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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2024 6:40 pm 
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The December 26, 1863 Hudson Gazette featured a long letter from native son, Frank Cobb, regarding the recent Mine Run campaign.

Hudson Gazette
December 26, 1863.
Army Correspondence


From the Sharpshooters-Interesting Account of the Hudson Boys Bore in the late Virginia Campaign.

Camp near Brandy Station
December 13, 1863

Editor Gazette: it is difficult to realize that the Army of the Potomac has been over the Rapidan. It is true that our Army has crossed the sacred line which good Confederates superstitiously believe designed by God as a bulkwork-the impassable barrier of the Confederacy. What is most true is that we crossed over as easily as did the Israelites through the Red Sea. Only a few men got wet, and no one hurt. At early dawn of thanksgiving day could be seen heavy columns of the Potomac army moving southward across the Orange and Alexandria railroad, in this direction of the Rapidan. The marching was very difficult which made the columns move very slow. This Virginia soil, like the people, is treacherous, and cannot be depended upon. The heavy rains that we had had a few days previous made the mud hub deep and the footing very slippery. However, under these difficulties, the head of the column reached the river at Jacob’s Ford, about three o’clock in the afternoon. We crossed on pontoons which was very slow work owing to the steep bank on the opposite side, which delayed our crossing till eight o’clock. We bivouacked on the bank for the night, and were called up quite early to prepare to march forward, which we did at early dawn. Our destination was Robertson’s tavern, I believe; but having got on the wrong road, we were penetrating a vast wilderness ere we were aware of our whereabouts. We soon found out, however, as we heard reports of musketry in front, which boded no good.
Of course, there was a job at hand for the Third corps, and a job of the worst kind, as to settle an affair of that kind in in a dense wood is a job we don’t “hanker” after. Still it must be done.

The 2d division under Gen. Prince first found the enemy, and engaged them for over an hour before we could see a Rebel. But as Gen. Birney could not be idle with his “Old Kearney Division”, we soon found a place in the engagement. We relieved the 3d division, who had nearly exhausted their ammunition. “There is game over there”, says our officer, pointing to a fence just across a small field, where stood several colors waving defiantly at the “Yankee ‘vandals”. But we needed no information as to their whereabouts, for they was giving up the best they could afford, about that time. Soon there was one of the stand of colors standing; and then another one fell; and in a few minutes later there was only one remaining, and no one held that, as I could see it leaning against a fence. Their line could not stand and in a few moments they broke and ran-“demoralized”. One man more daring than the rest ran up to and suatelied the standard of the last remaining colors, and darted away so fast that even our rifle bullets failed to overtake him, for many a one was sent after him. On our left another rebel brigade charged on hoping to break our lines, but they could not get more than halfway across the field when they halted and couldn’t come any further.

The “Northwesters” (as Birney calls the Michigan boys), were there who repelled them finely and sent them back in confusion. In a little while the Rebels became scarce, in the front, and the bugles sounded “cease firing”. But the boys, excited by the smell of gunpowder, and the sight of the retreating foe, did not heed it until it was again sounded. In a few moments all was quiet.

The sun had now settled down behind the western wood. We had been relieved and were now but a few steps to the rear of our position while engaged. On looking over this company we find some missing. The loss of our regiment was seven killed and thirty four wounded. Company C lost one brave and good soldier in the short conflict. The list is as follows;
Killed-Travis T. Doty-Hillsdale
Wounded-R.S McClair, severely in the shoulder and arm; E. G. Farnsworth, severely in the head; Lewis M. Beebe, slightly in the arm; A.D. Richardson, slightly in the hand.

The latter three “withdrew from the field in good order”. That night we bivouacked in our position. Long before daylight we were called up and moving to the rear, and then around to the left of our army, to a place called Mine Run, and got to our position about dark. Sunday the army were engaged in getting a better position, throwing up earthworks and distributing the troops so as to be ready to open the whole thing early Monday morning.

Everything being in readiness, early in the morning the Sharpshooters were called up and moved down to the front under the cover of darkness. At daylight we were in position awaiting further orders. At seven the artillery on the right under the command of Sedgwick opened and each battery took it up one after the other from left to right, until all along the line was a continuous peal of artillery. Over our heads went the screeching shell. Often it seemed as though we were their objects; for these iron mislies would drop among us every now and then, when one of the boys would run out to where it fell, hold up his hat, and sing out, “A little high up!”, “Good line shot!” &c. A person would naturally suppose it was a game of baseball instead of battle. Soon orders came for the skirmishers to advance, which was reluctantly done, as it was a bitter cold morning and all wanted something to do that would warm us up a little. After we had advanced a short distance, out came the enemy’s skirmish line; and now commenced a duel between the “Johnnie’s” and the “Yanks”. We had the advantage of them being able to shoot three times to their one. They soon perceived this and one after the other retreated; and soon the Sharpshooters were in “hot” pursuit. Our lieutenants Clark and Watson were ahead, not having any encumbrance in the shape of a knapsack, and all the boys all tried to beat them. So we went until we reached the rebel rifle pits full to overflowing with “gray-backs”. “To charge that pit” says one, “is out of our line of business. Still if we only a couple dozen more I believe we could get them out” so you could hear the boys talk of the prospects of battle,

Now it is not safe for a life insurance policy to keep oneself exposed more than necessary, as the fortunes or misfortunes are very apt to take from the insurance company’s fund several thousand dollars, for the rebels were only about ten rods from our line. But our boys, by keeping a small knoll between them and the rebels, were partly out of danger.
The Third Michigan was skirmishing on our right and swung around so that our boys on the right of Company C got a flanking fire in the pit, which made the place quite uncomfortable for them. While we were thus waiting for the infantry support to come or further orders, Lieut. Col. Trapp, commanding our regiment, was mortally wounded by a rifle ball that pierced his brain. Strange as it may seem, he lived fourteen hours after being wounded. It was a severe loss for our regiment, for in him we lost one of our best officers. No other man can fill his place. He understood what and how much the Sharpshooters could do and how much they ought to do. Although it is a severe loss we shall have to bear it, according to the usages of war. We did not lay in this uncomfortable (place) for long before we got orders to fall back, which we did as well as circumstances would permit.

We found only one of our company wounded-William T. Hartson, slightly, in the hand. I believe the sum of the regiment was fifteen wounded and one (our Lieut. Col.) killed. That night we remained on outposts.

Thus ended that day’s skirmish. Why the attack was not made along the whole line is more than I can tell. Some say that Gen. Meade received orders from the War Department that if he had not already attacked, not to; but we did not get orders, as the other corps did, and this is the reason we advanced in front of the 3d corps, while the rest of the line did not move. The enemy had a very strong position, and were well posted; and most of us were well satisfied with what we saw, and did not complain because we did not fight them there in their position.

On Tuesday evening, just at dark, we commenced to retreat; and the next morning found us on this side of the Rapidan. And in just one week we were back in our old camp.
Thus ended a short but hard campaign of seven days. In that time the Sharpshooters were twice engaged. The place we were first engaged is called Locust Grove, although it is almost entirely a dense woods of scrub oak and pine, and I do not believe a locust tree tree within hearing of the cannonading; and the next time as skirmishers at Mine Run. Then to complete the programme the first night we got back to camp, just as we got nicely asleep, the bugle sounded to turn out and pack up and be ready to march at a moment’s warning. In an hour all was ready for anything that might happen. But we did not go. The order was countermanded about 12 o’clock P.M. Again we turned in praying that we might yet get a little rest since we left camp seven days before.

We heard from Ed Southworth last evening. He is getting along as finely as can be expected to get up on crutches soon, and hope to meet the good people of Hudson soon.

Yours Truly, Frank.


Cobb mentions the Co. C skirmish line was led by lieutenants ‘Clark’ and ‘Watson’;

Gardener B. Clark. Kent County. Enlisted in Company C, First U.S. Sharpshooters, Aug. 22, 1861, at Detroit, for three years, age 26. Mustered Aug. 26, 1861. Promoted Corporal, Promoted Sergeant. Commissioned Second Lieutenant Feb 23, 1863, mustered Feb 26, 1863. Commissioned First Lieutenant May 3, 1863, mustered May 3, 1863. Commissioned Captain, Nov. 21, 1863. Mustered March 24, 1864. Discharged on account of wounds received in action at the Wilderness, Va., May 6, 1864.

The Gazette is in error here; the name of the officer accompanying 1st Lt. Clark is Edwin Wilson

Edwin A. Wilson., Paw Paw. Enlisted in Company C, First U.S. Sharpshooters, as Corporal, Aug. 21, 1861, at Detroit, for three years, age 26. Mustered Aug 26, 1861. Promised Sergeant Feb 28, 1863. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, May 3, 1863. Wounded at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863. Commissioned First Lieutenant Nov. 21, 1863. Mustered March 21, 1864. Wounded at Cold Harbor, Va., June 4, 1864. Mustered out near Petersburg, Va. Aug. 20, 1864.

Company C casualties during the Mine Run Campaign:

Travis T. Doty. Hillsdale county. Enlisted in Company C, First U.S. Sharpshooters, as Corporal, Aug. 21, 1861, at Detroit, for three years, age 25. Mustered Aug 26, 1861. Killed in action at Locust Grove, Va., Nov 27, 1863.

William T. Hartson. Hudson. Enlisted in Company C, First U.S. Sharpshooters, Aug. 13, 1862, at Hudson, for three years, age 19. Mustered Sept. 10, 1862. Wounded at the Wilderness, Va., May 7, 1864. Transferred to company K., Aug 20, 1864. Transferred to company F, Fifth Infantry, Dec. 23, 1864. Discharged Washington D. C., May 31, 1865.
Note: Hartson’s Mine Run wound was likely treated by the regimental surgeon and he returned to duty without requiring hospitalization.

The link below is the LOC/Sneden “Map of Field Operations in Virginia including the Battle of Mine Run, Va. The map shows the position of 3rd Army Corps as described by USSS participants.

https://www.loc.gov/resource/gvhs01.vhs00049/?r=0.362,0.622,0.376,0.535,0


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