First Man Over the Works

First Man Over the Works (HM9XU)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 10.872', W 77° 28.441'

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The Breakthrough Trail

— Pamplin Historical Park —

In the hours, days, and years after the Breakthrough, many Union soldiers boasted that they or their regiment were the first troops to capture the Confederate works on the morning of April 2. Darkness, the chaos of the attack, and the wide Federal battle front make it impossible to credit with absolute certainty any individual or unit with that honor. Captain Charles G. Gould of the 5th Vermont, however, made the most persuasive claim that he preceded the rest of the Sixth Corps over the earthworks at a spot near here.

Gould's regiment led the Vermont Brigade at the tip of the wedge-shaped formation advancing along the right side of the ravine. Through a misunderstanding of orders, Gould and about 50 of his men veered left across the ravine and approached the Confederate line at this point. The young captain scrambled through the obstructions, and over the parapet in advance of his small party.

In a matter of moments, Gould received a bayonet thrust through his mouth. He managed to kill his attacker, but then another Confederate slashed his skull with a sword. A third Southerner grabbed Gould's coat allowing a comrade to plunge his bayonet through Gould's back, the point of the blade resting near a vertebrae.

By this time, additional Union troops had gained the works, among them Corporal Henry H. Recor who managed to pull the captain out of harm's way and into the ditch in front of the fortifications. Incredibly, the thrice-wounded Gould staggered rear-ward until he found someone to help him reach a Sixth Corps hospital.

Charles Gould survived his injuries and wrote his brother on April 4, "Have got wounds enough to make a great deal of noise but they are all very light." The army rewarded Gould with a promotion, and in 1890, he received the Medal of Honor for his unique ordeal on April 2, 1865.
HM NumberHM9XU
Placed ByPamplin Historical Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 18th, 2014 at 12:31am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 280376 N 4117840
Decimal Degrees37.18120000, -77.47401667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 10.872', W 77° 28.441'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 10' 52.32" N, 77° 28' 26.46" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6513 Duncan Rd, Petersburg VA 23803, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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