US GenWeb

This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Maj. Edward A. Springsteed

Edward A. Springsteed, son of D. Springsteed, M. D., was born in the city of Albany on the 31st day of January, 1840. He was commissioned as First Lieutenant in the Forty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, on the 17th day of August, 1861, under command of Col. Francis E. Vinton. He was in the Army of the Potomac, First Brigade, First Division, Gen. W. S. Smith, Sixth Army Corps, under Gen. Franklin. He participated in several skirmishes, and in the battle of Lee's Mills and Williamsburg: and in the seven days' fight, at Golder Farm, Savage's Station, White Oak Swamp and Malvern Hill.

When the troops arrived at Harrison's Landing, it was found that his regiment had been reduced to less than half its number. He, with other officers of the regiment, were mustered out as supernumerary, and he received an honorable discharge.

Soon after his arrival home, he volunteered his services again, and was commissioned Captain in the One Hundred and Thirteenth (Albany county) Regiment, under the command of Col. Lewis O. Morris. The regiment was mustered into the service of the United States Aug. 19th, 1862. Col. Morris, who had so soon noticed Capt. Springsteed's military qualifications, recommended him and he was promoted to the position of Major.

The regiment left for the seat of war on the 19th, and arrived at Washington, District of Columbia, on the 23d of August, and was ordered to garrison the forts in the vicinity. Major Springsteed was assigned to the command at Fort Kearney. On Dec 12th, 1862, the One Hundred and Thirteenth was, by an order of the Secretary of War, changed from infantry to heavy artillery. Major Springsteed was then placed in command at Fort De Russy, which command he held for several months, when he was again returned to Fort Kearney and appointed Brigade Inspector. This position he held until the departure of the regiment for the Army of the Potomac, May 16th, 1864. He was then placed in command of the Second Battalion of the regiment. This command he held in the battles of Lauren's Hill, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Coal Harbor, Milford Station, and until the charge of the First Division, Second Army Corps, under Major General W. S. Hancock, on the defences of Petersburg, made June 16th, 1864, At that time, he was wounded and only escaped capture by his courage and coolness.

Major Springsteed gives an account of the battle and of his wound, in the following interesting letter to his father:

Near Petersburg, Va., June 17, 1864.
Dear Father—I suppose that before you get this letter, you will have heard that I am wounded, and of course you will be very anxious to know how badly. I got a very painful, although slight wound in the small of the back. The bullet came from the right side of me, and struck my belt, cutting my pistol off and going into the flesh slightly. The ring on my belt almost stopped the ball, or else it would have struck the spine, in which case I should probably not have been writing this letter now. I am at the hospital and I think I shall be all right again in a few days; in a week at the farthest. About all I require at present, is rest and quiet. I was with my battalion for about an hour after I was struck.

I suppose you would like to know something of our movements for the last few days. We left Gaines' Hill on the night of the same day on which I wrote you last, and after marching all night, crossed the Chickahominy the next morning, and about six o'clock at night reached the James River at a point below Harrison's Landing. We laid there all the next day, and crossed the river at night. At one o'clock the next day, we marched again, and reached here on the next morning, that is, yesterday. We formed into line and advanced towards the enemy's works, under the fire of two batteries. No harm was done, however. We took up a position about one thousand five hundred yards from the works, and remained there until six o'clock, when we were ordered to advance and take the enemy's works. We advanced under a terrible fire from the batteries. When we got near the works, part of the line gave way, and our regiment and one or two others, were left alone. We advanced to within fifty yards of the work, when we were obliged to stop. We halted in a ditch which sheltered us from the enemy's fire. Soon after we got into the ditch, I was standing up looking at the enemy's works, when I was struck. I supposed at first that it was from one of our own men in the rear trying to fire over us, but I soon found out that the enemy had got around our right flank, and were firing at us from the rear. The enemy ordered us to surrender, but we held out for nearly an hour; when seeing that it was impossible to get away, I did not see anything else to do. I was the senior officer then, but did not want to give up. The enemy again ordered us to surrender, and told the men to throw down their arms and come in and they would not fire on them. I ordered the men to stay where they were, but some of them threw down their arms and went in, and the rest soon followed. I stayed there until nearly all the men were gone; when I thought it better to risk the enemy's bullets than a prison. So I made a dash through a space which the rebel line did not cover, and succeeded in getting away under a heavy fire. I am very thankful that I did get away, and that I am wounded no more. Col. Beaver, the brigade commander, was wounded, and the next commander killed. Col. Hastings is now in command of what there is left of the brigade. One hundred and fifty men and about ten officers, are all of the regiment that can be got together this morning. Maj. Murphy is in command. Major Pruyn is missing, and I think is either killed or wounded. It was a terrible day for our regiment. We lost very heavily in crossing the field, but the men behaved splendidly. I have no doubt but that we should have taken the works if it had not been for stopping where we did, in consequence of some of the lines giving away.

I hope you will get this letter soon, so as to relieve your mind in regard to my wound.

Your aftectionate son,

He, with others, was taken to the army hospital at Washington. Not having been home for a long time, he obtained a furlough for thirty days. A few days after his arrival home, he learned that Lientant Colonel Hastings had resigned. Although he had not recovered from his wound, he took leave of his friends to join his regiment, two days before his furlough expired. When he arrived at Washington, the National Capital was threatened by the rebels, and he was detained by Gen. Augur, and placed in command of a brigade to defend the city. As soon as the danger had passed, he asked to be relieved of his brigade command that he might return to his regiment. His request was granted, not, however, until he was made the recipient of a complimentary order, for the manner in which he had conducted his command.

After having left Washington, Major Springsteed wrote home the following letter:

Camp near Spottsylvania, May 20, 1864.
We left Washington Sunday, and arrived at Belle Plain the same day. The next morning I started with a part of the regiment for the army: arrived the next day. The rest of the regiment came up that evening. The next morning we expected a battle, but it ended in a skirmish, in which we took no prisoners. A few shells fell near us, doing no damage.

We are in the Second Corps (Hancock's), and Tyler's Division. Col. Morris commanded the brigade.

The regiment is divided into two battalions, of which I command one, and Lieut. Col. Hastings the other.

We were ordered out this afternoon, expecting to march about dark for some point at a considerable distance, but a little after four o'clock we were double-quicked to the right of the turnpike, where the enemy had attacked our line. We advanced through a piece of thick woods, and soon met the enemy. They made a hasty retreat before our advance, and we drove them nearly half a mile. Then they turned on us, and we had a sharp fight, in which I lost Capt. Morris and McCulloch killed, and Capt. Bell wounded in the leg, which has since been amputated. I also lost a number of men. In Col. Hastings battalion, Lieut. Krank was wounded in the head. The loss of men and officers in my battalion was the greatest. Total loss, four officers and forty-three men killed and wounded. As soon as this brush was over, we fell back a quarter of a mile, to the crest of another hill, and formed line again, our brigade having the right, and Col. Tannat's the left of our division line. My battalion was in a very strong position.

We had scarcely got in position before Col. Tannat's brigade was attacked, and had a severe fight at very close range. Although my left joined his right, the rebels did not attack us, except to drive in our skirmishers. We were relieved on this line about half past ten, and went farther to the right, remaining until daylight. The First Maine lost fourteen officers, and four hundred and sixty-one men.

Maj. Springsteed, while in command of his regiment, bravely and nobly leading his men at the battle of Ream's Station, on the 25th of August, 1864, received a wound from which he died a few minutes after. He had been promoted first to Lieutenant, and a few days after to Colonel, but neither of these commissions ever reached him. He therefore never knew that his services had been thus rewarded.

The following letters relate to these commissions:

Head Quarters 7th N. Y. V. Artillery, Camp
Near Petersburg, Va., Aug. 1st, 1864.
To His Excellency Horatio Seymour, Governor of the Slate of New York:
Sir-—The Colonelcy and Lieutenant Colonelcy of this regiment have become vacant. I have the honor to apply to you for the position of Colonel. Being the senior officer of the regiment, I naturally feel very desirous for the promotion. Believing that the appointment would give general satisfaction to the officers and men of the regiment, I respectfully urge that my request be granted.
Your ob't serv't,
Major 7th N. Y. V. Art., Comdg.

If the Colonel is taken from the regiment, I think Major Springsteed should be the selection, being the senior since the discharge of Colonel Hastings, and the recommendations by Col. Beaver and Gen. Miles, his brigade and division commanders, being such as are entitled to great weight.
Maj. Gen. Comdg. Second Corps.

Adjutant General's Office,
Albany, May 10th, 1866.
I do hereby certify that the preceding is a true copy of the original on file in this office.
J. B. STONEHOUSE, A. A. General

Hospital First Division Second Corps,
1st August, 1864.
Major Springsteed having been under my command for some time, and particularly at the first assault upon Petersburg, I take pleasure in testifying to his gallantly, coolness and capacity as a commander.

He was wounded at Petersburg. I believe his appointment will be a benefit to the service and to his regiment.

JAMES A. BEAVER, Col. 148th P. V.

Head Quarters First Division
August 1st, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded. I endorse the recommendation of Colonel Beaver.
NELSON A. MILES, Brig. Gen. Comdg.

Head Quarters Dept. of Washington, 22d Army
Corps, Washington, D. C, Aug. 4th, 1864.
This is to certify that I have known Major E. A. Springsteed of the Seventh New York Artillery, about eighteen months, during which time he was under my command in the defences of Washington. He proved himself a good officer, one of the very best in the command. Always faithful in the performance of his duty, sober, industrious and always attentive. I do not hesitate to recommend him for promotion to the Colonelcy of his regiment.
J. A. HASKINS, Lt. Col.,
A. D. C., Chief of Artillery, late Comdg. Div.

Adjutant Generall's Office,
Albany, May 10th, 1866.
I do hereby certify that the preceding is a true copy of the original on tile in this office.
J. B. STONEHUSE, A. A. General

Send comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Albany County Biographies
Go Back to Home Page