Number 4. Appomattox Report of Major General George G. Meade, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the Potomac

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 4. Report of Major General George G. Meade, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the Potomac.1

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
April 30, 1865.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit herewith a succinct report of the operations of this army in the recent campaign, resulting in the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg and terminating in the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

On the 29th ultimo, in pursuance of orders received from the lieutenant-general commanding, the Second and Fifth Corps were moved across Hatcher’s Run, the former by the Vaughan road, the latter by the old stage-road crossing at Perkins’. The Second Corps, holding the extreme left of the line before Petersburg prior to moving, was relieved by Major-General Gibbon, commanding two divisions of the Twenty-fourth Corps.

Major-General Humphreys, commanding Second Corps, was directed, after crossing Hatcher’s Run, to take position, with his right resting

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*Includes Crook’s [formerly Gregg’s] division for April only; the losses of that division in March are counted with the Army of the Potomac.

+For losses, in detail, at Fort Stedman, and in the Appomattox campaign, see pp.70, 581.

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on Hatcher’s Run, and his left extending to the Quaker road. Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, was directed at first to take position at the intersection of the Vaughan and Quaker roads, and subsequently, about noon of the 29th, he was ordered to move up the Quaker road beyond Gravelly Run.

These orders were duly executed, and by evening Major-General Humphreys was in position, his right resting near Dabney’s Mill and his left near Gravelly Meeting-House, on the Quaker road. In taking this position Major-General Humphreys encountered but little opposition, meeting only a small force in a line of rifle-pits, who were quickly driven out. Major-General Warren was delayed in his movement by having to rebuild the bridge over Gravelly Run. The advance of his column. Brigadier-General Griffin’s division, was attacked about 4 p.m., when about a mile and a half beyond Gravelly Run, by Bushrod Johnson’s division. A spirited engagement ensued, in which Griffin handsomely repulsed and drove the enemy, capturing over 100 prisoners.

On the 30th Major-General Humphreys again advanced, driving the enemy into his main line of works, and by night occupying a line from the Crow house, on Hatcher’s Run, to the intersection of the Dabney’s Mill and Boydton plank roads.

Major-General Warren during this day advanced on the Quaker road to its intersection with the Boydton plank, and pushed Ayres’ division in a northwesterly direction over to the White Oak road. No fighting of any consequence occurred this day, except picket skirmishing and exchange of artillery shots from the respective lines, now close to each other.

During the night of the 30th Major-General Humphreys, who had intrenched his line, was directed to relieve Griffin’s division, Fifth Corps, by Miles’ division, and Major-General Warren was ordered to move both Crawford and Griffin within supporting distance of Ayres, whose position on the extreme left was considered likely to invite attack.

On the 31st, about 10 a.m., Ayres, under General Warren’s orders, advanced to dislodge the enemy in position on the White Oak road. Ayres’ attack was unsuccessful, and was followed by such a vigorous attack of the enemy that Ayres was compelled to fall back upon Crawford, who, in turn, was so strongly pressed by the enemy as to force both divisions back in considerable disorder to the position occupied by Griffin, when the pursuit of the enemy ceased. Immediately on ascertaining the condition of affairs Major-General Humphreys was ordered to move to Warren’s support, and that officer promptly sent Miles’ division to attack in flank the force operating against Warren.

This movement was handsomely executed by Miles, who, attacking the enemy vigorously, drove him back to his former position on the White Oak road, capturing several colors and many prisoners.

In the meantime Warren advanced with Griffin’s division, supported by such portions of Ayres’ and Crawford’s divisions as could be rallied, and regaining the position held by Ayres in the morning, Griffin attacked with Chamberlain’s brigade, driving the enemy and securing a lodgment on the White Oak road.

These operations over, hearing firing to the left and rear, which was presumed to be the cavalry moving up from Dinwiddie Court-House, Warren was directed to send a brigade down the White Oak road to co-operate with the cavalry. This brigade by night reached the crossing of Gravelly Run, by the road leading through J. Boisseau’s, where, not meeting any enemy, it bivouacked.

During the night, having been directed to send support to Major-General Sheridan at Dinwiddie Court-House, Major-General Warren was ordered to move with his whole corps, two divisions by the White Oak road and one by the Boydton plank road. Major-General Humphreys was ordered to extend his left as far as practicable consistent with its security.

During the foregoing operations the Sixth and Ninth Corps remained in the lines in front of Petersburg, with orders to watch the enemy closely, and, in the event of the lines in their front being weakened, to attack.

On April 1, after consultation with the lieutenant-general commanding, believing from the operations on his right that the enemy’s lines on his left must be thinly held, orders were sent to Major-Generals Wright and Parke to attack the next morning at 4. About 7 p.m., intelligence having been received of the brilliant success of the cavalry and Fifth Corps at Five Forks, orders were sent to Generals Parke and Wright to open their batteries and press the enemy’s picket-line. At the same time Miles’ division, Second Corps, was detached to the support of Major-General Sheridan, and Major-General Humphreys advised of the intended attacks of the Twenty-fourth, Sixth, and Fifth Corps, and directed to hold his two remaining divisions ready to co-operate in the same, should they prove successful.

On the 2nd of April Major-General Wright attacked at 4 a.m., carrying everything before him, taking possession of the enemy’s strong line of works, and capturing many guns and prisoners. After carrying the enemy’s line in his front, and reaching the Boydton plank road, Major-General Wright turned to his left and swept down the enemy’s line of entrenchments till near Hatcher’s Run, where, meeting the head of the Twenty-fourth Corps, General Wright retraced his steps and advanced on the Boydton plank road toward Petersburg, encountering the enemy in an inner line of works immediately around the city. Major-General Wright deployed his corps confronting their works, in conjunction with the Twenty-fourth and part of the Second Corps.

Major-General Parke’s attack at 4 a.m. was also successful, carrying the enemy’s lines, capturing guns and prisoners, but the position of the Ninth Corps confronting that portion of the enemy’s line the longest held and most strongly fortified, it was found he held a second and inner line, which Major-General Parke was unable to carry. Receiving a dispatch during the morning from Major-General Parke, reporting his being pressed by the enemy, the troops left in City Point defenses, under Brigadier-General Benham and Brevet Brigadier-General Collis, were ordered up to General Parke’s support, their prompt arrival enabling them to render material assistance to General Parke in holding his lines.

So soon as Major-General Wright’s success was reported Major-General Humphreys was ordered to advance with the remaining divisions of his corps-Hays, on the right, advanced and captured a redoubt in front of the Crow house, taking a gun and over 100 prisoners; Mott, on the left, on advancing on the Boydton plank road, found the enemy’s line evacuated. Hays and Mott pushed forward and joined the Sixth Corps, confronting the enemy. Early in the morning Miles, reporting his return to his position on the White Oak road, was ordered to advance on the Clairborne road simultaneously with Mott and Hays. Miles, perceiving the enemy were moving to his right, pursued and overtook him at Sutherland’s Station, where a sharp engagement took place, Miles handling his single division with great skill and gallantry, capturing

several guns and many prisoners. On receiving intelligence of Miles being engaged, Hays was sent to his support, but did not reach the field till the action was over.

At 3 a.m. of the 2nd [3rd] of April Major-Generals Parke and Wright reported no enemy in their front, when, on advancing, it was ascertained Petersburg was evacuated. Willcox’s division, Ninth Corps, was ordered to occupy the town, and the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Corps immediately moved up the river, reaching that night the vicinity of Sutherland’s Station.

The next three days-the 3rd,4th, and 5th-the pursuit was continued along the River and Namozine roads, the Fifth Corps following the cavalry, and the Second and Sixth following the Fifth, the Ninth having been detached to guard the South Side Railroad. The progress of the troops was greatly impeded by the bad character of the road, the presence of the supply trains of the Fifth Corps and cavalry, and by the frequent changes of position of the cavalry, to whom the right of way was given. On the night of the 4th, receiving a dispatch from Major-General Sheridan that his army was in position at Amelia Court-House, immediate orders were given for the resumption of the march by the troops of the Second and Sixth Corps, reaching Jetersville between 4 and 5 p.m. [5th], where the Fifth Corps was found entrenched expecting an attack. No attack being made, on the morning of the 6th of April the three corps were moved in the direction of Amelia Court-House, with the intention of attacking the enemy if found thee; but soon after moving intelligence was received that Lee had moved from Amelia Court-House toward Farmville. The directions of the corps were changed, and the Sixth Corps moved from the right to the left; the Second Corps was ordered to move on Deatonsville, and the Fifth and Sixth Corps to move in parallel direction on the right and left, respectively.

The Second Corps soon came up with the enemy and commenced a rear-guard fight, which continued all day till evening, when the enemy was so crowded in attempting to cross Sailor’s Creek, that he had to abandon a large train. Guns, colors, and prisoners were taken in these successful operations of the Second Corps.

The Sixth Corps, on the left of the Second, came up with the enemy posted on Sailor’s Creek. Major-General Wright attacked with two divisions and completely routed the enemy. In this attack the cavalry, under Major-General Sheridan, was operating on the left of the Sixth Corps, while Humphreys was pressing on the right. The result of the combined operations was the capture of Lieutenant-General Ewell and four other general officers, with most of Ewell’s corps.

The next day, the 7th of April, the Fifth Corps was moved to the left toward Prince Edward Court-House. The Second Corps resumed the direct pursuit of the enemy, coming up with him at High Bridge, over the Appomattox. Here the enemy made a feeble stand with his rear guard, attempting to burn the railroad and common bridge. Being driven off by Humphreys he succeeded in burning three spans of the railroad bridge, but the common bridge was saved, which Humphreys immediately crossed in pursuit, the enemy abandoning eighteen guns at this point. Humphreys came up with the enemy at the intersection of the High Bridge and Farmville roads, where he was found entrenched behind rail breast-works, evidently making a stand to cover the withdrawal of his trains. Before reaching this point Humphreys had detached Barlow’s division to the left toward Farmville. Near Farmville Barlow found the enemy, who was about evacu-

ating the place, which operation was hastened by a successful attack of Barlow’s.

When Humphreys ascertained the position of the enemy, Barlow was recalled, but did not reach Humphreys till evening, and after an unsuccessful assault had been made by part of Miles’ division.

The Sixth Corps moved early in the morning toward Farmville, but finding the road occupied, first by the cavalry and subsequently by the Twenty-fourth Corps, it was too late in the afternoon before it reached that place, where it was found the enemy had destroyed the bridge. On learning the position of Humphreys, orders were sent to Wright to cross and attack in support. By great exertions a bridge for infantry was constructed, over which Wright crossed, but it was night-fall before this could be effected.

The next day, April 8, the pursuit was continued on the Lynchburg stage road. On the 9th, at 12 m., the head of the Second Corps, when within three miles of Appomattox Court-House, came up with the enemy. At the same time I received a letter from General Lee asking for a suspension of hostilities pending negotiations for surrender. Soon after receiving this letter Brigadier-General Forsyth, of General Sheridan’s staff, came through the enemy’s lines and notified me a truce had been made by Major-General Ord, commanding the troops on the other side of Appomattox Court-House. In consequence of this I replied to General Lee that I should suspend hostilities for two hours. At the expiration of that time I received the instructions of the lieutenant-general commanding to continue the armistice until further orders, and about 4 p.m. I received the welcome intelligence of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

It has been impossible in the foregoing brief outline of operations to do full justice to the several corps engaged. For this purpose reference must be had to the reports of corps and division commanders, which will be forwarded as soon as received. At the same time I would call attention to the handsome repulse of the enemy by Griffin’s division, Fifth Corps, on the 29th ultimo; to the important part taken by the Fifth Corps in the battle of Five Forks; to the gallant assault, on the 2nd instant, by the Sixth Corps-in my judgment, the decisive movement of the campaign; to the successful attack of the Sixth Corps in the battle of Sailor’s Creek; to the gallant assault, on the 2nd instant, of the Ninth Corps, and the firmness and tenacity with which the advantages then gained were held against all assaults of the enemy; to the brilliant attack of Miles’ division, Second Corps, at Sutherland’s Station; to the energetic pursuit and attack of the enemy by the Second Corps on the 6th instant, terminating in the battle of Sailor’s Creek, and to the prompt pursuit the next day, with Barlow’s and Miles’ attacks-as all evincing the fact that this army, officers and men, all nobly did their duty and deserve the thanks of the country. Nothing could exceed the cheerfulness with which all submitted to fatigue and privations to secure the coveted prize-the capture of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The absence of official reports precludes my forwarding any statement of casualties or lists of the captures of guns, colors, and prisoners. To my staff, general and personal, I am indebted, as I ever have been, for the most zealous and faithful discharge of their duties.

Respectfully, yours,

GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.

Colonel T. S. BOWERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, June 29, 1863.

Colonel T. S. BOWERS,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Armies of the United States:

COLONEL: I have the honor to transmit herewith a map* of the operations of this army from the 29th of March, 1865, to the 9th of April, 1865, inclusive, prepared since the rendition of my report, and intended to be appended to it.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General, Commanding.

[Indorsement.]
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
June 30, 1865.

Respectfully forwarded to the Secretary of War.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General.

ADDENDA.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
April 16, 1865.

Bvt. Brigadier General E. D. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. General, War Department, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I send herewith fifteen flags, fourteen of which were captured from the enemy by the following named officers and men of the Second Corps:

At Sailor’s Creek, April 6: One each by Lieutenant G. W. Ford, Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers; Second Lieutenant R. Riddell, Sixty-first New York Volunteers; Private John Simmons, Company D, Second New York Artillery; Private Thomas Davis, Company C, Second New York Artillery; Private Asel Haggerty, Company A, Sixty-first New York Volunteers; Private L. F. Brest, Company D, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers; Private John Champman, First Maine Heavy Artillery; Corpl. Walter L. Mundell, Fifth Michigan Volunteers; Private Henry Kline, Fortieth New York Volunteers; Private Orren Bennett, One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers; Sergt. J. W. Menter, Fifth Michigan Volunteers; Corpl. A. F. Haynes, Company H, Seventeenth Maine Volunteers; Corpl. A. F. Haynes, Company H, Seventeenth Maine Volunteers, Near Amelia Springs, April 6: One by Lieutenant Newman, Eighty-sixth New York Volunteers. At Sutherland’s Station, April 2: One by Private Josiah Phillips, Company E, One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers.+

Leaves of absence and furloughs for thirty days have been granted to each of these officers and men, excepting Lieutenant Newman, Eighty-sixth New York Volunteers, who did not desire to avail himself of the indulgence. These officers and men, with the exception noted, accompany the flags. The party is under charge of Lieutenant G. W. Ford, Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers. I respectfully request that medals of honor may be presented to each of them. The remaining flag, which completes the number of fifteen, will be presented by Lieutenant A. H. Schoonover, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp to Brevet Brigadier-General McAllister. He says that he was moving in advance of his brigade, as it charged, and that he found the flag on the ground, near the wagon train, where he thinks it was

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*See Plate LXXVI, Map 5 of the Atlas.

+The above-mentioned officers and men were each awarded a Medal of Honor.

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abandoned by the enemy. As it is a new artillery flag, and as there was no artillery at the point where it was found, it is General Humphreys’ opinion that it had fallen or been pulled from some wagon of the train. A leave of absence has been given him, but a medal of honor is not, under the circumstances stated, recommended.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General, Commanding.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 601-607

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