Wainwright’s Diary, March 27, 1864: “… commanding the Artillery Brigade, Fifth Corps”

In his earlier diary entry, a question lingered over Colonel Charles S. Wainwright’s future.  With the Army of the Potomac’s consolidation, where would he go?  That answer came the next day, as he related in his next entry:

March 27, Sunday. My position is now pretty well settled, and I shall hereafter sign myself as commanding the Artillery Brigade, Fifth Corps, though I have yet received no order assigning me there. General [Henry] Hunt told me on Friday that [Major-General Winfield Scott] Hancock had asked for [Colonel John C.] Tidball as his chief of artillery, and that he was coming down with his regiment: this left me no choice….

No offense to Wainwright, but I would have asked for Tidball were I in Hancock’s position.


General Newton issued his farewell order on Friday, and Warren assumed command the same day; he has moved his headquarters to Culpeper, but I have not yet reported to him, being at present in a sort of independent state; my order I am expecting every hour.  Warren has issued his order consolidating the old divisions…. Warren has commenced by ordering all the stray officers out of the village: quite a number had quartered themselves in houses there even among those whose commands lay at a distance. Dr. [E.E.] Heard goes to the Artillery Reserve.

Mentioned, but not transcribed in Wainwright’s entry, was Major-General John Newton’s farewell notice:

General Orders No. 9.
Headquarters First Army Corps,
March 25, 1864.
Upon relinquishing command I take occasion to express the pride and pleasure I have experienced in my connection with you and my profound regret at our separation. Identified by its services with the history of the war the First Corps gave at Gettysburg a crowning proof of valor and endurance, in saving from the grasp of the enemy the strong position upon which the battle was fought. The terrible losses suffered by the corps in that conflict attest its supreme devotion to the country. Though the corps has lost its distinctive name by the present changes, history will not be silent upon the magnitude of its services.
John Newton,
Major-General of Volunteers.

In other news, at last Wainwright saw Lieutenant-General U.S. Grant, though not formally.

When in Culpeper yesterday I got a sight of the new Lieutenant-General as he was poking around the house he has since moved into. He is not so hard-looking a man as his photographs make him out to be, but stumpy, unmilitary, slouchy, and Western-looking; very ordinary in fact.

As for the weather:

It rained on Friday heavily a good part of the day; since then it has been clear and drying. A new order as to inspecting gains us a small step in artillery: hereafter we are to get our horses through General Hunt, and not through the corps quartermaster….

The closing matter, allowing the artillery batteries access to fresh horses in a uniform manner, matched the more evolved system for the cavalry to a degree.

(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, page 338; Newton’s farewell appears in OR, Series I, Volume 33, Serial 60, page 735.)


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