Two regiments meet again at Appomattox

AUG

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Appomattox rations.jpg

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.)​
 

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The Palmetto Sharpshooters was the largest regiment in the ANV at Appomattox, with 29 officers and 356 men, 284 of which were armed. Bratton's Brigade was also the largest brigade in the army at the surrender. Organized by Micah Jenkins, the Palmetto S.S. were originally intended for special service but were never actually used to that effect. Consisting of twelve companies rather than the standard ten, a total of 1,410 men served in the regiment; only 75 were conscripts and 5 were substitutes, the rest being volunteers.
Reference: The Struck Eagle by James J. Baldwin.
 

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I tried searching for what ever happened to the 16th Michigan's colors, if they were ever returned after the war and where they reside today, but have yet to find anything. Perhaps they were lost when the South Carolina State House was burned by Sherman's troops.

Here's a regimental flag that bears all of their battle honors as well as Appomattox, but it's likely not the same one captured at Gaines' Mill. It's thought to have been issued to the regiment at the end of the war, possibly for the Grand Review in Washington, D.C.

Sixteenth_Michigan_Infantry_Regimental_Battle_Flag.jpg



And here's one of the Palmetto Sharpshooters' battle flags. It's a Richmond Depot third bunting issue and was probably issued to the regiment in 1863 to replace a silk flag that was retired. However, it's not known if this is the one they surrendered at Appomattox.
bb3026569fac2a045fcb2b673982d62d.jpg
 

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I'll give this thread a BUMP since today is the anniversary of the stacking-of-arms ceremony at Appomattox. Gen. Lee surrendered on April 9, but I guess it could be said that April 12 was the final day for the Army of Northern Virginia and for most of the troops who remained.


Here's an excerpt from the History of the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Corn Exchange Regiment by John L. Smith. As mentioned in the OP, the 118th PA was also present at the surrender ceremony.

There had been bustle and activity from early morn, and about nine the division was drawn up in line (for to Bartlett's division [First Division, V Corps] solely was delegated the honor of receiving the surrender), with its left resting near the fence which enclosed the grounds surrounding the now celebrated McLean House. The 118th was on the left of the brigade close to the fence. In the McLean House the paroles were being prepared and signed. Here the soldiers expectantly awaited the appearance of the surrendering army. The troops had spruced up to appear to their best advantage, and arms, accoutrements and clothing showed but little of the rough usage they had been subjected to in this hard campaign. Soon a column of gray was seen wending through the valley, away off to the right, and the line was brought to "attention." A thrill of excitement ran along it and every man exerted himself to his uttermost to appear a soldier. General Evans's brigade, of Gordon's corps, led the Confederate column. As its head reached our extreme right it was wheeled into company line.

General Griffin and General Gibbon had sent for General Chamberlain on the night of the 11th and informed him that he was to command the parade on the occasion of the surrender of Lee's army. The general then asked for his old command, with which he had been constantly identified until he was detached to command the 1st Brigade at Petersburg, where he was so severely wounded. General Griffin at once assigned him to the 3d Brigade, and these were the troops which he found in line of battle on the morning of the 12th to take the last view of Lee's army. General Bartlett, commanding the division, sent the 1st Brigade and also General Gregory's 2d Brigade, which had served under General Chamberlain during the entire campaign, to take their places in the parade. These were found not in the same line, but close by.

Our bugle sounded and our solemn and eager lines were brought to the manual of the "shoulder"—now called the "carry"—as a mark of respect. Acknowledging the courtesy by similar movement, the column wheeled to front us. Then each regiment stacked arms, unslung cartridge boxes and hung them on the stacks, and finally laid down their colors. And then, disarmed and colorless, they again broke into column and marched off again and disappeared forever as soldiers of the discomfited Confederacy.

The rebs showed discipline and marched well. Their arms were of all patterns and designs, many of them of English make. Their colors were all faded by the weather, some torn to shreds and many of them mounted on richly ornamented standards, while others were fastened to rude poles. Many a brave Confederate soldier turned from the old colors they loved so well and for which they had endured so much with tears in their eyes. No conversation was allowed between the two armies while the surrender was being made, but occasionally a pleasant word would be exchanged. One of a regiment which stacked its arms in front of us asked: "What regiment are youuns?" "The 118th Pennsylvania," was the reply. "Didn't we give it to you at Shepherdstown?" came back. "It took a whole rebel division to do it." we replied. We received them with every courtesy that could be possibly extended by a victorious army, with a single exception.

A brigadier-general riding along at the head of his brigade attracted the attention of our regiment. He was a small, thin man, with a red face and a shrill, sharp voice. His uniform was all of the Confederate color, with the exception of his coat, which was blue and covered with gold braid. He rode a large horse and looked like a grim, sour man. We saw that he was not admired by his men. His brigade had halted in front of the 118th and their commander gave the necessary orders to have them placed in position to receive our salute. Their line not being dressed up in time, he abused the men for being so tardy. They must have had the same abuse before, but now that his authority was broken they would not stand it . Turning angrily towards him, they tauntingly replied: "Look at him! he is brave enough now, but he never was so near the Yankees before in his life." Without giving a reply he rode to the right of his command. "Who is he? Who is he?" came from a number of our boys. "Oh, he's General Henry A. Wise!" was the reply. For a moment we could hardly comprehend this. We thought of brave old John Brown and of the imperious Governor of Virginia who had ordered his execution, and here he was as a rebel general surrendering his command to the despised Yankees. Our men couldn't let the opportunity pass without firing a few hot shot at him and greeted him with such expressions as: "Who hung John Brown?" "Where did you steal your coat?" "Hang him to a sour apple-tree!" "Shoot him!" If there was a disgusted-looking man that rode from Appomattox that day it was ex-Governor Wise.

After the rebels had stacked their arms they marched to head-quarters and signed their paroles and rapidly departed for their homes, so that on the following day scarcely a rebel could be found on that historic field.

appomattoxprintlarge2.jpg

The April 12 surrender ceremony, as depicted by Ken Riley.
 
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