Copyright
Crisfield. cn Johnson.

... History of Oswego County, New York online

. (page 27 of 120)
Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 27 of 120)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


McCoy, William Sullivan, William Boyce, Joseph W.
Emblem, and Sidney G. Cook.

During the fall and winter of 1864-65, General Grant,
with grim humor, often greeted the enemy with shotted
Salutes upon the receipt of the news of important victories,
such as the battle of Cedar Creek, the capture of Fort
Fisher, and General Sherman's successes in the south.
The time chosen was generally about dusk, when all was
quiet along the lines. Suddenly the heavens were lighted
up by the discharge of hundreds of cannon, and the course
of the projectiles could be traced, followed by the explosion
of shells as they descended into the enemy's lines. The
enemy would spitefully return the salute by the time ours
was over. The enemy were not long in discovering its object.
Their papers complained bitterly, giving General Grant all
sorts of hard names for what they pretended to consider
his " brutal humor." It had a very demoralizing effect upon
the enemy, as they soon learned that each salute was occa-
sioned by some fresh disaster to their cause.

There were signs of demoralization and breaking up of
the Confederacy; deserters were constantly coming in from
their lines ; but our ranks had been largely filled with mer-
cenaries, or bounty-jumpers, who availed themselves of
every opportunity to escape, and often, in battle, would lie
down and submit to capture without resistance. To these
General Lee issued a proclamation offering them safe-con-
duct by blockade-runners, or through distant parts of the
lines, home.

The Fifth corps broke camp February 5, and marched
to near Dinwiddle Court-House, and encamped for the
night. About dark a heavy cannonading was heard in the
rear, and an order came for the corps to get into marcliing
order. The corps was marched back a short distance, and
halted in an open field ; the wind was blowing a gale, and
the weather cold. The men were told that they might lie
down and get some sleep. It renuiiiicd there a few hours,



and then resumed the march ; at sunrise the corps was
halted at the crossing of Hatcher's Run. The Second corps
was busy throwing up breastworks. The corps remained
until about four p.m. ; then it was formed into line of battle,
and advanced upon the enemy. The Second brigade was com-
manded by General IMorrow, formerly colonel of the Twenty-
fourth Michigan Regiment. The Second brigade drove the
enemy, and gained a position in advance of the line. It held
it against several assaults of the enemy until out of ammu-
nition. The regiment had protected itself by placing
in front an abatis of tree-tops and limbs. When out of
ammunition. General Morrow still strove to maintain the
place, hoping relief would come soon. The enemy had
come up and were removing the abatis before a retreat was
ordered. The brigade was driven back, and lost all it had
gained.

The loss of the regiment in this battle was great. Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Coey, commanding the regiment, was shot
through the face, and it was supposed he had received a mortal
wound. Lieutenant Wybourn was shot through the ankle,
and had his leg amputated ; Lieutenant Bristol was killed ;
Lieutenant Berry was captured ; Captain Joseph Dempsey
was wounded in the arm ; General Morrow was shot in the
side.

The Fifth corps was driven back to the breastworks that
night. Scant provision had been made to shelter the
wounded in case of a battle ; but few of the hospital tents
had been brought up, and what there were were filled with
wounded, and many wounded were placed outside in the
open air ; fires were built around them to keep them from
freezing.

In the night came on a sleety storm, covering every-
thing with ice. About two A.M. February 7 the wounded
were all got into the ambulances and sent to City Point.
That day was a cold rainy day. There was constant
skirmishing with the enemy, at times amounting to a
real battle. The regiment occupied a swamp, and had no
shelter. The men who were wounded soon became stiffened
with cold, and by the time they reached the hospital were
pulseless. The fighting continued through the night of
the 7th. The morning of the 8th broke clear and cold.
The men, when they left camp on the 5th, were not allowed
to cumber themselves with more than one blanket apiece.
Their sufferings from exposure were great. On the 8th
they were allowed to return to the old camp and get their
tents and blankets. This battle enabled the army to extend
its lines two miles, which were strengthened with strong
defensive works. The regiment again went into winter
quarters near the place where it had fought so persistently
and bravely.

It erected new huts and had a season of rest. In the
morning of March 25, before daylight, a terrible roar of
artillery was heard towards the right. The Fifth corps
was immediately got under arms and marched towards the
scene of conflict. By the time it got on the ground the
battle was over. The enemy had captured Fort Steadman
by surprising the picket-line in its front. Deserters from
the enemy were in the habit of coming in in the night.
Sijuads of men, first announcing themselves as deserters to
lull suspicion, dashed upon the pickets and overpowered



HISTORY OF OSWEGO COUNTY, XEW YORK.



them. Immediately five thousand of the enemy rushed on
the fort and surprised it. The fort was garrisoned by a raw
Pennsylvania regimeut. The men were soundly sleeping
in their huts or tents. The enemy woke them up with the
points of their bayonets, though in a playful manner. The
Penusylvanians had full haversacks and knapsacks. The
enemy, half starved, made a raid upon the larder, and
searched the haversacks and knapsacks for food. All con-
trol over them by their oflScers was lost ; no threats or en-
treaty availed to restore order out of their demoralized con-
dition. Daylight found them still in the fort, which was
commanded by a Federal fort on each side. They were
to advance on the military railroad, capture it, and cut oft'
all of our army on the left. But the enemy thought — if
he thought anything — that he could fight better on a full
stomach, and tarried too long to fill it. The two forts
poured into them a destructive fire of shot and shell, and
they were all captured. The enemy assaulted our lines in
front of the Second corps. The Second brigade suffered
severely. All that day there was mischief in the air, and
the Second division of the Fifth corps was moved about
from point to point to be in readiness to take part in it.

In the afternoon the division was reviewed by President
Lincoln. During the review heavy firing commenced in
front, and the division marched from the review direct to
the scene of action, but by the time it got there all was
quiet again ; then it returned to its camp.

The following were killed or died in hospitals from June
1 9, 1864, to the end of the war : John S. Kippen, corporal,
Co. B, February 6, battle of Hatcher's Run ; Wilson Sanders,
Co. B, July 8, 186-i, typhoid fever; Christopher Rising,
July 18, in hospital; Charles A. Brown, Co. C, killed
November 22, 186-t; Albert Fuller, Co. C, September 1,
1864, died in hospital ; L. Lawrence, killed February 5,
1865; Wm. Minor,Co.C, Augu.st 11, 1864, died in hospital;
Ansel Orr, Co. C, died in hospital ; Henry Smith, Co. C, died
in hospital; Edw. Topping, Co. D, died May 11, 1865, of
smallpox ; Luther Clark, Co. D, wounded April 1, 1865, at
Five Forks, died April 19 ; William Cline, Co. D, died in
hospital September 25, 1864 ; Samuel Fessenden, Co. D,
wounded April 1, died April 10, 1865 ; James Nolan, Co.
D, died at home August 20, 1864; Asa Radick, killed at
the battle of Hatcher's Run, February 6, 1865 ; Alfred S.
Nichols, Co. E, killed April 1, 1865, at Five Forks; James
Brown, first lieutenant, Co. F, died July 1, 1864, from
wounds received at Spottsylvania ; Daniel Densmore, Co.
G, died October 10, 1864, of wounds received May 5, 1864 ;
Sylvanus E. Barker, Co. G, killed at the battle of Gravelly
Run; Edward Damm, Co. G, killed in action August 18,
1864; Wm. Knight, Co. G, killed in action August 19,
1864; Andrew Morrison, Co. G, killed at the battle of
Gravelly Run March 31, 1865; Charles Brown, Co. G,
missing in action October 1, 1864 ; John F. Kelley, Co. G,
killed October 1, 1864; (Co. H) Alamander Plumb, killed
June 22, 1864 ; Wm. H. Morse, died August 30, 1864,
in hospital ; Daniel A. Wheeler, died August 23, 1864 ;
(Co. I) Horace Chapin, killed June 25, 1864; John
Mitchel, killed June 20, 1864; Richard Murry, killed
July 10, 1864; (Co. K) Lansing Bristol, first lieutenant,
killed February 6, 1805, at the battle of Hatcher's Run ;



Richard McUraw, killed August 19, 1864, at the battle of
Weldon Railroad; Wm. Fitzpatrick, killed August 19,
1864; Florin Hess, killed August 21, 1864: John F.
Roberts, died August 13, 1864, of wounds received May

5, 1864 ; Richard White, killed June 25, 1864 ; Tlieodore
Whitlock, killed at the battle of Hatcher's Run, February

6, 1865.



CHAPTER XXIV.

OSWEGO IN THE REBELLION.

Tlie One Hundred and Forty-seventh llegimcnt— Battles of Gravelly
Run, Five Forks, and Appouialtox Court-llousc.

In the morning of March 29 the Fifth corps broke camp
to set out on the last campaign of the war. It was joined
with General Sheridan's command, under the direction of
General Sheridan. General Sheridan had, with a large
cavalry force, set out farther to the left to make a long de-
tour, to get around the enemy's right. During the first
day, near sunset, the Fifth corps came upon the enemy and
had a sharp engagement. The One Hundred and Forty-
seventh Regiment, at Hatcher's Run, on the 6th of Febru-
ary, had lost its field and staff ofliicers, and the command
was given to Colonel Daily, of Weldon Railroad renown.
Colonel Laycock commanded the Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania.
They were two kindred spirits. These two regiments weie
ordered to charge and t;ike the Boynton plank-road, which
was on a ridge in their front. Each colonel seized the
colors of his respective regiment and led the charge in per-
son. It was a rivalry between the two which should plant
the coloi-s on the ridge first. The charge was made with a
great flourish and noise, the men fully entering into the
spirit of the rivalry.

The enemy fired a volley into the two regiments and fled
precipitately.

During the night it commenced to rain ; the rain con-
tinued steadily till the 31st of March. The soil is of quick-
sand and clay, and moistens up to a great depth. The en-
tire transportation of the army was stuck fast. The roads
had to be corduroyed; in some places the first layer of log.s
sank out of sight, and a second layer had to be put on tf)p
of the first before the trains could be moved. The Fifth
corps was groping its way through dense thickets and
swamps, endeavoring to get possession of the White Oak
road and join its left to Sheridan's cavalry. In the morn-
ing of the 31st the enemy massed a large force on the left
of the Fifth corps when it was groping its way bewildered
in the swamps and woods. They made a furious attack,
sweeping down the line, doubling up brigade after brigade,
until two divisions of the corps were disorganized and the
woods filled with retreating soldiers, with all semblance of
organization lost. The left had been driven in two miles,
to a swale, where was posted the Wisconsin brigade in re-
serve. This brigade checked the pursuit of the enemy.
It met the enemy in. a hand-to-hand encounter. One of
the enemy attempted to seize the colors of a Wisconsin
regiment from the hands of a stalwart standard-bearer.



106



HISTORY OF OSWEGO COUiNTY, NEW YORK.



The standard-bearer seized a musket and brained him on
the spot. He was afterwards rewarded by a medal by the
State of Wisconsin for his gallantry. After the enemy was
repulsed he turned around and attacked General Sheridan.
General Sheridan was driven back three or four miles near
Dinwiddle Court-House, but he retreated in good order,
and finally held the enemy at bay. The loss of the regi-
ment in this encounter was very severe. Colonel Daily
received a painful wound in the hand.

BATTLE OF FIVE FORKS.

When General Sheridan had drawn the enemy back, and
was holding him at bay, he sent an order to General War-
ren to march the Fifth corps up to the rear of the enemy
and cut oflF his retreat, and capture the whole force ; but
the Fifth corps was so much scattered that it could not
be got together in time. On the night of the 31st two
divisions of the Fifth corps advanced to join General Sher-
idan, but the entire corps did not get up and into position
until about four p.m. By that time the enemy had partially
fallen back. The corps was formed so as to swing around
and intercept the enemy's retreat, and capture five thousand
of them. The cavalry and Fifth corps pursued the enemy
over their works to Southerland station on the South Side
railroad ; there they tried to rally and make a stand, but
were soon driven from their position. The enemy were
broken and demoralized. The pursuit was continued along
in the night, and many of their trains were captured. The
pursuit was so close that the enemy were not enabled to
cross the Appomattox to join General Lee. After the
battle of Five Forks was over, General Sheridan relieved
General Warren from his command on the field. The pur-
huit was continued, giving the enemy no rest, night nor
day, until April 4, when the army arrived at Jetersville,
five or six miles from Buck's Station. Sheridan's cavalry
and the Fifth corps were now across the track of General
Lee's army, intercepting its retreat into North Carolina.
During the night of April 1 a terrible cannonading was
heard towards Petersburg. On the morning of the 2d an
assault was made on the enemy's works all along the line.
General Lee had weakened the force in the defenses to
strengthen his right to oppose General Sheridan and the
Fifth corps. The works were soon carried. The principal
resistance was met in one fort garrisoned with two hundred
and fifty rebels. It was captured with a loss of five hun-
dred men in killed and wounded. Only about thirty of the
enemy escaped. The force which General Lee depended
upon for the salvation of his army was broken and scattered
by General Sheridan's cavalry and the Fifth corps. Gen-
eral Lee collected the remnants of his army, and in the
night of the 2d evacuated Richmond, burning the bridges
behind him, and blowing up the magazines on the whole
line of his defenses. Anarchy and destruction ran riot
during the evacuation and the final breaking up of the
Confederacy. The business part of Richmond, consisting
of magnificent warehouses, was laid in ashes. The Con-
federate archives were partly burned and partly scattered
about the streets. The inhabitants were kept in a constant
state of consternation and alarm, fearing alike the uncon-
trolled license of their own rabble and the entrance of the



Federal army. Many of them gathered up hastily what
they could of their valuables, and fled with their retreating
army. It was to them like the breaking of doom. By
the time that General Lee had arrived at Amelia Court-
House, on the Danville railroad, General Sheridan's cavalry
and the Fifth corps were across his track, intercepting fur-
ther retreat, at Jetersville, about four miles in his front.
General Sheridan expected an attack from the desperate
enemy before the remainder of the Federal army could
come up in their rear. His scouts, dressed in rebel uni-
form, were scouring the whole country, misleading their
baggage-trains, which were endeavoring to get off on by-
roads. Some of them were led into our lines by these pre-
tended friends and captured ; others were pounced upon by
Sheridan's cavalry, which seemed to them omnipresent, and
burned. One train, two or three miles distant, was sur-
prised by the Twenty-fourth Regiment New York Cavalry,
with some other cavalry troops, and was pillaged and burned.
The rebel cavalry, under General Lee, came upon them,
and a desperate fight ensued, in which Lieutenant-Colonel
Richards, of Parish, was killed. The smoke arising from
the burning train, and the explosions from the powder-
and ordnance-wagons, could be distinctly seen at Jetersville.
Geneial Sheridan remained at Jetersville, awaiting attack,
until the remainder of the Union army began to press
General Lee in the rear. April 6, General Lee com-
menced his retreat towards Lynchburg. Then a hot pur-
suit commenced. The Fifth corps, under the command of
General Grifiin, pursued on the right flank, its column
keeping pace with the fleeing rebel army. The Second
corps pursued in the immediate rear, and crowded so
closely upon the enemy's heels that he was forced at times
to deploy the rear-guard into line of battle to keep it back.
In the mean time the flanking columns made it necessary
for them to keep moving on to prevent being wholly sur-
rounded, and having their retreat cut off. General Gor-
don's division was nearly all destroyed or captured. April
6 the enemy, with its shattered forces, succeeded in crossing
High bridge, and partially destroyed it. General Ewell's
corps made a stand across Sailor's creek, near Farmville.
The enemy occupied a strong position, protected in front by
a swale and the creek. In attacking this position, two or
three Pennsylvania regiments, endeavoring to cross the
swale, were nearly annihilated. At length General Custer's
cavalry gained a position in the enemy's rear. In a mag-
nificent charge, it came sweeping down upon them, and
captured nearly the whole corps, with General Ewell. This
is commonly called the battle of Farmville. Our losses
were very great, principally confined to the Pennsylvania
regiments. The pursuit continued through the 8th, and
until the morning of the 9th, when the Fifth corps, after
marching continuously through the 8th, and in the night,
till two A.M. of the 9th, cut off further retreat of the
enemy at Appomattox Court-House. Early in the morn-
ing of the 9th heavy firing was heard in our front. The
Fifth corps immediately got under arms and advanced. It
soon came upon the enemy driving the cavalry before them ;
a brief fight ensued, and a rebel brigade was cut off and
captured. It was the last effort of General Lee's army to
escape. It was completely hemmed in on three sides by



HISTORY OF OSWEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.



107



our forces ; on the other side was an impenetrable swamp.
As the Fifth corps advanced to a high ridge, the whole
rebel army came into view, exposing their weak position.
They were encamped across a valley on the side of the
opposite ridge. Overtures for surrender had already been
made, and a conference of the opposing generals was in
progress. There was a truce to all further fighting. The
elation of the army am better be imagined than described.
All the toils and the dangers of the weary and famished
soldiers were over. The demonstration of their joy was ex-
pressed in one hearty and prolonged cheer, extending through-
out the lines, and then subsided into perfect stillness. They
respected the bravery of the fallen foe, who had met them
in many a terrible battle-field, and now lay helpless at their
feet. There was not the disposition to gibe and jeer them
which was common after their discomfitures in other en-
gagements on the pursuit. The enemy were cowed and
humiliated, and showed none of the arrogance universal with
them before in any of their misfortunei. Their spirit was
completely broken.

The hardships of the pursuit had baen terribly severe
upon our men. They had to follow in the wake of the re-
treating enemy, over roads trampled into a thick mud of the
consistence of a mortar-bcd. The roads were lined with
dead mules, given out on the way, festering in the hot sun,
giving out a stench that was intolerable. The supply-trains
were flir in the rear, and during days the famished soldiers
would pick up the corn left by the feeding mules to stay
their famished stomachs. Nothing but the elation of vic-
tory, and a sure prospect of destroying or capturing the
rebel army, could have kept them up on the pursuit. There
was much less straggling than usual in our rear in this pur-
suit. In the evening of the 8th, General Sheridan, in the
advance of the enemy, captured a rebel supply-train of pro-
visions coming from Lynchburg for the relief of the rebel
army. This was like manna sent from heaven to our fam-
ished soldiers, and starvation or sun-ender to the starving
rebels. It was the last straw that broke the camel's back.

One great feature in this campaign, and which greatly
contributed to its final success, was the daring and ubi(juity
of General Sheridan's scouts.

They were dressed in the rebel uniform, with long
Shanghai gray coats. They presented a unique appear-
ance. They were constantly coming and going through
the lines, and sometimes ran great risk of being shot by
our pickets as rebels. They were gay^ bold riders, and de-
lighted in their duties. There was a spiee of adventure in
that sort of service which made it peculiarly attractive to
them. Out of many hundreds of them, the writer was
told that only two had got caught, but they were given a
short shrift, and immediately hung up. They claimed it
was the least dangerous of all the branches of the service.
They had the complete style and reckless abandon of the
Confederate cavalier, and the peculiar accent of the South-
erner. As the regiment wjis passing two or three hundred
of captured rebels, near Southerland station, the men, as
usual, commenced bantering them: "Ah, Johnny! you
have got enough of it, have you ? Pretty hot work now,
and poor feed, and about time to quit. Getting tired of it.
Eh, Johnny?'' Oue of thcni, thinking that it w;is an im-



putation upon their courage and constjincy to the rebel
cause, replied, " By golly! you wouldn't have got us if it
wasn't for one of your fellers dressed in our clothes. He
misled us when we were lo.st, and trying to find our way
into our lines. lie told us that he w;is sent to find us, and
show us where to go, but led us right into your lines, and
we were captured. We'll fix him if we ever catch him
again."

Tliat same night a rebel wagon-train wiis captured by
one of these scouts, who told the conductor of the train
that he was ordered to show him where he was to park his
train for the night. He led the train into our lines, and it
was captured.

These seouts were everywhere in the rebel army. They
pointed out the places where some rebel cannon were buried,
with tablets put up, with some names inscribed on them,
representing them to be soldiera' graves. They had assisted
the enemy to bury them. The pursuit had been so close
that the rebel army had become demoralized, and nearly
scattered, leaving a remnant only at the capture. The
country was filled with rebel soldiers wandering aimlessly
about.

Out of about forty-five thousand at Amelia Court-Ilouse
only twenty-two thousand had reached Appomattox Court-
House, and of that number only eleven thousand had
muskets.



CHAPTER XXV.

OSWEGO IN THE KEBELLION.

Return of the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment to the Do-
fouses at Washington, and its final Muster-Out.

The First division remained two days to rest and receive
supplies. It then returned to Burk's Station. The con-
dition of the roads beggars description. Bridges were
destroyed, and the baggage-trains bad great difiieulty in
crossing the streams.

At Farmville the news came of the assassination of
President Lincoln. The inliabitants were in great fear lest
the soldiers would wreak vengeance upon them. They has-
tened to express their horror for the deed, and showed
regret and sympathy for the great loss to the country.
They said they feared Andrew Johnson much more than
they did President Lincoln, whom they had begun to look
upon as their friend.

They feared their liberated slaves, who were roaming
about the country, and clamored for protection from our
army, but they feared more their disbanded and straggling
defenders, released from all restraint and discipline. Their
great anxiety was to know " what was going to be done
with them," as they were now conquered.

They were amazed and delighted with the generous
terms of surrender granted by General Grant. After the
surrender, General Crawford, with his staff, rode into the
rebel camp to call on his former old army friends, who had
been fighting for the Confederacy. General Longstrect told
him that he had fought to the last ditch, and expected no



HISTORY OF OSWEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.



terms but an unconditional surrender, and that he should



Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 27 of 120)