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The artillery of the A. N. V. In the last campaign and at the surrender.

Report of General W. N. Pendleton, Chief of artillery, army of Northern Virginia.

Headquarters artillery corps, Army N. Va., Appomattox Courthouse, April 10, 1865.
Colonel W. H. Taylor, A. A. General A. N. V.:
Colonel,--I have the honor to submit the following report of the [419] operations of the artillery under my command from the 1st day of April to the present time. Much to my regret, it has to be made without possible access, as will be seen from the circumstances of the case, to special reports from those superior officers of this important arm, General A. L. Long, Chief of Artillery, Second corps; General E. P. Alexander, Chief of Artillery, First corps, and General R. Lindsay Walker, Chief of Artillery, Third corps.

Owing to the demonstrations of the enemy on the right of our lines, near Petersburg, on the morning of April 1st, I ordered seven guns of Poague's battalion, which had been held in reserve near Howlett's, to march to Petersburg, and on the night of the 1st, by direction of the Commanding General, I ordered down the remainder of the battalion, and at the same time ordered the guns, which had arrived during the day, to proceed on the road towards the right, so as to be out of sight of the town by dawn. Those guns were used with good effect near Mr. Turnbull's house (General Lee's Headquarters) on the morning of the 2d, where the enemy had unexpectedly massed a heavy force against that portion of our line, and succeeded in breaking it, and then, sweeping down towards the city, captured a number of men and guns along the line. While these guns were well contesting the ground and holding the enemy in check, Lieutenant-Colonel Poague arrived with the remainder of his guns, and rendered admirable service in retarding the heavy advance of the enemy until such troops as remained could be withdrawn into the interior line. Three pieces, with Major Brander, were placed on the north side of the Appomattox, so as to annoy the left flank of the enemy and prevent his crossing. On the line, and to the right of the Cox road, were placed four pieces of the “Horse artillery,” under Lieutenant-Colonel Chew and Major Breathed. The enemy had by this time (12 o'clock) fully established his line from Fort Gregg to the Appomattox river. In the fighting attendant upon these operations various batteries of the Third corps were captured. The conduct of officers and men was worthy of all praise; and that of the drivers and supernumeraries of the artillery, Third corps, who had been by General Walker, Chief of Artillery of that corps, armed with muskets, deserves especial mention. Those in Fort Gregg fought until literally crushed by numbers, and scarcely a man survived.

In the meantime the firing on Colonel Jones's front, east of the city, had been severe. During the night of the 1st the fire from mortars and guns was incessant, and the men were very much exposed throughout the 2d. I saw Colonel Jones on the line about 3 P. M., and found his pieces so disposed as effectually to prevent any attempt of the enemy to improve the advantage already gained at the river salient. [420]

I was at Battery 45 during the day, and directed its guns against columns of the enemy moving down the valley towards the Weldon railroad. The officers in charge of that part of the line deeming an attack imminent, I ordered two pieces of artillery to strengthen the position.

In obedience to orders from the Commanding General, I ordered the withdrawal of all the guns at 8 P. M. This was accomplished with entire success. And although the difficulties on Colonel Jones's line were very great, he succeeded in withdrawing all but about ten, which for the most part were not provided with horses, and not intended to be removed. Several mortars were also brought off. Every piece that was abandoned was first disabled. After making all necessary arrangements with regard to this movement, and seeing all the guns safely across the river, about 2 A. M. of the 3d of April I moved on by the Hickory road, and marched all night.

The march on the 3d was very slow and fatiguing, on account of the immense number of carriages with the army. At night I bivouaced on the road-side, about nine miles from Goode's bridge. Amelia Court. house I reached on the morning of the 4th, and immediately proceeded to arrange for reducing the artillery with the troops to a proportionate quantity, and properly to dispose of the surplus. These arrangements were at length effected; and on the 5th General Walker moved to the right, and west of the line of march of the army, having in charge all the artillery not needed with the troops. Ninety-five caissons, mostly loaded, which had early in the winter been sent from Petersburg to the rear, were here destroyed.

Moving on next morning past Amelia Springs, we by 10 A. M. on the 6th of April reached Rice's station, Southside railroad. Our troops here went into line, and I chose positions for guns, commanding the Burkeville road and sweeping the ground to its left. On this line there was severe skirmishing during the evening, but no attack by the enemy. The enemy's cavalry meanwhile having attacked our wagon train about two miles back on the road, I, happening to be with the Commanding General when he received information of this, was requested by him to see what could be done to prevent any farther loss in that quarter. On the way I met a few wearied men of Harris's brigade, and taking of them some twenty volunteers, proceeded with them to the road where the train had been attacked. While attempting to rescue some of the property most valuable, I discovered a line of the enemy in a thick pine wood, and supposing it to be but a small body I prepared for attack thereon, one of General Cooke's regiments having just reported to me, in consequence of a message previously sent by me to the Commanding [421] General. This regiment, however, proved unable to hold its ground and fell back some half a mile, until reinforced by two regiments of cavalry. They then again moved forward, but after regaining the original position the infantry was recalled by General Cooke, and the cavalry, by my direction, fell back with a few prisoners they had secured. The enemy had meantime fired our train to prevent anything being saved. The enemy then seemed disposed to quit; and as nothing apparently remained to be accomplished by the small force with me, I directed it slowly to withdraw towards our main body, near the station, and myself returned in that direction. Not long after the enemy made a sudden rush and succeeded in a sort of running over our small cavalry force there and threatening the unprotected rear of our line. Speedily, however, our cavalry rallied, charged in turn and inflicted merited punishment upon their greatly outnumbering assailants.

Shortly after night closed in our guns were withdrawn, and we moved on the Farmville road and reached Farmville early on the morning of the 7th.

As we were leaving Farmville, by the bridges which there cross the Appomattox river, the enemy pressed up close after our rear guard, and guns were placed in position and used to good purpose on the heights north of the river. Guns were again used with effect a mile or two farther on, when General Gordon (then commanding Second corps), with the justly honored General A. L. Long, his Chief of Artillery, pressed back the enemy's line from near the road along which all our wagons were passing so as to allow these to get well on their way. This position was held all day, and it was not until midnight that the column moved on towards Buckingham Courthouse. In spite of the terrible roads quite a long march was effected, and the evening of the 8th saw the head of our column near Appomattox Courthouse. I pushed on in person to communicate with General Walker and found him with his command parked about two miles beyond the Courthouse, on the road to Appomattox Station, Southside railroad. While I was with him an attack, wholly unexpected, was made by the enemy on his defenseless camp. To avoid immediate disaster under this attack demanded the exercise of all our energies. It was, however, at once effectually repelled by the aid, especially, of the two gallant artillery companies of Captains Walker and Dickenson, under command of the former, which, being at the time unequipped as artillerists, were armed with muskets. They met the enemy's sharpshooters in a brushwood near and enabled a number of General Walker's pieces to play with effect while the remainder of his train was withdrawn. [422]

After a sharp skirmish this attack seemed entirely remedied, and I started back, having received by courier a note requesting my presence with the Commanding-General. When I had reached a point a few hundred yards from the court-house, some of the enemy's cavalry, which had, under cover of dusk, gained the road, came rushing along, firing upon everything, and I only escaped by leaping my horse over the fence into a clump of sassafras bushes, and skirting along the left of that road towards our column there advancing, and until I reached a point where the enemy's charge was checked.

While these operations were in progress there was much noise of engines on the Southside railroad. From this circumstance, and from the enemy using artillery in the attack described, I became satisfied that the attacking body, which had at first seemed to me small, was a large and increasing force. And the inference became inevitable that General Walker and his guns must be, if not already, captured. These facts and inferences were of course reported to the Commanding General on my reaching his Headquarters about 1 A. M. of the 9th.

Movements at daylight confirmed all that had been thus inferred. The enemy was found in heavy force on our front, and dispositions were promptly made for a fierce encounter. With alacrity the artillery performed its part, as did cavalry and infantry, in a spirited attack upon the enemy's approaching columns, which soon succeeded in arresting their advance. Two guns were captured from the enemy and a number of prisoners taken. But in spite of this, the conviction had become established in the minds of a large majority of our best officers and men that the army, in its extremely reduced state, could not be extricated from its perilous condition, surrounded by the immense force of the enemy, and without subsistence for men or animals, unless with frightful bloodshed, and to scarcely any purpose: as its remnant, if thus rescued, must be too much enfeebled for efficient service. In view of these convictions, known of in part by him, and of all the facts before his own mind, the Commanding General, before the battle had raged extensively, made arrangements for arresting hostilities. By the respective Commanders-in-Chief, main principles of our surrender were then agreed upon. And, as soon thereafter as practicable, articles in detail were adjusted by a commission of officers on the two sides. Those serving under General Lee's appointment were, General Longstreet, Chief of First Corps, General Gordon, Chief of Second Corps, and the General Chief of Artillery. In accordance with stipulations they adjusted — the artillery was withdrawn, as were the other troops; and it was, as soon as practicable, in due form, turned over to the enemy. [423]

Of 250 field-pieces belonging to the army on the lines near Richmond and Petersburg, only sixty-one remained, and thirteen caissons.

I have the honor to be--

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. N. Pendleton, Brigadier: General and Chief of Artillery.

Letter from General A. L. Long.

Charlottesville, Va., October 19, 1881.
General,--Having heard frequent mention made of the operation of the infantry of the Second corps, Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox Courthouse, without any allusion to the part taken by the artillery on that memorable occasion, I am induced by a sense of justice to submit to you the following statement, with a request that you will send it to the Southern Historical Society Papers for publication, with such comment as you may think suitable.

About 3 o'clock on the morning of the 9th of April, 1865, the Second corps, then commanded by General Gordon, advanced on the road to Appomattox Station, it was thought, to drive back a portion of the enemy's forces that had interrupted our line of retreat. The column reached the Courthouse about light and took position on a ridge a little beyond the village. The infantry, barely two thousand strong, was deployed to the right of the road, while I directed about thirty pieces of artillery, consisting of part of the battalions of Carter, Pogue, Johnston and Stark, to support it. A considerable body of the enemy's cavalry, with a battery of artillery, was discovered holding the road, under cover of a wood, about half a mile in our front, which a spirited fire of our artillery quickly dislodged. Our infantry then advanced, while the artillery covered it from the enemy's cavalry, which still threatened its flank and rear. Our advance was soon arrested by the appearance of heavy columns of the enemy's infantry. General Gordon, being unable to obtain adequate reinforcements, was compelled to fall back towards the Courthouse. The retrograde movement of our infantry was almost immediately followed by an attack upon Armistead's battery of Starke's battalion from the enemy's dismounted cavalry. I at once ordered a section of a battery that was at hand to the support of Armistead, who was gallantly defending himself with canister and schrapnel. At the same time I directed my Adjutant-General, Major Southall, to send in other batteries to his aid. This [424] order was, however, anticipated by Colonel Carter, who had seen the hazardous situation of Armistead and promptly sent several batteries to his relief. The enemy was soon forced to retire before the storm of shot that was now hurled against him.

While this cannonade was in progress I received a message, through a staff officer of General Gordon's, to cease firing as a flag of truce had been sent to the enemy. I immediately sent to the different batteries this order, with directions to withdraw the artillery towards the Courthouse. On my way to that point I observed a battery to the south of the road, on an eminence near the village, firing rapidly across a ravine at an advancing line of infantry. I proceeded to the battery and directed the Captain to cease firing. He seemed surprised, and ventured some remonstrance. I could only say it was necessary to change the position of the battery. The order was reluctantly obeyed and the battery was slowly withdrawn to the place indicated. I regret I do not recollect what battery this was. It was, I believe, either one of Colonel Duke Johnston's batteries or Colonel Pogue's. No doubt there are some survivors of that battery who will recollect the incident above related and be able to identify the battery that fired the last shot for constitutional liberty.

On the last day of our great sectional struggle the artillery moved to the contest with the same alacrity that had characterized it on more hopeful fields, and when the last blow was struck the veterans of a hundred battles did not conceal the manly tears that flowed in sorrow for the lost cause.

Very respectfully,

A. L. long, Chief of Artillery Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. General W. N. Pendleton, Chief of Artillery A. N. V.

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