eHistory logo Primary Sources Section
Primary Sources Home | Search eHistory

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XLVI | Pages range from 1 to 1348

Go to Page (current volume):  
Index | Previous | Next
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 46, Part 1 (Appomattox Campaign)
Page 173 Chapter LVIII. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.

139 rounds; 30-pounder Parrott, 485 rounds; 4 1/2-inch ordnance, 342 rounds; making a total of 2,534 rounds, weighing about 25 tons, or at a rate of about 0.8 tons daily, an amount less than during any month of the siege.

On March 25 an event i which well illustrated the advantages of the system of fortifications adopted by Colonel Duane, chief engineer, Army of the Potomac. This system consists, in general terms, of a series of small field-works, capable of containing a battery of artillery and na infantry garrison of some 200 men each. They are closed at the gorge, well-protected with abatis or polishing, often supplied with bomb-proofs, and placed at intervals of about half a mile, on such ground as to well sweep the line on front with artillery fire. They are connected by strong, continuous infantry parapets, protected in front by obstacles. they differ from those of the rebel line chiefly in being closed at the gorge, which is rarely the case with the latter. Fort Stedman is one of the weakest and most ill-constructed works of the line, being not protected by abatis in rear, being masked omits right (just in rear of Battery Numbers 10) by a mass of bomb-proofs, rendered necessary by the terrible fire which has habitually had place in this vicinity, and being only about 200 yards distant from the enemy's main line. The parapet had settled greatly during the winter, and, in fine, the work was very liable to being carried by a sudden assault. Company K, First Connecticut Artillery, served mortar batteries in Batteries 9 and 10, and Company L, First Connecticut Artillery, in Battery 12 and in Fort Haskell. At about 4 a. m. of march 25, three divisions of the rebels, under General Gordon, made a sudden and well-arranged attack upon this fort. It was a complete surprise, and was successful. Their columns simultaneously swept over the parapet between Stedman and Battery 9, over Battery 10, and over Battery 11, former in rear of the fort, and carried it almost without opposition. From that time to daylight a hand-to-hand fight raged among the bomb-proofs and on the flanks of the enemy's position. He assaulted Fort Haskell again and again, but failed to carry it, or Battery Numbers 9, which, unlike the other named, is closed at the gorge. As soon as the light would admit, all my own artillery from Batteries 4, 5, 8, 9, and Fort Haskel, and all the light artillery which General Tidball, chief of artillery, Ninth Corps, could concentrate upon the position, opened and maintained a terrible fire upon the enemy. No re-enforcements could join them across the plain, owing to this fire; their own position was entailing deadly loss upon them. The reserves of the line were rapidly assembling, and finally, about 8 a. m., made a gallant charge, which resulted in the recovery of our works, all our artillery - even including my Coehorn mortars - and in capture of over 1,800 prisoners. The following extract from rebel papers show the effect of our artillery fire:

It was found that the inclosed works in the rear commanding the enemy's main line could only be taken bat a great sacrifice.

The enemy massed his artillery so heavily in the neighboring forts, and was enabled to pour such a terrible enfilanding fire upon our ranks, that it was deemed best to withdraw.

The enemy enfilanded us from right and left in the capture works to such an extent that we could no longer hold them without the loss of many men, &c.

If the inclosed works on right and left had not fixed a limit beyond which the enemy could not extend, I think a great disaster might have i; as it was, my regiment's loss was heavy, being about sixty men.


Page 173 Chapter LVIII. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 46, Part 1 (Appomattox Campaign)
Index | Previous | Next
This symbol external link icon indicates an external link
All images and content are the property of eHistory at The Ohio State University unless otherwise stated.
Copyright © 2014 OSU Department of History. All rights reserved. [citation and copyright information]
eHistory icon