Number 79. Appomattox Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Edgar M. Gregory, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 79. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Edgar M. Gregory, Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.1

HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., FIRST DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
April 18, 1865.

I have the honor to make the following report of the action of the brigade under my command in the recent campaign commencing March 29, 1865:

The Second Brigade, agreeable to orders, left camp near Humphrey’s Station, Va., at 5.30 o’clock on the morning of the 29th ultimo, preceded by the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps. We crossed Rowanty Creek at 7.30 o’clock and took the old stage road leading toward Dinwiddie Court-House. We bivouacked at the Miller house, awaiting orders, and at 1 p. m. proceeded back, taking the Vaughan road to Gravelly Run. Meeting with small squads of the enemy we advanced a skirmish line and formed our regiments – One hundred and eighty-seventh, One hundred and eighty-eighth, and One hundred and eighty-ninth [New York] – in line of battle. Our skirmishers soon became engaged with the enemy, and the First Brigade, in advancing on our right, became actively engaged with the enemy in force. Advancing some distance in two lines of battle, at this juncture General Chamberlain, commanding the First Brigade, asked the assistance of a regiment of my brigade, and I immediately sent the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Doolittle, to his assistance. We continued to advance the two remaining regiments, as per instructions, passing over swampy and difficult grounds, protecting the flank of the First Brigade, until reaching the Quaker (or telegraph) road, where we halted, a line of battle being in our front. From this point we were relieved, and bivouacked in the field opposite the J. Lewis house, an old saw-mill, for the night. On the morning of the 30th the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers returned to the brigade, and at 1 p. m. we were moved up the Quaker road to a large field, near the Boydton road, and took position in the rear of the line of battle, occupying the earth-works. We lay in line of battle in this position the entire day. At 7.30 o’clock the regiments were moved back of the Boydton road, and bivouacked for the night. The morning following (31st) received orders to move down the Boydton road to General Ayres, Second Division, being relieved by the Second Corps, and took position immediately on his right. The Second Division at this time was actively engaged with the enemy, and meeting with some reverses, the First Division entire was ordered forward. My brigade, after crossing Gravelly Run, was formed in two lines of battle – the One hundred and eighty-eighth and One hundred and eighty-ninth forming a line, with the One hundred and eighty-seventh in rear. My brigade joined the right of the First. The enemy’s line being driven back, and the ground lost in the morning was handsomely retaken. I continued to advance my brigade until near the White Oak road, taking the enemy’s skirmish line and occupying their rifle-pits. We also captured many prisoners. In this position we threw up a line of works, extending from the First Brigade, on our left, to General Miles’ division, or the Third Brigade, First Division, Second Corps, on our right. A heavy skirmish line was placed near the road, connecting as above, respect-

ively. From this point we sent out parties to reconnoiter our front, by orders from Major-General Warren, and found the enemy strongly entrenched on the hill opposite the White Oak road. I received orders at 11 p. m. to move with the division, but these orders were countermanded.

I received orders on the morning of the 1st of April to move at 6.30 a. m. We did so, preceded by the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, and took the road leading toward Dinwiddie Court-House. Our picket guard was ordered to remain in position before our works at Gravelly Run, near the White Oak road, and were to follow in the rear of division. We marched to a point three miles and a half from Dinwiddie Court-House, where, meeting with the cavalry under command of Major-General Sheridan, we bivouacked by the roadside. At 2 p. m. we were ordered, in conjunction with the other brigades of the division, to move-on the road leading to the right, and at a distance of about two miles from the starting point. I formed the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Doolittle commanding, in line of battle to the right of the First Brigade. The One hundred and eighty-ninth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Townsend commanding, were sent forward as skirmishers, joining the Third Brigade skirmishers on the left, and extending to the One hundred and eighty-seventh New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Myers commanding, who were posted as flankers to protect our right. Our troops becoming engaged on the left of our lines we were ordered to advance. The ground was uneven and unfavorable, but the line advanced in perfect order, receiving an oblique fire from the enemy posted in the skirt of a piece of woods. The One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, in connection with the First Brigade, was ordered to charge across the open field and drive the enemy from their position. Changing direction to the left, the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, with First Brigade, charged across the field and drove the enemy from their position, capturing about 400 prisoners. Still driving the enemy before them they met with a stubborn resistance from the enemy posted behind an earth-work on the roadside. Clearing a portion of this work to the left I ordered the left wing of the One hundred and eighty-eighth over the works, and wheeling it to the right cleared the line. The One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers at this point captured a four-gun battery posted on the road which intersected the road on which the works were built at nearly a right angle. Here the color-sergeant of the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers was wounded, and one of the color guard, while holding the flag to its place, was also wounded. One of the battery horses was taken from the harness by Lieutenant Williams, and is now in possession of the One hundred and eighty-eighth New York Volunteers. The fighting here was desperate, but the courage and bravery of the troops carried the day and decided its fortunes. Firing having ceased, and the enemy having dispersed, we occupied the captured works for the night.

We received orders to move at daylight, but did not leave Five Forks until 12 m. With the First Division we moved up the road leading to the South Side Railroad near Ford’s Station, which we reached at 2.30 p. m. April 2. Crossing the railroad, the One hundred and eighty-ninth New York Volunteers was sent forward to General Chamberlain, commanding First Brigade, and posted to the right of his rear line of battle. The One hundred and eighty-seventh and One hun-

dred and eighty-eight were formed in line of battle in rear of the First Brigade. At 3.30 o’clock we received orders to resume our line of march and proceeded up the Cox road and railroad some distance, when turning to the left and taking Namozine road we bivouacked in line of battle near Sutherland’s Station at 8 p. m. On the morning of the 3rd we marched at 10.30 a. m., continuing the Namozine road, and bivouacked at 9 p. m. four miles from the Namozine Church, having marched fifteen miles. April 4, moved at 6.30 a. m., passing through Dennisville, on the Namozine road, and reached the Danville railroad at 5 p. m. Here we met with Sheridan’s command, and entrenchments were thrown up during the night, the Second Brigade occupying the line bordering the roadside. April 5, we remained in position until 1.30 p. m., when orders were received to quit our works and move to the succor of a portion of the cavalry, said to have been cut off by the enemy. We moved but a short distance up the railroad, when we were ordered back to our works, where we remained during the night, with orders to move at 6 a. m. on the morrow, taking the road to Amelia Court-House. 6th, marched in pursuance to orders, taking the line of the Danville railroad. We left the railroad, turning to the left, and passed over the scene of Sheridan’s exploit the day previous; rested at Paineville at 2 o’clock p. m., and finally bivouacked four miles from the Appomattox River (High Bridge) at 9 p. m. April 7, marched this morning at 7 o’clock, crossing the Danville railroad, and bivouacked at 8.30 p. m. at Prince Edward Court-House. April 8, preceded by the Twenty-fourth Corps, in accordance with orders, we took the Lynchburg road, passing Hampden Sidney College. We halted at 12.30 o’clock, coming up with the cavalry. Again moving, we struck the Petersburg railroad near Prospect Station, taking the road toward Appomattox Station. We bivouacked on the roadside at 11.30 p. m. April 9, moved at 5.30 a. m., following Third Brigade, the First Brigade leading, and marched some three miles. Found the cavalry engaged with the enemy near Appomattox Court-House. I formed my brigade in two lines of battle, joining the Third Brigade on the right, and sent forward a line of skirmishers. Advancing toward the crest of the hill (Clover) in perfect order and precision, we halted at 9.30 a. m., when the word came of the surrender of General Lee, commanding Confederate forces. This was given us by an officer of General Sheridan’s staff. This was afterward verified. We were moved from this position to a field in the vicinity of the Court-House by one of General Bartlett’s aides, where we bivouacked for the night.

The officers and men of my command, with very few exceptions, faithfully discharged every duty devolving upon them during the entire campaign. They were prompt and energetic in every duty assigned them, and proved themselves equal to any emergency. To individualize, I will not, for all deserve the highest praise for bravery and soldierly conduct.*

I am, captain, very respectfully,

E. M. GREGORY,
Brevet Brigadier-General, Commanding Second Brigade.

Captain WILLIAM FOWLER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division, Fifth Corps.

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* Copy of so much of this report as relates to operations April 1 – 5 was furnished General Sheridan April 14.

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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. 853-855

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