Co. H . 2d US Sharpshooters
Co H was the third and last company of the 2nd Regiment raised in Vermont, it was organised and mustered by 31St December 1861, at Brattleboro, with Gilbert Hart as Captain and Lieutenants Henry Herbert and Albert Buxton. They Quartered at the camp of instruction near the city, as part of the 2nd Regiment until March 19th, they then began duty in the field as part of McDowells Corps, Brigade Commander was General Augur and King commanded their Division.
Remaining near Washington until April 4th, they then advanced towards the Rappahannock, camped at Bristoe Station April 6th to the 15th, and at Catletts until the 17th, from there a forced march to Falmouth where they camped until May 25th. When on the way to Richmond after crossing the Rappahannock, they turned back on the 29th to Catletts to take the train and went via Manassas Junction to Front Royal, to try to intercept Stonewall Jackson's retreat up the Shenandoah. After being held up at Rector town Station when their trains collided (causing loss and injury to the company), marched on and reoccupied their camp at Falmouth, on the 15th of June.
After a brief spell of duty at and around Spottsylvania Court House from the 5th of August to the 9th, they marched to Cedar Mountain on the 10th, passed Ellis's Ford, on the evening of the 11th they reached the area of the late battle, where they camped until the 19th, when they moved back with the Army of Virginia behind the Rappahannock.
From the 21st of August to the 3rd of September they were involved in several battles, marches and counter marches, connected with Pope's campaign, after his retreat from Cedar Mountain. Company H had one man killed in their three days skirmish near Rappahannock Station, and another during their skirmish at Sulphur Springs on the 26th of August. During the attack on King on the 28th, their brigade (now Hatch's) played an important part in the proceedings, and met with no losses, even though the company was under fire, mostly by Artillery. On the 28th the same brigade was commanded by Colonel Sullivan, Hatch having succeeded King. A battle began at night fall between this and Hood's division, it lasted until nine o'clock. Company H positioned on the Warrenton Pike assisted in holding the enemy until night ended the battle, with two wounded and one captured. They were engaged again the following day, but without any company losses.
In the re-organisation of the Army of the Potomac their brigade, now under the command of Colonel Phelps, with its division, became a part of the 1st Corps under Hooker. They marched through Maryland to the South Mountain range, they engaged the enemy at Turner's Gap on the 13th of September, where they took the summit and after routing the enemy and capturing the mountain howitzers, they rested, at day break they advanced to Antietam.
On the 16th of September they led the advance of Hookers division on Lee's left, they had a slight skirmish that evening, but were in the thickest of the fight in the cornfields at sunrise the next morning. The company sustained four wounded and one killed, the regiment also took heavy losses including Colonel Post being wounded and its adjutant killed. On the 30th they recrossed the Potomac, Colonel Post recovered and returned, but to resign, Capt. Homer R.Stoughton of Co. E was promoted to Major and took command of the regiment. Capt. Hart and Lieutenant Herbert also resigned, Lieutenant Buxton and Q.M. Sergeant William P.Shreve were promoted to Captain and first Lieutenant of company H, and First Sergeant William Newell to second Lieutenant.
The march towards Fredericksburg on December 9th was met with adverse weather conditions, (snow and ice), but they finally crossed the river at the lower bridge on the 12th. The three days following, they were positioned on the terrace above the river and were subjected to intervals of fire, from the enemy's guns that were positioned along the wooded ridge. They went out on the 13th as skirmishers and took a redoubt which included capturing several enemy and horses, the three days skirmishing took them past the range of the big guns, where they encountered the enemy rifles. Yet in the whole three days they only received two slightly wounded.
By command of General Burnside, January 14th 1303 the two regiments of sharpshooters where formed into a distinct arm of the service, commanded by Colonel Berdan. The 2nd of February found them at winter quarters near Stoneman's Switch, until the opening of the Chancellorsville campaign. They took a full and active part in the maneuvers and battle of Chancellorsville. They crossed the river below Chancellorsville on May 1st by means of pontoons, their conduct on this field was quite noteworthy, including their part in the capture of the 23rd Georgia regiment, their skirmish on Lewis Creek the same day, and their bare escape from capture on that disastrous evening, but what is more interesting was their proximity to the area of confederate General Jackson's wounding. Their skirmishing on the 3rd day of May was hot and bloody, some of the casualties though were sadly from rash, friendly fire. Division commander General Birney made an especial compliment to the two regiments after this battle. June 24th Major Stoughton was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
July 1st company H reached Gettysburg, the 2nd of July found them holding back the charging columns of the enemy on the extreme left of the army, while Little Round Top was in danger. On the 3rd they double quicked to the scene of Picket's charge, fired a volley into the ranks of Wilcox's men and went out in skirmish line to push the retreating enemy. The 4th of July found them skirmishing again, where they received losses of four wounded and two captured.
Company H supported the 1st regiment of Sharpshooters at Wapping Heights, and formed rear guard of the army during most of Mead's retreat, from Rapidan to Manassas and as such engaged in several skirmishes. Supported the first sharpshooters at Kelly's Ford.
November the 7th at Brandy Station, they engaged and quickly swept away the enemy cavalry, without casualties, though the regiment had one mortally wounded. November the 27th at Locust Grove, during the Mine Run campaign they had four men wounded, when a shell burst in a tree felling it onto the company. The company engaged as skirmishers on Sunday and Monday at Mine Run, their loss at the Run was two wounded and among the regiments wounded was their fighting Chaplain Lorenzo Barber.
December 21st the company and its regiment re-enlisted as an organisation. On Jan 7th, 1864, these now veterans received furloughs for home, to return to camp near Culpeper on February 23rd, their company once again numbered one hundred, just as it did when it first left Vermont.
Because of the re-organisation of the army March 28th, the 3rd corps was absorbed by the 2nd and was commanded by General Hancock, the 2nd regiment of sharpshooters became part of the 3rd Division, 1st Brigade, commanded by Generals Birney and Ward. The long campaign began with the Wilderness battle and ended with Appomattox.
On May 4th company H crossed the Rapidan, on the 5th they where fired on by flankers on the Brock road, just south of the intersection with Orange Plank, resting that night, they advanced in solid ranks to Orange Plank at the start of the battle that morning, the opening of the battle was bloody with varying success, until, at the burning of the breast-work, the enemy was driven off, company H losses where eight killed, sixteen wounded and two missing, among the killed and mortally wounded was Capt. Buxton. They skirmished to the same field on May 7th, May 8th they left the bloody field without waiting to hear the outcome, they marched to Todd's Tavern (in the push to Spottsylvania) and skirmished. They next join in Warren's assaulting column. Finally on the 12th at the capture of the Angle, company H gathered in several times its own number in prisoners, in this battle and the skirmish the next day, the company lost four wounded.
Company H led the charge at North Anna. which captured the Telegraph road bridge, the losses where one killed and two wounded. Company H and the 2nd regiment captured several prisoners and the enemy's entrenched skirmish line on their next charge at Totopotomoy Creek.
From the 2nd to the 13th of June the company lost one killed and three wounded, during the disastrous charge at Cold Harbor. They then crossed the James and tried to take Petersburg by direct assault, they where skirmishing incessantly, losses from the 6th- 18th three men killed, no less than five wounded and one captured. They moved against the Weldon railroad on the 21st leading Barlows Division, captured several prisoners including a Colonel and a Lieutenant, company losses included Lt. Newell wounded, one man killed and Colonel Soughton captured. Sergeant Walter W. Smith took command of the company. Among the losses on the 22nd where two captured from Co. H.
Back across the James and Appomattox, they skirmished and captured a Battery in the vicinity of Deep Bottom. They skirmished during the episode of the Burnside Mine, fighting where ever their rifles would prove most effective. September the 10th with De Trobriand now their brigade commander, they shared in the capture of the rifle pits on the Jerusalem Plank road, in front of forts Hall and Sedgewick. They were then in service in the rifle pits, which though dangerous, only resulted in two wounded, this service was varied by marches and battles. On October 1st, on the ground where Fort Fisher was later built, and October 27th beyond Burgess' Hill in a move against the southside railroad. Capt. William H. Churchhill and U. Edgar A. Beach who had recently been commissioned, never mustered in as such because of wounds and capture at this battle, (Churchill's wound being fatal) five others where wounded here. During the night retreat from this field they were rear guard.
Early December they cross the Nottoway with the 5th corps and assist in wrecking the Weldon railroad. During the winter the company was augmented by seventeen recruits from Co. F 1st U.S sharpshooters, whose organisation had ended.
Company H deliver their last skirmish as 2nd U.S sharpshooters on the morning of February 5th 1865, at the Vaughn road crossing of the Hatchers Run, capturing the works in the face of the enemy's fire with the loss of one wounded. After the Regiments disbandment, company H became part of the 4th Vermont volunteers on the February 25th, (keeping the letter H). They where well received by the 4th and joined them in skirmishes and the capture of entrenched picket lines in front of Fort Fisher.
After Lee's surrender they marched to Danville and returned through Richmond and Fredericksburg to Washington, a few weeks later they mustered out in the new city of Burlington. No disaster ever befell a flank of our army with these men deployed in its front.
Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland
Inscription reads: Second Regiment US Sharpshooters Sept 17 1882
Company E Capt Homer R. Stoughton
Company H Lieut Albert Buxton
© 2002 Andy Sherlock & Daz Selby
Many thanks to Darren Selby for contributing the main body of text. © 1999 Darren Selby No reproduction of text without the express permission of the author Darren Selby.