Friday, December 17, 2010

J. William Howell.

The other day while searching for some Howell’s for this person, I ran a cross a J. William Howell, who was of the 49th., Illinois infantry and under the command of Colonel Phineas Pease. There were two reports given one by Colonel Pease which he gives a short account of J. William Howell. The other was given by Colonel Edward H. Wolfe, Fifty-second Indiana Infantry.

There was little said about Howell, but what was stated I found very interesting, what I also found interesting is that a private would show up in two reports, this usually means he was a very unusual solider.

Although the reports are fairly long and little is said about private Howell, I thought it important to those looking into this family line to read what was happening around private Howell.

It should also be noted that J. William Howell, was a private of the 49th., Illinois infantry company B. He was mustered in as a recruit on October 9, 1863, and would mustered out on September 9, 1865.

Service card.

Name HOWELL, J WILLIAM, Rank Private, Company B., Unit 49 IL US INF, Age 22, Joined When JUL 1, 1863, Joined Where GERMANTOWN, TN., Period 3 YRS, Muster In OCT 9, 1863, Muster In Where LITTLE ROCK, AR., Muster Out SEP 9, 1865, Muster Out Where PADUCAH, KY.

No. 169. Report of Colonel Edward H. Wolfe, Fifty-second Indiana Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of operations December 15-16, 1864.


Near Columbia, Tenn., December 23, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In obedience to the orders of the general commanding division, I have the honor to transmit the following report as to the part taken by this brigade in the engagements with the enemy near Nashville, Tenn., on the 15th and 16th instant:

My brigade was in readiness to move on the morning of the 15th at 6 o'clock, as ordered the evening previous, and at 8 a.m. I moved by the flank outside of my works in front of Nashville, massing the brigade for the moment on the left of the Hardin pike. A portion of the One hundred and seventeenth Illinois Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Merriam commanding, was deployed as skirmishers, covering my front and connecting on the left with skirmishers of First Brigade, Second Division, and on the right with skirmishers of First Division, my brigade occupying the extreme right of the Second Division. Soon afterward I deployed my column and advanced, connecting on the right and left as above indicated, holding one regiment (the One hundred and seventy-eight New York Volunteers) in reserve, as ordered by the general commanding.

My instructions, in advancing, were to keep well closed up to the left, and also to regulate my movements by that of the command on my right, so as to prevent, as far as possible, any serious gap in the line in that direction. The peculiar position of our lines on that day rendered it very difficult to comply with these instructions, and necessarily caused my advance to be slow and tedious. Soon after advancing my skirmishers became engaged, driving the enemy's skirmishers before them. At no time, however, during the day was my command engaged with the enemy, and the brigade on this day sustained a loss of 35 men, including 1 officer, a report of which will be in closed herewith. Before the close of the day a movement on the part of the Fourth Corps, which charged the enemy's works, somewhat changed my position in the command, and, as I thought at the time, cut off the First and Second Brigade of this division, and to prevent the same thing, so far as my brigade was concerned, I advanced the brigade on the double-quick, as ordered by the general commanding, and did not halt until within the enemy's work in my front, which they abandoned without any resistance, except to our skirmishers.

Three pieces of artillery here fell into our hands, which I understand are claimed in the captures of the Fourth Corps. These guns undoubtedly were captured by this division, and if not by my brigade in reality were captured by the skirmishers in my front, which at that time consisted of the Tenth Kansas Infantry, belonging to the Second Brigade of this division. Owing to our constant oblique movement to the left during the day, it was impossible to keep out respective skirmishers in their proper front. The result was, when a charge was made by General McArthur's division, on the right, and which resulted so victoriously, the skirmishers of my own brigade were in front of that division and participated in the engagement.

The commanding officer of the One hundred and seventeenth Illinois, from whose regiment all my skirmishers on this day were deployed, states in his report that two of his companies then on the skirmish line captured 3 pieces of artillery and 40 prisoners, and delivered them over to that command as it came up. In the evening the position of my brigade was so charged, as before mentioned, as to throw me upon the extreme left of the division, closing up with the right of the Fourth Corps, and in this position I was ordered to encamp for the night.

On the morning of the 16th, at 7 o'clock, I was again ordered to advance, and, after advancing about a mile, was ordered to take position in the center of the division, where my brigade remained in line in front of the enemy's works until 3 p.m. During this time the enemy were constantly shelling my line, but the little loss was sustained. My orders during the afternoon were to again regulate my movements by that of the command on my right. At about 3.30 p.m. that portion of the command commenced its final advance upon the enemy's works.

It required but a moment to put my brigade in motion, and the whole command, with a shout peculiar to this corps, advanced rapidly upon the works in front, carrying them with but momentary resistance and sustaining but slight loss. The enemy, surprised at the charge, and witnessing the courage and determination of the troops, fled in every direction, while many threw down their arms and surrendered at once.

So completely surprised were the enemy in my front by the assault that they had time to deliver but two or three volleys, and these so poorly directed that but little execution was done. In this assault my brigade captured 5 pieces of artillery and a number of prisoners, including 8 commissioned officers, among whom was the rebel Major General Edward Johnson, who was captured and escorted to the rear by Private J. William Howell, Company B, Forty-ninth Illinois Veteran Volunteers.

It is impossible, owing to the excitement and confusion at the time, to give any accurate statement as to the number of prisoners that actually fell into the hands of this brigade. Prisoners were sent to the rear indiscriminately, some with guards and others without, and, in addition to this, many were captured immediately at the works, and left without any guard, and a great many of them must certainly have fallen into the hands of other troops. It is, however, no exaggeration on my part to claim that at least 300 prisoners were captured by my brigade alone, and had I taken the precaution to have secured for the command all the prisoners that actually fell into my hands, I am satisfied it would exceed that number.

After advancing perhaps a mile in rear of the enemy's works, and there being no enemy in sight, I encamped for the night as ordered.

The exceeding small loss sustained by my brigade, compared to the victory gained, I consider unparalleled in the history of the war. My total loss during the two days' fight foots up 52, viz, 5 killed, 46 wounded, and 1 missing, a full and complete list of which, giving name, rank, date, &c., I in close herewith.

Inasmuch as all the batteries of this division were placed under the immediate control of Captain Lowell, G Battery, Second Illinois, acting as chief of artillery, during the two days, I have not referred to the action of my battery during either day, though I have personal knowledge of the valuable services rendered and the crushing execution done by this battery. The battery was engaged constantly during the two days, and the conduct of the officers and men at all times was such as to merit approval. Corpl. Samuel J. Churchill, of this battery, commanding one gun detachment, is highly commended for distinguished bravery displayed on the first day. At a time when two of the enemy's batteries opened upon his guns, compelling for a short time the men of his detachment to seek the protection of the ground, this young soldier stood manfully up to his work, and for some minutes worked his gun alone.

It has been customary heretofore to mention in reports of this character individual cases of meritorious conduct on the part of officers and soldiers, but this I now find it difficult to do, simply because to mention one would render it necessary to mention all. Every officer of my command and every enlisted man, with but few exceptions, performed their duties nobly, and all officers, realizing the importance of the hour, vied with each other in the gallant discharge of duty.

Of my commanding officers-Colonel Pease, of the Fourty-ninth Illinois Veteran Volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonel Main, of the Fifty-second Indiana Veteran Volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonel Merriam, One hundred and seventeenth Illinois Volunteers; and Captain Gandolfo, One hundred and seventy-eighth New York Volunteers-I cannot speak too highly. The manner in which they commanded their respective regiments during these movements, as well as elsewhere, has only demonstrated their ability as excellent officers and their courage and bravery as soldiers.

To the officers of my staff-Lieutenant Cobine, acting assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenants Rupe, acting assistant inspector-general; and Lieutenant Kobbe, of the One hundred and seventy-eighth New York Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp-I am largely indebted for valuable services rendered upon this occasion, and commend them for the zeal and courage they have displayed in the discharge of their duties throughout the campaign thus far.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

No. 170. Report of Colonel Phineas Pease, Forty-ninth Illinois Infantry, of operations December 15-16, 1864.

In the Field, December 21, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to orders, on the morning of the 15th instant I moved my command outside the breast-works at Nashville, Tenn., and took position in line on the left of the Hardin pike. At 8 o'clock moved forward with right on the pike and on the right of the Fifty-second Indiana Volunteers. Advanced steadily, with slight skirmishing in front, and after passing through first skirt of timber moved in an oblique direction to the left. In the meantime had thrown out one company as skirmishers (Company A), which soon became engaged with the enemy's line of skirmishers.

The regiment was then advanced to the open field to the right of the brick house, near which Battery G, Second Illinois Light Artillery, took position. About 1 o'clock was ordered forward on right of brigade, and advancing through an open field to within 300 yards of one of the enemy's batteries were exposed to a raking artillery fir of grape and canister shot, also of musketry. At this point was ordered to halt, and in a few moments moved by the left flank under brow of the hill opposite rebel fort, which fort in a short time was necessarily evacuated by the enemy. Moved from this point in right oblique direction across the Hillborough pike, capturing one prisoner, of Trueheart's (Alabama) battery, and took position for the night a short distance on right of Granny White pike.

On morning of 16th moved at 8 o'clock across an open field to Granny White pike, where received orders to move in rear of and cover right of First Brigade, then advanced across a small creek to the foot of a hill, whence, in a short time, moved by the right flank, under cover of the hill, and joined on left of Second Brigade. Remained in this position several hours exposed to severe cannonading from the enemy.
Soon after 3 o'clock received orders to advance, and together with the entire division charged the enemy's works, capturing Major General Edward Johnson (General Johnson was captured by Private J. William Howell, Company B) and Major Trueheart, and sent to the rear, in charge of Lieutenant Spiro, thirty-five prisoners. Many other prisoners were turned back by the regiment and were picket up and credited to other brigades. It being now nearly dark took position in line for the night.

I do not feel justified in particularizing where all did so well, for it would be giving the name of each and every officer in the regiment who participated in the engagement. It gives me pleasure to state that every officer performed his duty nobly and manifested great bravery. The enlisted men, with two or three exceptions, behaved well, with courage. To my field and staff officers-Lieutenant Colonel William P. Moore, Major Jacob E. Gauen, and Adjt. F. J. Burrows-I am particularly indebted for their untiring efforts, promptly obeying all orders given thereby rendering great assistance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Forty-ninth Illinois Infantry Volunteers

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