Tuesday, December 15, 2015

19th Virginia Infantry: Fredericksburg and North Carolina

Continued from 19th Virginia Infantry: South Mountain and Sharpsburg:

After the bloody battle at Sharpsburg, Lee's army crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The 19th Virginia Infantry was now commanded by Colonel Henry Gantt, and they spent some time in the Shenandoah Valley before moving to Culpeper by 4 November 1862. The men built "brush huts" and wrote home asking for more clothing. They looked forward to a quiet period to recruit sufficient numbers to again become an effective fighting force.

Just weeks after the men arrived in Culpeper, it became obvious the Union army was moving toward Fredericksburg with the objective of racing the Confederate army to Richmond. Longstreet's corps was ordered to Fredericksburg and arrived on the outskirts south and east of town on 19 November 1862. They took up positions in the low hills in back of the city on the left side of the Confederate line.

Union army preparing to cross the Rappahannock river during the Battle of
Fredericksburg by Kurz and Allison; courtesy of Wikipedia

On 13 December the Union army attacked the Confederates on the right side of their line. By afternoon, the entire Confederate line was engaged in battle, including most of Longstreet's corps. Each Union attack was repulsed and they eventually withdrew. Garnett's brigade, of which the 19th Virginia was a part, were held in reserve throughout the battle.

The 19th moved into winter camp near Guiney's Station south of Fredericksburg after the battle. It was their second attempt at establishing a camp. They performed picket duty during January and early February of 1863.  General Lee began to worry about another Union attempt to seize Richmond. On 14 February he ordered Pickett's division south of Richmond. It took the men about two weeks to make the march to Chester Station. Later, they marched to Petersburg.

Garnett's brigade, including the 19th Virginia Infantry, was detached from Pickett's division for duty in North Carolina in March. The Union military forces held several strategic coastal towns there, which threatened the Confederate supply base. Garnett's division was to support General D. H. Hill's plan to pressure Union positions at Washington and New Bern. The brigade traveled by train to Tarboro, North Carolina, on 9 March and then on to Greenville. But the trip was struck by trouble from the beginning. Only 160 of the 800 men in the brigade made the train.

The brigade had arrived too late to participate in General Hill's expedition against New Bern. After conferring with Longstreet, Garnett's men marched to Washington, North Carolina, along the north banks of the Tar river in cold, rainy weather. At Washington, they joined the brigades of James J. Pettigrew and Junius Daniel and began besieging the city. This battle is sometimes known as the Siege of Little Washington. The Confederates then demanded the town's surrender. The Union general replied, "If you want Washington, come and get it."

Hill, however, was under orders not to take heavy casualties, so the battle became an artillery duel. Over time both sides were low on supplies and conditions for the men were miserable. They lacked tents to protect them from frequent rain storms. Cold nights and warm days caused an outbreak of chills and fever. At least one Union relief attempt failed to reach Washington but another attempt by the USS Escort was successful and included additional troops.

USS Escort running supplies and reinforcements up the Tar river during the
siege at Washington, North Carolina, from Harper's Weekly; courtesy of

Hill received a message from Longstreet requesting additional troops for an assault on Suffolk, Virginia. His men had completed foraging around Washington and were well supplied with food. Coupled with his inability to stop Union supplies and reinforcements from reaching Washington, he raised the siege on 15 April. Five days later Confederate troops were completely gone from the area.

While Garnett's brigade had been in North Carolina, the rest of Pickett's division, along with General Hood's division, had arrived near Suffolk, Virginia, then under Union control. Their orders were to protect Richmond, capture Suffolk, and allow the men to forage in an area where little warfare had previously occurred. Longstreet was unsuccessful in only one objective: capturing Suffolk. Like, Garnett's experience in North Carolina, the battle devolved into a siege. There were brief skirmishes and sharpshooters were active but no major battles.

On 29 April, General Lee sent an urgent request for reinforcements as the Union army was crossing the Rappahannock river near Fredericksburg. Pickett's division, now including the 19th Virginia Infantry, marched toward Richmond -- yet another forced march in the rain. They arrived in Manchester on 7 May and while there provided escort services for the body of General "Stonewall" Jackson, who had died friendly fire incident. Then the division marched north to Hanover Junction where they stayed for three weeks. They pushed on to Culpeper where they rejoined the rest of Longstreet's corps.

To be continued...

Jennings, Charles E. (my great grandfather), Private, Co. H; enlisted 1 March 1862 at Amherst courthouse; Present until detailed 18 May 1863 to General Hospital in Lynchburg on surgeon's certificate; absent there through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Daniel R. (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse; age 20, farmer; Private to 4th Corporal by August 1863; 4 Corporal to 3rd Corporal by October 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by February 1864; Present until wounded at Ganes Mill on 27 June 1862; returned, wounded in action at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863; sent to Lynchburg Hospital; absent, detailed on government work, dropped as non-commissioned officer from 16 April 1865. Surrendered at Appomattox, pension in 1910.

Jennings, John T. (my great grand uncle), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse, age 23, farmer; present through last roll 31 December 1863.

Jennings, Leroy P.  (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. I; enlisted 29 April 1861 at Buffalo Springs; age 19, farmer; Private to 3rd Corporal by August 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by October 1863; Present till wounded at Gaines Mill on 27 June 1862; returned; wounded in action and taken prisoner of war on 3 July 1863 at Gettysburg; gunshot in right lung; paroled at General Hospital West's Building in Baltimore on 25 September 1863; returned to duty by February 1864; through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Samuel H. (my first cousin three times removed), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst courthouse; age 24, farmer; Present until discharged discharged on 12 September 1861 by order of General Beauregard, surgeon's certificate, listed disease was smallpox. Pension 1900.

19th Virginia Infantry: Battles of South Mountain and Sharpsburg
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: August-September 1862
19th Virginia Infantry: Battle of Second Manassas
19th Virginia Infantry: Seven Days Battles
19th Virginia Infantry: Peninsula Campaign
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: January-August 1862
19th Virginia Infantry: First Winter Camp
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: 1861
19th Virginia Infantry: First Blood at Manassas
A Lover, Not a Fighter

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