|Unit History Project|
Official Report of the operations of the 59th Regt N.Y. Vols on May 3rd and 4th 1863
Lieut Driver A.A.A.G
I have the honor to report, by orders received from your HdQrs May 2nd, 1863 the Regiment struck camp and formed to take up the line of march with the Brigade which was done at 12 o'clock midnight the Regiment being fourth in line following the 20th Mass Vols and being followed by the 127th Pa Vols.
The Regiment marched with Brigade to the Lucy House where it arrived at 1:30 AM and rested until dawn, when soon after we started for the embankment of the river where we waited for another half hour until the pontoon bridge was completed. When this was done the Brigade was first to enter the city marching up Princess Anne Street until we came to Charles street where the Regiment was counter marched and halted for about fifteen minutes when the Brigade marched to the right of Fredericksburg.
Having crossed the bridge over the mill run the Brigade formed column by Battalions right in front when the Brigade drew fire from the enemy's batteries which threw shell and schrapnel with great accuracy into our lines. Soon after we advanced to a stone fence about one hundred and fifty yards ahead from which I advanced skirmishers to the front by your order who were voluntarily commanded by Captain Horace P. Rugg, Lieutenant Jacob Snyder 1 and Lieutenant William Kelly. A small fight ensued between the two lines of skirmishers but was soon stopped.
About midday we followed the Brigade through Princess Anne and William Street to the enemy's front line of fortifications which we assisted in taking under a heavy artillery fire from the enemy.
We advanced with the Brigade to the second line (south) of the enemy's fortifications from where we were soon withdrawn to the city. My regiment took position near the Gordon House north of the churchyard guarding the outlets from that side of the city and bivouacked for the night.
Casualties of the day
At 6:30 AM, May 4, 1863 straggling parties of troops belonging to the 6th Army Corps returned in disorder with the cry "the enemy are coming" and I saw two heavy columns of Infantry coming from the left towards the first line of fortifications. Without waiting for orders I quickly formed my Regiment and threw it into the Church yard behind a brick wall four feet high guarded in front by the mill race over which only a narrow dam connects with the opposite heights on which the enemy's first line of fortifications are situated.
I ordered Cos. G and H under command of Captain McFadden, Lt. Snyder, and Lt Pohlman to the left of the road in a block house in which loop holes were made at once, also in the brick wall of the church yard. Three companies from the 19th Mass Vols under command of Capt. Boyd were sent to my assistance. On the right I kept connection with the 7th Michigan Vols. I felt confident I could hold my position as long as my ammunition lasted and therefore gave orders that no unnecessary waste of ammunition shall be made.
Until 10 o'clock AM the enemy made no other demonstration than in filling his rifle pits. His strength did not appear to me to exceed three thousand men Infantry without Artillery. At 11 AM, he advanced sharpshooters to points nearer my positions who annoyed us somewhat as I was not able to reach their hiding places with my Enfield Rifles. At 12:30 PM, a company of U.S. Sharpshooters came to my assistance, and from that time until 6 PM, a brisk engagement was kept up but I am happy to say I did not lose a single man either killed or wounded during the whole day. At night I advanced my pickets as far as possible on the dam.
On the 5th of May at dawn I withdrew to the pontoon bridge by your order and arrived on the north side of the river at 6:30 AM and marched with the Brigade back to the old camp near Falmouth.
Besides the praiseworthy conduct of the before named officers during the two days fight, I must mention the gallon assistance rendered to me by Adjt. George H. Crawford, Capt B. W. Vanderpoel, Lieut John H. Murphy, and all other officers and men of my command.
Col. William Northedge being under arrest the command devolved upon me.
I have the honor to be
Max A. Thoman
1 Believe Lt Jacob Snyder to be 2nd Lt Jacob Schneider as the Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1900 notes he was also borne on the muster rolls as Schnyder.
2 I believe Corporal Benjamin F. Hanawalt of Co. "H" was the friend of Corporal Jacob Bechtel who writes of him dying instantly having been shot in the head while the men were laying down on their arms.
3 The Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1900 notes Corporal Frank Barret was discharged for disability on April 18, 1864 nearly one year after having a leg amputated following 2nd Fredricksburg.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History