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OR XLVI P1 #173: Report of Colonel Joseph A. Mathews, 205th PA, commanding 2/3/IX/AotP, April 1-2, 1865

No. 173. Report of Colonel Joseph A. Mathews, Two hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.1

April 12, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the to submit the following of the action of my (Second) brigade during the assault on the enemy’s works on the 2nd instant. My report will only embrace the action of the brigade up to 10 a. m. of the 2nd, at which time I left the field by order of General Hartranft, on account, of sickness, turning over the command of the brigade to Colonel R. C. Cox, Two hundred and seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers:

At 10.30 p. m. 1st instant I received orders to mass my brigade at the camp of Two hundred and fifth and Two hundred and seventh Regiments Pennsylvania Volunteers. At 3.30 a. m. 2nd instant, in compliance with orders, I moved my brigade along the Jerusalem plank road around the right of Fort Sedgwick and massed it in column of regiments directly in rear of our picket line and in front of the fort, with the Two hundred and seventh in front, the Two hundred and fifth in its rear, and the Two hundred and fifth. My left rested on the plank road. My brigade pioneer corps, under charge of Lieutenant A. Alexander (pioneer officer), was distributed along the front of the leading (Colonel Cox, Two hundred and seventh) regiment. Just before daylight the order to charge was given, and my men moved hastily forward, crossed the enemy’s picket-line, and advanced to the double line of chevaux-de-frise in front of the enemy’s works. A murderous fire of grape, canister, and shell from the enemy had thus far met us at every step, but my pioneer corps, aided by the first regiment, cut away the obstructions, and the regimental colors were planted on the redoubt which is town up on the plank road. The guns in the redoubt were at once seized, and my brigade, turning to the left, captured Fort Mahone, with its guns, and a number of prisoners, and also one other fort(name not known) with a like result. Artillery men from the rear were at once brought up to work the captured guns, and they were turned upon the enemy with good effect. My men carried ammunition for these guns from Fort Sedgwick and as the enemy had range of the plain between the two lines many men were killed and wounded while thus engaged. The enemy made repeated efforts during the forenoon to recapture their lines, but each time they were repulsed with heavy loss. It is impossible for me to mention my losses up to that time.

To Lieutenant Albert Alexander (pioneer officer) to whom was intrusted the stern duty of cutting the line of the enemy’s chevaux-de-frise, belongs more credit than I can here ascribe him. He was severely wounded and died after being taken to the rear.

Major B. M. Morrow, commanding Two hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who was severely wounded, discharged his whole duty up to the hour of his fall. I commended him to the favorable consideration of the commanding general. I much regret his loss.

To Colonel R. C. Cox, who commanded the leading regiment, I owe the entire good success that attended the charge; foremost among those who scaled the enemy’s works, cheering his men by his courage, preparing them to meet the many charges of the enemy to retake their and wounded. He is deserving of the highest praise.

For the action of the brigade from 10 o’clock on 2nd, the full report of casualties, and the number of guns and prisoners captured, I would respectfully refer you to Colonel Cox’s report.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade.

Assistant Adjutant-General.


  1. 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. 1068-1069
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