John Mason Norvell’s Civil War Memoir 7

Lt John Mason Norvell

Lt John Mason Norvell

John Mason Norvell, the son of Michigan U.S. Senator John Norvell (1789-1850) and his third wife, Isabella H. Norvell (1804-1873), was a career soldier. He prepared this memoir in 1866

His story continues:

August 2, 1863

Assigned to duty, Third Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, Maj Gen W. H. French commanding. Took part in fight at Nelly’s Ford and Brandy Station, Va., (loss small) In this movement, Gen French in command of the left wing of the Army of the Potomac.

Went into camp near Brandy Station, made headquarters on the Plantation belonging to John Minor Botts.

[John Minor Botts (1802-1869), Whig Congressman, and lawyer from Virginia, tried to prevent secession, and later refused to fight, declaring himself a neutral in the war.]

[November 1863]

Took part in the action at Mine Run, Va.

[The Battle of Mine Run was conducted in Orange County, Virginia from November 27 – December 2, 1863. An unsuccessful Union attempt to defeat the C.S.A., it ended hostilities in the East for the year.]

Third Division, General Carr commanding was heavily engaged. Loss 800 in officers and E.M. killed and wounded.

[ Joseph Bradford Carr, Commander, 3rd Division of III Corps, in the autumn campaigns of 1863].

Immediately after our return to the old camp from Mine Run, Va. I was very ill from an attack of sciatica brought on from exposure while across the Rapidan River. The whole seven days we were making this movement (Mine Run), I was very much exposed sleeping out in the rain every night – very sick indeed.

February 1864

The Third Army Corps was disbanded as a corps and the different divisions assigned to duty with other army corps of the Army of the Potomac. This was done immediately after General Grant made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac.

March 29, 1864

Assigned to Second Division, Second Army Corps, General John Gibbon commanding.

[ John Gibbon (1827-1896) West Point Class of 1847, served in Mexico and Texas]

May 5-7, 1864

Took part in the Seven Days Fighting in the Wilderness, Va. Very hard fighting the day we crossed the Rapidan we had Six Thousand and Six Hundred (6,600) for Line of Battle in the Division. The day we left the Wilderness we had Twenty Eight Hundred (2,800 ) then in the Line of Battle.

[The Wilderness battle, fought May 5-6, 1864, was the bloodiest campaign in American history and the turning point in the war in the East. In this, the first encounter of Grant and Lee, both armies suffered heavy casualties. The battle was inconclusive, and Grant disengaged to continue his offensive.]

May 7-8, 1864

Took part in the Battle of Todd’s Tavern

[ Leaving the Wilderness, Grant issued orders on May 7 for a night march to Spotsylvania Court House. The Union, under Major General Phillip H. Sheridan had occupied Todd’s Tavern during the Battle of the Wilderness, but had withdrawn on the night of May 6th , allowing Major General Fitzhugh Lee’s Confederates to reoccupy it. Grant’s plans to march the army to Spotsylvania required Sheridan to retake Todd’s Tavern from Fitzhugh Lee. This led to some of the most intense and important cavalry fighting of war. ]


To be continued:


About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Battlefields, C.S.A., Civil War, Civil War Battles, Detroit History, Michigan History, Military history, Norvell Family History, Union Army, US Army and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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