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Chapter 38: the North Anna battles.

On the morning of the 15th of May, 1864, the regiment moved to the left and rested nearly all day. In the evening it occupied a position in the rear of the works and, together with the rest of the brigade, rested for the night. On the following day the regiment moved two miles to the right, to protect the passage of the corps ambulance train, which went out to bring in the wounded who had been left in the field hospital outside the lines. This being safely performed, the regiment returned to the bivouac of the previous night, and remained in quietness until 10 P. M. of the 17th, when it occupied the works taken from the enemy on the 12th.

At daylight of the 18th, the regiment participated in a charge against a point in a right oblique direction at Ice Grove. This has sometimes been called the Second Spottsylvania battle. The Rebels again hastily retreated, but, owing to the concentrated fire of the enemy's artillery, the regiment fell back with several killed and wounded.

The command halted and rested until 9 P. M. when it was moved to the left some four or five miles, marching until 12.20, when a halt was made and the men rested quietly for that night and the following day.

‘May 20, 1864. One of the deserters who had returned with the regiment from Massachusetts was shot this morning for desertion of the colors in the face of the enemy at Laurel Hill. He deserted from our regiment about two years since, joined another, getting a bounty for so doing, and in a short time joined still another getting another bounty,—all of which was taken into consideration. He was pardoned by the president, but on account of his late desertion of the colors, suffered the penalty of death.’

On the 20th, quiet reigned, but at 11 P. M. the order to march brought the regiment again on the move, the Second [316] Corps leading the advance of the Army still further to the left. The course lay down the line of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad. The men marched well, having been refreshed by the recent showers and rest.

Bowling Green and Milford were reached on the 21st and the column crossed the Mattapony. Here the regiment was ordered out on picket duty, where it remained until dark, the men exchanging fire with the enemy's pickets. Then they rejoined the brigade which lay behind the breastworks and rested for the balance of the night.

‘May 21st, 1864. At Milford Station our cavalry had a fight with the enemy, capturing about fifty prisoners. My feet are pretty sore and I am pretty tired. Our regiment was sent out on picket this afternoon. At about dark the rebel cavalry made a dash on our pickets, but were repulsed.’

At 7.30 A. M. of the 23d, the men resumed their march, advancing at a rapid rate all day. At dark the artillery and the skirmishers became engaged with the enemy on the north bank of the North Anna river. The regiment remained ‘massed’ with the brigade all night, having previously moved to the front and thrown up breastworks. The regiment crossed the river during the forenoon of May 24th without opposition and, after lying in line of battle during the middle of the day, was ordered out as a skirmish line at the left of the Fourteenth Connecticut regiment. Moving by the left flank for some distance, the men advanced immediately through the grounds of the Dawson Mansion, crossing an open field, and engaged the enemy's pickets, driving them over works which they had erected on the edge of a belt of woods, but behind which they did not rally.

The men occupied these works for two hours, sending back word, meanwhile, to the brigade commander that if reenforcements were not sent out, they would be compelled to abandon them. Suddenly the rebels advanced, came in over the works at the left and thereby flanked the Nineteenth, which was compelled to retire to a brook at the rear, having lost four killed and several wounded during the day, while nine were prostrated by the intense heat. The regiment was on picket on May 25 until 5 P. M. and was again detailed for the same [317] duty on the right at 9 P. M. It was relieved at 11 P. M. on the 26th and re-crossed the North Anna and rested behind the works on the north bank of the river.

On the 27th the regiment left these works, under a fire of shells from the enemy, and moved in the direction of the Pamunky river. The men were feeling in good spirits during this march and were continually singing snatches of songs and joking. At 11 P. M. the line halted and the men rested for the balance of the night. On the following morning, at 6 A. M., the march was resumed at a brisk pace. The Pamunky was crossed and the men threw up a line of works upon a ridge of hills, remaining there for the night.

The 29th of May was remarkably free from firing in the front and the best part of the day was consumed in throwing up a substantial breastwork a little farther to the left. During the night all was quiet, and at daylight of the 30th an advance was made through a thick oak and pine forest to Washington Jones' house, a distance of two miles. At 3 P. M. the Nineteenth was ordered out on the skirmish line, where heavy firing had been going on all the afternoon. At 5 P. M. the enemy advanced in line of battle, but were handsomely repulsed without loss to the regiment.

On the morning of the 31st the skirmish line was advanced and the rebels were driven from pit to pit until they got behind their main works where they made a stand. They set fire to the woods and this communicating to some of the rifle pits which men of the Nineteenth were occupying, forced them out. There was sharp firing all day.

Captain Dudley C. Mumford, of Co. G, was killed by a ball through the head during a charge. He was a noble fellow and loved by all. He joined the regiment at Lynnfield, a young boy just out of school, had been promoted from Second Lieutenant to Captain and had shared every march and battle in which the regiment had been engaged.

When relieved, the regiment still held the captured works and, during the night, threw up a strong breastwork. The position at this time was about three miles from the Chickahominy river. [318]

On June 1 the regiment was engaged as a skirmishing line and exposed (although without much injury) to the enemy's shells, but the desperate struggle at Cold Harbor had opened and at dusk Gen. Hancock began to withdraw his corps at the left of the lines.

At 9 P. M. the men were called in and marched, during the night, about 12 miles, the road being very dusty and the heat intense. They bore up manfully, although they had been without sleep for three nights, and many without food.

At noon on June 2 the regiment arrived at Cold Harbor and the men again moved out as skirmishers under fire of the enemy, but suffered no loss. At night the brigade was massed in a hollow a short distance to the left of the works and ‘turned in’ for the night. Everyone expected hard work on the morrow and none was disappointed.

Just after midnight on the morning of the 3d, the men were awakened and given two day's rations of hardtack, coffee and sugar and were then permitted to sleep until daylight. Then they formed for the charge upon the enemy's lines and, after waiting three hours for the order, started on the double-quick,— and met the fate of all portions of the Union Army,—heavy loss and nothing gained.

On they ran, over two lines of works, across the fields which were swept by a terrible fire of canister from the enemy's batteries, while the musketry volleyed terribly.

Major Dunn was struck by a bullet, and fell, but rallied again.

The regimental colors fell but ‘Mike’ Scannell of Co. I, picked them up and carried them forward. When the line halted, Major Dunn said, ‘Mike, you keep the colors.’ ‘Not as corporal,’ said Mike, ‘Too many corporals have been killed already, carrying colors.’ ‘I make you a sergeant,’ responded the Major. ‘That's business’ answered Mike, ‘I'll carry the colors.’

The severity of the fighting was such that there were numerous changes of brigade commanders. First one Colonel would receive a wound and then another, down the list, until finally a Lieutenant Colonel commanded the brigade. The awful fire [319] caused the line to break and it was obliged to halt under the brow of a hill. The men immediately began to pass up rails from a fence nearby and these were piled. Then, with dippers and plates, the dirt was thrown up until a good line of work was formed, so near to those of the enemy that a stone could be thrown into them, and a man could not show his head without being shot.

While this was being done a call was made for a corporal and six men to go to the rear for picks and spades, and they started upon their perilous duty. The rebel sharpshooters were firing at any stray soldiers who moved across the field. The little squad moved at double-quick from one work to another, arriving in safety, and returned in the same way with the implements of labor and with these the work was carried on in good earnest.

In the engagements during the day the regiment lost seven men killed and wounded.

First Lieutenant John B. Thompson, of Lawrence, Co. K, was killed.

Captain Elisha A. Hinks was again wounded.

The morning of June 4 found the regiment still close to the enemy's works. Before daylight, the men were awakened and moved to the right and down the hill, in single file, to the point where the pioneers had, by working all night, thrown up another partial line of works. These were finished by the men of the Nineteenth and by daylight they were almost under the noses of the enemy before they realized it. The videttes crawled out of the works and moved up to within fifty yards of the rebel's position. Then, with their dippers, they threw up the dirt, making small rifle pits from which they watched the movements of the ‘Johnnies.’

The enemy had a battery of three pieces directly in front of the position of the Nineteenth, but did not dare to load one of them because of the Andrew Sharpshooters who popped over any one who attempted it. The Nineteenth was in the front line of battle and the men were obliged to lie very low on account of the rebel sharpshooters, who, during the day, killed two men of the regiment. [320]

While at this point Corporal Hodgkins, of Co. K, was sent to the rear by Captain Hume, on a perilous trip with a message. Buckling his belt tightly about him, he leaped from the trench and ran for the next line of works, while a shower of leaden hail from the enemy fell about him. After resting a while, he ran to the next line, receiving another shower of bullets. After making several such runs, he reached the woods, delivered the message and returned to the trench under a heavy fire from the rebels, without a scratch.

For this and other soldierly conduct he was promoted to be First Sergeant and recommended for a First Lieutenant's commission, which he received on his release from Andersonville, six months later.

The 6th of June was spent in comparative quiet. All the men were greatly fatigued, having long been deprived of sleep and rest and being turned out every night for firing. The videttes of the regiment in front were connected with another line of works during the day. The men were then within speaking distance of the rebels and there was much conversation between them. Firing began on the left during the evening and the enemy evidently believed that an attack was to be made on their centre for they opened with musketry all along the line, keeping it up for some time. The Union battery opened up on them eventually and compelled them to stop.

On the 7th a truce was entered into for the purpose of burying the dead, killed in the charge of four days previous. Firing ceased and both Yanks and Rebs met, shook hands, exchanged papers, tobacco, coffee, sugar, etc. The evening and night were spent quietly and on the following day the regiment received 11 recruits.

The truce was kept up until the morning of the 9th, when firing was resumed with spirit, the regiment losing six men wounded. On the 10th it lost two men by the enemy's sharpshooters. On the 11th the regiment kept up a galling and continuous fire on the enemy who were unable to return it.

During the day about 100 recruits joined the regiment and were placed in the rear line under charge of Lieut. McGinnis. For the next few days he had a ‘circus’ with his ‘Army of all [321] Nations,’ as they were dubbed, for not half of them could speak or understand the English language, and Lieut. McGinnis had to use a form of kindergarten system in teaching them the manual. He would go through the motions and they would follow. Soon they were assigned to the different companies and, for a short time, were a source of amusement to the veterans.

At 9 P. M. of the 12th, the regiment moved slowly out of the works but soon quickened the pace and advanced rapidly toward the Chickahominy and crossed at 3 P. M. and then marched rapidly until midnight and halted, having marched 25 miles in 27 hours. The Nineteenth acted as rear guard during the march.

At 7 A. M. of the 14th, they resumed the march with the Corps and moved about two miles, which brought the regiment in the vicinity of the James. At 4 P. M. they proceeded, and crossed the James in a steamer at 6 P. M., and, after marching a mile and a half, rested for the night. At 11 A. M. of the 15th, the march was resumed and continued until 12 P. M., going over some 25 miles.

This brought them to the first line of the enemy's works before Petersburg, which had been taken by the colored troops under General Hinks and the Eighteenth Army Corps. Here they rested for the night. At sundown of the following day they engaged the enemy for about two hours. At 6 P. M. of the 17th, the regiment charged the works, with no casualties, but were eventually repulsed. During the day Generals Grant, Hancock and Gibbon rode along the line.

List of men of the Nineteenth Massachusetts regiment, killed in action or died of wounds, since leaving its camp at Stevensburg, May 3 to June 11, 1864.


May 6th.Corp. George W. Cain, Co. B.
Priv. Thomas F. Costello, Co. G.
Priv. Redford Dawes, Co. G.
Priv. Bernard Dame, Co. G.


May 10th.Priv. Charles Smith, Co. A.
Priv. George E. Breed, Co. C. (Shell wound in head,
Priv. Horatio Fellows, Co. C. died May 13th, 1864.)
Priv. John A. Clark, Co. E.
Sergt. William H. Ross, Co. H.
May 12th.First Lieut. John J. Ferris.
Color Sergt. Benj. F. Falls, Co. A. (Died May 14, 1864, buried at Fredericksburg.)
Priv. Patrick Cronin, Co. B, right elbow fractured (Died May 13th, 1864.)
First Sergt. Charles B. Brown, Co. G. (Both thighs, shell,—May 14th, 1864.)
Corp. Archibald Buchanan, Co. K. (Died of wounds in general hosp., right knee, leg amputated.)
Priv. Benjamin McDonald, Co. A, abdomen and hips. (Died of wounds.)
May 24th. First Sergt. Samuel E. Viall, Co. E. (Died of wounds.)
May 31st.Captain Dudley C. Mumford.
June 3rd.First Lieut. John B. Thompson.
Priv. Francis McAlpine, Co. G.
June 7th.Priv. William Fee, Co. B, head. Died June 7th.

Missing in action:

May 12th.Lieut. Col. Edmund Rice, wounded and captured.
Priv. Alonzo Stewart, Co. F.
May 6th.Priv. Milton D. Thompson, Co. C.
Priv. Edward C. Thompson, Co. C.
Priv. Alfred Ellis, Co. H.
May 7th.Priv. Charles. Conrad, Co. C.
May 10th.Priv. James Higginson.
Priv. George Brann, Co. A.
May 12th.Priv. Charles Smith, Co. A.
Priv. Frank Covell, Co. A.
Priv. Terrence Thomas, Co. B.
Priv. John Smith, Co. H.
May 13th.Corp. Charles. Bradley.
May 24th.Patrick Fall, Co. D.


Wounded in the battle of the Wilderness:

May 6th.Priv. Elisha Choate, Co. F, severe, left knee.
Priv. Francis McKenna, Co. H, left arm.
Priv. Frank Norman, Co. I.
Priv. James Dunn, Co. I.
Priv. Thomas Riley, Co. B, both thighs, severe.
Priv. Angelo Chiconi, Co. B, left arm, amputated.
Priv. Charles H. Preston, Co. B.
Priv. Henry M. Smith, Co. C, right shoulder.
Priv. Edward H. Goff, Co. C, both shoulders.
Priv. Bernard Conway, left leg.
Priv. Charles McDonald, Co. C, back.
May 7th.Priv. James B. Reagan, Co. B.
May 10th.Sergt. Nelson E. Knights, Co. D, slight.
Priv. James Farrell, Co. F, slight.
Priv. John Monihan, Co. F.
Priv. Thomas Hall, Co. F.
Priv. James Nichols, Co. F, hand,—finger amputated.
Priv. Daniel Beadley, Co. I, severe, head.
Sergt. John B. Ross, Co. I, slightly, shell wound, right leg.
Sergt. George Brown, Co. A.
Sergt. Albert H. Greenleaf, Co. A.
Sergt. James Strange, Co. B.
Sergt. Ernest A. Nichols, Co. C, left wrist.
Sergt. Joseph Garfield, Co. K, severe, right shoulder.
May 11th.Sergt. Edward Golden, Co. G, left knee.
Sergt. Samuel Driver, Co. H, left hand.
Sergt. George Very, Co. H.
May 12th.Sergt. James Flannigan, Co. E, leg.
Sergt. Patrick Gillespie, Co. E, left leg, severe.
Sergt. Matthias Bixby, Co. F, left temple, severe.
Sergt. William Ryan, Co. F.
Sergt. Peter Nulty, Co. G, shell wound in head.
Corp. Abraham Dow, Co. A, right knee.
Corp. Peter Barton, Co. A.


Corp. John Hill, Co. A.
Corp. Patrick Berry, Co. B, severe.
Corp. Albert Rogers, Co. C, left hand, finger amputated.
Corp. Joseph Patrick, Co. C, thigh, severe.
Sergt. Joseph Burns, Co. K, right forearm.
Corp. Edward Williams, Co. K, head.
Corp. John W. Hayes, Co. K. left hand.
Corp. Thomas J. Salisbury, Co. K, head.
May 13th.Corp. George Lamb, Co. I.
Corp. Cornelius Buckley, Co. A.
Corp. George W. Rogers, Co. B.
Corp. James Doyle, Co. I.
May 18th.Corp. Carl Shock, Co. C.
May 24th.Corp. J. H. Brown, Co. A, thigh, severe.
Corp. John Cavanaugh, Co. D, left leg.
Corp. Henry Hines, Co. D, right foot.
Corp. Henry Perry, Co. E, ankle.
Corp. Bartholomew Crowley, Co. G, severely, body.
Corp. Benjamin F. Blaisdell, Co. G, severe, neck.
June 3rd.Maj. Moncena Dunn, concussion, leg.
Capt. Elisha A. Hinks, Co. C, leg and shoulder.
Capt. Henry A. Hale, Co. B.
Capt. William L. Palmer, Co. E.
Priv. Peter Stillman, Co. A, thigh.
Priv. Henry G. Jennings, Co. G, breast and leg.
Priv. Loring Johnson, Co. A, left thigh, died June 5th, 1864.
Priv. Patrick Donovan, Co. C.
Sergt. Benjamin H. Jellison, Co. I, severe, left knee.
Sergt. James Corrigan, Co. I, severe, right side.
Priv. Patrick W. Harvey, Co. K, head.
Priv. William Hopkinson, Co. I, left hand.
June 6th.Thomas Cooper, Co. C.
June 7th.Priv. Stephen J. Younger, Co. B, left forearm.
Priv. Sidney Cronk, Co. C.



Officers killed,3
Enlisted men killed,15

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