10th Vermont Infantry
Rev. Edwin M. Haynes, D.D.,
Chaplain Tenth Regiment
The Tenth regiment was recruited from all parts of the State. Gen. William Y. W. Ripley of Rutland, a most gallant officer and intelligent gentleman, who had won a high military reputation as Lieut.-Colonel of the First U. S. Sharpshooters, was appointed Colonel, but on account of wounds received at Malvern Hill, from which he was then suffering, he was compelled to decline the appointment. Col. A. B. Jewett, who had been appointed Lieut.-Colonel, was then made Colonel. Captain Eaton, of the Second regiment, was appointed Major, but sickness prevented his acceptance, and Gen. William W. Henry, 1st Lieutenant Co. D, also of the Second regiment, was commissioned Major. John H. Edson was Lieut.-Colonel.
Mustered into the U. S. service September 1, 1862, the regiment left Brattleboro on the 6th, reaching Washington on the 8th, and went into quarters at Camp Chase near Arlington Heights the next day. On the 17th the regiment was posted along the Maryland side of the Potomac River in little camps of companies from Muddy Branch to Edward's Ferry, and ordered to guard the fords.
Remaining in these scattered positions until the middle of October, the outposts of what were known as the Defences of Washington, the regiment was then ordered to assemble at the mouth of Seneca Creek, a low marshy spot, a place which proved to be a camp of fever and death. In this region, at Offut's Cross-Roads, Rockville, White's Ford, Conrad's Ferry, Mouth of the Monocacy, and Poolesville, the regiment remained until the 24th of June, 1863, having been in the meantime brigaded with the Thirty-ninth Massachusetts, Fourteenth New Hampshire and Twenty-Third Maine regiments. To this brigade were added Sleeper's Tenth Massachusetts Battery, and a squadron of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry, commanded successively by Generals Stoneman and Grover, Colonels Davis and Jewett. The duties of these troops, during a period of nine months, were comparatively light, consisting of picket and guard duty at the fords of the Potomac and cross-roads a few miles into the country. Although there were a number of "scares" and reports of "The rebels are coming, " still, during all these months, the regiment had no encounter with the enemy.
On the 22d of June the Tenth regiment received orders to march at once to Harper's Ferry; it was soon after incorporated with the Army of the Potomac, and assigned to the Third Corps, First Brigade, Third Division. Thence onward this regiment participated in the battles and marches of the Third Corps during the remainder of the military existence of that Corps, and in the destinies of the Army of the Potomac up to July 6, 1864.
At the time of the reorganization of the Potomac Army in March, 1864, when the Third and the First Corps were broken up, the veteran troops of their heroic brigades were absorbed in the Divisions of the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps, and the Tenth regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, Third Division of the Sixth Corps.
The first engagement of this regiment, which rose to the dignity of a battle, was the action at Locust, or Orange Grove, Va., on the 27th of November, 1863. Gen. W. H. Morris, its brigade commander, speaks of it in the following terms: "The enemy was holding a fence on the crest of a hill in our front. I ordered the Tenth Vermont to charge and take it, and the regiment advanced in gallant style and took the crest. I cannot speak of the conduct of the officers and men with too much praise; though the regiment had never before been under sharp fire, they behaved with the determined bravery and steadiness of veterans." Our losses were thirteen killed and fifty-seven wounded. Capt. H. W. Kingsley was severely wounded, and Maj. Edwin Dillingham on General Morris' staff was taken prisoner. Although this battle did not end the campaign, yet there was no more fighting in which this regiment was at all engaged.
In the Wilderness Campaign of 1864, the Tenth regiment was fortunate in its position, at least, in the first day's series of battles, being upon the extreme right of the Union Army, and therefore suffered next to nothing from the fierce assaults made and sustained on the left and center. Still, the regiment steadily advanced in line of battle from the Rapidan River to Orange Pike, which the men crossed under a terrific shelling of the enemy's batteries in plain sight, they springing over between discharges. The next morning, however, by a redisposition of the Union lines, these troops were crowded back to the north side of the pike, and to the rear of the main line. Here they remained undisturbed during most of the day; but about sunset they were suddenly called upon to meet a crisis. The enemy flanked the front line, and were pouring swiftly down upon the second line and swarming around its right when the order was instantly given to change front, and the Tenth Vermont and One Hundred Sixth New York sprang to their feet and formed immediately across the line of our retreating troops and the pursuing rebels. Here the men fixed bayonets, and falling upon their knees, presented a barrier so formidable as to at once check the retreat, and cause the enemy to retire. The loss of the regiment was about a dozen men in killed and wounded.
In the bloody struggles around Spotsylvania Court House, the more strategic operations on the North and South Anna Rivers, Hanover Court House, and Totopotomoy Creek, the actions of the Tenth regiment may be partially summarized as follows: Many exhausting marches, eager watching face to face with the foe, skirmishing, fighting in a desultory or regular manner when practicable--all phases of warfare to occupy, but little by which any regimental command may be distinguished from another.
In the twelve days' operations at Cold Harbor, the Tenth regiment suffered more than it had in all of its previous engagements in this campaign. Captains Frost and Darrah, Lieutenants Stetson and Newton were killed. Colonel Henry, Captains Blodgett and Hunt were severely wounded, and Lieutenant Thompson was taken prisoner. The several engagements of the regiment from June 1st to the 12th, reduced its numbers to twelve officers and three hundred and fifty-two men. But their services were highly commended in orders. Capt. S. H. Lewis captures a rebel Major and a Lieutenant single handed. The Fifty-first North Carolina regiment were made prisoners, the commanding officer surrendering his sword, with great formality, to Cap. E. B. Frost.
When General Grant swung his army across the James River, instead of following the main force directly to the front of Petersburg, the Sixth Corps was sent to Bermuda Hundred to assist General Butler in a contemplated advance at that point, but aside from standing in the open field long enough to receive a vigorous shelling, which resulted in the loss of a few men, the regiment did nothing here, and soon returned with the Corps to the Army of the Potomac to join in the numerous engagements which finally completed the investment of Petersburg.
The Tenth remained in this vicinity seventeen days, moving from point to point, fighting, throwing up earthworks, tearing up railroads, and having a bad time generally, when, on the 6th of July it was ordered to Harper's Ferry with the whole of the Third Division, in order to meet a rebel advance into Maryland. But this Division, or rather the First Brigade with one regiment of the Second Brigade, were stopped at Frederick City about noon on the 8th, and reported to Gen. Lew Wallace. Near here lay a rebel army, fifteen thousand strong, under Gen. Jubal Early. General Wallace's forces consisted of the troops mentioned, two thousand raw militia, one battery of six six-pound guns, and a small mountain howitzer, in all five thousand troops.
That night General Wallace withdrew his little force across the Monocacy River, and posted it so as to cover the Washington pike, three miles from the city. The next day it was utterly overwhelmed by the vastly numerical superiority of its adversary, after a most stubborn resistance of nine hours. The consequences of this heroic struggle, so long maintained and against such odds, were very great. Speaking of it in his "Personal Memoirs, " General Grant says: "General Wallace contributed on this occasion by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force, to render by means of victory," and in referring to the retreat of Early from Fort Stephens on the 12th, three days later, he says: "There is no knowing how much this result was contributed to by Gen. Lew Wallace, leading what might well be called almost a forlorn hope. If Early had been but one day earlier, he might have entered the Capital before the arrival of the re-enforcements I had sent." General Wallace in his report of the battle says: "It would be difficult to say enough in praise of the veterans who made this fight." Early was detained at the Monocacy thirty-six hours by this engagement, severely punished, and utterly defeated in his purpose to capture Washington.
Moving to Washington by way of the Relay House, for the succeeding four weeks the regiment is occupied, with other troops, in marching up the Shenandoah River as far as Berryville, crossing the Potomac at Ball's Bluff, back to Washington through Snicker's Gap, and on over the same and different routes to Harper's Ferry, down to Frederick and the Monocacy, and again to Harper's Ferry. Here on the 8th of August was estableshed the "Middle Military Department, " with Maj.-Gen. P. H. Sheridan in command. The Tenth is now part of General Sheridan's forces operating in the Shenandoah Valley, and continually engaged in that region between Harper's Ferry and Mount Crawford, sharing in all the operations of Sheridan's notable campaign in the valley.
At the battle of Winchester on the 19th of September the casualties in this regiment were ten killed and forty-six wounded. Among those mortally wounded were Maj. Edwin Dillingham, commanding the regiment, and Lieut. D. G. Hill. Lieut. L. A. Abbott was severely wounded, and Capt. George E. Davis slightly. Captain Davis did not leave his company.
At the battle of Fisher's Hill the 22d, the Tenth lost four men killed and five wounded. Capt. John A. Hicks was severely wounded.
At the battle of Cedar Creek the 19th of October, the Tenth lost in killed twenty-two. Two officers--Capt. L. D. Thompson and Lieut. B. B. Clark, were killed. Eight other officers were wounded--Adjt. Wyllys Lyman, Captains Davis and Nye, Lieutenants White, Wheeler, Welch, Read, and Fuller.
Each of these battles is prominent and some of them are famous in history, and for the part taken in each the officers and men of the Tenth were complimented in general orders.
The regiment remained in the vicinity of Cedar Creek and beyond twenty days, then moving north to Kernstown, a little hamlet near Winchester, a little more desultory fighting took place; it was of small account, however, few troops taking part in it.
Here on the 8th of November the Vermont troops held a Presidential election. On the 24th the army in the valley observed Thanksgiving Day. Each soldier was supplied with three-fourths of a pound of turkey or chick, a gift of the loyal citizens of New York City.
On the 3d of December the regiment was ordered back to Petersburg, where it arrived on the 5th; actively engaged in the operations of the investing armies at Hatcher's Run and on the Weldon railroad until the 23d, when it went into winter quarters near the last named place south of Petersburg, until the 29th of March, 1865, date of issueng little except extraordinary picket duty during these four months. There was, however, a notable exception to this heavy routine on the 25th. On that date General Lee made his famous demonstration on Forts Stedman and Haskell; ordered to assist in the defeat of this movement, the Tenth was so skilfully led by Lieut.-Col. George B. Damon as to capture one hundred and sixty prisoners on the enemy's entrenched picket line.
In the advance of the army on the 2d of April the position of the Tenth was in front of Fort Welch, and in the grand movement all along the line Lieutenant-Colonel Damon claims that this command was the first of the Division to plant its regiment colors inside of the enemy's fortified line. On the 3d, the regiment entered Petersburg with the victorious army.
In the subsequent six days' fighting and pursuit of the enemy, the Tenth was continuously occupied; but it would be impossible to designate the services of any particular regimental organization where all were whirled on to the supreme crisis reached on the 9th, where victory was shared alike by all.
On the 22d of June the officer in command, Maj. John A. Salsbury, transferred fourteen officers and one hundred thirty-six men to the Fifth regiment, and at Burlington on the 27th, the balance of the regiment, thirteen officers and four hundred fifty-one men, were mustered out of the U. S. service.