Wednesday, June 30, 2021

"It looked as though mortal could advance no further"

Printed in the October 13, 1864, issue of the Cleveland Morning Leader, Capt. Ellery C. Ford, Co. F, 5th United States Colored Infantry wrote in and shared his account of the Battle of New Market Heights, fought on September 29, 1864.

"Our division advanced in 'column by division' through a shower of shells and 'minnies.' We drove in their pickets.- Our work was just but commenced. We were separated from the rebels by a thick tangled mass of briers, weeds, and bushes.

Col. Shurtleff was the first officer wounded, receiving a minnie ball through the arm. Not disheartened nor willing to go to the rear unless it became absolutely necessary, he urged the boys on, to be steady and firm.

While speaking of our Lieutenant Colonel, allow me to say a braver officer or better man cannot be furnished than Lt. Col. Giles W. Shurtleff.

Captains Cock, Marvin, and Fahrion fell wounded about this time. Men Dropping on either hand.

About the time we were entering the tangled mass which intervened between us and the Johnnies, Col. Shurtleff received another wound in the thigh, which compelled him to give up all hope of enjoying with us the victory so near at hand.

The boys rushed on, determined to avenge the death of their comrades. The brigade on our left wavered for an instant. It looked as though mortal could advance no further, but the brigade, consisting of the 5th, 36th, and 38th colored regiments, kept steadily on, and the first men to scale the works were some of Ohio's colored boys--the 5th Regiment. The division advanced, capturing some prisoners, a long line of breastworks and a four gun battery on New Market hill.

It was hard for the 'poor deluded brethren of the South' to be compelled to submit to an 'inferior race' of men. . . .

The loss of the 5th in this engagement was one Lieutenant Colonel, four Captains, and one Lieutenant wounded, and about one hundred thirty men out of five hundred and thirty, killed or wounded."

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