No. 226. Report of Colonel George B. Dandy, One hundredth New York Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.1
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., FIRST DIV., 24TH ARMY CORPS,
Before Lynchburg, Va., April 11, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade since leaving its encampment before Richmond on the 27th ultimo:
A few hours before marching I received an order detaching temporarily from the brigade the Two hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, leaving me the Eleventh Maine, the One hundredth New York, and the Tenth Connecticut Volunteers. Starting about dusk we crossed the James River, at Deep Bottom, during the night and the Appomattox, at Point of Rocks, at daybreak. A few miles beyond this point the brigade was halted and the men allowed to repose a short time, when the march was resumed and continued until near dark, when the command was halted for the night about four miles distant from Hatcher’s Run. The next morning we occupied the deserted encampment of the Second Brigade, Second Division, Second Corps.
About noon of the 30th ultimo I received an order from General Foster ti turn out the brigade in light marching order and advance to connect with Turner’s division, across Hatcher’s Run. This was accomplished in about two hours with some difficulty, the rain falling heavily and the roads and streams all being flooded. Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, Eleventh Volunteers, with a portion of his regiment
deployed as skirmishers, had the advance, supported on the right by the One hundredth New York, on the left by part of his own regiment, that portion of the Tenth Connecticut not on picket being in the center. Brisk skirmishing ensued until dark, the enemy retiring within his works. The brigade was then withdrawn a few rods to the rear and a log breast-works constructed in line with the work constructed by General Turner.
The following was the loss during the day: Lieutenant William W. Bell, of my staff, and orderly taken prisoners. One hundredth New York Volunteers-Lieutenant Cornell and 5 enlisted men wounded. Eleventh Maine Volunteers-3 enlisted men wounded.
On the morning of the 31st General Turner advanced his lines, and after some severe skirmishing drove the enemy on his front within his works, Lieutenant-Colonel Hill with the skirmishers of the Third Brigade co-operating; and about 3 p.m., by direction of General Foster, I changed my front to connect again with Turner, and after some sharp firing advanced within 500 yards and in full view of the rebel line of breast-works. Here our skirmishers were exposed until dark to the fire of the enemy’s sharpshooters. The following were the casualties: Eleventh Maine Volunteers-10 enlisted men wounded. Tenth Connecticut Volunteers-Captain Brown killed, Lieutenant Neidhart and 8 enlisted men wounded.
Immediately after dark, by direction of General Foster, I commenced the construction of breast-works in my front, connecting with those of Turner’s division. Under the superintendence of Captain Frank Hawkins, of my staff, a substantial work of logs, without abatis, was completed before 3 a.m. and the pickets under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, Eleventh Maine Volunteers, division officer of the day, were also protected by French rifle-pits constructed for each post. The pickets were about thirty yards in front of our main line and on the edge of a deep ravine, the opposite bluff of the ravine having been occupied by the enemy’s outposts at dusk, rendering our farther advance without a conflict impracticable.
Having received instructions from General Foster to turn out my command under arms the next morning at 4 a.m., I directed Captain Stowits, acting assistant adjutant-general, at 3.30 a.m., to get the troops under arms, and went myself to the breast-works a few minutes before 4 o’clock to place them in position. The following disposition had been ordered: The Eleventh Maine distributed behind the works; the One hundredth New York in echelon on the right, and the Tenth Connecticut in a similar position on the left flank. While waiting for the Eleventh Maine to arrive on the ground I heard the yell of the rebels as they advanced at a charge toward the work, sweeping aside the pickets in their path. There was no time to lose, and I at once ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Goodyear to bring the Tenth Connecticut at the double-quick to the work. The heads of the Eleventh and Tenth arrived on the ground together and just as the enemy were gaining a foot-hold on our parapet. Had the troops been fairly in line the rebel battle-flag floated for a few seconds defiantly on the crest of our little work would never have gone back, and the whole attacking force must have been cut to pieces or captured. As it was, the enemy was repulsed and fell back in confusion. I immediately ordered Colonel Hill to re-establish his pickets, which was done promptly and with a small force, the enemy retiring before his advance. The following were the casualties: Eleventh Maine Volunteers-Major Baldwin and Lieutenants Norris
and Ireland wounded, 1 enlisted man killed and 4 wounded, Lieutenant Bunker and 10 enlisted men taken prisoners. Tenth Connecticut Volunteers-1 enlisted man killed and 5 wounded. The enemy suffered severely in killed and wounded and lost over fifty prisoners. Captain Nichols, of the One hundredth New York, was captured by the enemy on the picket-line, but succeeded in effecting his escape with the loss of his sword and pistol.
During the day I attempted to strengthen, the breast-works and construct abatis, but the working parties suffered heavily from the enemy’s sharpshooters, and it was deemed best to discontinue the work until night . After dark, under the superintendence of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill and Major Dandy, a strong abatis was placed in front of the work and our defenses strengthened. At about 11 p.m. under instructions from General Foster, I called for volunteers to act as scouts, with the view of ascertaining the practicability of an assault on the enemy’s works. Captain Grafton Norris and twelve enlisted men of the Eleventh Maine performed this difficult and dangerous duty to my entire satisfaction, advanced close to the enemy’s defenses, and described accurately their construction and the nature of the approaches.
On the morning of the 2nd of April I was directed to strengthen my skirmish line and make a demonstration upon the enemy’s lines. I deployed my battalion of sharpshooters along the line, and advanced it briskly shortly after dawn, but was met by a destructive fire from the hostile works, relieving all doubts of the strength of enemy in that quarter. Captain Maxfield, in command of the line of skirmishers, reported to me at this time that it was impracticable to advance farther. At about 9 a.m. I was directed to move the brigade to the right, leaving the skirmish line in position. The brigade was immediately withdrawn and directed to march with the division to the relief of the Sixth Corps, which had been engaged with the enemy the previous night. A march of less than two hours brought us in sight of a formidable line of works defended by two rows of palisading and abatis. These works had been carried the previous night by the Sixth Corps. Beyond and in sight of these fortifications the inner defenses on the south of Petersburg were visible, the tall spires of the city looming up in the back-ground. In front of the inner line and equip-distant from each other were three inclosed forts armed with artillery and infantry. From these forts the enemy threw shells among us as we advanced to take our position in front of their works. The Eleventh Maine, being in advance, was directed to throw out skirmishers and take a position near a sunken road leading to Petersburg and intersecting the line of forts in our front. The One hundredth New York and Tenth Connecticut were successively deployed into line of the right of the Eleventh Maine as they arrived on the ground. The brigade line of skirmishers was now pushed forward, and caused the enemy, who had formed line of battle in our front, to retire within the forts. The First Brigade, Colonel Osborn commanding, was at this time deployed on my right, and the Fourth, Colonel Fairchild, was on my left and rear as support. The troops being in position, General Foster informed me that the First Division would assault the forts, and gave me the following instructions, viz:
If General Seymour should commence the assault on the right, to follow the First Brigade; if General Turner should commence the assault on the left, to charge with him.
At this time the Eleventh Maine was in the sunken road before referred to, a position affording good shelter from the enemy’s sharpshooters. Just before the assault I directed Captain Hawkins to order him to connect with the One hundredth New York. This order, for some reason, was not obeyed, and shortly after Colonel Hill without any orders from me, moved his regiment to the left and forward behind some log huts that had previously been used by the rebels as a camp, and facing Fort Baldwin. Soon after the assault commenced, and I directed the One hundredth New York, Major J. H. Dandy, commanding, and the Tenth Connecticut, Colonel E. D. S. Goodyear commanding, upon the central work-Fort Gregg. This was a completely inclosed work, stockaded in the rear, with loop-holes for musketry, and manned with a full garrison and two pieces of artillery. The assault was commenced at a distance of from 200 to 300 yards from the works, and was made at the double-quick, without a halt, under the most terrific fire of musketry and artillery I have ever witnessed. Many of our brave men went down, but the work reached without faltering. The commanding officers of both regiments were placed hors de combat, Lieutenant-Colonel Goodyear being severely wounded and Major Dandy killed, the latter on the parapet of the work. The First Brigade came up with us on the right and inclosed the work, but the moat was so deep and wide that it was impossible to cross at that point. The garrison, although surrounded, refused to surrender and continued to fire upon our men, while from Fort Baldwin a destructive fire was also poured in upon the backs of our troops exposed in that direction. At this juncture I sent Captain Hawkins to General Foster for re-enforcement, and was promptly supplied with two regiments from the Fourth Brigade. With this re-enforcement the garrison was overpowered, after fighting on the parapet and about the fort twenty-five minutes after the fort was surrounded. I forbear to describe the scene inside that work after the surrender, but I think at least one-fourth of the entire garrison was killed in the assault. With the surrender of Fort Gregg, Fort Baldwin was evacuated and taken possession of by Turner’s division, the Eleventh Maine going in with that command.
The casualties for the day were as follows: Tenth Connecticut Volunteers-Lieutenant Colonel E. D. S. Goodyear, Captain James H. Linsley, Captain Brainerd Smith, First Lieutenant Walter P. Hovey, Second Lieuts. Ed. L. Smith, Andrew F. Jones, and Frank G. Otis and 72 enlisted men wounded, and 10 enlisted men killed. One hundredth New York Volunteers-Major J. H. Dandy and 11 enlisted men killed, and First Lieutenant Albert York and 40 enlisted men wounded. Eleventh Maine Volunteers-3 enlisted men killed and 25 enlisted men wounded.
That night the brigade bivouacked near the captured forts, buried the dead, and cared for the wounded. With the morning came the news of the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond and their occupation by our colored troops.
April 3, the march to Burkeville was commenced, and that point reached on the night of April 5. On the 6th the One hundredth New York was detached to guard the wagon trains, and 200 men detailed for picket and left at Burkeville. The remainder of the brigade was moved forward about 11 a.m. When about three miles on the road I received instructions to detach the brigade from the main column and communicate, if possible, with General Sheridan’s forces. This was accomplished during the day, and the brigade rejoined the command at Phillips’ house shortly after dark. The enemy had been constructing rifle-pits, but abandoned them during the night and continued his
retreat toward Lynchburg. Our command followed in pursuit at daybreak, reaching Farmville about 12 m. April 7. The enemy’s rear guard had passed through the place in sight of our advance. The corps bivouacked here for the night, except my brigade, which, with a section of Elder’s battery, was ordered to proceed to the Appomattox, a distance of six miles, and hold the bridge across that stream. I advanced cautiously, with skirmishers and flankers out, and reached the bridge without opposition at about 9 p.m. The bridge had been burned and was completely destroyed. We found no infantry on our side the stream, but Rosser’s cavalry was in some force on the other side. Bivouacking here for the night, I joined the command on the Lynchburg road at 9 a.m. on the 8th, bringing in a few prisoners, including Lieutenant R. M. McIntosh, of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Battalion. From that point the brigade marched with the division constantly, night and day, bivouacking within a mile of the Lynchburg railroad on the night of April 8. We had now by hard marching reached a point about 100 miles from Petersburg on the Lynchburg road. The men were foot-sore, weary, and hungry, but I heard no word of complaint.
At 3 o’clock on the morning of the 9th the command was again under arms. Sheridan had just captured three large trains of supplies for Lee’s army. That army was making desperate efforts to escape to Lynchburg by the main road to that city. Sheridan’s cavalry had reached that road, and the First Division was ordered forward to support him. As we neared the ground the rebel infantry charged the cavalry, which broke in confusion and left our line on the road to withstand the shock. The First Brigade was formed for a charge by General Foster, and as soon as my brigade could pass Elder’s battery, which was done at the double-quick, I commenced to form on the left. The Eleventh Maine, being in the advance, should have been first in position, but for some reason the commanding officer of the Tenth Connecticut, who received his orders after the commanding officer of Eleventh Maine, was first in line. While I was forming the brigade the Eleventh Maine moved off with the First Brigade, as I understand by order of General Foster, leaving me the Sixty-second Ohio in its place. I then advanced my command as rapidly as possible, following the First Brigade, until the latter, under a severe enfilading fire of grape and canister, fell back, the rebels about the same time retiring in confusion. No man of the Third Brigade fell back without orders, and the conduct of both officers and men was all that could be desired. The right flank of the Eleventh Maine having become exposed by the falling back of a portion of the First Brigade, the enemy got in its rear and captured a number of prisoners, including Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, who had been previously wounded. After being rifled of his personal effects he was allowed to return.
In this affair I cannot too much praise to the officers of the brigade staff. Captain Frank Hawkins, acting assistant inspector-general, and Captain Stowits, acting assistant adjutant-general, rendered me in very difficult circumstances the most valuable assistance. They were constantly exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy’s artillery, but both miraculously escaped. Lieutenant Fred. T. Mason, Eleventh Maine, aide-de-camp, was severely wounded by a shell while receiving my orders, and is now in hospital. His conduct was everything that could be desired. Surg. T. M. Laney, chief medical officer of the brigade, Captain Angelo Grapo, commissary of subsistence, and First Lieutenant W. H. H. Andrews, brigade quartermaster, were prompt and efficient in the performance of their respective duties, and all in turn rendered me valuable assistance.
The casualties for the day are as follows: First Lieutenant Fred. T. Mason, aide-de-camp, wounded. Eleventh Maine Volunteers-Lieutenant-Colonel Hill and 25 enlisted men wounded, 5 enlisted men killed, Captain Maxfield and 17 enlisted men prisoners. Tenth Connecticut Volunteers-Lieutenant Newell, acting adjutant, taken prisoner.
General Lee, a few hours after this action, surrendered his entire Army of Northern Virginia at the point where the First Division fought its last engagement. The brigade is now reposing after its toils and privations. I would enlarge more particularly upon the gallantry of those who survive, but my report is already long, and my views have been conveyed to you in my letter of recommendation for promotions.
I cannot forbear saying a word in praise of the recruits of this brigade. No veterans could have done better, whether in marching or fighting. The baptism of fire and blood through which they have passed entitles them to the new name of “Veterans of the First Division.”
Our comrades who have fallen have perished nobly on the altar of their country’s liberty: “After life’s fitful fever, they sleep well.”
I have the honor to subjoin the aggregate losses of the brigade, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, from the 30th day of March, 1865, to the 9th day of April, 1865, inclusive: Officers-killed, 2; wounded, 15; prisoners, 4. Enlisted men-killed, 31; wounded, 190; prisoners, 28.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. B. DANDY,
Colonel New York Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.
Major P. A. DAVIS,
Asst. Adjt. General, First Division, Twenty-fourth Army 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. 1192-1197 ↩