Pens put up by ambulance men


To borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, “the ground doesn’t lie”. By that he meant that while people leave accounts, sometimes accurate, sometimes contradicted by others, participants or not, they can’t change what was done to the ground.


(1) the area of the line which was occupied by Smith’s Battery of the Richmond Howitzers. (2) the area of Daniels, and perhaps some of Doles line where the “pens” were. (3) the reentrant line which Hardaway was referring to. (4)  a postwar excavation, possibly a quarry or CCC “burn pit”. Sometimes called “Edwards Hole” for the individual who pointed it out.

One of the more interesting accounts is one by an unidentified Confederate officer. His account was published in an article titled EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF AN OFFICER OF GENERAL LEE’S ARMY. (1)

In his account the officer describes his role in the counterattack to oust Upton’s men from the captured Confederate positions on the evening of May 10, 1864. His role, being an artillery officer, battalion commander to whom Smith’s battery belonged, was to facilitate returning the captured guns to action as they were recaptured.  He described the action as follows.

” Stopped at S’s (2) fourth gun a Napoleon, which I loaded with canister, and Lieut. R. (3) fired it. After firing seven or eight rounds I found some of the cannoneers had returned. Told Lt. R. (2) to work the Napoleon, and I would work another of the pieces. Got three infantry men to put down their muskets, and help me work a three-inch rifle. The dead were so thick around the other Napoleon we could not work it. The Yankees were firing at us from behind our breastworks on our right, and from pens put up by ambulance men about sixty yards on our right.”

After describing the gallantry of other officers and men, both infantry and artillery, he went on to say.

“Sometimes had to cease firing, and take my men all back to the caissons to search for ammunition. Much of the time had only three men and an infantry man to sit behind the breastworks and hold friction primers for us, as the implements were gone and we had to find the extra implements that were necessary. our works about thirty yards to the right had a second line run back to the rear about eighty yards long, to protect the hollow through which the Yankees broke in. (4)  When our men from Ramseur’s brigade and the left advanced down our works to the right they stopped at this offset, and allowed the Yankees to hold our works until charged by Johnson and Gordon later at night. The occupation of this offset made it very difficult for us to fire upon the Yankees behind our line without striking our men on the offset, and the blast from the nearest gun on my left , (5) being pointed very obliquely to the right, blew off my hat twice and seemed as if it would blow off my head.


About Russ

Avid student of military history as well as amateur historian. Has a keen interest in archaeology. Founded his company in 2004.
This entry was posted in 1864, American Civil War, artillery in the Overland Campaign, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Battle of the Muleshoe, Doles Salient, Earthworks and trenchs, field fortifications, Mule Shoe, Overland Campaign 1864, Richmond Howitzers, Upton's Charge and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s