Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Sayler's Creek 1996 Event Report

Sayler's Creek Battlefield
Farmville, Vrginia
April 12-14, 1996
April 7th, 1865
On Sayler's Creek
near Farmville, Vir.

Dear Friends,

We are out on the land campaigning again, and this time it truely seems like the end. I take this opprtunity to write you some lines that may describe what we have been doing here.

We stopped here on a hilltop and established a quick camp Friday, last. The hill is high on a farm, with a scummy pond below, barn hard by, and various brigades and battalions on each adjacent knoll around us. We are in the company of Vincent's Brigade and and the National Regiment, and our heroic band, the United States Volunteers. The weather was sublime, with warm temperatures, cloudless skies, and a myriad of stars at night. The area is quite dry, so our fires needed constant and vigilent attention to be kept under control.

A cheerful revielle was heard early, and we got a breakfast of coffee, bacon, and eggs. We formed for a dress parade, and were assembled with our friends from the 3NJ, since Capt. Daniels was assigned to brigade staff at the request of Gen. Heim. After parade, we drilled some to keep the boredom away. Capt. Kurtz detailed some of us by order of Sgt.Maj. Childs to arrest the 2RI Capt. Gary McCollough for embezzling company funds. The evidence of a bank roll was found in his haversack, and he was confined to quarters.

We were called out and formed about 11 oclock and marched off towards the creek. There we assumed position along its banks, and commenced to build works for our protection of logs. We ate from our sacks, and waited for the attack. When the rebels did come, they concentrated on the center, our position being on the far left, we were marched by the right flank towards the center. Once in position, Capt. detailed Mike Rand and me across the creek as skirmishers, which we did with relish, delayed them some, then returned with the report. We gave up our positions slowly and in good order, retiring up through the swamp and up through the brush, and onto a wood road. We were retreating with them pursuing us, so when we reached the main macadamized road, the 2RI formed a line and gave us some rear guard support while the rest made clean our get away. The battalions formed again in line across a hilly meadow, and this time, held the rebel advance. They retired and we took to the wood line for some shade and some rest. After a while, we advanced again, towards the creek, and over it to the other side, crossed another field, and were posted in a large glade of trees and rocks on the far right.

This was to our liking as it was a well protected position for our numbers, and a place from which we could surprise the enemy. Col. Lally told us to keep concealed and quiet. He again posted the 2RI in line to our front to deleay and bewilder the rebel advance, and draw them into our lair. While the battalions ebbed and crashed out in the meadow to our front, a grand cavalry skirmish was taking place off to our left flank, where a good sized squadron of our cavalry were working by platoons to surround a tenaceous rebel cavalry detachment just into the swamp and woods, stuck there just like the ubiquitous wood ticks were to us poor foot soldiers. After a bit, they were flanked, and forced to retire, but followed by an infantry push on our position from said flank. Our center was engaged to the front protecting the Rhodies out on the field as they were driven in. Our company was deployed in single line refusing our left flank against the rebel hoard. We held and fought well from behind the banks and trees, but were pushed into a hand to hand fight, overwhelming and capturing many of the 18th Virginia. While the officers argued, the men seemed glad to stop the fighting. We then formed for the long march back to our camps. The march was hot, and tested many for endurance. There were more than the usual number falling out and straggling, due to the day's exertions, including some staff.

All made it back to camp safely, and prepared our evening rations of stews, and rested our bodies in the cool evening air. Of special note for the men, when we arrived back in camp, Captain Kurtz was very generous to us, and issued a rum ration for our efforts of the day. Each man was issued a half gill of fine rum, and we toasted to the Captain. Pvt. Rand almost lost his for insolence, but Sgt. Liska emplored the Capt. on his behalf with success. The camp was quieter than usual, for the obvious reasons, and many were overcome with sleep early, including Sgt. Liska snoring on the ground in the middle of the company street. He had fallen asleep watching the night firing of the pickets on the next hill engaged with the enemy which continued late into the night.

Sunday morning dawned another fine weather day for Virginia. Breakfast in camp was once again coffee, bacon, and eggs. I forgot to tell of a Saturday evening detail, this time to arrest the newspaper correspondent frequenting our camp of late, named Joseph Cloutier. It seems he is a spy. In possesion of a letter from his mother, Captain Kurtz had him searched. Found were forged federal discharge papers and sums of money too great for a newspaper man. He was shot and bayonetted resisting arrest and attempting ecsape.

Sunday dress parade was humorous even for the army, when Maj. Liamo took his place on the line in a straw bonnet and created many smiles before removing it to assume a military portage. After parade, we drilled with the 3NJ, by both left and right flank, and skirmishing by fours, rally, rally on the Captain, whilst every rotten old soldier was obliged to press their rear guard against the Captain, for his protection, of course. Back in camp, we could hear the Evangelists preaching two hills away as clear as day, so it might be said that the whole company attended service that day.

In the early forenoon, we were once again summoned under arms, and marched off in the direction of the enemy. We marched maybe a mile in the heat and then took up a line along a telegraph cut in the woods. There, the three battalions stacked arms and rested, eating, drinking, and talking. Many gallons of water were consumed in the heat, along with apples, carrots, tinned meat, hardtack, &c. I made a point of taking my wilted carrots to the General's horse, the staff allowed me to approach, and the horse enjoyed the favor, and the General just kept talking to his staff. I touched my cap, happy to be of service, and returned to the lines. In due time, we were put on our feet, put under arms, and rushed to the front as a grand battle unfolded to our front.

The saucy rebels had pushed us with numbers, but were immediately and forcefully pushed back by long lines of blue. We were on the left flank of the center battalion as we swept down the field in good order, volley by battalion all the way, showing no restraint. The rebels fell back, fighting to, then through, then beyond the Sayler's Creek. We crossed in line, down the six foot banks, through the foot deep water, and then up the other vertical bank without reservation. We caught and captured many of them of the 14th Tennessee at that location. We had them all running, and one could see the chance. The rebels got on the road, and we followed, leapfrogging and firing as we pursued them. They got into the open field, and occupied the crest of a hill for one final stand. A short pause in the action followed, as the lines were massed and readied for the attack. During the pause, yelling was exchanged between the lines, and many Johnnies ran to our lines. Even a drummer boy ran for us, but was shot. Only God knows from which side, but he laid there a while, then rose, and ran back.

Then we moved forward as an army, and almost to the crest, the rebels countered with an all out effort. They went for our colors of the 2RI, but were seveerely disappointed. Much fearless hand to hand fighting followed, but soon they were doubly enveloped, and they were forced to surrender. We were faced into the 28th Virginia, and they wanted to fight to the last. But they were sure their lives would be the final cost, and laid down their arms after a bit. We rounded them all up, marched back to camps, pulled up stakes, and moved west in pursuit of the remainder of the rebel army, leaving our prisoners in the hands of Union guards. This is the end, Glory to God! I will write as I learn more of this history. All for the Union!

Your obedient servant,

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