Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 18, 1863: 54th Massachusetts attacks Fort Wagner, SC.

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored) had trained at Camp Meigs in Readville for 100 days.  Although it was not the first African-American unit created, it was the first unit to be created in a northern state.  At the suggestion by Frederick Douglass, this regiment would consist of only freeborn, educated men of color. An enlistment bounty of $100 was paid to each recruit. 

Among the recruits were two Warren County, NJ men:  James Furman, of Washington, in Company E, and Isaiah [or Isaac] Cass, of Hackettstown,  in Company C.   By May 14, 1863, there were 1,000 recruits in the regiment. 

The regiment was commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and Lieutenant Colonel Norwood Hallowell.  Shaw had been a captain in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, and Hallowell had been an officer in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry.  Although all the commissioned officers were Caucasian, African-Americans served as non-commissioned officers.  The regimental Sergeant Major was Louis Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass. 
In June 1863, the 54th Massachusetts shipped out of Boston for Beaufort, South Carolina - arriving there on June 3.  The regiment was attached to Colonel James Montgomery's 2nd South Carolina Colored Infantry during the attack and pillage of Darien, Georgia.  After objections were made by Shaw to General David Hunter, the 54th Massachusetts was sent to St. Simons Island, where there was nothing to do but drill daily.  When Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore replaced Hunter as commander of the Department of South Carolina, Shaw complained that his men were not given combat duties in which to prove themselves.  
Gillmore was planning the siege of Charleston, South Carolina and the capture or destruction of the Confederate harbor forts.  On July 8, the regiment was ordered to join General Alfred Terry's division on Folly Island for an assault on James Island.  At dawn on July 16, the 54th Massachusetts and the 10th Connecticut Infantry Regiment came under attack by Confederate cavalry and infantry on James Island.  Federal pickets were forced back, but Company K of the 54th fought and withdrew in good order, slowing the Confederate advance.  The Federal line began to collapse around the 10th Connecticut, but the men of the 54th Massachusetts acted as the rear guard, retreating slowly while holding back the Confederates and preventing the 10th Connecticut from being surrounded. The 54th suffered 45 casualties: 14 killed, 18 wounded and 13 missing.  General Terry sent a message to Colonel Shaw commending the regiment for its conduct.
The Federal landings on James Island had been a diversion to pull Confederate troops away from the southern end of Morris Island - the objective of the main attack.  Confederate General Pierre T. E. Beauregard, commander of Charleston, had sent additional troops to James Island, which allowed General Gillmore's troops to capture the southern end of Morris Island.  However, Federal troops could not capture Fort Wagner on the northern end of Morris Island.  The 54th Massachusetts and other regiments were ordered to leave James Island and join the main force on Morris Island.  Federal troops marched across marshy James Island in the rain on the night of July 16. They waited on Folly Island on July 17 for transportation to Morris Island.  The 54th Massachusetts arrived on Morris Island late in the afternoon on July 18.
Colonel Shaw reported to General George C. Strong, a fellow Massachusetts soldier, who was commanding the Federal siege of Fort Wagner.  Strong offered Shaw the chance to lead the attack on Fort Wagner.  During the Georgian and Victorian periods, it was considered an honor for a unit to be the "Forlorn Hope" and lead an attack on a fort - even though high casualties could be guaranteed. For the survivors, there was glory and bravado in the sheer bravery of volunteering to be the "Forlorn Hope."  General Strong knew the men of the 54th had not slept nor eaten in at least two days and told Shaw there was no dishonor in turning down the offer.  Shaw said his men were "strong of heart" and could still lead the attack.
Shaw called up his troops to meet the general at the front.  General Strong told the men he, too, was from Massachusetts, and he expected them to bring honor to the state.  The general asked Color Sergeant John Wall to step forward with the National Colors.  In a loud voice the general asked, "If this man should fall, who will lift the flag and carry it on?"  Shaw replied, "I will."  The men of the 54th cheered their colonel.
Colonel Shaw said to Lieutenant Colonel Hallowell, "I shall go in advance with the National Flag.  You will keep the State Flag with you.  To his men he said, "We shall take the fort or die there."  Shaw went down the ranks talking to each of his men telling them this was the chance for them to prove to the nation that Americans of color can fight bravely and with honor.   
At 7:45 p.m., Colonel Shaw walked to the front with his troops.  He told his men to move forward down the narrow strip of land toward the fort in quick-time until they were within 100 yards of it and then charge at the double-quick.  The forward advance began when Shaw shouted, "Forward my brave boys!"  Following the 54th Massachusetts in the attack were the remainder of the 10 Corps: the 6th Connecticut, the 48th New York, the 7th New Hampshire, the 100th New York, and the 62nd Ohio infantry regiments. 
The narrow approach to Fort Wagner was approximately one mile from the spot where the Federal Army stood.  It was bounded by the sea on one side and marshland on the other.  Approximately sixteen guns and many muskets were trained on the sandy strip from fort Wagner as well as guns from Fort Sumter, James Island, Sullivan Island, and Fort Gregg, which was also on Morris Island. More than 9,000 shells were fired at the fort from land and sea by the Federal Army and Navy.  However, the majority of the 1,785 soldiers inside the sand fort remained safe inside a giant bombproof during the barrage and were ready to jump to their posts when the infantry attacked.  Federal intelligence reports had incorrectly estimated only 300 troops were inside Fort Wagner.
When the 54th was within a couple hundred yards of the fort, the Confederate gunners     and riflemen "welcomed" the Federal troops with a volley of exploding shells and mini-balls.  Large holes were blasted in the front ranks of the 54th, but the soldiers still advanced, while closing their ranks as best as they could.  At the double-quick, Shaw led his men through a ditch and abatis of the outer fortifications.  the men reached the 50-foot wide moat trench in front of the parapet. The moat was filled with water five feet deep.  The soldiers inside the fort began to throw grenades and lighted artillery shells      down onto the men of the 54th.  The men of the 54th crawled their way up the sandy wall toward the top of the parapet.  Shaw reached the top, pointed his sword toward the inside of the fort and yelled, "Onward Fifty-Fourth!!  Shaw was killed by a musket shot to his chest.
As Color Sergeant Wall was following Colonel Shaw with the National Colors, he was shot down by musket fire.  Sergeant William H. Carney, of Company C, grabbed the flag before Wall and the flag hit the ground.  Carney held the flag to his chest and rushed to the top of the parapet and planted the flag next to the Regimental Colors.  Carney was wounded in both legs, the right arm and in his chest, but he refused to give up the National Colors nor let them fall to the ground.
The 54th Massachusetts had gained a foothold inside Fort Wagner for at least an hour during heavy hand-to-hand combat.  However, reinforcements were still under cannon fire on the beach and did not arrive in time to help the 54th hold their position and take the rest of the fort.  Many of the officers were killed or wounded.  When Lieutenant Colonel Hallowell finally ordered his men to retreat, Captain Luis F. Emilio rallied the walking wounded and formed a battle line 700 yards from the fort.  Sergeant Carney staggered out of the fort and back to the new battle line - still clutching the National Colors to his breast.  Carney refused to let go of the flag until he reached  the field hospital tent, more than a mile away.  Carney collapsed from the loss of blood while still clutching the flag, and he said to the men in the tent, "The old flag never touched the ground, boys."  
Sergeant Carney never fully recovered from his wounds.  He became the first Black American to receive the Medal of Honor.
The walking wounded of the 54th Massachusetts held their battle line until they were relieved at 2:00 a.m. on July 19.  Of the 5,264 Federal officers and men who took part in the attack, 246 were killed, 880 wounded and 389 missing.  Of that total number of losses, the 54th Massachusetts suffered 34 killed, 146 wounded   and 92 captured or missing.  
Privates Cass and Furman survived the battle and served in the Federal Army until the end of the war in 1865.
The men of the 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner, along with the men of the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards and the 1st Louisiana Engineers of the Corps D'Afrique at Port Hudson; and the 9th and 11th Louisiana Native Guards and the 1st Mississippi Colored Regiment at Milliken's Bend in June 1863 had proven themselves in battle.  The Federal Government authorized the formation of several regiments of U.S. Colored Troops.   Recruitment began in 1863.  Warren County's recruits had to enlist in a federal recruiting office in Easton or at Camp William Penn in Philadelphia.
State and County records are very sketchy regarding Warren County's men in the U.S. Colored Troops.  the following is a list of those men we were able to identify, but it should not be considered a complete list.
The following men enlisted in 1863 and 1864: 3rd Regiment, USCT:Thomas McIntyre, of Belvidere, Company F;  8th Regiment, USCT: Abram Andrews, of Washington, Company I; 22nd Regiment USCT: Edward W. and Thomas Duncan, of Greenwich Township, Company B; Francis and Samuel Henry, of Vienna, Company F; Corporal Abram Smith, of Buttzville, Company D; William Townsend, of Belvidere, Company I [killed in action at Fort Harrison on September 30, 1864]; and Marshall White, of Washington, Company I; 25th Regiment USCT: Benjamin B. Andrews, of Washington, Company A; George B. Andrews, of Washington, Company E; Peter Campbell, of Washington, Company A & B [died at Fort Pickens, Florida on September 27, 1864]; Edward Kelsey, of Washington, Company A; and Jonathan E. Saunders, of Hackettstown, Company A; 26th Regiment USCT: Thomas Benjamin, of Asbury, Company H;  32nd Regiment USCT: John Jones, of Belvidere, Company A; and William H. Lee, of Hackettstown, Company F; 34th Regiment USCT: George E. Harris, of Hope [now Mt. Lake], Company E; 41st Regiment USCT: John DeHart, of Greenwich Township, Company B [was present at General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House]; 43rd Regiment USCT: Abraham H. Harrison, of Phillipsburg, Company B; 45th Regiment USCT: Sergeant John Fisher, of Phillipsburg, Company F; Thomas [James], of Mansfield Township, Company E; Samuel [Nathan] Hackett, of Phillipsburg, Company C; and John H. Young, of Harmony, Company A; and 127th Regiment USCT: George and Nelson Blankins, of Asbury, Company H.
Anson P. White, alias Thomas Jones, of Oxford Furnace, had two enlistment records        under two names, according to New Jersey state records.  On February 17, 1864, as Thomas Jones, he enlisted in Company B of the 32nd Regiment USCT.  He stayed in the 32nd, as Jones, through the war and was mustered out with his unit on August 22, 1865 at Hilton Head, SC.  However, the State contends White, while at Camp William Penn, also enlisted as Anson P. White, in Company I of the 43rd Regiment USCT on May 14, 1864 to collect an enlistment bounty and then deserted from the 43rd on June 3, 1864 before the 32nd Regiment moved out of the same camp.
The Belvidere Intelligencer listed another William Townsend, of Belvidere, in a list of recruits. The newspaper stated William Townsend enlisted in a "colored regiment" at Easton in March 1865.  There was no mention of the unit, and since the state records note William Townsend being killed in action at fort Harrison in 1864, it is an assumption that this second William Townsend was the son of the man killed in action. However, no records could be found.
Copyright 1999-2013: Jay C. Richards

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 3, 1863: Battle of Gettysburg, Part Three

On July 3, 1863, Colonel Edward Livingston Campbell's 15th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment had secured their position on a rocky knoll on Cemetery Ridge after three hours of fighting.  The knoll was fronted by trees and was located approximately 1/8 mile from Little Round Top.  The 15th NJ was part of the 1st Division or the 6th Corps.  It's new position overlooked Emmittsburg Road and the ground on which many of the men of  the 7th, 8th and 11th NJ Regiments had died the day before.
Teenage veteran Jacob H. Cole, of Paterson, serving in the 57th New York Volunteer infantry Regiment, was a wounded prisoner of war with a shattered leg. He was moved to another knoll on Seminary Ridge so he could witness the soon-to-be famous charge of General George E. Pickett's Division. 
Cole recalled, "At one o'clock, two cannon shots in quick succession gave the signal, and instantly the Confederate position was for three miles wrapped in flame and smoke.  Nearly 140 guns opened at once on the Union lines.  The air was full of shrieking shells   and flying shot.  After an hour, the firing ceases, and for a time the stillness was oppressive.  Then I suddenly saw what it all meant.  Over the hill came a long line of skirmishers and behind them a line of battle, and behind that line another and then another.  I raised on my left elbow and watched eagerly the long lines of the enemy's infantry as they emerged from the woods on Seminary Ridge.  It presented one of the finest sights ever witnessed on a field of battle or anywhere else.  Its front was nearly a mile in length.
"With their rifles carried at a right shoulder shift, they moved steadily onward as if on a grand review, marched across the fields, on across the Emmittsburg Road, climbing over the two fences and so towards Cemetery Ridge.  Every battery in the union lines then opened fire.  The smoke after a while became so dense that I was unable to see anything further.  Just as the smoke began to lift somewhat, I was able to see again."
From their rocky knoll, the men of the 15th NJ witnessed "Pickett's Charge."  A report filed by an officer in the 15th NJ stated, "With strange emotion, we watched their coming; it was not fear, it was not surprise, but every man was silent, and grasped his weapon more closely.  When the enemy reached the middle of the plain, our batteries began to play upon him, cutting through his lines, but he came on with increasing rapidity, till the fire of musketry, which had been withheld, was poured into him.  He dropped rapidly, but nearer and nearer swept the charging columns.  Most of our batteries were out of ammunition and ceased firing, and it was left to the opposing bodies of infantry to determine the contest.  AS the charging column swept nearer, a heavier and more deadly fire stayed a body of North Carolina troops for a moment, when they broke and ran; a large number throwing down their arms and coming in as prisoners.  
"Pickett's Division had a less distance of open ground to traverse, and so great was the impetus it acquired that it passed directly over our outer-line of stone wall and rough works, and drove back the first line of troops, belonging to part of the Second Corps.  The rebel colors, indeed, were planted right on the breast works.  The critical hour of the day had come, but General [Winfield Scott] Hancock was equal to the emergency, and gathering troops from right and left, halting and re-forming the broken columns, a new line was formed, which, though bending back some distance from the former front, was a formidable barrier to the enemy's further progress.  Then from right and left, assailing either flank, was poured on a destructive fire, and our men came pressing closer, making the circuit smaller.  The fighting was short and decisive.  The rebels recoiled before the deadly fire, threw away their arms in token of submission, and on all sides crouched close to the earth in dismay.  Some thousands were captured  and moved away to the rear, our troops leaping the entrenchments, assaulted their flank and soon put them to flight, with heavy loss of killed and prisoners.  Before sundown the fighting ceased."
Cole noted, "At last I heard the Union band play.  The I knew that Pickett's grand charge at Gettysburg had failed and that the Union troops had won the victory.  After the repulse of Pickett's charge, the rebel soldiers scattered all over the field like a lot of sheep with a head.  Soon after, darkness fell upon the scene, while the Confederate troops were momentarily expecting the advance of Union troops, but no advance came, and thus closed the third day of the battle of Gettysburg.  In the early part of the night, the moon shone        very bright, and as I lay within the rebel lines, I ascertained that the rebels were about to retreat.  This I learned by overhearing General [Robert E.] Lee order General [James] Longstreet to leave a strong picket force and withdraw the troops under cover of the darkness."
Suffering from his wounds of July 2, Colonel Robert McAllister, commanding officer of the 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment, returned to Warren County, NJ to recuperate.  Instead of going home to Oxford Furnace, the colonel and his family stayed at the Belvidere Hotel.  The McAllister family eventually purchased a house in Belvidere.  McAllister returned to his regiment on September 17, 1863 at Culpepper Plantation, Virginia.
Jacob Cole was finally found by Union troops on July 5 and was taken to hospital in Philadelphia.  he remained in hospital until April 1864, when he was released.  Cole returned to his unit in time for the second day of battle in The Wilderness.
Copyright 1997-2013: Jay C. Richards 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 2, 1863: Battle of Gettysburg, Part Two

On July 2, 1863, John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, Adjutant of the 11th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment was forced to take command of the regiment since Colonel Robert McAllister was wounded, Major Kearney  was killed,  and Captains Luther Martin, Dorastus Logan, Andrew Hiram Ackerman, W. H. Lloyd, and William Dunning were either killed or wounded.  With the regiment under continuous attack by Confederate troops, Schoonover had ordered the line of battle to slowly pull back toward the artillery battery near Trostle's Lane.
Schoonover reported, "At this time we neared the caissons, which were in line across the field to the left, when I was struck a second time, with a buckshot, and being nearly exhausted in my efforts to rally the men, and from the wound in my breast, was compelled to go to the rear.  A portion of the regiment was rallied some distance to the rear by Captain Lloyd - with the flag - and charged in line with the remainder of the brigade to a point near that occupied during the hottest of the action.  Remaining there a short time, it marched some distance to the rear and bivouacked.
"To mention some may seem to do gross injustice to others, but I cannot pass by the untiring efforts of Lieutenant [John] Buckley to rally the men.  Captain Lloyd and Lieutenant [Ira] Cory also deserve special mention for their coolness and bravery.  As an individual act of bravery, I desire to mention Corporal Thomas Johnson, of Company I, who, when two color-bearers had been shot down, I ordered to take the colors and advance twenty yards to the front, as the regiment was wavering, he did so and did not leave his position until ordered to the rear.  The services of Lieutenant Joseph C. Baldwin, on the 3rd, as Acting Adjutant were invaluable. 
"In the action on the 2nd, the regiment sustained a very heavy loss.  Out of the 275 officers and men taken into the fight, 18 were killed, 130 wounded and 6 missing, making a total of 154." 
It should be noted that Lieutenant Cory's Company H had been ordered by General Joseph Bradford Carr to direct its fire against General William Barksdale, who was leading the charge of his Mississippi troops by waving his sword and wearing a red fez on his head.  Barksdale was struck down by five musket balls from the 11th NJ Regiment.
When the fighting was the fiercest at Little Round Top, Devil's Den and the wheat field, the men of the 7th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment found they were under fire from behind their line of battle.  They changed their front to a position closer to Emmittsburg Road and Trostle's Lane.  Retreating artillery from the peach orchard ran through the line, splitting the unit in two.  The regiment came under heavy fire from the approaching Southern troops.  The regiment could not return fire because and could not lay down in the lane because the artillery temporarily blocked the lane.  Colonel Louis Francine discussed the situation with his field officers and decided that a charge was the only hope for the regiment.  Francine yelled, "Fix Bayonets!; Forward, Double Quick! Charge!"
The 7th NJ charged across the field of fire, cheering as they ran.  The 7th reached the line of the 2nd New Hampshire, halted and opened fire on the rebels.  Colonel Francine, his adjutant, and one third of the regiment had fallen dead or wounded during the charge.  Lieutenant Colonel Francis Price rallied the remnants of the regiment at the Trostle house.  When Price was shot, Major Frederick Cooper took command.
The losses to the 7th NJ were 114 killed, wounded or missing.  The men of Company E, from Belvidere, Hope, Harmony and Oxford sustained the following wounded: Sergeant Calvin J. Osmun, Sergeant James Roseberry, Corporal Edward Creveling (of Phillipsburg), Corporal David Rockafellow, William Pettit, James McKeever, John S. Gulick, Michael Barry, Robert Dalrymple, and Joseph Weaver.
Colonel Edward Campbell, of Belvidere, and his 15th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment were in Manchester, Maryland when the battle started.  The 15th NJ reached Gettysburg at approximately 3:00 p.m. on July 2, after a non-stop march of 35 miles in 16 hours.  At 7:00 p.m., after resting and eating, the 15th NJ and the remainder of the old 1st New Jersey Brigade, of the 1st Division, 6th Army Corps, were sent to the front.  They were sent to a rocky knoll fronted with trees, approximately 1/8 of a mile from Little Round Top.  In front was the ground on which many of the men of the 7th, 8th, and 11th NJ regiments had died.  It took almost three hours of fighting to secure the rocky knoll on the morning of July 3.  From their rocky knoll, the men of the 15th NJ witnessed "Pickett's Charge" on the 2nd Corps' line of battle.
Copyright 1997-2013: Jay C. Richards

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1-2, 1863: Battle of Gettysburg, Part One

In June 1863, the soldiers of New Jersey's nine-months regiments were mustered out of federal service and returned home.  The 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment's Company G, under the command of Captain Benjamin F. Howey, and Company I ["The Belvidere Infantry Company"], under the command of Captain Richard     Drake, arrived in Belvidere by train from Trenton on June 28.  They were welcomed at the depot by Captain George Washington Tunis and his Warren Guards.  Led by the Belvidere Brass Band and Captain Hendrickson's Band of Martial Music, the veterans were escorted to Garret D. Wall Park where they were welcomed with speeches. 
Meanwhile, opposing armies marched into Pennsylvania.  On July 1, Federal cavalry commanded by Brigadier General John Buford attacked an advancing column of Confederate infantry at Gettysburg, Pa.   The Confederates were seeking shoes, food and other supplies from Gettysburg and Hanover, Pa.  and had not planned to be in battle.  General Buford noticed his men were on the high ground with an excellent field of fire so he attacked. 
Troops from the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Federal Army of the Potomac rushed toward Gettysburg without stopping.  The main fight began on July 2.
The Confederate counter-attack on the Federal lines did not start at dawn on July 2, which was a pleasant surprise to the Union troops who had arrived in Gettysburg after a long, forced march.  However, once the attack began, it was very fierce.  General Daniel Sickles was in a hurry to get his Union Third Corps into the fight so he ordered his troops forward - ahead of the remainder of the Federal line. Sickles' advance placed his troops across the Emmittsburg Road  and into the woods - in an area occupied by half of the Confederate forces.  
Men of the 7th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment came under heavy artillery fire on their position at an orchard near Trostle's Lane. the 7th NJ had been assigned to give support to Union artillery batteries there.  The Confederate artillery were firing down on them from the top of Seminary Ridge.
Jacob Cole, of Paterson, a 16-year old veteran who served in Elmer Ellsworth's Fire Zouaves [11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment] at the First Battle of Manassas [or Bull Run], was serving in Company A, of the 57th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Cole recalled in his 1906 autobiography Under Five Commanders, "When about four o'clock p.m., the order came to move, the Fifty-Seventh fell in, filed left, went into the woods and was soon under fire.  As we pushed forward, a bullet struck my right arm and passed through it.  As we charged into the wheat field a shell exploded and shattered my right leg and killed two of my comrades.  when I was shot in the arm, the feeling was the same as though I had been struck on the elbow - a feeling of numbness came into my arm - and I turned to the comrade  by my side and asked him why he had hit me.  He said, 'I did not hit you, but you have been shot and you had better go to the rear.'  Shortly after I was injured by the shell.
"After my leg was shattered, I fell down, laying for a few minutes unconscious, and when I came to my senses, I found I was surrounded by the enemy, and a rebel officer was standing over me with one foot on my wounded leg.  I pleaded with him to step off my wounded leg. He said in answer to my pleadings, drawing his sword, 'You damn Yankee.  I will cut your heart out.'  And as he raised his sword, a ball came from the direction of Little Round Top and cut him through the throat, and he fell beside me dead."  Cole was later carried by Confederate soldiers to a small knoll overlooking Emmittsburg Road from where he witnessed the third day of battle and the famous "Pickett's Charge."
Colonel Robert McAllister's 11th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment was in the apple  orchard/wheat field area when Mississippi troops began to advance on it.  As Colonel McAllister, of Oxford Furnace, pointed his sword toward the advancing rebel soldiers to order his men to open fire, he was shot in the left leg by a Minnie ball and was hit in the right foot by a piece of artillery shell.  He gave his order to open fire just prior to being carried to the rear for medical treatment.  
McAllister reported, "We (the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers) were in front of the apple orchard at the Smith house, along the Emmittsburg Road.  During this heavy artillery firing - we not being actively engaged - I ordered my men to lie down.   the shot and shell played over our heads and through the apple trees in our rear, carrying the branches through the air like chaff.  The gunners and horses of our artillery  were rapidly cut down.  If the destruction of life could have been left out of mind, I would have considered the scene grand beyond description.  So exciting was it that I could not keep lying down.  I had to jump up and watch the grand duel.  In about half an hour, the artillery ceased and the first charge of the rebel infantry was made in my front.  We prepared to receive the charge.  I ordered my men to 'Fire.' I was on the right of my regiment.  As the rebels advanced, our pickets came into our lines, and we received the charge.  I was wounded while passing from the right to the center of my regiment - severely wounded by a minie ball passing through my left leg and a shell striking my right foot.  I did not see a single man in the regiment flinch or show the least cowardice under that terrific cannonading of the fierce charge which we met."
John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, McAllister's Adjutant, had his horse shot out from under him during the artillery barrage.  He reported, "A few minutes to the command, 'FIRE,' Major Kearney, then standing near me, on the left of the line, was struck by a Minnie ball and mortally wounded in the knee, and was immediately carried to the rear; at this moment, Battery K, United States Artillery, then stationed a short distance to the left and front of the regiment, opened a rapid fire. I then passed rapidly to the right of the regiment, in order to inform the Colonel of the absence of the Major, and learned that he, too, had been wounded and taken to the rear.  I immediately notified Captain [Luther] Martin, the senior officer present, that he was in command of the regiment, and again passed to the left of the line, when an order was received from Brigadier General [Joseph Bradford] Carr to slightly change the front by bringing the left to the rear; this being executed, the entire regiment opened an effective fire upon the advancing line of the enemy.  At this point, word was conveyed to me that both Captains Martin and [Dorastus] Logan were wounded and being carried to the rear.  A moment later, Captain [Andrew Hiram] Ackerman [of Belvidere] fell dead by my side.  The two former were killed before they reached a place of safety; and in justice to the memory of these three officers, permit me to bear witness to their unexceptional good conduct. Ever to the front, distinguished for personal bravery, they leave behind them a spotless record.
"By this time, Captain [W.H.] Lloyd had also been wounded, and Captain [William] Dunning being absent assisting the colonel to the rear, I assumed command of the regiment.  The fire of the enemy at this time was perfectly terrific; men were falling on every side; it seemed as if but a few minutes could elapse before the entire line would be shot down, yet the galling fire was returned with equal vigor.  Slowly and stubbornly the regiment fell back, keeping up a continual fire upon the line of the enemy which was still advancing, until more than one-half     its number had been either killed or wounded.  Up to this time, both officers and men nobly did their duty, but the ranks becoming so decimated, and mingled with wounded men, and the line in the rear, and having a short time previous been struck with a piece of shell in the breast, I found it impossible, under the circumstances, to longer keep the line together..."
Copyright 1997-2013: Jay C. Richards

June 1863: The Capture of General "Rooney" Lee

In June 1863, after the battle of Brandy Station, Virginia, Lieutenant Charles Butts and Company I ("The Belvidere Company") of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry were raiding in Hanover Country, Virginia.  Jacob P. Wright, of Belvidere, filed a report for The Belvidere Intelligencer dated June 27.  Wright reported, "We left here [White House, Va.] with 1,250 cavalry, went within 12 miles of Richmond and found no force, but heard of some.  We passed through New Kent County, thence up to Hanover Court House, Hanover County.  Here we destroyed the railroad depot and bridge, captured a train of 200 wagons, and 200 mules, harnesses, &c.  We could only bring 35 of the wagons so we were compelled to destroy the remainder.  Our next point was the railroad bridge on the South Ana River, below Fredericksburg, so off we started, meeting with no opposition until near the bridge, where we captured the rebel pickets, and soon saw the enemy in pretty strong force at the bridge. 
"We found they had forts and breast works thrown up, and a block house erected on the bridge.  We advanced, dismounted a company of our riflemen, and while they engaged them in front, the Colonel swam two companies over the river below, and came in their rear.  We found part of a regiment there, and I do assure you they fought desperately, but they had the brave 11th to contend against, and when our two companies  charged them upon their works, after a severe hand-to-hand struggle with saber and pistol, those in the breast works were compelled to surrender.  Then we went after those who escaped from the inner breast works to the outer one and captured them.  Then we attacked and captured the block house.  Oh! It was exciting! Such shouting on both sides of the river you never heard, in which the Doctor and I were compelled to join.  We killed seven rebels  and left many mortally wounded, and brought away 81 privates and five commissioned officers. A Lieutenant Colonel was commanding.
"We then heard that General [William Henry Fitzhugh] Lee, son of R. E. Lee, who was wounded in the late fight at Culpepper [Brandy Station], was in the neighborhood.  A colored man led us to the house [at Hickory Hill, Va.], and sure enough, there we found him.  We put him in his splendid carriage, to which was attached a pair of matched horses, and brought him with us.  We also captured a Captain of the Navy, a surgeon, and a paymaster with $20,000 in Confederate bonds.  We then burned the bridge and turned our faces to this point where we expected a large force to meet us;  and here we are, after three days hard march through three counties of Virginia, embracing the most beautiful section I have yet seen - bringing us 400 head of mules, 35 wagons, a large number of contrabands and 100 prisoners, among whom is Gen. Lee.  We also captured several mails.  I send you some of the letters. General [John] Dix was up here to meet us."
General Lee was shipped by train to New York as a prisoner-of-war. On February 25, 1864, he was exchanged for Federal Brigadier General Neal S. Dow.  Lee returned to his father and the Army of Northern Virginia to continue his wartime service.
Copyright 1997-2013: Jay C. Richards