Imágenes de páginas
PDF

thrown too many obstacles in our way for us to overtake them. The troops were then encamped in a kind of semi-circle, extending from Warrenton vm Auburn, to the line of railway near Catlett's Station. On the evening of the ninth instant, a General Order indicating the line of forts was issued to the corps commanders, and early on the morning of the seventh—Saturday—the troops fell back into column in the following order: the Sixth corps moved from Warrenton to Rappahannock Station; the Second, Third, and Fifth corps marched by Warrenton Junction along the line of railroad by way of Bealton, where the First corps brought up our extreme left. I should have stated that our cavalry was out some days on a reconnoissance, and had ascertained that the enemy occupied the forts at Rappahannock Station, and were also in force to the south of Kelly's Ford. From Bealton the Fifth corps continued in direct line of march to form a junction with the Sixth, while the Second and Third deployed for Kelly's Ford.

TOE FIGHT AT KELLY'S FORD.

The Third corps was in the advance, and as they neared the ford, they threw out strong lines of skirmishers and sharp-shooters. General Birney, who was in command of the corps, advanced two batteries and placed Randolph on the right, near Mount Holly Church, and the Tenth Massachusetts battery on the left Though the enemy shelled us all the time while our batteries were Retting into position, still we suffered very little. Our position now was a strong one. A range of high hills rises abruptly along the north side of the river, their wooded crest, and the little brick church peeping out of the foliage giving them a picturesque appearance. At their base runs the Rappahannock, while a little way up on the south side of the river are the mill and extensive concerns of Mr. Kelly, whose son is now enjoying free quarters in the Old Capitol.

Our battery now occupied a sweeping range of the extensive plateau on the south side. Under shelter of the guns, which were vomiting forth shot and shell on them and forcing them back from the river, the working parties advanced to lay the pontoons. The First division, commanded by General Ward, was now massed, and the Third brigade ordered to lead the attack. They were commanded by Colonel de Trobriand, native of Britanny, France, who has displayed the chivalrous daring of his race. The pontoons were now laid, the enemy's guns were silenced, and the attacking party rapidly advanced across the bridge. The First United States Sharp-shooters, known as Berdan's Sharp-shooters, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Trappe, were in front Having gained the opposite bank, the Sharp-shooters, armed with Sharpe's rifles, deployed and charged the enemy's rifle-pits, and after a brisk fire of musketry, the enemy, finding themselves surrounded on all sides, threw down their arms and surrendered.

Our regiments engaged were the First United States Sharp-shooters, the Fortieth New-York, Vol. VIII.—Doc. 11

the First and Twentieth Indiana, the Third and Fifth Michigan, and the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania, but the brunt of the fight fell on the Sharp-shooters. We captured Colonel Cleason, of the Twelfth Virginia, who was in command; one surgeon, one major, two captains, several lieutenants, and nearly five hundred privates. They mostly belonged to the Twelfth Virginia, Thirteenth North-Carolina, and Ninth Alabama, and were skirmishers selected from Swell's corps. We lost in killed and wounded about thirty-five; the enemy I should think the same. As Captain Maynard, Commissary of Subsistence, was giving a drink to a wounded rebel, he was hit by a stray ball, and died next morning.

This and the fight at Rappahannock Station must have a disheartening and demoralizing effect on the enemy. One thing is certain: they did not fight with their accustomed desperate bravery, and numbers of them openly expressed their joy at being captured. Some of the officers even stated that the "rascals did not fight, and only wanted the opportunity of deserting us." This tells enough for the war feeling of the South. It was also certain that Lee was outmanoeuvred this time, for they were taken by suprise, both at Kelleyville and at Rappahannock Station.

Just before we attacked the forts on the north side of the river, General Lee was over with Colonel Godwin, who was in command, and gave him his instructions. He had the pleasure of seeing from the other side his troops captured, without the possibility of assisting them.

THE FIGHT AT RAPPAHANNOCK STATION.

The Rappahannock Station is protected by several strong forts. On the north sido is a strong fort, two redoubts, and several rifle-pits. These were protected by a force of nearly two thousand men, and a battery of guns, in command of Colonel Godwin, of the Fifty-fourth North-Carolina. They were part of Ewell's corps, Early's division. It was about three o'clock when the head of the column neared the station. A heavy line of skirmishers and sharp-shooters was thrown out to cover the advance of our batteries. There is a commanding position to the rear of the forts, and here Martin's and the First reserve artillery of heavy guns got into position and opened on the foe. Just before dark the storming parties— Russell's and Upton's brigades, led by General Russell in person—wore formed. The Fiftli corps were now advancing on the centre, and threw out the Fifth division in support of the Sixth corps, and in order to take up a position lower down the river, so as to cover the advance and cut off the enemy's retreat that way.

The batteries now opened fiercely and desperately on one another. Shot and shell flew like hail across the river, sweeping through the forts on both sides. The storming party, comprising the Sixth Maine, the Fifth Wisconsin, and the Fourteenth New-York, now rushed on the forts, while a strong party took possession of the pontoon, thus cutting off the enemy's retreat and their chance of succor. Our troops dashed into the pits and forts on every side, and one of the fiercest hand-to-hand conflicts of the war commenced. The troops poured one fierce volley along the forts. The assailants actually grasped the bayonets of the defenders. As friend and foe were promiscuously mingled together, the batteries on both sides ceased, and the ringing cheers and shouts and death-groans rung above the sound of musketry. Men grappled one another in their death-struggles—some fighting with their clubbed muskets, others with their fists.

This fierce and savage conflict continued for about twenty minutes, but our supports were pouring in from every side, and the enemy, finding longer resistance useless, surrendered. One wild cheer, one wild huzza, informed General Lee that we were successful, and in a few minutes the Stripes and Stars floated above the trampled palmetto. Our victory was decisive, and no fewer than four colonels—two of them commanding brigades—one hundred and thirty-two officers, and fifteen hundred men fell into our hands, besides four guns, four caissons, and eight battleflags. Leo availed himself of the darkness of the night to effect his escape.

REPORT OP COLONEL EDWARDS.

Headquarthrs Fifth Maine Regiment 1
Novembers, 18<B. f

General: I have the honor respectfully to give the following account of the late movement of this regiment:

On the morning of the seventh instant, I received orders to move my regiment from its former encampment near Warrenton, in company with the corps; accordingly we took up our line of march toward the Rappahannock Station, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. After marching nearly fifteen miles, we discovered the enemy occupying a strong position near the Station, intrenched within redoubts and rifle-pits. At three o'clock P.m., the Twenty-First NewYork volunteers and my regiment were ordered forward to the front, in line of battle. Being upon an open plain, with scarcely any protection, the advance was slow and cautious. During this advance the enemy made but little demonstration upon us, except an occasional shell or shot. Approaching within about five hundred yards of the enemy's rifle-pits, we were ordered to lie down at a point where the crest or small elevation of ground afforded us a little protection, which position we held until nearly seven o'clock r.M., when I received orders to move my regiment forward. The line of battle was Fifth Maine volunteers on the right, and Twenty-First NewYork volunteers on the left, the line consisting of about five hundred and fifty muskets. Under cover of the night, we approached to within twenty-five yards of the enemy in his pits, when I gave the order to "charge." At this moment we received a terrific volley from the enemy's infantry, and the next, our boys had sprung into the. rifle-pits, sweeping every thing before them. These iutrenchments were occupied by more

than double the men that my own front presented, but so sudden and unexpected was our movement upon them, that the enemy seemed _paralyzed. After disarming them, by a rapid movement to the right, we succeeded in capturing nearly the whole force in the pits, who were then ignorant of the fate of those on the left. During the entire charge, my regiment did not fire a gun, carrying all at the point of the bayonet, and the following are the captures made by this regiment alone:

One thousand two hundred prisoners, one thousand two hundred small arms, one caisson, and four stands of colors. Of the prisoners, there were over one hundred commissioned officers, including five colonels, one lieutenant-colonel, and one major.

The enemy's force consisted of the First Louisiana brigade, and a North-Carolina brigade, comprising the Sixth, Seventh, and Fifty-fourth regiments. The First Louisiana brigade (most of which fell into the hands of my regiment) was the first command ever assigned to the late General "Stonewall" Jackson. We occupied the fortifications during the night, advancing to near Brandy Station yesterday. The affair was a complete and glorious victory.

It affords me the greatest pleasure to report the unwavering bravery of every officer and man in my command, each vying with the other in the execution of various deeds—none flin:hing, but pressing forward with a determined will to win. Where all so nobly did their whole duty, it is difficult to discriminate between them.

The colors captured by this regiment were from the following regiments, and taken by the officers and men whose names I take great satisfaction in reporting:

Eighth Louisiana, captured by Lieutenant A. S. Lyon, commanding company K.

Sixth North-Carolina, captured by James Littlefield, company I.

Seventh North-Carolina, captured by Corporal T. P. Blondell, company D.

Fifty-fourth North-Carolina, captured by Corporal T. Shackford, company A.

The loss in my regiment in this engagement was seven killed and twenty-eight wounded.

I am, General, very respectfully, 3'our obedient servant, C. S. Edwards,

Colonel Commanding Fifth Maine Volunteers. Brigadier-General J. L. Hodsdon, Adjutant-General State of Maine.

BOSTON JOURNAL ACCOUNT.

Headquarters Third Brigade, First Division, I
Sixth Corps, November —, 1363. 1

You may welcome a detailed account of the recent action at Rappahanock Ford, in which several New-England regiments took a most prominent and glorious part

This brigade is composed of the Fifth Wisconsin, commanded by Colonel T. S. Allen; the Sixth Maine, Lieutenant-Colonel B. F. Harris; the Fortyninth Pennsylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel T. M. Hulings, and the One Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsylvania, Colonel P. C. Ellmaker—all volunteer regiments. The brigade commander is BrigadierGeneral David A. Russell, of the regular army, formerly well known to Massachusetts as the able colonel of one of her best regiments, the Seventh.

The late operations on the seventh instant were conducted on the left, at Kelley's Ford, by the First, Second, and Third corps, under command of Major-Gencral French, and on the right, at Rappahanock Ford, by the Fifth and Sixth corps, tinder command of Major-Gencral Sedgwick. In this corps, Brigadier-General Wright had command of the corps in Sedgwick's place, while General Russell assumed the command of the First division, vacated by General Wright.

At daybreak, on the morning of the seventh instant, this corps left its pleasant camps in and around Warr'enton, and moved rapidly on toward Rappahanock Station, this division leading the corps, while this brigade had the advance in the division. After marching about six miles, we arrived at Fayetteville, where all the companies but one, of the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania volunteers, were thrown out as flankers and skirmishers. Thus we advanced, unmolested by the enemy, and arrived about noon at Rappahanock Station. Here we halted in the edge of a piece of timber, distant about a mile and a half from the river. "We at once formed a line of battle, the left resting on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and the right of our division line connecting with the left of the Second division of this corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Howe. To our left, on the other side of the railroad, extended the lines of the Fifth corps. The Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, Fifth Wisconsin, and One Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsylvania formed our brigade front. The Sixth Maine were posted about a hundred paces in advance of our centre, and shortly after we had halted, the skirmishers of the Forty-ninth were relieved by five companies of the Sixth Maine, who were rapidly thrown forward to the crest of a hill half a mile to our front. About three o'clock P.m., the skirmish-line was advanced to the foot of a hill rising from the river. This hill is in reality a part of the river-bank, which here rises up so as to command the front for a mile or more, and was further strengthened by an elaborate redoubt, containing two twelve - pound Parrott guns, taken originally from Milroy at the capitulation of Winchester. On the rebel right, and near the railway, was another smaller redoubt, (also containing two three-inch ordnance guns taken from us, the one at Antietam, the other at Chancellorsville,) which crowned a hill but little lower than the one just described, from which it was distant some six hundred feet. To the enemy's left of the larger fortification, extended a long line of formidable, carefully constructed rifle-pits. These redoubts and rifle-pits were lined with troops—in short, Stonewall Jackson's old brigade was there. The famous Louisiana Tigers were here too. There was one entire brigade (five regiments) and three regiments of another brigade, all under command of General Hayes.

The regiments were well dressed, finely equipped, and splendidly armed.

Now for our position. Between us and these works lay a hill, which shut them off from our view. Descending this, and passing over several hundred yards of broken country, you come to another hill, from whose crest were visible the enemy's intrenchments and the opposite side of the river. Between this second hill and the enemy lay a distance of half a mile, flat, to be sure, but trying ground for a charge. For, in the first place, right across tho path extended a ditch twelve or fourteen feet wide, with steep banks, some six feet deep, and filled with mud and water to an average depth of three feet. Crossing this, the field was broken for some distance with stumps and underbrush, then came a smooth, clear stretch, then a road, then a dry moat, some twelve feet wide and five deep, and above you rose the strong, defying fortifications. It was indeed a position of immense strength, and well justified the rebel belief that they could hold it against our entire army. But they reckoned without General Russell and his gallant brigade— a brigade which has been his care and pride, and which he waited but this opportunity to test the metal of. Just before sunset, our skirmish-line, under command of Major Fuller, of the Sixth Maine, lay on the other side of the dry moat above described, connecting on its left with a sister regiment, the Twentieth Maine, belonging to the Fifth corps. The railway at this point deflected slightly to the loft, and some of the skirmishers of the Twentieth, commanded by Captain Morrill, found themselves on our side of the railway. At this time General Russell sent word to General Wright that the works in his front could be carried by storm, and that he desired to try it. Permission was given, and General Russell at once moved forward his brigade in two lines of battle, the front line consisting of the remaining five companies of the Sixth Maine on the left and the Fifth Wisconsin on the right, and the rear line of tho Forty-ninth Pennsylvania on the left, and the One Hundred and Nineteenth on the right. As senior colonel, Colonel P. C. Ellmaker, of the One Hundred and Nineteenth, was in command of the brigade this day, and well and gallantly did he sustain himself in his new and trying position.

The rear line was halted at the foot of the second hill, and the front line moved to its top. On nearing the top, the other five companies of the Sixth Maine were deployed as skirmishers, rapidly spread out, and covered their fellows in the advance, while the Fifth Wisconsin, directing themselves in solid line of battle upon the stronger and larger fort, followed closely up. As the skirmish-line was advancing, Major Fuller, who had recognized the Twentieth Maine men, said to Captain Morrill, who had formerly been a noncommissioned officer in his own regiment, and who was in command of a skirmish detail of seventy-five men, that the Sixth Maine was on his right, and asked him if he would not charge the fort in front with them. Captain Morrill at once ran along tho line of his skirmishers. "Boys," said he, "the Sixth Maine is on our right; let's go in with them." About fifty men of the Twentieth Maine at once responded to this call, and like true soldiers rushed into the danger with tho Sixth. Pressing forward with the skirmish-line went their general; tho rear skirmishers scramble through tho moat, they are up with the advance, General Russell orders the "charge," and forward, with fixed bayonets, without stopping to fire a shot, dash the gallant fellows. Several shell have been thrown to stay their course, and now from four cannon belches forth a torrent of spherical case, and tho air is resonant with the hum of thousands of rifle-bullets. The skirmishers leap the parapet, the right wing passes through the stronger redoubt, and wheels down to aid its left in the fort nearest the railway, leaving the Fifth Wisconsin to complete the work so well begun in the larger fort Hand to hand they fight with triple their number. Walker, the senior captain of the Fifth Wisconsin, the scarred hero of a score of battles, has fallen, mortally wounded in the head, between the larger redoubt and the rifle-pit on its left. Gallant Captain Ordway, next on the list, of the same regiment, as he leaps upon the parapet and waves his sword, to stimulate his men, falls dead inside the fort, shot through the heart Close by Walker lies the stalwart form of the hitherto unhurt Furlong, captain in the Sixth Maine— poor, brave, warm-hearted Furlong! Within the fort, pierced through the body, and with his brains blown out lies Lieutenant McKinley, of the same regiment. At the foot of the hill, in the road, lies Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, with a shattered hip—Harris, than whom no better or braver officer lives. Half-way up tho ascent lies Major Wheeler, of the Fifth Wisconsin, but just recovered from a previous wound, to be again struck down. At the edge of the parapet, urging on the men, Lieutenant Russell, aid-de-camp and near relative to the General, is smitten from his horse with a dangerous wound—a courageous, high-toned soldier. Close by him falls Clark, Adjutant of the Sixth Maine—rebel-hating, rebeldefying, even as he was borne from the Held.

The General had already sent back for the rest of his brigade; yet during the ten minutes that perhaps passed before they could come up at the "double-quick," sixteen out of twenty-one officers, and a hundred and twenty-three out of three hundred and fifty enlisted men, of tho Sixth Maine, had fallen, and of the Fifth Wisconsin, seven officers and fifty-six men were killed and wounded. The moment is a trying one. Captains Packard and Tyler, and Lieutenant Russell, the entire staff of the General commanding the division, have all in succession been sent back to hurry up tho remainder of the brigade. But how can men, encumbered with knapsack, gun, equipments, and eight days' rations — a weight of sixty pounds or more—get over tho ground any faster than are the Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Nineteenth coming on? The moment is a trying one, for from the rifle-pit to

the left of their larger redoubt the rebels are pouring in a murderous, enfilading fire upon our men in that work, and are striving vainly to regain their lost vantage-ground; while their fellows, driven from the smaller work, and unable to cross the river, reenforce them in numbers. But the heavy tramp of swiftly coming feet is heard above the din of musketry, the General himself rides down the hill, across the moat and road, to meet his advancing column—the "double-quick" becomes a run, from the fort the Fifth Wisconsin shout for assistance, and with a wild burst Pennsylvania goes into the fight And now all resistance at the forts is at an end. The sullen prisoners are sent to the rear. Now seven rebel battle-flags are brought up to the edge of the rifle-pit for the disheartened foe to rally around. The sight stimulate* the officers of the two Pennsylvania regiments to madness, and they beg permission of General Russell to take down the flaunting rags. That officer, however, cool and self-possessed, even when danger is at its height, refuses, for the men are needed to hold the captured works, and he has already sent back message after message to the Second brigade (commanded by Colonel Emory Upton) to hurry forward two regiments to charge those rifle-pits, and he will not expose his men to an attack from foe and friend alike. Surely and swiftly, needing no reminder when he knows he is needed at the front comes forward Upton—courageous and ambitious—with his solid columns, loading as they advance at the double-quick. They unsling their knapsacks at the foot of tho hill, and with the deep AngloSaxon "hurrah," the gallant One Hundred and Twenty-first New-York and Fifth Maine dash at the rifle-pits. The Fifth is on the right and the One Hundred and Twenty-first on the left of their advancing line. Dusk has now fairly shut in. "Steady, men, don't fire a shot" rings out Upton's voico above the roar of battle, and at a charge in they go. One volley only is fired at them, and the deadly pit is theirs. Through tho pit and down tho hill they go to the rebel pontoon-bridge, now and for some time too hot for a safe passage. The rebels are huddled in flocks, like frightend sheep, and arc captured by hundreds. Tho firing ceases, and the day is ours.

Thus ended one of the most daring and successful exploits of this war—an exploit which was the sole offspring of one man's brain. The hour and occasion were propitious, the troops were reliable, and General Russell seized his opportunity.

What are the results? Four guns, four caissons, filled with ammunition, five limbers, one color, five hundred prisoners, several horses, and many hundred stand of small arms, were captured by Russell's brigade alone. Two strong redoubts, the key to the rebel position at this point, were carried by a mere skirmish line. Colonel Upton's brigade, the movements of which were directed by General Russell, took. some one thousand one hundred prisoners, the rebel pontoon-bridge, seven colors, and a stroug rifle-pit. The whole constitutes a more glorious and magnificent result than has attended the victories of entire armies in this war. And this result was obtained by a brigade whose numerical strength was but one thousand five hundred and forty-nine, officers and men, assisted by two regiments only of another brigade, and opposed to a force of more than double their number.

The success of this operation is entirely attributable to the personal bravery, labor, and supervision of the commanding General, David A. Russell. No more modest, unassuming man serves in this army, and for himself he claims and asks no credit Only for his regiments here, as in camp, is he solicitous; and for those regiments, the Fifth Wisconsin and Sixth Maine, composing the party that stormed the redoubt, and the Forty-ninth and One Hundred and Nineteenth Pennsylvania, who so promptly and bravely supported the storming column, is he jealous. Yet his post, as a division commander, was well to the rear of his troops. In place of that position, he accompanied the skirmish lino, was with them in the assault, rode over every inch of the battle-field, did the business of a dozen aids, rode fearless and triumphant amid the storm of bullets, provided for every contingency, and when, finally, the day was ours, was perhaps the least exultant man upon that hill.

Too much praise cannot be given to any regiments engaged in this fight; but the meed of honor is more especially due to the men and officers of the Fifth Wisconsin and Sixth Maine. The help rendered by our artillery must not be forgotten. A battery of the Fifth corps, planted in a piece of woods to the left of the railway, (I am informed the battery was formerly Griffin's and afterward Hazlctt's,) made some splendid shooting. On a hill running to the right of the storming party, from which hill the enemy's skirmishers were driven by Howe's skirmishers of the Second division, were planted Martin's and Waterman's batteries, and four twentypound Parrott guns from the reserve artillery. The rebels say that the shells from all these guns were dropped directly over their works, and were thrown with more precision than they ever before witnessed. Tandem.

A REBEL NARRATIVE—CAPTURE OF HOKE'S BRIGADE.

At Ocr Old Camps On The R.mmw,)
November 10, 1868. f

To the Editor of the Examiner:

A history of the misfortune which befel our brigade on the afternoon of Saturday, the seventh instant, is due to the friends of the unfortunate officers and soldiers at home. I therefore beg leave to offer, for the information of such, only such information as I have been able to gather from the officers who escaped. On Friday the Louisiana brigade, under Brigadier-General Hayes, was sent across the Rappahannock to act as a picket-guard at the point whore the railroad from Culpepcr Court-House to Manassas crosses the Rappahannock. Whilst the enemy

held this road, during the latter part of the summer, he had thrown up a line of breastworks from a point a short distance below the end of the railroad bridge, on the other side, which works faced from the river and extended some distance up, and diverging from the river. The Louisianians occupied the lower part of these works; the pontoon-bridge, the only place of crossing for infantry, being upon their left, and about one hundred yards above where the railroad bridge had been burned. At half-past two o'clock P.m., the long-roll was beat in our encampment, and every man fit for duty called upon to fall in—we knew not why, as we had no artillery, the day being quite windy, and our camp being about six miles from the river. The whole of Early's division was marched rapidly to the river. Brigadier-General Hoke's brigade of three regiments, the Sixth, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-seventh, now commanded by Colonel A. C. Godwin, formerly first provost-marshal of Richmond, was ordered over the river to occupy the extreme left of the breastworks. This brigade crossed the river under a heavy fire of artillery, (for the Louisianians were already sustaining a furious fire from several batteries.) This fire from the artillery and sharp-shooters was kept up until after sunset. The other two brigades of General Early's division, commanded by Brigadier-Generals Gordon and Pegram, were held in position on this side the river. By sunset the enemy had extended his lines, in the form of a half-moon, so as to envelop our forces entirely, his right and left resting on the river above and below. At the same time he had formed three lines of attack, one behind the other, to assault the works held by General Hayes and the right of Hoke's brigade. The sun had gone down when this terrible onset was made. Although the odds were greatly against us, and we had only four pieces of artillery on that side of the river, our men received the shock as brave men only do. The Louisianians fought with a desperation. The enemy's front line was torn to pieces, and scattered in confusion. Being reenforced by the second and third lines, the enemy again advanced upon the works, and, by overpowering numbers, leaped the works into the ditch, and came to a hand-to-hand fight

Our brave men, being thus so greatly outnumbered, were compelled to yield. Some surrendered, others rushed to the pontoon and escaped, some others, being cut off from that, plunged into the river below and swam across, a few being drowned; General Hayes escaped after he had surrendered; Colonels Monaghan and Peck swam the river. More than half this brigade are missing. The extreme right of General Hoke's brigade fought with equal valor, and . shared a similar fate. The possession of the works held by the Louisianians gave the enemy possession of the pontoon-bridge, and thus cut off General Hoke's brigade from any escape, except by swimming. Our extreme right being thrown back, tlte brave Colonel Godwin, although surrounded on all sides, except on the river-side,

« AnteriorContinuar »