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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
Troops in the Field
The THIRD BATTERY OF LIGHT ARTILLERY have served during the year, until mustered out, in the lines in front of Petersburg and in that vicinity. In my last Annual Report a detailed account of its movements and operations was given to August 10, 1864. The Battery then occupied the eighteen gun battery on the right of the Norfolk road, subsequently called Fort Morton. In the evening of the eighteenth of August the enemy opened upon Fort Morton a furious and well directed fire from all parts of his lines bearing upon that work. The fire was unusually accurate, and was responded to by the men stationed in the Fort with great coolness and spirit. The combat continued until nearly morning. Four men of the Battery were slightly bruised by fragments of shell, but there were no other casualties. On the nineteenth the Battery moved from Fort Morton and encamped in rear of the Avery House, where they remained until the twenty-first, when they moved down the Jerusalem Plank Road, about three miles, on to the line established by the Sixth Corps, being the extreme left of the army towards Ream's Station. On the twenty-third they took position on the Weldon rail road, near the Aiken's House, to assist in sustaining the lines which had been extended across the Weldon railroad, but were immediately directed to move, with Gen. Wilcox, first division of the Ninth Corps, then moving up the Jerusalem plank road to the assistance of Gen. Hancock at Ream's Station. The battle at Ream's Station was concluded before Gen. Wilcox arrived, and the Battery, after having marched about six miles, returned and encamped near the Williams House. On the thirtieth they moved into "Fort Hell," on the left of Fort Morton, where they were subjected to an incessant fire from the enemy, and suffered severe exposure and hardship, until they were relieved on the sixth of September. They then went into camp near the Avery House, on the lines of the Second Corps.
On the nineteenth of September the Battery occupied Fort Michael, between Fort Morton and "Fort Hell," where they remained until the third of October, having several severe artillery duels with the enemy, but without casualty. They then moved to the left and occupied Battery No. 27, near the Aiken's House. On the fifth of October the Battery participated in the movement, which was intended to cut the South Side Railroad, but which failed of success; but the lines were advanced some two miles and intrenched. The Battery constructed a work for their guns, which was called Fort Phillips, which they occupied until the twelfth, when they were moved to the right and occupied Battery No. 16, on the immediate left of Fort Morton. While at the left of the line the men performed a great amount of fatigue duty, in constructing field works. While in Battery No. 16 they were subjected to a constant and most annoying mortar shelling, which allowed the men scarcely any rest or sleep. On the twenty-sixth the Battery was moved to City Point, and on the twenty-ninth occupied Fort McKeen, one of the principal works defending the depot at that place, where the remained until the fifteenth of January, 1865, affording the men a much needed opportunity to recruit, after the exhausting campaign from the Rapidan to Petersburg.
On the fifteenth of January, 1865, the Battery moved to Warren's Station, on the Weldon Railroad, twenty miles from City Point, and immediately constructed winter quarters near the Head Quarters of the Sixth Corps. The weather was very severe, and, until their quarters were completed, the men suffered much from constant storms of snow and rain. On the sixth of February the Battery participated in the advance towards Hatcher's Run, but was not engaged. On the ninth of February the Battery occupied Fort Fisher, about two miles from Hatcher's Run towards Petersburg, and near Patrick's Station. From this time until the twenty-fifth of March the Battery remained quiet, with favorable opportunity for drill.
On the twenty-fifth of March, in the advance of the picket line in front of Fort Fisher, a section of the Battery, commanded by Lieut. William R. Rowell was moved out upon the skirmish line, under an enfilading fire from the enemy's batteries on the left of Fort Fisher, and took position in advance of the line, and within seven hundred yards of a battery of the enemy, the guns from which very much annoyed and retarded the advance of the infantry, and at once opened fire, to which the enemy vigorously replied. This battery duel continued for about twenty minutes, when the enemy's battery was silenced by the well directed fire of Lieut. Rowell's guns, and the troops moved forward and occupied the desired position, and the section was withdrawn. In this affair the conduct of Lieut. Rowell and his men is report to have been such as to elicit from the General commanding a very complimentary notice for gallantry.
During the same time a section of the Battery, commanded by Lieut. Eben Taplin, occupied Battery Lee, some distance to the left of Fort Fisher, and was frequently engaged during the day, doing good execution. There were no casualties in either section during the day.
At four o'clock in the morning of the second of April the signal gun for the general assault upon the lines in front of Petersburg was fired by the Battery, and at eight o'clock the Battery moved out upon the line then occupied by the Twenty Fourth Corps, in front of Fort Fisher, and took position about three hundred yards in front of Battery Owen, a rebel earthwork then unoccupied except by Sharp Shooters, and opened fire on the large earth work of the enemy on his right of Battery Owen, which was defended by artillery and infantry, and on which a portion of the 24th Corps was moving. The enemy returned the fire with much spirit. After nearly an hour's severe fire the enemy's guns were silenced and the work was carried by assault.
The Battery then moved forward and took a new position some two hundred yards in front, and to the right, of their previous position, and opened fire upon the enemy's second line of works, which commanded the first, and from which a sever fire had been commenced upon the infantry in the captured works. After heavy firing for about half an hour from this position, the Battery was directed to again move forward and occupy a position immediately in front of Battery Owen, by which the command was partially protected from an enfilading fire from the enemy's works upon the left, and again attacked the enemy's works commanding the heights, their second and last line of works. This position was taken about 11.30 o'clock, a. m., and was occupied by the Battery during the remainder of the day, keeping up a vigorous fire, in reply to the enemy's guns, with brief intervals of cessation, until evening. At night temporary earth works were constructed for the protection of the guns, in anticipation of an attack the next morning, but the enemy evacuated during the night, and the command pushed forward in the morning, and entered the town without further opposition.
The Battery was under fire of artillery and infantry during the whole day, but lost no men or horses. One of the guns was partially disabled by a solid shot, which struck the stock and carried away more than half of it.
The behaviour of officers and men, during the entire day, is reported by Capt. Start to have been "splendid." He names Lieutenants Rowell and Perrin, Sergeants William H. Parker, Parker C. Thomas, and Benjamin M. Clay, Corporals George H. Kelley, Lewis E. Gilman, and Frank F. Libby, and Private William Washburn, as deserving special mention for coolness and conspicuous gallantry during the day.
On the third of April Capt. Start was placed in command of the reserve artillery brigade of the Sixth Corps, and directed to take charge of twenty pieces of captured artillery, and to move the brigade and captured guns to City POint, which was done, and the Battery remained in camp at City Point until the third of May, when they started for Alexandria, Va., marching by way of Richmond and Fredericksburg, and arriving at Alexandria on the eighteenth. On the third of June their equipment was turned over to the Ordnance Department, and on the fifth the Battery started for Vermont, arriving at Burlington on the ninth. On the thirteenth of June, 1865, the Battery was mustered out of service, and on the sixteenth they were paid and discharged.
I annex, in Appendix C, the official reports of Capt. Romeo H. Start, of the movements and operations of the Battery from August 10, 1864, to the time of muster-out.
The following statement shows the condition and situation of the Battery at the several dates specified:(see Legend, below)
Third Battery Light Artillery
A B C D E F G H I 1864 Oct. 31, City Point, Va 223 181 42 - - - - Nov. 30, do 219 170 46 1 - 2 - Dec. 31, do 218 171 43 4 - - - 1865 Jan. 31, Near Yellow Tavern, Va. 210 175 29 6 - - - Feb. 28, Fort Fisher, Va. 215 185 25 5 - - - Mch. 31, do 215 190 21 4 - - - Apr. 30, Petersburg, Va. 215 187 23 5 - - - May 31 Alexandria, Va. 217 191 26 - - - -
A - Date
B - Station.
C - Aggregate
D - On Duty
E - Sick
F - Absent with Leave
G - Absent without Leave
H - In arrest or confinement
I - Prisons
Second Artillery Battery First Company Heavy Artillery