Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
V. REPORT OF COLONEL SUMNER H. LINCOLN, SIXTH REGIMENT VERMONT VOLUNTEERS.
Norwich, Vt., July 31, 1865.
Peter T. Washburn,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Sir--I have the honor to submit the following statement of the movements and engagement of the 6th regiment, Vt. Vols., from the time I assumed command, Nov. 10, 1864, to July 8th, 1865.
I joined the regiment at Kearnstown, Va., where we remained, doing picket duty, until the ninth of December, when the sixth corps was ordered to proceed by railroad to Washington, D. C. The weather was intensely cold, and during the night of the ninth occurred the most violent storm of snow we have ever experienced in Virginia, and many of the men, being on open cars, suffered severely from the cold storm.
We arrived at Washington on the evening of the tenth, and immediately went aboard transports, from which we disembarked at City Point, Va. From this point we proceeded by railroad to Meade's Station, where we encamped for one night. On the 13th inst. we moved out on the Squirrell Level road, and occupied the works previously held by the 5th corps,--going into position with the 5th regiment Vt. Vols. on my immediate right, and the 3d and 4th on my left. It being understood that this was to be our winter quarters, the men, with that rare constructive ability which is possessed only by old soldiers, soon made themselves very comfortable by building houses of boards split from pine logs. The picket duty, owing to the proximity of the lines, was quite severe, and during the months of February and March one tenth of the entire command were required to remain in the trenches during the night. This, with the daily details of fatigue parties to labor on the several large forts, which were constructed by the corps, prevented that attention to drill which would have been beneficial. The health of the regiment was much better than any previous winter, which I attribute to the skill and unceasing care of SUrgeon Philips, who is deserving of the highest praise.
A short time before daybreak, on the 25th of March, we were aroused by an attack of the enemy on Fort Stedman. In expectation of an attack on our immediate front, we at once made ready to give them a suitable reception. We remained in the works, under arms, until one P. M., when we moved to the left and front of Fort Fisher, where the brigade was formed as an assaulting column, the 6th regiment being the left of the front line. We advanced at double quick over an open field, capturing the enemy's entrenched picket line. Here we remained until 5 P. M., when I was ordered to move to the right, in support of a section of the 3d Vt. Battery, which was far advanced to the front. While making this movement we were fully exposed to the enemy's batteries, who for a few moments paid marked attention to the sixth. We remained in position, on the right of the brigade, until 8 P. M., when we returned to our quarters. But one man belonging to the regiment was wounded,--yet we were under a sharp artillery fire for several hours. I attributed the small loss to the promptness with which every movement was executed, and the long rang of the artillery.
From this time until the first of April, we were busy getting ready for the Spring campaign. On the night of April 2d, at midnight, tents were struck and the regiment moved quietly out of the works to where the brigade was assembled, near Fort Welch. Here we remained for several hours, waiting to hear the gun from Fort Welch which was to be the signal to advance. At the signal the regiment moved forward under a brisk, but not destructive fire. The enemy's line was carried without difficulty, and it is believed that the 6th Vt. was not behind any regiment in entering the works. In the movement on the enemy's lines toward our left, officers and men vied with each other in the race for the retreating foe. In one instance, Maj. Sperry, of the 6th, ans some officers from the 11th Vt. Vols., captured a battery and turned it on the flying enemy, firing with much precision and effect. Later in the day,several charges were made, and each time resulted in forcing the enemy back on Petersburg. The 6th formed a part of the front line, during the whole movement toward the right, and men from the regiment were among the very first at the battery captured near Lee's Head Quarters. In consideration of the constant, and at times severe fire, to which the regiment was exposed during the day, it is thought to have been very fortunate in losing but two men killed and nineteen wounded.
All officer and men behaved with their accustomed courage and gallantry. Maj. Wm. J. Sperry, Captains H. N. Bushnell, and Geo. W. Burleson, Lt. S. G. Gray and Adjutant H. S. English deserve special mention for their gallant conduct throughout the day. Color Sergts. P. H. Begor and P. A. Whitney distinguished themselves, as they have many times before, by their cool courage while under fire. Maj. Sperry was in command of the regiment from the 28th of MArch to the 4th of April, I having been confined to my bed with the intermittent fever.
The battle before Petersburg was the last one in which the regiment was actively engaged. During the long and rapid marches in pursuit of the enemy,and our return to Burkesville, the men marched with an endurance which was wonderful,--in one instance marching over twenty-two miles before 12 M., starting at 5 A. M. From Burkesville we marched one hundred and five miles to Danville, Va., where we remained about three weeks, when we proceeded by railroad to Manchester, Va., stopping there four days to enable all of the men to visit Richmond, Va. From there we marched to Munson's Hill, near Washington, D. C., our last camp in Va., and but three miles from our first camp in 1861. June 19th, one hundred and forty enlisted men, and one commissioned officer, (Adjt. English) were mustered out under provisions of General Order No. 94, from the Adjutant General's Office. Juen 22d Special Order No. 158 was received, under provision of which the entire regiment was mustered out on the 26th of June. Starting for Burlington, Vt., June 27th, where we arrived on the 31st. Having to wait one week for pay, the whole regiment was furloughed for that time. The regiment was paid off and discharged the 8th of July, 1865.
I am, sir, very respectfully, Your Obedient Servt., S. H. LINCOLN, Lt. Colonel Commanding 6th Vt. Vols.