No. 111. Report of Bvt. Colonel Egbert Olcott, One hundred and twenty-first New York Infantry.1
HEADQUARTERS 121ST NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS,
April 14, 1865.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward the report of the part taken by this regiment in the engagements of April 2 and 6.
I am, captain, very respectfully your obedient servant,
Brevet Colonel, Commanding.
Report of the part taken by the One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers in the engagement of April 2, 1865:
The brigade being in two lines, the One hundred and twenty-first New York formed the left of the second. When the order to advance was give the regiment moved rapidly forward, maintaining a good line until within about 200 yards of the enemy’s works, when the second line was moved a short distance by the left flank and then forward again. This, together with the darkeners and the character of the ground, divided the regiment somewhat, most of the men with the colors entering the works farther to the right then intended, capturing two guns; one of these was immediately turned upon the enemy, loaded, and fired by Sergt. Redford Dustin, Company F. Sergeant Dustin served for nearly two years in the First Massachusetts Battery, and is a skillful artillerist. These guns were carried off, and receipt obtained for them. The option of the regiment engaged in taking the guns mentioned, with a part of the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, Second Connecticut, and Sixty-fifth New York, advanced along the enemy’s works to the right for nearly a mile, capturing all the artillery in them and holding the works until ordered to join that part of the brigade to the left. The regiment in this charge captured about 200 prisoners. The regiment afterward was, with the brigade, sent to the support of the Ninth Corps, and occupied the first line of works taken from the enemy in front of Fort Sedgwick.
On the morning of the 3rd the regiment formed part of the skirmish line that advanced on Petersburg, entering that city about 4.30 o’clock.
Report of the part taken by the One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers in the battle of Sailor’s Creek, April 6, 1865:
The brigade being in two lines, the One hundred and twenty-first New York formed the right of the first, the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania being on the left. About 4 p. m. advanced across Sailor’s Creek. Remained a short time under the crest of the hill to reform, the creek being quite deep and the crossing difficult. Charged with the rest of the line, drove the enemy, capturing a large number of prisoners. Pressing forward, the enemy were found to be on the right flank of the brigade, the troops on the immediate right having been repulsed. The regiment, by order of Colonel Olcott, rapidly changed front, forming on the road that, crossing the creek, runs nearly perpendicular to the original line of battle. Farther down the road, near the creek, a portion of the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts were striving to hold their ground.
The One hundred and twenty-first New York having checked the enemy, who were endeavoring to get into the rear of the brigade, was ordered to charge, which it did, driving the enemy in confusion, capturing General Custis Lee and several other officers of high rank, together with two stand of colors. General Lee was captured by Private Harris S. Hawthorn, Company F, the proofs of which, there having been some controversy about the matter, accompany this report, marked A. It was near the road mentioned that Captain Howland was killed; no braver or more gallant officers ever carried sword. First Lieutenant Morton was also killed.
The casualties in the engagement were, 2 officers and 7 enlisted men killed, and 1 officers and 12 enlisted men wounded; aggregate, killed and wounded, 22.
The officers of the command displayed, without exception, great gallantry, particularly Captain Kidder, Captain Johnson, Captain Jackson, Captain Van Scoy, First Lieutenant Hassett, and Adjutant Lowe. The names of the men who captured the colors are Warren C. Dockun, and Benjamin Gifford, Company H.
The regiment took at least 500 prisoners.
CAMP IN THE FIELD, VA.,
April 14, 1865.
Private Harris, S. Hawthorn, Company F, One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers, being duly sworn, says, that the knows of his own knowledge that he is the first person (officer or enlisted man) who seized or captured General Custis Lee, of the Confederate Army, in the engagement of the 6th of April; and that he never lost sight or control of said General Custis Lee until he delivered him up to Colonel Olcott, commanding One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers; and that he, Hawthorn, was one of the men detailed by Colonel Olcott, on account of such capture, to conduct General Custis Lee to the headquarters of General Wheaton, commanding First Division, Sixth Army Corps.
H. S. HAWTHORN.
Subscribed and sworn to, at Malvern, near Burkeville, Va., this 14th day of April, 1865, before me.
H. E. HINDMARSH,
Lieutenant, Judge-Advocate, First Division, Sixth Army Corps.
I hereby certify that for more than two years I have well known Harris S. Hawthorn, Company F, One hundred and twenty-first New York Regiment, as a professed Christian, and have always regarded him worthy of confidence, by the uniform consistency of his religious life. I regard his testimony on any subject as unimpeachable, and that no assurance can be stronger than his affirmation under the sanctity of an oath.
JOHN R. ADAMS,
Chaplain of 121st New York Regiment.
HDQRS. 121ST Regiment NEW YORK STATE VOLUNTEERS,
April 4, 1865.
Captain CHARLES H. WOODMAN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to forward a list of prisoners captured by this command in the late engagement:
Company A……………. 11
Company B……………. 18
Company C……………. 29
Company D……………. 14
Company E……………. 13
Company F……………. 13
Company G……………. 31
Company H……………. 22
Company I……………. 30
Company K……………. 21
Number of enlisted men of this command that entered the fort, capturing 3 guns, in front of our brigade lines, 175; number that advanced still farther to the right and captured 3 guns, 67 men. This command captured 1 gun in front of Ninth Corps on the 2nd instant. I have receipts for 2 guns, 1 caisson and carriage, and about 140 prisoners.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Colonel, Commanding.
- 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. 936-938 ↩