At about 9.45 a. m. I received a dispatch from General Webb, dated 9.30 a. m., directing the Second Corps to move on Deatonsville, the Sixth Corps to move through Jetersville and take position on the left of the Second Corps, and the Fifth Corps to move on the right of the army. I at once directed General Mott to move his whole division past Amelia Sulphur Springs to Deansonville and Ligontwon in pursuit of the enemy, his right resting on the road, General Miles to cross Flat Creek above Mott and move in pursuit in the same direction, his left resting on the road, and General Barlow, who had just reported and taken command of the Second Division, to follow the right of the First Division. The Fifth and Third Divisions were to have two-thirds of their force in line of battle, one-third in reserve. The enemy had burnt the bridge over Flat Creek; others were built in an incredibly short those of the enemy. I soon learnt that the whole of Lee’s army was near us, in retreat, and information went to show that a strong column was moving on the road from Amelia Court-House through Paineville toward Ligontown. For that reason General Barlow was moved in column in rear of Miles’ right, with directions to look out for his right flank and reat (this information was, however, probably erroneous). A sharp contest with the enemy commenced at once, and he was driven rapidly before us, until night put a stop tot he pursuit, at Sailor’s Creek, near its mouth, a distance of about fourteen miles from Amelia Sulphur Springs, over every foot of which a running fight was kept up, and several strong partially entrenched positions carried, the enemy using his artillery effectively. The country was broken, and consisted of open fields alternating with forest with dense undergrowth, and swamps, over the through which the lines of battle followed closely on the skirmish line with a rapidity and nearness of connection that I believe to be unexampled, and which I confess astonished me. Nothing could have been finer than the spirit of the officers and men.
The last attempted stand of the enemy was at Sailor’s Creek, where a short, sharp contest gave us 13 flags, 3 pieces of artillery, several hundred prisoners, over 200 wagons, with their contents, and more than 70 ambulances. Between thirty and fifty wagons, several battery forges, and limbers were left or destroyed on the road, which for many miles was strewn with tents, baggage, and camp equipage.
The whole result of the day’s work to the corps was 13 flags, 4 guns, about 1,700 prisoners, and over 300 wagons, including ambulances, with their contents. The Second Division, being on the right scarcely came in contact with the enemy.
I have no means of estimating the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded. Our own loss was:
I regret to report that Major-General Mott, commanding Third Division, was severely wounded in the leg while overlooking the attack
While passing Deatonsville the Sixth Corps was observed at some distance on the left, and subsequently, about two miles beyond Deatonsville, some of the cavalry and a brigade of the Sixth Corps were temporarily mixed with my troops. They moved southerly while I moved in a direction north of west.
The pursuit was resumed the next morning at 5.30 o’clock-General Miles following the road; General Barlow on the right, 1,000 yards distant; General De Trobriand on the left, 1,000 yards distant. Where the road forked-one branch running to High Bridge, the other to the vicinity of Rice’s Station-the marks on the road indicated that the trains and main force of the enemy had moved on the latter which I accordingly followed, but learning subsequently from the people of the country that the main body of troops had gone to High Bridge I moved across to it. This brought General Barlow to the bridge a short time in advance of the First Division. Here he overtook the rear second span of the railroad bridge was burning. The wagon road bridge was secured-a matter of some importance, as the Appomattox was not fordable.
A considerable force of the enemy was drawn up in a strong position on the heights of the opposite bank to oppose our passage, a position the strength of which the redoubts on the opposite side increased. Their skirmishers attempted to hold the bridge, but were quickly driven from it, and the troops crossed over, General Barlow’s division leading. Artillery was rapidly put in position to cover our attack, but the enemy moved off without waiting for it. The redoubt forming the bridge-head on the south bank was blown up a we approached and eight pieces of artillery in it abandoned to us, were ten pieces in the works on the north side. High Bridge was saved, chiefly by the exertions of Colonel Livermore, of my staff, with the loss of four spans. A strong column of the enemy moved off along the railroad in the direction of Farmville, while another moved in a northwest direction. Believing that General Lee was moving toward Lynchburg by the old stage road, pushing through Appomattox Court-House, north of the Appomattox River, I moved, with Miles and De Trobriand, on the road running northwest and intersecting the stage road at a point about four miles from Farmville and four or five miles from High Bridge; but, least I might be mistaken in the route Lee was following, I sent General Barlow’s (Second) division to Farmville by the railroad, about three miles distant. Artillery could not accompany him.
General Barlow found Farmville in possession of a strong force of the enemy, who were burning the bridges there and covering a wagons train moving toward Lynchburg. The bridges were burned and the troops o the south side prevented from crossing, as the river was not fordable for infantry and scarcely for cavalry. General Barlow attacked, and the enemy soon abandoned the town, burned about 130 wagons, and joined the main body of Lee’s army, which a short time after I found entrenched and in a strong position four or five miles north of Farmville, covering the stage and plank road to Lynchburg.
In the attack of General Barlow, Brigadier-General Smyth, commanding Third Brigade, a gallant and highly meritorious officer, was mortally wounded. His fall led to the loss of some part of the skirmish line. Upon approaching the vicinity of the Lynchburg stage road our
skirmishers suddenly came in contact with those of the enemy and drove them back. The artillery of the enemy opened upon us as we approached with some effect. Our troops and artillery were quickly formed for attack, the skirmishers were advanced, and developed the position of the enemy. It was too strong naturally and too well entrenched to admit of a front attack, the ground being open and sloping up gradually to a crest, about 1,000 yards distant, which was crowned with their entrenchments and batteries. An effort was made to take it in flank, but their flanks were found to extend beyond ours. Our skirmishers were kept pressed against those of the enemy, and an attack with my whole force threatened. The prisoners we took indicating that the main part of Lee’s remaining force was before me, General Barlow was ordered up, and the suggestion that another corps should attack from the direction of Farmville at the same time that the Second Corps attacked. The condition of the bridges and river at Farmville was not known to me at that time.
While awaiting the arrival of General Barlow the enemy was observed to shorten his right flank, and some firing being heard in the direction of Farmville, which was supposed to be the Sixth Corps advancing, I contracted my left and extended my right the length of a division front, hoping to envelop the enemy’s left flank. An attack was then made from Miles’ right with three regiments of his First Brigade, but without success and with considerable loss, the position and entrenchments being found as strong here as at any other point. Upon the arrival of General Barlow he was placed on the right of Miles, but it was dark by the time he got into position, and further attack was postponed.
The firing in the direction of Farmville, which was never heavy and soon ceased, I learned subsequently was upon some of our cavalry that had crossed, with great difficulty, at Farmville by wading. The Sixth Corps was not able to cross, I heard, until some time during the night. The results to this corps during this day were 19 guns captured and 130 wagons destroyed.
Our loss was 671 officers and men killed, wounded, and missing-of which the First Division lost 424, the Second Division 131, and the Third Division, 16.
Of the enemy’s loss I cannot speak with any certainty. Brigadier-General Lewis, commanding brigade, Walker’s division, Gordon’s corps, Confederate army, severely wounded, together with other wounded officers and men, fell into our hands.
As was expected, in the morning the enemy was found to have abandoned his position during the night.
The pursuit was resumed at 5.30 a. m. on the 8th, on the road to Lynchburg (by the Cumberland Court-House and Appomattox Court-House stage road). Four pieces of artillery were abandoned by the enemy on the route and fell into our hands. At New Store the enemy’s cavalry pickets were come up with. A halt was made of about two hours at sunset, and the march resumed, with the object of coming up with the main force of the enemy; but finding no probability of doing so during the night, and the men being much exhausted form the want of food and from fatigue, the head of the column was halted at midnight. The rear did not get up until morning, and the supply train of two days’ rations later. As soon as the rations could be issued the troops moved forward again (at 8 a. m.), and at 11 a. m. came up with the enemy’s skirmishers about three miles form Appomattox Court-House, where they remained during the day under the flags of truce. At about 4 p. m. it was announced that the Army of Northern Virginia had capitulated.
Nothing could be finer than the spirit of the officers and men during all the operations of this campaign.
I beg leave to ask the attention of the commanding general to the services of Brevet Major-General Miles, whose division had the good fortune to be most frequently and heavily engaged with the enemy; but it would be an injustice to the other division commanders and their troops not to acknowledge the skill and bravery and fine spirit which they, in common with the First Division and its commander, exhibited throughout all the operations. For the prompt and intelligent manner in which all orders were carried out my thanks are dire to Brevet Major-General Miles, Brevet Major-General Mott, Brevet Major General Barlow, Brigadier-General De Trobriand, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hazard, commanding the Artillery Brigade.
To my staff – and especially to Lieutenant-Colonel Willian, Lieutenant-Colonel Whittier, Major Livermore, Major Bingham (wounded on the 7th instant), and my aides-de-camp – I am under many obligations for the active, zealous, and intelligent assistance they gave me.
Such brilliant successes have not been gained without severe loss, though comparatively small in number. Among those who fell are fell are Brigadier-General Smyth, in whom the service has lost a noble, gallant, and experienced soldier, and Major Mills, an accomplished, courteous, and gallant staff officer.
Among the wounded are Major-General Mott and Brigadier-General Madill, both severely, and Brigadier-General MacDougall, Colonel Starbird, Nineteenth Maine, dangerously wounded.
For further details I beg leave to ask you attention to the reports of the division and artillery commanders, which accompany this.
I append hereto a statement of the number killed, wounded, and missing during the campaign.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. A. HUMPRHERYS,
Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac.
Report of casualties in the Second Army Corps from March 28 to April 10, 1865.
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
April 10, 1865.
OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS OF THE SECOND ARMY CORPS:
I congratulate you on the glorious success that has attended the operations just closed.
While awaiting the expressions of approbation from the country, from the commander of the armies and of the Army of the Potomac,
*But see revised table, p. 584.
for the manner in which you have performed your part in the general plan, I cannot refrain form expressions of admiration at the noble spirit that has animated you throughout, at the brilliant exhibition of those soldierly qualities for which the Second Corps has been conspicuous. The rapid manner in which you pressed the pursuit, from the moment the enemy was discovered in retreat, driving him before you, by constant combat, over an unknown country, through dense undergrowth and swamp, form positions which his advanced troops had entrenched, has, I believe, been unexampled.
Being in direct pursuit the opportunities for large captures were not yours; but spite the disadvantages you labored under, the results to the corps have been the capture of 35 guns, 15 flags, and 5,000 prisoners, and the capture or destruction of 400 wagons, with their contents, besides tents, baggage, and other material, with which the road was strewn for miles. In addition you have contributed eminently tot he general success, and to captures made by other corps, by hemming in the enemy and preventing his escape, and have done your full share in the grand closing scene.
In the operations before Petersburg your success was brilliant. General Miles, which the First Division, was ordered to advance and attack the enemy, flushed with success over two divisions of another and most spirited manner. The enemy was driven back rapidly into his entrancement, with severer loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners.
In the plan of general assault upon the enemy’s lines on the morning of April 2 this corps was not to attack, but nevertheless the Second Division captured one of the enemy’s redoubts, with three guns, and the Third Division, under General Mott, less favorably placed, captured and held the entrenched rifle-pits of the pickets, under the fire of their main entrenchments.
During the night of the 1st instant General Miles’ (First) division had been detached, under orders of Major-General Sheridan, and in the pursuit of the following day attacked the enemy, entrenched in a strong position, which was finally carried in the handsomest manner, with the capture of 2 guns, 1 flag, and 600 prisoners.
These great successes have been gained with comparatively small loss, but the rejoining of our vicinity is tempered by the reflection that in that loss many noble spirits are counted.
In this brief glance of what you have done, I cannot attempt to award to each the full merit due, but must content myself with thanking the division commanders-Major-General Miles, Major-General Mott, Major-General Barlow, Brigadier-General De Trobriand, and the commander of the artillery, Lieutenant-Colonel hazard-and, through them, the troops they command. My thanks are also due to Brigadier-General Hays, who commanded the Second Division when it carried the enemy’s redoubt before Petersburg.
While enjoying the satisfaction of having done your duty to your country, it is a source of intense gratification to us all-that the greatest military feat of the country was reserved as a fitting climax to the great deeds of that army of which this corps had always formed a part-the Army of the Potomac.
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Major-General WEBB, Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I transmit herewith a copy of a communication from Brevet Major-General Barlow, commanding Second Division, Second Corps, respecting the capture of the redoubt near the Crow house, which must set at rest any claim the Twenty-fourth Corps may make to the capture of that redoubt. I ordered General Hays, then commanding Second Division, to attack and capture the redoubt, if practicable. he did capture it (receiving the fire of the artillery and musketry), and captured the artillery in the redoubt, together with some forty of the enemy. His advanced troops then pushed on the next redoubt on the right (the enemy’s right), and captured it, and while there some of the Twenty-fourth Corps entered the Crow-house redoubt, already in the possession of the Second Corps. The statement of the officer commanding the leading troops accounts for the possession of a flag by the Twenty-fourth Corps.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
April 15, 1865.
Commanding Second Corps:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date touching the claim of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps to the capture of a redoubt on April 2 last. From inquiries I learn as follows:
The redoubts were on the west side of the run, and the Twenty-fourth Corps was on the east side. The right of the Second Brigade of this division rested on the west bank of the run, connecting with the left of the Twenty-fourth Corps, which rested on the east bank. The attack was made by the Second and First Brigades of this division simultaneously. The Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers was part of the attacking force. Captain Palmer and Lieutenant and Adjutant Aytoun, of that regiment, state that their regiments was fired on by one piece of artillery (one discharge) and about thirty musket shots,a nd lost four men wounded. They state that Captain Palmer was first officer in the fort, and Lieutenant Aytoun the second. They saw only men of this division and none of the Twenty-fourth Corps. The ground was such that had the Twenty-fought Corps crossed the run and attacked during the attack of this division, they could have been seen. Various officers state that they saw nothing of the Twenty-fourth Corps, had they crossed and attacked at this time, and who, yet, saw nothing of them: Lieutenant-Colonel La Point, Seventh Michigan Volunteers; Captain Porter, of this staff; Captain Palmer and Lieutenant Aytoun, mentioned above. After taking the first redoubt our men pushed on to the second, and then some of the Twenty-fourth Corps seemed to have crossed and entered the first redoubt. Lieutenant-Colonel La Point states that when he and his command had entered the second redoubt he saw some of the Twenty-fourth Corps crossing the run and approaching the first redoubt. He supposed them to be the enemy, and faced about his men to meet them before he discovered his mistake.
It appears to be clear that our men drove the enemy form the first redoubt, captured it, and pushed on the second; and after they had reached the second redoubt some of the men of the Twenty-fourth Corps entered the first redoubt. First Lieutenant Young, Eighth New York Heavy Artillery, states that he was the first officer in the redoubt. As his company advanced they were fired upon by musketry and one discharge of artillery. He saw the enemy’s pickets run in, and the enemy in the redoubts waived white handkerchiefs and paper in token a surrender before his company reached the redoubt. On reaching the redoubt he found about forty rebels, whom he sent to the rear. They told him that if he pushed on he could capture more prisoners in the second redoubt. He pushed on with his men. He saw none of the Twenty-fourth Corps across the stream (on the west side) at the time the attack was made. Had they crossed and attacked he could have plainly seen them. After the second redoubt was taken he saw some of the Twenty-fourth Corps cross the stream and enter the works on the right of the second redoubt. After both redoubts were taken Lieutenant Young saw a mounted officer of the Twenty-fourth Corps near the redoubt with a rebel flag. There was no flag visible in either redoubt with a rebel flag. There was no flag visible in either redoubt when Lieutenant Young entered them, but as he approached the first redoubt a color was visible on the parapet. Captain Heggart, Sixty-ninth New York National Guard Artillery (Second Brigade, Second Division), states that when he entered the first redoubt one of his men picked up a bag, which he (Heggart) ordered him to throw down, as he wanted the men to push on. Captain Heggart states that the man threw down the bag, and that the flag was found in it by the officer of the Twenty-fourth Corps above mentioned.
It is proper to state that there is a dispute between the First and Second Brigades of this division as to which entered the redoubt first, but this is not material to the present inquiry, and I do not attempt to decide that question. Captain Summerhayes, of this staff, states that he advanced in rear of the skirmish line of the Second Brigade of this division; when he got to the first redoubt our men were in it, but none of the Twenty-fourth Corps. Our men were fired on with musketry and one discharge of artillery as they advanced. Captain Summerhayes pushed on to the second redoubt, and when he returned to the first, some time afterward, he, for the first time, saw some men of the Twenty-fourth Corps.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANCIS C. BARLOW,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding Division.
- 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. 673-689 ↩
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.