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OR XLVI P1 #41: Report of Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. Karples, 52nd NY, Mar 29-Apr 9, 1865

No. 41. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. Karples, Fifty-second New York Infantry.1

April 16, 1865.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit report of operations.

This regiment, in accordance with orders, after being relieved from picket by troops of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, left its encampment in front of Petersburg March 29, 1865, 10 a. m., and joined the brigade on the south side of Hatcher’s Run at 2 p. m. the same day. The brigade was in line of battle and threw up breast-works. About 5 p. m. orders to advance were received. The regiment advanced in line

of battle with the brigade, second in line, about a mile and a half, through a densely wooded and swampy country, and halted about 8 p. m. in line of battle on the left of the First Brigade and threw up breast-works. March 30, at daybreak the regiment moved forward with the brigade about half a mile, halted and threw up breast-works; advanced again about a quarter of a mile and again built breast-works; halted on a road until the morning of March 31, when we moved by the when we moved by the left flank about two miles, troops of the Third Division relieving us, and took position on the Boydton road, relieving troops of the Fifth Army Corps. The command remained in this position until about 2 p. m., when it advanced in line with the brigade, over the works and through the woods, about one mile, where it met the enemy, who occupied a crest of hills in our front. A charge was ordered, and the enemy driven from his position. The regiment lost 3 commissioned officers killed, 2 commissioned officers wounded, 6 enlisted men killed, 30 enlisted men wounded, and 5 enlisted men missing. it then moved by the left flank, and again by the right flank about one mile, and to the rear about one mile, where we bivouacked for the night.

April 1, at 4 a. m. the command returned to its position on the Boydton road, somewhat to the right of the one occupied in the morning, and remained there until 9 a. m., when it threw up a line of works at right angles with the Boydton road. it moved from this position at about 5 p. m., and reoccupied our old position of the same morning at about 9 p. m., gradually extending the lines to the left about one mile, remaining stationary about two hours, when we moved along the works by the left flank until we struck the White Oak road, and joined General Sheridan about 4 a. m. April 2. The command moved down the road at 6 a. m., formed in line of battle in front of the enemy’s works, advancing over them in line of battle to the left, toward the South Side Railroad, about two miles, until we struck the enemy. A charge was made, but repulsed by the enemy. The troops were reformed on the crest of a hill opposite their old position and slight breast-works thrown up. My horse was shot under me in this charge and I received a painful contusion on the right foot,k which compelled me temporarily to place Major Ritzius in command of the regiment. A second charge being subsequently made, was again repulsed. The position was upon a third advance taken. The command lost-commissioned officer slightly wounded, 1; enlisted men killed, 3; enlisted men wounded, 18; enlisted men missing, 12. The regiment advanced over the South Side Railroad and bivouacked for the night, remaining until about 11 a. m. April 3, when we moved forward by the left flank, the brigade being rear guard, and ordered back to repair roads, resuming our march at daybreak April 4 to rejoin the division, which we did at about 10 p. m. the same day, bivouacking for the night. April 5 [sic, 6]2, we resumed our march at 9 a. m., on the Lynchburg road, and formed line of battle with the brigade in reserve. At about 4 p. m. we moved into the front line on the right of the First Brigade, charging the enemy and advancing over Sailor’s Creek. I was ordered to advance my regiment as skirmishers to the crest of the hill, where I remained until relieved, when I rejoined the brigade and went into bivouac.

April 6 [sic, 7]3, the regiment moved forward at 6 a. m. on the road until it reached the Appomattox at High Bridge. I was ordered to the right to effect a crossing, if possible, but found the river too deep, and was ordered back to the brigade, which resumed its march, crossing the river, the enemy having been driven. I was then ordered to advance a skirmish line, consisting of my regiment and Thirty-ninth New York Vol-

unteers, to connect with the Second Division, covering the flank of the Third Brigade, and subsequently ordered to rejoin the brigade. The command then advanced in line of battle, under the enemy’s artillery fire, changing position several times, until we formed on the left of the Lynchburg road. I was then ordered out with my command and a detail from the Seventh New York Volunteers to relieve the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers on the picket-line that night. I found the enemy’s position evacuated about 2 a. m., and at daybreak April 7 [sic, 8]4 advanced my line about two miles, when I was relieved and rejoined the brigade, with which the regiment advanced in column, nothing of interest taking place until April 9, when General Lee surrendered his army.

The officers and men did their duty fully, under all hardships and privations.

Respectfully submitted.

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Captain H. DODT,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


  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. 739-741
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: I believe this is one of those rare cases where the dates in the Official Records are incorrect. Here, Lieutenant Colonel Karples is clearly discussing what happened near the end of the day on April 6, 1865 at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: I again believe LtCol Karples has the date wrong here.  There was a battle at High Bridge on April 6, but it only involved Union cavalry.  No portion of the Union Second Corps came close to High Bridge until the morning of April 7.  At that point, a battle broke out involving Second Corps units in an attempt to prevent the Confederates from burning the bridge.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: I assume the events of this day are for April 8, given Karples has earlier discussed the events of April 6 and 7, 1865.
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