No. 166. Report of Bvt. Jacob Roemer, Thirty-fourth Battery New York Light Artillery, of operations March 25.1
HDQRS. THIRTY-FOURTH NEW YORK INDEPT. BATTERY,
Fort McGilvery, before Petersburg, Va., March 26, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to report, in compliance with circular dated headquarters Artillery Brigade, Ninth Army Corps, March 26, 1865, the operations of the Thirty-fourth New York Independent Battery in company with the Forty-sixth New York Volunteer Infantry, my support, in Fort McGilvery, March 25, 1865:
This command had relieved Captain Jones’ four pieces of 3-inch rifle ordnance guns with four pieces of the same kind at 8 p.m. on the 24th of March. Pieces in position and everything ready for the night. I gave orders to the sergeant in charge of the guard to instruct his guard to be watchful and report any unusual picket-firing at once to me. I had now time to examine the works about the fort, so that we would have no difficulty if any attack should be made on the fort during the night; ammunition prepared for any emergency. At 3.30 a.m. March 25, Sergeant Rossbach called me and reported that there was unusual picket-firing in the direction of Fort Stedman. I immediately got up and satisfied myself that it was unusual. Ordered cannoneers to their posts. At 4 a.m. I was satisfied that an attack was made in the vicinity of Fort Stedman or near to our left of the line. I made all due inquiry to ascertain the facts of the nature of the attack and who were the attacking party. Colonel Ely, commanding First [Second] Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps, said that he thought that the enemy had attacked Fort Stedman. It was now near 5 a.m. I discovered that muskets were fired from our picket-line toward our main line. At the same time we also discovered that two shots of artillery were fired from Fort Stedman to the rear of our line, and could just discover that men were irregularly running to and from the enemy’s line to our line. I immediately opened fire on them with two pieces, then with three pieces, and made preparations to bring the fourth piece in position by opening a port hole on the left of the fort where the other three pieces were engaged. I thought after I had fired some 100 rounds that the enemy’s progress was stopped, as we saw them for a short time falling back, but it was not long before I could see them returning and attacking with double the strength in numbers, and had gained the road in rear of Fort Stedman
and were trying to flank Battery No. 9, as this road affords an excellent shelter for that purpose. To check this movement of the enemy I run one gun on the barbette in rear of the fort, and by some eight or ten splendid shots turned the enemy’s flank and they retreated, when the other three pieces pressed their column across the field. Now, after 6 p.m., only about sixty rounds of ammunition on hand, I sent to train, and also for 200 rounds from my caissons if the train should fail to come up in time. My ammunition came up just in time to make good effect on the retreating column of the enemy.
The men have behaved beyond my expectations, and especially the detachment on the barbette gun, as they were exploded to the most severe flank and rear fire of the enemy. Their conduct is worthy to be recommended to the general commanding. I did not hesitate in placing this piece on the barbette, knowing full well that this point was the enemy’s vital spot in the line, and that they would also turn all the guns on me, some twelve in number. At my fourth shot fired from this gun I was struck and one of my men killed, the gunner taking charge after me. He was soon struck, and then Private Michael Fogarty took charge of the gun with two men; he worked it with great success. I have the honor to give the names of men who merit the general’s attention: Sergt. Valentine Rossbach, Segt. James C. Cornell, Privates Michael Fogarty and John Keene.
Fired 360 rounds.
Casualties: John B. Bauer, private, killed; Brevet Major Roemer, Sergeant Rossbach, and Corpls. William J. Rierson and D. Smith, wounded.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Major, Commanding Thirty-fourth New York Independent Battery.
Lieutenant GEORGE W. BOOTH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
P. S.-Nothing worthy of note transpired in Battery No. 5, with our section there; they fixed sixty rounds, mostly on the enemy’s forts.
- 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. 363-364 ↩