Number 71. Appomattox Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Robert McAllister, Eleventh New Jersey Infantry, commanding Third Brigade

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 71. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Robert McAllister, Eleventh New Jersey Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1

HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., SECOND ARMY CORPS,
April 15, 1865.

CAPTAIN: In compliance with others from division headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this command from March 28 up to date:

Pursuant to orders the brigade broke camp on the morning of the 29th of March, and,with the rest of the division, moved to the left. Our movements on the 29th and 30th consisted in advancing our lines cautiously, the enemy’s skirmishers falling back before us. On the 31st moved farther toward the left to relieve the First Division, near Boydton plank road, where the enemy was found strongly entrenched and three of their forts commanding the road. An assault on one of these having been ordered, at 12 m. the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Rivers), the One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel A. L. Lockwood), and the left wing of the Eighth New Jersey Volunteers (Major Hartford), supported by the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel J. Schoonover), advanced. The regiments charged through heavy slashing to the crest of the hill overlooking the enemy’s works, and succeeded in driving the enemy from and occupying part of their rifle-pits, capturing some fifteen of their pickets. The attack was made under a severe fire from the enemy’s batteries and a sharp musketry from the enemy’s pits. After remaining there under and enfilading fire of the enemy’s artillery, sweeping our entire front, for about one hour, orders were received to withdraw, which was a more difficult task than the advance. The men wee drawn off, almost one by one, under a severe fire of the enemy’s sharpshooters, not, however, without the loss of many men killed, wounded, and prisoners. At dark the brigade was ordered to the left of Boydton plank road, and took up position near a run in the woods for the night.

April 1, at 5 a. m. the brigade was ordered to occupy the line held on the afternoon of the 31st of March. After dark we again returned to the line in the woods held the previous night. Heavy skirmishing was entertained all night and on the 2nd of April, at 3 a. m., orders were received to withdraw to the position occupied the previous day, when the enemy opened a most galling fire of artillery and musketry on our line. A general attack on the enemy’s lines having been ordered on the same morning, General Mott directed me, at 8 a. m., to send out one regiment to attack the enemy’s picket-line in our immediate front. The Eighth New Jersey Volunteers (Major Hartford) was selected accordingly, accompanied by myself and staff. On reaching our picket-line the enemy opened a terrific fire of musketry, shells, and canister upon us. The regiment steadily advanced and succeeded in capturing the enemy’s whole picket-line in our front, 165 prisoners, and 200 muskets, the enemy’s artillery fire still continuing, which was, however, soon silenced by our men puking a well-directed fire of musketry into their main line. While the Eleventh Massachusetts and Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, whom I had ordered up for support of the Eighth New Jersey, advanced, the enemy was observed to withdraw their guns and to leave. In the subsequent charge on the enemy’s main works another lot of prisoners was captured, and Major Hartford succeeded in first planting our flag on the enemy’s redoubts at 9.30 a. m. The whole command behave most gallantly in this charge, and our men were seen grappling with the enemy, who in some places offered the most stubborn resistance. This over, the command moved with the rest of the division toward Petersburg, in front of which the army bivouacked for the night, and where news was received of the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond.

On April 3, orders having been received to pursue the enemy, we left, in connection with the division, from in front of Petersburg, taking the River road toward Danville railroad, which we crossed on the morning of the 5th. Marching on the left of said road we passed Jetersville on the morning following (April 6), when the enemy’s line was discovered in our front, the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Rivers), on the left of the division skirmish line, rendering valuable service. The balance of the brigade was formed at once in line of battle, marching forward for several miles – Second Brigade (General Pierce) on our right, and the Sixth Corps on our left. At 3 p. m. a charge was ordered, which was executed in a very handsome style. We succeeded in driving the enemy from our front, and the One hundred and twentieth New York volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel A. L. Lockwood) and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers (Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Rivers), with the rest of the brigade, materially assisted in capturing the enemy’s wagon train and quite a number of prisoners. On the morning of the 7th crossed the Appomattox at High Bridge, part of which the enemy had fired previous to our arrival. Further progress of the fire was soon checked by the pioneers. About two miles from Farmville the enemy again made a stand, and skirmishing was sustained all day. During the night from the 7th to the 8th the enemy had left our front, we rapidly pushing him toward Appomattox Court-House, where, at 3 p. m. of the 9th, official intelligence was received that General Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Troops were then consisted to their camps, and remained so for the 10th. The Eighth New Jersey was there ordered to escort the ammunition train back to Burkeville, and the

rest of the brigade having followed the division to Farmville on the 11th, was ordered to act as a rear guard to the artillery train, with which we arrived near Burkeville on the 14th instant, at about 4 p. m.

During this short and eventful campaign all officers and men of this command have exhibited such commendable bravery and endurance that it is almost impossible to make a distinction. I cannot, however, omit to mention particularly the brave and gallant conduct of the following officers and to recommend them for brevet promotion: (1) Lieutenant Colonel John Schoonover, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, and (2) Captain John P. Finkelmeier, assistant adjutant-general of this brigade, to date from January 21, on which date both officers have been recommended for brevet promotion in just appreciation of their valuable services during last summer’s campaign. They have since, on the 5th of February, near Hatcher’s Run, as well as throughout this campaign, fully sustained their previous reputation, and are so well known throughout the corps for their gallant and efficient conduct in the field, that I deem it my duty to renew the application for their well-earned promotion. (3) Major H. Hartford, Eighth New Jersey Volunteers, for his gallantry exhibited on the morning of the 2nd of April. (4) Colonel Francis Price, commanding Seventh New Jersey Volunteers; (5) Lieutenant Colonel A. L. Lockwood, (6) Major W. F. Scott, (7) First Lieutenant and Adjt. E. McC. Russell, One hundred and twentieth New York Volunteers; (8) Captain Charles F. Gage, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers – for their bravery exhibited on all occasions during the campaign. (9) First Lieutenant W. Plimley, acting aide-de-camp on my staff, for his brave conduct during the morning of the 2nd of April with Major H. Hartford.

Subjoined I have the honor to submit nominal list of casualties* in this command.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. McALLISTER,
Brevet Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.

Captain A. W. KEENE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Third Division, Second Army Corps.

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*Embodied in table, p. 584.

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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. 788-790

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