Report of Captain Francis G. Hickerson, 10th Connecticut, of operations April 2-18, 18651
[Report of Capt. Hickerson.]
Camp 10th Infantry, Conn., Vols.,
Near Richmond, Va., April 28th, 1865.
Colonel E. S. Greeley,
Commanding 10th Infantry Conn. Vols.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the movements of the 10th Regt. Conn. Vols., while under my command, after the brave Lt. Col. E. D. S. Goodyear was wounded in the charge on Fort Gregg, April 2d, 1865.
We remained near the fort all night, throwing up slight breastworks to check any demonstration the enemy might make. The next morning, April 3d, Petersburg having been evacuated during the night by Gen. Lee, we were ordered under arms, and at 7 A. M. took up the line of march after the retreating enemy, following the Petersburg and Burksville Pike, its general direction being the same as that of the Southside Railroad.
The object now being to crush the rebel army, it became necessary to reach Burksville as soon as possible, which was accomplished on the evening of April 5th.
Here we remained all night, and until 1 P. M. of the next day, (April 6th,) when we resumed the march, following the Burksville and Lynchburg Pike. At about 4 P. M., the rebels having made a stand at Rice’s Station, our advance came up with and attacked them, driving them from their position. They fell back to another and stronger one, where they had thrown up breastworks. Line of battle was immediately formed, but as it was dark before a sufficient number of troops could be got into position to make the success of an assault certain, the men lay upon their arms all night, expecting to attack at day-break the next morning; but the gallant Gen. Sheridan succeeded in getting around their left and rear, which caused them to make a hasty retreat during the night. At daybreak on April 7th, we were under arms and on the march, with no opposition. About noon, with colors flying and bands playing, we entered Farmville, a place of about two thousand inhabitants, (many of whom remained at home,) where there were two or three large iron works which had not been destroyed, and halted a short distance beyond the town to await the arrival of our supply train.
About 2 P. M., however, orders came for the 10th Conn, and 11th Maine Vols., accompanied by two pieces of artillery, all under command of Col. G. B. Dandy, our brigade commander, to advance out about six miles to ascertain whether the rebels had burned the bridge across the Appomattox river or not, with orders to protect it, if still safe. We reached the bridge about dark, and found that it had been burned several hours before. This was a very dangerous expedition, from the fact that we were six miles from any support, and it was ascertained during the night that the rebel Gen. Rosser was within two miles of us, with his command of two thousand cavalry, and could have annoyed us considerably, if not captured the whole command, which did not number over five hundred men, all told, had he known we were there. He did not disturb us, however, and we passed a quiet night. Early the next morning, our supply train, which we had not seen since leaving Burksville, reached us.
At 7 A. M., April 8th, we again started on the march, taking our position in line as the column moved forward, and marched without rest until within nine miles of Appomattox Court House, reaching the place of bivouac at 12 o’clock, midnight, having marched thirty-four miles since morning. Here we rested until 3 o’clock A. M. April 9th, when we again resumed the march. After marching about five miles, we found Sheridan’s cavalry hotly engaged on the main road to Lynchburg, where he had succeeded in turning the rebels’ right flank. We were then ordered to move forward at a double-quick, as the enemy was rapidly driving the cavalry from the road. By this double-quick movement we were enabled to reach the scene of action in time to save the road, and by so doing, cut off the only remaining way of escape for the rebel army. On arriving on the ground, Cos. “D” and “G,” commanded respectively by Capt. Bartlett and Lieut. Slate, were thrown out as skirmishers, and soon after, Co. “K,” Capt. Parker, was ordered to strengthen the skirmish line. They then steadily advanced, followed closely by the rest of the regiment in line of battle, driving everything before them for about one mile, when a rebel officer appeared with a flag of truce, desiring to communicate with Lt. Gen. Grant. All active operations were immediately suspended, and very soon the good intelligence came of the surrender of Gen. R. E. Lee and the entire Army of Northern Virginia.
On the 9th day of April, 1865, we went into camp about a mile from Appomattox Court House, where we remained, doing the usual picket duty only, until the 17th, when we started, at 10 A. M., on our return. We arrived at Farmville at noon of the 18th, when I reported and turned over the command to you.
In conclusion, I am proud to say that the old Tenth has nobly sustained its past record. There has not been a more closely contested fight during the war than at Fort Gregg, on the 2d of April, for account of which I respectfully refer you to the Report of Lt. Col. Goodyear. Never did I witness such a slaughter of human beings as the inside of that fort presented.
On the march, the endurance of the men was wonderful. Our average marching was twenty-five miles per day, and in one instance we were two days without rations of any kind. Our rapid marching made it impossible for the supply train to keep up. Men shoeless and with blistered feet refused to get into ambulances when they were told they could do so by their officers. Many of our men being substitutes, lately arrived, and unaccustomed to the fatigue of active service, it was not expected that they could endure as much as the veterans, but they surpassed all expect-
ations. Too much praise can not be given both officers and men for their cheerfulness and endurance under the most trying circumstances.
Your Ob’t Serv’t,
FRANCIS G. HICKERSON,
Captain 10th Infantry Conn. Vols.
- Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of Connecticut, for the Year Ending March 31, 1866 (Hartford, CT: A. N. Clark & Co., State Printers, 1866), pp. 110-113 ↩