No. 264. Report of Lieutenant Col Franklin A. Stratton, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry.1
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY,
Near Richmond, Va., April 29, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of this regiment during the late campaign:
Breaking up the winter’s camp on the north side of the James on the evening of the 28th of March, the command during the night crossing the James at Varina and the Appomattox at Point of Rocks, moved to the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, in the rear of the lines of the Army of the Potomac. The following day the regiment proceeded to Reams’ Station, at which point it remained, with the division, until 3 o’clock on the morning of the 1st of April, when the march was resumed. The command proceeded to Dinwiddie Court-House and from there took the road leading into the White Oak road, the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, having the advance. At 1 p.m., about half a mile from the White Oak road, we struck the enemy’s pickets, and pushing on soon developed a considerable force strongly posted in rifle-pits in the edge of a wood along the road named, with an open field in their front. Major McFarlan, commanding the advance battalion, deployed Captain Menzies’ squadron [Companies G and H] on the right and left of the road, mounted, and Captain Elliott’s squadron [Companies F and B] farther to the right and left, in the woods, dismounted. The remaining six companies were then ordered up under Major Skelley, temporarily in command of the regiment, to support the advance battalion. As soon as formed, about a quarter of a mile from the enemy’s line, Major Monroe, with two squadrons [Companies A, E, K and C], was directed to charge the enemy’s position, which was promptly done, the general commanding the division charging at the head of the column. The squadrons moved at first on the left of the road, and then crossing it obliquely struck the left of the enemy’s position, charging over the works into the road and driving the enemy out in confusion; meantime Lieutenant Meekins, with Company I, had dislodged the left of the enemy’s line, and Captain Ring, with part of his com-
pany, gallantly charged the enemy for a considerable distance along the White Oak road to the left. Captain Elliott pushed his dismounted men rapidly across the road into the wood, driving the enemy for some distance. Major Skelley supported the attack with Captain Nimmon’s squadron [Companies D and M], moving up at a gallop on the right of the line. The rebels were completely dispersed at every point. Their number, as afterward ascertained, was 600, double the number of my regiment.
We have to mourn the loss in this charge of Major Monroe and Lieutenant Mathews, mortally wounded, and Captain Lancaster, killed, all brave and gallant officers, who fell gloriously while leading their men to the attack. Lieutenant Wolfe was taken prisoner, having pushed out too far on the left. Our loss otherwise was not heavy.
The command during the afternoon took part with the Fifth Corps in its right flank movement at the Five Forks which resulted so disastrously to the enemy. A considerable number of prisoners were captured by the regiment and turned over to the infantry.
The regiment moved with the division on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to the vicinity of Amelia Court-House. At Deep Creek we attacked the rebel rear guard, strongly posted, and after half an hour’s skirmishing drove them out with considerable loss, having only one man wounded on our side. On the 4th, upon nearing the Court-House, Major McFarlan, commanding the advance battalion, met and charged the enemy’s cavalry outposts, driving their skirmish line back upon their infantry support. He was followed up in the charge by the remainder of the regiment, which was ordered forward by Colonel Evans, commanding the brigade. Only two or three men were lost. The next day I supported the First Maryland Cavalry in its attack on the enemy at the railroad, to the left of the Court-House. Two or three men were slightly wounded in this affair. Moving thence, via Burkeville, to Prince Edward Court-House, on the 7th, we there, in conjunction with Major Baker’s battalion, captured a considerable number of rebels, including one or two officers. the following day we marched to the vicinity of Appomattox Station, on the South Side Railroad, and on the morning of the 9th moved out to the main road from Appomattox Court-House to Lynchburg, about a mile westerly from the Court-House, this regiment having the advance. Captain Nimmon’s squadron was deployed, dismounted, and pushed across the road to develop the enemy’s position. I moved the remainder of the regiment into the wood on the left, dismounting four companies, under Major Skelley, holding Captain Nimmon commenced skirmishing I discovered the enemy pushing out about a brigade of infantry from the wood on our right and moving down the slope at right angles with our line. Changing from to the right, I opened fire with some effect, but receiving orders in a few minutes to fall back retired slowly to deploy again, about 200 yards in front of the road, to protect the left flank, which I did. Captain Ring’s squadron and one squadron under Lieutenant Cook were formed in line on the main road to repel the enemy, who were following closely our dismounted men, retiring under their orders to fall back. The enemy’s cavalry being reported moving to our left and rear, I sent Major McFarlan to move the led horses as his judgment might direct for their safety. This duty he creditably performed, and afterward had the horses ready for mounting as soon as wanted by me.
While affairs were in this position Davies’ brigade, dismounted, aided by our dismounted men, repelled the attack of the enemy on this road. At this moment some of the rebel cavalry dashed in upon our rear, and were met and checked by such men as could be brought up in time. Almost at the same time our infantry, a part of the Twenty-fourth Corps, advanced in line from the woods in our rear, sweeping back the head of the column of rebel cavalry, and pushing beyond us toward the Court-House soon left us in the rear. During this cavalry attack Captain Ring made a dashing charge on a superior force of cavalry in our rear with some effect, although I had no men at hand mounted to support him. Receiving orders to mount the regiment I did so without delay, and, under orders, moved down the road about a mile westerly to meet the rebel cavalry, thee posted across the road. Before any decisive operations were commenced at this point orders to suspend hostilities were received. Although a portion of the engagement was quite sharp this morning I lost but one man killed and three or four wounded.
From this place, on the evening of the 9th, I detached Captain Elliott’s squadron to search for artillery supposed to be abandoned by the enemy in the vicinity of Red Oak Church. A copy of his report has already been forwarded, from which it will be seen that he captured 60 prisoners, 54 pieces of field artillery, 36 gun carriages and caissons, and 1 battle-flag.
On the 12th the command marched to Lynchburg and occupied the town about 4 p.m. Upon entering the place I received orders to take command of the troops in the place, consisting of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry and Major Baker’s battalion, and to take possession of and destroy all public property. These orders were carried out as far as possible during the evening. The next day I turned over the command and the captured property to Lieutenant-Colonel Potter, of General Turner’s division, of the Twenty-fourth Corps. Very large amounts of military stores were found here, comprising ordnance and ordnance stores of every kind, quartermaster’s property, a large amount of subsistence stores, 25 locomotives, many cars, and much other railroad property, and much property of a miscellaneous nature. This property was all turned over by me to Lieutenant-Colonel Potter as stated. I found here 56 field pieces, 6 heavy guns, 41 mortars, 7 forges, 75 caissons and gun carriages, 15,000 muskets, several hundred sabers, and a large quantity of ammunition.
Including the guns, &c., captured on the 9th, at Red Oak Church, the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry has captured and taken possession of and delivered to the proper officers 110 field pieces, 41 mortars, 6 heavy guns, 111 caissons and carriages, a large amount of ordnance stores, 1 battle-flag, and many prisoners.
Leaving Lynchburg on the 16th the regiment marched with the brigade to Burkeville, and thence, via Goode’s Bridge, to Richmond, at which place it arrived on the 24th instant.
I cannot speak too highly of the soldierly conduct of both officers and men of the regiment during this brief campaign. I have heretofore recommended several officers for promotion and others as deserving honorable mention, but their service, under the eye of the commanding general, has enabled him to judge of their merits.
FRANKLIN A. STRATTON,
Lieutenant Colonel Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, Commanding Regiment.
Major AUGUSTUS H. FENN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Mackenzie’s Cav. Brigadier, Army of the James.
- 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. 1254-1256 ↩