Records Related to Franklin County Regiments

From: W. N. PENDLETON, Brig. Gen. and Chief of Arty., Army of Northern Virginia.
February 28, 1865.

Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton was of the Army of Northern Virginia which included the Staunton Artillery. Pendleton provides an overview of the battle and in particular notes the bloody fighting on the 10th.

Lieut. Col. W. H. TAYLOR, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Army of Northern Virginia.

February 28, 1865.


I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the artillery serving with this army during the campaign of 1864:


On the 7th the enemy, apparently despairing of forcing our line, remained mainly passive and not many shots were fired. The general chief of artillery, under instructions from the commanding general reconnoitered positions on the right and caused a road to be opened by portions of the artillery to facilitate a rapid movement in that direction. At the same time on the extreme left a reconnaissance was made by the chief of artillery Second Corps, under orders from Gen. Ewell, with Jones' infantry brigade, attended by Carter's battery. Striking the Germanna road near Beale's house, this force encountered there, about a mile from the ford, several regiments of the enemy's cavalry. These received but a few cannon shots, when they dispersed, a few retreating toward the ford, the major number going toward the main body of the enemy. The ford and Germanna road being thus found virtually abandoned, it became obvious the enemy was contemplating another movement and leaving our immediate front. The battle of the Wilderness was over. The enemy, wholly repulsed and foiled, was leaving his dead and some of his wounded within the range of our guns. About dark of the 7th the general chief of artillery [was] directed by the commanding general to send to Gen. Anderson, who had on Gen. Longstreet's being wounded succeeded to the command of the First Corps, a staff officer who could guide that general along the new road cut out that day. The general chief of artillery went himself to Gen. Anderson described the route, and left and officer as guide. Here a circumstance occurred which should be specially noticed. Gen. Anderson stated that his orders were to march by 3 next morning. He was preparing to start at 11 that night. Those four hours anticipated proved of incalculable value next day. The artillery of the First Corps, which, as already mentioned, had not been able to find opportunity in the battle of the Wilderness, received orders to march on the night of the 7th, and from its several positions struck into the column en route for Spotsylvania Court-House.

About 9 a.m. of the 8th the head of the column came in sight of the Court-House, and found the enemy just getting into view on the Fredericksburg road, driving back a small cavalry force which there opposed them. At the same time a strong infantry column assailed another cavalry force which disputed their entrance on the Todd's Tavern road. Gen. Alexander, accompanying Gen. Anderson with his advanced column immediately sent Maj. Haskell with two batteries to the assistance of our cavalry. On the Todd's Tavern road two infantry brigades also went in support. These batteries were stubbornly engaged for two hours. Their ammunition being then exhausted and considerable loss experienced, they were withdrawn. During a part of the action they had suffered under a flank reverse fire from a battery belonging to that force of the enemy which had reached the Court-House by the other route. In the engagement Capt. Potts, a most deserving, gallant, and efficient officer, was mortally wounded. Field's division meanwhile drove the enemy from the Court-House, and Huger's battalion was posted on the front. Upon the Todd's Tavern road, the enemy still pressing in force, more of our infantry had to be there concentrated, and five of Cabell's guns were sent under Maj. Hamilton to that line and assisted materially in repelling the enemy's assaults. Subsequently a front line having been selected by the general chief of artillery, under advice of Gen. Stuart, crossing the Todd's Tavern road on a piney knoll with an opening in front, five of Huger's batteries were placed in position on that line in very close proximity to the enemy, his guns being not more than 400 yards off, his sharpshooters scarcely over 100 yards. The same afternoon (8th) Ewell's corps (Second), which had left the Wilderness at dawn, arrived and bivouacked on the line which it was to occupy on the right of the Todd's Tavern road and beyond that wing of the First Corps. A few of its guns were put in position on the Court-House front, the rest parked for the night. The Third Corps, temporarily commanded by Gen. Early (Gen. Hill being, unwell), remaining with its artillery as rear guard of the army, did not leave position at the Wilderness till, late in the day of the 8th, and did not that night proceed beyond Shady Grove. One section of McIntosh's battalion was in the evening engaged with the rear guard of the enemy.

On the 9th, our line being established, most of the artillery was posted along its entire course and protected by slight earth-works: Cabell's battalion on the left flank, four Napoleons, under Maj. Gibbes, occupying the left of the line of battle, the remaining guns being on an interior or second line upon higher ground, so as to cover and assist the front line. Haskell's battalion and Woolfolk's battery, of Huger's battalion, on the second line, to Cabell's right, and Huger's five batteries close up to the enemy on the front line, crossing the Todd's Tavern road. Farther to the right Page's and Braxton's guns were in position, with the infantry (Second Corps) on the intrenched line of battle. On this part of the line, as at the Wilderness, dense woods prevented the effective use of much artillery. A portion of Hardaway's and Nelson's guns occupied the line much farther to the right on the left of the Court-House opening, Cutshaw's being in reserve. As the artillery of the Third Corps arrived in the course of this day it was posted on the line still farther to the right-Poague's guns on the left of the front to be occupied by this corps, Pegram's next, crossing the Fredericksburg road a few hundred yards from the Court-House, and Cutts' on the extreme right, in advance of the road to Massaponax Church. Lieut.-Col. Pegram advanced with a section of Ellett's battery and co-operated with the enemy until our line was established. McIntosh's battalion remained with Mahone's division near the crossing of the Po River by the Shady Grove road to guard the left flank of our army, and Richardson's battalion was held in reserve. Along the left wing and left center there was on this day continual skirmishing. Our artillery, however, fired but little and almost entirely at the enemy's infantry.

The 10th was a day of more vigorous battle. The enemy made incessant attacks on Anderson's (First Corps) front, but were continually repulsed with great slaughter. The guns on the front line, and two others from Manly's battery brought forward about noon, again during the day mowed down the enemy's columns with canister at short range. Skirmishing also occurred during the forenoon on the left of Ewell's (Second Corps) front, occupied by Rodes' division with Hardaway's guns, which had relieved Page's, but did not extend to its right, held by Johnson's division, where Nelson's guns had relieved Braxton's. Early on this day Richardson's battalion accompanied Heth's division in a flank movement conducted by Gen. Early around our left upon the enemy's right, and was severely engaged. A section of Ellett's battery, Pegram's battalion, accompanied Richardson's battalion in this expedition and did good service. As our troops in this movement came upon the enemy's flank they were met by a galling fire from a number of batteries he had there posted; and Cabell's guns, from their elevated position on our left, were directed by the general chief of artillery to open upon those batteries, so as to draw their fire and aid Early's advance. The effect was as anticipated. Soon after McIntosh's guns from the east bank of the Po poured into the ranks of the enemy, retreating before Gen. Early, a destructive fire; and some of the guns of this battalion advancing with a portion of Mahone's division as soon as the bridge was cleared, contributed still further to the good effect of the movement on that flank. On this day the enemy made also a demonstration against our right immediately at Spotsylvania Court-House, advancing several lines of infantry. Pegram's and Cutts' guns, however, opened upon them with vigor and speedily drove them back to the cover of their trenches. In the afternoon the enemy, having massed a large force in front of Second Corps' left center, under cover of a pine thicket, made a sudden attack upon Doles' brigade, which, having no skirmishers out, in consequence of the close proximity of the lines, was taken entirely by surprise. The brigade gave way for a season, and the enemy entered our works and captured Smith's battery, of Hardaway's battalion. Our infantry, being soon railed and re-enforced, repulsed the enemy with considerable loss and recovered the guns. The captain had fought his battery until he was actually seized by soldiers from the enemy's ranks, and some of his men were carried off by the retreating foe and not recovered. On this occasion Hardaway's guns alone were engaged and were extremely well served. Two of Cutshaw's batteries were hastened up for the crisis and put in position to command the broken line. The men from one of these batteries (Graham's) being called for to work the guns on the line left weak handed by the capture of Smith's cannoneers, sprang forward under their captain and served two of those guns with fine spirit.

Maj. David Watson, second in command of Hardaway's battalion, an accomplished gentleman, faithful patriot, and gallant soldier, fell at his post during this attack mortally wounded. Lieut.-Col. Hardaway was also wounded-only slightly, however, though his clothes were riddled with bullets. He did not leave the field.

The enemy, thus punished along the entire line on the 10th, made no serious attack on the 11th. Heavy skirmishing, however, occurred from left to right, in which the artillery occasionally took part. Late in the afternoon of this day the commanding general, having reason to believe the enemy withdrawing and intending to leave him no time to gain distance upon us, directed the general chief of artillery to have brought back from the front line before it should be entirely dark all guns so situated as to be difficult to withdraw at night, so that everything might be ready to march at any hour. Under this order Gen. Alexander had his ammunition-chests in the trenches mounted on the caissons, and gun carriages taken to the vicinity of their guns, but retained the latter in position as the safest course. Gen. Long having a more difficult route for his artillery on Johnson's front-by a narrow and intricate road through a wood--preferred executing the order literally, especially as the night promised to be very dark.[1] Nelson's and Page's battalions were accordingly withdrawn. This left unprotected an extensive salient of about a quarter of a mile across and nearly a mile around, which constituted the left of Johnson's line. A section of Page's battalion was sent, with a proper infantry guard, to escort a wagon train to Guiney's Depot, on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad.

At 3 a.m. of the 12th Page's battalion was hastily summoned back to the line, it having been found that the enemy was preparing to make there a heavy attack. It was prepared and moved up with extraordinary speed and arrived at the proper point, but not in time to arrest disaster. Before the guns could be brought into action, or even more than one or two unlimbered, the enemy's masses, had overpowered Johnson's division and taken possession of the Salient. All of Page's guns were enveloped and captured except 2, which succeeded in getting off. At the same time 2 of Cutshaw's batteries, which had the previous evening been posted on the left bank of the Salient to enfilade Doles' front, were also captured. The enemy could thus boast of getting 20 guns-12 from Page and 8 from Cutshaw. In addition to the unfortunate withdrawal of our guns the enemy was favored in his movement and we were obstructed in counteracting it by the extreme darkness of a very dense fog. Arrangements were made as soon as possible to check the enemy and prevent any additional damage. Braxton's and Nelson's and a portion of Hardaway's battalions were posted by Col. Carter on a second line about the prolongation leftwise of that held by the guns near the Court-House. Other guns were also taken to the front near the gorge of the Salient. Maj. Cutshaw and Capt. Garber, with their men that had escaped capture, reached some of the guns which the enemy could not carry off, and, turning them, used them with good effect. Capt. Montgomery plied effectively also a single gun at short range, and with such constancy as to exhaust three caissons of ammunition. The enemy could not advance, but the pressure of his enormous force rendered it necessary to increase our own efforts. Hardaway's battalion was therefore moved forward and posted to command the rear of the Salient, Capt. Dance in command, Lieut.-Col. Hardaway having been wounded in the act of advancing to the front. Col. Cabell also came from the left with four of this guns and took position on the left of Dance's. These guns were brought up and used with admirable steadiness under a severe fire. McIntosh's battalion was in like manner brought to the support of this point. Only one section of it was, however, actively engaged. By these and other vigorous measures the enemy was prevent from profiting by the advantage he had gained. Repelled from the most of the Salient and kept at bay in its apex, he could not during the day carry off the guns he had captured.

While this contest was raging battle was also joined with great fury along the entire line. On the left from early dawn column after column of the enemy as it came up to assault was shivered by the tremendous destructiveness of missiles hurled upon them at close range from our guns. Batteries here posted on our second line participated in the action by firing upon the enemy's batteries, so as to draw their fire away from our line of battle, That fire from the enemy was at times most furious. One or two of our guns in the front line were struck and disabled, and First Lieut. Dent Burroughs, a gallant young officer, commanding Moody's battery, was killed by a shot which passed through the parapet. On the right center another salient of our line attacked by the masses of Burnside's corps was effectively swept by Nelson's, Poague's, and Pegram's guns. The enemy was here driven back in confusion, those guns contributing largely to the result. To the right our batteries engaged those of the enemy, so as to prevent their fire being concentrated on our center. Thus passed and closed this eventful day. At all points except at the prominent Salient the enemy had been repulsed with immense loss. There he had gained a lodgment and captured a number of guns and prisoners, but he had been effectually prevented from profiting by it, and had himself suffered severely. Our interior line was there well established and protected during the night with guns in position so that by next morning the enemy was as far from his object as ever. The enemy now for some days remained quiet. and the time was improved on our part in strengthening our lines and reorganizing commands that had been seriously shattered. Maj. Cutshaw was assigned to the command of Hardaway's battalion and Maj. Page, put in command of the combined remnants of his own and Cutshaw's battalions. While the artillery with the main army was thus engaged in this great conflict, that with the cavalry was actively operating-one portion with Gen. W. H. F. Lee on our right flank, another with Gen. Hampton, on our left, and the remainder (Johnston's battery, Baltimore Light Artillery, and a section of Hart's battery, under Maj. Breathed) with Gen.'s Stuart and Fitzhugh Lee in their pursuit of Sheridan attempting to raid into Richmond. In the severe conflict which ensued at the Yellow Tavern all these guns were used, though Hart's section and the Baltimore Light Artillery bore the brunt of the fight. The latter suffered most severely and lost a number of men and horses captured by the enemy.

On the 14th the enemy were found to have withdrawn from Anderson's front (our left), leaving his thickly-strewn dead unburied, and among them many who had fallen wounded between the lines and had lain there perishing for days. His demonstration then appearing on our right Anderson's corps was on the night of the 15th transferred to that flank, extending our line in that direction to the Po. Huger's and Haskell's battalions were here placed in position and Cabell's held in reserve.

On the morning of the 18th the enemy again attempted to carry the line still held by the Second Corps near the scene of the former conflict. This time, however, he met guns in position to receive him. His heavy was allowed to get within good range of our breast-works. There the guns under Col. Carter (Hardaway's battalion and Page's reorganized) opened upon him a murderous fire of spherical case and canister which at once arrested his advance, threw his columns into confusion, and forced him to retreat in disorder. Heavily as he suffered on this occasion, our loss was nothing, and this was accomplished against a force of 12,000 picked infantry, by twenty-nine pieces of artillery alone, but well handled. In the afternoon, Gen. Ewell having determined to make a flank movement, Lieut.-Col. Braxton was directed to accompany him with six guns of select caliber. The roads, however, were found impracticable for artillery, and Col. Braxton was ordered to return to his position on the line. Simultaneously with his attack on Ewell's front on this day the enemy assailed, but in a different manner, our line near the Court-House. Having gotten a number of guns into a position to enfilade part of our line, he at attempted under cover of their fire to advance his front batteries. Pegram's and Cutts' guns promptly opened in reply. A furious cannonade ensued for about an hour. By that time the enemy's batteries in front were silenced and all further attempt to advance there was abandoned. In this cannonade Maj. McGraw, second in command of Pegram's battalion, was severely wounded, as were several other officers. Richardson's battalion on this day occupied the line to the right of Cutts' guns, those of First Corps being still farther to the right. The enemy, apparently satisfied with his fruitless efforts near Spotsylvania Court-House, made there no further attempt, and being found on the 21st shifting his position and moving beyond our right, our army was also on that day put in motion in the same direction. The Second Corps (Ewell's), then our left, having no enemy remaining on its front, moved with its artillery early in the day, passing the other corps, to the Telegraph road south of the of the Po, and then by that road toward Hanover Junction. Later in the day the Third Corps (Hill's) marched, accompanied by a portion of its artillery, toward the same point on a road nearly parallel to and not the west of the Telegraph road; and in the afternoon the First Corps (Anderson's) took up the line of march toward an on the Telegraph road, attended by Huger's and Haskell's battalions, Cabell's battalion, with others from the Third Corps, having previously marched by other roads as little to the west, so as to avoid crowding.

[1] See indorsements on Gen. Long's report, p. 1088.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. N. PENDLETON, Brig. Gen. and Chief of Arty., Army of Northern Virginia.

Bibliographic Information : Letter Reproduced from The War of The Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I., Volume 36. Part I, Reports., Serial No. 67, Pages 1036, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1997.

Return to Full Valley Archive