Civil War Log Book of Lt. Dwight C. Kilbourn 2nd Ct. Heavy Artillery
Civil War Log Book of Lt. Dwight C. Kilbourn 2nd Ct. Heavy Artillery – This diminutive, leather bound log book has lightly scratched on the front cover:
There are 22 pages in the small booklet, with hand-inked entries on 15 of those pages; from the text and subject matter, most of the entries were likely written in 1863. The entries are rather short; one page includes a period newspaper clipping. Kilbourn’s log entries mention the following: capturing rebel prisoners, killed and wounded soldiers, capturing cannons, Generals Price, Garnett, and McCullogh and the Battle of Bull Run, as well as ship references – The Pawnee, The Freeborn and the Steamer Isabel. A sample of some of the entries read as follows:
“May 31-June 1-Freeborn and Pawne 260, 350 shot & shell. Total 610. Three days. Silenced the enemy’s guns.”
“July 11-Rebel force 10,000……captured 6 brass cannon, 200 tents, 60 wagons, 250 k 200 pris.”
“July 14th-Gen. Garnett killed.”
“July 5-10,000 secession under Price & Mcc. (McCullough) Col. Sigel with 1500 regulars, retreat in order 8 miles, killed 1,000 reb. 10 Fed. 43 wounded retreated 8 miles in order.”
“Loss at Bull Run.”
Also included is an entry of war themed poetry:
“With it in beauty no flag can compare.
All nations honor our banner so fair.
If to insult it, a traitor shall dare.
Crushed to the earth let him be.”
The booklet is in very good condition, with evidence of having been carried in the field, by Lt. Kilbourn. The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery were pulled from the relative safety of the defenses of Washington, DC, in 1864, to soldier as infantrymen, as Grant went on the offense into Virginia. These Connecticut “Heavies” suffered horrific losses at Second Cold Harbor where there is now a significant monument to their bravery and high numbers of casualties ; although Lt. Kilbourn survived the disastrous events of Cold Harbor, he was wounded in September of 1864, at the Battle of Winchester.
Although the entries are somewhat abbreviated, this small booklet accompanied Lt. Kilbourn through much of his wartime involvement and was most likely with him when he was at Cold Harbor and Winchester. The book measures about 6.25” in height and 4” in width.
Dwight C. Kilbourn
|Residence Litchfield CT; Enlisted on 8/4/1862 as a 1st Sergeant. On 9/11/1862 he mustered into “A” Co. CT 2nd Heavy Artillery He was Mustered Out on 8/18/1865 at Fort Ethan Allen, DC He was listed as: * Wounded 9/19/1864 Winchester, VA Promotions: * 2nd Lieut 3/5/1864 (As of Co. C) * 1st Lieut 2/19/1865 Intra Regimental Company Transfers: * 3/5/1864 from company A to company C|
2nd CT Heavy Artillery
( 3-years )
|Organized: From 19th CT Inf on 11/23/63
Mustered Out: 8/18/65 at Fort Ethan Allen, DCOfficers Killed or Mortally Wounded: 12
Officers Died of Disease, Accidents, etc.: 2
Enlisted Men Killed or Mortally Wounded: 242
Enlisted Men Died of Disease, Accidents, etc.: 171
(Source: Fox, Regimental Losses)
|Aug ’62||Dec ’62||Artillery||Military District of Washington|
|Oct ’62||Feb ’63||Artillery||Dist of Alexandria||Military District of Washington|
|Feb ’63||Apr ’63||Artillery||Defenses Alexandria||22||Department of Washington, D.C.|
|Apr ’63||Feb ’64||2||Defenses South of Potomac||22||Department of Washington, D.C.|
|Mar ’64||May ’64||4||Defenses South of Potomac||22||Department of Washington, D.C.|
|May ’64||Jul ’64||2||1||6||Army of Potomac|
|Aug ’64||Dec ’64||2||1||6||Army of the Shenandoah|
|Dec ’64||Jun ’65||2||1||6||Army of Potomac|
SECOND REGIMENT C. V. HEAVY ARTILLERY.
|WRITTEN BY CAPTAIN JAMES N. COE, LATE OF CO. H, SECOND C. V. HEAVY ARTILLERY. THE Litchfield County Regiment, designated the Nineteenth Infantry, was projected in mass convention at Litchfield, July 22, 1862, in response to the appeal of Governor Buckingham, which followed President Lincoln’s call (July 1st) for 300,000 volunteers for three years. August 24th, there had reported, at “Camp Dutton,” Litchfield, nine companies, containing 815 men, and Major Elisha S. Kellogg of the First Artillery, who had been commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel, began the task of molding the mass into an efficient military organization, and of inspiring in each member thereof “a knightly courage like his own.” Colonel L. W. Wessells attended to the details of organization, and on August 31st formed the tenth company (K), by sending to it such men as the commandants of the other nine might designate. September 10th, Mrs. William Curtis Noyes presented a beautiful stand of colors to the regiment. On the 11th it was formally mustered into the service of the United States, and on the 15th it proceeded by rail to Washington, D. C., and to Alexandria, Va., where it was equipped with “A” tents and Enfield rifles. It was assigned to duty under General J. P. Slough, “military governor of Alexandria,” encamping just outside the city, and relieved the Thirty-third Massachusetts in the disagreeable task of patrolling the city. This service soon began to tell on the health of the regiment. Colonel Wessells himself became seriously ill, as well as other officers and a large number of the enlisted men; sixteen deaths occurring from disease in a single month. January 12, 1863, brought, through the persistent solicitation of Colonel Kellogg for relief from this unwelcome service, an assignment to duty under General Robert O. Tyler, in the “military defenses of Alexandria,” and change of location to Fort Worth, near Fairfax Seminary. This soon resulted in improving the health of the regiment. May 12, 1863, its companies were distributed for garrison duty in Fort Ellsworth, Redoubts A, B, C, and D, and the Water Battery on the Potomac, below Alexandria. September 16th, Colonel Wessells (his health proving to be permanently impaired) tendered his resignation, and, October 23d, Lieutenant-Colonel Kellogg was promoted to the colonelcy. November 23d, its organization was changed, by order of the War Department, to artillery, and recruiting to that standard was authorized. November 30th, Lieutenants Marsh, Knight, and Hosford were ordered to Connecticut on recruiting service, and Captain Williams, with Lieutenants Coe and Candee, to the draft rendezvous at New Haven for the same purpose, and, by March 1, 1864, the regiment numbered 1,800 strong. May 17, 1864, it was ordered to the Army of the Potomac, which it joined near Fredericksburg May 20th, and was assigned to General Emory Upton’s (Second) brigade, First Division, Sixth Army Corps. May 22d, it crossed the North Anna River, and while on the skirmish line lost its first man, killed by a rebel bullet. May 24th to 30th, it was occupied in destroying the railroads at various points, and making one of the hardest marches of its entire service. May 30th, it was on picket near Tolopotomy Creek, and, May 31st, near Cold Harbor, losing two men killed and five wounded. June 1st, under command of Colonel Kellogg, the regiment was disposed in three lines, under Majors Hubbard, Rice, and Ells, and advanced in that order, the objective point being the heavy earthworks defended by Longstreet’s veterans. It passed at double-quick to the first line, capturing it and sending to the rear over 300 prisoners; forward again at double-quick, with intervals of less than 100 yards between the battalions, to and through a stiff abattis, within twenty yards of the enemy’s main line, where it met a most destructive fire from both its front and left flank, but pressed on, some even to the top of the main line of earthworks. Nothing could withstand the murderous fire that now met them, and the First and Second battalions crept back to the somewhat less exposed position held by the Third, but leaving on the field 323 of Litchfield County’s bravest sons, 129 of them dead or mortally wounded, — a record unsurpassed by any regiment of the Union army during the war. Among these were that ideal soldier, Colonel E. S. Kellogg, who fell riddled with bullets in the advance with the First battalion, Captain Luman Wadhams, who was mortally, and Major Ells, who was severely, wounded. We are not allowed space in which to chronicle individual acts of bravery and devotion to duty, but cannot pass to record other scenes without saying that the fortunate survivors of this terrible conflict remember with loving pride the last words and acts of such comrades as Corporal Baldwin of Company E (reported “missing,” but certainly killed in action), and the cool, quiet, but quick and sensible decisions of Kellogg, Hubbard, Ells, Skinner, Fenn, Wadhams, Berry, Burnham, Hosford, Spencer, and other officers, and the unrecorded bravery of very many of our fellow-soldiers. This advanced position was “stubbornly held” (vice Upton), and on the 3d another advance was made, the regiment being under fire continuously until the 12th. June 6th, Captain R. S. Mackenzie, of the Engineer Corps, took command of the regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Hubbard declining promotion. June 16th, embarked on James River, disembarking (17th) near Bermuda Hundred. 19th, crossed the Appomattox, and relieved Hinds’s colored brigade, in rifle-pits in front of Petersburg, at night relieving our Eleventh Connecticut regiment, in a still more advanced position, with many silent evidences of the bravery of that regiment around us. June 20th and 21st, made cautious and slight advances. June 22d, had a lively affair with Hill’s Division, losing ten killed and nine wounded, but gaining a position that was held by the Union army as the advance line until the close of the war. July 9th, marched through stifling dust, “knee deep,” to City Point, embarking on steamboats, disembarking July 12th at Washington, marching to Tenallytown, arriving in time to hear the last of the firing and to engage in the chase of Early; forded the Potomac at Edward’s Ferry July 16th; crossed the Blue Ridge at Snicker’s Gap 17th; forded the Shenandoah 20th, and camped near Berryville. At midnight commenced the return march, reaching Tenallytown 23d, remaining long enough for the issue of much-needed clothing. July 25th, crossed Aqueduct Bridge to Fort Corcoran, relieving an Ohio regiment of one-hundred-days’ men. July 26th, recrossed the Potomac, under orders to rejoin the Sixth Corps, which had been turned back to repel another of Early’s attempted invasions of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Joined the corps 27th; crossed the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry 29th; was occupied in continual skirmishing up and down the valley until September 11th, when Early was forced to near Cedar Creek, and the First Division camped near Clifton. September 19th, was called into action to check the enemy, who had broken our lines near Winchester. General Sheridan’s report tells the story, as follows: “At Winchester for a moment the contest was uncertain, but the gallant attack of General Upton’s Brigade (Second Connecticut Artillery, Sixty-fifth and One Hundred and Twenty-first New York, and Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania) restored the line of battle until the turning column of Crook and Merritt and Averill’s divisions of cavalry sent the enemy whirling through Winchester.” The regiment lost here 14 officers and 122 enlisted men, killed and wounded, among them Major Rice and Lieutenants Candee, Hubbard, and Cogswell killed, Captain Berry and Lieutenant McCabe mortally wounded, and Lieutenant Fyler crippled for life by a wound in the leg. Colonel Mackenzie and Major Skinner were among the less seriously wounded. September 22d, the corps was advanced directly up the seemingly impassable face of Fisher’s Hill, arriving at the summit just as the Eighth Corps, by a brilliant move, was enabled to strike the right flank of an otherwise impregnable position, and the enemy was driven in the utmost confusion, the Second Artillery losing only four killed and nineteen wounded. September 25th, at Harrisonburg, the command was again faced toward the Potomac, with orders to destroy everything which, if left behind, could give aid or comfort to the enemy. Ashby’s Gap was reached October 13th. Here, Sheridan, learning of Early’s presence in the valley again, once more headed his own army up the valley, encamping (October 14th) near Cedar Creek, where, early on the 19th, it was surprised and driven back about three miles. About 4 P. M., a new line was established, and the enemy driven to and beyond our camp of the previous day, again scattering Early’s army. This day the regiment lost thirty-eight killed and ninety-six wounded. Captain Hosford was killed early in the morning, and Captain Fenn and Lieutenant Gregory each lost an arm,–severe losses for the regiment, which had learned to rely on the quiet self- possession and unflinching bravery of these officers. Lieutenant Henry Skinner, with about forty men of Companies E and L, was on picket and captured, and was not released until about the time of Lee’s surrender. November 9th, camped at Kearnstown. December 2d, moved (by rail) to Washington, and by boat to City Point, thence over “Grant’s railroad” to Parke Station, to comfortable winter quarters, where the First Division passed the winter doing picket duty, with an occasional unexplained movement to the right or left, and recruiting for active operations in the spring. December 28th, Colonel Mackenzie was promoted Brigadier- General, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hubbard advanced to the colonelcy January 7, 1865. February 5th, participated in an affair at Hatcher’s Run, passing the day massed ready for a charge, in a drizzling, freezing rain, with shots from the artillery of both armies passing over us; in action for a short time about dusk, returning to the winter quarters February 8th, the only casualties in the regiment being nine men wounded. March 29th, moved to the right to Fort Steadman, which our troops recaptured just as the Sixth Corps came up; thence to the left, and advanced toward Petersburg, in front of Fort Fisher. The brigade passed a line of rifle-pits, capturing the occupants, and advanced to a position found to be untenable (no support appearing), and was faced about and returned to the line occupied by the other troops. This movement cost the Second Artillery seven killed and thirteen wounded. About midnight, April 1st, the brigade formed in front of the breastworks during the heaviest cannonading it had ever witnessed, and at dawn, April 2d, charged over the rebel works and into their camps, which were deserted as our line approached, the only casualties in the regiment being Lieutenant-Colonel Skinner and seven enlisted men wounded. The brigade was here ordered to report to Major-General Parke, commanding the Ninth Corps, and marched to the right to Fort Hell, thence by a covered way to the rebel works, captured earlier in the day by the Ninth Corps. April 3d the brigade advanced (the Second Artillery leading), entering the city of Petersburg, where Colonel Hubbard was made provost-marshal, only to be relieved a few hours later, when the brigade was ordered to rejoin the Sixth Corps, which it did April 4th, following the fleeing Confederate “Army of Virginia” closely on the 5th, and on the 6th of April, 1865, having its last fight (at Little Sailors’ Creek), a sharp, short action, the Second Artillery losing three killed and seven wounded, capturing one battle-flag, the headquarters’ train of General Mahone’s division, and a great number of prisoners. April 7th, bivouacked near Farmville; 8th, near New Store; and 9th, near Clover Hill, where General Hamblin (who commanded the brigade) announced the news of Lee’s surrender. April 23d, while camped at Burkeville, the corps was ordered to proceed to Danville, prepared to operate with General Sherman against General Johnston’s army in North Carolina. This march of 105 miles was accomplished in a little less than five days, the corps arriving at Danville April 27th, there learning of Johnston’s surrender. May 2d, the regiment, with the exception of Companies F, G, and K, was detailed as guard to the wagon train on the return march to Burkeville, where it arrived May 6th, remaining until the 18th, when the corps moved (the Second Artillery by rail) to Manchester, opposite Richmond. May 24th, marched through Richmond, and arrived at Fredericksburg May 29th, thence to Bailey’s Cross Roads (June 1st), where it remained until the 8th. Here the regiment received the addition to its members of the “new men” of the Fourteenth Connecticut, the original members of that organization having been mustered out. June 8th, took part in a grand review in Washington. June 16th, was assigned to the Third Brigade, Hardin’s Division, Twenty-Second Army Corps, and ordered to garrison eleven forts on the north side of the Potomac. June 27th, was transferred to Forts Ethan Allen, Marcy, Albany, and Battery Martin Scott, on the south side of the Potomac. July 7th, the remaining members of the original Nineteenth Regiment were mustered out, and left for home. July 20th, the twelve companies were consolidated to eight (I, K, L, and M ceasing to exist), and August 18, 1865, these eight companies were mustered out at Fort Ethan Allen, receiving final discharges at New Haven September 5, 1865. ENGAGEMENTS. Spottsylvania, Va., May 22-24, 1864. Tolopotomy, Va., May 28, 1864. Hanover Court House, Va., May 30, 1864. Cold Harbor, Va., June 1, 1864. Cold Harbor, Va., June 2-12, 1864. Petersburg, Va., June 20-26, 1864. Winchester, Va., Sep. 19, 1864. Fisher’s Hill, Va., Sep. 22, 1864. Cedar Creek, Va., Oct. 19, 1864. Hatcher’s Run, Va., Feb. 6, 1865. Petersburg, Va., March 25, 1865. Petersburg, Va., April 2, 1865. Little Sailors’ Creek, Va., April 6, 1865.|
Kilbourn, Dwight C. (Dwight Canfield), 1837-1914
Dwight Canfield Kilbourn was born at Litchfield, Conn., October 9, 1837, the son of William P. Kilbourn and Caroline (Canfield) Kilbourn. He received a public school education and pursued his professional studies with Hon. Origen S. Seymour and Henry B. Graves at Litchfield. He was admitted to the bar in his native town in the year 1866. In 1887 he was appointed clerk of the Superior Court for Litchfield. Before his admission to the bar he served in the Civil War, attaining the rank of lieutenant in the Second Conn. Heavy Artillery. After the war, Kilbourn was secretary of his regiment for 47 years. When the Connecticut Regimental Veterans’ Association was organized January 28, 1891, he was elected president and was its president for life. He was a member of the Seth F. Plumb Post, G.A.R. of Litchfield. He was a member of the Sedgwick Monument Commission, appointed by Gov. Baldwin to erect an equestrian statue of Maj. John Sedgwick at Gettysburg. He was appointed secretary of the Veterans Association of Connecticut in 1907 and held the office since. He was a member of St. Paul’s Lodge, F. and A.M. and of Darius Lodge, R.A.M. of Litchfield. He was secretary of the Litchfield County Bar Association. As an author his best known work was The Bench and Bar of Litchfield County, 1709-1909, the result of years of painstaking research. His home was filled with books and pamphets relating to Litchfield County. He was a member of the Connecticut Historical Society, member of the Kansas Historical Society, and vice president of the Litchfield Historical Society. He married, July 5, 1866, Sarah M. Hopkins, of Litchfield, daughter of Edward Hopkins and Melissa (Alfred) Hopkins. They had no children. Kilbourn died on October 28, 1914.
Civil War veteran honored in Litchfield
By Republican American – March 4, 2013
LITCHFIELD — A Civil War veteran who was born and raised in Litchfield and went on to a career in law was recognized as the veteran of the month by American Legion Post 44 in Bantam on Saturday. The ceremony at the Bantam Borough Hall honored Union Army 1st Lt. Dwight C. Kilbourn, a veteran of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment that mustered on the Litchfield Green in 1863 and fought in several battles in Virginia. The honoring of Kilbourn, born Oct. 9, 1837, followed the recognition of Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen, a Litchfield native, as veteran of the month in February. Post 44 often honors veterans of the Revolutionary War and Civil War during the months. “We are pleased relive the contributions of two gentlemen who contributed so much to their country,” said Kevin Creed, Post 44 master of ceremonies. “We don’t often have a chance to go this far back in history, so when we do it’s a pleasure.” An American flag honoring Kilbourn will fly over the All Wars Memorial in Bantam until April 6. Kilbourn was educated in Litchfield schools, and before joining the Union Army studied at the Litchfield Law School under the direction of teachers Origen S. Seymour and Henry B. Graves. After completing his studies, Kilbourn volunteered for the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment on Nov. 23, 1863. The regiment, with 1,600 men, gathered in Washington, D.C., and marched into Virginia. It fought often, including at the Battle of Petersburg, one of the battles near the end of the Civil War. Kilbourn’s service concluded when the regiment was mustered out of service on Aug. 18, 1865, after having suffered hundreds of casualties.
After the war, Kilbourn was admitted to the law bar in Litchfield, and began a long professional career. In 1887, he was appointed clerk of the Superior Court for Litchfield, and later became secretary of the Litchfield County Bar Association. In 1891, he was elected lifetime president of the Connecticut Regimental Veterans Association. Kilbourn, who married Sarah M. Hopkins of Litchfield on July 5, 1966, was a member of the Seth E. Plumb Post of the Sedgwick Monument Commission that was appointed to erect a statue of Maj. John Sedgwick at Gettysburg. He also served as secretary of the Veterans Association of Connecticut until his death on Oct. 28, 1914. Kilbourn was a member of St. Paul’s Lodge and Darius Lodge, two Masonic organizations in Litchfield and was vice president of the Litchfield Historical Society. He was known for his work as an author, penning “The Bench and Bar of Litchfield County 1709-1909,” a book that was the result of years of painstaking research. In East Litchfield, where he lived, Kilbourn served as postmaster for many years.
Title: Reunion and dedication of monument at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Wednesday, October 21, 1896, Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery
Kilbourn, D. C.
Reunion and dedication of monument at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Wednesday, October 21, 1896, Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery [microform] / D.C. Kilbourn, Secretary.
Hartford, Conn. : Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., 1897 – 34 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
|NAME:||Dwight C Kilbourn|
|ENLISTMENT DATE:||4 Aug 1862|
|ENLISTMENT RANK:||1st Sergt|
|MUSTER DATE:||11 Sep 1862|
|MUSTER REGIMENT:||2nd HA|
|MUSTER REGIMENT TYPE:||Artillery|
|RANK CHANGE DATE:||5 Mar 1864|
|RANK CHANGE RANK:||2nd Lieutenant|
|RANK CHANGE INFORMATION:||As of Co. C|
|TRANSFER DATE:||5 Mar 1864|
|TRANSFER FROM UNIT:||A|
|TRANSFER TO UNIT:||C|
|CASUALTY DATE:||19 Sep 1864|
|CASUALTY PLACE:||Winchester, Virginia|
|TYPE OF CASUALTY:||Wounded|
|MUSTER OUT DATE:||18 Aug 1865|
|MUSTER OUT PLACE:||Fort Ethan Allen, District of Columbia|
|MUSTER OUT INFORMATION:||Mustered Out|
|SIDE OF WAR:||Union|
|INJURED IN LINE OF DUTY?:||Yes|
|RESIDENCE PLACE:||Litchfield, Connecticut|
|ADDITIONAL NOTES 2:||Rank Change 2 Date: 19 Feb 1865; Rank Change 2 Rank: First Lieutenant;|
|TITLE:||Connecticut: Record of Service of Men during War of Rebellion|
Lieut Dwight Canfield Kilbourn
|BIRTH||9 Oct 1837
Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA
|DEATH||28 Oct 1914 (aged 77)
Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA
Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA Show Map
2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery
The monument to the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment is at the last pulloff on the Cold Harbor Battlefield Auto Tour. It is next to the ‘A Bloody Baptism of Fire‘ wayside marker, which tells more of the regiment’s story.
The front of the monument has the story of the regiment’s attack on June 1 inscribed around the raised Greek cross symbol of the Sixth Corps. The rear of the monument has the crossed cannon symbol of the artillery
From the front of the monument:
2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery
Late on the afternoon of June 1, 1864, Col. Elisha Strong Kellogg and his 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery attacked Confederate entenchments to the west along with other Federal troops from the Sixth and Eighteenth Corps. Kellogg advanced his 1500 men across this ground in three battalions with weapons at port arms.
The combined Union attacks resulted in the capture of approximately 300 prisoners. Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke’s Confederate division halted their further progress with a withering fire delivered from the left flank. Kellogg was killed at the head of the first battalion in front of the abatis and breastworks held by Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Clingman’s brigade.
The remaining men of the 2nd Connecticut regrouped under Col. Emory Upton, and assisted in the capture of the Confederate line at sunset. However, more than 330 of its men fell killed and wounded in these attacks.
May this unit that began the say raw and inexperienced nevermore be known as a “band box” regiment…
From the rear of the monument:
2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery
Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright – Sixth Corps
Brig. Gen. David A. Russell – First Division
Col. Emory Upton – Second Brigade
The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment at Cold Harbor
BY MARK · JUNE 2, 2019
Cold Harbor is best remembered for the assault near Richmond, Virginia on June 3rd, 1864 that cost thousands of Union casualties and gained nothing during General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign. But there was another Federal assault on the Confederate lines two days earlier that resulted in heavy Union casualties.
This first assault on June 1st involved the Union 6th and 18th Corps. General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry had taken control of the crossroads on May 31st, and the 6th and 18th Corps were ordered there. Major General George Meade ordered an assault on the entrenched Confederate defenders, believing that by taking the Rebel positions, the Federals would be better positioned for a possible breakthrough after all the army was in place.
One of the regiments in Major General Horatio Wright’s 6th Corps was the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, now fighting as infantry. With the enormous casualty numbers piling up during the Overland Campaign fighting, Grant needed reinforcements, and he ordered many of the heavy artillery regiments serving in the defenses of Washington DC to the front to serve as infantry. These heavy artillery regiments were several hundred men larger than even a full strength infantry regiment, and provided several thousand immediate reinforcements, though they had only limited infantry tactic training. The heavy artillerymen would see much action in the final year of the war, and many regiments would suffer staggering losses.
The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery was originally organized as the 19th Connecticut Infantry in September 1862. It served in the Washington defenses as infantry until it was redesignated as heavy artillery in November of 1863. At the time it was called to the front, the regiment was under the command of Colonel Elisha S. Kellogg, who had combat experience as a major with the 1st Connecticut Artillery prior to joining the 2nd. in the 6th Corps, the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery was assigned to Brigadier General Emory Upton’s 2nd Brigade of Brigadier General David A. Russell’s 1st Division.
The large 2nd Connecticut, about 1800 men deployed in three lines; each battalion, consisting of four companies, would lead the assault by Upton’s brigade, with the other casualty depleted regiments in the brigade in a fourth line At about 5 p.m. the 6th Corps, and the 18th Corps to its right, marched forward, with 2nd Connecticut lines separated by about 100 paces. Colonel Kellogg placed himself in front of the first battalion and ordered the column to advance.
The men were able to advance to within 20 yards or so of the main Confederate rifle pits without serious opposition. There, the Rebels had cut down young pine trees and formed them into an abatis–a barrier with the branches interlocked and facing outward–that extended back to the rifle pits. They had left two open paths large enough for four men marching abreast to pass through. As the men of the 2nd Connecticut funneled into these openings, the North Carolinians of Brigadier General Thomas L. Clingman’s Brigade of Major General Robert F. Hoke’s Division opened fire.
The North Carolinians fired a volley, and took down some of the Connecticut men, but many of the shots missed high and hit the ground behind them.
The Federals dropped to the ground, and the next volley mostly went over their heads as well. The regimental historian wrote that “it is more than probable that if there had been no other than this front fire, the rebel breastworks would have been ours, notwithstanding the pine boughs”.
But there was more than just this fire from the front. The 2nd Connecticut had advanced farther forward than the regiments on its left and right. The Confederates began firing into the 2nd Connecticut’s left flank with deadly effect. The Rebels “having unobstructed range on the battalion, opened a fire which no human valor could withstand, and which no pen can adequately describe” wrote the regimental historian. “The air was filled with sulphurous smoke, and the shrieks and howls of more than two hundred and fifty mangled men rose above the yells of triumphant rebels and the roar of their musketry”.
Kellogg was in the process of ordering his men to withdraw when he was shot multiple times, his body caught on the abatis. “The men staggered in every direction, some of them falling upon the very top of the rebel parapet, where they were completely riddled with bullets,–others wandering off into the woods…to find their way to death by starvation at Andersonville, or never to be heard from again” recalled the regimental historian.
With Kellogg dead, Colonel Upton came in an personally took control, ordering the men to lie down and hold their position. “Men of Connecticut, stand by me! We MUST hold this line!”
The men of the 2nd did indeed hold the line, for the rest of the day and into the night. Upton’s brigade, plus the units on either side, had pushed far enough forward to capture the first line of Rebel works. This was the only gain of any significance for the costly assault by the 6th and 18th Corps.
In his report on his brigade’s action in the Overland Campaign from its beginning in May through Cold Harbor, Upton wrote this about the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery:
The Second Connecticut, anxious to prove its courage, moved to the assault in beautiful order. Crossing an open field it entered a pine wood, passed down a gentle declivity, and up a slight ascent. Here the charge was checked. For 70 feet in front of the works the trees had been felled, interlocking with each other and barring all farther advance. Two paths, several yards apart and wide enough for 4 men to march abreast, led through the obstructions. Up these to the foot of the works the brave men rushed, but were swept away by a converging fire. Unable to carry the intrenchments, I directed the men to lie down and not return the fire. Opposite the right of the regiment the works were carried, and several prisoners captured, among whom was Major McDonald, of a North Carolina regiment, who informed me that their flank had been turned. The regiment was then marched to the point gained, and, moving to the left, captured the point first attacked.
In this position, without support on either flank, the Second Connecticut fought till 3 a.m., when the enemy fell back to a second line of works. Colonel Kellogg, its brave and able commander, fell in the assault, at the head of his command. The loss of the Second Connecticut was 53 killed, 187 wounded, 146 missing; total, 386. June 3, another assault was ordered, but, being deemed impracticable along our front, was not made. From the 3d to the 12th of June the brigade lay behind intrenchments. Nearly a constant fire was kept up by sharpshooters; but few casualties occurred.
As Upton wrote, his brigade did not participate in the larger, more famous (or infamous) Union assault of June 3rd. But the 6th and 18th Corps had an estimated 2200 killed and wounded in the June 1st assault, so it was no small affair. “It has always seemed, however, to the survivors of the Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery, (Upton’s Brigade, Russell’s Division, Wright’s Corps,) that the affair of June 1st was entitled to more than the two or three lines of bare mention which it is tossed off.”
A portion of the Cold Harbor Battlefield is preserved as part of Richmond National Battlefield Park. There is a monument in the Cold Harbor unit of the park honoring the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery at the location of its assault of June 1st. The monument lists the names of all those of the regiment who were killed or mortally wounded at Cold Harbor. Earthworks of both armies are also preserved here, and the landscape of open pine woods is similar to what it was at the time of the battle.