« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the 14th of June, it crossed to the south side of the James, and continued its march to within a few miles of Petersburg, when it formed in line of battle in support of the second division. On the 17th it fell into line, and endeavored to cross an open plain. Said an officer,
The ground was strewn with fallen timber, and a thick growth of underbrush was interwoven with the timber to impede our progress. We succeeded in gaining the works taken the night before by Gen. Potter. Remained in this position through the afternoon. Orders came to fall in. The men moved rapidly down a ravine, and formed in line for a charge. After arranging the line, we prepared to advance. Pushing through a dense growth of pine-saplings, we gained the open field, in which some of our forces were promiscuously scattered around. Our line became severed by this time, in consequence of the woods; but we patiently formed our line again under its crest. The word “ Forward !” was passed from mouth to mouth. The column rose en masse, each man grasping his piece firmly. “Charge ! ” shouted the commander; and the men rushed yelling and frantic on the works of the enemy. Round shot, grape and shrapnel, flew like hail; but it was of no avail : the line gave way. Again we essayed, but failed. Darkness setting in, the enemy fell back to another and more tenable position. The groans of the dying and wounded blended harshly with the voices of those still resolute, and eager for the fray. Today, the silent mounds which dot that field speak more eloquently than words of the bravery and selfdevotion of many a New-England soldier. The regiment was commanded by Major Charles Chipman, and the brigade was under the supervision of Lieut.-Col. Joseph H. Barnes.
On the 23d, the regiment relieved Barlow's division of the Second Corps, and remained in line until the 30th, when it was relieved by the colored troops. It then marched down one of the regular approaches to the enemy's works, and lay anxiously awaiting the signal to charge them, which was to be the explosion of a mine under a fort in its front.
The mine exploded, and the troops rushed simultaneously towards its crater. The artillery vomited forth a galling fire; and incessant roars of musketry, mingling with the deafening shouts of the troops, presented a scene of carnage and bloody strife rarely if crer equalled in the annals of modern warfare. The enemy, recovering from the shock of the explosion, rallied, and succeeded in repulsing us. Those who had gained the enemy's works were mostly captured.
On the 19th of August, the regiment, under command of Capt. C. F. Richardson, in support of the Fifth Army Corps, was hotly
engaged with the enemy at Blick's Station, on the Weldon Railroad. The division, Gen. White commanding, reached an open field just in time to prevent a flank movement by the enemy.
Sept. 24, the regiment was ordered to garrison Fort Howard, and, on the 5th of October, to rejoin the brigade in its advanced position at Poplar-Grove Church, where it arrived the same day.
Oct. 27, the brigade moved out just before sunrise, and marched to the left; forward in line of battle, and advanced over what is called Wells's Farm. Skirmishing with the enemy was going on until Oct. 28, when we commenced to fall back, the brigade to which this command belonged covering the movement, which was successfully accomplished without a single casualty. We returned to camp at Poplar - Grove Church. Here an excellent camp was laid out, log-huts were built, and permanent quarters for winter were being established. The cherished hopes of a winter camp were suddenly blasted by an order to be ready to move.
Nov. 29, we relieved the Second Corps in front of Petersburg, in close proximity to the spot where we were last summer.
Here the regiment remained, Capt. Richardson commanding, until Dec. 31, when it occupied Battery 11,-a post on the crest of a ridge to the left, and a little in the rear of Fort Stedman. The position is described by a pen before quoted :
On the continuation of the same ridge, and only about three hundred yards from Fort Stedman, was Springhill, strongly fortified and intrenched, and furnished with bewildering covered ways, with mines and countermines, and all the appliances of rebel fortification. In the batteries in and around this position were some twenty guns of different calibers. A formidable triple row of chevaux de frise protected the position from assault. The picket lines at this point were only one hundred yards apart. In the rear of Springhill Battery was a road twenty feet wide, in a broad and deep ravine, in wbich troops could be massed in great numbers; and the road was continued as a completely covered way for the largest military equipage as far as the outskirts of Blandford. To the right of Fort Stedman, and to the left of Springhill, the lines receded from each other, the old race-course lying between, white with the bones of the earlier combatants in the siege of Petersburg. It will be seen from this description, that, at this part of the lines, the salients and posts of honor, on either side, were the Springhill Batteries, Fort Stedman, and Batteries 11 and 12. An attack to the right of Fort Stedman, or left of Springhill, would expose men to an enfilading fire on the vast plain ; to the left of Fort Stedman, or right of Springhill, to the difficulties of ravines and watercourses. We held, then, the key of the position.
Nothing specially worthy of note took place here during the winter months of 1865, nor until the 25th of March, - the day of Gen. Sheridan's march to the left from City Point, the real commencement of the strategic envelopment of Petersburg. We quote from the official record of the engagement of this day:
Existing orders from army headquarters encouraged the enemy to desert, and offered them payment for arms brought across. Heretofore the rules of war have required deserters to be disarmed at the picket-line, or even before they gave themselves up, if they came in large bodies; but the multitudes of deserters from the rebels, coming peaceably with arms, had caused some carelessness in this regard. On the morning of the 25th of March, deserters began, about three o'clock, to come across in considerable numbers, - too large to send guards with from the picket-line ; so that the officer of the guard, Lieut. Joslyn, directed them retained on the line, and roused the troops in Fort Stedman, sending word to Battery 11 to be on the alert, as matters looked suspicious. At half-past three, the suspicions were justified. Gen. Gordon's command, consisting of four divisions of rebel troops, of whom the supposed deserters were but the skirmishers, made their attack. That it was crushing and overwhelming cannot be denied. Eight thousand troops were in the column ; in Stedman and Battery 11, scarcely five hundred. How well they fought is shown by the fact, that, around one gun, vine, out of its gun-detachment of fourteen, were killed; and it was not till six o'clock that the enemy had possession of the fort and two batteries. Major Charles T. Richardson, with an utter disregard of himself and his danger, was ever present, cheering and stimulating the men, and setting a noble example. Capt. George H. Taylor ably seconded him; and these two, holding the battery until the very last moment, were taken prisoners. A panic among the supports sent to the relief of the Twenty-ninth had carried
away much of the force that ought to have held the works; but still it was not till after six o'clock that Major Richardson surrendered his sword, he having previous to that time forwarded to brigade headquarters a larger number of prisoners than his whole garrison. Re-enforcements com
mmencing to arrive about six o'clock, the lines were rapidly arranged ; and with the troops of Hartrauft's division on the right, and the re-organized men of the brigade on the left, a charge was made about half-past eight, A.M., which gave us the whole line again. The regiment lay in its old quarters at Battery 11 until April 2, when it joined in the demonstration male on the enemy's works at that part of the line ; and on the 3d, as part of the first brigule that entered the city, it crossed the river, and pickcted on the Richmond Stage-road and the Chesterfield Road. On the 5th, it crossed the river again, and deployed across the country to the Boynton Road, and thence, on the 7th, to Wilson's Station. On the 21st, the regiment was ordered to Washington, where it arrived on the 29th, and was detailed as provost-guard ; in which capacity it remained at headquar
ters, District of Washington, and at Georgetown, D.C., until June 9, when the men of the Thirty-fifth whose term of service had not transpired were transferred to the Twenty-ninth. July 29, the muster-out of the command was completed, and the men started for home. Arriving in Massachusetts, they went into Camp at Readville, and were paid and discharged Aug. 11, 1865.
We add from the official report another paragraph :
In closing the history of the regiment, it is alike the duty and pleasure of the commanding officer to say, that, in the trials it has passed through during its term of service, — which in seven companies was the longest fieldservice performed by any regiment, not only from the State, but from the country, — this regiment has made itself a part of the history of the Republic, and such a part of it, that the commonwealth and the country, the servants of the people and the private citizens, have no reason to blush at having intrusted their honor in our hands.
Through many difficulties, after many conflicts, having undergone much injustice, many jealousies and heart-burnings, with wasted ranks and unsullied honor, we return to the Commonwealth all the flags she ever gave us, with ragged folds and battered staves, but having suffered no loss that we are not proud of, and no injury save honorable scars; and worthy of the motto adopted early in the war, “Aut viam inveniam aut faciam."
THIRTIETH, THIRTY-FIRST, AND THIRTY-SECOND REGIMENTS.
The Eastern Bay-State Regiment. — At Ship Island and New Orleans. – Services in the
South-west. — At Washington. – In the Shenandoah Valley. Homeward bound. -The Western Bay-State Regiment. — Sails for Ship Island. - In the New-Orleans Expedition. - Other Operations. — Furlough, and Welcome Home. — Return to the Field. - Muster out. The First Battalion and the Thirty-second. – Hastens to the Field of Conflict. — Joins the Potomac Army. – Furlough. — Returns to the Closing Scenes of Conflict. — The Discharge from Service.
HE Thirtieth Regiment was organized, Dec. 31, 1861, under
the name of the Eastern Bay-State Regiment. Jan. 2, it went on board “ The Constitution” at Boston ; sailed on the 13th, and arrived at Fortress Monroe on the 16th, with 926 men and 25 officers, under command of Acting Lieut.-Col. Jonas H. French. On the 20th, it disembarked, and went into camp. On the 2d of February, it re-embarked, sailed on the 6th, and arrived at Ship Island on the 12th of February. Here it went into camp, and, on the 9th of March, was joined by Company K, Capt. Cook, with 96 men. On the 22d, Col. N. A. M. Dudley, a United-States officer, assumed command; an accomplished officer, and a native of Massachusetts.
William W. Bullock joined the regiment as lieutenant-colonel. Horace 0. Whittemore, also a prominent officer in the Massachusetts militia, was major. Other officers were,
Samuel K. Towle.
The regiment embarked on board the ship “ North America,” April 15. On the 16th, the expedition left Ship Island, and on the 28th arrived off Forts Jackson and St. Philip, when a detachment was sent under command of Major Whittemore. On the 29th, it proceeded up the river; reached New Orleans on the 1st of May, and disembarked on the 2d.