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June 16-17, 1864
From Oliver C. Bosbyshell, The 48th In The War
The Attacks on Petersburg, June 15-17
The 48th PA Fought in the IX Corps, under Burnside
"Companies B and G were detailed to reconnoiter the position of the enemy. This was about ten o'clock at night. Deploying as skirmishers, these companies, with the rest of the regiment supporting, crossed over the little creek and advanced almost up to the enemy's works, who welcomed them with a lively volley of musketry. Under orders the line retired to the position secured in the abandoned works. So determined was Sergeant Wren and a private of B Company to ascertain the exact location of the rebel works that they ran right up against them, and the proverbial hospitality of the South induced the 'Johnnies' to gather them into their ranks, and them the delight of a Southern prison.
"The anxiety of Colonel [Henry] Pleasants for the safety of the colors, during this midnight foray, is well remembered--he cautioned the greatest care to be observed lest some unforeseen accident should occur and they be lost in the dark.
"Very little sleep was permitted the regiment, for at 3 o'clock the next morning (seventeenth) the men were quietly roused by Colonel Pleasants, who passed along the line, informing each company commander of the assault to be made on the enemy's lines. Caps were removed from the pieces, as reliance was to be had on the bayonet alone. He informed the men of the danger before them, and directed that if any felt disinclined to make the assault, they had permission to remain where they were. There is no record or evidence of any kind that a single man of the regiment took advantage of this offer--not one stayed behind! Tin cups and coffee pots were so secured as to make no rattling sound, and directions were passed along in whispered accents. Bayonets were silently fixed, the pieces, by order recapped and the regiment moved quietly out of the old rebel works left in front, with the stealthiness of Indians, over the creek where line of battle was formed, in utter darkness. Moving the right, for about a hundred yards with panther-like tread, a whispered command 'forward!' was given, and the savage rush began. Some firing on the right of the regimental line, resulted in an immediate answer from the enemy, along their entire line, thus marking it vividly by the flashes of their muskets. Directly into this fiery ribbon, belching its leaden hail through the ranks of the charging lines, swept the Forty-eighth, emptying its muskets at the instant the rebels' works were reached.
Sergeant Robert Reid, Company G, Medal of Honor Recipient
"How the heart beat, and the pulse throbbed during that onslaught! If fear or dread marked the supreme moment of the attack, it was banished completely in the glorious rush of the fight! What a harvest of prisoners--they were captured by the score, disarmed and sent to the rear, only to be gathered up by the regiments in reserve and turned in as captives of their own. The Forty-eighth actually secured more prisoners than the regiment had men engaged in the fight. Two flags and two pieces of artillery were likewise part of the regiment's trophies. The colors of the Forty-fourth Tennessee were captured by Sergeant Patrick Monaghan, of Company F, and the colors of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery were recaptured by Private Robert Reid, of Company G. For this gallant and praiseworthy deed the War Department conferred upon these two soldiers the United States Medal of Honor. The distinction gained by Monaghan and Reid was proudly accorded them by every man in the regiment, as all recognized the achievement as adding additional glory to the command.
"The early dawn disclosed the redan further south--which carried two guns that were making sad havoc, by enfilading the attacking line. This work was on the left and front of the Forty-eighth, about a hundred yards distant. The wild rush and wholesale gathering in of prisoners, and generally good time the regiment was having in what had already been accomplished, disturbed the formation of the command considerably, so Pleasants, seeing the necessity of securing this redan, hastily ordered the boys in line, and with the shout of 'forward!' made a dash for the fort. Like a savage torrent, the impetuosity of which Pleasants tried to stem, the regiment fairly tore over those hundred yards and swept through the fort irresistibly. The enemy ran in great disorder by squads and singly to their left and rear. The men attempted to fire on the fleeing foe, by reversing the guns, but the rebels foiled this 'little game' by having loaded them with sand before leaving. The enemy brought a battery in position and shelled the captured fort, vainly trying to drive the regiment away. The guns were safely hauled to the rear by hand, notwithstanding the heavy fire of shot and shell poured into the captors from the battery referred to.
"Whilst on the gun platform, endeavoring with others to fire the guns, Private Robert Reid, of Company G, felt uncomfortably near him flying chips, broken by shot and shell, from the planking used to line the inside of the embrasures. Seeking cover, he dropped into the hole used by the rebel gunners for protection, and lo! a dozen of the 'Johnnies,' heretofore unobserved, were snugly stowed herein. They surrendered forthwith. Reid, with Sergeant Daniel Donne, of G, marched these captives to the rear, whilst others of the regiment were hauling off the cannon.
"The Forty-eighth maintained this line, so gallantly and determinedly wrested from the enemy, fortifying and strengthening it by using the outside of the fortification for the new line, reversing the position from the way the rebels planned it. This was probably, in all its results, the most brilliant engagement for the Forty-eighth of any in which it participated. Praise is due every officer, from Colonel Pleasants down, and to every man who was in this grand assault, for the splendid record the work here accomplished has given to the Forty-eighth Regiment. This achievement, with the wonderful Mine, are two brilliant and remarkable pages in the regiment's history, the like of which few other commands can boast."
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