History and Names of 22nd Regiment
The Twenty-Second Regiment U.S.C.T. – A History
The troops composing this regiment were organized at Camp William Penn, during the month of January, 1864. with the following field officers:
- Joseph B. Kiddoo, Colonel
- Nathan P. Goff, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel
- John B. Cook, Major
The majority of the field and line officers had previously served in other regiments, Colonel Kiddoo having been promoted from Sergeant of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania to Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel of the One Hundred and Thirty-seventh, and subsequently appointed Major of the Sixth Colored, whence he was selected to led this regiment. Towards the close of the month, it was ordered to the front and proceeded from Camp William Penn to Yorktown, Virginia and as part of Hinck’s Division, Eighteenth Corps, where they joined the Army of the James, under command of General Butler. At the camp near Yorktown, it was drilled and disciplines, until the opening of the spring campaign, where it was assigned for duty to the Third Brigade, First Division of the Eighteenth Corps. It was first posted at Wilson’s Wharf, on the north side of the James River, where it was put to constructing an earth-work for the protection of the transports on their way up the river. This duty accomplished, it was sent to the south side of the river, in the neighborhood of Fort Powhattan, where it was again employed in constructing works, and preparing for the crossing of the Army of the Potomac, on its arrival from the Wilderness campaign. The enemy’s cavalry from Richmond attacked at this point, but after a spirited engagement was handsomely repulsed.
On the 15th of June, General Baldy Smith, who had returned from his march to Cold harbor, where he had gone for reinforcement of Grant, led his corps to the attack of rebel entrenchments before Petersburg. The Twenty-second headed the charge in this assault, and captured six of the seven guns taken by the division, and two of the four forts. The victory was gained at a fearful cost to the regiment. Its loss was one officer, Lieutenant Emery Fisher, and seventeen men killed, and five officers and one hundred and thirty-eight men wounded and one missing. Lieutenant Colonel Gogg was among the severely wounded. Its conduct on this occasion was warmly commended at corps and army headquarters. In the assault upon the enemy’s strong works at Chapin’s Farm, on the 29th of September, it delivered a most daring and impetuous charge; but was repulsed, suffering a loss of eleven men killed, two officers and two men wounded, and eight missing. Major Cook, who led the regiment, was among the severely wounded.
On the 27th of October, Grant inaugurated a general movement along his entire lines, reaching out on his left to Hatcher’s Run and Armstrong’s Mill, while upon the right, General Butler demonstrated his force, and the eighteenth Corps moved upon the Richmond defenses on the Charles City and Williamsburg roads. The Twenty-second led the column on the latter, and at a point near the old Fair Oaks Battle-ground, charged on the rebel intrenched position with great steadiness and courage, but was again repulsed with heavy slaughter. Colonel Kidoo, who led the charge, was severely wounded, and Captain William B. Clark was killed. The entire loss in killed and wounded, exceeded one hundred. After this action all three of its field officers were in the hospital at Fortress Monroe together, for wounds received in separate engagements. Upon the fall of Richmond on the 3rd of April, 1865, this regiment was among the first of General Weitzel’s troops to enter the city, and rendered important service in extinguishing the flames which were raging. On account of its excellent discipline and good soldierly qualities, it was selected by General Weitzel to proceed to Washington, after the assassination of the President, to participate in the obsequies of his funeral, and was afterwards sent into Eastern Maryland, along the lower Potomac, to assist in the capture of Booth and his co-conspirators.
In May, the regiment re-joined the corps, and with it proceeded by sea to Texas, where it was assigned to duty as part of the Twenty-fifth Corps, where it maintained patrol duty for four months along the Rio Grande River. It returned to Philadelphia in October, where, on the 16th, it was mustered out of service.
Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organized at Philadelphia, Pa., January 10-29, 1864.
Ordered to Yorktown, Va., January, 1864 Attached to U.S. Forces, Yorktown, Va., Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, to April, 1864.
1st Brigade, Hincks’ Division (Colored), 18th Corps, Army of the James, to June, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, June, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, to August, 1864,
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, August, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, to September, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, to December, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 25th Corps, December, 1864.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 25th Corps, and Dept. of Texas, to October, 1865.
Duty near Yorktown, Va., until May, 1864.
Expedition to King and Queen County March 9-12.
Butler’s operations south of James River and against Petersburg and Richmond May 4-June 15.
Duty at Wilson’s Wharf, James River, protecting supply transports, then constructing works near Fort Powhatan until June.
Attack on Fort Powhatan May 21. Before Petersburg June 15-18.
Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Deep Bottom August 24. Dutch Gap August 24.
Demonstration north of the James River September 28-30.
Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, New Market Heights, September 29-30.
Fort Harrison September 29. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28.
Chaffin’s Farm November 4.
In trenches before Richmond until April, 1865.
Occupation of Richmond April 3.
Moved to Washington, D.C., and participated in the obsequies of President Lincoln, and afterwards to eastern shore of Maryland and along lower Potomac in pursuit of the assassins.
Rejoined Corps May, 1865. Moved to Texas May 24-June 6. Duty along the Rio Grande until October, 1865.
Mustered out October 16, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 70 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded.
1 Officer and 144 Enlisted men by disease.
Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources. Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908
The Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights, VA
Also Knows as Combats at New Market Heights, Forts Harrison,
Johnson, and Gilmer; Laurel Hill
September 29-30, 1864
CWSAC Classification – B
The medal was first authorized in 1861 for Sailors and Marines, and the following year for Soldiers as well. Since then, more than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded to members of all DoD services and the Coast Guard.
Medals of Honor are awarded sparingly and are bestowed only to the bravest of the brave; and that courage must be well documented.
The original design of the army Medal of Honor shows the goddess Minerva fending off a symbol of discord. The thirty-four stars surrounding the figures represent the number of states in the Union.
During the Civil War 1,196 soldiers were awarded the MOH. One solder, Tom Custer received two MOHs for bravery at two separate incidents. By the end of the war, African-Americans accounted for 10% of the Union Army. 180,000 men — many former slaves — volunteered, a staggering 85% of the eligible population. Nearly 40,000 gave their lives for the cause.
At the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights 14 of the United State Colored Troops (USCT) performed acts of bravery that won them the Medal of Honor. Throughout the entire course of the American Civil War, only sixteen black soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Of that number, fourteen were awarded to the black troops who stormed New Market Heights
That battle took place over the last days of September, 1864 and pitted the army-sized forces of Union Major General Benjamin Butler against the Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell.
Early in the morning of September 29, 1864, two Union corps under the command of General Benjamin Butler crossed the James River with the goal of overwhelming Robert E. Lee’s army and capturing Richmond. The Confederate defenders were vastly outnumbered and many were inexperienced and initially without trusted leadership. Fort Harrison and the other works at Chaffin’s Farm held the key to the Confederate defenses. The drama that ensued was a battle between the Confederates’ resiliency and the Union’s ability to capitalize on one of its greatest opportunities.
Following the Federal victories at Opequon Creek and Fisher’s Hill in late September 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant prepared an offensive to prevent Confederate General Robert E. Lee from reinforcing his troops in the Shenandoah Valley. Grant planned a two-pronged assault with Major General George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac striking at the Southside Railroad near Petersburg while Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James struck north of the James River to threaten the Confederate Capital. Butler called his subordinates together on September 28th and outlined the plan, part of which called for Major General David B. Birney’s X Corps to attack from the Deep Bottom Bridgehead and take New Market Heights.
Spearheading this attack would be Brigadier General Charles Paine’s Third Division of the XVIII Corps, a unit comprised entirely of United States Colored Troops. The Army of the James crossed over on the night of September 28-29, 1864, and was in position by 5:00 AM. Facing the Union troops were 2,000 veteran troops under the overall command of Brigadier General John Gregg. Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Bass’ Texas-Arkansas Brigade and dismounted cavalry under Brigadier General Martin Gary manned the earthworks while the Rockbridge Artillery and 3rd Richmond Howitzers provided artillery support. Paine displayed his inexperience as a commander when he designated only Colonel Samuel A. Duncan’s Third Brigade that included the 4th and 6th USCT, to take New Market Heights. Duncan’s men deployed in a skirmish line 200 yards long and soon encountered obstacles that hampered their movement.
A marshy stream called Four Mile Creek ran across their line of advance and a slashing of abatis and chevaux-de-frise blocked access to the Confederate entrenchments. Duncan’s men advanced into the thick fog around 5:30 AM and, in the words of one survivor, were “all cut to pieces.” Intense musket and artillery fire shredded the ranks of the oncoming Union soldiers and soon Colonel Duncan was down with four wounds. The Third Brigade soon withdrew, losing 350 of its 700 men. Paine then sent in the Second Brigade composed of the 5th, 36th, and 38th USCT under the command of Colonel Alonzo Draper.
As the sun began to rise, Draper’s men went in over the same ground that Duncan’s men had crossed and they were soon entangled in the earthworks. for thirty brutal minutes. Like Duncan’s men before them, the brave black troopers hacked their way through the obstacles and struggled toward the earthworks. And like Duncan’s company sergeants before them, Draper’s sergeants took up the colors and rallied their men when their officers were killed or wounded. Draper’s men endured a barrage from the Confederate lines before the Confederates began to withdraw. When the fire slackened, the men of the USCT burst through the earthworks and advanced up the slopes of New Market Heights. In the process, Draper would lose 447 out of his 1,300 men. Overall, Paine lost 1 out of 3 men in the attack on New Market Heights. While Benjamin Butler did not capture Richmond that day, the fighting prowess of the African American soldiers under his command was put on display for all to see.
Draper’s is the only official after-action report filed by any Union officer in the Official Records. Submitted on October 6 while he recuperated from his wounds, it describes the second assault developing much like the first one: “After passing about 300 yards through young pines, always under fire, we emerged upon the open plain about 800 yards from the enemy’s works….Within twenty or thirty yards of the rebel line we found a swamp which broke the charge….Our men were falling by the scores. All the officers were striving constantly to get the men forward.”
The efforts of the white officers and black noncoms yielded success. After withstanding withering fire for what Draper called “a half hour of terrible suspense,” the Confederate fire seemed to slacken. Draper’s men swept up the remnants of the 4th and 6th USCT, and the determined attackers surged forward into the Confederate positions.
Sergeants James H. Harris and Edward Ratcliff, Private William Barnes and 36th USCT Private James Gardiner were among the first to enter the Confederate trenches. Gardiner shot and bayoneted a Confederate officer trying to rally his men on the ramparts. Corporal Miles James of the 36th lost the use of his left arm, which was later amputated, but continued firing at the enemy with his right. Barnes and Harris each suffered multiple wounds but refused to leave the field.
While it does not detract from the heroism of Duncan’s and Draper’s regiments, New Market Heights was in fact virtually abandoned, defended only by a small rear guard, by the time the attacking Union forces spilled into the Confederate trench lines. Nonetheless, J.D. Pickens of the Texas Brigade acknowledged the fighting qualities of their attackers, writing, “I want to say in this connection that, in my opinion, no troops up to that time had fought us with move bravery than did those Negroes.”
Gregg had indeed ordered his men to redeploy and reinforce Confederate defenses along the Varnia Road between Forts Harrison and Gilmer, but instead of going directly to the aid of Fort Harrison, which eventually fell to Ord’s XVIII Corps, the Texas Brigade and the dismounted cavalry units took up positions along the Confederates’ intermediate line of defense.
If questions persist about how New Market Heights fell, there has never been any debate about the devastating losses suffered by its attackers. The actual fighting lasted only about 80 minutes, and when it was over around 8 a.m., Duncan’s brigade had suffered 68 killed, almost 300 wounded and 22 missing. Draper’s brigade sustained 63 dead, 366 wounded and 23 missing. And for some of the men of Draper’s brigade, the day’s slaughter was not yet over. For reasons never adequately explained, Paine ordered the battered remnants of the 5th USCT to withdraw from New Market Heights and move to support the attack on Fort Gilmer. The regiment suffered another 100 casualties in that ultimately unsuccessful action.
Butler’s report to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton four days after the battle in part read: “My colored troops under General Paine…carried intrenchments (sp) at the point of a bayonet….It was most gallantly done, with most severe loss. Their praises are in the mouth of every officer in this army. Treated fairly and disciplined, they have fought most heroically.” Butler had his answer as to whether black men could fight.
Northern correspondents were also captivated by the role of the USCT, focusing on their bravery and, to Butler’s undoubted relief, generally ignoring the fact the attacks fell short of their goal of capturing Richmond. The New Market Heights dispatch of the New York Herald’s Thomas M. Look clearly shows how the fog of battle reveals only part of what really transpired on the killing ground: “Their charge in the face of the obstacles interposing was one of the grand features of the day’s operation….They never halted or faltered, though their ranks were sadly thinned by the charge, and the slashing was filled with the slain and wounded of their number.”
Veteran correspondent Henry Jacob Wisner of The New York Times echoed the sentiment of many observers when he wrote, “it was a wonderful, a sublime sight to see those black men stand up to the rack….” Thomas Morris Chester, a black reporter for the Philadelphia Press, filed an October 5 dispatch from ‘a mere 5 1/2 miles from Richmond.’ In it, he declared that Paine’s division “had covered itself with glory, and wiped out effectively the imputation against the fighting qualities of colored troops.” He amplified his conviction two weeks later: “One thing is certain, that the colored troops who compose this division…convinced the most skeptical that Negroes will not only fight, but do it desperately….”
Confederates saw things in a different light. The Richmond Examiner opined that “the country will be surprised that so much noise had been made and so little damage done.” On October 14, Columbia’s Daily South Carolinian carried a letter stating, “Birney’s whole corps came against the position held by General Gary’s brigade, and was so severely handled that, when the order came for us to fall back, it permitted our thin line, though at close quarters at the time, to retire in order and without injury.”
General Butler wanted more than mere words to herald the sacrifices made by his black soldiers. Only two avenues were open to him. One was promotion in rank, and the other was to award a medal authorized by Congress in 1862 for bravery on the battlefield, the Medal of Honor. Privates Barnes, Gardiner and Veal, along with Corporal James, were quickly promoted to sergeants. But there were no promotions for the 10 men who were already sergeants. The surviving white officers of the 4th USCT petitioned the War Department to authorize lieutenant’s bars for Sergeant Major Fleetwood, but their request was denied. Butler tried to promote Sergeant Milton M. Holland of the 5th USCT to captain, but the War Department refused to issue the commission.
With avenues of promotion shut down, that left the Medal of Honor. The award had not yet acquired the lofty status it holds today, and the criteria necessary for recognition were very different from modern standards. During the Civil War, 1,520 men and one woman received the Medal of Honor, but only 16 black soldiers and five black sailors earned the award.
Before the Medal of Honor could be awarded, recommendations from surviving regimental officers had to first go to division headquarters and then to Butler and a team of his subordinates. They sifted and winnowed the names and forwarded those remaining on the list to General Grant, where they were further reviewed and then sent to the War Department.
For months, after the battle no word came from Washington. Finally, on April 6, 1865, the War Department bestowed the Medal of Honor on 14 black veterans of New Market Heights. The recipients, except for Sergeant Alfred Hilton who died in a hospital on October 21, 1864, continued to serve with their regiments until the war ended. Sergeants Powhatan Beatty of the 5th USCT and Fleetwood and Alexander Kelly of the 6th USCT helped capture Fort Fisher in 1865. Sergeant Miles James of the 36th USCT asked to remain on active duty in spite of losing his arm, and was permitted to serve with the regimental provost guard. James marched with his company into Richmond on April 3, 1865, making him the only recipient of the Medal of Honor to reach the objective for which he and his comrades had sacrificed so much.
Sergeant Majors Milton M. Holland, of the 5th, and Sergeant Major Fleetwood witnessed the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station, N.C., on April 26, 1865. Almost 35 years later to the day, on April 25, 1898, Fleetwood offered his services to raise and equip a volunteer company of black soldiers and officers to fight in Cuba. The government never responded to his offer. Fleetwood died on September 28, 1914. His daughter, Edith, presented Fleetwood’s Medal of Honor to the Smithsonian Institution in 1948.
Holland later founded the Alpha Insurance Company, one of nation’s first black-owned insurance firms, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Sergeant James Harris of the 38th USCT, who died on January 28, 1898, would also receive the Medal of Honor and be buried in the hallowed ground of Arlington.
Sergeant Robert Pinn of the 5th returned to his home in Stark County, Ohio, and opened a contracting business. Later he attended Oberlin College, studied law and, after being admitted to the bar, served as a U.S. pension attorney. He was active in the Grand Army of the Republic until his death on January 1, 1911. The historical record for the remaining Medal of Honor men is sparse. But when Beatty, the first of the Medal of Honor recipients to enlist and the last to die, was buried on December 16, 1916, a unique chapter in the history of black Americans in the Civil War ended.
A list of the men who received the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Battle of New Market Heights, VA is shown:
Barnes, William H., Beaty, Powhatan *, Bronson, James H., Fleetwood, Christian A. *, Gardiner, James *, Harris, James H. *, Hawkins, Thomas R. *, Hilton, Alfred B., Holland, Milton M. *, James, Miles, Kelly, Alexander *, Pinn, Robert A. *, Ratcliff, Edward, Veal, Charles.
NOTE: Those names followed by an asterisk, indicates that their picture may be found on line. (http://www.nps.gov/rich/historyculture/mohrecip.htm)
The Battle became one of the most heroic engagements involving African Americans (colored troops). The United States Colored Troops (USCT) division of the Eighteenth Corps, after being pinned down by Confederate artillery fire for about 30 minutes, charged the earthworks and rushed up the slopes of the heights.
During the hour-long engagement the division suffered tremendous casualties. Of the sixteen African Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, fourteen received the honor as a result of their actions at New Market Heights.
William F. Chambrés
Company of Military Historians