The Battle of the Wilderness

May 4-6, 1864
War of the Rebellion

Submitted by Ken Clark
Email: [email protected]
San Antonio, Texas

The 110th OVI fought along side the 126th OVI in the 2nd Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps.

In the spring of 1864 we started on the campaign of that year about the 4th of May. In going into the Wilderness I crossed with the pioneers over a pontoon bridge over the Rapidan River at Germanna ford. The river was swollen from the heavy rains and the road was cut deep with mud, and the Horses and Mules could not draw the heavy loaded wagons up the opposite bank or bluffs. Our officers got a long rope for two to pull at, and a hook at one end of the rope to hook in the ring of the wagon tongue and help the Mules pull a wagon train 15 miles long over the River and up the bank. We commenced at about sundown to help. We would pull the wagon up to the top of the bank, unhook the rope, go down through the mud and ____ hook on another and pull that up through the mud and so on all night until sun up. The next morning, the last one got over the river. Here at this job I sweat and got wet and chilled and got Rheumatism which I am now receiving a Pension for $24 per month. We had not been out long to get hardened to the hardships of the campaign. It was too sudden a change from our winter quarters in the log huts at Culpeper or Brandy Station, Virginia, in the spring of 1864.

We broke winter quarters in the month of April and crossed the Rapidan River over onto the Wilderness. There we found the Confederate Army commanded by Genl. Robert E. Lee. We crossed at the different fords across the river and attacked them in the Wilderness close to the old Chancelorsville House. We had a desparate battle with them [the afternoon of May 5]. We pushed them into and through the Wilderness. At night we slept with our guns in our hand where we stopped to lay down to try to sleep and meditate over the transaction of the day. We could not sleep well, the country being so desolate and God forsaken, that we hoped we would not get killed in such God forsaken country, and the Whippoorwills made the woods ring with their song. It seemed so desolate that we wished we could get out of this spot of the country. None of us wished to die here. The thought of dieing stared us in the face as the bullets flew thick around here, but we pushed ahead until we could see something like an open spot ahead of us. We thought we were nearly through the woods of the Wilderness. All at once we struck the confederate's earth works. They gave us such a deadly volley [that] our brigade commanded by General [Truman] Seymour (1824-1891) retreated to the rear and Gen'l Seymour seen he could not get away from them. He surrendered me and himself and his staff. All did not retreat with the rest. I stood there and looked on, and watched my chance to get away. Directly the confederates turned their backs toward me and talked to the Gen'l and his staff officers. Then I took to the rear a few lively steps and disappeared in the brush, and took the trail of my old Brigade, and it was on a flank movement towards their Capitol.

We tried to beat them to Spotsylvania, C.H., a fortified place nearer Richmond, their capitol.