No. 192. Report of Lieutenant Valentine H. Stone, Batteries C and I, Fifth U. S. Artillery.1
CAMP OF BATTERIES C AND I, FIFTH U. S. ARTILLERY,
Near Petersburg, Va., April 4, 1865.
SIR: In compliance with circular received Thursday from headquarters Artillery Brigade, Ninth Corps, I have the honor to report that on the 1st instant my battery was stationed, one section in Fort McGilvery and one in Battery No. 9. At 10.30 p. m. I received a circular requiring the battery commanders in the brigade to report at once in person to the chief of artillery, Ninth Corps. Upon dong so I was advised by the general commanding the brigade to go to my battery and open fire upon the enemy’s line. I did so, commencing to fire at 11 p. m. I continued firing until 2 a. m. on the 2nd instant; the enemy’s fire moderately heavy, but showing evidently that they did not have the same amount of artillery in my front that they had on the 25th ultimo. At 3.15 a. m. the 2nd instant I received an order from chief of artillery Ninth Corps, to be in readiness to open fire at 4 a. m., to wait for the signal to be given by the firing from Fort Avery. Promptly at the time mentioned above the battery opened and fired until some time after daylight, the artillery fire from the enemy being much heavier thundering the night. During nearly the entire day the battery, in pursuance of orders, kept slowly and elaborately firing upon the enemy, firing about once in every fire minutes, but we were unable during the [day] to get any response whatever from the enemy, one or two shots from a mortar towards sundown being all the artillery fired, and a stray shot or two from the sharpshooters once in a great while being all the musketry return they would make.
At 3.30 a. m. on the 3rd instant I could see from Fort McGilvery (a bright fire being at that time burning in Petersburg) a body of men going over the breast works of a fort of the enemy’s in my front. Thinking it might be the enemy evacuating I opened on them with spherical case, but upon my firing one round they called back to us, “don’t fire!” don’t fire!” I at once concluded that it must be our picket line advancing. I requested permission of Brevet Colonel Ely, commanding the brigade of infantry occupying that portion of our line, if he advanced his brigade, to advance with one section of my battery at the same time. He granted my request. I immediately sent an orderly to my caisson camp to bring up the limbers of the guns. After a short time I dispatched another orderly. Becoming impatient at the delay I started for my camp, it being about one mile distant. Upon arriving there I found my limbers about ready to start; I brought them to the front at a gallop. Upon limbering up the section in Fort McGilvery (leaving the remaining section and the caissons in reserve in charge of Lieutenant Huysman) I proceeded up the road between Fort McGilvery and Battery 9, a small pioneer party cutting off a little of the top of the breastworks sufficient to enable me to get over. Under the circumstances I moved to the front in the direction of Petersburg in as rapid a manner as possible arriving inside of the city at 4.15 a. m. When I got to the center of the city I found a portion of Brevet Colonel Ely’s brigade awaiting me. Advancing a square farther I found a brigade of the Sixth Corps, commanded by Brevet Brigadier-General Hamblin, coming down the other end of the street. I galloped rapidly forward turning the corner of the street immediately in front of the brigade of the Sixth
Corps, thus bringing them in rear of the advance of the Ninth corps. I then posted my section and started forward with my orderly to see if I could cross the bridge over the Appomattox. When within a hundred yards of it I saw fire rebel infantry with muskets (a picket-guard that was too late to cross as the bridge was burning.) I charged upon them, calling on them to surrender; they did so,the five of them, laying down their muskets after a little hesitation, surrendered to myself and orderly our arms consisting of my saber. We found the bridge too far gone to save. I was fired upon some persons from a house close by. The horse of my orderly was shot.
I had not gone the length of a square before I picked up fourteen more prisoners, all of whom I turned over to an infantry officer who came up. I then will a small party of infantry charged upon the house from which the shots came, but I was unable to find the man who fired. I took possession of the house, which was a cotton factory containing some one hundred and forty bales of spun yarn and fifty bales of cotton. Placing a guard over the premises I then reported my section to General Willcox, commanding the artillery. He ordered me to bring up the whole of my battery, and baggage, and afterward to go into camp near Colonel Ely’s brigade on the cox road about one mile from Petersburg, where I remain at present. There was no other artillery except my battery in Petersburg before 10 a. m.
I would take this opportunity of mentioning Lieutenant C. C. MacConnell, Fifth U. S. Artillery. He was in charge of the section in Fort McGilvery. I was so short of horses in the battery that I could not at the time permit him one to ride. He double-quacked it on foot into the city. During the engagements of the past few days he has acted with great coolness, bravery, and gallantry, and I think that he has fairly earned a brevet for his conduct upon this occasion, to say nothing of his previous services.
Lieutenant Theo. Huysman, Fourth New York Artillery, temporarily attached to the battery, did excellent service.
Bugler Andrew R. Muller, Battery C, Fifth U. S. Artillery, deserves great credit for the extraordinary coolness and bravery shown by him while carrying orders for me, passing to and for from the front repeatedly under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry.
Sergeants Martin Malloy and Patrick Doherty, Battery I, Fifth U. S. Artillery, deserve credit for the skill with which they managed their guns and for the correctness of their firing.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
VAL. H. STONE,
First Lieutenant, Fifth U. S. Artillery, Commanding Battery C and I.
ACTG. ASST. GENERAL, ARTILLERY BRIGADE, NINTH 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. 1090-1091 ↩