No. 48. Report of Colonel William M. Mintzer, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry.1
HDQRS. FIFTY-THIRD PENNSYLVANIA VETERAN VOLUNTEERS,
April 12, 1865.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment from March 29 to the 10th instant:
On the morning of the former date (March 29, 1865), at 6 o’clock, I had my command in readiness to move in accordance with orders previously received from corps headquarters through the regular channel. Our march was by the left flank and nearly parallel with the line of breast-works formerly held by the Second Corps. We crossed Hatcher’s Run during the morning and marched in the direction of the Boydton plank road. I formed line of battle on a hill, where temporary breast-works erected. In the afternoon we advanced in line of battle several times, but met no enemy. Night having come upon us we were ordered to make ourselves comfortable, which order was obeyed. March 30, at 6 a. m. we moved by the left flank, through the woods and swamp, and after forming line of battle near the Boydton road temporary breast-works were erected. In accordance with orders received from brigade headquarters I sent who companies from my regiment, in charge of Major Pifer, to relieve the skirmishers from our brigade. It was while in performance of this duty that Major Pifer had his horse mortally wounded, after having been shot at by rebel sharpshooters six or seven times. In the afternoon our line was advanced to the crest of the hill, a short distance to the front of former line, where we remained for the night.
I would here state, that my skirmishers handsomely repulsed two successive charges of the enemy’s skirmishers, while the connection of their left was broken by the skirmishers of the Fifth Corps, who had retired without scarcely firing a shot.
March 31, I was relieved from the front line quite early in the morning, by the Third Division, Second Corps; moved to the position held yesterday morning; soon afterward we moved to the left, in rear of breast-works formerly occupied by part of the Fifth Corps. The Fifth Corps were about engaging the enemy. They were repulsed and driven back in great disorder. My regiment in connection with the Sixty-sixth New York, One hundred and sixteenth Pennsylvania, and One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, were moved forward to retake the ground lost by the Fifth Corps. I was formed on the right. We charged across Hatcher’s run and engaged the enemy on the crest of the hill beyond. This position could have been held, but
the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, on my left, fell back in considerable disorder, thus leaving my left flank, as well as the right, exposed. In this positions of against I retired and recrossed Hatcher’s Run. I reformed my regiment as soon as possible, and, in connection with the three regiments named, again crossed Hatcher’s Run’ now, having connection on the right with the Third Brigade, we retook all the ground lost by the Fifth Corps, capturing a great many prisoners. In this engagement I had 15 enlisted men killed, 2 officers and 47 enlisted men wounded. We bivouacked for the might in ear of breastworks built near the Boydton plank road.
April 1, at 6 a. m. I moved my command, in connection with the balance of the brigade, to the position held yesterday before the engagement. We remained there until 6 p.m., when we again took up the position left in the morning.
April 2, moved at 2 a. m. to the left in support of cavalry; remained until 9 a. m., when we returned i rear of position held the night before. It having been discovered that the enemy had abandoned their works we were moved by the right flank in quick time in pursuit. We came upon them near the South Side Railroad. My regiment, in connecting with others of the brigade, was formed in line on the left flank of the position held by the enemy. We were ordered to charge, but General Ramsey desiring my regiment to form on the right of the brigade, I moved it there, by the flank, at a double-quick, and charged forward with the other regiments of the brigade, capturing the South Side Railroad and quite a number of prisoners. I have reason to believe that the enemy held their position until my regiment charged forward on the extreme right. In this engagement I had eight enlisted men wounded. We bivouacked for the night on the north side of the railroad.
April 3, marched at 9 a. m. toward the Danville railroad; found no enemy.
April 4, moved at 7 a. m.; my regiment was in front of the brigade. We encamped for the night at 7 p. m.
April 5, marched the whole duty, from 5 a. m. until 7 p. m., following the One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. We crossed the Danville railroad and formed line of battle beyond, where we remained for the night.
April 6, moved at 4 a. m. The enemy having been discovered in our front we formed line of battle and followed them in this way the entire day. A great bulk of the enemy’s train having been captured at Deep Creek my regiment was detailed as a guard in the evening. I have one man wounded during the day.
April 7, moved at 6 a. m.; crossed the South Side Railroad near the High Bridge; crossed the Appomattox River; moved forward on the Buckingham road, and formed line of battle confronting the enemy in front. In forming my line I had one man killed and one man wounded. We bivouacked for the night in line near Farmville.
April 8, marched on the Buckingham road the entire day but met no enemy.
April 9, continued our march until about 4 p. m., when, it having been announced that General Lee had surrendered his army to General Grant, I formed my regiment on the right of the Buckingham road and bivouacked for the night.
During the march and in the several engagements all my officers and men behaved gallantly.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. M. MINTZER,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Lieutenant S. P. CORLISS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
- 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. 750-752 ↩