No. 35. Report of Lieutenant Colonel James J. Smith, Sixty-ninth New York Infantry.1
HDQRS. SIXTY-NINTH NEW YORK VETERAN VOLUNTEERS,
April 14, 1865.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with circular of the 10th instant from headquarters Second Army Corps, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this regiment from the 28th day of March to the 10th day of April, 1865:
March 29, 1865, in obedience to orders received on the evening of March 28, we broke camp at 6 a. m., and, joining the brigade column, marched across Hatcher’s Run and halted about noon in rear of the Third Brigade of this division. At 2 p. m. advanced in line of battle in the direction of the enemy’s lines until night, when we halted and bivouacked for the night.
March 30, 1865, resumed the march in line of battle at 7 a. m., marching through the woods and acting as a second line, covering alternately the First and Third Brigades of our division. About 4 p. m. detailed 200 enlisted men and 6 commissioned officers, who were sent to corps headquarters for special duty. Engaged during the afternoon and night in constructing a corduroy road.
March 31, at 3 a. m. moved to the left about one mile and a half and occupied the earth-works built by the Fifth Army Corps; engaged in slashing timber in our front, under a heavy artillery fire, until about 1 p. m., when we moved to the left and front about one mile in line of battle, connecting on our right with the First, and on the left with the Third Brigade of our division; advanced as far as the slashing in front of and driving the enemy into his works; returned about half a mile; threw up earth-works, and camped for the night.
April 1, 1865, at 3 a. m. got under arms and marched to the right and rear; engaged during the day in building earth-works. At 7 a. m. moved to the left about two miles, and bivouacked for the night. April 2, 1865, about 1 a. m. marched to the left about three miles to the camp of Sheridan’s cavalry on the White Oak road, where we camped for the night. At 7 a. m. got under arms and marched back about one mile and a half, where we formed line of battle in the woods facing the enemy’s works and received orders that we were to take them by assault; soon after the skirmish line advanced and discovered that the enemy had just left; advanced at a double-quick and was the first regiment to enter the works; formed in line of battle some 400 yards inside of the works and moved after the enemy as far as the creek; crossed and received orders to deploy my regiment as skirmishers; advanced in this order, passing an abandoned rebel camp filled with wounded rebel officers and men, and overtook the enemy’s rear guard in a field and wood; drove them before us until sheltered by their works and artillery. Skirmished with the enemy until about 12 m., when we charged with our own and Third Brigade in a direct assault on the enemy’s works; were repulsed and returned; reformed the regiment and joined the brigade; charged the second time with the brigade and occupied the works, capturing many prisoners, but sending them to the rear without guard. Advanced in line of battle, crossing the South Side road and marching in the direction of the Appomattox, and afterward Hatcher’s Run, as far as Clark’s Branch; returning, camped for the night near the South Side Railroad. Casualties: 2 commissioned officers wounded, 1 enlisted man killed, 4 enlisted men wounded. Major Moroney with six commissioned officers and 200 enlisted men rejoined the regiment from special duty, having been away since the 30th of March.
April 3, 1865, about 9 a. m. got under arms and marched westwardly about ten miles; camped for the night.
April 4, 1865, about 7 a. m. moved westwardly about fifteen miles, and went into camp just after dark.
April 5, 1865, formed line and about daylight marched to the west, crossed over the Burkeville and Richmond railroad near Jetersville, and took up position on the left of the Fifth Army Corps; afterward were marched to the rear as a reserve.
April 6, 1865, about 6 a. m. got under arms and marched toward Amelia Court-House, this regiment leading the division. Soon after leaving the earth-works seven companies of the regiment were thrown out as skirmishers. I had the honor to be placed in command of the skirmish line. After advancing about two miles I discovered the
enemy’s column and baggage train moving on a road on our left toward Burkeville, and about a mile and a half distant. I immediately halted the line and sent information to the major-general commanding the division. About 10 a. m. received orders to advance the skirmish line across the run and follow up the enemy’s column; advanced the line across the run and reached the road on which he had just passed; met with no opposition on the right of the line; then wheeled in line to the left facing a fence and woods in which the enemy’s rear guard made a bold stand. Charged and drove them out; met with great opposition from the enemy’s rear guard, and also their cavalry, at every yard of the road. About 4 p. m. the One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers were sent up and relieved the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, and also the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery; remained with the skirmish line until dusk, when the division was placed in line of battle. I then collected what men I could find belonging to the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, and also to my own regiment, to the number of about seventy-five, and was trying to find the brigade when I was met by Major-General Miles, commanding division, at the captured wagon train of the enemy, and was by him placed in charge of said train. During the day we had casualties on the skirmish line as follows: Commissioned officer wounded, 1; enlisted men killed, 2; enlisted men wounded, 6.
April 7, 1865, the three companies with the colors, under command of Captain R. H. Milliken, marched with the brigade, crossing the Appomattox River under High Bridge, and marched as far as Farmville, where the enemy were met in force at about 5 p. m. This portion of the regiment became engaged with the enemy on the right of the First Brigade, the engagement lasting about half an hour, and the loss of the regiment was 4 enlisted men wounded. About 6 a. m. I was informed by Captain Black, aide-de-camp, First Division, that I would be relieved of duty as guard to the captured train by a small regiment from the Fourth Brigade of this division. About an hour afterward, no regiment making its appearance to relieve me, I saw Colonel Batchelder, chief quartermaster Army of the Potomac, riding through the train, and I informed him of my duties, and also mentioned that I expected to have been relieved early that morning, but no regiment had reported to relieve me. He said that he would see General Meade about it, and soon after returned to me with orders for me, from General Meade, to remove all the ammunition from the wagons, harness up the mules to ambulances, and send as many as possible of them to the front and turn them over to the Second Corps; also after the column and trains had passed to burn all the wagons, ambulances, caissons, limbers, &c., and explode the ammunition that could not be brought away. Soon after receiving these orders Captain Lane, of the Sixty-sixth New York Volunteers, reported to me to take charge of the captured train. Believing that it was my duty to have the orders I received from General Meade, through Colonel Batchelder, effectually carried out, I deemed it my duty to remain until it was accomplished, and when the troops and train had all passed sent about fifty ambulances forward on the road, in charge of Captain Lane, and then burned the train and ammunition, consisting of 203 army wagons, 63 ambulances, 3 caissons and limbers, about 230,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition, and about 450 shell, canister, &c.; also on the road 8 wagons, 4 ambulances, 3 limbers and caissons, and 60 rounds of 12-pounder shell fuses and friction primes, and joined the brigade same evening, near Farmville.
April 9, 1865, marched out at about 7 a. m., moved about six miles, halting at different times until about 2 p. m., when we were drawn up alongside of the road, and soon afterward received the joyful news of the surrender to the United States forces of the troops of the so-called Confederate States, comprising their Army of Northern Virginia.
During the operations from March 28 to April 10, 1865, this regiment has taken a number of prisoners and sent them to the rear also has neither taken nor lost in action flags or other material.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, captain, your obedient servant,
JAMES J. SMITH,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Sixty-ninth New York Veteran Vols.
Captain M. W. WALL,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, 2nd Brig., 1st Div., 2nd Army Corps.
- 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. 728-731 ↩