Tuesday, December 22, 2015

19th Virginia Infantry: Defending Richmond

Continued from 19 Virginia Infantry: Gettysburg and Pickett's Charge:

The remainder of 1863 passed quietly for the 19th Virginia Infantry. They had been decimated at Gettysburg and were no longer an effective fighting force. The regiment reached the Culpeper area on 24 July and by early August were camped in Orange County, Virginia, near Somerville Ford. They men were so close to home, many deserted.

On 8 September, the regiment moved south of Richmond to Chaffin's Farm where it could rebuild and refit in safety. Pickett assumed command of the Department of North Carolina and General Hunton replaced him. He and General Kemper became part of the Department of Richmond under Major General Arnold Elsey. They remained at Chaffin's Farm until May 1964.

Camp life was lax. They lived in log cabins vacated by other Confederate soldiers. The cabins had fireplaces, bunk beds, and windows. Women were frequent camp visitors and many men, who were married, had their wives living nearby. There were weekend parties, music and dancing.

Union camp life (thought to be similar to Confederates). Photograph by
Matthew Brady and held by the Library of Congress

They performed light guard and picket duty, which was interrupted on 29 November 1863 when Hunton's brigade was sent north of Richmond to Hanover Junction to protect against a Union cavalry raid against Richmond. No battle was fought.

By Christmas, about the time Daniel Rose and Leroy Powhatan Jennings had recovered from the wounds sufficiently and returned to the 19th, rations had become critical. By March 1864, the men were calling their winter quarters "Camp Starvation." The men lived on cornbread until a party of soldiers was sent to neighboring counties to get meat. When that was gone, they ate cats, which were skinned, boiled and roasted. Some of the men compared the taste to rabbits.

The 19th Virginia Infantry was slowly growing in manpower. Each soldier who persuaded a new man to enlist received a 30-day furlough. They had about 320 men in early May. Below Gettysburg numbers, but if they needed to, they could fight. Union armies began advancing toward Richmond again about that time. Hunton's brigade, of which the 19th was a part, was moved to Hanover Junction again. Times were confusing because the men were ordered back to their camp the next day. On 11 May, they fought at Yellow Tavern against Union cavalry.

On 25 May 1864 the division rejoined the corps in Caroline County, Virginia, which was now commanded by General Richard H. Anderson. On 2 June they marched to a position near Cold Harbor, not far from the 1862 battle of Gaines Mill, where Daniel and Leroy Jennings had first been wounded.

Battle of Cold Harbor by Kurz and Allison; courtesy of Wikipedia

Overnight the Confederates built a series of elaborate fortifications seven miles long. At dawn the Union army attacked. Thousands of attackers were killed or wounded during one of the most lopsided battles of the war. The 19th lost six men killed and 42 wounded.

After Cold Harbor, the 19th moved to trenches between Richmond and Petersburg. The next nine months passed somewhat peacefully though trench life weakened several men and they were always hungry. They did play cards, checkers, and chess. Boxing and wresting matches were held. An inspection report praised the 19th's camp for its good condition. But men continued to desert.

Defensive trenches and fortifications around Richmond and Petersburg;
courtesy of the Library of Congress

On 31 March 1865 the Hunton's brigade was ordered to Hatcher's Run. Elements of the Union army had been sent near there to destroy as many Confederate supply wagons as they could find. Confederate soldiers attacked but were repulsed. The 19th retired from the field.

They joined the slow retreat to Appomattox in a hungry, tired and weak condition without sufficient rations. On 6 April 1865 they stopped to rest on a hill overlooking Sailor's Creek near Farmville. They made fires and were preparing to eat what little food remained when they were quickly surrounded by the forces of General George Armstrong Custer. The 29 men remaining in the 19th Virginia surrendered. Most were sent to Point Lookout prison in Maryland and remained there until after the war when they were paroled after taking an oath of allegiance.

Confederate muster rolls are incomplete for late 1864 and 1865. We know that John Thomas Jennings transferred to Company G, 51st Virginia Volunteers in January 1864 and no more military records have been found. This was the unit in which another brother, William Henry Jennings, had served since January 1863. The last muster roll for Leroy Powhatan Jennings is for the period of August 1864. Charles Edward Jennings was declared fit to return to duty in October 1864 by the Board of Medical Examiners, which is the last war-related record that has been found for him. Only Daniel Rose Jennings was known to have served through Lee's surrender at Appomattox and was at General Pickett headquarters at the time. Of the five Jennings men who enlisted in the 19th Virginia Infantry, it is likely none were at Sailor's Creek when the regiment surrendered.

General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House in the McLean House;
lithograph courtesy of Wikipedia

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: Gettysburg and Pickett's Charge
Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: September 1862-May 1863 
19th Virginia Infantry: Fredericksburg and North Carolina
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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