No. 220. Report of Lieutenant Frederick J. Amsden, Signal Corps, U. S. Army.1
HEADQUARTERS SIGNAL DETACHMENT, 24TH ARMY CORPS,
Richmond, Va., May 1, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report for the month of April, 1865:
The headquarters signal detachment, consisting of myself and three enlisted men, increased on the 10th to five, had been with the headquarters Twenty-fourth Army Corps in all its movements during the month . If I had been allowed to take more of my detachment when the campaign opened it could have been used very efficiently.
On the 1st I was placed in charge of the signal station near the ruins of the Armstrong, house, headquarters First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, where we remained until the next morning, when, our troops having broken the enemy’s line in front, I moved the station with headquarters Twenty-fourth Army Corps. Our forces pressed on toward Petersburg, and the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, by a desperate assault, captured Forts Gregg and Baldwin, in the enemy’s interior line of works. Headquarters were established at a house near by on the Boydton plank road, where I established a signal station, connecting with the Army of the Potomac signal tower, on the old front of the Sixth Army Corps. The next morning (3rd) the enemy evacuated Petersburg, and the Twenty-fourth Army Corps immediately moved on the Cox road, down the South Side Railroad, toward Burkeville Junction, passed through Sutherland’s Station, and bivouacked for the night about three miles beyond. Here I discovered a train of cars farther down the railroad. Upon reporting it to Major-General Gibbon, commanding corps, he ordered some of his staff to take the headquarters escort, the orderlies, &c., and ascertain what it consisted of, &c. Upon reaching the train we found an engine and three box-cars, containing ten or twelve wounded rebels. The locomotive was disabled, but the cars were good. We moved on the next day (4th), passing through Ford’s Station, Wilson’s Station, and reached Nottoway Court-House at 2
p.m. on the 5th. Here I established a station of observation upon one of the churches. We reached Burkeville Junction at 10 p.m. same day; moved on to Rice’s Station the next day, where we met the enemy, and quite an engagement ensued. I established a station of observation in a tree near our line of battle, which commanded a very good view of the enemy’s, hastily constructed line of breast-works. The detachment rendered very good service at this place by reporting to the general commanding the number of guns in position, the movements of troops, &c. Reached Farmville the next day (7th), and remained over night. Here another station of observation was established. Moved on the next day (8th), passed through Prospect Station, and arrived near Appomattox Court-House about 8 a.m. on the 9th. Here we found the enemy driving the cavalry and making a desperate effort to escape by the road leading from the Court-House to Lynchburg. The First and Second Divisions, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, were immediately brought forward at a double-quick and formed across this road. They moved forward then and pressed the enemy back until about 10.30 a.m., when notice was received of a cessation of hostilities.
Information was received that a portion of the enemy, in anticipation of a surrender, were leaving, and I was ordered to establish a station of observation in a high tree near by; not being able to get onto the tree I established the station on a Mr. Tibbs’ house, from which a very good view of the enemy’s camp was had. I could ascertain nothing in regard to the reported movement. The station was abandoned about 3 p.m., official news of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia having been received. We remained in camp at Appomattox Court-House (Major-General Gibbon commanding Twenty-fourth Army Corps, having been assigned to the duty of settling everything consequent to the surrender) until the morning of the 17th, when we started for Burkeville Junction, passing through Evergreen Station, Pamplin’s Station, Prospect Station, Farmville, and arriving at Burkeville Junction about 8.30 a.m. on the 19th. Remained at Burkeville Junction until the morning of the 22nd, when we received orders to report at Richmond, Va. We started at 5 a.m. on the 22nd; passed through Jennings Ordinary Station, Jetersville, Five Forks, Amelia Court-House; crossed the Appomattox River at Goode’s Bridge, Swift Creek; passed through Gregory’s, Manchester, and arrived in Richmond, Va., about 2.30 p.m. on the 23rd. Twenty-fourth Army Corps headquarters were established on the 25th on Ford’s place, Richmond, where the detachment has been ever since.
Frequently on the route Major-General Gibbon has called upon me to observe with the telescope certain points which he wished examined. I have endeavored to make myself as useful as possible, and think the general is perfectly satisfied with the work accomplished by the detachment accompanying headquarters.
The reports of the greater portion of this detachment, which was on duty with the Third Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, and relieved from duty with this detachment on the 25th, will probably be forwarded to the chief signal officer of the department direct.
I had but three enlisted men with me, one of whom was driving the team, until the 10th, when two more were reported.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRED. J. AMSDEN,
Second Lieutenant, Signal Corps, U. S. Army.
Major J. C. PAINE,
Chief Signal Officer, Department of Virginia.
- 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. 1177-1178 ↩