1864: Stony Creek or “Applejack” Raid

The author of this sheet is not identified but it is clear from the daily description of troop movements that he was from one of the regiments participating in the Stony Creek (or “Applejack”) Raid led by Major General Gouverneur Warren’s 5th Corps with the aim of destroying a portion of the Weldon Railroad in December 1864. To accomplish this objective, Warren had 22,000 infantry and 4200 cavalry at his command. “The infantry consisted of his own three Fifth Corps divisions under Crawford, Griffin, and Ayres and Mott’s Division of the Second Corps. The men were given 60 rounds of ammo and 4 days rations to carry, with 40 more and two more in wagons  One battery of artillery accompanied each infantry division in support.” The expedition began at 4 a.m. on the morning of 7 December 1864. “Crawford’s Division was in the lead, followed by Griffin, Ayres, and  Mott in that order.  After marching down the Jerusalem Plank Road, the column crossed the Nottoway River around 5 p.m. at Freeman’s Ford…At the end of this first day, Warren’s column was strung out, divided by the Nottoway River.  Griffin and Ayres were still north of that waterway, with Mott and the supply train just to its south, and Crawford and Gregg in the lead at Sussex Court House.”

On December 8th, Warren got his Union troops up early. “The divisions of Griffin and Ayres north of the Nottoway were aroused at 2 a. m. in order to make sure they reached the Weldon Railroad by the end of the day.  Both divisions had crossed the river two and a half hours later.  Once this occurred, Warren had his pontoon bridge pulled up to prevent any Confederates from following the column from the direction of the Jerusalem Plank Road.” [See The Siege of Petersburg Online]

We learn from the author’s description of his movements on that raid that he was among the “3 and 4 thousand stragglers” who failed to cross the pontoon bridge at the Nottoway River and were marched back north to 2nd Corps Commander’s Humphreys’ headquarters and then to Fort Emory. I believe he was a member of Warren’s 5th Corps but there is nothing in the content that would lead us to which regiment or even which division of that Corps.

Yellow Tavern on Weldon Railroad

Transcription

Dec. 6th — Was relieved by part of the 2nd Corps and broke camp. Stopped over night about three miles from camp. Started on the morning of the 7th at daylight on a forced march. Marched about 12 miles and fell out. Stopped that night near Stony Creek. The last troops crossed the bridge at 3 o’clock a.m.

Dec. 8 — Rained all day & night. The pontoon bridge was taken up & the stragglers was sent back by the cavalry. We started about 7 o’clock. There was between 3 and 4 thousand stragglers. About 270 taken prisoners coming back. There was 7 from my company in the crowd. We arrived at Gen. Humphreys’ Headquarters about midnight after marching 20 miles. The weather very cold. Slept all night in an open field without any fires.

Dec. 9th — Was turned out at daylight and marched to an old camp to fill a place left by the 2nd Corp. Stopped there about two hours and was then started to another part of the line where there was no troops. Had good quarters. Snowed and rained all night.

Dec. 10th — Weather—snow on the ground & very cold. Nothing new turned up until about dark when the 2nd Corps came back and we had to pack up and start for Fort Emory. The officers in charge of us got us four days rations before starting. Got fixed up in good tents at Ft. Emory 1 about 11 o’clock p.m.

Dec. 11th — Some rain last night. Continues cold. No news from the 5th Corps. Cleared off cold. Wind northwest. In camp of the 124th New York.

Dec. 12th — Weather very cold. Heavy cannonading heard this morning. 3rd Division of 2nd Corps came back.

December 13th — Weather continues cold. 5th Corps came back to the Jerusalem Plank Road last night.

[sketch]

Soldier’s sketch showing location of Yellow House on the Weldon Railroad, Southside Railroad, and Petersburg

1 Fort Emory was established in 1864 as a Union earthworks fort along the outer secondary line south of Petersburg, Virginia. The fort was situated between Fort Cummings and Fort Siebert and connected to them by entrenchment. These forts all guarded the southern approaches to the Union seige line around Petersburg.

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