No. 175. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General John C. Tidball, Fourth New York Heavy Artillery, Commanding Artillery Brigade.1
HDQRS. ARTILLERY BRIGADE, NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Alexandria, Va., May 28, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor of making the following report of the operations of the artillery under my directions from the 30th of March to the 3rd of April, the date of the evacuation of Petersburg by the enemy:
The artillery was stationed on that part of the line occupied by the Ninth Corps, and extended from Battery No. 5 on the Appomattox River to Fort Howard, a distance of about five miles.
The accompanying maps* show the position of the respective batteries and forts, and the following list gives their armament:
*See Plate CXVIII, Map 3 of the Atlas.
Opposite to these positions the enemy had in position 91 guns of various calibers, from 6 pounders to 8-inch columbiads, and 35 mortars also of various calibers, from 12-pounder Coehorns to 10-inch. Total guns and mortars, 126.
Early on the morning of March 30 the artillery upon the whole line were engaged in a furious cannonade, which had been commenced at 10 p. m. of the day previous. At this hour the enemy threw up several rockets, at which signal his artillery with musketry in addition opened and was replied to. The firing ceased about 1 a. m. of the 30 th.
From this time until 10 o’clock of the 1st of April all was quiet, when, in obedience to orders from the headquarters Army of the Potomac, fire was opened by all the batteries upon our line and continued until about 1 a. m. of the 2nd. This fire was replied to most vigorously by the whole of the enemy’s artillery.
At 4 a. m., the hour appointed for the assault upon the enemy’s works in front of Fort Sedgwick, the artillery upon the whole line promptly opened and was immediately replied to in the most vigorous manner by the enemy, and it is probable that never since the invention of gunpowder has such a cannonade taken place.
Captain Twitchell, in command of the guns in Fort Sedgwick and Battery No. 21, carried out the instructions he had received with the utmost exactitude. Firing rapidly with all his guns for an hour, at 10 o’clock on the 1st, and though at this time the enemy appeared (to some extent) to concentrate his fire but one gun in five minutes between 11 and 12 o’clock was not exceeded.
At 4 a. m. on the 2nd all the guns in these forts opened rapidly for fifteen minutes with evident effect, ceasing in the exact time for the infantry to make the charge that carried the enemy’s lines.
The enemy’s front line being in our possession the guns were trained and opened on the line and redoubts in rear and a slow fire kept up during the day, except when the three charges made by the enemy on the captured works were made. Captain Twitchell then used his guns with great judgment and promptness, firing shell and case shot with the best effect. In addition to his other duties Captain Twitchell was enabled to keep the captured guns in his front constantly supplied with ammunition.
A detachment of 100 men from the First Connecticut Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant William H. Rogers accompanied the column of attack upon the enemy’s works in front of Fort Sedgwick and served the captured guns throughout the day. These men were fully equipped with everything necessary to serve such artillery as would be captured. They at once seized the enemy’s guns and opened fire upon him as he fell back to his second line.
During the entire day Lieutenant Rogers and his party, while exposed to all the attacks of the enemy, retained possession of the captured guns, and from position entirely uncovered from the close fire of the enemy kept up a constant fire which besides doing great injury to the enemy inspired our own troops to hold that they had gained. These men were ably seconded by Captain David F. Ritchie, Battery, C, First New York Artillery, who early in the day occupied a small work in rear of Fort Sedgwick, but after the enemy’s lines were carried it was deemed advisable to send him with his cannoneers into the captured battery (No. 27), inch which were three iron and two brass 12-pounder guns. Captain Ritchie led his men in a most gallant manner through the embrasures of Fort Sedgwick and across the open ground to Battery No. 27, and immediately turned with excellent judgment and effect
the guns he found on the enemy. Through the whole day, notwithstanding the repeated attempts made by the enemy to retake the works, Captain Ritchie held his own, though at times avoidably short of ammunition he encouraged his support be cheering representations and personal exposure.
A working party of sixty men detailed from field batteries and provided with the necessary tools was organized under Captain Eaton, Twenty-seventh New York Battery, to open a way through the breastworks so that artillery could pass through and follow up the success of the assaulting column. Captain Eaton executed this work admirably and advanced two of his own pieces to the open ground in front of our works, where, notwithstanding the great exposure to the fire of the enemy, they were worked thought the entire day.
The enemy still holding rear lines of their works in close proximity it was not advisable or necessary to advance other pieces.
During the night of April 2 a constant fire was kept up from Battery No. 5 and Fort McGilvery on the bridge across the Appomattox River, over which it was supposed the enemy might be retreating. It is fair to presume that this fire was of considerable annoyance to the enemy.
Early in the morning of the 3rd it was discovered that the enemy had withdrawn from their lines and were in rapid retreat. Brevet Captain Stone, Fifth U. S. Artillery, immediately followed with his battery over the skirmish line and entered Petersburg simultaneously with the infantry.
Fourteen thousand two hundred and fifty-one rounds is the amount of artillery ammunition expended during the engagement.
The operations herein detailed differ but little from the occurrences which almost daily transpired from the 17th of June, when the line of Petersburg was first taken, up to the 3rd of April. During this entire time the artillery was kept constantly on the alert. Every movement of the enemy was observed, and all working parties strengthening or extending their works were at once driven under over by the admirable practice of our artillerists. The same vigilance and practice being observed by the enemy, the result was an almost daily or nightly cannonading.
Too much praise cannot be awarded to the officers and men of the artillery for the cheerful, patient, and hopeful manner in which, under the most trying circumstances, they performed their duties.
On the 3rd, Major Miller, inspector of artillery, set about collecting the field pieces and ammunition abandoned by the enemy. The following is a description of the twenty guns captured in front of the lines occupied by the corps.
No. 1.-A Parrott gun, 3-inch, manufactured by J. R. A. & Co. No. 2180. Carriage made at Washington Arsenal.
No. 2.-A Parrott gun, 3-inch, manufactured by J. R. A. & Co. No. 2170. Carriage made by Wood & Bross. New York. 1844.
No. 3.-A. U. S. Parrott, 3-inch. No. 95. 1861. R. P. P. W. P. F. maker.
No. 4.-A U. S. Parrott, 3-inch. No mark.
No. 5.-A howitzer, iron, 4 1/2-inch, manufactured J. R. A. & Co.
No. 6.-A boat howitzer, 24-pounder, manufactured by the Ames Manufacturing Company. No. 111. 1297-98.
No. 7.-A U. S. light 12-pounder brass gun. No. 33 1862. Manufactured by the Ames Manufacturing Company.
No. 8.-A Dahlgren 12-pounder gun. No. 1817. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.; 1,220 pounds weight.
No. 9.- A Dahlgren 12-pounder gun. No. 1818. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.; 1,260 pounds weight.
No. 10.-A Dalhgren 12-pounder gun. No. 1802. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.; 1,250 pounds weight.
No. 11.-A Dahlgren 12-pounder gun. No. 1797. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.; 1,245 pounds weight.
No. 12.-A Dalhgren 12-pounder gun. No. 1814. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.; 1,255 pounds weight.
No. 13.- A Dalhgren, howitzer, 12 pounder. No. 1828. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co., 1863; 1,245 pounds weight.
No. 14.-A Dahlgren howitzer. No. 1858. Manufactured by J. R. A. 7 Co., 1863; 1,225 pounds weight.
No. 15.-A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No. 2058. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.
No. 16.-A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No. 2118. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.
No. 17.-A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No number. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.
No. 18.- A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No. 2126. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.
No. 19.-A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No. 2126. Manufactured by J. R. a. & Co.
No. 20.-A 12-pounder smooth-bore gun. No. 2054. Manufactured by J. R. A. & Co.
A large amount of ammunition was obtained. Brevet Brigadier-General Abbot collected the heavy ordnance and ammunition, and has, it is is presumed, made a report of the amount to the chief of artillery, Army of the Potomac.
It was with much pleasure that, in compliance with an invitation from the major-general commanding the corps. I was enabled to recommend the under-mentioned officers for promotion by brevet: Captain Ed. J. Jones, Eleventh Massachusetts Battery; Capt A. B. Twitchell, Seventh Maine Battery; Captain Theo, Miller, Fourth New York Artillery, Captain David F. Ritchie, C, First New York Artillery; First New York Artillery; First Lieutenant William H. Rogers, First Lieutenant George E. Ketchum and Second Lieutenant David B. Cooper C, First New York Artillery; and also to make honorable mention of Bvt. Major Christian Woerner, Third New Jersey Battery; Captain John B. Eaton, Twenty-seventh New York Battery; Captain William McClelland, Battery B, First Pennsylvania Artillery; Bvt. Captain Val. H. Stone, C and I, Fifth U. S. Artillery; First Lieutenant John J. Teller, Twenty-seventh New York Battery; Second Lieutenant Mason W. Page, fifth Massachusetts Battery, Second Lieutenant Theo. Huysman, fourth New York Artillery, all of whom did excellent service with their commands in repulsing the assault on Fort Stedman and in the assault on Petersburg on the 2 day of April, 1865.
The following-named men, who pre-eminently distinguished themselves in working the guns captured from the enemy, have also been recommended as deserving the medal of honor: Sergt. David Cole, Sergt. Gustavus A. Rice, Corpl. Samuel T. Mallet, and Private Hiram Webster, Battery C, First New York Artillery.
Among all who behaved admirably on this duty these men are mentioned by their commanding officers as having behaved with distinguished bravery and coolness; their guns were only partially covered, consequently were much exposed to the enemy’s fire. Sergeant Cole distinguished himself by attending to the supply of ammunition, cross
Considering the very important results obtained and the stubborn resistance of the enemy, the casualties in this command were very slight, the total number being 6 men killed and 1 commissioned officer and 20 men wounded. The slight loss under so heavy a fire may be accounted for from the fact that from long experience in the position occupied the majority of the pieces were enabled to be kept under cover.
April 3, Petersburg being in our possession, preparations were immediately made to follow the retreating enemy, and the following batteries were selected to accompany this corps: Seventh Maine, Eleventh Massachusetts, D, Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery, Ninth Massachusetts, and Third New Jersey Batteries. It not being considered that the other batteries would be required, they were sent with the Reserve Artillery of the army to City Point, Major Theo. Miller being placed temporarily in command of the whole. The Second Division being the leading division of the corps, two batteries, the Seventh Maine and Eleventh Massachusetts, were attached to it and accompanied it during the march, ready for any service that might be required. Though none of the batteries were called into action after the captured of Petersburg good use was made of the horses and men of the two batteries of the division in collecting the abandoned and captured enemy’s guns.
It having been reported by Captain Twitchell, Seventh Maine Battery who had arrived with his command at Farmville, that a number of abandoned guns were in that vicinity, Major R. B. Ricketts was sent to find and collect them. The total number collected and placed near the railway at Burkeville was 110.
This corps being extended along the whole of the line of railway between Petersburg and Farmville, a distance of sixty-nine miles, the batteries were necessarily a long distance apart; while the Seventh Maine Battery was at Farmville, the Eleventh Massachusetts was at Burkeville, the Ninth Massachusetts at Nottoway Court-House, Battery D, Pennsylvania Artillery, at Beasley’s house, and the Third New Jersey some miles nearer to Petersburg.
Orders to that effect having been received the batteries (on the morning of April 20) commenced to march back to City Point, where they arrived in good order on the 23rd. The commanding officer of the Ninth Massachusetts and Third New Jersey Batteries were then ordered to report to Brigadier-General Hays, who had relieved Major Miller in command of the Artillery Reserve, and the Nineteenth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-fourth New York Batteries were ordered to rejoin this corps to which they originally belonged.
Transports having been provided the six batteries were embarked at City Point for Alexandria, where they arrived on they arrived on the 28th of April’ and near to which city they are now in park.
In closing this report of the important part taken by the artillery under my charge in the memorable siege of Petersburg, if affords me pleasure to mention the efficient, cheerful, and harmonious manner in which the members of my staff performed their respective duties. The following officers composed it: Major R. b. Ricketts, First Pennsylvania Artillery, assistant to chief of artillery; Captain Theodore Miller, Fourth New York Artillery, inspector of artillery; First Lieutenant Thomas.
Heasley, Thirty-forth New York Battery, acting assistant adjutant general; First Lieutenant George W. Booth, Eleventh Massachusetts Battery, acting ordnance officer; Captain Harry Brownson, assistant quartermaster; Captain Daniel S. Tompkins, Twenty-seventh Michigan Volunteers, acting commissary of subsistence; First Lieutenant Seth N. Hedges, Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, acting ordnance officer, in charge of ammunition train; Surg. William Ingalls, Fifty-ninth Massachusetts Veteran Volunteers, surgeon-in-chief.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. C. TIDBALL,
Brevet Brigadier-General, Commanding.
Lieutenant Colonel J. D. BERTOLETTE,
Assistant Adjutant-General Ninth Army Corps.
(Same to Bvt. Major General Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac.)
- 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. 1070-1076 ↩