Lane's Corps of sharpshooters.The career of this famous body, with a roster of its officers.
The corps of sharpshooters of Lane's brigade was organized after the brigade went into winter quarters at Liberty Mills, Orange county, Va., in 1863. Picked officers and men were detailed from the regiments in proportion to their respective strength, and put in charge of Captain John G. Knox, of the 7th, who was a cool, brave and popular officer, and a splendid tactician. They were excused from all camp and picket duties, and thoroughly drilled in their special duties. When the following campaign opened, this corps was as fine a body of soldiers as the world ever saw. In the Wilderness, on the 5th of May, 1864, the brigade was assigned a position on the left of the road near the home of a Mr. Turning, and the corps was pushed far to the front. Soon afterwards, the brigade was ordered to form at right angles to its original position for the purpose of sweeping the woods in front of another command. The corps returned at a double quick and deployed while the brigade was taking its new position. The enemy opened, and the corps dashed forward, poured a destructive fire into them, killed a large number and captured one hundred and forty-seven, including eight commissioned officers. When the brigade was ordered to the right of the plank road that afternoon, where our troops were hard pressed, the corps fought on the extreme right, where Captain V. V. Richardson, a gallant officer and second in rank, was severely wounded. The fight continued until after dark in the woods, through the dense undergrowth. The contending lines was close to each other, and when the enemy attempted to turn our right, Knox was captured; and he was succeeded by the accomplished and gallant Captain William T. Nicholson, of the 37th.  On the 12th of May, at Spotsylvania Courthouse, in front of the salient, on the left of the Fredericksburg road, this corps behaved with conspicuous gallantry in the presence of General Lee. That afternoon, after the brigade had attacked Burnside's corps in flank, General Lee sent for Lane, told him he had witnessed their gallant behavior and the cheerfulness with which they had borne the hardships of the day, and he did not have the heart to order them forward again; and yet, he wished them to make an important reconnoisance for him on the Fredericksburg road. When assured that they would cheerfully do whatever he wished, he replied: ‘Tell them it is a request and not an order.’ When Nicholson reported for instructions, General Lee especially cautioned him to let his men know that he would not send them unless they were willing to go. It was an inspiring sight when those brave fellows marched past their beloved chieftain. Every cap was waved and cheer followed cheer. General Lee, superbly mounted, gracefully bared his head, and uttered not a word, while the troops in the works joined in the cheering as those tired and hungry heroes went to the front. On the 18th of May, while General Early, temporarily in command of A. P. Hill's corps, and Generals Wilcox and Lane and a number of staff officers were standing near the brick kiln, the enemy honored the group with a short but rapid artillery fire, under which Nicholson was severely wounded. Major Thomas J. Wooten, of the 18th, was then ordered to take charge of the corps, and he continued in command until the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. Young, cool and brave, but modest as a girl, he was a worthy successor of Knox and Nicholson. This corps rendered splendid service from Spotsylvania Courthouse to Petersburg. Its first brilliant exploit near the ‘Cockade City’ was the surprise and capture of the enemy's videttes and reserve, without the loss of a man. The following will tell how it was appreciated:
The Major was never more happy than when engaged in his ‘seine hauling,’ as it was called by the brigade. He would steal up to the enemy's skirmish line, sometimes crawl until within easy running distance then dash forward, halt on the line of pits, and just as the rear of his command passed him he would order both ranks to face outward and wheel, and they, coming back in single ranks and at a run, would capture everything before them and not fire a gun. In all of his dashes he never lost a man, killed, wounded or captured. The Yanks often called to our pickets to know: ‘When is your Major Hooten coming this way again.’ The morning of the 30th of September troops were ordered from the right of Petersburg to support those engaged on the north side of the James, leaving the works at the Pegram house to be defended by a weak skirmish line of dismounted cavalry. The order was countermanded soon after we had crossed the Appomattox, and we were moved back, as our right was threatened in force. That afternoon the brigade was ordered to the right of the road leading to the Jones house, and as the enemy were driving the cavalry rapidly, Wooten came up at a double-quick, deployed, pushed rapidly to the front, opened fire, and the blue-coated prisoners came streaming to the rear. The whole affair was witnessed by a group of general officers, one of whom declared it was the handsomest thing of the kind he had seen during the war. Next day, when Major Thomas A. Brander had thrown the enemy into confusion at the Pegram house by his well directed artillery fire, Wooten dashed into the works, and brought back more prisoners than he had men in his command. After Gordon's attack on Fort Stedman, the enemy swept the whole Confederate skirmish line, from Hatcher's Run to Lieutenant Run. General Wilcox was sick at the time and Lane was in command of his division. Next morning General Lee sent for Lane to know if he had re-established his part of the line, and when told that he had with the exception of a hill, from which the enemy  could fire into his winter quarters, General Lee asked if he could take the hill, and Lane replied: ‘I will have it to-night, if you say so.’ When Lane and Wooten were examining the ground that beautiful Sunday morning, one of the men called out: ‘Look yonder, fellows, that means fighting, and somebody is going to get hurt.’ The attack was made by the sharpshooters of the whole division, under Wooten, and the hill was carried without the loss of a man. During that winter, General Lane received a note from General Wilcox asking if he could ‘catch a Yankee’ that night for General Lee, as some of the enemy were moving and he could not get the desired information through his scouts. Wooten was sent for and the note handed him. After sitting a while with his head between his hands, he looked up with a bright face, and said: ‘I can get him.’ Early next morning, followed by a crowd of laughing, ragged Rebels, he marched seven prisoners to headquarters, and with a merry good morning, reported: ‘I couldn't get that promised Yankee for General Lee, but I caught seven Dutchmen.’ They were sent at once to division headquarters with a note from the brigadier, giving the credit of the capture to Wooten, and stating that if General Lee could make anything out of their ‘foreign gibberish.’ it was more than he could. After our line had been broken by Grant in the spring of 1865, and the brigade driven from the works, this corps very materially helped to retake the same works as far as the Jones Farm road, where it was confronted by two long lines of battle and a strong skirmish line. To escape death or capture, the brigade was ordered back to Battery Gregg and Howard's Dam, near Battery 45. In the retreat to Appomattox Courthouse this corps was kept very busy, and it was often engaged when not a shot was fired by any of the regiments.