No. 128. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Ronald A. Kennedy, Fifth Vermont Infantry.1
HDQRS. FIFTH Regiment VERMONT VETERAN VOLUNTEERS,
Camp in the Field, Va., April 4, 1865.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fifth Regiment Vermont Veteran Volunteers during the engagements of Sunday, the 2nd instant:
Our position at the commencement of the charge was in the front line of the brigade, it being formed in close column by regiments. About 5 a.m., at the signal from Fort Fisher, we commenced the charge; passing through the enemy’s pickets, and, taking most of them prisoners, we pushed on to the main works, through two lines of abatis, and soon after took the work in our front, almost directly west of Fort Welch, with four pieces of artillery. We then turned to our left and pushed through the ravine to a small work containing two guns, Color-Bearer Jackson Sargent being the first to scale the works and plant the State colors of Vermont upon the parapet, immediately followed by Corpl. Nelson E. Carle with the national colors. The Third Division coming up, we bore toward the right, joining the rest of the brigade and passing on the left of the white house to the edge of the woods in front, where we halted to allow the regiment to assemble on the colors. The division here being formed, and moving by the flank some distance to the left, we again came to a front and charged through the woods in southwesterly direction, skirmishing and driving the enemy before us about one mile and a half, when we halted, the brigade being still formed “close column by regiments,” the Fifth retaining its original position, and were allowed to rest.
About 8 a.m., passing on to the right we again formed our lines, facing toward Petersburg, and advanced up to the crest in view of the city; from here we made a half left-wheel, charging across the ravine and on to Michael’s house. Halting a moment for our lines to reform we charged again across the main road, following to the left, and in the direction of the road to near the Turnbull house, formerly occupied as Lee’s headquarters. Here we were checked for a short time by a rebel battery, our men making one unsuccessful attempt to take it, after which, by the assistance of the advancing line on the right, we succeeded in quieting the battery, and, charging without firing, captured the offensive guns. We next crossed the road leading to the river and halted in the ravine beyond, and here rested until ordered to rejoin the corps on the right of the main road. We remained in this position until about 4 p.m., when moving by the left flank we returned to the east of the main road and by the side of the road leading to the river, about one mile and a half from Petersburg southwesterly, where we entrenched and remained for the night.
Our casualties, considering the formidable nature of the enemy’s position, were comparatively few. On the evening of the 2nd the loss was as follows: Killed, 6; wounded, 34; missing, 18. Of the missing sixteen have rejoined the regiment; the others are supposed to have been killed.
I append herewith a list of the casualties in the regiment.*
The conduct of both officers and men was exemplary in the extreme from first to last. Individual cases of daring and bravery were numer-
*Nominal list omitted.
ous, but of the most meritorious it gives me pleasure in mentioning a few: Captain C. G. Gould, Company H, when the line advanced on the first fort of the enemy, scaled the works and entered considerably in advance of any of the rest of the command and commenced a hand to hand encounter, which came near costing him his life, receiving a bayonet wound in the face and bruises from clubbed muskets until released from his dangerous position by a few men of his company and Corporal Recor,of Company A. First Lieutenant Robert Pratt, of Company H, also added materially to his reputation of being a soldier in every sense of the word, as well as one of the most unequaled daring. Among the enlisted men none could have done better than the bearers of the national and State standards-Jackson Sargent, sergeant of Company D, and Corpl. Nelson E. Carle, of Company A. Wherever opportunity offered, or possibility allowed, the colors of the Fifth were the first to elicit the cheers of the advancing columns as they appeared planted defiantly upon the enemy’s works.
Sergt. Lester G. Hack, Company F, also deserves special mention for the daring he exhibited in capturing the battle-flag of the Twenty-third (rebel) Tennessee Infantry, when surrounded by a score of the foe, who were undecided as to the propriety of surrendering.
Among the killed during this day’s sanguinary engagement we have to mourn the loss of First Sergts. Edward Brownlee, Company H, and John Smith, of Company K. They both fell in the thickest of the strife while cheering on the men of their respective companies.
In the above I have given as correctly as circumstances will allow a true statement of the part taken by the Fifth Regiment Vermont Volunteers, in the engagement of Sunday, the 2nd instant, which his respectfully submitted.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. A. KENNEDY,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding the Regiment.
Captain M. BARBER,
- 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. 974-975 ↩