« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
George F. Whitcomb fell, shot through the heart. The rebels were driven from their position, and pursued through the woods in their rear, and over an open plain, where the brigade halted for a moment to re-form. Gen. Sheridan here rode before the line, and complimented the troops. Wheeling to the left, we again charged through the woods, flanking Kershaw's division; crossed a ravine raked by grape and cannister, and drove the enemy from a hill beyond. The plain below was covered with the routed fragments of the rebel army. Pressing close upon their rear, we drove them across the plains, through the camps abandoned in the morning; and at about six o'clock, P.M., planted our regimental flag, the first United-States colors, upon the recaptured works. Three cheers for the Thirtieth Massachusetts Regiment and for the old flag were called for by Col. (since Brevet Brig.-Gen.) E. P. Davis, commanding the brigade.
Nothing of special interest transpired during the rest of this and the month of November following. The regiment went into winter-quarters near Newtown; and Thanksgiving found the Thirtieth, at the close of a campaign which virtually annihilated one rebel army, not only grateful for the success which had rewarded its toil and valor, but cheered by the kind remembrances of friends at home. Thanksgiving delicacies were duly appreciated.
It is due a gallant officer to state here, that in the engagements at Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek, in which the Thirtieth distinguished itself, Capt. S. D. Shipley was in command of the regiment.
On the 30th of December, 1864, the regiment was ordered from Camp Russell to Winchester, Va.; and there it was detached to relieve a brigade of the Eighth Corps at Opequan Crossing.
Here it had to maintain a very large and strong picket-line, which the guerillas almost every night attempted to break and capture; but not a man was lost, however, signals being arranged, so that, the minute there was any danger, the long-roll was sounded, and, in five minutes, the works surrounding the camp were manned, and the picket was changed to a skirmish-line.
During the month of March, orders were received to prepare for an active campaign, the last closing act in the horrible drama of war, which, for four long, dreary years, darkened our country's stage.
The orders were strictly obeyed, and when, on the last of the month, the orders to move were received, we were fully prepared; and at noon on the 1st of April, being relieved by the Sixth Virginia dismounted cavalry, we joined the brigade once more at Stevenson's Depot, and moved to Kearnstown, a distance of fifteen miles.
It was intended that this column should move up the Shenandoah Valley to intercept Lee before he could reach Lynchburg, to help force the end of the so-called Confederacy.
We remained in bivouac at Kearnstown until the 7th, when we moved to Milltown, three miles to the rear. The time was spent in drills and reviews, receiving the glorious news that our comrades in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and those under "little Phil," were doing their work nobly; and, at midnight on the 9th, we were aroused by the boom of cannon in honor of the surrender of Lee's army, and the ringing of such cheers as were never heard before.
April 21, the regiment was transported to Washington, and moved to Fort Lincoln. On the 24th of May, it took part in the grand review of the army at Washington. On the 2d of June, sailed for Savannah, Ga.; and moved thence on the 13th to Georgetown, S.C. Thence, on the 27th, the left wing, composed of five companies under command of Major Shipley, proceeded to Florence, a prison-pen of Union soldiers; and thence, on the 9th of July, to Sumter, S.C.
Three companies of the right wing were detailed as headquarters guard for the Military District, Eastern South Carolina, and two companies at Sumter, S.C.; their duties being to preserve order, settle disputes, encourage industry, and compel obedience to the laws and orders among whites and freedmen.
The regiment has enjoyed very good health, and the old discipline is still kept up; and the Thirtieth is now anxiously waiting orders that will muster out the last volunteer organization from Massachusetts now in the military service of the United States.
This regiment was raised in the western part of the State by order of Gen. Butler, and was designated the Western Bay-State Regiment. It was commanded by Col. Oliver P. Gooding, an able and valuable officer, a graduate of West Point, and a captain in the infantry service.
The other field and staff officers were as follow:
On the 19th of February, 1862, the regiment received orders to march. On the 21st, it left Boston on board the transport "Mississippi," and reached Fortress Monroe the 22d. Having taken on board Gen. Butler and staff, the regiment sailed from this port for Ship Island on the 26th.
Through stress of weather, and injury to the vessel, received by grounding on Frying-pan Shoals, the regiment did not reach Hilton Head until the 1st of March. Stopping here a few days for repairs, “The Misssissippi," with its precious freight on board, sailed again on the 12th, and arrived at Ship Island on the 20th. On the 23d, the regiment landed, and remained there until the 18th of April, when it left for New Orleans.
The men witnessed the bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the splendid naval victory achieved by the fleet under Admiral Farragut. On the surrender of the forts, the regiment ascended the river; arrived at New Orleans May 1, and was the first regiment to land, and take possession of the city. It was assigned the duty of clearing the levee, and escorting the major-general and his staff to their headquarters through the crowds of traitors who lined the streets of the city.
Upon its entrance to New Orleans, it was quartered at the Custom House, and, while it remained in the city, was eminently a working regiment.
In August, the regiment was divided. Part, under Col. Gooding, garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip; part, under Lieut.Col. Welden, Fort Pike; and the remainder was held for picketduty in the city.
About the 20th of January, 1863, these detachments were again united, and Col. Gooding assigned to the command of a brigade, consisting of the Thirty-first, Thirty-eighth, and Fifty-third Massachusetts, and the One Hundred and Fifty-sixth and the One Hundred and Seventy-fifth New-York.
This brigade was encamped at Carrollton as the third brigade, third (Emory's) division.
Feb. 10, Lieut.-Col. Hopkins took command of the regiment; and on the 12th, with the rest of the division, the Thirty-first went in the expedition down the Plaquemine Bayou, prospected for the capture of Butte à la Rose. The expedition proved impracticable, and the division returned to Carrollton Feb. 19.
March 6, the division left Carrollton, and joined the army at Baton Rouge. From this until the 20th, the regiment was in the first advance against Port Hudson, being a portion of the force manoeuvring inland to protect the right flank of the army.
April 11, Gen. Emory's division advanced on Fort Bisland. On the 13th, the regiment was deployed as skirmishers about five hours, and was in the hottest brush of the battle, in which the enemy was dislodged from the left of his works.
The April muster of the regiment was at Opelousas. In the advance against Port Hudson, via Bayou Sara, the regiment crossed the Mississippi, and bivouacked before Port Hudson, May 23. It was prominently engaged in the battles of May 25 and 27 and June 14. In these engagements, it displayed the utmost coolness and disciplined courage.
Shortly after the surrender of the fort, the brigade was ordered to Baton Rouge. Here it was changed to the second brigade, first (Weitzel's) division, Nineteenth Corps.
Sept. 9, the three companies which had garrisoned Fort Pike were returned to the regiment, which was now complete for the first time since entering New Orleans, May 1, 1862.
Dec. 9, the regiment, in pursuance of orders, moved to New Orleans; reported to Brig.-Gen. Lee; and, on the 19th, was converted into cavalry. Sabres and Remington revolvers were at once issued to the regiment.
The low grounds at Camp Carrollton being flooded with water, the regiment, in January, 1864, moved to more comfortable quarters in the Levee Steam Cotton Press, where its mount and equipments were completed.
This change of quarters brought together the Thirty-first and Third Massachusetts and the Second Illinois and the Second New-Hampshire, forming the Fourth Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Col. Dudley of the Thirtieth Massachusetts. During the spring campaign, the Thirty-first was known as the Sixth Massachusetts Cavalry. Col. Gooding was assigned to the Fifth Cavalry Brigade.
On Feb. 29, the regiment crossed the Mississippi, and, having marched three hundred and twenty miles, reached Alexandria March 20. The next morning, it was ordered forward to support a force sent the day before to engage the enemy. This advance, by a bold night's march, surprised and captured three hundred and fifty men of the Second Louisiana Cavalry, and a four-gun battery posted on Henderson's Hill.
On the 26th, the advance of the army began. On the morning of the 31st, the regiment came upon the rear of the rebels, near Natchitoches. Advancing twenty-four miles through an almost uninhabited tract of pine-woods, the regiment in the
afternoon came upon the enemy in strong force. The lines were formed to meet an expected attack. After dusk, it fell back to White Store, and waited two days for the army and trains to come up; then pushed forward in the evening of April 7 to Pleas ant Hill, our advance sharply skirmishing with the enemy.
April 8, the battle of Sabine Cross-roads took place, about three miles from Mansfield, and fifty from Shreveport.
Here the end of the advance of the Red-River Expedition is marked by the graves of a thousand men.
A large force of the enemy was gathered at this point, and strongly posted on the high grounds, and in the woods beyond the open tract through which the Union forces were to pass. These consisted of but two divisions of the Thirteenth Corps under Gen. Ransom, and the cavalry under Gen. Lee, without other support than an immense wagon-train. The rest of the army were miles behind. The enemy, as though aware of the weakness of this body of troops, attacked, and overwhelmed them by numbers. The Thirty-first was posted on the left of the brigade and on the extreme left of the Union lines, and in this battle did its whole duty, standing its ground against a superior force of infantry until the whole right of our little army was driven from the field.
The arrival of the Nineteenth Corps just before dark checked the advance of the enemy. During the night, the army fell back to Pleasant Hill, arriving there in the morning. The battle at this place was fought on the 9th and 10th of April. On the retreat of the army, the regiment was detailed as guard to the wagon-trains, reaching Grand Encore on the night of the 10th.
In the afternoon of April 21, the army evacuated Grand Encore; and, on the 23d, the battle of Cane River took place. The Thirty-first, holding the advance, drove the enemy's skirmishers across the river, and captured a number of Texas cavalry. The enemy was driven from his position, and the Union forces held both banks of the river.
April 30, the regiment crossed the Red River on pontoons, and marched twenty-five miles to discover any force the rebels might have on that side, and to burn Bynum's Mill, which had been supplying them with meal.
The object of the expedition accomplished, the brigade set out to return, the Thirty-first bringing up the rear.
Arriving at Hudnot's Plantation, seventeen miles from Alexandria, word came that the rebels were advancing. The line was