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Chapter XII

[From the N. Y. Times.]
The returning Veterans ---- Arrival and Departure of the One Hundred and Fifteenth New York ---- Interesting History.
The One Hundred and fifteenth New York, numbering 180 men and 14 officers, and under the command of Lieut. Col. N. J. Johnson, arrived yesterday from City Point, per government transport North Point, landing at pier No. 12, North river. Marching up Broadway to the New York State Agency, through the pouring rain, the regiment was received with some little applause, the dampness, however, lessening the enthusiasm somewhat. Col. Colyer and his assistants provided dinner for the command, at the Eighth Regiment arsenal, over Centre market.

“This was the condition of affairs, when the rebels, massing their troops, struck our right under General Hickman, enveloped its flank and took it in reverse. The first blow was dealt with terrific force. Gen. Heckman’s brigade of the Eighteenth Corps, holding the right, was doubled up and forced back on the next brigade, which was also thrown into some confusion. Our men did not observe the rebels until they had succeeded in passing a column between Hickman’s right and the river, and then taking him in front and rear, crowded him between the columns, and for a time created the greatest confusion. Gen. Heckman made a gallant fight as long as he could, but the enemy came upon him so suddenly and with such overwhelming numbers, that successful resistance was quite impossible in the darkness and confusion. Some of the brigade was captured. After this opposition --- having forced back the right, --- a heavy attack was made on the entire line of the Eighteenth Corps, with faints along the Tenth Corps line, and the entire right forced back some distance, after several hours of most severe and sanguinary struggles.

“The battle raged with unexampled fury until nearly 12 o’clock. The rebels threw heavy masses.

“In the attack on our right we lost a gun or two, and it is said, some light pieces --- how many it is difficult to ascertain. Probably four will cover the loss in light pieces. Finally, after forcing the Eighteenth Corps back from its position and regaining a portion of the first line of intrenchments, they moved their forces on the Tenth Corps to drive it back. They first hurled their columns upon Turner’s division (ours), which held the right of the corps line joining the Eighteenth Corps. They formed in a careful manner and moved steadily on Burton’s brigade (ours), on the right of Turner’s division, advancing as if on parade, not firing a single shot, and waited until they had reached a good distance for effective range. The brigade poured into their line such a terrific fire that they melted away, and the thinned and broken line after vainly endeavored to advance against the storm of bullets, fled with terrible loss to the woods in the rear. Their volleys were as continuous and heavy as the musketry of a brigade could well be, and such as no living beings could stand against. The rebels were scattered like chaff, and broke for the woods in disorganized masses. Under their friendly cover, after great exertion, the line of attack was again formed and again a brigade advanced in splendid style against our line. Again did they receive the terrible fire and pushed steadily on until a fourth of them laid killed and wounded on the field, when they broke and rushed quickly to the cover of the woods. Our boys gave three hearty cheers and sent a volley of bullets after the rebels which told upon them severely. Being once bloodily repulsed at this print, they moved further to our left, and hurled a column on Gen. Hawley’s bridged, of Gen. Terry’s division. They came up in the same steady and confident manner, but were received with a more rapid and equally as deadly a fire as that which they were treated to by Turner. The Spencer repeating rifles in the hands of the Connecticut boys, and the Springfield rifles in the hands of the rest of the brigade, delivered a fire so hot and withering that the rebels could not stand it, but broke and ran for the woods, accelerated in their fight by the music of the Spencer bullets around them. They were, however, determined to break our line and force it from its position, cost what it might. They again formed and again charged, but after ten minutes hot work, where disastrously repulsed and driven back at all points. That ended any serious effort on their part to force our position, and they left their dead and wounded to the number of two thousand on the field before

“Turner’s attack had hardly commenced before Gen. Gilmore was ordered by Gen. Butler to retire and strengthen Gen. Smith’s corps by forming in his rear. Our troops fell back slowly and in order, repulsing every effort of the rebels to quicken their movements, and making a stand at every favorable position, until the enemy ceased to follow up, and fell back to their last line of intrenchments. Gen.Gilmore then drew off his corps and formed to support Gen smith.”

“There are about 6,000 prisoners in this camp, four thousand of whom have a shelter from the sun, but affording little protection from rain. All receive rations twice a day; at 10 A.M., one quarter of a loaf of wheat bread, which is sour, and a piece of bacon or fresh beef as large as your three fingers. Supper at 4 P.M.; same about and kind of bread, with one half-pint black bean soup, and occasionally in its place, for a variety, rice soup. The prisoners have no blankets, and sleep on the bare ground.

Sept. 29, 1864. – Battle of Fort Gilmer.
Sept. 30. – Wounded begin to arrive from the army of the James. A hospital boat blew up in the river.
Oct. 2. – The surgeons are engaged in amputating limbs. Hospital boats are continually arriving with wounded, and ambulances are rolling along night and day. The dead march is constantly sounding in our ears.
Oct. 3. – Thirty-five officers and men buried from this hospital during twenty-four hours. A rebel captain died.
Oct. 4. – Several officers died from the effects of wounds. Their remains were placed in board coffins painted red. The coffins are covered with stars and stripes, then hauled to the grave-yard in the dead cart and buried by a squad of soldiers.
Oct. 5. – Several loads of dead soldiers put under the sod to day. Seven coffins are taken as a load.
Oct. 6. – More officers and a large number of soldiers died. Hundreds of recruits going to the front.
Oct. 7. – A constant stream of men going to Grant.
Oct. 13. – More wounded arrived.
Oct. 14. – large numbers of wounded came in. Six hundred recruits went to the fort.
Oct. 30. – Fifty officers furloughed to make room for wounded. All enlisted men able to travel are allowed to go home. For seven months ending Nov. 1st, more than seventeen hundred (1,700) soldiers from the army of the James were buried from the U. S. general hospital, Fortress Monroe.
Nov. 1. – Nearly all patients in the hospital able to travel left for home so as to take part in the presidential election.

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: March 19, 2006

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