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«MAJ. GEN. CHARLES S. HAMILTON HISTORY of THE THIRD REGIMENT of WISCONSIN VETERAN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY 1861 — 1865. BY EDWIN E. BRYANT Late Adjutant. ...»

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Near the edge of the woods there was a rail fence; and in climbing over it and in advancing into the little stubble field in the northwestward of the wheatfield the Third regiment became fully exposed to the enemy. There was the Stonewall brigade with four strong regiments in line advancing from the opposite direction. They had been thrown forward the instant Crawford had struck and shattered Campbell’s brigade. “The enemy’s line extended beyond the right or ours considerably, overlapping our regiment sufficiently to give by an oblique of that part of their line a most destructive cross fire on ED. NOTE: Commanded by Colonel Joseph F. Knipe, Colonel Dudley Donnely, and Colonel George B Chapman, respectively; the Tenth Maine under Colonel George L. Beal was also in this brigade.

-70the right wing of the regiment.” {Ruger’s Report} The companies had advanced but a little way into this field — which is in fact only about 125 yards across — when they received a volley from the Second Virginia in their front, which an officer of that regiment, who witnessed its effect, says, “was one of the most effective that he ever saw delivered in a battle.” The Fourth Virginia stood off on higher ground to the left of the Second, with its left thrown forward so as to give an oblique fire of its whole line upon the little front of Ruger. The Fifth Virginia on the right of the Second opened fire, with its left wing on Ruger, and then wheeled to the right and helped to close around Crawford’s broken brigade. Under such a concentrated fire it was annihilation to remain. Men were falling by scores each instant. Colonel Ruger on his horse, with balls flying about him, coolly ordered the men to fall back behind the fence. Lieutenant-Colonel Crane, in his place, on the right, called on the men to be steady while the storm of bullets rained through the cloud of smoke in front. The companies at once fell back in some disorder. The loss in this two minutes engagement had been fearful. The numbers, taken into action of these six companies and losses of

each were as follows:

Companies H C I D F K Taken In 44 45 45 45 44 44 Killed, wounded or missing 9 11 9 19 14 18 Lieutenant Colonel Crane riding a cream colored horse, was a conspicuous target.72 He fell from his horse, shot dead, while slowly retiring over the fence at the command to withdraw. Also mounted and in the field, Maj. J. W. Scott73 received a cruel wound in the shoulder, which ever after rendered useless his left arm. Captain William Hawley74 (afterwards Colonel) Major Van Brunt, who was adjutant of the regiment in that battle, writes that, “Lieut.-Col. Crane was riding a very dark cream colored and rather a small horse when he was killed. The last command I heard him give was to rally behind the fence.” Capt. Samuel J. C. Moore of Company I, Second Virginia volunteers, one of the regiments of the famous Stonewall brigade writes: “One incident of the battle of August 9th, is fresh in memory. When we repulsed the enemy on the old or bushy field, an officer of the rank of colonel, acted with most distinguished and conspicuous gallantry, and remained too long at his post of duty.

“After we had made our charge and in doing so had emerged from the smoke our volley had created, he was still in our front endeavoring to rally the retreating men. Finding this to be impossible, he slowly turned his horse to ride through a gap in the fence leading into the woods, when a man in my company, who was a splendid shot, fired at him and killed him instantly. I afterward saw him dead on the field, but could not learn his name or residence; but I am sure that two braver officers never fell on any battlefield than that (to me) unknown Federal officer and our own General Winder.” ED. NOTE: Major John W. Scott of Oshkosh, Field & Staff, Third Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, date of rank 1 Jun 1862. Promoted to LtCol 10 Mar 1863. Killed in action 1 May 1863 at Chancellorsville.

ED. NOTE: William Hawley, of Madison, was the first commanding officer of K Company. His date of rank as a LtCol was 10 Mar 1863. Wounded at Cedar Mountain, he was breveted Brigadier General U. S.

Volunteers on 16 Mar 1865.

-71was severely wounded in the ankle. Captain Moses O’Brien,75 of Company I, was wounded early in the action, in the leg, but continued resolutely in command, and helped to rally his men and took them a second time into action. The list of casualties in full is subjoined.

Crawford’s brigade, when it advanced into the wheatfield, to the left of the Third, and with more of an interval between them than had been intended, encountered at first a less fierce opposition. It therefore rushed across the wheatfield, crushing in the Second or Campbell’s brigade, as has been narrated. But its success was only apparent and momentary. Its men were soon in hand to hand fight, (so Crawford says, and the Confederates agree in the statement). Jackson with his prompt and decisive energy, brought up his heavy reserves. Branch’s76 brigade, which stood not far in rear of the line which the onset of Crawford’s men had shattered, took Campbell’s place. At the same time, the Fifth Virginia, the left regiment of the Stonewall brigade, came into the wheatfield in rear of the ground then occupied by the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania, and by a half wheel to the right, captured a large number of Crawford’s brigade. Thus beset the little brigade of three regiments, which force spent, broken and disordered by its tumultuous charge, and suddenly confronted by fresh and solid lines of the enemy in front and flank fell back, and did not again rally in that action. All the field officers, who led this command in, were either killed, wounded or captured; and many of the company officers had been shot down at the head of their companies.77 Whatever may be said of the wisdom of ordering such a charge, it is undeniable that more gallant and heroic conduct on the part of the troops was never displayed on any battlefield of that gigantic war.





While the brigade of Crawford was inflicting and in turn receiving this harsh usage, Gordon’s brigade was awaiting with impatient anxiety the order to go in. The Tenth Maine, one of the regiments of Crawford’s brigade, for some unexplained reason had not been ordered into the first charge, and was also waiting breathlessly the command to engage in the hot work before it.

It had not long to wait. One of Gen. Banks’ staff, Major Pelouze,78 by the general’s direction, conducted them into the fight. The regiment gallantly led ED. NOTE: Moses O’Brien, of Monroe, was 1stLt in C Company, then Captain in I Company. He died 12 Aug 1863 of wounds received at Cedar Mountain.

ED. NOTE: Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, CSA, 28 Nov 1828 - 17 Sep 1862, killed by a sharpshooter at Antietam.

ED. NOTE: Out of 88 officers in the engagement, 8 were killed, 27 wounded and 21 captured or missing. Of the 1,674 enlisted men who took part in the charge 88 were killed, 370 wounded and 353 missing.

(Crawford’s Report, Official Records of the Rebellion, vol. XI, part 2, p. 153.) ED. NOTE: Possibly Louis Henry Pelouze, 1841-1878.

-72by Col. Beale79, advanced somewhat to the left of the path of Gordon’s brigade, and took position far into or beyond the middle of the open wheatfield. At this time Crawford’s brigade was partly in retreat, and partly, as Col. Beale, of the Tenth Maine, says, in a hand-to-hand fight in the woods.

The Tenth Maine regiment stood here some ten or fifteen minutes bravely fighting with the concentrated fire of two brigades upon it, and after losing 173 officers and men out of 461 taken into action, it fell back.

While the Tenth Maine was receiving its hard punishment, Gordon’s brigade was moving in. General Williams had previously given Gordon directions to observe him, and when he (Williams) gave a signal by waving his handkerchief, Gordon was to throw his whole command — the Second Massachusetts, Twenty-seventh Indiana and the three remaining companies, A, B, and E, of the Third Wisconsin — forward. Gordon, expecting the command, had his brigade in order to start at a second’s notice, and had his field glass on Williams, to watch for the signal. None came for a few moments, which to us who were waiting seemed hours. A messenger soon dashed up to Gordon with an order from Gen. Banks, to send the Second Massachusetts down to him on the pike. The regiment was in execution of this movement and had passed to the left of the Third Wisconsin companies when Capt. Pitman, aide to Gen. Williams, galloped up with the order from Williams to move forward the whole command. This order came a little before 6 o’clock. Gordon in his spirited narrative, “From Brook Farm to Cedar

Mountain,” thus tells the story:

“The Second sprang forward; so did the remaining companies of the Third Wisconsin; so did the Twenty-seventh Indiana. The rattle and roar of musketry had now given place to a dreadful and ominous silence. A thick smoke curling through the tree-tops as it rose in clouds from corn and wheatfields marked the place to which we were ordered — the place where the narrow valley was strewn with dead. “Double-quick,” I gave the order and my brigade responded. Down the slope from Brown’s house (the little cottage) at a run, through the marshy land at its base, over Cedar Creek to the steep hill and up its sides into the woods, I pressed my troops with speed unabated. At the edge of the woods I rallied and gathered up the companies of the Third Wisconsin, part of the broken fragments of Crawford’s brigade, a second time to be baptised [sic] in the fiery flood of Cedar Mountain. So we went until we had penetrated the woods, and stood in line of battle on the very edge of the wheatfield. We had come at top-most speed to support Crawford;

but his whole line had melted away. We had come to sustain, but we remained alone to bear the brunt of the fight ourselves unsupported. The whole distance we had passed over, in an incredibly short space of time, was about 1,500 yards, of which 400 was through the woods.” [Gordon, George Henry. Brook Farm to Cedar Mountain in the war of the great rebellion, 1861-62. Boston: J.R. Osgood and Co., 1883. Hereafter cited merely as “Brook Farm to Cedar Mountain”]

ED. NOTE: This is actually George Lafayette Beal, (1825-1896)

-73The line of battle was quickly formed. On the right the Twenty-seventh Indiana, next the three companies, A, B, and E of the Third Wisconsin, on the left the Second Massachusetts. The rallied companies of the Third also came in and formed on the left of the Indiana regiment. As we stood there we could see the enemy across the wheatfield. Their long lines were coming out of the underbrush and into the wheatfield, and they opened upon us a heavy fire, to which the Twenty-seventh Indiana and Third Wisconsin immediately responded. The Second Massachusetts had borne off to the left a little and took position where at first it could see nothing of the enemy. Gordon came up and shouted to Andrews, “Why don’t you order your men to fire?” “Don’t see anything to fire at,” coolly replied Andrews. Gordon then ordered him to move by the right flank and join on with the Third. He did so promptly, and soon he was giving and receiving fierce fire.

Let us now pass to the other side of the wheatfield into the woods, there to note the movements of the enemy to counteract the assault of Crawford and the later advance of Gordon. Jackson, to whom his Virginia biographers give the credit of turning a rout into a victory by her personal exertions and prowess, set about repairing the breach made by the assault of Crawford on his line. As he had plenty of material close at hand, it was but a simple matter. He merely brought to the front the reserve brigades. Branch’s80 brigade came in to the relief of Campbell. The Stonewall brigade was put forward on the left, and two fresh brigades of Hill’s division, commanded by Archer81 and Pender,82 were extended to Jackson’s left, and, closing round, completely enveloping Gordon’s right. First Branch’s and Winder’s brigades engaged, and, as Jackson says, “the fight was maintained with obstinacy, when Archer’s and Pender’s brigades came up.” The enemy could now see his advantage, especially such an enemy as Jackson. He ordered a charge. Pender and Archer swept in upon our front and right. Branch and Reynold’s brigade and the four brigades, with the rallied fugitives from Campbell’s and Taliaferro’s brigades swarmed in front and on the flank of Gordon’s little command of three regiments, one of which (ours) had been so effectually cut to pieces in the first assault.

Gordon tells the story so well that he may here be quoted:

ED. NOTE: Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, 28 Nov 1828 - 17 Sep 1862, killed by a Union sharpshooter at Antietam.

ED. NOTE: James Jay Archer, Lawyer, CSA, 19 Dec 1817 - 24 Oct 1864. Taken prisoner at Gettysburg, held for about one year before release. First CSA general officer to be taken after Lee took over the CSA.

ED. NOTE: William Dorsey Pender, CSA, 19th of 46 in West Point Class of 1854. Born 6 Feb 1834, severely wounded 2 Jul 1863 at Gettysburg, he died 8 Jul 1863 in Virginia.

-74In the woods upon which Jackson now directed his attack, nothing but my three small regiments was left to confront not less than five entire brigades of the enemy, of which four were in line when we came upon the field, and one reaching far around to envelop our right. Of the ten brigades — out of the twelve of his army — which Jackson threw into the fight at Cedar Mountain, one-half of them awaited our attack on the right of the road across that deadly wheatfield. My force was less than 1,500 men; the enemy’s could not have fallen short of 8,000, out of his whole command of from 20,000 to 25,000 men. It will be seen that the woods opposite must have been literally packed with rebels, and that they must have extended far beyond our right.



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