Number 159. Siege of Petersburg Report of Colonel Joseph A. Mathews, Two hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations March 25

   

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in Siege of Petersburg Reports (95)

No. 159. Report of Colonel Joseph A. Mathews, Two hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade, of operations March 25.1

HDQRS. SECOND BRIG., THIRD DIV., 9TH ARMY CORPS,
March 25, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to state the following with regard to the movements of my command during the engagement of this a.m.:

At-a.m. I was instructed by Lieutenant Webbert, of General Hartranft’s staff, that the general desired me to report, with my command, at division headquarters without a moment’s delay. I immediately dispatched a staff officer to bring down the Two hundred and eleventh Regiment (which is encamped some two miles from my headquarters), and with the remaining two regiments of my brigade reported promptly at the point mentioned. From thence I was conducted by yourself to the ravine, situated about two-thirds of a mile in front of your headquarters. I there halted my command about one hour, awaiting orders. Through Captain Hodgkins, of General Hartranft’s staff, I was notified to prepare for a charge against Fort Stedman, and further notified that when the Two hundred and eleventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, of my brigade, then under the general’s own supervision, made its appearance of the brow of the hill in my rear, I was to charge with the Two hundred and fifth and Two hundred and seventh against the fort. This was done. I ordered Colonel Cox, with his (Two hundred and seventh) regiment, to charge the west corner of the fort, at the same time charging the remaining two regiments (the Two hundred and eleventh had by this time come up) directly against the rear of the fort.

In this charge my men behaved most handsomely. The Two hundred and seventh Regiment (Colonel Cox) did their share of the work most

effectually, completely cutting off the enemy’s line of retreat, while the Two hundred and fifth and Two hundred and eleventh entered the fort and aided the Two hundred and seventh in capturing all the enemy who had remained inside.

In this charge I was aided very much by Captain Hodgkins, of General Hartranft’s staff, who assisted me in keeping my line formed and hurrying my men across the plain in rear of the fort. My brigade at once advanced to the front of the fort, and by a brisk fire drove the enemy inside their works. My entire loss was but 42-3 of whom were killed and 39 wounded; no commissioned officers killed and but one wounded. It is impossible for me to state the exact number of prisoners captured by my command, but as near as I can judge their number amounted to 850. My command also captured between 300 and 400 stand of small-arms, which were left by or taken from the enemy in Fort Stedman.

One enlisted man from each of my regiments claims to have captured a battle-flag, but two state that they were taken from them by some field officers with whom they were not acquainted. The third is hereby sent to you, with the statement of the man who captured it. Their statements are substantiated by their several company and regimental commanders.

No further orders for an advance having been received, my command occupied the fort until evening, when two of the regiments were relieved by General Hartranft’s order, and sent to camp. One regiment was left behind to garrison the fort.

It would be invidious in me to distinguish between the many who discharged their whole duty, I cannot refrain from speaking in the highest terms of praise of my entire staff, as well as the commanding officers of each of the regiments composing my brigade. Major Morrow, of Two hundred and fifth, refers to the conduct of Privates John J. Levi and George Dull, of his regiment, to which I invite the attention of the commanding general.

All of which I have the honor respectfully to submit.

I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. MATHEWS,
Colonel 205th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.

Major JOHN D. BERTOLETTE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Ninth Army Corps.

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. 354-355

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