No. 103. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Richard Coulter, Eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., THIRD DIV., FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
Millsville Station, Va., April 26, 1865.
SIR: I report the following part taken by brigade in movements from March 29 to April 9, both dates inclusive:
Pursuant to previous orders, March 29, broke camp on Halifax road, reaching point near Boydton plank road about 10 a. m., where General Griffin had already engaged the enemy. Went into line on General Ayres’ left. One hundred and forty-seventh New York (Brevet Colonel Dailey) and Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, consolidated (Major Laycock), having entered the line, immediately advanced, engaging enemy’s skirmishers, driving them across the plank road, which road was then permanently held at this point by brigade; and, further, being first occupation of that road. After several changes of position division massed for night when plank road was struck, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Dailey, One hundred and forty-seventh New York, picketing front. Butler house, front of picket-line, was burned to prevent enemy from making lodgment there. Rained heavily during evening and night. Loss in brigade slight. Bvt. Captain Lemuel Shaw, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, very severely wounded.
March 30, remained, without important change, in same position, making several lines of works, finally adopting and erecting works on line of plank road. In morning Colonel Dailey’s pickets were advanced, left resting at Gravelly Run bridge, on plank road, and right connecting with General Griffin, with reserve at Butler and Burnett houses, and for this purpose Ninety-fifth New York was added to his command. Slight skirmishing on right of picket-line, but no casualties. Rained during entire day.
March 31, marched to Dabney’s house, on Gravelly Run, and near White Oak road. General Ayres’ division (one brigade) went into line about three-quarters of a mile from White Oak road. By orders from division headquarters reported to General Ayres, and was shown position to be occupied by brigade, short distance in rear of Second Division lines. While going into position right by file preceding line had advanced and engaged enemy, and before this brigade was, or could be, properly in position first line was retiring. Pressed by the enemy about same time, of four battalions in position, three of the commanders – Lieutenant-Colonel Dailey, One hundred and forty-seventh New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Major Fish, Ninety-fourth New York – had been wounded. The enemy had also concentrated a fire on left flank. These causes, with the retiring of Second Division, compelled the falling back of this brigade. After several temporary intermediate formations of line, secured position on ridge occupied by First Division (General Griffin). The enemy being now checked, was again advanced, this brigade recrossing Gravelly Run and forming in two lines on left of General Ayres. White Oak road was regained without much loss to advance line (General Griffin) and without any further loss in brigade. Here bivouacked for night.
April 1, marched from above point, being near junction White Oak road and Dinwiddie Court-House, reaching Gravelly Run Church 3 p. m., where line was formed – division in center, brigade in two
lines, in rear and center of First and Second Brigades, order commencing on right: First line – Fifty-sixth and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania (consolidated), Major Laycock; strength, 14 officers and 309 men; Ninety-fourth New York, Major Fish; strength, 9 officers and 214 men. Second line – One hundred and forty-seventh New York, Captain McKinley; strength, 12 officers and 315 men; Ninety-fifth New York, Captain Knight; strength, 6 officers and 88 men; One hundred and twenty-first and One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania (consolidated), Major Funk; strength, 15 officers and 195 men. Total, 56 officers and 1,011 men. At 3.30 p. m. advanced, crossing White Oak road, when direction was changed to left and parallel to road, left of division resting on road, Second Division being on left and south of road; soon after enemy was engaged. After half-mile advance formed brigade in front and directly engaged with enemy, part of first line having been passed, and others perhaps not maintaining proper directions, having closed distances, to right and left. Fire became severe; force which had engaged First Brigade now turning their attention to our left flank. Left was maintained on White Oak road until reaching woods fronting enemy’s works. Here found no connection on left, and no troops whatever in that direction. Also, enemy had battery in position about 400 yards to front, on road. By direction of General Crawford, moved two regiments – One hundred and twenty-first and One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania, under Major Funk – to left of road, and again advanced. Battery was captured, consisting of four guns; also, number of ambulances; commanding officer being killed by one of Major Funk’s skirmishers. Continued advance without halting, enemy retreating; their fire had almost ceased. Changed direction somewhat to right of road, and after passing some distance beyond captured guns, connected with portion of First and Second Divisions, who were also advancing on left of division; farther on connected on right with Eleventh Pennsylvania, left of General Baxter’s brigade. Enemy’s works were soon crossed, and continued to advance with residue of corps and cavalry to point where line halted, all resistance having ceased. Division then retired to near Gravelly Run Church, on White Oak road, and bivouacked for the night. Entire advance covered distance about one mile and a half, much of which was over very broken ground. Fire was very severe at two points when directed on our left flank, and also upon approaching enemy’s battery. My own horse being wounded during action, was dismounted for a period until loss could be supplied.
April 2, crossed Hatcher’s Run, following Church road to South Side Railroad, followed railroad to crossing of Cox’s road, and from that point marched to forks of Namozine and River roads. Division was about to go into camp when it was again moved along Namozine road, crossing Candle’s Run, to junction of Church or Ford’s and Namozine roads. Here found enemy (said to be under General Fitzhugh Lee) encamped, with works along Namozine road, having checked our cavalry at this point. Slight skirmishing between advance and pickets. Very few casualties. Very late bivouacked for the night.
April 3, during night enemy made good his retreat; marched, rejoining residue of corps in afternoon. From this date to April 9 brigade was not again actively engaged, duties being confined to a series of long and tedious marches, over miserable roads, along which were found abundant evidences of rapid and fatiguing retreat by enemy.
April 9, reached Appomattox Court-House 8.30 a. m., going into position with residue of corps, part of First Division having been
slightly engaged with enemy, who had again been brought to stand at this point. Further movements were now arrested by reception of flag of truce, which eventuated in the capitulation same day of Army of Northern Virginia (rebel), General Lee to Lieutenant-General Grant.
The conduct of officers and men was creditable, and to their alacrity in advancing on April 1, especially, I attribute the small list of casualties – small when compared to other fields on which these troops have been engaged.
Major H. H. Fish, Ninety-fourth New York, was severely wounded March 31, but his sense of duty and regimental pride impelled him to resume command of his regiment, and he fell while gallantly leading it in action of April 1, as also Captain George French, of same regiment, another gallant and deserving officer.
Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel D. B. Dailey, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, commanding One hundred and forty-seventh New York, Major Laycock, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, and Major Funk, One hundred and twenty-first Pennsylvania, all deserve honorable mention. Lieutenant-Colonel Dailey, for promptness and gallantry on March 29 and 31; on 31st he was severely wounded. Major Laycock, for his gallantry on all the dates when brigade was engaged, but particularly for the manner of conducting and maintaining his large and recently consolidated command on March 31 and April 1. Major Funk, for his conduct in capture of enemy’s guns on April 1.
Bvt. Major H. G. Elder, One hundred and forty-second Pennsylvania, inspector of brigade, and Lieutenant R. Esmond, One hundred and forty-seventh New York, acting assistant adjutant-general, are mentioned for gallantry; the former had two horses shot under him, one on March 31 and other April 1, and although painfully wounded on April 1, remained on field rendering good service. Lieutenant Esmond had his horse shot under him on March 31; he has been heretofore recommended for brevet promotion bestowed on meritorious officers.
Lieutenant Joel A. Baker, One hundred and forty-seventh New York Volunteers, aide-de-camp, proved himself a valuable officer, and I desire to acknowledge his services and assistance.
A nominal list of casualties has been heretofore forwarded; a tabular statement is annexed.
Captain J. H. LAMBDIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division, Fifth 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. 896-898 ↩