OSWEGO IN THE REBELLION
The One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment-Pursuit of the Enemy to the Rapidan and Retreat to Centreville of the Army of the Potomac.
In the morning of the 6th the First corps set out for Emmettsburg. As the regiment passed along the Emmetts road, past the scenes of the late conflict, at the centre and left of the line they saw evidences of the terrible slaughter. The enemy's dead still cumbered the ground immense piles of muskets were gathered from the fields where the men were shot down. In places, where the conflict raged the fiercest were the debris of cartridge-boxes, soldiers' belts, fragments of clothing, and bayonets trampled into the ground and stained with blood. At Peach-Tree Orchard an old man was gathering up relics from the battlefield. He lived close by, in a small wooden house, around which the battle had fiercely raged during two days, the combatants charging and counter-charging, driving each other backwards and forwards over his garden and yard. He took shelter in the cellar during the battle. He gave a graphic description of his two days' experience. In many of the muskets gathered from the field were found many charges of cartridges, some of them filled to the muzzle. In the excitement, the cartridge had been put in wrong end first not observing that the charge did not explode, another was put in on top of the first, and so on until several had accumulated.
The regiment encamped at Emmettsburg in the evening of the 6th. On the 7th crossed Cotocton mountain, taking a short cut to Middletown ; took a mountain-path or chute for getting wood down from the mountain. Many of the men were nearly shoeless, and the recent severe rains had softened the horses' hoofs so much that it was difficult to keep them shod. Many of the horses became lamed ascending the steep mountain path gullied out by the rains, leaving the bed full of loose, small stones. The men suffered much in the feet. Arrived at Middletown, Maryland, in the evening. General Cutler ordered the inhabitants to remove their shoes from their feet and give them to those soldiers who were entirely shoeless. The men had become much enfeebled by want of sleep and proper nourishment in the three days' battle of Gettysburg. On the 8th the regiment marched in rain and mud through the village of Middletown, and encamped near South Mountain Gap. On the 9th passed through the gap and encamped in a locust grove on the side of the mountain, overlooking a beautiful valley the enemy could be seen in the distance. Here, for the first time in many days, the baggage-train came up, and the officers obtained a change of underclothing, a luxury rarely indulged in since leaving camp below Falmouth, on the 12th of June. On the 12th the army advanced, driving in the outposts of the enemy, to Funkstown, - Maryland. Beyond the town the enemy were found intrenched. The recent rains had raised the Potomac, making it unfordable. General French had several days previously destroyed the enemy's pontoon-bridges; they were obliged to await the falling of the waters or till they could construct a new bridge. On the 13th, General Meade called a council of war, which advised a postponement of' the attack until a reconnaissance had been made. In the evening an order was issued for an advance on the next morning. In the morning of the 14th the army advanced on the enemy's works, but found them deserted. During the night the enemy had crossed over the Potomac, partly on a new pontoon-bridge constructed out of timber obtained by tearing down old buildings, partly by fording the stream. About thirteen hundred rebels were captured, consisting of stragglers and part of the rear-guard which did not have time to cross over. Marched on that day to Williamsport. Here the brave General Wadsworth left his command for the south. He called on the officers of the regiment and bade them an affectionate farewell. He was greatly chagrined at the escape of the enemy. He had met with the council of war and strongly urged an immediate attack upon the enemy, but as he was a junior in rank his opinion had but little weight. He was a patriot of an antique mould, sturdy and robust: his bravery was a little prone to rashness. His voice was always for a vigorous prosecution of the war and to attack the enemy wherever found. Perhaps what be lacked in discretion was amply made up in boldness and bravery. Hitherto there had been too much halting and timidity in executing and shrinking from assuming responsibility. General McClellan, one year ago, had, near this place, let the enemy slip from his grasp from the want of vigor and boldness. Now, under vastly more favorable conditions for our army, the enemy had escaped while our generals were deliberating when they should have been acting. The men had, on the 8th, got news of the capture of Vicksburg, and, notwithstanding their enfeebled condition, were inspirited and eager for the attack, knowing that the enemy must be much demoralized and nearly out of ammunition. The enemy were now safe across the river, and the men had long, weary marches before them and many a hard battle to fight before the rebellion could be put down.
Passing over the battle-field of Antietam, July 15, the regiment marched to Crampton's Gap, in the Cotocton mountains; the next day it passed through the Gap, and crossed the Potomac into Virginia again, above Harper's Ferry. Adjutant Farling and Lieutenant-Colonel Miller returned to duty on the 15th. At Keedysville, July 21, a detail was made, consisting of Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, Captain James Coey, and Lieutenant Gillett, to go to Elmira, New York, for conscripts to fill the depleted ranks of the regiment. Major-General Newton, who had been assigned the command of the First corps, about this time joined the corps. The corps marched through a beautiful valley, an elevated plateau between the Bull Run and Blue Ridge ranges of mountains, to Warrenton, reaching there July 23.
The inhabitants were extremely hostile. This region had
been the stronghold and refuge of the guerrillas, and some of our officers
and men were captured when not far from the main column. When at Warrenton
the regiment witnessed a battle at Manassas Gap, in the Blue Ridge range,
five or six miles distant. The enemy attempted to pass through the Gap,
but were met by one of the Federal corps and driven back. The corps left,
July 25, for Warrenton Junction. August 1 marched to the Rappabannock,
and crossed the river August 2, and commenced to fortify the south bank
of the stream expecting an attack ; had some skirmishing in front.
RETREAT OF THE ARMY TO CENTREVILLE
There had been signs of sonic impending movement by the enemy during several days; the movement on the Rapidan was a reconnaissance. The experience of General Pope, the year previous, had made our generals more wary. The Bull Run range of mountains afforded a curtain for the enemy to mask their movements from our view. In August, 1862, Stonewall Jackson had marched up behind that range of mountains, passing through Thoroughfare Gap, cut off the communications of Pope's army, and destroyed an immense amount of military stores at Centreville and rolling stock on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, before General Pope was aware of the movement. He at the time supposed he was holding the enemy at bay across the Rapidan. It was supposed a similar movement was being executed by the enemy at this time. The regiment remained near Pony mountain until noon, and then retreated to Kelly's Ford on the Rappahannock. As it passed over the hills near Stevensburg the enemy's cavalry came in sight in pursuit. General Pleasonton's cavalry protected the rear. The enemy's cavalry could be distinctly seen deploying and charging upon our cavalry which handsomely repelled their charges and kept them at bay. Heavy cannonading was heard towards Brandy Station to our left during the afternoon, but the retreat of the First corps was not again molested. It crossed the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford that evening, and encamped on the north bank that night..The regiment remained till the 12th, then retreated at midnight, leaving the camp-fires burning to deceive the enemy; they coming up soon after shelled the deserted camp. Reached Warrenton Junction at twelve M. on the 13th, and then halted in line of battle. Heavy cannonading was heard towards Warrenton. The corps halted until the baggage-train got safely under way, and a large quantity of forage had been sent to the rear on the cars, then moved to Bristoe Station, arriving there at 11 P.M., after a toilsome march, and encamped over night.
In the morning heavy cannonading was heard from the direction of Warrenton. The First corps pursued its retreat to Centreville, reaching there about three P.M. From the heights of Centreville could be seen the rebel army advancing in pursuit of General Warren, then at Bristoe. They pressed so closely upon the heels of the retreating Second corps that it was obliged to make a stand behind Broad Run and deliver battle. It handsomely repulsed the enemy, and captured five guns and several prisoners. It resumed its march to Centreville in the night. The next day there was heavy cannonading to the left towards Bull Run, but it soon subsided. The entire Army of the Potomac had now taken shelter once more behind Bull Run. The enemy had been foiled in his object, partly by the tardiness of his movements and partly by the skill of General Meade in keeping his army well in hand, and making a timely retreat.
General Meade, in his eagerness to escape the disasters which had fallen upon the army under General Pope in August, 1862, lost a golden opportunity to attack and defeat the enemy in detail. Their flanking column came upon his flank and rear at Bristoe Station, and there it was severely defeated by one corps.
If he had halted his whole army then and given the enemy battle, instead of falling back to the heights of Centreville, he might have obtained an easy victory. General Ewell coming up too late on our left found the Union army safe behind Bull Run, threw across the stream a few shells as a token of love and respect, and then retired. The enemy, baffled in his attempt to cut the communications of the Union army and repeat the brilliant manoeuvre of the year preceding set about destroying the Orange and Alexandria, railroad. They twisted every rail and burned every tie from Broad Run, near Bristoe Station, to the Rappahannock, about twenty-five miles. On October 16 the regiment received one hundred more conscripts. Assistant Surgeon Place reported for duty. He was left at Gettysburg, soon after was taken ill, and went from there to his home.
Sergeant H. H. Hubbard was promoted to second lieutenant, for gallant conduct at the battle of Gettysburg; James A. McKinley, first lieutenant Company I, promoted to captain, October 7, vice Patrick Regan, discharged on surgeon's certificate or disability; Volney J. Pierce, first lieutenant Company G, promoted captain Company D, vice Hulett, resigned; Joseph Dempsey, second lieutenant Company K, promoted first lieutenant August 26 Edward Seenler, sergeant Company E, promoted second lieutenant Company E, October 7, vice Lieutenant Taylor, killed at Gettysburg; Sidney Gaylord, sergeant Company E, promoted second lieutenant Company E, October 7; James W. Kingsley, sergeant Company K, promoted second lieutenant Company K, August 26.
The following is a list of deaths in hospitals: George W. Box, Company C, September 22, 1863 Charles H. Backus, sergeant Company D; Levi M. Wallace, Company E, August 18, 1863 ; William Edmonds, Company F, September 17, 1863; Horace Cheever, Company F; Asa Westcott, Company F, July 25, 1863
OSWEGO IN THE REBELLION
The One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment-Mine Run-Winter Quarters- Battles of the Wilderness, North Anna, and Petersburg.
OCTOBER 19, the First corps advanced to Haymarket, near the entrance of Thoroughfare Gap. The regiment lost several men, captured on the picket-line that evening They were surprised by the enemy's cavalry, in consequence of a blunder or negligence of the officer posting the picket-line. On the next day the corps marched through the Gap and encamped on the other side, and remained several days. Captain Gary, Company G, returned to duty. Brigadier- General Rice, late colonel of the Forty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteers (Ellsworth Avengers), about this time was assigned to the command of the Second brigade. Brigadier-General Cutler commanded the First division, vice General Wadsworth, relieved at Williamsport, Maryland. October 24, returned through the Gap in a cold, drench- rain, and marched to Bristoe Station. The railroad was gradually being repaired, and the army advancing towards the Rappahannock. October 31, Captains Wright, Company K, Parker, Company C, and Slattery, Company B, who were wounded at Gettysburg, reported for duty. November 5, the regiment removed to Catlett's Station. A brigade of the Sixth corps captured more than its number of the enemy at Rappahannock Station. It made a gallant charge on a rebel redoubt about sunset, cutting off their retreat across the river, and forced them to surrender. November 11, Captains Wright Parker Gary, Huginin, and Slattery were discharged on General McClellan's general order No. 100; also Assistant Surgeon Place and Lieutenant Hamlin Company K, were discharged on the same order. On the 9th of November the army crossed the Rappahannock and drove the enemy out of their encampments between the Rappahannock and Rapidan. They had made elaborate preparations for the winter- had erected comfortable log huts for winter-quarters, as if they had meant to stay.
The enemy retreated across the Rapidan, and again went into winter quarters at Gordonsville and Fredericksburg. November 27, the Union army crossed the Rapidan to attack the enemy ; their army at the time was stretched from Gordonsville to Fredericksburg. The object of the movement was to surprise the enemy, separate the two wings before they could unite, and attack each in detail. The enterprise miscarried because of delay in concentrating for the attack, giving the enemy time to unite and oppose the Army of the Potomac with their entire force. The First corps crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford at three A.M., marched to Gold Mine, near the junction of the Gordonsville road, and encamped. On the 28th marched to Robinson's Tavern, in the Wilderness. On the way, the Fifth corps ordnance train was attacked by guerrillas. They were stationed on the road, dressed in Federal uniform, and were taken for Union stragglers. As soon as the ordnance train passed by they deployed across the road, and in the thicket intercepted the head of the column of the First corps. By the time troops had deployed and driven the guerrillas off, they had killed or captured several of the wagon-guard, who on the way were riding on the wagons, neglecting their duty; and drivers ran off three or four of the ordnance wagons on to a by-road, and killed several of the mules.
They set fire to the wagons which they had captured; the explosions of the shells were heard a long time afterwards. This delayed the column but a short time in its march. About three P.M. the corps reached Robinson's Tavern. Towards Gordonsville, heavy cannonading and musketry were heard to our right, about two or three miles distant. The corps was immediately got in marching order, and started through the dense thicket for the scene of action. General French, commander of the Third corps, had experienced delay in crossing the ford, and was several hours behind. The enemy had attacked him in force and had checked his advance. When the First corps arrived on the ground the battle had ceased. The remainder of the day and till about ten A.M. on the 29th was occupied in getting into position. The First corps formed into line of battle, and charged through the dense thickets, and over ravines, preserving a perfect line when possible when any part of the line was interrupted by some impediment, formed into columns by regiments, deploying into line again when the impediment was passed, preserving intact an unbroken and even front, and a continuous line of battle, until the enemy were driven across Mine Run. No manoueuvre could have been more perfectly executed on an even parade-ground. It was a beautiful sight. Across the run, the enemy occupied a natural fortification, with escarpment, bastions, and salient angles, the run serving as a ditch. November 30 was spent in reconnoitering the enemy's position to find a weak point for an attack. December 1, the army remained through the day to await the result of a flank movement by the Second corps, commanded by General Warren, but he found all parts of the enemy's line equally protected and impervious to attack. In the mean time the weather had become intensely cold; the men on the skirmish and picket?lines suffered terribly; some of the wounded were frozen on the ground. In the night it fell to the lot of the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Harney, to picket the front across the run. No fires were allowed ; they were in close proximity to the enemy, and the least noise would draw upon them a shower of bullets. When he withdrew the line, many of the men were so benumbed with cold that it was with difficulty that they could be urged to withdraw. The enemy had already made a movement to cut them off, and the regiment barely got across the run in time to escape capture.
In the evening of December 1, the army fell back. The First corps encamped on the south bank of the Rapidan, at Ely's Ford. In the morning of December 2 returned to near Culpepper, and from there went to Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock. Here the corps went into encampment, and remained several weeks. The regiment suffered much by sickness, especially the unseasoned conscripts. Remittent and typho-malarial fevers became prevalent. The ground was saturated with moisture ; it had a clay subsoil which retained the moisture from the autumnal rains. Excavations made for the purpose of constructing the camp would soon fill up to the surface of the ground with water discolored by the clay. Colonel Miller Captain Coey, and Lieutenant Gillett returned to duty from their trip north for conscripts.
About January 1, 1864, the First corps moved to Culpepper and went into winter quarters ; it occupied a rolling country with pure water. The health of the regiment immediately improved, and the hospital soon became empty. During the winter the following promotions took place: Lieutenant-Colonel F. C. Miller, promoted to colonel November 24, 1863, vice J. G. Butler, discharged on surgeon certificate of disability; Major G. Harney, promoted lieutenant-colonel, December 15, vice F. C. Miller promoted; D. Farling, adjutant, promoted major, December 15, vice G. Harney, promoted; H. H. Lyman, second lieutenant Company C, promoted adjutant, January 12, 1864, vice Farling, promoted ; Joseph Dempsey, first lieutenant Company K, promoted captain, January 12, 1864 ; George Huginin, first lieutenant Company A, promoted captain Company B; Henry H. Hubbard, second lieutenant Company D, promoted first lieutenant Company D, December 24, 1863, again promoted to captain, March 24, 1864; Alexander R. Penfield, promoted to captain, December 24, 1863 Nathaniel Wright, restored, November 30, 1863 ; William J. Gillett, promoted to Captain, March 30, 1864; James W. Kingsley, second lieutenant Company K, promoted first lieutenant, March 30, 1864 ; James Brown, sergeant Company B, promoted first lieutenant, July 27, 1863 ; Byron Parkhurst, sergeant Company G, promoted first lieutenant Company G, December 24, 1863; Alexander King, sergeant Company D, promoted second lieutenant Company D, December 24, 1863, again promoted to first lieutenant Company D, April 14, 1864 ; Cheney D. Barney, second lieutenant Company H, promoted first lieutenant Company H, February 8, 1864; William A. Wybourn, second lieutenant, promoted first lieutenant, January 23,1864; Lansing Bristol, sergeant Company D, promoted second lieutenant Company D, April 14, 1864; Franklin N. Hamlin, restored first lieutenant Company K, December 24, 1863; Edwin M. Sperry, sergeant Company C, promoted second lieutenant Company C, February 8, 1864 ; Clark H. Norton, sergeant Company H, promoted second lieutenant Company H, December 7,1863; John Berry, of the Fourteenth Brooklyn, promoted second lieutenant Company A, November 24, 1863; William Kinney, sergeant Company K, promoted second lieutenant, January 11, 1864; Joel A. Baker, sergeant-major, promoted second lieutenant Company G, April 19, 1864.
The winter of 1863-64, after the terrible battles and weary marches of the previous season, was spent in a series of amusements and recreation. All pursuits of life were, represented in our volunteer army. Rude theatres were constructed, and the drama became the most popular source of amusement. Scenes of the war were represented on the mimic stage, generally at the expense of the enemy. The Fourteenth Brooklyn was specially fertile in inventing these ludicrous representations, but they stimulated rivalry and emulation, and rival theatres sprang up. March 19, 1864, a reconnoissance in force was made on the enemy's front. The baggage was packed, tents struck, and everything, put in readiness to be sent to the rear. The First corps marched to the Rapidan at Morton's Ford in the night and there encamped in a swamp. The men were obliged to put down a layer of rails and logs to keep out of the water. The enemy were strongly fortified across the stream. The opposite bank rose abruptly, and a series of rifle-pits, filled with rebel sharpshooters, rose up to the top of the bank. The Sixth corps effected a crossing in another part of the line, but was driven back with considerable loss. The object of the movement was to prevent the enemy from detaching any considerable force to send southwest to oppose General Sherman.
During the winter a congressional committee investigated the condition of the army. It was thought that results inadequate to the force and strength of the army had been attained.
A reorganization of the army was recommended to make it more efficient. The First corps was consolidated with and merged into the Fifth corps under Major-General Warren. The Third and Second corps were consolidated into the Second corps under Major-General Hancock. Other changes took place. General Wadsworth returned, and assumed command of his old First division, now of the Fifth corps. General Grant had been assigned the command of all the Federal armies, and made his headquarters with those of the Army of the Potomac. March 29, the Army of the Potomac was reviewed by General Grant. He inspected the troops very closely and with care.
The following is a list of these killed in battle or who died in
hospital,* from October 16, 1863, to May 4, 1864:
BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS, SPOTTSYLVANIA,
May 5, 1864, commenced The memorable campaign of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and Petersburg.
The Fifth corps set out in the night of the 3d, crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford, and encamped near the gold mine. On the morning of the 5th, advanced to the right on a wood road over a marsh, and up a steep hill through a dense thicket of scrub pine timber, into a clearing. Here, the ammunition- and baggage-trains and artillery were halted. Heavy skirmishing was heard in front. A captured rebel, was brought in to Generals Warren and Wadsworth, and questioned. He said there were only two or three rebel regiments in front. The First division formed into a line of battle and advanced towards Mine Run. After advancing about half a mile in a dense thicket, and over ridges and ravines, preserving the line with difficulty, they met the enemy. They were concealed in an opening partially grown up to stunted, bushy pine. The division was greeted with a withering volley. The right of the line soon fell back, leaving the right flank of the Second brigade exposed. The enemy pressed on all sides, and the brigade was forced to give way. It fell back to the clearing from whence it started, in some disorder, but none too soon to prevent being captured. The enemy had driven in all on the left, and occupied part of the clearing. The ammunition- and baggage-trains and artillery were all -one. The entire Pennsylvania Reserves, who were to the left, were cut off and captured. The enemy had formed a " cul de sac," and the only point of egress was the narrow path through which the brigade had retreated. Many of the regiment, trying to escape, ran into the enemy's lines and were taken prisoners.
Colonel Miller was severely wounded, and captured. Adjutant Lyman and many of the skirmish-line were captured. Generals Griffin's and Crawford's divisions, in advance farther to the left, had been struck by General Hill's corps, and driven in. When the Second brigade emerged from the woods on the retreat, the enemy occupied a hill to the left, in short range from the broken brigade. General Rice, supposing them to be Federal troops, tried to rally his brigade, but he soon found the position untenable, and fell back to near the road, at Tod's tavern, from where the Fifth corps turned off in the morning. There General Wadsworth was rallying his division. The First division was moved off in another direction, but was not again engaged that day. The loss of the regiment in killed, wounded, and prisoners was very large. It is difficult to describe the positions which the regiment took during the remainder of the two days' battle. The country is a wild region, The timber had been formerly cut off to supply iron-furnaces, and the land left to grow up to dwarf pine, scrub oak, chinquapins, and brambles. The surface is broken into low ridges, ravines, and swamps. The wood took fire in many places, adding the torture of burning by a slow fire to the usual horrors of a battle-field. There was a continuous discharge of musketry throughout the night from the muskets of the fallen as they were ignited by the burning woods. In the morning at five the battle was again opened. The First division had marched several miles to the left after its repulse on the 5th. It made a fierce attack on the enemy's right, and drove it back one mile and a half, overturning General Lee's headquarters. The Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania and the One Hundred and Forty-seventh New York, under Colonel Hofmann of the Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania, attacked the enemy and recovered a position lost by a part of the Second-corps, which had given way. The position was demanded of Colonel Hofmann by the defeated colonel of the Second corps, which be refused to give up until ordered to do so by his superior officer. General Wadsworth was killed while leading his division to the attack, and fell into the hands of the enemy. His bravery commanded respect from the foe. His body was carefully preserved, and afterwards sent into the Federal lines under a flag of truce. In him the country lost an earnest and single-minded patriot. It was often said of him that " he knew not fear." He was shot down when rashly exposing himself to encourage his men, who were shrinking from a galling fire, saying, "There is not danger enough to harm a mouse." The battle raged until after dark, neither side gaining any material advantage. Towards nightfall General Lee massed a large force on our right, and drove it far enough to get possession of our communications. The wounded were loaded into ambulances and empty baggage-wagons, ready to be sent to Washington by Culpepper, when the news of the disaster came. They were retained in the ambulances until communications could be opened by Fredericksburg and Aquia creek or Belle Plain. They suffered much by the detention and transportation over rough roads. The First division in this two days' battle lost over half of its numbers. Thus terminated, for the Union forces, the most bloody and unique battle of the war. It was fought mostly in dense thickets, the combatants often coming upon each other without warning, and soon became inextricably mixed and confused, neither party knowing which way to turn to find its way out. It was only by the general plan of battle that any order could be preserved. The effective fighting force of the Union army was about eighty thousand, including the artillery, which, owing to the nature of the country, did but little service.
This is exclusive of General Burnside's corps, which remained behind to protect the rear, and did not cross the Rapidan till the second day. The effective strength of the enemy was sixty thousand muskets, which was reinforced on the second day twenty thousand muskets by General Longstreet. The Union army was permitted to cross the fords, which were strongly fortified, unmolested. General Lee's plan was to launch his whole force and strike the Union column on the flank, after crossing the fords, when marching. It had failed through difficulty of manoeuvring his army in the dense thickets of the Wilderness. It was supposed by General Lee that General Grant would turn back after the second day, and lie sent a large cavalry force across the river to intercept his retreat. But General Grant, contrary to the previous habits of Union generals, on the morning of the 7th, with about twenty thousand wounded, in ambulances and wagons, set out for Spottsylvania, about fifteen miles distant. General Lee, on interior lines, hastened on, reached and occupied his fortified positions before him.
The Fifth corps in the advance was impeded by the enemy's cavalry, and infantry attacks on the flank obliged it to keep up a running fight all that day. General Robinson, Second division, was wounded and lost a leg. By the time the Fifth corps came up the enemy had arrived, and were strongly intrenched in its front. In the morning of the 8th the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment was engaged in repelling an attack of the enemy, with considerable loss in killed and wounded. May 9 was mainly occupied in getting into position by both armies. The enemy occupied a strong intrenched position, barring further advance of the Union army. No fighting except by sharpshooters; the men were obliged to keep under cover, as the least exposure drew the fire of the enemy. General Sedgwick, of the Sixth corps, was picked off by a sharpshooter. May 10, about noon, the regiment was engaged and was relieved when out of ammunition. About five P.M. was again brought into action and remained until after dark was; driven back by the burning woods; loss in killed and wounded considerable. May 11 the regiment lay in the rifle-pits under a heavy cannonading of shot and shell, and a constant fire from sharpshooters. May 12, five A.M., the regiment went into the skirimish-line without its breakfast, charged through a dense thicket up a hill to the enemy's breastworks, and were repulsed. The regiment then went about five miles to the left, to engage in one of the most determined and fiercely-contested battles of the war. At 4.30 A.M. General Hancock with the Second corps stormed a salient angle of the enemy's works, and carried it, capturing twelve thousand of the enemy. He pursued the enemy to the second line of works ; having partially lost the organization of the corps, he was forced to retire to the first line, which, by the aid of reinforcements, he was able to hold. The whole rebel army was nearly demoralized and routed by this onset, and was only saved by the personal example and bravery of General Lee. He caught up a standard and placed himself in front of his routed and demoralized troops, rallied them, and in person commenced to lead them back to the charge. His officers and men, inspirited by his example, first forced him to the rear, then charged upon General Hancock, and drove him back to the first line. In course of the day General Lee made five desperate attacks upon this line, but was repulsed each time with great slaughter.
Here was the most remarkable fighting of the war. Part of the Fifth corps was moved up in the evening to assist in holding the position. Every man was given two hundred and fifty rounds of cartridges, and was ordered to keep up a constant fusilade towards the enemy throughout the night; by so doing they kept down the enemy's fire. No living thing could withstand such a constant stream of bullets. In the morning there was no enemy in sight in front, and their dead lay in heaps behind their breastworks, mostly shot through the head. The trees within musket-range were killed, and one tree eighteen inches in diameter was cut clean in two by bullets. May 11, the brave General Rice, commander of the Second brigade, when in front of his command, had his thigh-bone shattered by a bullet from a rebel sharpshooter, and died that evening after an amputation, from loss of blood. When breathing his last, he made a request to have his face turned towards the enemy. Lieutenant- Colonel Harney was slightly wounded that afternoon in leading a charge on the enemy's works. In withdrawing the First division of the Fifth corps to aid in holding the position gained by the Second corps, the Fifth corps' hospitals were necessarily uncovered.
All the wounded that could be easily moved were removed to a place of safety during the night, but about two thousand were abandoned and captured by the enemy's cavalry. Among them were several officers and men belonging to the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment. They were rescued by the Federal cavalry three days afterwards, but, from the want of care and proper nourishment, many of them died who would otherwise have recovered. In the night of the 13th the regiment experienced the most fatiguing march of the war. It had been raining steadily during several days, and the mud was deep. The corps moved twelve miles to the left, through thickets, swamps, and ravines.
During several days General Grant had been gradually moving his army to the left to get around the enemy's right, but be was met by a corresponding movement by General Lee. In these series of battles the regiment had suffered greatly in killed and wounded and front sickness.
The following were killed or fatally wounded in the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, May 5, 1865:
Company A, Arnold Brown, Benoni Baker, David Bird, George Bull,
William Backus, Job G. Campbell, Abram 1. White, John E. Peer, May 8 Drisdon
Founier, wounded May 5, died August 16.
May 21 the Fifth corps marched to Guineas' station, on the Fredericksburg and Richmond railroad. Continued the march on the 22d, and reached the North Anna river at four P.M. on the 24th (sic 23rd) at Jericho ford. The banks of the stream were precipitous, and at places rising up perpendicularly thirty or forty feet. The crossing was at a disused ford. The road leading down the banks had been washed out by rains, and had to be graded. The First division, commanded by General Cutler, crossed over in advance, fording the stream, before the pontoon bridge was laid. The general carelessly gave permission to his division to mass and get coffee, at the same time posting a few pickets. General Warren coming up a few minutes after, seeing from the opposite side of the stream the precarious condition of the division, sent a peremptory command to General Cutler to get his division into line of battle-at once, and get it in readiness to receive an attack from the enemy. One brigade had time to form and advance a few paces in a pine wood, when it was greeted with a deafening roar of musketry. It came out disorganized, and fled precipitately down the batiks of the stream. A host of non-combatants servants with pack animals stretcher bearers, hospital attendants, and surgeons,-who had crossed over with the division, took fright, and fled, giving the appearance of a stampede. In the mean time, the enemy had commenced an artillery duel with four Federal batteries stationed on the bluffs on the north side of the river, the shells passing over the heads of the frightened non combatants, adding terror to their fright. The Second brigade, commanded by Colonel Hofmann, was formed into line, stood firm, and was in readiness to receive the enemy. A battery, commanded by Captain Mink, formerly a Black river boatman, a brave artillery officer, came over at the critical moment ; be posted his battery on an elevation to the right of the Second brigade, at the same time sending a request to Colonel Hofmann to reserve fire, and give him the first chance at the rebels. He had loaded his guns to the muzzle with canister. The enemy came swarming out of the woods within short range of the battery, when it was discharged in their midst. They recoiled, and fled panic-stricken. The battle was soon renewed. The enemy was finally repulsed with a loss of one thousand prisoners. The Fifth corps lost three hundred and fifty killed and wounded. A second Ball's Bluff disaster was only prevented by the timely arrival of General Warren on the north bank of the stream, and the opportune arrival of Captain Mink at the critical moment on the field of battle. He had been wounded, and carried a crutch with him at the time.
During the battle General Warren came over and upbraided General Cutler, an old man, in forcible but not over-polite terms for his carelessness. In the mean time, General Hancock, with the Second corps, had effected a crossing four or five miles below, and General Wright, with the Sixth corps, afterwards crossed above.
In the morning, May 24, the One Hundred and Forty seventh Regiment was deployed as skirmishers in the advance. About forty of the affrighted rebels were captured. They had not recovered from the demoralization caused by the battle of yesterday. They appeared to be very willing prisoners. In the morning of the 25th the regiment was again deployed on the skirmish-line, and advanced towards Hanover junction, to the southeast about two miles; had severe fighting the country flat and densely wooded at places; loss in killed and wounded considerable. May 26 it seemed evident that not much progress was to be made towards Richmond in this direction. The enemy still held the south bank of the stream between the Fifth corps and General Hancock, and were strongly posted in our front. In the night the corps was withdrawn to the north bank of the stream, and started for Hanover town on the Pamunkey. Arrived at Hanover town on the 28th. There met General Sheridan's cavalry on its return from a raid on the defenses of Richmond. It had met the cavalry of the enemy, under the rebel general, Stuart, about four miles from Richmond, and fought a severe battle, in which General Stuart was killed. About one thousand of the wounded cavalry were left in hospital at Hanover town. May 30 the regiment was engaged in the battle of Bethesda Church, in which a large number of wounded prisoners fell into our hands. May 31, lay in the trenches in front of the defenses of Richmond. Heavy can cannonading was heard in the morning on the right, and in the afternoon on the left, but no fighting in front. June 2, attacked by the enemy about five P.M. ; fell back and changed front to meet the enemy, and drove them back; loss considerable. There was heavy firing to the right during the day, which continued along in the night June 3, battle of Cold Harbor. Commenced throwing up breastworks about daylight; they were not finished when the battle opened with great fury; several were wounded, but none seriously. The heaviest fighting was on the right and left. The Ninety-fifth New York suffered severely, Lieutenant-Colonel Pye was mortally wounded.
Since crossing the Pamunkey, General Grant had been tentatively feeling the enemy's lines. To-day he had made an assault all along the lines, and was repulsed with great loss in killed and wounded; the enemy's loss was comparatively slight as they were fighting behind breastworks. The regiment lay in the trenches till June 6. The baggage-wagons came up the first time during thirty days. Officers obtained a change of under-clothing for the first time during that period. The state of that which they had on, and of the cuticle, can be easily imagined.
In the morning of the 7th, at 3.30, the division moved to the left; met the enemy at the West Point and Richmond railroad. The Second brigade was deployed as skirmishers, and drove the enemy across the Chickahominy river; then encamped in the mud for the night. Picketed the north bank of the stream till the 12th, the enemy picketing the other side. The river here is about twenty feet across. The enemy's pickets were disposed to be friendly, and desired to trade tobacco for coffee, but were forbidden to do so by their officers ; but the men did so clandestinely, tossing their exchanges across the river. Six rebel came into our lines on the night of the 9th. The men fished in the stream. Moved July 13, and crossed the Chickahominy in the night. The regiment was detailed as a train-guard, and moved on the road towards the James river; arrived near the river at eleven P.M., and encamped on a fine plantation, the owner of which, with three sons, had joined the rebel army, one of whom was killed and another wounded in the battle of the Wilderness. June 16, crossed the James river at Wilson's landing; marched for Petersburg, starting about noon; had a weary and toilsome march of twenty-six miles in a broiling sun, each man carrying a blanket, forty rounds of ammunition, and half of a shelter tent, making a weight of forty or fifty pounds, and went into camp at two A.M, June 17, about three miles from Petersburg. The regiment by this time had become much enfeebled by constant vigils and long, weary marches in the heat of a Virginia summer. Since May 5 it had been almost constantly in the presence of the enemy, and more than half of the time under fire. It often slept in the trenches when the enemy's shells were bursting thick and fast around them as a lullaby.
The losses of the armies in their fierce struggles from the Wilderness to the James river were never officially published; probably they were so enormous that the authorities deemed it unwise to appall the country by making known their magnitude. The whole scene of contest from the Rapidan to the Chickahominy rivers was one Golgotha. In many places in the dense thickets the dead were left without sepulture, and their bleaching skeletons were seen upon the return of some of their comrades after the surrender at Appomattox Court-House (1865), who passed through there to revisit the scenes of their former struggles. General Grant had had his losses more than made up by constant reinforcements from the defenses of Washington by the heavy artillery regiments stationed there. They never supposed they were to be called into the field, and lacked the experience and efficiency of the veterans who had been in constant service and had withstood the shock of a hundred battle-fields. They had to withstand the jeers and gibes of the hardened veterans, who, not always without malice, greeted them as " Heavies," and said, " It is better to get accustomed to the use of small guns before attempting to use big ones," because, as they thought, they had shrunk from the dangers of the war by seeking a safe place behind the defenses of Washington. These regiments were from two thousand to two thousand four hundred strong when they came into the field. From sickness, arising from want of proper seasoning, and casualties in battle, in a great measure arising from the want of experience, they were soon reduced to two or three hundred. They had not yet acquired the " discretion which is the better part of valor" (not speaking, however, in the False Sense) of the veteran, coolness and wariness in battle, which can only be attained by long experience, and which makes a veteran three times as valuable as a raw recruit, bravery in both being equal. From nature's most imperative law, self-preservation, the veteran learns to avoid all unnecessary danger, and instinctively seizes upon all the advantages of his position. At the end of every day's march, however weary he might be, the veteran would protect himself by constructing some kind of breastwork to guard against surprise. When on the picket- or skirmishline, with marvelous quickness, if there was no natural cover, he would scoop up a little mound of earth to protect himself from the bullets of his foe. A gopher could not burrow out of sight sooner than a veteran would conceal himself from the enemy by the use of a tin-cup or a bayonet.
General Grant had been flanking the enemy from the Wilderness to the James river, and now endeavored to succeed by hastily seizing Petersburg before General Lee could get there to defend the place., It was protected by an elaborate fortification built in the early part of the war, encircling the town on the south side of the Appomattox, about two and a half miles from the suburbs. Generals Hancock, Smith, and Burnside, with a large force, crossed the James river and made a rapid march to surprise the place on the 16th of June; but the enemy got there about the same time. The Union forces took the outer works without opposition, and met the enemy midway between the works and the town. A fierce battle ensued ; neither party gained advantage. The enemy, to bold their position, commenced to build an inner line of works. In the morning of the 17th the Fifth corps, after the toilsome march of the day previous, advanced on the enemy and gained a position, from which it took part in the general assault upon the enemy's lines which was made the next day. June 18, the Union army endeavored to take the enemy's works by coup de main, but was partially repulsed. A position was gained varying from one hundred to four hundred yards from the enemy's works. A vigorous use of the pick and spade was then made, and in a few days a heavy line of works was built, confronting the enemy's. In the charge of the 18th the line of battle of the he Fifth corps passed over a broken country, partly wooded, partly open fields, and crossed diagonally over a deep railroad cut, and up the steep bank, consequently the line of battle became very irregular and uneven. The part of the line occupied by the One Hundred and Forty-seventh Regiment, under Lieutentant-Colonel Harney, was in the open field; the line gave way on each side of the regiment, but a part of another regiment remained with it. They had charged within a short distance of the enemy's breastworks, and were there left without support. It was more dangerous to fall back than to hold the position. Lieutenant-Colonel Harney ordered the men to lie down behind a low ridge, which afforded partial protection from the enemy's fire. The enemy opened embrasures in their works in front (the men could look into the muzzles of the enemy's cannon as they were run out), and bombarded them with spherical caseshot, which nearly grazed their backs when they passed over them. They kept their position through the day in a broiling sun. The enemy at one time sent out a force on the flank to capture them. Lieutenant?-olonel Harney reserved the fire of his command until they came within point-blank range, and poured a volley into them. They immediately fled back behind the works.
Some of the men clamored for permission to go to the rear. The colonel endeavored to convince them that it was much safer to remain where they were ; but, finally, to quiet the complaints of others, gave four or five of them permission to retire and see what would come of it. They made the attempt, and were all killed or wounded.
The lieutenant-colonel, like a true soldier, wished to save the colors, and called for a volunteer to carry them to the rear. William Sullivan, sergeant Company I, volunteered, and carried them off, but was severely wounded. He was soon after promoted second lieutenant for his gallant conduct. The regiment remained till after dark, and got off safely. The losses in this day's battle in killed and wounded were very great.
The following were killed in battle, or died in hospitals, from May 22 to June 19, 1864:
William Upcraft, Company A, killed June 1;
Death Notice of Orange Beardsley:
Orange Beardsley, was born in Jefferson Co NY, and when he enlisted, he and his family were residing in Williamstown, Oswego, NY.
The death notice of Orange Beardsley would have been sent from the field in VA, to his home in Williamstown). Tom McKenna.
On the 23rd of May, 1864, in the Field Hospital, from wounds received at the battle of North Ann River, in the 40th year of his age, Mr. Orange Beardsley of Co. C. 147th Reg't N.Y. Vol.
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Copyright © 1999 Thomas Michael McKenna