No. 222. Report of Colonel Thomas O. Osborn, Thirty-ninth Illinois Infantry, commanding First Brigade.1
HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST DIV., 24TH ARMY CORPS,
Appomattox Court-House, April 14, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to forward the following report of the operations of this brigade since leaving the north bank of the James:
The brigade, preceded by battalion of sharpshooters, under command of Captain Curtis, moved from camp on the New Market road at 6.45 p.m. March 27, 1865, crossing the James River, at Deep Bottom, at 11 p.m.; crossed the Appomattox, at Broadway Landing, at daylight, halting about two hours a mile beyond for breakfast. Marched during the day toward Hatcher’s Run, on the left, bivouacking for the night near Humphreys’s Station. At 4 a.m. March 29, 1865, moved forward and relieved General Miles’ (First) division, of the Second Army Corps, occupying his entire division front.
At 3 p.m. on the 31st of March, the Third and Fourth Brigades of this division being engaged on our left, our pickets were strongly re-enforced, in accordance with orders of the brigadier-general commanding, and a brisk skirmish was commenced with the enemy’s pickets, which continued about two hours, drawing heavy re-enforcement to their lines. But two of our men were wounded, one of the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers and one of the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, both slight.
Being relieved by a brigade of colored troops April 1, 1865, at 7 p.m. I moved my brigade to the left in accordance with orders, reporting to the brigadier-general commanding. Arriving on the ground designated my command was placed in readiness to charge. In the meantime, by direction of General Foster, I sent six men forward to ascertain, if possible, the strength of the enemy and the nature of the ground and obstructions intervening between our forces and the enemy’s works, which was satisfactory accomplished, the scouts giving full and reliable information.
At 5 o’clock on the morning of the 2nd of April I ordered forward one regiment of my command-the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers-by direction of the general commanding, to support the Third Brigade, which was skirmishing with the enemy. At 6 a.m. I withdrew the regiment, and in accordance with orders from the brigadier-general commanding I moved left in front to the ground of the Sixth Army Corps, some four or five miles to the right. Nearing the front of the Sixth Corps, and would having been received that the enemy were reoccupying a portion of the line of works from which they had been driven early in the morning, the command “double-quick” was given. Passing through the lines of the Sixth Corps, the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, being in advance, I threw them forward as skirmishers, while the other regiments of the brigade were thrown into position in echelon, in the following order: The One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers on the right, their right resting on the line of rebel works, the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers in the center, the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers being on the left. At once pressing rapidly forward we drove the enemy from their positions, capturing some 25 prisoners, with 2 pieces of artillery, and, turning these guns upon the enemy, moved forward until we gained the hill immediately in front of Fort Gregg and the chain of forts in the interior line of defenses of Petersburg, which we found to be strongly defended by artillery and
infantry. At this point I halted my brigade and prepared to charge the fort. The Third and Fourth Brigades moving up, formed on my left at 12.15 p.m. At 1 p.m. orders were received to move forward and carry the enemy’s works. I moved my command forward about half the distance, in quick time, at right shoulder shift arms, and having passed a deep and difficult slough, gave the command charge, when the brigade, with cheers, swept up the ascent at the double-quick, under a terrible fire of grape, canister, and minie-balls tearing through the ranks. The Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, moving straight forward, struck the front and the angle of the fort on the left, and next the angle on the road; the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers striking the angle on the road; the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers and One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers striking this angle and the angle farther on the right, swept around to the rear, striving to gain an entrance, but it was found to be an inclosed fort, admirably constructed for defense. The men rushed into the moat and clambering up the extreme slope fought hand-to-hand across the parapet with the enemy, who stubbornly refused to surrender although surrounded on all sides. The fighting lasted twenty-four minutes when we finally burst over the parapets, and the fort was ours. The redoubts on the right of the fort was also carried in the charge by a portion of the skirmish line of the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, assisted by two companies of the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers which had been detached for this purpose, capturing a number of prisoners, together with two cannon and five caissons.
In this assault upon Fort Gregg, Captain Patrick O’Murphy and First Lieutenant Robert McMillan, One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, were killed, as also First Lieutenant William M. Lamb, Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers. Captain O. M. Eddy and Captain Ansell, Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant Neal, Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, Captain Gregory and Captain Bippers, Lieutenants Williams, Patton, and Ellison, One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Captain Hitchcock and Lieutenant Murray, Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, were wounded. The One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers lost 14 enlisted men killed and 60 wounded; the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, 3 enlisted men killed and 25 wounded; the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, 19 enlisted men killed and 44 wounded; the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers, 7 enlisted men killed and 54 wounded.
At 8 a.m. on the morning of the 3rd of April the brigade moved at the head of the division, the right in front, and marched toward Lynchburg, bivouacking for the night about eighteen miles distant from Petersburg. On the 4th instant reached Wilson’s Station, halting at Ford’s Station for dinner. On the 5th, after a long and tedious march of twenty-five miles, marching by way of Nottoway Court-House, we arrived at Burke’s Station at 11 p.m.
At 1 p.m. on the 6th of April we marched, in accordance with orders, toward Rice’s Station; arriving there we found the enemy in heavy force throwing up entrenchments at the station to oppose us. In accordance with orders from the general commanding, throwing forward skirmishers, I formed line of battle and moved forward the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers and One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, a little to the left and in advance of the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, which was held in reserve, its right resting upon the railroad, the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers upon the right of the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, the railroad intervening, and connecting
with the Fourth Brigade on our right. I advanced my line as far as the Phillips house, nearly one mile southeast of the station, under a severe shell and musketry fire, driving back the enemy. Halting at this point, we remained during the night, sleeping upon our arms. In this engagement Lieutenant-Colonel West, of the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers, and Captain Oliver C. Gregory, of the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, were wounded. The One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers lost, in wounded, 3 enlisted men; the Sixty-second Ohio, 13 enlisted men; the Sixty-seventh Ohio, 7 enlisted men.
At 6 a.m. the 7th of April, advancing upon the enemy’s works and finding them abandoned, my brigade moved out, taking the advance, following closely after the enemy, our skirmishers, under command of Lieutenant Colonel R. P. Hughes, of the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, constantly engaging their rear, taking several prisoners. Crossing Sandy River, where General Crook’s cavalry division came up on our right, we moved forward to Bush River, where we found the enemy inclined to dispute the passage. By direction of the general commanding, I formed line of battle-the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers on the right, its right resting upon the left of the road, the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers in the center, the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers on the left, the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers supporting-and moved forward to the bank of the river. The river being impassable except at the bridge, the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, being on the right, was immediately thrown across the river, moved to the top of the hill, the enemy falling back before them; moving across with the remainder of the brigade, we arrived at Farmville at 5 p.m., and encamped for the night on the west side of town.
At 6 a.m. April 8 the march was resumed, bivouacking at 12 o’clock (midnight), having marched a distance of thirty-seven miles.
Moving forward again at 3.30 a.m. on the 9th of April we halted at 6 a.m. for breakfast. At 7 o’clock heavy skirmishing being heard in advance in the vicinity of Appomattox Court-House my brigade moved rapidly forward to the scene of action. Arriving on the ground at the double-quick the cavalry falling back in confusion and having thrown out a portion of the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers as skirmishers, and throwing my brigade forward into line-the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers on the right, the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers in the center, the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteers on the left, the Sixty-seventh Ohio Volunteers in reserve-I charged upon the enemy, giving the notice that the old Twenty-fourth Army Corps was again in the front. Moving forward at the double-quick I soon gained the edge of the woods, where I halted until the Third Brigade, coming up, extricated my left (which had become enveloped), when I again advanced, driving the enemy from the field, capturing one heavy piece of artillery. Changing direction by the left flank, in accordance with orders, I was passing the enemy’s right when I was ordered to halt, word having been received that the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered to the Armies of the United States.
In this engagement the One hundred and ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers lost 5 enlisted men killed and 20 wounded; the Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers, 1 commissioned officer and 6 enlisted men wounded; Sixty-seventh Ohio, 1 enlisted man killed and 6 wounded; Sixty-second Ohio, 18 enlisted men wounded and 2 commissioned officers and 38 enlisted men captured.
A consolidated report of casualties is herewith transmitted.
Of the endurance and patience of the officers and men of this command during the tedious marches and of their heroism and gallantry upon every battle-field I cannot speak too highly.
I cannot close this report without speaking in high terms of the officers of my staff-Captain Childs, Captain Denny, Lieutenant Dowd, and Lieutenant Ripple-for their heroic conduct.
I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. O. OSBORN,
Colonel Thirty-ninth Illinois Volunteers,
Commanding First Brig., First Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps.
Major P. A. DAVIS,
- 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. 1185-1188 ↩