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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
Troops in the Field
The regiments in service from this State have contributed so largely, during the year, to the history of the State, and have sacrificed so freely of their best and bravest men, that they are entitled to more than a passing notice. Ever placed in the front, seldom in reserve, they have fought their way from the Rapidan, through the Wilderness, by Spotsylvania, the North Anna and Cold Harbor, across the James River, to the heights of Petersburgh, -- and then from Harpers' Ferry, through the valley of the Shenandoah, to Harrisonburgh. Participants in the active campaigns of Grant and Sheridan, they have been engaged in every battle since the Rapidan was crossed on the fourth of May, and have been distinguished for bravery and endurance, alike on the battlefield and on the march. They are entitled to the grateful remembrance of the people of Vermont:
The SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH and SIXTH REGIMENTS, and, since the fifteenth of May, the ELEVENTH REGIMENT, have constituted as during the previous year, the Second Brigade of the Second Division, Sixth Corps, of the Army of the Potomac. Col. Lewis A. Grant, of the Fifth Regiment, was promoted, on the 29th of June, to be Brigadier General of Volunteers, and has commanded the brigade during the year. The brigade has acquired the distinctive name of the "Vermont Brigade," and is known by no other, and is the only brigade in the army, which is thus distinguished by the name of the State, to which it belongs. As such, its glory is peculiarly that of the State, and its movements have been watched with the greatest interest.
At the date of my last Report, the Brigade was in bivouac near Culpeper, Va. They remained there until the fifth of October, and then marched to the Rapidan at a point near the junction of the Rapidan and Robertson Rivers, a distance of fifteen miles. They left the Rapidan Oct. 10th, (both armies manoeuvering for position) and marched on that day to Culpeper, 15 miles,--thence, Oct. 11th, to Rappahannock Station, 12 miles,--thence, Oct. 12th, to Brandy Station, 5 miles,--thence, Oct. 13th, to Kettle run, near Bristow Station, 30 miles,--thence, Oct. 14th, to Little River Pike, near Chantilly, 15 miles,--and thence, Oct. 15th, to Chantilly, 2 miles. Here the retrograde movement of the army ceased; and on the 19th of October, the brigade marched to Gainsville, 12 miles,--where the Sixth Regiment, being on the picket, had a slight skirmish with the rebel cavalry, but without casualties. On the20th of October the brigade led the advance of the Sixth Corps, driving back the enemy's Cavalry to Warrenton, 12 miles.
The Brigade remained in camp near Warrenton until Nov. 7th, when they advanced to Rappahannock Station, where they met the enemy in force. The Brigade was not engaged, but was under a heavy artillery fire all the afternoon, but without casualties. Nov. 8th, the Brigade crossed the Rappahannock and advanced to Brandy Station, and on the 9th went into camp near the Station, and remained there until the 27th, when they moved about four miles, in support of the Third Corps at the battle of Locust Grove. The Brigade was not engaged, but was under heady artillery fire, causing a few casualties. On the 28th, they moved about six miles, and joined the right of the main army at Robertson's Tavern, and lay in line of battle, on the east bank of Mine River until Dec. 2d, when they recrossed the Rapidan and went into camp again at Brandy Station, remaining there, without movements of importance, until the last week in February, when they accompanied the Sixth Corps on a reconnoisance to near Orange Court House. The were absent about one week,
And then returned to their old camp at Brandy Station, where they remained until the fourth of May.
On the fourth of May the Brigade crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford and encamped for the night two miles south of the Ford. The next two days they were engaged in the battle of the "Wilderness," one of the most important and sanguinary of the war. On the morning of the fifth, they were moved up the "Brock" road, across the "old pike" to where the Brock road crosses the plank road. The rebels were moving, in heavy columns, down the old pike and the plank road – which runs nearly parallel, from Orange Court House to Chancellorsville, about two miles apart, and in the general direction of the river – intending to pierce the Union lines and sever from the main army Hancock's Corps, which had crossed the river at a ford below the Germania Ford, and was coming into position, from the direction of Chancellorsville, upon the Brock Road, beyond the point where that road crosses the plank road. The Vermont Brigade and two other brigades of the same division, (the 1st and 4th) were detached, for this occasion, from the Sixth Corps. As the brigade came to the point where the roads crossed, they found the rebel advance driving before them the Union Cavalry down the plank road and within a short distance of the crossing, which was the key of the position. Here the brigade was formed and hastily threw up slight intrenchments upon the right of the road an in its direction. They were then ordered to advance and attack, -- and it would seem, that the enemy were advancing to attack at the same time. The two lines met in the compact woods, where neither could see the other at any distance, and the sanguinary battle of the "Wilderness" commenced. Probably no more fearfully destructive fire of musketry was ever maintained. The rebels had the advantage of being protected by a slight swell of ground, and rained their showers of bullets upon the unprotected ranks of the "Old Brigade." And their fire was unflinchingly met and returned. Officers of rank and men
were falling every moment, the ranks were becoming fearfully thinned, but no man thought of retreating. They held the very key of the position of the whole army. If they faltered, Hancock's Corps, which was then coming into position upon their left, would be cut off from the residue of the army and perhaps be destroyed by the simultaneous attack, on front and flank, of overwhelming masses of the enemy. But the brave men of Vermont held their position, and repulsed gloriously every attempt to dislodge them, and notwithstanding every regimental commander in the Brigade, except one, was either killed or wounded. They slept that night amid the horrors of the battle-field, with the dead bodies of their comrades about them, and the groans of the wounded and dying filler the air. One thousand brave officers and men of the Vermont Brigade fell on that bloody field.
On the morning of the sixth, the brigade again advanced to the attack, moving up the plank road, with four lines of battle in their front. The enemy had fallen back, but were met about a miles from the cross roads, and the fierce conflict again commenced. The brigade occupied a slightly elevated position, where the enemy had thrown together two irregular lines of old logs and decayed timber. The four lines in front of them were swept away by the tide of battle, and the advancing enemy came upon the Vermont Brigade with great force, but were checked by the fierce fire that met them and thrown back in confusion. Again and again they advanced to the attack, and were as often repulsed, until the union forces upon the right and left had given way, or fallen back. Then the enemy closed round upon the left and rear and at the same time again attacked in front. The position was most critical; but the brave old brigade remained sufficiently long to signally repulse the attack in front, and then, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the rebel ranks, fell back safely to the intrenchments which they had constructed upon the Brock road here, again, late I the afternoon the enemy made another vigorous, determined and desperate attack, but were driven back, repulsed and defeated.
On the morning of the seventh a strong skirmish line was sent out, under command of Major Crandall, of the Sixth Regiment, who was entirely successful, driving back the enemy's skirmishers sufficiently to ascertain that their main body had retired, and capturing a large number of muskets, which the enemy had collected from the battle-field of the previous days. In the afternoon the brigade joined the Sixth Corps, and soon after dark commenced the flank movement towards Spotsylvania.
The Brigade crossed the Rapidan on the fourth of May with about 2,800 effective men. The losses in the battles of the "Wilderness" May 5th and 6th were 1,232, -- as follows:
Killed Wounded Missing Total Brigade Staff 0 1 1 2 Second Reg. 45 220 32 297 Third Reg. 34 184 21 239 Fourth Reg. 39 189 29 257 Fifth Reg. 28 179 31 288 Sixth Reg. 30 152 17 199 --- --- --- --- Total, 176 925 131 1,232
The unusual proportion of casualties is the best evidence both of the severity of the fight and of the bravery of the officers and men engaged.
The casualties among the officers were particularly severe. Of the Second Regiment Col. Newton Stone, Lieut. Col. John S. Tyler, and Capt. Orville Bixby, -- of the Third Regiment, Capt. Enoch H. Bartlett, Capt. Erastus Buck and Adjutant Abel Morrill, -- of the Fourth Regiment, Capt. Daniel W. Farr, Capt. Daniel Lillie, and Lieuts. Isaac A. Putnam, Thomas Ensworth, Winfield S. Wooster and William H. Martin, --of the Fifth Regiment, Capts. Alonzo R. Hurlburt, George D. Davenport and Charles J. Ormsbee, and Lieuts. Orvis H. Sweet and Watson O. Beach, --and of the Sixth Regiment, Col. Elisha L. Barney, and Capts. Riley A. Bird and George C. Randall,
and Lieut. Albert A. Crane, were either killed, or died of the wounds received. They were of Vermont's bravest sons, and such as she could ill afford to spare. Colonel George P. Foster of the Fourth Regiment, and Lieut. Col. John R. Lewis commanding the Fifth Regiment were both severely wounded.
The full and interesting reports of these battles, forwarded to me by Brig. Gen. L. A. Grant, will be found in Appendix C.
The Brigade marched the whole night of May 7th, arriving at Chancellorsville late in the morning, and were then detailed to guard the train of the Sixth Corps. About 4 P. M. they were ordered to the front, and made a forced march of about four miles, arriving in the midst of battle just before dark. For the purpose of reaching the enemy's flank, they were conducted by a staff officer from the extreme right of the corps to the left, greeted with cheers as they passed along the rear, and then through thick brush, and a deep ravine, and up a steep hill, when it became so dark, that all operations were impracticable. They were in advance even of the skirmish line, and without knowledge of the position or force of the enemy. After several hours of wandering, the Brigade was quietly withdrawn and placed in position in rear or the skirmish line, where they were at least sure of having the enemy in their front. On the morning of the 9th, the Fourth Regiment, under command of Major Pratt, was sent out to skirmish with the enemy in front, and the residue of the brigade fortified their position under a fire of artillery and musketry at long range, but with slight loss. The Fourth Regiment lost several men upon the skirmish line.
On the 10th of May, the skirmish line was advanced, and the enemy's skirmishers driven back to their line of works, --the Fourth Regiment receiving high commendation for their conduct in the affair. In the afternoon the Fourth Regiment was relieved by four companies of the Third Regiment, under CaptainKennerson Kenesson.
In the course of the day the Second Regiment, under command of Lieut. Col. S. E. Pingree, the Fifth Regiment, under command of Major C. P. Dudley, and the Sixth Regiment, under command of Lieut. Col. O. A. Hale, -- the whole under command of Col. Thomas O. Seaver, of the Third Regiment, composed a part of the column which charged the enemy's works under direction of Colonel (now Brig. Gen.) Upton. The charging column was composed of several lines, the three Vermont Regiments being the rear line. The front lines were at first successful, capturing the works and many prisoners, but were driven back by the enemy. The three Vermont Regiments, under Col. Seaver, then advanced, and, under a most galling fire, occupied the rebel works, while the other regiments fell back. Orders were given for all to fall back, but they failed to reach the Second Regiment and some from each of the others, who remained in the works obstinately defending them against all attacks of the enemy, and refusing to fall back, protesting that they could hold the works for six months if supplied with rations and ammunition, until they received positive orders to do so. In this charge, the gallant Major Dudley, of the Fifth Regiment, fell of wounds, of which he subsequently died. His loss was severely felt in the Brigade and at home.
The four companies of the Third Regiment, on the skirmish line, advanced with the attacking column, and a portion of them remained in the rebel works until the last.
The Brigade retained its position through the 11th of May, constantly under fire, and early on the morning of the 12th moved with the Corps to the left, to co-operate with the Second Corps, under Hancock. Hancock had made his celebrated charge, capturing two General officers, several guns and many prisoners, and the enemy were endeavoring to retake the works, which he had captured; and when the Brigade marched into position, it did so under a terrific fire from the enemy's batteries, losing quite a number of men. The Brigade was then formed in two
lines, on the extreme left, with skirmishers deployed, under a brisk fire of musketry and artillery. At this time the enemy were making the most determined effort to retake the line of works carried by Hancock, and now held by the Sixth Corps, the key of the position being at the angle in the centre, and that being the point, at which the most desperate attacks were made. Brig. Gen. Grant, with the regiments of the second line, was ordered to the right, to assist Gen. Wheaton, and col. Seaver was left in command of the front line and of the skirmishers. Gen. Wheaton, with his brigade, was endeavoring to advance through thick brush, and in face of a deadly fire from the enemy's rifle pits, and the Vermont regiments moved up promptly to his support, the fourth Regiment, under Major Pratt, taking and holding the front line. It was found impracticable to carry the enemy's works upon the right by a direct attack, and the enemy were gaining advantage in the centre. Leaving the Fourth Regiment in its position, Gen. Grant returned to the centre, and being joined by Col. Seaver, with the residue of the Brigade, the whole were put into the engagement, except the Sixth Regiment, which was held in reserve.
This was the important point for both armies, and the fighting here, upon both sides, was of the most desperate character. It was a hand to hand fight. The combatants were separated only by a breastwork of logs and rails, and they fired into each others faces, and frequently clubbed their muskets, to make or repel assault. In this way the Brigade was engaged for about eight hours, when they were relieved and marched to the rear. The loss of the Brigade was heavy, but the works were held. After dark, the Brigade was marched to the extreme right, through dense woods, and took position for the night.
On the 13th, only a small portion of the Brigade was engaged in skirmishing, and towards evening they were marched to the left, and took position near the scene of the action of the previous day. On the 14th, the Sixth Corps was marched to the
Left, and took position on the Ny River, the Vermont Brigade holding the extreme left of the army. On the 15th, the Eleventh Regiment, with about 1500 effective men joined the Brigade, and the sixth Regiment was strengthened by the addition of two companies of drafted men, who had been on duty at Brattleboro since the draft in 1863.
On the 16th, Col. Seaver, with his own regiment and a Massachusetts Regiment, made a reconnoisance in the direction of Spotsylvania Court House, gallantly driving in the enemy's skirmishers to their main line of works, and successfully accomplishing the duty to which he was assigned. At daylight on the morning of the 18th, the Second and Sixth Corps charged the enemy's works, advancing about half a mile, under heavy artillery fire. The Vermont Brigade held the front line for some time, and then the whole were ordered to retire. In this charge Col. Warner, of the Eleventh Regiment was severely wounded. The Sixth Corps then crossed the Ny River, and took position upon the left again. Early on the 19th, the Brigade advanced, with the residue of the Corps, about one mile, and fortified its position, remaining there two days, the skirmish lines being engaged more or less during the time. At noon of the 21st, the Brigade moved about three-fourths of a mile to the rear, leaving in the front works a strong skirmish line. The residue of the army was moving towards the North Anna River, and the Sixth Corps was preparing to follow. Just before dark the enemy in strong force, broke through the skirmish line, and Col. Seaver was ordered out, with his regiment, to re-establish it. This was gallantly done, and several prisoners taken. That night the Corps marched towards Guinea's Station.
The total losses of the Brigade, from the time of the crossing of the Rapidan on the fourth of May, to this date, were 1,650, -- as follows:
Regiments Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total Second 80 340 34 454 Third 48 243 33 324 Fourth 46 229 33 308 Fifth 38 229 51 318 Sixth 35 176 19 230 Eleventh 2 14 00 16 --- --- --- --- Total 249 1,231 170 1,650
Of this number, 1,634 were from the original regiment of the Brigade, which had crossed the Rapidan May 4th with 2,800 men, -- a loss, in seventeen days, exceeding one half of the entire force.
The report furnished by Brig. Gen. Grant, giving a detailed account of the movement and gallant bearing of the Brigade from the 7th to the 21st of May, and paying just tribute to the bravery and good conduct of officers and men, will be found in Appendix C.
From Spotsylvania the Brigade marched on the night of the 21st to Guinea's Station, thence, on the 22d, to Harris' Store, on the 2e3d to the North Anna River, making a forced march the last four or five miles, crossed the river on the morning of the 24th, and remained there two days, advancing as far at Little River, skirmishing with the enemy some, and destroying a considerable distance of the railroad, near Noel's Station. On the night of the 25th they re-crossed the North Anna River, near Jericho Ford, and marched, through deep mud, to Chesterfield Station on the Fredericksburgh and Richmond railroad, continued the march on the 26th, and on the 27th crossed the Pamunkey River, about three miles above Hanover Town, and moved to the right two miles towards Hanover Court House, where they entrenched and remained two days. On the 28th the Fourth Regiment was sent out to open the communication between Gen. Russell's division, which had moved up towards Hanover Court
House, and the main army, -- which had been cut by the enemy's cavalry. On the 29th, the Brigade moved up to the railroad, a short distance to the left of Hanover Court House, and then turning towards Richmond, marched to a new position on the extreme right of the army, near the Tolopotomy River, where they remained two days, maintaining an extensive picket line, and Major Chamberlain's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment being engaged in skirmishing with the enemy nearly the whole of one day.
On the first of June the Brigade marched from the Tolopotomy to Cold Harbor, and participated in the attack upon the enemy made by the Sixth and Eighteenth Corps – the Vermont Brigade holding the extreme left of the line. The Third Regiment were thrown out as skirmishers on the extreme left toward the Chickahominy, and being heavily attacked, the Fourth and Sixth Regiments and Maj. Hunsden's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment, (excepting one company,) were moved towards the left in support of the skirmishers and to repel the threatened assault. The Fifth Regiment were placed in support of a battery. Major Chamberlain's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment having been left on picket on the Tolopotomy, had not arrived. The Second Regiment and Major Fleming's battalion and Capt. Sears' company of the Eleventh Regiment, being the only portion of the Brigade that could advance, under the orders received, charged up to the enemy's works, under a destructive fire and in very fine style, --but their advance having left their flank exposed, so that it would have been imprudent to have proceeded further, the works were not carried. After the charge, the troops held the ground gained, and entrenched, that night, all along the line.
On the 2d of June, the Division, to which the Vermont Brigade was attached, moved to the right of the Sixth Corps, and relieved a Division of the Eighteenth Corps, holding part of the enemy's works, which had been carried, and were then held under a very destructive front and flank fire.
Early on the morning of the 3d, a general, but unsuccessful attack was made upon the enemy's works. In front of the Vermont Brigade were two regiments, in line of battle, under Gen. Wheaton, and as these regiments advanced the Brigade moved up promptly to their support. Col. Seaver advanced his Third Regiment to the front line, and relieved one of Gen. Wheaton's regiments, and soon after the Fifth Regiment was advanced and relieved the other regiment in the front line. The Third and Fifth Regiments were greatly exposed, having no protection except the trees in the edge of the woods, and suffered very severely. They were subsequently withdrawn, and a skirmish line left in their place, which held the position the remainder of the day.
During the night the Third and Fifth Regiments and two battalions of the Eleventh Regiment, the whole under command of Col. Seaver, were sent to the left and relieved a portion of Gen. Russell's front line. The residue of the Brigade remained in their position.
The casualties of the Brigade, from the 21st of May to the 4th of June, were 280, as follows:
Regiments. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total Second 2 13 0 15 Third 11 60 5 76 Fourth 0 4 0 4 Fifth 8 22 1 31 Sixth 2 18 0 20 Eleventh 13 121 0 134 --- --- --- --- Aggregate 36 238 6 280
Capt. Merrill T. Samson, of the Fifth Regiment, Lieut. Hiram C. Bailey, of the Second Regiment, and Lieut. Henry C. Miller, of the Third Regiment, fell in the engagement of June 3d. They were brave and valuable officers.
The Brigade held the front line, at two important points, from the 3d to the night of the 11th of June. Col. Seaver then rejoined, with his command, the residue of the Brigade, and on the evening of the 12th, the Brigade moved back and occupied a new line of works, about a mile to the rear, leaving the Fourth Regiment in the front line as skirmishers, and about midnight started on the march for Petersburgh, by the way of Charles City Court House.
For twelve days the Brigade had been under an incessant fire of musketry and artillery. The front line haw constantly engaged, and the enemy's guns commanded nearly every rod of ground for half a mile to the rear. The regiments occupied the front line by turns, a change being made every night. They engaged the enemy by day, and advanced by parallels and strengthened the works by night.
Major Richard B. Crandall, of the Sixth Regiment, a most gallant young officer, fell in the front line on the 7th of June.
The casualties in the Brigade from the 4th to the 10th of June, were as follows:
Second 2 6 8 Third 1 2 3 Fourth 1 8 9 Fifth 0 3 3 Sixth 2 4 6 Eleventh 2 17 19 --- --- --- Aggregate 8 40 48
The Report, in detail, by Brig. Gen. L. A. Grant, of the operations of his command from the 21st of May to the 12th of June, will be found in Appendix C. I also annex in Appendix C, the Report of Lieut. Col. Reuben C. Benton, of the Eleventh Regiment, of the part taken by that regiment in the engagements from May 17th to June 10th.
On the 13th of June the Brigade crossed the Chickahominy, and encamped, having marched about 24 miles. On the 14th they marched towards the James River, by Charles City Court House, and crossed the river on the 16th, and arrived near Petersburgh on the afternoon of the 17th, and occupied the rebel works, which had been carried that day. On the morning of the 18th there was a general attack upon the enemy's works, and it was discovered, that their main lines had fallen back during the night. Later in the day the enemy was attacked in his new position and driven back. The Vermont Brigade, except the Second and Fifth Regiments, which held the skirmish line, were held in reserve, and did not participate in the engagement. On the 18th the Brigade was placed in the front line, and held it during the next day, skirmishing with the enemy, and under a heavy artillery fire, which inflicted, however, but slight loss. The line thus held was within half a mile of Petersburgh. On the evening of the 20th, the Brigade moved to the left and relieved Gen. Gibbon's division of the Second Corps, and held the position during the day, -- the front lines being engaged.
The casualties, from the 11th to the 20th of June, were as follows:
Second 0 2 2 Fourth 0 4 4 Fifth 1 1 2 Eleventh 2 3 5 --- --- --- Total 3 10 13
On the evening of June 21st, the Sixth Corps moved about six miles, to the entire left of the army, and on the night of the 22d the Vermont Brigade was placed in position about a miles from the Weldon Railroad
On the 23d, Capt. Beattie, of the Third Regiment, commanding about 90 picked men as sharp-shooters, pushed on to the Weldon Railroad, and a portion of the pioneers of the brigade went out to the road and commenced its destruction. The Fourth Regiment and Major Fleming's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment occupied an advanced position, as skirmishers. The enemy attacked the party upon the railroad and drove them back, pushing around to the left of the advanced line, and at the same time the picket line in front of the Third Division, which held the line next on the right, fell back, and the enemy occupied in force the woods upon the right and closing in from both sides upon the rear of the Fourth Regiment and Maj. Fleming's battalion, left them no chance for escape. The men fought desperately to the last, hand to hand, and only surrendered, when their ammunition had become exhausted and surrender was necessary. Although but few cut their way out, yet the Colors of the Fourth Regiment were saved, by the coolness and daring bravery of a few determined officers and men.
In this engagement Capt. William C. Tracy, of the Fourth Regiment, was killed. His body was found upon the field the next day, surrounded by the muskets of his men, giving evidence, that he had rallied his command around him, and that they had surrendered only when their gallant leader had fallen. Lieut. Merritt H. Sherman, of Maj. Walker's battalion of the Eleventh Regiment, a valuable young officer, was also killed during the day.
Later in the day of June 23rd, the command moved back and took position near the "Williams House," where it remained until June 29th.
The casualties in the Brigade from the 20th to the 26th of June, -- most of which occurred on the 23rd, -- were as follows:--
Regiments. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total. Second 0 1 0 1 Third 1 1 0 2 Fourth 5 11 139 155 Fifth 0 0 1 1 Sixth 0 1 0 1 Eleventh 9 27 263 299 --- --- --- --- Total, 15 41 403 459
From the Fourth Regiment, there were included among the "Missing" 8 officers and 131 enlisted men, -- from the Eleventh Regiment 18 officers and 245 enlisted men.
On the 29th of June the Vermont Brigade led the advance of the Sixth Corps to Reams' Station, on the Weldon Rail Road. The Third Regiment were deployed as skirmishers, and met the enemy's skirmishers about half a mile from the Station and drove them from the field without the loss of a man. After remaining there a day, the Brigade returned to its former position, remaining there until July 8th, when they marched to City Point, and on the 9th embarked for Washington.
The report of Brig. Gen. Grant, of the movements of the Brigade from June 12th to July 9th will be found in Appendix C.
They arrived at Washington, and participated partially in the engagement which took place upon the Seventh Street Road, near Fort Stevens, where the rebel marauders, who had been plundering Maryland, made their demonstration, on the 11th of July, against that city, -- one man of the Third Regiment being killed, one man of the Third Regiment, one man in the Fifth Regiment and three men in the Eleventh Regiment being wounded. On the 13th they left Washington, and marched to Poolesville, Md. Where the rear guard of the enemy were overtaken and driven. Thence, the Brigade marched to Snicker's Gap, and on the 23d returned to Washington. On the 26th they again left Washington for Harper's Ferry, and encamped on Bolivar
Heights the night of the 29th. On the 30th they returned to Frederick City, Md., and thence, on the 5th of August, marched to Harper's Ferry and proceeded up the valley of the Shenandoah to Strasburgh, where, on the 14th, they were engaged in a slight skirmish, having two men wounded from the Second Regiment.
On the 16th of August the Brigade returned to Charles Town, Va., and remained there until the 21st, when they were attacked by the enemy. The pickets on the front and flank having been driven in, the Second Division of the Sixth Corps, which included the Vermont Brigade, were promptly thrown out, and in a few minutes had driven the enemy a mile and completely re-established the line. The engagement continued, and the Brigade was subjected to a hot fire, from nine A. M. until dark.
In this engagement, the Eleventh Regiment lost Lieut. Col. George E. Chamberlin, who was wounded early in the day, while gallantly leading his battalion, and died soon after. He had been recently promoted from Major, in place of Lieut. Col. Benton, resigned, and was a young man of great promise and with every prospect before him of a brilliant future. Lieut. Col. Oscar A. Hale and Major Carlos W. Dwinnell, of the Sixth Regiment were severely wounded; and Major Dwinnell, a valuable young officer, who had been but recently promoted to the position of Major, died of his wounds on the 24th of August.
The casualties in the Brigade, in this engagement, were as follows:
Regiments. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total. Second 5 11 0 16 Third 3 15 1 19 Fourth 1 10 0 11 Fifth 2 4 0 6 Sixth 7 31 1 39 Eleventh 5 27 0 32 --- --- --- --- Total, 23 98 2 123
The report of Col. James M. Warner, of the Eleventh Regiment, of the part taken by his regiment in this engagement, will be found inAppendix C.
On the 22nd of August the Brigade returned to Harper's Ferry, where they remained, until the 29th, when they moved again to Charles Town. Early in September they moved from Charlestown about 10 miles, to Clifton Farms, where they remained until September 19th, making, in the meantime a reconnoissance to the Opequan River, in which they had a slight skirmish with the enemy, losing one man killed and seven wounded.
On the 19th of September, the Brigade advanced, crossing the Opequan at 6 A. M., and went into position, under heaving shelling, on the Berryville and Winchester Pike, in rear of a dense thicket, the right extending to the road. The Sixth Regiment, under Captain M. Warner Davis, were deployed to the front and briskly engaged the enemy's skirmishers. About noon a general advance was ordered, and the Brigade moved out in splendid style, halting a moment, after emerging from the woods, to rectify the alignment. In front was a long stretch of clear undulating country, the enemy holding position to command the gorges through which the brigade must advance. The advance was made rapidly over the crest, in face of a galling fire of musketry, driving the enemy back in great confusion. About 1 o'clock P. M., in consequence of the giving way of the troops on the right, the Brigade, which had suffered severely from the fire of the battery and rifle pits I their front, was compelled to fall back to a position about half a mile in advance of the one from which the line originally started. The Sixth Regiment advanced to the front line, where they remained throughout the day, doing excellent service. About 3 P. M. the entire line again advanced. The Brigade advanced steadily, exposed, when they had arrived within about a mile of Winchester, to a heavy musketry fire in front and to an enfilading fire from a battery on the left. Here the success of the right was announced,
And the Brigade advanced to the town, without opposition, from that point, and encamped about dusk. More than 200 prisoners were captured by the Brigade. The Brigade was commanded, in this engagement, by Col. James M. Warner, of the Eleventh Regiment, -- whose report, in detail, is annexed, inAppendix C. He says:--"Were I to report by name all the officers, who distinguished themselves on this day, I should accompany this report by a Roster of the Commissioned Officers of the Brigade." The victory achieved by the troops engaged in this battle was brilliant. It was the commencement of the series of splendid movements and successive battles, which drove the rebel forces from the Valley of the Shenandoah.
The casualties in the engagement were as follows:--
Regiments. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total. Second 3 29 0 32 Third 0 26 4 30 Fourth 1 15 0 16 Fifth 6 22 0 28 Sixth 5 46 0 51 Eleventh 8 85 6 99 --- --- --- --- Total, 23 223 10 256
In this engagement, Capt. Charles Buxton and Lieut. Dennis Duhigg, of the Eleventh regiment, were killed. They were both valuable and energetic officers. Capt. Buxton had been promoted recently to be Major, and Lieut. Duhigg to be Captain, and their Commissions had been forwarded to them, -- but not received at the time of their death.
No report of the part taken by the Brigade, or of the casualties, in the subsequent battle at Fisher's Hill, or in the rapid pursuit of the rebel forces, has been received.
All the troops raised in this State in 1861 enlisted to serve three years from the first day of June 1861, in accordance with the statutes then in force in the State. But when they were
mustered into the service of the united States, the Muster-in Rolls expressed, that they were mustered in to serve for three years from the dates of the respective Rolls. In December, 1863, a question was raised, whether the Seventh and Eighth Regiments and First and Second Batteries could re-enlist, under the provisions of General Order no. 191, which allowed only those men to re-enlist, who had less than one year to serve. The question was submitted to the Secretary of War, and he decided, that the term of service was determined by the Acts of the Legislature of Vermont, under which they were raised, and would expire June 1, 1864, and that the men could therefore re-enlist.
Representation was then made to the Secretary of War, that the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Regiments, and the First and Second Companies of Sharp Shooters were enlisted under the same statutes and on the same form of enlistment contract, and that, under the decision made in the case of the Seventh and Eighth Regiments, their term of service, also, would expire on the first of June, 1864. To this he replied, that the Seventh and Eighth Regiments and the Batteries were received under a special acceptance, and that the decision in respect to them would not apply to the regiments previously raised. Effort was made to procure a reversal of this decision; but the Secretary of War declined to reverse it, and decided, that the regiments and the two companies of Sharp Shooters must serve for three years from the dates of their respective muster into the service of the United States.
Under this decision, the term of service of the Second Regiment expired June 19, 1864; and on the 22d of June the regiment was mustered out of service at Brattleboro, with 219 officers and men.
The term of service of the Third Regiment expired July 15, 1864, and on the 27th of July the regiment was mustered out of service, at Burlington, with 160 officers and men.
The term of service of the Fourth Regiment expired Sept. 20, 1864; and on the 30th of September the regiment was mustered out of service, at Brattleboro, with 146 officers and men.
The organization of the Fifth Regiment was preserved by the re-enlistment of the requisite number of men. The term of service of the original members of the regiment expired September 15,1864; and such of them as had not re-enlisted, were mustered out as a detachment, in the field, on that day, and returned immediately to Burlington, to be paid. The number of officers and men mustered out has not been reported.
The term of service of the Sixth Regiment will expire Oct. 14, 1864.
Although the Second, Third and Fourth Regiments have been mustered out as regiments, they are still represented, in the field, by a large number of men in each, -- recruits, who have joined the regiments since their original organization, -- and preserve their organization and numeric designation. They will not be consolidated, if recruits join them in sufficient number to increase them to the minimum prescribed for regiments of Infantry. Otherwise some of them must be extinguished by consolidation. It is to be hoped, that Regimental names, which have become historic, will be preserved to the end of the war, and that they will not be allowed to pass out of existence through want of men.
The following statement shows the losses of the original regiments of the "Vermont Brigade" from Sept. 30, 1863, to Oct. 1, 1864:
Regiments Mustered out
Tr. To Vet.
Discharged Deserted Died Total Second, 219 35 50 39 133 476 Third, 160 29 44 66 127 426 Fourth, 146 25 33 50 123 377 Fifth, 22 21 30 89 162 Sixth, 51 38 35 94 218 Total, 525 162 186 220 566 1659
Troops in the Field,Continues