Samuel Sprigg Carroll

Samuel Sprigg Carroll

Civil War (Union) · US Army · Major General

Monument to the First Brigade, Third Division, Second Army Corps at Gettysburg

    From the monument:

    Army of the Potomac
    Second Corps Third Division 
    First Brigade 
    Col. Samuel S. Carroll
    14th Indiana 4th 8th Ohio
    7th West Virginia Infantry

    July 2. Took position in the morning on right of Corps on Cemetery Ridge between the Cemetery and Battery I 1 st U. S. in Ziegler's Grove. In the afternoon the 8th Ohiowas sent on the skirmish line and remained until the close of the battle. At 7 P. M. the remainder of the Brigade occupied the place on the left made vacant by the Third Brigade going to the support of Third Corps for a short time. At dark the Brigade went to relief ofEleventh Corps and was hotly engaged in support of Batteries on East Cemetery Hill until after 10 P. M.

    July 3. Sharp skirmishing continued through the day the Brigade was subjected to an annoying sharpshooters fire from the houses in the town and a cross fire from artillery from the north east and west. The 8th Ohio assisted in the repulse of Longstreet's assault. The Brigade captured 252 prisoners and 4 stand of colors.

    Casualties Killed 3 Officers 35 Men Wounded 15 Officers 151 Men Captured or Missing 7 Men Total 211

    Monument to the Third Division of the Second Corps at Gettysburg

      From the monument:

      Army of the Potomac
      Second Corps
      Third Division 
      Brig. General Alexander Hays

      First Brigade Col. S. S. Carroll
      Second Brigade Col. Thos. A Smyth
      Lieut. Col. Francis E. Pierce
      Third Brigade Col. Geo. L. Willard
      Col. Eliakim Sherrill
      Lieut. Col. Jas. M. Bull

      July 2. About 8 A. M. took position on Cemetery Ridge relieving Second Division First Corps and at noon advanced to the stone wall in front. Late in the day the Third Brigade went to the support of the Third Corps on the left and became engaged with Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade capturing many prisoners. At dark Col. Carroll with the 4th Ohio 7th West Virginia and 14th Indiana of First Brigade went to support of Eleventh Corps on East Cemetery Hill and remained until the close of the battle.

      July 3. The Bliss Barn in front occupied by sharpshooters was burned by order of Gen. A. Hays. At 1 P. M. a heavy artillery fire from the Confederate line was concentrated on the positions of Second andThird Divisions of the Corps for two hours followed by a charge of more than 15,000 infantry which was repulsed with loss the Division capturing about 1500 prisoners and 15 stand of colors. The muskets found on the field after the charge numbered about 3500.

      July 4. Sharp skirmishing in front all day.

      Casualties Killed 20 Officers 218 Men Wounded 75 Officers 912 Men Captured or Missing 1 Officer 65 Men Total 1291

      Report of Col. Samuel S. Carroll, Eighth Ohio Infantry, commanding First Brigade. Gettysburg Campaign

        Maj. J. M. NORVELL, 
        Assistant Adjutant-General.

        **       SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the brigade which I have the honor to command in the battle of Gettysburg: 
               On the 2d instant, by command of Brigadier-General Hays, commanding division, the brigade was formed in line of regiments, right in front, between Woodruff's battery on the left and the Taneytown road on the right, at about 8 a.m. 
               An hour afterward an order was received from the same source to send four companies to the front as a support to the skirmishers already there, who seemed to be hard pressed, and four companies from the Fourth Ohio Volunteers were sent out. They kept up a brisk interchange of shots with the enemy's skirmishers. At 12 m. those four companies were relieved by two others from the same regiment. 
               About 1 p.m. the enemy opened upon our position with shell, and fired a dozen or two rounds. Immediately afterward their skirmishers commenced to advance and ours to retire. At this juncture, an order was received from the brigadier-general commanding division to send my leading regiment to their support, and I immediately took the Eighth Ohio out some 200 yards to the front, directing Lieutenant-Colonel Sawyer, commanding, to advance two companies deployed as skirmishers and relieve those of the Fourth Ohio Volunteers, and to maintain his position at all hazards, as he would be supported by the rest of the brigade. 
               About 6 p.m. the enemy opened a severe artillery fire upon the Second and Third Brigades, of this division, on the left of Woodruff's battery, advancing their infantry at the same time in their front, when orders were received from the brigadier-general commanding to move three regiments (Fourteenth Indiana, Fourth Ohio, and Seventh West Virginia) by the left flank, and take position on the left of the Second Brigade, which was executed under a heavy discharge of shot, shell, and musketry. This position was retained but a few minutes when orders were received from the same source to return with two regiments to the old position, which was done, leaving the Fourth Ohio on the left of the Second Brigade. 
               About dark, I received orders through Major Norvell, adjutant-general of the division, to move immediately to the assistance of part of the Eleventh Corps supporting batteries on Cemetery Hill, as they were being driven back, and the enemy were charging those batteries, and that I would be conducted by an aide of General Howard's. Moved immediately with three regiments, the Fourteenth Indiana leading. We found the enemy up to and some of them in among the front guns of the batteries on the road. Owing to the artillery fire from our own guns, it was impossible to advance by a longer front than that of a regiment, and it being perfectly dark, and with no guide, I had to find the enemy's line entirely by their fire. For the first few minutes they had a cross-fire upon us from a stone wall on the right of the road, but, by changing the front of the Seventh West Virginia, they were soon driven from there. The firing continued until about 10. 20, when they fell back out of range, and skirmishers were advanced in our front. General Ames' division then made connection with me on our right and left. 
               This position we maintained until the 5th. We were exposed to a great deal of cross-firing during the heavy cannonading of the 3d, and kept up occasional skirmishing with the enemy up to the evening of that date, besides being annoyed by sharpshooters from the town, who had a flank fire upon us. The Eighth Ohio retained their position in front of the extreme right of the corps until after the severe fighting of the 3d, when they were relieved, after being in front over twenty-four hours, and receiving the first of the attack of the 3d, and maintaining their position until the line of the enemy was up with them, when they changed front, and opened fire on their flank, charging them and inflicting great damage. 
               Too much credit cannot be given to both the officers and men of that regiment, as well as their gallant leader, Lieut. Col. Franklin Sawyer, and Captain Kenny, acting major. I commend in the same terms the officers and men of the other three regiments, who, throughout the whole time, acted with soldierlike coolness and courage, as they always do. I would mention by name Col. J. Coons, Lieutenant-Colonel Cavins, and Major Houghton, Fourteenth Indiana; Lieutenant-Colonel Carpenter, commanding, and Major Stewart, Fourth Ohio, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lockwood, Seventh West Virginia Volunteers, the only field officers present, for gallant and meritorious conduct on the field. 
               My thanks are due to my staff, Lieut. J. G. Reid, Eighth Ohio Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general; Capt. J. E. Gregg, acting assistant inspector-general; Capt. S. Fiske, Fourteenth Connecticut, aide-de-camp; Lieut. J. H. Carr, Fourth Ohio Volunteers, aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant Van Dyke, Fourteenth Indiana, for their valuable assistance in a trying emergency. 
               Captain Willard, Fourteenth Indiana Volunteers, with his pioneer corps, worked most untiringly, caring for the wounded, burying the dead, and collecting arms and accouterments from the field, and were under fire while the brigade was. Captain Craig, Eighth Ohio, commanding provost guard, was busied in assisting the pioneer corps, taking charge of and turning over prisoners. 
               My adjutant, Lieutenant Reid, had his horse shot on the night of the 3d. 
               The Eighth Ohio took 3 stand of colors and the Fourteenth Indiana 1. 
               The brigade captured 252 prisoners, among them several field and general officers; also cared for 113 wounded, most of them rebels, and buried 37 rebel dead. The pioneer corps gathered from the field 349 stand of arms and accouterments. All our wounded were moved from the field to the hospital and our own dead buried. 
               I append herewith a summary of casualties in this brigade, and inclose reports of commanders of regiments and detachments.**

        I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
        S. S. CARROLL, 
        Colonel, Commanding Brigade.

        Samuel Carroll

          Spectacularly bald, with huge side-whiskers, Sam Carroll's nickname was "Old Brick Top" because of his red hair. He was fearless and vigorous, a brigade leader of a type rare in the Army of the Potomac--one who would attack "wherever [he] got a chance, and of [his] own accord." Eleventh Corps commander Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard described him in 1863 as being "a young man of quickness and dash" and added that "for fearless and energetic action Colonel Carroll had not a superior." He was admired not only by those who commanded him, but by those he commanded. One of his subordinates described him as "a thorough soldier and unsurpassed commander of men," and another remembered Carroll as "a splendid commander to lead a forlorn hope," for his voice was like the blast of a trumpet, and to hear it ordering a charge was "worth a whole regiment itself as a reinforcement."

          Carroll had come from a prominent District of Columbia family; his father was for many years clerk of the Supreme Court. Young Sam had been sent to West Point, where he was a disaster as a student, graduating 44th out of 49 cadets in the class of 1856. After serving four years on the frontier, he returned as quartermaster to the Military Academy, where he and his family shared a double house with that of Howard. The families became close, so that when Howard became seriously ill in Washington in 1861, Carroll's mother took him into her home and nursed him back to health.

          The Civil War began soon after, but Carroll was not released for field duty by West Point until the fall of 1861. By December 1861 Carroll had been made colonel of the 8th Ohio regiment, joining his command in Romney, West Virginia. He shined in his first battle, at Kernstown during the opening of the Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign in March 1862, and was commended by both his brigadier and division commander Brig. Gen. James Shields after the battle. On the basis of his obvious ability and his performance at Kernstown, he was given command of a brigade in May, and on June 9 fought for the first time at the head of it at Port Republic, where the Union forces were defeated by Jackson. Afterwards, Shields sharply condemned Carroll's "blunders": "Colonel Carroll neglected to burn the bridge at Port Republic. . . . He held it three-quarters of an hour and wanted the good sense to burn it. They took up an indefensible position afterward instead of a defensible one." (Shields neglected to mention that five days earlier he had expressly ordered Carroll to "go forward at once with the cavalry and guns to save the bridge at Port Republic.") To add injury to insult, Carroll was hurt during the battle when his wounded horse fell on him.

          Transferred to Pope's Army of Virginia in the summer of 1862, Carroll's brigade was only lightly engaged at Cedar Mountain on August 9. However, he was included in a short list of those praised by General John Pope after the battle. A week later, Carroll was wounded in a skirmish with Rebel cavalry while inspecting his pickets near the Rapidan River, receiving a painful flesh wound in the chest that incapacitated him for the next month and kept him out of the Battles of Second Bull Run and Antietam.

          Recovering by late September, he was briefly assigned to the Washington defenses before returning to the field in time to command a Third Corps brigade at Fredericksburg. There, although Carroll's brigade was used only in support and never influenced the battle, Carroll was singled out for praise by division commander Brig. Gen. Amiel Whipple, who wrote of his "bravery and skill."

          "Old Brick Top"--who wasn't old at all, only thirty years old at Gettysburg--requested in early 1863 that he and the 8th Ohio be transferred to the Second Corps. While he waited for the change of assignment, he went on sick leave--his lung was hemorrhaging from his wound of the previous summer, he suffered from an intermittent fever, and he had rheumatism in his left hip and knee. His request for transfer was granted on March 25, 1863. He returned to the army and took command of the veteran Second Corps brigade to which his regiment had been newly assigned, since its previous brigadier, Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball, had been severely wounded by a canister ball in the thigh at Fredericksburg. Carroll commanded this brigade at Chancellorsville, where, after a fine performance in the confused May 3 fighting, division commander Maj. Gen. William French called special attention to him, calling him "dashing and gallant," in his official report of the battle.

          It is interesting that, after leading brigades in the battles of Port Republic, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and especially after French's commendation for his performance in the latter battle, Sam Carroll was still commanding a brigade at the rank of colonel at Gettysburg. Perhaps his lack of promotion was due to the black mark of Shields's scathing report after Port Republic. Whatever the reason, it is certainly no credit to the promotional machinery of the Army of the Potomac that a man of Carroll's qualifications was still a colonel in the summer of 1863 when inferior men were wearing stars. Sam Carroll in the summer of 1863 was a West Point trained, veteran brigade commander. He had three months' familiarity with his present brigade. He was a man who possessed dash and gallantry, and his men liked to identify themselves as "Sam Carroll's Men," which says much about his leadership.

          At Gettysburg Posted just south Cemetery Hill upon arrival on the morning of July 2, Carroll listened to the battle in near the Round Tops draw closer all afternoon, but he wasn't called on until dark, when Early's division struck the Eleventh Corps lines on Cemetery Hill. Hearing the sounds of fighting there, Second Corps commander Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock sent Carroll's brigade as a reinforcement. With no direction from above, Carroll managed to put his men exactly where they were most needed by marching toward the heaviest fire, and skillfully positioned his men for the attack in the dark. When Carroll's men charged, they were irresistible, and quickly pushed Hays's Louisianans back off the hill. After remaining for a while in a defensive line exposed in front of the other friendly troops there, Carroll sought permission to retire. His old friend Eleventh Corps commander Major General Howard refused to give it, feeling much safer with Carroll's than with his own men in the line, and Carroll and three of his regiments stayed to defend Cemetery Hill from the north.

          Carroll left one regiment behind, his old 8th Ohio, and it would help turn back the left wing of Pickett's Charge the next day, firing into the flank of the attack as it neared the Union lines.

          After the battle, Carroll's division commander, Brig. Gen. Alexander Hays, wrote, "Too much credit cannot be given to Carroll and his command for the gallant manner in which they went to the relief of the troops on our right." To his report of the battle Howard appended a personal "hearty thanks" to Carroll. "Old Brick Top" commanded his brigade through the fall campaign and retained command when the Army of the Potomac was reduced from five corps to three in March 1864. However, he still had not received a promotion to the proper rank of brigadier general when, on May 12, 1864, his arm was splintered by a bullet at Spotsylvania, putting him out of action for the rest of the war. He belatedly received his brigadier's star, effective from the date of his wound.