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[78] the command of which was given to General Geo. W. Getty, an able officer who had served as a division-general in the Ninth Corps, and, also, in the Seventh Corps at the Seige of Suffolk. The place of the Third Division was filled by the Third Division of the Third Corps, that corps having been discontinued; the command of this division was given to General Ricketts. The corps now contained 49 regiments of infantry, an artillery brigade composed of 8 batteries of light artillery (48 guns), and a battalion of heavy artillery acting as infantry; numbering in all, 24,163, “present for duty, equipped.”

In the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania it encountered the hardest contested fighting of its experience. At the Wilderness, the Vermont Brigade--Getty's Division — lost 1,232 men out of the 2,800 effectives that crossed the Rapidan on the previous day. At Spotsylvania, the Jersey Brigade of Wright's Division was engaged in a deadly struggle, the percentage of killed in the Fifteenth New Jersey being equalled in only one instance during the whole war. On May 10th--at Spotsylvania--General Upton led a storming party of twelve picked regiments selected from the Sixth Corps, which carried the Confederate works after a hand-to-hand fight in which bayonet wounds were freely given and received.1 On May 12th--Spotsylvania — the whole corps fought at the “Bloody Angle,” where the fighting was the closest and deadliest of any recorded in the history of modern wars. General Sedgwick was killed at Spotsylvania, and General Wright succeeded to the command, General Russell succeeding Wright in the command of the First Division. The casualties of the corps at the Wilderness were, 719 killed, 3,660 wounded, 656 missing; total, 5,035; and at Spotsylvania, 688 killed, 2,820 wounded, 534 missing; total, 4,042.

In the assault at Cold Harbor, June 1st, 1864, the corps sustained another severe loss, 2,715 of its number falling, killed or wounded in that ill-advised attempt. Accompanying the Army to Petersburg it participated in the preliminary operations incidental to the investment of that stronghold. But its stay was of short duration, Early's invasion of Maryland necessitating a transfer of troops to confront him, and the heroes of Marye's Heights were selected for that duty. On July 6th, Ricketts' (3d) Division embarked at City Point, and, landing at Baltimore on the 8th, marched out to meet Early. This division took part in the battle at Monocacy on the following day, and, although unable to defeat Early, checked his advance. The other two divisions embarked on the 10th and, landing at Washington, attacked Early, whose advance had reached Fort Stevens, within the city limits. The brunt of this fight fell to the lot of Bidwell's (3d) Brigade, of Getty's (2d) Division, every regimental commandant in this brigade, but one, being either killed or wounded.

The corps followed in pursuit of Early through Maryland, into Virginia, and up the Shenandoah Valley. Sheridan was placed in command of the Army of the Shenandoah, which was composed of the Sixth, Eighth, and Nineteenth Corps, and its campaign of 1864, in the Valley, was a memorable one by reason of the victories at Opequon, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. In the latter battle occurred the famous incident of Sheridan's Ride from Winchester; and, in justice to the Sixth Corps, it should be noted in connection with that affair, that General Wright had already given Early a successful check, had made the dispositions for a counter advance, and was about to move forward when Sheridan resumed command. 2

1 Extract from a private letter from General Upton:

My dear Sir — Your letter of the 7th, enclosing extract, is received. Bayonet wounds and sabre cuts are very rare. But at Spotsylvania there were plenty of bayonet wounds: and, no picture could give too exalted an idea of the gallantry of the 121st New York, 5th Maine and 96th Pennsylvania, as they led the assaulting column of twelve picked regiments over the formidable entrenchments which confronted them. * * *

Sincerely your friend,

2 From a letter in the National Tribune, May 26, 1887:

Upton's charge, May 12th--“J. W. Johnson, and Thomas Hassatt, of the 121st New York, received severe bayonet wounds Simon Mann, of Company G, of the same regiment, fell on the works, shot dead, but had a Rebel impaled on his bayonet.”


J. M. Lovejoy, Company G. 121st New York, South Valley, N. Y.

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