previous next

[128] complain of the slight praise bestowed upon Wright's battery by Captain McCabe in his account of the defence of Petersburg, (published in the Southern Historical Society papers). Captain McCabe was Adjutant of Pegram's battalion of artillery, and probably not upon the scene until the arrival of Pegram's artillery, which was brought from the right of our lines, and I presume was the artillery that took position on Cemetery hill. I am willing to be judged by those who were present, and in position best able to decide. The enemy certainly were in no mean position to know from what point came the most destructive fire. General Potter, of Burnside's corps, says in the court of inquiry, “The worst fire I saw came from the right (his right). There was a battery there behind some timber, which it was very difficult for our batteries to reach. I ordered my batteries to turn their whole attention to that one, but it apparently produced no effect.” I have no criticisms to make upon Captain McCabe's account of what was done by others, but I do claim for the men under my command that they merited, and should have, the meed of praise due to those most prominent in the defence of Petersburg on that day.1

1 Without intimating that Captain McCabe's sources of information were unreliable, I will state here that an army correspondent of the Richmond papers, in a letter published a day or two after the battle, gave the credit of repelling the enemy to Major Caskie's battalion, of Virginia. The account was never publicly corrected, and I suppose some future historian will seize upon the files of papers containing that letter as the best evidence to be obtained as to the artillery engaged. The truth is Major Caskie's battalion of artillery was to the left of Wright's battery; it could not reach the attacking columns of the enemy, and did not fire a single gun that I know of. I know that Major Caskie, having nothing to do in his front, spent some time with me in Wright's battery, as being the best position for obtaining a view of the battle. So much for the material out of which history is made up. I think Wright's battery did most effectual work, for the following reasons: 1st, it was erected for the special purpose of defending the salient; 2d, it was nearest the crater; 3d, The men were well protected from the enemy's fire, and the gunners fired with deliberation; 4th, the men were inspired to avenge the death of their comrades. Two of the guns of Pegram's battery were by the explosion thrown over between the two hostile lines, one of them nearly half-way to the enemy's lines. We recovered both by undermining and drawing them through a ditch into our lines. They were all remounted and placed in battery at the Gee house, where they remained until the evacuation of Petersburg. Only one gun was afterwards placed at the salient. This was a 24 pounder howitzer, and manned by a detachment of Kelly's South Carolina battery under Lieutenant Race. This gun was not brought out at the evacuation, being too heavy. The orders were to stand by it until the last moment after all the troops were withdrawn, and then to spike it. After sending out the other artillery, and when the troops were all gone I personally attended to the execution of this order. With that gun detachment I was the last to leave that part of the line, made so famous in the defence of Petersburg. Not a Confederate was to be seen as we marched down the line and through the covered way to Petersburg.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Cemetery Hill (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Marcus J. Wright (4)
McCabe (4)
Miles P. Pegram (3)
Caskie (3)
Race (1)
Potter (1)
William Aiken Kelly (1)
Burnside (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: