No. 28. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Welcome A. Crafts, Fifth New Hampshire Infantry.1
HDQRS. FIFTH NEW HAMPSHIRE BATTALION VOLS.,
April 11, 1865.
I have the honor to submit the following report of operations in which the Fifth New Hampshire Battalion Volunteers participated from the 28th day of March to date:
March 28 was spent in camp in preparation from the campaign, the regiment being inspected at 4 o’clock by the colonel commanding the brigade; clothing, arms, and equipments also inspected by the regimental commander. Orders being received during the night, camp was broken, and the regiment marched at the head of the brigade at 7 o’clock on the morning of the 29th; crossed Hatcher’s Run and formed line of battle on the left of the brigade, connecting on the left with General Madill, Third Brigade, advancing toward the enemy’s works until dark; bivouacked in line of battle, advancing again soon after daylight in a heavy rain which filled the creeks and rivers.
Our skirmishers found the enemy at 10 o’clock; the line was halted and breat-works thrown up; the lieutenant-colonel commanding the regiment being detailed as officer of the day the regiment was left in
command of Captain Ricker. By order of General Humphreys the entire skirmish line of the corps was advanced, the rebel skirmishers driven into their works, their position developed, and batteries unmasked. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon the enemy threw a brigade out of their works and charged the left of the division skirmish line without moving it. They also demonstrated in front of the entire division line. During the night the regiment moved to the left with the division, which relieved and occupied the position of Griffin’s division, of the Fifth Corps. I took command of the new picket-line of the division, charged the enemy with my reserve (Companies A and E, Sixty-fourth New York), drove the enemy into their works, and captured eighteen prisoners; was relieved by Colonel Denney [Glenny] and assumed command of my regiment at 12 o’clock, and was immediately ordered out to form connection with Third Brigade, and charged the enemy, who had attacked the Fifth Corps. Advanced in line of battle with the brigade; were shelled by the enemy; advanced near their works; lost three men wounded, and after several changes in position threw up breast-works and bivouacked for the night near the White Oak road.
April 1, fell back to the line of breast-works near the Butler house. Six companies were deployed and advanced as skirmishers at 5 p. m. At dark advanced the balance of the regiment in support of the skirmish line, which reached to and rested on the White Oak road, and became engaged with the enemy; lost 3 men wounded, 1 missing. At position occupied by General Sheridan’s command at 2 a. m. 2nd instant. Returning from the enemy’s works (evacuated), and passing through, pursued them rapidly; engaged their rear guard (Johnson’s division) at 12 o’clock. Company H was deployed to prevent stragglers passing to the rear, leaving only two companies of my command with the brigade, the balance having been left on the line in command of the division officer of the day, Colonel Mintzer. By order of General Miles I took command of and advanced the division skirmish line. The enemy being routed we advanced in line of battle to the railroad, the picket detail rejoining the regiment soon after going into camp.
April 3, pursued the enemy without being engaged during the day, and camped near Deep Eun. The entire regiment went on picket. Marched at 10 o’clock on the following morning; reached the Danville railroad at 4 p. m.; bivouacked a short distance after crossing the road.
April 5, marched at daylight; halted and issued rations at 10 o’clock; went into camp at 4 p. m. at Sailor’s Creek.
April 6, crossed the creek at an early hour; formed line of battle on the right of the main road leading toward Lynchburg, and became immediately engaged with the enemy, pushing them rapidly until near sundown, when a successful charge was made near Monkey Eun, where a large and valuable train was captured and over 100 prisoners taken by the regiment, which behaved throughout the day in a manner satisfactory to its commanding officer. Bivouacked on the field.
April 7, crossed the Appomattox at High Bridge and turning to the right the entire regiment was deployed upon the skirmish line; drove the enemy into their works, capturing a large number of prisoners and obtaining temporary possession of one gun belonging to a battery which gave the skirmish line a heavy fire of grape and shell. Two regiments of the enemy advanced out of the works and charged the skirmish line, without moving it perceptibly. After expending all our ammunition, and remaining four hours under a heavy fire from the enemy’s line of battle, four companies were relieved by the Sixty-first New York, form-
ing a portion of the assaulting column, which charged the enemy’s works near Cumberland Church, where three brigades of the enemy were posted behind breast-works supplied with artillery. The regimental commander going in command of the entire skirmish line of the brigade, the four companies, with the colors, under command of Captain J. S. Ricker, whose gallantry throughout the day had been very conspicuous, having had two horses shot under him, and refusing to leave the field after being wounded, [sic] two of the companies charged without ammunition and one without bayonets. The colors advanced to within a very short distance of the enemy’s works. The enemy, throwing out a strong force upon either flank, the colors, with 52 men and 5 officers, were captured. During the day 110 men and 10 officers were lost.
April 8, pursued the enemy, not being engaged.
April 9, at 10 a. m. the regiment was detailed to forage and scout upon either flank, which was successfully done, returning to camp at 6 p. m.
April 10, remained in camp, Robert Lee having surrendered, and the colors of the Fifth New Hampshire were recaptured from General William Mahone, together with the officers and men captured on the 7th instant.
Throughout this brief but successful campaign, claiming nothing for myself, I can with entire truthfulness and just pride refer to the bearing of this regiment. It has never wavered or hesitated when ordered forward or under fire. Whether advancing in line of battle, on the skirmish line, or charging the enemy who, in overwhelming numbers behind breast-works, awaited their coming with murderous fire, the Fifth New Hampshire has shown most unmistakably that substitutes will fight as well as skedaddle.
The entire loss of the regiment during the campaign is 15 killed, 67 wounded, and 83 missing; total, 165.
Where all have done bravely, distinctions are impossible as well as unjust, yet I cannot close without paying tribute to the lofty courage and cool daring of Lieutenant Warren Ryder, who fell dead while gallantly leading his men within fifteen feet of the enemy’s works. I would also respectfully recommend that Captain John S. Ricker, Company C, in consideration of his severe, if not mortal, wounds, and marked and gallant conduct, be brevetted major.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. A. CRAFTS,
Captain WILLIAM McCALLISTER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- 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. 718-720 ↩
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