Sunday, May 4, 2008

The 48th Pennsylvania at The Wilderness & Spotsylvania: Part 2: Accounts of Battle. . .

The following accounts of the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania were authored by soldiers in the 48th Pennsylvania:

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(1). Captain Joseph Hoskings, Company F:

After crossing the Rapidan, a detail of 200 men was made and put under my command; Lieut. Pollock, of C, and Lieut. Eveland, of A; Sergeant Al Huckey, of Company A, with a full complement of non-commissioned officers. The names of all but a few have escaped my memory. I recall Bob Reid and Clay Evans, Sandy Govan, David Thiel and Adam Hendley. We left the regiment and moved to our right, and in a very short time came into contact with a line of the enemy’s skirmishers; they gave us a volley and their peculiar yell, expecting to start us on the back track; but, instead, we advanced and drove them out of the woods; and, on reaching the open field, we came to a halt. The enemy fell back to a rail fence, some fifty yards to our front, and there we held them until relieved by a Michigan regiment. We then moved to the rear and buried David Thiel, who had been killed in the advance. We then joined the main body of the regiment. Heavy firing was in progress all day, and on the 6th, the 9th Corps, to which we belonged, was engaged almost the entire day in the Wilderness fight, under infantry fire, losing heavily.

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(2). Sergeant Robert A. Reid, Company G:

It was a very foggy morning when Captain McKibben of General Potter’s staff ordered Col. Pleasants to follow him with the 48th, and it will be remembered that McKibben rode a very dilapidated plug of a horse that day, but he rode right to the front, leaning forward on his horse, as he led us up the hill, until he had us under fire, when we formed line of battle behind the brow of the hill, directly in our front, and our position did not suit our Colonel. We moved forward past the right of the advanced regiment until we got about half way between it and the enemy, which proved to be the 13th Georgia. Before we commenced firing about twenty of the rebel troops came in and surrendered. When within about seventy-five yards of the enemy we were ordered to halt, and commence firing, when for a short time the engagement was very lively. The enemy were at a decided disadvantage, they being down the slope of the hill, we at the top. About the time we opened fire another, or part of a rebel regiment, came to their support. We hammered away at them until some one from the center of the regiment called out that they wanted to surrender, but Col. Pleasants ordered us to continue firing, which we did until the rebels threw down their arms and came in a body. We captured fully two hundred prisoners. They left one colonel, three line officers and seventy-five men killed, and a large number of wounded on the field. . . .

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(3). Sergeant Joseph Gould, Company F:

Our position was on the top of a hill, in front of us was an open field and swamp, through which ran a small creek, and, beyond, another hill, where the rebels had erected a strong line of rifle-pits. On our left was a thick wood extending beyond the swamp to the line of the enemy. As the fog rose, a regiment of rebels was discovered occupying a pit formed by the banks of the creek. The left of the brigade was thrown forward into the woods, cutting off their retreat, except by the open field up the hill in front of our works, which, if attempted, would be certain destruction. A desperate effort was made to drive us out of our position, but it was steadily maintained under a destructive fire of musketry and artillery. During the attempt the regiment captured two hundred prisoners of Gordon’s division. Along in the afternoon the troops made another assault on the rebel line. The regiment charged forward to the swamp, but discovered it was unsupported. It moved then by the left flank into the woods under a galling fire; and, later, reached its former position. . . .

Our regiment suffered very severely in this fight, and the writer paid a visit to the field hospital to look after some friends, and , while there, came across some of his own company, one, named Lewis Woods, a great, big, noble-hearted fellow, from the northern part of the State, who now lay in a cow stable with his brains oozing from a ghastly bullet hole in his head. As I took the gallant fellow’s hand and asked him if he recognized me, his only reply was a smile, and my mind went back to the trip on the steamer from Newport News to Baltimore, when, as he lay asleep on the deck, in a moment of boyish deviltry, I clipped one-half his mustache completely off. What I would have given at that moment if I had never been guilty of this mischievous act! I had heard of people being shot to pieces, but never saw it until at this hospital. Just outside the fence surrounding the house a battery of artillery was stationed, and one of the artillerymen lay there torn from limb to limb, and the sight was a sickening one to those passing by.

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