Thursday, February 16, 2012

William P. Seal, 18th., Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Lieutenant W. P. Seal.

William P Seal, was mustered September 17, 1862. Was wounded slightly, June 15, 1864, at St., Mary's Church. Was promoted from Sergeant January 2. 1865. Mustered out with his company June 14, 1865. Residence 917, Filbert Street, Philandelphia, Pennsylvania.
Note. On the roster his name is spelled "Sea."

The following battle report is one he was in, although his name is only stated once it was with high honor.

No. 165. Report of Major John W. Phillips, Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, of operations October 8-9.

October 11, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: In accordance with instructions received from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to transmit the following report of the part my regiment took in the late engagements:

On Saturday, October 8, my regiment (being rear guard for the division) was attacked by the advance of the enemy's force. The rear battalion, Lieutenant Blough commanding, formed and checked them, killing three and wounding one captain and six others. The Third Battalion, Captain Britton, formed and met the second charge, allowing Lieutenant Blough to fall back behind him. This was done in some confusion, owing to the strength and confidence with which the enemy advanced. My men fired repeated volleys into the head of the column and so effectually checked the advance that a flank movement on his part became necessary. As soon as I observed this I ordered my men to fall back and take position in the woods, where I learned the Second New York, Major Hull, was formed to assist me. This they did in much confusion, owing to the furious charge made by the enemy. He was checked by the charge of Major Hull, but, coming on in vastly superior numbers, we were forced to fall back upon the main portion of the brigade. In this running fight of more than two miles I lost 4 men killed, 7 wounded, and 5 missing. The color bearer of the enemy was seen to fall, and from the nature of the advance his loss must have been severe. Much credit is due Lieutenant Blough and Captain Britton, and the officers and men in their respective battalions, for the stubborn manner in which they met the repeated charges of the enemy.

In the action of the 9th I was ordered, in the early part of the engagement, to support Major Krom, Fifth New York, whose command was deployed, on the right of our line as skirmishers. This I did until ordered by one of General Custer's staff to tear down all the fences in my front, and deploy my whole regiment as skirmishers. I had scarcely got it deployed as ordered when General Custer ordered Captain Britton, who was on the left of the line, to charge. Soon the whole line was in motion and advanced as rapidly as the nature of the ground and the wearied condition of my horse would allow, driving the enemy's skirmishers before it. When the enemy's center gave way the right of my line was quite far advanced and was in position to give a flank fire as he began to retreat from the top of the hill where his artillery was last in position. Owing to the long run I had made over fences and ditches, and through the woods and brush, many of my horses and become exhausted and my line necessarily much scattered, and the difficulties in the way of a rapid advance on the right flank were becoming greater, owing to the still more unequal nature of the ground in my front. I saw I could do nothing more than pick up a few stragglers if I remained there. Accordingly (not seeing Colonel Pennington at the time) I rode up to General Custer and stated the difficulties, and received permission from his to bring my command on the main road and pursue as rapidly as possible.

I immediately ordered Captain Britton forward rapidly on the main road. In the meantime Lieutenant J. R. Winters, Company E; Lieutenant J. W. Smith, Company B; Lieutenant Nieman, Company E, and Lieutenant Grier, Company B, having seen the enemy's artillery and wagons in rapid flight, gathered together what men were near, pushed forward rapidly in pursuit, passing by the right flank of the artillery and entering the main road about 500 yards in rear of the wagon train. At this point the officers above mentioned and the men with them had the advance of everything on the road, and in three minutes' time came up with the rear of the train. The enemy made a stand in the corner of a wood for a few moments, killing Lieutenant Winters, who had emptied his pistol and was moving furiously upon them with drawn saber. This was the last stand he made, and the wagons were left to the mercy of any one who had a horse swift enough to overtake the terrified teamsters.

The men of my command moved forward with Lieutenant Grier head until there was not a wagon or ambulance that had not been stopped or turned back, some of the Second Brigade following in the rear of them. Lieutenant Grier and his party led the advance all the way, and although he had not men enough to guard all the wagons and ambulances back to the rear, yet he did send many back in charge of men of my own regiment. These so sent back were delivered by Sergeant Puder, of Company M, to some of the First Vermont, whom it is presumed delivered them to the provost-marshal. One piece of artillery was captured by Private Samuel Fry Company F, who alone sobered one of the drivers in order to compel him to stop his horses and turn around and drive back.

This piece he guarded back himself, and should have the full credit of its capture. Private Smith Allen, Company D, charged up to another piece alone and sobered a driver and was in turn severely wounded in the neck, but remained with the piece and rode by it as it was carried back. He acted very bravely. The piece that was strapped beneath the limber was passed by Lieutenant Grier, and the enemy driven from it by his party, but being then in full pursuit of the enemy he did not think it best then to detach any of his men to take particular charge of it. It was taken charge of by some officer of the Eighth New York.

The number of prisoners captured as straggling parties of the enemy's cavalry was nineteen. If I add to this the number taken with that artillery and with the ambulances and wagons it will swell the number greatly.

I wish to mention for particular gallantry, Sergt. James McKay, Company B; Sergt. William Scott, Company G; Sergt. Puder, Company M; Sergt. William P. Seal, Company E; Corporal Depew, Company E; Private Stephen S. Kelley, Company K, Private John A. Chester, Company F; Sergt. Charles A, Clark, Company B. In mentioning the names of these I would do great injustice to many others, did I not state that this list does not include all who did their duty nobly. These mentioned I saw in the van of the fight, and know from personal observation how well they merit mention. All the non-commissioned officers mentioned richly deserve promotion for their strict attention to duty and their noble conduct in time of action.

I will not mention particularly, further than I have already done, the names of any of my commissioned officers, some were ahead of others, but I am convinced it was not from any lack of zeal, but for reasons which will readily suggest themselves when the nature of the ground passed over is taken into consideration.

I liked to have forgotten to mention the name of T. Jackman, regimental commissary-sergeant, who, although he had no particular duty to perform on the field, was in the front all day, and acted with peculiar bravery. He advanced up to the enemy's skirmish line and with his pistol killed a private and wounded an officer who was endeavoring to saber him. He also, during the day, captured a prisoner.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, Commanding Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

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