No. 260. Report of Brigadier General Ranald S. Mackenzie, U. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Division.1
HDQRS. CAVALRY BRIGADE, ARMY OF THE JAMES,
Near Richmond, Va., May 8, 1865.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the late campaign:
The command left camp near New Market road on the 28th of March, and was composed as follows: The First Brigade, under the command of Colonel R. M. West, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, consisted of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry and Company G, Twentieth New York Cavalry; the Second Brigade, under the command of Colonel S. P. Spear, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, [consisted of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry,] First Maryland Cavalry, and Battalion First District of Columbia Cavalry. The remaining companies of the Twentieth New York Cavalry and the dismounted men of the whole command were left in camp, all under the orders of Lieutenant Colonel D. M. Evans, Twentieth New York Cavalry, who was ordered to report to Major General Godfrey Weitzel, commanding forces. The command which started in the campaign numbered 54 officers and 1,629 enlisted men. The march was continued till early on the morning of the 29th, when the command bivouacked near Varina Station, on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad; and moving again about 8 a. m. continued the march to the vicinity of Humphreys’ Station, where the command went into camp, but was ordered the same evening to force dot the crossing of the Rowanty, in the vicinity of Reams’ Station, and guard the trains of the Army of the Potomac assembled there. The command remained on this duty till the 1st of April, when orders were received from Lieutenant-General Grant, through Major-General Ord, to proceed a once to Dinwiddie Court-House and report to Major-General Sheridan. The command moved about 3.30 a. m., and reported as ordered. I was directed to move by a cross-road to the white Oak Swamp road, at a point about three miles to the right of Five Forks, to take possession of the White Oak road. This was done after a sharp skirmish, in which two companies of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry made a very handsome charge, dislodging the enemy, much superior in numbers to the charging party, from breast-works. Three valuable officers were lost in this charge-Major Monroe, Captain Lancaster, and Lieutenant Mathews; Colonel S. P. Spear, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, was also wounded about the same time. The enemy were dispersed, and shortly afterward the command, with the exception of a battalion of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry which was left to picket the right flank, was moved down the White Oak road in the direction of Five Forks. The First Maryland Cavalry, in advance, was just about charging down the road, when the infantry of the Fifth corps made their appearance and instructions were received from General Sheridan to move on their right flank. The command was moved rapidly on the right of this infantry, and soon reached the right and rear of the enemy’s line, the enemy giving way without much resistance. A large number of prisoners were captured and turned over to the infantry. Captain Erich’s squadron of the first Maryland Cavalry were in the advance and charged handsomely through thick
woods, mounted. The Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry also charged mounted, and behaved very well. We went into camp for the night on the battle-field.
Moved the next morning to Gravelly Ford, on Hatcher’s Run, and after skirmishing with the enemy, strongly posted on the opposite bank, were ordered to proceed to Ford’s Station; crossed Hatcher’s run and moved in the direction of the Namozine road, reporting to General Merritt; went into camp for the night near the Namozine road.
On the 3rd instant the command moved to the Appomattox, at two points-the lower at Leonard’s Mills, the other three miles higher up the stream-picking up about 300 prisoners and taking 4 guns, the guns and most of the prisoners being captured by Major Baker’s command of the First District of Columbia Cavalry. Here a battalion of the First Maryland Cavalry, under the command of Major Von Koerber, wee temporarily detached as eh escort of General Sheridan. This command took a number of prisoners while so detached. The command after reaching Leonard’s Mills retraced its steps to the Namozine road and moved to the vicinity of Deep Creek.
On the 4th of April the division moved in advanced, crossing Deep Creek. After a sharp skirmish, in which the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry and the First District of Columbia Cavalry were principally engaged, reached Five Forks, about a mile from Amelia Court-House, near which point, after a sharp skirmish, the First Maryland Cavalry having the advance and taking the most active part, we went into camp. I received information from many and different sources that the main body of General Lee’s army was at this time at or in the immediate vicinity of Amelia Court-House, and during the night received orders from General Sheridan to remain where I was, to be watchful and demonstrate, but not push the enemy. This was done to the best of my ability. On the 5th and during the afternoon I made a demonstration with Colonel Evans’ brigade, which caused the enemy to attack with a strong force of infantry, but without their inflicting any damage beyond the loss of a few men.
I have reason to believe that the enemy were considerable delayed in their movements by our skirmishing at Amelia Court-House, and during our skirmishing they there destroyed a large amount of ammunition and other ordnance property, caissons, limbers, &c.
On the 6th, 7th, and 8th the command moved by rapid marches through Jetersville, Burkeville, and Prince Court-House the advance Appomattox Station. At Prince Edward Court-House the advance had a slight skirmish and took some thirty prisoners. The advance consisted of the First District of Columbia Cavalry and a part of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.
On the morning of the 9th the command, now consolidated into one brigade, was moved to the left of General Crook’s division at a point about one mile and a half from Appomattox Court-House and immediately on the road to Lynchburg. The command was during this time properly reporting to Major-General Ord, I having, in compliance with orders, reported to him on the 6th instant, but as many miles intervened usually between this command and the other troops of the Army of the James, I acted generally under orders of Major-General Sheridan, and on this occasion, by his direction, under those of Major-General Crook. By his directions I sent the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry some distance to the left of the road to guard the left flank. Soon afterward the enemy attacked. I was ordered by General Crook, through one of
his staff, to withdraw slowly when it became necessary, as it would be, he stated, very soon. The enemy had for some time been moving a column of cavalry to our left and rear, while he attacked with infantry in front. There would have been no trouble in repulsing the enemy from our immediate front, but the attack came so soon after our arrival that the connection which I had commenced establishing between my right and General Crook’s left could not be made. The Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, the First District of Columbia Cavalry, and the First Maryland Cavalry were dismounted and formed in line across the road, and after some sharp firing were slowly withdrawn down the road. A section of Battery M, First U. S. Artillery, which had been doing excellent service, was sent to the rear. Colonel Evans was directed previous to the withdrawal of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry to take his men down the road, mount them as soon as possible and return. Some unauthorized person, however, moved the colonel’s horses such a long distance to the rear that he was much delayed in remounting his men, and the same mentioned individual sent Lieutenant Olcott, with one piece of his section, down a road to the left as we fell back, where this piece was captured by the enemy, who, finding a line on the road which they could not readily break, pushed round the flanks and came upon this gun in a narrow road in the woods, several hundred yards in rear of the line, but to the left retiring. The other piece of this section was never captured. About this time the Twenty-fourth Corps arrived, and the command was extricated from a very dangerous position.
In conclusion, with reference to this skirmish I will state that I withdrew much more slowly before a very much superior force of the enemy than I otherwise should have done, from my knowledge that it was very important that the road should be held till our infantry arrived, which I knew must happen early in the day.
Immediately after the arrival of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps I was directed to move my command down the road from Appomattox Court-House to Lynchburg, in the direction of Lynchburg, to assist General Davies, who was at that time strongly pressed by the cavalry referred to as having passed round my left flank. After some skirmishing, and when we were about to attack the enemy, news was brought of the suspension of hostilities. We remained in the vicinity of Appomattox Court-House until the 12th of April.
On the evening of the 10th Lieutenant Fitzpatrick, with eighth enlisted men of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, was sent to Lynchburg. On the 11th he returned, bringing with him a delegation of citizens to see about the surrender of the place. When he entered the place there were about 3,500 rebels there; quite a number of company organizations. On the 14th of april the command moved to Lynchburg, when the place was formally surrendered to this command. There was there a large amount of military stores, which fell into the hands of this command, and was turned over by Lieutenant-Colonel Stratton, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, to Lieutenant-Colonel Potter, Thirty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers of General Turner’s division, when the infantry arrived on the following day. Among the material were 56 field pieces, 6 heavy guns, 40 mortars, 75 caissons, 15,000 muskets, and a large quantity of ammunition, commissary and quartermaster stores.
While the command was at Lynchburg a squadron of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, under Captain Elliott (temporarily detached), secured 30 prisoners, 1 battle-flag, and 36 gun carriages and caissons in the vicinity of Red Oak Church. Leaving Lynchburg on the 16th
the command moved, via Burkeville and Goode’s Brigade, to Richmond, where it arrived on the 24th of April.
In conclusion I cannot speak too highly of the good conduct of the officers and enlisted men of the command during the entire campaign. I desire to call the attention of the department commander particularly to the names of Colonel a. W. Evans, commanding the First Maryland Cavalry; Major J. Stannard Baker, commanding First District of Columbia Cavalry; Lieutenant Colonel Franklin A. Stratton, commanding Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry-all zealous, capable, and brave officers. I also take this opportunity of stating that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, no blame should be attached to Lieutenant E. W. Olcott, Battery M, First U. S. Artillery, for the loss of the piece belonging to his section. he behaved very handsomely while in action, and his piece was, as before stated, lost by his being directed on a wrong road. I have before taken occasion to call the attention of the department commander to the services of Colonel Robert M. West, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
I inclose a list of officers who, in my opinion, deserve promotion by brevet. Full list of casualties has already been forwarded.*
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
RANALD. S. MACKENZIE,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.
Bvt. Colonel ED. W. SMITH.
HDQRS. CAVALRY BRIGADE, ARMY OF THE JAMES,
Near Richmond, Va., May 7, 1865.
Bvt. Colonel E. W. SMITH,
COLONEL: I have the honor to forward the names of the following officers, belonging to this command, for whom I request promotion by brevet for services rendered during the past campaign: Major James E. McFarlan, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet lieutenant-colonel for gallant conduct at Amelia Court-House April 4, 1865. Captain Euphronous P. Ring, Company A, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet major for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865. Captain John S Nimmon, company d, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet major for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865. Captain H. W. Paul, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet major for gallant and meritorious conduct at Gravelly Ford, Va., April 2, 1865, and at Amelia Court-House, Va., April 5, 1865. First Lieutenant P. Byron Stokes, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet captain for personal gallantry and meritorious conduct April 1, 1865, during the engagement for possession of the South Side Railroad. Second Lieutenant Terrence Fitzpatrick, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, to be brevet first lieutenant and brevet captain for personal gallantry in the engagement near Appomattox Court-House, Va., April 9, 1865, and for bravery and good judgment displayed by him while commanding a scouting party of eight men of his regiment in penetrating the enemy’s country
*Embodied in table, p. 597.
from Appomattox Court-House, Va., as far as Lynchburg, Va., and receiving from the inhabitants of that town a tender of submission to the national authority April 10 and 11, 1865.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
RANALD S. MACKENZIE,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.
Additional: I have already recommended for promotion Colonel Robert M. West, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry. If full promotion cannot be given him, I earnestly request that he may receive the brevet rank of brigadier-general, to date from April 1, 1865, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Five Forks, Va.
- 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. 1244-1248 ↩