Maryland troops at Cold Harbor, Petersburg

Remembrance of Gettysburg

September 12, 1999|By Andrew D. Faith | Andrew D. Faith,Sun Staff

The 2nd Maryland Infantry Battalion was organized at Winchester, Va., in the fall of 1862, of companies recruited in Richmond, Va., by officers of the old 1st Maryland Regiment and some Marylanders who had come to Virginia after the battle of Antietam.

The 2nd Maryland was employed during the winter and spring of 1863 at New Market, Harrisonburg and various other points along the Valley Pike.

In June 1863, when Gen. Robert E. Lee commenced his move on Pennsylvania, the 2nd Maryland fought at Winchester and then at Culp's Hill during the battle at Gettysburg.

On June 2, 1864, the 2nd Maryland was held in reserve to Brig. Gen. John Echols' brigade of Virginians, who occupied a line of works in front of McGehee's house at Cold Harbor, on the same ground over which the battle of Cold Harbor had been fought June 27, 1862.

At daylight of June 3 Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock's Union 2nd Corps made a rush at the works and overran them. Before the Marylanders could react, the Union flag was flying over them and the Union troops ramming canister in the captured guns in the fortification.

Without waiting for orders, officers and men charged into the Union soldiers and drove them back at bayonet point, then turned the guns on the routed mass. The action saved Lee's line and probably a serious disaster for the Confederates, because Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had massed troops to pour them through the opening made by Hancock. The Union loss was severe.

From that date the 2nd Maryland was engaged in every combat of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's 2nd Corps. They were first assigned to Brig. Gen. Henry H. Walker's brigade and then to Brig. Gen. James J. Archer's brigade of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth's division.

On June 13 the 2nd Maryland had a severe fight at White Oak Swamp and continual skirmishes followed.

On Aug. 18 Maj. Gen. William Mahone made an attack on Ream's Station on the Petersburg and Weldon railroad, south of Petersburg, Archer's brigade being part of his force. The fighting here was extremely bloody and the loss heavy on both sides.

At Pegram's Farm, Sept. 30, 1864, Heth's division had another severe fight. The 2nd Maryland lost out of 149 men who went into the fight, 53 killed and wounded. At that time there were only six commissioned officers left with the regiment. All the rest had been killed or wounded. On Oct. 1 they had another costly fight on the Squirrel Level Road and lost heavily.

From that day they were constantly fighting in the trenches until April 2, 1865, when they made their last stand in the lines of Petersburg. Archer having been wounded, the brigade command devolved on Brig. Gen. William McComb, of Tennessee. McComb held his place on the line until nearly surrounded and then fell back to Hatcher's Run. From there they marched with the army to Appomattox Court House, where they surrendered with Lee.

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