Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
XXIII. REPORT OF COL. FRANCIS V. RANDALL, SEVENTEENTH REGIMENT, VERMONT VOLUNTEERS.
Headquarters 17th Vt. Vols.,
Burlington, Vt., July 22, 1865.
Peter T. Washburn,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Sir:--I respectfully submit the following report of the 17th Regiment, while under my command. I was mustered as Colonel of the regiment at Brattleboro, Vt., October 17th, 1864, and proceeded to join the regiment in Virginia, and assumed command of the same on the 27th day of October, at camp near the Pegram House. The regiment at this time numbered eighty four men and two officers, only, for duty. The officers were Lieut. Col. Knapp, (then Captain,) and Surgeon Edson. The regiment was increased by company K, which joined it at the same time; and officers and men that were temporarily absent soon began to return, and we received some recruits, so that our number present soon reached over four hundred, and before the spring campaign commenced the aggregate present was about five hundred men and seventeen officers. The battle of Hatcher's Run occurred after I joined the regiment, but our position was such, that we were not actively engaged, and sustained no loss. Immediately after this engagement an alteration was made in the position of the different army corps, and the Ninth, to which we belonged, was transferred to the right of the line of the Army of the Potomac, extending from the Appomattox on the right to near the Weldon Railroad on the left. Our Brigade was on, and near the Jerusalem plank road, and I was assigned to the command of fort Davis, with my regiment, the 31st Maine, and 56th Mass. Regts., and two batteries of artillery. fort Davis is the next fort to the left of fort Hell, and on the jerusalem plank road, and about two miles outside of Petersburg. This position we occupied from the 30th of Nov. to the 11th, of Feb., when we were relieved at the Fort, and occupied a position about one mile to the left of the fort.
During the winter and while occupying the forts, we had almost daily skirmishing with the enemy, both from our picket line, and between the forts,--fort Davis being opposite to, and about sixteen hundred yards from fort Mahone and other forts in the rebel line of works. Several men were killed on our side, while we occupied fort Davis, but all belonged to the other regiments. The 17th had four or five men wounded during this time. We occupied much time during the winter in instruction and drill. On the 11th day of Feb'y., as before stated, we changed our position about a mile to the left, in consequence of a general movement to the left, which position we occupied until April 1st. The regiment was ordered out at the time the rebels assaulted fort Stedman, but as we were in the front line we were not moved to the immediate vicinity of the fort, but guarded our own front.
On the night of April 1st the regiment broke camp to participate in the engagement which culminated in the capture of Petersburg and Richmond, and finally the capture of Lee's army. During the night of April 1st, the 17th regiment, with the 2d Maryland, were ordered to the right of the picket line of our brigade, at a point between fort Davis and fort Hell, and there debouched to the right, cutting in two the rebel picket line, and then they swept to the left, capturing the entire picket line of the enemy to as far as where the Ninth united with the Sixth corps. This was a little after midnight. Other regiments were not fast getting into position for a general assault on the rebel works. The 17th was now again ordered to near fort Davis, and then took a position to participate in the general assault, which was to be made at early dawn. In this assault, which was made at the appointed time, this regiment, in connection with other of Griffin's Brigade, carried the first line of rebel works, including fort Mahone, and participated largely in the severe fighting until the final evacuation by the enemy.
To Lieut. Col. Knapp, who had the immediate command of the regiment on the 2d of April, as well as the officers and men of the regiment generally, much credit is due, as they all behaved with their accustomed bravery.
The regiment participated in the pursuit of Lee's army until its surrender, and I was then ordered to Burkesville, with my regiment, and placed in the immediate command of the town. The regiment during this time performed severe and arduous duty in guarding the town and captured property and rebel prisoners. On being relieved from this duty, I was ordered to join my brigade and we then proceeded to City Point, and from there to Alexandria, where we were occupied in guard and patrol duty until the 14th of July, when we were mustered out of the United States service, and ordered to this place to be discharged, which event had this day transpired.
I am, very respectfully,
Your ob't serv't,
F. V. RANDALL,
Co. 17th Regt. Vt. Vols.