CLARK NC: 22nd North Carolina at the Siege of Petersburg
Editor’s Note: The following excerpt comes from Walter Clark’s five volume Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, published in 1901. The reference work provides mini regimental histories written mostly by men representing each unit, with gaps filled in by editor Clark. These histories often provide a surprising amount of detail on the Siege of Petersburg.
After Grant’s disastrous attack upon Lee at Cold Harbor in June, 1864, he withdrew from Lee’s front and began the movement which transferred his operations to the vicinity of Petersburg. To conceal this movement Warren’s Corps was sent up the roads towards Richmond to make demonstrations [on June 13, 1864], and to meet Warren, Wilcox’s Division, in which were Scales’ Brigade and the Twenty-second [North Carolina] Regiment, was sent. After a hard march Gary’s Brigade of cavalry was found falling back before a heavy force and Lane’s and Scales’ Brigades [Wilcox’s Division, Third Corps, ANV] of infantry were at once ordered forward. These drove back Wilson’s cavalry division for one and a half miles, and secured and held a cross-roads near a place called Smith’s Shop, in the vicinity of the Frazier’s Farm battlefield. In this fight and advance (of more than an hour) the centre of the Twenty-second [North Carolina] Regiment passed at one time over an open knoll, which had been cleared for artillery two years before, where they received the full fire of Wilson’s men and lost heavily, but still pressed on, driving the enemy before them, and held the position as mentioned above.
In his account of this action in August , 1864, [William J.] Swinton errs in saying that three charges were made by the Confederates, two of which were repulsed. The first charge, as he terms it, was merely an advance of a battalion of sharpshooters, under Captain John Young, which drove in the Federal pickets and skirmishers. Captain Young reported that there was only a line of picket pits in our front. Under this impression the Sixteenth [North Carolina], Twenty-second [North Carolina] and Thirty-fourth North Carolina regiments, and Benning’s Georgia Brigade [Benning/Field/First/ANV], were ordered to charge. On reaching the edge of the woods, Benning’s men, seeing a strong line of works, well manned, in their front, were halted. The Twenty-second Regiment charged up to the works, but, having lost their support on their right, were withdrawn. They were not repulsed. Private [David P.] Ellison, of Company L, snatched an United States flag from the earth works in this charge, and brought it away with him. Shortly after this Lane’s, MacRae’s and another brigade of Heth’s Division, with the Twenty-second [North Carolina] Regiment covering their left flank, charged the position and carried the works in splendid style. Hampton’s cavalry shared in the attack and rendered most efficient service.
An incident worthy of record occurred in the winter of 1864-’65, while the Twenty-second North Carolina was on duty on the lines south of Petersburg, Va., in support of Battery 45. General A. P. Hill, commanding the [Third] corps, was desirous of getting certain information with regard to the force and position of the enemy on his front. This he thought might be obtained by the capture of some prisoners, and he directed General A. M. Scales, commanding brigade, to make a foray on the skirmish line or picket posts of the enemy opposite his lines. General Scales detailed Captain C. Frank Siler, of Company M, of the Twenty-second North Carolina, to undertake the expedition with a part of the sharpshooters of the brigade.
Captain Young, who commanded the sharpshooters, was temporarily absent. Siler was ordered to report to General James H. Lane and get a reinforcement from the sharpshooters of that brigade, but before making the move, Siler wished to reconnoitre the position. To effect this thoroughly, he adopted a ruse. Crossing to the Yankee lines he offered, with the usual signals, to exchange newspapers, as was often done. While haggling about the exchange he examined the position and its surroundings carefully and selected a path by which it might be approached advantageously, returning to his command, he rode over to General Lane’s quarters to get the reinforcements as ordered, General Scales having loaned him a horse for the purpose. Now, for the better defence of Battery 45, the men of the Twenty-second had dammed up a small stream in its vicinity which had the effect of collecting much water in the battery’s front and rendering the approach to it very difficult. Along the top of this dam was the shortest route between the two brigades, and over it Siler attempted to ride. It was very dark, however, and, as he afterwards discovered, his horse was “moon-eyed,” and in consequence, horse and man tumbled off the dam into the water and mud seventeen feet below. Nothing daunted, and in spite of cold and bruises, he fished himself and horse out, and after much tribulation he succeeded, “accoutred as he was,” in finding Major Wooten, who commanded Lane’s sharpshooters, and got the detail wanted. Uniting them with his own men they all proceeded quietly to the Yankee rifle pits by the path Siler had previously selected. Arrived at the pits, they found all there asleep except a sentinel in front of the works, upon whom they closed before he could discharge his piece. The sentry ran into the works and tried to use his bayonet, but Siler turned it aside and secured him before he could give the alarm. The command then swept up and down the rifle pits, and after capturing sixty men, made good their retreat with their prisoners, to the Confederate lines, not, however, without receiving a heavy fire from the Yankees, who had recovered from their surprise, which, owing to the darkness, fortunately, did no damage. From some of the prisoners captured all information wanted was obtained, and Captain Siler and his men were highly complimented for their gallant action.1
An incident, well worth recording, happened near this station, after our troops had evacuated the works on Hatcher’s Run [on April 2, 1865]. Colonel Galloway, of the Twenty-second Regiment, who was temporarily in command of Scales’ Brigade, sent Companies I, L, and M, of that regiment — all of Randolph County — under command of Captain C. F[rank]. Siler, of Company M, to hold a woods a little in advance on his right. An ammunition wagon had broken down near by and Captain Siler had several boxes of cartridges carried to his line and distributed. From this position he repelled with his small command, two attacks of a full regiment, and held it until he was ordered to retire. Captain Siler was an excellent man and officer, equally at home in a fight or a revival, and efficient in both.
Colonel Thos. S. Galloway is still living. His residence is now in Somerville, Tenn.
Dr. Benj. A. Clark, of Warren County, who was with the Twenty-second Regiment as Assistant Surgeon, or as Surgeon, during the entire war, reported in the Spring of 1865 that, up to that time, the death roll of the regiment amounted to 580.
[SOPO Editor’s Note: Some non-Petersburg material on the Wilderness and Bristoe Station is omitted here.]
At the surrender at Appomattox 9 April, 1865, the brigade was under command of Colonel Joseph H. Hyman, of the Thirteenth Regiment, (of Edgecombe county), and numbered, all told, 720 men, of whom 92 were officers, of the different grades, and 628 were enlisted men. Of the Twenty-second Regiment there were paroled 97 men and the following officers : Colonel, Thomas S. Galloway, Jr. ; Lieutenant-Colonel, W. L. Mitchell ; Captains, George H. Gardin, Company B ; Robert W. Cole, Company E ; Gaston V. Lamb, Company I ; E. J. Dobson, Company K ; Yancey M. C. Johnson, Company I; Columbus E. Siler, Company M. Lieutenants: Wm. A. Tuttle, Company A; Samuel P. Tate, Company B ; Andrew J. Busick, Company E; W. C. Orrell, Company E; Calvin H. Wilborne, Company L. In Company E but eight privates “present for duty,” were left, and in Company H but five. Besides those mentioned several members of the regiment, who were on detached service, were paroled elsewhere.
And so the regiment was disbanded and its few surviving members sought their distant homes, with heavy hearts, indeed, at the failure of the cause they had upheld so long and so bravely, undeterred by privation and unappalled by dangers, but still sustained by the parting words of their illustrious chief, and the consciousness of right, and of duty well done.
In offering this imperfect history of the Twenty-second Regiment of North Carolina Troops in the late war between the States, the writer will say, in explanation of its many omissions and shortcomings, that during more than the last two years of its service, he had been transferred to other duty and was not a member of the regiment. He gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to Lieutenant J. R. Cole, some time its Adjutant, for much valuable information. He hopes the brave story of the part the regiment bore in the momentous campaigns of 1864-’65 will yet be told in full detail,
New Bern, N. C,
9 April, 1901.2
- SOPO Editor’s Note: I’m very interested in this account of a skirmish line action in the winter of 64/65. As is so often the case in these late war Confederate accounts, no specific date is mentioned. If you know the specific time this might have occurred, please Contact Us. ↩
- Clark, Walter. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-’65, Volume 2 (Nash Brothers: 1901), pp. 173-176, 178-180 ↩
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