Sunday, June 22, 2014

Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road

Wednesday, June 22, 1864

General David Birney’s Second Corps came under attack by Confederates led by General William "Billy" Mahone. Most of Gibbon’s Second Division retreated from the Confederate onslaught unleashed by General Mahone. The Twentieth Massachusetts, under the command of Captain Henry Patten, held their line and released their own deadly volleys of rifle fire into the Confederates, halting any further Confederate advance.

General John Gibbon was furious with the performance of his Second Division, but had nothing but praise for the Twentieth Massachusetts under the stellar command of Captain Henry Patten.

In truth, the struggling performance of Gibbon's Second Division had more to do with the overwhelming casualties suffered by the Second Corps since the beginning of the Overland Campaign. The bloody and catastrophic fighting that occurred daily since the Battle of the Wilderness in early May had taken a heavy toll in casualties in officers and in the enlisted men. 1

1Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2005), 390-96.

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