Slike strani

course of their favorite soldier. On the 30th of March General Burnside was nominated, and on the 4th of April was elected, Governor of Rhode Island. On the 29th of May he was inaugurated into his high office at Newport, amid a more general and enthusiastic expression of public feeling than had ever been observed in the State.

When General Burnside left the Ninth Corps he carried with him the esteem and affection of every officer and soldier in its ranks. It has been a source of extreme gratification to the writer of this volume during its preparation, that all the letters which have been received from the members of the Corps have contained the warmest expressions of affectionate esteem for their former commander. "I hope," writes one, “you will not fail to speak of the love and respect as well as confidence entertained towards General Burnside by all his command. Your book will not be a complete history of the Corps until this is done." This is the uniform tenor of every communication. It is a grateful testimony to the impression which General Burnside's worth of character has made upon all who have been associated with him. There have indeed been those who have attempted to decry and malign him. No man can escape detraction. Professional jealousy will always point the shafts of calumny, but from the true and faithful man, armored with a pure conscience and faithfulness to duty, they fall harmless. He who directs them receives the greatest injury. They always recoil upon the hand from which they were sent. He who wishes to detract from a fair and well earned fame, proves himself to be deficient in true nobility of character, and incapable of appreciating it when manifested by another. A generous nature is never unwilling to acknowledge the merit even of a rival.

General Burnside left the Corps in good hands. General Parke succeeded to the command and retained it until the close of the war, winning for himself great distinction as a brave and able officer. Immediately after the battle of July 30th, General Ledlie was relieved from the command of the first division

and General White was appointed in his stead.* Generals Willcox and Potter had earned their brevets of Major General by their faithful service during the campaign, and were accordingly promoted, to date from the 1st of August. General Grant, in his movements to envelope the enemy's defences, threw portions of his army, at one time to the north of the James, at another to the south of Petersburg. Step by step during the subsequent months, he gradually extended his lines in both directions. Every movement met with strenuous resistance, and it was only by dint of hard fighting that any important advantage was gained. The Ninth Corps participated in some of the movements towards the south which had for their object the seizure of the enemy's main line of railroad communication.

On the 18th of August the fifth corps, which was posted in our lines on the left of the Ninth, broke camp and marched towards the Weldon railroad, The Ninth Corps moved to the left and held the vacated position of the fifth. The eighteenth corps moved down to the old lines of the Ninth. The advance of the fifth corps struck the Weldon railroad about eight o'clock in the morning at Six-mile Station, and immediately set to work to destroy the track. The remainder of the corps moved to the right for two or three miles and took position to protect the working parties. At noon the enemy appeared and made a very spirited attack, in which our troops were severely handled. During the night and following day the line was strengthened, but on the 19th the enemy became so menacing in his demonstrations, that reënforcements were needed. General Parke sent the divisions of Generals White, Potter and Willcox to the assistance of General Warren. General Willcox arrived first upon the ground and was posted upon the right of the line. At four o'clock in the afternoon the enemy under General A. P. Hill made a furious charge. General Mahone's division was directed upon General Willcox's command.

*General Ledlie resigned on the 16th of January, 1865. General White resigned November 19, 1864.

General Hartranft's brigade was formed upon the right and Colonel Humphrey's on the left. They steadily held their ground and beat back every attempt to break their lines. The fifth corps, however, was not so fortunate, and General Crawford's division suffered a severe loss. Our centre was in danger of giving way, when General Potter and General White arrived most opportunely on the ground. Their troops had had a most wearisome march, but were immediately formed, charged the enemy and restored the battle. The presence of the Ninth Corps at once decided the conflict in our favor, and the enemy was repulsed. The Corps captured two hundred prisoners and a color. The position was secured and strengthened during the night. The Ninth Corps occupied the line extending from the fifth corps on the Weldon railroad to the left of the second corps near the Jerusalem plank road. The ground thus gallantly wrested from the foe was intrenched and became a part of our defences. But the enemy was unwilling to rest easy under the loss which he had suffered. On the 21st he came down upon our lines and attacked with renewed vigor, charging nearly up to the breastworks. Once and again he advanced only to be repulsed with great slaughter. It was a desperate contest and a decided victory for our troops. General Potter's division participated in this brilliant defence. The losses in the Corps on these two days of fighting amounted to about five hundred, in killed, wounded and missing. On the 27th the fourth division which had been left in the old lines was moved to the left, joined the command and was efficiently engaged in constructing redoubts, slashing timber and otherwise strengthening the works.

The arduous duties which had fallen upon the first division, had reduced the numbers of this gallant body of men to such an extent, as to make a reörganization of the Corps desirable. Scarcely a moiety of the officers and men remained in those regiments which had left Annapolis with full ranks. They had borne an honorable part in every action since the opening of the campaign, and had left on every battle field the evidences

of their heroic self-sacrifice. It now became necessary to merge the troops of the first division with those of the second and third. The troops were divided but the name was retained. General White was relieved, and General Willcox was placed in command of the first division and General Potter in command of the second as thus compacted. The colored troops formed the third division and retained their organization.

The month of September passed quietly away. The Ninth Corps had the opportunity of rest. No severer duty was required than the strengthening of the positions already gained. Towards the close of the month there were indications of more active service. A further prolongation of our lines to the left had been determined upon, and the Ninth Corps was destined to take part in the movement. On the 28th the first and second divisions were massed in preparation for the advance, and on the 30th the troops moved out of their encampment. General Parke was to cooperate with General Warren in an endeavor to secure the intersection of the Poplar Spring and Squirrel Level roads. When that point was gained, the command was to open a road across a swamp in the rear to the vicinity of the Pegram estate below the Poplar Spring church. General Warren came in contact with the enemy about noon near Peebles' farm. The rebel forces were posted in a strong position on a ridge of a range of hills. General Charles Griffin's division made a gallant attack, forced the lines and captured one gun and a small number of prisoners.

The enemy retired to an intrenched position about half a mile in the rear of his former line. General Parke moved up to the support of General Warren and pressing beyond the Peebles farm, marched through a belt of timber and came out in a large clearing in which stood the Pegram house. General Potter's division moved beyond the house, entered the timber and attempted to advance up the acclivity upon which the enemy was posted. General S. G. Griffin's brigade made the attack, but was met by a counter charge in superior numbers. The enemy's line overlapped our own, broke in between the Ninth

Corps and the fifth, threw General Potter's line into confusion and swept from the field a thousand prisoners or more. At one time it seemed as though the entire division would be broken in pieces; but the steadiness, with which the 7th Rhode Island, under the command of Brevet Colonel Daniels, held. the left flank, prevented such a disaster and aided General Potter in reëstablishing his disordered ranks. General Willcox's division, promptly coming up in support, enabled the first division to rally and reform. At this critical moment, General Charles Griffin's division was hurried forward promptly, attacked and completely stopped the advancing foe. Night coming on put an end to the engagement. The Ninth Corps moved to the line of works which had been captured from the enemy at the Peebles farm. The right connected with the fifth corps; the left was refused covering the Squirrel Level road. This position was intrenched and held. The fruit of the day's operation was an extension of our lines for a distance of about three miles beyond the Weldon railroad. The casualties of the Ninth Corps were sixty-seven killed, four hundred and eighteen wounded, and one thousand five hundred and nine missing-much the larger portion of which fell upon General Potter's division. Towards night a severe rain-storm set in and continued through the subsequent day. In front of the Ninth Corps all was quiet, but the fifth was attacked in the morning and again in the afternoon. In both instances the enemy was signally repulsed with great loss.

On the 2d of October a reconnaissance was made by the second and Ninth Corps. The enemy was found in force covering the Boydton plank road. Our intrenched line was returned running through the Pegram farm. On the 4th General Ferrero's division was moved up and joined the Corps. By the able and willing help of the colored troops the work of intrenchment was pressed with renewed vigor. Two redoubts were thrown up on the front line, three on the flank, and two on the rear with strong infantry parapet connections and heavy slashing in front. Nothing more important than the usual pick

« PrejšnjaNaprej »