G. G. (George Grenville) Benedict.

Vermont in the civil war. A history of the part taken by the Vermont soldiers and sailors in the war for the Union, 1861-5 (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryG. G. (George Grenville) BenedictVermont in the civil war. A history of the part taken by the Vermont soldiers and sailors in the war for the Union, 1861-5 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 52)
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3 3433 08179771 8

collection of
Lieut, Col. Francis Hunter Hardie

united states army

0>' V t R M N T , I •:

















;*8TO«. LENOX X'^'

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886,


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives : — That the Gov-
ernor is hereby authorized and instructed to appoint a suitable person as
State Historian, whose duty sliall be, in a reasonable time, to collect and
compile, ready for publication, a History of the part taken by the Vermont
soldiers and sailors in the War of the Rebellion : Provided, such persons
as shall, upon application of said historian, furnish him with items of
history, memoranda or dates, shall do so free of charge.


The State of Vermont delayed too long to make provision
for a history of the part taken by her troops in the great civil
war. During the years thus lost, the grave closed over many
who helped to make the history and who could have furnished
valuable information to the historian. When, at last, the
legislature acted on the siibject, the labor of preparing the
history was committed to one whose other exacting duties
might well have excused him from this task. The work of
preparation was then suspended for two years in consequence
of a defect in the legislation upon the subject. It has been
further delayed by the unfortunate provision forbidding any
outlay from the State treasury for information and historical
materials, and by prolonged delays (and some absolute fail-
ures) to contribute indispensable information, on the part of
many of those best qualified to furnish facts and describe
events. As a class, it must be said, the Vermont soldiers
have not been eager to recite their deeds. This fact was
noticeable during the war, especially so far as the members of
the First Brigade were concerned ; and their reluctance to
tell their own story seems not to have lessened much as
time has gone on. Some, however, have rendered important
aid to the historian. My acknowledgments are especially
due to Colonel William C. Holbrook of the Seventh regi-
ment. Captain George N. Carpenter and Herbert E. Hill
of the Eighth, Captain Charles F. Branch of the Ninth,
Lieut. Colonel Aldace F. Walker of the Eleventh ; Captain
H. K. Ide of the First Vermont cavalry and Lieut. Colonel
W. Y. W. Eipley of the First U. S. Sharpshooters, for their


laborious and valuable contributions. Others have aided in
other ways or in less degree. The regimental history of the
Tenth Vermont by Chaplain Haynes and "Walker's spirited
history of the Vermont brigade in the Shenandoah Valley
have been freely drawn on. Adjutant General Peter T.
Washburn's War Reports have of course been a mine of in-
dispensable facts and statistics. To Colonel Robert N. Scott,
U. S. A., in charge of the exhaustive compilation of the
Official Records of the civil war ; to Major Merritt Barber,
Assistant Adjutant General, U. S. A., and to Adjutant General
T. S. Peck of Vermont, my thanks are due for valuable assist-
ance and numerous official courtesies.

The materials thus obtained have been supplemented by
various special contributions, relating to particular battles or
events ; by personal recollections ; diaries of soldiers in the
field ; army letters to friends ; and war correspondence in
the newspapers. No available source of information has
been intentionally neglected, and to the knowledge thus
obtained I have added considerable study of the official
reports and records of both the Union and Confederate
armies, and of the works of historians on both sides.

The task assigned to me, was not to make an entertain-
ing description of war scenes and army life ; but to record
facts. The space occupied by the records of the service of
twenty-four different organizations of infantry, cavalry, artil-
lery and sharpshooters, comprising over thirty thoiisand -men,
has largely forbidden extended descriptions, and compelled
the omission of many interesting personal incidents. But it
will be found, I trust, that the essential facts have been given.
I have endeavored, throughout, to sift fact from fancy, and
from the numerous and inevitable contradictions in the
recollections and testimony of even honest witnesses, to
separate the important from the trivial ; and to set down
the noble record of the Vermont troops in such connection
with the general history of the campaigns in which they were


engaged, as to show wliat they accomplished and the relation
of their service to that of the larger organizations to which
they belonged. Few will understand the amount of labor
expended in the work ; but I may be permitted to express
the hope that many will recognize the controlling desire
of the historian to do justice to all, within the limits im-
posed, and to be everywhere truthful and impartial.

G. G. B.

Burlington, 1886.



North and South on the eve of "War— The Early Days of 1861— Reluctance
of the Vermonters to believe iu the possibility of War — Governor Fair-
banks's Apprehensions — A Warning from Governor Andrews — Salutes
to the Union — Governor Fairbanks Pledges the Support of Vermont to
the Government 4


The State Unprepared for War — Decadence of the Militia — Efforts to
Revive the Militia in 1856 — The Brandon and Montpelier Musters of
1858 and 1860— The Militia in 1860— Military Property of the State,
January, 1861 — Secession Movements — Judge Smalley's Charge to a
New York Grand Jury — Senator CoUamer's Bill to Close Southern
Ports — Attitude of Representatives of Vermont in Congress— Prepara-
tions for War — General Order No. 10 — The Peace Conference — Acces-
sion of Abraham Lincoln 8


The Call to Arms — The Governor's First War Proclamation — Detail of
Militia for the First Regiment — Procurement of Arms — A Notable War
Meeting — Popular Feeling in the State — Special Session of the Legis-
lature — Appropriation of a Million Dollars — Other War Measures —
Unanimity of Legislature and People 17


Organization of the First Regiment — Sketches of the Field Officers — Camp
Fairbanks — Delays in Mustering in — Off at last for the War— General
Scott's Opinion of the Vermonters — Reception at Troy and in New York
— Voyage to Fortress Monroe — Quarters in the Hygeia Hotel — Expe-
dition to Hampton— Occupation of Newport News 28


Organization of the Second Regiment — Sketches of its Field and Staff —
Departure for the War — Receptions on the Way — Arrival in Washing-
ton — Movement into Virginia — Brigaded under Colonel Howard —
Campaign and Battle of Bull Run— List of Killed and Wounded— Part
Taken by other Vermonters — Return to Bush Hill — Disaffection
towards Colonel Whiting — A Case of Discipline — Removal to Camp
Lyon 62



The Second Regiment continued — Controversy between Colonel Whiting
and the State Authorities — The Peninsula Campaign — Promotions and
Changes of Officers — The Seven Days' Retreat — Maryland Campaign
of 1863 — First Fredericksburg — Resignation of Colonel Whiting —
Sketch of Colonel Walbridge — Second Fredericksburg and Salem
Heights — Second Maryland Campaign — A Month in New York— Re-
turn to Virginia — Capture of Quartermaster Stone — ^ Execution of
Deserters — Winter at Brandy Station — Resignation of Colonel Wal.
bridge — Sketch of Colonel Stone — The Wilderness Campaign — Death
of Colonels Stone and Tyler — Losses of Officers and Men — End
of Three Years' Term — General Neill's Farewell Order — In the
Shenandoah Valley — Back to Petersburg — Final Campaign— Return
Home 98


Organization of the Third Regiment — Rendezvous at St. Johnsbury —
Departure from the State — Arrival at Washington — Sketch of Colonel
William F. Smith — Changes Among the Officers — Fatigue Duty in
Virginia — Pardon of William Scott — Under Fire at Lewinsville— Ar-
rival of other Vermont Regiments — Sickness in the Regiment — The
Peninsular Campaign — Action at Lee's Mill — List of Killed — The Seven
Days' Retreat — The Drummer-boy, Willie Johnson — First Fredericks-
burg — Resignation of Colonel H5^de — Changes in the Roster — Marye's
Heights and Banks's Ford — Service at Newark, N. J.— Winter at
Brandy Station — Losses in the Wilderness Campaign — Skirmish at Fort
Stevens — End of Three Years' Term — Shenandoah Campaign — Peters-
burg — Return Home 126


Organization of the Fourth Regiment — Its Field and Staff — Camp Hol-
brook — Delays in Equipment— Journey to Washington — Arrival at
Camp Advance— Brigaded at Camp Griifin — Remarkable I'eiiod of
Sickness— The Spring Campaign of 1862— March to Cloud's Mills— The
Peninsula — Action and Losses at Lee's Mill — Service at Williamsburg
and in front of Richmond— Crampton's Gap and Antietam— x\rrival of
Recruits — Promotion of Colonel Stoughton and Changes of Officers —
First Fredericksburg— Winter Quarters at Belle Plain — Marye's Heights
and Banks's Ford — March to Gettysburg— Casualties at Funkstown —
Winter at Brandy Station — Losses in the Wilderness and thi' Overland
Campaign — Misfortune at the Weldon Railroad— Action at Charlestown
— Expiration of Three Years' Term — The Shenandoah Campaign — In
the Lines of Petersburg — The Final Assault— Last Marching and Re-
turn Home 156



Organization of the Fifth Regiment — Rendezvous at St. Albans — Field and
Staff — Departure for Washington — March to Chain Bridge — Sickness
at Camp Griffin — The Spring Campaign of '63 — Lee's Mill — Golding's
Farm — Hard Fighting and Terrible Loss at Savage's Station — Resigna-
tion of Colonel Smalley and Changes of Field Officers — The Maryland
Campaign — Back to Virginia — First Fredericksburg — Marye's Height
and Banks's Ford — Crossing the Rappahannock and Capturing Missis-
sippians — Funkstown — Rappahannock Station — Re-enlisting for the
War — Furlough and Visit to Vermont — Losses in the Wilderness and
in the Lines of Spottsylvania — Death and Sketch of ilajor Dudley —
Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Charlestown — Expiration of Three Years'
Term — The Shenandoah Campaign — Final Assault at Petersburg — End
of Fighting and Return Home 180


Organization of the Sixth Regiment— Departure for Washington — Sickness
and Mortality at Camp Griffin— The Spring of 1863— The Sixth at
Lee's Mill, Golding's Farm and Savage's Station — Sickness at Har-
rison's Landing — Crampton's Gap and Antietam — Changes of Field
Officers — Winter of 1863-3 — Fighting at Fredericksburg — Funkstown —
Service in New York — Winter at Brandy Station — Losses in the Wil-
derness — Death and Sketch of Colonel Barney — Personal Incidents — The
Shenandoah Campaign — Expiration of Three Years' Term — Service in
front of Petersburg — Final Marches and Return Home 208


Organization of the First Vermont Brigade — Its first Commander, General
Brooks — Winter at Camp Griffin^Remarkable period of Sickness —
Opening of the Spring Campaign of 1863 — Movement to Fortress Mon-
roe — The March up the Peninsula — Baptism of Blood at Lee's Mill —
Care of the Wounded— The Battle of Williamsburg — March to the
White House on the Pamunkey 235


The First Brigade, continued — Organization of the Sixth Corps — Move-
ment to the Front of Richmond — Battle of Fair Oaks— Crossing the
Chickahominy — Swamp Fever and Hard Duty — Gaines's Mill and
Golding's Farm — The Retreat from Richmond — Stand of the rear
Guard at Savage's Station — Fighting of the Vermont Brigade^The
Fifth sustains the heaviest loss in killed and wounded ever suffered by
a Vermont regiment — Casualties of the Brigade — The retreat resumed
— Affair at White Oak Swamp — Terrific Confederate cannonade — Firm-
ness of the Vermont troops — The brigade at Malvern Hill — Terrible
march to Harrison's Landing — Bivouac in the mud — Return to Fortress
Monroe and to Alexandria 376



The First Brigade, continued — The situation, September 1, 1862— The part
of the Sixth corps in Pope's Campaign — The march into Marj'land —
Storming of Crampton'sGap — Brilliant action of the Fourth Vermont —
The battle of Antietam — A quiet time at Hagerstown — Stuart's second
raid — Accession of the Twenty-Sixth New Jersey to the brigade — Re-
tirement of General Brooks from the command — Return to Virginia —
Changes of army, corps, division and brigade commanders — McClel-
lan's farewell review — March to the Rappahannock — Burnside's bloody
failure — Howe's division and the Vermont brigade at the First Fred-
ericksburg — Casualties of the brigade — Winter quarters at White
Oak Church — Burnside's mud campaign and retirement from com-
mand 315


The First brigade, continued — General Hooker in command of the army —
Sedgwick succeeds Smith as commander of the Sixth corps — The new
brigade commander, Colonel Grant — The Chancellorsville campaign —
The Sixth corps crosses the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg — Storm-
ing of Marye's Heights — Brilliant part of the Vermont brigade — Salem
Heights and Bank's Ford — Details of the fighting of the Vermonters —
The brigade covers the recrossing of the Sixth corps — Losses of the
Vermont troops — Return to White Oak Church 350


The First brigade, continued — Preliminary movements of the Gettysburg
ca»ipaign — The Fifth Vermont crosses the Rappahannock and captures
the Confederate pickets — The rest of the brigade follows — Sharp skir-
mishing on the south bank — The march to the north — Meeting of the
First and Second Vermont brigades — Hard marching in Maryland —
"Put the Vermonters ahead and keep the column closed up." — General
Meade succeeds Hooker — Arrival on the field of Gettysburg — Engage-
ment at Funkstown— Recrossing the Potomac — The brigade goes to
New York city to sustain the drafts — Return to and reception by
the Sixth corps— Marching and counter marching — Battle of Rap-
pahannock Station — The Mine Run campaign — Winter at Brandy
Station 379


The First brigade, continued — General U. S. Grant, Commander-in-Chief —
Consolidation of the corps — Getty takes command of the division —
Changes in the brigade — Review of he situation — Campaign of the
Wilderness — The service of Getty's division — The part of the Vermont
brigade — Terrific fighting — A thousand Vermonters killed and wounded


the first day; two hundred the second day — Heavy losses of officers —
March to Spottsylvania — The Vermonters cheered by the Sixth corps —
Death of General Sedgwick — General Wright succeeds to command of
corps — Fighting in the lines of Spottsylvania — Charge on the Salient —
Tlie struggle at the Bloody Angle — Losses of the Vermont regiments —
The Eleventh regiment joins the brigade — -Picket duty between the lines
— Movement to the North Anna — March to Cold Harbor. . . . 412


The First brigade, continued — Cold Harbor— Part taken by the brigade the
first day — Assault of the second day — Gallant part of Slannard's brigade
— Unsuccessful attack of the third day — The army in trenches — Expos-
ures and sufferings of the troops — Movement of the army to the James —
Investment of Petersburg — Movement of the Sixth and Second corps
against the Weldon Railroad — Heavy loss of the brigade — Over 400
Vermonters captured — Over half of them die in rebel prisons — Expedi-
tion against tiie Danville and Lynchburg Railroad — Back again to
Washington — Early's raid— The Sixth corps sent to meet him — Presi-
dent Lincoln wants to see tlie Vermont brigade — Engagement in front
of Fort Stevens — Hard marching in Maryland and Virginia — First
sight of the Shenandoah Valley — Return to Washington — A hot day at
Harper's Ferry and march to Frederick, Md. — Results of Halleck's
strategy in chasing cavalry with infantry — Change of commanders —
Sketch of General Sheridan — Return of the Sixth corps to the
Valley 461


The First Brigade, continued — Campai'jrn in the Shenandoah Valley —
Strength and situation of the opposing armies — Movement to tlie South
— Early reinforced — Sheridan retires down the Valley — Engagement at
Charlestown — The Vermont brigade holds the skirmish line against a
Confederate division — Casualties in the Vermont regiments — Recon-
noissance to Gilbert's Ford — Visit from Geneal Grant — The battle of
the Opequon — Pai t of the Vermont brigade — The grand charge upon
Winchester — Losses of the biigade — Ba:tle of Fisher's Hill — Colonel
Warner carries Flint's Hill — Crook's flank movement — Cliarge of Getty's
and Ricketts's divisions, and flight of Early — Thr e weeks of marching
and manoeuvring — The Sixth corps starts for Washington but returns
to Cedar Creek— Battle of Cedar Creek — The surpri-e in the morning —
Gallant stand of Colonel Thomas and the Eighth Vermont — Action of
the Tenth Vermont— Tlie part of Getty's division anil the Vermont
brigade — Arrival of Sheridan — The grand advance of the Sixth and
Nineteenth corps, and final charge of the cavalry— Casualties of the
Vermont brigade — Close of the campaign — Voting for President — A
month of rest at Kernstown — Departure from the Valley. . . . 500



The First Brigade, concluded — Return to Petersburg — The Winter of
1864-5 in the Trenches — Capture of the Enemy's Intrenched Picket
Line by the Sixth Corps — Action and Casualties of the Vermont Brigade
■ — Arduous Picket Duty — The Final Grand Assault — The "Vermont
Brigade heads the Entering Wedge of the Sixth Corps — The Vermonters
storm the Works in their Front, capture Nineteen Guns and Many
Prisoners, and push in to Lee's Headquarters — The Sixth corps takes
Three miles of Works — Casualties of the Vermont Regiments — Fall of
Richmond and Closing Scenes of the War — Pursuit of Lee — Last Skir-
mish at Sailor's Creek — The Surrender at Appomattox — Last Marches
and Reviews of the Brigade — General Grant's Farewell Address — The
Final Muster Out 569


Final Statement of the First Brigade — Some suggestive statistics — Testi
mony of its commanders to the quality of the troops of the Brigade. —
End of Vol. 1 617


Governor Erastus Fairbakks Frontispiece.

Adjt. General P. T. Washburn Opposite page 28

Maj. General William F. Smith " " 136

Brig. General W. T. H. Brooks " "236

BvT. Maj. General L. A. Grant " " 352

Maj. General John Sedgwick " " 440


Sketch of battlefield of Big Bethel Opposite page 52

Sketch of the First Bull Run page 73

Map of the line of the Warwick River Opposite page 248

Map of the Peninsula " " 280

Sketch of battlefield of Savage's Station page 294

Sketch of battlefield of Crampton's Gap '' 321

Battlefield of the First Fredericksburg Opposite page 338

Battlefield of Marye's and Salem Heights ..•••• "

Battlefield of the Wilderness "

Battlefield of the Opequon

Battlefields of Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek "

Battlefield of Petersburg, April 2d, '65 . • "



The story of tlie part taken by Vermont in the great
civil strife of 1861-5, if it can be fully and fairly told, will
need little garnish for its facts, in order to command atten-
tion and respect. It is the war record of a small and rural
commonwealth, heavily drained of its able-bodied men t)y
emigration, without large towns or floating population, and
having thus much less than the average proportion of the
material out of which modern armies are made — bnt which
nevertheless sent to the war ten men for every one hundred
of its population, and out of a total enrollment of thirty-
seven thousand men liable to do military duty, stood credited
at last with nearly thirty-four thousand volunteers. The
Vermonters were eminently men of peace; but they won
honorable distinction as soldiers. The history of the war
cannot be written without frequent and honorable mention
of them. A Vermont regiment was the first to throw up the
sacred soil of Virginia into Union intrenchments. Vermont
troops made the first assault upon a Confederate fortification.
In almost every great battle fought in the succeeding years
by the Army of the Potomac, Vermonters took an Jionorable
part. In the turning point of the turning struggle of the
war on the red and slippery slopes of Gettysburg, in the


dark jungle of the Wilderness, and in the final piercing of
the defences of Richmond, they took a decisive part. Ver-
monters led the blue column which bore the stars and stripes
through the blazing streets of the Confederate Capitol, in
the closing scenes of the bloody drama, and Vermont soldiers
were in motion upon the last charge of the war, at Appo-
mattox, when it was arrested by the surrender of Lee. The
war ended, and the enemies of the Union could point to the
colors of no Vermont organization that had been yielded to
them in action, while the troops of no other State could
claim more rebel colors taken in battle, in proportion to their
total numbers, than stood credited to the troops of Vermont.
In proportion to population, Vermont had more of her sons
killed in battle than any other Northern State, and gave to
the cause of the Union more lives lost from all causes than
any other State.

It is the task of the writer of these pages to set down
the portion of this noteworthy record which relates especially
to the service of the Vermont troops in the field. As pre-
liminary to this it will be well to note some connected facts
which form a part of the general history of the State and of
the period.


North and South on the eve of "War— The Early Days of 1861— Reluctance
of the Vermonters to helieve in the possibility of War — Governor
Fairbanks's Apprehensions — A Warning from Governor Andrew —
Salutes to the Union— Governor Fairbanks pledges the Support of
Vermont to the Government.

To one who looks back to the events preceding the first
call of President Lincoln for volunteers, nothing seems
stranger than the unwillingness of the men of the Northern
States to believe in the possibility of civil war. Leading
men of the South had meditated and threatened secession
for years. In furtherance of their purpose of rebellion,
which as one of the chief actors in the secession of South
Carolina avowed, "had been gathering head for thirty years,"
the military spirit had been kept alive in the South, while it
had languished and well nigh disappeared in the North.
The most ominous signs of the coming trouble failed to alarm
the people of the Northern States. The rumble of the
wagons which took 130,000 stand of arms from the United
States Arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts, on their way
to Southern depots, had resounded day after day in the
streets of that city, and no one had lifted voice or finger
to stop the transfer. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida,
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas adopted ordi-
nances of secession, and their Senators and Representa-
tives withdrew from the national Congress. Actual war
■was levied upon the United States Government by the seizure


of forts and arsenals by Southern State militiamen. A pro-
visional Confederate Congress of the seceding States assem-
bled, and a Confederate Government was organized — and

Online LibraryG. G. (George Grenville) BenedictVermont in the civil war. A history of the part taken by the Vermont soldiers and sailors in the war for the Union, 1861-5 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 52)