96th Pennsylvania in the Overland Campaign: May 14-15, 1864

From Corporal Henry Keiser’s Diary: 

Saturday, May 14, 1864.  At twelve last night we were routed up and marched one mile through mud and rain, when we halted until near daylight when we again started toward the left. At 6 this morning we joined on the left at Burnside’s 9th Corps, where we cooked coffee and then our Brigade deployed as skirmishes.  After crossing a narrow but deep sluggish stream on a bridge advanced about one mile and a half without support —. Fence rails together for a sort of protection.  At about 4 p.m. we again advanced, but had not gone far when a short distance ahead I seen a Rebel hat lying on the edge of a gully washed out along the edge of a —–.  I [said] to John Gloss, the man to my right, “There is a Rebel hat and the Reb is not far off.”  I soon seen the top of the Reb’s head who was sitting down in the gully.  I brought my rifle to bear on him and asked him to surrender. He jumped up holding his hands above his head and said, “For God’s sake don’t shoot.”  He then stepped out and was in the act of handing his sword and two revolvers, when Lieutenant Von Hollen, of Company B (he being the nearest commissioned Officer), stepped up, took the sword and two revolvers and detailed two of his own company to take the major (as this was his title) to the rear and even offering me one of the revolvers, a shabby trick.  The Rebel Major, in answer to a question put by the Lieutenant, said there were no other Rebels near, but not one minute after he was taken to the rear we ran into two full lines of Rebs, and I tell you we were not slow in getting back.  Each one for himself.  I was very nearly taken, but “you Yankee son of a —-“ did not stop me, although quite a lot of our Regiment were taken prisoners.  I got over the stream by crossing on a submerged log and got wet to the knees.  A poor excited S—-jumped into the stream right below my rear, his knapsack still on his back, and all that could be seen after were a few bubbles.  During the s—- all the Rebel Major got away from his two guards.  Toward the evening our troops being up in force, crossed the creek or river, and re-took the position from which we were driven.

Sunday, May 15, 1864.  I had a good rest last night and at seven this morning re-joined my regiment which had been scattered in all directions last evening. At 8 o’clock this morning we again crossed the river, and formed our troops fortifying the position from which we were driven last evening.  At 10 a.m. our regiment went on picket on the extreme left.  At 6 p.m. we advanced [our] Picket line a short distance, but fell back to our old position before dark.  Wrote a letter to my wife but did not get it off.  It rained very hard this afternoon. 

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