No. 102. Report of Colonel Thomas F. McCoy, One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania Infantry.1
HDQRS. 107TH REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VETERAN VOLS.,
Appomattox Court-House, Va., April 14, 1865.
CAPTAIN: In obedience to your order of to-day, I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my regiment in the late
great movements, resulting in the surrender of General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, under his command:
At 3 o’clock on the morning of March 29 I broke camp, then in the bounds of the Third Brigade, having been attached to that brigade since February 5, and marched about a mile and reported with my command in the field in front of your (General Baxter’s) headquarters. At about 6 a. m. the division moved, your brigade leading the column and my regiment in the advance. The First and Second Divisions of the corps (Fifth) preceded ours on the Halifax road southwest, and going over the same route as that of the 5th of February movement. The march was continued in this direction, passing Rowanty Creek and the Vaughan road some distance south of Hatcher’s Run, until we struck the Quaker road, up which we turned in the direction of the Boydton plank road, and crossed the Gravelly Run near the Spain House. Here the division was massed. The First Division, advancing up the road, was soon briskly engaged with a large force of the enemy. Our brigade was immediately ordered forward, and formed line of battle, with the right resting on the road and near the left of the First Division. A battery was immediately in our rear. Soon a farther advance in line was made and into the thick wood and underbrush. While this advance was in progress I was ordered to form a connection with Bartlett’s brigade on the left of the First Division, which I soon effected and retained during the evening. The enemy were driven back all along the line, the principal fighting being with the First Division. By this movement their attempt to flank us was defeated, and the possession of the Boydton road, an important point, was secured. On the morning of the 30th, in a heavy rain, we moved so as to connect with the left of the First Division, and threw up breast-works and slashed the timber in front. The storm continued during the night and forenoon of the 31st, rendering the roads deep with mud and water and swelling the streams. Early in the morning of this day the division was moved forward and to the left of the Boydton road, and over a deep run, a branch of Gravelly Run, about a mile in advance of the former line, and while getting into position the Second Division, partially in our front, was suddenly attacked by the enemy, and gave way, rushing through our lines, then in course of formation. My regiment was formed on the right of the brigade, and the brigade being on the right of the division, I connected with no other troops until the brigade said to be General Gwyn’s, of the Second Division, having been driven from the front line, partially rallied on my right; but when the enemy flanked the division on the left, the brigade or regiment successively giving away, and opened a sharp fire in our front, the part of the brigade of Second Division that had rallied on my right also gave way, leaving my regiment at this time the only one on the line. Seeing that I would soon be surrounded if I remained longer, I immediately ordered my regiment to retire, which was done with little loss. A battery being put in position on the opposite side of the run, supported by part of the First Division, formed the first secure rallying point, and here the rebel advance was successfully resisted. Soon fresh troops of the First Division advanced, supported by the Second and Third, to recover the ground lost, which was handsomely done and a farther advance made nearly to the fortified line of the enemy, securing the possession of the White Oak road, another important point. Here breast-works were put up, and we bivouacked for the night.
Early in the morning of April 1 the whole corps withdrew from this part of the line. The movement was covered by our brigade,
under the personal direction of Major-General Warren and Brigadier-General Baxter, commanding the brigade. It was understood that the corps was to march about four miles in the direction of the South Side Railroad, where our cavalry, under Sheridan, were confronted by a large rebel force, and to report to him with a view of co-operating with him in his contemplated movement against the enemy. It was about 2 p. m. when we reached him, in front of the enemy’s entrenchments at the Five Forks. Immediate preparations were made for the attack. The cavalry were on the left, and the infantry (being the Fifth Corps) on the right; our brigade (Second, under Brigadier General Henry Baxter) on the right, my regiment being on the right of the brigade. At about 3 p. m. the line was in readiness to advance, and very soon thereafter the grand movement commenced. The ground over which we were to pass was composed of woods, fields, thickets of underbrush, swamps, ditches, streams, & c. After arriving at a certain road running parallel with the line of battle, a half-wheel was to be made to the left, intending by this, in which we succeeded, to swing around into the enemy’s rear. The enemy was soon met along the whole line. We moved in this battle over a distance of three miles. The movement and the fighting continued, we driving the enemy all the time, until dark ended the battle, being one of the most grand, complete, and important victories of the war. Indeed, it seems to have been the turning point in the great movements againstt Petersburg and Richmond and the destruction of Lee’s army, as all of these important places and that great army that has confronted us for nearly four long, wearisome, bloody years soon after fell into our possession.
I am happy in being able to say that my regiment conducted itself in this long trying engagement in the most gallant manner; and in this I am glad to say it only vied with the other gallant regiments composing the brigade. The thanks of the general commanding the brigade immediately at the close of the engagement, for the good conduct of my regiment, was most gratifying.
In this great work of to-day I must acknowledge, in addition to the personal aid extended by Brigadier-General Baxter, commanding brigade, the important aid given in the various movements by Captain W. G. Sheen, acting assistant adjutant-general, Captain B. F. Bucklin, commissary of subsistence, Lieutenant R. C. Knaggs, aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant A. Leavitt, of his staff. Laboring under special difficulties in consequence of the very few officers in my regiment, the aid extended by these officers is the more appreciated. The difficulties to be overcome in advancing in line of battle over such ground were great.
April 2, the movement was on the White Oak road for several miles, to co-operate, as was supposed with a movement of the Second Corps, near the Burgess Mills; but we were soon countermarched, and our column headed toward the South Side Railroad, which the victory of yesterday secured, and which we reached about 3 p. m., and up which we marched toward Petersburg some four miles. As we were about going into camp for the night we were marched in the direction of Burkeville some four miles, to support the cavalry, then engaged with a retreating column of the enemy. At about 10 p. m. we reached the vicinity of the enemy and had some skirmishing, in order, as was supposed, to develop his position. My regiment, by order of the general commanding the division, was deployed to the front and left, where it remained during the night, suffering greatly from the cold, no fires being allowed in consequence of the proximity to the enemy.
April 3, after the balance of the corps reached our camp the march in pursuit of the enemy was continued, his forces having decamped during the night. Our march was on the road leading toward Jetersville, on the Danville railroad, being about four miles south of Amelia Court-House and near eight miles north of Burkeville Junction. The road over which we passed to-day exhibited many evidences of the haste with which the retreating enemy were moving. While on the march to-day the pleasing intelligence that Petersburg and Richmond were in our possession was proclaimed along the line, eliciting great cheering and most hearty rejoicing.
April 4, at an early hour were again on the march, the Third Division leading the corps, and late in the evening reached the Richmond and Danville Railroad at the Jetersville Station, being preceded, however, by a part of the cavalry. At this time great care and caution seemed to be taken, as the enemy, with a large train, was reported near. The troops were placed in line of battle, the line crossing the railroad and the turnpike road running parallel with it. The enemy not advancing, entrenchments were thrown up during the night. The next day, April 5, the march was not resumed, but the troops were kept in momentary expectation of the advance of the enemy. Rations, of which the men were in much need, arrived, and were issued. The Second and Sixth Corps arrived during the day. The cavalry made a capture of some prisoners and artillery, and destroyed a train of the enemy. To-night orders were received to prepare for an advance upon the enemy in the morning.
At an early hour April 6 the Fifth Corps moved north toward Amelia Court-House, where the enemy was supposed to be, with a view of attacking him. It was soon ascertained, by deserters and stragglers of the enemy coming into our lines, that Lee’s army had decamped during the night, on parallel roads farther west, and our order of march was immediately changed with a view of pursuit. Our column turned southwest, and took the Paineville road in the direction of Farmville. The Second and Sixth Corps pursued upon other roads, and came in contact with the enemy, capturing prisoners, artillery, and trains in large numbers. Our march to-day was supposed to be about thirty miles, and the troops were much exhausted. We encamped at a point within about three miles of the high and long bridge, where the South Side Railroad passed the Appomattox toward Lynchburg, and within three miles of Farmville. To-day our corps was on the right of the army.
April 7, moved at an early hour in the direction of the bridge. Heavy cannonading was heard in that direction, and farther to the east at another crossing. The Fifth Corps was transferred from the right to the left of the army, and continued its march until its arrival at Prince Edward Court-House, having made during the day a march of over twenty miles.
April 8, again in motion on the road leading to Lynchburg, and continued the march until about one o’clock at night, the troops being much exhausted, having marched about thirty miles.
April 9, soon after daylight the division was again on the march, our brigade leading. Cannonading soon began forward in the direction of our advance. We soon came near the spot where this last skirmishing with the rebel army took place, and found that the cavalry under Sheridan, part of the Twenty-fourth Corps, and our own (Fifth Corps) were occupying the road leading through Appomattox Court-House toward Lynchburg, over which General Lee with his army must
pass if he ever succeeded in reaching that point. At this time our columns were forming to advance upon the enemy, then a short distance east of the Court-House. He, finding himself surrounded on all sides with nearly the whole Army of the Potomac, and that it would be destruction to attempt a farther advance, sent in a white flag, which resulted in a truce until 4 o’clock, at which hour it was announced, amidst the acclamations of the troops present, that General Lee had, upon conditions proposed by Lieutenant-General Grant, surrendered himself and the Army of Northern Virginia, under his command. This great and happy event closed the operations of the 9th, capping the climax of great achievements for the Army of the Potomac, and rendering it, and the day itself, ever memorable in history.
I would express my sense of the good conduct of Lieutenant H. W. Smyser, Company E, part of the time acting adjutant (Lieutenant Venai having been relieved on account of sickness), and Lieutenant H. H. Hutton, Company K, and the following non-commissioned officers: Sergt. Major L. B. Green; Sergt. J. A. Tompkins, commanding Company F; Sergt. Michael J. Hawley, commanding Company C; Sergt. William C. Beck, commanding Company H; Sergt. George Smith, commanding Company B; Sergt. William Hoover, commanding Company D; Sergt. Isaac S. Dissinger, commanding Company I until wounded April [March] 31, when Sergt. John Delany succeeded to the command, in which he did himself great credit; Sergt. Joseph Fitzpatrick and Sergt. A. Kinney Buoy, Company F; Sergt. G. C. Worley, Company I; Sergt. J. R. Michaels, Company K, Sergts. William Commers and D. Noel, Company B; Corpl. John L. Willey, commanding Company A; Corpl. William Sterner, commanding Company G; Corporals Whalk, Company A, Borry, Company I, S. P. Obourn, J. Bullman, J. Westlake, and John M. Hileman (color-bearer) of Company C; Corporals Harrop and Montgomery, Company H; Corpl. Philip B. Roath, Company E; Corporals Hinkleman and Lehr, Company G.
I would also mention for their faithfulness and good conduct Asst. Surg. R. S. Dana and Hospital Steward James A. Watson; and Commissary Sergt. William Ackermann, the regimental quartermaster, John M. Montgomery, and Chaplain W. T. Campbell, who was with the division field hospital, and rejoined the regiment April 6.
A list of the casualties is appended.*
In closing this, which will doubtless be the last and final report of battles for this regiment, I would express my gratitude to a kind and ever merciful Providence that He has permitted us to pass through the many exposures, hardships, and great perils of this last great and closing campaign of an unprecedented was with comparatively so little sacrifice of life and blood, and that the lives and the health of so many brave officers and men of the regiment have been preserved, under the shield of His almighty power during the past three eventful years, to return to their homes to dwell in peace and rejoice over violated laws vindicated, a righteous Government preserved, the Union restored, and the old flag re-established with more than its original power, beauty, and significance, in some honorable degree through their instrumentality.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. F. MCCOY,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Captain W. G. SHEEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
* Embodied in table, p. 586.
- 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. 891-895 ↩