Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reed: Description of Gravely Run

Google map link

Posted on website by H. E. Bunnell

During the 1930s and 1940s, the nephew of Charles A. Bunnell, Herman E. Bunnell, wrote several items for a newspaper in the near vicinity of Marathon, New York. Unfortunately, when the pieces were clipped neither the banner nor date was recorded. Charles E. Bunnell has been kind enough to transcribe two of these articles which make mention of the 185th and to send them to me.

NEWSPAPER: Unknown; possibly Whitney Point NY Reporter
DATE: March or April 1935
AUTHOR: Herman E. Bunnell

The Battle of Gravely Run

On March 29, 1865, the battle of Gravely Run in Virginia was fought in which the 185th New York regiment and the 198th Pennsylvania regiment were engaged. The Col. of the 198th was badly wounded and his horse killed and they fell back and left the 185th without support. The Confederate fire was close and rapid. About 180 men in the 185th were hit and over 30 killed. Company G. had perhaps more casualties than other companies. I think they carried the flag. Among the killed in Co. G. were 2nd Lieutenant Miner, color bearer Ezra Carter, Charles A. Bunnell and ___ Reed. One man who was in the battle said they were marching through the brush and one line of men rose and fired then dropped. Then another line rose and fired and dropped, and a third line also. One veteran who had been through the war said the Confederates fired a regular blizzard of bullets into the unsupported 185, the worst that he had ever seen.

Isaac Sherwood said that as they were going in that Lieut. Miner came along and said, "Maybe we will never drink again together." and handed him a drink and in a few minutes he was killed.

Gravely Run was fought between 4 o'clock and dark.

Charles A. Bunnell was killed in the brush and lay where he fell until the next morning. The next morning he was buried and his grave marked and Ezra Carter was buried in the open.

After Gen. Lee had surrendered Mr. George Tanner was sent down to get Ezra Carter's body and he also brought back Charles Bunnell's body. He got an escort of soldiers to go with him. They got Carter's body and then went to look for Bunnell's and found it. He shouted and the soldiers came with bayonets fixed, thinking he might have been attacked. There were guns lying about and they picked them up and put one in each coffin. Father (Wm. H. Bunnell) bought one of them. It is an Enfield musket made in England in 1863. It was picked up in the road and on the stock were wheel marks where it had been run over. The musket is marked R. I. S. It may have been a Confederate gun, as they had a good many of those English guns.

The 185th was marched and fought until April 9th and was in the battle line at Appomattox..

On one 9th of April I saw Isaac Sherwood and said to him, "Where were you a certain number of years ago?" He said, "I don't know." I told him Gen. Lee surrendered that day. Then he said, "I was in the battle line and saw the white flag come out and we were glad to see it."

The first Lieut. Hiram Clark sang "Hail Columbia" and marched his men behind the fence and they squatted down and a shell came over and struck and killed him -- the last man killed in the army of the Potomac. The 185th and other infantry regiments were called foot cavalry.

Another man in Co. G. was Abram Holland, brother-in-law of Charles A. Bunnell. He was on a furlough and said he would never come back alive. When he went in the battle of Gravely Run he gave his money and papers to the captain and said he would be killed but he came out without a scratch. Later he had the measles and died in a hospital in Washington. He was recovering from measles but so homesick. His wife, Sarah Bunnell Holland received two letters in the same mail. One said, "Come to Washington at once." The other said that he was dead.

John Gardner Bunnell went and got the body. It was buried in East Berkshire.
Steve Wood, the drum major was called out one night to play the long roll summoning the men to battle. They came out saying, "Where's the battle." The officer said, "Fall in line." They marched them off for a distance. It was for a drill. I told Clem. Arnold about it and he said he lost his hat that night. Ezra Carter and Reed are buried in the Marathon Cemetery. Bunnell was buried in the Berkshire cemetery.

Fighting Dick and his Fighting Men
By George Skoch | Civil War Times

(Lt. Gen. Richard Heron Anderson’s Corps, referred to sometimes today as the Fourth Corps. )

Lee’s defeat at Fort Stedman sparked Union attacks against his weakened perimeter. “Several days passed this way,” Anderson wrote, “The enemy frequently feeling our lines, evidently under an impression that we were about to retire from them.”

By March 29, Anderson could muster only about 1,600 rifles to cover each of the three miles in his zone of command. That morning his thinning ranks along White Oak Road were a target of Grant’s spring offensive to cut the South Side Railroad and drive Lee out of both Petersburg and Richmond.

Three Union cavalry divisions under the aggressive Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan pushed beyond Anderson’s right flank toward Dinwiddie Court House. The Union V Corps, under Maj. Gen. Gouverneur Warren, followed closely before peeling away from Sheridan’s powerful mounted columns to march northward on the Quaker Road, which pointed like an arrow at the heart of Anderson’s Corps. Meanwhile, Union Maj. Gen. Andrew Humphrey’s II Corps pressed Anderson’s left flank.

Rebel pickets felled trees across Quaker Road and opened a brisk fire, but failed to stop Warren’s infantrymen from crossing Gravelly Run, where the bridge spanning the deep stream lay in ruins. Anderson hurled Wise’s and Wallace’s brigades at the Union spearhead near the Lewis Farm, east of the roadway, and Moody’s and Ransom’s brigades soon joined the melee. “The firing,” remembered one of Ransom’s veterans, “became as heavy…as I ever heard.”

The battle raged through pinewoods and clearings, skirting Quaker Road for nearly two hours. Union Brig. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, whose brigade bore the brunt of Anderson’s assault, reported, “nothing but the most active exertions of field and staff officers kept the men where they were….” The battle finally turned when Warren fed several regiments and four Napoleons into the action. Near dusk, Anderson retired “into the breastworks” along White Oak Road, having lost more than 300 men against 380 Union casualties.


Lewis’s Farm

Virginia, Dinwiddie County, March 29, 1865

US Major General Philip H. Sheridan arrived near City Point after his raid through central Virginia. Grant launched his spring offensive on March 29 and sent Sheridan with three cavalry divisions to turn the right flank of CS General Robert E. Lee’s Petersburg defenses. Sheridan was to attack Lee if he moved out of his fortifications. If he did not, the cavalry commander was to wreck the Richmond & Danville Railroad and the South Side Railroad, Lee’s last supply lines into Petersburg and Richmond. As the cavalrymen rode toward Dinwiddie Court House, they were supported by two infantry corps: the V Corps, under US Major General Gouverneur K. Warren, and the II Corps, under US Major General Andrew A. Humphreys.

The 17,000-man V Corps crossed Rowanty Creek on the Vaughan Road in the rain on March 29 and turned north on the Quaker Road, with US Brigadier General Joshua L. Chamberlain’s brigade in the vanguard. Forcing passage across Gravelly Run, Chamberlain approached the fields of the Lewis farm. The brigades of CS Brigadier Generals Henry A. Wise and William H. Wallace were waiting on the other side, entrenched along the tree line. CS Lieutenant General Richard H. Anderson ordered them forward to crush Chamberlain before he could be reinforced. The Confederate attack pushed back the Federal left, but Chamberlain, although wounded, rallied his troops with the help of a four-gun battery. Reinforced, Chamberlain counterattacked and captured the enemy’s earthworks. The Confederates retreated to White Oak Road where they had prepared a strong line of trenches.

Estimated Casualties: 381 US, 371 CS


Battle of Five Forks - includes description of Gravely Run/Lewis Farm and photos of

NY Times clipping (PDF)

Book view: The Longest Night By David J Eicher

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