No. 263. Report of Colonel Andrew W. Evans, First Maryland Cavalry.1
HEADQUARTERS FIRST MARYLAND CAVALRY,
CAVALRY BRIGADE, ARMY OF THE JAMES,
Camp near Richmond, Va., April 29, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the First Maryland Cavalry in the recent campaign in Virginia:
The regiment, forming then a part of the Second Brigade, Cavalry Division, under Colonel Spear, left camp near New Market road on the evening of March 28, and bivouacked early the next morning at Hancock’s Station, in front of Petersburg. The march was continued to a point on the old stage road from Petersburg to Dinwiddie Court-House near Arthur’s Swamp, where it remained until the morning of April 1, when the regiment, with the rest of the division, was moved to the front, and was in position on the extreme right of General Sheridan’s forces at the battle of Five Forks [Dinwiddie]. In connection with this affair might be mentioned the very prompt and energetic conduct of Captain Henry C. Erich in pushing the flying enemy and picking up prisoners, acting under the immediate orders of the brigadier-general commanding.
Upon the 2nd instant the regiment marched across the South Side Railroad, and upon the 3rd secured a number of prisoners near the Appomattox River. On this day the squadrons of Captains Erich and Fowler, forming half the regiment, under Major Von Koerber, were detached, and, until the 6th, when they rejoined us at Burkeville, formed the escort of Major-General Sheridan. While thus acting a very gallant charge was made by Captains Erich and Fowler into Jetersville, capturing a number of prisoners.
On the 4th of April the remainder of the regiment, having the advance of the division, moved to Five Forks, Amelia County, then held by the enemy. Captain Hancock, with Lieutenant Good, had the advance guard and immediately charged and drove from that position a superior force of the rebel cavalry. Captain Hancock divided his command in making this charge, taking himself one road and Lieutenant Good another. The latter was recharged by the enemy and lost one or two men. The remainder of the regiment [being, in
fact, but one squadron], with the Eleventh Pennsylvania and First District of Columbia Cavalry, was in the act of forming in a field about a mile in rear when orders were received to charge immediately to meet a supposed attack of the enemy upon our left flank. This charge, from the nature of the ground and obstacles [fences and wood], as well as from the hurry which was insisted upon, was almost necessarily one “as foragers.” No enemy was met and the regiment was reformed at the Forks. This position was held in part by the First Maryland Cavalry against the infantry skirmishers of the enemy, with some loss, until relieved in the evening by the First Brigade. There is reason to believe that the main body of Lee’s army was then in or near Amelia Court-House, only a mile and a half distant: that they were considerably flurried by this demonstration upon our part, and that they, in consequence, destroyed a large quantity of their ordnance.
The Second Brigade spent the night of the 4th in bivouac at the junction of the Dennisville road with the road from Deep Creek to Amelia Court-House and with the road from Avery’s Church to Jetersville, and by the latter, on the afternoon of the 5th, it was moved to demonstrate upon the Richmond and Danville Railroad. The road was struck at a point about three mules west of Amelia Court-House, where it passed near the top of a hill, having upon this side a slope, nearly clear, with a running stream, crossed by two bridges, at the foot, and on the farther and upper side a rather dense growth of oak and chestnut timber. Only a small squad of the enemy was first observed, who disappeared into the wood, and a few men running a hand-car upon the railroad. The First Maryland Cavalry was in our advance, and a line of skirmishers, dismounted, from the squadron of Captain Hiteshew, under the superintendence of Lieutenant-Colonel Counselman, went up to and occupied a point on the road without opposition. Captain Hancock’s squadron, farther to the left and mounted, was subsequently moved to their support. Without adverting to the movements of other regiments of the brigade, it will be sufficient to observe that the enemy suddenly advanced from the wood across the road against Lieutenant-Colonel Counselman’s line with a large body of infantry [at least, a brigade] in mass, with a strong skirmish line in front. I had myself been charged with the superintendence of the whole affair upon our part, but was in effect relieved by the brigadier-general commanding, who gave orders direct to the regimental commanders, in two instances, at least, countermanding my own. This is not now mentioned by way of complaint, but as explanatory of my share in the day’s work. The two squadrons of the First Maryland Cavalry were unsupported, and the force of the enemy [believed to have been Pickett’s division] was far superior to our whole brigade. Finding my skirmish line retiring before them, and hearing that First Sergeant Castle and one or two other men of Captain Hiteshew’s squadron had been left near the railroad unsupported, I directed that officer to dismount and send forward a platoon of their relief, which was done. Early in this affair Lieutenant Campbell, with a platoon of Company E, dismounted, had been posted to hold a bridge over the stream, then supposed to be the only one. He was subsequently moved over to the support of the skirmish line by Lieutenant-Colonel Counselman, who speaks in high terms of his spirited conduct and that of his men, particularly of First Sergeant Brandt, who was captured. This was before anything more than the skirmish line of the enemy could be observed. As this platoon itself became hotly engaged immediately, I directed Captain Hancock’s whole squadron to be dismounted and sent up to their support, which order was, however,
countermanded by the brigadier-general commanding. Captain Hiteshew, with a part of his command, finally came off safely, but Sergeant Castle was taken prisoner, and several other men were lost. The appearance and advance of the enemy in force pushed back the whole brigade, which terminated the engagement.
On the 6th, 7th, and 8th the regiment, with the rest of the division [now consolidated into a brigade], moved by long and rapid marches through Jetersville, Burkeville Junction, and Prince Edward Court-House to a position near Clover Hill, in Appomattox County, where, on the morning of the 9th, it became engaged with the enemy upon the left of General Crook’s cavalry division. The whole regiment, dismounted, and leaving the horses in a wood, had position directly upon the south side of the high road leading from Appomattox Court-House to Lynchburg, about a mile and a half distant from the former place, which was held by the enemy and which we faced. After a short time of fighting it was ordered to remount. At about the same moment the enemy, with a view of developing our infantry, charged upon the whole front and upon both flanks of our line, and the cavalry was compelled to retire. Unfortunately all the horses of my regiment were found to have been moved without authority; they were only discovered after much search, scattered over the fields south of the road and some were even taken several miles distant. I succeeded in collecting and mounting a portion of the regiment, and led it through a very dense growth of small wood which intervened between the Lynchburg road and the place where the horses were found. A narrow wood road afforded a passage through a portion of this thicket, which necessarily lengthened the column very much. The rear of it thus became involved with the enemy and several men were cut off, while it was impossible for the advance to participate. The regiment was, as quickly as practicable, formed in an adjoining field, which the enemy did not come near, and the approach of the infantry of the Twenty-fourth Corps at this moment checked their farther advance. No other movements of the regiment occurred of sufficient importance to be recorded, and the surrender of Lee’s army upon this day may, I presume, be considered as the close of the active campaign.
I feel obliged to speak in great praise of the able services of Lieutenant Colonel Counselman, and, in fact, of all the officers of the regiment, who, with their respective commands, did themselves great credit throughout the campaign.
The regiment took the field upon March 28 with 13 officers and 347 enlisted men.
Losses were as follows: April 1, Five Forks [Dinwiddie], 2 enlisted men wounded, 1 prisoner; April 3, Burgess’ Mill, 1 enlisted man wounded [by guerrillas]; April 4, Five Forks [Amelia], 1 enlisted man killed, 1 enlisted man mortally wounded; April 5 , Clover Hill, 1 enlisted man killed, 1 officer and 9 enlisted men wounded, 5 enlisted men prisoners.
Summary: Killed and mortally wounded [since died], 4 enlisted men; wounded, 1 officer and 14 enlisted men; missing [prisoners], 19 enlisted men.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. W. EVANS,
Colonel First Maryland Cavalry.
ACTING ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
Headquarters Cavalry Brigade, Army of the James.
Various narrow escapes [though of trifling importance] may be mentioned as showing something of the nature of some of the engagements. Captains Erich, Philapy, and Hiteshew, at Clover Hill, on the 9th, were at close quarters with the enemy. The acting adjutant, Lieutenant Luckett, there received a ball through the hat, and Second Lieutenant McCullough was knocked down by a rail thrown by an exploding shell. Lieutenant Farrington was wounded in this affair severely. Near the Danville railroad, on the 5th, Acting Second Lieutenant Gibson had his horse shot under him.
All, or nearly all, the prisoners captured from us were recovered by the surrender of Lee’s army. No correct record of prisoners taken from the enemy could be kept, as nearly all were immediately turned over. Between 65 and 70 are known to have been turned over by Major Von Koerber’s command while detached.
A. W. EVANS,
Colonel First Maryland Cavalry.
- 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. 1251-1254 ↩