Number 273. Appomattox Report of Major General Bushrod R. Johnson, C. S. Army

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 273. Report of Major General Bushrod R. Johnson, C. S. Army.1

HEADQUARTERS JOHNSON’S DIVISION,
April 10, 1865.

SIR: In compliance with instructions, I submit the following report of the operations of my division from the 28th [29th] of March to the 9th of April, 1865:

On Tuesday [Wednesday], the 28th [29th] of March, 1865, the cavalry having reported the enemy advancing in force with cavalry, artillery having reported the enemy advancing in force with cavalry, artillery, and infantry on the Quaker [or military] road, west of Hatcher’s Run, I was ordered by Lieutenant General R. H. Anderson to move my command down the road, attack them, and drive them back to the Vaughan road. As I was drawing out my command the cavalry informed me that the enemy were retiring beyond Gravelly Run. I therefore did not expect to encounter them until I reached the line of the run. I advanced Wise’s brigade in line of battle, stretching across the Quaker road, and moved Wallace’s, Moody’s, and Ransom’s brigades, in the

order named, by the flank in rear of Wise’s brigade. Upon entering the skirts of the woods, south of the forks of the Boydton plank road and the Quaker road, Wise’s brigade came under the fire of the enemy’s skirmishers and charged forward until they encountered and drove back a short distance a line of battle posted with artillery. The engagement was commenced at 3.20 p.m. In a few moments a portion of Wise’s brigade, on the Quaker road, was driven back from the woods to the open ground, and, by direction of Lieutenant-General Anderson, who had arrived on the ground about the time of the charge of Wise’s brigade, still contesting the ground with the enemy. Finding that the left of Wise’s brigade had encountered a battery, which they had well nigh captured, and were very hardly pressed, I directed Brigadier-General Moody to move his brigade up on the left of Wise’s and Wallace’s, but before this movement could be carried out, Wallace’s brigade, with Wise’s [save Colonel Goode’s [Thirty-fourth] regiment, which had moved to the Boydton road to operate with the cavalry on the enemy’s left], was repulsed by a heavy fire from the left. Lieutenant-General Anderson now directed my division to be withdrawn, at about 5 p.m., and to take position across the Boydton plank road in the margin of the woods north and east of the Bevill house. In this position we remained until dusk, when, by direction of General Anderson, pickets were left in front and the division retired into the breast-works adjacent to Burgess’ Mill and west of Hatcher’s Run. Our losses were about 250 men, mainly from Wise’s and Wallace’s brigades. Captain Harvey E. Jones, assistant adjutant-general, Gracie’s brigade was

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On the afternoon of Wednesday [Thursday], the 29th [30th] of March, Ransom’s and Wallace’s brigades were detached and moved, with three brigades of General Pickett’s division, on the White Oak road to Five Forks.

On the morning of Thursday, the 30th of March, Brigadier-General Hunton, of Pickett’s division, reported to me with his brigade for duty with my command. In the evening of this day the enemy’s skirmishers made their appearance in the open field east of Halter Butler’s house and south of the works occupied by our troops. By instruction of General Lee, I believe it was, I threw Colonel Stansel’s regiment, of Moody’s brigade, out of the works on the White Oak road, and established a line of skirmishers south of the road, fronting those of the enemy. I was advised that it would not be desirable to make a vigorous attack at that point at that time, as it might be better not to draw attention to it then, but to attack the enemy there at a later period, if it proved to be the left flank of his infantry.

At about 11 a.m. on the 31st of March, finding the enemy in two lines in the field west of Halter Butler’s house, I at once ordered out Hunton’s brigade, and notified Lieutenant-General Anderson and Major-General Heth that I would make an attack as soon as I could form my line of battle. While forming this line, Brigadier-General McGowan, of Wilcox’s division, reported to me with his brigade. My line was formed with McGowan’s brigade on the right, Moody’s brigade, commanded by Colonel Stansel, of the Forty-first Alabama Regiment, in the center, and Hunton’s brigade on the left. Having ascertained that an admirable movement might be made on the enemy’s left flank, I had ordered McGowan’s brigade to move behind a woods for that purpose; but this movement had only commenced when I discovered

that the enemy were advancing. I immediately ordered my command to advance and meet the enemy’s attack. The movement was handsomely and gallantly made, and Brigadier-General McGowan, in advancing, moved on the enemy’s flank, as proposed, for a preparatory movement. The enemy’s line immediately gave way, and my command followed up their advantage in a most spirited manner. By 2 p.m. the enemy were driven about one mile and a half to a position west of a branch of Gravelly Run, which skirts the Boydton road in vicinity of the bridge on that road over the latter stream. In this position the enemy’s line, in strong force, was formed on vantage ground. During this advance Wise’s brigade was moved out on the left of Hunton’s brigade, by order of General Lee, and gallantly participated in the fight; but encountering a superior force, and having its left flank exposed, its left was driven back. For the operations of Wise’s brigade on this day you are referred to the report of the brigade commander. The next brigade on the right, that of General Hunton, repulsed [with the aid of the right of Wise’s brigade] three charges by the enemy. The operations on the left of Hunton’s brigade caused that brigade to close to the left, and Moody’s brigade was compelled to extend both to the left and right, in order to cover the enemy’s line in its front. Our troops persistently continued to fight, but were unable to advance, and orders were first sent to hold the position they had gained. It, however, became evident that our troops were being exhausted, and needed re-enforcements, of which there was none available. Lieutenant-General Anderson now ordered my command to be withdrawn to the enemy’s line of rifle-pits, thrown up by his skirmishers south of the White Oak road during the previous night. This position was occupied by my command, save Wise’s brigade, which retired into the breast-works when the enemy advanced in strong force and with great spirit. In occupying this line Moody’s brigade was shifted by force of circumstances to the left of Hunton’s brigade, and occupied an angle from which a connection was made with the regular rifle-pits for the skirmishers in front of our fortifications. The enemy’s attack fell with force upon this angle, and carried it, and all our forces were then, at about 5 p.m., drawn into the main breast-works, where they lay during the night, with pickets well out on the White Oak road and to the right and left of it. The losses of the enemy were heavy, including about 470 prisoners. Our losses were about 800, including killed, wounded, and prisoners.

On Saturday morning, the 1st of April, the enemy disappeared from the vicinity of the White Oak road, and it was discovered that they had moved toward the right. At 4 p.m. heavy firing was heard in the vicinity of Five Forks. At 5.45 I received orders from Lieutenant-General Anderson to move with Wise’s, Moody’s, and Hunton’s brigades to Church Crossing, on the South Side Railroad, and at 6.30 p.m. was in motion. At 2 a.m. on the 2nd of April we arrived at the crossing. Heavy artillery firing was heard all night in direction of Petersburg. About 12 m. we moved from the crossing on Church [or Ford’s] road toward Namozine bridge. At 3 p.m. reached Namozine road; cavalry skirmishing all the way in our rear. By 11 a.m. we learned that the lines at Petersburg had been broken, and that the enemy’s cavalry, pressing toward South Side Railroad, had reached it at Jarratt’s Station. Between 5 and 6 p.m. Major-General Fitzhugh Lee, commanding cavalry, in my rear, requested me to form my command to meet the enemy, who were heavily pressing him. A handsome line was formed, and hasty barricades of rails were thrown up on the high

ground about one mile and a half south of Namozine Creek. The enemy charged about 6.30 p.m., and were repulsed by artillery and infantry fire. They renewed the charge three times, the last at about 8 p.m., and were repulsed each time, without any loss on our part. At about 11 p.m. we commenced crossing the Namozine Creek, leaving Hunton’s brigade to cover the passage. By 2 a.m. on the 3rd the whole command had crossed, including the cavalry.

On Monday, the 3rd of April, we moved at 6 a.m. and took the right-hand road at Namozine Church. After making an unpleasant passage of a small creek about two miles from the church, I received orders from Lieutenant-General Anderson [who had gone in advance on the previous day] to take the left-hand or Namozine road at Namozine Church, in order to cross Deep Creek at Brown’s Bridge, the creek being impassable at the lower bridge. General Anderson at the same time sent instructions for the cavalry to follow the same road. I consequently took a left-hand road to cross a distance of two miles to the Namozine road. As we approached the latter road I sent forward Major Foote, assistant adjutant-general, to reconnoiter it and to see if the enemy or our cavalry occupied it. Major Foote reported that he saw two cavalrymen on the road, but whether they were ours or those of the enemy he was not able to decide. I then went forward in person, accompanied by Captain Sanders, aide-de-camp, and Major Foote. Sent out Major Foote, who went up to the Federal pickets before he determined their character, and was captured. The command moved forward and brushed the enemy’s pickets from the Namozine road after a slight skirmish in which only one Federal was killed. Major General Fitzhugh Lee here came up with cavalry and moved forward to forks of the road near Brown’s Bridge, which we found in possession of the enemy. Moody’s and Wallace’s brigades immediately moved up in line and made an attack with skirmishers. Wise’s brigade came up on the right and its skirmishers pressed forward. The enemy opened with artillery but were pushed back after a sharp brush, in which we lost-. Having fairly cleared the road we promptly moved in quick time by the left flank to Brown’s Bridge, which we crossed, and passed some five miles from Tabernacle Church to vicinity of Bevill’s Bridge, over the Appomattox River, where we came up with Pickett’s division.

On Tuesday, the 4th of April, we moved at 8 a.m.; marched about four miles, in rear of Pickett’s division, toward Amelia Court-House, to where the road by Tabernacle Church crosses the road to Court-House. The enemy appeared on the road to Tabernacle Church. A line of battle was formed across this road, and skirmishing, with artillery fire, on our part continued until night, the enemy’s cavalry feeling my line from left to right. At night the cavalry formed to protect my right flank, and we rested until 3 a.m. on the 5th of April.

On Wednesday, 5th of April, came up with Hill’s corps and Lieutenant-General Ewell’s command; moved between the two past Amelia Court-House and marched all night.

On Thursday, April 6, my division marched in rear of Pickett’s division and in front of that of Major General Custis Lee. Early in the day the enemy made a dash down the road between Major-General Lee’s division and my own, and some thirty or forty stragglers, collected by some staff officers [Colonel Venable and Captain Whitner], held them in check until I halted and closed my command to the left to cover the road. Sharp skirmishing continued on my left for some two hours, during which the men constructed temporary breast-works, and Pickett’s

division closed on mine. Major-General Lee closed upon my left very shortly after the dash was made. About 2 p.m. I was ordered, by command of General Anderson, to close to the right and follow Pickett’s division, which had moved to the right in consequence of the burning of a wagon train and the occupation of the road in our front. Rapid firing was now heard in Pickett’s division. Upon closing to that division, it was found that the enemy was still on the road in its front and holding a commanding position, and my division was soon engaged in heavy skirmishing. Two regiments on the left of Wise’s brigade, which had previously been detached by General Anderson, here took position on the left of Wallace’s brigade, having come up subsequently to the latter. General Wise, having discovered the advantages of the enemy’s commanding position in his front, at once ordered a charge, which was executed gallantly by his two right regiments; but, perhaps, for want of orders from division commander, who was not advised of the movement, it was not carried out by the troops of the other brigades on his right. The enemy, however, was gallantly driven from the crest of the hill in front. About this time General Anderson sent a staff officer to say to me that, as we appeared to be driving the enemy, I should advance my whole command. Not having been advised of the enemy, I should advance my whole command. Not having been advised of the advance in Wise’s brigade, and being at the time engaged with other parts of the line, and believing that the firing proceeded from an assault of the enemy, and that we were only maintaining our position, I stated the latter fact in reply, and awaited a repetition of the order, as I gave the staff officer to understand I would do. Subsequently, having learned the facts in the case, and General Anderson having stated that he thought the advance of my command should be made, I proposed to try it, and had given the necessary orders, when I received instructions from General Anderson to face my command and march directly toward the west in line of battle, while Pickett’s division moved by the right flank, connecting with my left, and General Lee’s command moved by the left flank, connecting with my right. Three brigades of my division were placed in line, when I was urged, thorough a staff officer of General Anderson, to hasten the movement. Consequently, I moved the three brigades at once, leaving Moody’s brigade, now in rear, to gain its position on my right, my whole division moving by rear rank. Upon passing out of the woods to an open field I halted the command to correct the line and to bring up Moody’s brigade. The enemy’s artillery now opened on our position from the rear and our left flank. The movement was resumed and a lane beyond the field was gained. The line was halted and corrected again. The command forward was given, when General Pickett rode up and asked me to halt until he connected with my left flank. At this moment the enemy appeared in rear of my left, having passed between my command and that of General Pickett’s, and my troops broke and moved with the right or advanced portion of our army. I here reported to General Lee, who directed me, with my assistant adjutant-general, to collect together all the scattered forces from General Anderson’s and General Ewell’s commands. Darkness and the movement of our troops toward Farmville, under General Lee’s instructions to assemble the stragglers on the north side of the Appomattox river, terminated the work here before much progress had been made therein. The losses in my division were quite small. A portion of the division provost-guard, including its two ranking officers, were captured.

On the morning of the 7th of April General Wise, with his own brigade, Wallace’s, about 250 of Moody’s, and 80 of Ransom’s brigade, arrived at Farmville, and formed on the hill on the north side of the Appomattox River. Here the work of collecting stragglers was further prosecuted. About 12 m., having been advised by an officer, who informed me that he was a member of Major-General Gordon’s staff, that my command was assigned to General Gordon’s corps, we marched under orders from the corps commander in direction of Lynchburg, and continued the movement until 11 o’clock at night.

On Saturday, April 8, 1865, we resumed our march at 4 a.m., and marched until about 3 p.m., encamping about one mile from Appomattox Court-House. Under instructions given by the corps commander to Brigadier-General Wallace, about 8 p.m., to Appomattox Court-House, where it remained in line of battle all night, in consequence of a dash made by enemy’s cavalry upon that position.

For the operations of the division on the 9th of April, I refer you to the report of Brigadier-General Wallace, who was in command on that day.

[B. R. JOHNSON,
Major-General.]

Captain V. DABNEY,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

Quaker road: Wise lost-killed, 3 officers, 17 men; wounded, 9 officers, 89 men; missing, 4 officers [4 wounded and missing], 53 men [3 wounded and missing]; aggregate, 183.

March 31, White Oak road: Killed, 2 officers, 8 men; wounded, 6 officers, 74 men; missing, 8 officers [2 wounded and missing], 82 men [5 wounded and missing]; aggregate, 187.

April 3: Wounded, 15 men.

April 9, loss about: Killed, 3 officers, 5 men; wounded and captured, 15; missing, 40; about 63.

April 9: Moody’s brigade-captured after flag of truce passed out, 70 men, 16 officers.

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. 1286-1291
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: It appears as if a part of the report is simply missing. The Official Records used the line prior to this note with no further comment.

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