Union troops share rations with Confederates at Appomattox. Image from Battles & Leaders, vol. 4.
On the evening of June 27, 1862, after the collapse of the Federal line at Gaines' Mill, the 16th Michigan and 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry retreated from the field through a wooded ravine along the Chickahominy River. On the far left flank, cut off after the Federal center was split, the commander of the 16th Michigan, Col. Thomas B. W. Stockton, hoped to lead the two regiments off the field through the smoke-filled ravine in the waning daylight.
Unfortunately for them, two regiments from Richard H. Anderson's brigade - the Palmetto Sharpshooters and 5th South Carolina Infantry under then Col. Micah Jenkins, commander of the former - were sent off in that direction and stumbled right into their path. Their flags furled and unable to tell whether Yank or Reb, Jenkins called out to them, asking who they were, but there was no response. He then said he would fire on them if they did not reveal themselves; yet they marched on, by the flank, until Stockton brought the 16th Michigan to a halt in front of the Palmetto Sharpshooters and 83rd Pennsylvania across from the 5th South Carolina.
It was standoff for a few moments until Jenkins gave the command to "Fire!" At not more than fifty yards from each other, the volley cut the two Federal regiments to shreds. Those left standing then opened fire and both sides exchanged shots for some minutes before Jenkins finally ordered his men to charge, driving the Yanks off into the swamps along the Chickahominy River, taking many prisoner and capturing the colors of the 16th Michigan. The 16th suffered the loss of 49 officers and enlisted men killed, 116 wounded and 55 captured, including Col. Stockton among the latter. But the Palmetto S.S. were not without loss, with 9 killed and 74 wounded. Jenkins requested to keep the 16th's colors so he could present them to Governor Francis Pickens to display in the State House in Columbia; his request was approved by Gen. Lee.
Almost three years later, now veterans of numerous battles and campaigns, the 16th Michigan and Palmetto Sharpshooters both found themselves at Appomattox C.H. In the formal surrender ceremony on April 12, 1865, the Confederate soldiers marched between lines of Union troops standing on either side of the road, halted at the designated point and faced front. Eye to eye with the Yanks, they then stacked their arms and flags in the road.
Longstreet's First Corps was the last of the three corps of the Army of Northern Virginia to march up and stack arms. Leading Field's Division was the Palmetto S.S. in Bratton's (formerly Jenkins') South Carolina Brigade.
As they halted in front of the Union troops the question rang out, "What regiment is that?"
James A. Hoyt of Co. C, Palmetto S.S., tells the rest of the story:
It was the unanswered question at Gaines's Mill, but this time the response was, "Palmetto Sharpshooters!" and the Michigan boys broke ranks again, but it was to rush across the line that was no longer to divide them and press the hands of the South Carolinians, the remnant of the command that bore off their flag nearly three years before.
Haversacks and canteens were opened to the famished "Rebs" by the Michigan soldiers, and there was
rejoicing amid the gloom of Appomattox by men who had faced each other squarely on the field of battle and had made the truest test of each other's manhood.
(Confederate Veteran, vol. 7 [May 1899], p. 226.)
Thomas R. Lackie, a veteran of the 16th Michigan, also told of the same meeting but a different exchange of words, perhaps along another section of the line:
Many of those brave Palmetto boys, if now living, will remember that when they stacked their arms in front of the Sixteenth Michigan, an officer asked us what regiment this was, and, when informed that it was the Sixteenth Michigan, he turned to his men and said: "Boys, do you remember the 27th of June, 1862?" Then answered in the affirmative, he said: "This is the regiment that fired on us in the hollow, and we captured their banner." He also remarked, quite pleasantly, that they hoped to soon meet us again, as it was not over yet.
(CV 7 [February 1899], p. 56. The officer was later ID'd as Capt. William Beaty Smith, Co. G, Palmetto S.S.)
Lt. Abner R. Cox of the Palmetto S.S. also noted the 16th Michigan at the surrender; however, he recalled stacking arms in front of the 118th Pennsylvania. It's possible that the the Palmettos were across from both regiments.
Our Division then fell in, Bratton's Brigade in front, the Sharp-Shooters in front of it, and moved 3 miles to Appomattox C. H., Grant's Hd. Qrts., where a large force of Yankee infantry was drawn up on either side of the road, with flags flying and officers and men in full uniform. We marched up one line, (and in doing so saw the 16th Michigan that the P.S.S. almost annihilated at Gaines Mill) and our Regt. stacked arms in front of the 118th Pennsylva. The men were very civil and polite, said they had met us before, and hoped it would be a long time before they met us again.
("South from Appomattox: The Diary of Abner R. Cox" in South Carolina Historical Magazine, vol. 75, no. 4 [October 1974], p. 240.)