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A little difficulty at High Bridge The Last Fight of the 1st Delaware April 7 1865 an excerpt from They Fought for the Union A History of the First Delaware Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac by Jeffrey R Biggs Reproduction or transmission of all or part of the content of this site in any medium by electronic means or otherwise without the written permission of the owner is prohibited RICHMOND AND PETERSBURG FALLEN is one of Thomas Smyth s last diary messages written on April 3 Orders were sent which called for the brigade to reach the High Bridge to prevent the Confederates from destroying the vital bridge spanning the Appomattox River the last natural obstacle protecting Lee s army The crossing was defended by an group of artillerymen of the Donaldsonville Artillery a Louisiana battery consisting of a diverse group of gunners from Creole country near New Orleans It would be a forced march for Smyth s men who were placed at the head of the column The pursuit on the part of Smyth s brigade began on April 3 the soldiers halting for the
A    little difficulty at High Bridge     The Last Fight of the 1st Delaware, April 7, 1865 an excerpt from They Fought fo...
Skirmish at High Bridge April 7 1865 The last combat of the 1st Delaware Atlas of the Civil War night at Nazomine Church laying fifteen miles west of Petersburg The rapid movement in pursuit of Lee left the Federal troops in want of rations The supply train curled miles behind Colonel Woodall wrote the command was entirely out of rations and the men worn out the marching on this day was very hard the day warm and the roads bad Covered by the advance of cavalry the nearly 20 mile march to Jetersville on April 4 was a leisurely one despite the scant rations on hand the men anxious that the end was near talked of home and plans for the future Seville wrote of the considerable merriment in the men i The High Bridge skirmish on April 7 was the last engagement for the 1st Delaware The bridge was 2 500 feet long and 126 feet high and laid four miles northeast of Farmville The structure held dual purposes with the top of the bridge serving as the rail crossing of the South Side Railroad and the bottom a wooden bridge allowing for wagons to cross below The bridge was essential to hold for the Confederates to continue their retreat westward April 6 saw a brief skirmish there between the Confederate rear guard and Yankee infantry who were ordered to set the bridge on fire The Confederates held the bridge during the April 6 skirmish by the next day the Confederates were ready to burn it themselves to delay the Federal advance
Skirmish at High Bridge, April 7, 1865. The last combat of the 1st Delaware  Atlas of the Civil War   night at Nazomine Ch...
Smyth s brigade arrived at the bridge the morning of April 7 determined to keep it operational for the pursuit of Lee The lower structure serving as a wagon bridge was already smoldering as the skirmishers arrived at 10 00 a m The upper layer serving as the rail crossing too was damaged but pioneers were quickly called up to cut away the burning parts leaving the structure intact The Confederates Virginians and North Carolinians under the command of James Longstreet s 1st Corps struck back to scatter the Massachusetts soldiers holding the smoking bridge ii Seeing the counterattack and the Confederate s attempt to finish the job of destroying the High Bridge Smyth ordered out six regiments to deploy as skirmishers Colonel Daniel Woodall the senior colonel of the lot was placed in command of the skirmish line The 1st Delaware now bolstered to more than 500 soldiers was given the assignment to charge the bridge ahead of the main body Given the strong force of the Confederates mingling on the bridge and the heights on the north side of the Appomattox the order was met with resistance Veterans seeing the end of the ordeal so close were reluctant to advance The bounty men and substitutes were fixed in place after seeing the apprehension on the veteran s faces William Seville in a rare candid critique wrote there was some hesitation to take the lead Lt John Dunn Company G approached the senior general on the field Major General Francis Barlow requesting to lead the attack Yes lieutenant I wish you would was the reply The reluctant soldiers charged the bridge while meeting a strong resistance from the wornout Confederates The passage of the stream spanned by this Rail Road Bridge was disputed by the enemy wrote Dr David Maull there was some little difficulty experienced in their dislodgement but after a short time a passage was effected iii The little difficulty at High Bridge cost the 1st Delaware three enlisted men two of them substitutes who tragically received their fatal wounds only days before the formal surrender of Lee Among those killed was a German cigar maker by trade Private Peter Shroett Company B age 24 Hired as a substitute Shroett joined the regiment outside the trenches of Petersburg on October 28 He was shot in the abdomen during the charge Another German soldier Private William Allegier Company A joined the regiment on December 14 and took a bullet in the shoulder he died in a Baltimore hospital on May 28 Private Allegier was the last of the 1st Delaware to die from wounds received in battle A resident of Philadelphia Allegier crossed the
Smyth   s brigade arrived at the bridge the morning of April 7 determined to keep it operational for the pursuit of Lee. T...
border to Delaware to be hired as a substitute for a fee of 400 When wounded on April 7 the soldier had 14 85 in his pocket A transfer soldier from the 2nd Delaware Private Samuel Cochran assigned to Company B was the only veteran soldier killed on High Bridge He died instantly of a bullet to the heart iv WITH THE BRIDGE safely in Union hands the chase continued west toward Farmville A Confederate soldier wrote in his diary of the pursuit of the ragged soldiers We followed the Railroad South Side westward Our design seems to be to reach Lynchburg On reaching Farmville the enemy came upon us in heavy force General Brigadier General Thomas Alfred Smyth formerly of the 1st Thomas Smyth mounted on his Delaware would die on April 9 1865 horse was an inviting target for sharpshooter s deadly trade A mile outside of Farmville the advance was met with its first real resistance Our artillery was quickly moved into position and the infantry was seen stretching across the rolling fields the Confederate diarist wrote All at once the artillery opened on the advancing enemy and the earth trembled with an awful concussion Dr David Maull now promoted to divisional surgeon picks up the narrative of Thomas Smyth s fatal wounding
border to Delaware to be hired as a substitute for a fee of  400. When wounded on April 7, the soldier had  14.85 in his p...
The General was in advance with the skirmish line as was his frequent custom as he wished to form an intelligent conception of what was transpiring He was mounted with his staff about him it was about 11 00 o clock in the morning with a cold disagreeable rain falling There was an irregular fire of musketry going on Suddenly he was seen to fall on the right side of his horse his staff quickly dismounted and caught him he was laid down and it was discovered that he had been hit by a Rebel sharpshooter The skirmishing outside of Farmville was a costly one to the command of the 1st Delaware Lt Colonel Joseph Nicholls received a near fatal wound to the face from an artillery shell Colonel Woodall fared better losing only a horse in the melee The general was struck in the face by a sharpshooter s ball striking about an inch away from the mouth cutting away a tooth David Maull who had seen hundreds of fatal wounds but none which struck so close to home The doctor s medical training kicked in the instinct to view the injury in the strictest clinical sense Thomas Smyth s wound was clearly a fatal one the ball continued its course of the neck fracturing a cervical vertebra and driving a fragment of the bone upon the spinal cord entire paralysis resulted Still conscious but grievously wounded Dr Maull told the general that his wound was fatal If one man in a hundred I shall be that man the stubborn Irishman responded Thomas Alfred Smyth would continue his death fight for several more hours in the farmhouse of a loyal Union man Smyth would die on April 9 the day of Lee s surrender The last Federal general to die in the American Civil War v So it was the 1st Delaware limped towards the end of the Civil War The Appomattox River crossing at High Bridge was the last great service of the regiment In the end the bridge and regiment were one unquestionably damaged yet still intact The beloved Thomas Smyth laid dead Lt Colonel Nicholls grievously wounded all within hours of the formal surrender of Robert E Lee to General Grant at Appomattox Court House about 20 miles to the west William Marvel Lee s Last Retreat The Flight to Appomattox Chapel Hill 2014 pg 13 14 OR 46 1 pg 767 Seville 1st Delaware Regiment pg 138 ii OR 46 1 pg 758 763 iii Seville 1st Delaware Regiment pg 140 Maull Life and Military Services of Brigadier General Thomas Smyth pg 42 iv Compiled Military Service Records from the State of Delaware v James Edmond Hall The Diary of a Confederate Soldier Lewisburg 1961 pg 135 Maull Ibid pg 42 i
   The General was in advance with the skirmish line as was his frequent custom, as he wished to form an intelligent conce...