COMPANY G, BERDAN'S SHARPSHOOTERS.
In an early period of the war, the War Department authorized the organization of two regiments of sharpshooters, and appointed Colonel Berdan, of New York, to superintend the recruiting of companies, to be composed of tried marksmen, from the different loyal States. One company was recruited and organized in Wisconsin, under the immediate supervision of Adjutant General Utley, himself a noted expert with the rifle. The necessary number of men, who could furnish the required test of ability as good marksmen, were enrolled under the command of Captain W. P. Alexander, of Beloit. The organization of the company was completed by the election of W. P. Alexander as Captain, F. E. Marble, First Lieutenant, and C. F. Shepard, Second Lieutenant, in September, and it left Camp Randall, Madison, on the 19th of September, 1861, for the regimental rendezvous, at Wehawken, N. J. At New York City it was mustered into the United States service, as Company "G," of the First Regiment United States Sharpshooters, on the 23d of September. Captain Alexander being physically unable to take the field, did not muster in, and the company elected Edward Drew, of Buffalo, N. Y., as their Captain, in his place. .
On the 24th, they left New York, and proceeding to the City of Washington, were placed in "Camp of Instruction," where they were instructed in infantry drill, with the different company battalion movements, and the usual guard, patrol and camp duties under Lieutenant Mears, U. S. A., Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. On the 5th of November, Captain Alexander arrived with twenty-five recruits, which increased the number to 105. During their stay in this camp, a portion of their time was employed in target practice, and by the time the spring campaign opened, they were not only thoroughly skilled in the use of the rifle, but also well drilled and disciplined as infantry soldiers. They were at first armed with the Colt five-shooting rifle, which were soon superseded by the Sharpe's rifle.
The First Regiment of Sharpshooters was assigned to General Fitz John Porter's Division, in the corps of General Hentzelman and moved with the forces of General McClellan, to Hampton, Va., on the 21st of March, 1862, and participated in the celebrated "Peninsula Campaign." They took part in the reconnaissance to Great Bethel on the 27th, where they were for the first time under fire. They participated in a skirmish at Cockleton, on the 14th of April, and advanced with the division to Yorktown, and were occupied, during the siege which followed, in rifle pits, in advance of the fatigue parties, watching the rebel works, and keeping the enemy from using their artillery, whenever possible. On the 1st of May, while a small party of scouts of Company G, were protecting a fatigue party in the construction of a rifle pit, a short distance from those of the enemy, Joseph Durkee was killed by a rebel rifle shot.
On the 4th of May, a party of scouts from Company G, discovered that the enemy had evacuated Yorktown, and were the first to enter the deserted works, where the regiment subsequently encamped. Company G, on the 8th, were furnished with Sharpe's rifles, and that evening proceeded up York River, on transports, to West Point, where they disembarked, and marched to Cumberland Landing, from thence to Gaines' Hill, on the Chickahominy, where they arrived on the 28th of May. Next day Company G accompanied Porter's division, marched eighteen miles, and took part in the battle of Hanover Court House, acting as skirmishers, and following up the fleeing enemy until recalled. They succeeded in taking several prisoners, having one man wounded, Corporal H. N. Richardson, of Madison. The division returned to camp at Gaines Hill next day. Here the regimental headquarters were established, and remained during the month of June, the several companies being detailed for service at different points along the Chickahominy. Company G was detailed to the performance of picket and scouting duty, with Slocum's division, at Mechanicsville, and had some sharp skirmishes with the enemy. On the 26th of June, they acted as skirmishers in the battle of Mechanicsville, the first of the "seven days' battles," and were closely engaged all day, but met with no loss. Early next morning they again began firing on the enemy's scouts, but about eight o'clock they hastily left their rifle pits, the enemy having got in their rear. Company G succeeded in escaping capture, except Dewitt Collins and Richard B. Blodgett, who were taken prisoners and sent to Richmond. Accompanying the retreat of the army of General McClellan to the James River, the sharpshooters proceeded by way of White Oak Swamp, and on the 30th of June, were ordered forward, and took part in the battle of Charles City Cross Roads, known as GLENDALE, or NELSON's FARM. They were on the left of the Union forces. A regiment in their front was forced back by an overpowering charge of the enemy, running over the company of sharpshooters, under Captain Drew, upon whom the enemy turned a heavy fire, in returning which, Company G lost five killed and six wounded:
KILLED or DIED OF WOUNDS.- Captain Edward Drew, Sergeants Joel Parker and James W. Staples, Corporal W. 0. Clark, Privates Lyman L. Thompson and George Lansing.
Wounded Privates Jonas W. Shepard, Henry S. Roberts, George W. Lewis, Robert Casey, John O'Niel and Win. E. Wheeler - 6.
William E. Wheeler was taken prisoner.
They retired a short distance, and during the balance of the day, were engaged, and took several prisoners. Company G was not engaged in the battle of Malvern Hill. They moved to Harrison's Landing and encamped.
On the 29th of July, Lieutenant Marble was commissioned as Captain, Lieutenant Charles F. Shepard as First Lieutenant, and Sergeant Charles A. Stevens, Second Lieutenant, to rank from July 4th.
Retiring from the Peninsula with the balance of McClelland's forces on the 14th of August, the regiment, accompanying the Third Corps, reached Acquia Creek on the 20th, and immediately proceeded to Fredericksburg, and from thence, by way of Warrenton Junction, to Manassas, where they participated in the battle of the 29th of August, and on the next day, acted as skirmishers at the battle of Bull Run. They were without commissioned officers, the Captain and First Lieutenant being absent sick, and. Lieutenant Stevens on detached duty, and were temporarily under charge of Lieutenant Nash, of Company B. They
crossed an open field under a heavy fire, and took position in a small ditch, where they went to work as sharpshooters, suffering the following loss:
WOUNDED.-Corporal Jacobs, Privates, George H. Hartley, mortally, Thomas McCaul, John D. Tyler, Robert Casey, George Whitson, Wm. Babcock, A. C. Stannard and George E. Albee - 9.
They fell back to Centreville, and encamped at Upton's Hill on the 1st of September. The Sharpshooters, with Porter's Fifth Corps, took part in the Maryland campaign, and marched with McClellan's forces to Antietam, but being held in reserve, were not actively engaged.
On the 19th of September, they took part in the pursuit of the enemy, and overtook his rear guard at Blackburn's Ford, on the Potomac, near Shepardstown. On the 20th, the Union forces commenced crossing the river, under a heavy fire of the enemy. The Sharpshooters were posted in the canal, which was then dry. Here they opened a severe fire into the ranks of the rebels on the opposite side, while the artillery played over their heads. A Philadelphia regiment crossed over, but being driven back to the river bank, would have been cut to pieces if the Sharpshooters had not poured a steady fire into the pursuing rebels, and enabled the regiment to recross in safety.
On the 26th of September, Lieutenant Shepard resigned, and Second Lieutenant Stevens was commissioned First Lieutenant, and Sergeant E. H. Benson, as Second Lieutenant.
Moving to Sharpsburg, Md., they remained until the 30th of October, when they proceeded to Harper's Ferry, thence, by way of Snicker's Gap, to Warrenton, which place they left on the 12th of November, and went into camp at Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg. In the battle of Fredericksburg, on the 12th, 13th and 14th, the Sharpshooters were present, engaged in picket duty, and Company G was the last company to cross, on the retreat of the army to Falmouth.
On the 9th of December, Second Lieutenant Benson resigned, and Sergeant P. C. Judkins was commissioned Second Lieutenant.
With but slight interruption, they remained in winter quarters at Falmouth until the opening of the spring campaign of 1863. In the reorganization of the army, the two regiments of Sharpshooters were brigaded as the Third Brigade, Colonel Berdan, in the Third Division, General Whipple, of the Third Army Corps, General Sickles.
With the Sixth Corps, the corps of General Sickles proceeded, on the 28th of April, to the vicinity of Fitzhugh Crossing, where they remained until the opposite bank was carried by the gallant Iron Brigade, led by the Sixth Wisconsin, under Colonel Bragg. They were then ordered to join the right of the army, which had crossed the river above Fredericksburg. This was done in a manner to conceal the movement from the enemy, and the Third Corps crossed at United States Ford on the morning of the 1st of May and took position near the front, where Company G was placed on picket. On the 2d of May, they moved to the left, but subsequently to the right, where they were temporarily attached to the First Division, under General Birney. Proceeding along the turnpike, they turned to the left, through a dense thicket of pines, emerging into an open space, where they found the enemy with a battery, firing on the Twelfth Corps. Colonel Berdan deployed his brigade, and a skirmish soon commenced; the rebels were driven from their position, and sixty men, belonging to the Twenty-fifth Georgia regiment, under a Major, were captured. The enemy were followed up, and subsequently a squad of about fifty Sharpshooters, of the Wisconsin, New York and Michigan companies, succeeded in cornering the balance of the regiment in a railroad cut, and captured them also, making about 360 in all. After dark the Sharpshooters fell back and bivouacked, without rations, the enemy being between them and the place where they had left their knapsacks in the morning. In this day's fight, Company G had Michael Costello and Geo. T. Cottrell wounded.
The battle opened on Sunday morning, the 3d, and a terrible struggle ensued, the enemy attempting to prevent the corps of General Sickles from rejoining the main body. Posted in a belt of thick woods, Company G engaged as skirmishers all day, and were exposed to a very hot fire from the enemy, at short range. In this day's fight, they lost six men:
WOUNDED.- Captain Marble, Corporal Babcock, Privates Deniston, Frank Meyer, Martin H. Wiltze and Abner Johnson -6.
The regimental Adjutant, W. H. Horton, of Company G, was also wounded the next day.
In the evening they were placed in the reserve, and allowed to rest till next morning, when they moved to the front, and acted as skirmishers, in covering the retreat of Hooker's army across the Rappahannock, holding the position for seventeen hours, without being relieved; when they crossed the river on the 6th, and returned to their old camp near Falmouth. On the, 5th, Sergeant John D. Lemmon, Corporal Albert S. Isham, and W H. Woodruff, were wounded. The Sharpshooters performed important services in the battle of Chancellorville.
On the 11th of June, the Third Division was consolidated with the First and Second, and the Sharpshooters were assigned to the Second Brigade of the First Division, and on the same day joined the general movement of the army of General Hooker through Virginia, to oppose Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania, and arrived at Gettysburg on the 1st of July, and took position with the corps of General Sickles, on the left of the Union lines, where, on the next morning, companies G and B were placed on picket, on the right of the centre of the corps, under command of Captain Marble. The enemy first attacked the Third Corps, advancing in solid column, with a view to turn the left flank of the Union army. The enemy was held in check a short time, but the Sharpshooters and infantry were obliged to fall back. Next day, July 3d, they were in reserve, and on the 4th, were sent to the front, where they assisted in capturing a rebel brigade. The losses of Company G, on the 2d of July, were:
Killed OR Died or Wounds-Sergeant Henry Lye, Privates W. H. Woodruff, Eli J. Fitch and S. B. Vincent -4.
WOUNDED.- Privates Orris D. Hawley, John P. Hawshurst, Levi Ingolsbee and Abner Johnson-4. ,
Samuel Hall was taken prisoner.
Joining in the pursuit of the enemy, the Third Corps left Gettysburg on the 7th, and proceeded to Williamsport, thence towards Harper's Ferry, crossed the Potomac, marched along the base of the mountains, by Snicker's Gap, to Manassas, and on the 23d of July, Company G took part in the battle of Wapping Heights, driving the enemy back, and having two men wounded -Sergeant W. M. Babcock, and Private Wm. E. Wheeler.
On the 15th of August, the regiment moved to Culpepper, where Lieutenant Stevens took command of the company, Captain Marble acting as field officer, and the regiment was assigned. to the Third Brigade.
They accompanied General Meade, in his celebrated retreat towards Washington, in 1863, and encountered the enemy at Auburn, on the 13th of October. The Sharpshooters charged on the enemy's dismounted cavalry, and drove them from their position, and were the first to enter the town of Greenwich. With Meade's forces, they proceeded as far as Centreville, from which place they began their return towards Culpepper, on the 15th. From this time until the 7th of November, the regiment moved to several different positions, without meeting the enemy in any considerable force, and on that day reached Falmouth. At Kelly's Ford they encountered the enemy, drove him from his rifle pits, and planted the regimental flag on his works. On the 10th, they went into winter quarters on the farm of John Minor Botts, where they remained until the 26th, when they took part in the expedition of the army to Mine Run, in the Wilderness, and participated in the battle of Locust Grove, being under a heavy fire, and losing
KILLED OR DIED of WOUNDS: Corporal John W. Johnson, and Private Frank L. Smith-2.
WOUNDED.- Corporal Wesley Armfield, Privates Charles W. Baker and George Whitson-3.
After the unsuccessful demonstration on the enemy's works at Mine Run, on the 30th, the regiment of Sharpshooters recrossed the Rapidan, and proceeded to their old camp on Botts' farm, near Brandy Station, where they remained until the 11th of January, 1864, when they moved to camp within three miles of Culpepper, and were transferred to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps. They subsequently moved to an rebel camp near Brandy Station, where they remained till the spring campaign.
Breaking camp on the 3d of May, they accompanied the brigade, crossing the Rapidan at Ely's Ford next morning. On the afternoon of the 5th of May, the Sharpshooters, thrown out as flankers advanced with the division, and arrived on the field while the battle of the Wilderness was in progress, and were immediately sent forward as scouts, to ascertain the position of the enemy in front. This being done, they withdrew to the road and lay behind hastily constructed breastworks until night, when they rejoined the brigade. On this day Seneca Hawes and DeWitt Collins, of Company G, were wounded.
On the 6th they were deployed as skirmishers, moved to the front, to all exposed position, from whence they moved to the left of the Orange road, and again moved forward, opening fire as often as "sight" could be obtained in the dense smoke which soon enveloped the field. The division, becoming exposed to a flank fire, was obliged to fall back, when Company G took position at a line of works on the Brock road. Here the enemy's advance was checked, and the troops bivouacked for the night. Captain Marble being on staff duty, Lieutenant Stevens, had command of the company. The losses on the 6th were:
Killed Private Michael Costello -1. WOUNDED.- Sergeant James S. Webster and Private James Reagin-2.
On the 7th the Sharpshooters were engaged as Skirmishers and in reconnoitering, and returned at night to the Orange road, and took position behind breastworks. Israel Ingolsby was mortally wounded, and Wm. W. Sweet was wounded.
On the 8th, they fell back to the Brock road, moved to the left, acting as rear guard to the division, and arrived, about noon, at Todd's Tavern. In the afternoon they took position on a timbered hill, where breastworks were erected. Here a sharp fight occurred, in which Second Lieutenant Perrin C. Judkins was mortally wounded. He was then on staff duty.
They accompanied the general movement to the left on the 9th and 10th, engaging, in the afternoon of the latter day, in the battle of Po River, without loss, and on the following day, continued the movement to the left, and in the evening were detailed on special duty at headquarters. They marched all night, early in the morning of the 12th, participated in the brilliant charge of the Second Corps, which resulted in the capture of several thousand prisoners, two general officers, two lines of works, and eighteen cannon repulsing the desperate attempts of the enemy to retake his works, they took an important part. Wesley Armfield was wounded, and George A. Denniston was mortally wounded.
In the movements of the subsequent days until the 21st, the Sharpshooters were occupied in picket duty and skirmishing, and on the 16th, drove the enemy from a line of works and held them. On the 14th, William McQuivey was wounded With the rest of the Second Corps, they moved to the North Anna, where they arrived on the 22d, and took part in the skirmishing preliminary to the crossing of that stream, protecting the bridge during the passage of the troops. Lieutenant Stevens, under orders, moved forward and captured and held, some small buildings, near the rebel line.
Accompanying the army in the movement from North Anna, they crossed the Pamunky at Hanovertown, and reached the neighborhood of Tolopotomy Creek, and took part in the battle of the 30th, acting as sharpshooters. Crossing the river next morning they moved forward to the position assigned them, acting as skirmishers, capturing a few prisoners, and being under fire all lay.
During the subsequent engagements in the vicinity of Cold Harbor, they did but little except Skirmishing or picket duty in the works at the front. On the 3d of June, Lieutenant Stevens and, Franklin Viall were wounded. On the 4th, Conrad Murat was killed. On the 5th, Alvin Sherman was wounded. On the 12th, they moved towards James River, by way of Charles City Court House, crossing at Wilcox's Landing, and on the evening of the 15th, took position before the enemy's works at Petersburg. On the 18th, they took part in the action at Haires' Farm, and on the 22d, in the battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, in which the Second Corps gallantly repulsed every effort of the enemy. On the 17th, Sergeant Major Caleb M. Jacobs was killed, and on the 20th, Nathan McCaslin was wounded.
Company G was assigned to a position in the line of works near the Chimneys, where they remained in reserve, furnishing details for fatigue duty, until the 26th of July, when they, joined the Second Corps in its movement across the James River, and took part in the battle of Deep Bottom, the company acting as sharpshooters and skirmishers. They returned to the Chimneys and took part in the charge on the enemy's works at the explosion of the mine on the 30th of July, in which James Reagin was wounded.
On the 12th of August, they again moved with the Second Corps, in its attempt to create a diversion in favor of the Fifth Corps, who, it was designed by General Grant, should make a demonstration against the enemy's communications on the Weldon Railroad, and encountered the enemy at Strawberry Plains, near Deep Run, where Levi Ingolsby was mortally wounded. They returned to the works before Petersburg, where they remained, engaged in picket duty, often under a severe fire, the picket lines of the two armies being posted from sixty to one hundred and fifty yards of each other.
Their term of service having expired, they were mustered out of service in the field, the reenlisted veterans and recruits being transferred to other companies of the regiment, the balance returning home to Wisconsin, where they were disbanded.
Statistics.-Original strength, 105. Gain-by recruits in 1863, 43, in 1864, 37; veteran reenlistments, 9; total, 194. Loss-by death, 34; missing, 8; deserted, 4; transferred, 43; discharged, 58; mustered out, 47.