Number 221. Appomattox Reports of Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, U. S. Army, commanding First Division

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 221. Reports of Brigadier General Robert S. Foster, U. S. Army, commanding First Division.1

HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, Appomattox Court-House, Va.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, from March 27 to April 10, 1865:

Pursuant to orders from the major-general commanding, at 5 p.m. March 27 my command broke camp, on the New Market road, on the north bank of James River, and during the night and following day moved across the James and Appomattox Rivers to a point about four miles from Hatcher’s Run, where we bivouacked for the night. On the morning of the 29th the command occupied the line of works from Fort Sampson, on the right, to Hatcher’s Run, on the left, vacated by the Second Army Corps. On the 30th, with some skirmishing, I advanced the Third Brigade, Colonel Dandy, in connection with General Turner’s division on my left. On the morning of the 31st I advanced my skirmish line, supported by the division-the First Brigade, Colonel Osborn, on the right; the Fourth, Colonel Fairchild, in the center; and the Third, Colonel Dandy, on the left-driving the enemy from their entrenched picket-line into their main works, capturing about 325 prisoners, and establishing my line close proximity to their works. Brisk skirmishing was kept up during the whole day.

April 1, at 4 a.m. the enemy charged on the front of the Third Brigade, driving in their pickets and reaching our temporary rifle-pits with their colors, but were handsomely repulsed by that brigade, who captured about thirty prisoners, and immediately re-established their lines. During the night of the 1st I sent out scouts, and ascertaining that the enemy had moved a portion of their troops toward our left I made disposition of my command to assault the enemy’s works at daylight on the 2nd, but the order was afterward countermanded.

At about 8 a.m. on the 2nd, pursuant to orders, I moved to the right through the enemy’s works, which had been penetrated by the Sixth Army Corps, relieving General Hamblin’s brigade of that corps, which moved to the left toward Hatcher’s Run, I moving with my command in line of battle-the First Brigade, Colonel Osborn, on the right; the Third, Colonel Dandy, in the center; and the Fourth, Colonel Fairchild, en echelon on the left-inside the captured works in the direction of Petersburg, driving the enemy before me from several lines of works until we arrived at the strong double lines of forts around that city, into which works the enemy retired, Forts Gregg and Baldwin being on my immediate front. At about 1 p.m., pursuant to orders, I directed an assault upon Fort Gregg, which was gallantly made, and resulted in the capture of the work, with two guns and the entire garrison of 250 officers and men. The fighting on both sides at this point was the most desperate I ever witnessed, being a hand to hand struggle for twenty-five minutes after my troops had reached the parapet. Fifty-seven of the enemy’s dead were found inside the work. Several regiments of the command claim the honor of first planting their colors on the work; but where all did so well and the difference is so slight I find it impossible to decide who is entitled to it. A portion of General Turner’s division came up during the assault and rendered efficient service. Brevet Brigadier-General Harris’ brigade, of General Turner’s division,

was ordered to report to me just previous to the assault, and was formed on my left and advanced to the deserted camp in front of Fort Baldwin. Had there not been a wide gap between the left of Harris’ brigade and the Sixth Army Corps, which would have exposed my left flank, the garrison of Fort Baldwin could have been captured. This fort was evacuated by the enemy as soon as Gregg was surrendered, and was occupied by the Eleventh Maine, of the Third Brigade, followed by portions of the Fourth Brigade and Harris’ brigade. Immediately on the surrender of Fort Gregg, Captain Charles Sellmer, acting assistant inspector-general of my staff, entered thaw work and turned its guns on the retreating forces from Fort Baldwin. At night I established a strong picket-line in front of the captured forts, and my command bivouacked in their rear.

On the morning of the 3rd it was discovered that Petersburg was evacuated. I advanced my picket-line to the works and awaited orders. At this place Light Battery B, First U. S. Artillery, Captain Elder, and Light Battery A, Fifth U. S. Artillery, Lieutenant Muhlenberg, were assigned to my command. At 8 a.m. my command moved on the Cox road down the line of the South Side Railroad, General Turner’s division in the advance, and bivouacked that night in line of battle about three miles beyond Sutherland’s Station, General Turner’s division being on my left; distance marched about thirteen miles. April 4, moved at 6 a.m. in the advance, bivouacked in line of battle at Wilson’s Station, having marched fifteen miles. April 5, moved at 6 a.m., General Turner’s division in advance, and bivouacked at 11 p.m. near Burkeville, having marched about thirty miles. April 6, at 6 a.m. moved through Burkeville and formed a line of battle, the right resting on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, the left on the Lynchburg Railroad, throwing a strong picket-line in front. At 12 o’clock noon, pursuant to orders, I moved with my command down the Farmville road, leaving my picket-line undisturbed, and pushed on in the advance. At the Genito road the Third Brigade, Colonel Dandy, was sent down that road to the right to connect, if possible, with the cavalry of General Sheridan’s command, and the rest of the command moved forward. On reaching Rice’s Station I found the enemy in force, and formed in line of battle-Colonel Fairchild’s (Fourth) brigade on the right, his right resting at a house about 200 yards to the right of the Farmville road; Colonel Osborn’s (First) brigade on the left, his left extending across the railroad a short distance beyond the Phillips house; Elder’s battery (B), First U. S. Artillery, was placed in position on the left of the Farmville road. After forming, I pushed my line forward, under a heavy skirmish fire, as far as as practicable, finding the enemy in a strong position. General Turner’s division arriving, formed on my left. Receiving information that the enemy were moving to my right, I sent the Sixty-seventh Ohio, Colonel Voris, of the First Brigade, to the right of the Fourth Brigade. About 9 p.m. the Third Brigade, Colonel Dandy, having communicated with General Sheridan’s cavalry, reported and was placed in reserve in rear of the Phillips house, in support of Anthony’s battery. In this position the troops bivouacked for the night.

April 7, at daylight it was discovered the enemy had withdrawn, and, pursuant to orders, I at once moved forward on the Farmville road until I reached Bush River, when a strong skirmish line of the enemy was found entrenched on the hills on the opposite bank to dispute our passage. The First Brigade, Colonel Osborn, was formed in line of battle on the left of the road, and, preceded by a strong skirmish line,

advanced in connection with some of the cavalry and drove the enemy from their position, when I again advanced in column and bivouacked outside the town. Colonel Dandy’s (Third) brigade and one section of Elder’s light battery were sent forward to the crossing of the Appomattox, and did not return to the command until the following morning. At Farmville Colonel Doubleday’s brigade, Birney’s division, Twenty-fifth Army Corps, was ordered to report to me for duty. At 5 a.m. April 8 I moved forward, General Turner’s division in the advance, marching until midnight, when the command bivouacked about four miles from Appomattox Court-House, having marched about thirty-two miles. At 3 a.m. on the 9th the division moved forward in the advance; at daylight a short halt was made for coffee, when the cavalry becoming engaged we moved forward rapidly to their support, the last half mile being at double-quick, we arriving at the Lynchburg road just as the cavalry were retreating in confusion. By my directions Colonel Osborn, First Brigade, formed his command in line of battle on the right of the Lynchburg road with the greatest promptness, although broken up three times by the led horses of the cavalry, and, in pursuance of orders from the major-general commanding, advanced his line without supports and with both flanks exposed; his men went forward with the greatest enthusiasm, checking the enemy and forcing them back. In the meantime Colonel Dandy’s (Third) Brigade and Colonel Fairchild’s (Fourth) brigade were hurried forward and formed-the Third Brigade on the left of the First, and the Fourth en echelon in support of the First Brigade. The Eighth Maine, of the Fourth Brigade, was pushed forward on the right of the First Brigade, capturing one gun. At this time I experienced considerable inconvenience in consequence of the conflicting orders given to my artillery by the chief of artillery of the corps, he detaining Elder’s battery, which I had ordered into a position, when it would have been of service to me had it got up in time. As my line advanced the enemy continued retiring. Receiving constant information that the enemy were moving to my left, I took the Fourth Brigade from the support of the First and put it on the left and gradually moved with my whole line in that direction, until just as I reached the Bent Creek road, I received information of a cessation of hostilities, which resulted in the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Doubleday’s brigade while moving in the rear of the column was attacked in flank and obliged to form a line of battle parallel with the road and drive the enemy back, which they did and joined the command near the Bent Creek road. Elder’s battery was placed in position about half a mile from the Bent Creek road and fired a few shots at the retreating enemy.

I do not consider it egotistical to say, to this division is due the credit of preventing the enemy from gaining possession of the Lynchburg road (their only line of retreat), and of being among those who struck the last blow against the Army of Northern Virginia.

Too much cannot be said in praise of both officers and men of the division for the cheerfulness with which they have endured the fatigue attendant upon the long and rapid marches, and for the almost entire absence of stragglers from the command. All seemed to feel the importance of our movements, and to do their utmost to insure their success.

I have already forwarded the names of meritorious officers deserving promotion, but cannot close without again expressing my obligations to my brigade commanders for their prompt co-operation in all cases, and for the gallant conduct displayed by them in action.

All my staff-and especially Captain Charles Sellmer, acting assistant inspector-general, who deserves special mention-rendered me most valuable assistance and behaved gallantly.

Below I give a recapitulation of casualties occurring during the time covered by this report, also a list of captures made by the division.

Recapitulation of captures.

The six-gun battery, 2 flags, and 300 prisoners were taken by a portion of the Fourth Brigade of this division, but, by order of some officer of the Sixth Army Corps, turned over to the provost-marshal of that corps.

Recapitulation of casualties.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. S. FOSTER,
Brigadier General Commanding First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps.

Lieutenant Colonel EDWARD MOALE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-fourth Army Corps.

HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Richmond, Va., April 26, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, from the 10th of April to the 26th of April:

The division remained encamped on the Bent Creek road, near Appomattox Court-House, from the 10th to the 16th of April, inclusive. On the 17th, pursuant to orders from Major-General Gibbon, broke camp, and at 10 a.m. took up the line of march for Richmond, General

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* But see revised table, p. 594.

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Turner’s division in the advance; marched via Evergreen Station and Pamplin’s. Bivouacked that night two miles west of Prospect Station. April 18, this division, in advance, marched via Farmville, encamping near Bush Creek. April 19, General Turner’s division in advance, marched via Burkeville, encamping about one mile beyond that place. April 20 and 21, encamped near Burkeville. April 22, moved at 5.30 a.m., this division in the advance; moved via Jetersville Station to within two miles of Amelia Court-House. April 23, moved at 5.30 a.m., General Turner’s division in advance; moved via Amelia Court-House to Dry Creek, encamping for the night. April 24, moved at 5 a.m., this division in advance; bivouacked outside Manchester at 1 p.m. April 25, marched through Richmond to the present camping ground, on the intermediate line of works on the north side of Richmond.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. S. FOSTER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel EDWARD MOALE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-fourth Army Corps.

ADDENDA.
HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Near Richmond, Va., June 8, 1865.

Lieutenant Colonel EDWARD MOALE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-fourth Army Corps:

COLONEL: I have the honor to transmit the following list of regiments of this division who participated in the charge on Fort Gregg, April 2, 1865, all of them displaying great gallantry: First Brigade-Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, Captain H. A. Plympton; Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel H. R. West; Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, Colonel A. C. Voris; One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel J. C. Briscoe. Third Brigade-Tenth Connecticut Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel E. D. S. Goodyear; Eleventh Maine Volunteers, Colonel J. A. Hill; One hundredth New York Volunteers, Major J. H. Dandy, killed. Fourth Brigade-Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, Major F. W. Tremain, killed; One hundred and fifty-eighth New York Volunteers, Major Hyron Kalt. The names of commanding officers given are those of the officers who were in command on that day, and the rank held by them at that date.

I am, very respectfully,

THOS. O. OSBORN,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
In the Field, Va., April 11, 1865.

Lieutenant Colonel EDWARD MOALE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Twenty-fourth Army Corps:

COLONEL: The following-named officers of the First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, are earnestly recommended for conspicuously gallant and meritorious conduct during the active operations of the past fifteen days:

Colonel Thomas O. Osborn, Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, at Fort Gregg, Rice’s Station, and Appomattox Court-House.

To the promptness of Colonel Osborn in putting his brigade into position and attacking the enemy on the morning of the 9th of April, after the cavalry were forced back, is due the credit of preventing the enemy from gaining the Lynchburg road, their only line of retreat. Colonel Osborn has been frequently recommended for promotion to brigadier-general. Colonel George B. Dandy, One hundredth New York Volunteers, commanding Third Brigade, fought his brigade splendidly at Fort Gregg, also at Appomattox Court-House, and deserve promotion. Colonel H. S. Fairchild, Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, commanding Fourth Brigade, displayed both energy and gallantry at Fort Gregg and Rice’s Station, as well as rendering efficient service at Appomattox Court-House. He is worthy of promotion and has been before highly recommended. All my brigade commanders deserve well of their country for the zeal and promptness displayed during this campaign. I would call the attention of the major-general commanding particularly to Captain Charles Sellmer, acting assistant inspector-general, of my staff, for conspicuous gallantry on the 2nd of April, at Fort Gregg, when he went mounted between Fort Gregg and Fort Whitworth under a most murderous fire of musketry and artillery, carrying my orders and sending re-enforcement to Fort Gregg. As soon as the latter fort was captured he entered it and turned the enemy’s guns on their retiring forces. He also displayed conspicuous gallantry both at Rice’s Station and Appomattox Court-House. He is extremely worthy of promotion to major by brevet. Captain F. A. Sawyer, Forty-seventh New York Volunteers, assistant commissary of musters, of my staff, has displayed unusual energy and ability together with conspicuous gallantry, and well deserves to be brevetted. Maj P. A. Davis, assistant adjutant-general, of my staff, has displayed his usual gallantry and ability together with his indomitable energy, and his presence was at all times where it was most needed. I would recommend his promotion by brevet. Surg. A. C. Barlow, Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, chief medical officer, Captain T. H. Byrness, Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, acting ordnance officer, Captain George W. Waddle, One hundred and forty-eighth New York Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp, Captain Theodore J. Curtis, Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp, First Lieutenant W. H. H. Frye, Eleventh Maine Volunteers, aide-de-camp, and Captain Robert Carruthers, Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, assistant provost-marshal, were all attentive to their duties and rendered valuable assistance to me.

When all were trying to do so well I find great difficulty in selecting particular cases and have mentioned only those that came under my own observation.

I think I am fully justified in saying that the First Division has, under all circumstances, assisted in gaining a reputation for the “Red Heart” and Twenty-fourth Army Corps that is creditable to themselves and to the major-general commanding.

I am, very respectfully,

R. S. FOSTER,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

[Indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS TWENTY-FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Richmond, Va., April 25, 1865.

Respectfully forwarded. Approved.

JOHN GIBBON,
Major-General of Volunteers, 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. 1179-1184

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