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History of the 20th Conn. Vol. Infantry
Written by Cecil A. Burleigh
When President Lincoln issued his call for 300,000 three year volunteers, in June, 1862, eight regiments responded from Connecticut, among them the Twentieth, who were mustered into service Sep. 8, 1862. They were from New Haven County, with the exception of three companies from Hartford County.
On the 11th of September Colonel Ross received orders to move with his regiment to Washington, where they received arms and accouterments, and a week later removed to Arlington Heights, where they camped until the 29th, when they were ordered to proceed to Frederick, Md. Oct. 2d the Twentieth were again under marching orders for Harper’s Ferry, to report to General Williams, who placed them in the Twelfth Corps in the Army of the Potomac. The corps soon crossed the river and occupied Loudon and Bolivar Heights, from which place they were sent to guard Key Gap, where a sharp skirmish with the enemy resulted in the first victory for the Twentieth. After this the Twelfth Corps passed some time in camp at Fairfax Station. From there they marched to Stafford Court House, and received the commendation of General Williams for the manner in which they endured the hardships of the march.
On the 27th of April, 1863, the Army of the Potomac being then under the command of General Hooker, the Twelfth Corps crossed the river at Germania Ford, marching towards Chancellorsville, which they reached the 30th. May 1st the battle of Chancellorsville, which lasted three days, was begun by a furious attack of the enemy. Although the result of the battle was disastrous to the Union army, the Twentieth were among the last to retreat, and did some good work, losing eighty-five men in killed and wounded; as many more were taken prisoners. After General Meade succeeded to the command and began to concentrate the scattered forces, the Twelfth Corps, which had been stationed at Frederick City, took the road for Gettysburg. They were among the first to arrive, and acted on the defensive until the commanding general should reach the place. The Twelfth Corps were then placed on the extreme right of the line at Culp’s Hill, General Williams commanding, where they held Ewell’s (formerly Stonewall Jackson’s) Corps at bay for seven hours, finally driving them back with heavy loss. No higher praise can be given the Twentieth than to say that they stood at the front of the line during the entire seven hours. After this battle Meade continued to follow Lee, but without giving battle, until, on July 16th, the Twentieth found themselves in camp at Pleasant Valley, where they had camped the October before. September 25th they left Brandy Station, still with the Twelfth Corps, to join the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga. Soon after Rosecrans was removed and General Grant became Commander-in-Chief, and “the battle among the clouds” was fought at Lookout Mountain. At this time the Twentieth were guarding supplies from Stevenson, Ala., to Cowan, Tenn., where they remained during the winter, frequently engaging in skirmishes with guerrillas. In an attack upon Tracy City Captain Upson was killed.
On the 11th of April an order was issued forming the Twelfth and Eleventh Corps into the Twentieth Corps, with which the Twentieth Regiment remained until the end of the war. On the 27th of April, 1864, the Twentieth moved on to Lookout Valley to join the division to which it had been attached, which on May 2d moved out of the valley and concentrated at Ringold. The objective point of all the forces was now Atlanta. The 7th of May the army was put in motion, and the Twentieth Corps proceeded through Taylor’s Ridge at Gardner’s Gap to a fortified hill, called Boyd’s Trail, which was taken after a sharp contest. On the night of the 10th they were moved down to the support of McPherson at Snake Creek Gap, where the enemy were rapidly concentrating, and were set to work making a double track through the gap to facilitate the passage of the Union troops and arms. In the four days’ engagement at Resaca the Twentieth acquitted themselves with bravery, and captured four new brass guns by the rather novel method of digging through the top of the mountain for them. On the 19th of May the Twentieth, with the Nineteenth Michigan, captured Cassville, where they camped for three days. After the crossing of the Etowah River was effected between Allatoona and Rome, a two hours’ battle at Pumpkinvine Creek was engaged in exclusively by the Twentieth Corps, with the usual successful results.
After this time the regiment took an active part in all the marches and skirmishes and battles for two months. They did garrison duty at Marietta, Ga., and about the 10th of July drove the enemy from their entrenchment at Chattahoochee River, and the siege of Atlanta was begun on the morning of the 20th. The regiment distinguished itself at Peach-Tree Creek by a gallant charge which drove the enemy from the field, capturing prisoners and arms. The siege of Atlanta lasted until the 2d of September, when the city surrendered, and the Twentieth were with the first to enter.
The regiment remained at Atlanta, doing fatigue duty and building fortifications about the city, until November 15th, when under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Buckingham (Colonel Ross commanding brigade), it moved with Sherman’s army on its “March to the Sea,” arriving in front of Savannah, December 10th. Here it remained engaged in siege operations, subsisting, both men and animals, upon rice gathered from the islands in the Savannah River, until the 20th of the same month, when with the Twentieth Army Corps it entered the city, capturing a large amount of artillery and ordnance stores, together with 30,000 bales of cotton.
On the 4th of January, 1865, the regiment crossed the Savannah, and encamped on Hardee’s plantation, six miles north of the river. Here it remained until the 16th. Breaking camp on the 16th, on the 17th it marched to Hardeesville, ten miles distant, and there remained until the 20th. Continuing its march through South Carolina and into North Carolina, it met the enemy, March 15th, at Silver Run, and after a sharp engagement drove them from their line of works, losing nineteen officers and men. On the 19th of the same month the regiment took part in the battle of Bentonville, sustaining a loss of thirty-six enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing. After the battle of Bentonville it continued its march towards the Army of the Potomac, arriving at Raleigh, N. C., April 16th. On the 30th of April it started northward by land, passing through Richmond May 11th, and reaching Washington on the 20th. After participating in the great review by the President and his cabinet, the regiment encamped near Fort Lincoln on the Bladensburg Road, and there remained until its muster-out, June 13, 1865.
From its first encampment at Arlington Heights, Washington, D. C., in September, 1862, to the day of its muster-out, June 13, 1865, the Twentieth was continually in the field, marching and fighting; and whether in camp, on the march, or upon the field of battle, the regiment was ever a credit to itself and an honor to its State, being everywhere marked for the valor, good discipline, and soldierly bearing of its men. Whatever praise is due for the part the Connecticut soldier took in the late great struggle for liberty, the members of the Twentieth Connecticut most assuredly merit their share.
- Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1863.
- 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1863.
- Army of the Cumberland to April, 1864.
- 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, April, 1864.
- 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 20th Army Corps, to May, 1864.
- 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 20th Army Corps, to June, 1865
Entries in bold are battle-type engagements as listed by Cecil Burleigh’s regimental history.
- September 8: Organized at New Haven Connecticut.
- September 11: Left Connecticut for Washington.
- September 29: Duty in the defenses of Washington.
- September 29: Moved to Frederick, Md.
- October 2: Moved to Sandy Hook.
- December 10: March to Fredericksburg, Va.
- December 14: Duty at Fairfax Station, Va.
- January 19-23: March to Stafford Courthouse.
- January 23: Duty at Stafford Courthouse.
- April 27-May 6: Chancellorsville Campaign.
- May 1-5: Battle of Chancellorsville.
- June 11-July 24: Gettysburg, Pa. campaign.
- Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
- September 24: Near Raccoon Ford.
- September 24-October 3: Moved to Brandy Station, thence to Bealeton and to Stevenson, Ala.
- April: Guard duty along Nashville & Chattanooga R. R.
- January 20: Action at Tracy City, Tenn. (Co. “B”).
- May-September: Atlanta Ga. Campaign.
- May 8-11: Demonstration on Rocky Faced Ridge.
- May 8-9: Buzzard’s Roost Gap.
- May 10: Boyd’s Trail.
- May 14-15: Battle of Resaca.
- May 19: Cassville.
- May 24-June 13: Guard Ordnance Trains.
- July 8: Provost duty at Ackworth, Ga.
- July 16: At Marietta.
- July 19-20: Peach Tree Creek
- July 22-August 25: Siege of Atlanta.
- August 26-September 2: Operations at Chattahoochee River Bridge.
- September 2-November 15: Occupation of Atlanta.
- November 15-December 10: March to the sea.
- December 10-21: Siege of Savannah.
- January 4-16, 1865: At Hardee’s Plantation.
- January to April: Campaign of the Carolinas.
- February 2: Lawtonville, S.C.
- March 14: Reconnaissance to Silver Run Creek, N. C.
- March 16: Averysboro or Taylor’s Hole Creek.
- March 19-21: Battle of Bentonville.
- March 24: Occupation of Goldsboro.
- April 14: Occupation of Raleigh.
- April 26: Bennett’s House - Surrender of Johnston and his army.
- April 29-May 20: March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va.
- May 24: Grand Review.
- June 13: Camp near Fort Lincoln.
- June 13: Mustered out.